WIP: The Ten Fantastic Fails of Rory O’Leary

MG Contemporary (47,000)


RORY O’LEARY, 13, is struggling with her role as a middle school cheerleader and being the oldest daughter of the only Lutheran pastor in a Baptist town as well as her general anxiety disorder. When a pair of Hello Kitty underwear falls out of her pant leg in the middle of the Reformation Sunday service, Rory panics and throw up in the middle of the church. This is caught on film by her former best friend, LAURA, who uses it as blackmail fodder to get Rory to set her up with MARK, Rory’s ninth grade older brother. Laura taunts Rory over email and at school threatening to distribute the picture.

Rory’s anxiety grows worse as she tries to figure out how to play matchmaker. While pumping her brother for information one afternoon she kicks a soccer ball into a window and Mark takes the blame. Rory hides this from her younger sister, RUTH and asks her cheerleading teammate WILL for advice. Laura confronts Rory in the bathroom during a volleyball game about the fact that Rory hasn’t done enough to set them up. Rory tries to leave and trips over Laura’s shoes. When she falls to the floor, the fireball candy in her mouth knocks out her two front teeth and she has to visit an emergency dentist and get temporary braces to hold her teeth in place. Laura uses this opportunity to get closer to Mark.  They eventually begin dating but this doesn’t keep Laura from bullying Rory every chance she gets.

Rory starts seeing her therapist DR. PATEL more often after her dog FRANK is attacked by a raccoon and her volleyball cheer season ends and she begins having panic attacks about SANTA LUCIA. Rory also feels like her mom’s sermons during the Advent season are about her and that everyone is waiting for her to fail. She has a series of fails including accidentally kissing a cockroach, having a panic attack in church, and getting terrible diarrhea in front of Laura. After a fight with Laura in a nursing home during a holiday caroling session gone awry, Laura’s phone falls into a toilet and Laura warns her that this isn’t over. This causes Rory to finally come clean to her sister about everything that she has been dealing with during a family walk to see holiday lights at the town park. While at the park, Rory and Ruth run into Will.

Rory and Will share a moment on top of a Ferris Wheel and she tells him about her anxiety. Rory sees Dr. Patel again after a bad panic attack and leaves the session with a couple of new tools to get through Santa Lucia. The night of the service is chaotic at church when her mom gets the flu, Laura and Mark break up, and no one is prepared.  Rory takes charge and helps get the youth choirs ready for the service before getting dressed for Santa Lucia. While she is getting dressed she discovered her dress is too tight as Ruth struggles to do the buttons in the back. She starts to have a panic attack and uses one of the tools Dr. Patel gave her. Rory sings her solo with her crown of flaming candles as she walks through the church. During the course of the song, the buttons of her dress start to pop off in the back. She messes up her solo and starts to have another panic attack before Mark helps guide her outside. Once she resumes her composure she is able to finish her Santa Lucia duties before the youth group dance that is being held the same night.

Laura tries to torment Rory again, this time with new footage but Rory finds strength within herself and stands her ground. Laura breaks down and leaves. Later, Rory finds Laura and forgives her for the bullying and blackmail. Laura apologizes but Rory knows she and Laura will never be friends. When she returns to the dance Will is waiting for her. He confesses his crush and Rory shares her first kiss. After Will leaves, Rory finds Ruth and tells her what happened and Ruth encourages Rory to go for it. Rory ends the night doing silly dances with her siblings as she realizes how her faith and family have helped her find her strength.