Year 1 Synopsis

Almost-thirteen-year-old Sydnee Cameron can’t quite figure out where she belongs. There’s her parents’ rich life with its uncomfortable shoes, emphasis on price tags, and need to look “right,” which according to her mother, Sydnee fails at. Then there’s the normal life of the family of David and Candy Clayton, the gardener and housekeeper, where everyone’s expected to get dirty, love isn’t based on perfection, and sports are part of everyday life. Sydnee’s got one foot in both worlds, and as long as neither of them shifts, she’ll stay upright.

Of course, the world never stands still.

Due to her parents’ busy schedule and frequent travels, Sydnee practically lives with David and Candy Clayton, and their oldest son, Chris, is her best friend. Sydnee and Chris spend their summer helping David in the Camerons’ gardens, and when they’re done for the day, they challenge each other on Sydnee’s basketball court. Sydnee usually wins. But in spite of the closeness she has with Chris at home—and her crush on him—the relationship doesn’t extend beyond the grounds of the Cameron mansion. At church, Chris hangs out with his friends and ignores Sydnee. She’s tried to make friends of her own, but her efforts haven’t succeeded, so she’s settled for listening on the back row.

Then she meets Abby Stewart. Abby’s outgoing, talkative, and everything Sydnee isn’t socially. Abby makes Sydnee her new best friend and begs her to attend the youth group lock-in. Sydnee usually avoids youth group activities—hanging out alone at a party is less fun than in class—but with a new friend, she decides to give it a try. Of course, she’s worried about whether Chris will be okay with it. But he says he’s fine with it. After all, she’ll hang out with her friends, and he’ll hang out with his. Sydnee’s starting to wonder if Chris is really her friend.

Before the youth group lock-in, however, Sydnee has to attend her parents’ annual Fourth of July bash. The rich parties are like church for Sydnee—she’s on the outside, staring in. She attempts to make conversation with girls from her private school, Evans Prep, but their snobbish responses cause her to give up. She’d rather play basketball by herself than suffer through another party.

After shooting some hoops on her own, Jaxon Braddock joins her. Jax is Sydnee’s only rich friend, though like Chris, he isn’t interested in being friends in public. But if he wants to play a game of one-on-one with her, Sydnee will overlook his ignoring her at other times. After Sydnee beats him at basketball, they go their separate ways, and Sydnee returns to the Claytons’ house to watch the fireworks display.

Finally, the night of the lock-in arrives. After hearing a devotional topic on being bold, not fearful, Sydnee decides to take a chance. She approaches Chris’s basketball-playing friends and asks to join the game. Though they agree, the guys ignore her on the court, prompting Sydnee to steal the ball and prove what a good shot she is. After sinking a three-pointer, she wins all the guys over—except for Chris. As parents are showing up the next morning, Sydnee asks Chris why he’s acting mad at her, and he accuses her of using her parents’ wealth to buy off his friends.

For several days, Chris doesn’t speak to Sydnee. On their shared birthday—Sydnee’s turning thirteen, Chris, fourteen—Sydnee decides to use her family birthday dinner as an opportunity to ask her parents if she can transfer from her private school to the local public school with Abby and a basketball team. Plus, doing the research to present an argument to her dad is better than spending the day around a silent Chris.

When Sydnee asks if she can transfer, she’s shocked by her dad’s agreement, but she’s not surprised when her mother disappears before dinner, citing a migraine. With her birthday dinner over before anyone eats, Sydnee returns to the Claytons’ house. Later that night, after presents and cake, Sydnee waits for Chris on the front porch, upholding their tradition of exchanging gifts there at night, but unsure if Chris will meet her. However, Chris joins her and apologizes, ending their birthday with a kiss.

Before Sydnee has a chance to explore her new relationship with Chris, her mother whisks her away to the beach for the weekend, supposedly to make up for missing her birthday dinner. But true to form, her mother abandons Sydnee at the beach house. Fortunately, Sydnee’s not left alone. The Braddocks are along for the weekend, so Sydnee hangs out with Jax, beating him at pool and card games. The late night fun causes Sydnee to miss out on phone calls from Chris, and when Jax gives her a basketball necklace, she worries she’s failing at being a girlfriend.

At Taylor Junior High, Sydnee quickly finds her way onto the basketball court—after she accidentally insults Reilly Anderson, one of Chris’s teammates. Along with the lunchtime game rivalry between Sydnee’s team and Reilly’s team and watching Kayla Mann flirt with Chris almost daily, she and Chris also face blackmail from Chris’s younger sister, Elizabeth. Fear that Chris’s parents will break them up if they find out—or worse, kick Sydnee out of the house—keeps Chris and Sydnee giving into her demands until Elizabeth “borrows” Sydnee’s cell phone and discovers texts between her and Jaxon Braddock. Though Sydnee has only been helping Jax with his homework, Elizabeth accuses Sydnee of cheating on Chris, so Sydnee confesses everything to David. Instead of breaking them up, David talks to Chris and Sydnee about why they kept their relationship a secret. Elizabeth, angry with Sydnee for telling on her, mentions the texts from Jax in front of Chris.

Things aren’t quite right anymore between Sydnee and Chris, so when Chris says he’ll be helping Kayla Mann, his ex-girlfriend, study during lunch, Sydnee doesn’t argue. What can she say after helping Jax with his homework for two months? But when Chris and Kayla are caught kissing in the library, everything is over between Sydnee and Chris—including their friendship.

At first, the breakup keeps Sydnee away from the lunchtime basketball games, until Reilly tells her that Kayla has taken her place. Sydnee returns to the game on Reilly’s team, but the next day, she’s back on her team with Chris, Dean, and Andy, and Kayla is kicked off the court. Even though they’re playing together at lunch, Chris and Sydnee still aren’t speaking. But at the church youth group’s Halloween party, Chris breaks up with Kayla. When Kayla catches Sydnee listening nearby, she attacks her. But since the fight leads to Chris talking to Sydnee again, Sydnee isn’t too upset over it.

Though they’re friends again, things still aren’t the same between Chris and Sydnee. When Sydnee offers to tutor Reilly to keep him on the basketball team, Chris insists on tagging along. He insists Reilly is flirting with Sydnee. She denies it while demanding to know why it matters to him. Annoyed with Chris, Sydnee decides to attend Jax’s birthday party. Sydnee has fun for the first time in weeks when Jax challenges her to a basketball shootout game. She bails on the party though after Jax’s girlfriend shows up. She returns home and challenges Chris to a game of one-on-one in the driveway, because basketball might be the one thing that can save their friendship. On the court, she tells Chris about her new dating policy. Sydnee won’t go out with any guy who can’t beat her at basketball.

Sydnee’s words come back to haunt her at the youth group Christmas party. Sydnee can’t resist the basketball’s lure, and she joins Dean in a game of one-on-one. After losing the game, she’s recruited by Abby to  deliver a present to Dean. Chris misinterprets the gift as being from Sydnee. Sydnee sarcastically asks Dean out since he beat her at basketball, and Abby declares their friendship over.

Leaving behind a broken friendship, Sydnee travels to Florida to spend Christmas with her grandparents, parents, and sister. Like usual, Sydnee’s ostracized by her sister and mother. Then she’s noticed by a fashion designer who asks her to model a new line of athletic wear. Now her sister’s friends gravitate to her and even her mother seems proud. And when Abby finally accepts Sydnee’s apology, Christmas is merry. But modeling will conflict with basketball season, so Sydnee turns down the offer and her mother ships her back to Illinois.

The pressure is on for Sydnee to excel on the Taylor Junior High girls’ basketball team.  She nearly chokes her first night on court, but a pep talk from Chris gets her head in the game and a win on the scoreboard.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Abby encourages Sydnee to buy Chris a gift. Sydnee refuses, no wanting to hurt her friendship with Chris again. But she can’t deny still liking him. Chris shovels the snow off Sydnee’s basketball court for the holiday, and they get back together despite Sydnee’s reservations.

The social media site, Chatterling, is the source for what’s happening at Taylor Junior High, but someone begins using Chatterling to spread rumors about Sydnee. They’re so absurd that Sydnee thinks no one will believe them, but everyone’s talking about her. Though the liars hide behind fake profiles, Sydnee catches Jax Braddock adding to the rumors. A few days later, Chatterling is hacked, the site destroyed, and an investigator working for David uncovers the originators of the rumors—Kayla Mann and her friends.

Despite Chatterling’s destruction, the rumors follow Sydnee to spring break in Florida. Jax Braddock follows her too. Though Sydnee isn’t ready to forgive him, she allows him to hang out with her during the week. As he observes the effect the rumors are still having on Sydnee, Jax offers a sincere apology and their sort-of-friendship is soft-of-okay.

Spring has arrived and so has an old friend of David’s, Alexander Andrews. David asks Sydnee and Chris to help Alexander with some indoor and outdoor maintenance on his house. Chris finds Alexander suspicious, but Sydnee insists on trusting David.

Sydnee receives texts from her mother, promising an early return and requesting Sydnee prepare to renew her passport. Worried about what summer plans her mother might have, Sydnee obeys. When she delivers the passport photos to her dad’s office, she discovers her birth certificate with Alexander’s name written on the “father” line.

Sydnee confronts Alexander, and so does Harold Cameron. Alexander confesses the reason he’s returned to Sydnee’s life despite legal documents requiring him to stay out is because he’s dying. All this information overwhelms Sydnee and she walks away instead of hearing more.