SVH #1: Double Love

25 Feb


Estimated Total Elapsed Time: My conservative estimate is 3 weeks to 1 month.

The Overview:

The twins are perfect.  They have classic, all-American good looks (I think that means they’re white), and perfect bodies.  They’re tanned and toned without any real effort, and they lead very privileged upper-middle class lives.  When the book opens, it’s the morning of a very big day.  The twins will be inducted into Pi Beta Alpha, the school’s most exclusive sorority during lunch.  Jessica wheedles her way into borrowing Elizabeth’s new tuxedo shirt, bow tie, and matching pants in what is the first of many outfit descriptions.

It seems also that both girls have their eyes on the same boy.  Todd Wilkins is the school’s basketball star and is quite the dreamboat, although he exhibits very little personality or character throughout the book.  Jessica uses a series of manipulations and lies throughout the book to keep Todd away from Elizabeth and in her clutches.  She’s determined to get him to ask her to the Pi Epsilon Sweetheart dance, and she goes out of her way to make sure he does, even though it means lying and stepping all over her doormat of a sister.

Liz spends the majority of the book crying about how she’s completely forgettable.  She also cries about the fact that Todd likes her sister and not her.  When Jessica goes out with wild-boy Rick Andover and gets escorted home by the police, a case of mistaken identity (not the last in the series, and not even the last case of it IN THIS BOOK) makes Liz look like the guilty party and sends the school’s gossipmongers into overdrive.

Todd takes Jessica to the dance, Liz goes with Winston Egbert, and everyone has a pretty miserable time.  Jessica is pissed that Todd doesn’t seem into her, and so at the end of the night, she storms into Liz’s room and essentially accuses him of attempted date rape.  Liz gets mad and tells Todd off, and Todd acts all confused and butt-hurt, because he’s supposed to be mad at her for going to Kelly’s with Rick and acting like a general floozy.

The book culminates with Jessica and Liz essentially getting carjacked and kidnapped by a drunk Rick Andover.  The logistics of how this happens are so ridiculous that I’ll spare you the details.  It’s important to note that Todd saves the day by chasing down their car, punching Rick, and then kissing Elizabeth.  Elizabeth gets her revenge on Jessica by doing the old identity switcheroo on her and then reveals that “Elizabeth” is the author of the school’s gossip column, an outing that means a dunk in the school’s pool.  Jessica swears revenge, but Elizabeth doesn’t seem worried (I would be).

The B Plot involves the twins being convinced that Ned Wakefield (or big Papa Dubs, as I like to refer to him) is having an affair with a divorcee lawyer at his firm named Marianna West.  He is not.  Jessica is also convinced that Steven is dating the trashy Betsy Martin, who sleeps around and whose father is the town drunk, but really he’s dating Betsy’s angelic sister Tricia.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Why in the world are you two still playing that ridiculous game?  You wouldn’t think it was funny if you really were gross-looking,’ Jessica said, shuddering at the thought of having anything but an attractive family.” (34)
  • “‘Jess, are you sure?  I can’t believe it.  Betsy’s been doing drugs for years–she sleeps around–‘ ‘And her father gets bombed out of his mind every night,’ Jessica said wildly.” (76)

Outfits Described:

  • a tuxedo shirt with matching pants and bow tie
  • a red blouse, black pencil skirt, and black sandals
  • pressed jeans and a blue button-down
  • a white strapless dress
  • a blue dress with a handkerchief neckline and full skirt
  • an ice-blue suit

Trivia and Fun Facts:

  • Rick Andover orders two boilermakers when he takes Jessica out.  This was the most badass drink the ghostwriter could come up with?
  • Jessica isn’t allowed to drive the Fiat because of a fender bender that cost $200 to repair.  When adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent of about $470 today.
  • The twins have perfect figures, but they consumed the following food items over the course of the book: pepperoni pizza, french toast, green grapes, milk, duck a la orange, creamed asparagus, chilled parfait, bacon cheeseburger, root beer, and hamburgers.
  • Pop culture references made include: Star Wars, the Twilight Zone, Jaws, Sherlock Holmes, and a reference to Clint Eastwood.

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

The book that started it all has its share of ridiculous plot points.  It’s hard to pick just one to point out for this anaylsis, to be honest.  Jessica’s intentional lying and concealing information from both Todd and Elizabeth throughout the book is reprehensible at best and downright malicious if looked at more closely.  For a girl who loves her sister so much, she sure treats Elizabeth like shit a lot.  Her false accusations about Todd attempting to date-rape her are also alarming.  I wonder if such claims would be dealt with so haphazardly in a book written for teens today.

But it is the handling of Rick Andover’s tragic character that bothers me most.  He’s described as a badass, and I suppose he is, in that he dropped out of school, drinks and smokes and speeds around in a car that’s shiny, sporty and probably shaped like a penis.  He hits on anything that moves, and apparently Jessica goes for this, because she accepts his offer of a date even though they have nothing in common and he used some cheesy pick-up line on her.  Jessica decides later that he’s the terrifying kind of trouble, and she’s right, because he kidnaps her and Elizabeth at the end of the book.  Todd punches him and saves the day, though, and that’s that.  I have to wonder why the girls didn’t press charges, why there was no police involvement, and why Ma and Pa Wakefield seem to know nothing about what happened.

The moral of the story?  Don’t date high school dropouts.  They’ll take you to a dive bar and try to make you drink a boilermaker.

2 Responses to “SVH #1: Double Love”

  1. sweetvalleybeachdisco July 13, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    I like the ‘ice blue suit’


  1. SVH Magna Edition: Jessica’s Secret Diary, Vol. II | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - August 21, 2015

    […] Sam’s death, nor is he talking about how they dated back at the start of the series, when Jessica falsely accused him of attempted rape.  He’s talking about…some other time, I guess?  Jessica is unsure if this is a good […]

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