SVH #8: Heartbreaker

10 Mar

Estimated Elapsed Time: Three weeks

The Overview

Jessica and Bill Chase are starring in SVH’s production of Splendor in the Grass.  Jessica is having fun with the fact that Bill is pretty smitten with her, despite the fact it’s clear that DeeDee Gordon has a huge crush on Bill.  Essentially, Jessica has turned Bill into her lapdog; sending him on embarrassing errands, monopolizing his time just to break plans with him later, and openly flirting with other boys to make him jealous.  Everyone around her sort of watches in amusement (except for Liz, who appears to feel bad for DeeDee and Bill) and allows it to happen.

As opening night approaches, Jess keeps playing her game while Bill helps DeeDee with some surf lessons.  Apparently there’s ANOTHER surf contest on the same day as opening night, and DeeDee wants to compete in it.  The two of them have a good time when they’re together, and Bill feels super relaxed around her, which is the opposite of how he feels when Jessica is around.  But it takes the near-death almost-drowning of DeeDee before he wakes up to what’s right in front of him.  Bill saves DeeDee and kisses her as a form of mouth-to-mouth (?), and then they’re like, in love.

On opening night, everyone’s all a-twitter because DeeDee’s dad is a Hollywood talent scout and has his eye on someone in the cast.  Jessica assumes it’s her, and she becomes convinced that she’s about to be whisked away to Hollywood.  Turns out it’s Bill, though, and they want him for some screen tests.  Jessica is furious and tries one last time to get between Bill and DeeDee, but it backfires and Bill and DeeDee make out a bunch.

The B-Plot involves Elizabeth and Todd and their many woes.  It seems that Todd’s ex-flame Patsy Webber has moved back to town and is now attending SVH.  She used to go to Palisades High, which is how the ghostwriter side-steps the issue of Elizabeth having never met this girl.  Anyway, Patsy Webber is like, model-gorgeous and completely intimidates Liz.  She worries that Todd still has feelings for her because he was in love with her way back in the day, and when she sees him rubbing suntan lotion all over Patsy’s back at the Wakefield’s pool party (ANOTHER ONE), she freaks out and stays home sick from school for a week.

In the end, though, it turns out Todd’s only got eyes for Liz and Patsy has her eyes on Tom McKay.  All is resolved.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Liz is afraid of sharks,’ Jessica teased, looking quickly at Patsy.  The double meaning was obvious.” (36)
  • “Even so, she longed to believe Todd, to let herself be convinced it was all a hideous mistake.  She might have inherited her looks from her mother, but her rock-hard sense of logic had come straight from her father.” (67) [Note: If this is the case, I wouldn’t want a dolt like Ned Wakefield representing me for anything.]
  • “He drew her closer, kissing her with a passionate tenderness that made her feel as if the sky had shaken loose and the ground had been snatched out from under her.  She started to feel dizzy again.” (100) [Note: Last time, I promise.  Why is every kiss in Sweet Valley like this?  Doesn’t it set thousands of little girls reading these books up for some serious disappointment when their first kiss doesn’t measure up and in fact is kind of wet, sloppy, and tastes vaguely of Spaghetti-O’s?  Not that I speak from experience or anything.]

Trivia and Fun Facts:

  • Patsy Webber had some of the best outfit descriptions in the book: a straw skirt with a slim-belted leather slash and delicate high heels, and low-cut halter jumpsuit made of a shimmery peach-colored fabric.
  • Jessica gets Bill to go to the Dairi Burger for her and she orders a cheeseburger, a double order of fries, and a chocolate shake.  For a SNACK.
  • Pop culture references were crazy in this book.  They included: Bo Derek, King Kong, Matt Dillon, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark, James Bond, Barbara Walters, MacBeth, Jaws, Jessica Lange, From Here to Eternity, and Sylvester Stallone.
  • The best part of the book was where the ghost writer threw in a detail about DeeDee coming in 3rd place in the surf competition, a sign that even they were so bored with that subplot that they couldn’t bring themselves to write about it.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

You know, I don’t have a lot to say about this one, really.  There’s something alarming about how head-over-heels Bill is for Jessica even though she treats him like shit and they have nothing in common.  He turns into a bumbling oaf every time she’s around and yet he loves her?  I’m not buying it.  But his sudden love for DeeDee is also alarming in its own way.  How does he switch so quickly between women, and how is it that these people fall in love so fast?  Bill and DeeDee kiss once before they’re professing their love to each other.  It took me EIGHT MONTHS to get my boyfriend to admit that we were dating, let alone getting him to tell me he loved me.  Is it something in the water?

I could comment on Jessica’s increasingly sociopathic behavior, but what would be the point?  We haven’t even reached the tip of the iceberg with her.  She strings boys along because it’s fun, and who can blame her when everyone just allows her to act like that?  No one ever steps in and says what she’s doing is wrong.  People make jokes about it, but their complacency makes them guilty.

Finally, can we just talk about Liz and Todd for a moment?  It seems like in every book, there’s some sort of HUGE misunderstanding that causes them to break up or almost break up.  For a couple who is supposed to be super-solid and steady, they seem like they’re always on the precipice of ruin.  Is it merely a writing ploy to keep the story interesting, or are we really supposed to believe that Todd is that oblivious and Liz is that crazy-jealous-insane?

At any rate, stay tuned for #9, Racing Hearts.  It’s the one where we all learn a VERY VALUABLE LESSON about working-class people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.  Or something.

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