SVH#17: Love Letters

9 Apr

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Caroline Pierce is lonely and has no friends.  In order to combat these feelings, she sticks her nose in other people’s business and spreads gossip about all the kids (and teachers) at Sweet Valley High.  She can’t seem to help herself and apparently has no filter.  Nothing is off-limits, no person’s feelings spared, and yet she can’t figure out why no one likes her.

When she invents a boyfriend for herself, a baseball player named Adam who lives 2 hours away in a town called Cold Springs, people start to show a mild interest in her.  When she starts showing people the love letters he’s writing to her (really cribbed from letters Robert Browning wrote to Elizabeth Barrett Browning), people’s interest are piqued.  Even Caroline’s sister Anita takes an interest in Caroline’s life, offering her a makeover and listening raptly when Caroline reads tidbits of “Adam’s” letters.

But it isn’t long before the letters aren’t enough and people want to meet Adam.  As Caroline hedges their requests, Jessica and Lila grow suspicious and plot a party in Adam’s honor.  Things get worse when Elizabeth reads her play for a contest to her family and Jessica recognizes snippets from Adam’s letters (of course Elizabeth’s play is about the letters between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning).  Elizabeth confronts Caroline, and she tearfully confesses the whole lie.  Liz feels bad for her but also tells her that people don’t like her because she’s a gossip, and Caroline vows to change, as well as come clean about her lie.

What better place to do so than at Lila’s party for Adam?  Just as Caroline is about to confess her fake-boyfriend, a guy walks in claiming to be Adam.  Turns out he’s a friend of Todd’s who was doing him a favor.  Caroline thanks him but confesses anyway, and people respect her for doing so.  Adam-real-name-Jerry-Fischer likes that she was honest and makes out with her.

The B-Plot involves Alice Wakefield entertaining the idea of taking a job with a prestigious firm in San Francisco.  The twins are absolutely horrified and concoct a scheme to remind Ned and Alice about all the wonderful things Sweet Valley has to offer while also hinting at San Francisco being a terrible, dangerous place.  This scheme includes inundating them with flyers and brochures about events in Sweet Valley as well as a ton of takeaway food from their favorite restaurants.  In the end, Alice decides to decline the offer because it wouldn’t be fair to uproot the twins in the middle of high school.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Oh,’ Lila said distastefully, putting down her yogurt.  The thought of a boyfriend without money seemed to make her lose her appetite.” (71)
  • “I mean, how realistic is it for some fabulous, romantic guy to fall head over heels in love with Caroline Pierce?  When you come right down to it, it’s practically science fiction!” (79)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Caroline has an older sister named Anita who goes to Sweet Valley College and is borderline anorexic
  • Ned Wakefield is allergic to Chinese food
  • Lila makes a mention of Masterpiece Theater that actually made me snort (derisively)

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

The pathetic creature called Caroline Pierce is a good place to start.  Reading this in my mid-20s, I can’t help but view her entire situation in a different light than I would have when I was 10.  Caroline is lonely and socially awkward, and she gossips as a way of gaining attention.  What’s interesting to note is that she’s actually quite astute in her observations (though not always right) and has a keen eye for detail.  The problem, however, is that it’s none of her business in the first place, let alone when she decides to tell other people about what she’s seen.

But that’s only part of the problem.  She has no friends, which is a difficult thing for anyone, but in a world like Sweet Valley, where there’s a dance every other day and at least a party a week, it’s a pretty lonely existence.  Even her sister has no interest in her and rags on her appearance and weight.  Although the book ends with Caroline making out with a cute boy and seeming to have gained at least a modicum of respect from most of the students at SVH, she still doesn’t seem to have a true friend.  There were moments when Caroline’s desperation for real attention and actual friendship were uncomfortable to read, and in the end, I can’t be sure she actually got any of what she was desperately searching for.

Then there’s the issue of the B-Plot.  Mostly, this is my own bias at wanting desperately to live in San Francisco.  I found myself indignant at the twin’s horror of such a move.  Their hare-brained scheme was stupid, too.  Also, how selfish are these girls that their own superficial happiness comes at the expense of Alice missing out on a career opportunity of a lifetime?

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One Response to “SVH#17: Love Letters”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. SVH #41: Outcast « A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - October 18, 2010

    […] Mrs. Wakefield picks up Chinese food for dinner, and everyone goes crazy for it, seemingly forgetting that Ned Wakefield is allergic. […]

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