SVH #23: Say Goodbye

5 May

Estimated Time Elapsed: 5 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Todd Wilkins’s father is being transferred to Burlington, Vermont for work, which means that the entire family (minus the sister/brother who exists or doesn’t, depending on which book one consults) is moving to the east coast.  Elizabeth is devastated, because it means a permanent (at least for the foreseeable future) separation for the two of them.  But the two of them vow to stay faithful to one another.

After Todd leaves, Elizabeth mopes around the house.  She lives for Todd’s letters and phone calls.  She cries a lot about how much she misses him, and her schoolwork and her writing for the Oracle suffers.  Jessica is convinced that Elizabeth is wasting her time pining for Todd and decides that Nicholas Morrow is just the boy to get her mind off of him.  She arranges for Nicholas to pick Liz up for a sailboat race that he’s in, and then finagles them an invite onto his boat for a party after he wins the race.  Liz and Nicholas start spending a lot of time together, and while Elizabeth keeps reminding Nicholas and herself that they’re just friends, it’s clear that Nicholas wants more from her.

Jessica also manages to intercept a call from Todd and hint that Liz is really struggling with Todd being so far away.  She guilts him into admitting that it might be better for them to cease contact, and Todd backs off.  Elizabeth can’t understand why Todd has suddenly stopped calling and writing.  She’s angry, and so she throws herself into the affections of Nicholas.  The two begin seeing each other regularly, and Jessica is thrilled while Elizabeth can’t stop herself from thinking of Todd.

Lila throws a huge party in celebration of Spring (or in celebration of a day that ends in “y,” because let’s face it, any excuse, right?), and everyone attends.  Liz is there with Nicholas, Jessica is there with a date from the dating agency (more on that in a moment), and Steven is there, kind of with Cara.  Todd shows up, sees Elizabeth with Nicholas, and promptly bursts into tears.  She chases after him, and they have a long, serious talk about what they want (to be together when they’re both in the same time zone but to have separate lives when they’re not), and make up.

The B-Plot involves Jessica having to get a part-time job after her parents see how much she charged at Lisette’s.  She gets a job as a receptionist for the Perfect Match Computer Dating Service.  While there, she gets the brilliant idea that she should set Steven up with some of the women who have applied for dates at the office.  So she sets him up with a 40-year-old woman and a scary 20-something without telling him.  Needless to say, everything goes disastrously, and Steven yells at her a little bit.

Then he sees Cara Walker trying to change a flat tire on the side of the road and he helps her and they talk and he realizes she’s changed, so he invites her to go to Lila’s party kind of with him, and the two of them have a great time until Betsy Martin shows up and FREAKS OUT on him because he’s supposed to mourn her sister forever, apparently.  He feels really guilty and leaves Cara.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Nicholas’s eyes twinkled. ‘Two names,’ he told her. ‘One private and one public. The public name is Seabird.  But the private name is My Favorite Twin,’ he told her, maintaining the steady gaze on her face.” (70)
  • “An older man, Jessica thought dreamily, about nineteen or twenty, with a nice car.  And one of those strange, glamorous names like Calvin or Montgomery or something.” (114)
  • “It was Cara Walker–just about the last person Steven would have expected to run into on Route 29.  Somehow he’d always gotten the impression that Cara was incapable of driving to the supermarket, let alone taking a car out on the expressway.” (129)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Apparently the Wakefields have a charge account at Lisette’s, because they freak out about the fact that Jessica spent $87.95 there.
  • Winston Egbert’s father is a realtor.
  • Lila’s pool party is in celebration of spring, which of course makes no sense because the gang just took a SUMMER BIKE TRIP in the book before this.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Not to like totally upset your world or anything, but today I’d like to focus not on the most ridiculous aspects of the story but on the surprisingly realistic (well, mostly) way that Elizabeth and Todd react to their separation.  Being a teenager is hard, and as much as I love to make fun of teenage angst, I also acknowledge the fact that it’s easy to make fun and harder to actually admit to having been dramatic, angsty, and a little silly myself when I was that age.  That being said, something about the pain that Elizabeth and Todd went through resonated with me.

I don’t mean to excuse how over-the-top the entire situation was.  Elizabeth and Todd FREAK OUT about their separation, and generally act like it’s the end of the world.  Now, perspective and experience tell us that it isn’t.  But when you’re sixteen and in love?  It can actually feel like the end of the world.  As much as it pains me to admit it, it’s an almost-believable story.  I know.  We’re talking about a Sweet Valley High novel.

Is Elizabeth’s resulting depression and lack of motivation for school and writing alarming?  Does it maybe send some dangerous signals?  Yes, of course.  Do I also worry about Elizabeth throwing herself into a relationship with someone that she likes but has no real chemistry with as a way of getting back at Todd/forgetting about him?  Yeah, for sure.  It’s the hallmark of a Wakefield, though, isn’t it?  Non-rational, over-the-top reactions.  Must be genetic.

The bottom line is, though, that for once, the story wasn’t so completely contrived that I wanted to pull my hair out.  That says something, right?

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One Response to “SVH #23: Say Goodbye”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. SVH: Elizabeth’s Secret Diary, Vol. I | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - July 16, 2014

    […] dumped into #28, when Liz finds out that Todd is moving with his family to Vermont.  After he leaves and they agree to do a long-distance thing, Liz starts hanging out and making […]

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