SVH #25: Nowhere to Run

1 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Emily Mayer, drummer for the Droids, is having serious problems at home.  She’s clashing with her new stepmother, Karen, who’s feeling overwhelmed with the new role of both stepmother and actual mother to a new baby girl named Karrie.  No matter what Emily does, she can’t seem to please Karen, who feels that her drums are too noisy and is pretty unreasonable about when Emily can practice.  She keeps threatening to send Emily away to boarding school, and Emily can’t imagine leaving Sweet Valley, so she approached Liz about writing for The Oracle.  Liz has her doubts, opining that Emily’s passion lies in music and not writing.  Emily confides in Liz about her family drama and the fact that her mother ran out on her when she was little.

At Emily’s house, Emily shows her crush, Dan, her new cymbals when her stepmother Karen comes in and starts screaming at her about how she isn’t allowed to have boys over without permission and she won’t let her daughter grow up in a house with a tramp, and that Emily is turning into a tramp just like her mother was, blah blah blah.  All of this is said in front of Dan, which is both totally inappropriate and totally embarrassing, for Emily and Dan and the reader.  Emily runs away kind of and shows up at Elizabeth’s house, where the family listens sympathetically to her tale of woe.  Ned agrees to let her stay the night if she calls home, but when she does, her dad tells her that he’ll put her drums out on the street unless she returns immediately.

Emily goes home and then goes through the next few days like a zombie.  She sells her drums, but Liz and Dan devise a scheme where he buys them and stores them for her, because he knows she’ll come around.  Karen orders Emily around and has her babysit Karrie all the time.  Emily puts up with this for about a week before finally confiding in her dad about what Karen had said about her and her mom.  Instead of listening and offering comfort, her dad gets mad at her and yells.

When Karen gives Karrie a doll with beads for eyes, Emily tries to tell her it might not be safe, but Karen blows her off.  When Karrie pops one of the buttons off the doll’s face and into her mouth and promptly begins to choke, Karen freaks out.  Emily has to slap Karen to get the baby away and give her the Heimlich maneuver.  When Emily’s father comes in, all he sees is a crying baby, a freaked-out Karen, and a shocked Emily.  He assumes Emily’s hurt the baby and kicks her out.

Emily runs away to the Wakefields, who call her parents.  Emily’s dad and stepmom come over and they talk things out.  Everything will be fine!

The B-Plot involves Grandma and Grandpa Wakefield coming to stay for a 3-week visit.  The twins are super-excited and do all sorts of fun things with their grandparents, like go out to dinner and go for hot air balloon rides.  Alice Wakefield begins to worry that she doesn’t spend enough time with the girls and tries to insinuate herself into their worlds but is met with resistance.  The twins are busy.  When she confides in Ned about her feelings, he enlists the twins to help make Alice feel needed again.  All is resolved with a going-away party for the elderly Wakefields.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Then Karen got pregnant–and anyone would have thought that Karen was the only woman who had ever become pregnant.  She quit her job immediately and lay around the house, demanding attention, complaining like crazy, and ordering Emily around all the time.” (16)
  • “‘Oh, dear,’ Grandma Wakefield said, looking distraught. ‘That sort of thing upsets me so much.  I just don’t know what’s happening to the American family these days.'” (62)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Bruce Patman introduces the cordless phone to Liz when she’s at his house.  I proceed to laugh hysterically.
  • There’s a mention of Barbara Walters, but that’s pretty much it on the pop culture front.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

There’s so much to tackle that I hardly know where to start.  The B-plot is so asinine that I’m not even going to touch it.  Alice suddenly worries that she doesn’t spend enough time with the girls?  After they’ve been kidnapped, in a coma, held at knife point?  Now she decides to mother them?

But the entire issue of Emily Mayer’s situation at home.  Karen treats her terribly.  She verbally abuses Emily.  She emotionally threatens her, and yet this is never explicitly mentioned.  There’s nary a page with the word “abuse” on it.  That wouldn’t happen in today’s world.  The amount of emotional abuse that Karen unleashes on Emily is terrifying and draining, even as a detached and very skeptical reader.  It’s no wonder that Emily is miserable and confides in Elizabeth, even though the two girls are not very close.  When things are that bad at home, you have to talk about it with someone.

I also take issue with how easily it is resolved.  After booting her from the house, all is forgiven with a tearful apology and a promise to change?  Have these people ever met Jessica Wakefield?  They seem to be taking a page out of her book.

Next up: Regina Morrow is mysteriously back in Sweet Valley, and Bruce and Liz suspect foul play.

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3 Responses to “SVH #25: Nowhere to Run”

  1. Avid reader October 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    Interesting enough, this book is one of the only ones where Enid isn’t mentioned at all.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. SVH Sweet Valley Saga #2: The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - April 28, 2014

    […] friend who died in a car crash in college, but that doesn’t work here.  Also, at one point, Grandma Wakefield mentioned that Ned had a half-brother from her husband’s first marriage, but maybe she suffered a stroke? Because that doesn’t happen here at […]

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

    […] be bothered to care about any of this.  After that excitement, Liz boasts about helping poor Emily Mayer cope with a blended family and then negotiate a hostage situation (when it’s written out like this, is it more or less […]

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