SVH #29: Bitter Rivals

10 Jul

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Elizabeth is super excited about the return of her elementary school best friend, Amy Sutton.  Amy’s family is moving back to Sweet Valley from Connecticut (practically another country) as a result of a job transfer for her mom, Dyan Sutton.  Elizabeth seems to be under the delusion that Amy is the same girl she was in sixth grade, and as a result, they will be able to pick up their friendship where they left off.  Enid isn’t so sure about this, and has reservations about how she will fit in with Elizabeth’s old best friend.

When Amy arrives, Elizabeth is stunned by how beautiful she is.  She immediately blows off her plans to meet Enid at the beach in favor of a sleepover with Amy, and then is surprised and a little jealous when she sees how famously Jessica and Amy get along.  What Elizabeth doesn’t seem to realize is that Amy is very different from her–she’s much more like Jessica now, preferring to talk about boys, clothes, and herself.  She’s also a total flake, blowing off plans with Elizabeth completely or showing up hours late with ridiculous excuses.  Liz is hurt and confused but continues to accept Amy’s behavior because Liz is, above all things, a very good doormat.

What’s worse is that Enid and Amy don’t seem to hit it off.  Liz tries to introduce them at a brunch, but there’s no spark.  Enid and Liz have been planning a trip to visit Enid’s aunt in Lake Tahoe, and they invite Amy, but the plan keeps getting put off.  Enid is hurt by Liz’s focus on Amy, but she resists saying anything because she doesn’t want to upset her.  Meanwhile, Amy tries out and gets on the SVH cheerleading squad and has plans to pledge Pi Beta Alpha.

Lila throws a huge costume party in honor of her visiting cousin Christopher Hunter, and everyone is in attendance.  When Christopher shows a lot of interest in Enid–he was her sailing instructor at camp a few years ago–Amy is furious, because she had planned to get her hooks into him.  She goes off on Enid at the party, saying really awful things to her, and Enid feels awful.  Then she tells Elizabeth that she doesn’t want to share her with Enid, and Elizabeth feels torn.  Enid gets mad at Liz, too, and then Elizabeth seems to have no friends.

Enid and Elizabeth make up, though, and Liz realizes that Amy is a different person now.  She seems to accept the fact that they aren’t going to be close anymore, and resigns herself to the fact that Jessica has gained a friend where she has lost one.

The B-Plot involves a new advice column run by Jessica and Cara Walker.  Calling themselves Miss Lovelorn, the two offer up advice in response to letters they recieve from the study body.  It isn’t long before Jessica abuses this position, faking letters from two classmates to break up cutie Jay McGuire and his girlfriend Denise Hadley in order to hook up with Jay herself.  This works for a brief period of time, until the two write actual letters about how miserable they are and, because Jessica forgot to turn in a copy, Liz prints them, effectively getting Jay and Dense back together.  Jessica is pretty pissed about this, but she rebounds quickly.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Amy smiled. ‘I have to be careful,’ she told them. ‘I really hate myself if I weigh a single ounce over one-hundred and ten pounds.'” (40)
  • “Jessica was thunderstruck. ‘Why?’ she shrieked.  ‘Liz, this is going to be the best party to hit Sweet Valley in months!'” (60)
  • “Lighted candles floated in glass bubbles in the large swimming pool, so the water seemd to glow like a sheet of moonlight.  The rich scent of flowers laced the air.  A long table covered with a snowy white tablecloth was heaped at one end with brownies, cookies, and cakes of every variety.  Sodas and cold drinks were at the other end.  On a raised dais, the Number One were setting up their instruments.” (108) [ed. note: I want to party with Lila.]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • At brunch at the Pancake House, Amy orders a grapefruit and black coffee while Enid and Liz have pancakes, orange juice, and tea.
  • The costumes at Lila’s party range from Cleopatra (Jessica) to skiers (Enid and Liz) to a ballerina (Amy) to Princess Di (Lila) to Raggedy Ann and Andy (Steve and Cara)

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Everyone in this book is so completely stupid that it’s maddening.  Liz is blind to Amy’s obvious faults; Enid worries over being honest with Liz; Jessica seems to think it’s normal to break up complete strangers so she can make out with one of them at Miller’s Point; and Lila goes on and on about how hot her cousin is without realizing how creepy it sounds.  It’s enough to drive a girl crazy.

The issue of Amy is hard for me to write about, because I just honestly don’t care that much.  She’s like Jessica without the sense of humor or spark.  She’s manipulative and selfish and totally boring.  She sucks.  The fact that she was ever cool is debatable, and the fact that it took Elizabeth something like 120 pages to figure it out really bugs me.

As a final thought, I’d like to mention the scene in which Liz confides in her mom about her problems.  Sure, it happens near the end of the book, and sure, it’s a bit too tidy, but it’s a rare moment of actual parenting in which Alice actually gives decent advice:

Mrs. Wakefield looked thoughtful.  “Elizabeth,” she said slowly, “what you’re describing is a very manipulative young lady.  Do you think it’s possible that Enid has been trying to keep her distance because she’s afraid of hurting your feelings?”

“What do you mean?” Elizabeth demanded.

“What I mean,” Mrs. Wakefield said, “is that Enid may have sized Amy up much more quickly than you.  After all, she wasn’t lugging around the same emotional baggage you were.  She didn’t have all the good memories of Amy that you did, and she didn’t have the feel pressure to make things work out.” (126-127)

Is it perfect advice?  No, because it should have been obvious to someone who is supposedly introspective and reflective and keeps a journal, for chrissakes.  But whatever.  It’s something.

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One Response to “SVH #29: Bitter Rivals”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

    […] and Todd chat on the phone about people he’s dating in Vermont.  Oh, and she reconnects with Amy Sutton but thinks she’s a snob.  WHEN WILL THIS END.  By the time the book gets around to recapping #31, where she and Jessica […]

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