SVH Super Edition #4: Malibu Summer

13 Jul

Estimated Elapsed Time: A month in book-time; a summer total.


Jessica, Elizabeth, and Lila all get jobs as mother’s helpers for families in Malibu.  Since it was Jessica’s idea and Liz gave up an internship at the Sweet Valley News in order to tag along, she makes Jessica do all the planning.  Jessica places herself in the home of Lucy and Josh Sargent, who have a 3-month old baby named Sam and are cousins of her latest celebrity crush, Tony Sargent.  Liz lands with the considerably wealthier and colder Malcolm and Audrey Bennett, who have a sullen six-year old daughter named Taryn.  The girls start their jobs and things go fairly smoothly, although Elizabeth can’t seem to get Taryn to open up to her.

It isn’t long before Jessica falls in love with Cliff Sherman, the next-door neighbor to the Bennetts.  She spends a great deal of time trying to get Liz to switch jobs with her so that she can be near him, but Liz refuses.  When Liz babysits for Jessica one night, she meets the Sargent’s houseguest Jamie Gailbraith, a 21-year-old English major at Yale.  She and Jamie fall in love, and she has no idea that he’s really Tony Sargent, the pop start that Jessica’s obsessed with.  He’s in hiding from a crazy boyfriend of a groupie who wants to kill him.

There’s a terrible storm one night, and it’s the same night that Taryn decides to run away from home.  Liz is out with Jamie/Tony, and Jessica stops by to make sure that she’s okay.  When she discovers that Taryn is missing, she takes off with the Bennett’s housekeeper.  They find Taryn trapped on a bridge about to collapse, and Jessica saves the day when she convinces Taryn to grab onto her.  At the hospital, Taryn’s parents are told that she needs to have the “will” to live, and then they all cry and make up.

Meanwhile, Liz and Jamie are stuck at the Beach Cafe, waiting out the storm.  The crazy man, named Frankie LaSalle (because this is a Sweet Vally High novel), manages to find him through some trickery and comes at him with a knife.  The two have a scuffle until Liz knocks Frankie on the head with a vase.  Then the whole story comes out of Tony’s mouth, and Liz is shocked, saddened, and skeptical that he could ever really care for her.  She mopes around until the gang goes to see him perform, and he dedicates a new song he’s written to her.  The end.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Oh, don’t worry about that,’ Jessica said.  ‘Mr. Fowler has some big client whose son’s got a place in Malibu.  The son is married, and they have a one two-year-old and a nanny, and about three other people to take care of him.  Lila’s just supposed to play with him sometimes and read him stories at night.  It doesn’t sound too taxing.” (7)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Liz asks Steven to water her plants while she’s gone.   Is she 50?
  • Tony Sargent’s hit singles include “You’re On My Mind” and “Tonight Is For You, Girl”

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I don’t know, guys.  The Wakefield parents agree to send both girls off to a strange city to stay with complete strangers for an entire summer?  The girls get these mother’s helpers jobs with virtually no experience and no background check?  I don’t completely understand the premise of the book, which makes it hard to provide an analysis of what happens.

There is a really funny typo in the book wherein Lila is talking about meeting older men in Malibu, and she says, “There are some really great-looking girls in Malibu,” and it’s clear they meant “guys” but it was hilarious all the same.

Also, Tony Sargent?  The entire premise is ridiculous at best.  He had drinks with a groupie (he’s not even old enough to drink, but whatever) and her ex-boyfriend decides that gives him license to kill him?  With a huge, glinting knife?  Really?


One Response to “SVH Super Edition #4: Malibu Summer”

  1. Aria January 23, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    The 80s were a far more innocent time, and people often took babysitters to the beach, and the babysitters were often based general referrals. I baby sat for people I barely knew, like when a friend or acquaintance who usually sat for them was unavailable and gave my name, and this is when I was only about 13-14. It seems hard to believe now that people that knew basically nothing about me other than the fact I was friends with their usual sitter would just leave me with their children for hours!

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