SVH #31: Taking Sides

20 Jul

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks


Jeffrey French, he of the green eyes and blond hair, is the newest boy at Sweet Valley.  He must be some kind of dreamboat, because both Lila Fowler and Enid Rollins are crushing on him.  Lila enlists the help of Jessica to ensnare him while Enid begs Liz to assist her in catching Jeffrey’s attention.  Both of the twins are ambivalent or even reluctant to help until they find out that the other is involved in the scheming, and then both girls throw themselves into it.

Lila throws a pool party and doesn’t invite Enid or Liz.  She tries to flirt with Jeffrey, who is polite but clearly not interested.  She tries to buy his affections, purchasing a very expensive camera and tripod for him, but he flat-out refuses the gifts.  She essentially forces him into attending a soccer game with her in L.A., and she monopolizes him on the dance floor at the Beach Disco, but nothing seems to be working.

Meanwhile, Liz works hard to talk Enid up to Jeffrey.  She’s almost psychotic about it, telling him how great she is, how knowledgeable she is about photography and Sweet Valley, how she’s the most awesome girl ever.  Enid and Liz scheme up a way to get Jeffrey to auction off a date with himself at the food drive auction, and Enid wins by bidding the most cans of food.  The date doesn’t go very well, though, and she realizes that they aren’t meant to be.

But Liz won’t accept that, despite the fact that it’s clear to everyone except her that she herself is into Jeffrey.  She can’t understand why she gets so flustered when he pays her a compliment, and she keeps pushing Enid on him, until he finally gets fed up and yells at her and gives her a little shake.  There’s some crying on the beach, and then she and Jeffrey dance together and it all makes sense.  They’re in love.  Of course they are.

The B-Plot involves the Wakefield’s cousin Jenny Townsend coming to visit.  Jenny is totally unglamorous because she’s only 15 and “at least 10 pounds overweight.”  She adores Jessica and follows her around, getting in the way of Jessica’s attempt to seduce Eddie Winters, who is really nice to Jenny.  Turns out he’s crushing on Jenny, and Jessica is crushed.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “The years hadn’t really changed Jenny, unfortunately, Jessica thought.  Thick glasses, unkempt hair, at least ten pounds overweight, and dressed in the most unflattering fuchsia sweats, Jenny was, as far as Jessica was concerned, a mess.” (21)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Fowlers own at least 5 cassette players.
  • The ghostwriter refers to Enid Rollins as “Enid Rollings,” bringing even more evidence to the fact that NO ONE cares about Enid.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I don’t have a lot to say about this one.  For some reason, this book was always one of my favorites as a child, and rereading it now, I’m not sure why.  Elizabeth acts so unbelievably unself-aware that it’s hard to swallow.  It takes her 130 pages to realize that SHE likes Jeffrey?  She’s lucky she’s got such a doormat friend in Enid, because I’m not sure I’d be okay with my best friend going after my crush, even if I realized it would never work out between us.

However, I will leave you all with this small anecdote: one of the scenes that I remember best from my childhood reading Sweet Valley novels occurs in this book.  The scene at the beach party after the food drive, when Jeffrey shakes Elizabeth’s shoulders and tells her he’s a big boy and can handle his own romantic entanglements has remained with me for years.  I remember being simultaneously worried about something that seemed kind of violent and yet also found myself intrigued by the romantic undertones of their situation.  I was a dramatic eleven-year-old.

2 Responses to “SVH #31: Taking Sides”


  1. SVH Super Star: Enid’s Story | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - March 12, 2014

    […] help who we are attracted to.  I understand, even that if we adhere to the series’ cannon, Enid set her sights on Jeffrey first–although wasn’t that at Liz’s insane urging, …?  I’m even willing to admit that maybe these girls are more emotionally mature than I am and […]

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

    […] she’s a snob.  WHEN WILL THIS END.  By the time the book gets around to recapping #31, where she and Jessica fight over which of their friends gets to date Jeffrey (like this is a reward?), Liz and Ken aren’t really seeing each other any more, and then Liz […]

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