SVH #35: Out of Control

2 Oct

Estimated Time Elapsed: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Lately, Aaron Dallas has been blowing up at everyone over seemingly little things.  Everyone is getting fed up with his short temper and is questioning whether he’s going through something or he’s just a really big douche bag.  The only people who seem to be standing by him are his best friend, Jeffrey French, and his girlfriend, sophomore Heather Sanford.  Elizabeth doesn’t understand Jeffrey’s unfailing loyalty to Aaron and she thinks Heather is a total airhead.  This is as mean as readers have ever seen Elizabeth, because she’s flat-out rude to Heather, cutting her off, rolling her eyes, and doing cruel imitations of her in front of her friends.

Aaron’s behavior causes problems between Elizabeth and Jeffrey, who can’t seem to agree about what’s happening.  Jeffrey rationalizes that Aaron is acting out because his parents are going through a nasty divorce.  Elizabeth that while it’s terrible that he’s having trouble with his parents getting divorced, it’s no excuse for his behavior, especially after he snaps and hits a soccer teammate.  The coach warns him that another outburst will get him booted from the team.  This must be pre-zero-tolerance, because where I come from, one attack would be the end for any player.  Liz writes an article about the incident, knowing that she’s going to piss off Aaron and Jeffrey.  She’s staying true to her serious newspaper reporter duties, I guess.

When the article comes out, Aaron won’t speak to Liz.  Jeffrey’s pissed, too.  Only Heather seems to be on Elizabeth’s side, telling her that she thinks it might be the catalyst for Aaron to get help.  Liz realizes that she’s misjudged Heather and feels bad.  When Aaron and Elizabeth run into each other in the cafeteria, Jeffrey asks him to get over it, and Aaron freaks out and punches Jeffrey.  Heather confronts Aaron and begs him to get help.  After seeing the guidance counselor, who gives him the number of a therapist for him and his father, Aaron manages to get back on the soccer team just in time for the big game against Big Mesa, which SVH promptly wins.

The B-Plot is in many ways more interesting than the A-plot.  Jessica has decided that her new get-rich-quick plan involves selling Tofu-Glo products.  She holds a party at her house for all the Pi Beta Alpha girls and sells a ton of the stuff.  The only problem is, she promises a money-back guarantee on the stuff, and she doesn’t realize that the products need to be refrigerated, so when she starts getting complaints about the products smelling and doing awful things, she realizes she’s totally screwed.  She cries a lot and has to buy it all back.  The company won’t refund her money, and then she has to have it all hauled away by a trash collector.  Jessica laments how she’ll never be able to pay Elizabeth and her parents back until her dad tells her that he did some research and found out the company wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up, and so she’s going to get a settlement from a lawsuit.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Oh, you poor thing,’ Elizabeth said, teasing her.  ‘Remember, you had your chance.’  When Jeffrey had first moved to town, Elizabeth concocted a scheme to fix Enid up with him.  The plan had backfired, but Enid hadn’t minded at all.” (11) [Blogger’s note: That’s not how I remember it, Liz.]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Tofu-Glo products include Tofu-Shampoo, Soya-Soft, and Soya-Life Diet Supplement.  The idea that anyone would want to rub soybeans all over themselves amuses me greatly.
  • The ingredients list of the products include PABA, which is something that I was allergic to as a child.  I remember reading this and FREAKING OUT about the fact that my one allergy was included in a Sweet Valley High novel.  It’s the little things, you know.
  • Heather Sanford makes most of her own clothes and is totally fashionable, but she maintains her figure by drinking a lot of Diet Coke.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

The thing that has always stood out to me about this book is how completely awful Elizabeth is to Heather.  To say that it’s uncharacteristic is an understatement because of the sheer amount of hostility Elizabeth seems to hold for the girl.  Considering the fact that Elizabeth is usually kind to even the most pathetic (and often irritating) characters of Sweet Valley, it is especially jarring.  After all, she tried to be kind to Betsy Martin, a character whom I find completely antagonistic and irredeemable.  She prides herself on finding the good in people and being a patient and kind listener, but she won’t even give Heather a shot even though Heather is never anything but genuine and nice to her.

When she goes on double date with Heather and Aaron, she is irritated by Heather’s comments during the movie.  When Heather tries to talk to her about the film afterward, she snarks about how annoying it is that Heather only wants to talk about clothes and Aaron.  She prickles at the phrase “girl talk,” doesn’t listen when Heather talks, and is absolutely horrified when Heather speaks in baby talk to Aaron in order to calm him down.  While I agree that baby talk spoken earnestly is faintly embarrassing, what Elizabeth fails to see is how it’s Heather’s way of coping with Aaron’s temper.  Heather is embarrassed by it as well, but Aaron thinks it’s cute, and it’s more embarrassing to be dating an asshole who blows up at the smallest things and can’t let things go.

It’s only after Heather tells her that she agrees with her that Elizabeth thinks that maybe she misjudged her.  Elizabeth needed this validation in order to see the good in Heather?  I don’t accept that.  That’s bullshit, and it’s lazy writing.  Oftentimes I feel sympathetic to Elizabeth, but not this time.

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One Response to “SVH #35: Out of Control”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. SVH: Jessica’s Secret Diary, Vol. I | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - July 18, 2014

    […] #34, even though it’s totally not about Jessica at all.  Same thing with the book about Aaron Dallas’s anger issues (repressed homosexuality?  RIGHT?) and his girlfriend Heather’s baby voice.  UGH GOD WHY DO […]

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