SVH Super Edition: Spring Fever

4 Oct

[Blogger’s Note: This book was one of my favorites when I was younger, and when I started collecting the books a few years ago, it was one of the first ones I reread.  I was so excited about it that I took it to class with me.  I was reading it during a break, trying to hide it from view, when the guy that I was crushing on walked up to me and asked what I was reading.  I was totally trapped, and I had to show it to him.  Mortified, I tried to quickly explain that it was ironic.  He laughed, but it was still really embarrassing.  SEE WHAT I ENDURE FOR YOU, SWEET VALLEY?]

Estimated Time Elapsed: Roughly 2 weeks (an 11-day trip to Walkersville, Kansas)

Summary/Overview:

Jessica and Elizabeth are traveling all the way to Walkersville, Kansas to stay with their great-aunt and uncle Herman and Shirley Walker for their spring break.  By my count, this is something like their third spring break in their junior year alone.  The twins are super excited to spend time in a real life small-town, because apparently Sweet Valley is a busting metropolis.  Alice Wakefield spends some time reflecting about the time she spent there as a young girl, and then she worries over the kinds of clothes that Jessica is bringing, because they’re a little risque for a town like Walkersville.

Once the twins arrive, they gush over how wonderful the town is.  Everything is quaint and perfect; there’s a main street and a five-and-dime (owned by their great-uncle) with a REAL SODA FOUNTAIN INSIDE.  Holy moley!  Everything about the town seems perfect with the one exception of Annie Sue Sawyer, a local girl who gives the twins a pretty cold reception.  Jessica is indignant about this, which is weird, because she’s the queen of icy greetings.  Apparently Annie Sue hasn’t taken kindly to two beautiful blondes from California showing up and potentially moving in on her boyfriend.  Despite their attempts to kill her with kindness, Annie Sue stays mean, setting them up for a bunch of embarrassing things, including a day of hijinx on her family’s farm.

A carnival comes to town, and the twins FREAK OUT about going.  Even though they want to go alone, their aunt and uncle are aghast at such an idea and insist on going with them.  Jessica is mortified but makes up for it by wearing her white jumpsuit with rhinestones on it.  The carnival itself isn’t much to write home about, but it isn’t long before Jessica and Liz meet Alex Parker, the guy in charge of horses at the carnival.  It turns out that Alex has an identical twin named Brad who is just like Elizabeth.  Jessica makes plans to meet Alex after the carnival closes up that night, but these plans are vetoed by Herman and Shirley, who go apoplectic at the idea of Jessica going out with a carny after ten o’clock.  So Jess fakes being sleepy and sneaks out to see him.

The twins alternate seeing Brad and Alex, but Elizabeth starts to get worried about her feelings for Brad and her feelings for Jeffrey.  She also wonders why Alex and Brad are never in the same place in the same time.  But Jessica has fallen head over heels for Alex and is continuing her late night rendezvous with him, causing her aunt and uncle to worry about her health.  What normal sixteen year old girl goes to bed at nine every night? [Blogger’s note: Um, this one did.] Elizabeth and Jessica assure them that’s she’s catching up on lost sleep from how busy she is in her real life.

Of course, Annie Sue sees Jessica and Alex together and concocts a weak blackmail scheme.  She gets a bunch of Jessica’s clothes and accessories in exchange for not spilling the beans about Jessica’s new love.  Elizabeth figures out that Alex and Brad are the same person due to a hand injury that ends up on both of them, but Alex begs Liz not to tell Jessica because he’s really fallen for her.  She agrees, but she’s pissed about it.

On the second to last night in Walkersville, Jessica is put in charge of watching Midnight, Alex’s most wild horse.  Annie Sue’s dad is buying it for her, and so she decides that it’s time to ride Midnight.  The horse gets spooked and takes off, and Jessica jumps on another horse and saves a now-hysterical Annie Sue.  She thanks Jessica and renounces every mean thing she’s ever said to her.  She throws a party to celebrate the awesomeness of the Wakefield twins.  Herman and Shirley meet Alex and reluctantly agree to allow Jessica to go with him to the barn dance the following night.  The twins have a rip-roaring good time, and they’ll never forget all the wonderful folks they met in Kansas.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “I read a great book about a girl who fell in love with a Ferris wheel operator.  It was incredibly romantic.” (44)
  • “‘Well, it’s just that we have an unspoken rule in town about the carnival,’ Mrs. Walker continued. ‘The boys who work the carnival are known as carnies in local slang.  Generally they come from very different backgrounds than any of the boys in town.  They’re not necessarily rough or anything, but they’re certainly not the kind of boys either of you two would be interested in.  I’m sure you know what I mean,’ she concluded…” (47)
  • “‘You’re a good kid, you know that?’ Alex said huskily.” (231) [Blogger’s note: And you’re a total creep-ass, Alex.]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • While the twins are in Kansas, Lila’s going to Rome with her father.
  • Cara Walker is referred to as Cora Walker in this book.
  • Annie Sue has a younger sister whom the twins meet at her family farm, but at the end of the book, Annie Sue blames her bad behavior on being an only child and not knowing how to share.  What the hell?

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Well I mean, where do we begin?  After rereading this book, I can’t figure out why I loved it so much all those years ago.  This book sucks.  It SUCKS, you guys.  Uncle Herman and Aunt Shirley are like, caricatures of caricatures.  When they find out that Jessica wants to go out after dark to meet a boy, Shirley literally clutches at her heart and asks Herman to bring her “her pills.”  Other bloggers have also pointed this out, but it bears repeating.  Who says things like that?

I remember being totally enamored with the whole Alex-Brad thing when I was young, which makes me cringe now.  The idea that this guy would invent a twin brother so that he could date both girls and figure out which one he liked better is so awful that the feminist in me is like, screaming at my 8-year-old self.  He’s a total creeper, and there’s no other way of looking at it.  At the end of the book, after Elizabeth plays with him a bit at the dance, we’re supposed to forgive him and root for him and Jessica, but I don’t see it that way.  So he decided he likes Jess more?  Good job, asshole.  You’re still a total dick.

Finally, everyone in the town of Walkersville is a complete cliche of what Midwestern life is supposed to be like.  I mean, I guess it’s supposed to be a cliche.  I live in the Midwest and I’ve never in my life met a girl named Annie Sue.  I’ve never attended a barn dance, and I’ve never mistaken rhinestones for real diamonds.  But all of those things happen in this book.  Which is, you know, lame.

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