SVH #38: Leaving Home

8 Oct

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week


Elizabeth has become obsessed with the idea of going to boarding school in Switzerland, so when Regina Morrow shows her a brochure about the Interlochen school, she knows it’s like totally fate (like Shannon pointed out in her review, the Interlochen school is in Michigan, but whatevs, Sweet Valley).  The school is internationally renowned and has a strong focus on literature and writing.  There’s also a scholarship that would pay for Elizabeth’s entire senior year to be spent abroad learning and studying there.  In order to qualify for the Margaret Sterne Memorial Scholarship, Elizabeth has to undergo a pretty rigorous process: along with her application, she must submit writing samples, some faculty recommendations, and have two interviews, one with a family member of the scholarship’s namesake, and one with an alumnus of the school.  If she passes all these steps, then she’ll have the opportunity to spend her entire summer and her last year of high school learning with the elite.

Obviously this idea doesn’t go over well with anyone in Elizabeth’s life.  Jessica is devastated at the idea of spending a year apart from Liz.  Jeffrey’s sad, Enid’s upset, Steven’s confused, and Ma and Pa Wakefield are a bit worried, too.  But Elizabeth has her mind set on it and won’t listen to anyone’s concerns, although no one seems to be able to offer anything constructive to the argument, choosing instead to be flummoxed on why anyone would ever want to leave Sweet Valley.  Liz becomes obsessed with winning the scholarship and focuses all of her energy on presenting her life and family in the best possible light for the interviews.

Jeffrey and Enid decide that they haven’t been supportive enough and funnel their efforts into creating the most amazing going-away scrapbook ever.  They spend all their free time together working on the book, and Liz begins to suspect that Jeffrey has already replaced her with her best friend.  Jessica and Steven decide that the best course of action is to sabotage Liz’s interviews and go out of their way to seem totally crazy.  Steven drops hints during the family interview that their family is a mess, and Jessica actually pretends to be Liz at school and hits on the interviewer.

When Elizabeth finds out what they’ve done, she’s rightfully pissed.  She’s screaming at them when the interviewer shows up at the house to offer her the scholarship.  He tells her that Steven and Jessica confessed to what they did and he was impressed with her moral character, blah blah blah.  Jeffrey and Enid show up with the scrapbook and Elizabeth realizes why they’ve been spending all their time together.  She looks at all the pictures of her wonderful life in Sweet Valley and turns down the opportunity to study abroad.  Everyone’s happy.

The B-Plot involves Winston accidentally switching coats with an old man at a convenience store and then winning $25,000 in the lottery with that man’s ticket.  He worries over what to do for a while before finally bringing it to the man (who is quite poor) and admitting what happened.  Everyone thinks Winston did an admirable thing, except Lila, who’s incredulous that Winston didn’t keep some of the money.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica looked glum.  ‘I thought twins were supposed to be close,’ she complained.  ‘Haven’t you always said how important it is for us to spend time together, Liz?  I’d like to know how much time we’re going to get to spend together when you’re off wearing lederhosen and yodeling and chasing goats.'” (8)
  • “‘Dad!’ Elizabeth shrieked. ‘He’ll think we have a broken family or something.'” (90)
  • “And then they’ll decide she’s even better than she is, despite her weird background.  Then they’ll give her twice as much money and send her away for twice as long.” (107) [Blogger’s note: They’re going to send her away for two senior years?  Really?]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Wakefield family meets Steven in San Farando, a town about 25 miles north of Sweet Valley that is apparently the halfway point between home and Steve’s “state university.”  I wish the ghost writers would make up their minds about where Steven goes to college.
  • Jeffrey’s birthday is July 12, in case you were dying to know.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I guess my biggest beef with this story is not how completely clueless Elizabeth seems to be about how upset she’s making everyone in the novel, but how Steven and Jessica (though less so) rationalize their behavior.

Both Steven and Jessica think it’s okay to completely sabotage Elizabeth’s chances at the scholarship because they don’t want her to leave.  Even though their attempts are pretty transparent and there’s not a chance that they’ll get away with the entire scheme without people catching on, it’s the sense of righteousness in their actions that bothers me the most.  The idea that their love for Elizabeth has become so misguided that they are willing to ruin her chances at a truly amazing educational experience is really alarming.

What kind of message does this send to SVH readers?  It’s okay to sabotage an amazing opportunity like this for someone else if you know what’s really best for them?  It doesn’t matter that what Jessica and Steven did was totally wrong and completely crossing the line, because they owned up to it and Liz was offered the scholarship anyway?  It’s okay because deep down, Liz didn’t really want to leave Sweet Valley and her siblings’ antics helped her to admit it?

Gross.  Just–gross.


One Response to “SVH #38: Leaving Home”


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

    […] likes pistachio ice cream and shit?  Me neither, but it happened.  Jessica reminisces about how she and Steven schemed to keep Elizabeth from going away to boarding school and then actually admits to being pretty into Jeffrey, thinking at one point that she’d send […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: