SVH #44: Pretenses

26 Oct

Estimated Time Elapsed: 3 weeks


Steven Wakefield is coming home for a few weeks to get a bunch of allergy tests done.  He’s stressed because he’s missing so much school, but Cara is hoping that the two of them will be able to spend some quality time together.  This desire to bond with Steven is exacerbated by the fact that Jessica convinces Cara that what’s missing in her relationship with Steve is an air of mystery.  This plot is so flimsy that I’m having a hard time even writing about it, but whatever.

Cara has also decided to throw herself a belated birthday party because she and Steve were going through some problems when her actual birthday occurred, which seems like a weird way to talk about that time that Steve left her at a restaurant after freaking out about his dead girlfriend.  She’s holding it at some exclusive place and can only invite 13 people, so she leaves out Abbie Richardson, who apparently goes to Sweet Valley High and matters.  Abbie is sad, and Cara is mortified when she finds out that Abbie’s feelings were hurt.  I try to care.

Steve and Cara fight a lot, because he’s acting withdrawn and sort of snappish.  He seems distracted, and Cara worries that he might be interested in someone else.  Abbie hangs out at the Wakefield house a lot, and so she and Steve get to talking.  He finds that she’s a sympathetic ear, and Jessica gets it into her pretty little head that Abbie might be moving in on Cara’s man.  Jessica thinks she has further proof when she sees some pink stationery that Steve’s reading and then places it to Abbie after going to a stationery store at the mall.  I don’t know.

Steve’s been distracted because he’s been receiving anonymous love letters on Tricia Martin’s old stationery.  He’s understandably upset about it, and when Jessica and Elizabeth tell him that they think it’s Abbie, the three confront her.  She cries and denies it, and after a while, it’s discovered that it’s been Cara sending letters to add mystery to her relationship.  She had no idea that it was Tricia’s stationery.  They make up with each other, and with Abbie

The B-Plot involves the Oracle hosting a contest for a comedy column.  The reasoning behind this is that interest in the Oracle is waning.  Elizabeth is really upset about this.  The comedy search ends up with two main contenders: Amy Sutton’s mock-Miss Manners column and Abbie Richardson’s comic strip.  Abbie’s apparently very talented and funny, but I didn’t find any actual humor in her strips.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Abbie, a sweet-tempered brunette who had never spent much time with Jessica or any of her friends since ninth grade, suddenly seemed to be everywhere.” (4) [Breaking the fourth wall, much?]
  • “[Elizabeth] felt slightly uncomfortable talking about Abbie, although she wasn’t sure why.  Maybe it was because she didn’t really know her that well yet, and she hated to make judgments prematurely.” (29)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Steven’s college is apparently 45 minutes away.  Why this means that he can’t commute back and forth for the allergy shots, I don’t know.
  • The ghost writer had a weird preoccupation with Abbie’s small hands, mentioning their size more than a few times
  • Prince Albert is referred to repeatedly in this book as simply Prince, which set my teeth on edge

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I guess I don’t have much to say about this one.  What is alarming to me is that I found the character of Abbie Richardson kind of sympathetic (though not that interesting, apparently, because I glossed over her in the recap) and not really annoying.  She’s incredibly selfless and maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but it seemed genuine.  Ugh.

Perhaps the biggest issue with the book is that the entire plot feels recycled.  How many times has Jessica inserted herself into someone’s long-term relationship and caused these sorts of problems?  Even more frustrating is the fact that this isn’t even the first time that Jessica’s inserted herself into Steve and Cara’s relationship!  Why can’t these people learn that when Jessica starts complaining about how boring monogamy is and then decides to offer relationship advice, it’s never good?  WHY?

4 Responses to “SVH #44: Pretenses”

  1. Fran November 3, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    I never read this one, I only remember the story from reading one of the Diaries. I didn’t find it too exciting either. The line about Elizabeth not wanting to judge prematurely made me laugh though.

  2. vlb September 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    This book was so boring! For some reason I recently re-read it. I hated how Abbie became BFF with the wakefields for just one book and never popped up again. And her comic strip was not funny at all!!!

  3. Leslie September 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    I disliked this book and spent most of it eye rolling. I hated Abbie simply because she was annoying and don’t find her sympathetic at all. I mean she dumps her friends for a boy and then expects to be invited to birthday parties. Really?


  1. SVH Magna Edition: Jessica’s Secret Diary, Vol. II | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - August 21, 2015

    […] Valley for an arbitrary contest and Jessica writes back to Todd for whatever reason.  Then, when Steven and Cara are sort of starting something up if only Steven can get over dead Tricia Martin, Jessica hears back from Todd.  This is seriously […]

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