SVH #48: Slam Book Fever

17 Jan

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Amy Sutton decides that SVH needs some livening up, and the way to do that is through slam books, which were popular at her old school.  She convinces all the girls to buy black-and-white speckled notebooks and they go to town inventing categories and voting for classmates in each others’ books.  While Elizabeth and Enid abstain because they think the project could be mean, everyone else loves it, and it isn’t long before they start coming up with “Crystal Ball” categories that predict the future with clever titles like, “Most Likely to Have Six Kids” and “Most Likely to Earn a Million Dollars.”

Things start to go badly after Olivia Davidson and Roger Barrett Patman break up.  Her name starts appearing next to Jeffrey French’s in people’s slam books under the category of “Couple of the Future,” and it upsets Elizabeth.  To make matters worse, Jeffrey and Olivia are spending a lot of time together because they’re working on a photo essay project.  When Cara sees them parked on the side of the road looking cozy, Elizabeth freaks out.  By the time Olivia and Jeffrey can explain the situation (she had something in her eye), Liz has taken off and won’t speak to either of them.

Jessica and Olivia figure out that Lila’s been writing Jeffrey and Olivia’s names in the slam books to try to break up Jeffrey and Elizabeth.  It seems she wants to get her own claws in him, and this was her way of getting to him.  After they discover her (admittedly awesome) ploy, they get everyone to write her name under a new category they dub “Class Sneak.”  She takes it in stride, though, and remains awesome while doing so.  Liz makes up with Jeffrey and Olivia.  All is well in the world.

The B-Plot involves Jessica’s growing interest in new boy A.J. Morgan.  She finds herself completely tongue-tied whenever she’s around him, and even though she’s one of the most flirtatious girls in school, he thinks she’s really shy, which he digs.  She vows to be the girl that he thinks she is and plays up that shyness, going so far as to try to gain an interest in poetry.  Liz worries that Jessica’s going too far to impress A.J., but we’ll have to wait for the next book in order to really delve into that.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “She felt a shiver inside.  If they could break up, anyone could.” (45)
  • “Elizabeth stopped laughing. ‘He doesn’t–Jessica, what does that mean?  How in the world is he supposed to like you if he doesn’t like flirtatious girls?'” (126)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Jessica gets over ten votes for “Biggest Flirt”
  • A.J. scored 28 points in the basketball game against Riverside High.
  • Jessica asks if Emily Dickinson or John Keats are any good at the whole poetry thing

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I mean, what do I say about this one?  I remember really liking this book when I was younger.  For some reason, the idea of slam books was appealing to me, even though the moral (hazy though it might be) is that slam books can be hurtful and we should use our powers for good, not evil.  Perhaps it was because the concept of a slam book fed into my preconceived notions of what high school would be like.  Once more, Sweet Valley messed with my perception of reality.

My high school didn’t do slam books (doesn’t it seem like kind of a middle-school thing to do?), but we did have “Most Likely To…” categories that seniors voted on which were then put into the yearbook.  Categories ranged from “Best Eyes” to “Best Ride” to “Most Desirable Date,” and I think most girls I hung around with secretly wanted to win a category, but we were pretty nerdy and pretty quiet and my graduating class had something like 450 students, so…most of our dreams were squashed pretty quickly.  I did, however, win a category in the yearbook: “Most Likely to Take Over the World.”  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  (I also swept the vote in two categories in the underground newspaper: “Most Likely to Scar Their Children for Life” and “Most Likely to Commit a Hate Crime.”  I feel like I should clarify that both of these were jokes and that the votes were fabricated.  Seriously.)  At any rate, all three of my categories were a far cry from the kinds of things that Jessica and Elizabeth were considered for.

The point I’m trying to make (and am failing at) is that the concept of slam books actually applies to high school life.  We’re a culture that likes to categorize things, and so while the concept of slam books working outside of a single group of friends is dubious at best, it’s still something worth considering in terms of the larger social structure.  In today’s society, slam books would be electronic, and they would probably be tied to bullying.  But the general idea is the same: girls use it as a tool to exert power and inflict psychological pressure on their peers.  What Lila did in her attempts to steal Jeffrey (in a completely meta way, I might add) was the ultimate expression of such power.

Just something to think about.

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3 Responses to “SVH #48: Slam Book Fever”

  1. Nikki July 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    ◦Jessica gets over ten votes for “Biggest Flirt”

    Personally, I’m surprised Jessica was labeled “biggest flirt” and not “biggest tease”, jmo.

    • Clementine Bojangles July 7, 2014 at 9:45 am #

      I think it’s a nicer euphemism for “tease.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

    […] Jessica falls for A.J., she writes to Todd for advice, which also makes no sense.  As she works to keep A.J. happy, she […]

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