SVH #51: Against the Odds

7 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week


Sweet Valley High has a huge soccer game against Big Mesa coming up.  There will be college scouts there, which is a big deal to Jeffrey, who is already thinking about where to go in two years.  Ronnie Edwards, who used to date Enid Rollins, strolls into the Dairi Burger one night throwing around money and generally bragging.  This seems to skeeve pretty much everyone out, because no one wants to talk to him.  Some shady-looking guys ask to see his car in the parking lot and then corner him by the dumpsters and try to mug him.  Jeffrey intervenes and saves Ronnie, who showers him with gratitude.  Jeffrey worries about Ronnie and what he’s gotten himself into.

Ronnie has started placing bets with a bookie, which goes well until it doesn’t.  The bookie’s name is Big Al (seriously?  That’s the best name they could come up with?) and he threatens Ronnie with violence when Ronnie is short on the cash.  He basically tells him that Sweet Valley better win the soccer game against Big Mesa by no more than one point or else.  Ronnie panics and talks to Jeffrey, who’s understandably pissed.

The night of the game, Ronnie gets kidnapped by one of Big Al’s minions.  The minion also takes Elizabeth, who seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The two of them get tied up but Ronnie escapes, knocking the minion unconscious.  The two call the police and race to the game, where Jeffrey is playing badly (I guess because he’s so upset?).  Elizabeth gets the coach to call a time-out and tells Jeffrey to play his best.  Big Al gets arrested while watching the game in the bleachers (what?).  Sweet Valley wins!

The B-Plot involves Jessica deciding to become a jewelry designer.  She has some luck convincing her friends that her earrings are really cute, and then she gets a shop at the mall to agree to carry them.  To meet the demands of the order, though, she borrows her mom’s credit card, and spends something like $900 on supplies.  The shop decides to go another direction, leaving Jessica completely stranded.  Looks like she’ll have to get an actual job.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “They looked too old to be high school students, and with their sunglasses, beard stubble, and leather jackets they seemed like the kind of guys it would be better to stay away from.” (9)
  • “‘Listen, Ronnie,’ Mr. Russo said, in a firm, angry voice.  ‘I’m going to give you a chance to stand here like a considerate human being and wait ten minutes until the test is over.  If you so much as say one more word or move one inch closer to me, I swear I will suspend you so fast your head will spin?  Understood?'” (83)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Ronnie’s characterization in this book is completely at odds with what we already knew about him.  Even though he was a selfish jerk before, he’s now completely insecure and no one likes him.  It doesn’t make any sense.
  • Alice Wakefield authorizes Jessica to spend something like $400 on her credit card, but she spends over $900.  Awesome.
  • Jessica is totally wearing one of her earrings on the cover.  I actually think they look cute.
  • Big Mesa’s sports teams are called the Bull Dogs.  Did we know this already?

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I’m not going to lie: I don’t know very much about betting or gambling in general, and I know even less about bookies.  Most of what I know is from TV.  Didn’t Saved by the Bell have an episode with a bookie?  I remember that on Felicity, Ben got in trouble with one once.  They’re always dudes, they’re always sort of sketchy, and they always use violence to solve problems.

The character of Big Al is such a stereotype, though, that it’s hard to take him seriously.  I’m not even sure how seriously the teens in the book take him, because when Ronnie and Elizabeth get kidnapped by one of his minions, neither one seems particularly scared.  Once they’ve freed themselves, they seem to recover pretty quickly.  Ronnie gets taken in for questioning at the police station, but Elizabeth doesn’t.  She was a hostage, right?  Why wasn’t she questioned?  Are the ghostwriters really that lazy?

Next up: White Lies.  John Pfeiffer has a secret, but it’s not that he’s a rapist.  Not yet, anyway.


3 Responses to “SVH #51: Against the Odds”

  1. snarkvalley June 7, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    There was a really goofy Saved by the Bell episode where they played a poker game against this doofy little rich dude and lost Screech’s dog because of it … hahaha, SBTB was my favorite show EVER. EVER. The more I think about it the funnier that statement becomes

    • Clementine Bojangles June 7, 2011 at 9:12 am #

      I definitely remember that episode now that you mention it. SBTB was MY favorite show, too. I once gave a persuasive speech about how it should be considered the greatest TV show to ever air.

      (I got an A, but my speech teacher’s comment was something like, “This was ironic, right?”)


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

    […] to plug on, as if the readers really want to rehash the stories of C and D-list characters (Ronnie’s gambling issues, totally-not-a-rapist-yet John Pfeifer and his jealousy over Jennifer Mitchell, Kristin Thompson […]

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