SVH #53: Second Chance

14 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks


Kristin Thompson is a total tennis star.  She has a chance of going pro in the upcoming Avery Cup, but her concentration declines when Bruce Patman asks her out and starts wooing her.  Part of her wants to continue to practice tennis and maintain her grueling schedule, and another part of her wants to experience what it’s like to be a normal teenager.  She feels obligation to continue to work toward the tennis goal, though, because her mother was a tennis star who died tragically in a plane crash when Kristin was a little girl.  Her fear of disappointing her father keeps her relatively complacent.

Kristin tries to juggle her tennis schedule with dating Bruce and being a big sister to a little girl named Emily, who also happens to like tennis.  It starts to have an effect on her game, though, and she plays badly in the first round of the Avery Cup.  She still wins, though, and goes onto the second round, where she wins again, but still isn’t playing her best.  Kristin faces a dilemma: Bruce has invited her to be his date at his parents’ annual blow-0ut party on Saturday, but the last round of the tennis competition is on Sunday.  Kristin decides to go to the party anyway.

At the party, Kristin feels out of place.  She feels under-dressed, and when she goes up to Bruce to be introduced to his parents, Amy Sutton squeezes her way in between them, and Bruce just sort of goes with it.  Kristin has a miserable time at the party and goes home early, but it doesn’t matter, because she loses the match the next day.  She’ll still qualify for the pro team, but only as an alternate.

She cries to her coach about how she feels like a failure, and her coach consoles her.  The coach tells her that her mother was going to give up tennis to be with her family.  Kristin feels better after hearing this.  She goes to school the next day, and Bruce tries to flirt with her.  She shuts him down.  When she picks up Emily after school, Emily cries and tells her that she tried out for tennis camp and didn’t make it and she was scared that Kristin wouldn’t like her anymore.  Kristin tells Emily that she’ll love her no matter what, which is the moment that serves as Kristin’s epiphany about her father and tennis coach.  YOU GUYS.  THEY WILL LOVE HER NO MATTER WHAT.

Kristin decides that she still really loves tennis but will play for herself instead of her dead mother or whatever.  Elizabeth and the gang go to see Kristin play in her next match, and she wins, because now her heart’s in it.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Kristin blushed.  She had never heard anyone talk about Bruce before.  Did he have a bad reputation?” (92)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The ghostwriter uses the word “diaphanous” to describe some of the girls’ dresses at Bruce’s party.  Why, hello, big word.
  • SVH students are working on an essay about the American Dream.  I read this and threw up in my mouth.
  • Elizabeth and Enid are described as having been friends for years.  I hope that this is the ghostwriter’s sly nod to how long these girls have been in the eleventh grade, because we all know that Enid moved to SVH not that long ago.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

What is there to say, really?  We’ve had several books in a row now that feature characters who exist solely for the purpose of the story being told.  Kristin Thompson wasn’t on our radar before, and she probably won’t be again.  Trying to care about her and her problems is really, really hard.  Also, sports bore me, which makes a book like this doubly terrible.

There is one thing I want to talk about, though.  I didn’t mention it in my recap because I sort of glossed over the entire Bruce Patman situation.  Now seems like a good time to bring it up, though.  Ready?  Okay.

Kristin ends up with a free afternoon before her tennis practice, and she heads over to the courts at SVH.  She sees a group of her peers playing, and they invite her to join.  She goes up against Bruce Patman, and instead of wiping the court with him (or whatever.  Sports metaphors aren’t my thing), she allows him to win, because she thinks that Bruce being beaten by a girl would be humiliating for him.  It’s almost a throwaway line in the book, and yet it really got stuck in my craw.  What kind of message is this supposed to send?  How is this ever okay?

Am I focusing on the wrong details here?  Should I instead focus on the creepy-as-all-hell relationship Kristin has with her father.  More than once, she thinks about the fact that she’s a replacement for her own mother.  There’s nothing inherently incestuous in the story, but the constant comparisons to her mother skeeved me out all the same.

What do you think?

One Response to “SVH #53: Second Chance”


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

    […] gambling issues, totally-not-a-rapist-yet John Pfeifer and his jealousy over Jennifer Mitchell, Kristin Thompson and tennis).  Jessica recounts cheating on A.J. with some dude and subsequently breaking up with him.  Oh, […]

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