SVH #64: The Ghost of Tricia Martin

21 Feb

ghost of tricia martin

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Steven and Liz run into a girl at the mall who is a DEAD RINGER for Steven’s dead girlfriend, Tricia Martin.  Steven immediately becomes obsessed and asks the girl, Andrea, out.  Even though he is dating Cara Walker seriously, he can’t stop thinking about Andrea/Tricia, and the two start to spend a lot of time together.  Steven takes her to all the places he and Tricia used to go, and he gets upset when she orders the “wrong” kind of ice cream and wears her hair up, because Tricia would never do that.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth wrings her hands about Steven’s behavior, because she’s kind of worried about how into Andrea he is and how brutally he’s kicked Cara to the curb without actually breaking up with her.  He just keeps blowing her off, thinking he can get this whole Andrea/Tricia thing out of his system and not hurt Cara in the process, which is actually one of the least crazy things he thinks in this book.

To try to keep his mind off of how obsessed he is, he also decides to take up hang gliding after seeing a magazine about it in Elizabeth’s bedroom.  Even though everyone around him is like, “That sounds dangerous, dude,” he’s determined, goes hang gliding, and promptly crashes into a cliff or something.  He doesn’t die, though.  He ends up in some sort of weird not-coma where he calls out Tricia’s name in front of Cara and then calls out Cara’s name once she’s run from the room, crying.

When he wakes up, he feels awful about both girls, I guess.  Andrea comes to the hospital in another dude’s car and breaks up with him because she’s not insane and realizes that he only likes her because she looks like his dead girlfriend.  Then Cara comes to the hospital and forgives Steven because she’s totally spineless and can’t be her own person for even a second.  All is well.

The B-Plot focuses on Jessica getting involved with a dude named Keith.  Keith is really, really into the environment, and Jessica pretends to be so she can hang out with him, but then she’s disappointed when all he ever wants to do is talk about recycling and trash burning and stuff.

There’s also a set-up for the next book, which involves Ned and Alice in marital strife.  They’ve been fighting a lot, and Ned seems professionally unsatisfied.  Whatever.  Too bored to care.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Steve is home for “a few weeks” to work on “an independent study project” for school.  Doesn’t he have other classes?  What kind of clown school is this?
  • There’s a revival movie theater in Sweet Valley that plays all sorts of independent fare.
  • Keith suggests he and Jessica get a bite to eat at the Whole Earth Cafe, where they serve “natural vegetable juices and mineral water.”

Quotes:

  • “‘Steve, no offense,’ she began quietly, ‘but you’ve called me Tricia three times.'” (14)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This is the creepiest, most disturbing book I think I’ve read in the series thus far.  In a stronger writer’s hands, this could be the plot of a thriller/suspense novel: a man becomes obsessed with a girl who resembles one he lost, and tries to mold her to meet his memories of a dead woman.  This is seriously the most disturbed I’ve been while reading one of these Sweet Valley books, and I can’t stop thinking about how fucked up this one is.

First of all, if Steven really became that obsessed with a girl who bears a passing resemblance to his dead girlfriend, that means that Steven needs serious, intensive therapy.  The fact that no one see this or suggests it tells me that everyone in his life is in some serious denial.  A couple of times, Steven blows up at Liz and is like, “So you think I’m crazy?” and she’s like, “No!” when she should really be like, “YES, YOU FUCKING PSYCHO.”

What Steven does with Andrea is creepy and totally inappropriate.  Getting upset when she orders a vanilla cone instead of a chocolate one?  Actually pulling the barrette out of her hair so she looks more like Tricia?  How are these actions okay?  How are they the actions of a person with a firm grip on reality?

Setting aside the fact that Sweet Valley seems to be a mecca for doppelgangers, his immediate attempts to make Andrea into Tricia and pick up his romance with her is problematic at best.  Doesn’t he have any friends?  Why is no one saying, “Dude, maybe you should be single for a while and see a therapist to sort through your grief?”  And don’t get me started on the treatment of Cara in this one.  Dropping her like a hot potato and picking her back up when Andrea splits?  Fucked. Up.

Also, while reading this I couldn’t help but notice the bizarre fetishism of Tricia’s death.  The way Steven thinks about Tricia’s body as she grew weaker is really fucking creepy.  But what else can you expect from someone who is ACTUALLY INSANE.

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One Response to “SVH #64: The Ghost of Tricia Martin”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. SVH Magna Edition: Elizabeth’s Secret Diary, Vol. II | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - August 24, 2015

    […] because it’s so balls-to-the-wall insane), Elizabeth’s adventures in surfing, a Tricia Martin doppelganger, and Wakefield Parent Drama for several painful books.  Very little insight is provided to readers […]

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