SVH #65: Trouble at Home

24 Feb

troubleathome

Estimated Elapsed Time: About a month?

Summary/Overview:

Alice Wakefield’s firm puts forth a bid to design a new wing in the Valley Mall, and it’s taking up all her time.  This means she’s not home to cook dinner or grocery shop, which makes Ned Wakefield UNBELIEVABLY angry, and it makes the kiddos pretty nervous.  It seems like Alice and Ned are fighting all the time, and Ned is clearly professional unsatisfied.  When Maria Santelli’s dad, who happens to be running for mayor, is accused of taking bribes, Ned decides to defend him.  Alice is unsure about this, but Ned pushes forth, because he is an ETHICAL LAWYER, unlike pretty much every other lawyer he knows.

Apparently Ned holds a lot of power in Sweet Valley or they don’t have much of a backlog of cases, because within days of Santelli being accused and Ned taking the case, the trial has begun.  It doesn’t go well, and Ned is weary/crabby at home, when he is home.  The twins worry about the fact that their parents seem to be so disconnected, but Liz is much more worried than Jessica.

Ned and Alice seem to be driven further apart when the judge suspends the case due to lack of evidence.  In this blogger’s professional opinion, it sounds like the case was thrown out, but the legal terms in this book are so APPALLINGLY INACCURATE that it hardly seems to matter.  Ned is crushed by this perceived loss, and this is worsened by the fact that Alice’s firm wins the bid and is designing the new mall wing.  She’s busier than ever, and Ned is super resentful of her success.

But then Mr. Santelli pulls out of the mayoral race and Henry Patman shows up with some other guy at the Wakefield house and asks Ned to run.  Ned is flattered and seems to be seriously considering taking the candidacy.  He neglects to tell his wife this, though.

The entire family takes their “annual” vacation to a remote cabin on Lake Tahoe, and Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven hope that this will help their parents fall back in love with each other.  But that doesn’t happen, as Alice’s firm gets a hold of her at the cabin when some things go wrong and Ned blows up about it.  He gives her an ultimatum: her job or their marriage, and she literally rides away from her family on horseback. CLIFFHANGER.

The B-Plot involves Jessica becoming addicted to calling a 900-number for teens.  This teen line is advertised as a way for teens to connect with other teens, but it costs them $1/minute.  Remember when this was a thing?  At any rate, Jessica meets “Charlie” through this teen line and decides she’s in love with him, even though he keeps putting off actually meeting.  He’s totally catfishing her.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Ned belongs to a legal fraternity called Psi Epsilon.
  • A new Italian restaurant called Toscas opened up in Sweet Valley.
  • Wakefield Family House Rule: No TV at mealtimes.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica felt her cheeks get hot. This guy was terrific. If he was this great to talk to on the telephone, she could just imagine how wonderful he’d be in person!” (40)
  • “‘Out in the open,’ she repeated incredulously. ‘Jess, don’t you ever feel sorry about anything you do? Can’t you admit what you did was wrong?'” (120)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This book is the worst, not only because it’s so heavily focused on Ned and Alice, but because the stakes here are so low that I can’t even bring myself to care.  Ned and Alice are not going to get a divorce, guys.  They just aren’t.  You don’t spend 60 fucking books telling readers about how rock-solid a marriage is to have it come crumbling down in the span of 130 pages over some hectic work schedules.  Give me an affair or a drug problem or something!

But what is interesting to note is how fucking sexist the undertones of the novel are.  Alice is literally expected to do it all: she’s expected to work a full-time job, keep a trim figure, take care of her children, and get dinner on the table by six o’clock (Ned FREAKS OUT when she brings home Chinese food one night).  Ned gives her endless grief about how the family doesn’t come first for her all of a sudden, and it feels really hollow, because his career has come first a lot of times before this.

Probably I’m giving this too much thought.  I know I am, because I have a blog devoted to recapping Sweet Valley High novels in excruciating detail.  But it’s interesting to see what I notice this time around that my 10-year-old self completely missed.

This is kind of a two-parter, because nothing gets resolved here, plot-wise.  However, the powers that be decided to publish Bruce’s Story between novels (maybe hoping to stall for some time and find an actual plot?), so we’ll be reading that before we get to #66: Who’s to Blame?

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4 Responses to “SVH #65: Trouble at Home”

  1. lemonycrumb February 24, 2014 at 4:52 am #

    Ha, Ned probably freaked out coz of his mystery allergy to Chinese food. Any Spanish-style tile-lovin interior designer who sometimes gets mistaken for the older sister of her 16-year-old daughters should know that SHEESH.

    Also, Ned is a mason jar full of DOUCHE. I see where Steven gets it from.

    As always, loving the recaps 🙂

    • Clementine Bojangles February 24, 2014 at 9:55 am #

      Oh god, GOOD CALL! I totally forgot about Ned’s weird Chinese food allergy. I think the ghostwriter did, too.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. SVH #66: Who’s to Blame? | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - February 28, 2014

    […] and Alice have separated following the bizarre ultimatum Ned issued while they were horseback riding at Lake Tahoe, and Ned is moving to an apartment downtown for the time being.  The kids are very concerned that […]

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

    […] 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 that they didn’t […]

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