Tag Archives: attempted rape (real)

SVH Super Edition: Falling for Lucas

4 Mar

fallingforlucas

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:

It’s spring break and the twins are going on a ski trip to Colorado.  Along with them, Lila, Todd, Enid and Winston are all going (there are 16 fallinglucas2students and 2 chaperones in total).  Jessica and Lila are both committed to finding the cutest skiing outfits they can.  Todd is looking forward to some alone time with Liz, who keeps reminding them that there will be chaperones and also they will have roommates.  But Todd’s hormones must be on overdrive, because he tries to climb into Elizabeth’s bunk on the chartered bus before they even get to the resort.  Mr. Collins and Liz both freak out, and Todd shuffles back to his bunk.

Once they arrive at the ski resort, it’s clear that everyone has goals they want to meet on the trip.  Winston is not a good skiier and doesn’t want people to know; Enid is determined to hook up with a guy and buys a book to help her snag a hottie on the slopes; Lila & Jessica are in competition to find the cutest dude; and Todd is laser-focused on getting Liz alone in a hotel room.  I am already bored.

Jessica and Lila meet a super cute ski instructor named Lucas King and decide that they both want him.  They pretend to be really bad at skiing so he’ll pay attention to them.  Then they place a bet: whoever gets to kiss him first wins.  The loser has to ski down the most dangerous double black diamond run at the resort.  Jessica finagles an entire day’s worth of private lessons from him and Lila is pissed.  She demands to be let in on the lesson, and Jessica tells her what time it’s at only to cancel Lila’s wake-up call and sneak out when she’s still sleeping.  Lila gets back at her by going to a party thrown by Lucas without Jessica, and she ends up getting him to walk her back, where she kisses him under the window where Jessica is watching.  Jessica loses the bet but dumps snow on Lila’s head.

When Lucas finds out that Jessica is about to ski the hardest run, he rushes off to stop her, and Lila goes along, determined to keep Jessica from getting alone time with him.  Jessica and Lucas end up crashing into one another on the hill, and Lucas ends up with a sprained ankle while Jessica fractures hers.  She sidles up to Lucas in the lounge while Lila is skiing, and then Lila flips her lid on Jess in front of Lucas, who takes that moment to disappear.  He’s totally done with both of them.

While Lila and Jessica are fighting over the same boring dude, Enid is trying to get lucky on the slopes.  She keeps trying out advice from the book she bought, but it keeps attracting the wrong types of dudes.  WHO CARES.

Meanwhile, Todd convinces Winston to sleep elsewhere and gets Liz into his room.  They start making out, and she puts the brakes on their session only to find out his plan, complete with a “do not disturb” sign.  She’s pissed and ends up dumping a cold glass of water on his lap, which might be one of the coolest things she’s ever done.  Todd doesn’t get it, and he also doesn’t have the courtesy to tell Winston that Liz isn’t sleeping over, which pisses him off when he shows up the next morning sore from trying to sleep on a couch in the lounge.

Liz and Todd have a fight on the mountain and part ways.  There’s a storm brewing, and Liz watches as Todd skis past her into a different area.  Then there’s an avalanche and the two are separated! Liz thinks that he’s been trapped in the snow, and she runs to a nearby ski patrol station and tells them that she thinks Todd might be in danger.  The man, a dude named Dirk Roman, tells her they’ll send out a search party.

But Todd is fine, and has been brought to a cabin by an older woman named Cassandra Lee, who is very attractive, according to Todd.  He manages to reach the ski patrol station on a CB radio, but he doesn’t hear Liz and worries she might be trapped outside.  He loses contact with the patrol, and Cassandra convinces him that it’s too dark to do anything until the morning.  Todd gives her the bed and sleeps on the couch and wakes up in the middle of the night to find Cassandra kissing him.  This is seriously creepy.  He brushes her off and thinks about Liz.

Liz demands to stay the night in the patrol cabin even though it’s against the rules.  Dirk is very comforting.  He keeps bending rules for her, even allowing her to come on the rescue mission to find Todd.  They take a helicopter up to look for the cabin and finally find it.  When they clear the door and enter, Liz finds Todd in Cassandra’s embrace.  Liz storms off and when she’s back at the hotel, Dirk tries to comfort her by kissing her.  Todd walks in at that moment and is upset.  I DO NOT CARE.  It hardly matters because they make up at Winston’s second attempt at a “welcome back” party.

Enid hooks up with Lucas at the party and everyone goggles at it.  Enid feels like the punchline even when she gets the guy.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Jessica’s new ski outfit is purple spandex pants with a color-blocked pink and purple parka.
  • Enid is rooming with Liz; Todd is rooming with Winston, Lila is rooming with Jessica, and Olivia is rooming with Caroline Pearce.
  • Winston wears a shoe size 13. FYI.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “No, it wasn’t. Not exactly,” Elizabeth said, trying to be fair to her sister. “I don’t think that’s how she meant it. She made romance and love sound like one big, fun game.  The object is to have a great time. And to see who wins–the guy or the girl.” (27) [This is fucked.]
  • “You didn’t even ask me what I wanted last night! You just assumed that I would want whatever you wanted. Well, I didn’t! And right now I don’t want to talk.” (98)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There are two major issues with this book, and they both deal with sex.  The first is obviously Todd’s desire to take things further with Elizabeth without actually talking about it, which is problematic in and of itself.  But it’s also totally tone-deaf.  This is a couple that discusses everything, and we are to believe that they haven’t talked about whether or not they’re ready to have sex?  I find it unrealistic that the furthest Liz and Todd have gone is making out, especially because neither is religious (I’m sure I’ve written about this before), but I find it even more ridiculous that he wouldn’t know how to talk about it with the Queen of Over-Analyzing.  It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s utterly ridiculous.

The second issue has to do with the portrayal of Cassandra, and her overt advances towards Todd.  It’s okay, if a little creepy, that she hits on him, but it’s another thing entirely to start making out with him while he’s asleep.  That is sexual assault, lady, on the way to rape town.  She sort of apologizes later for hitting on him, claiming she thought he was a “big boy,” but that doesn’t excuse making sexual advances while the other person was unconscious.  It is totally bonkers to me that this was included in the book as a thing that is not a big deal at all.  BONKERS.

SVH #90: Don’t Go Home With John

14 May

dontgohomewithjohn

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Lila has been seeing more of John Pfeifer around since he broke up with his girlfriend Jennifer Mitchell, and she’s surprised how interested she is in him.  He’s much more serious and intense than the dudes she’s used to dating, but she can’t help but be flattered when he pays attention to her.  They finally go out on a date, and it goes really well, until they go up to Miller’s Point and he won’t stop fooling around when she asks him to.  Things get a little rough, and she finally gets away from him by grabbing his keys, jabbing him in the neck with them, and then throwing them over the edge of the cliff.

Completely traumatized by the assault and near-rape, Lila blows off Jessica when she calls to find out how the date went.  She completely withdraws into herself, vacillating between thinking she should seek help from someplace like Project Youth to thinking everyone will blame her for what happened because she’s known as a flirt.  Jessica notices how drawn and pale Lila looks, and she’s seriously worried, but no matter how much she prods Lila, she can’t get her to tell her what’s wrong.

Lila throws her costume ball the following weekend (after thinking about cancelling it and making a point to uninvite John from attending), and it’s going along fine.  Lila is even having a good time until John shows up with some random sophomore in tow.  When she sees him, she completely loses her shit and screams at him in front of everyone about how he tried to rape her.  He denies it and leaves with his date, but the damage has been done in that the rumors are flowing.

The following week at school, Lila is plagued by rumors doubting her story.  It doesn’t help that John is completely weird and keeps following her around, standing in her way in the cafeteria and generally making a mockery of her pain.  Jessica asks John’s ex-girlfriend Jennifer Mitchell if she can help at all and encourage John to seek help, and she basically tells Jessica that since he never tried to rape her, she doesn’t think he needs counseling.  Okay.

Lila is miserable until a sophomore named Susan Wyman comes to see her at her house and tells her that the same thing happened to her with John just before he went out with Lila.  Like Lila, she was able to get away when another couple showed up at Miller’s Point.  The two devise a plan to get John to go to the Dairi Burger where they can confront him together.  They do, and after his friends hear Susan’s story, too, everyone turns on John.  Vindication, I guess?

The B-Plot involves Jessica worrying about “losing control” when she makes out with Sam.  They never say sex but instead dance around it, and Jessica decides they need to cool things down before one of them lets things get out of hand.  She makes them date in public so they won’t be tempted until Sam finally sits her down and is like, “I love you and this is crazy.  I’m just as responsible as you are in this situation, blah blah blah.”  Whatever.  Then they make out a bunch.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • After Lila throws John’s keys over the edge of Miller’s Point, he calls her a “little witch.”  If ever there was a time for actual profanity…
  • Lila wears a black Lycra dress with a crushed velvet jacket and pearls for her date with John.
  • Jessica and Sam go as Princess Leia and Han Solo to Lila’s costume ball.  Lila goes as Peter Pan, Enid & Hugh are the body and receiver of a telephone (okay), Elizabeth and Todd are the sun and the moon.  What the hell, guys.
  • The ghostwriter refers to a sitcom as a “situation comedy” at one point, which is…weird?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Lila had heard of boys acting like this, but she had thought that was only in books and movies.  She had never thought that any boy she knew would behave like, this.  That any boy she went to school with, and talked to, and saw every day–and liked–could scare her so much.” (47)
  • “Just a few days ago Lila had been one of the most attractive girls in Southern California, but now she would have been lucky to come in as a runner-up in a Miss Organic-Egg beauty contest.” (78) LOL WHAT?
  • “‘I mean, I know Lila’s telling the truth, Jessica, but I still have a hard time believing that my friend John did something like that. It’s like Dr. Pfeifer and Mr. Hyde. Anyway, there’s no way of proving what really did go on, is there?'” (112) LIZ IS THE GODDAMN WORST.

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This is a hard one to snark on, because given the subject matter and the series, it’s done fairly well.  Especially when you consider the fact that it was written in the early 90s.  There are still a couple of things worth mentioning, though.

In the book and in some recaps, incredulity is expressed that a person like John could ever do this to someone.  There’s a lot of, “John is a nice guy, and it doesn’t make sense for him to suddenly do this.”  And while the character development is sudden (which is not unusual for this series–consider Suzanne Devlin, etc.), I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for something like this to happen.  In fact, one could argue that having a character like John–who’s been mild-mannered for the most part, and a “good guy”–helps bring nuance to the issue.  Rapists are not all mustache-twirling devils.  They are people who appear otherwise normal, except for the fact that OH YEAH THEY ARE RAPISTS.

The other thing that really, really bothered me about this one was Liz.  It’s already well-established that she’s the fucking worst, but there’s something about her treatment of this issue that really stuck in my craw.  There’s the quote I linked to above, but there are other moments in the book, where Liz says things like, “I’d like Lila to know I support her, even though I’ve had to be polite to John,” where I just sort of rolled my eyes.  There’s so much self-righteousness there.  I don’t know.  My feelings are complicated about a stupid, poorly-written character, but they’re still my feelings.

SVH #11: Too Good to be True

22 Mar


Estimated Time Elapsed:
Three weeks

Overview

Ma and Pa Wakefield have a special surprise: over the twins’ 2-week spring break, they’re going to have a visitor.  Suzanne Devlin, daughter of an ambassador that Ned was friendly with in college, will be coming to stay with them.  In exchange, one of the twins will go to New York City and stay with the Devlins.  Liz wins the trip in a coin toss, but it isn’t long before Jessica manipulates her way into taking her place.

A week later, Jessica is off to New York and Suzanne is riding home from the airport with the rest of the Wakefields.  Elizabeth is completely taken with Suzanne’s beauty and feels self-conscious about her own looks, although the ghost writer is quick to point out that Elizabeth is also stunningly beautiful.  She’s also amazed at how unbelievably sweet Suzanne is.  She cooks the family a gourmet breakfast, does the dishes, and gushes over how wonderful Sweet Valley is.  It isn’t long before everyone is under her spell.  The boys fawn at Suzy’s feet, Liz has a new best friend, and everything is perfect.

But there are some strange things happening, too.  Suzy almost drowns at the class picnic, causing Mr. Collins to act the hero and save her, even though Liz remembers that she’s a very strong swimmer.  Elizabeth’s gold lavaliere necklace goes missing.  Worst of all, Suzanne comes back from a babysitting gig at Mr. Collins’ house crying attempted rape.  Liz is horrified–how could her favorite teacher do such a thing?

The truth comes out the night of Lila’s birthday party when Liz finds her necklace in Suzanne’s suitcase.  When she confronts her at the party, Suzanne laughs evilly and tells her that no one will ever believe Liz’s version of events over her own.  But when Winston “accidentally” spills punch all over Suzanne’s dress, she freaks out in front of everyone and shows her true colors.  Everyone sees what a sociopath she actually is and her reign is over.

The B-Plot focuses on Jessica’s travels in NYC.  She spends most of her vacation with the Devlins alone in their huge apartment, which is really…strange.  Suzanne’s boyfriend Pete McCafferty takes her out a few times, and he’s a total shit to her.  They go to the Empire State Building, and to a restaurant in the WTC.  That relationship culminates with him trying to rape her for real in the Devlin’s apartment (Mr. and Mrs. Devlin walk in and kick him out).  Jessica also attends a dinner party hosted by Suzanne’s friends and gets blackout drunk on some champagne, but not before she’s humiliated and bored to tears by the snobs.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “She imagined herself whirling breathlessly beneath the flashing lights of some impossibly chic Manhattan disco.  Suddenly, a hand touches her arm.  She turns.  ‘Pardon me,’ Mick Jagger says, ‘I believe this next dance is mine.
  • “Mrs. Devlin was much more elegant.  She was tall and gloriously thin, with the kind of cheekbones Jessica could achieve only by sucking her cheeks in as far as they would go…When Mrs. Devlin hugged her, Jessica’s only impression was of a cool draft of perfumed air.” (39)
  • “‘Well, I believe it,’ Cara said, passing out sodas.  ‘I’ve always thought he was the lecherous type.  I’ve caught him looking at me more than once.  Besides, he gave me a D on my last English essay.'” (106)
  • “Suzanne frowned, and for an instant she no longer seemed beautiful to Elizabeth.  Her lovely eyes narrowed into mean slits.  Hatred twisted her mouth into an ugly grimace.  Then the moment passed, and Suzanne looked her old, sweet smiling self again.” (113-114)

Trivia and Fun Facts:

  • Lots of potentially cute outfits: a close-fitting black crepe cocktail dress with a plunging back (Jessica), an off-shoulder white satin dress with cream-colored high heeled sandals (Suzanne), and a velvet skirt with a high-necked lace victorian blouse (Elizabeth)
  • Tons of pop culture references: Barbie, East of Eden, Smothers Brothers (WHOA SHIT OLD), Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, Paul Newman, King Kong, Bo Derek (AGAIN)
  • Apparently Winston Egbert and Mandy Farmer broke up when she moved away.  Way to drop the plot thread, ghost writer.
  • Liz is apparently quite the amateur baker: she made a lemon chiffon pie in Suzanne’s honor
  • Jessica starred in My Fair Lady the year before.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

While it is alarming that everyone in Sweet Valley fell for Suzanne’s act, it is not particularly surprising.  People in town seem to be so thick-headed in general that it should come as no shock that people buy her sweet and innocent act hook, line and sinker.  Perhaps what is worth noting, however, is that there is no explanation as to why Suzanne wins everyone over while secretly hating them.  It is true that her character revisits the town in a later book, and that some of it gets explained then, but isn’t it lazy writing to not include even the tiniest explanation as to why she acts the way she does?

But my biggest beef with the story in this book is the actions of the Devlin parents.  Why agree to have one of the Wakefield twins come to New York if they aren’t going to make time for her?  Jessica has lunch with Mrs. Devlin at the Russian Tea Room one day, but that’s pretty much the extent of it.  She spends the majority of her two weeks in the apartment alone, which is uncharacteristic of Jessica and at odds with the city she’s visiting.  Even ignoring the fact that Jessica probably wouldn’t have much interest in the museums, she’s in the shopping capital of the world.  There are tons of things to do and see, and she sits in the hotel.  What the actual fuck, ghost writer?

SVH #7: Dear Sister

7 Mar

Total Elapsed Time: 9 weeks

The Overview

Elizabeth is still in her coma as a result of the motorcycle crash, and Jessica sits by her bedside every day, begging her to awake.  When Elizabeth does, everyone is immensely relieved.  But it isn’t long before Jessica realizes that Liz is acting differently.  She’s uninterested in things like reading and school and becomes obsessed with her looks and with flirting with every guy at Sweet Valley High.  She spurns he advances of Todd, choosing instead to focus on Ken Matthews and Bruce Patman and pretty much anything with a penis.

When the twins throw a pool party, Liz somehow gets out of helping set up and clean up, leaving Jessica to do all the work.  She cheats on a research paper, gets kicked off the staff of the Oracle, and doesn’t seem to care.  Jessica can only watch as her twin acts more and more like her, causing Jess to act more like the old Elizabeth just to pick up the slack.

Things come to a head when Liz decides to go off with Bruce Patman after dancing with him at one of Lila’s infamous “pickup parties.”  The two of them head off to another party at the country club, and Bruce gets her drunk off some wine he serves her in a paper cup (classy, party of two).  Jessica pleads with Todd to intervene, and he does, chasing them down in the parking lot, punching Bruce in the face and dragging Elizabeth off into his own car.  She’s furious with him and refuses to see reason.

Liz decides to go out with Bruce again, and doesn’t even think twice about double-booking herself that night when Bill Chase also asks her out.  She’s long gone when he shows up for their date, so Jessica pretends to be Elizabeth and goes out with Bill.  Meanwhile, Liz and Bruce have gone to his house to fool around.  When Bruce goes downstairs to get some wine, Liz trips on a rug and bangs her head on a table.  This seems to snap her back to her senses, and when Bruce returns and she has no memory of going out with him, he tries to force her into having sex with him. She runs away and into the arms of Todd, where they make up and she cries a lot.

The B-Plot involves Jean and Joan Percy, a set of 12-year-old identical twin girls whose parents are apparently friends of the Wakefields.  They come to stay with the family for a few weeks while their parents are out of town.  Because Elizabeth is being irresponsible, Jessica ends up having to care for them, shlepping them to the movies with her when she goes on a date and driving them to their flute auditions.  She’s annoyed with them until they help her out of a tight spot with her parents after getting a speeding ticket and putting a dent in the fiat’s fender.  The end.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Roger Collins wasn’t the most popular teacher at school only because he was interesting in class.  In fact, most of the girls would have loved a little after-class attention from this teacher.” (34)

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

I’m not lying when I say that this is one of my least favorite books.  I recognize the fact that this book is considered the pinnacle of what the series was at its peak, but it just doesn’t work for me.  Putting aside the ludicrous idea that Elizabeth wakes up acting like Jessica and only reverts back to her old self after hitting her head again, the book just irritates me.  Everyone complains throughout the whole book that they’ve seen negative changes in Elizabeth, but no one does anything.  Mr. Collins throws her off the paper staff, teachers notice that she’s failing her classes (and plagiarizing papers), Todd essentially gets cheated on and then dumped, and Jessica becomes the responsible twin, but no one does anything remotely proactive to figure out what’s going on.

What’s more alarming is the fact that Ma and Pa Wakefield seem to be completely oblivious to these drastic changes.  Sure, they get upset with Elizabeth when she copies her paper, and she gets grounded for a while, but they don’t actually seem to be concerned that the behavior is indicative of a bigger issue.  They recognize that Jessica is pulling more weight than usual but don’t investigate that further.  True to the other books in the series, the Wakefield parents remain conspicuously absent from the book’s plot.

I leave you with this final thought: What kind of parents invite 12-year-old twin girls to come for an extended stay when one of their own daughters is recovering from a tragic motorcycle accident in which she was in a coma for several days?