Tag Archives: attempted suicide (fake)

SVH #109: Double-Crossed

25 Jul

doublecrossed

Estimated Elapsed Time:  8 weeks, for whatever reason.

Summary/Overview:

The day after the wedding, Jessica has escaped to live at Lila’s until the hubbub dies down.  Elizabeth calls to warn Jess that her parents want to ship her off to boarding school in Washington state, but Jess isn’t worried.  She meets Jeremy and he proposes to her using the sapphire ring she loved way back when.  He tells her to keep their engagement a secret until at least after he returns from a trip out of the country.  Jessica agrees, albeit reluctantly.

Back at the Wakefield house, Elizabeth tries to console Sue, who is acting heartbroken.  Sue tells her that her dead mother never liked Jeremy, and now she knows why.  Sue says her mother cut her out of the will, and that as a result, Sue has lost out on a TON of money that is news to literally everyone.  Except, then it turns out that Sue’s mother’s will had “stipulations” and now that Sue didn’t marry Jeremy, she gets the inheritance after all.  In a series of paragraphs that make absolutely no sense, we learn (through Elizabeth’s eavesdropping), that: Sue gets the money if Sue stays away from Jeremy for at least two months.  If not, Alice gets the money (WTF) to do with what she sees fit.

Jessica drives Jeremy to the airport for his trip to Costa Rica, but he won’t let her stay until his plane lifts off. He also can’t give her the full address of where he’s staying.  Probably because he’s not, you know, actually going to Costa Rica, but whatever.  Jessica cries about how much she’ll miss him.  Meanwhile, Sue attempts suicide by taking a bunch of pills and having her stomach pumped.

It takes nearly two weeks, but Jessica lets it slip to Lila that she’s engaged, and within seconds, the entire school knows.  When Liz finds out, she cries a lot about how Jessica is going to leave her forever.  Jessica says she won’t.  Then she tells Liz she’s moving back home even though Sue is still living there.  Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield tell Jessica they want her to stay away from Jeremy for about 6 months, and she tells them that will be hard to do since they’re engaged.  Obviously Ma and Pa Wakefield freak out, but Jess remains calm.

Later, Liz tells Jess about the money situation, and Jess can’t believe when Liz suggests that Jeremy might be a gold digger.  She continues to hold fast to the idea that it is True Love between her and Jeremy, despite the fact that she can never get ahold of him and he seems to only call in the middle of the night.  Jeremy promises he’ll be back in time for the Project Nature Halloween party, which Jessica promptly invites the entire school to.

We get snippets of Sue talking on the phone to someone and generally acting like she doesn’t have a care in the world.  She admits that her suicide attempt was faked. Okay.  She also admits to Liz that she was lying about having the same rare blood disease that her mother had.  OKAY.

When Principal Cooper announces a new initiative that places girls in single-sex math classes, Liz FREAKS OUT because it’s the most sexist thing she’s ever heard of, despite the fact that there’s research that supports that girls in co-ed classes fall behind their male peers by like 3rd grade or something. But then she starts taking the math class and is amazed that the research backs up the results: all the girls are doing way better in math, after like a day or something.

Project Nature throws a Halloween party and Jeremy is finally back in town for it.  He’s distracted, though, and Jessica starts to worry.  She goes outside to find him and discovers that he and Sue are totally making out.  She breaks up with him and storms out.

The B-Plot involves Lila secretly enrolling Robby in a business class at the university so he can become rich or something.  He gets mad and they break up.  He comes to apologize and tells her he actually started taking the class, plus a life drawing class. When Lila realizes that means he’s looking at naked women, they break up again.  Then they get back together.

Also, Todd grows a mustache and Liz is super, super turned off by it.  They fight, they break up, he shaves, they get back together.

The book ends with Jeremy showing up at the Wakefields’ looking “ashen” to announce that Sue has disappeared.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Both Todd and Winston get their hair cut at a place called Rigoberto’s
  • Sue’s mother’s family invented a kind of frozen dinner and that’s why they’re Oprah-rich.
  • Sue’s psychiatrist prescribes tranquilizers for Sue’s “difficult time.” Jesus Christ!
  • Todd apparently has a part-time job? Doing what?
  • Ned had a soul patch when he was younger.
  • Apparently they’re back in school, despite there being no fanfare about this happening.  The timeline is FUCKED.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “It was going to absolutely kill her to keep this to herself until Jeremy returned.  But she had promised him. And for the first time in her life, it seemed very important that she keep a promise.” (42)
  • “‘We’re not just family, Liz. We’re twin. We’re two halves of the same person,’ Jessica said sincerely. ‘We always have to be together. I couldn’t be happy without you.'” (73)
  • “‘That sounds like a lot of fun,’ Amy said, her face brightening.  ‘We can start spreading the word. It’ll be the first party anyone’s had so far this year.'” (130) THAT IS A LIE.

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

The first thing I noticed about this one was that the tone was different than previous books and that the characters speak differently.  My guess: we have a new group of ghost writers, but who knows, really?

The second thing has to do with how dumb the legal provisions are in Sue’s mother’s will.  It doesn’t make sense for the funds to go to Alice, a woman she doesn’t seem to have had much contact with in the past twenty years or so.  It makes even LESS sense for the will to stipulate that Sue can inherit the fortune if she stays away from Jeremy for 60 days.  Like, what the hell?  Why that period of time?  WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?

Also, they’re back in school again but are still sixteen and still juniors.  I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does.  Like, a lot.

SVH#10: Wrong Kind of Girl

21 Mar

Estimated Time Elapsed: Two weeks, I think.

The Overview:

Annie Whitman is a passionate 15-year-old.  She’s graceful and beautiful and is friendly.  She tends to fall in love with every boy she meets and lacks the critical thinking skills necessary to discern when these boys are maybe a bit on the unsavory side.  Annie’s terribly lonely; she doesn’t have any close girl friends, and her mother is dating a lecherous loser.  She wants to be liked, which is why she dates as much as she does.  But most of all, Annie wants to be on the SVH cheerleading squad.  Jessica Wakefield wants this least of all.  There are two spots on the squad to fill, and she’s absolutely determined to make sure that neither one goes to “Easy Annie” Whitman.  Elizabeth tries to change Jessica’s mind, and she helps tutor Annie in math so she could get her grades up high enough to qualify for the cheerleading squad.  This infuriates Jessica.

The problem is, Annie’s really good.  She’s graceful and enthusiastic and puts the rest of the cheerleader hopefuls to shame.  Everyone is amazed by Annie’s talent, but Jessica remains firm in her belief that Annie’s reputation with guys will bring down the reputations of all the rest of the girls on the squad.  But she’s powerless to stop Annie making it through several rounds of cuts.  Finally, she convinces a few of the other girls to vote against Annie by giving them an ultimatum: it’s either her or Annie.

Which means that Annie’s out.  When she finds out she’s been cut, she freaks out.  She goes completely manic for a day and then disappears.  The cheerleading team’s manager Ricky Capaldo, who has a major crush on her, calls the Wakefield house to tell them that Annie’s being rushed to the hospital after attempting suicide.  Both twins rush to the hospital and have a bedside vigil, willing Annie to get better.  The doctor tells Jessica that Annie has no will to live, and so Jessica tells Annie that the cheerleaders mixed up and she’s on the squad.  This is, apparently, the source of Annie’s will to live, and she wakes up and all is right with the world.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘I think I’m going to cut down on my dating,’ Annie said.  ‘I used to need a lot of attention.  You know, to make up for that empty feeling inside.  But boys aren’t always the answer.'” (62) [ed. note: That’s right, Annie.  Sometimes a giant bag of Skittles are the answer.  Or a huge donut with sprinkles.]
  • “‘When people try to take their own lives, they often don’t want to be brought back.  When you catch them in time, as is this case, they have a second chance.  But they have to want that chance, you see…Mrs. Whitman, I have no idea why your daughter did this to herself, but she seems to have no will to live.'” (120)

Trivia and Fun Facts

  • Annie’s mom had her at 16, a fact that Elizabeth clutches her pearls over.  She also looks down at the fact that Mrs. Whitman seems to drink during the day and dates a skeezeball.
  • According to this book, Lila and Cara were both on the cheerleading squad but were kicked off due to a prank.  Lila has no interest in going back, but Cara does.
  • Pop culture references in this book are scarce but include: Tarzan, Flashdance, and Pat Benatar.
  • There’s an awful lot of foreshadowing about Tricia and tragedy that might befall her.  There’s also the set-up for the next book involving Suzanne Devlin and the trip to New York.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

There are so many things wrong with this book I don’t even know where to begin, but perhaps the biggest issue apart from Annie’s attempted suicide (which is alarming, unsettling, and unbelievably mishandled) is how harshly everyone judges Annie’s proclivities for serial dating.

I’ve been keeping track of who dates who from book 1, both on the site and on a sheet of paper (the dating web graphic organizer is getting more and more complicated), and so I know how many guys Jessica has dated.  Readers have seen her flirt mercilessly with these boys, often leading them on, promising things that she never intends to do.  Rest assured that this reader is not attempting to shame Jessica for being, essentially, a cock tease, but it is important to note that she often puts herself in situations where boys have one expectation and she has another.  The fact that Jessica is allowed to serial date but Annie is not is confusing.

Whether or not Annie is sexually active is left frustratingly ambiguous.  One gets the idea that perhaps she is sexually active, but it is never confirmed.  Boys tend to exaggerate when sharing details with their friends, and there’s never any indication that the things they are saying about her are true.  In fact, much of what Annie says when confiding in Elizabeth leads the reader to believe that Annie is quite innocent not only in how she views the world but in her experience with boys.  Yet she is branded the harlot of SVH because she dates a lot of boys?

What kind of message does this send to readers of the book?  Is Jessica’s behavior considered acceptable because the reader knows she will never go all the way and in fact acts indignant when a boy suggests she should?  Annie’s behavior is considered unacceptable because there is the question of the unknown with her.  At the end of the day, we don’t know what she does with boys, but we’re led to believe that although both girls are serial daters, one of them is good while one of them is morally reprehensible.