Tag Archives: car accident

SVH Magna Edition: Return of the Evil Twin

18 Feb

return twin

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3  weeks

Summary/Overview:

It’s Christmas time in Sweet Valley yet again, and the twins are excited about vacation.  Jessica and Elizabeth are working with some arbitrary inside twincharity group to raise funding for a new children’s wing at the Fowler Memorial Hospital, and they get the brilliant idea to host a New Year’s Eve party at the traveling carnival that will be in town over the holiday.  The owners of the carnival agree to donate all profits to the charity, which is super convenient to the plot.

To celebrate the start of the holiday, the entire gang throws a caroling party.  The group meets at Secca Lake for a bonfire before heading out to sing carols to the unsuspecting Sweet Valley citizens, but Jessica and Todd are both very late, and Elizabeth worries about them.  On his way to the lake, Todd’s car spins out after he sees something move across the road and he slams into a guardrail, fading into unconsciousness.  Jessica sees his car on the road as she approaches and jumps out, saving him just in time, as his car goes over the side of the cliff and blows up.  This is obviously big news, and Todd’s gratefulness for Jessica’s heroics lead him to start to have romantic feelings for her.  This is probably exacerbated by Liz’s completely irrational feelings of jealousy over Jessica saving her boyfriend’s life.  It doesn’t help that everyone wants to ask Jess about it, and the paper even runs their picture on the front page, calling Todd her boyfriend instead of Liz’s.

Things continue to go badly for Liz, who has started dreaming about Margo again, even though she’s totally dead, right?  Also, Todd and Jess are totally into telling their story about the harrowing experience near Secca Lake, and Liz and Ken both feel shunted aside.  Jessica and Liz argue a lot.  Jessica starts having nightmares about Margo.

Meanwhile, in Savannah, Georgia, a moody girl named Nora Chapelle has just lost her father.  Because her mother died years ago, this makes her an orphan.  This is especially true when her evil stepmother offers her $5o,ooo to disappear from her life.  She also lets the bomb drop that Nora had an identical twin sister who was so evil that they gave her up for adoption.  Nora takes off to New York to track her sister’s whereabouts and it isn’t long before she manages to trace Margo’s life from there to Ohio to Sweet Valley.  Despite providing the readers a solid recap of the first evil twin saga, this book also adds information about the ambulance carrying Margo’s body never reaching the hospital, and that it ended up in a river (Margo’s body wasn’t found).  Convinced it’s all the Wakefield twins’ fault, Nora hops a plane to L.A. to get revenge for her sister.  She books a room at the Sweet Valley Inn and starts spying on the Wakefields.

One night, she goes to visit the gravestone that a local teen shelter erected in Margo’s honor.  This makes no sense whatsoever, but neither does what comes next: Margo appears in the cemetary, and the girls realize that the other still exists.  Nora takes Margo back to her hotel room and cringes a lot because Margo is messy and Nora is pathologically clean.  Margo convinces Nora that the Wakefield twins’ lives are rightfully there, and it’s time to claim their dues.

Jessica and Liz make up, but then Margo and Nora mess with their heads one night at the most spectacularly attended screening of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Liz and Enid go, and Ken and Jessica go, but Nora, posing as Elizabeth, goes with Todd and makes out with him.  Liz and Enid see it and assume it’s Jessica, and Liz FREAKS OUT and screams at Jessica and Todd (separately, and later, instead of confronting them at the theater, which makes way more sense).  The twins stop speaking and go to the New Year’s Eve carnival at odds with one another yet again.

Meanwhile, Nora and Margo fight over who has to be Elizabeth once they take over for real. Margo tells Nora that she should be, since she’s so neat, but Nora also wants to be Jessica.  If this isn’t the most perfect encapsulation of the Liz/Jess dynamic, I don’t know what is.  At the carnival, Liz sulks and Jessica goes into the house of mirrors for a good spook.  After the carnival, Jessica goes home to sleep and Liz stays to clean up.  Nora realizes that Margo has left her to do her own spying and decides to go and kill Jessica before Margo can so that she can take over the twin’s life.  She sneaks into the Wakefield house, stabs the sleeping form of Jessica, and is nearly out the window when Liz walks in and sees it all happen.  Liz collapses onto Jessica and blacks out.  Nora takes off but is seen escaping by Alice and Ned on their way home from party.

The doctors can’t save Jessica, and it’s a few days later when they have a memorial service for Jessica at SVH.  Despite telling the detectives that she knows it was Margo, no one believes her.  When she’s standing in the auditorium, she suddenly realizes that Jessica is still alive and needs her help.  No one believes her about this, either.   She furiously works out the clues Jessica has sent her in dreams.  When the police come to question her again, she steals one of their guns and goes back to the school.

Nora is convinced she has to kill Margo so that she can take over the only remaining Wakefield twin’s life.  She becomes convinced that Margo’s hiding in the basement at SVH and goes there to kill her.  But it’s Jessica! Elizabeth arrives and points the gun at both girls, then makes a decision about which is which.  Nora spills the beans about how she’s not Margo, realizes that she killed her own sister and seems sad about it (even though she was prepared to do that again right here), and then cries.  The police come and arrest her, and all is well again.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Outfit alert: Jessica “borrows” Liz’s candy-striped sweater, white pants, and Christmas tree ornament earrings for the caroling party.
  • Liz and Ken go to see The Shining
  • According to Margo, she’s able to hold her breath for up to 3 minutes underwater

Memorable Quotes:

  • “I have a librarian friend–a former paramour of mine.” (75) [this just made me laugh because i’m a librarian]
  • “Elizabeth is such a prude, she makes me want to throw up.” (182)
  • “Do you know that in all this time Todd has never even managed to get Elizabeth out of her clothes? It’s positively sick!” (210)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There’s something deeply unsettling to this reader about the idea of a father giving away one of his daughters to an adoption agency/foster care because of clear psychotic tendencies.  The family clearly has money, and it is astounding to me that they wouldn’t even consider psychiatric help before throwing in the towel on a toddler.  I’m choosing to ignore the idea that the Wakefield twins have not one but two doppelgangers, though.  I just can’t handle it.

My favorite part of this book is when Elizabeth steals a gun from the police and faces literally no repercussions.

SVH Magna Edition: A Night to Remember

28 May

anighttoremember

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3-4 weeks?

Summary/Overview:

At a Sweet Valley High-sponsored (?) beach party one night, the students are raided by a band of crazed Big Mesa High teenagers.  They toss around their food, spray them with shaving cream, and pick up some of the girls for funsies.  Everyone is super, super pissed about this and swear they will get their revenge.  Liz and Todd hope that everyone will lose interest in their quest for vengeance.

Meanwhile, Jessica and Elizabeth come up with the idea of having SVH host a jungle-themed prom.  While they disagree about whether or not the attendees should wear formal wear (Liz) or Tarzan-and-Jane outfits (Jess), they do agree that it will be the Best Night Ever.  They can’t wait to tell everyone at school about it, and once they do, the gang starts planning the affair.  Elizabeth manages to find a local environmental group to help sponsor the prom, and then they throw in a huge bonus: an all-expenses paid trip to Brazil for the prom queen.  She’ll also be a new spokesperson for the group.

Both Jessica and Elizabeth are interested in becoming the Jungle Prom Queen, albeit for very different reasons.  Everyone thinks Elizabeth is a shoe-in because she’s working so hard on the planning for the dance.  When the prom committee chooses formal-wear over the more casual jungle-look, Jessica’s PISSED even though she missed the planning meeting.  She gets her revenge when she has Caroline Pierce write an article for The Oracle that credits Jessica with all the planning ideas.  The two end up fighting about the fact that they both want to be prom queen and snipe at each other.  I’m bored, and we’re only a third of the way through the book.

The twins continue to butt heads over plans for the prom, which is fast-approaching.  When it comes time to decide whether or not SVH should invite students from Big Mesa to the prom (like, as dates, I guess), the vote is split, further dividing the twins.  Then Penny tells them that Sweet Sixteen magazine wants to do an interview and photo spread on the organizers of the dance, and the twins are super excited.  But Jessica is so late that Liz and the magazine people leave to do the magazine spread without her.  Jessica is not pleased, and the two have a huge fight that ends with each of them refusing to speak to the other one.

The night of the dance, the girls get ready alone and then go to the dance with Sam and Todd.  When Todd is crowned prom king, Jessica worries that Elizabeth will end up the queen by default.  Some kids from Big Mesa have crashed the dance, and one of them hits on Jessica.  He’s drunk, and Jessica asks for some of his vodka (or whatever clear liquid is in his flask).  She pours it into Elizabeth’s unguarded cup.  But Liz shares that drink with Sam, and suddenly they are both super, SUPER wasted.  Like, crazy wasted, dancing all over the place, slurring their words, having deep and meaningful conversations with their friends.

No one thinks that Liz is wasted because she would never do something like that.  Then she decides that she doesn’t want to be prom queen and withdraws her name.  Perfect timing, because a few minutes later, Jessica is crowned queen.  In the midst of the applause, Jessica loses sight of Sam and Liz, and before she can do anything to stop them from leaving, the two do.  She tries to run after them, but they speed off into the night.

AT BASICALLY THE SAME TIME, a riot erupts at the dance between Big Mesa students and SVH students.  Everyone runs around, and Bruce and some other dudes end up fighting on the football field.  Jessica manages to grab Todd and tell him that she thinks Liz and Sam are in trouble, and they drive off to find them.  But they’re too late! There’s been a terrible accident, and it looks like Sam and Liz are dead! CLIFFHANGER.

Other character arcs in this book: Lila is really struggling with the aftermath of her near-rape.  She’s still in counseling at Project Youth with a counselor named Nathan who tells her that she’s overreacting to situations on dates and that not every dude is a scumbag.  She’s also desperate for a mother and spends much of the book sad about the fact that her father leaves her alone a lot.  As she spends more time in counseling, she starts to formulate a crush on Nathan.  During the riot at the dance, Nathan pulls her to safety in a classroom and she freaks out, thinking he’s going to try to rape her.  The police come rushing in and arrest Nathan, I guess.

Bruce Patman becomes obsessed with getting revenge on Big Mesa and also sort of dates Andrea Slade but only when she’s not totally available to him.  He doesn’t want a girl who’s always available to him, and he tells her this.  She acts like a wounded puppy dog about the whole thing.  Bruce can’t seem to connect to people and is carrying a lot of anger, and the book deduces it’s because he’s not over Regina Morrow. Um, okay.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Big Mesa’s school paper is called The Bull’s Eye.
  • Apparently Jessica’s favorite dinner is Chinese chicken stir-fry, Elizabeth likes cold rice salad, and Ned LOVES peach cobbler.
  • The reggae band featured in this book is called Island Sunsplash
  • Nathan the counselor’s dog’s name is J.D.
  • According to Lois, who is doing a report, SVH serves the healthiest institutional food in Southern California.  Random.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “She glanced at a nearby table where Enid and Hugh were sitting with two other couples.  That was another thing she felt like challenging her sister about.  How could Elizabeth be best friends with someone who not only was a total drip, but also dated a guy from Big Mesa?” (49)
  • “Hadn’t she decided to assert herself, to be an Elizabeth Wakefield who nurtured all sides of her personality, even the part that dared to be self-centered and ambitious?” (68)
  • “‘But it shouldn’t be a popularity contest,’ Elizabeth argued. ‘I deserve the prize. I’ve earned it. Wasn’t the prom my idea in the first place?'” (191)
  • “‘But I’m telling you something, Liz. It’s not going to work,’ Jessica warned. ‘Sooner or later, everyone at Sweet Valley High will wise up to your act. They’ll figure you out. So, go ahead,’ she challenged. ‘Lie and cheat and sneak around all you want to. We’ll see who comes out on top!'” (234)
  • “A wicked smile spread slowly across Jessica’s face. What an idiot–she can’t even tell it’s spiked! It was really a hoot, Jessica decided: Elizabeth Wakefield, the most upstanding, self-righteous person at Sweet Valley High, breaking the cardinal rule against drinking!” (301)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This is probably one of the most famous (or infamous) SVH books that exists.  Everyone remembers the Jungle Prom and the apparently magical vodka that ends up killing Sam Woodruff (seriously, why couldn’t it have been Liz?).  And really, there are a lot of things about this one that are dumb (mostly relating to the twins’ stupid feud about who gets to be the fucking prom queen), but the thing that is beyond weird is how alcohol is treated in this one.  So let’s break it down.

Jessica asks a random drunk dude for some of the booze in his flask.  He’s already super wasted, so he’s probably had a fair amount of the liquid in there.  While he does empty the rest of his flask into her cup, there can’t really be that much left.  But then it gets split between two people, and they’re both completely blitzed.  Also, Elizabeth’s behavior is super erratic for a drunk person.  The book goes into detail about how they’re swinging each other around and dancing faster than any of the other party goers, and…we’re supposed to believe it’s just alcohol that’s doing this?  At most, 3-4 shots split between two people?  WHAT?

Whatever.  It makes no sense.  Perhaps there was some coke in that vodka.

SVH Super Star: Todd’s Story

2 May

todds story

Estimated Elapsed Time: just over 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

It’s summer vacation in Sweet Valley yet again, and everyone is talking about how they’re going to be day camp counselors at Secca Lake for two weeks.  Elizabeth hopes that it will help reinvigorate her relationship with Todd, which she thinks has gotten stale lately.  Todd worries that his unpaid gig as a camp counselor won’t be enough to appease his father, who has been pushing for him to take an internship at Varitronics, the company he works for.  Liz watches them butt heads at a family dinner and wonders why Todd won’t stand up to his father more.

When the gang goes to the day camp training, Todd is shocked to see Kevin Holmes, a boy he crossed paths with in Vermont.  Back in Vermont, Todd stopped Kevin in the midst of mugging and old man in an alley and sent him to jail (it’s referred to as “prison” several times, but this was within the last year, so is it really?).  At the trial, Kevin’s dad tried to bribe Todd, and then after his sentencing, Kevin swore to Todd he’d get his revenge.  Todd wonders if Kevin is also the person who has been calling him and hanging up without saying anything.

Instead of telling Liz or Jessica or, I don’t know, the camp director, Todd decides to keep it to himself, especially after Kevin pretends to not know Todd.  He worries about Kevin not having changed at all and having sinister motives, but everyone else seems to really like him, including Todd’s parents, who keep inviting him over for dinner.  Turns out Kevin’s interested in an internship at Varitronics, and Todd’s dad is over the moon about it.  While Kevin charms everyone else, he keeps making weird threats to Todd about not letting it slip about his past.  Todd is completely distracted by this, and his refusal to confide in Liz drives a wedge further between them.

Meanwhile, camp starts and Todd continues to obsess about Kevin.  Kevin starts flirting or dating Jessica, and Todd worries about how this brings him closer to Liz.  No one can understand why Todd is so cold to Kevin, and there are several moments when Todd completely loses his cool around him, including an unfortunate moment after Kevin beat Todd to a drowning child.  Todd snaps that not everything is a competition, but it seems like no one else thought that was an appropriate thing to say.  By this point, Liz has told Todd she thinks they need a breather, and they are broken up (again).  Todd is miserable.

Kevin lies about a bunch of stuff, and while people seem to sort of catch the lies, they let them go, which is weird.  Also, things start disappearing around the camp, like Liz’s lavaliere necklace and Cara’s keys.  Todd continues to withdraw into himself, further alienating himself from his friends.

Then Kevin starts telling people that Todd had a reputation back in Vermont as kind of a bully.  He tells people that he roughed up some basketball players, punched a teammate, and there were rumors that he maybe sexually assaulted a girl.  Because Todd’s friends are literally the dumbest, most gullible people on the planet, they believe Kevin’s story, even though they have known Todd for sixteen years.

Somehow, Kevin gets Liz to agree to a date with him, which pisses Jessica off to no end.  Liz goes on the date and is struck by how awful Kevin is when he’s by himself.  Obsessed with the sound of his own voice and with how much he hates Todd, Liz realizes that he isn’t as cool as she first thought.  After the date, she goes home to worry about stuff, and Kevin goes out to mug one of the other camp counselors at Secca Lake.

Todd witnesses the mugging, which is just one in a string of recent muggings in the otherwise crime-free Sweet Valley.  The next day, he tells Winston and Aaron about his suspicions and what really happened in Vermont, and he feels better.  He decides to go to the police the following day.  Only, he doesn’t get to do that, because Kevin has framed Todd for the muggings, I guess?  They seem to think the fact that his pen shows up on the beach means he’s guilty?  Despite the fact that this is where everyone has been working for the past two weeks?  Whatever, I don’t care.  Todd gets arrested.

At the final BBQ party for the camp, Kevin asks Liz to go for a walk.  She agrees for some reason, and the two take a hike alone.  At the same time, Jessica finds Liz’s lavaliere in Kevin’s car and realizes that he’s been the stealing stealer all along!  She runs to tell her friends.

In the nature, Kevin tells Liz that he used to have a brother named Brent and that he accidentally killed him in a car crash.  He tells Liz this, and then he tries to kill Liz, because that’s the only way he can think to hurt Todd.  Luckily, Todd is out of jail and rushes into the scene in time to save Liz.  Kevin gets arrested, Liz and Todd are back together, and all is right with the world.  I guess.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • This book takes place in the summer, but it is after Todd has moved back from Vermont.  It is also after Cara Walker has moved to England, and yet she is here and still dating Steven.  Sam Woodruf is nowhere to be found, despite the fact that he and Jessica have been dating for a while now.  HELP ME FIGURE THIS OUT.
  • Almost 100 six-to-ten-year-olds enrolled in the summer camp.  Talk about a nightmare.
  • Kevin drives a black Mazda

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Kevin nodded. ‘My dad thinks everybody should be required to read The Wall Street Journal with their breakfast.'” (83)
  • “Maybe there was nothing behind them.  Maybe Kevin Holmes didn’t have a soul.” (97)
  • “‘No, he’s not lying,’ Aaron agreed. ‘He’d have no reason to lie.'” (134) Are you a fucking idiot, Aaron?
  • “No, Kevin must be innocent, Todd decided. A person simply couldn’t be one thing on the outside and something entirely different on the inside.” (151) WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS HAPPENING HERE?

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Here’s the thing about this completely ridiculous book: I remember liking this best of all the Super Stars.  That’s not surprising, really.  It has the most interesting premise: working as camp counselors during summer break, dealing with a mysterious new person who displays signs of being an actual psychopath, etc.  But reading this book now, I’m struck by how completely fucking stupid everyone is in the book.

Talk about plot points! Everything that happens here is meant to further the plot and not the characters.  Todd doesn’t tell anyone that he knows Kevin from before, ostensibly because he’s scared if he does, Kevin will retaliate.  Okay, fine, but shouldn’t the camp director have run a basic background check on anyone being left alone with children for any period of time?  Is that not a lawsuit waiting to happen?  If Kevin had served any jail time, which we are led to believe, he would have had a record.

Moving on: Todd continues to not tell anyone despite his suspicions.  He puts off going to the police for days, despite his having witnessed one of the muggings.  All of this is way, way too convenient for the plot we end up with.  I can’t help but think that the ghostwriter of this one thought that the readers were really, really dumb, because we aren’t allowed to think anything about anything here.

Also, the completely ridiculous rationalizations of everyone throughout the novel make no sense whatsoever.  Why would everyone believe Kevin over Todd?  Why does Todd continue to doubt Kevin’s motivations and behavior, despite the fact that he has continually threatened him throughout the course of the book?  Do these people have selective amnesia?  Am I the crazy one?

 

SVH #80: The Girl They Both Loved

9 Apr

girl theyloved

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2-3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Michael Harris and April Dawson are dating.  This is the same Michael who had a secret engagement to Maria Santelli that one time.  Apparently he’s still kind of a dingbat, because he is OBSESSED with dirt bike racing.  It comes before everything else, including April’s interests and his ailing grandmother in Texas.  But his parents don’t see it that way, and off to Texas he goes to visit his gma.

In the meantime, April runs into Michael’s former-best-friend-turned-rival Artie Western, and the two hit it off.  They end up racing together in a relay, and they win!  April tries to get Artie to tell her what happened between him and Michael, but he brushes her off, saying it was a misunderstanding best left in the past.

When Michael gets back into town, it takes exactly five seconds for two different people to congratulate him for patching things up with Artie.  He freaks out on April and says some of the most ridiculous, emotionally manipulative shit imaginable.  April goes home pissed, and rightfully so.  He calls to apologize, and she accepts it, and then acquiesces to his request that she not see Artie any more.

But April totally can’t help it that he sits next to her at the movies again, when Michael is stuck at home babysitting his little sister.  The two go out after, and Artie finally tells her the story of why he and Michael don’t talk any more: they both had a crush on a girl who used to come watch the motorbike races, and they challenged one another to a race around Secca Lake.  Artie lost control of his bike and swerved in front of Michael, forcing him to drop his bike.  Mike thought it was on purpose, and that was it.  Wait, that was it? Seriously?

Of course Michael is waiting on April’s porch when she gets home with Artie in tow, and the boy scream at each other until April’s dad threatens to call the police.  Then they challenge each other to another race around Secca Lake.  This time, Michael swerves in front of Artie’s bike, and Artie ends up in the hospital.  It’s never clear if Michael did it on purpose, but April seems pretty pissed at him.

Eventually, the three make up, and April and Michael continue seeing each other even though Michael is a total d-bag.

The B-and-C-Plots: Elizabeth and Todd bet each other that they other can’t do tasks that are traditionally fairly gendered.  So, Todd has to cook, grocery shop, and sew an apron.  Liz has to change a tire, build a shelf, and change a washer on a pipe.  Okaaaaaaay.  Both end up admitting that the tasks are hard, so I’m not sure what the message here is, because it’s super weird and sexist.

Meanwhile, Jessica meets Sam Woodruff after attending a dirtbike rally, and is totally smitten.  It turns out that the two have a lot in common, and she ends up falling for him completely.  But she doesn’t want to introduce him to her parents, because they’re super anti-motorcycle after that one time Liz was in a coma after Todd crashed his motorcycle a week after getting it. But then Sam shows up at her house, charms the pants off Alice, and all is well.  I actually really like Sam, so this worked for me.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Michael drives a Trans Am and his middle name is Lloyd
  • The Plaza Theater is hosting an Alfred Hitchcock film festival
  • Elizabeth likes walnuts in her chocolate chip cookies.  She’s a MONSTER.
  • Jessica and Sam like the same kind of pizza: pepperoni with double cheese and hot pepper flakes.  That actually sounds pretty awesome.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Michael stared hard at the road ahead. ‘My grandmother would understand,’ he said shortly. ‘She wouldn’t want Artie Western to beat me, either.'” (23)
  • “‘Michale and I are equals in everything. Even in dirt bike racing.  Who is he to boss me around?'” (52)


A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I’m sorry, but Michael Harris is a total douche.  I don’t have a lot of investment in any of the characters featured in this ridiculous plot, but he comes off looking the absolute worst throughout the book.  There isn’t anything compelling about his feud with Artie except how self-obsessed Michael is (something that both Artie and April point out to him more than once), and it doesn’t actually seem like he undergoes any sort of personality change by the time the book is through.

Also, Artie is in the hospital for like a week after his accident, even though his injuries aren’t that serious.  Doesn’t that seem like a really long time for a broken rib and some scratches?  My dad just had heart surgery and he was out in 24 hours.  Whatever.

Last thing: how dumb is the title?  The “girl” in question isn’t April, as the cover might suggest, but some rando chick they knew back when they were friends.  She doesn’t get more than a mention in passing, and they never even bother to name her! What the fuck!?

 

SVH Super Star: Enid’s Story

12 Mar

enid

Estimated Elapsed Time: Roughly 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Inexplicably, it’s Christmastime in Sweet Valley once again, and Enid and Elizabeth are looking forward to a lot of time together over the holiday because Enid is single and Todd will be skiing with his family in Utah.  Enid is secretly thrilled that she’ll have Liz all to herself, but Liz is very upset about spending Christmas without Todd.  To try to cheer her up, Enid brings Liz to the Dairi Burger, where she ends up under the mistletoe with her ex, Jeffrey French.  The two share a kiss that’s supposed to be a joke but actually fires up Liz quite a bit.  That’s too bad, because it sort of looks like Jeffrey might be interested in Enid, as he invites her to go to the ice skating party with him the next day.

At first, Liz isn’t going to go to the party because she wants to mope about how she misses Todd.  But Jessica convinces her to go, and she FREAKS OUT when she sees Enid and Jeffrey skating together.  Liz believes that there’s something going on between them and Enid has been downplaying it.  Enid apologizes and Elizabeth accepts, but that doesn’t stop Enid from going to a movie with Jeffrey that night.  She’s pretty sure that he’s interested in her, too, but he keeps bringing up Liz.  When Enid stops by his house to give him his Christmas present, he wants to obsess over the fact that Elizabeth baked him cookies.  This upsets Enid, who realizes that her feelings for him are either completely one-sided, or he’s very confused about what he wants.

Wallowing in her pain, she goes out with a former friend from her wild-child days, Brian Saunders.  She ran into him at the ice-skating party, and then he called her and begged her to go out with him.  He swears he’s a changed man, and the two have a nice dinner at a Thai restaurant.  But then he wants to take her to a friend’s house, and though she’s hesitant, she agrees.  Turns out there’s a massive party happening, and Enid leaves a totally-drunk Brian and cabs it home.

Things go from bad to worse for her when she goes to meet her absent-father at the Recency Hotel.  They’re supposed to have lunch together, but when she gets there, he’s already at the bar, reeking of gin and drunk off his ass.  They have a horrible interaction and she runs home crying to her mother, who she promptly blames for her father’s drunkenness.  Her mother tells her that her father has a serious alcohol problem and the two sort of reconcile.

But Enid still feels bad about her dad and worse about Jeffrey.  She reluctantly goes to a Christmas Eve party with Jeffrey at her ex-boyfriend George Warren’s house, but when Jeffrey asks to take Liz aside Enid figures it’s because they’re getting back together.  They aren’t, though.  Jeffrey and Liz clarify their feelings of friendship for each other and part ways amicably.  When Jeffrey goes to find Enid, she’s dancing with Brian (why is he at this party?) and decides to leave with him to piss off Jeffrey.

The two end up drunk and stoned at Miller’s Point.  That escalated quickly.  Jessica brings her date up to the spot and sees Enid out of her mind blitzed, but instead of helping, she goes back to the party.  Meanwhile, both of Enid’s parents are worried about her.  Her dad is sober enough to go look for her, and tries Kelly’s Bar before heading up to Miller’s Point after Jessica spills the beans about what she saw to Liz.

Brian has been joyriding them around in his car even though Enid has begged for him to let her out.  He ends up crashing the car, flipping it over, and starting it on fire.  Luckily, Enid’s dad shows up and pulls her from the wreck before it combusts.  Brian and Enid’s dad are both badly burned, though.  Everyone ends up in the hospital for some reconciliation.

Lila throws a New Year’s Eve party and everyone is there.  Todd and Liz are reunited and Jeffrey and Enid kiss.  Their relationship is left completely undefined, which is good, because I’m pretty sure we will never hear of it again.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Jessica references Dorothy Hamill when she talks about her own skating skills.  Jeffrey tells Enid she’ll soon skate like Sonja Henie.  Hello, dated references.
  • Enid’s gift ideas for Jeffrey’s mom: perfume, a scarf, a fancy cake plate that spins around and sings a song (she already has one), a magazine subscription
  • Enid’s Christmas present for Liz: heart-shaped pink satin box. Elizabeth’s present for Enid: a framed picture of her and Enid.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Enid looked at Elizabeth affectionately. Elizabeth was always wonderful to be with. She was a warm and friendly girl, the one person everyone at school really liked.”  (2) [Blogger’s note: We’re on page two, and I’m already so creeped out I don’t know how I can go on.]
  • “‘That’s a great idea,’ Jeffrey said enthusiastically. ‘My mom’s always saying that feminism just means a woman gets to have two careers–one inside and one outside the home!'” (33)
  • “‘You’re grown up now, Enid. You should know that there’s nothing wrong with having a couple. Besides, I remember you used to do a little drinking yourself.'” (113)
  • Why do I even try? she wondered. What was the point of going straight and pulling myself together if this is where it gets me? At least before, I was too stoned to notice how miserable life can be.” (126)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There are a lot of reasons I dreaded reading this one, and most of them have to do with the fact that Enid is pretty much the worst character to get her own Super Star book.  I mean, I might hate Bruce Patman because I think he’s a misogynistic sociopath, but at least he’s kind of interesting at the same time.  Enid doesn’t even have that going for her, which is why I refer to her as the “dripmaster.”  What’s funny, or perhaps alarming, is that it’s pretty clear that the ghost writer didn’t think Enid was very interesting, either, because almost half of this book focuses on Elizabeth’s problems.  Isn’t this supposed to be all about Enid?  Isn’t this her moment to shine?  WRONG! LIZ HAS FEELINGS.

If you are able to separate out the fact that it seems as though Enid’s feelings for Elizabeth run deeper than simply platonic friendship, this book still isn’t that interesting.  Enid finally gets a shot at romance, and it’s with Elizabeth’s leftovers! What is it about this town that encourages such incestuous relationships between its teens?  Furthermore, what “best friend” would ever think it was okay to go after her best friend’s ex-boyfriend, especially when readers know how serious it was for Liz and Jeffrey?

I get that life happens and we can’t actually help who we are attracted to.  I understand, even that if we adhere to the series’ cannon, Enid set her sights on Jeffrey first–although wasn’t that at Liz’s insane urging, because she didn’t want to admit her feelings for Jeffrey?  I’m even willing to admit that maybe these girls are more emotionally mature than I am and could accept their best friend hooking up with their ex–but based on how easily they freak out about stupid stuff, I doubt it.

SVH #60: That Fatal Night

25 Jan

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2-3 months

Summary/Overview:
Terri Adams has been in love with Ken Matthews forever.  This is news to pretty much everyone, because up until this book, I’m not sure that anyone even knew that Terri Adams existed.  But you guys, she’s totally a real person, because she’s friends with Kristin Thompson, Shelley Novak, and John Pfeiffer.  And sometimes Liz says hi to her, which means she’s validated as an actual human being.  Anyway, Terri’s in love with Ken.  This seems to be her only defining characteristic, aside from the fact that she’s the assistant statistician for the Gladiators (is this like an actual thing that high school students do?).  At a party thrown by Amy Sutton, Terri gets the sads when she sees Amy kiss Ken.  Terri decides to go home and asks Winston to drive her, but he and Maria took the bus.  Ken offers to drive all of them just to get away from Amy.

It’s a dark and stormy night, and after Ken drops everyone else off, he promptly gets into a terrible car accident. Todd’s driving Liz and Jessica home, and they see the wreck.  The police say a drunk driver drove him off the road.  So…it wasn’t the rain, then?  Instead of going home, they go back to the party to tell everyone the news.  Amy FREAKS OUT about it, even though she and Ken haven’t been going out long.

At school on Monday, everyone’s talking about Ken’s tragic accident.  Someone makes mention of the fact that it’s Terri’s fault, and she cries a lot.  When Jessica and Liz go visit Ken in the hospital, they’re horrified to learn that he’s been blinded.  Wait…what?  When Amy finds out that Ken is blind, she runs away and tells Jessica not to tell Ken she was there at all.  Ken ends up in rehab for about a month before deciding its time to return to school.  Things don’t go the way he hoped, though.  Apparently being the only blind kid at a seeing school is kind of rough.  Terri seems fairly supportive, though, and the two start hanging out a lot.  Ken struggles with his feelings for her because he doesn’t believe anyone would ever want to date a blind guy.  His solution to this dilemma is to be a total jerk to Terri.

Liz tells Terri to stop doing everything for Ken and to tell him how she feels.  When she tries to, she chickens out.  Ken gets mad when she won’t read him his history homework, and she runs away.  Ken realizes he’s made a mistake and tries to find her by taking the bus to North Haven Beach, where she sits, reflecting on her existence (and the existence of this terrible book).  He admits his feelings for her, and she reciprocates!  They are together at last.  Also, Ken starts to be able to see light, and it isn’t long before his sight is good as new.  It’s a MIRACLE, Y’ALL!

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Ken Drives a white Toyota.
  • Terri’s preferred color of lipstick is in the apricot family. UNFLATTERING.
  • According to the doctor, Ken had a “closed head injury.”  I’m pretty sure this is a made-up thing.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “For an instant Ken thought he was out of danger.  Then he saw a large tree that seemed to be speeding toward him–and everything went black.” (31)
  • “‘You can do it, Ken. Remember, attitude is everything.” (81) [Blogger’s note: I’m pretty sure this same thing is written at the chalkboard at my gym]

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Oh, jeeze.  Where to start?  The fact that this book seems to confuse the word “fatal” with something else?  NO ONE DIED, SO IT WASN’T A FATAL NIGHT.  Perhaps they meant fateful?  I’m not sure, but the fact that the book is called FATAL sets the audience up for something that NEVER happens.

Or the fact that the book seems to think that blindness can be cured by magical tears and enough hoping and wishing on a unicorn?  It seems that in the Sweet Valley Universe, both deafness and blindness can be cured!  It’s like a real-life (fake) miracle spot.  Or something.

This book blows.  ONTO THE NEXT GREAT ADVENTURE!

SVH #21: Runaway

24 Apr

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:
Jessica is fed up with her family not taking her seriously.  They’re still grumbling about the accidental food poisoning from the last book.  At dinner, when Jess tries to cheer Steven up by inviting him to a party, everyone jumps down her throat until they find out it was Liz’s idea, and then they’re okay with it.  The Wakefields don’t listen when she talks and yet hang on Saint Elizabeth’s every word.

Because of all this, Jessica is feeling more than a little unappreciated, and for once she’s right to feel so.  She feels alone and misunderstood, so when she meets pseudo-bad boy Nicky Shepard, who feels the same way about his own family, it’s kismet.  Nicky understands Jessica’s pain because his family doesn’t have time for him, either.  His father is a workaholic and his mother devotes all her time to his sick little brother.

When Jessica starts spending all of her time with Nicky (the twins have a week off of school, which is unexplained and unfathomable, given that they just had a two-week long spring break), Elizabeth is concerned, but she’s also so wrapped up in her own drama that she doesn’t have a lot of time to worry about it.  She justifies her half-assed worry by thinking that the rumors about Nicky might not be true–he hangs out with a fast crowd, but he might be okay.  Jessica notices that Nicky’s friends seem to be pretty tough, too–at a party, there’s a lot of beer-drinking and marijuana-passing, but Nicky is different from them, Jessica thinks, because he’s so sensitive.  Besides, no one knows him like she does.

Things come to a head when they crash their car into a telephone pole on the way home from the party.  Nicky’s father comes to pick them up from the accident (they’re both unhurt) and freaks the hell out on Nicky.  He berates him the entire way home.  Later, Nicky asks Jessica to run away to San Francisco with him.  He plans to leave Sweet Valley that very week!  After the fight with his father, Nicky leaves even sooner than planned, and Jessica decides to follow him the next day.

She packs her bags and leaves a note in an envelope on her dresser.  When she leaves her room, she slams the door dramatically, knocking the letter behind the dresser.  The Wakefields don’t find out that Jessica’s left (the tip-off is how clean her room is) until later, and then they race around, calling her friends and searching the airport and the bus station.  Liz and Steven miss Jessica’s bus and chase after it towards the next stop, and when they get there, they hijack the bus and beg Jessica to stay.  Everyone cries, and Jessica comes home.

Once she’s settled back at Casa Wakefield, Jessica writes a letter to Nicky telling him she’s sorry, but she belongs in Sweet Valley.  She also tells him that he figures his shit out (but not in so many words), and that she’ll always love him, which strikes me as false, since she’s known him like a week.

The B-Plot involves a grandparent’s rights case that Ned Wakefield is trying involving Ricky Capaldo and his siblings.  Since his parents’ divorce, Ricky’s dad skipped town and refused to pay child support/alimony.  In an attempt to compel him to pay, Ricky’s mom has forbidden Ricky’s paternal grandparents from seeing their grandchildren.  Yes, it’s that convoluted.  Elizabeth offers some great insight into how it’s affecting the children, and Ned encourages her to come watch the trial.  She decides to write a series of articles about the case for the Sweet Valley Newspaper, which is so unethical I can’t even begin to fathom it.

Ricky is understandably pissed at first, but then he speaks at the trial about how unfair it all is, and the case is dissolved when both sides reach an agreement.  I’m so bored I can hardly care.

Memorable Quotes:

  • Oh well, Jessica muttered to herself, Elizabeth Wakefield, savior of the world, defender of the oppressed, strikes again.” (29)
  • “‘Well, she’s a young girl, about five feet six, very pretty with blue-green eyes and…’ Steven sighed.  ‘Wait a minute.’  He took hold of Elizabeth and pushed her toward the window.  ‘She looks just like this.'” (154)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • At Cara’s party, she serves chips, dip, and two different kinds of punch.  There’s also dancing, mingling, and a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit going on.
  • My favorite outfit in this book belongs to Todd: pleated gray linen slacks with a tweed coat over a polo shirt.
  • Steven takes Elizabeth out for ice cream at Casey’s.  They each order a hot fudge sundae with double-fudge ice cream, and I’m officially hungry while being simultaneously grossed out.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

The issue I’d like to focus on isn’t Jessica’s lame attempt at running away but rather the complete lack of professionalism that both Ned Wakefield and Elizabeth demonstrate.  First of all, there’s the issue of Ned talking about his case at the dinner table.  He starts off by saying, “I shouldn’t really talk about this, but…” like that preface to what he’s about to say makes it okay.  If he’s not supposed to talk about it, he shouldn’t talk about it.  End of story.  There’s no gray area there.

What’s worse than that is the fact that it concerns a classmate of the twins’.  That alone makes it absolutely none of their business, and it’s a major breach of client confidentiality to divulge information about the case to the girls.  Ricky Capaldo’s family situation is painful, complicated, and above all else, private.

Adding serious insult to injury is the fact that Elizabeth decides that the family court case is newsworthy and decides to write a series of articles about it for the local newspaper.  Okay, Elizabeth.  Never mind the serious breach of ethics so long as you can further your own amateur career.  When Ricky gets mad at Liz for writing these articles, she thinks about it for a half second, like she’s really considering the ethics behind it before deciding that the story is more important.  Pretty cut-throat for a pearl-clutching hypocrite.