Tag Archives: hugh grayson

SVH #84: The Stolen Diary

23 Apr


Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks


Todd tells Liz he’s afraid they’re getting too serious or maybe too comfortable with each other and thinks they should take a break.  Liz is stunned but agrees to it.  She’s in total denial about the fact that he’s clearly interested in another girl named Peggy Abbot, but when everyone starts talking about them and Liz sees them flirting out and about, she realizes it must be true.

So she proceeds to agonize about it for 100 pages.  She writes in her journal, ignores Enid’s problems, and is generally the saddest sack around.  When Kris Lynch, a senior at SVH, asks her to the dance, she turns him down and then reconsiders when she realizes it might be a way to attract Todd’s attention.  This will end well.

It’s clear that Kris is super into Liz, but she’s not interested in him at all.  She feels bad about how excited he was for the dance and agrees to a second date.  It isn’t long before people are referring to him as her boyfriend, even though they have never kissed.  Liz knows she needs to tell Kris she’s not interested, and she decides that the perfect place to do that is at Maria Santelli’s party.  Because nothing says “gentle letdown” like a crowded party, right?

Of course, it’s too noisy at the party, and when Liz tries to pull Kris into a quiet room to break it off, they run into Todd and Peggy, who look like they’re about to make out.  Liz runs out the room and ends up making out with Kris on a stairwell before pushing him away and asking to go home.  He goes totally  nuts on her in the car when she tells him she’s not interested.  After yelling and screaming at her, he pulls over when she asks, but then grabs at her as she gets out of the car.  This is scarily close to sexual assault, but that’s never mentioned.  Liz drops her bag in his car and struggles to put everything back.

The next day at school, Liz can’t find her journal but is distracted when Kris comes by with a white rose for her as a peace offering.  Then the rumors about what happened between them start up.  Kris is claiming they had a “wild night” at Miller’s Point.  Todd approaches Liz and tells her he was wrong, and they get back together.  But then Kris tells him he knows all about the kinds of fights Todd and Liz have had, and Todd blows off their reunion dinner.  Kris does the same thing to Enid, who then gets super pissed at Liz.

Jessica figures out that there’s no way Liz would have told Kris all this stuff about the people she loves, and when she confronts him about it, she isn’t even ruffled when he pulls out details about her.  It just fuels her desire to get to the bottom of whatever has happened.  So she figures out that he must have swiped Liz’s diary–and once again, she confronts him and blackmails him into telling the truth.  Then she makes Todd and Enid meet with Kris, who comes clean with them.  All is well in the world.

The B-Plot is Enid trying to decide if she wants to get back together with Hugh Grayson.  I guess things didn’t work out with Jeffrey?  There are a few missed connections, a case of jumping to conclusions, and finally a last-minute reconciliation.  I guess, good for them?  Whatever, I hate Enid.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Kris picks Liz up for the dance in a pink Cadillac
  • Kris normally drives a custom bright green Volkswagen Beetle
  • The twins are into green: Jess wears a bright green sundress, Liz wears a seafoam green dress

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica groaned dramatically. ‘I can’t believe we share the same genes,’ she said. ‘What I know about boys would fill a book, but what you know wouldn’t fill a postcard.'” (6)
  • “It was nice to know that she was pretty and popular, but it would be even nicer to know that the boy she thought was special felt the same way about her.” (55)
  • “‘It’s amazing, isn’t it?’ asked Jessica as Elizabeth disappeared back up the stairs. ‘You wouldn’t think someone like Elizabeth had anything to put in a journal. “Dear Diary, Today I went to school. I got another A. I wrote another articles for The Oracle. I went home and did my homework.”‘” (93)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There are a few things that really bothered me about this one, the first of which is how desperate Enid and Elizabeth both are.  A common theme in these books is that the girls are defined by their relationships with boys, and that’s really heavily played up here.  Enid keeps joking about joining a convent because she can’t make it work with Hugh, and I guess I don’t really understand how this is at all relative to other teens.  Girl, you are sixteen years old, and you are thirsty as hell.  Give it a rest.

Liz, too, is guilty of this, thinking only of how to get Todd back and how lost she feels without him.  She uses Kris throughout the book in order to make Todd jealous or get his attention, and even though she tries to explain herself the night of Maria’s party, it’s not completely surprising that Kris doesn’t handle it well.  I mean, Liz has been using him, and he’s right about that part, at least.

The part that is surprising is how much Kris FREAKS OUT about it.  They’ve had two dates, and he seems to think they are destined for marriage.  He gets a little rough with her, too, which I didn’t like.  There’s no mention of this again, and I fear that normalizes it.  Then, when he spreads all the rumors about Liz, his crazy gets amped up.  But when Jessica confronts him about it, he’s painted as sympathetic again.  These characters are not complicated enough for this sort of thing to work.  Kris is either a sociopath or he’s not.  He can’t be both.  Ugh.


SVH #43: Hard Choices

24 Oct

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 (hellish) weeks


Enid’s grandmother is coming to live with her and her mom, Adele.  Enid is really excited about this because her grandmother is totally spunky and awesome.  She and Adele bend over backward to accommodate Nana; Enid even moves her bedroom up  to the attic and they redo her old room to make it better for her grandmother.  But when Nana arrives, Enid is crushed to see that she’s not like she remembers at all: she’s frail and needy and it’s really hard to be in the same room as her.

Nana is making both Enid and Adele totally miserable.  She nitpicks about everything, harps on about how she doesn’t want to be a bother (usually while being the epitome of a bother), hates Enid’s friends and boyfriend Hugh Grayson, hates Adele’s boyfriend, and just generally blows.  Enid and her mother butt heads over the care of Nana, and Enid seems to get stuck taking care of her a lot.  The two women seem reluctant to leave her alone, and it isn’t long before Nana is playing into this and causing all sorts of problems.

Things come to a boil on the night of the big documentary party at the Wakefield’s house.  Enid is supposed to go and premiere the movie that she helped make, but Adele has to attend an awards ceremony with her boyfriend, Richard.  Nana insists on not being left alone, and when Adele leaves, Enid blows up at Nana, telling her how selfish she’s been.  After her teary confession, she leaves the house and goes to the party, where she and Liz talk and sort things out.

Upon arriving back at her house, Enid is stunned to find her grandmother making ginger snaps in the kitchen.  The two talk, cry, and hug it out.  Hugh joins them, and then Adele comes home and Nana tells them all that she’s going back to Chicago to work things out.  They are all, I think, quite relieved.

The B-Plot involves Jackson Croft, famed movie director, holding a short-film contest for students.  Elizabeth decides to make a documentary about how awesome Sweet Valley is, and she enlists the help of Jeffrey, Enid, and Jessica, who will narrate it.  The foursome trek all over Sweet Valley and cobble together an absolutely rip-roaringly hilarious look at how wonderful it is to live in Sweet Valley.  The premiere party is a rousing success.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Mrs. Langevin looked toward the house and set her mouth in a grim line.  ‘So many steps to the front door,’ she murmured faintly.” (16) [Blogger’s note: We’re not even 20 pages in, and already I’m screaming, “PUT THIS WOMAN IN A HOME ALREADY!”]
  • “Near the lifeguard station cheerleaders Sandra Bacon and Jean West were practicing handstands and cartwheels.  Their boyfriends, Manuel Lopez and Tom McKay, watched admiringly.” (26) [This is creepy, right?]
  • “‘No, Enid.  There’s a program on after dinner I want to see.  But really,’ her grandmother continued, sounding wounded, ‘if you’d rather spend your time having fun with your friends, I understand.  I can see how your friends might be more important to you than I am.'” (96)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • As if we needed any more evidence that everyone hates Enid: the first storyline she gets after being paralyzed in a plane crash involves her bitchy grandmother?  That’s the best they could do?
  • One of the most popular songs in the Droids’ repertoire is called “Meltdown.”
  • Enid wears a green halter dress with white sandals to the beach disco.  This bothers me for some reason.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

You know what’s so annoying about this book?  The fact that I actually felt sympathetic for Enid.  Yeah, I know.  When I read a Sweet Valley High novel, I don’t want to feel sorry for Enid.  The situation with her grandmother, as overblown and improbable as it is, still sucks.  Enid is trying to be a good granddaughter, and she’s understandably upset and confused about her grandmother’s completely melodramatic, manipulative behavior.

But she’s also spent enough time with Elizabeth and Jessica that she should see the signs of manipulation.  Her grandmother’s manipulation is ridiculous.  Even Enid’s mom seems to see it (although she doesn’t seem to do anything to put a stop to it).  It’s easier for Adele to let Enid be manipulated and go on with her life than to deal with the borderline abuse happening in the house.  Whatever, Sweet Valley.  I’m over this book.