Tag Archives: nicholas morrow

SVH: Elizabeth’s Secret Diary, Vol. I

16 Jul

elizabeth's secret diary

Estimated Elapsed Time: N/A, as this is a recap of books 23-31

Summary/Overview:

Liz and Todd are making out in his room instead of studying.  There’s a lot of weird almost-sex talk about how they never let themselves be alone in each other’s rooms, and then Todd takes a phone call from Ken Matthews and Liz snoops around Todd’s desk, finding a letter from a girl he knew in Vermont.  She calls him cute-buns and sends him lots of love and kisses, and Liz FREAKS OUT.  That night, she ends up in the arms of Jeffrey French, and they make out.  Confused, Liz goes home crying and opens one of her old journals.  Cue flashbacks!

We’re dumped into #28, when Liz finds out that Todd is moving with his family to Vermont.  After he leaves and they agree to do a long-distance thing, Liz starts hanging out and making out with Nicholas Morrow.  If this is supposed to be scandalous, it’s not.  When Todd comes to visit, the two make up and he climbs a ladder into her bedroom.

After that, we’re treated to a retread of #29, where Steven mopes about his dead fucking girlfriend and his new feelings for Cara.  Liz also chases a Todd lookalike around Sweet Valley (DOPPELGANGER ALERT).  I can’t be bothered to care about any of this.  After that excitement, Liz boasts about helping poor Emily Mayer cope with a blended family and then negotiate a hostage situation (when it’s written out like this, is it more or less ridiculous? I can’t tell anymore).  Also, Liz’s writing is SO GOOD that people steal it, like Ken Matthews did that one time but he totally learned his lesson and they’re cool now.

For whatever fucking reason, we are treated to a very long recap of Lynne Henry’s makeover transformation, and then Liz and Ken start hanging out a lot because now she’s “single” and she and Todd chat on the phone about people he’s dating in Vermont.  Oh, and she reconnects with Amy Sutton but thinks she’s a snob.  WHEN WILL THIS END.  By the time the book gets around to recapping #31, where she and Jessica fight over which of their friends gets to date Jeffrey (like this is a reward?), Liz and Ken aren’t really seeing each other any more, and then Liz decides that she loves Jeffrey.

In the present, Liz stays up all night reading her journal and realizes that her life has been exciting and amazing.  Todd drives over to the Wakefield house and they make up.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Liz has an awful lot of poetry written in her diaries, and they’re all terrible.  Check it: “Rainy Sunday/Foggy Monday/Closely creeping fears,/Can’t take much more of this./Drive east, drive fast/until at last/desert rainbows dry my tears/like a kiss.”

Memorable Quotes:

  • “She’s my sister and I adore her, but sometimes she can be so…shallow. Forgive me, Diary, but it’s true.” (27)
  • “‘Congratulations,’ I whispered. ‘You’ve just become the first man to successfully scale Mount Wakefield!'” (53) [This is sexual, right?]
  • “I glanced at Amy out of the corner of my eye. Could she really be as heartless as she sounded?” (236)
  • “I’m only sixteen, and already my life has been so full!” (322) [Wait, this is the takeaway?]

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

It’s weird that this book is written in first-person.  I had completely forgotten about that, though I guess it makes sense, since the reader is supposed to be in Liz’s diary.  But it’s jarring to read this first-person perspective of Liz that doesn’t sound at all how she should sound, in my opinion.

Also, this book is so fucking boring.  It’s like watching a clips-heavy episode of a comedy from the 90s.  There’s no real reason to show all these things readers have already experienced, and by adding in details that I refuse to accept as cannon at this point, the book is doing itself no favors.  There’s no reason–except to sell more books and make more money–to recap the books in a huge volume like this.  It makes no sense.

Which brings me to the thing that I find most disturbing about this book.  At the beginning, Liz is upset because Todd saw some other girl while he was in Vermont, which WE ALREADY KNEW, and then wonders if he’s loved other people besides her.  So she turns to her diary, which documents every covert hookup with basically every dude in Sweet Valley (no shame here, just pointing out the facts), some of which she had genuine feelings for.  At the end of the book, though, she realizes that her life has been full and exciting, and she feels better about everything?  What?  Wasn’t the point that she was doing some soul-searching about her feelings for Todd?

Also, isn’t the message here: your experiences with boys define you?  Am I wrong?

SVH #96: The Arrest

2 Jun

the arrest

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1-2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Elizabeth is still maintaining that she can’t remember anything from the night of the Jungle Prom when she crashed a car and killed Sam.  The police question her with Ned present, but she isn’t able to give them any new information.  They keep her in jail overnight, and everyone FREAKS OUT about this.  When she returns to school, she feels like a social pariah.  Enid is the only person who will talk to her, but when she sees a newspaper in Enid’s bag with an article about her arrest, she assumes that Enid meant for her to see it and runs away.

Ned hires the best lawyer around for “cases like these,” but the guy is a total dick.  After meeting with Liz and Ned, Ned fires the lawyer and says he’ll defend her himself.

Jessica is still really sad about Sam, but psychotically thinks that if Elizabeth gets punished for his death, she will feel better.  She decides that no matter what happens with Elizabeth’s court case, she’s going to get her own revenge and runs crying to Todd, who decides he has to cheer her up and offers to take her to a movie.  Afterwards, Jessica begs him to take her for a walk on the beach, where Todd holds her while she cries.  The two continue to spend time together, arousing suspicion from all their friends.

Lila is so excited about reuniting with her long-lost mother that it seems all her problems have temporarily disappeared.  She obsesses over wearing the perfect clothes and obtaining the perfect look to meet her mother, which drives her friends crazy.  When her dad and Lila go to Los Angeles to pick up Grace, Lila is taken by her beauty and disgusted by her “lover,” a wiry Frenchman named Pierre.  Lila gets upset that her mother ditches their coffee gabfest to attend to Pierre’s needs and cries some more.

Margo is still going by Michelle in Ohio and generally being a crazy person.  She locks Georgie in the closet while she files her nails and then kicks him in the head a bunch.  Um, okay.  Then she has a nightmare and realizes it’s time to move on to California, where her “real” family awaits.  She takes Georgie for a picnic, drowns him, steals his mother’s jewelry, and hops a Greyhound to California.  At a bus station somewhere, she sees an old lady with a newspaper.  There’s a picture of Elizabeth on the front, and Margo realizes she looks just like her.  She presumably kills the old lady, takes the paper and some money, and continues west.

Nicholas Morrow is lamenting the fact that he’s single even though he’s like, a total catch.  He wonders what’s wrong with him and then proceeds to list off a shit-ton of his excellent qualities.  Um, maybe the problem is that you’re a raging narcissist?  Then he gets a letter telling him he’s been chosen as one of the male contestants on the new dating show Hunks, and he realizes Olivia signed him up for it.  His first date is a girl named Jakki, who wears a lot of black clothing purple eye shadow, and blue lipstick.  She also has a butterfly tattooed on her face.  Date #2 is named Susan and is a “demure” looking chick in a floral dress with minimal makeup but giggles too much.  Date #3 is Ann and she seems juuuuust right, if only she didn’t look so embarrassed.

His first date with Jakki is a disaster, as she picks him up on her motorcycle and takes him to a biker bar called Club Mud.  His second date, with Susan, is super weird. Because she chooses to wear flip flops, they can’t get seated anywhere except for a burger joint, and she laughs the whole time and acts like a child.  I’m convinced there is a mental delay here, but that never crosses Nicholas’s mind.  His third date, with Ann, actually seems to be going pretty well, because he likes her, but he keeps screwing up: he’s late to pick her up, he forgets his wallet, his car gets a flat tire, and he pukes on her when they go to an amusement park.  When it comes time to revisit the dates on the Hunks show, the first two girls eviscerate him, but Ann has lovely things to say.  They kiss in front of the live studio audience.

Steven is worked up into a tizzy about his sister’s arrest and the deteriorating state of his family.  He’s also dealing with a new off-campus apartment and a need for a new roommate.  He sees an ad for someone named Billie Winkler who needs a place, and he calls and leaves a message for Billie to come see the place.  Imagine his surprise when Billie turns out to be a GIRL!

Bruce is still obsessing about Pamela and whether or not the rumors about her are true.  She calls him and begs to hear her out, so they agree to meet so she can explain her side of the story.  They meet at the Box Tree Cafe, but the two are heckled by some dickbags from Big Mesa, and Bruce storms out before Pamela can say anything.  She cries alone in her room.  It’s not her fault that she wouldn’t put out for some dude at Big Mesa who then spread lies about her!

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • According to this book, it’s the start of the spring term at Steven’s university. I’m not even sure how that works within the timeline, but whatever.
  • The ghostwriter calls Maria Santelli “Maria Santini” in this one.  CUTE.
  • Lila is going through a “Continental” phase which includes eating croissants?
  • Lila and Amy go to a nail salon called Turn of the Nail.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Even though Jessica had played that silly joke on Elizabeth and Sam, the accident obviously had nothing to do with Jessica.  It was all Elizabeth’s fault.” (25)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Everything about this whole manslaughter trial thing is so weird.  First of all, the timeline for Elizabeth’s case is so compressed that it’s mind-boggling.  Also, it is so weird that she maintains she couldn’t be drunk because she never drinks.  The police tested her blood-alcohol level and it came back way higher than the legal limit! Obviously you had alcohol in your system, Elizabeth! Use your tiny brain! People spike drinks! Why is no one suggesting this as a way to fight the charges against her?  I don’t understand.  It isn’t mentioned once as a possibility.

Margo continues to be the creepiest, weirdest psychopath ever.  She’s clearly a schizophrenic, but she’s so badly characterized it’s embarrassing.  Like, the ghost writer couldn’t be bothered to do the most rudimentary research about the disorder?

SVH #95: The Morning After

30 May

the morning after

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

With the start of these new mini-series books, the narration tends to jump between people more than in previous books.  Therefore, my recaps are going to look a little different.

Liz is having recurring nightmares about a girl who looks exactly like her and Jessica trying to kill her.  This girl has dark hair.  She’s also completely miserable about having killed Sam.  Totally alienated at school, the only person who will talk to her is Enid.  She can’t figure out why Todd is avoiding her, and she can’t figure out what happened the night of the dance.  She’s not sure if she was drunk at the prom, which is weird, because wouldn’t the police test her blood alcohol level?

It’s a couple of weeks before the police show up at the Wakefield house and interrogate Elizabeth in front of her whole family.  Jessica sits idly by while they ask Elizabeth about the alcohol she drank at the dance, and then they tell Elizabeth that she’s under arrest for involuntary manslaughter.  They lead her out but then tell Ned he can drive her to the police station.  These police are the worst.

Jessica is devastated following the loss of Sam.  She refuses to speak to Elizabeth and cries a lot.  Instead of going to the memorial service Sam’s dirtbike friends are throwing, she goes to the cemetery where she cries a lot and blames herself for the accident.  Meanwhile, Todd starts hanging around her, because he’s clearly worried about her.  She continues to be withdrawn around her friends.

Bruce can’t stop thinking about the girl who helped him the night of the Big Mesa/Sweet Valley rumble.  Her name is Pamela Robertson, and she goes to Big Mesa.  He finds out that she plays tennis there, so he stalks her practices until he can talk to her.  Despite a bunch of people dropping hints that Pamela is known as a slut, he’s super interested in her and asks her out.  At the end of the first date, they both admit that they’re falling in love.  When Bruce gets ready to see her again, Roger tells him that he’s heard some not great things about Pamela.  He brushes this off until Amy confirms the rumors at lunch one day.  As a result, he’s a total dick to Pamela on their next date, but then feels bad about it and goes over to her house the next morning to apologize.  But when he gets there, he sees that she’s getting out of a car and kisses another boy! He’s furious.

Lila is still dealing with serious post-traumatic shock from when John Pfeifer tried to rape her.  In the aftermath of accusing Nathan the counselor of the same thing, she has a meeting with Principal Cooper, Nathan, and her father.  It’s there she comes to the realization that Nathan didn’t try to hurt her, and she apologizes and cries a bunch.  Her father’s unsure how to deal with her, and after realizing how screwed up she is, he tells her he’s sending for her mother, Grace, in Paris.  Lila breaks down in tears, thanking him.

Olivia is still taking classes at that art school where she met James in her super special book.  James isn’t in the picture any more, having accepted a scholarship to paint in Paris, but Olivia is still at it, thinking about how lonely she is.  But she’s also a super talented artist, because one of her paintings was in a student art show and now there’s a buyer interested in it.  This buy is contingent on Olivia giving a speech at some art conference.  She tells all this to Nicholas Morrow over coffee, and then they both lament the state of their love lives.  The two decide to set each other up on dates.  Olivia gets the brilliant idea to submit Nicholas as a possible contestant on a new show called Hunks.

When Olivia shows up to give the art speech, though, she finds herself at a random mansion where a boy from her art class is waiting for her.  He tells her he made the whole thing up, and instead of running for the hills from this crazy person who clearly wants to murder her and wear her like a dress, Olivia is intrigued by this Harry Minton person.

Margo: Is a new character, a foster girl living in Long Island who decides to listen to the voice in her head and embark on a westward journey.  In order to do so, she kills her five-year-old foster sister by pouring kerosene all over the kitchen and then telling her to use a metal knife to get her toast out of the toaster.  She leaves after watching the house burn with Nina inside it.  Then she decides to call herself Michelle and buys a one-way ticket to Cleveland.  She gets a job as a babysitter for a family with a little boy named Georgie.  She starts stealing from Georgie’s mother, and the voice tells her she has to go to California.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • According to this book, Margo’s been in 10 different foster homes by the age of 16.
  • Bruce repeatedly refers to Pamela Robertson as “Cinderella,” and it is never not creepy.
  • The English classes are reading Moby Dick.
  • Pamela’s favorite old movie is Philadelphia Story

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica suddenly looked up. ‘Can’t you people talk about anything important?’ she cried.” (40)
  • “‘Well, for one thing,’ she explained, ‘Elizabeth Wakefield, of all people, was acting possessed.'” (70)
  • “What I know about teenage boys would curl your hair, lady, Margo bragged silently.” (162)
  • “‘I don’t think it’s wise for my daughter to answer questions like this without an attorney present,’ Ned Wakefield said.” (200)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There are so many things about this book that make absolutely no sense.  But two things stood out to me about this one: the handling of Lila’s accusations about Nathan and the handling of the investigation into Sam’s death.

Firstly, let’s focus on the Lila situation, which is really sad.  If there’s something to appreciate about how truly dumb this book and the series as a whole is, is that this story gets some consistency.  Lila is really, really screwed up because of what happened to her.  She’s still dealing with it, and it’s actually not that out of the realm of possibility that she’d misinterpret what Nathan was trying to do that night.

But instead of dealing with this in a way that makes any sense (remember, the police were involved at the end of the last book), Chrome Dome Cooper calls a meeting with Lila, her father, and Nathan.  There are no police, and Cooper acts as a mediator, asking for Lila’s story while Nathan is in the room.  In what reality does a victim of sexual assault have to give testimony for the first time with the accused in the room?  It’s so fucked.  It makes no sense.  But they wrap this up quickly so we can get to the ridiculous Elizabeth story.

Which brings me to the second issue here.  Elizabeth states in the middle of the book that she can’t imagine she was drunk, which makes no sense, because she would have been treated for injuries in the hospital after the car crash and then interviewed by police.  There is NO FREAKING WAY that the police would wait weeks to question her about the accident.  So when they show up at the house and ask about her blood alcohol level, which they apparently DID test at the scene, she’s like, “I don’t know how I got drunk!”

None of this makes any sense.  It just doesn’t.  It’s this bizarre plot hole that shouldn’t be there because the book is contradicting itself over the course of like, 50 pages.  After they question her, one of the cops says that they’ve been trying to handle this investigation delicately because she’s a good student and her dad is a prominent lawyer in the community.  I’m sure that will be of great comfort to DEAD SAM WOODRUFF’S PARENTS.  Jesus Christ.

What will happen in the next book?  Will Elizabeth end up in jail forever?  I WISH.

SVH #72: Rock Star’s Girl

19 Mar

rock star's girl

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3-4 weeks

Summary/Overview:

New girl Andrea Slade makes friends with Elizabeth and Enid right away.  She seems nice enough, and she’s apparently witty (this blogger saw no real demonstration of that), so Liz and Enid are thrilled to have a new friend.  They take her to the beach and the mall, where she meets Nicholas Morrow.  The two share an instant attraction, and start dating.  Only, Andrea is reluctant to have anyone pick her up at her house, insisting that she meet people wherever it is they’re going.  Liz and Enid think it’s because she’s embarrassed her house is small or something, but the opposite is really true: her dad is famous rock star Jamie Peters, and she’s keeping it totally under wraps.  In fact, this is so far under wraps that the reader doesn’t “find” out until more than halfway through the book, when Jessica, Cara, Lila, and Amy see Andrea with Jamie and mistake her for his live-in girlfriend. Uh, gross.

Once the secret is out, everyone at Sweet Valley starts trying to pony up to Andrea, except Liz and Enid, because they are so fucking virtuous.  Lila, Jessica, and Amy all try to become insta-friends with Andrea and are pissed off when she rebuffs their blatant fame-grabbing attempts.  They continue to adhere to their theory that she’s Jamie’s girlfriend, even after Andrea blows up at Lila and tells her it’s none of her business what her relationship is to Jamie.  Of course, Jessica runs into Nicholas Morrow and tells him that Andrea’s totally two-timing him, and he believes it–why else would she be weird about getting picked up at her own house?  So instead of meeting her for their date, he drops off a letter with the hostess that basically tells Andrea he won’t be two-timed.

Understandably, Andrea is upset and doesn’t go home.  Then Jamie Peters calls Elizabeth to see if Andrea’s at her house, and they all go out searching for her.  Nicholas Morrow helps once he realizes that Jamie is Andrea’s father, and when they find her at the marina, everyone reconciles.  At the Peters’ estate, Jamie tells Andrea that he just signed a movie contract that will keep them in Sweet Valley for years–which, has he ever seen a movie contract before?  Anyway, Jessica, Lila, and Amy are found hiding in the bushes, apologize, yadda yadda yadda.  Everything is happy and perfect.

The B-Plot focuses largely on Jessica, Lila, and Amy’s obsession with Jamie Peters.  When Lila discovers that Jamie has bought the Kittery’s Estate near her house, she starts stalking him, and it doesn’t take long for the rest of the girls to hide in the bushes near Jamie’s back yard, either.  That’s where they first see Andrea and Jamie together.  Lila’s also learning how to play the marimba because she’s decided to be a professional musician.  It’s the weirdest side-plot I’ve seen yet, I think.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Lila’s father bought her a new compact disc player from Japan
  • Jamie Peters’s new album is called Pride.  [Blogger’s note: Personally, I’m looking forward to the next one: Gluttony.]
  • Liz describes Andrea’s fashion as “kind of funky cotton things–very New York.” Um, what?
  • Sweet Valley sure has a lot of Italian restaurants: Nicholas takes Andrea to Oggi so she can have Angel hair pasta.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Listen to yourself, Lila,’ Amy Sutton said in her most critical voice. ‘You sound like a lovesick baby. Only teenyboppers get crushes on rock stars.'” (12)
  • “‘Yes,’ Lila said calmly. ‘Why not? Jamie Peters has a wonderful ear for authentic, interesting instruments. He’ll probably be overjoyed that there’s a marimba player living five houses away from him.'” (75)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I remember loving this book as a kid because I was a) obsessed with the concept of celebrity and b) intrigued at the idea of having a much-older boyfriend.  As an adult, however, I’m super creeped out that anyone could mistake a 16-year-old girl for an aging rock star’s live-in girlfriend.  I mean, statutory rape laws existed in the 90s, right?  This isn’t some sort of Courtney Stodden situation (and look how well that turned out for her, right?), and the fact that a lot of people’s reaction to this news is jealousy is downright disturbing.

Look, I get having crushes on celebrities that are much older than you.  I’ve been totally guilty of it, and I’m sure it was way worse as a teenager than I remember now.  But any person who believed that Andrea was Jamie’s girlfriend and found their reaction was jealousy and not abject horror at the concept needs serious help.  Whatever, May-December romances work out sometimes, blah blah blah, but this is not a case where that should be advocated.  I just can’t get over how gross the whole thing is.

Next up: Bantam decided it wasn’t done mining Regina Morrow’s tragic death for trite plot points.  So we get a camera…with a secret…in #73: Regina’s Legacy.

SVH Super Thriller #3: No Place to Hide

4 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 4 weeks?

Summary/Overview:

You know what, you guys?  I tried to recap this one and couldn’t do it.  The story is so convoluted and terrible that I kept getting tripped up by the intricacies of the plot.  The truth of the matter is that I read this book a long time ago and can barely remember what happened.  I never got around to writing the recap when I finished because I was busy and because I hated this book so much.  I need the twins and their summer internship at the Sweet Valley News to be over.

Basicallly: the twins are still working as interns at the paper.  There’s a big mayoral race coming up, and the two candidates are Kincaid and Robinson.  Kincaid seems to be the shadier of the two.  Nicholas Morrow meets a mysterious girl named Barbara and falls in love with her.  She lives with her controlling uncle, who is named John.  It turns out that he is Kincaid’s brother.  There’s this stupid plot about them being in an artists’ colony back in the day and Kincaid falling in love with the same woman, who chose another man.  Kincaid pushed her over a cliff in a jealous rage and then went into business with his brother John?  When Kincaid decided to run for mayor, John didn’t want him to and devised a ridiculous plot to make him think he was seeing the ghost of the woman he loved (who was the spitting image of Barbara).  There’s some peril, attempted murder, and lots of suspense.  It’s pretty much the worst mystery ever.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “He had been a private businessman for years and had made a great deal of money.  His business was described as import/export, but it wasn’t exactly clear what that entailed.” (4) [Blogger’s note: Worst info-dump ever?]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Sweet Valley News holds its summer picnic in Ronoma County, which is 40 miles southeast of Sweet Valley

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Nope.  I’ve got nothing.  Sorry for the lamest post ever.  The next one will be better, I swear.

SVH #45: Family Secrets

30 Oct

Estimated Time Elapsed: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Kelly Bates is a cousin of Jessica and Elizabeth, daughter of Laura, who is a sister to Alice..  She’s the same age as the twins and looks almost exactly like them.  Laura is getting remarried, and Kelly’s having a really hard time with it, so she’s staying with the Wakefields for a while in order to get used to the idea of her mother’s new marriage.  This plan makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but whatever fuels the plot, right?

At any rate, the twins are super-excited about hanging out with their cousin.  Ma and Pa Wakefield have warned the twins that they shouldn’t say anything disparaging about Kelly’s dad, because her mom has made it a rule to let Kelly come to her own conclusions about a man that we are supposed to be wary of from the beginning.  The twins and Kelly play up their resemblances and dress alike for Kelly’s first day at Sweet Valley High.  They also set her up with Nicholas Morrow, who promptly asks her to be his date at the costume party at his country club.

When Kelly starts hanging out with Kirk Anderson, Jessica and Elizabeth are mildly horrified.  Kelly seems blind to Kirk’s many faults, including his tendency to be completely arrogant, show up really late for dates, and use the most terrible pick-up lines.  The twins realize that Kelly maybe has a blind spot when it comes to questionable men in her life (OH YOU MEAN LIKE HER FATHER?), but nothing they say can convince her about Kirk.  He asks her to the costume party and she says yes but doesn’t bother cancelling her date with Nicholas.

Kelly’s father is supposed to come into town for her birthday, and she has plans to ask him to move to Sweet Valley so she can live with him instead of going back to Tucson.  Kelly blames her mother for the divorce and doesn’t want to live with her.  When Kelly’s dad arrives an hour and a half late to her birthday dinner and then ducks out after like 5 minutes, she’s crushed but still doesn’t see that he’s a total douche truck.

Jessica, Elizabeth, and Kelly go to the costume party as the N0-Evil monkeys (it’s so perfect and not heavy-handed at all: Jessica’s Hear No Evil, Liz is Speak No Evil, and Kelly is See No Evil) and when Kirk invites Kelly to go up to Miller’s Point with him, she agrees.  Then he tries to basically assault her, throws some beer bottles, and she kicks him in the shin and starts walking home.  The sound of breaking glass triggers memories from her childhood when her father would throw dishes, and so she realizes that her dad maybe kind of sucks.  She goes home, her mom gets called and gets on a plane, and Kelly decides to go home to Tuscon.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica scowled.  Kelly’s complaints about her mother didn’t impress her.  All mothers acted that way, Jessica wanted to point out.  That was just the way they were.” (56)
  • “‘Are you kidding? Me with my mouth shut all night? I’d die!’ Jessica exclaimed.  ‘No, you should be Speak-No-Evil, Liz.  You never say anything bad about anybody.'” (75-76)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Costumes at costume party: Lila is Princess Diana, Jeffrey is a wino, Enid is a hippie, Ken is Donald Duck (what the crap?), Sandra Bacon is…a Mexican?, Winston goes as a bunch of grapes, and Kirk is a pirate.
  • In addition to French, Ms. Dalton apparently also covers study hall.  Sucks to be her.
  • Weird factoid: Jessica has a discussion with Liz about Kelly’s nightmares while cutting split ends out of her hair.  For some reason, this split ends detail has stayed with me for 15 years.  I don’t know why.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Do you know what bothers me about this book the most?  I mean, even more than the fact that the best plan Laura could come up with to help Kelly get acclimated to life with a new family was to move her away from said family?  The fact that Kelly never tells Nicholas that she’s not going to the dance with him. It’s not mentioned ONCE.  Way to drop the ball midway through the book, ghost writer.  Merciful Zeus!

That being said, how stupid is the whole plot?  Kelly is having issues adjusting to her new family, so in order to help her get used to it, they send her away?  What the hell?  How is Kelly going to come to terms with her new life by living apart from it?  What, exactly, is that supposed to accomplish?  BAD PARENTING.

 

SVH #40: On the Edge

11 Oct

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Bruce Patman and Amy Sutton are totally hooking up, and pretty much everyone at Sweet Valley knows it except Bruce’s girlfriend, Regina Morrow.  Elizabeth worries over whether or not to say something to Regina, but Jessica convinces her that it might only make things worse.  The twins throw a barbeque, and Bruce and Amy hook up behind a tree.  Elizabeth tries to distract Regina while Jeffrey intercedes, but Regina’s not completely stupid and sees what’s going on.  She freaks out and yells at Elizabeth, Bruce, and Amy.  She storms out and goes home.

Both Bruce and Elizabeth try to talk to her in the days that follow, but Regina shuts them down.  She starts hanging out with pseud-bad boy Justin Belson, who’s on academic probation because of cutting class.  He’s friends with a lot of the shadier kids at SVH, including some druggies.  People try to warn Regina about Justin and his friends, but she’s not very receptive and thinks that she knows him better, he’s complicated and misunderstood, etc.

Regina and Justin go to a wild party at Molly Hecht’s house.  Everyone who’s there is excited about the possibility of a drug dealer named Buzz showing up.  Even though Nicholas Morrow, Elizabeth, and Bruce all warned Regina that the party was bad news, she goes anyway, despite being completely uncomfortable with the situation.  At the party, people are drinking beer and smoking the marijuana.  Regina coughs because the air is thick with smoke, and Molly Hecht and Jan Brown make fun of her.  Buzz shows up and everyone crowds around him to look at his little baggie of cocaine.

Elizabeth has been angsting over what to do about Regina being at this party.  I don’t know how it’s her business, but apparently it is, because she calls Nicholas, who thanks her and races out to his car to go to the party.  He gets pulled over for speeding, and when he can’t produce his driver’s license, the police take him to the station.  I don’t know about you guys, but here in the U.S., drivers have 24 hours to produce their license.  He finally gets the police to listen to him about the party, and they head out towards Molly Hecht’s house.

Justin can tell that Regina’s uncomfortable and promises that they’ll leave soon, but he’s worried that Buzz is trying to get Molly hooked on heroin, and so he wants to be there–to stop her, I guess?  Regina sits at the table with the cocaine and watches it get cut into lines.  She’s teased for being naive, and then she decides that it looks harmless, so she does two lines of it.  Her heart starts beating super fast and it’s clear that something’s wrong.  Justin tries to get someone to call an ambulance but Buzz is like, “ARE YOU CRAZY THERE ARE DRUGS HERE!” and Regina’s gotten pale and weak.  The cops and Nicholas burst in and Regina’s rushed to the hospital.

Bruce and Liz are called to the hospital and wait with the Morrows.  The doctors come out and tell them that Regina suffered a heart attack due to the cocaine and she’s dead.  Everyone cries.  A memorial service is held a week later, and everyone cries some more.

The almost nonexistent B-Plot involves Amy and Bruce in their attempts to gather information about drugs in Sweet Valley for a school project.  They meet up with Amy’s cousin Mimi, who tells them all about Buzz, the drug dealer who will be at Molly’s party.  Apparently he’s the biggest pusher at Sweet Valley College and the police have been trying to catch him for a while.  This seems mostly like exposition to further the plot along.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Regina knew her parents would die if they knew where she was.  As it was, they hadn’t been thrilled when Justin had shown up wearing  a leather jacket.  Even with his chiseled features, he looked slightly tough–a little older than guys she knew at school and definitely more streetwise.” (59-60) [Blogger’s note: Her parents have a problem with a leather jacket but not an attempted date rapist?]
  • “According to Justin, authority, no matter what kind, was bad.  If someone told you not to do something, chances were you should go ahead and do it–if only to show them how stupid rules were in the first place.” (90)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Amy Sutton’s cousin Mimi, who is helping provide information for the project she’s doing with Bruce, is only 19 but is apparently a junior in college.
  • Justin Belson’s life is messed up because his dad was murdered during a robbery at the liquor store he owned.
  • The ghostwriter spells Secca Lake wrong, and then, only a page later, claims that Bruce’s vanity license plates on his car read Bruce 1.  This is a falsity and very close to blasphemy, as we know that his license plate reads 1Bruce1.
  • Molly Hecht’s party starts really early.  Like, 7pm early.  I wasn’t invited to a lot of parties in high school, but I do know that a 7pm start time would make Molly’s party the place to not be.
  • Nicholas reads “Dirge without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay at Regina’s memorial service.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

“We don’t know exactly what happened yet,’ the internist said wearily.  ‘All we can say for sure right now is that Regina took a lethal amount of cocaine tonight and experienced an extremely rare reaction–rapid acceleration of the heartbeat, which brought on sudden cardiac failure.  It’s possible that a heart murmur she’s had since birth may have contributed to this…” (131)

It’s hard to snark on a novel that is actually pretty sad.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to, but it’s harder to do when the premise isn’t so flat-out ridiculous.  That being said, there are a few things worth mentioning in this analysis.

The first is that I’m uncomfortable with how ignorant everyone seems to be about cocaine.  Now, granted, I was born after the characters of this world (although we graduated high school around the same time in terms of publishing dates.  Haha), so I went through the DARE program in the early 90s.  I lived in a world where drug awareness and scare tactics were used from an early age.  We were warned of the dangers of ALL drugs and were told to STAY AWAY.

I’m not going to debate the effectiveness of such programs, because it’s sort of irrelevant.  At any rate, we were made aware that drugs could be dangerous.  What is surprising to me is that the teens of Sweet Valley seem to be ignorant of this.  None of the people at the party seem to think that cocaine could be dangerous.  They laugh off Regina’s questions and Buzz even says something about how he can’t believe that people are telling lies about cocaine being dangerous or addictive (I realize this is part of his business strategy, but bear with me).  At the hospital, after finding out about Regina, Bruce asks if the cocaine had been poisoned.  This leads me to believe that he can’t imagine the drug alone could hurt her.  Pssh.  Whatever.

The last thing I want to talk about is how Regina’s death is actually explained.  The doctor said that she took a “lethal” dose of cocaine and this exacerbated a potentially pre-existing condition caused by a heart murmur.  But if the dose was lethal, couldn’t that just have been it?  People can overdose on the drug.  The word “lethal” was in his description of what she took.  Doesn’t lethal mean death?  Why did they have to over-complicate her death with the discussion of a heart problem?  Moreover, how is it possible that they never caught this hypothetical heart murmur over the course of her extensive medical treatments?  I know that the treatments focused on her hearing, but you’re telling me she never had a physical?  Really?

At any rate, someone’s gonna be blamed for the loss of an innocent, and that person is gonna be Molly Hecht.