Tag Archives: suspected affair (fake)

SVH #102: Almost Married

20 Jun

almost married

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:

Elizabeth is still obsessing over her mother’s suspected affair with Hank Patman. She lets Jessica in on the secret, and Jessica’s response is to go and ask Alice about it, but Liz tells her not to. We wouldn’t want to wrap this plot point up too fast, now would we?

At any rate, Alice goes out of town with Hank again, and Ned is away for a legal conference, so the twins are on their own.  Because Todd’s parents are also away, he decides this is the perfect time for them to practice living together.  He says they’ll be able to be together all the time, but he will sleep on the couch or in Steven’s room, because these teens are actually neutered.  In order to get Jessica on board, they agree to do her chores and cook for her during the week Todd is there.

When Elizabeth and Todd get home, she rushes off immediately to meet with Bruce Patman without telling Todd anything.  Jessica gets home and “accidentally” spills the beans about what Liz thinks is happening with Alice and Hank, and Todd is irritated.  Meanwhile, Liz and Bruce dig through the Patman mansion attic for clues and find a gushy love letter and Alice’s engagement and wedding rings.  They also share A Moment.

Upon returning to her house, she finds that Todd is sort of annoyed, but they make up quickly and Todd tells her that they’re partners and generally sounds way, way older than 16.  This entire plot is so weird.  While Elizabeth and Todd act like they are 40, Bruce plays tennis with Pamela but is distracted with thoughts of Elizabeth, even as Pamela tells him about Project Youth facing budget cuts.

Todd and Elizabeth continue to spend time together, but nothing is really going the way they plan. When they have a date at the Videomat, a new laundromat that also rents DVDs and sells espresso, Elizabeth drinks six cups of espresso and won’t stop yammering.  Todd overfills the washing machine and ends up with suds everywhere.  The two oversleep the next day and nearly miss putting the recycling out.  To make matters worse, Elizabeth keeps zipping off with Bruce, which pisses Todd off.  Jessica keeps giving him a hard time about how much Liz and Bruce are hanging out, which only further infuriates him.

After school one day, Liz misses a ride home with Todd and goes with Bruce.  The two go up to the attic at the Wakefield house to dig around and decide to visit their parents’ college to keep digging for information.  Todd comes home to find them hanging out and begrudgingly ends up making dinner for all of them, plus Lila and Jessica.  Later, Bruce and Jessica are watching TV and Bruce sees the hotel room number for Alice, realizes that it’s the same room number as his father’s, and freaks out.

Liz and Bruce head up to the local university to investigate their parents’ shared past.  They share several Moments together, and on the way home they stop to help a stalled vehicle and realize it’s Todd.  That night, a bunch of them sneak off to the Beach Disco, and Liz spends a great deal of time dancing with Bruce.  She’s attracted to him and is clearly enjoying the rush it gives her, but she pretends to feel conflicted about it.

The twins and Todd decide to throw a pool party at their house, and Todd loses his shit when Elizabeth invites Bruce along to help run errands.  He sulks inside as they get everything ready on the patio.  Elizabeth and Bruce flirt, Todd acts like a creepy, jealous loser.

Bruce and Pamela end up breaking up at the party, because she’s the only person in this book who isn’t an idiot.  Then Bruce corners Liz in the kitchen, cries, and they end up making out.  OF COURSE Todd walks in, they fight, and he storms off.  But as he’s driving away, he has a change of heart and returns to the party.

He arrives just in the nick of time, too, because Liz is so upset that she does a bad dive off the diving board and belly flops into the pool so hard she blacks out and nearly drowns.  Todd saves her and they make up, with Liz realizing he’s the one she truly loves.

Mrs. Wakefield surprises everyone by showing up early and acting super pissed off about the fact that the girls have thrown a party with no alcohol or drugs.  She then tells Liz that the Beckwiths (JESUS CHRIST THESE PEOPLE MOVED AWAY AGES AGO) called her to let her know that Todd’s car had been parked in the driveway all week (this is basic sneaking around 101, idiots). She yells at Liz, but then Liz goes ballistic on her, telling her she and Bruce know everything about the affair.  Alice sits them all down and tells the tragic story of her and Hank.  Liz and Bruce decide that now that they know Hank and Alice aren’t having an affair, they’ll work on getting Hank and Marie Patman back together.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Fun Fact: When I was a kid, my mom wouldn’t let me read this one based on the title alone. Oh, mom.
  • The ghost writer spells Barry’s last name as “Rourke” in this one, but it has always been “Rork,” hasn’t it?
  • Jamie Peters has a song called “Lawless Love”

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘People say it’s a man’s world,’ Mr. Wakefield commented…’but let me tell you, girls, sometimes it’s not so easy being male…for example, having to wear a suit and tie on a scorcher like this. Talk about oppression!'” (6-7). Die in a fire, Ned.
  • “‘OK, not twenty-four hours,’ Todd amended with a grin. ‘I’ll sleep on the couch or in Steven’s room, of course.'” (17)
  • “Jessica hurried to defend Elizabeth’s honor. ‘Of course they’re not sleeping together. This is Elizabeth we’re talking about! She’s relegated Todd to the downstairs couch–they’re the king and queen of self-control, believe me.'” (124)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There’s really only one thing that bothers me about this book a lot.

That is how completely weird and improbable the entire plot is with regard to Todd “moving in” with Elizabeth for a week and not expecting to have sex or at least fool around hardcore.  I’ve written before about how weird it is that every teen seems to lack a sex drive (I’m not counting incidences of sexual assault as those are about violence) completely.  Despite the fact that the teenagers in these books kiss a lot, no one ever has sex, and when they think someone else has, they FREAK OUT ABOUT IT (see: Pamela Robertson’s weird, inaccurate reputation).

So for Todd to move in and sleep on the couch rings false in many ways.  The teens in these novels aren’t at all religious.  There is no overarching idea that Christianity or God is governing their lives.  Their decisions to “wait” seem to have more to do with the intended audience age of the readers.  So then why even write a story like this one?

Todd wants to move in to practice living together, but they only engage in the hardest aspects of living together: doing chores, squabbling, etc.  There’s no benefit to this arrangement, and OH YEAH THEY ARE SIXTEEN AND WOULD BE WAY MORE INTERESTED IN THE PHYSICALITY.  So I call bullshit.

 

 

SVH #101: The Boyfriend War

18 Jun

theboyfriendwar

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:

Jessica and Lila are spending the week of spring break in Jamaica, at Lila’s uncle Jimmo’s beach resort, Club Paradise.  Jessica won’t shut up about how excited she is, and Lila is being extra nice to her.  When they arrive, Jessica discovers that her luggage was lost in the layover.  It also becomes clear to Jess why Lila was being so nice: they’re working as camp counselors at the kiddie version of the club. She tells Lila she’ll never forgive her/never speak to her again.

Jessica gets saddled with a group of bratty five-and-six-year-olds for the week.  They bicker, do gross things, and generally don’t listen to her.  She’s infuriated to see that Lila’s group is much better behaved, and then she’s fascinated when she sees Lila talking to a super hot guy who turns out to be the windsurfing instructor named Mick Myers.

Of course they both end up going out with this guy, who is a total skeeze.  Jessica dumps her campers off on Charles, a geeky guy who is totally into her.  This pisses off Julia, another counselor who is described as “chubby” but has a lovely voice.  She decides to get even with Jessica, because Jessica told her she was too fat to attract a man.  I kind of hate Jessica, too.

At any rate, Jessica and Lila continue to both date Mick and compete with each other when it comes to their little campers and the daily talent shows.  Meanwhile, Julia also starts dating Mick, who is starting to seem like a pathological liar and also a sex addict.  He takes each girl to his “secret” lagoon to make out.

Jessica runs into Larry the hot lifeguard on the beach one day, and they flirt.  Then they run into Lila and Mick, who are clearly on a date, and Jessica is such an idiot that she thinks Mick is only pretending to like her because her uncle is his boss.  They have a stupid game of chicken in the ocean and all of them get dunked.

It isn’t long before they realize that Mick is totally playing them.  After Jessica slaps Lila and she pulls her into the ocean with her as she falls, the two have a good laugh and decide to get revenge.  They get back to their cabin to find out that Mick is literally dating every female employed at the camp.

The last night of camp, Lila and Jessica put on a magician’s show and use Mick as their audience “volunteer.”  They break his watch, cut his hair, and dye it purple, and he has to sit and take it.  They get their revenge, totally make up as friends, and have a lemonade.  All is well.

Elizabeth has plans to spend the break sweating it out in Sweet Valley.  She wants to work on an Honors English project that asks students to do a biography of an ancestor.  Conveniently, Liz has chosen to focus on her mother.  The problem is, Alice has just accepted a freelance position working with Hank Patman in his Chicago office.

Amy shows up at the Wakefield’s house to ask for help with the English assignment, which she has to do for extra credit.  She doesn’t tell Elizabeth that Jessica told her she could “borrow” her ancestor Jessamyn, the circus performer.  The two look at an old family tree of Alice’s.

She runs into Bruce at the Dairi Burger and he blows up at her about her home-wrecker of a mother. She thinks he’s cracked until she gets home to find Alice rushing off to catch a plane to Chicago with Hank Patman.  She grills her dad for information about Alice’s life before they met, but he’s sort of cheerfully vague about it all.  She starts to worry that Bruce might be right.

Instead of really working on her project, she continues to obsess about her mother’s past with Hank.  She manages to awkwardly tie it into every single old classic movie she goes to see with Enid and Olivia that week, arguing with them about the meaning of leaving a fiance for an old flame, etc.  It’s boring and pedantic.

Bruce Patman is feeling the pains of his parents splitting up.  He lashes out even more than usual and feels the sads about his family fighting.  His mother accuses Hank of cheating on her.  He decides he’s going to tell his father exactly what he thinks of their separation and how its impacting his life.  Bruce is insufferable.  Before he can do so, he overhears a conversation between Hank and Alice on the phone that leads him to believe the two are carrying on an affair.

Bruce and Liz meet several times to discuss their parents affair, which they are sure Alice and Hank are having.  Bruce seems to be working on a plan to split them up before serious damage is done, but he doesn’t bother to share it with anyone.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • It seems like everyone is going away for spring break: Barry Rork to Palm Springs, Pamela Robertson to the Grand Canyon, Ken Matthews to Monterey, Todd to Yosemite.
  • Lila still plays the marimba and listens to Jamie Peters’ music.
  • The old movies Liz, Olivia, and Enid see include My Favorite Wife, His Girl Friday, Philadelphia Story, and Casablanca.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Bruce grabbed the lunch tray and hurled it away. He heard it clatter against a tree trunk and imagined that it was the sound of his whole world shattering into pieces.” (7)
  • “They turned to gape as Lila walked by with her nose in the air. In a straight line behind her, six obedient kindergartners waddled like baby geese, singing in unison, ‘Row, row, row your yacht…'” (51)
  • “‘Do you like my picture, Jessica?’ Suzy asked. ‘It’s a picture of you screaming at us.'” (81)
  • “Elizabeth had amnesia and her defenses were down. Bruce had tried to take advantage of her–what guy wouldn’t?” (165) [IS THIS REAL LIFE?]

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Perhaps what’s oddest here is not that Jessica and Lila compete over the same dude, which has happened before, but the fact that Mick seems interested in anything with a vagina.  He literally dates something like six girls at once, and he’s also supposed to be the club’s full-time windsurfing instructor.  How does he manage to do this?  How can all the girls think that he’s only interested in them when he’s literally seen with other people in every scene?  There is virtually nothing about him that would indicate he oozes charm (except for the fact that we are told this).  Ugh.  Gross.

The other thing that really bothered me about this one is how fucking judgmental and antiquated Elizabeth is in her thinking about her mother.  She holds fast to this bizarre, sexist idea that a woman should only be in love once–and that she should marry that man.  Setting aside the fact that this is heteronormative drivel, it’s also so tone-deaf considering the fact that Elizabeth has been in love at least 3-4 times herself, and she is only 16 years old.   Is she damaged in some way?  Isn’t it possible that Alice was in love with Hank at one time, and then fundamentally changed and fell in love with Ned?

Also, could it be LESS of Elizabeth’s business?

SVH #2: Secrets

25 Feb

Estimated Total Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

The Overview

Elizabeth and Enid hang out and Enid confesses her sordid past.  Two years ago, when Enid was 14, she fell in with a bad crowd and got all hopped up on Bennies.  her boyfriend, George Warren, took her for a stoned joyride in his GTO and they hit a little boy (who ended up okay).  Enid did some rehab and probation, and she’s been hiding this secret, and the fact that she still corresponds with George (ah, the pre-email world) ever since.  Elizabeth is sympathetic, but she worries a little when she sees how freaked out Enid is about her boyfriend Ronnie Edwards ever finding out about her past.  Liz promises never to tell a soul, and then the two girls have a pillow fight and don’t notice when one of the clandestine letters falls under Elizabeth’s bed.

Jessica is obsessed with winning the title of Fall Queen and getting on the arm of Bruce Patman.  These things are connected, as is her conviction that ruining Enid’s chances at the title (her biggest competition, apparently) lies in breaking up her and Ronnie.  When she finds the letter, she makes a copy and makes sure that Ronnie gets it.  Ronnie freaks out, sexually assaults Enid, and breaks up with her.  Enid freaks out and blames Liz.  Liz freaks out and cries about it.

The socipathy of Jessica Wakefield doesn’t end there.  She then convinces Ronnie to take her to the dance.  Enid cries a lot, but then George Warren shows up looking all hot and shit, just in time for the dance, and all her problems melt away.  Liz finds out what Jessica did and decides to get even by rigging the votes so that Jessica wins…with Winston Egbert as her king.  She then blackmails Jessica into accepting the crown and all the responsibilities that accompany it.

The B-Plot has to do with rumors about Ms. Dalton the French teacher having an affair with Ken Matthews during their afternoon tutoring sessions.  The rumors are false, and everyone finds out that Lila Fowler started them to break up Ms. Dalton and her father.  Not a lot of plot in this one, I have to say.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Come on Enid, it’s not the most hideous secret in the world, no matter how bad it must have seemed at the time.  Besides, it was two years ago–that’s practically prehistoric by now.” (8) [Especially given how long a year lasts in Sweet Valley.]
  • “Elizabeth was left to wonder why, if Jessica was doing her such a big favor, she was the one making all the sacrifices.” (75)

Outfits Described:
(A ton of outfits described in this book.  Some of my favorites:)

  • Bronze wet-look one-piece bathing suit
  • Tight black velvet jeans, pink sparkly legwarmers, and a purple satin blouse
  • Slinky red formal dress with a wide embroidered belt, black sandal heels, and rhinestone earrings

Trivia and Fun Facts:

  • Pop culture references made in this book include: Playboy Magazine, Bo Derek beach scene in “10”, Scooby-Doo, Dear Abby, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, and a creepy reference to the Boston Strangler.
  • The copy of this book that I own belonged to an Amber and a Rachel Nelson, both of whom decided they needed to write their names on the inside cover.
  • In this book, we learn that Lila is in choir and sings soprano; that Todd has a brother that later becomes a sister that later disappears so he can be an only child; and that the State University is in another town nearby.

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

One of the shortest books in the series, it’s not long on plot, nor is it full of interesting things to pick apart.  Enid’s complete fear of Ronnie finding out about her past hints at an emotionally abusive relationship, and his borderline sexual assault of her in his car before he dumps her is also pretty scary.  This seems to be something that happens a lot in Sweet Valley.  Perhaps it’s in the water.

Jessica’s behavior throughout the novel is reprehensible.  I don’t understand how she continues to function in society, let alone how she’s considered very popular.  She uses the people around her to meet her needs and discards them as soon as she’s done.  Yet Elizabeth defends her at almost every turn.  When Todd makes a joke about Jessica, Elizabeth is quick to jump to her defense, and dismisses Todd’s ill feelings towards her twin as residual anger from when Jessica tried to keep them from seeing each other.  Yeah, I guess that whole false accusation of attempted date rape is no big deal, huh Elizabeth?

The moral of the story?  Burn your private letters if you don’t want them xeroxed all over school.

SVH #1: Double Love

25 Feb

svh1doublelove.jpg

Estimated Total Elapsed Time: My conservative estimate is 3 weeks to 1 month.

The Overview:

The twins are perfect.  They have classic, all-American good looks (I think that means they’re white), and perfect bodies.  They’re tanned and toned without any real effort, and they lead very privileged upper-middle class lives.  When the book opens, it’s the morning of a very big day.  The twins will be inducted into Pi Beta Alpha, the school’s most exclusive sorority during lunch.  Jessica wheedles her way into borrowing Elizabeth’s new tuxedo shirt, bow tie, and matching pants in what is the first of many outfit descriptions.

It seems also that both girls have their eyes on the same boy.  Todd Wilkins is the school’s basketball star and is quite the dreamboat, although he exhibits very little personality or character throughout the book.  Jessica uses a series of manipulations and lies throughout the book to keep Todd away from Elizabeth and in her clutches.  She’s determined to get him to ask her to the Pi Epsilon Sweetheart dance, and she goes out of her way to make sure he does, even though it means lying and stepping all over her doormat of a sister.

Liz spends the majority of the book crying about how she’s completely forgettable.  She also cries about the fact that Todd likes her sister and not her.  When Jessica goes out with wild-boy Rick Andover and gets escorted home by the police, a case of mistaken identity (not the last in the series, and not even the last case of it IN THIS BOOK) makes Liz look like the guilty party and sends the school’s gossipmongers into overdrive.

Todd takes Jessica to the dance, Liz goes with Winston Egbert, and everyone has a pretty miserable time.  Jessica is pissed that Todd doesn’t seem into her, and so at the end of the night, she storms into Liz’s room and essentially accuses him of attempted date rape.  Liz gets mad and tells Todd off, and Todd acts all confused and butt-hurt, because he’s supposed to be mad at her for going to Kelly’s with Rick and acting like a general floozy.

The book culminates with Jessica and Liz essentially getting carjacked and kidnapped by a drunk Rick Andover.  The logistics of how this happens are so ridiculous that I’ll spare you the details.  It’s important to note that Todd saves the day by chasing down their car, punching Rick, and then kissing Elizabeth.  Elizabeth gets her revenge on Jessica by doing the old identity switcheroo on her and then reveals that “Elizabeth” is the author of the school’s gossip column, an outing that means a dunk in the school’s pool.  Jessica swears revenge, but Elizabeth doesn’t seem worried (I would be).

The B Plot involves the twins being convinced that Ned Wakefield (or big Papa Dubs, as I like to refer to him) is having an affair with a divorcee lawyer at his firm named Marianna West.  He is not.  Jessica is also convinced that Steven is dating the trashy Betsy Martin, who sleeps around and whose father is the town drunk, but really he’s dating Betsy’s angelic sister Tricia.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Why in the world are you two still playing that ridiculous game?  You wouldn’t think it was funny if you really were gross-looking,’ Jessica said, shuddering at the thought of having anything but an attractive family.” (34)
  • “‘Jess, are you sure?  I can’t believe it.  Betsy’s been doing drugs for years–she sleeps around–‘ ‘And her father gets bombed out of his mind every night,’ Jessica said wildly.” (76)

Outfits Described:

  • a tuxedo shirt with matching pants and bow tie
  • a red blouse, black pencil skirt, and black sandals
  • pressed jeans and a blue button-down
  • a white strapless dress
  • a blue dress with a handkerchief neckline and full skirt
  • an ice-blue suit

Trivia and Fun Facts:

  • Rick Andover orders two boilermakers when he takes Jessica out.  This was the most badass drink the ghostwriter could come up with?
  • Jessica isn’t allowed to drive the Fiat because of a fender bender that cost $200 to repair.  When adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent of about $470 today.
  • The twins have perfect figures, but they consumed the following food items over the course of the book: pepperoni pizza, french toast, green grapes, milk, duck a la orange, creamed asparagus, chilled parfait, bacon cheeseburger, root beer, and hamburgers.
  • Pop culture references made include: Star Wars, the Twilight Zone, Jaws, Sherlock Holmes, and a reference to Clint Eastwood.

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

The book that started it all has its share of ridiculous plot points.  It’s hard to pick just one to point out for this anaylsis, to be honest.  Jessica’s intentional lying and concealing information from both Todd and Elizabeth throughout the book is reprehensible at best and downright malicious if looked at more closely.  For a girl who loves her sister so much, she sure treats Elizabeth like shit a lot.  Her false accusations about Todd attempting to date-rape her are also alarming.  I wonder if such claims would be dealt with so haphazardly in a book written for teens today.

But it is the handling of Rick Andover’s tragic character that bothers me most.  He’s described as a badass, and I suppose he is, in that he dropped out of school, drinks and smokes and speeds around in a car that’s shiny, sporty and probably shaped like a penis.  He hits on anything that moves, and apparently Jessica goes for this, because she accepts his offer of a date even though they have nothing in common and he used some cheesy pick-up line on her.  Jessica decides later that he’s the terrifying kind of trouble, and she’s right, because he kidnaps her and Elizabeth at the end of the book.  Todd punches him and saves the day, though, and that’s that.  I have to wonder why the girls didn’t press charges, why there was no police involvement, and why Ma and Pa Wakefield seem to know nothing about what happened.

The moral of the story?  Don’t date high school dropouts.  They’ll take you to a dive bar and try to make you drink a boilermaker.