Tag Archives: volunteer work

SVH #108: Left at the Altar

11 Jul

left at the altar

 

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Jeremy and Jessica continue to see each other behind Sue’s back, despite the fact that he’s still completely engaged to Sue and going forward with the wedding.  They sneak off to Miller’s Point and make out, and Jeremy tells her he’s going to break it off with Sue and tell her he just wants to be friends.  Jessica believes him for whatever reason.

Meanwhile, Sue tells Liz that she was diagnosed with the same rare blood disease that killed her mother and she only has a few years to live. She tells Liz that she wants to set Jeremy free so he doesn’t have to bear the burden of her illness.  I thought Sue’s mother died of cancer, but whatever.  Liz thinks Jessica will have to give up Jeremy now, because everyone is an idiot.

When Sue tells Jeremy that she’s calling the whole thing off, he refuses and then rededicates himself to her.  He tells Jessica they can’t keep seeing each other, but then she corners him in an elevator and they make out.  Todd finally arrives back in Sweet Valley and before Liz can tell him about her affair with Luke, he tells her that he met someone when he was staying at his grandmothers but he realized Liz is the girl for him.  She FREAKS THE FUCK OUT and breaks up with him, telling him she only thought of him in London.  What is this book?

When Sue and Jeremy go on a nature hike to clean up trash, Jessica volunteers to go with, so Liz does too.  The twins end up separated from the couple and when Jessica realizes it’s a 6-mile trek, she pretends to twist her ankle so Jeremy has to carry her to the car.  That night, they have a barbeque on the beach and Jeremy and Jessica sneak off to make out before Enid and Liz interrupt them.

The night before the wedding, the twins and their friends throw a bridal shower for Sue before deciding to crash the bachelor party Robby is throwing.  Sue goes home to bed and the teens hit up the party, which turns out to be a stuffy dinner.  Liz and Todd make up after Steven gives some good advice, and she finally comes clean about Luke not-a-real-werewolf.  All is well.

The day of the wedding, Sue and the girls get manicures and she loses her shit when the manicurist accidentally hurts her hand.  Then she blows a ton of money on a dress that Liz thinks would be weird to wear in the rain forests or wherever the fuck Jeremy and Sue are going on their honeymoons.  Jessica moans about having to be in the wedding and watch this farce but Liz cajoles her into it.  When the minister (or “Father Bishop” or whatever) asks if there’s a reason they shouldn’t be wed, Jessica bursts out with “YES” and Jeremy admits he’s not in love with Sue.  The wedding is called off!

The B-Plot involves Lila and Robby, who are back together after a brief time apart in the previous book because Robby lied about having money when he was really a penniless artist.  Lila worries that he’s only into her because she’s rich so she spins a yarn about how she was taken in by the Fowlers and her parents were servants and she’s been forced to work for the Fowlers, etc. etc.  What century is this?  At any rate, Robby eats that shit up and asks for more.  Finally, Lila confesses that she’s rich, but Robby still loves her.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Despite the fact that in the previous book, Steven was away at school, he is back and has now been sleeping on the couch in the den so Sue can have his room.  This makes no sense to me.
  • Liz is now reading a book about women with love addictions.
  • Jeremy’s parents send the happy couple a matching pair of Koala sweaters as an engagement gift, while the Fowlers give them pink satin bedsheets.  GROSS on both accounts.
  • Liz reads a book called Women as Seen Through the Eyes of Male Society
  • Lila wears an ivory raw-silk dress to the wedding, which, isn’t that a big no-no?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘I hope that you and Jeremy will continue coming to stay with us after you’re married,’ Mrs. Wakefield said. ‘That is, if you don’t mind Steven’s single bed!'” (29)
  • This should keep Jessica away from Jeremy now.  There’s no way even Jessica would continue to deceive a dying woman.” (59)
  • “‘How could you? I trusted you. I thought about you the whole time I was in London.'” (71) YOU ARE ACTUALLY INSANE.
  • “‘Jessica’s still in high school,’ Sue said. ‘Isn’t that adorable?'” (132)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analsysis:

I guess I don’t understand any of this.  Like, why is Jessica so into Jeremy?  Why is Sue?  I can’t get past the fact that none of her family nor her friends are at the ceremony.  Like, why are all the Wakefields and their friends the only people (I guess besides Robby) at the bridal shower and bachelor party?  Why is Liz so terrible?  How can this story be drawn out over so many books when there isn’t an actual plot?

BLERGH.

SVH #79: The Long-Lost Brother

7 Apr

longlostbrother

Estimated Elapsed Time: 4 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Sara Eastman, a girl we have never heard of before, has a twin brother who got into some trouble back when they all lived in Connecticut.  Now he’s in reform school, Sara and her mom live in Sweet Valley, and she has been lying to everyone about her brother.  She’s told everyone that he’s brilliant but decided to stay back east with their father.  Trouble is, he’s done with reform school and wants to move to Sweet Valley.  Sara is devastated, because she has her whole life set up in Sweet Valley, and it doesn’t involve a delinquent brother.

Oh well, because he moves back and immediately causes problems for Sara in that he’s not thrilled with the lies she’s told about him.  Elizabeth meets him at an A.A. meeting (she’s doing investigative journalism or something), and it doesn’t take long for her to put two-and-two together after she interviews him for the paper.  Tim seems to have genuinely changed, but Sara won’t accept it.

When Crunch McAllister’s van is stolen outside of the Dairi Burger, Tim is the prime suspect, but only because he stole a car when he was high on drugs back in CT? I’m not sure, but whatever.  He’s questioned, he’s released, and the gossip mill at SVH goes into overdrive.  It gets worse after Tim and Crunch get into a fight in the school parking lot.  Now that Tim’s secret past is out, Sara’s douchebag boyfriend drops her like a hot potato and her best friend Amanda Hayes gets mad at her for not being honest about her brother.  Sara is so alone!

It takes several talks with both of her parents, a nosy Elizabeth, Barry at Project Youth, and even several fights with Tim himself before Sara comes around on the whole thing.  Actually, it isn’t until Tim leaves Sara a note saying he’s hopping a plane back east that she finally freaks out enough and begs him to stay.  They reconcile.  Whatever, I’m bored.

The B-Plot involves Elizabeth’s very serious and very didactic investigation into a local battered women’s shelter and her experience attending A.A. and Alateen meetings to gain journalistic credibility.  Oh, and Jessica’s super tired of attending events as Miss Teen Sweet Valley, so Liz goes in her place to hand out cheese cubes at the mall.  I am not joking.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Amanda and Sara both “excel” in modern dance and take classes with Mr. Krezenski
  • Cherry pie is Tim’s favorite dessert. How all-American of him.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Only recently, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield had made a point of repeating their law regarding the twins’ use of the small red car. If either of them was careless behind the wheel, she would have to hand over the keys and walk until further notice.” (5)
  • What things? she thought miserably. Just a lawbreaking brother who’ll probably have his picture hanging in the post office by the time he’s twenty. And it won’t be because he’s President.” (20)
  • “Elizabeth wasn’t put off.  Like any reporter worth her number-two pencils, she had good instincts about people, and she knew Tim Eastborne was basically a good person.” (73) WTF?

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

It’s hard to care about these books because it’s so clear that we’ve reached a creative lull in the series.  It’s like Bantam thought there weren’t enough secondary characters to handle all the afterschool special plots, so they just kept dumping more characters into the plot.  Apart from the fact that these story lines are so heavy-handed, it’s also hard to connect as a reader to these characters whose appearances are fleeting at best.  I don’t give a shit about Sara’s perceived problems because I don’t ever have to think about her again.

Also, she’s got a martyr complex like you wouldn’t believe, which drives me nuts.  It’s worse than the ham-fisted, bizarre insertion of a PSA about domestic violence that Elizabeth shoves down our throats for the entire book.

SVH #75: Amy’s True Love

26 Mar

amytruelove

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Amy Sutton has always been pretty boy-crazy, but lately, it seems like she’s been going overboard.  Jessica and Lila think she’s too obsessed with getting a boyfriend, and this is confirmed when she tells Jean West that she wants to go after her brand-new ex, Tom McKay, like, the second after they’ve broken up.  Jessica and Lila decide to give Amy the cold shoulder in an attempt to teach her a lesson.  What that lesson is is unclear, but whatever.

Things aren’t going super well for Amy, though.  She gets a failing grade on a paper for her sociology class, and to make up for it, Ms. Jacobi tells her she can volunteer at a teen clinic called Project Youth.  Facing the pressure of volunteer work, Amy’s parents start to get on her case about finding focus and starting to think seriously about college.  Amy believes that  the answer to all her problems is to get a steady boyfriend like Tom McKay, despite the fact that he’s clearly not interested in her.

It turns out that Amy’s a natural at Project Youth, and she particularly excels at answering phones for the teen line.  While working the phones, she meets Barry Rork, who totally has a crush on her.  He’s friends with Tom because they play on the SVH tennis team together, and so Amy asks him to help her get closer to Tom.  He reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, Enid’s cousin, Jake Farrell, is visiting Sweet Valley for a long weekend.  Everyone practically creams their pants trying to get his attention, including Lila and Jessica, who have both developed crushes on him from glimpsing his photograph.  But Jake doesn’t seem interested in them at all.  Instead, he seems to be clicking really well with Tom, whom he has a lot in common with.  When Jake reveals to Tom that he’s gay, Tom is flummoxed–and then later, privately, starts to wonder if he might be gay.  He grapples with this for the rest of the book and never comes to any final conclusion, but the feeling this reader is left with is that he’s totally gay.

Amy can’t get it through her thick skull that Tom could not be any less interested in her and Barry couldn’t be any more interested.  She continues to pursue Tom to an embarrassing degree, begging him to dance with her at the Beach Disco and at the party Enid throws for Jake.  Tom keeps begging Barry to help fend her off, but she’s determined.

Finally, Barry tells Amy that Tom is never going to be interested in her.  Amy snaps at him and storms off.  When she approaches Tom in the cafeteria the next day to invite him to a concert, he says no, and when she persists, Kirk Anderson makes fun of her.  It seems as though she finally understands, and it isn’t long before Barry confesses his feelings for her and the two end up going out.  Yay?

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Twilight Zone makes a pop culture appearance.
  • Amy wears an all-white outfit to the Beach Disco: white jeans, a white halter top, and tons of silver jewelry.
  • Jessica bleaches her tightest pair of jeans and then sits in the bathtub in hot water to shrink them further.
  • This book was advertised in the last one as “Amy’s First Love,” but it looks like it got a title switch by the time this one went to print.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘I don’t want to be tacky or anything, Jean,’ she interrupted, ‘but the truth is, I’ve always had a little bit of a crush on Tom.  In fact, I’ve had my eye on him for weeks now. Now that you’ve broken up with him, you wouldn’t mind if I tried to get to know him a little better, would you?'” (9)
  • “I wonder why reactions to important news tend to be so selfish.” (89) [Blogger’s note: Enid says this to Liz after confiding in her that Jake came out before the party. This is actually really true and weirdly authentic.]

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Again, we have a book that is trying to be fairly honest and open about its themes.  The fact that Jake is gay is pretty obvious early on, but it wouldn’t necessarily be to the average young reader, especially in 1991.  There are several references made to what a snappy dresser he is, but he’s also so incredibly charming and charismatic with boys and girls it sort of cancels it out.

What is problematic about this one, though, is the pervasive and nearly constant use of the word “choice” when talking about Jake’s sexuality.  The word “gay” is used maybe 2-3 times, but the word “choice” keeps coming up:

It’s who he is that matters for our relationships, not the kinds of choices he makes about his other relationships. (90)

It shouldn’t be so hard for Jake and other people who are gay to make the choice they have to make. (91)

Tom was not a bigot. He didn’t have any fixed, narrow ideas about the kinds of private choices people should make. (91)

It might be nothing, and it could just be that I prickle at even the slightest suggestion that sexual orientation is a choice we make, but it still sort of rankled me.  That being said, I liked that Tom sought out adults to talk to, and both were incredibly supportive and open-minded.  So, props on that.

Even so, we still don’t have an openly gay character at Sweet Valley High.

 

SVH #71: Starring Jessica!

17 Mar

starring jessica

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Famous talk show host Eric Parker is coming to Sweet Valley for a special episode of his show.  He’s selecting one teen from Sweet Valley High, his alma mater, to interview on his show.  Jessica is convinced this is her chance at fame and stardom, and she’s determined to get the guest spot on his show.  All interested students have to fill out an application proving how all-American and well-rounded they are.

Jessica angsts about her application, because in her mind, her only real competition is Lila Fowler.  Lila seems to be fudging the truth on her application, but perhaps her most egregious lie is that she leaves off exactly how wealthy she is.  This infuriates Jessica, who is working hard to create an application that is truthful and representative of who she is.  She decides she needs something a bit more academic for her application, so she writes a feature for The Oracle about the worst dates she’s ever had.  Penny loves it and promises to print it in the paper’s next edition.

Turns out that the applications from Sweet Valley High were so good that Eric needs more time to narrow down his choices.  He selects some students for interviews, including Jessica and Lila, whose rivalry for the spot is so intense at this point that they aren’t speaking to one another.  Lila tries to sabotage Jessica’s interview by removing the note that tells candidates the interview room has been moved, and Jessica tries to sabotage Lila for that prank by casually mentioning that Lila’s father practically owns Sweet Valley.

All this is for naught, though: Jessica ends up winning the spot on Eric Parker’s show, and Lila is the alternate choice in case Jessica can’t make it.  Jessica is elated; Lila is furious. She devises a plan–with the help of Bruce Patman, who’s pissed about Jessica referring to his kissing abilities being like a jellyfish–to keep Jessica from being at the school on time for her taping.

Lila convinces Jessica to go shopping with her for a new outfit before the taping.  They do this on the same afternoon as the interview, and Lila convinces her to drive a ways up the coast.  Once there, Lila ditches Jessica while she’s in the dressing room, and Bruce Patman calls the store and pretends to be a detective, warning the store owner of a shoplifter fitting Jessica’s description.  Jessica is detained, Lila goes back to Sweet Valley, and all is lost.

Only, when Jessica calls home, Elizabeth comes up with a plan.  Stepping in as Jessica for the interview, she nails it, allowing Jessica to have her glory and Lila to get locked in the dressing room closet.  Elizabeth saves the day!

The B-plot features Elizabeth worrying that her interests are too focused on the literary.  She decides to become a volunteer junior park ranger at Secca Lake.  She and Enid attend some classes, take a quiz, and then Liz is appointed the Chief Junior ranger.  Only she starts to feel overextended, and then finally realizes that you can be passionate about a lot of things, but being dedicated to them all is exhausting.  So she gives it up to focus on her writing.

Fun Facts/Trivia:

  • The special edition of Eric Parker’s show is called “Growing Up in America”
  • Winston refers to the time he and Jessica were shipwrecked on Outermost Island–was that what it was called?
  • Apparently the Big Sister/Little Sister program is still a thing at SVH, because Jessica puts it on her application
  • Jessica mentions that Bruce Patman kisses like a dead jellyfish in this book, but it’s mentioned as something that happened in the past in the previous book (Enid’s Story).  Continuity is hard, guys.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘So many barefoot girls who are ready to lay themselves at his feet and become his love slaves,’ Lila added with a sly smile.” (44)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There isn’t much to snark on here, really.  Apart from the awkwardly shoe-horned in lessons about the environment and the importance of conservation, this is a fairly straight-forward plot.  I do find it weird that everyone is so obsessed with Eric Parker’s talk show, because it doesn’t seem like something that would actually appeal to teens at all–from what little we know of it.

Also, the Lila-Bruce kiss thing: I didn’t mention this in my recap, but they kiss each other passionately after congratulating one another on their devious plan to sabotage Jessica goes off without a hitch.  It’s a weird moment–and it feels so disingenuous to the characters that I found it jarring.  I know it was meant to serve as a way for Lila to yell at him later about kissing like a dead jellyfish, but it still rankled me.

Up next: SVH #72: Rock Star’s Girl.

Super Star: Bruce’s Story

26 Feb

bruce

Estimated Elapsed Time: 6 long, grueling weeks.

Summary/Overview:

Apologies in advance for length: it’s a longer book and the story is ridiculously convoluted. 

Bruce and Roger are nervously awaiting the arrival of their grandfather, who is seventy but fairly spry.  He also still holds the family purse strings, I guess, because the entire family is on edge about this visit, which is six weeks long.  That’s not a visit so much as an internment, but okay.  At any rate, the family is throwing a 70th birthday bash for him, too.

After the party, Grandpa Patman announces that he’s going to host a contest for Roger and Bruce over the next four weeks while Mr. and Mrs. Patman are vacationing in Japan, the prize being control of the Patman empire.  OKAY THEN.  He gives each boy two thousand dollars in cash and tells them to invest it wisely.  Then he insists that both boys give up their credit cards and checkbooks for the month.  I don’t get it–is it an investment competition or a frugal-living one?  It can’t be both.  Bruce is horrified that a future he was once secure in is now up in the air and buckles down to win the thing.  Roger seems much less sure about this contest, and rightfully so, because it is LITERALLY THE DUMBEST THING EVER.

Bruce immediately buys concert tickets, gets in an expensive fender-bender, and then gambles away nearly all of his money.  He doesn’t seem to get the “investing” part of the contest.  Alternatively, Roger immediately invests $1500 dollars in some stocks for Robotech, a company that’s rising due to rumors of a takeover.  His stock soars for a while, and he feels invincible.  But then, surprise, it crashes, and he loses seven hundred dollars.

Meanwhile, Bruce is pursuing fellow hot senior Tracy Atkins, whose flattered but unsure she and Bruce have anything in common.  She prefers to spend her time sewing clothes and taking care of her little brother, who has a muscular disorder and goes to the Nicholson school, a special place for kids with disabilities.

BUT WAIT: the school is in dire financial straits and needs to raise $10,000 dollars or it faces closure.  She’s working with some other kids at Sweet Valley to raise money for the school.  Enter Harbor Days, a two-Saturday-long event that’s sort of like a carnival for vendors to sell food and goods and keep part of the profits while donating the rest to the school.  Bruce asks to help, in hopes of both impressing Tracy and also earning back the money he’s wasted.  Tracy suggests he write “The Bruce Patman Guide to Dating” and sell that [blogger’s note: I officially hope these two end up together because they are both INSANE].

Anyway, Bruce sabotages Roger’s first attempt at the Harbor Days sale by switching out his paint for water-soluble stuff and staging a water balloon fight near the painted hats so the colors run.  His dating guide sells like hot cakes, though, and he plans to secretly pocket all the money.  Roger totally knows it was Bruce and is super pissed, but whatever.  He plans to sell enlarged photos of people at the second day of the festival, and he swears his friend Lisa not to tell anyone.

Lisa, of course, tells Tracy, who tells Bruce.  But then Tracy gets suspicious of Bruce and follows him home, where she sees him about to tamper with the photo paper.  She’s mad, so she cries?  And runs away?  At any rate, she warns Roger, who confronts Bruce, who tells him that he thought about doing it but didn’t actually do it.  Whatever, I’m bored.

The second day of Harbor Days goes well, and Bruce sells homemade ice cream based on a recipe of Tracy’s grandma, even though the two are no longer on speaking terms.  Roger sells his photos.  The event raises just over three grand, which is way short of their projected fundraising efforts.  Everyone is sad, but then they get an anonymous donation and the school is saved! Hooray!

Grandpa Patman throws ANOTHER party to welcome back Mr. and Mrs. Patman and also to announce the winner of his STUPID contest.  When he goes to open both envelopes, though, he finds them empty, and he is LIVID.  Then Bruce and Roger tell their story about how they learned a valuable lesson on competition and family and gave all their money to the SAVE charity.  Whatever, they could have just donated that four grand at the start and saved me 200 pages.

Everyone wins!

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Patman’s maids (one of?) is named Miranda.
  • Grandfather Patman’s two mottos: “Get rich and work hard.” What a charmer!
  • Grandfather Patman’s party has a Latin-American band (I’m not sure what that means) and Latin-American-themed food. Why?  WHY?
  • Tracy’s brother has some sort of “genetic muscular disorder” that is never named but referred to as such several times. WEIRD.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Filled with contentment, Bruce settled back in his chair.  For just a minute, he was reminded that there was nothing better in the whole world than being Bruce Patman. Here he was, still in high school, and he could have anything he wanted.” (14)
  • “He couldn’t believe his ears.  Didn’t Tracy realize this was a dream of an invitation? From the modest look of the Atkinses’ home, she couldn’t be used to being offered fifty-dollar concert tickets.” (78)
  • “Put that in the Bruce Patman Guide to Dating, Bruce thought. Staying friends with a girl you used to date is definitely cool.” (208) YOU WILL NEVER SEE THIS GIRL AGAIN

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I had never read this one, because the only person who interests me less than Bruce Patman when it comes to a Super Star book all about them is Enid (I’m dreading that one, let me tell you).  After having read this one, I feel fairly confident in saying this: Bruce Patman is a total sociopath.

Setting aside the fact that this novel’s central premise–a financial competition between two seventeen-year-olds to see who will inherit the family business YEARS FROM NOW–is so skull-crushingly STUPID that I can’t believe I read the entire thing, let alone recapped it in detail, you’re still left with the fact that everyone in the world of Sweet Valley is completely off their rockers.

Grandpa Patman is nuts.  Mr. and Mrs. Patman are either clueless or cruel.  Bruce literally displays most of the criteria of someone with antisocial personality disorder (sociopathy).  Roger is a doormat.  All of these people blow, and yet this book goes on at length about them, and we are supposed to remain engaged.

Blech.

Spoilers for Sweet Valley Confidential: One thing that I couldn’t stop thinking about the entire way through this book was that Bruce ends up with Elizabeth.  There are so many things about the SVC book that make me angry (most of them have to do with how little respect Pascal seems to have for the fans), but this is one of the things I can’t let go of.  Bruce is the literal worst, and no amount of “growing up” would erase what a terrible fucking human being he is.

Whatever.  We’re on to SVH #66: Who’s to Blame?

SVH #12: When Love Dies

23 Mar

Estimated Elapsed Time: Four weeks

Summary/Overview

Steven Wakefield’s beautiful, doll-like girlfriend Tricia Martin has been acting strangely lately.  She’s been avoiding him: breaking dates and not answering his calls.  This distresses Steven greatly, and he does an equal amount of moping and crying about it before actually getting off his ass and going to Tricia’s to confront her.  She cries and tells him they’re better off not seeing each other.  So they break up and Tricia thinks about how it’s better that he doesn’t know she’s sick.

Liz is sad for Steven but Jessica is thrilled, because the Martins are one of the trashiest families in Sweet Valley.  Jess sees the breakup as her chance to set him up with Cara Walker, who’s been nursing a crush on him for years.  Steve goes out with Cara because he keeps hearing rumors that Tricia’s dating other guys.  Steve kissies Cara but thinks of Tricia, and I’m officially creeped out.  He ends up freaking out on Cara at a much-hyped college party, and their relationship is over before it really begins.

Meanwhile, the twins have started volunteering at Fowler Memorial Hospital.  Jessica finds out that Jeremy Frank, a local celebrity and TV personality is staying at the hospital with a broken leg, and so she drags Liz into her scheme to get close to him.  There are several contrived, boring scenes in which Jessica is uncharacteristically clumsy and either injures Jeremy or embarrasses him in some way.  He enlists the help of Liz to get Jess to back off by pretending to be super into Jess, going so far as to propose to her.  The plan backfires, and he has to come clean, but he offers her a guest spot on his show.

At the same time, Liz discovers that Tricia’s sick with Leukemia, and she angsts about it for a long time before confiding in Mr. Collins, who tells her that not all secrets should be kept.  Liz finally tells Steven what’s really been going on.  He races over to Tricia’s shanty and they both cry and gush about how their love is forever, however long that may end up being, and I feel sick to my stomach.

The book ends with Elizabeth getting kidnapped (complete with chloroform) by Carl the creepy orderly who has a major case of the Norman Bates.  Will Elizabeth be saved?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Betsy’ll probably end up either pregnant or in jail in another year or so.  Maybe both.'” (5) [ed. note: God willing!]
  • “‘Jessica Wakefield, this is really the all-time dumbest idea you’ve ever had–and you’ve come up with some pretty dumb ones!'” (114)
  • “Forever, she thought.  Maybe forever wasn’t such a long time for them, but when you loved someone as much as she loved Steven, a day could be forever, even a moment.” (123)

Trivia and Fun Facts:

  • Not a lot of outfits in this book.  Cara wears a splashy Hawaiian-print halter dress to her own party
  • Pop culture references include: Love Story, the National Enquirer, Barbara Walters, and Romeo and Juliet

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis

As this is not one of my favorite books simply because Tricia Martin bores the snot out of me, I don’t find myself overly-critical of it.  Yes, the whole Tricia-has-leukemia thing is contrived and belongs in a Lurlene McDaniel novel, and yes, it’s clear that the ghost writer doesn’t actually know a thing about the disease, but that’s what we expect from the world of Sweet Valley.

The Jeremy Frank B-plot is irritating only because we’re supposed to buy the fact that Jessica would all of a sudden decide that being engaged to a perfect stranger would be a good idea.  The fact that it is alluring at all is so preposterous that it’s impossible to take it seriously.  If the reader didn’t know better, one would almost infer that Jessica is on to the scheme and is trying a bit of reverse psychology.  But that would be TOO clever.  So the reader must take it at face value.