Perfect Size Six

August 7, 2010

#9 Racing Hearts (or Ew, Get Your Poverty Cooties Away From Me!)

Filed under: Books #1-20 — mediumcore @ 10:34 pm
Tags: , , , ,

“Can Roger melt Lila’s icy heart?”

Even the prolonged appearance of Lila can’t save this book. It’s just bad, and not the good kind of bad that I usually associate with Sweet Valley. It is embarrassingly, shamefully, odorously bad, which means that this should be an awesome review, I hope.

The boy on the cover wanting to put a blowtorch to Lila’s icy heart is Roger Barrett. It’s not so much that Lila’s heart is icy. She just has very definite ideas of what she’s looking for in a boyfriend, and Roger doesn’t fit her heightened ideal. As we learned in the last book, Roger Barrett is POOR!!! (the worst four-letter-word in Sweet Valley), and he’s had a hopeless crush for years on Lila, the wealthiest girl in town.

Roger would normally be relegated to the Shady Lady with the rest of the dregs of Sweet Valley, but he has a slightly socially redeeming work ethic (only slightly). He’s a night janitor at the office building where Mr. Wakefield has his law practice. Roger’s boss is a shrewish man who makes him work 4-9 M-Fri and all day Saturday, which precludes him from having a life. Apparently, no one else at Sweet Valley High has to work.

Anyway, the book centers around the annual “Barton Ames Memorial Mile” race (BART, for short). Whoever wins the BART wins a scholarship to Sweet Valley college, so Liz and Olivia obnoxiously try to wave the winning prize at him like a snausage treat, since he’s POOR and desperately needs it. Besides browbeating us with Roger’s poverty, the ghostwriter likes to reiterate that Roger wants to be a doctor.

As a joke, Lila uses her overwhelming powers of persuasion to convince Roger to run at the trials for the BART race. He ends up winning and upstages Bruce Patman (yes!).

There’s this really depressingly bad scene where the principal, “Chrome Dome” Cooper,  gives Roger a Sweet Valley High sweat suit. Roger has always wanted one, but they cost $30 that he doesn’t have. After he puts it on, he is magically transformed into a dateable male. (I can’t ever see Lila Fowler dating someone who wears a tracksuit.) Au contraire,  I guess, because Lila is in full on, get-her-man mode.

Roger’s trying to soak up all the glory he can before he has to go back to his drab life. He knows he can’t run in the BART, because he can’t take off from work. He knows Lila is going to dump him hard when she finds out he’s a janitor. 99 problems, Roger.

You know what that means, I’m sure. Enter Elizabeth Wakefield to save the day. (Gag.) She gets Daddy Wakefield to throw some legalese at Roger’s boss. It turns out that said boss is breaking workplace laws about vacation and sick time. He begrudgingly gives Roger the time off to run his race.

Roger comes clean to Lila about his less-than-glamorous job as a janitor, and she dumps him cold as expected. When Roger wins the BART, Lila comes crawling back to repair their relationship (also extremely out of character for her.) It’s too late, however, because Roger has realized he loves Olivia. Meh.

Olivia and Roger are one of my least favorite couples in Sweet Valleydom. I think the SVH ghostwriter just thought that the girl who shops at thrift stores and the poor boy with raggedy clothes seemed liked an obvious match. It definitely reeks of trying too hard.

B-plot (I almost forgot): After the Splendor in the Grass fiasco, Jessica decides she needs to seriously look at her future  (ha!). She gets a job working with Daddy Wakefield at his law firm. She’s ready to climb the walls after 10 minutes, but then she meets a cute (and appropriately vanilla) boy helping his dad out next door. Yawn. Everything is going great, until Jessica discovers that he’s only 15, so she dumps him. Seriously, what’s the big deal with a 1 year difference? She’s acting like she’s some sort of cougar or something. Get over it.

(Hey! I decided that I’m going to start reviewing all the Sweet Valley High books in order, so up next will be #11 Too Good To Be True–one of my all-time favorites. I’ve already reviewed #10 Wrong Kind of Girl (another fav).


  1. You know what’s terrifying…?

    Roger Barrett, a boy so fine
    His speedy running is so divine
    At school, too, he is very smart
    He’ll walk away with a trophy at the Bart
    Everything he does to the highest stratum
    We at Sweet Valley are so proud we have him.

    That was from memory. Without hesitation. I hate myself more than a fatty in Sweet Valley would hate herself right now.

    Comment by Dwanollah — August 10, 2010 @ 11:21 pm | Reply

    • I was so tempted to make fun of Lila’s poem. I like to think she dumbed down the poem on purpose, because she thought Roger was some sort of mental troglodyte (from being poor and all). I always thought rhyming “stratum” and “have him” was cute for some reason.

      Being an English major has ruined my enjoyment of shitty poetry. I automatically start looking for meter and rhyme. I wish I could get my PHD in something related to YA lit. I saw there was some scholarly book coming out about Sweet Valley this year and turned Triumph green with envy.

      Comment by mediumcore — August 11, 2010 @ 7:27 am | Reply

  2. THERE IS?!?!

    I’m beyond Triumph green… I’m Datsun puce!

    Comment by Dwanollah — August 11, 2010 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

    • I just found out about it recently. It’s called, “Reading the Adolescent Romance: Sweet Valley High and the Popular Young Adult Romance Novel.” Here’s the link with all the info.

      It’s only 208 pages, which couldn’t even skim the surface of Sweet Valley’s shenanigans. It doesn’t look very promising. (Plus, it costs $110!) The chapter titles are really vague and boring (ie. “The Political Landscape of ‘Sweet Valley High’)

      We should totally gather the Sweet Valley literati and offer a better alternative. I would love to see/write something along the lines of, “Deconstructing Identity Through a Blobular Lens (Fat Times as Sweet Valley High)”

      Comment by mediumcore — August 12, 2010 @ 4:11 am | Reply

  3. In all seriousness, there IS the ChLA conference in June next year… being held at my alma mater this time. We could put together a panel.

    Comment by Dwanollah — August 13, 2010 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

    • I’m still a lowly undergrad, but I would be extremely interested in pursuing this. (I’m currently applying to grad programs with a children’s lit concentration.) My email is I’ve never been to a conference before, so I’m extremely ignorant on all the protocols. It sounds like a fun idea. –Claire

      Comment by mediumcore — August 14, 2010 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

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