Perfect Size Six

August 21, 2015

#25 Nowhere To Run

“Will Emily lose everything she loves?”

Ever since Todd Wilkins left Sweet Valley for the greener pastures of Vermont, Elizabeth has had to occupy herself with helping the less fortunate students of Sweet Valley High solve their problems. Liz’s charity case du jour is Emily Mayer, fellow junior and drummer for the school’s new-wave rock band, The Droids.

See, Emily’s father has remarried an absolutely horrible woman named Karen, who isn’t much older than Emily. She’s your archetypal bitchy step-mom. She thinks that everything Emily is doing is horrible and wrong. She hates her drumming and her bandmates. She thinks working on the school newspaper is a more respectable hobby. And now that Karen has given birth to little baby Karrie, she’s come completely unhinged. She keeps changing the house rules and threatens to send Emily to some far off boarding school.

Meanwhile, Emily is just trying to do everything she can to get in her stepmother’s good graces. She babysits every weekend, misses band practices, and agrees to a new restrictive curfew. One day, Emily invites her bandmate/crush Dan Scott over to her house to hear her new cymbals. It’s completely innocent, of course, but Karen storms in and throws out a few “tramp” accusations, which completely humiliates Emily. (Even moms aren’t immune to slut-shaming in Sweet Valley.)

pulpnovelTears filled Emily’s eyes as Karen’s words rang again in her memory. “I am not going to permit you to turn out like your mother!” Karen had said. “I will simply not have my baby grow up in a house with a tramp!”

A tramp, Emily thought dully. That’s what my mother turned out to be. Who’s to say I haven’t already taken after her? Maybe I don’t have a choice.

(Ugh. I love how Emily’s all worried about slut-dom being some sort of biological imperative, like the very nature of a tramp is being passed down from one generation of sluts to another.)

Thanks to Karen’s big mouth, Emily’s secret is out of the bag. She’d previously told every one that her mother died when she was a child, when in reality her mother just left one morning with no warning or forwarding address. There’s a vague implication that the former Mrs. Mayer had serious problems, but they don’t go into any real detail besides the whole tramp thing.

Emily runs away to the Wakefield residence and pours her heart out to Elizabeth. The Wakefields make her call her dad to let him know her location and relay that she’s safe. Mr. Meyer, being the daddy dearest that he is, says that he will put Emily’s beloved drums out on the street unless she comes home immediately.

Emily rushes home but later decides to sell her drums to keep the peace. Unbeknownst to Emily, her crush, Dan Scott, secretly buys them to keep them safe for her. (Awww. How sweet.). Sadly, it seems like Emily is destined to become some Cinderella/Stepford daughter, whose sole purpose is cleaning and childcare

Soon after the drum debacle, Karen buys baby Karrie a teddy bear with glass eyes that are poorly attached. Emily tries to warn her about the potential choking hazard, but Karen ignores/insults her. Of course, all hell breaks loose a minute later. Karrie’s half swallowed the bear’s eye and is now choking. Karen is wailing and clinging onto Karrie for dear life, preventing Emily from performing some life-saving first-aid. In what is perhaps the most satisfying moment of the book, Emily slaps her stepmother, grabs the baby, and saves her life via the Heimlich maneuver.

tumblr_n3xz2xmhUd1qg4blro2_500Of course, Mr. Mayer walks in during this shit storm and comes to the conclusion that Emily tried to hurt little Karrie. Karen is still freaking out in the corner and doesn’t tell him otherwise. So Mr. Mayer kicks Emily out of the house! (We officially have a new candidate for worst parent in Sweet Valley, y’all.)

Emily goes to the Wakefield house again and tells them that she is going to go live with her mother in Chicago (her mother’s last known whereabouts). When Emily tries to reach her m.i.a. mom, she finds out that her mother re-married a couple of years ago and moved to Mexico. (Ouch! Double fail in the parenting department.)

Luckily, the Wakefield’s grandparents are in town, and Grandma Wakefield tells Emily about her own struggles with being a step-parent 40 years or so ago. She says that she was pretty awful at being a step mom, but in time they became once big, happy, cliché family. Because this is Sweet Valley, this little pep talk works, and Emily is excited to start anew with her family. (Seriously, Emily, fuck those people.) As if on cue, the Mayer clan appears on the Wakefield’s doorstep. Karen is all sweetness and regret and apologizes for all of her step-parenting sins. After tears and an impromptu party, the Mayers sail off into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

B-plot – In what is perhaps the lamest sub-plot in Sweet Valley history, Jess and Liz’s grandparents are in town from Michigan, and the twin’s mother, Alice, is feeling jealous and insecure about their close relationship. Alice feels like a shitty mother because she’s part of the workforce and not helicopter parenting her children at all times. Liz somehow realizes that Alice is feeling down, and she schemes to make her feel useful by getting her to help organize a going away party for her grandparents. Of course, Liz’s plan works, and Alice once again feels like a useful member of the Wakefield household. (Seriously though, how can a grown-ass woman with her own design firm actually be this insecure?)

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