Perfect Size Six

May 12, 2016

#26 Hostage!

Can anyone save Regina Morrow?”

Before she snorted that one line of coke that killed her, Regina Morrow was mostly known for being rich, deaf, and in a relationship with handsome sleazebag, Bruce Patman. Well, for the last few months, Regina’s been in Switzerland undergoing some sort of cutting-edge, miracle treatments to restore her hearing. But she’s suddenly been spotted in her mansion in Sweet Valley by a fellow classmate, who was delivering groceries. Mystery!

Of course, her good friend and general do-gooder Elizabeth Wakefield is immediately on the case. (Liz’s logic is that something must be wrong because Regina didn’t let her know she was back in town.) Plus, Liz is well versed in kidnappings due to her own abduction by husky orderly, Carl, in #13 Kidnapped!

Bruce calls the Morrow’s house, and a woman who identifies herself as “Aunt Claire” says that Regina is sleeping. Bruce is all “what the hell?” because both of Regina’s parents are only children. Liz then goes to Regina’s house to investigate, where she is greeted by the mysterious “Aunt Claire,” who tells her Regina is not home. But then Regina suddenly appears stage right, but she doesn’t say anything and looks scared. “Aunt Claire” says that Regina’s not well and must go to her room immediately and basically kicks Liz out of the house.

Elizabeth has a moment of clarity about her sociopath of a sister: “‘You’re heartless.’ Elizabeth signed. ‘Completely heartless. Regina may be trapped inside her own home by some maniac, and all you can think about is keeping your tan up!'”

05109ff5184f6140886563d00185b2f556d6c4-wmLiz doesn’t want to tell her parents about this potentially dangerous hostage situation, so she goes straight to Sweet Valley’s finest to investigate. (Sidenote: Being a Sweet Valley police officer must be the worst job ever.) Sargent O’Brien calls later to let her know that he did a welfare check. He tells her that “Aunt Claire” is Claire Davis, stepsister to Skye Morrow, that everything is fine, and that Liz should mind her own business. (Hear! Hear!)

For some reason, formerly skeptical Jessica is now gung ho. She comes up with a plan, where Bruce will pretend to be a delivery boy (sans his Porsche), and they’ll sneak a message in for Regina with the Morrow’s grocery order. They’ll then come back at night and wait under her window for a response.

(Switch to Regina’s viewpointbackstory about the kidnapping) We find out Regina was taken at the Swiss airport by “Aunt Claire,” who tells her that she’s going to come quietly with her back to Sweet Valley, or her parents will be killed. Regina’s dad is supposed to be some important computer guy, like a Bill Gates of Silicon (Sweet) Valley. His firm has created a computer chip that’s supposed to revolutionize the industry, but there’s only one prototype. And a rag-tag crew is bent on stealing it. (Seriously, how would any one get away with this? Hello, patents and research teams and lawyers. And why is there only one prototype?) The thieves’ plan is that the also-kidnapped Mr. Morrow will call the plant manager, tell her that he’s detained in Europe and have him give the chip to Regina. Thus, the crooks will have the prototype, and the Morrows will be ruined. (Cue evil laugh).

Regina finds the note Bruce/Liz/Jess slipped in and drops a note of her own outside her window detailing what’s going on with her and her kidnapped parents and the chip. Bruce/Liz/Jess call Nicholas Morrow, who is staying in San Francisco with a friend and tell him that he needs to come home immediately but won’t give him any details.

Regina says that (from what she’s overheard) the kidnappers are going to steal the chip “money is heaven.” She’s still relatively hard of hearing, so she means “Monday at seven.”

giphy3Nicholas and Liz go back to the Morrow manor to investigate. A car comes and Nicholas kisses Liz, so they won’t look suspicious parked outside. Nicholas sort of recognizes the guy leaving his house and realizes later it’s ex-Morrow employee, Phillip Denson, who was caught stealing by Mr. Morrow 5 years ago and sent to jail. He got out last year and moved to California. Liz/Bruce/Jess/Nick quickly find Denson in the phone book, jump into the 1Bruce1, and head to his house.

There, they find a cute teenage boy mowing the lawn, so they send Jessica (armed only with her feminine wiles) to suss out the situation. She pretends to be doing a census for school and asks a million questions. It turns out he’s Mitch Denson, Phillip’s son. She asks him to go get her a drink of water, so she can snoop around. The Morrows are in the living room but run our of sight before Mitch returns.

Jess/Bruce/Liz leave and meet up at Bruce’s the next day to formulate a plan and sort out everything. The plan is that Jessica and Bruce will free the Morrows, and at the same time, Liz and Nick will go to the plant. Liz will stall “Aunt Claire” while Nicholas calls the police.

giphy1Liz and Nick are at the plant. Liz sees Regina and “Aunt Claire,” so she tries to keep them from leaving by pretending to be a Sweet Valley News Reporter. Meanwhile, Nicholas is calling the SVPD. Sargent O’Brien answers and doesn’t believe the story, chalking it up to another crank call. Luckily, the Morrows are on the other line and confirm the whole story. Now, every cop in Sweet Valley is on the way.

Nicholas runs and grabs Regina. “Aunt Claire” pulls out a gun. Liz/Bruce/the Morrows arrive with Mitch Denson hot on their heels. (How in the world did that crap heap keep up with the 1Bruce1?) Phillip also pulls a gun out. Instead of just shooting them and getting away with the chip, he does a little monologue about how much he’s suffered because Mr. Morrow had him arrested 5 years ago.

Nicholas and Bruce jump him when they hear sirens. Claire shoots but misses. A grand total of six (6!!!) officers show up and take over. (With all the shit going on in Sweet Valley, their police department should be bigger than the NYPD.)

Now that every one’s safe, it’s time for a blow-out party at the Morrow mansion!

Sort of B-Plot: Ken Matthew, the quarterback of the football team, is failing English, so he might not get to play in the big game. Thus, the entire centennial celebration will be RUINED! It’s basically just a set-up for the next book #27 Lovestruck, where Ken falls for snobby Suzanne Hanlon.

897b347f458b530d85d96844413d623bEnglish Major Moment: “‘You’re getting a Nancy Drew complex, that’s what I think,’ Jessica said critically, frowning up at then sun. She giggled suddenly. ‘Only I can hardly imagine Bruce as Ned Nickerson!'”

September 6, 2010

#18 Head Over Heels

“Can Bruce Patman really fall in love?”

Like so many girls before her, Regina Morrow has flipped her shit for Sweet Valley’s resident bad-boy, Bruce Patman. Poor, myopic Regina. Besides being deaf, she also appears to be short-sighted when it comes to boys and relationships. The SVH ghost writer du jour continuously hits us over the head with the fact that Regina is disabled and special and wants anything to be normal. Well, normal in Sweet Valley is getting used and abused by a Patman, so get ready, girl.

At the present moment in time, Bruce and Regina are in love and happy as clams. We know it’s real love because he buys her expensive presents, takes her home to meet the folks, and tells her he loves her. Apparently, a couple of chapters are supposed to negate Bruce’s douchey past, because Bruce is a new man….(for the time being, before Trampy Sutton moves to town and pulls Bruce back to the dark side.)

Because Jessica and Lila can’t bear to see anyone else happy, they make a bet over the status of Bruce and Regina’s relationship. If they break up before the centennial, Lila has to write Jessica’s history paper. If they’re still together, Jessica must write Lila’s. (That’s a lose/lose situation if there ever was one.)

Plus, Lila’s in rare alpha-bitch form in this one. She’s pretty much the only person in Sweet Valley who hasn’t joined Regina Morrow’s fan club.

“‘Just look at her,’ Lila seethed, pushing her food away in disgust. ‘She looks ridiculous in that purple dress. You’d think she was color blind, not deaf, the way she dresses.'”

Oh, and Jessica’s a dumbass yet again. “Elizabeth shook her head in disbelief. Only my twin, she thought, would ask to speak to a deaf girl on the phone. It just figures.”

Sweet Valley High isn’t known for its adroit handling of serious issues, and the theme of disability is no exception. This is an especially touchy issue with me since I grew up with a physical impairment that couldn’t magically be cured like Regina’s deafness. And I wasn’t able to convert the highschool douchebags I liked into decent human beings through the sheer power of my goodness and beauty. (Changing people in general is pretty impossible, even though it’s like second nature in Sweet Valley.)

My first irritation is the cause of her disability. She wasn’t just born deaf. Oh no, that wouldn’t be melodramatic enough for the world of Sweet Valley. Her disability is caused by her own mother’s vanity (which also doubles as a Perfect-Size-Six moment).

“But a few weeks after (Skye Morrow) learned she was pregnant, one of the most glamorous magazines in New York offered her a spectacular assignment. They wanted Skye to appear in their special summer issue, modeling bathing suits and resort wear. After long discussions with Kurt, Skye decided to take the job. It would be her last modeling assignment, and she wanted it to be perfect.

There was only one catch. The magazine told her she would have to lose ten pounds in less than a month. Ignoring what her doctor told her, Skye took diet pills and lost the weight. The assignment went perfectly, and in the magazine’s summer issue, Skye looked more beautiful than ever before.

But the consequences were grave. The pills Skye had taken had damaged the delicate tissue in the ears of her unborn child. After Regina was born, it became obvious that she wasn’t responding to noises the way Nicholas had. The doctors’ pronouncement was grave: Regina had suffered permanent damage to her ears. She would never be able to hear normally.”

Yes, my eyes are still rolling out of my head after reading that. What kind of shitty mother takes diet pills while pregnant? Um, Skye Morrow, that’s who. Well, she does feel adequately guilty, I guess. And redemption appears to be right around the corner!

Miracle of miracles, a Swiss medical team has invented some sort of therapy that will allow Regina to hear, after a year or so of treatments. Well, Regina is so besotted with Bruce that she doesn’t want to leave, even if it means she will never be able to hear. Granted, Bruce would be a lot more attractive to me with a mute button, but he is sooo not worth it. Well, Regina is new to dating, and she picked Mt. Everest as her first mountain to climb.

The Morrows try desperately to change Regina’s mind. They don’t know about her puppy love with Bruce, so they go about it all wrong. There’s a lot of fighting and arguing. Regina just comes off as really bratty and immature throughout most of the book. And helpless and in need of protection, of course. Mrs. Morrow even enlists Saint Liz to help, but even Elizabeth Wakefield can’t overcome the lure of Bruce Patman. (I hate Bruce, and I would still pick him over Liz.)

Cue Jessica and her scheming, bitchy ways. She finds out that Bruce is campaigning to be the Centennial king, so she tells Regina that Bruce is only dating her to up his popularity and win votes—because dating a disabled person is the surest fire way to win friends and influence people. Regina is so painfully naive that she believes Jessica and breaks up with Bruce with no explanation. (Please kill me now because I actually feel sorry for Bruce effing Patman.)

“I never would have believed it in a million years, (Elizabeth) thought. Bruce Patman is crying.”

OH MY GOD. Sweet Valley has frozen over. Patman, down! Bruce is so upset that he has gone to Elizabeth Wakefield, the girl he tried to rape 11 books earlier, for help! And she is deservedly dubious of the reformed Bruce until he unleashes the waterworks. (Sucker!) Liz has told him everything, so now Bruce is faced with a moral dilemma. Should he be selfish and get Regina back? Or should he leave things as they are and let Regina go to Switzerland, unfettered by him?

Bruce chooses a little of both. He has Liz plant a letter in Regina’s luggage explaining what really happened and how much he loves her. So Regina will go to Switzerland, but she won’t think he’s the son of a bitch that he actually is. Awww. I am totally rooting for these two crazy kids to make it work right now. Luckily, Regina does REALLY well with the inscrutable hearing therapy, and she’s back home in 8 books. (Well, 9 books really. I don’t know if I would count her kidnapping as a homecoming.)

Bruce is in a love-sick holding pattern until then, so girls of Sweet Valley can finally enjoy a cup of wine without fear of Bruce Patman taking advantage. Don’t we all love a good, bad-boy redemption story?

The B-plot is pretty negligible. Lila is lusting after a construction worker at her father’s office building. How déclassé! She’s convinced that he’s not really a construction worker, that he’s really a blue-blood in disguise who’s slumming it for some romantic reason. Sorry, Li. He’s just pauvre and psycho, which is fleshed out in the next book, #19 Showdown!.

Sorry about the delay with this review. I had to edit out a lot of my passionate opinions on the social construct of disability. I’ve also been studying non-stop for the GRE Literature subject test, so I will probably be posting less until the date of the exam, which is October 9th. Wish me luck!

August 26, 2010

#16 Rags to Riches

“Look who’s after Roger Barrett!”

First Lila in #9 Racing Hearts, now Jessica. How is POOR Roger managing to attract the snobbiest girls at Sweet Valley High? Well, as we’re told in a super clunky first chapter, he’s Roger Patman now and RICH to boot. He is totally embracing his inner Patman douchebag on the cover, with the layered polos/popped collar/sports jacket ensemble he’s sporting.

How does this transformation occur? Roger’s mom dies in between books, and  he discovers that he’s the bastard scion of Paul Patman. He totally looks broken up about his dead mom too. I’m sure he shed a few tears when he bought his Lacoste shirts and Italian loafers. Note to readers: Being a bastard is okay if one of your parents is rich and/or famous.

“‘Well according to Uncle Henry, this is the story. When my mother first moved to Sweet Valley, she took a job working for the Patmans. That was before Uncle Henry was married or had a family. He was living with his older brother, Paul, who was married to this woman everyone hated. Well, I guess my mother fell in love with Paul Patman, and they sent more and more time together, amd -‘ Roger stopped, his face turning red.

‘I understand, Roger,’ Olivia said softly.

‘Well, I guess my mother moved away when she found out she was going to have a baby. While she was gone, Paul tried to divorce his awful wife. He wanted to marry my mother. But nobody ever found out about it because he was killed in a plane crash flying down to Mexico on business.'”

I love how Roger justifies the cheating because Paul Patman’s wife is so horrible, and everyone hates her. How many dudes in real life use this line to lure chicks into becoming their mistresses? (And yes, I’ve had someone try this out on me, unsuccessfully I might add.)

Roger’s dad was probably flying down to Tijuana to experience transnational hookers and donkey shows. If I were Mrs. Barrett, I wouldn’t have held out hope for Paul Patman sweeping me off my feet in the assembly line, à la Richard Gere in Officer and a Gentleman.

And seriously, Roger can’t even discuss the events leading to his birth without blushing. On behalf of every character in Sweet Valley, S-E-X!!! I can only imagine what their sex ed would be like.

I work at a public high school in a non-instructional capacity (thank god), and I had the distinct displeasure of walking into a classroom during a sex-ed lesson. I didn’t know this at first. Everyone had their crayons out, and they were going to town. When I looked to see what they were coloring, I noticed that it was line drawings of the male and female reproductive systems. How is coloring  a penis lime green teaching them about sexual health? The most depressing part is that most of the students in there were 18-years-old, two were pregnant, and one already had two kids. Methinks that’s a little late to hear about the birds and the bees and the penises and the vaginas. End rant.

Anyway, Jessica is in gold-digger mode now that Roger claimed his share of the Patman fortune. The only one standing in her way is Olivia Davidson, Roger’s present girlfriend and Sweet Valley’s resident boho hippie. I’m not condoning Jessica’s shenanigans by any means, but I’ve just always disliked the whole Olivia/Roger pairing. They just seem asexual and boring.

Jessica’s first plan of attack occurs at the Patman bar-b-q. Jess thinks that by ingratiating herself with Mrs. Patman that she will somehow gain an advantage with Roger. It’s how she ingratiates herself that doesn’t make any sense. Jess is acting like she’s the Patman scullery maid–clearing dishes,  running errands, etc. Well, I guess Jess was onto something because Mrs. Patman jumps on the Jessica bandwagon and completely dismisses Olivia.

Jessica decides the next course of action is to blow Olivia out of the water–by becoming her new best friend. Jess preys on Olivia’s insecurities about Roger’s new situation by giving her some well-aimed, horrible advice. Why any one trusts Jessica at this point is a mystery to me. Olivia and Roger break up. Roger eventually realizes that Jessica was behind all the drama in their relationship, and he goes to Olivia (with interloper Liz, of course) and wins her back. Still don’t care about their relationship.

Awesome B-plot: Ms. Lila Fowler is jealous of the new rich girl in town, Regina Morrow. See, Regina is just as wealthy as Lila and nice to boot so that sort of dulls Lila’s lustre. When Lila sees Regina seemingly cavorting with a hot, middle-aged man, she makes sure that the Perez Hilton of Sweet Valley High, Caroline Pearce, has the exclusive. That means Regina is on the fast track to a bad reputation! Quelle horreur!

No worries. Regina doesn’t have daddy issues. She’s just moonlighting as a covergirl, and she doesn’t want any one in Sweet Valley to know. Apparently, she’s nervous because her mom was a supermodel, and her mom didn’t think that Regina could follow in her footsteps because she’s deaf. uh, okay.

When Lila discovers that Regina is going to be on the cover of Ingenue magazine, she goes down to the modeling agency that hired Regina. Lila thinks that once the agent meets her that he will immediately put her on the cover instead of Regina. Haha. How do I love thee Lila? Let me count the ways.

Anyway, the director royally dismisses Lila, which is the highlight of the book.

“‘It’s my business to meet pretty girls,’ he told her. ‘Lila, try not to be too disappointed about the modeling job. You’re a pretty girl, but you don’t really have the right facial structure, I’m afraid. You wouldn’t like how flat your face would look in photographs. Anyway,’ he told her, seeing her to the door, ‘modeling is hard work. You’ll probably thank me a few years from now.'”

English major moment: A few minutes earlier (Elizabeth had) gotten home from the library, where she’d been doing research for the playwright’s competition. After several days of thought, she’d decided to write about her favorite poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.”

I bet the only reason Elizabeth Barrett Browning is her favorite poet is because they share the same first name.

August 4, 2010

#7 Dear Sister (or Wakefield Gone Wild!)

“Can Jessica face life without Elizabeth?”

Here we are announcing the imminent death of Liz, and she’s out of the coma before the second chapter begins——Sweet Valley melodrama at its finest.

Anyway, when Liz wakes up, she seems to have a completely different personality, Jessica’s personality to be exact. I thought this was such bullshit growing up, but it’s a medically-verifiable phenomenon. After head injuries, people have even woken up speaking different languages.  It’s really fascinating if you’re into the subconscious  and the construction of identity.

Now, Liz is like a hyper-Jessica, and her sights are set on anyone with an XY chromosome, unless it’s Todd. (haha!) She’s hitting on doctors while still in her hospital bed. She flirts with Winston, so she can plagiarize his paper on the Punic Wars. She plants fake items in her gossip column to break up Ken Matthews and Susan Stewart. She even throws some inappropriate remarks Mr. Collins’ way. Generally, she makes “Easy Annie” Whitman look like she just left a nunnery.

Jessica meanwhile is having an existential crisis. I think the Sweet Valley High universe would explode with two Jessicas, so everyone’s treating Jess like the new Elizabeth. Jessica just wants the Sweet Valley status quo back. Even though this Freaky Friday plot is entertaining, I miss boring, old Elizabeth.

Next up is Lila’s pick-up party. Everyone gets dressed up in costumes and comes without a date. Then, they ostensibly “pick up” whoever catches their eye. Leave it to Lila to come up with the awesomest party idea ever! Well, Bruce Patman, armed with only a flask and his charm to guide him, manages to pick up Liz, the reigning ho of Sweet Valley, and he thinks it’s some sort of grand coup on his part.

“For the twentieth time that night, Bruce Patman wondered how he had gotten so lucky. Elizabeth Wakefield was about to melt in his arms. It would take just a little more to drink and just a little more time.”

Classy as ever, Bruce. Luckily, Todd is there to physically remove Liz from the situation. (Sidenote: I hate that the Jersey Shore has ruined the word “situation” for me.) He throws her over his shoulder, and she passes out from drinking too much of Bruce’s social lubrication. But Liz is more determined than ever to get her man!

Seriously, chapter 14 is gold; it’s oh so quotable. Liz sneaks out to Bruce’s house, and they get right down to business. Bruce actually gets to second base with Elizabeth! Who would have thought that Elizabeth, of all people, would have reached this milestone first?

“‘You like this, don’t you, Liz?’ He let one hand slide lightly onto her breast, waiting to see if she would protest.”

Everything is blue skies and butterflies in Bruce’s bedroom, until he makes the mistake of leaving for a minute to grab some more wine. Liz hops out of the bed in the dark, so she can fix her face for her man and then proceeds to fall head first into a table. The resulting head injury thus negates her first injury, and she’s boring, old Elizabeth again! She also has some sort of convenient, retrograde amnesia because she can’t remember cutting a swath through the male population of Sweet Valley High. ha! It’s probably better that way; she would have been traumatized for life.

Unfortunately, Bruce is back, and he doesn’t care much for her sudden enlightenment, since it invariably means he won’t get laid. I really don’t understand all the love that Bruce’s character gets from Sweet Valley fans. His behavior is just so consistently shitty.

Bruce uses every trick in the book to get Liz to sleep with him–my favorite being the “you-might-as-well-sleep-with-me,-because-I’ll-tell-everyone-you-did-anyway” approach. Stay classy, Patman.

“‘I’ve got real strong hands, Liz,” he said. “From tennis, see? Now, you listen to  me. You give me what I want, or I’ll tell this whole thing all over school. You want that? What would all your friends think of you then?'”

Oh, Bruce, you are such a douche. I’m dedicating this song to you.

Liz bites him (yeah!) as he roughly kisses her, and then, she runs out of Bruce’s sex dungeon right into the loving arms of Todd. Awww. For the moment, I’m actually rooting for these two crazy kids to make it work.

I forgot how many Sweet Valley books had date rape overtones. Seriously, outside of SVH, I didn’t really hear about date rape in real life until I got to college. During my first year, there was this fraternity affectionately known as the date-rape house. I never could understand why it was this longstanding joke that **haha**, don’t drink anything inside there, those rascally Pikes and their dateraping. These girls in my hall invited me to go with them to some theme party at said “date rapist” house. It was something really stupid like pimps ‘n hoes or schoolgirl fetish. They were actually laughing about the house’s reputation and the fact that you had to watch your drinks so scrupulously. What the fuck?

Perfect-size-six propaganda moment: “‘Good thing you lost those two pounds, Jess,’ she told herself. ‘Dan wouldn’t want to put his arms around a blimpo.'”

Favorite line in the whole book, which I don’t wholly understand: (Mr. Collins to the new Liz) “Uh-huh. I thought you and I were never going to dish each other applesauce.” ??? I understand it from the context. Applesauce = bullshit in a PG rated world, but it’s just weird coming from a grown man.

Nerdy English major moment: “Did you hear that, Dr. Frankenstein?” Jessica muttered. “You’re not the only one who created a monster.”

August 1, 2010

#4 Power Play (or Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels)

Power PlayThe Wakefield twins have taken sides ——against each other! (This cover has a bit of a twincestuous air. Like, I expect making out in 1.37 seconds.)

Eventual Moral of the story: If you can’t beat ’em, get really skinny, beat ’em, then join ’em.

If you weren’t drinking the “perfect-size-six” kool-aid before, let me pour you a drink, for it’s time for#4 Power Play. Robin Wilson has set her sights on becoming a member of Pi Beta Alpha, the most exclusive sorority at Sweet Valley High (and the only one ever mentioned. How awesome would it have been to have some some sort of upstart sorority rivalry?)

Robin is somehow under the delusion that she and Jessica, the president of Pi Beta Alpha, are best friends. This could never be because Robin is a fat, fat, fatty. There are literally dozens of catty references to her size. Even Liz isn’t above commenting on her weight. I especially wanted to vomit when Liz notices, for the first time, that behind all the layers of fat, Robin had a “pretty face.”

The reason for her obesity is obvious to the  perfect size sixes around her. She doesn’t have a metabolic or thyroid disorder, and she’s not big boned. Our girl Robin just likes to eat and always has the equivalent of a dessert buffet in her bag. In fact, if you were stranded on a desert island with Robin’s purse (much like Jessica in #56 Lost at Sea), you’d probably survive an extra week on all the food that appears to be in there. To make fat matters worse, she wears tent dresses. The horror!

To get into Pi Beta Alpha, Robin has to accomplish three might-as-well-be-Herculean tasks. 1)Run laps with the entire Sweet Valley High populace looking on 2) Wear a bikini to the beach and play a spirited game of volleyball and 3) get Bruce Patman to take her to the dance (!!!) It’s as bad as it sounds. It’s like a several-chapters-long exercise in embarrassment.

Illustrative quotes:

“Don’t fall down, Wilson. You’ll dent the track!”

“Don’t you think dear Robin looks très chic in her gray sweat shorts and tank top?” Lila contributed. “So perfect for that round body, n’est-ce pas?” Et tu, Lila!!

“Way to go, Wilson,” Bruce jeered. “Anyone into blubber would call your moves awesome.”

Of course, Liz interferes at every turn, in the guise of “helping” Robin. She bribes Bruce into accepting Robin’s invitation to the dance. His price: an article in the Oracle (with picture, natch) detailing his exploits on the tennis field.

We all know that this is not going to end well, which is quickly confirmed when Bruce ditches Robin at the door of the dance and says to everyone:

“OK, that’s it. I brought you to the dance, Tubby. I’ve got better things to do now. Hey! Anybody want to steer the Queen Mary around the floor tonight? She’s all yours!”

OH NO HE DIDN’T!

Seriously, Robin is just continuously shit upon for 3/4 of the book. After passing the PBA hazing ritual with flying colors, Robin is still blackballed from the sorority (by Jessica, of course). Seriously, if any Sweet Valley book should have had a Carrie ending, it was this one. Instead of taking revenge on the sorority girls, Robin goes on the most exhaustive, physically insupportable diet ever. It involves engaging in continuous exercise and enjoying meals of lettuce, two slices of tomato, and a hard-boiled egg. Subsequent editions should have had a warning: Do not try this at home, kids.

Finally, she reaches a satisfactory weight and instantly transforms into one of the most popular girls at school. Now, she’s Miss Sweet Valley High and co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and she gets to tell Pi Beta Alpha to shove it (so to speak). She’s also dating one of the only nerds in Sweet Valley, Allen Walters. Happy ending? Apparently not, because Robin develops a wicked eating disorder in #74 The Perfect Girl.

B plot line: Lila is a klepto! Liz suspects that something is rotten in Sweet Valley when Lila keeps giving Jessica expensive presents. Lila is wealthy, and Jessica is her best friend. I don’t really understand why this would be a matter of concern. Well, Liz’s school reporter’s instinct is never wrong, so it turns out that Lila has been pilfering expensive, imported goods from the Valley mall. How déclassée, Lila! Cue the poor-little-rich-girl defense. Daddy Fowler is always away on business, so Lila’s stealing is a cry for help. I snark, but this is probably one of my favorite B plots of the whole series.

Nerdy English major moment:

“Robin, I know it’s none of my business, but how are you doing?”

“Fine. In fact, super. Do you remember when we had to read The Iliad? Remember the part where the Greeks and Trojans are under the spell of one of the gods?”

“Excuse me?” Elizabeth stammered, wondering if Robin really was falling apart.

“You should read it over again,” Robin said. “Especially the part where the person comes out of the spell and finally sees clearly.”

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