Perfect Size Six

December 5, 2016

#29 Bitter Rivals

Filed under: Books #21-40 — mediumcore @ 7:12 pm
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“Will Elizabeth be forced to choose between Amy and Enid?”

So we found out at the end of the last book that Elizabeth’s childhood bestie, Amy Sutton, is moving back to town. But a teenage Amy Sutton is really more aligned with Jessica’s crowd now (i.e. bitchy and boy crazy). Goody, just what we needed, another vacuous blond bimbo to stir up trouble and steal boyfriends.

I guess Francine Pascal thought the good/evil balance was a little off with Cara Walker reforming and dating Steven Wakefield, so she had the ghostwriters bring this bitch back. Amy’s like Jessica lite without any of the redeeming qualities.(Ugh, can you tell I hate Amy Sutton. I still blame her -and cocaine- for the untimely death of Regina Morrow. ) Need another reason to hate Amy Sutton?

Perfect-Size-Six moment: “Amy smiled. ‘I have to be careful,’ she told them.’ I really hate myself if I weigh a single ounce over one-hundred and ten pounds.'” (Liz remarks at some point that Amy is several inches taller than the 5’6 twins, so Amy literally has the measurements of a runway model. The perfect-size-six twins should be feeling like heifers right about now.)tumblr_inline_mhuy3mjgmp1qz4rgp_zps165ea815

Liz’s current bestie, Enid Rollins, understandably feels intimidated before meeting Amy and downright threatened after she meets her. First, Liz (unintentionally) blows off her beach date with Enid to hang out with the newly-returned Amy. Then, Liz spends the next few weeks either preaching the gospel of Amy at all times or following her around like a puppy dog, trying to reignite the exact same best friendship they had when they were 12 years old.

Amy ironically continues to blow off Liz in favor of Jessica and her crowd, but Liz just doubles down on her efforts to reconnect with Amy (at the expense of her relationship with Enid). Enid tries to be cordial for Liz’s sake, so she invites Amy along for a big girls’ weekend ski trip. They’ve already canceled ski plans twice because of Amy, but Liz assures Enid that this weekend will be a go.

Of course, Lila is throwing one of her epic parties on the same day to celebrate her cousin, Christopher’s, arrival to town. Lila goes on and on about how beautiful and wonderful he is, which is sort of weird. Some examples….

“Lila’s look was devastating. ‘Christopher,’ she said pompously, ‘is quite simply the world’s most fabulous man.'”

“‘And,’ she went on, ‘he’s six foot two, with really wavy, thick, blond hair, and the most amazing blue eyes. They just sort of pierce right through you.'”

(True story: I was at the psychiatrist years ago (for Ritalin), and their secretary was in love/borderline stalking my cousin. Even though I have a very common last name, she knew he was my cousin, which was odd, and talked adoringly about him for at least 10 minutes and asked me to facilitate contact for her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her he was dating an NFL cheerleader at the time. I changed doctors after that. The hot cousin struggle is real, I guess.)

giphy-4-animOf course, Amy would rather go to glamorous Lila’s party then spend the weekend trapped in a cabin with Enid, the drip. So Liz cancels their plans once again. She understands that Enid is pissed, but she also thinks that Enid may be jealous of Amy and trying to sabotage their friendship. (Seriously, why is Enid fighting this hard for a shitty friend?)

Fast forward to Lila’s costume party.  Amy is a ballerina, Jessica is Cleopatra, and Lila is Princess Diana (how appropriate-love this!). Liz and Enid both show up dressed as skiers, which is supposed to let them/us know that they are mind-linked besties.

Lila makes a big deal of introducing Christopher to everybody, and he immediately makes a beeline for Enid Rollins of all people. It turns out he was her camp counselor two years ago, but he actually seems to have a more romantic interest in her now. Amy is pissed because she wanted Christopher all to herself. She tells Enid to back off, that Liz is hers and so is Christopher, and then she makes some ominous, you’ll-be-sorry, wait-and-see threats.

Don’t worry. Amy’s big plan is pretending she doesn’t have a ride, so Christopher will have to take her home instead of Enid. How disappointing. I was expecting some Suzanne Devlin-type shenanigans. Anyway, Liz finally sees Amy for the conniving bitch she really is and patches things up with Enid. Plus, Christopher calls Enid later and tells her how annoying Amy is and asks her out.

Sort of B Plot/ Co A Plot: Since Jessica’s a relationship expert (hearty lols), she and Cara Walker have been tasked with writing a love advice column titled “Dear Miss Lovelorn” for the Sweet Valley High Oracle. In true sociopath fashion, Jessica attempts to mechanize her writing into a full on love destruct missile.

0bf6c35a9e41416b6fac59c77f1726b3See, Jess is in love with fellow junior Jay McGuire, but he’s dating an old-lady cougar, senior Denise Hadley. Jessica uses her column to plant false letters, one from a younger guy tired of his domineering older girlfriend and the other from the older woman tired of her younger boyfriend. They’re side by side too to further ram down Jessica’s point. She is not one for subtlety. The crazy thing is that her scheming works (at least temporarily). Denise and Jay (like every one else) assumes the other wrote to Miss Lovelorn for advice.

Jessica asks Jay out one day when he’s moping at lunch. They end up straight away at Miller’s Point (Jessica does not fuck around when trying to get her man), and she tells Jay that Denise is cheating on him so that he’ll make out with her and take her to Lila’s party. Savage. While at said party, Jay sees Denise with another guy and abandons Jessica. (Ha!)

Meanwhile, Denise and Jay have actually written real letters to Miss Lovelorn about their situation, how they really love each other, and how they have no idea what’s going on. Jessica plans on fucking with them again, but since she’s late turning in her column, Liz prints their letters with actual solid love advice (i.e. not written by Jessica). Thus, Jay and Denise get back together.

 

 

September 27, 2010

#20 Crash Landing!

“Will Elizabeth lose her best friend?”

When the girls of Sweet Valley aren’t otherwise engaged in stealing each other’s boyfriends, at least one of them seems to be in some sort of mortal peril—motorcycle accidents, kidnappings, murderous boyfriends, etc. Next up on the chopping block is the most boring girl in Sweet Valley, Enid Rollins.  (They really should have picked someone awesome like Lila for us to root for. I’m sure all of two people care about Enid’s well being.)

For myriad reasons, this book is just bad, and not the so-bad-it’s-good bad that I usually associate with Sweet Valley.  It’s just a straight-up hot mess. The plot is like a poor reworking of #7 Dear Sister. Instead of Elizabeth on a motorcycle with a head injury that turns her into a slut, we have Enid on a plane with a back injury that turns her into a victim.

And this cover is a total no-no for dealing with people who’ve suffered spinal injuries.  I know that James Mathewuse, the SVH cover artist, is contractually obligated to show off Elizabeth in all her do-gooder glory, but even Saint Liz’s delicate touch can’t maneuver around the physical laws of the central nervous system. Thankfully, this scene never happened in the book, as Elizabeth was still saving Jessica from a knife-wielding construction worker at the time of the crash. Although had Liz actually been there, I’m sure she would have attempted some heroic posturing, per usual.

A little recap is needed before we can proceed. Elizabeth found out in the last book that Enid’s boyfriend, George, has been cheating on her with Robin Wilson (who he met in flight school). George says that he will tell Enid the truth after he takes her up for his maiden voyage. (Yeah, because getting your heart broken is so much easier after you’ve been in a rickety private airplane.)

As the cover and title indicate, shit goes awry with the plane, and George has to crash land in Secca Lake. Enid drags his unconscious body out of the plane. Yes, she saves his life, and at some point, she becomes paralyzed. (Don’t worry. No one stays disabled long in Sweet Valley.)

George decides that he won’t break up with Enid until she can walk again, because he doesn’t want to ruin her life further. Apparently, losing a douche bag like George would be the straw that broke the camel’s back–now metaphorically, since he already took care of that physically with the titular Crash Landing!. He tells Robin Wilson the same thing, putting their relationship into a holding pattern.  I’m fairly certain that college-attending George has to tread the high school dating waters, because girls at Sweet Valley College wouldn’t put up with this crap.

Jessica discovers that George has been having an affair with Robin, so Jess convinces everyone to avoid her like the plague for Enid’s sake. Say what? Jessica has been nothing but a heinous bitch to Enid throughout the entire series, and now Jess is acting like her great protector. Plus, Jessica is the patron saint of boyfriend stealing. Robin’s a straight-up lay person in comparison. Of course, George gets a free pass for his boorish behavior. Hypocrisy much, Jessica? And no one ever calls her out on her never-ending cycle of bullshit.

George vows to stay with Enid even though he’s miserable. Being the douchebag that he is, he can’t contain his misery, so he directs it at Enid, who has enough shit to deal with without worrying about a derelict boyfriend. Enid can sense he’s pulling away, so she just wallows in victim mode. And it’s just another unhealthy relationship at Sweet Valley High.

Robin is so miserable without George (*groan*) that she gains ten pounds in ten days! That is 35,000 calories for you calorie counters playing at home or 50 Dairyburger Sundaes. I totally eat my feelings too, so I can’t snark too hard. Of course, gaining weight doesn’t help Robin with her social leprosy problem, so she gets more depressed and consequently eats more. It’s a vicious cycle, y’all. Robin’s only a few Dairiburgers away from total pariah status.

Perfect-Size-Six moment: “I’m making a mess of everything, Robin thought unhappily. To top it all off, she was beginning to gain weight. The only thing she’d been able to find in her closet that fit her that morning was an old wraparound shirt, left over from her ‘fat’ days. No more food for awhile, Robin had promised herself when she stepped on the scale. She’d gained ten pounds, and she hated the way she looked. It took too long to get myself thin. I’m not going to let my figure go because my whole life is falling apart.”

The climax, of course, is at our weekly dance. Thank God. I don’t think I could have taken any more of this Debbie-downer book. Unfortunately, the dance is 137 kinds of ridiculous–mostly because the student body at Sweet Valley is treating Enid like a side-show attraction. I really think Enid is the first person in their little world to ever be in a wheelchair. I bet getting around would be a bitch, since you know there aren’t any ramps or anything. (Yes, I realize how sad it is that I’m musing about accessibility in a fictional town.)

Bitchiest moment of the book (courtesy of Lila): “‘How inappropriate,’ Lila said coldly. ‘Who’d ever dream of showing up at a dance in a wheelchair! What does she think she’s going to do all night!'”

Hmmm, I don’t know, Lila. Dance, maybe. Just because someone is in a wheelchair, it doesn’t negate their capacity for boogey-ing.  It’s called working what you got. Seriously, this whole dance scene is just painful. George and Robin are making googly eyes at each other all night. Everyone is staring at Enid, who has dared to show up at a dance in a wheelchair. Elizabeth is lamenting that she can’t have any fun, because she has to stay by Enid’s side to protect her.

‘”I must look like a real idiot,’ (Enid) whispered to Elizabeth. ‘Who ever heard of a cripple coming to a dance?’

‘Enid Rollins,’ Elizabeth snapped, ‘you are not a cripple! And you don’t look one bit foolish. You have as much right to be here as anyone else does.'”

Enid feels bad that George is stuck with a date who can’t dance. (Seriously, George doesn’t even go to Sweet Valley High. What else is he missing out on?) Enid tells him that he should go dance with someone, thinking that someone would be Elizabeth or another neutral pal. Since George is a jerk, he seizes the opportunity to cozy up to puffy Robin Wilson, and it’s obvious to everyone that they are totally in love with each other.

Now that the George/Robin relationship is out in the open, Enid is even more determined to hold onto her man. She knows that George will have to stay with her as long as she’s in the wheelchair, so she is in no hurry to walk again. I guess self respect and mobility aren’t good enough reasons.

Elizabeth is up in arms because Enid still can’t walk. Seriously, I know Sweet Valley is farfetched and everything, but Enid has been in a plane crash and has had subsequent back surgery. It should take more than two weeks to get back on her feet. Dr. Elizabeth Wakefield believes Enid’s paralysis is psychosomatic and that one well-meaning scheme is all it takes to get Enid back on her feet. (Do not try this at home, kids.) Liz devises this potentially dangerous plan. Mr. Collins’ eight-year-old son, Teddy, will pretend to drown, so Enid will be motivated enough to get off her ass and rescue him. Disability be damned.

You’ve gotta love the crappy parenting in Sweet Valley. What kind of father would involve their kid in these unsupervised shenanigans? There are 137 things that could have gone wrong with this little pool-rescue scenario. Luckily, Liz’s schemes always go off without a hitch. If this were Jessica’s plan, Teddy would be in the intensive care unit at Fowler Memorial Hospital fighting for his life, and Enid would be in the morgue.

Well, it’s miracle time again, because Enid Rollins is healed! Oh, and George and Robin are dating before Enid can even complete a victory lap. Here’s hoping you don’t become fat, disfigured, or disabled, Robin, because this is a sneak peak of how it will play out. Enid’s pretty damn stoic about their relationship, and she pardons and blesses the union. Uh-huh. Here is a more likely scenario in the real world, courtesy of Jazmine Sullivan, Bust Your Windows Out Your Car.

B-Plot: Jessica is taking cooking lessons (ha!) and falls for the teacher/chef. She throws herself at him, per usual, until she discovers he’s married. I really doubt that would have stopped her, but I digress. Jessica also tries to cook a meal for her family to prove that she’s not the worthless twin, but she only succeeds in giving everyone food poisoning. This sets up the next book #21 Runaway, where Jess does, in fact, runaway. (Unfortunately, not for good. I think I can speak for the rest of Sweet Valley when I say, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, J.”

Random note: Mr. Collins is officially dating Ms. Dalton. Hello, potentially uncomfortable working environment when you eventually split up. Plus, it’s really unprofessional to flout this in front of students, which probably wouldn’t concern Mr. Collins since he’s always in everyone’s business.

August 30, 2010

#17 Love Letters

Filed under: Books #1-20 — mediumcore @ 12:58 am
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“Is Caroline’s romance for real?”

Oh, hey, it’s a book starring Sweet Valley High’s least favorite student, gossip-hound Caroline Pearce. She would be the redhead on the cover. I love that Liz is throwing an especially bitchy stink eye in Caroline’s direction, the likes of which we haven’t seen since #11 Too Good To Be  True. (Maybe it’s because they’re wearing the same shirt.)

You and I both know this isn’t going to turn out well. Let me warn you in advance. This is the most cringe-inducing story-line in all of Sweet Valley-dom. Seriously.

See, Caroline is living in the shadow of her perfect, model-slim, passive aggressive bitch of a sister, Anita, who is a freshman at Sweet Valley College. Caroline is tired of being the least popular girl at SVH, so she thinks that by concocting a fake boyfriend, she will become BFFs with the high school A-list and simultaneously earn her sister’s respect.  The sad part is that it sort of/kind of works.

Caroline has dreamt up “Adam,” a paragon of teenage male perfection (who coincidentally resembles Todd). He’s 6’2′ with wavy brown hair, and he plays basketball for Cold Springs High, which is a safe couple of hours away–close enough so it’s plausible they date, far enough away so that he can’t visit. He also writes amazing love letters (hence the title), which Caroline plagiarizes from the works of Robert Browning. I’m sure Browning is turning in his grave, because his romantic odes have been commandeered by the YA lit set.

This should have been the first clue that something was rotten in Sweet Valley. No teenage boy in the ’80s, ’90s, or today writes like this.

“‘My dearest Caroline,’ she read out loud. ‘Your letter came this morning, and the promise it contained of another made me restless all day…'”

“‘Now I will go out and walk where I can be alone, and think thoughts of you, and love you. I will look in the direction of Sweet Valley, and send my heart there…”

“‘My beloved Caroline, I was happy, so happy before. But I am happier and richer now. Caroline, no words will do, but there is life before us, and I will live and die with your beautiful vision comforting me, blessing me…'”

Even though a few people have me pegged as a man-hating bitch in my day-to-day life (because I suffer no fools), I’m a mushy romantic at heart. The closest I’ve ever gotten to a poetry reading is when this guy found out that my favorite poet (age 18) was Sylvia Plath. He later gave me a spirited reading of “Daddy,” which was 137 kinds of hilarious.  Is the following too much to ask?

Anyway, no one seems to care about Caroline’s mystery man one way or the other until Jessica becomes pissed off at Caroline. After popping up uninvited to the Wakefields, Caroline just happens to go through their trash can outside and finds a letter indicating the Wakefields are moving to San Francisco. Caroline naturally takes the letter out of the trash to keep for her own personal records. When Jessica insults her later that day, Caroline uses her tidbit of information to cut Jess down, as she had no idea about her family’s impending move.

Jessica naturally makes it her mission to destroy Caroline. It also sets up the super-annoying B-plot where Jess and Liz try to convince their parents not to move. When whining and temper tantrums don’t work, they invoke the powers of the Sweet Valley chamber of commerce and have every manner of brochure which glorifies Sweet Valley mailed to the Wakefield house. They also cut out articles which show the horrors of big-city San Francisco–crime, earthquakes, and death–oh my! As we all know, the Wakefields aren’t going anywhere, so Jessica is free to terrorize Caroline some more.

Jessica discovers that the letters are fake, and she and Lila plot to publicly expose Caroline as a fraud. They plan a party in Adam’s honor, so Caroline will have to either bring him or admit that she lied.  Caroline only confesses to her sister, Anita, and Liz.  Anita tries to make Caroline see why everyone hates her. Plus, she throws in a makeover as a bonus. Anita’s like a bitchy fairy godmother. Eventually, Caroline sees the error of her gossiping ways and vows to change for the better. (Don’t worry, gossip lovers. Her  conversion is short-lived.)

Fast forward to the night of Lila’s party. Caroline still hasn’t told the rest of Sweet Valley High about her deception. She decides to show up to Lila’s looking fabulous, so she can make a public confession. Cue Saint Liz to the rescue. She convinces one of Todd’s out-of-town friends to pretend he is Adam, giving Caroline an out. Well, reformed Caroline decides confession is good for the soul or something and tells everyone the truth. Plus, she ends up making out with Todd’s friend by the end of the night, so win-win situation for Caroline.

Perfect Size Six Propaganda: “‘Do you want a waffle?’ Caroline asked cheerfully, popping a frozen one into the toaster for herself and holding the box out to her sister.

‘No thanks.’ Anita yawned. ‘I’m watching my weight,’ she added pointedly. Caroline blushed. Anita was model-thin, and Caroline could tell from the insinuating tone in her voice that she was really giving her little sister a hint.

Whenever Caroline complained that Anita was picking on her appearance, her sister looked wide-eyed and innocent. ‘I’m only trying to help,’ she’d say. But I don’t have a weight problem, Caroline reminded herself, fighting to keep her self-control. And even if I lived on melon and ice water, like Anita does, tings wouldn’t be any better. I’d be weak and miserable, instead of just miserable. No, Adam is the only hope I’ve got. And not even Anita is going to wreck how good I’m feeling now that I’ve got him.”

Random thought: How is Caroline a member of Pi Beta Alpha, the most exclusive sorority at Sweet Valley High? She’s one of the least popular, generally disliked girls in the whole school. At this point, I’m pretty sure the only girls they would actually deny are the non-perfect-size-six ones. (oh, hey Robin Wilson and Lois Waller).

And one of the worst Sweet Valley High books is officially behind me.

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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