Perfect Size Six

September 15, 2016

#28 Alone in the Crowd (or Emo Times at Sweet Valley High)

“Can Elizabeth help Lynne overcome her shyness?”

Yes, it’s that time again. Elizabeth Wakefield (patron saint of Sweet Valley’s dregs and other non-desirables) is here to save the day and rescue some drab, non-blonde, non-perfect-size-six from herself. Our cover girl in need of rescue (i.e. a makeover and a social push) is Lynne Henry.

(I love how they’re trying to make her look so unattractive by Sweet Valley standards on the cover. Her guitar, turtleneck, glasses, and hair are all the same hue of shit brown. Plus, this is Southern California. Why is she wearing a turtleneck and ski goggles?)

Backstory on Lynne: Her father died at some point (I may be really reaching, but I kind of feel like the book implies it was suicide.) Her mother is the glamorous manager of a beauty spa, who fails to find common ground with her. Lynne’s secretly a talented singer and songwriter. She comes off as really emo at best and severely depressed at worst. Lynne’s so low on the social totem pole that they don’t even know her name. This is probably a blessing in disguise. The denizens of Sweet Valley aren’t especially kind to their misfits. Just ask Lois Waller or Robin Wilson.

giphy15While walking home from school one day, Lynne meets her neighbor, Guy Chesney, teenage dreamboat and guitarist for the Droids. Guy is the first person to actually talk to her and show her even the remotest kindness or friendly interest, so of course, she becomes obsessed with him. Lynne pretty much just lets Guy talk the whole time about music.

Guy is a huge fan of Linda Ronstadt, and Lynne assumes it’s because she’s extremely beautiful, which makes her even more insecure if that’s possible. (I do have to agree that it’s an odd choice for an ’80s rocker-type. I would have gone with Debbie Harry, Kate Bush, Joan Jett, Lydia Lunch, etc. A Linda Ronstadt reference was dated when I first read this in the eighties. Damn, I’m feeling extra old today. )

Anyway, they continue walking to and from school together, and Guy even invites her to the school softball game at Secca Lake. It’s entirely platonic. The friend zone struggle is real. But Lynne’s having a great time and appears genuinely happy so good for her, I guess.

tumblr_n1igcfnwa71rosb88o1_500Inevitable sanctimonious Liz moment: (after Liz sees Lynne talking to Guy) “With a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye, Lynne Henry was actually almost pretty!”  What a bitch. As an adult, I fucking hate Elizabeth. I mean, Jessica’s a shit person too, but she at least owns her shit-ness. Elizabeth is heralded as some Mother Theresa figure. There’s even an entire book that imagined what life would have been like if Liz had never been born (a la It’s a Wonderful Life), and *non-spoiler*, every one’s life was shit. People were dead, miserable, and/or divorced because a 12-year-old had not intervened in their affairs. Ugh.

Anyway, during the game, The Droids announce a contest to find their next great song/songwriter. Lynne pens “Outside Looking In,” as an ode to her outsider status (see below for full song). She submits it anonymously because she’s afraid that she really sucks.

When the Droids listen to the tapes to find the winner, Guy falls in love with Lynne’s song (like, literally). He, and every one else, is oblivious to its origins. Guy becomes obsessed with finding out who wrote it, because he’s fallen in love with the singer now too. It’s kind of weird/creepy and oddly romantic by Sweet Valley standards.

makeoverWhile the entire school is trying to discover the identity of the mystery singer, Lynne decides it’s time for a makeover! (I am a huge sucker for a makeover in any form, time, or place.) With the help of her glamorous mom and the Silver Door salon, Lynne is able to morph from baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants to teenage fashion-plate eleganza. Oddly enough though, no one really makes a big deal out of it or really notices all that much (a lot like real life, I guess).

At some point, Liz goes to the music store and hears the same voice  from the anonymous tape and discovers that Lynne is the mystery singer. Lynne makes her promise not to tell any one, and we all know how well that will work out.

Because Liz just can’t keep her nose out of anything, she tells Guy that the singer doesn’t want to be found. Guy latches on and starts drilling her about what she knows. Liz tells him that the singer is scared that because she doesn’t look like Linda Ronstandt that she doesn’t want to come forward. Of course, Guy immediately figures out that it’s Lynne from this. Way to go, Liz.

Instead of just approaching Lynne, Guy hatches this bizarre plot to publicly unmask her. When Guy and Lynne are walking to school, he tells her that he met with a police sketch artist, and the guy is going to able to draw a picture of the mystery singer based on Guy’s description of her voice. WTF? Then, he’s going to distribute flyers at lunch with the approximated imagining of the mystery singer in order to find her. (Double WTF? That makes no fucking sense.)

princess-diaries-makeoverDuring lunch, there’s the big reveal, and Lynne is greeted by hundreds of flyers with her pre-makeover face on them, and she is revealed to every one as the elusive mystery singer. She and Guy make out, and they live happily ever after (or so I imagine since she doesn’t really appear in any future Sweet Valley books).

B plot– The cheerleading team is in desperate need of new uniforms, so Jessica decides to hold this bizarre rocking chair marathon event/ dance party wherein the cheerleaders will take turns rocking in said rocking chairs the whole night. It’s been dubbed the Rock Around the Clock relay. For every hour they successfully rock, they  will collect money from whomever was dumb enough to donate for this shit.  Plus, the Droids play and debut their new Lynne Henry written song during the dance portion of the night.

“Outside Looking In” by Lynne Henry

Day after day I’m feeling kind of lonely,
Day after day it’s him and him only.
Something in his eyes
Made my hopes start to rise.

But he’s part of a world that doesn’t include me.
I’ll never win.
This is how it’s always been.
I’m on the outside…looking in.

Night after night I’m saying a prayer
Night after night…that somebody will care!
Somebody to hear me,
Somebody to stay near me…

But nothing’s going to change. Dreams can’t deceive me.
I’m all alone. You’ve got to believe me.
I just can’t win.
This is how it’s always been…
I’m on the outside—on the outside…
Lookin’ in.

hqdefaultEnglish Major Moment: “But she still got a bad taste  when she remembered the sound of Mr. Collins’s voice, reading the Emily Dickinson poem out loud:

‘I’m nobody! Who are you?/ Are you nobody, too?’

She had sat up with a start, shaken out of her daydream, her heart pounding. ‘I’m nobody! Who are you?’ It was if Mr. Collins had found her diary and read it out loud. She could have written those lines. It was as if her own inner voice were speaking!

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 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 22, 2010

#15 Promises (Be Damned)

“Somehow, Jessica will get rid of Betsy!”

On the cover we get our first look at the notorious Betsy Martin, who is the reigning slut of Sweet Valley, now that Annie Whitman’s been deposed.  She’s a lot less whorish looking than I expected.  There’s also a vague resemblance to Annie, which I think is mostly due to the short hair and the persecuted expression on her face. For an alleged boozer, user, and loser, Betsy looks 137 kinds of normal. In fact, she looks like she moonlights as a chambermaid at the Sweet Valley Hilton.

You wouldn’t know it by the cover, but Tricia Martin has breathed her last fragile breath. The deathbed scene is pretty poignant for Sweet Valley, and I did shed a few tears. Tricia’s last request is for Steven to look after her sister, Betsy (hence the title). We learn just how tall an order this is when we finally meet the queen of the dregs. Moments after Tricia’s death, Betsy races into the hospital, screaming at the top of her lungs. While Tricia’s emotional death bed scene played out, Betsy was off drinking and cavorting with the dregs of Sweet Valley. She has a breakdown when she learns that Tricia has died, and she vows to clean up her life for good.

Since Mr. Martin, the town drunk, is nowhere to be found, the Wakefields bring Betsy home, much to Jessica’s chagrin. In 1.37 seconds, Jessica goes from mourning to her usual bitch mode, and she “promises” to get Betsy out of their lives for good. Nice play on the title, SVH ghostwriter.

As we’ve been repeatedly told before, Betsy has a “reputation,” so Jessica doesn’t want to be associated with her in the slightest. Apparently, Jessica has learned nothing from the Annie Whitman incident in #10 Wrong Kind of Girl, where Jessica’s antics give rise to Annie’s suicide attempt.

I think what irritated me the most was that hardly any one in Sweet Valley gives a shit about Tricia’s death. At lunch the next day, Enid and Liz briefly discuss it…until Winston decides to have a one-man eating contest with four pizzas. This sets up an especially lame B-plot, where Winston attempts to break the world record for eating pizzas. Yes, the students of Sweet Valley High care more about some doofus’ gorging than the death of one of their own. What collective assholes. They totally deserve the earthquake that’s coming to them some 100+ books later.

To add insult to injury, hardly anyone comes to Tricia’s funeral. I can understand why Betsy began to reevaluate the reformed life. Tricia was an impossibly good human being, she dies, and no one cares. What hope is there for someone like Betsy? Oh, that’s right. She can become like Enid Rollins, the patron saint of reformed losers. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather make time at the Shady Lady with all the other dregs. (Can we go one book without dredging up Enid’s “sordid” past?)

“(Elizabeth) was solemn as she stood near the front of the shamefully small group of people who had come to pay their last respects to Tricia Martin. Some of the Sweet Valley High teachers were there, a handful of Tricia’s classmates, and a few others. Betsy alone represented the Martin family. No other relatives had gathered for bittersweet reminiscences; no one had come to bestow one final declaration of love.”

Liz discovers that Betsy is an exceptional artist, so Steven gives her some painting supplies and tries to encourage her. He introduces Betsy to his friend, Jason, who teaches art classes at the community center. For someone who is supposedly such a man-chasing whore, Betsy has a pretty intense hatred of anyone with an X-Y chromosome, who isn’t Steven Wakefield. Jason has the misfortune of falling for Betsy. It just makes no sense within the context of their meeting. Betsy alternately ignores Jason and tells him that she’s not the slutty Betsy of yore.  It is majorly cringe-inducing how harsh she is to him, repeatedly.

“Betsy instantly recoiled from his touch, and the hard look was back in her eyes. ‘Don’t forget that this is purely a student-teacher relationship,’ she said, an icy edge to her voice. ‘It’s not going any further. So you can forget all those things you’ve heard about me. I’m not like that anymore.'”

Seriously, not every dude in Sweet Valley wants to pump you and dump you, Betsy. Maybe if she would stop continuously reminding people that she was a teenage whore, people would  stop associating her with teenage whoredom. Like with Jason, Betsy is telling someone she’s never met, who probably has no clue about the innerworkings of Sweet Valley High, about her seedy reputation. As a college student/artist, Jason should be a lot more chill about sexual mores than the denizens of Sweet Valley. I don’t know. I literally just cringe throughout these books with “slut” and “bad reputation” themes, especially since there’s no really overt references to sex. Jessica mentions that Betsy has gone to Miller Point with two guys before. Scandalous! What did Betsy do with them? Maybe they looked at the stars and discussed the meaningless of meaning.

But I digress. Jason wants Betsy to apply for art school, which I’m pretty sure would require at bare minimum a G.E.D. that high school drop out Betsy does not possess. *Suspension of disbelief* Betsy thinks that Jason only wants to nurture her art talent, so that he can nurture her in other ways. *wink, wink* Liz, Stephen, and Jason decided to enter her in the contest without her knowledge, and she wins a full-ride to some prestigious art school in L.A. That was a short admissions process.

Meanwhile, Jessica has overheard Steven telling the Wakefields about his deathbed promise to Tricia to take care of Betsy. Then, it all makes sense. Why else would Steven be a decent human being to Betsy? Jessica deftly weaves this tidbit into a conversation with Betsy, which sends her reeling back into whoreville. Betsy was under the impression that the Wakefields really cared about her, which they do, sort of, but Betsy never would have gained entrance into Wakefield manor if it weren’t for Tricia. They don’t run a half-way house, so I can’t understand why Betsy goes nuclear after Jessica’s admission.

Betsy packs up her shit and heads to the Shady Lady with “Crunch” Mcallister and Charlie Cashman. Good times–except her heart’s not really into it. Steven and Jason descend upon the bar, and Betsy tries to pretend that she’s reverted back to her whorish ways. Instead of leaving her to her own devices, Steven and Jason forcefully remove her from the Shady Lady. See, Jason is an art student/ brown belt in karate, and Betsy falls in love with him when he dropkicks Charlie and Crunch. Sweet Valley girls love their rough and tumble boys. (I’m looking at you, Elizabeth Wakefield)

Armed with her art-school admission and her new man, Betsy becomes yet another reformed bad girl of Sweet Valley High. Another one bites the dust. Stay tuned, readers because another one bites the dust literally in our next book #16 Rags to Riches. The Death-a-palooza continues as Roger Barrett’s mom has a heart attack and dies. Judging by the next cover, he doesn’t look too broken up about it. Et tu, Roger.

August 8, 2010

#10 Wrong Kind of Girl (or Slut-Shaming at Sweet Valley High)

Lesson: If at first you don’t succeed, try to kill yourself, and try again.

Gather ye limber, gather ye quick. It’s time for cheerleading tryouts (again) at ye olde  Sweet Valley High, and tragedy is sure to ensue. “Watch it, Annie Whitman! Jessica’s out to get you!” Dum, dum, dummmm!

Our protagonist/cheerleading supplicant is “Easy Annie” Whitman, so named because she has a “reputation.” Seriously, is that the best nickname they could come up with? Off the top of my head: Scarlet A, Annie love you long time, Fanny (which the Britons will appreciate), or Traînée (for the Frenchies). Anyway, Easy Annie has made this name for herself by shamelessly dating multiple boys! I never understood how she  was fundamentally any different from Jessica (or any other girl in Sweet Valley, really). The dating pool at Sweet Valley High is shallow and incestuous, and even the number of guys that Liz and Jess have shared is pretty gross (Todd, Jeffrey, Sam, Ken, etc).

Well, besides the general male population of Sweet Valley High, all Wanton Whitman wants is to be an SVH cheerleader, as if making the squad will solve all the problems in her life. We soon get an insight into said problems through (of course) Elizabeth, our resident meddler. When Liz starts tutoring Annie, it comes to light that Annie’s mom is a ho too, and we all know the ho apple doesn’t fall far from the ho tree. Ms. Mona Whitman (Moan-a–12-year-old lols–how appropriate, SVH ghostwriter!) gave birth to Annie at the tender age of 16 and is currently shacked up with a sleazy photographer named Johnny. As a grown-up ho, she is naturally drunk and chain smoking every time we see her.

(Isn’t Ms. Whitman totally channeling this VD propaganda poster from the forties???? Maybe this is who she’s modeling for…)

“Hi, kitten, we’re home…”

“Elizabeth! So glad to meet you,” Mrs. Whitman gushed, her words slightly slurred from drinking.

Well naturally, Jessica has taken it upon herself to be the morality chief of police at Sweet Valley High. She succeeds in keeping Annie off the squad by using the “It’s either her or me” approach. I always wanted the SVH cheerleaders to rise up and snatch the biatch’s pompoms, but alas, they concede to her co-captain terrorism and pick my least favorite character in all of Sweet Valley-dom, Sandra Bacon, to be on the squad in lieu of Annie.

Of course, Easy Annie is crushed, but she gets the last word and is socially redeemed when she a) tries to kill herself and b) starts dating the only unattractive guy at Sweet Valley High, Ricky Capaldo. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather be viewed as the double-dipping whore (or who’re as my grandmother would say) than accept that fate. But this is Sweet Valley, so high-functioning hos are a definite no. And depression and a horrible home life are made better with an SVH red-and-white cheerleading sweater.

Now, Easy Annie is in a coma, and the doctor says that she has no will to live. (Sidenote: DUH! She tried to kill herself. I’m fairly certain her will to live is about as diminished as her pill supply) After Jessica relates a characteristically hyperbolic version of events to the “doctor,”  the “doctor” then decides that making Annie a post facto cheerleader will resuscitate her will to live. Cue a guilty Jessica, who tells Annie that she made the squad after all. SHAZAM, the coma is over. Happy ending time.

Annie is relegated to a somewhat negligible background role until 67 books later when she has to deal with her steroid-pumped boyfriend, Tony Esteban. (Steroids equals shrunken testicles, acne, spontaneous breast growth, sexual dysfunction, premature baldness, etc). I guess Easy Annie’s still in Sweet Valley purgatory after all.

If you can’t tell, this is one of my favorite Sweet Valley High books ever! And it’s followed by another winner, #11 Too Good to be True, where we meet New York city harlot, Suzanne Devlin. Spoiler alert: She is too good to be true.

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