Perfect Size Six

October 2, 2017

#30 Jealous Lies

Filed under: Books #21-40,Uncategorized — mediumcore @ 4:54 pm
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“Someone doesn’t want Jean in Pi Beta Alpha–her best friend, Sandra.”

This is definitely one of my favorites even though it features my least favorite character in Sweet Valley-dom, Sandra Bacon. (How horrible is she? Twelve books from now, Sandra lets her boyfriend be investigated for attempted murder/arson instead of just admitting to her friends and family that she was dating a Mexican boy. Plus, just look at how fucking smug she is on this cover in her pink sorority jacket.)

Aside from just being a horrible person all around, Sandy Bacon is riddled with horrible self esteem. She’s super jealous of her best friend, Jean West, who by all accounts is prettier than her, smarter than her, and a better friend than her. (Cue my favorite Vanderpump Rules gif.) The one thing that Sandy has that Jean doesn’t is membership in Sweet Valley High’s *exclusive* sorority, Pi Beta Alpha. (Um, almost every girl at school -including Enid Rollins and Caroline Pearson- is in this so-called *exclusive* sorority. I don’t understand the big deal.)

giphy(2)_1Well, Jean missed out on the last pledge season due to her busy schedule, and Sandy intends to make her absence permanent. So the whole book revolves around Sandy plotting to fuck with Jeannie’s pledging a.k.a. hazing period.

Pledge task #1. Take Tom “maybe gay***” Mckay to the sorority party. Sandra knows that every guy would jump at the chance to take Jean anywhere, every one except Tom. The ghostwriter paints him as this sort of aloof, emotional guy who’s been burned by love (more specifically Jessica Wakefield). Plus, he already dislikes Jean due to some earlier perceived hallway snub, so Sandy thinks there’s no way he’d take her to the party.

The last girl he’d gone with was Jessica Wakefield, and a few people joked that she had turned him off the female sex forever, having strung him along until someone better came along.

***We learn much later in the series that he is sort of questioning his sexuality, when he develops feelings for Enid’s cousin, who’s visiting from San Francisco. (Subtle, Sweet Valley ghostwriter. Was her uncle from Fire Island unavailable for this story?)

giphy12Much to Sandy’s dismay, there appears to be a sort of love connection going on, & Tom agrees to be Jean’s date. Sandy being the absolute heinous bitch that she is, decides that she’ll go to Tom’s job and “accidentally” let it slip that this Jean only taking him to the sorority party as part of her pledging process. Ugh.

Tom is understandably pissed, so he wants to make Jean look bad in front of the Pi Beta Alpha girls. He’s a total dick about it, though, stringing her along for hours the night of the party, saying that he’s sick, but he’s coming. When the party’s almost over, he calls and says he’s at the hospital with food poisoning.

Jean goes to the party alone. All the sorority girls are pretty understanding of the situation, but Sandra demands proof that Tom is really in the hospital. So Jean calls the one hospital in Sweet Valley, and there, of course, is no Tom Mckay in the emergency room.

Jean comes up with a simultaneous revenge plan/alternate pledge task. She’s going to make Tom really fall in love with her. At the Friday the 13th dance, since it’s her birthday, she’s supposed to publicly call out who she wants to dance with, and she’s not going to pick Tom, which I guess is supposed to humiliate him. (Girl, your revenge skills need a little help.)

She springs into action the next morning, bringing a really nice care package to the “sick” Tom. He bumbles and stumbles over her nice gesture, thinking that he might have misjudged her. They go on a series of dates. He brings a picnic lunch for them to school. He takes her to an amusement park, & they share a nice moment on a ferris wheel. Jean confesses to Sandy that she’s fallen in love with Tom and can’t go through with the revenge plan. Sandy says nothing, because she’s a heinous bitch.

tumblr_nxoj783mNl1ug0wdso1_500Tom and Jean both confess their initial dishonesty. Tom tells Jean that Sandy clued him in on the PBA pledge task, which is why he stood her up. Jean, being the saint that she is, doesn’t confront Sandy & just waits for her to come clean.

Sandy, I guess to her credit, feels really bad about the whole situation and has a heart-to-heart talk/emotional breakdown with Mr. Collins, Sweet Valley High’s favorite English teacher/Robert Redford lookalike.

The night of the big dance comes, and Jean picks Tom to have the first dance with. The sorority girls have a total meltdown, so Sandy ends up publicly admitting her behind-the-scenes treachery. Sandy begs them to let Jean in and kick her out, but the sorority decides to keep them both. Jean and Sandy hug it out so happy ending, I guess?

Words of wisdom from the queen, Lila Fowler: “You’re incredibly lucky, Sandy Bacon,” Lila whispered as the other girls walked back to the dance area. “A lot of other girls wouldn’t have been half as forgiving.”

B-Plot: The twins’ brother, Steven, is planning on dropping out of college, so he can work/cruise around the world with his roommate. (I feel like this is total foreshadowing for when he comes out of the closet in Sweet Valley Confidential.) Instead of everyone calmly discussing their concerns about the situation, Elizabeth comes up with the “brilliant” idea to use reverse psychology to get him to stay. So everyone acts like Steven leaving to sail around the world is the best idea ever. His feelings get hurt, and he decides to say so another happy ending, I guess?

Relatable adult-shit moment: “What’s that?” Elizabeth asked him, trying hard to keep her voice nonchalant.

Steven made a face. “A bunch of junk Dad gave me this morning, insurance policies, medical plans, all that sort of thing. He says I’ll have to check out my coverage now that I’m leaving school.” He frowned again. “I never realized how much paperwork it takes just to stay healthy.”

Oh, poor, naïve Steven. Wait until you get the bill. As I tell teenagers everyday, enjoy being a kid while you can because being an adult sucks.

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!

June 20, 2016

#27 Lovestruck

 “Will Suzanne succeed in changing Ken?”

Oh, I love how pretentious this book is! (I mean, just to give you some idea of how hipster-rific it is, a college beatnik and an Ingmar Bergman movie serve as major plot devices.)

Sweet Valley’s star quarterback, Ken Matthews, is dating uber-wealthy Suzanne “Hands-Off” Hanlon, and every one seems to have a problem with it. Jessica hates Suzanne, presumably because she’s beautiful, smart, and rich. Liz dislikes her because she’s “aloof & snobby,” but she admits that she finds every one in their high school sorority to be like that.  (Um, every girl in Sweet Valley High except like 5 nerds/dregs/ poor people are in Pi Beta Alpha, so she must dislike most of the female population of SVH.)

What amazes me the most is that: 1) Some one who knows Jessica Wakefield in all her lazy, sociopathic glory still decides to put her in charge of the charity picnic. 2) Jessica easily convinces a non-concussed Elizabeth Wakefield to man the kissing booth! (first base all day!) and write poster copy (and probably do all the work). Jess gets Ken to man the other kissing booth. Seriously, the idea of kissing booths is so gross, both for the kiss-er and the kiss-ee.

tumblr_n1q7bdNMUh1ss6wowo1_400
Well, the whole shindig might be ruined because Ken Matthews is failing English, and he might not be able to play in the big football game against Palisades High. Even Jessica is mystified at how stupid Ken must be to be getting an F in Mr. Collins’ creative writing class. Ken is embarrassed because Suzanne is extremely smart, so he doesn’t mention it to her. But the more time he spends with her, the more time he spends neglecting his schoolwork. It’s a vicious cycle of stupidity.

That night, Suzanne invites Ken to dinner with her family at their palatial,  southern-plantation style home (imagine Gone with the Wind). The décor is all white (think Miami Vice drug dealers.) They’re greeted by the surly butler, who Ken mistakenly thinks is Suzanne’s father, and the evening pretty much goes downhill from there.

Suzanne tells Ken not to mention football at dinner because her father hates sports, and he thinks schools focus too much on them. A-fucking-men, Mr. Hanlon! What will Ken talk about, though? The entirety of his thought process is the o-line or d-line or whatever.

tumblr_nfwx97TOJ81ql5yr7o1_500Meanwhile at the table, Suzanne’s family is busy quoting Shakespeare for fun. Dinner is ultra formal, with fine silver, china, etc.  Ken apparently eats like a savage, has an unrefined palette, and can barely hold even the most basic of conversations. Thank goodness he’s hot and can play football.

The next night, Suzanne and Ken go with her hipster friends to see The Seventh Seal at the Plaza Theatre. (It’s a black-and-white, existential Swedish film set during medieval plague times that serves as a meditation on life, death, and God.) Ken thinks it’s a total joke, while Suzanne and her friends are moved to contemplative silence. One of Suzanne’s friends is Sweet Valley’s own hipster beatnik, Mark Andrews, a pony-tail sporting film student at Sweet Valley College, who’s obviously trying to woo Suzanne. He’s a total asshole. (I hate when people use intelligence and culture as some sort of weapon.) Mark makes Ken feel like shit because he doesn’t understand the movie and confuses director Ingmar Bergman with actress Ingrid Bergman. (Yeah, what an asshole.)

The next night Suzanne and Ken are attending the literary evening that Suzanne has helped organize. It’s more like a glorified open mic night for bad teen poetry. Liz proceeds to shit talk 99% of the roster, while she is, of course, the star of the night.

Elizabeth is shady as shit: “Elizabeth was happy for Suzanne that there had been such a good turnout, but she wondered whether it was because of the readings or because there wasn’t much else to do on a Wednesday night.”
tumblr_magk2fKZyc1qiw26mAnd lest we forget, Ken is still failing his English class and hasn’t even written so much as his name on a sheet of paper. Liz, of course, decided to stick her nose in Ken’s business earlier in the book and offered to tutor him. Liz’s idea of helping Ken is to give him one of her stories (and its notes, rough drafts, etc.) for inspiration. Titled “The New Kid,” it’s five pages about a boy moving from New York City to Sweet Valley, who realizes what a wondrous utopia he’s stumbled onto. (*Gag*)  Liz makes Ken promise not to show it to anyone, because she’s shy about showing this side of her writing. Ken decides to totally disregard her feelings,  and he turns in the story as his own. To be fair, I guess, he feels really bad about it.

Well, the story is a hit with Mr. Collins, and he decides to publish it in the special edition Centennial edition of the Oracle. Elizabeth is furious but doesn’t rat him out. Ken decides that he’s going to make things right by replacing Liz’s story with one of his own. It plays out like creative non-fiction, and it’s essentially a confession to stealing Liz’s story.

Suzanne dumps him because she’s embarrassed that she told every one what a great writer he was, when in fact he’s a fraud. Every one else is supportive, and Mr. Collins even gives him a good enough grade to pass and play football. Sweet Valley wins the big game, and Suzanne comes crawling back. Ken dumps her for good when he realizes that she’s still an uber-snob, who wants to change him.

B-Plot: Jessica’s in change of the charity picnic, and everything naturally goes wrong. The hundreds of posters she ordered to advertise the event have the wrong date on them (her fault, of course.) She forgets to confirm the food order with catering, so now they have no food for all of the paying customers. She proceeds to make hundreds of PB&J sandwiches, which unintentionally cuts the food budget to almost nothing, meaning more money for the charitable cause. They actually publicly recognize her for her cost-cutting! And she proceeds to make a speech saying that this was her plan all along. Ugh.

hemingway_stamp_700English Major Moment: “‘I know you can pull that grade up, Ken,’ Jessica said brightly, ‘With old Hemingway Wakefield helping you, you can’t miss.'”

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!'”

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?)

April 28, 2015

#24 Memories

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“Can Cara make Steven forget Tricia Martin?”

So this was definitely a clunker book to get through. There are three story lines going on (involving all of the Wakefield children), and none is particularly interesting. First, we have the cover story of Steven Wakefield, who is still trying to come to terms with the death of his first love, Tricia Martin, and his new feelings for Cara Walker. Every one in his life says that he needs to get over Tricia’s death, because it was, like, months ago already. The only person who is against him moving on is Tricia’s sister, reformed bad girl, Betsy.

Personal aside: I HATE Tricia Martin story lines now. One of the reasons I took such a long break from this blog was my stage 4 cancer diagnosis, treatment, and general life upheaval. I had to move in with my grandparents, who took care of me, while my former live-in man friend told me not to come home on weekends any more because he had a new girlfriend now. (This bitch (his now ex-girlfriend) even sent me a get well card with an AMC gift certificate inside. Yeah. Kind of a bitchy since I didn’t have a date anymore for the movies, and I couldn’t physically go out by myself.) So as you can see, it’s hard for me to be impartial about this, even in the fictional world.

giphy2Well, it appears that Betsy and I are the only cancer cock blocks around in Sweet Valley. Jess thinks that Steve and Cara are sooo right for each other since they’ve both just recently gone through major life upheavals. While Steve lost the love of his life, Cara’s parents got divorced!! Our Ghostwriter du jour hammers home the fact that Cara isn’t the flighty Jessica-lite of before because her dad dumped her mom and took her brother to the East Coast. Ugh, more divorce propaganda. At least, Cara got some character out of it, I guess.

Throughout the book, Steven leads Cara on and treats her like shit. At Lila’s party, he abandons her on the dance floor after a cutting remark from Betsy. At the charity dance, he stops talking to her midsentence after Betsy shows up. But then Steven gets all jealous and huffy when his friend, Artie Western, shows the slightest interest in Cara, so he asks her out on a combination zoo/ picnic “date.” But he makes her bring the food! After treating her like shit for the last few weeks, you would think that he could spring for the Dairyburger at the very least.

Well, the bring-your-own-picnic/zoo date is a success, if only because Steven doesn’t dump Cara at the monkey habitat. They continue this secret, non-relationship relationship for the rest of the week by talking on the phone and watching TV together. *Yawn* They make Liz and Todd look like regulars at Studio 54.

Since Cara’s birthday is coming up, Steve tells her that he will take her anywhere she would like to go to celebrate. Cara tells him when he shows up that she would like to go to the Valley Inn. She doesn’t know that this was Steve and Tricia’s special place. Steve is already kind of freaked out being on a more formalized date with Cara, but he goes completely over the edge when the restaurant plays his and Tricia’s song. Steven just leaves Cara alone (again!) on the dance floor without an explanation and drives home! So she gets dumped…again… on her birthday and has to take a cab back to her place.

“Steven slammed his fist on the counter, ‘I’ve told you, Jess, stay out of it. I’ll live my life the way I want.’
‘OK,’ Jessica said. She shrugged. ‘But remember Cara’s got one advantage over Tricia. She’s alive.'”
clueless-way-harsh-tai

Thankfully I guess, Elizabeth steps into to save the day. She has a come-to-Jesus talk with Betsy Martin about Steven.  Betsy finally admits that she puts such a stranglehold on Steven, because she wants to keep Tricia’s memory alive. Since Betsy was such a shitty sister while Tricia was alive (what with being a boozer, user, and a loser), she wants to make amends for it on the flip side. Betsy realizes that Tricia would have wanted Steven to move on with Cara, so she and Liz hatch a quirky plan to get these two kooky kids together again (because straight talk is so overrated).

Anyway, Liz/Betsy arrange for Steven/Cara to unknowingly meet up at the high school. When they realize it’s a set up, eight-year-old Teddy Collins comes out with two envelopes from Betsy with hand-drawn pictures and a letter enclosed giving her blessing to their relationship.

Dear Steve,

I have finally come to realize what Tricia knew long ago: a wonderful person should be looking toward his future, not his past. You made my sister so happy while she was alive. Now it’s time for you to bring your kindness and affection to someone else. Do what Trish wanted, Steve: embrace life and all the beautiful things it has to offer.
Fondly,
Betsy

Since this is Sweet Valley, all is forgiven, and they live happily ever after. (Spoiler alert: Just kidding, of course. Steven falls for two different Tricia doppelgangers in the not-too-distant future. And more importantly, he actually comes out as a gay man in Sweet Valley Confidential.)

tumblr_ngca2xhsUY1r2a5ywo1_500B Plot– There’s a big charity volleyball match/dance between Sweet Valley High and their archrivals, Big Mesa (with a dance to follow, naturally). One of the players, Michael Sellars, is a doppleganger for Todd, so Elizabeth (like so many other Sweet Valley characters before and after her) thinks that if they look alike they must have the same personality too. There are seriously at least 5 books with this exact theme.

There are extended scenes of Liz being so dazzled by Michael that she can’t even play volleyball, and he takes full advantage of her ineptitude. It’s cringe worthy. Even though this guy is a doucebag extraordinaire, Liz agrees to go to the dance with him.

She soon finds out Michael is nothing like Todd. He plays football (not basketball) and is a total narcissist asshole with anger management issues. He shit talks the food at the dance and won’t even let Liz dance with harmless class clown, Winston Egbert. Liz has had enough at this point and dumps him for good.

C Plot- Jessica overhears her mom talking to Mrs. Egbert about her famous film director brother, who’s secretly coming to town for a visit. Jessica plots to meet him (by any means necessary) and become a famous actress. (Yes, it’s another Jessica will do ANYTHING to be famous plotline.) Her idea of ANYTHING is to cozy up to head nerd, Winston, by working together on a book report. Her logic follows that she will go over to his house, dazzle his uncle, and then depart for Hollywood. But as it turns out, movie producer brother can’t make it, but sanitation engineer brother does. Jessica is so mortified by her mistake that she listens to his boring garbage removal plans for hours. Better luck next time, Jess.

MarielHemingwayEnglish Major Moment:

“When the bell sounded, Lila came up to Jessica as she was collecting her books. ‘Jessica, what’s going on?’ she asked. ‘What made you team up with the king of comedy?’
‘I don’t know,’ Jessica answered breezily. ‘I’m just interested in Fitzgerald, I guess.’
“But I thought we would do Hemingway together.’ Lila pouted. ‘He’s Mariel Hemingway’s grandfather, you know.’
‘I don’t think that’s the kind of information Mr. Collins is looking for,’ Jessica said as the two of them headed toward the door.”

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