the_oracle: (amy thinks)
Perfect Shot
May 1989


Will Shelley Novak lose her chance for love?
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Camera shy...


   People are always telling Shelley Novak that she has everything going for her. She's one of the best basketball players at Sweet Valley High, and she's as tall and graceful as a model. The problem is, being so tall makes Shelley feel like a freak.
  Until she meets Jim Roberts. He has a way of making her feel special. But when Jim, a photography buff, starts taking pictures of her, Shelley makes him promise never to show them to anyone.
   Then the Sweet Valley News sponsors a photography contest and Him thinks he could with with a photograph of Shelley. But if he's wrong, will Shelley ever forgive him?

   If you've ever been the tallest kid (or one of them) in class, or the tallest person in the room... this one's for you. Meet Shelley Novak, the six foot tall, redheaded basketball star. She's got a problem. Not with her game, she's pretty damn talented when it comes to basketball, and it probably doesn't hurt that she's got to be one of the tallest girls on the team, if not the tallest. She's so good that the girls' b-ball team has qualified for championship playoffs against Emerson High. The guys didn't even come close to qualifying. That's what happens when you send your star to Vermont, guys.
  Back to Shelley.
   No, her problem is that she's got a huge crush on the boy next door. "But wait! Haven't we already done this storyline but without the tall factor?" Yes. Yes we have. But we'll pretend we haven't because it's more fun that way. See, Greg Hilliard is Shelley's dream guy except he's considerably shorter than she is. But unlike Jessie on SBTB, the height thing only worries Shelley. It's not enough to make her rethink her crushing decision.
  That probably has a lot to do with the fact that Greg is the one responsible for teaching Shelley how to play basketball... and because he's dreamy. To add to her joy, Greg and his girlfriend Carol have recently broken up and Greg is back on the market. (He doesn't appear to be nursing a broken heart so there aren't any rebound worries at play either. Score!) Luckily, the Varsity Club's athletic dance is coming up and Shelley really wants to go with Greg. She's just... too shy to ask him out. Cathy, her best friend, convinces her that she's got nothing to lose in asking the guy out. She's going to do it. She's going to!

  Just not today.

   I probably should have mentioned that the book doesn't open with Shelley, it opens with Enid and Elizabeth looking for Jeffrey. There's a moment when we all nearly drown in the descriptions of green eyes, and I giggle at the way Enid is almost fawning over Jeffrey because it's cute, and then the competition is announced. The Sweet Valley News is having a photography competition, although it's never made clear whether it's for all the high schools, some of them, or only SVH. Enid and Elizabeth are all atwitter at the thought of how perfect this is for Jeffrey and how he has to enter. He just has to!

  Where there's one twin, the other can't be too far behind. Jessica has fallen for Kurt Campbell, a football player. I'd tell you more about him, but there doesn't seem to be much more to him than that. Thing is, he doesn't seem to be beating down the door to get to our sneaky Wakefield, so when Amy suggest ballroom dancing, Jessica considers the notion. It doesn't hurt that Amy makes a couple of catty remarks about how she could get a guy to do anything for her, even take a ballroom dancing class that he might otherwise avoid like the plague. Jessica's in, but only if she's allowed to ditch if the instructor is too much of a loser.
  Needless to say he's not. He's hot. Hotter than hot. Jessica and Amy both try and catch his attention with varying degrees of success. It turns out that Shelley has decided to try and make herself more graceful (the better to ask Greg out, my dears) and she's the first person the dance instructor, Patrick McLean, picks to help demonstrate a dance step. When asked, Amy says she didn't quite get the hang of the box step and Patrick takes her out for a spin on the dance floor (well, gym floor). In a moment of blinding stupidity, Jessica then claims she didn't get it either, but Patrick finds this hard to believe (or maybe just doesn't want to deal with someone who didn't get the box step after two demonstrations) and class continues.
   When the students are paired off, Shelley ends up with Jim Roberts. He seems nice enough and they seem to be exactly the same height, which is always a plus. Thing is, dude is a klutz and keeps stepping on Shelley and the two do not dance well together at all. Sigh.
  After class, Shelley works up her nerve to talk to Greg. She tries subtle. "Were you surprised to see me at dance class?" Greg answers that he thought it was something girls liked, so no. Enough with this subtle crap, Shelley. She dives in and says she thought it would be helpful. For a dance. Like the one coming up. Is he going? Would he think of going, say, with her?
  Seconds after asking, Shelley gets an answer. Just not the answer she wanted. From the look on his face to the way he behaves, it's obvious that he's never considered (at least not seriously) her dating material. He doesn't quite laugh at her, but he does make jokes about their height differences and Shelley feels completely humiliated and dejected. Poor Shels. :/

   After getting her heart handed back to her in pieces, Shelley does not play basketball well. As she's busy helping the team to lose the second game in the playoffs, a flash goes off in the crowd and she realizes someone has just taken a picture of the moment she basically killed the team's chances of winning. She's not thrilled.
  She's so not thrilled that when Jim comes around after the game, she snaps at him and tells him to dump the roll of film he just wasted. A bit flustered, Jim soldiers on, telling her that he sees her as graceful and amazing and he's got a thing for her. Only less gushy and stalkerish. Shelley's flattered and a bit confused. Does Jim really like her or is he just setting her up for an incredibly humiliating photograph?

  Jeffrey and Liz are busy not making out in the dark room, so when Jim stops by to develop the picture of Shelley he shouldn't have taken, Liz feels the call of busybody-ness and peeks at it. It's a gorgeous photo and Liz tells him so. Jeffrey does his best to shoot himself in the foot by insisting that Jim enter the photography contest because he's obviously insanely talented.
  Jim considers the idea and I wonder if it's really possible to be as nice as Jeffrey is. He's seen what Jim can do and he's got to be pretty sure that Jim is better than he is and yet he still encourages Jim to enter the contest anyway. Maybe it's that whole "if you didn't beat the best, you didn't win" mentality. Or maybe he's just that perfect. Who knows?

   Doesn't matter. Jim and Shelley get to know one another and it does wonders for Shelley's basketball game. She's fantastic and the team wins the third game easily. Problem is, Jim's favorite subject still happens to be Shelley. It makes sense. He likes her and he loves photography, so when you add in the fact that he thinks she's beautiful, of course he's going to want to photograph her. Thing is, he promised not to, and he definitely promised not to show anyone those photos.
  But naturally Liz and Jeffrey see them and make yet another push for the dude to enter the contest. Jim begins to seriously, seriously consider it. Maybe if Shelley saw how he saw her, it would help her get over her self image issues. Still, that's a big leap...
   Of course he does it, and of course as he's turning his photo in, someone else sees it. Olivia Davidson (hi, Liv!) is blown away by Jim's natural talent and wonders why he hasn't submitted anything for the Oracle. Remember, she's the art editor. She continues on her way to the caf where she marvels at how little Shelley eats and then compliments the Towering Inferno (I'm sorry, that's just exceptionally clever for kids to have come up with so I had to use it) on the picture Jim submitted of her for the contest. Needless to say, she's surprised when Shelley goes from thrilled to pissed the hell off in record time.
  Shelley storms off and avoids Jim for the rest of the day. When he finally catches up to her, she blows up at him for betraying her trust. Later, when Cathy calms her down, things get a little muddled. Cathy points out that it's not exactly fair to not let Jim enter a competition with the photo he feels would best help him win. Shelley counters that she didn't stop him from photographing everything else under the sun, just not her. Cathy points out that maybe the guy thinks she is beautiful and that she should stop being so weird about her looks. She's tall, so what? Fashion models are tall. Ditto to the slim, and no one's made any jokes about her red hair so I imagine that while not "sleek", it's still pretty awesome. Get over yourself, Shelley.
   Shelley considers this and calls Jim to apologize for going insane. Jim is cool and reserved and informs her that he shouldn't have gone back on his word and to make up for it, he removed his photo from the competition. Good day, Towering Inferno. I said good day.
  Crap. Shelley realizes that she actually really, really likes Jim and that due to her insecurities she might have just killed the best thing to happen to her. So Shelley goes to talk to Mr. Collins and asks if it's possible to have Jim's photo put back in for consideration. At this point I might have to call foul because if the judges of this contest are aware of how many times this thing has bounced in and out of play, wouldn't it draw their attention to it thus giving the photo an unfair advantage?

  Whatever. I'm not in charge here.
   It doesn't take long for the contest winners to be notified and Jim is shocked that he won considering he didn't think he had a photo entered anymore. Jeffrey came in second, but that doesn't really matter since Jim is freaking out about the thought of his photo being in the newspaper. Won't that make Shelley even more upset?
  He rushes to find her and they sort of talk, but they keep saying the wrong thing to one another. Shelley tells him that she realized she was being a bad sport about the whole thing and Jim's hurt because if that's the only reason she changed her mind, it means she's not interested in him after all. Sulk. He stalks off.
   The crowd goes wild when the photo is printed and everyone keeps telling Shelley how beautiful she is, how wonderful the shot is, and how she could totally be a model. Did you know that Lila could have been a model too, if she wanted to, that is? Totally. Pay no attention to Jessica and Amy cracking up in the corner. They're just jealous. Jealous, jealous, jealous!
  Fast forward to the big game and Shelley's a bit of a mess because Jim hasn't shown up. Why would he, darlin'? You made your intentions clear. No photos, no feelings, no show.
  And yet Jim does show after all and Shelley realizes she has to be brave, so she writes a quick note to Jim and tells him that she loves the photo as well as the person behind the lens, and has Maria Santelli deliver it for her. Maria's a bit confused as to how she ended up carrier pigeon but she's game for it. Jim gets the note and for a moment nothing.
  Then he flashes her the best smile and she knows she can win the game and the guy and somewhere I'm sure the music swells.

   After the game, the SV News has sent a photographer for the big game, but Shelley insists only Jim can take her picture. Photodude is remarkably not bitchy about the fact that a high school student told him to not do his job and that another student is actually doing said job. Greg (remember him?) appears and gives Shelley a huge hug and starts acting all buddy-buddy with her even as Jim is standing right there. He asks her to the dance and Shelley takes a little glee in telling him she already has a date. I like this little evil streak, Novak.

  You might be wondering about Amy and Jessica. Well, as dance class progressed, the two became more and more competitive, ultimately leading to them betting each other one whole outfit at Lisette's that she would be the first one to dance with Patrick at the Varsity Club dance. There's a cute moment in the second dance class where Lila and fifty other girls show up and Miss Fowler declares that Patrick is just as gorgeous as she'd been told. Only she says this too loudly and Patrick is left wondering whether Jessica or Lila was the one to speak.
  Anyway, the night of the dance Jessica is wearing her new outfit, thinking that she probably should have bought new shoes to really make Amy pay. She gets to the dance early and stands outside mentally critiquing what everyone else is wearing. Fifteen minutes later there's no sign of Patrick OR Amy and she starts to worry.
   Sadly she forgot to worry about the little fact that what looks good on Jessica would probably also look good on Amy... and yes, that means Amy shows up in the exact same dress but with better shoes. The two fuss and snipe at one another even as Lila walks by and cracks that she thought Jess got enough of the twin thing at home. Then Patrick arrives and of course he's got a stunningly beautiful girlfriend, so the accidental twins learn to laugh at themselves.
  I'm sorry, I'm still stuck on the description of Amy skipping.

   At the awards portion of the dance, Shelley is awarded the first annual Athlete of the Year, complete with five-thousand dollar college scholarship. As if that weren't enough, there's an impromptu dance contest and she and Jim win that one as well!

  Lest you think this is a happily ever after for everyone involved, Jessica and Amy get bitched out by Russo for ruining their chemistry grades and are told they have to attend the field trip to Anacapa Island, leaving us all to wonder for the next month what in the blue hell that has to do with chemistry.



Trivia:

  • Sweet Valley News is sponsoring a photography competition. The winner wins a video camera and their winning photograph will be published on the front page of the paper. Submissions are due a week from Friday.

  • Mr. Collins will be acting as the liaison between SVH and the SVN.

  • There's a moment when you wonder how many green eyed people there are in SV because you're introduced to Jeffrey, Enid, and Elizabeth all at the same time. (Sure, blue-green but still green!)

  • Patrick McLean is the head of the new dance studio in town and he's giving free ballroom classes to anyone who wants them in the gym on Wednesday after school.

  • The Varsity Club athletic honors dance is coming up. It's scheduled to be held at the new luxury hotel at 8pm.

  • Kurt Campbell is a senior who plays varsity football. He also happens to be Jessica's newest crush, at least until she meets Patrick McLean.

  • The Girls' Basketball team is in the playoffs against Emerson High. They ultimately play 4 games and SVH wins three of them.

  • The boys' basketball team didn't even qualify, and upon learning this, all I could think was that if Todd had been there, they totally would have.

  • Shelley is six feet tall (and gets her height from her father's side of the family), thinks herself gangly (but Jessica does not share this opinion), has curly coppery hair, huge mutant feet, almond shaped brown eyes*, and legs for miles. She says she puts on weight easily, but we also know we can't really trust her observations about her body.

  • * At the end of the book when Shelley is getting ready for the dance, her eyes are described as large and gray.

  • Jessica seems to be awfully nice towards Shelley while Amy is decidedly threatened and thus a super bitch to/about the girl.

  • Cathy Ulrich is 5'9" and "one of the best guards in the state," according to Shelley, her best friend.

  • Cathy's boyfriend, Tim, is a freshman at UCLA.

  • Greg Hilliard: Well built but slender, thick, dark brown hair, gray eyes, an inch or two shorter than Shelley. Has black racing bike and is responsible for teaching Shelley to play basketball in the first place. Plays soccer and tennis. Lives next door to Shelley, has two brothers.

  • Mr. Hilliard and Mr. Novak work at the same consulting firm.

  • Carol Stern, Greg's on/off again girlfriend is described repeatedly as small, tiny, cute, delicate.

  • Patrick McLean's dance class consists of: Jessica, Amy, Elizabeth, Jeffrey, Shelley, Greg, Carol, Winston, Bruce, Jim Roberts.

  • Patrick: at least 6'3, chiseled features, light wavy hair, "penetrating dark eyes", slender build and a tiny diamond stud in his left ear. Graduating from UCLA at the end of the semester, majoring in dance and theater. Wants to open "a series of dance studios in Southern California" with the first opening in Sweet Valley. Has a thing with European style clothes, so make of that what you will considering it's the 80's still.

  • Dance class starts with the box step and Shelley is chosen to help demonstrate it to the rest of the class.

  • Jim Roberts has sandy hair, green eyes, is "okay looking", six feet tall and appears shy.

  • Gordon Tilman, girls' basketball coach.

  • Ferini and other college scouts are expected to be at the big game.

  • Shelley seems a lock on a UCLA scholarship.

  • Not so cute nicknames Shelley's picked up over the years: The Towering Inferno, Halfback Novak, the friendly giant, Too-Tall Novak.

  • Cathy raised her right arm and made a fist- a secret victory sign the two girls had shared since they were little girls. Now you can be a better mimic than Margo ever was because no one would ever think to use that as a victory sign...

  • SVH loses the first game in the playoffs to Emerson, 84-76.

  • Jim drives an old Camaro.

  • Jeffrey finds portraits the hardest photographs to take, while they're Jim's favorites.

  • Liz can't identify Shelley in Jim's photograph of her.

  • Nikon- Jim's camera brand, in case you wondered.

  • Amy has a special voice reserved just for teachers: sickeningly sweet.

  • By the second dance class, word has gotten around about how hot Patrick is. There are at least 50 girls there, including Lila.

  • Jessica is chosen to dance the tango with Patrick. For the first time, she's awful at a dance.

  • SVH wins the second game in the playoffs 86-64.

  • When Shelley is in love, she plays freakishly well.

  • Jeffrey finds it difficult to choose between two photographs. One is a landscape he took back in Oregon, the other is of kids playing downtown. Ultimately he goes with the kids.

  • Shelley's healthy lunch is yogurt, fruit salad, and an iced tea.

  • Olivia seems a bit surprised at how small the meal is and oh, yeah, mentions that someone entered a picture of Shelley in the photography contest.

  • Jim apparently has a sister who answers the phone the first time Shelley calls him, prompting her to realize they've never spoken on the phone to one another. Their first call does not go well.

  • Game number three is also a win for SVH though no score is given, and game 4 ends 110-80.

  • Shelley is another SVH student who has babysat Teddy Collins, and she seems to live close enough to walk there.

  • Jim comes in first and Jeffrey comes in second.

  • Amy and Jessica bet a whole outfit from Lisette's on who will be the first to dance with Patrick.

  • Then they accidentally buy the same lilac dress.

  • And Patrick brings an incredibly beautiful slightly older date, Ellen, to the dance. Real diamond necklace, guys!

  • Shelley promises the coach she'll be in bed by no later than 10pm the night before the big game.

  • Jim's picture is "Poetry in Motion." I'm not sure if I found this as lame as a kid as I do now.

  • Continuity for Lila's attempt at being a model when everyone tells Shelley she should totally model.

  • Jeffrey hears that the SV News will be offering Jim freelance work and doesn't appear jealous. Dude is a robot, y'all.

  • Liz and Jeffrey missed the dance class on the cha cha.

  • At the VC Awards, a Mr. Townsend mysteriously appears. Who the hell is this guy and why is he the one giving Shelley her Super New Created Just For Her Award?

  • Ellen and Patrick suggest a dance contest. Cue the Viennese Waltz.

  • Greg & Carol, Kurt & Jessica, Amy & Bruce, Liz & Jeffrey, Shelley & Jim, Lila and Nameless Date, and a bunch of other people Shelley doesn't know all participate.

  • Greg/Carol, Kurt/Jessica, Amy/Bruce, and Shelley/Jim are the four finalist pairs.

  • That's whittled down to Jim/Shelley and Greg/Carol. Ultimately Shelley and Jim win. At this point I'm sick of Shelley winning stuff. Seriously, where's the backlash? I expect worse/better of high school students!

  • Due to Amy and Jessica's war with one another over Patrick, the two are forced to participate in the field trip to Anacapa Island. How exactly will this help their _chemistry_ knowledge?




Quotes:
  "Don't you know anything, Jess? All those movie stars in the thirties and forties always knew how to waltz. You can't fall in love and go on big luxurious cruses and be totally romantic unless you know how to waltz. I mean, really." - Amy is amazing for quotes sometimes. p8

  Jessica couldn't believe Amy sometimes. Much as she thought her friend was a lot of fun, Amy occasionally surprised her with her mean streak. - Heh, pot, meet kettle. I think you'll find you're both evil. p11

   And the boys seemed permanently stuck at the same height: shorter than she was. p23

  "I happen to be your best friend, remember? Things that hurt you hurt me." - Cathy reminds us that not all friends in SV are backstabbing bitches. Huzzah! p42

  "Sometimes I feel like I can't see things any other way than through a camera lens." - Jim is surprisingly deep... p 51

  "The funny thing is, it's usually the things we're most embarrassed about that are the very things other people envy in us." - Mr. Collins is occasionally used for wisdom. p88

  "Jessica Wakefield, get out of that dress right now!" Amy practically shouted.
  "What do you mean get out of it? What am I supposed to do, go to the dance naked?" - general male population (and some of the girls) says yes. p128

  "Jessica, there's no way we're going into that ballroom wearing the identical dress. I'd rather die."
  "So die," Jessica said furiously. - Now that's compassion... and an awkward bit of phrasing, but still. ♥ p129



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   This is one of those books I like right until the end and then I get mean. I don't mind Shelley being one of those girls who is completely unaware of how beautiful she really is. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that she's an athlete and unlike a lot of the ugly duckling/swan stories, Shelley doesn't really seem to have any intention of using her looks for evil.
  Also, I get the being taller than a lot of people is hard thing. I was never the tallest girl/kid in class, but for a couple of years I was the third tallest (which I only remember because they had to divvy us up for volleyball and things to be 'fair') and of my closest friends I'm easily the tallest. Even when I'd tick a friend's mother off, if she needed something off the top shelf I was forgiven. :P

   I get the "I don't think I'm pretty!" thing and the aversion to cameras. Thing is, Shelley's got all these people telling her how pretty she really is, so when Jim expresses a real interest in taking her pictures AND seems to like her as a friend, why does she cling so stubbornly to the thought that he's secretly out to humiliate her? As far as we know this isn't exactly a normal occurrence for her, right? So other than needing a plot line for the book, what's fueling this paranoia?
  I'm betting it's a lack of food.

  Crap, I'm getting as bad as Amy. *runs away in fear* Anyway, have her help win the big game. Excellent. Have her get the guy, find her self worth in a photograph, and hell, I'll even buy the whole Athlete of the Year since I'm betting part of it is a press thing too, and Shelley's given them great press lately. But having her win the friggin' dance competition too? That just... really, guys? It's overkill. I get that it's a bit of a thing against Carol and Greg and showing him what he missed out on, but it's a little too much to swallow.

   For whatever reason, I always think this book deals more with Jim's side of the story than it does. Namely my brain has it filed under dude takes gorgeous shots of this redhead who won't let him show them to anyone and not for smutty reasons. Dude then goes behind her back, wins contest, and shit hits fan. Which is not how the book is presented, but that's how I remember it. Go figure.


  But the absolute best part of this book is this little blurb:
   Will the science field trip go according to Jessica's plans? Find out in Sweet Valley High #56, LOST AT SEA.
  Yeah, nothing like giving it all away with the title there, dudes. Well played. :P

   To make up for the stunning lack of alternate covers (seriously, what the hell?), I give you this:

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  Same basic cover, similar premise, and same name. The gods, they smiled?
the_oracle: (tear)
Second Chance
March 1989


Will a normal life make Kristin Thompson happy?
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Just like everyone else...



  Quiet, determined Kristin Thompson knows exactly what she wants from life. Since she was little, she has had one goal-to become a world-class tennis player. Now all she has to do is win one more tournament and she'll qualify to turn professional.
   Then handsome Bruce Patman invites her out and sweeps her off her feet. But there's not enough room in Kristin's life for a boyfriend and professional tennis. She begins to wonder if a romance with Bruce will make her happier than winning the tournament ever could. Will Kristin give up the dream of a lifetime to live like an ordinary teenager?


  Fair warning: Second Chance has never been my favorite book. It has never been my least favorite book. It's one of those books where I forget everything but these key words: Kristin, tennis, star, yawn.

  Not exactly a glowing recommendation. That said, there are good things to be found. If tennis is your thing, (ahem, [livejournal.com profile] luxken27 ) then you're in luck. Tennis terms are thrown around left and right and the matches are detailed enough that I got a little lost, but not so detailed that you begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe, paint drying would be more interesting in the long run. Which means that if I had any idea what they were talking about, I might have either been impressed with them managing not to screw things up, or highly amused at what was wrong. However... not my area. You read it and let me know. I promise to be impressed.

  Kristin Thompson is a tennis star. She's so good that she practices every day to the exclusion of just about everything else in life. While she seems to have no friends, at all, she's nice enough to Elizabeth and Jeffrey, and neither makes any comment about her other than "talented and driven."
   Thing is, Kristin's not so sure she wants to be quite so driven anymore. When she was younger, her parents asked if she was sure tennis was what she wanted. It was. When her mother died on her way to Wimbledon (no. Really. I mean it.), Kristin gave tennis up for awhile, then picked it up again and really, really pushed herself. Since then, no one's bothered to make sure she didn't change her mind because kids are notorious for never changing their minds about the little things, let alone something big like What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. Never, ever.
  When Liz invites her to the beach in the previous book, Kristin begins to wonder about life outside the compound tennis. There are friends and days at the beach, and possibly not going to bed sore all the time. Also, there's this newfangled invention called a "boyfriend" and she's reasonably sure she'd like to have one of those, if it's not too much trouble.
  Still, those things require work and time, and Kristin's not exactly big on excess time. Once again, Elizabeth asks Kristin if she wants to join the world outside and mentor a little girl named Emily. Kristin's all set to say no way in hell (no time!) when Liz says that Emily's mother died recently and tennis is the only thing the little girl seems interested in. How convenient. Kristin decides to move heaven and hell to work the kid into her schedule.

   Due to her coach, Dorrie, having a doctor's appointment, Kristin suddenly has a free hour to do whatever she wants. For a second she considers going to the beach, but then realizes it's not really enough time for that. She wanders over to the tennis courts at school (of course she does) and after a few minutes Jessica is betting that Kristin could kick Bruce Patman's ass in tennis. Duh. This should be a no brainer, right?
  Still, Bruce's ego has never met anything in a short skirt that it doesn't think it could handle, so he sweet talks her into a match. Shortly into it, Kristin thinks to herself that Bruce will be humiliated when he loses to a girl, so she throws the game. WTF, Thompson. You're a motherfucking pro and you want to lose to him?
  Thing is, for one glorious second it appears that Bruce knows what she did for him, and for that one second you think maybe he's less of an ass than usual.
   But no. He starts chasing after Kristin who shows remarkable restraint. She figures out pretty early on that Bruce is more interested in Bruce than he is in Kristin, but every time she's about to tell him she's going to be busy for the rest of forever, her father or someone makes a comment about how she doesn't have time for this crap. Then she rebels by going out with Bruce.

  I love that for the most part, she keeps him on his toes to the point where he doesn't even freakin' bother trying to keep up. He just can't stand letting her walk away, so he chases again when it's convenient for him.

  Kristin's been in training for the Avery Cup and trying to make it to Nick Wylie's team (and every time his name comes up, I read it as Noah Wylie) for... I don't know. It's an honor and a good thing and it means she's officially a pro or something. Whatever. Thing is, she's so shaken up by Bruce and the fights with her father that she keeps sucking spectacularly in her games/matches. Eventually she loses her shot at the team, but she tells Bruce off and things are good.

   Our B-plot concerns... Kristin. WTF, man. Kristin and her 'little sister' Emily. They play a lot of tennis together and when Kristin loses her shot at Wylie's team, she's worried that when she tells Emily, Em will be disappointed in her. Turns out Emily has bad news of her own. Emily tried out for a tennis camp and managed to blow her shot even bigger than Kristin did, saying she knew what she was doing was wrong even as she kept doing it. Then she tells Kristin that she'll understand if K doesn't want to be her big sister anymore.

  BAM. Kristin realizes that all this time she's been worrying for nothing. Her father loves her and would want her to be happy, even if that meant no tennis anymore. That her mother wouldn't want her to carry on doing something out of obligation. That failure is an option and not the end of the world. Because of course Kristin still likes Emily, tennis camp or not.

  Gotta say, I feel bad for the kids who thought this message was true only to find out that their parents did have a conditional sort of love. You know at least one of them had to have this problem... Anyway.

  Kristin and her dad talk it out, good times are had, and then Kristin gets a call. From Nick Wylie. Turns out Sharon twisted her ankle and cant compete for at least a month and a half, would K like to take her place? DUH.
  Happy ending there.

  PLUS, Kristin's coach who is always hanging around for whatever reason (because she's not only Kristin's coach, but the former Mrs. Thompson's best friend and doubles partner) and Mr. Thompson are in love. Probably. Not entirely sure because it's alluded to, but we're never given confirmation even though right after Mr. T sort of confesses, Kristin is all, "I'm so happy we can talk like this, so openly!" Dude, you didn't even let Daddy tell you whether he and Dorrie were still in like or had moved beyond that to stepmommy on the horizon. Some of us like to know these things, damn it!


   We set the scene for the next book (Jessica wants to be any sort of queen, and yes, you can make your own obvious joke... _now_), and I may or may not be dragging my feet because it means A.J. is toast.


Trivia:


  • Allison Post is described as a mini-Jessica. That said, apparently a strict diet of shopping and beach-time isn't enough for Allison as she seems a bit envious of other people's big sisters.

  • Jade Wu is paired with a wannabe dancer.

  • Lynne Henry, Maria Santelli, Olivia, Dee Dee, Cara, Caroline, Kristin, Jade, Liz, Enid, and Jessica all take part in the Big Sisters program.

  • Jessica takes credit for the program when telling A.J. about it.

  • Emily Brown is Kristin's little sister. She's nine and her mother died in a car crash last year. The only thing she seems interested in these days is tennis. She's small for her age, with smooth brown hair that's cut fairly short, dark brown eyes, and a shy, closed off expression.

  • Kristin is in Enid's math class.

  • Kristin's English paper is on The American Dream.

  • Apparently lunch @ SVH is an hour long. Jealous. Ours were shorter. Unless you had study period for third period and then, I don't know, cut study hall to eat lunch with your friends during their lunches...

  • Kristin's lunch period is at noon.

  • Kristin gets up at 6am to jog, lift weights, or run sprints. Then she goes to school, and after she meets Dorrie at the tennis club. They practice until dinner, then around 8:30/9pm she does her homework until lights out at 10:30.

  • Dorrie Graham is Kristin's tennis coach. She's 38, strikingly attractive with black hair (completely with grey streaks), and blue eyes. She was also Elise Randall Thompson's best friend and pro-doubles partner.

  • Kristin wants to qualify to play the Avery Cup on Nick Wylie's pro circuit tennis team.

  • Kristin has short auburn hair and wide set hazel eyes. Her favorite ice cream is double cheesecake with nuts. She's got a royal blue ten-speed, and practices four hours a day. Her mother died in a plane crash when Kristin was seven years old.

  • Neil Thompson owns several tennis clubs and is a partner in a tennis club outside San Diego. He went to Stamford.

  • Elise Randall, Kristin's mother, won the Us Open and died less than a year afterward. Made winning look effortless, married Neil when she was 19, upon graduation, borrowed money and opened their first tennis club together. Died en route to Wimbledon when her plane crashed into the Atlantic.

  • Kristin normally meets Dorrie at 3:30.

  • Bruce was playing against Adam Tyner and stomping Adam's ass.

  • Kristin advises Bruce to keep his harm completely straight on his backhand, to take only one step when serving instead of the two he has been taking, and to never, ever take his eye off the ball.

  • The first qualifying round for the Avery Cup is on Tuesday.

  • Bruce has a car phone and a big deal is made about compact discs.

  • Betsy Webber is Kristin's first opponent. She wins the first game, 7-5, Kristin barely wins the second set.

  • Wendy Gibson is the fifth seed

  • Jess, Allison, Elizabeth, and Kim (Liz's little sister) have a contest to see which pair of Bigs/Littles can make the most and best cookies. Jess and Allison make 50 cookies, but by omitting crucial ingredients, their cookies come out strangely pale and taste disgusting. While Liz and Kim only made three dozen cookies, theirs taste like cookies. Winners decide to help the losers clean up the messy kitchen.

  • When Kristin plays against Sharon, she wins the first game at 6-2, then loses the second 4-6, while the third game ends in a tie of 6-6. Sharon wins the tie-breaker and the slot on Nick's pro team.

  • Poor Sharon Owens sprains her ankle at the start of the Avery Cup (her second match) and Kristin is tapped as the new alternate to take her place.

  • Since when is the elementary school called Sweet Valley Grammar School?

  • Rachel Rose is a small, wiry, girl with dark, frizzy hair, and is expected to kick Kristin's ass during their match. Instead Kristin realizes that Rachel has no backhand and wins the match.

  • Longview Club was hosting the tournament.

  • Liz, Jeff, Jess, AJ, Enid, Bruce, Kim, Winston, and Amy all turn out to see Kristin kick Rachel's ass. 4-6 (Rachel won), 6-2, 6-4.

  • The Good Samaritans are business people who meet weekly for social and professional reasons. They're sponsoring a contest wherein students write about Sweet Valley in the Year 2000. The winner gets a $100 gift certificate to Laughton's, a downtown bookstore, a medal of honor, and becomes the king or queen of the Citizen's Day Ball.



Quote Me:

  "Hey, Jess," Cara teased, "remember who you're talking to. Kristin's ball boys are better tennis players than Bruce Patman is!" - point and match, Walker. p36

   The Patmans seemed to have an unlimited amount of money, and Kristin was beginning to suspect that Bruce had an unlimited ego as well. - What gave it away, Kristin? p 56

  Jessica and Lila exchanged glances. Bruce had dated Amy a few times in the past, but she'd acted as if they'd had a real relationship. Bruce had only ever seriously dated one girl, Regina Morrow, and her tragic death from trying cocaine had affected the whole school. Now Bruce was back to playing the field, but the merest suggestion that he might be interested in someone else was enough to drive Amy crazy. - p 77

  He acted as if she was the first girl who had ever criticized him! Well, if that was true, she hoped she had started a much needed trend. - Nice, Kristin. Next time, though, pour a drink on his head and push him into a pool or something, too. p 102


Photobucket


   I just re-read this book (twice, actually) and in the couple of weeks it's been since I finished it, I've managed to forget, I don't know, 80% of it. Part of this may be due to the massive sinus infection/cold/whatever weird bug my nephew picked up at school and then shared that initially delayed this being reviewed. But part of it is... Kristin. Tennis. STAR.

Yawn?

:P

  Bruce manages to maintain a very shallow personality while still giving glimpses to the more interesting guy underneath, but as Regina proved, Good!Bruce is a little too dull and bad!Bruce is a little too jerkish for my tastes. I love that little bit about Amy being totally delusional as to how important her dates with Bruce were. Also, sometimes I wonder what Regina's death was like for the fringe students at the school. Did it really affect them, or are we to just care about the A-list?

  Also, apparently this is one of the later additions to my library because it's got the mark of the my former favorite used bookstore that stopped carrying SVH last year. Odds are good it wasn't added until just before then since it was never really high on my "must own!" list. I also want to say it's one of the few SVH books the library still carries. Hmm.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Pretenses
April 1988


Is someone coming between Cara and Steven?

Too much mystery...


  Cara Walker feels that her boyfriend, Steven Wakefield, isn't paying enough attention to her. Suddenly he's acting aloof and withdrawn. Cara's good friend Jessica, Steven's sister, suggests that Cara add some mystery to the relationship.
  When Cara takes Jessica's advice, it backfires. Steven starts to act even more distant, and Cara is sure he's hiding something. He used to confide in her, but now it seems he's turning to his sister Elizabeth's friend Abbie Richardson. Will Cara discover Steven's secret before she's replaced by someone new?



   I don't know who wrote Pretenses. I'm not sure I want to know, although it would make me feel a whole hell of a lot better about things if it was one of those books co-written by at least two different people because there is a LOT of flip-flopping going on. No one seems to be able to make up their mind about anything at all for longer than a couple of paragraphs. With that warning in mind, as well as the warning that once again people take relationship advice from Jessica Wakefield, we begin.

   Jessica's been thinking that Cara and Steven are really more than due for a break-up. Of course, she's been thinking this since approximately two hours after she first hooked them up, so this is nothing new. Cara, in a throwback to that younger, simpler time [it has been twenty books exactly, my dears] decides to throw herself a belated birthday party. You remember, she was awfully depressed over her parents' divorce and so she and Steven celebrated by him acting like an asshole in a fancy restaurant. Good, good times, right?
  Yeah, not so much. So to erase that particularly pleasant memory, Cara decides to create a new one. She's throwing herself a party at the Marine House and, as it's fairly expensive, she can only afford to invite fourteen people. Remember that, okay. The book says she can only INVITE fourteen people. Problem is, she mentioned this little party to Abbie Richardson, a girl we've never met before the last book because she spent all her free time with her boyfriend from Palisades, Doug Brewster. But Cara can't think of anyone to leave off the guest list, so... she can't invite Abbie, although everyone can tell the girl expects an invite since Cara brought it up.
  Jessica tells Cara not to worry about it, Abbie blew them off for the last two years, really, she can't expect to be invited to the party and it'll be okay if Cara just avoids the subject entirely. I'm paraphrasing, obviously, but Cara falls for it. I'll never understand why I keep believing the lie that she's somewhat intelligent given the way she always falls for the stupid!Jessica advice so readily, but ignores the two or three good pieces of advice the ditzy twin hands out. Oi. So... Cara avoids talking to Abbie about this entirely. Poor Abbie thinks she's getting an invite and instead gets the awkward avoidance. Fun!
  The kicker for the party is that I counted, repeatedly, and there are only thirteen people, not counting Cara, at this damn thing. So, um, why couldn't Abbie come again? Cara laments the fact that she screwed poor Abbie over and Abbie still gave her a present... as well as the fact that she should have invited Abbie in Steven's place for all the fun she had with him.
  Steven's home from SVU due to serious allergy/sinus problems. Because he's a guy [and I apologize to any of you out there] he's also a complete ass while he's sick. Instead of leveling with Cara at ANY point about exactly how god awful he feels, or how worried he is that his health problem happened at the worst time for him academically speaking, he just... withdraws. So she realizes something's wrong and tries to move closer and he feels smothered and trapped and tries to gnaw his own leg off to get away and she's hurt and he's hurt and no one does any talking to the right people here. Instead of confiding in someone trained in such matters [the high school relationship will live or die depending on how many people it takes to maintain it when the two people involved are too stupid to do the right thing, y'know?], Steven confides in Abbie because she's been hanging around the house lately, what with the B plot and all.

   B plot would be that OHMYGOD, the sky is falling! The Oracle isn't as popular as it used to be! NOOOOOOOOOooooooooo! I swear, the pages where Penny/Liz/Jeffrey/Winston freak out are just insanely bad. So bad it's good bad. Winston tells the uptight idiots that the paper has everything except something intentionally funny, so they should run a contest to add some humor to the damn thing. They agree, offer him the job, he declines, and we gather it falls to Olivia to set things up. Olivia, I should mention, is never seen. Anyway, the contest comes down to Abbie's Jenny comic strip and Amy's mock-Miss-Manners column. I don't know about Amy, but Jenny is decidedly unfunny. I have vague memories of thinking it was hi-larious as a child, or at least mildly amusing, so maybe I'm just too old now. *coughdoubtitcough*
  Anyway, Abbie has self-esteem issues and seems to be a bit obsessive about Liz, so she won't believe her stuff is any good until someone else tells her it is. To milk this for all it's worth [and then some] Abbie has been coming over to the Wakefields every afternoon to the point where no one is ever surprised to see her. Hence Steven's ability to confide in the girl.
  Abbie tells Steven, repeatedly, to talk to Cara. To tell her what's going on, but Steven can't. See, there's another little problem. He's been getting these letters. I know what you did last summer! Written on Tricia Martin's old stationary. And the boy can't tell up from down, right from left, living from dead. It never occurs to him that Cara is sending the letters, although I'd think that by now we'd know whether she and Tricia used the same perfume, and Cara's been spritzing perfume on the letters in lieu of an actual signature. Steven, I guess, can't smell a damn thing, so maybe that's his excuse.

   Blah blah blah, Liz and Jessica realize at different points that something is a little off about Steven and Abbie. Liz notices that Steven has been getting letters on familiar stationary, although she can't figure out where she's seen it before. Jessica has noticed that Steven and Abbie are getting awfully close to that mutual attraction stage she's so familiar with. The twins investigate a bit at the mall and find out that a girl their age, possibly a brunette, recently bought the last of the pink forget-me-not stationary and the twins leap to the conclusion that it's Abbie once the clerk says the girl had such a sweet voice. Everything about Abbie is sweet.
  Two seconds after leaving the store, they run into Reformed!Crackwhore Martin and she mentions that she's only in town because Steven wanted to grill her about the whereabouts of Tricia's stuff, like say, I don't know, her stationary. Liz is shocked! Who would be so cruel as to send Steven letters written on Tricia's stationary, and also, how many times will I have to write the word stationary?
  Um, duh? You guys just decided Abbie bought stationary like that, so it's a coincidence. Which is exactly what Jessica says. Nyargh?

   When Ned announces that he's scored six free tickets to the Lakers vs. the Celtics game, Steven chooses to invite Abbie instead of Cara, reinforcing the theory that the two are interested in one another. Jessica tells Lila who tells Cara in a rare moment of giving a damn about someone else. Lila's attempts at making Cara stand up for herself as well as making Cara feel better are painfully awful [but classic Lila at the same time] but also vaguely sweet.
  Jessica comes home to find Abbie holding a piece of pink stationary that she seems awfully nervous to be caught holding. Jessica waits for Liz to get home and then confronts her with the gossip, and Liz admits that she'd noticed how close the two had gotten. Liz is pissed to think that Abbie, whom she really liked, was just using her to get to Steven, who she probably sees as nothing more than a replacement boyfriend. Jess is just crazy, so the twins go in and bitch poor, innocent Abbie out.
  Abbie is horrified that, get this, her worst nightmare has come true. People think she's an awful person! Oh no! But then she gets mad that they're blaming her for something she didn't even do. If Abbie had wanted, truly wanted Steven, and been less of a nice girl, she could have made a play for him, but didn't. She tried to keep him with Cara at EVERY turn, and hell, poor Abbie's not even sure whether she like-likes Steven or if he's like an older brother. Seriously, I got a twinge of the whiplash trying to keep up with whether our ghosty thought she liked Steven as a replacement for Doug or if she just liked him as a friendly older brotherly type.
  Abbie tells them to go to hell, she's innocent, and then she leaves.

   Lila, meanwhile, has gone to Cara's to convince the girl to calm down before she murders the entire Wakefield family, and then convinces Cara that even if things are as bad as they seem, she HAS to talk to Steven anyway, so she'll know for sure and get her say. God, when Lila [and this is the mostly shallow version of Lila to boot] is making the most sense in the book, you really, really have to worry. Cara arrives and asks Steven how he likes her letters because he's never said one word about them to her.
  Everyone is aghast at how they've messed things up so horribly and they run off to fix things with Abbie. Abbie makes them work for it a bit and then they all kiss and makeup and Ned finagles another ticket out of one of the law partners and it's a happy ending for everyone!
  And what's more, cousin Kelly is coming to visit next book! Yay! More Wakefield drama! Oh happy day!



Trivial Pursuit:

  • Jess and Cara have to take the bus to school because Liz has a doctor's appointment. Jess, to no one's surprise, hates the bus.

  • Cara's throwing herself a belated birthday party to erase the memory of her awful time with Steven. Too bad she replaced it with another bad Steven memory when he snaps at her for asking about his mysterious letter, huh?

  • Cara's party is being held at the Marine House, which sits right on the water and is expensive. Cara says she can only invite fourteen people and these make the cut: Jessica, Elizabeth, Lila, Jeffrey, Steven, Sandra, Manuel, Jeannie, Tom, Winston, Maria, Amy, and Bruce. Um, where's the 14th person making it impossible for Cara to invite Abbie? Also, why the hell is Liz invited to Cara's birthday party?

  • Despite assuring us all series that the Oracle is awesome, now we learn no one likes it as much as they used to. I feel so lied to. Where's truth in journalism, damn it? Letter to the editor time!

  • Abbie's infamous boyfriend was Doug Brewster, a year older than Abbie, baseball player, and a bit of jerk. His mother is a painter and he'd belittle Abbie's cartoons because he felt they weren't true art.

  • Abbie herself is described as having dark brown hair that's "as fine as satin", light blue eyes, ivory skin that's prone to blushing, and she's delicate and sweet.

  • Winston and Abbie had art together last year.

  • This year Abbie and Jessica have art together.

  • When Abbie offers to take Penny's lunch tray, Jeffrey comments that Abbie seems like a nice girl. Jeffrey from ten books or so ago would have wondered what the heck was driving her to be such a doormat. When did Jeffrey get a lobotomy?

  • Steven's doctor sends him home because Steve's got some serious allergy or sinus problems. Turns out that he's allergic to a lot of things, namely mold, grass, and dust.

  • Abbie is allergic to cats.

  • Jessica's favorite soap character that week was Lania Louise.

  • Abbie's mother is a psychologist who happens to over analyze her daughter's life. Oops.

  • Abby names her comic strip Jenny, and it stars normal 16 year old Jenny Bain. Bain is Abbie's middle name, as it's an old family name. Nice.

  • Jenny's boyfriend's name is Mel.

  • Amy wants to do a mock-Miss Manners column, but we never see it, even though Abbie helps her with it.

  • Abbie thinks that Cara avoids talking about her party at lunch one day because someone at the table isn't invited. She thinks it might be Sandra or Jeannie. Um... right, sure, of course.

  • Abbie buys Cara a silver ring for her birthday.

  • Abbie's mother thinks she prefers giving to receiving because it means Abbie gets to retain more control that way.

  • Steven's arms turned red due to the allergy tests.

  • The stationary Tricia and Cara used was pink with forget-me-nots. There's a blue option as well.

  • "Everyone" knows the story of Tricia Martin and how she and Steve were together for ages before her illness. Sure, right. Forever.

  • Liz has to ask Jessica for the French word for when you feel like you've done something before and Jessica knows it's deja vu. Freaky?

  • Jess and Liz head to the Midnight Madness sale at the mall. Anyone else remember those? Do they still do them? I'm old. I'll shut up.

  • Cara bought her stationary at the Pen and Paper shop in the mall. Liz likes to buy journals for her writing there. I'd mock, but dude, I'd probably be too busy drooling over the journals and pens to say anything.

  • Our ghosty brings us the word portentously. The writing on this one is just on a completely different level.

  • Abbie sees Dr. Griffin.

  • Bob Young, a partner at Ned's law firm, gives the family six free tickets to the Lakers versus the Celtics playoff game. Then, just to cover up Steven's stupidity, Ned asks for, and is given, a seventh ticket. Funny, my father would have told one of us that it sucked to be us cuz we ruined our shot at going. Ah, tough love.

  • Doug Brewster started dating some girl named Mariel before he and Abbie had officially broken up, which is a big reason why Abbie would never go after Steven BEFORE he broke up with Cara. That and Abbie is all things sweet and good.

  • Abbie's never been to a professional basketball game before.

  • The twins' Aunt Laura, on Alice's side, lives in Tucson, Arizona and is about to be remarried to a widowed doctor with two sons.

  • Kelly, their cousin, is not happy about her father, their uncle Greg, being replaced.

  • Laura and Greg divorced when Kelly was eight or nine.



Quotes:
Gold stars of unintended hilarity:

  "What you don't have"- he took a bite of ice cream- "is humor. No cartoons. No comic strip. No puzzles. Nothing funny in the whole darn paper."
  "He's right," Penny said to Elizabeth. "I never even thought about that. Did you?"
  Elizabeth had to admit that she hadn't. "Winston! That's a great idea. If we add a humorous feature to the paper, I bet people will like it every bit as much as they did when we first started putting the paper out!" - If you found this funny, you know why. If not, um, yeah, just imagine the stick up her butt making her speech so stilted, kay? p8

  "Winston," Penny said pleadingly, "how would you like to be the new humor editor? Just come up with something truly hilarious by next week and make everyone say how much they love the paper again." - See, this wouldn't be funny if I thought she was kidding, but I doubt she is. Penny's only given a sense of humor in her own book. No pressure there, Win! p 8




   Lania was Jessica's favorite soap opera character that week. - I love that we have to be told it changes weekly. hee! p20

  Abbie had been noticing Elizabeth from afar for awhile now, and she secretly thought Elizabeth was one of the smartest, nicest girls at school. - I smell stalker! p23

   As far as Abbie was concerned these days, Elizabeth Wakefield could do no wrong. - Um, next stop blond hair dye and aqua contacts? p 26

  "It gets on my nerves when people are that nice. I'm always sure they want something." - Gotta say, I agree with Jessica on this one. mwerp? p 29

   The way to make friends was to be nice to people, to listen to them, to offer to help them, not to dump your own troubles on their shoulders. - Abbie's guide for making friends. p 38

  "Cara," Lila said, putting down her fork and looking at Cara with her ultrasophisticated I-know-what's-good-for-you expression. "Is something wrong with you? You look like you just lost every share of stock you own." - This, my pets, is why Lila will always be awesome. p 84

  She liked Abbie Richardson! She didn't want to think Abbie had been using her to get to know Steven better! - I'm apparently twelve years old and want to know if she liked-liked Abbie. Sorry, Liz. p105

   "I'm going to go over to his house and tell him what a jerk I think he is!" Her dark eyes filled with tears. "I'm going to kill them all," she muttered. "I bet Liz is behind this somehow. She's the one who started inviting Abbie over all the time. I bet she wanted this to happen all along!" - Look! Liz is getting blamed for being sneaky! Hallelujah! Poor Cara, though. p 115

  "I don't believe anyone can steal anyone else. This is Steve we're talking about, not some sort of material possession." - This actually stayed with me more than any other line in the book, or most of the rest of the series, actually. Scary, but true. Cara is wise. p 128


   I've gotta say, Pretenses is one of those books I think I read once or twice as a kid and then always remembered more from the diary entries based on the book than I do the actual book. For all the lead up they tried to give Abbie, she's pretty much written out of the series [I think] and it's all a fantastic waste, just to teach girls to COMMUNICATE with their boyfriends. Seriously, we have Abbie, Lila, Jessica, Liz, and then the couple themselves hammering this theory on home. It hurts! Someone stop the sledgehammer of subtlety!
  I could have done without all the flip flopping like I said earlier. One minute Jess is the one talking crazy, the next it's Liz with her conspiracy theories about how someone would want to hurt Steven. No one did, you moron, it was a misunderstanding just like Jess said. Or Abbie's feelings for Steven. If they'd been portrayed as confusing to begin with, I might understand, but Abbie goes from comfortable with Steven to thinking she likes him and then BAM, he's like her older brother for a paragraph or two and then she likes him again. So. Painful.
  I think Abbie sounds like a sweetheart, but she isn't funny. She's just... not. She's sincere and sweet and pretty enough that she didn't really have to work on developing a sense of humor, and really, reading her punchlines, it shows. The only person less funny than she is this whole book is Liz.
   I want to like Cara, I really do, but mostly I think she's a bit of a moron lately. She keeps letting Jessica talk her into stupid things and then marveling when things go just as badly as we would have predicted. Imagine that. When Jess likes her to Elizabeth, she's referring to their relationship status, but I think it's more their raging blind spot for Jessica's true motives.



Side note: This is probably your last update of any interest until next year. Holidays in retail don't leave much time for anything else, sadly enough. See you next year with the harrowing story of poor, poor deluded cousin Kelly.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Pretenses
April 1988


Is someone coming between Cara and Steven?

Too much mystery...


  Cara Walker feels that her boyfriend, Steven Wakefield, isn't paying enough attention to her. Suddenly he's acting aloof and withdrawn. Cara's good friend Jessica, Steven's sister, suggests that Cara add some mystery to the relationship.
  When Cara takes Jessica's advice, it backfires. Steven starts to act even more distant, and Cara is sure he's hiding something. He used to confide in her, but now it seems he's turning to his sister Elizabeth's friend Abbie Richardson. Will Cara discover Steven's secret before she's replaced by someone new?



   I don't know who wrote Pretenses. I'm not sure I want to know, although it would make me feel a whole hell of a lot better about things if it was one of those books co-written by at least two different people because there is a LOT of flip-flopping going on. No one seems to be able to make up their mind about anything at all for longer than a couple of paragraphs. With that warning in mind, as well as the warning that once again people take relationship advice from Jessica Wakefield, we begin.

   Jessica's been thinking that Cara and Steven are really more than due for a break-up. Of course, she's been thinking this since approximately two hours after she first hooked them up, so this is nothing new. Cara, in a throwback to that younger, simpler time [it has been twenty books exactly, my dears] decides to throw herself a belated birthday party. You remember, she was awfully depressed over her parents' divorce and so she and Steven celebrated by him acting like an asshole in a fancy restaurant. Good, good times, right?
  Yeah, not so much. So to erase that particularly pleasant memory, Cara decides to create a new one. She's throwing herself a party at the Marine House and, as it's fairly expensive, she can only afford to invite fourteen people. Remember that, okay. The book says she can only INVITE fourteen people. Problem is, she mentioned this little party to Abbie Richardson, a girl we've never met before the last book because she spent all her free time with her boyfriend from Palisades, Doug Brewster. But Cara can't think of anyone to leave off the guest list, so... she can't invite Abbie, although everyone can tell the girl expects an invite since Cara brought it up.
  Jessica tells Cara not to worry about it, Abbie blew them off for the last two years, really, she can't expect to be invited to the party and it'll be okay if Cara just avoids the subject entirely. I'm paraphrasing, obviously, but Cara falls for it. I'll never understand why I keep believing the lie that she's somewhat intelligent given the way she always falls for the stupid!Jessica advice so readily, but ignores the two or three good pieces of advice the ditzy twin hands out. Oi. So... Cara avoids talking to Abbie about this entirely. Poor Abbie thinks she's getting an invite and instead gets the awkward avoidance. Fun!
  The kicker for the party is that I counted, repeatedly, and there are only thirteen people, not counting Cara, at this damn thing. So, um, why couldn't Abbie come again? Cara laments the fact that she screwed poor Abbie over and Abbie still gave her a present... as well as the fact that she should have invited Abbie in Steven's place for all the fun she had with him.
  Steven's home from SVU due to serious allergy/sinus problems. Because he's a guy [and I apologize to any of you out there] he's also a complete ass while he's sick. Instead of leveling with Cara at ANY point about exactly how god awful he feels, or how worried he is that his health problem happened at the worst time for him academically speaking, he just... withdraws. So she realizes something's wrong and tries to move closer and he feels smothered and trapped and tries to gnaw his own leg off to get away and she's hurt and he's hurt and no one does any talking to the right people here. Instead of confiding in someone trained in such matters [the high school relationship will live or die depending on how many people it takes to maintain it when the two people involved are too stupid to do the right thing, y'know?], Steven confides in Abbie because she's been hanging around the house lately, what with the B plot and all.

   B plot would be that OHMYGOD, the sky is falling! The Oracle isn't as popular as it used to be! NOOOOOOOOOooooooooo! I swear, the pages where Penny/Liz/Jeffrey/Winston freak out are just insanely bad. So bad it's good bad. Winston tells the uptight idiots that the paper has everything except something intentionally funny, so they should run a contest to add some humor to the damn thing. They agree, offer him the job, he declines, and we gather it falls to Olivia to set things up. Olivia, I should mention, is never seen. Anyway, the contest comes down to Abbie's Jenny comic strip and Amy's mock-Miss-Manners column. I don't know about Amy, but Jenny is decidedly unfunny. I have vague memories of thinking it was hi-larious as a child, or at least mildly amusing, so maybe I'm just too old now. *coughdoubtitcough*
  Anyway, Abbie has self-esteem issues and seems to be a bit obsessive about Liz, so she won't believe her stuff is any good until someone else tells her it is. To milk this for all it's worth [and then some] Abbie has been coming over to the Wakefields every afternoon to the point where no one is ever surprised to see her. Hence Steven's ability to confide in the girl.
  Abbie tells Steven, repeatedly, to talk to Cara. To tell her what's going on, but Steven can't. See, there's another little problem. He's been getting these letters. I know what you did last summer! Written on Tricia Martin's old stationary. And the boy can't tell up from down, right from left, living from dead. It never occurs to him that Cara is sending the letters, although I'd think that by now we'd know whether she and Tricia used the same perfume, and Cara's been spritzing perfume on the letters in lieu of an actual signature. Steven, I guess, can't smell a damn thing, so maybe that's his excuse.

   Blah blah blah, Liz and Jessica realize at different points that something is a little off about Steven and Abbie. Liz notices that Steven has been getting letters on familiar stationary, although she can't figure out where she's seen it before. Jessica has noticed that Steven and Abbie are getting awfully close to that mutual attraction stage she's so familiar with. The twins investigate a bit at the mall and find out that a girl their age, possibly a brunette, recently bought the last of the pink forget-me-not stationary and the twins leap to the conclusion that it's Abbie once the clerk says the girl had such a sweet voice. Everything about Abbie is sweet.
  Two seconds after leaving the store, they run into Reformed!Crackwhore Martin and she mentions that she's only in town because Steven wanted to grill her about the whereabouts of Tricia's stuff, like say, I don't know, her stationary. Liz is shocked! Who would be so cruel as to send Steven letters written on Tricia's stationary, and also, how many times will I have to write the word stationary?
  Um, duh? You guys just decided Abbie bought stationary like that, so it's a coincidence. Which is exactly what Jessica says. Nyargh?

   When Ned announces that he's scored six free tickets to the Lakers vs. the Celtics game, Steven chooses to invite Abbie instead of Cara, reinforcing the theory that the two are interested in one another. Jessica tells Lila who tells Cara in a rare moment of giving a damn about someone else. Lila's attempts at making Cara stand up for herself as well as making Cara feel better are painfully awful [but classic Lila at the same time] but also vaguely sweet.
  Jessica comes home to find Abbie holding a piece of pink stationary that she seems awfully nervous to be caught holding. Jessica waits for Liz to get home and then confronts her with the gossip, and Liz admits that she'd noticed how close the two had gotten. Liz is pissed to think that Abbie, whom she really liked, was just using her to get to Steven, who she probably sees as nothing more than a replacement boyfriend. Jess is just crazy, so the twins go in and bitch poor, innocent Abbie out.
  Abbie is horrified that, get this, her worst nightmare has come true. People think she's an awful person! Oh no! But then she gets mad that they're blaming her for something she didn't even do. If Abbie had wanted, truly wanted Steven, and been less of a nice girl, she could have made a play for him, but didn't. She tried to keep him with Cara at EVERY turn, and hell, poor Abbie's not even sure whether she like-likes Steven or if he's like an older brother. Seriously, I got a twinge of the whiplash trying to keep up with whether our ghosty thought she liked Steven as a replacement for Doug or if she just liked him as a friendly older brotherly type.
  Abbie tells them to go to hell, she's innocent, and then she leaves.

   Lila, meanwhile, has gone to Cara's to convince the girl to calm down before she murders the entire Wakefield family, and then convinces Cara that even if things are as bad as they seem, she HAS to talk to Steven anyway, so she'll know for sure and get her say. God, when Lila [and this is the mostly shallow version of Lila to boot] is making the most sense in the book, you really, really have to worry. Cara arrives and asks Steven how he likes her letters because he's never said one word about them to her.
  Everyone is aghast at how they've messed things up so horribly and they run off to fix things with Abbie. Abbie makes them work for it a bit and then they all kiss and makeup and Ned finagles another ticket out of one of the law partners and it's a happy ending for everyone!
  And what's more, cousin Kelly is coming to visit next book! Yay! More Wakefield drama! Oh happy day!



Trivial Pursuit:

  • Jess and Cara have to take the bus to school because Liz has a doctor's appointment. Jess, to no one's surprise, hates the bus.

  • Cara's throwing herself a belated birthday party to erase the memory of her awful time with Steven. Too bad she replaced it with another bad Steven memory when he snaps at her for asking about his mysterious letter, huh?

  • Cara's party is being held at the Marine House, which sits right on the water and is expensive. Cara says she can only invite fourteen people and these make the cut: Jessica, Elizabeth, Lila, Jeffrey, Steven, Sandra, Manuel, Jeannie, Tom, Winston, Maria, Amy, and Bruce. Um, where's the 14th person making it impossible for Cara to invite Abbie? Also, why the hell is Liz invited to Cara's birthday party?

  • Despite assuring us all series that the Oracle is awesome, now we learn no one likes it as much as they used to. I feel so lied to. Where's truth in journalism, damn it? Letter to the editor time!

  • Abbie's infamous boyfriend was Doug Brewster, a year older than Abbie, baseball player, and a bit of jerk. His mother is a painter and he'd belittle Abbie's cartoons because he felt they weren't true art.

  • Abbie herself is described as having dark brown hair that's "as fine as satin", light blue eyes, ivory skin that's prone to blushing, and she's delicate and sweet.

  • Winston and Abbie had art together last year.

  • This year Abbie and Jessica have art together.

  • When Abbie offers to take Penny's lunch tray, Jeffrey comments that Abbie seems like a nice girl. Jeffrey from ten books or so ago would have wondered what the heck was driving her to be such a doormat. When did Jeffrey get a lobotomy?

  • Steven's doctor sends him home because Steve's got some serious allergy or sinus problems. Turns out that he's allergic to a lot of things, namely mold, grass, and dust.

  • Abbie is allergic to cats.

  • Jessica's favorite soap character that week was Lania Louise.

  • Abbie's mother is a psychologist who happens to over analyze her daughter's life. Oops.

  • Abby names her comic strip Jenny, and it stars normal 16 year old Jenny Bain. Bain is Abbie's middle name, as it's an old family name. Nice.

  • Jenny's boyfriend's name is Mel.

  • Amy wants to do a mock-Miss Manners column, but we never see it, even though Abbie helps her with it.

  • Abbie thinks that Cara avoids talking about her party at lunch one day because someone at the table isn't invited. She thinks it might be Sandra or Jeannie. Um... right, sure, of course.

  • Abbie buys Cara a silver ring for her birthday.

  • Abbie's mother thinks she prefers giving to receiving because it means Abbie gets to retain more control that way.

  • Steven's arms turned red due to the allergy tests.

  • The stationary Tricia and Cara used was pink with forget-me-nots. There's a blue option as well.

  • "Everyone" knows the story of Tricia Martin and how she and Steve were together for ages before her illness. Sure, right. Forever.

  • Liz has to ask Jessica for the French word for when you feel like you've done something before and Jessica knows it's deja vu. Freaky?

  • Jess and Liz head to the Midnight Madness sale at the mall. Anyone else remember those? Do they still do them? I'm old. I'll shut up.

  • Cara bought her stationary at the Pen and Paper shop in the mall. Liz likes to buy journals for her writing there. I'd mock, but dude, I'd probably be too busy drooling over the journals and pens to say anything.

  • Our ghosty brings us the word portentously. The writing on this one is just on a completely different level.

  • Abbie sees Dr. Griffin.

  • Bob Young, a partner at Ned's law firm, gives the family six free tickets to the Lakers versus the Celtics playoff game. Then, just to cover up Steven's stupidity, Ned asks for, and is given, a seventh ticket. Funny, my father would have told one of us that it sucked to be us cuz we ruined our shot at going. Ah, tough love.

  • Doug Brewster started dating some girl named Mariel before he and Abbie had officially broken up, which is a big reason why Abbie would never go after Steven BEFORE he broke up with Cara. That and Abbie is all things sweet and good.

  • Abbie's never been to a professional basketball game before.

  • The twins' Aunt Laura, on Alice's side, lives in Tucson, Arizona and is about to be remarried to a widowed doctor with two sons.

  • Kelly, their cousin, is not happy about her father, their uncle Greg, being replaced.

  • Laura and Greg divorced when Kelly was eight or nine.



Quotes:
Gold stars of unintended hilarity:

  "What you don't have"- he took a bite of ice cream- "is humor. No cartoons. No comic strip. No puzzles. Nothing funny in the whole darn paper."
  "He's right," Penny said to Elizabeth. "I never even thought about that. Did you?"
  Elizabeth had to admit that she hadn't. "Winston! That's a great idea. If we add a humorous feature to the paper, I bet people will like it every bit as much as they did when we first started putting the paper out!" - If you found this funny, you know why. If not, um, yeah, just imagine the stick up her butt making her speech so stilted, kay? p8

  "Winston," Penny said pleadingly, "how would you like to be the new humor editor? Just come up with something truly hilarious by next week and make everyone say how much they love the paper again." - See, this wouldn't be funny if I thought she was kidding, but I doubt she is. Penny's only given a sense of humor in her own book. No pressure there, Win! p 8




   Lania was Jessica's favorite soap opera character that week. - I love that we have to be told it changes weekly. hee! p20

  Abbie had been noticing Elizabeth from afar for awhile now, and she secretly thought Elizabeth was one of the smartest, nicest girls at school. - I smell stalker! p23

   As far as Abbie was concerned these days, Elizabeth Wakefield could do no wrong. - Um, next stop blond hair dye and aqua contacts? p 26

  "It gets on my nerves when people are that nice. I'm always sure they want something." - Gotta say, I agree with Jessica on this one. mwerp? p 29

   The way to make friends was to be nice to people, to listen to them, to offer to help them, not to dump your own troubles on their shoulders. - Abbie's guide for making friends. p 38

  "Cara," Lila said, putting down her fork and looking at Cara with her ultrasophisticated I-know-what's-good-for-you expression. "Is something wrong with you? You look like you just lost every share of stock you own." - This, my pets, is why Lila will always be awesome. p 84

  She liked Abbie Richardson! She didn't want to think Abbie had been using her to get to know Steven better! - I'm apparently twelve years old and want to know if she liked-liked Abbie. Sorry, Liz. p105

   "I'm going to go over to his house and tell him what a jerk I think he is!" Her dark eyes filled with tears. "I'm going to kill them all," she muttered. "I bet Liz is behind this somehow. She's the one who started inviting Abbie over all the time. I bet she wanted this to happen all along!" - Look! Liz is getting blamed for being sneaky! Hallelujah! Poor Cara, though. p 115

  "I don't believe anyone can steal anyone else. This is Steve we're talking about, not some sort of material possession." - This actually stayed with me more than any other line in the book, or most of the rest of the series, actually. Scary, but true. Cara is wise. p 128


   I've gotta say, Pretenses is one of those books I think I read once or twice as a kid and then always remembered more from the diary entries based on the book than I do the actual book. For all the lead up they tried to give Abbie, she's pretty much written out of the series [I think] and it's all a fantastic waste, just to teach girls to COMMUNICATE with their boyfriends. Seriously, we have Abbie, Lila, Jessica, Liz, and then the couple themselves hammering this theory on home. It hurts! Someone stop the sledgehammer of subtlety!
  I could have done without all the flip flopping like I said earlier. One minute Jess is the one talking crazy, the next it's Liz with her conspiracy theories about how someone would want to hurt Steven. No one did, you moron, it was a misunderstanding just like Jess said. Or Abbie's feelings for Steven. If they'd been portrayed as confusing to begin with, I might understand, but Abbie goes from comfortable with Steven to thinking she likes him and then BAM, he's like her older brother for a paragraph or two and then she likes him again. So. Painful.
  I think Abbie sounds like a sweetheart, but she isn't funny. She's just... not. She's sincere and sweet and pretty enough that she didn't really have to work on developing a sense of humor, and really, reading her punchlines, it shows. The only person less funny than she is this whole book is Liz.
   I want to like Cara, I really do, but mostly I think she's a bit of a moron lately. She keeps letting Jessica talk her into stupid things and then marveling when things go just as badly as we would have predicted. Imagine that. When Jess likes her to Elizabeth, she's referring to their relationship status, but I think it's more their raging blind spot for Jessica's true motives.



Side note: This is probably your last update of any interest until next year. Holidays in retail don't leave much time for anything else, sadly enough. See you next year with the harrowing story of poor, poor deluded cousin Kelly.
the_oracle: (tear)
Outcast
November 1987


Will anyone ever speak to Molly Hecht again?

No one to turn to...


   Ever since Regina Morrow's tragic death at Molly Hecht's party, everyone has been treating Molly as if she has the plague. Nobody at school wants to talk to her, her parents have permanently grounded her, and even her good friend Justin Belson is avoiding her. Every time Molly tries to make amends, nobody will listen.

   So when Buzz, a drug dealer who's hiding from the police, calls Molly and announces he's leaving town, she's more than ready to go with him. She'd rather flee to Mexico with Buzz than walk the halls of Sweet Valley High alone. Only Elizabeth senses that Molly is troubled, but even she may be too late to stop her from running away with a fugitive.


   Sorry this took so long, but I kept having to stop for fear that I might actually have a heart attack myself from the sheer mind numbing pain of it all. Which is weird, as I don't remember having that exact problem the first time I read it. Of course, I was skimming while trying to do something else at the same time, so that probably explains it, at least a little.

  The setup is simple. Molly Hecht has been made public enemy #1 at SVH. Everyone, including the teachers, blames her for Regina's death, at least in some small way. Everyone. Annnnnnd... I'm supposed to care because...?

   Now, on with the show. The book begins at Regina's memorial, where Nicholas has brought the house down with his heartfelt reading of one of Regina's favorite poems. Liz is wandering around backstage [even if it isn't literally backstage, that's how it comes across] and she comes across Bruce and Amy who are holding hands. Hell, if Bruce weren't known for thinking with his hormones first and foremost, I might even say he's not really aware of this at all. Amy, however, is looking defiant in her public declaration of affection for the dearly departed's recent ex. Classy, Sutton. Class-y. Liz comforts Bruce as best she can and tells him that he's a total asshole been forgiven. Regina didn't hold any ill will toward either of them. Sadly, one of the best moments happens right on page four.
  Amy looks deep into Elizabeth's soul, and for one brief, shining moment, we see a glimpse of the old Amy. Sweet, vulnerable, not a complete raging hormonal bitch, but someone who realizes that they might be held accountable for their actions and is afraid of what might happen... She asks if Liz is telling the truth, and when Liz assures her she is, their moment is lost forever. Oh, okay, fine, it's also the info dump for Amy/Liz-the tween years, but it's also a fairly nice moment all the same.

   After the memorial, Jeffrey drives Elizabeth home, and for a second you can hear my nine year old self sighing, and we notice that Ned's ugly ass car is home, as is Alice's car, and hell, even Steven's there. Before the grief overcomes them both, Jessica pulls up in the Fiat and the twins clasp hands, share their strength, and head inside as we marvel at how two identical people on the outside could be so different on the inside, and yet still both be torn by the loss of one friend. You know, glossing over the fact that Jessica was all for Regina's heartbreak being a spectator sport a week ago.

   If you thought the Wakefields were home just to comfort their daughters after a close friend died, you thought wrong. There's a mention of Regina's untimely death, but mostly it's, "Drugs! Bad! Don't do them!" I did like the way Steven pointed out that he understood how they felt given Regina's death, what with Tricia's death not being all that long ago. Then it's buried under some seriously heavy-handed don't do drugs stuff, and the moment is lost. Jessica vows to do something for Regina's memory, probably to help clear the guilt she's feeling away. This is also how Jessica deals with death. If she liked you, she does something to immortalize you in some way. Regina gets her Super Duper Secret Wait Til Later To Be Told Project and Sam will later get that bike rally. Like I said, it's Jessica's way.

   We flicker to Justin and he's realizing he royally fucked things up. Had he managed to get Molly out of his system properly, he wouldn't have taken Regina to the party, she'd still be alive, and maybe things wouldn't be so screwed up right now. He does a bit of raging against life and the irony of it all, thinking that things had finally turned a corner, only to have it be the same old crap, different day.
  So, Justin vows that to make things right, to keep this from ever happening again, he will finally cut all ties with his past. Including, ESPECIALLY, Molly. She's no good for him and you know, I kind of have to agree. He seems to have kicked any drug problem he might have had. She hasn't. While he hangs out at Kelly's drinking illegally, he doesn't seem to get drunk and whine about it so that I have to read about it. She's inviting Buzz over and still talking to him after Regina's death because she's just that conflicted. Justin seems to feel badly about Regina's death and not just how it affects him, but also how awful it is that she's not around anymore. Molly? Molly seems bothered that Regina happened to die at HER party. Not that someone died, just that by dying, it's seriously fucked her life up. Justin manages to capture my sympathy.

   Molly, however, does not. And since this is Molly's book, this is a problem.

   Backstory for Molly, or at least what we've been given. Her parents divorced and I gather it wasn't all that long ago. More than a year, but less than say, 15 years ago. Molly's parents don't seem to have an especially horrible relationship, but it doesn't seem to be all sunshine and roses since she's a bit bothered that it took hating on her to get her parents to agree on much of anything. But, at the same time, her father seems to be staying at the house after Molly's little party turned lethal, and there's no subsequent mention of her parents trying to kill each other, so they must be a little more than merely civil.
  The point is, I can feel bad for her in that her parents split up and that can't be easy. It's sort of implied that this is what set her down her road of questionable decisions, but never clearly stated. Her parents also seem to be kind of jerks, but then, they aren't painted with the same rainbow sparkles that Ned and Alice are, so maybe it's just that Molly thinks they are and so we see them that way. Truthfully, I can't blame them for not being warm and fuzzy towards their daughter after one of the richest teenagers in the city [town?] overdosed in their living room. My parents would have killed me.
  Instead, hers refuse to let her switch schools, drop out, or move to her father's to avoid the repercussions of her actions. They're waiting for someone to lead the lynch mob straight to Molly's locker and be done with her. Fair enough. You did the crime, the cops aren't making you do jail time, so you do your time in the school system that's going to make you wish you'd gone to jail. Tough love, baby. And I don't particularly fault them for it.

   Woe is Molly. Her parents are being total hardasses about this going to school and coming back in a reasonable amount of time thing. No one at school will talk to her. Everyone blames her for Regina's death. Hell, Molly says she does, too, but for someone claiming to take the blame, she's awfully fucking stupid. Days after Regina's death she tries to approach Elizabeth Wakefield, hoping for the absolution of the ever forgiving divine one. She waits until Jeffrey leaves and then makes her move. Liz, being polite and a little less saintly, doesn't run away, but she doesn't put on her Concerned!Face and immediately offer comfort. Instead she asks what Molly wants, very polite if a little strained, and Molly fumbles around. Understandable. A minute or two passes and Molly tries to string a semi-coherent thought together, but Saint Liz can't do this anymore. She tries to leave once more and Molly begs her not to hate her. And my heart breaks a little at this:


Elizabeth shook her head, her eyes bright with unshed tears, and took another step down. "I'm sorry, Molly, I can't talk to you."
"Liz! Please, don't-don't hate me," Molly begged pitifully.
There was a long pause. "I don't hate you, Molly," Elizabeth whispered. "But I loved Regina."


   It has it's flaws, but it's also the most polite way of breaking my heart and telling Molly to leave her alone all at once.
   Distraught, Molly flees the scene of her humiliation. She all but runs through town [city?] and ends up at the cemetery without even meaning to. She decides that since Liz cannot stand to see her, she hasn't a chance in hell with the other person she'd planned on begging forgiveness from [Regina's family, Nicholas to be exact] so instead she'll throw herself on Regina's mercy and confess her sins or something at Regina's grave. Oh, tear.
   Except Regina's grave is currently being visited by Nicholas Morrow, who is grieving in a way that's a little creepy and mostly realistic, given how he's been written to date. When Nicholas hears a twig snap, he goes to find out who has been spying on his grief. When he sees Molly, he flips the fuck out. "You killed my sister!" And with that, Molly is banished, and someone finally says the words I've been itching to hear this entire time. Someone flat out calls Molly a murderer to her Allison Sugarbaker face. SCORE.

   Now, remember Jessica's super-secret-plan? Well, she's decided that in memory of Regina, PBA should start a college scholarship fund for the truly needy at SVH. She figures that within a year they can raise a few thousand dollars and this way Regina's memory will live on each time someone is nominated and then when someone wins. At first everyone's overwhelmed by the amount of money they'd need to raise, as well as the logistics of the whole thing, but Lila steps up and says her father will donate a ton, and as if that weren't enough, she'll hit up the country club because everyone there knew Regina.
  True, but are the rich and spoiled of the Southern California area really going to throw money at a scholarship created for a girl who died of a cocaine overdose? Especially given the rich bitches we've met at the CC, like Gordon Stoddard's parents. I'm just saying...
   Anyway, with Lila's backing, the rest of PBA begins throwing fund raising ideas out like crazy. Still, Jessica's worried about the logistics of the whole thing and asks her parents to help her figure something out. Ned does her one better and suggests that his firm handle all the money and paperwork and basically everything she was worried about. I know people elsewhere, particularly 1bruce1 [love!], ask this all the time, but what in the fuck kind of lawyer IS Ned? I could see him having friends who could help out, sure, but always being able to do whatever lawyer-y thing is required? That's just... mind boggling. I know the series is written for younger girls, but is it also written BY them? You know, like when Doctor Barbie can do EVERYTHING because you've only got the four dolls, and one of them is missing a head so really, your choices are seriously limited? Good lord.

  Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Molly's wallowing in self pity when she gets a call from Buzz, our friendly neighborhood coke/heroin dealer. He lays it on with a trowel. How is she, doesn't everyone suck for holding her accountable for Regina's actions, isn't she lonely, does she miss him, he misses her, gosh, if only they could meet...
  And so they do, outside of Kelly's. You'd think the cops would have Kelly's on their radar, but maybe Mr. Fowler is right. Maybe the SVPD really does suck. Again, Buzz is so obvious that I'm thinking all that coke Molly's done has killed all her braincells. Imagine, if you will, if someone came up to you with this:
  Hey, baby. I've missed you. Sucks that everyone's on your case. By the way, I think I like you. So, that kiss was great for me, even though I saw you recoil from it and all, but uh, listen, I've got to get out of town. I know, baby, it sucks that we've finally found each other and all, but the cops... well, you know what they're like. Say, hey, got any money? You do? Could you, I dunno, withdraw all of it? You could? Fab! Maybe we could... well, no. I couldn't ask. Ask what? Well, we could run away. Sure. You go the bank, take all YOUR money out, then WE'LL run away, but you'll only be gone a few days. I'll keep the rest of your cash. Sound good? Awesome. Now get the fuck out of my car, skank.

  That is pretty much how the Buzz convo went, but a little more fun. And Molly agrees because OMG, if you missed it, the last few days have been HORRIBLE for her. Because she helped kill a girl.
  You see my problem with feeling bad for her, right?
  Yes?
  No?
  Bah.

  Anyway, Liz gets to thinking and she feels as if her halo is tarnished now that she's turned her back on someone for entirely justifiable reasons. She and Jeffrey chatter and he points out that it's okay to not want to talk to Molly, it doesn't make Liz anything but human... and Liz cannot have this. She's a saint, damn it, and she's going to rectify this!
  Only she still can't talk to Molly without wanting to weep for Regina's loss. So she decides that Justin would make an excellent replacement Saint. Except when she calls him [during the middle of her date with Jeffrey!] Justin tells her to go fuck herself. He's worked hard to distance himself from that pariah and Liz doesn't know a damn thing about what she's talking about. Which is true. Liz knows less than Regina knew about Justin's life, and we really don't know why Justin and Molly broke up, other than they eventually did not see eye-to-eye on the drug situation. Whatever, he's got his reasons and it's incredibly rude of Elizabeth to just assume Justin will do what Elizabeth cannot bring herself to do.
  So Liz worries. Nicholas comes over the next morning and Jessica brightens at the sight of him, and I know it's stupid, but I always feel for her when Nicholas so blatantly ignores her the second Liz glides into the room. I'm also painfully proud of the series for never having him come around to the Jessica way of thinking, although I'm not sure they would have made an absolutely horrid couple.
   Enough fantasy, back to the fictional reality. Liz and Nicholas discuss how he was dreadful to Molly [mock? Me? Neverrrrrrrr] and Liz sort of, but not really, cops to being less than sweet with Molly herself. I love that he's flogging himself for being completely upset, and she won't even volunteer her story to make him feel slightly better. God, Liz, that's how this game is played.
  Nicholas asks Elizabeth to tell Molly he's sorry and Elizabeth sort of agrees, but doesn't actually do it.

  Blah blah blah, I started to die here from sheer annoyance and boredom all at the same time, so things get fuzzy. Molly goes to the bank, tries to close her account but gets pissed when she's told she has to fill out paperwork to do that.
  Molly: Well, what if I don't take out everything. Would I still have to fill out the papers then?
  Clerk: You wouldn't be closing out your account then, now would you? *IDIOT thought bubble*

  Molly takes out everything but fourteen bucks and some change and then runs into Liz. Because Liz is everywhere. For those of you who now have the SVH themesong stuck your head, I truly do apologize. For those that don't, I'm jealous.
  Somewhere in this muck Liz is writing up an article about the PBA scholarship and there's a discussion about how horribly everyone is treating Molly and for the briefest second we're told how hard this must be on Olivia, since she spent a lot of time with Bruce/Regina, and how the two were close. Poor Liv. Your pain is cut off by the appearance of Mr. Collins who blathers on about how people are perfectly justified in thinking Molly is a murderous bitch, but that they should also realize how hard this is on her and maybe if people like Jessica Fucking Wakefield would stop going around being such bitches, well, things might not be so bad. I really can't tell how he manages to admit he holds Molly accountable for Regina's death and still gives Jessica grief for voicing the same opinion. However, before my mind imploded, there was a note about how Jessica's tendency to blurt out her misguided opinions really does embarrass her twin more often than not. Score!

  Justin's been looking for Molly after another chat with Liz, but he's having as much trouble finding her as Nicholas did trying to save Regina. Only with detention and whatnot instead of a trip to county lockup. Liz gets a hold of him and tells him that Molly's been to the bank and taken out a huge wad of fifties and this just cannot be good. Justin finds Molly and Buzz and there's this whole big fight scene and it ends with Buzz having a glass jaw.
  Molly and Justin are reunited, Liz is vindicated and reestablishes herself as a saint when she tells Molly that she's a shoo-in for the Regina Scholarship next year, and I die horribly at all of this crap.*
  There's the lead in to #42, with Sandra Bacon [god, why is she Bacon? Kevin Bacon tie-in?] annnnnd her lovey dovey Manuel, but her parents are racist and nothing good will come of this to the point that even Cara and Jessica know this.
  But what really brings me back to life is the knowledge that the next actual book is the first thriller. THANK YOU, GOD.


Trivia:

  • Liz absolves Amy and Bruce at the memorial, and then she and Amy have a soul searching moment.

  • Steve claims that it was Tricia's death that caused Betsy to turn to drugs, but in reality [and the dumbass should know this] her death caused Betsy to KICK her habit. Tricia's illness, however, accelerated Betsy's drug usage. Fail, ghosty.

  • The PBA meeting about Regina's memorial is held in the Language Lab at lunch.

  • At the meeting, Maria Santelli breaks down and Jeannie West comforts her.

  • The night Jessica asks her parents for help with the memorial, they've just had Chinese for dinner. Everyone. Including Ned. Numerous times have we been told he can't/won't eat it and suddenly it's delicious? Pod person!

  • Speaking of Ned, does he work at the SV branch of Wolfram and Heart because damn, his firm does it all.

  • Nicholas blames Molly for Regina's death. SCORE.

  • Lila is the first to step up at the meeting and offer a fund raising idea. Namely, her daddy's checkbook is theirs. Then she offers up the checkbooks of the SV Country Club members. Susan can get her hands on "a lot of movies that we can charge admission for." Other ideas include: getting stores to donate merchandise for raffles. Ads in the newspaper, telethon on public access TV, car washes, bake sales, door-to-door solicitation, though probably not in the prostitution sort of way.

  • After Nicholas reads one of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poems at the memorial, Liz goes to find more and is reminded most of Regina when she reads "Time does not bring relief, you all have lied."

  • Liz also admits that she keeps expecting to see Regina.

  • Jessica's fortune cookie read: Today is a good day to make plans.

  • Justin's mother's name is Claire Belson.

  • Molly's mother has a two hour commute to work, which means she has to leave at 6am. This also means she goes to sleep fairly early. But if she's home at 3 in the afternoon, she has a very, very short work day...

  • Molly's home is a one story ranch house, meaning she can sneak out her window without fear of a Pollyanna moment.

  • Molly hitchhikes to Kelly's so she can meet Buzz in the parking lot at 10pm. Cuz that's not dangerous at all.

  • Nicholas uses the Wakefield's backdoor more than anyone else, except maybe Alice. Weird.

  • Justin has a five page paper due on Hamlet's soliloquy, and Liz offers to help. In exchange, if he could just talk to that strung out Molly so Liz doesn't have to...?

  • According to Sandy's parents, Sweet Valley is "overrun with immigrants." Ah, lovely.

  • Molly has $2,314.83 in her account at Union Bank. She withdraws $2,300 so she won't have to fill out paperwork. Then she gets it all in fifties. Oi.

  • Molly has American History in room 211.

  • Justin gets busted by Chrome Dome waiting for Molly outside of her American History class. D'oh!

  • Buzz takes Route 7 South out of town because hardly anyone uses it. And because he's running to Mexico.

  • This book takes place over less than two weeks. That's right, Molly breaks in record time.




Quotable SVH:

  Now, for the first time since Amy's return, Elizabeth felt as if they were looking straight into each other's hearts. - after Liz tells Bruce and Amy that Regina didn't blame them anymore, p4

  It was well known that Elizabeth Wakefield could be counted on as sympathetic, honest, and scrupulously fair. - Molly thinks this while debating asking Liz for forgiveness or to understand how bad Molly feels. I snorted my soda at this. p 44

  "Haven't you done enough damage already? Do you have to make it worse by coming here and-and-" Nicholas was yelling now, outraged by her presence.
  "Nicholas-I-"
  "Get out of here!" he screamed, raising one hand as if to hit her. "Get out of here and leave us alone! You killed my sister! You killed her!" - Finally, something that resembles an honest emotion from a SV character. p 50

  "And I think she really needs a friend right now. She's feeling pretty isolated."
  There was silence on the other end.
  "Justin?"
  "What are you asking me for? She's no friend of mine."
  Elizabeth pulled nervously at her gold lavaliere. "Well, you used to be close, didn't you, Justin? I mean maybe she's been acting-I don't know, pretty wild lately-"
  "Pretty wild? Elizabeth, I don't think you have any idea what you're talking about." - Justin speaks true. So very, very true. p67

  Just then Elizabeth pushed open the door from the hall.
  "Nicholas!"
  Instantly he leaped to his feet and Jessica knew she had been forgotten. - It's not often I feel truly sorry for Jess, but this is one of those times. p86

  Molly felt her face grow hard. Why was it that when Elizabeth talked to Justin, he listened, but when Molly did, he bolted like a frightened rabbit? Her eyes narrowed with a rage she didn't know she could feel.
  "No, thanks. I've been your scapegoat long enough, Elizabeth. So you can take your talking and shove it." - Do I really need to say anything? p 113

  It hurt her sometimes that her sister could be insensitive to other people. and it hurt her that she hadn't been able to make Jessica understand. - Liz occasionally is embarrassed by her twin's lack of moral compass and empathy. Who knew? p 127




  *- Normally I love my SVH. I do. Lots of things grate, obviously, but for the most part, I love the series. But this book drove me absolutely insane. You might have noticed. I suspect that I've never actually read 40 and then 41 back to back and doing so makes my head hurt because it takes two weeks from Regina's death until Molly's redemption and that's just beyond unrealistic, even for this series.
   Also, Molly should be relatable, but they never actually make her so. The pieces are mostly there, but they never quite add up to anything more than a really annoying teenager unable to accept that they played a part in a horrible accident that cost someone their life. It's all about how Regina's death fucked her over, not that in addition to someone. is. dead. That's all you'd have to add for me to feel the love. I don't expect fantastic things of these guys. Be bitchy and cruel and petty. It's realistic! But if I'm supposed to give a right royal damn, I'd like you to show you're a semi decent fictional human being, too.
   Unless you're a psychopath like Margo, but really, she's in a class by herself.

  I do have to wonder: Where the hell are Jan and her boyfriend? Why aren't they even mentioned in any of the nasty remarks other people made? Did they go to jail? Were they sent to another school? Did the cops kill them, dump their bodies in the ocean, and hope that we wouldn't notice? Because Molly's suddenly friendless and in the last book she at least had Jan. Not that Jan was a prize, mind you, but she did exist. I'm so... confused.

  There are a few gems littered throughout the book that keep it from being a complete headache, and I think I love them more for that. Go figure. you tried, Outcast. You really did. You just forgot to have a little heart thrown in, that's all.
  So now I resume trying to figure out who the hell the girls gossiping being Molly's back on the cover are. Cuz, whoa, if this didn't have the traditional SVH logo, I'd assume it was something else entirely.

the_oracle: (tear)
Outcast
November 1987


Will anyone ever speak to Molly Hecht again?

No one to turn to...


   Ever since Regina Morrow's tragic death at Molly Hecht's party, everyone has been treating Molly as if she has the plague. Nobody at school wants to talk to her, her parents have permanently grounded her, and even her good friend Justin Belson is avoiding her. Every time Molly tries to make amends, nobody will listen.

   So when Buzz, a drug dealer who's hiding from the police, calls Molly and announces he's leaving town, she's more than ready to go with him. She'd rather flee to Mexico with Buzz than walk the halls of Sweet Valley High alone. Only Elizabeth senses that Molly is troubled, but even she may be too late to stop her from running away with a fugitive.


   Sorry this took so long, but I kept having to stop for fear that I might actually have a heart attack myself from the sheer mind numbing pain of it all. Which is weird, as I don't remember having that exact problem the first time I read it. Of course, I was skimming while trying to do something else at the same time, so that probably explains it, at least a little.

  The setup is simple. Molly Hecht has been made public enemy #1 at SVH. Everyone, including the teachers, blames her for Regina's death, at least in some small way. Everyone. Annnnnnd... I'm supposed to care because...?

   Now, on with the show. The book begins at Regina's memorial, where Nicholas has brought the house down with his heartfelt reading of one of Regina's favorite poems. Liz is wandering around backstage [even if it isn't literally backstage, that's how it comes across] and she comes across Bruce and Amy who are holding hands. Hell, if Bruce weren't known for thinking with his hormones first and foremost, I might even say he's not really aware of this at all. Amy, however, is looking defiant in her public declaration of affection for the dearly departed's recent ex. Classy, Sutton. Class-y. Liz comforts Bruce as best she can and tells him that he's a total asshole been forgiven. Regina didn't hold any ill will toward either of them. Sadly, one of the best moments happens right on page four.
  Amy looks deep into Elizabeth's soul, and for one brief, shining moment, we see a glimpse of the old Amy. Sweet, vulnerable, not a complete raging hormonal bitch, but someone who realizes that they might be held accountable for their actions and is afraid of what might happen... She asks if Liz is telling the truth, and when Liz assures her she is, their moment is lost forever. Oh, okay, fine, it's also the info dump for Amy/Liz-the tween years, but it's also a fairly nice moment all the same.

   After the memorial, Jeffrey drives Elizabeth home, and for a second you can hear my nine year old self sighing, and we notice that Ned's ugly ass car is home, as is Alice's car, and hell, even Steven's there. Before the grief overcomes them both, Jessica pulls up in the Fiat and the twins clasp hands, share their strength, and head inside as we marvel at how two identical people on the outside could be so different on the inside, and yet still both be torn by the loss of one friend. You know, glossing over the fact that Jessica was all for Regina's heartbreak being a spectator sport a week ago.

   If you thought the Wakefields were home just to comfort their daughters after a close friend died, you thought wrong. There's a mention of Regina's untimely death, but mostly it's, "Drugs! Bad! Don't do them!" I did like the way Steven pointed out that he understood how they felt given Regina's death, what with Tricia's death not being all that long ago. Then it's buried under some seriously heavy-handed don't do drugs stuff, and the moment is lost. Jessica vows to do something for Regina's memory, probably to help clear the guilt she's feeling away. This is also how Jessica deals with death. If she liked you, she does something to immortalize you in some way. Regina gets her Super Duper Secret Wait Til Later To Be Told Project and Sam will later get that bike rally. Like I said, it's Jessica's way.

   We flicker to Justin and he's realizing he royally fucked things up. Had he managed to get Molly out of his system properly, he wouldn't have taken Regina to the party, she'd still be alive, and maybe things wouldn't be so screwed up right now. He does a bit of raging against life and the irony of it all, thinking that things had finally turned a corner, only to have it be the same old crap, different day.
  So, Justin vows that to make things right, to keep this from ever happening again, he will finally cut all ties with his past. Including, ESPECIALLY, Molly. She's no good for him and you know, I kind of have to agree. He seems to have kicked any drug problem he might have had. She hasn't. While he hangs out at Kelly's drinking illegally, he doesn't seem to get drunk and whine about it so that I have to read about it. She's inviting Buzz over and still talking to him after Regina's death because she's just that conflicted. Justin seems to feel badly about Regina's death and not just how it affects him, but also how awful it is that she's not around anymore. Molly? Molly seems bothered that Regina happened to die at HER party. Not that someone died, just that by dying, it's seriously fucked her life up. Justin manages to capture my sympathy.

   Molly, however, does not. And since this is Molly's book, this is a problem.

   Backstory for Molly, or at least what we've been given. Her parents divorced and I gather it wasn't all that long ago. More than a year, but less than say, 15 years ago. Molly's parents don't seem to have an especially horrible relationship, but it doesn't seem to be all sunshine and roses since she's a bit bothered that it took hating on her to get her parents to agree on much of anything. But, at the same time, her father seems to be staying at the house after Molly's little party turned lethal, and there's no subsequent mention of her parents trying to kill each other, so they must be a little more than merely civil.
  The point is, I can feel bad for her in that her parents split up and that can't be easy. It's sort of implied that this is what set her down her road of questionable decisions, but never clearly stated. Her parents also seem to be kind of jerks, but then, they aren't painted with the same rainbow sparkles that Ned and Alice are, so maybe it's just that Molly thinks they are and so we see them that way. Truthfully, I can't blame them for not being warm and fuzzy towards their daughter after one of the richest teenagers in the city [town?] overdosed in their living room. My parents would have killed me.
  Instead, hers refuse to let her switch schools, drop out, or move to her father's to avoid the repercussions of her actions. They're waiting for someone to lead the lynch mob straight to Molly's locker and be done with her. Fair enough. You did the crime, the cops aren't making you do jail time, so you do your time in the school system that's going to make you wish you'd gone to jail. Tough love, baby. And I don't particularly fault them for it.

   Woe is Molly. Her parents are being total hardasses about this going to school and coming back in a reasonable amount of time thing. No one at school will talk to her. Everyone blames her for Regina's death. Hell, Molly says she does, too, but for someone claiming to take the blame, she's awfully fucking stupid. Days after Regina's death she tries to approach Elizabeth Wakefield, hoping for the absolution of the ever forgiving divine one. She waits until Jeffrey leaves and then makes her move. Liz, being polite and a little less saintly, doesn't run away, but she doesn't put on her Concerned!Face and immediately offer comfort. Instead she asks what Molly wants, very polite if a little strained, and Molly fumbles around. Understandable. A minute or two passes and Molly tries to string a semi-coherent thought together, but Saint Liz can't do this anymore. She tries to leave once more and Molly begs her not to hate her. And my heart breaks a little at this:


Elizabeth shook her head, her eyes bright with unshed tears, and took another step down. "I'm sorry, Molly, I can't talk to you."
"Liz! Please, don't-don't hate me," Molly begged pitifully.
There was a long pause. "I don't hate you, Molly," Elizabeth whispered. "But I loved Regina."


   It has it's flaws, but it's also the most polite way of breaking my heart and telling Molly to leave her alone all at once.
   Distraught, Molly flees the scene of her humiliation. She all but runs through town [city?] and ends up at the cemetery without even meaning to. She decides that since Liz cannot stand to see her, she hasn't a chance in hell with the other person she'd planned on begging forgiveness from [Regina's family, Nicholas to be exact] so instead she'll throw herself on Regina's mercy and confess her sins or something at Regina's grave. Oh, tear.
   Except Regina's grave is currently being visited by Nicholas Morrow, who is grieving in a way that's a little creepy and mostly realistic, given how he's been written to date. When Nicholas hears a twig snap, he goes to find out who has been spying on his grief. When he sees Molly, he flips the fuck out. "You killed my sister!" And with that, Molly is banished, and someone finally says the words I've been itching to hear this entire time. Someone flat out calls Molly a murderer to her Allison Sugarbaker face. SCORE.

   Now, remember Jessica's super-secret-plan? Well, she's decided that in memory of Regina, PBA should start a college scholarship fund for the truly needy at SVH. She figures that within a year they can raise a few thousand dollars and this way Regina's memory will live on each time someone is nominated and then when someone wins. At first everyone's overwhelmed by the amount of money they'd need to raise, as well as the logistics of the whole thing, but Lila steps up and says her father will donate a ton, and as if that weren't enough, she'll hit up the country club because everyone there knew Regina.
  True, but are the rich and spoiled of the Southern California area really going to throw money at a scholarship created for a girl who died of a cocaine overdose? Especially given the rich bitches we've met at the CC, like Gordon Stoddard's parents. I'm just saying...
   Anyway, with Lila's backing, the rest of PBA begins throwing fund raising ideas out like crazy. Still, Jessica's worried about the logistics of the whole thing and asks her parents to help her figure something out. Ned does her one better and suggests that his firm handle all the money and paperwork and basically everything she was worried about. I know people elsewhere, particularly 1bruce1 [love!], ask this all the time, but what in the fuck kind of lawyer IS Ned? I could see him having friends who could help out, sure, but always being able to do whatever lawyer-y thing is required? That's just... mind boggling. I know the series is written for younger girls, but is it also written BY them? You know, like when Doctor Barbie can do EVERYTHING because you've only got the four dolls, and one of them is missing a head so really, your choices are seriously limited? Good lord.

  Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Molly's wallowing in self pity when she gets a call from Buzz, our friendly neighborhood coke/heroin dealer. He lays it on with a trowel. How is she, doesn't everyone suck for holding her accountable for Regina's actions, isn't she lonely, does she miss him, he misses her, gosh, if only they could meet...
  And so they do, outside of Kelly's. You'd think the cops would have Kelly's on their radar, but maybe Mr. Fowler is right. Maybe the SVPD really does suck. Again, Buzz is so obvious that I'm thinking all that coke Molly's done has killed all her braincells. Imagine, if you will, if someone came up to you with this:
  Hey, baby. I've missed you. Sucks that everyone's on your case. By the way, I think I like you. So, that kiss was great for me, even though I saw you recoil from it and all, but uh, listen, I've got to get out of town. I know, baby, it sucks that we've finally found each other and all, but the cops... well, you know what they're like. Say, hey, got any money? You do? Could you, I dunno, withdraw all of it? You could? Fab! Maybe we could... well, no. I couldn't ask. Ask what? Well, we could run away. Sure. You go the bank, take all YOUR money out, then WE'LL run away, but you'll only be gone a few days. I'll keep the rest of your cash. Sound good? Awesome. Now get the fuck out of my car, skank.

  That is pretty much how the Buzz convo went, but a little more fun. And Molly agrees because OMG, if you missed it, the last few days have been HORRIBLE for her. Because she helped kill a girl.
  You see my problem with feeling bad for her, right?
  Yes?
  No?
  Bah.

  Anyway, Liz gets to thinking and she feels as if her halo is tarnished now that she's turned her back on someone for entirely justifiable reasons. She and Jeffrey chatter and he points out that it's okay to not want to talk to Molly, it doesn't make Liz anything but human... and Liz cannot have this. She's a saint, damn it, and she's going to rectify this!
  Only she still can't talk to Molly without wanting to weep for Regina's loss. So she decides that Justin would make an excellent replacement Saint. Except when she calls him [during the middle of her date with Jeffrey!] Justin tells her to go fuck herself. He's worked hard to distance himself from that pariah and Liz doesn't know a damn thing about what she's talking about. Which is true. Liz knows less than Regina knew about Justin's life, and we really don't know why Justin and Molly broke up, other than they eventually did not see eye-to-eye on the drug situation. Whatever, he's got his reasons and it's incredibly rude of Elizabeth to just assume Justin will do what Elizabeth cannot bring herself to do.
  So Liz worries. Nicholas comes over the next morning and Jessica brightens at the sight of him, and I know it's stupid, but I always feel for her when Nicholas so blatantly ignores her the second Liz glides into the room. I'm also painfully proud of the series for never having him come around to the Jessica way of thinking, although I'm not sure they would have made an absolutely horrid couple.
   Enough fantasy, back to the fictional reality. Liz and Nicholas discuss how he was dreadful to Molly [mock? Me? Neverrrrrrrr] and Liz sort of, but not really, cops to being less than sweet with Molly herself. I love that he's flogging himself for being completely upset, and she won't even volunteer her story to make him feel slightly better. God, Liz, that's how this game is played.
  Nicholas asks Elizabeth to tell Molly he's sorry and Elizabeth sort of agrees, but doesn't actually do it.

  Blah blah blah, I started to die here from sheer annoyance and boredom all at the same time, so things get fuzzy. Molly goes to the bank, tries to close her account but gets pissed when she's told she has to fill out paperwork to do that.
  Molly: Well, what if I don't take out everything. Would I still have to fill out the papers then?
  Clerk: You wouldn't be closing out your account then, now would you? *IDIOT thought bubble*

  Molly takes out everything but fourteen bucks and some change and then runs into Liz. Because Liz is everywhere. For those of you who now have the SVH themesong stuck your head, I truly do apologize. For those that don't, I'm jealous.
  Somewhere in this muck Liz is writing up an article about the PBA scholarship and there's a discussion about how horribly everyone is treating Molly and for the briefest second we're told how hard this must be on Olivia, since she spent a lot of time with Bruce/Regina, and how the two were close. Poor Liv. Your pain is cut off by the appearance of Mr. Collins who blathers on about how people are perfectly justified in thinking Molly is a murderous bitch, but that they should also realize how hard this is on her and maybe if people like Jessica Fucking Wakefield would stop going around being such bitches, well, things might not be so bad. I really can't tell how he manages to admit he holds Molly accountable for Regina's death and still gives Jessica grief for voicing the same opinion. However, before my mind imploded, there was a note about how Jessica's tendency to blurt out her misguided opinions really does embarrass her twin more often than not. Score!

  Justin's been looking for Molly after another chat with Liz, but he's having as much trouble finding her as Nicholas did trying to save Regina. Only with detention and whatnot instead of a trip to county lockup. Liz gets a hold of him and tells him that Molly's been to the bank and taken out a huge wad of fifties and this just cannot be good. Justin finds Molly and Buzz and there's this whole big fight scene and it ends with Buzz having a glass jaw.
  Molly and Justin are reunited, Liz is vindicated and reestablishes herself as a saint when she tells Molly that she's a shoo-in for the Regina Scholarship next year, and I die horribly at all of this crap.*
  There's the lead in to #42, with Sandra Bacon [god, why is she Bacon? Kevin Bacon tie-in?] annnnnd her lovey dovey Manuel, but her parents are racist and nothing good will come of this to the point that even Cara and Jessica know this.
  But what really brings me back to life is the knowledge that the next actual book is the first thriller. THANK YOU, GOD.


Trivia:

  • Liz absolves Amy and Bruce at the memorial, and then she and Amy have a soul searching moment.

  • Steve claims that it was Tricia's death that caused Betsy to turn to drugs, but in reality [and the dumbass should know this] her death caused Betsy to KICK her habit. Tricia's illness, however, accelerated Betsy's drug usage. Fail, ghosty.

  • The PBA meeting about Regina's memorial is held in the Language Lab at lunch.

  • At the meeting, Maria Santelli breaks down and Jeannie West comforts her.

  • The night Jessica asks her parents for help with the memorial, they've just had Chinese for dinner. Everyone. Including Ned. Numerous times have we been told he can't/won't eat it and suddenly it's delicious? Pod person!

  • Speaking of Ned, does he work at the SV branch of Wolfram and Heart because damn, his firm does it all.

  • Nicholas blames Molly for Regina's death. SCORE.

  • Lila is the first to step up at the meeting and offer a fund raising idea. Namely, her daddy's checkbook is theirs. Then she offers up the checkbooks of the SV Country Club members. Susan can get her hands on "a lot of movies that we can charge admission for." Other ideas include: getting stores to donate merchandise for raffles. Ads in the newspaper, telethon on public access TV, car washes, bake sales, door-to-door solicitation, though probably not in the prostitution sort of way.

  • After Nicholas reads one of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poems at the memorial, Liz goes to find more and is reminded most of Regina when she reads "Time does not bring relief, you all have lied."

  • Liz also admits that she keeps expecting to see Regina.

  • Jessica's fortune cookie read: Today is a good day to make plans.

  • Justin's mother's name is Claire Belson.

  • Molly's mother has a two hour commute to work, which means she has to leave at 6am. This also means she goes to sleep fairly early. But if she's home at 3 in the afternoon, she has a very, very short work day...

  • Molly's home is a one story ranch house, meaning she can sneak out her window without fear of a Pollyanna moment.

  • Molly hitchhikes to Kelly's so she can meet Buzz in the parking lot at 10pm. Cuz that's not dangerous at all.

  • Nicholas uses the Wakefield's backdoor more than anyone else, except maybe Alice. Weird.

  • Justin has a five page paper due on Hamlet's soliloquy, and Liz offers to help. In exchange, if he could just talk to that strung out Molly so Liz doesn't have to...?

  • According to Sandy's parents, Sweet Valley is "overrun with immigrants." Ah, lovely.

  • Molly has $2,314.83 in her account at Union Bank. She withdraws $2,300 so she won't have to fill out paperwork. Then she gets it all in fifties. Oi.

  • Molly has American History in room 211.

  • Justin gets busted by Chrome Dome waiting for Molly outside of her American History class. D'oh!

  • Buzz takes Route 7 South out of town because hardly anyone uses it. And because he's running to Mexico.

  • This book takes place over less than two weeks. That's right, Molly breaks in record time.




Quotable SVH:

  Now, for the first time since Amy's return, Elizabeth felt as if they were looking straight into each other's hearts. - after Liz tells Bruce and Amy that Regina didn't blame them anymore, p4

  It was well known that Elizabeth Wakefield could be counted on as sympathetic, honest, and scrupulously fair. - Molly thinks this while debating asking Liz for forgiveness or to understand how bad Molly feels. I snorted my soda at this. p 44

  "Haven't you done enough damage already? Do you have to make it worse by coming here and-and-" Nicholas was yelling now, outraged by her presence.
  "Nicholas-I-"
  "Get out of here!" he screamed, raising one hand as if to hit her. "Get out of here and leave us alone! You killed my sister! You killed her!" - Finally, something that resembles an honest emotion from a SV character. p 50

  "And I think she really needs a friend right now. She's feeling pretty isolated."
  There was silence on the other end.
  "Justin?"
  "What are you asking me for? She's no friend of mine."
  Elizabeth pulled nervously at her gold lavaliere. "Well, you used to be close, didn't you, Justin? I mean maybe she's been acting-I don't know, pretty wild lately-"
  "Pretty wild? Elizabeth, I don't think you have any idea what you're talking about." - Justin speaks true. So very, very true. p67

  Just then Elizabeth pushed open the door from the hall.
  "Nicholas!"
  Instantly he leaped to his feet and Jessica knew she had been forgotten. - It's not often I feel truly sorry for Jess, but this is one of those times. p86

  Molly felt her face grow hard. Why was it that when Elizabeth talked to Justin, he listened, but when Molly did, he bolted like a frightened rabbit? Her eyes narrowed with a rage she didn't know she could feel.
  "No, thanks. I've been your scapegoat long enough, Elizabeth. So you can take your talking and shove it." - Do I really need to say anything? p 113

  It hurt her sometimes that her sister could be insensitive to other people. and it hurt her that she hadn't been able to make Jessica understand. - Liz occasionally is embarrassed by her twin's lack of moral compass and empathy. Who knew? p 127




  *- Normally I love my SVH. I do. Lots of things grate, obviously, but for the most part, I love the series. But this book drove me absolutely insane. You might have noticed. I suspect that I've never actually read 40 and then 41 back to back and doing so makes my head hurt because it takes two weeks from Regina's death until Molly's redemption and that's just beyond unrealistic, even for this series.
   Also, Molly should be relatable, but they never actually make her so. The pieces are mostly there, but they never quite add up to anything more than a really annoying teenager unable to accept that they played a part in a horrible accident that cost someone their life. It's all about how Regina's death fucked her over, not that in addition to someone. is. dead. That's all you'd have to add for me to feel the love. I don't expect fantastic things of these guys. Be bitchy and cruel and petty. It's realistic! But if I'm supposed to give a right royal damn, I'd like you to show you're a semi decent fictional human being, too.
   Unless you're a psychopath like Margo, but really, she's in a class by herself.

  I do have to wonder: Where the hell are Jan and her boyfriend? Why aren't they even mentioned in any of the nasty remarks other people made? Did they go to jail? Were they sent to another school? Did the cops kill them, dump their bodies in the ocean, and hope that we wouldn't notice? Because Molly's suddenly friendless and in the last book she at least had Jan. Not that Jan was a prize, mind you, but she did exist. I'm so... confused.

  There are a few gems littered throughout the book that keep it from being a complete headache, and I think I love them more for that. Go figure. you tried, Outcast. You really did. You just forgot to have a little heart thrown in, that's all.
  So now I resume trying to figure out who the hell the girls gossiping being Molly's back on the cover are. Cuz, whoa, if this didn't have the traditional SVH logo, I'd assume it was something else entirely.

the_oracle: (geekout)
Secret Admirer
September 1987



Who is Penny's secret love?

A little too personal...



   Sweet Valley High is in a frenzy when the school newspaper begins to run personal ads. Even Penny Ayala, the shy, serious editor of the paper, decides to place an ad, and a boy named Jaime responds. His letters are witty and sensitive just like hers, and he seems to be Penny's perfect match.
   Elizabeth Wakefield encourages Penny to persue her secret admirer. But when she overhears a group of boys laughing about "Jaime," she realizes that Penny's perfect match is only a joke-"Jaime" doesn't even exist! Can she stop the boys from breaking Penny's heart?



  Okay, I'll admit it. I've been putting this one off because the sooner I finish SA, the sooner I have to kill off Regina, and the moment I do that, I'll be nine years old [maybe ten?] again, sniffling like a fool even though it's one of the big things most people remember about SVH after they grow up and move on. Y'know: Twins, perfect size six, Margo stalks and tries to kill Liz, Todd gets cheated on at every turn, Jeffrey gets dumped in record time, and oh yeah, Regina DIES.

  This has absolutely nothing to do with SA, though, aside from the very, very end of the book.

  At the end of the last book we learned that Lynne Henry was going to spearhead the personal ads running in The Oracle. It doesn't take long for this to go sour.

  Jessica and Lila are looking for older men, so they decide to put out ads of their own, only they can't decide whether it's best to describe yourself [Lila] or your perfect mate [Jessica]. So they set up a little competition. Whichever girl snags the better guy using her chosen method wins. Despite Penny getting the cover and a good chunk of the book, this storyline actually gets the most play. Why didn't they just go with this as the official "A"-story if they were going to devote more pages to it anyway? The mind, she boggles. Anyway, Jessica first meets Paolo, who impresses Jessica by ending his first letter in Italian. Lila proves to be psychic when she points out that anyone can learn two words in a foreign language. Duh. Paolo turns out to be fat and Jessica damn near kills herself trying to get out of their date. Eventually she convinces him that she's got some terminal illness and suffers horribly, and oh, God, she just wanted to go out on one normal date, but the pain... oh the pain. He takes her home and briefly, Jessica's seldom seen conscious appears, but she tells it to go fuck itself since she's got a thing against fat people.
   When Jessica gets a letter from John Karger, she decides not to brag too much until after the date, although his picture is awfully gorgeous. They meet and we learn that Jessica's not fluent in Greek desserts, but John asks Jess a ton of questions anyway. She decides he's in love with her and misses the part where he mentions he's a sociology major. Later we learn that Lila's also met a really fantastic guy, and when she and Jessica start taunting one another about who has the best shot of winning, Cara declares that since neither will concede that the other's date is better, Cara, Amy, Jean, and Sandy will be the judges. The winner takes her boy to the Forties Fling dance and the loser goes by herself. They all meet Saturday afternoon before the dance at a beach concert, where we learn that John answered a whole bunch of ads, and a whole bunch of girls thought he was interested in them. His girlfriend, Faye, says she knew this would happen and seems amused. In the real world, Faye would have her ass kicked by Jessica and Lila [who would then feed John to the pack of pissed off teenage girls] but instead John runs away and Faye just comes across as a bitch without the ass-whuppin. Sigh. Cara asks who the winner was, so Jess and Lila throw her in the ocean. Like a pool-push, but better.
   Jess and Lila both meet SVC boys and end up at the dance... and we'll meet back up with them in a little bit.



   Now, on to Penny. Penny's the editor of the Oracle and a bit of a stick in the mud. Now, personally, I like to pretend she and Mr. C have a little something going on, but we can't have that as canon, so Penny is shy and awkward around boys her own age. She's too serious for them and since she doesn't really go out of her way to look super pretty, none really approach her. Honestly, they could and I don't think Penny would realize they were hitting on her, based on the way she acts around various guys in this book. Doesn't matter. As a kid I could identify and also feel badly for Penny. How much does it suck that she seems to have no friends and also her love life is in the hands of Elizabeth freakin' Wakefield, someone who doesn't really have to worry about boyfriends? Liz is also all kinds of condescending all over the book. Meh. Anyway, she decides that Penny should put out an ad and see who responds. She points out that if it's a bunch of duds, no one will know she put the ad out since it's anonymous and all. Penny considers this and agrees. She writes up a fairly amusing little ad and Liz laughs and then says, "No, seriously, what're you going to say?" Penny's dead serious. She wants a guy who would find that funny AND be able to come up with a good reply. I can see her point, and since SVH isn't at all realistic, she doesn't have to worry about the fact that very few teenage boys could come up with the wit that she's expecting. And so... we wait.
  It's also worth noting that Enid isn't being pushed to find a guy because this marks the first appearance of Hugh, Enid's on again/off again boyfriend. WOO. Except, y'know, Hugh's mostly a dud. He's essentially a cardboard cutout that Enid trots out to events and everyone pretends he's real. I will say that for this book, he's not all that thrilling, but he shows a smidge of promise, though we're not told a damn thing about him other than they met at the new bookstore downtown. Sigh.

   Elsewhere, Kirk-the-Jerk and the rest of his tennis team cronies read Penny's ad and decide to create a person to reply. They come up with Jaime, a funny guy who is mostly Neil Freemount writing as Jaime. Other than Kirk coming up with the idea, we aren't told what role the team plays in this little prank since Neil does "most of the writing" and eventually falls for Penny. Their initial letters to one another are cute, but by the end it's blah, mainly because Kirk's pushing for them to meet so he can find out who the mystery hunchback is. When they find out it's Penny, they all die from laughing, except Neil, who is amazed that such weirdness of the best possible sort could come from straitlaced Penny Ayala. But he lacks the spine to go meet her in front of the bookstore, so Penny waits an hour for a guy who is never going to show. Poor Penny.
  Neil tries to get to know Penny on his own, but quickly realizes that his stupidity has made Penny shut down even more than she was before. So he writes her again, as Jaime, and asks her to give him one more shot. They meet and Neil confesses. Penny tries to leave but Neil tells her that he didn't show up just to confess, but because he really did want to get to know her. Going against all teen-read laws of nature, Penny agrees then and there, and the two kiss and make plans and are freakishly happy. Seriously, they go from zero to sixty in 2 seconds. It's amazing, really.

   Enid and Elizabeth overhear Kirk and company going on about Penny being the mystery woman [before she and Neil hookup] and decide to teach Kirk-the-Jerk a lesson since he's the most obnoxious of the bunch. Liz shreds some of Jessica's magazines and claims that Erica Hall, some hot model, is her NYC cousin. Kirk gets one look of the model, doesn't care that there are no candid shots of her, and tells Elizabeth that since her cousin is coming to town in time for the Fling, he'll be the one escorting the lovely lady. Liz tries to warn him that Erica is shallow, vain, bitchy, self absorbed, a pain in the ass.... Kirk In A Skirt, but as Enid points out, Kirk loves himself so he'd love a girl just like him. Of course Erica isn't her cousin and Kirk gets stood up and everyone has a good old laugh at Kirk.

  The dance brings us Regina, who has shown up stag, since Bruce is at home, working on a project. Jess and Lila try and remember if anyone's seen Amy at the dance, because she's made it clear that she's after Bruce in the worst way...



Trivia:

  • Penny has hazel eyes and short, dark blond hair. Really? I always thought of her as a brunette... Also, she's a senior and most likely to be valedictorian.

  • After Penny teases Liz about doing her work for her, Liz types out one of the few Eyes and Ears columns to not use initials instead of names. Weird.

  • When describing the twins and how they keep to their perfect size six selves, why do ghosties keep saying they both love to jog? Jess has made her feelings on jogging quite clear: It sucks.

  • Mr. Collins is asking Ms. Dalton to the Forties Night Swing Fling, as he's set to be a chaperone. He tells Penny and Liz to save a jitterbug for him.

  • Lila's frequently wearing a maillot and they almost always either seem to be absolutely stunning on her, or wash her out. Hmm. This one is red, for those who need to know.

  • Lila believes you should describe yourself, and the right boy will follow in the ad. Jessica says you should describe your perfect mate and they'll respond. Naturally, Lila thinks of herself first and Jessica's obsessed with the pretty boy at the end of the tunnel.

  • Hugh Grayson met Enid at "the new bookstore downtown." He spends more time with Jeffrey than Enid, though...

  • Hugh goes to Big Mesa, and Liz seems to think that Jeffrey, a recent SVH transplant, would be the one to hold Hugh going to a rival school against him? Oh, Lizzie, if weren't constantly told of your brilliance, I'd assume you were a moron.

  • Oh, Amy... You're really going to regret going after Bruce.

  • Penny's responses for her ad: "Mr. X" who didn't seem to get that Penny had to be joking, although he didn't seem like a complete ass, #2 was more into auras than Penny would like, and answer #3 was Jaime.

  • It's amazing that in that entire school, there isn't a single Jaime. What's more amazing is that Penny and Liz immediately know that.

  • Penny loves Dickens, Alcott, Austen.

  • She's just finished The Lord of the Flies and likes the beach at dawn, when it's mostly deserted.

  • The Wakefields have lemon trees in their backyard.

  • Lila has a queen size bed. Naturally.

  • Jessica gets seven letters initially.

  • Kirk Anderson, Michael Harris, Neil Freemount, Chad Ticknor, and Ron Reese of the tennis club create "Jaime." Later Liz wonders why Ron and Neil would be such bastards, but can see Chad and Michael being asshats. Interesting, considering she seemed to think Michael was a good guy when he and Maria Santelli were engaged. What changed?

  • Paolo's parents are Italian, but he was born and raised in California, though he speaks Italian, too. He's got a thing for food and astronomy, and is very sweet, though very gullible.

  • Kirk drives a white Trans Am.

  • The cover of the book TRIES to depict the scene where Penny's waiting for Jaime, but in the book she's wearing a short, denim skirt and a bright madras top. That is so not what she's wearing. This makes it look like Penny's not even trying. Also, for years, I thought Penny was at the Oracle office waiting [on the cover] not the bookstore. D'oh!

  • John Karger has brown eyes that are constantly referred to anytime he shows up. He can be contacted at the sociology department down at SVC. So can Faye, his bitchy red haired girlfriend.

  • Neil and Penny are both in Mr. Collins' American Lit class.

  • Jessica doesn't know what baklava is.

  • Jess was all set to let Jim Daly take her to the Swing Fling, but dumped him the day of so she could go with John. Y'know, before he turned out to be an ass.

  • Lila and Jessica show up at the beach concert wearing matching leopard print bikinis.



Excerpts from the Oracle:
[also known as somewhere between a quote and trivia]










Quotable SVH:

  "I really shouldn't be doing your work for you, you know. One more slip up and you're out." - Penny's teasing Liz. Or is she? p3

  She was the sort of person people instinctively turned to-for help, sympathy, or the warmth of her sunny smile. - Oh, gag me. p6

   "Do you want us to help you write the ad?"
   With a little chuckle, Penny shook her head. "Listen, if there's one thing I do have plenty of confidence about, it's writing." - Also known as "Fuck off, Liz. I'm the editor around here and I didn't get the position just by sleeping my way to the top. Er..." p 29

  Elizabeth burst out laughing. "Penny, this is hysterical. But you're not really going to use it, are you?" - Liz misses the point of Penny's ad. p30

  "Jessica, anybody could learn two words of Italian. Give me a break." -Lila doubts the almighty Paolo. p 49

  Never in her life had Jessica ever dated anyone who wasn't handsome and slim. And now she was going out with-with-someone fat. - Way to go, ghosties. Cuz, y'know, none of your readers would be fat or anything. p73

  She frowned a little as a little voice inside told her she'd just played a mean trick on a polite, friendly, and interesting boy. But she ignored the voice. After all, she couldn't help it if she simply couldn't stand to be around fat people. - p79

  "I guess you could say I like a dare. I'll do anything once-and I'll do it again if I like it," she added suggestively. - And later you'll wonder why people believe her when Missy Fox tells everyone you're a skank, Jessica. p105

  "Truce! Truce!" Lila cut in. "Anyway, my date is in college, too, and believe me, he's very sophisticated. I know that already, just from his letter. Now Steve is a very nice guy, and I'm sure your little friend is nice, too, " she added condescendingly, grinning at Jessica. "But I'm talking about a real man." - It's that 'little friend' thing that makes Lila so bitchy. And loved so very, very much. p 122



  This would have been up hours ago, but I had to drive myself crazy looking for Lila and Jessica's fonts. Oi. What a nightmare. Big thanks to SV Unlimited for saving what's left of my sanity. Of course, the hours I lost trying to find the reprint cover? Yeah, they're not coming back, either. So if you've got a clearer image than the grainy gif Amazon kept throwing my way, please. Share.

   In the grand scheme of things, Penny got shafted. She happens to get the least desirable of all real estate. The book before a recurring character finally bites it. No one remembers this book. Really, they don't. Penny's not going to be remembered for her moment of weakness when she wished she weren't all alone, she's going to be remembered for being such a hardass. I'm not even sure she IS one, but that's how history remembers her.
  And I'm sorry, but for everyone screaming, "but why, oh why, does she need male validation"- I say shut it. While it would be nice to assume that everyone is completely self reliant, she's a seventeen year old girl who has no friends to speak of and sucks when it comes to speaking to the opposite sex. Let the girl have her brief moment in the sun, where she doesn't cave to the traditional trappings of geek!girl gets guy [she does her own semi-makeover, and honey, if that's what you look like after the makeover...] and doesn't need Liz, or even Neil, to come to her rescue. She didn't go momentarily stupid and realize she should have been herself all along- she was weird, dorky Penny, and still managed to get the guy who was upfront with her, so we didn't have to endure the painful waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Penny to find out she was a joke, and then the stupid reconciliation between the two so we could have a happy ending before it was time to march off to the gallows for Regina.
  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go ponder what the hell Michael Harris did between breaking up with Maria and now, so that Liz thinks he's an asshole on the same level as Kirk-the-Jerk...

the_oracle: (geekout)
Secret Admirer
September 1987



Who is Penny's secret love?

A little too personal...



   Sweet Valley High is in a frenzy when the school newspaper begins to run personal ads. Even Penny Ayala, the shy, serious editor of the paper, decides to place an ad, and a boy named Jaime responds. His letters are witty and sensitive just like hers, and he seems to be Penny's perfect match.
   Elizabeth Wakefield encourages Penny to persue her secret admirer. But when she overhears a group of boys laughing about "Jaime," she realizes that Penny's perfect match is only a joke-"Jaime" doesn't even exist! Can she stop the boys from breaking Penny's heart?



  Okay, I'll admit it. I've been putting this one off because the sooner I finish SA, the sooner I have to kill off Regina, and the moment I do that, I'll be nine years old [maybe ten?] again, sniffling like a fool even though it's one of the big things most people remember about SVH after they grow up and move on. Y'know: Twins, perfect size six, Margo stalks and tries to kill Liz, Todd gets cheated on at every turn, Jeffrey gets dumped in record time, and oh yeah, Regina DIES.

  This has absolutely nothing to do with SA, though, aside from the very, very end of the book.

  At the end of the last book we learned that Lynne Henry was going to spearhead the personal ads running in The Oracle. It doesn't take long for this to go sour.

  Jessica and Lila are looking for older men, so they decide to put out ads of their own, only they can't decide whether it's best to describe yourself [Lila] or your perfect mate [Jessica]. So they set up a little competition. Whichever girl snags the better guy using her chosen method wins. Despite Penny getting the cover and a good chunk of the book, this storyline actually gets the most play. Why didn't they just go with this as the official "A"-story if they were going to devote more pages to it anyway? The mind, she boggles. Anyway, Jessica first meets Paolo, who impresses Jessica by ending his first letter in Italian. Lila proves to be psychic when she points out that anyone can learn two words in a foreign language. Duh. Paolo turns out to be fat and Jessica damn near kills herself trying to get out of their date. Eventually she convinces him that she's got some terminal illness and suffers horribly, and oh, God, she just wanted to go out on one normal date, but the pain... oh the pain. He takes her home and briefly, Jessica's seldom seen conscious appears, but she tells it to go fuck itself since she's got a thing against fat people.
   When Jessica gets a letter from John Karger, she decides not to brag too much until after the date, although his picture is awfully gorgeous. They meet and we learn that Jessica's not fluent in Greek desserts, but John asks Jess a ton of questions anyway. She decides he's in love with her and misses the part where he mentions he's a sociology major. Later we learn that Lila's also met a really fantastic guy, and when she and Jessica start taunting one another about who has the best shot of winning, Cara declares that since neither will concede that the other's date is better, Cara, Amy, Jean, and Sandy will be the judges. The winner takes her boy to the Forties Fling dance and the loser goes by herself. They all meet Saturday afternoon before the dance at a beach concert, where we learn that John answered a whole bunch of ads, and a whole bunch of girls thought he was interested in them. His girlfriend, Faye, says she knew this would happen and seems amused. In the real world, Faye would have her ass kicked by Jessica and Lila [who would then feed John to the pack of pissed off teenage girls] but instead John runs away and Faye just comes across as a bitch without the ass-whuppin. Sigh. Cara asks who the winner was, so Jess and Lila throw her in the ocean. Like a pool-push, but better.
   Jess and Lila both meet SVC boys and end up at the dance... and we'll meet back up with them in a little bit.



   Now, on to Penny. Penny's the editor of the Oracle and a bit of a stick in the mud. Now, personally, I like to pretend she and Mr. C have a little something going on, but we can't have that as canon, so Penny is shy and awkward around boys her own age. She's too serious for them and since she doesn't really go out of her way to look super pretty, none really approach her. Honestly, they could and I don't think Penny would realize they were hitting on her, based on the way she acts around various guys in this book. Doesn't matter. As a kid I could identify and also feel badly for Penny. How much does it suck that she seems to have no friends and also her love life is in the hands of Elizabeth freakin' Wakefield, someone who doesn't really have to worry about boyfriends? Liz is also all kinds of condescending all over the book. Meh. Anyway, she decides that Penny should put out an ad and see who responds. She points out that if it's a bunch of duds, no one will know she put the ad out since it's anonymous and all. Penny considers this and agrees. She writes up a fairly amusing little ad and Liz laughs and then says, "No, seriously, what're you going to say?" Penny's dead serious. She wants a guy who would find that funny AND be able to come up with a good reply. I can see her point, and since SVH isn't at all realistic, she doesn't have to worry about the fact that very few teenage boys could come up with the wit that she's expecting. And so... we wait.
  It's also worth noting that Enid isn't being pushed to find a guy because this marks the first appearance of Hugh, Enid's on again/off again boyfriend. WOO. Except, y'know, Hugh's mostly a dud. He's essentially a cardboard cutout that Enid trots out to events and everyone pretends he's real. I will say that for this book, he's not all that thrilling, but he shows a smidge of promise, though we're not told a damn thing about him other than they met at the new bookstore downtown. Sigh.

   Elsewhere, Kirk-the-Jerk and the rest of his tennis team cronies read Penny's ad and decide to create a person to reply. They come up with Jaime, a funny guy who is mostly Neil Freemount writing as Jaime. Other than Kirk coming up with the idea, we aren't told what role the team plays in this little prank since Neil does "most of the writing" and eventually falls for Penny. Their initial letters to one another are cute, but by the end it's blah, mainly because Kirk's pushing for them to meet so he can find out who the mystery hunchback is. When they find out it's Penny, they all die from laughing, except Neil, who is amazed that such weirdness of the best possible sort could come from straitlaced Penny Ayala. But he lacks the spine to go meet her in front of the bookstore, so Penny waits an hour for a guy who is never going to show. Poor Penny.
  Neil tries to get to know Penny on his own, but quickly realizes that his stupidity has made Penny shut down even more than she was before. So he writes her again, as Jaime, and asks her to give him one more shot. They meet and Neil confesses. Penny tries to leave but Neil tells her that he didn't show up just to confess, but because he really did want to get to know her. Going against all teen-read laws of nature, Penny agrees then and there, and the two kiss and make plans and are freakishly happy. Seriously, they go from zero to sixty in 2 seconds. It's amazing, really.

   Enid and Elizabeth overhear Kirk and company going on about Penny being the mystery woman [before she and Neil hookup] and decide to teach Kirk-the-Jerk a lesson since he's the most obnoxious of the bunch. Liz shreds some of Jessica's magazines and claims that Erica Hall, some hot model, is her NYC cousin. Kirk gets one look of the model, doesn't care that there are no candid shots of her, and tells Elizabeth that since her cousin is coming to town in time for the Fling, he'll be the one escorting the lovely lady. Liz tries to warn him that Erica is shallow, vain, bitchy, self absorbed, a pain in the ass.... Kirk In A Skirt, but as Enid points out, Kirk loves himself so he'd love a girl just like him. Of course Erica isn't her cousin and Kirk gets stood up and everyone has a good old laugh at Kirk.

  The dance brings us Regina, who has shown up stag, since Bruce is at home, working on a project. Jess and Lila try and remember if anyone's seen Amy at the dance, because she's made it clear that she's after Bruce in the worst way...



Trivia:

  • Penny has hazel eyes and short, dark blond hair. Really? I always thought of her as a brunette... Also, she's a senior and most likely to be valedictorian.

  • After Penny teases Liz about doing her work for her, Liz types out one of the few Eyes and Ears columns to not use initials instead of names. Weird.

  • When describing the twins and how they keep to their perfect size six selves, why do ghosties keep saying they both love to jog? Jess has made her feelings on jogging quite clear: It sucks.

  • Mr. Collins is asking Ms. Dalton to the Forties Night Swing Fling, as he's set to be a chaperone. He tells Penny and Liz to save a jitterbug for him.

  • Lila's frequently wearing a maillot and they almost always either seem to be absolutely stunning on her, or wash her out. Hmm. This one is red, for those who need to know.

  • Lila believes you should describe yourself, and the right boy will follow in the ad. Jessica says you should describe your perfect mate and they'll respond. Naturally, Lila thinks of herself first and Jessica's obsessed with the pretty boy at the end of the tunnel.

  • Hugh Grayson met Enid at "the new bookstore downtown." He spends more time with Jeffrey than Enid, though...

  • Hugh goes to Big Mesa, and Liz seems to think that Jeffrey, a recent SVH transplant, would be the one to hold Hugh going to a rival school against him? Oh, Lizzie, if weren't constantly told of your brilliance, I'd assume you were a moron.

  • Oh, Amy... You're really going to regret going after Bruce.

  • Penny's responses for her ad: "Mr. X" who didn't seem to get that Penny had to be joking, although he didn't seem like a complete ass, #2 was more into auras than Penny would like, and answer #3 was Jaime.

  • It's amazing that in that entire school, there isn't a single Jaime. What's more amazing is that Penny and Liz immediately know that.

  • Penny loves Dickens, Alcott, Austen.

  • She's just finished The Lord of the Flies and likes the beach at dawn, when it's mostly deserted.

  • The Wakefields have lemon trees in their backyard.

  • Lila has a queen size bed. Naturally.

  • Jessica gets seven letters initially.

  • Kirk Anderson, Michael Harris, Neil Freemount, Chad Ticknor, and Ron Reese of the tennis club create "Jaime." Later Liz wonders why Ron and Neil would be such bastards, but can see Chad and Michael being asshats. Interesting, considering she seemed to think Michael was a good guy when he and Maria Santelli were engaged. What changed?

  • Paolo's parents are Italian, but he was born and raised in California, though he speaks Italian, too. He's got a thing for food and astronomy, and is very sweet, though very gullible.

  • Kirk drives a white Trans Am.

  • The cover of the book TRIES to depict the scene where Penny's waiting for Jaime, but in the book she's wearing a short, denim skirt and a bright madras top. That is so not what she's wearing. This makes it look like Penny's not even trying. Also, for years, I thought Penny was at the Oracle office waiting [on the cover] not the bookstore. D'oh!

  • John Karger has brown eyes that are constantly referred to anytime he shows up. He can be contacted at the sociology department down at SVC. So can Faye, his bitchy red haired girlfriend.

  • Neil and Penny are both in Mr. Collins' American Lit class.

  • Jessica doesn't know what baklava is.

  • Jess was all set to let Jim Daly take her to the Swing Fling, but dumped him the day of so she could go with John. Y'know, before he turned out to be an ass.

  • Lila and Jessica show up at the beach concert wearing matching leopard print bikinis.



Excerpts from the Oracle:
[also known as somewhere between a quote and trivia]










Quotable SVH:

  "I really shouldn't be doing your work for you, you know. One more slip up and you're out." - Penny's teasing Liz. Or is she? p3

  She was the sort of person people instinctively turned to-for help, sympathy, or the warmth of her sunny smile. - Oh, gag me. p6

   "Do you want us to help you write the ad?"
   With a little chuckle, Penny shook her head. "Listen, if there's one thing I do have plenty of confidence about, it's writing." - Also known as "Fuck off, Liz. I'm the editor around here and I didn't get the position just by sleeping my way to the top. Er..." p 29

  Elizabeth burst out laughing. "Penny, this is hysterical. But you're not really going to use it, are you?" - Liz misses the point of Penny's ad. p30

  "Jessica, anybody could learn two words of Italian. Give me a break." -Lila doubts the almighty Paolo. p 49

  Never in her life had Jessica ever dated anyone who wasn't handsome and slim. And now she was going out with-with-someone fat. - Way to go, ghosties. Cuz, y'know, none of your readers would be fat or anything. p73

  She frowned a little as a little voice inside told her she'd just played a mean trick on a polite, friendly, and interesting boy. But she ignored the voice. After all, she couldn't help it if she simply couldn't stand to be around fat people. - p79

  "I guess you could say I like a dare. I'll do anything once-and I'll do it again if I like it," she added suggestively. - And later you'll wonder why people believe her when Missy Fox tells everyone you're a skank, Jessica. p105

  "Truce! Truce!" Lila cut in. "Anyway, my date is in college, too, and believe me, he's very sophisticated. I know that already, just from his letter. Now Steve is a very nice guy, and I'm sure your little friend is nice, too, " she added condescendingly, grinning at Jessica. "But I'm talking about a real man." - It's that 'little friend' thing that makes Lila so bitchy. And loved so very, very much. p 122



  This would have been up hours ago, but I had to drive myself crazy looking for Lila and Jessica's fonts. Oi. What a nightmare. Big thanks to SV Unlimited for saving what's left of my sanity. Of course, the hours I lost trying to find the reprint cover? Yeah, they're not coming back, either. So if you've got a clearer image than the grainy gif Amazon kept throwing my way, please. Share.

   In the grand scheme of things, Penny got shafted. She happens to get the least desirable of all real estate. The book before a recurring character finally bites it. No one remembers this book. Really, they don't. Penny's not going to be remembered for her moment of weakness when she wished she weren't all alone, she's going to be remembered for being such a hardass. I'm not even sure she IS one, but that's how history remembers her.
  And I'm sorry, but for everyone screaming, "but why, oh why, does she need male validation"- I say shut it. While it would be nice to assume that everyone is completely self reliant, she's a seventeen year old girl who has no friends to speak of and sucks when it comes to speaking to the opposite sex. Let the girl have her brief moment in the sun, where she doesn't cave to the traditional trappings of geek!girl gets guy [she does her own semi-makeover, and honey, if that's what you look like after the makeover...] and doesn't need Liz, or even Neil, to come to her rescue. She didn't go momentarily stupid and realize she should have been herself all along- she was weird, dorky Penny, and still managed to get the guy who was upfront with her, so we didn't have to endure the painful waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Penny to find out she was a joke, and then the stupid reconciliation between the two so we could have a happy ending before it was time to march off to the gallows for Regina.
  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go ponder what the hell Michael Harris did between breaking up with Maria and now, so that Liz thinks he's an asshole on the same level as Kirk-the-Jerk...

the_oracle: (better than you)
Rumors
June 1987

   Can Susan live with the truth?

   Painful lies...


   It's every girl's dream at Sweet Valley High to attend the fabulous Bridgewater Ball, and Susan Stewart has the chance to go with handsome, wealthy Gordon Stoddard. Nobody knows where Susan gets her money and style- or who her real parents are- but everyone agrees she's beautiful, friendly, and fun to be with.
   Then jealous Lila Fowler starts spreading vicious rumors about Susan's mother-who she really is and why she abandoned Susan. No one wants to talk to Susan anymore, not even Gordon. To clear her name, Susan has to find out the truth about her parents. But is she better off not knowing?


   When I was a kid, I didn't really get the point of the books focusing on non!Wakefields or their immediate circle of friends. I was there for the twins, Lila, Enid, and the occasional boy toy. I'd have been happy with a Winston book, for the record, but for the most part these fringe characters that litter the landscape? Yeah, I wasn't really big on a lot of them. I'm not sure how much this has changed over the years, to be honest.
   Just thought I should warn you.

   Woe is Susan Stewart. It's taken 30-something books for us to find out anything about her and when we do, the book you'd think would be her own isn't. It's more about everyone else reacting to Susan than it is about Susan herself, which is an odd perspective, but I suppose it fits for a story taking place in high school. Mostly you are who you see reflected in everyone else's eyes, right? Sure, whatever.
  Susan lives with her guardian, Helen Reister. Everyone knows that Helen isn't Susan's mother, but no one, including Susan, knows who Susan's mother actually is. Rumor has it she's someone famous, and she sends money to alleviate her guilt... I mean, make it easier on Susan. Most people take the Jessica Wakefield approach to Susan: Treat her as if she were Someone. That way, if she is, you're set. If she's not, well, you can turn on her then. No sense making an enemy until you need to do so.
  And so Susan is pretty popular. She's one of the nine billion redheads inhabiting the Valley and has a steady rich-bitch boyfriend named Gordon. His family golfs together and they sound like your stereotypical rich-bitch family. There's talk of lowering standards on the admissions committee to the Club and there's an uncomfortable moment when you feel like someone should ask why the old white guy feels he's so much better than that old white guy, but no one does. Instead Gordon's father, after berating Gordon's mother for her horrible golfing, assures Susan that she's their sort of people.
  Naturally, by this point you know full well that Susan's mother is going to be revealed and that she's not going to be their sort of people at all. You have your suspicions, but you do know that for a fact. Gordon sort of tries to reassure Susan that he'd still love her if she were, y'know, not his sort of people, but not really. It's more of Susan asking if he would and he's evasive enough that DUH, of course he'll dump your ass.
  Susan is desperate to know who her mother is and doesn't understand why her 'Aunt' Helen works so hard when her mother obviously sends her money for fabulous things. If you've realized that Helen is Susan's mother, congrats. You can wear this, "Not an Idiot" pin with pride.
  The big thread left over from last book was that the Bridgewater Ball is coming up. It's the fancy coming out to society sort of party for the ever wealthy members of Bridgewater Society. Fun? Susan is going with Gordon and everyone else is abuzz with news and speculation of who else will be attending the blowout. Liz even devotes an entire gossip column to guessing the attendees. She and Enid decide that Lila, Bruce & Regina, and Roger & Olivia are all sure bets. Lila, however, is a bit up shit creek without a paddle. Her last BW [Bridgewater] date fizzled and she doesn't have another one to the ball. So Lila schemes and schemes big.
  It seems Lila used to go out with Gordon [did she? I don't remember...] until he and Susan hooked up. Lila doesn't forgive or forget unless it's in the interest of the plot, so she doesn't like Susan for that reason. Lila also doesn't like other rich girls [see Regina] and is even less fond of them when they're also pretty [still see Regina], but she really, really, REALLY can't stand the way that Susan is coasting along on the idea that she might be Someone, and not actual proof. So Lila twists this to her advantage and spreads a rumor that Susan's mother is actually in a mental institution for the criminally insane. Not only is she insane, but she obviously killed someone and got caught. Crazy killer too dumb to not get caught! Oh, the shame!
  And because people are idiots, they eat this rumor up like candy. Everyone shuns poor Susan because it must be true. Not only are they mad because, ew, crazy germs, but also because she let them all believe she was better than that. She lied to them! She thought she was Someone and she's really no one and good lord, if someone doesn't break into song in the next two seconds, my brain will never recover.

   To add to all this drama, Jessica's taking a health class and thanks to yet another suggestion courtesy of Lila [the power!], Jess is sure that her mother is pregnant. She's been cranky and has weird cravings, and actually, the way it's presented, it's not outside the realm of possibility. Alice does seem to want another kid, but instead of asking her about it, the twins decide to drop hints that they'd be more than okay having a sibling that's 16/17 years younger than they are. The single best thing of the book is SO good I always forget that it happens because I always forget this subplot.
   While Jeffrey is over and Liz and Jessica are laying it on a little thick, Ned and Alice freak out. After dinner, Alice demands to know which twin is "in trouble." Sex! In a SVH book! I die with joy and laughter and all things good. Alice thinks her kids are having sex!

   They aren't, of course, but oh, this was so good. Um, anyway, Steven comes home when Jess leaves a frantic message and instead of thinking logically and just asking [though he does suggest it], he joins the hint parade. Finally we learn the baby clothes Jess found are for a baby shower and no, Alice isn't preggers and this is all Jessica's fault, and I swear you hear, "Oh, Jessica..." Funny, at my house my parents would point out that whomever is dumb enough to follow the town idiot gets to be mocked just as much, if not more, because they should know better. At Casa de Wakefield, it's just "Oh, Jessica!"

  Back to Susan. Remember Allen Walters, Robin's boytoy before she stabbed Enid in the back? Well, he finally moved on beyond cheating Robin and fell for Susan. Only he'd never make a move on such a beautiful, fantastic, sophisticated girl who was already taken because Allen may be a dork, but he's a noble dork. I'm actually kind of liking Allen, so give me a moment. When everyone else dumps Susan, Allen moves in for the kill and tries desperately to cheer Susan up. He has varying degrees of luck and when he suggests a date, he almost loses it when Susan realizes that the night he's suggesting is the night of the BWB, but she can't go, and Allen is the only person besides Liz Wakefield who has looked at her like she's still human, so what the hell. God, I'm killing the language here. Um, anyway.
  Our other Wakefield subplot revolves around a moving being shot in SV. They're looking for extras and Liz gets it into her head that she'll interview the director because he's donating his salary on the movie to SADD, since his son was killed a year ago by a drunk driver, leaving me to wonder- is it in horrible taste to suggest that for the Sweet Valley Drinking Game, a shot should be done for each car accident, two shots for all accidents being the result of a drunk driver?

  Back to Susan's guardian: She's panicking because Susan really needs to know, but if she knew her mother were just a poor waitress with amazing sewing skills, she'd be less than thrilled. So Helen rips up the confession note she just wrote and is all set to never, ever tell Susan [at least, not til she's 18, and honey, these books will never let that happen, so she's free!] and then there's a knock at the door. It's the director, Jackson Croft! And what's more, Helen knew he'd be by since he was in town! Intrigue!
  Yeah, since Susan can't be Someone because her mother is, she'll be Someone because her father is Jackson Croft, the lone Hollywood director who manages to combine box office entertainment with a message. He's just that awesome, guys. So awesome that when his career was first taking off he left his girlfriend and got married while they were apart, even though said girlfriend was preggers, though he didn't know. What a guy. Susan comes home to find her mother entertaining [alas, not a euphenism] Hollywood royalty. Helen tells Susan to be nice to her father, Susan freaks out, Helen runs away, and Jackson lets it slip that Helen is Susan's mother. Susan freaks out because he kind of strings her along, not realizing Susan doesn't know Helen is her mother, but when it all comes out, Jackson does what he does best. Runs away, leaving Helen and Susan to pick up the pieces. Like I said, what a guy.
  Anyway, happy happy joy-joys ensue, and when Liz tries to get an interview with Jackson, Susan appears and word gets out that Susan is more than they thought, just not on her mother's side. Lila's new date, Gordon, runs back to Susan and Lila is beyond pissed, but Susan actually considers resuming her old life, ready to tell Allen she can't go out with him because it's obvious he was just being, you know, nice... and then Allen appears and is so excited about their date that Susan... realizes he's not an asshole? I dunno, but she tells Gordon she's got better things to do, like Allen, and that's that.

  To recap: Susan Stewart has everyone thinking she's someone special because of her mother. She's not. Her mother is just a simple waitress. Her father, on the other hand, is Jackson Croft, a major Hollywood director, and thus she's redeemed. She's more than someone. She's a Star. Yawn.
  Alice thinks her kids are having sex and her kids think she's having a baby. Turns out they're all wrong.
  Lila starts both of the big rumors floating around this book. All hail Lila!

  The setup for the next book is Regina's been filling Elizabeth's head with wonderful stories about boarding schools in Switzerland and Liz wants to go, but she couldn't possibly afford it. Regina points out that Liz is fantastically smart and talented [and yet, still in Joanna's slow English class...] and could easily score a scholarship, thus setting up the premise for numerous books later on. Liz! In Switzerland! The musical?



Trivia:

  • "Mom, could you please pass the butter?" is a really, really boring way to start a book. So is following that with a bunch of lame jokes that aren't even redeemed by the fact that they're supposed to be lame. The whole tone of the beginning of this book is off.

  • Ned is in Phoenix until 6pm.

  • The Fiat is making odd noises that only Jessica can hear. Car whisperer? Or simply she uses it the most?

  • Andrea Van Allen is in charge of this year's Bridgewater Ball.

  • Last year's BWB's theme was Mississippi Riverboat. Rumor has it that last year they spent more than five thousand dollars on flowers. They had ice sculptures like a giant steamboat with jumbo shrimp.

  • This year? Tales from the Vienna Woods.

  • Jessica mixed up Vienna and Venice.

  • In a cute moment, Liz waves to other people when she gets to school early, but snags Enid and keeps walking to the Oracle office. In my head it's all, "yeah, you're nice, but Enid's my bestest. Suck on that." Um, but cuter? Remember, I like dorky Liz.

  • Enid and Liz decide the following will most likely be attending the Bridgewater Ball: Bruce/Regina, Roger/Olivia, Susanne Hanlon, Lila Fowler.

  • Our ghosty decides that Roger is Bruce's half brother. Um, no? What is it about Roger that's so difficult to understand? He's Bruce's cousin! Why does this confuse everyone?

  • Liz entitles her speculation: The Chic Mystique: Who Gets To Go To The Year's Most Exclusive Party?

  • Dana is rocking skin tight leopard spotted jeans. My mind is totally blown.

  • Grant Palmer was Lila's Bridgewater date to the big dance last book, but they fizzled out in record time.

  • Jessica thinks Susan and Gordon will go, but Lila doesn't think Susan will, and then says something about how many people from Whitehead Academy will.

  • Susan Stewart is a tanned redhead with coppery hair, wide smoky brown eyes, and the ability to ooze sophistication. Honey, that might be your most marketable gift right there. You've got to be born with that.

  • Ken and Winston dance around health class. <3 !

  • Winston mockingly creates the Poor People's Cotillion, which will be held in the health classroom every February 30th. Potato sacks and shoes with black laces., and no one with an annual income of more than five hundred dollars is allowed.

  • Lila doesn't find all the insanity amusing.

  • Ms. Rice is the health teacher.

  • Mr.Farley Stoddard is described as he of the florid face with light blue eyes, a senior VP at West Cost Oil Cam Cooperation. What. A. Catch.

  • Mrs. Binky Stoddard has light brown hair and is forever getting trapped between the 7th and 8th holes on the Sweet Valley Country Club golf course. That's between the duck pond and the winding brook. Binky? Really?

  • Binky has a golf pro named Richard.

  • Gordon has finely molded, aristocratic features, keen blue eyes, and glossy light brown hair. He's cardboard and plastic, kids. That's all.

  • When Susan asks, Binky suggests a long, pale gold gown, along with a corsage of tiny white [with a hint of blush] rosebuds for the BWB.

  • Lila and Gordon Stoddard dated.

  • Helen Reister is an amazing seamstress, capable of sewing a gown for a ball where the rest of the attendees would probably shell out some exorbitant fee for something not half as pretty, and yet Susan's dress would never be mocked. [If it would be, we would have known about it/seen it.]

  • Helen also shares the same coloring as Susan, although Susan doesn't always seem to believe Helen is a blood relative. Honey, redheads who tan? There aren't exactly a million of you in the world.

  • By page 39 you know Helen is Susan's mother, even though it hasn't officially been said yet. You just do. Yay, you!

  • Jessica makes a fantastic meat loaf, claims she usually does, and is a little miffed that her father assumes Alice or Liz made it. I'm not sure whether to applaud this running continuity [Jessica can cook, but people keep assuming she'll kill them, so if it's good, assume one of the other people at home made it] or bitch-slap a fictional family for annoying me and making me feel sorry for Jessica. Cuz I do, even when she's not all that upset this go round. *bitchslaps Ned Wakefield*

  • Alice has crazy-bitchy cravings for pistachio ice cream. Normally no sane Wakefield would ever, ever touch the stuff. Good to know.

  • Susan has Mr. Rizzo for Science, and I'm guessing Allen does, too, since she asks him for help.

  • Lila thinks that Cara and Caroline are both reformed gossips, but if the dirt's juicy enough, they'll both fall off the wagon. How right she is.

  • Lila starts the rumor that Susan's mother is in a home for the criminally insane.

  • Prince Albert helps Jessica find a bag from Great Expectations, a maternity store in downtown Sweet Valley. Inside the bag, which was hidden behind old sandals, an outdated macrome hand bag, and a tattered beach blanket, is a yellow sweater and cap set.

  • Alice thought one of the twins was pregnant, given the way they kept going on about babies.

  • Jackson Croft is a Hollywood movie director. He'll be holding a casting call "next Saturday at Hampton Place shopping center". He's looking for extras, but Jessica is sure that one look at her and he'll decide to make her a star.

  • Deborah Carteret canceled dinner with Susan cuz of the crazy rumors.

  • Jason Croft, Jackson's son, was 14 when he died a year ago.

  • Veronica Hammond is an actress and Jackson's wife/Jason's mother.

  • Jackson's movie is La Luna, a drama that takes place over one year in the life of a family.

  • Liz is sure that if she can get Jackson to grant her an interview, Louis Westman, the editor at the Sweet Valley News will reprint it in the newspaper.

  • Heather Sanford [Aaron's girlfriend, remember her?] made Liz a dress of light blue, feather light cambric. Liz thinks it's a little too tame for Jessica and really doesn't want to lend it to her, but Liz is a doormat.

  • Helen is revealed to be Susan's mother on page 118. No one is surprised.

  • The following SVH students appear at the casting call: Jessica, Elizabeth, Jean West, Sandy Bacon, Aaron Dallas, Heather Sanford, Sally Larson, Mark Riley, Dana Larson and the rest of the Droids, Enid.

  • Alice and Ned were so secretive about a month long vacation that would leave the twins home alone, not about being knocked up again. Dude, no one would leave their teenage daughters, particularly THOSE daughters, alone for a month. It's child endangerment. Or a good way to burn down your house in two days, tops.

  • When Gordon tries to crawl back again, Lila dumps soda on his head. We love you, Lila!

  • Regina brochures Liz to death with stuff from the Interlochen School.



Quotable SVH:

"That's the problem with morning classes-you have less time to get the work from someone else first." Lila, p15

"Oh, no!" wailed Ken, burying his face in his hands. "And all I ever wanted was to go to the ball and dance with Winston Egbert."
"Well, if that's all you want, why didn't you say so?" Winston jumped down, and while the whole class looked on and laughed, the two boys danced boisterously around the room. - After Winston decides that the first annual Poor People's Cotillion will only accept people whose shoes have black laces. p 22


Mr. Stoddard talked nonstop throughout the meal about his conviction that Sweet Valley was going to the dogs and that they would all be murdered in their beds if the police didn't start to shape up. - Oh, poor, poor Farley. You speak true, but everyone writes you off as the ass that you are. Woe. p33

Pregnant! How could that be?
Jessica lifted one eyebrow and tapped the book on her lap. It was pretty obvious how, she told herself. But why? - p44

"Don't you think that's pretty strange?"
Lila smiled wryly. "You mean for Jessica to study during lunch? Yes. And for that matter," she continued in a sarcastic tone, "I didn't even know she knew where the library was." - Lila wins again! p57

As Lila stood up, Cara grabbed her arm. "Are you sure about this?"
An unpleasant sensation of guilt washed over Lila for a brief moment, but she quickly pushed it out of her mind. "Well," she said slowly,"nobody really knows anything for sure, do they?" - Lila's crafty. p60


" 'A critical and popular success' ," her mother read out loud. " 'Jackson Croft's unerring sense of the issues that capture the public's heart has made him one of the foremost directors in the business. He has been honored at Cannes and by the Motion Picture Academy and has received numerous humanitarian awards.' Talk about having your cake and eating it too," she added with a dry smile. - Alice reading from the paper, p80


"Oh, God!" groaned Jessica, flopping over onto her back. "Can you imagine? Twins? Give me strength!" - Jessica, on the possibility her mother might have twins again. p141

"Oh, Enid!" Elizabeth gasped with relief. "It's a miracle! I'm so glad I found you!"
Enid's green eyes twinkled with amusement. "I had no idea you felt that way about me, Liz!" - Oh, Enid, don't be modest. We all knew. p146


   For the Liz love/hate report, Liz does something that puts her in both categories this go round. In my, "Oh, come ON" list there's Liz trying to console Susan. Instead of listening to the poor girl, she keeps chattering on and on, making Susan feel worse, and oh yeah, not listening. At all. Liz! Shut up!
  But then later on Liz is sweet and shy and nervous when trying to speak to Jackson Croft and looks around for Enid to help her out and there's this moment where she feels almost real. If there's anything I can relate to, it's being tongue-tied and shy. I can't get behind Super!Liz, but when shades of dorkier-twin Liz come out to play, I'm all over them. That's the Liz I love and want to be friends with. Too bad they shoved her aside after awhile.
  Can't say I give much of a damn about Susan. She seems like a cardboard cutout, and her only standout feature is that she's the lone tan redhead in the Valley.

   Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm still giggling over "which one of you two is in trouble?" Gold! Why do I always forget this? Why do I always forget everything about this book except "Helen is Susan's mother. DUH. Next!"?

the_oracle: (better than you)
Rumors
June 1987

   Can Susan live with the truth?

   Painful lies...


   It's every girl's dream at Sweet Valley High to attend the fabulous Bridgewater Ball, and Susan Stewart has the chance to go with handsome, wealthy Gordon Stoddard. Nobody knows where Susan gets her money and style- or who her real parents are- but everyone agrees she's beautiful, friendly, and fun to be with.
   Then jealous Lila Fowler starts spreading vicious rumors about Susan's mother-who she really is and why she abandoned Susan. No one wants to talk to Susan anymore, not even Gordon. To clear her name, Susan has to find out the truth about her parents. But is she better off not knowing?


   When I was a kid, I didn't really get the point of the books focusing on non!Wakefields or their immediate circle of friends. I was there for the twins, Lila, Enid, and the occasional boy toy. I'd have been happy with a Winston book, for the record, but for the most part these fringe characters that litter the landscape? Yeah, I wasn't really big on a lot of them. I'm not sure how much this has changed over the years, to be honest.
   Just thought I should warn you.

   Woe is Susan Stewart. It's taken 30-something books for us to find out anything about her and when we do, the book you'd think would be her own isn't. It's more about everyone else reacting to Susan than it is about Susan herself, which is an odd perspective, but I suppose it fits for a story taking place in high school. Mostly you are who you see reflected in everyone else's eyes, right? Sure, whatever.
  Susan lives with her guardian, Helen Reister. Everyone knows that Helen isn't Susan's mother, but no one, including Susan, knows who Susan's mother actually is. Rumor has it she's someone famous, and she sends money to alleviate her guilt... I mean, make it easier on Susan. Most people take the Jessica Wakefield approach to Susan: Treat her as if she were Someone. That way, if she is, you're set. If she's not, well, you can turn on her then. No sense making an enemy until you need to do so.
  And so Susan is pretty popular. She's one of the nine billion redheads inhabiting the Valley and has a steady rich-bitch boyfriend named Gordon. His family golfs together and they sound like your stereotypical rich-bitch family. There's talk of lowering standards on the admissions committee to the Club and there's an uncomfortable moment when you feel like someone should ask why the old white guy feels he's so much better than that old white guy, but no one does. Instead Gordon's father, after berating Gordon's mother for her horrible golfing, assures Susan that she's their sort of people.
  Naturally, by this point you know full well that Susan's mother is going to be revealed and that she's not going to be their sort of people at all. You have your suspicions, but you do know that for a fact. Gordon sort of tries to reassure Susan that he'd still love her if she were, y'know, not his sort of people, but not really. It's more of Susan asking if he would and he's evasive enough that DUH, of course he'll dump your ass.
  Susan is desperate to know who her mother is and doesn't understand why her 'Aunt' Helen works so hard when her mother obviously sends her money for fabulous things. If you've realized that Helen is Susan's mother, congrats. You can wear this, "Not an Idiot" pin with pride.
  The big thread left over from last book was that the Bridgewater Ball is coming up. It's the fancy coming out to society sort of party for the ever wealthy members of Bridgewater Society. Fun? Susan is going with Gordon and everyone else is abuzz with news and speculation of who else will be attending the blowout. Liz even devotes an entire gossip column to guessing the attendees. She and Enid decide that Lila, Bruce & Regina, and Roger & Olivia are all sure bets. Lila, however, is a bit up shit creek without a paddle. Her last BW [Bridgewater] date fizzled and she doesn't have another one to the ball. So Lila schemes and schemes big.
  It seems Lila used to go out with Gordon [did she? I don't remember...] until he and Susan hooked up. Lila doesn't forgive or forget unless it's in the interest of the plot, so she doesn't like Susan for that reason. Lila also doesn't like other rich girls [see Regina] and is even less fond of them when they're also pretty [still see Regina], but she really, really, REALLY can't stand the way that Susan is coasting along on the idea that she might be Someone, and not actual proof. So Lila twists this to her advantage and spreads a rumor that Susan's mother is actually in a mental institution for the criminally insane. Not only is she insane, but she obviously killed someone and got caught. Crazy killer too dumb to not get caught! Oh, the shame!
  And because people are idiots, they eat this rumor up like candy. Everyone shuns poor Susan because it must be true. Not only are they mad because, ew, crazy germs, but also because she let them all believe she was better than that. She lied to them! She thought she was Someone and she's really no one and good lord, if someone doesn't break into song in the next two seconds, my brain will never recover.

   To add to all this drama, Jessica's taking a health class and thanks to yet another suggestion courtesy of Lila [the power!], Jess is sure that her mother is pregnant. She's been cranky and has weird cravings, and actually, the way it's presented, it's not outside the realm of possibility. Alice does seem to want another kid, but instead of asking her about it, the twins decide to drop hints that they'd be more than okay having a sibling that's 16/17 years younger than they are. The single best thing of the book is SO good I always forget that it happens because I always forget this subplot.
   While Jeffrey is over and Liz and Jessica are laying it on a little thick, Ned and Alice freak out. After dinner, Alice demands to know which twin is "in trouble." Sex! In a SVH book! I die with joy and laughter and all things good. Alice thinks her kids are having sex!

   They aren't, of course, but oh, this was so good. Um, anyway, Steven comes home when Jess leaves a frantic message and instead of thinking logically and just asking [though he does suggest it], he joins the hint parade. Finally we learn the baby clothes Jess found are for a baby shower and no, Alice isn't preggers and this is all Jessica's fault, and I swear you hear, "Oh, Jessica..." Funny, at my house my parents would point out that whomever is dumb enough to follow the town idiot gets to be mocked just as much, if not more, because they should know better. At Casa de Wakefield, it's just "Oh, Jessica!"

  Back to Susan. Remember Allen Walters, Robin's boytoy before she stabbed Enid in the back? Well, he finally moved on beyond cheating Robin and fell for Susan. Only he'd never make a move on such a beautiful, fantastic, sophisticated girl who was already taken because Allen may be a dork, but he's a noble dork. I'm actually kind of liking Allen, so give me a moment. When everyone else dumps Susan, Allen moves in for the kill and tries desperately to cheer Susan up. He has varying degrees of luck and when he suggests a date, he almost loses it when Susan realizes that the night he's suggesting is the night of the BWB, but she can't go, and Allen is the only person besides Liz Wakefield who has looked at her like she's still human, so what the hell. God, I'm killing the language here. Um, anyway.
  Our other Wakefield subplot revolves around a moving being shot in SV. They're looking for extras and Liz gets it into her head that she'll interview the director because he's donating his salary on the movie to SADD, since his son was killed a year ago by a drunk driver, leaving me to wonder- is it in horrible taste to suggest that for the Sweet Valley Drinking Game, a shot should be done for each car accident, two shots for all accidents being the result of a drunk driver?

  Back to Susan's guardian: She's panicking because Susan really needs to know, but if she knew her mother were just a poor waitress with amazing sewing skills, she'd be less than thrilled. So Helen rips up the confession note she just wrote and is all set to never, ever tell Susan [at least, not til she's 18, and honey, these books will never let that happen, so she's free!] and then there's a knock at the door. It's the director, Jackson Croft! And what's more, Helen knew he'd be by since he was in town! Intrigue!
  Yeah, since Susan can't be Someone because her mother is, she'll be Someone because her father is Jackson Croft, the lone Hollywood director who manages to combine box office entertainment with a message. He's just that awesome, guys. So awesome that when his career was first taking off he left his girlfriend and got married while they were apart, even though said girlfriend was preggers, though he didn't know. What a guy. Susan comes home to find her mother entertaining [alas, not a euphenism] Hollywood royalty. Helen tells Susan to be nice to her father, Susan freaks out, Helen runs away, and Jackson lets it slip that Helen is Susan's mother. Susan freaks out because he kind of strings her along, not realizing Susan doesn't know Helen is her mother, but when it all comes out, Jackson does what he does best. Runs away, leaving Helen and Susan to pick up the pieces. Like I said, what a guy.
  Anyway, happy happy joy-joys ensue, and when Liz tries to get an interview with Jackson, Susan appears and word gets out that Susan is more than they thought, just not on her mother's side. Lila's new date, Gordon, runs back to Susan and Lila is beyond pissed, but Susan actually considers resuming her old life, ready to tell Allen she can't go out with him because it's obvious he was just being, you know, nice... and then Allen appears and is so excited about their date that Susan... realizes he's not an asshole? I dunno, but she tells Gordon she's got better things to do, like Allen, and that's that.

  To recap: Susan Stewart has everyone thinking she's someone special because of her mother. She's not. Her mother is just a simple waitress. Her father, on the other hand, is Jackson Croft, a major Hollywood director, and thus she's redeemed. She's more than someone. She's a Star. Yawn.
  Alice thinks her kids are having sex and her kids think she's having a baby. Turns out they're all wrong.
  Lila starts both of the big rumors floating around this book. All hail Lila!

  The setup for the next book is Regina's been filling Elizabeth's head with wonderful stories about boarding schools in Switzerland and Liz wants to go, but she couldn't possibly afford it. Regina points out that Liz is fantastically smart and talented [and yet, still in Joanna's slow English class...] and could easily score a scholarship, thus setting up the premise for numerous books later on. Liz! In Switzerland! The musical?



Trivia:

  • "Mom, could you please pass the butter?" is a really, really boring way to start a book. So is following that with a bunch of lame jokes that aren't even redeemed by the fact that they're supposed to be lame. The whole tone of the beginning of this book is off.

  • Ned is in Phoenix until 6pm.

  • The Fiat is making odd noises that only Jessica can hear. Car whisperer? Or simply she uses it the most?

  • Andrea Van Allen is in charge of this year's Bridgewater Ball.

  • Last year's BWB's theme was Mississippi Riverboat. Rumor has it that last year they spent more than five thousand dollars on flowers. They had ice sculptures like a giant steamboat with jumbo shrimp.

  • This year? Tales from the Vienna Woods.

  • Jessica mixed up Vienna and Venice.

  • In a cute moment, Liz waves to other people when she gets to school early, but snags Enid and keeps walking to the Oracle office. In my head it's all, "yeah, you're nice, but Enid's my bestest. Suck on that." Um, but cuter? Remember, I like dorky Liz.

  • Enid and Liz decide the following will most likely be attending the Bridgewater Ball: Bruce/Regina, Roger/Olivia, Susanne Hanlon, Lila Fowler.

  • Our ghosty decides that Roger is Bruce's half brother. Um, no? What is it about Roger that's so difficult to understand? He's Bruce's cousin! Why does this confuse everyone?

  • Liz entitles her speculation: The Chic Mystique: Who Gets To Go To The Year's Most Exclusive Party?

  • Dana is rocking skin tight leopard spotted jeans. My mind is totally blown.

  • Grant Palmer was Lila's Bridgewater date to the big dance last book, but they fizzled out in record time.

  • Jessica thinks Susan and Gordon will go, but Lila doesn't think Susan will, and then says something about how many people from Whitehead Academy will.

  • Susan Stewart is a tanned redhead with coppery hair, wide smoky brown eyes, and the ability to ooze sophistication. Honey, that might be your most marketable gift right there. You've got to be born with that.

  • Ken and Winston dance around health class. <3 !

  • Winston mockingly creates the Poor People's Cotillion, which will be held in the health classroom every February 30th. Potato sacks and shoes with black laces., and no one with an annual income of more than five hundred dollars is allowed.

  • Lila doesn't find all the insanity amusing.

  • Ms. Rice is the health teacher.

  • Mr.Farley Stoddard is described as he of the florid face with light blue eyes, a senior VP at West Cost Oil Cam Cooperation. What. A. Catch.

  • Mrs. Binky Stoddard has light brown hair and is forever getting trapped between the 7th and 8th holes on the Sweet Valley Country Club golf course. That's between the duck pond and the winding brook. Binky? Really?

  • Binky has a golf pro named Richard.

  • Gordon has finely molded, aristocratic features, keen blue eyes, and glossy light brown hair. He's cardboard and plastic, kids. That's all.

  • When Susan asks, Binky suggests a long, pale gold gown, along with a corsage of tiny white [with a hint of blush] rosebuds for the BWB.

  • Lila and Gordon Stoddard dated.

  • Helen Reister is an amazing seamstress, capable of sewing a gown for a ball where the rest of the attendees would probably shell out some exorbitant fee for something not half as pretty, and yet Susan's dress would never be mocked. [If it would be, we would have known about it/seen it.]

  • Helen also shares the same coloring as Susan, although Susan doesn't always seem to believe Helen is a blood relative. Honey, redheads who tan? There aren't exactly a million of you in the world.

  • By page 39 you know Helen is Susan's mother, even though it hasn't officially been said yet. You just do. Yay, you!

  • Jessica makes a fantastic meat loaf, claims she usually does, and is a little miffed that her father assumes Alice or Liz made it. I'm not sure whether to applaud this running continuity [Jessica can cook, but people keep assuming she'll kill them, so if it's good, assume one of the other people at home made it] or bitch-slap a fictional family for annoying me and making me feel sorry for Jessica. Cuz I do, even when she's not all that upset this go round. *bitchslaps Ned Wakefield*

  • Alice has crazy-bitchy cravings for pistachio ice cream. Normally no sane Wakefield would ever, ever touch the stuff. Good to know.

  • Susan has Mr. Rizzo for Science, and I'm guessing Allen does, too, since she asks him for help.

  • Lila thinks that Cara and Caroline are both reformed gossips, but if the dirt's juicy enough, they'll both fall off the wagon. How right she is.

  • Lila starts the rumor that Susan's mother is in a home for the criminally insane.

  • Prince Albert helps Jessica find a bag from Great Expectations, a maternity store in downtown Sweet Valley. Inside the bag, which was hidden behind old sandals, an outdated macrome hand bag, and a tattered beach blanket, is a yellow sweater and cap set.

  • Alice thought one of the twins was pregnant, given the way they kept going on about babies.

  • Jackson Croft is a Hollywood movie director. He'll be holding a casting call "next Saturday at Hampton Place shopping center". He's looking for extras, but Jessica is sure that one look at her and he'll decide to make her a star.

  • Deborah Carteret canceled dinner with Susan cuz of the crazy rumors.

  • Jason Croft, Jackson's son, was 14 when he died a year ago.

  • Veronica Hammond is an actress and Jackson's wife/Jason's mother.

  • Jackson's movie is La Luna, a drama that takes place over one year in the life of a family.

  • Liz is sure that if she can get Jackson to grant her an interview, Louis Westman, the editor at the Sweet Valley News will reprint it in the newspaper.

  • Heather Sanford [Aaron's girlfriend, remember her?] made Liz a dress of light blue, feather light cambric. Liz thinks it's a little too tame for Jessica and really doesn't want to lend it to her, but Liz is a doormat.

  • Helen is revealed to be Susan's mother on page 118. No one is surprised.

  • The following SVH students appear at the casting call: Jessica, Elizabeth, Jean West, Sandy Bacon, Aaron Dallas, Heather Sanford, Sally Larson, Mark Riley, Dana Larson and the rest of the Droids, Enid.

  • Alice and Ned were so secretive about a month long vacation that would leave the twins home alone, not about being knocked up again. Dude, no one would leave their teenage daughters, particularly THOSE daughters, alone for a month. It's child endangerment. Or a good way to burn down your house in two days, tops.

  • When Gordon tries to crawl back again, Lila dumps soda on his head. We love you, Lila!

  • Regina brochures Liz to death with stuff from the Interlochen School.



Quotable SVH:

"That's the problem with morning classes-you have less time to get the work from someone else first." Lila, p15

"Oh, no!" wailed Ken, burying his face in his hands. "And all I ever wanted was to go to the ball and dance with Winston Egbert."
"Well, if that's all you want, why didn't you say so?" Winston jumped down, and while the whole class looked on and laughed, the two boys danced boisterously around the room. - After Winston decides that the first annual Poor People's Cotillion will only accept people whose shoes have black laces. p 22


Mr. Stoddard talked nonstop throughout the meal about his conviction that Sweet Valley was going to the dogs and that they would all be murdered in their beds if the police didn't start to shape up. - Oh, poor, poor Farley. You speak true, but everyone writes you off as the ass that you are. Woe. p33

Pregnant! How could that be?
Jessica lifted one eyebrow and tapped the book on her lap. It was pretty obvious how, she told herself. But why? - p44

"Don't you think that's pretty strange?"
Lila smiled wryly. "You mean for Jessica to study during lunch? Yes. And for that matter," she continued in a sarcastic tone, "I didn't even know she knew where the library was." - Lila wins again! p57

As Lila stood up, Cara grabbed her arm. "Are you sure about this?"
An unpleasant sensation of guilt washed over Lila for a brief moment, but she quickly pushed it out of her mind. "Well," she said slowly,"nobody really knows anything for sure, do they?" - Lila's crafty. p60


" 'A critical and popular success' ," her mother read out loud. " 'Jackson Croft's unerring sense of the issues that capture the public's heart has made him one of the foremost directors in the business. He has been honored at Cannes and by the Motion Picture Academy and has received numerous humanitarian awards.' Talk about having your cake and eating it too," she added with a dry smile. - Alice reading from the paper, p80


"Oh, God!" groaned Jessica, flopping over onto her back. "Can you imagine? Twins? Give me strength!" - Jessica, on the possibility her mother might have twins again. p141

"Oh, Enid!" Elizabeth gasped with relief. "It's a miracle! I'm so glad I found you!"
Enid's green eyes twinkled with amusement. "I had no idea you felt that way about me, Liz!" - Oh, Enid, don't be modest. We all knew. p146


   For the Liz love/hate report, Liz does something that puts her in both categories this go round. In my, "Oh, come ON" list there's Liz trying to console Susan. Instead of listening to the poor girl, she keeps chattering on and on, making Susan feel worse, and oh yeah, not listening. At all. Liz! Shut up!
  But then later on Liz is sweet and shy and nervous when trying to speak to Jackson Croft and looks around for Enid to help her out and there's this moment where she feels almost real. If there's anything I can relate to, it's being tongue-tied and shy. I can't get behind Super!Liz, but when shades of dorkier-twin Liz come out to play, I'm all over them. That's the Liz I love and want to be friends with. Too bad they shoved her aside after awhile.
  Can't say I give much of a damn about Susan. She seems like a cardboard cutout, and her only standout feature is that she's the lone tan redhead in the Valley.

   Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm still giggling over "which one of you two is in trouble?" Gold! Why do I always forget this? Why do I always forget everything about this book except "Helen is Susan's mother. DUH. Next!"?

the_oracle: (plotting)
Rags to Riches
February 1985

Look who's after Roger Barrett!

Roger strikes it rich...


  No one would have guessed that Roger Barrett, the poorest boy in Sweet Valley, was really one of the Patmans, the wealthiest family in town. But when Roger's mother dies, the secret of his birth is revealed, and overnight he becomes a millionaire.
  Immediately Jessica Wakefield sets her sights on Roger and his newfound wealth. Only one thing stands in her way-Olivia Davidson, Roger's longtime girlfriend. But not for long. Jessica has a surefire plan to take care of her!


  Ah, Rags to Riches. This is one of those books that I would own very briefly, and then it would get lost, but I wouldn't notice until my inner librarian/masochist would decide it was time to catalog my books. So I'd haul them all off the shelves and see which ones I was missing, and then, if I liked the book enough or was sure I actually owned it, I would go out and search for it. I never went looking for Rags to Riches. Ever.

  Which isn't to say that the book sucks. It's just that it's another Roger book, and Roger books were kind of boring, y'know? Even when given a free pass for angst and drama, Roger fails miserably to live up to that potential. His mother dies and Roger is whisked away to the Patman mansion. His uncle buys him all the things he's ever wanted and probably quite a few he needed, and we don't really get to experience this much because he's Roger. There's momentary excitement over getting to buy pretty much whatever he wants at The Sports Shop, but because he's a guy, or maybe because he's Roger, this is short lived and nothing more than a blip on the radar. His new aunt cannot stand Roger's old life and doesn't seem all that fond of Roger himself because she has a stick up her butt, but again, the drama is lacking. Not even Jessica can really spice things up, but Lord does she try.
  Okay, I should begin at the beginning. Roger Barrett, remember the poor as a church mouse guy from Racing Hearts? Yeah, well, his mother died at the end of the last book and he found out that he was the long lost love child of Paul Patman, Henry Patman's wealthier brother. Too bad Paul is dead, and Roger is definitely an orphan. However, now he has family, so he's shipped off to the Patman mansion where he promptly forgets all about his mother. For someone who worked really hard to help save mama and worked his butt off to keep a roof over their heads, Roger spends more time pining for his old room than he does for his mother. I get that a lot of guys aren't all touchy feely, but usually when something happens to their parent of choice, you at least get something, anything... Nothing. Roger doesn't mention her except for the catalyst as to his moving to his new life, and never with sadness, really. It's a bit scary when you overthink it.
  Instead, we fixate on Olivia, Roger, and the changes their relationship is going through due to Roger's upgrade in life. Olivia, who was previously established to be a free thinker, unafraid of what people think, is now a seething ball of insecurities. On the one hand, yay, reality stopped by the Valley for a brief stay! On the other hand, boo, reality has no place in the Valley. I can see why Olivia would be worried. Roger's rich now, his new family has completely different values, and Roger desperately wants to fit in. You could argue that he needs this new family more than he might need Olivia, so naturally she's worried about where Roger Barrett's girlfriend will fit into Roger Patman's life. Of course, it probably doesn't help that Roger introduces her everywhere as his good friend Olivia, and never his girlfriend. That would bug me to hell and back.
  The Patmans decide to throw Roger two parties to welcome him to the family. One is an informal gathering of Roger's friends, and the other, at the end of the book, is meant to basically welcome Roger to the Patmans' lifestyle. This means the rich bitches will all be in attendance there.

  Now, we've gone too long without a Jessica scheme popping up, so we have to check in with the devious twin. Seems that with Roger now being fantastically wealthy, Jessica's upgraded him from cute, but hopelessly out of her league to just her type. Olivia, she decides, isn't right for his new life, but Jessica certainly is. So at the little informal gathering, she starts buttering up Mrs. Patman. Who knew that acting like the maid and helping to clear things would endear her to Marie Patman? But it does. Jessica and Marie have a little chat and Marie makes it rather clear that Jessica is just the sort of young woman Marie would wish for her new nephew, and Jessica whole heartedly agrees. Olivia, they decide, must be dealt with. With this in mind, Jessica ups her devious little game. She "helps" Olivia fit in by having her get her desert while everyone else is just concentrating on their burgers and whatnot. She "helps" her pick out tennis clothes for their doubles match with Bruce and Roger. She helps hem Olivia's dress and then proceeds to list all the reasons why such a dress would do nothing but embarrass Roger. And the thing is, she sort of does try to help. She points out what is expected of Olivia, highlights the fact that it's not really Olivia's style or personality to be this girl the Patmans seem to require, and then says, "but really, that delightful ensemble you're wearing? Go with it. I'm sure no one else will be wearing tennis whites, although everyone else on the planet knows I'm lying through my perfect teeth." And Olivia falls for it, because she wants so desperately to hold onto Roger. Because she loves him, she wants to make things easier for him, but because she's so worried about not fitting in, naturally it all falls apart.
  It doesn't help that Roger hasn't got the balls to stand up to his aunt who proceeds to trash everything about him. So you like to run, Roger? Isn't that a bit of a solitary endeavor? Surely wouldn't you rather play tennis because tennis is what we Patmans are known for, and besides, Bruce does it. Your clothes, Roger, shouldn't they be more like Bruce's? So you want to be a doctor? Isn't that a bit... messy? Your girlfriend, shouldn't she be a little less of a free thinker and more like, say, me but in sixteen year old blond form?
  And he falls for it because of all the reasons listed previously. When Olivia realizes that she will never be the girl Marie Patman would wish for her nephew, she breaks her date with Roger for the big party. She even tries to explain how his new life has been rubbing her the wrong way, but of course things blow up. They break up and each is miserable. Liv runs into Liz and Liz comes home, tells Jessica, and is then amazed by how warm and fuzzy Jessica seems as she goes off to console Olivia. Well, Jessica never said that, she just said she was off to offer consolation. She lies to Roger and snags herself the ultimate date to the party of the season when Roger asks her to be his date.
  However, it doesn't take long for Jessica's plan to backfire. The day of the party, Roger overhears his aunt discussing Jessica's involvement in their little plan and how marvelous it was that she could do so much damage in so little time. She's proud of this, I might add, and I love that. Roger rushes over to casa Wakefield and tells the twins he's realized what an ass he's been and that he needs Olivia back, won't they help him? With some complicated eye contact, Jessica realizes Roger's on to her and she demurs the invitation, prompting Elizabeth to realize that Jessica was indeed being a backstabbing bitch. Roger details the bitchery on the way to Olivia's.
  Olivia, it turns out, lives in the best house I've heard of all series. Well, at least the non-mansion types, anyway. Roger begs forgiveness and Liz is there for no reason other than to have helped Roger keep Olivia from running away. After Roger invites her to be his date again and she accepts, Olivia asks Liz to come check out her dress. Elizabeth declares it beautiful and reminds Olivia that Roger loves her, strangeness and all.
  Jessica rebounds quickly and her backup boy toy, Neil, escorts her to the party. Roger grows a pair and stands up to his aunt, his uncle swoops in and tells his wife to shove it, that maybe Roger needs the acceptance of his family more than strangers, and everyone has a loverly time. Except for Lila and Caroline.

  Lila is our B story thread. It seems Regina Morrow has been missing classes lately and Todd Wilkins is worried about it. So he convinces Liz to ditch school one day and they follow Regina downtown. They see her meet up with a handsome older man and disappear into an office building, but before they can figure out what to do about this, they run into Lila who has also seen Regina. Lila is jealous of Regina because Regina George is so cool until Regina showed up, Lila was the richest girl in school, and one of the prettiest to boot. Regina appears and is prettier, nicer, more well liked, and just as rich, if not moreso. Lila spreads the rumour that Regina's got a much older boyfriend. Eventually the gossip gets to Regina who tells Elizabeth that the older guy in question is Lane Townsend of the Lane Townsend Agency. She's going to be the next cover model for Ingenue magazine and that's what's with all the school skipping and driving off in someone's beige Ferrari. She's not fooling around with a married man because she's not that kind of girl. She promises Liz to secrecy and Liz agrees, although she feels bad about holding out on Todd. Done with the inadvertent snorting of anything you might have been drinking? Good.
  Eventually Cara spots the infamous Ingenue cover and she tells two friends and they tell two friends and soon it's all over town. Of course, Lila knew about this before because she stalked Regina, too. She tried to get Lane to dump Regina and go with Lila instead, but he gently turns her down and tells her that while she's lovely, she's not model material and wouldn't like how flat her face would look in pictures. Ouch!
  Everyone freaks out about Regina's newfound celebrity status at the party, hence Lila's unhappiness.
  Caroline, on the other hand, has been talking about this guy named Adam she's apparently been seeing. We have no proof of him other than a letter she conveniently brings to the party with her and Cara reads aloud. Now, I can see bringing the letter with you, I guess, but the fact that Adam's letter says "I wish I could be there with you tonight" is a little off. Sure, he could have written it so that she'd read it the day of the party, but still, weird.
  So yes, I think you know where that's going. However, that's our lead out into the next book, so until then....

Trivia:

  • Roger has gray eyes.

  • RtR takes place a little over a week after Promises.

  • Roger wears contacts now, and dresses more preppy than he did before.

  • After lunch, Liz has English and Todd has study hall.

  • Todd's last class of the day is English, and Regina's in his class when she's not out modeling, that is.

  • Regina Morrow takes mostly honors classes.

  • The Patmans have a 5 car garage. Is that all?

  • For some reason Jessica is trying to sell t-shirts she's painted to help earn money for the cheerleaders.

  • Neil Freemount has a new sports car, thus ensuring that he keeps his place as Jessica's go to boy when she's dateless.

  • Liz describes Olivia has "very slender and small" thus blowing my mind completely, as I never think of her as that.

  • When Liz and Todd skip last period, they stalk Regina, run into Lila, and spy Roger. Half the junior class was cutting and no one told Jessica?

  • Elizabeth is sure that Mrs. Patman dyes her hair to keep it that black. Um, of all the reasons to dislike this woman, this is one of the ones put forth why?

  • Bruce is wearing a speedo and George and Todd both comment on it. Make your own joke -here-.

  • Lila describes Regina's 'mystery man' as a Paul Newman look-alike.

  • In a botched attempt to impress Roger, and his new family, Olivia flubs a dive and ends up doing a belly flop. Ouch!

  • A big deal is made about the twins watching a movie in the family room on their brand new VCR that Ned just set up. I giggled for a good five minutes at that.

  • The movie in question? Some Travolta flick.

  • Why does the school serve 'Hungarian Goulash' and more importantly, why does Lila choose that over whatever Jess has that involves french fries?

  • Caroline first brings up Adam on page 71.

  • Regina's room has a massive canopy bed in the center, guaze curtains, a couch that Regina chose the fabric for herself, and the whole thing is done in pastels. I think an Easter Egg blew up in there, somewhere. Regina decorated it herself.

  • Mr. Jaworski is holding a playwright competition. Naturally, Liz is going to enter.

  • In the week between books, Todd's car broke down on the way to Elizabeth's, and the car parts still aren't ready. Rude.

  • Olivia loves pale lilac.

  • Roger doesn't call Olivia his girlfriend until the very end of the book. Every other time it's "my friend Olivia." Idiot.

  • Lane Townsend drives a beige Ferrari. What a waste.

  • Olivia doesn't drive, but rather, she rides her bike. Because she's eco friendly.

  • The Davidsons have a large, rectangular garden at the center of their house. It's enclosed, so no worries about freak rainstorms ruining everything, and in the middle of this little oasis, there's a marble fountain. The house, and it's awesome garden, were designed by Olivia's uncle on her mother's side. He designed the house for Olivia's birth, since he's an architect.

  • Lila's date for Roger's big party is Drake Howard.

  • Lane Townsend's daughter is Simone, and Regina babysat for her once.

  • It was Mrs. Townsend who discovered Regina and that ultimately lead to Regina's Ingenue cover.



Quotes:
"Take it easy, Bruce. I feel even stranger than I look."
Bruce snorted. "That would be hard," he muttered. Roger/Bruce, p16

Mrs. Patman leaned back in her chair and continued smiling at Jessica. In fact, she smiled so widely and for such a long time that Jessica began to wonder if something was wrong. [I just have this picture of Mrs. P going all Joker in that moment. Someone distract me, quick!] p44

...but at the same time, Elizabeth hated holding out on Todd. p89 I think we all know where my mind went with that little tidbit....

"Jess, I just ran into her downtown and she looked absolutely terrible!"
"What was she wearing?" Jessica asked, interested at last.
Liz/Jessica p113



   Oh, Olivia, I love you dearly, but sometimes I do wonder about you. But not as much as I worry about Roger in this book. When Olivia trips and falls while they're playing tennis, and is obviously a little shaken up, Roger would rather continue playing tennis than let Olivia stop and clean her wounds. What the hell, Roger? Let the girl clean the grit from her skinned palms before you make her awkwardly hold a racquet again, ok?
  Also, why is Jessica running around in the background selling stuff to make money for the cheerleaders? It's just so random. The t-shirts we're pretty sure no one bought, or at least only suckers did, and then some ugly ass cookies that they sold all of them for $55... We're never given a reason, are we?
  Other things to ponder:
Why is it that when Jessica wants the dirt on something, she's a flighty gossip, but when Elizabeth does, it's her 'reporter's curiosity?
If Mama Barret was known for always doing the right thing, how did she end up having an affair with her married boss?

   And with this book, I truly begin to wonder if Elizabeth isn't a bit of a sociopath herself. She knows what her twin is like, but instead of learning with each new calamity Jessica brings down upon herself, Liz keeps hoping that this time will be the time Jessica reveals her heart of gold. Or, better yet, she'll suspect quite heavily that Jess is up to no good, but she won't interfere because "it's none of my business." Um, hello, if it looks like Jessica is trying to break two people up, don't you think you should step in and say something to someone, somewhere? Sure, reasoning with Jessica is out, but had she said, "Liv? Do you know that Jessica doesn't know a damn thing about sewing so her helping to hem anything will be a disaster..." Olivia might have begun to realize that things with Roger went downhill significantly faster once Jessica "befriended" her. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but the signs are there, Liz. And still, when Jessica is busted and ratted out, does Liz actually manage to rip her a new one? Nope, she allows herself to be distracted.
  I do have to say that part of me, the sick sadistic side, admires how Jessica doesn't manage to see her failures as that. They're just another opportunity to be found elsewhere. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish like mad for her ability to be able to call a guy up at the last possible second and trill, "It's your lucky day, you get to take me..." and have them do it and be glad to do so. Cursed fiction!



Updated most of the previous entries with an extra cover for the non-English side. If I disappear for awhile, it's a connection issue. Seems I pay my part of the deal, but they don't pay theirs. Woe. Fear not, my trusty notebook and I will be continuing to work, it just might take a little while to share. Or not. If any of the images don't work, fuss at me so I'll know to fix them, kay?
Also, if you find yourself thinking, "Hey, I have a cover for that book that she doesn't..." feel free to share. Sometimes my eyes cross or I just can't find 'em even though I'm fairly certain they do exist.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Rags to Riches
February 1985

Look who's after Roger Barrett!

Roger strikes it rich...


  No one would have guessed that Roger Barrett, the poorest boy in Sweet Valley, was really one of the Patmans, the wealthiest family in town. But when Roger's mother dies, the secret of his birth is revealed, and overnight he becomes a millionaire.
  Immediately Jessica Wakefield sets her sights on Roger and his newfound wealth. Only one thing stands in her way-Olivia Davidson, Roger's longtime girlfriend. But not for long. Jessica has a surefire plan to take care of her!


  Ah, Rags to Riches. This is one of those books that I would own very briefly, and then it would get lost, but I wouldn't notice until my inner librarian/masochist would decide it was time to catalog my books. So I'd haul them all off the shelves and see which ones I was missing, and then, if I liked the book enough or was sure I actually owned it, I would go out and search for it. I never went looking for Rags to Riches. Ever.

  Which isn't to say that the book sucks. It's just that it's another Roger book, and Roger books were kind of boring, y'know? Even when given a free pass for angst and drama, Roger fails miserably to live up to that potential. His mother dies and Roger is whisked away to the Patman mansion. His uncle buys him all the things he's ever wanted and probably quite a few he needed, and we don't really get to experience this much because he's Roger. There's momentary excitement over getting to buy pretty much whatever he wants at The Sports Shop, but because he's a guy, or maybe because he's Roger, this is short lived and nothing more than a blip on the radar. His new aunt cannot stand Roger's old life and doesn't seem all that fond of Roger himself because she has a stick up her butt, but again, the drama is lacking. Not even Jessica can really spice things up, but Lord does she try.
  Okay, I should begin at the beginning. Roger Barrett, remember the poor as a church mouse guy from Racing Hearts? Yeah, well, his mother died at the end of the last book and he found out that he was the long lost love child of Paul Patman, Henry Patman's wealthier brother. Too bad Paul is dead, and Roger is definitely an orphan. However, now he has family, so he's shipped off to the Patman mansion where he promptly forgets all about his mother. For someone who worked really hard to help save mama and worked his butt off to keep a roof over their heads, Roger spends more time pining for his old room than he does for his mother. I get that a lot of guys aren't all touchy feely, but usually when something happens to their parent of choice, you at least get something, anything... Nothing. Roger doesn't mention her except for the catalyst as to his moving to his new life, and never with sadness, really. It's a bit scary when you overthink it.
  Instead, we fixate on Olivia, Roger, and the changes their relationship is going through due to Roger's upgrade in life. Olivia, who was previously established to be a free thinker, unafraid of what people think, is now a seething ball of insecurities. On the one hand, yay, reality stopped by the Valley for a brief stay! On the other hand, boo, reality has no place in the Valley. I can see why Olivia would be worried. Roger's rich now, his new family has completely different values, and Roger desperately wants to fit in. You could argue that he needs this new family more than he might need Olivia, so naturally she's worried about where Roger Barrett's girlfriend will fit into Roger Patman's life. Of course, it probably doesn't help that Roger introduces her everywhere as his good friend Olivia, and never his girlfriend. That would bug me to hell and back.
  The Patmans decide to throw Roger two parties to welcome him to the family. One is an informal gathering of Roger's friends, and the other, at the end of the book, is meant to basically welcome Roger to the Patmans' lifestyle. This means the rich bitches will all be in attendance there.

  Now, we've gone too long without a Jessica scheme popping up, so we have to check in with the devious twin. Seems that with Roger now being fantastically wealthy, Jessica's upgraded him from cute, but hopelessly out of her league to just her type. Olivia, she decides, isn't right for his new life, but Jessica certainly is. So at the little informal gathering, she starts buttering up Mrs. Patman. Who knew that acting like the maid and helping to clear things would endear her to Marie Patman? But it does. Jessica and Marie have a little chat and Marie makes it rather clear that Jessica is just the sort of young woman Marie would wish for her new nephew, and Jessica whole heartedly agrees. Olivia, they decide, must be dealt with. With this in mind, Jessica ups her devious little game. She "helps" Olivia fit in by having her get her desert while everyone else is just concentrating on their burgers and whatnot. She "helps" her pick out tennis clothes for their doubles match with Bruce and Roger. She helps hem Olivia's dress and then proceeds to list all the reasons why such a dress would do nothing but embarrass Roger. And the thing is, she sort of does try to help. She points out what is expected of Olivia, highlights the fact that it's not really Olivia's style or personality to be this girl the Patmans seem to require, and then says, "but really, that delightful ensemble you're wearing? Go with it. I'm sure no one else will be wearing tennis whites, although everyone else on the planet knows I'm lying through my perfect teeth." And Olivia falls for it, because she wants so desperately to hold onto Roger. Because she loves him, she wants to make things easier for him, but because she's so worried about not fitting in, naturally it all falls apart.
  It doesn't help that Roger hasn't got the balls to stand up to his aunt who proceeds to trash everything about him. So you like to run, Roger? Isn't that a bit of a solitary endeavor? Surely wouldn't you rather play tennis because tennis is what we Patmans are known for, and besides, Bruce does it. Your clothes, Roger, shouldn't they be more like Bruce's? So you want to be a doctor? Isn't that a bit... messy? Your girlfriend, shouldn't she be a little less of a free thinker and more like, say, me but in sixteen year old blond form?
  And he falls for it because of all the reasons listed previously. When Olivia realizes that she will never be the girl Marie Patman would wish for her nephew, she breaks her date with Roger for the big party. She even tries to explain how his new life has been rubbing her the wrong way, but of course things blow up. They break up and each is miserable. Liv runs into Liz and Liz comes home, tells Jessica, and is then amazed by how warm and fuzzy Jessica seems as she goes off to console Olivia. Well, Jessica never said that, she just said she was off to offer consolation. She lies to Roger and snags herself the ultimate date to the party of the season when Roger asks her to be his date.
  However, it doesn't take long for Jessica's plan to backfire. The day of the party, Roger overhears his aunt discussing Jessica's involvement in their little plan and how marvelous it was that she could do so much damage in so little time. She's proud of this, I might add, and I love that. Roger rushes over to casa Wakefield and tells the twins he's realized what an ass he's been and that he needs Olivia back, won't they help him? With some complicated eye contact, Jessica realizes Roger's on to her and she demurs the invitation, prompting Elizabeth to realize that Jessica was indeed being a backstabbing bitch. Roger details the bitchery on the way to Olivia's.
  Olivia, it turns out, lives in the best house I've heard of all series. Well, at least the non-mansion types, anyway. Roger begs forgiveness and Liz is there for no reason other than to have helped Roger keep Olivia from running away. After Roger invites her to be his date again and she accepts, Olivia asks Liz to come check out her dress. Elizabeth declares it beautiful and reminds Olivia that Roger loves her, strangeness and all.
  Jessica rebounds quickly and her backup boy toy, Neil, escorts her to the party. Roger grows a pair and stands up to his aunt, his uncle swoops in and tells his wife to shove it, that maybe Roger needs the acceptance of his family more than strangers, and everyone has a loverly time. Except for Lila and Caroline.

  Lila is our B story thread. It seems Regina Morrow has been missing classes lately and Todd Wilkins is worried about it. So he convinces Liz to ditch school one day and they follow Regina downtown. They see her meet up with a handsome older man and disappear into an office building, but before they can figure out what to do about this, they run into Lila who has also seen Regina. Lila is jealous of Regina because Regina George is so cool until Regina showed up, Lila was the richest girl in school, and one of the prettiest to boot. Regina appears and is prettier, nicer, more well liked, and just as rich, if not moreso. Lila spreads the rumour that Regina's got a much older boyfriend. Eventually the gossip gets to Regina who tells Elizabeth that the older guy in question is Lane Townsend of the Lane Townsend Agency. She's going to be the next cover model for Ingenue magazine and that's what's with all the school skipping and driving off in someone's beige Ferrari. She's not fooling around with a married man because she's not that kind of girl. She promises Liz to secrecy and Liz agrees, although she feels bad about holding out on Todd. Done with the inadvertent snorting of anything you might have been drinking? Good.
  Eventually Cara spots the infamous Ingenue cover and she tells two friends and they tell two friends and soon it's all over town. Of course, Lila knew about this before because she stalked Regina, too. She tried to get Lane to dump Regina and go with Lila instead, but he gently turns her down and tells her that while she's lovely, she's not model material and wouldn't like how flat her face would look in pictures. Ouch!
  Everyone freaks out about Regina's newfound celebrity status at the party, hence Lila's unhappiness.
  Caroline, on the other hand, has been talking about this guy named Adam she's apparently been seeing. We have no proof of him other than a letter she conveniently brings to the party with her and Cara reads aloud. Now, I can see bringing the letter with you, I guess, but the fact that Adam's letter says "I wish I could be there with you tonight" is a little off. Sure, he could have written it so that she'd read it the day of the party, but still, weird.
  So yes, I think you know where that's going. However, that's our lead out into the next book, so until then....

Trivia:

  • Roger has gray eyes.

  • RtR takes place a little over a week after Promises.

  • Roger wears contacts now, and dresses more preppy than he did before.

  • After lunch, Liz has English and Todd has study hall.

  • Todd's last class of the day is English, and Regina's in his class when she's not out modeling, that is.

  • Regina Morrow takes mostly honors classes.

  • The Patmans have a 5 car garage. Is that all?

  • For some reason Jessica is trying to sell t-shirts she's painted to help earn money for the cheerleaders.

  • Neil Freemount has a new sports car, thus ensuring that he keeps his place as Jessica's go to boy when she's dateless.

  • Liz describes Olivia has "very slender and small" thus blowing my mind completely, as I never think of her as that.

  • When Liz and Todd skip last period, they stalk Regina, run into Lila, and spy Roger. Half the junior class was cutting and no one told Jessica?

  • Elizabeth is sure that Mrs. Patman dyes her hair to keep it that black. Um, of all the reasons to dislike this woman, this is one of the ones put forth why?

  • Bruce is wearing a speedo and George and Todd both comment on it. Make your own joke -here-.

  • Lila describes Regina's 'mystery man' as a Paul Newman look-alike.

  • In a botched attempt to impress Roger, and his new family, Olivia flubs a dive and ends up doing a belly flop. Ouch!

  • A big deal is made about the twins watching a movie in the family room on their brand new VCR that Ned just set up. I giggled for a good five minutes at that.

  • The movie in question? Some Travolta flick.

  • Why does the school serve 'Hungarian Goulash' and more importantly, why does Lila choose that over whatever Jess has that involves french fries?

  • Caroline first brings up Adam on page 71.

  • Regina's room has a massive canopy bed in the center, guaze curtains, a couch that Regina chose the fabric for herself, and the whole thing is done in pastels. I think an Easter Egg blew up in there, somewhere. Regina decorated it herself.

  • Mr. Jaworski is holding a playwright competition. Naturally, Liz is going to enter.

  • In the week between books, Todd's car broke down on the way to Elizabeth's, and the car parts still aren't ready. Rude.

  • Olivia loves pale lilac.

  • Roger doesn't call Olivia his girlfriend until the very end of the book. Every other time it's "my friend Olivia." Idiot.

  • Lane Townsend drives a beige Ferrari. What a waste.

  • Olivia doesn't drive, but rather, she rides her bike. Because she's eco friendly.

  • The Davidsons have a large, rectangular garden at the center of their house. It's enclosed, so no worries about freak rainstorms ruining everything, and in the middle of this little oasis, there's a marble fountain. The house, and it's awesome garden, were designed by Olivia's uncle on her mother's side. He designed the house for Olivia's birth, since he's an architect.

  • Lila's date for Roger's big party is Drake Howard.

  • Lane Townsend's daughter is Simone, and Regina babysat for her once.

  • It was Mrs. Townsend who discovered Regina and that ultimately lead to Regina's Ingenue cover.



Quotes:
"Take it easy, Bruce. I feel even stranger than I look."
Bruce snorted. "That would be hard," he muttered. Roger/Bruce, p16

Mrs. Patman leaned back in her chair and continued smiling at Jessica. In fact, she smiled so widely and for such a long time that Jessica began to wonder if something was wrong. [I just have this picture of Mrs. P going all Joker in that moment. Someone distract me, quick!] p44

...but at the same time, Elizabeth hated holding out on Todd. p89 I think we all know where my mind went with that little tidbit....

"Jess, I just ran into her downtown and she looked absolutely terrible!"
"What was she wearing?" Jessica asked, interested at last.
Liz/Jessica p113



   Oh, Olivia, I love you dearly, but sometimes I do wonder about you. But not as much as I worry about Roger in this book. When Olivia trips and falls while they're playing tennis, and is obviously a little shaken up, Roger would rather continue playing tennis than let Olivia stop and clean her wounds. What the hell, Roger? Let the girl clean the grit from her skinned palms before you make her awkwardly hold a racquet again, ok?
  Also, why is Jessica running around in the background selling stuff to make money for the cheerleaders? It's just so random. The t-shirts we're pretty sure no one bought, or at least only suckers did, and then some ugly ass cookies that they sold all of them for $55... We're never given a reason, are we?
  Other things to ponder:
Why is it that when Jessica wants the dirt on something, she's a flighty gossip, but when Elizabeth does, it's her 'reporter's curiosity?
If Mama Barret was known for always doing the right thing, how did she end up having an affair with her married boss?

   And with this book, I truly begin to wonder if Elizabeth isn't a bit of a sociopath herself. She knows what her twin is like, but instead of learning with each new calamity Jessica brings down upon herself, Liz keeps hoping that this time will be the time Jessica reveals her heart of gold. Or, better yet, she'll suspect quite heavily that Jess is up to no good, but she won't interfere because "it's none of my business." Um, hello, if it looks like Jessica is trying to break two people up, don't you think you should step in and say something to someone, somewhere? Sure, reasoning with Jessica is out, but had she said, "Liv? Do you know that Jessica doesn't know a damn thing about sewing so her helping to hem anything will be a disaster..." Olivia might have begun to realize that things with Roger went downhill significantly faster once Jessica "befriended" her. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but the signs are there, Liz. And still, when Jessica is busted and ratted out, does Liz actually manage to rip her a new one? Nope, she allows herself to be distracted.
  I do have to say that part of me, the sick sadistic side, admires how Jessica doesn't manage to see her failures as that. They're just another opportunity to be found elsewhere. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish like mad for her ability to be able to call a guy up at the last possible second and trill, "It's your lucky day, you get to take me..." and have them do it and be glad to do so. Cursed fiction!



Updated most of the previous entries with an extra cover for the non-English side. If I disappear for awhile, it's a connection issue. Seems I pay my part of the deal, but they don't pay theirs. Woe. Fear not, my trusty notebook and I will be continuing to work, it just might take a little while to share. Or not. If any of the images don't work, fuss at me so I'll know to fix them, kay?
Also, if you find yourself thinking, "Hey, I have a cover for that book that she doesn't..." feel free to share. Sometimes my eyes cross or I just can't find 'em even though I'm fairly certain they do exist.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Promises
January 1985

Somehow, Jessica will get rid of Betsy!

Bad girl in town...


   Steven Wakefield is crushed when his girlfriend, Tricia, dies after a tragic illness. The only things that keep him going are the memory of their love and his promise to Tricia to take care of her sister, Betsy, after she's gone.
   Betsy Martin's wild exploits with drink, drugs, and boys have left her with the worst reputation in Sweet Valley. But when Steven takes her into the Wakefield home, Betsy makes a promise to change. And as her goodness grows, so does her love for Steven.
   Jessica, Steven's conniving younger sister, doesn't like this one bit. She makes a little promise of her own-to get Betsy out of the house and out of Steven's life... forever!


  G'ah, who had the raging hatred for the short haired brunettes in the Valley? First we have Easy Annie and now we've got Betsy Martin who actually cops to her escapades and says, yeah, they're true. Let's begin superficially, as that's how we left off before. Betsy there is one of the least lucky of the SVH characters in that she has to share a cover with Jessica [whom I love, cover art wise, for most of the earlier books] and that she's um, well, not Lila circa SVT/Unicorns club, but in the same alley. Which should, if they're both taking notes, be very, very dark. So no one can see you. At all. *cough*

  Like the last gazillion books or so, this one picks up pretty much right after the previous book. We're at the hospital, huddling around Tricia's death bed. That's right, folks, it's taken her how long to actually get here, and we're going to burn through it so fast it'll leave you spinning in your chair. It's all very touching and even Jessica sees the error of her ways, sort of, and tries to apologize, but Tricia doesn't see the need, what with Death tapping her foot gently. Really, in the grand scheme of things, Tricia doesn't need Jessica's apology. Given the way she snarked about Cara, she knows full well how much of a jerk Jessica is, and she's not going to worry about it in her final moments. Rock on?
  The rest of the Wakefields file out after their brief goodbye moments, leaving Steven and Tricia alone. That's right, there are no other Martins at this death-day party. Just Wakefields. Seriously, Tricia has NO friends. How in the hell... Sorry, tangent.
  Steve and Trish reminisce about their first date and it's killing Steve to watch the light slowly fade from Tricia's eyes, but before she checks out completely, she asks Steven to do her a favor. The infamous " 'I'd do anything...' 'Really? Anything?' '...damn...'" kind of moment. Tricia asks that Steve take care of her sister, Betsy. Steve isn't exactly sure how well that will work out, given what a wild child Betsy is. But it's Tricia's dying wish, so of course he'll say yes.
  A short time later, the Wakefields are leaving, seeing as Tricia has died, and as they're almost home free, Betsy bursts into the hospital and freaks out. "My sister! My siiissssssttteeeeerrr!" Yeah, where were you the hour or two it took Tricia to die? Uh huh, you were out getting drunk and smoking absolutely everything you could get your hands on. So shut the hell up, kay? [It isn't often I'm with Jessica on something, but I'm on her side for the disgust at this point. I know, I know, that says something HORRIBLE about me, but I'll just have to deal, I suppose.] She sobs and carries on when Steve tells her that it's too late, and Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield decide to take Betsy home with them. Betsy's in no shape to argue and away they go.
  Jessica is not pleased with this. Betsy Martin, in case you've been living under a rock, is a world class super tramp as well as a drugged out freak. Dunno, that just seems like something the bitchy crowd at SVH would say. To illustrate how much of a skank Betsy is, rumour has it that she recently spent some quality time up at Miller's Point with two boys at the same time, and they weren't playing a rousing game of cards. GASP! For those who like your giggles with a tiny dash of irony, later on Jessica will flit around the Beach Disco with two boys in tow and think nothing of it.
  In an attempt to either atone for her misdeeds, or maybe make sure she doesn't miss another important death again, Betsy vows to give up her wild ways. Jessica [and I] snort and mutter, "That'll be the day." Thing is, somehow she manages. Annie can't keep her thoughts away from boys long enough to ace ONE test, but Betsy quits cold-freakin-turkey. If you're at all skeptical, like me, you spend most of the book waiting for her to fall off the wagon. She doesn't. ... so please don't make the same mistake I keep making, which is to wait in vain. It's okay, I know. I know, we'll get through this together.

  Instead, she swaps one vice for another. Instead of the drinking, drugs, or sex with two boys at once, Betsy falls hard for Steven Wakefield. He pays attention to her, he's nice, and he's making absolutely no movement towards trying to sleep with her, and best of all, he loved Tricia. Which is why I wish they hadn't gone with the obvious "Betsy momentarily wants Steven but isn't thinking at all about how weird it would be to have her sister's leftovers, especially given how said sister left the relationship." Namely, a little guilt over wanting Steven. It would have been nice. Yes. I sit here and actively wish for pain on fictional characters.

  Blah, blah, blah. Liz decides that if Jessica is going to make Betsy feel unwanted, then she [Liz, remember?] will make Betsy feel at home. No, she doesn't get wildly drunk and wallow in self pity [like Mr. Martin, who is still missing at this point] but she does invite herself into Betsy's life and declares that Betsy is a fantastic artist. And, as far as we know, she is. We don't know much about Betsy, other than she's got self esteem issues, and really, I wouldn't mind if Jessica kicked her in the shins with pointy heels. Wait, my issues, not yours. Artist with an attitude problem, whether she's sober or not. There, that's what we know.
  Back at SVH, the universe decides that one corpse isn't enough, so Roger finds out that his mother has had a heart attack. He lets out a mournful wail and freaks out in the cafe, which is just awkward. We'll dwell here for a bit. Turns out Mama Barret needs some operation that can apparently only be done in Houston, so Roger is trying to find the money to fly Mama B out there. Thing is, if you'll remember from book nine, Roger is freakin' POOR. Like he can afford that, right? Mmhmm. The next thing you know, gossip has it that Mr. Patman has ponied up and is sending Mama B to Houston, and everyone wonders when the hell any of the Patmans grew a soul. When did that happen? Jessica and Lila compare stories on who can't talk to Bruce most [Lila because their families are rivals, so it kills me that it takes until SVU for them to get their Romeo/Juliet on, and Jessica because of her ill-fated 'ship that went down in flames] so Cara is elected spokeswoman. The wicked witches of SVH ask and Bruce points out that Mama B did work for Mr. P back in the day [Lila points out that it was waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day] and that it doesn't hurt to help out the little people every so often, isn't that right, Jessica?
  Jessica then decides that it's time someone around here finally got the trash taken out of the Wakefield study, and tries to properly hatch ways to get rid of Betsy. She looks through Betsy's stuff, swearing all the while [I think she uses the word damn more in this one scene than they do in the entire rest of the series. o_O ] and all she finds is a pillbox filled with aspirin, until she gets to Betsy's sketchbook. At the very end, after Jessica is impressed, she finds a picture of Steven. She flips out, because no book is complete without a Jessica tantrum and ensuing twisty logic.
  Elsewhere, Steven is trying to set Betsy up with his friend Jason. Jason happens to teach an art class, and Betsy is an artist, so it should all be good, right? Wrong. Every time Jason so much as looks at Betsy, she screams, "Stop picturing me doing sweaty naked things with you!"
  Okay, not literally, but close enough. She won't give the guy a chance and is an incredible bitch, sure that all he wants is to get her alone so they can make with the aforementioned sweaty stuff. Jason, meanwhile, seems like he's never gotten laid in his life and that he's okay with it, so long as he can bask in the glory that is Betsy's talent. In other words, he's a friggin' saint. Steve manages to help con Betsy into going to one of Jason's classes, but she comes home all in a funk. Why?
  Because Jason asked her for a date.
  Liz and I stare blankly. So...? Sure, he's a bit on the dorky side, but glasses can be super hot, so long as they aren't those ugly aviator cousin ones, y'know? Noooooooooo, Jason obviously just wants sex, god, can you be any more stupid? Liz points out that this just cannot be true, that he might actually be interested in a talented and pretty young woman. Betsy stalks off because obviously Liz cannot relate. While I get that the guys Betsy is used to hanging out with are only interested in her for various things, how many are friends of Steven's? How many are like Jason, because I'm thinking the answer to that is not many...

  Our C plot [I consider Roger the B, as it will take center stage next book] is Winston, the Starch King. Bruce and Todd bet on whether or not Win can eat four mini pizzas in four minutes. Um, yes, yes he can. Bruce has to pay for Todd and Liz at the Beach Disco, and this spurs Winston on. Apparently in the mid 80's the world record was to believed to have been eating 7 extra large pizzas in one sitting. I'm finding this a little difficult to believe, but whatever. The local news team is out in full force to cover Winston's daring eating escapade, and so is everyone at SVH. Poor Winston spent so much time 'practicing' that he's made himself ill. He makes it to six and a half pizzas, and then has to run off and puke. Woe, Starch King. Woe. Luckily the peasants still love him.

  Back to Jason and Betsy. He offers to ask his former teacher to look at Betsy's application to the Los Angeles Academy of Fine Arts talent search. In return-
  "Hot sweaty sex! I knew it!"
  SHUT UP, Betsy. Considering you've turned the guy down sixteen different times this morning, I really don't think he's going to ask you that in front of Steve or Elizabeth, okay? So chill. You may be experienced, but I'm betting Jason doesn't want whatever you might have, kay? She stalks off, sure that she'd lose anyway, and what's the point? She leaves her sketchbook, again. [it's why Jason popped over in the first place. After her last bitch fit after class, she left her book there, too. Way to take care of the one thing you're supposed to care about, skank.] Liz stops the boys from returning it to her and says Jason should turn it in as Betsy's application. It takes Steven a second to catch on, and all three giggle like school girls, so sure are they that Betsy will win.
  Steve goes back to school, although I swear it's been like, a week, since Tricia's death. Maybe two, if you blinked and missed 'em. Anyway, Betsy freaks out when her father shows up at the Wakefields, and Steven returns. His family points out that Betsy's attachment is hurting them both. Steve can't let himself grieve while forcing himself to be strong for Betsy, and Betsy is entirely too attached to Steve for her own good. Steve tells his parents that he has to take care of Betsy because he promised Tricia.
  Unfortunately, Jessica is spying, and once she hears this, she pretty much RUNS to tell Betsy. Betsy is crushed because she thought Steve was interested and that it was more than a charity case. Fraid not, honey. Trust me, the only person who actually wants what you're giving away is the one you won't let near you. Ain't that just the way?
  So Betsy packs up and calls her good time boys. Jessica then tells people a slightly *cough* skewed version of their encounter. Steve and Jason, both elated over Betsy's winning the talent search, head off to all the dives in the area, looking for Bets. They finally find her at the Shady Lady. A fight ensues between the good boys and the good ol' boys. Jason turns out to be a brown belt in karate, kicks some ass, and then Betsy's offering up her, um, services, but in a little less obvious way.
  Turns out that she's just had one drink and isn't enjoying her old ways, so she'll go home to take care of Papa until school starts in the fall. Jason, I gather, has a backstage pass to Betsy's home.
  The book ends with Roger's mother dying, and his true father revealed. Paul Patman, Bruce's father's richer brother! GASP!

  End scene.



Trivia:

  • Wait, when did the Wakefields get a rust brown LTD? Where was I?

  • Jessica got a speeding ticket on the way to Millers Point, too bad the boy she was in such a hurry to suck face with was Paul Sherwood who can't kiss worth a damn. Add him to the dead fish pile, kids.

  • Betsy was allegedly up at MP with Charlie Cashman and Jim Sturbridge.

  • The Wakefield study comes complete with a radio, red Oriental rug, and oh, yeah, Betsy Martin.

  • Tricia died Monday, maybe early Tuesday morning [we're talking like 2am early], and she's buried two days later.

  • Before she became ill, Tricia worked at a daycare center.

  • Jessica thinks she's hit paydirt on her quest to find something illegal in Betsy's possessions, but the closest she comes is mistaking tiny little white pills for fun tiny little white pills. They have letters, too. B-A-Y-E-R. Fun!

  • There's a brook behind Sweet Valley Elementary. Seems a bit unsafe, but what do I know? My elementary school was built so close to the marsh that for recess, a bunch of us would go on unofficial marsh walks. Not a great idea at high tide or on rainy days.

  • For those who wondered, Dana is an alto.

  • Neil Freemount is the newest guy at SVH, and he's cute. Tall, blond, and cute. We know this because Jessica's already got him hooked. Aw. How many new kids can one small school have in one year?

  • Jason Stone is tall, thin, with curly black hair, brown eyes, and black tortoise shell glasses. He's an artist and teaches Saturday morning life drawing classes at Sweet Valley Community Center.

  • Winston attempts to break the world record by eating 7 extra large pizzas from Guido's. KSVH was covering the 'story' with film at six o'clock.

  • Who exactly is Tim Houseman, other than the recipients of a piss poor name and Dana's newest boytoy?

  • Winning one of the three slots in the LA Academy of Fine Arts talent search means that Betsy won free tuition, room, and board.

  • Steven's microeconomics professor is the cure for insomnia and as a result, not Steve's best subject.

  • Elizabeth and Jessica share chem class and sit next to one another. I geek out at this because, hello, geek.

  • Mrs. Rollins has a little blue hatchback.

  • Frank DeLuna is the owner of Guidos.

  • Jason is a brown belt in karate.

  • Wait, when did the Wakefields start having a weekly family brunch?

  • And also, since when does the school board have meetings early Sunday morning/afternoon? Since when does any school board do that? Is this one of those things we just don't do 'round here because it's the Bible Belt and all this time I've been missing out?



Quote-y:
  But Tricia kept right on smiling in the face of death and showed the courage of a female Luke Skywalker. - Jessica, honey? The female Luke would be Leia. p4
  "Honestly, I don't know why you get such a kick out of these verbal cat-and-mouse games." That's because you're an idiot, Liz. We know why Jess twists words. It's fun. p53

"Betsy, there's no need for apologies. It's been a rough time for both of us." A sad expression spread across Steven's handsome face. "Tricia was a very special human being." Steve, who the hell refers to the dead love of their life as a 'very special human being'? I could take, and understand, the use of the word 'person' but your way sounds like someone forgot to reword the book outline. LAME. And even Jessica agrees with me, what with her spying and all. p149



  Yes, I'm sure I played a big ol' game of 52 card pick up with various plot threads, but you get the idea. Personally, I don't like Betsy. I understand that her life is hard, and that she has issues which means she's skanky with a heart of gold, only... she's not. She's a complete bitch to Jason and anyone who isn't immediately doing anything for her, and we're not really given all that much to off-set it. Jessica is supposed to be our bitch, and she doesn't make it widely known that she's giving it away free. Which might make her a tease, but I wouldn't be Lysol-ing the toilet seat after each time she's been there. :P

  As to Tricia, for some reason it really bothers me that she seems to have no friends at all at school or anywhere else. Sure, we get a few people at the funeral, but for someone who was supposed to be this sweet girl, you'd think she'd have someone other than Steve in her life. Maybe what bugs me is that it's so sad, and probably not at all intentional. Did her family's trashy behaviour keep her from having any friends at all? Or did the writers just not think that with the exception of Caroline, almost everyone else at SVH has at least one sort of friend before they end up leaning on good old Elizabeth?
  Speaking of Elizabeth, the book repeatedly refers to her brief relationship glitch with Todd, but they use phrases such as "awful near break up was safely in the past." What past? Didn't that JUST happen? Like days ago? Seriously, the rest of the time the book is paced as if it's been a week, max, since Tricia's death, but anytime the Todd/Liz thing is brought up, it's as if months have passed. At the time of this little moment, I think it's the day AFTER Tricia's death. Which would mean Todd and Liz made up yesterday. *head desk* Either I missed something, or someone out there deserves a big kick in the kneecaps.
  Also, up until this most recent re-reading of Promises, I hadn't realized Betsy is Tricia's older sister. D'oh! I thought she was just one of the many SVH drop outs in the junior range. Don't I feel a bit silly...
  My absolute favorite bit? At the end where we gloss over Steven threatening to send Jessica to die in a desert and she fires back that Steve told Liz about the Betsy plan, and excluded her, because he loves Elizabeth more.

   Yes. Cover wise, the French one confounds me. Is the sluttified one supposed to be Betsy, and if so, when did she have time to dye her hair? Love the other, though. At least, in what little I can see. As to the funky colors above, really, there's the light blue one and then there's this bizarre aqua one that looks more blue than the aqua it is. And I should know, seeing as that's my copy and all. :P

the_oracle: (plotting)
Promises
January 1985

Somehow, Jessica will get rid of Betsy!

Bad girl in town...


   Steven Wakefield is crushed when his girlfriend, Tricia, dies after a tragic illness. The only things that keep him going are the memory of their love and his promise to Tricia to take care of her sister, Betsy, after she's gone.
   Betsy Martin's wild exploits with drink, drugs, and boys have left her with the worst reputation in Sweet Valley. But when Steven takes her into the Wakefield home, Betsy makes a promise to change. And as her goodness grows, so does her love for Steven.
   Jessica, Steven's conniving younger sister, doesn't like this one bit. She makes a little promise of her own-to get Betsy out of the house and out of Steven's life... forever!


  G'ah, who had the raging hatred for the short haired brunettes in the Valley? First we have Easy Annie and now we've got Betsy Martin who actually cops to her escapades and says, yeah, they're true. Let's begin superficially, as that's how we left off before. Betsy there is one of the least lucky of the SVH characters in that she has to share a cover with Jessica [whom I love, cover art wise, for most of the earlier books] and that she's um, well, not Lila circa SVT/Unicorns club, but in the same alley. Which should, if they're both taking notes, be very, very dark. So no one can see you. At all. *cough*

  Like the last gazillion books or so, this one picks up pretty much right after the previous book. We're at the hospital, huddling around Tricia's death bed. That's right, folks, it's taken her how long to actually get here, and we're going to burn through it so fast it'll leave you spinning in your chair. It's all very touching and even Jessica sees the error of her ways, sort of, and tries to apologize, but Tricia doesn't see the need, what with Death tapping her foot gently. Really, in the grand scheme of things, Tricia doesn't need Jessica's apology. Given the way she snarked about Cara, she knows full well how much of a jerk Jessica is, and she's not going to worry about it in her final moments. Rock on?
  The rest of the Wakefields file out after their brief goodbye moments, leaving Steven and Tricia alone. That's right, there are no other Martins at this death-day party. Just Wakefields. Seriously, Tricia has NO friends. How in the hell... Sorry, tangent.
  Steve and Trish reminisce about their first date and it's killing Steve to watch the light slowly fade from Tricia's eyes, but before she checks out completely, she asks Steven to do her a favor. The infamous " 'I'd do anything...' 'Really? Anything?' '...damn...'" kind of moment. Tricia asks that Steve take care of her sister, Betsy. Steve isn't exactly sure how well that will work out, given what a wild child Betsy is. But it's Tricia's dying wish, so of course he'll say yes.
  A short time later, the Wakefields are leaving, seeing as Tricia has died, and as they're almost home free, Betsy bursts into the hospital and freaks out. "My sister! My siiissssssttteeeeerrr!" Yeah, where were you the hour or two it took Tricia to die? Uh huh, you were out getting drunk and smoking absolutely everything you could get your hands on. So shut the hell up, kay? [It isn't often I'm with Jessica on something, but I'm on her side for the disgust at this point. I know, I know, that says something HORRIBLE about me, but I'll just have to deal, I suppose.] She sobs and carries on when Steve tells her that it's too late, and Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield decide to take Betsy home with them. Betsy's in no shape to argue and away they go.
  Jessica is not pleased with this. Betsy Martin, in case you've been living under a rock, is a world class super tramp as well as a drugged out freak. Dunno, that just seems like something the bitchy crowd at SVH would say. To illustrate how much of a skank Betsy is, rumour has it that she recently spent some quality time up at Miller's Point with two boys at the same time, and they weren't playing a rousing game of cards. GASP! For those who like your giggles with a tiny dash of irony, later on Jessica will flit around the Beach Disco with two boys in tow and think nothing of it.
  In an attempt to either atone for her misdeeds, or maybe make sure she doesn't miss another important death again, Betsy vows to give up her wild ways. Jessica [and I] snort and mutter, "That'll be the day." Thing is, somehow she manages. Annie can't keep her thoughts away from boys long enough to ace ONE test, but Betsy quits cold-freakin-turkey. If you're at all skeptical, like me, you spend most of the book waiting for her to fall off the wagon. She doesn't. ... so please don't make the same mistake I keep making, which is to wait in vain. It's okay, I know. I know, we'll get through this together.

  Instead, she swaps one vice for another. Instead of the drinking, drugs, or sex with two boys at once, Betsy falls hard for Steven Wakefield. He pays attention to her, he's nice, and he's making absolutely no movement towards trying to sleep with her, and best of all, he loved Tricia. Which is why I wish they hadn't gone with the obvious "Betsy momentarily wants Steven but isn't thinking at all about how weird it would be to have her sister's leftovers, especially given how said sister left the relationship." Namely, a little guilt over wanting Steven. It would have been nice. Yes. I sit here and actively wish for pain on fictional characters.

  Blah, blah, blah. Liz decides that if Jessica is going to make Betsy feel unwanted, then she [Liz, remember?] will make Betsy feel at home. No, she doesn't get wildly drunk and wallow in self pity [like Mr. Martin, who is still missing at this point] but she does invite herself into Betsy's life and declares that Betsy is a fantastic artist. And, as far as we know, she is. We don't know much about Betsy, other than she's got self esteem issues, and really, I wouldn't mind if Jessica kicked her in the shins with pointy heels. Wait, my issues, not yours. Artist with an attitude problem, whether she's sober or not. There, that's what we know.
  Back at SVH, the universe decides that one corpse isn't enough, so Roger finds out that his mother has had a heart attack. He lets out a mournful wail and freaks out in the cafe, which is just awkward. We'll dwell here for a bit. Turns out Mama Barret needs some operation that can apparently only be done in Houston, so Roger is trying to find the money to fly Mama B out there. Thing is, if you'll remember from book nine, Roger is freakin' POOR. Like he can afford that, right? Mmhmm. The next thing you know, gossip has it that Mr. Patman has ponied up and is sending Mama B to Houston, and everyone wonders when the hell any of the Patmans grew a soul. When did that happen? Jessica and Lila compare stories on who can't talk to Bruce most [Lila because their families are rivals, so it kills me that it takes until SVU for them to get their Romeo/Juliet on, and Jessica because of her ill-fated 'ship that went down in flames] so Cara is elected spokeswoman. The wicked witches of SVH ask and Bruce points out that Mama B did work for Mr. P back in the day [Lila points out that it was waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day] and that it doesn't hurt to help out the little people every so often, isn't that right, Jessica?
  Jessica then decides that it's time someone around here finally got the trash taken out of the Wakefield study, and tries to properly hatch ways to get rid of Betsy. She looks through Betsy's stuff, swearing all the while [I think she uses the word damn more in this one scene than they do in the entire rest of the series. o_O ] and all she finds is a pillbox filled with aspirin, until she gets to Betsy's sketchbook. At the very end, after Jessica is impressed, she finds a picture of Steven. She flips out, because no book is complete without a Jessica tantrum and ensuing twisty logic.
  Elsewhere, Steven is trying to set Betsy up with his friend Jason. Jason happens to teach an art class, and Betsy is an artist, so it should all be good, right? Wrong. Every time Jason so much as looks at Betsy, she screams, "Stop picturing me doing sweaty naked things with you!"
  Okay, not literally, but close enough. She won't give the guy a chance and is an incredible bitch, sure that all he wants is to get her alone so they can make with the aforementioned sweaty stuff. Jason, meanwhile, seems like he's never gotten laid in his life and that he's okay with it, so long as he can bask in the glory that is Betsy's talent. In other words, he's a friggin' saint. Steve manages to help con Betsy into going to one of Jason's classes, but she comes home all in a funk. Why?
  Because Jason asked her for a date.
  Liz and I stare blankly. So...? Sure, he's a bit on the dorky side, but glasses can be super hot, so long as they aren't those ugly aviator cousin ones, y'know? Noooooooooo, Jason obviously just wants sex, god, can you be any more stupid? Liz points out that this just cannot be true, that he might actually be interested in a talented and pretty young woman. Betsy stalks off because obviously Liz cannot relate. While I get that the guys Betsy is used to hanging out with are only interested in her for various things, how many are friends of Steven's? How many are like Jason, because I'm thinking the answer to that is not many...

  Our C plot [I consider Roger the B, as it will take center stage next book] is Winston, the Starch King. Bruce and Todd bet on whether or not Win can eat four mini pizzas in four minutes. Um, yes, yes he can. Bruce has to pay for Todd and Liz at the Beach Disco, and this spurs Winston on. Apparently in the mid 80's the world record was to believed to have been eating 7 extra large pizzas in one sitting. I'm finding this a little difficult to believe, but whatever. The local news team is out in full force to cover Winston's daring eating escapade, and so is everyone at SVH. Poor Winston spent so much time 'practicing' that he's made himself ill. He makes it to six and a half pizzas, and then has to run off and puke. Woe, Starch King. Woe. Luckily the peasants still love him.

  Back to Jason and Betsy. He offers to ask his former teacher to look at Betsy's application to the Los Angeles Academy of Fine Arts talent search. In return-
  "Hot sweaty sex! I knew it!"
  SHUT UP, Betsy. Considering you've turned the guy down sixteen different times this morning, I really don't think he's going to ask you that in front of Steve or Elizabeth, okay? So chill. You may be experienced, but I'm betting Jason doesn't want whatever you might have, kay? She stalks off, sure that she'd lose anyway, and what's the point? She leaves her sketchbook, again. [it's why Jason popped over in the first place. After her last bitch fit after class, she left her book there, too. Way to take care of the one thing you're supposed to care about, skank.] Liz stops the boys from returning it to her and says Jason should turn it in as Betsy's application. It takes Steven a second to catch on, and all three giggle like school girls, so sure are they that Betsy will win.
  Steve goes back to school, although I swear it's been like, a week, since Tricia's death. Maybe two, if you blinked and missed 'em. Anyway, Betsy freaks out when her father shows up at the Wakefields, and Steven returns. His family points out that Betsy's attachment is hurting them both. Steve can't let himself grieve while forcing himself to be strong for Betsy, and Betsy is entirely too attached to Steve for her own good. Steve tells his parents that he has to take care of Betsy because he promised Tricia.
  Unfortunately, Jessica is spying, and once she hears this, she pretty much RUNS to tell Betsy. Betsy is crushed because she thought Steve was interested and that it was more than a charity case. Fraid not, honey. Trust me, the only person who actually wants what you're giving away is the one you won't let near you. Ain't that just the way?
  So Betsy packs up and calls her good time boys. Jessica then tells people a slightly *cough* skewed version of their encounter. Steve and Jason, both elated over Betsy's winning the talent search, head off to all the dives in the area, looking for Bets. They finally find her at the Shady Lady. A fight ensues between the good boys and the good ol' boys. Jason turns out to be a brown belt in karate, kicks some ass, and then Betsy's offering up her, um, services, but in a little less obvious way.
  Turns out that she's just had one drink and isn't enjoying her old ways, so she'll go home to take care of Papa until school starts in the fall. Jason, I gather, has a backstage pass to Betsy's home.
  The book ends with Roger's mother dying, and his true father revealed. Paul Patman, Bruce's father's richer brother! GASP!

  End scene.



Trivia:

  • Wait, when did the Wakefields get a rust brown LTD? Where was I?

  • Jessica got a speeding ticket on the way to Millers Point, too bad the boy she was in such a hurry to suck face with was Paul Sherwood who can't kiss worth a damn. Add him to the dead fish pile, kids.

  • Betsy was allegedly up at MP with Charlie Cashman and Jim Sturbridge.

  • The Wakefield study comes complete with a radio, red Oriental rug, and oh, yeah, Betsy Martin.

  • Tricia died Monday, maybe early Tuesday morning [we're talking like 2am early], and she's buried two days later.

  • Before she became ill, Tricia worked at a daycare center.

  • Jessica thinks she's hit paydirt on her quest to find something illegal in Betsy's possessions, but the closest she comes is mistaking tiny little white pills for fun tiny little white pills. They have letters, too. B-A-Y-E-R. Fun!

  • There's a brook behind Sweet Valley Elementary. Seems a bit unsafe, but what do I know? My elementary school was built so close to the marsh that for recess, a bunch of us would go on unofficial marsh walks. Not a great idea at high tide or on rainy days.

  • For those who wondered, Dana is an alto.

  • Neil Freemount is the newest guy at SVH, and he's cute. Tall, blond, and cute. We know this because Jessica's already got him hooked. Aw. How many new kids can one small school have in one year?

  • Jason Stone is tall, thin, with curly black hair, brown eyes, and black tortoise shell glasses. He's an artist and teaches Saturday morning life drawing classes at Sweet Valley Community Center.

  • Winston attempts to break the world record by eating 7 extra large pizzas from Guido's. KSVH was covering the 'story' with film at six o'clock.

  • Who exactly is Tim Houseman, other than the recipients of a piss poor name and Dana's newest boytoy?

  • Winning one of the three slots in the LA Academy of Fine Arts talent search means that Betsy won free tuition, room, and board.

  • Steven's microeconomics professor is the cure for insomnia and as a result, not Steve's best subject.

  • Elizabeth and Jessica share chem class and sit next to one another. I geek out at this because, hello, geek.

  • Mrs. Rollins has a little blue hatchback.

  • Frank DeLuna is the owner of Guidos.

  • Jason is a brown belt in karate.

  • Wait, when did the Wakefields start having a weekly family brunch?

  • And also, since when does the school board have meetings early Sunday morning/afternoon? Since when does any school board do that? Is this one of those things we just don't do 'round here because it's the Bible Belt and all this time I've been missing out?



Quote-y:
  But Tricia kept right on smiling in the face of death and showed the courage of a female Luke Skywalker. - Jessica, honey? The female Luke would be Leia. p4
  "Honestly, I don't know why you get such a kick out of these verbal cat-and-mouse games." That's because you're an idiot, Liz. We know why Jess twists words. It's fun. p53

"Betsy, there's no need for apologies. It's been a rough time for both of us." A sad expression spread across Steven's handsome face. "Tricia was a very special human being." Steve, who the hell refers to the dead love of their life as a 'very special human being'? I could take, and understand, the use of the word 'person' but your way sounds like someone forgot to reword the book outline. LAME. And even Jessica agrees with me, what with her spying and all. p149



  Yes, I'm sure I played a big ol' game of 52 card pick up with various plot threads, but you get the idea. Personally, I don't like Betsy. I understand that her life is hard, and that she has issues which means she's skanky with a heart of gold, only... she's not. She's a complete bitch to Jason and anyone who isn't immediately doing anything for her, and we're not really given all that much to off-set it. Jessica is supposed to be our bitch, and she doesn't make it widely known that she's giving it away free. Which might make her a tease, but I wouldn't be Lysol-ing the toilet seat after each time she's been there. :P

  As to Tricia, for some reason it really bothers me that she seems to have no friends at all at school or anywhere else. Sure, we get a few people at the funeral, but for someone who was supposed to be this sweet girl, you'd think she'd have someone other than Steve in her life. Maybe what bugs me is that it's so sad, and probably not at all intentional. Did her family's trashy behaviour keep her from having any friends at all? Or did the writers just not think that with the exception of Caroline, almost everyone else at SVH has at least one sort of friend before they end up leaning on good old Elizabeth?
  Speaking of Elizabeth, the book repeatedly refers to her brief relationship glitch with Todd, but they use phrases such as "awful near break up was safely in the past." What past? Didn't that JUST happen? Like days ago? Seriously, the rest of the time the book is paced as if it's been a week, max, since Tricia's death, but anytime the Todd/Liz thing is brought up, it's as if months have passed. At the time of this little moment, I think it's the day AFTER Tricia's death. Which would mean Todd and Liz made up yesterday. *head desk* Either I missed something, or someone out there deserves a big kick in the kneecaps.
  Also, up until this most recent re-reading of Promises, I hadn't realized Betsy is Tricia's older sister. D'oh! I thought she was just one of the many SVH drop outs in the junior range. Don't I feel a bit silly...
  My absolute favorite bit? At the end where we gloss over Steven threatening to send Jessica to die in a desert and she fires back that Steve told Liz about the Betsy plan, and excluded her, because he loves Elizabeth more.

   Yes. Cover wise, the French one confounds me. Is the sluttified one supposed to be Betsy, and if so, when did she have time to dye her hair? Love the other, though. At least, in what little I can see. As to the funky colors above, really, there's the light blue one and then there's this bizarre aqua one that looks more blue than the aqua it is. And I should know, seeing as that's my copy and all. :P

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the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (Default)
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