A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some (with lots of swears)

#11 Too Good to Be True

This was one of my absolute favorite SVHs as a kid, so kind of hard for me to snark on it … but rest assured I can, and I will, because there are plenty of things that are just effed in this one!

The story: It’s spring break at Sweet Valley, and the kids are off for two weeks. TWO WHOLE WEEKS? We only got one week off! Hmmmph. Anyway, Mr. Wakefield and his old lawyer friend, Mr. Devlin, have decided to do a daughter exchange. Suzanne Devlin will come to stay at the Wakefields’ house and hang out with one of the twins, while the other twin goes off to New York City to see the sights. Mr. Wakefield flips a coin to see who goes to NYC. Liz wins, but of course, Jessica manipulates her into staying behind by telling her all about how Lila Fowler has a huge crush on Todd and will probably make a move on him behind Liz’s back. Liz, you are a chump.

“Suzy” shows up, and she’s apparently the most gorgeous girl anyone has ever laid eyes on. She’s also extremely sweet, kind, and helpful, and talks sort of like a priss from an old timey movie (“Oh! It’s just the sweetest thing I ever saw!” or whatever), yet nobody suspects that she is kind of weird. Winston Egbert, whose girlfriend Mandy moved away, falls hard for Suzy and starts going all out to woo her.

Of course, underneath it all, Suzy is really a cold-hearted bitch. She hates her rich parents for constantly leaving her alone and shipping her off to boarding school in Europe every year. She thinks nasty thoughts about everyone and rummages through their belongings, thinking about the time she found a bag of pot in her cousin Ruthie’s stuff and was able to blackmail her with it for a long time. She hates Sweet Valley, the Wakefields, and everybody else in it, especially Winston, whom she describes as a “big goon.” I can’t say I blame her! He sounds extremely annoying in this book and I’d want to knock him out, myself! In truth, I kind of like Suzanne. Probably because she hates Liz and steals her precious gold lavaliere that we hear about in every book. I was hoping she’d flush it down the toilet or something, to be honest with you. Ha ha!

The only person who really intrigues Suzanne is Mr. Collins, the handsome English teacher who’s always hanging around. He’s at the junior class picnic at Seneca Lake, and he saves bikini-clad Suzy from supposedly drowning, who proceeds to grope his chest and moan her thanks. This makes old Mr. Collins awfully uncomfortable. Well, what the fuck are you doing at a junior class picnic then! Can’t these kids hold their own after-school activities without a chaperone?

Suzanne takes over Elizabeth’s Collins babysitting job for her when Todd surprises her with Lakers tickets. She acts like a total bitch to little Teddy Collins, snoops through Roger’s things, and takes a bath to get ready for a night of seduction. When Mr. Collins gets home, she throws herself at him, asks him for alcohol and moans like a classic soap opera vixen! Sweet! Mr. Collins pulls himself away with “difficulty” and Suzanne knows that he wants to hit it and calls him on it! But he tells her he’s doing her a favor and she furiously storms out of his house. On the way home, she tears her clothes, messes her hair and starts crying, then comes back and tells Elizabeth that Mr. Collins tried to rape her. Ohhhhhh no she didn’t! Oh, yes, she did. The school goes into a furor, and Mr. Collins is placed on leave while an investigation is conducted as a “formality,” but his career is pretty much over. No cops are involved, though; it’s just the principal. This place is so weird.

Of course, in the end Suzy gets her just deserts. She attends Lila Fowler’s big birthday bash with Aaron Dallas, and is caught unawares when Liz confronts her with the lavaliere that she found coiled in Suzy’s suitcase. (She was putting a present in there for her, but I bet she was actually hoping to nose around, that meddler.) Suzanne retaliates by spreading rumors all over the party that Liz hit her head again and is starting to act all messed up like she did in Dear Sister. Liz is humiliated, but she gets in Suzanne’s face in front of everyone and tells her that even Mr. Collins knows what a loser she is! ZING! Then, Winston makes a perfectly timed entrance with a big glass of red punch that he “accidentally” spills down Suzanne’s dress. She starts screaming at him about how much she hates him, and everyone walks away in disgust while she cries! This book is awesome. Needless to say, everything is fine and dandy in Sweet Valley yet again.

I really love Suzanne. True bad girls are few and far between in this town. You know Suzanne would never stop somebody from untying that bikini top!

*SPOILER FOR UPCOMING BOOK*: Suzanne will reappear in a later Super Edition, but I’m afraid I don’t like what they do with her character in that one 😦

The cover: Suzanne really doesn’t look too gorgeous in this picture. Ehhhh. Liz has her first cover in several books and looks like a total priss, but her expression is hilarious. But she’s wearing her lavaliere, which had been missing for many weeks before she realized THE TRUTH (dun dun dun) about this biotch. So, it doesn’t gel with the story. I disapprove.

The sub-plot: Of course, our side story is about Jessica’s misadventures in the Big Apple. I probably enjoyed this part of the book much more than the tales about crazy Suzanne. Jessica stays with the Devlins in their posh apartment, where she goes all out to try to seduce Suzanne’s 20-year-old boyfriend, Pete McCafferty. Now, Jessica, what have we learned about trying to get with older men? Pete takes her around town at the request of the Devlins, but is totally bored with her, which of course enrages our fair blond one. When are you going to learn you aren’t all that, Jess? Jessica doesn’t see a whole lot of sights except when she goes out with Pete; she mostly seems pretty bored and whines about dinner parties with boring Devlin relatives and friends, like a 13-year-old named Martha whom we know is a loser because she went to fat camp. I think we all know about Jessica’s intolerance of anyone who weighs more than 100 pounds. She does go to a party Suzanne’s best friend Evelyn Meeker throws in her honor. Evelyn dates a 25-year-old but is Jess and Suzy’s age. She stays at his apartment when her parents aren’t in town. The guests include a boy named Simon who clearly has a boner from talking about his money and an unnamed redhead who calls him “crass”. These kids are all pretty boring; they stand around speculating about what they’re going to do with their inheritance and trust funds. Yawn! I’d fall asleep at a party like that today let alone when I was 16. A boy named Malcolm leers at her (but according to Evelyn, he’s cool ’cause he drives a Maserati) and Jess doesn’t seem to dig him. She is so bored that she gets completely trashed on the wine. Suzanne’s friends laugh about her low alcohol tolerance and send her home in a cab after she passes out in the bathroom.

Finally, Pete makes his move on Jessica after she throws herself at him for the umpteenth time, only – SURPRISE! – he wants to do it with her! Of course, Jess is shocked and appalled, and Pete winds up telling her what a cocktease she is and she doesn’t know what to say because well, he’s right. Then he tries to rape her. The Devlins come home early and find the pair of them struggling on the floor in the middle of a smashed glass of brandy. That’s right, they were drinking brandy before Pete went for it. Now, while Pete’s attempted rape is in no way excusable, don’t look at me with a straight face and say you didn’t laugh when he called her out on her shit!

WTF? First of all, what is up with this recurring rape theme? We even get two rape storylines for the price of one with this book!

-Again, why is Mr. Collins at the junior class picnic? And Bruce Patman’s there, too … one of the few seniors who had been “invited.” Ooooooh, goody for him. Are there even more than 3 seniors at this school?

-Steven comes home from college EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND and does nothing but mope around because Tricia won’t talk to him again. LOSER! Go hit up a frat party or something!

-Jessica imagines that she’s going to be discovered by a model scout while in NYC. She’ll be the next Cheryl Tiegs and end up on the cover of Cosmopolitan. HAHA, can you see that shit?

-One thing that has really been bothering me is that attempted rape is shown as something that only happens to chicks who are cockteases. Don’t get me wrong; Jessica’s cocktease behavior is flat-out infuriating, as is her hard-headed refusal to learn! But seriously … what the hell kind of lesson is this supposed to be teaching? If you’re going to put rape in a book, why treat the subject so lightly? And why isn’t anybody ever arrested?

-And furthermore … what message do these books send by having a few incidents where girls get back at guys that don’t want them, by accusing them of raping them? Come on, Francine Pascal, come up with something else!

-Finally … Liz actually rationalizes Jessica’s own behavior by telling herself that even Jess wouldn’t do the things Suzy has done. Oh, really, Liz? Double Love anyone? You big doormat.

At the back of the book: Nothing of note.

Next time: Steven continues to mope as we learn why Tricia will not speak to him. I haven’t read this book before, and I’m not really looking forward to a hundred-some pages of crying, whiny Steven.


Comments on: "#11 Too Good to Be True" (2)

  1. Funny- this was one of my favourites too. Is it because we all had a thing for mr collins? Lol I liked Suzanne too and yeah she became a total sponge later on in the series. Liz always bugged me…. There was a lot of near date rapes… The girls always seemed quite unaffected- only lila didn’t wear make up for a bit and acted like something was wrong for more than one book.

  2. What is up with all these girls almost drowning? Does Sweet Valley High need to start a mandatory swim class? Really great portrayal of strong females, Francine — even surfer DeeDee had to be saved by a dude, because apparently no girl in this flipping coastal town knows how to swim!

    And I agree with you about the way rape is portrayed. It’s either something that only happens to girls who are “asking for it” (because clearly it’s always the victim’s fault), or even worse, something girls lie about to get revenge on guys who reject them. Awesome message, Francine/ghostwriters! :-/

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