Alright, so we’re on book 12, and I must say that the main storyline was about as dull as I feared it would be, while simultaneously stirring my heartstrings just a wee tad. However, a lighthearted silly side story starring Jessica making a fool out of herself over a boy (because that’s not new or anything) kept the edge off.
The plot: Steven Wakefield’s longtime girlfriend, Tricia Martin, a senior at SVH, doesn’t want to go out with him anymore. She refuses to see him, and after weeks of moping and crying, he finally dumps her because she all but admits she is seeing someone else.
Tricia disappears from school, and rumors run rampant around school about Tricia being no good – you know, like the rest of her apparently derelict family. Jessica decides this is the perfect time to set up her heartbroken bro with her gossipy, boring cheerleader best friend, Cara, who’s been crushing on him forever. Steve agrees to go out with Cara to an extremely lame high school party she throws on a whim, but can’t stop thinking about Tricia the whole time and is basically the worst date ever. I mean, he only kisses Cara at one point because he’s imagining she’s Tricia, which is sorta creepy if you ask me.
Of course, Tricia isn’t actually hitting it with anybody else. She is dying of leukemia, and she has it in her head that it will be easier for Steve if he thinks she just hates his guts and is a cheating biotch. Nevermind that when she dies, he’ll discover these were all lies and feel even more pain. Tricia, you’re an odd soul. Elizabeth, of course, finds out the truth when she sees Tricia in a room at the hospital (where she’s a candy striper — see sub-plot), where she gets the story but promises to keep it a secret. After agonizing over it for way too many pages, she finally tells Steve, who has already ditched Cara at some dumb dorm party (who the hell threw parties in their dorms? anybody? just curious if anyone ever actually had a real kegger in their dorm room!) after getting mad at her for suggesting she become his new girlfriend. So Steve finds out the truth, he and Tricia reunite, and there’s all kinds of crying and sappy love lines and what have you. Yawwwwwwwn.
The cover: Steve’s head looks really odd to me … too small, and somewhat alien-like! And it’s titled at such an odd angle that he’s practically cross-eyed. Tricia definitely looks like a ghost in this one … check that Victorian blouse, that vacant expression, and her uh, holy-hot-rollers hair. That plus the title … When Love Dies … get it? pretty much give away what is actually going on here. PS Tricia has blue eyes in the book … not dark brown like she does here!
Tricia doesn’t actually die in this book. It’s just set up for the future, maybe fooling some readers into thinking she might actually live. Hey, Liz beat death! Yeah, yeah … but she’s a Wakefield.
The sub-plot: This one had some slapstick comedy relief. I’m not going to sit here and act like I didn’t get a little chuckle out of it. Jessica learns from gossipyass Cara that Jeremy Frank, a local TV star (interesting …) is in the hospital with a broken leg. Man, these days I don’t think a hospital would keep you in there for that long when you just broke a bone! They want your ass out of there! Uh, I digress … of course, Jessica decides that 25-year-old Jeremy is the perfect man for her and that she wants a spot on his show, so she persuades Liz to become a candy striper with her so she can meet him. But Liz meets him first, and then Jessica acts like such an idiot fawning over him that she stabs him with a pencil, and spills water on him, as he’s buck-naked, when she walks in on his sponge bath and freaks out. Whatsa matter Jess, never seen a penis before? I think Bruce P. would have a little something to say about that. Anyway, Jess is acting like such an ass that Liz hatches a plot with Jeremy to scare her off by having him fall madly in love with her and beg her to marry him. Real smart, guys … Jess is at first freaked out, but then she decides a prolonged engagement that she can eventually break off is a great idea! The truth comes out and, once again, Jessica is humiliated by some dude she made a jackass out of herself for. *cue Simpsons’ Nelson laugh* HA ha!
WTF? This book says Steven is 18, but the last one distinctly said he was 19. What in hell, did we go back in time?
-I have never known a college kid, even a really homesick one, who was home from school every single weekend the way Steven is. I guess he doesn’t party much.
-Cara brings out a six-pack of beer at her dumb party! GASP! This is actually a bit of a shock for me as I thought SVH books always treated alcohol as solely evil and the cause of great misfortune, such as attempted rapes and motorcycle accidents.
-Random character: Janie McBride, a fellow candystriper.
-Caroline Pierce is described as wearing a “plaid shirtwaist.” I had to look up what that is, and here it is:
VOMIT!!!! Did people really wear these things back in the 80s? (Do they wear them now?)
-Even though it’s a prank, Jeremy’s going after Jess is another thing that is creepy. 25 + 16 = yuck. (I have no room to talk; I dated a 26-year-old at 17, but still … that’s just not right)
-We learn about Tricia’s family again — her mom died when she was 9 from leukemia, her older sister Betsy is a big druggie and sleeps around, and her dad is a total drunkard. They apparently live in the slums of Sweet Valley. I thought Sweet Valley was such a nice place to be! I guess that’s only if you are upper middle-class and have a typical nuclear fam. Heh. Uh, anyway, does anyone remember Betsy Martin from the Sweet Valley Twins books? Those weren’t out till two years after When Love Dies was published, but Betsy was an eighth-grade member of the Unicorns (the middle school equivalent of Pi Beta Alpha) and apparently really popular and gorgeous, or whatever. My oh my, Betsy, how ye have grown.
In the back of the book: A Sweet Valley High QUIZ! You have to get all the answers right in order to enter the Sweet Valley High Star-Studded Contest, which includes a 2-night stay in New York City, a Broadway show, a salon makeover, and dinner with Francine Pascal!!! Entries are due by Halloween 1984, so you better get crackin’! The person who had this book before me marked all the answers already, so I guess I’m good to go! (The authors of the quiz messed up one of the answers though … it’s “Miller’s Point” not “Millers Pond”! Get it right! GOD!)
(In all seriousness, I would love to interview the person that won this contest!)
Next time: Liz has been KIDNAPPED by Carl the crazy hospital orderly! It happened at the end of this book; now we get to find out … Will Elizabeth be saved? Didn’t Elizabeth just have a trauma? Make Jessica have one. Also, we apparently have to wait an extra month for #13 to come out … uh, or those people still living in 1984 do.