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

#28 Alone in the Crowd

Meet Lynne Henry. Lynne is probably the most painfully shy girl in school with some of the worst self-esteem issues I’ve ever heard of. Of course, she still manages to teach kids guitar at The Music Center (yes, that’s what it’s called). All sarcasm aside, Lynne spends most of her time cursing her existence and wishing she was a Wakefield twin. No, really, she tells Liz she would give anything to be her. Ugggh. Lynne lives with her mom, who runs the Silver Door salon. Her dad died when she was little. Lynne’s mom is hopeful her daughter will recognize how special she is and get a better self-image. Thankfully, the book emphasizes that this isn’t based so much on looks as it is being proud of your individual talents and knowing who you really are. Well, with stronger emphasis than usual, anyway. I’m glad this isn’t another Power Play or something.

Despite the cover’s implications, Liz isn’t as much of a busybody in this situation as she has been in past books. The story centers far more on Lynne and a song she has written called “Outside, Looking In” which she’s turned in anonymously to a songwriting contest The Droids are holding. (Did Aaron Lewis steal that song about 15 years later?) Lynne has a serious crush on Guy Chesney, The Droids’ guitarist/keyboardist/whatever (depends on what book you are reading/how much of a crap you give), whom we last saw flirting wildly with Liz in book 6, I think. Guy seems to like her too, but Lynne is convinced he wants someone who looks like Linda Ronstadt. Now, not to pick on age or anything, but Linda was 40 when this book was published. I find it odd that the ghostwriter would focus so much on the looks of someone that much older than these kids. Ah, I digress.
Elizabeth eventually comes across Lynne giving a little boy a guitar lesson, and immediately recognizes Lynne’s voice as the one on the tape, which The Droids played one day hoping to find out who the anonymous songwriter was. No one else has any clue that it’s Lynne because she’s worked so hard to keep her musical talents a secret. And Lynne has no clue that The Droids are so frantic to find the songwriter because she very literally has zero friends. Despite her shyness, Lynne feels comfortable pouring her heart out to Liz because Liz has that magic spell she casts over everyone when she leans forward and touches them like she is on this cover and a bajillion others. Liz keeps Lynne’s secret, even though Guy talks to her in private at least twice about how desperate he is to know who wrote the song. Seriously, why does everyone confide in Liz when they don’t really talk to her otherwise? Wouldn’t it make more sense for Guy to talk to Dana or Max or somebody about this? Well, Guy figures it out anyway when Liz mentions that the girl has talked about Linda Ronstadt, and he exposes Lynne by, get this, having her picture sketched on a flier (by a police sketch artist — what the fuck?) and passed around the cafeteria. That’s what he does to announce her as the winner of the song contest, rather than telling Lynne he knows it is her. By this time Lynne has gotten a makeover, but I think we are still supposed to understand she is not as pretty as a Wakefield. Everyone congratulates Lynne on her amazing talent, Guy tells her he is in love with her, and Lynne sings the song for the whole cafeteria with The Droids backing her up.

I tried to hate on this book, I really did. But I have to say I found its message more sincere than past books. And despite being fairly outgoing myself, I could identify with some of Lynne’s thoughts enough that I was a little unsettled. However, I did not appreciate the continued emphasis on how perfect the Wakefield twins are. Trust me Francine, we understand this by now. I also would like to see a book where a girl can gain some self-esteem without a boy being in the picture. No, I don’t think it’s bad that there IS a boy in the picture; I just wish there wasn’t one for a change.
The sub-plot isn’t really there …. it focuses on Jessica’s “brilliant” idea to raise money for new cheerleading uniforms through a stupid rocking chair competition and dance. Uh, did I say rocking chair competition? Why yes, I did! The cheerleaders literally sit in a chair and rock for hours and collect pledges for every hour that they rock. It’s called “Rock Around the Clock” and everyone proclaims it a brilliant idea because it was Jessica’s. BARF.
The corners of these books have a tendency to snap off when they get old. I just thought I would say that. Let’s talk about this cover. It’s not too bad. I’m sure Lynne could have chosen any other pair of glasses but these giant ones, though. They are even bigger than my ninth grade boyfriend’s, heeeee. Liz looks like a gym teacher and her lavaliere is so big that it looks like a gym whistle from far away. And why is she always touching people like that? Graaagh! Back off, Liz!
Little bits: It seems like Lila might be on the cheerleading team again, but I can’t tell. Last I checked she didn’t want back on there after she got kicked off with Cara.
We get our second black character introduced … a sophomore named Lisa Reed. Other minor characters we probably won’t hear from again: basketball forward Keith Webster and his girlfriend, another sophomore named Lynne Jacobs. Lynne H. thinks Keith is calling to her for a sec until she realizes it’s that other Lynne.
Jessica has been traumatized by what happened with Annie Whitman and doesn’t want to go through another round of auditions for the next cheerleader. Cry me a fucking river, Jessica!
The cheerleaders find out Helen is moving when they go to the Bradleys’ house to practice rocking. You know I am not making this up.
Enid crushes on a senior named Brent and dances with him at the Beach Disco (isn’t it time for a new name for that place?), but he doesn’t seem to have any interest in her. HA HA
I find it odd that Lynne thinks her tall, skinny figure isn’t attractive like the more “curvaceous” girls at school. When I was her age, I worried that I wasn’t skinny enough and that I was too curvaceous. There is nothing wrong with either body type, but we all know that things are different in Sweet Valley!
When Lynne tells Liz how much she wishes she was a Wakefield, Liz tries to make her feel better by telling her she can’t sing and has never played an instrument. I’m pretty sure that is total bullshit and I am going to call it on her when necessary. See why I track this shit so vigorously (other than the fact I am a total nerd)?
Liz becomes a Billie Holiday fan in this book, after she listens to one of Enid’s records. As much as those two annoy me, I have to give them props for appreciating Billie.
Guy falls in love with Lynne’s voice before he falls in love with her … brain hurts.
Back of the book advertises the next upcoming Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Malibu Summer, as well as some Sweet Dreams mini-series no one cares about. What’s funny is the Malibu Summer ad goes ahead and states that it’s the second summer Super Edition. They really do not give a crap about continuity!
The plot bits for the next book involves cheerleader Helen Bradley, who no one cares about anyway, moving away to L.A., and Lila’s cousin Christopher coming for a visit. And then we learn that Liz’s middle school best friend, Amy Sutton, is moving back to Sweet Valley from Connecticut and Enid starts to get jealous the second she hears about it. And all of this ties together quite nicely in book 29, which kicks off a short string of the SVHs I loved best as a kid! Yay!
(Another note: A few books after book 28, the Sweet Valley Twins spinoff series was introduced, with the twins in the sixth grade. In that series, Amy was Elizabeth’s best friend until she moved away after the series concluded. When Liz asks a group of Jessica’s friends if they remember Amy, Cara, Lila, and Caroline all say that they do. I find this funny since Cara is nowhere to be found in the SVT series — unless she popped up near the end when I had stopped reading it.)

Comments on: "#28 Alone in the Crowd" (2)

  1. This was my favorite out of the SVH series.

    • embonpoint said:

      Yes, mine too. I was a shy kid when I read it and identified with Lynne a little too much, and there was a whole Cinderella thing to the book.

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