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

#29 Bitter Rivals

I was so excited to pick this book up because it was one of my favorites as a kid. But also, the last several books I’ve read have been all about some poor soul who needs the magic of Elizabeth Wakefield to make them whole again. It was nice to have a break from that and instead read about Liz making a few missteps herself. Yes, Liz is definitely not a saint in this book. In fact, she is largely an ass. Well, she always is, but this time it’s more obvious.

This book covers the return of Amy Sutton to Sweet Valley, and the resulting battle for Elizabeth’s friendship. Amy and Liz were best buds for years before Amy moved away to Connecticut after sixth grade, but Enid only became Liz’s friend in the tenth grade. Now that Amy has moved back, it appears E and A aren’t going to get along, but Liz is sure trying to make them!
Elizabeth is so excited to have Amy return to town that she is completely oblivious to the fact that Amy is now a complete airhead. She has also forgotten Enid exists, literally. She breaks a couple of dates with Enid, including standing up Enid as she runs off to meet Amy. Even after she remembers that Enid is standing around at the beach waiting for her, she doesn’t do much to try and fix the situation, like you know, go drive off to the fucking beach to find Enid. She even has Enid reschedule a planned ski weekend with her Aunt Nancy three times, two of those just to accommodate Amy, whom Liz has taken the liberty of inviting along. (Yes, they’re going skiing in the time period between spring break and summer break. I am confused.) It’s pretty clear that Amy and Liz essentially have nothing in common anymore, but Liz is so desperate to rekindle their old friendship that she keeps fooling herself into thinking that they do.
It’s also obvious that Enid and Amy aren’t fans of one another. Regardless, Enid decides to put up and shut up and pretend that she and Amy can be great friends. She grudgingly agrees to let Amy come along on the ski trip, keeping it a secret the whole time (from Liz and from we the readers — I feel cheated out of some great scenes) that Amy has been a complete bitch to her whenever Liz isn’t around. (And I mean complete bitch — telling her she’s a loser, stay away from Liz, she makes her sick, etc.) But Enid is afraid Liz will ditch her and think she’s lying if she tells her the truth about Amy. Man, Enid is one poor soul who has no real friends aside from Liz. Nowhere is this more painfully obvious than in this book. Seriously Enid, go chat up Lynne Henry or somebody. Enid is also a bit of a clingy and possessive friend, which she admits to herself, and she is jealous of Amy the second she hears she’s coming back to town, long before she sees firsthand what a douche Amy is.
Now, whereas Amy was a tomboy and a bit of a loser in the Sweet Valley Twins era (just to remind you, that series was in the works when this book was published, but not yet released), here she is a dazzling, fashion-conscious, boy-crazy cheerleader who loves hanging out with Jessica, Cara, and Lila but repeatedly stands Liz up for plans. She is also a drama queen who starts crying at the drop of a hat and calls everyone a “doll.” She terrorizes Enid for being a “bore”(and let’s face it, this is a fact) but she herself can’t shut the fuck up about her boyfriend John Norton (or “Johnny”) back home for several chapters. She is at least two inches taller than 5’6″ Liz, but she says she strictly diets so she can’t go over 110 pounds. Jesus. (For breakfast, she has a cup of black coffee and a grapefruit while scowling at Enid’s pancakes, butter, and maple syrup.) She is ridiculous.
We get several chapters of Liz acting stupid and trying to force Enid and Amy on each other, Amy being flaky, standing Liz up and then crying hysterically when Liz asks her what her deal is, and Enid silently glowering about it all. It finally comes to a head at Lila’s latest “biggest party of the year” which is to honor her 19-year-old cousin Christopher, who’s in town from Maine. Apparently Chris is going to visit for three weeks and hang out with a bunch of fucking jailbait. Great. Amy wants a piece of that the second she sees his picture, and Lila is all about setting them up at her stupid party. Oh, did I mention it’s a costume party even though it’s not Halloween?

Well, surprise! Chris and Enid already know each other from a sailing camp Enid was at two years ago, and Chris totally wants him some Enid. Amy is furious, screams at Enid, and keeps throwing herself on Chris, who finds her fucking annoying by the way. Liz tries to fix the situation and both Enid and Amy tell her off and run away.

Of course, both girls forgive Liz in the end, but not each other. Here is the truly ridiculous part of this story. Even after Liz and Enid make up and Enid tells Liz what a bitch Amy has been to her, Liz STILL SUGGESTS AMY COME SKIING and ENID AGREES TO THIS FUCKING IDIOT IDEA. Thankfully, Amy has the sense to say no, and Liz basically walks away from the friendship. UGH.
At least Liz and Enid own up to the dumb mistakes they made along the way and remain friends, but Enid? Seriously, get a hobby, or at least some other friends. Maybe she and Chris will prove to be a serious item and give her a life for a while, but I doubt it. And Liz? Yeah, I understand how it feels to desperately want to hang on to a friendship that’s past its prime, trust me … but you made it an art form, and a sad, sloppy one at that.
Amy, you’re hopeless. Congratulations on making the cheerleading team. Funny how you didn’t have to go through the THREE try-outs that everybody else did last time. Guess Jessica didn’t want to risk someone attempting suicide and ruining HER life again.
The sub-plot features Jessica being as ridiculous as Amy. She develops a crush on some kid in her French class named Jay McGuire. Oh, I’m sorry, not a crush, it’s LOVE! True LOVE! Like she just had with Jean-Claude. Well, Jay is dating a senior girl named Denise Hadley and they are crazy about each other. It just so happens that Jess and Cara have started an advice column for the Oracle called Miss Lovelorn, so Jess goes ahead and writes two fake letters for her to answer that week, one from a boy dating an older girl and one from a girl dating a younger boy. Miss Lovelorn’s prize advice is to just break up, already. Of course, the assumption is that Denise will think Jay wrote one and Jay will think Denise wrote the other. For some reason, the letters actually cause the pair to fight a lot. Jessica takes advantage of the situation and gets Jay to take her out, throws herself on him, and seals the deal by telling Jay Denise has been cheating on him and the whole school knows. Because Jay is stupid and has no idea what Jessica is really like for some reason, he consoles himself by diving in between her thighs, or whatever we’re supposed to assume they were doing. (I know, I’m so vulgar.) Jessica and Jay go to Lila’s party where Denise is with some older dude. Jay runs out of the party crying, and hey, he’s back with Denise on Monday morning. Seems this one is Liz’s fault since the couple wrote letters (for real this time) to Miss Lovelorn about how much they want to fix things. Jessica meant to throw the letters away, but she forgot and Liz wound up printing them and telling the letter writers to give it another try. I’m glad to know a stupid advice column can make or break a love life, especially when everyone knows who writes it and it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that Jessica faked the original letters and that she’s trying to get in Jay’s pants. Way to go kids. What I really want to know: Why isn’t Denise coming for Jessica’s ass? I forget I went to an uncivilized high school where girls solved things like this by beating each other and leaving piles of hair strewn all over the hallways.
The cover is hysterical. Everyone looks like they are about to throw down, and wearing fugly outfits. Toss those stupid barrettes already, Liz. And why has your lavaliere blown up in size on the last two covers? I HATE Enid’s hair. UGH. Also, why do the books always describe Enid as having brown hair? Hello, it’s red. Amy isn’t as hot as she thinks she is but she does have a cute pout going on.
Weird shit: Jay mentions two friends of his named Eddie and Tom, who I assumed were Eddie Strong and Tom McKay, but instead it’s two dudes named Eddie May and Tom Richardson. So basically the ghostwriter made up two brand new characters we’ll never hear of again for no reason. I hate when they do that. I know, I pay too much attention to this shit.
Seriously, Denise should at least cuss Jessica out. That would be funny. Although Denise and Jay don’t strike me as the two brightest crayons in the box, so they probably still don’t realize what Jessica pulled.
Here are the costumes people wear to Lila’s party: Enid and Liz come as skiiers (DORKS), Amy is a ballerina, Jessica is Cleopatra, and Lila is the Princess of Wales (you mean Diana?). Sounds like a blast to wear ski outfits in the hot California spring air.
Lila describes how hot her cousin is to her friends and pretty much drools all over herself. Ewwwwww.
Cheerleader Sandra Bacon is jealous that she can only eat yogurt while her best friend Jean eats a sandwich (and bitches about how much she hates sandwiches … who hates sandwiches?). But why is Sandra only eating yogurt, you ask? “…she had been gaining weight lately, and unless she starved for three weeks, she would burst the seams on her new cheerleading uniform.” I HATE HATE HATE how this series presents body image! Or hey, forgets to show how you can lose weight without eating nothing but goddamn yogurt and grapefruit! Oh, I forgot, only Jessica and Elizabeth can eat like normal people and stay a “perfect size six.” HATE.
Sandra wonders how she got on the team since she fell on her ass during the tryouts last time. Hahaha, you mean you didn’t hear how Jessica forced people to vote you on just so Annie the slut couldn’t shake her pom-poms at people? And how Annie tried to off herself because everyone knew you sucked ass and she was so much better than you and rightfully deserved your spot? Oh, Sandra, you really are out of the loop aren’t you … pity.
Next up ... the twins go on their second summer vacation, this time to Malibu. And then we’ll see how Sandra handles Jean wanting to join HER precious sorority. It’s not going to go down well.

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