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

#34 Forbidden Love

In this tome, SVH tackles the difficult subject of teen marriage. Cheerleader Maria Santelli and senior tennis player Michael Harris (who?) have gotten engaged, and it’s kind of a big deal. Funnily enough, no one in school wonders if Maria might be pregnant. (She isn’t, of course. This is Sweet Valley. No one has sex.)

Maria and Michael have had a secret relationship for some time now, even though we’ve never heard of Michael before that I can think of. Maria has Michael pick her up a few blocks from her house for dates and tells her parents she’s seeing a kid named Josh. They buy it even though they have never met this Josh. Michael apparently doesn’t have to make up shit to explain where he is going all the time. Even though everyone in the school knows they are together, somehow word never got back to their feuding families, who have hated each other ever since a business deal gone wrong several years ago. Michael somehow figured it made sense to buy Maria a diamond ring and propose because when they do expose themselves to their families, the engagement will somehow make them take their love more seriously. Because 16- and 17-year-olds getting married is something most parents would respect, right? Ha.

Jessica and her cronies think the engagement is totally romantic and use it as an excuse to start planning a surprise party for the couple at Lila’s “Spanish-style” mansion. Meanwhile, Maria and Michael are not getting along. It turns out Michael is a big douche and Maria just never had a chance to notice before. Maria has been spending a lot of time helping Winston Egbert campaign for a Student Council-PTA officer position, and Michael is annoyed because it’s pretty obvs that Winston is crushing hard on Maria. He says they are spending way too much time together. While Michael is clearly the ass here, I do have to say that I don’t get why it takes so much time to photocopy fliers and shit either. Maria agrees to stop helping Winston at Michael’s insistence and tries to pass the duties off on Liz instead, who politely tells her to get bent. Ha ha! Maria begs Michael to change his mind about Winston, and he grudgingly agrees to “let” her help him after all. Meanwhile, Winston has admitted to Liz that he has fallen hard for Maria.

Also, some juniors and seniors are working on a special marriage seminar (see the sub-plot), and Michael and Maria are of course paired together (by random drawing, heh) and then find they can’t agree on anything. Michael reveals he thinks married women shouldn’t work, misbehaving kids should be hit, and that psychology and therapy are a bunch of bullshit. Maria is horrified but she seems to have some kind of problem with speaking her mind ever since she and Michael got engaged. Worse, Michael seems to have lost all interest in “coming out” to their families. Maria starts thinking about what a shitty relationship Michael’s sister Kate has with her fiance Richard and worrying that this is a bad idea. Gee Maria, ya think?

Lila throws the stupid party and Maria and Michael are predictably miserable at it because Michael is picking at Maria again. The party has a wedding cake, a leatherbound guest book, balloons, and of course The Droids are set up in the corner playing the wedding march. Maria and Michael are forced to take pictures in front of the cake and dance for everyone. HAHAHA. Worst. Party. Ever. Liz is there because Jeffrey wanted to go, but she has been worrying that throwing this party will expose Maria and Michael to their parents because word will somehow get out faster that way than it already should have! I mean, what the fuck? I grew up in a fairly small town myself and there is NO WAY their parents wouldn’t know by now! “The walls in this county have ears” as my dad used to say! But because it’s more convenient to the plot, the Santellis find out about the engagement when they run into Caroline Pearce’s mom at the movie theater. Glad to see Caroline is back to her old gossipymouth ways.

Needless to say, the dumb fucking wedding party is about to become a complete trainwreck. Michael gets jealous when he sees Maria doing a silly dance with Winston. He reacts by suddenly making a speech in which he announces he is running against Winston for Student Council and that Maria is going to help him win. Winston assumes Maria was in on this plan and leaves the party upset. Michael threatens to break up with Maria when she tries to go after him, and they have a huge fight in front of everyone in which Maria starts crying and breaks the engagement. The Santellis and the Harrises arrive at Fowler Crest together to confront their kids because that’s just the perfect place to do it, in front of a bunch of nosy teenagers. In the process they meet with Michael who is devastated that Maria has dumped him. He explains everything to them and the Santellis and the Harrises take all the responsibility for their children’s shitty decisions and end their 4-year-feud like, immediately. Meanwhile, even though she is still very upset about having to break up with someone she loved so much, Maria goes and finds Winston in the Fowler gardens and they make out for half an hour. (For real – they say “half an hour later” they came back to the house!) Liz has a heartfelt chat with Michael whom I’m fairly certain she has never deigned to speak to before and I’m going to puke. Then Maria and Michael agree to be best friends forever and Michael leaves the party misty-eyed because all it took for him to realize the error of his ways was Maria’s dumping him. Wow, I wish all douchebags were cured of their douchery so easily.

The sub-plot is very thin and is really only there to aid the main story. As I mentioned earlier, the school is having a special marriage seminar project, but only for 24 juniors and seniors. Winston and Jessica are paired together for a little comic relief, and their handout says that they have seven children and a combined yearly salary of a whopping $23,000. Lila gets paired with Bill Chase and treats him like crap. Man, Lila is especially bitchy in this book. Liz gets stuck with Bruce and clearly thinks of him as a friend now that he’s dating Regina, because that completely erases the fact that he tried to rape her once.

Other stuff: Annie says, “Boy, Ricky sure knows how to tire a girl out.” I’ll just bet he does.

Lila has decided she hates Prince Albert the puppy. And true to form, Liz is doing most of the taking care of him.

Is it typical to call a divorced woman “Mrs.”? See: “Mrs. Pearce had been divorced for years.” Even if she kept her ex-husband’s last name, wouldn’t that be Ms. Pearce?

The Droids sing a shitty song called “Hold On Tight.” I wish I had written down all of their song titles earlier. They’ve had some real gems in there.

Lila dances with Bruce at her party which is amusing since they supposedly hate each other. And Regina is nowhere to be found in this book. And Aaron Dallas is now dating Heather Sanford who I thought was a minor character from the early books, but that was Heather Morgan.

Michael drives a Trans-Am. Maria has a little sister named Diane. I don’t know why I’m all about the random facts lately.

Lila stamps her foot screaming at the Droids to play more songs when she feared the M-M drama has ruined the evening. It’s quite an amusing spectacle!

Of course Winston wins the student council position. He is up against three sophomores: Brian Klein, Jimmy Reed, and Lisa Walton, who is apparently a dead ringer for the position because she uses smart slogans like “Exalt in Walton.” Is this for real? Does anyone really give that much of a crap about who wins student council? Oh, and Winston’s slogan is: “Winston This Instant!” hehehe.

Jessica thinks about how handsome her dad is at length again. Seriously, we get it. The Wakefields are the most attractive family on planet earth, and Jessica thinks about that all the time. Creepy much?

The cover shows two reasonably attractive thirty-year-olds. Did kids really dress that adult in 1987? And what the fuck is up with Maria’s pants? Guuuh. Those look SO uncomfortable. I see she’s rocking the Liz Wakefield barrettes, too.

Next: Aaron Dallas has some kind of anger management problem. Liz to the rescue!

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