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

#44 Pretenses

Cara and Steven SO look like a married couple in their late 20s or early 30s en route to divorce on this cover. If I had to find a stock photo illustrating marital problems for a health book or marriage and family class or something, this is exactly the one I would choose! Kinda diggin’ Cara’s dress though. Kinda. She also looks much prettier than she did on the cover of Memories. They both have wack hair though.

Sweet Valley has gotten way lame ever since everyone started coupling up. Jessica recognizes this but has somewhat given up on her efforts to start breaking people up, thank God. I swear, if it isn’t one Wakefield twin all in your business, it’s the other one.

So now we get some boring couple-y problems in this, the latest in the 40s sequence of very boring SVH books. Cara feels that Steven is growing distant from her, and we are supposed to care. When we last saw them in book 43, they were at the premiere party for This Is Sweet Valley. A girl named Abbie Richardson showed up and started dancing with Steven while Cara moped around. According to the story, Abbie was once good friends with Jessica and Lila back in the ninth grade. Jessica and Abbie were “almost inseparable” according to Liz. But then Abbie started dating some sophomore dude named Doug Brewster from Palisades High and started ignoring her friends. Now, two years later, Doug and Abbie are over, Doug is dating some new chick named Mariel, and Abbie needs friends who don’t go to Palisades. Abbie doesn’t know how to make friends, so she’s become a people-pleaser to the max and it weirds everybody out. She is at the Wakefield house every day of the week and it’s kind of annoying.

Steven is home from college because he feels sick. You know, I didn’t come home from college at all my freshman year, Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks excepted, no matter how sicky I felt. I’m just sayin’. Anyway. He has to go through a bunch of allergy tests and have sinus X-rays or some shit. He seems just fine, it’s just a tad harder for him to breathe. Somebody probably feels worse with a hangover than Steven Wakefield does with allergies. What the fuck ever.

He also has a lot of schoolwork to do, and is sure to keep pointing that out to Cara as an excuse for ignoring her and not wanting to spend any time alone with her. Jessica suggests that Cara needs to put some “mystery” in the relationship to keep things interesting, and Cara listens to Jessica’s advice. Cara, do you not recall how just a few books ago, Jessica was trying to break you guys up?

Cara is planning a make-up birthday luncheon since Steven ruined her original birthday back in book 24 (Memories). That’s right, he made her feel so bad that she has to re-do her birthday. She holds a luncheon at some fancy place called the Marine House, where she can only afford to invite 14 people. She accidentally mentions it to Abbie, who just assumes Cara is going to invite her but hasn’t bothered to yet. Cara realizes it was silly of her to mention it and feels bad but never rectifies the situation. Abbie brags to her mother about her great new friends and gets a new dress and a silver ring for Cara, even though she realizes Cara hasn’t actually extended the invitation just yet. On the day of the luncheon, Abbie finally admits to herself that Cara is definitely not inviting her and pretends to be sick so her mother won’t wonder why she isn’t going. Abbie is hella pathetic.

Steven acts like a dick at the luncheon. He is quiet and reserved, then Cara catches him reading a letter on some fancy pink stationery. When she innocently asks him about it, he snaps at her and calls her a baby. Cara feels awful. Steven has now ruined two birthday celebrations. Cara deserves a wild birthday WEEKEND now if you ask me … and a new boyfriend.

Abbie starts hanging around the Wakefield house like, every day. Jessica loves it because Abbie just willingly does all her chores for her. Even though Abbie was supposedly Jessica’s friend in the past, she seems to gravitate more toward Liz this time around. Abbie also helps Steven out with his troubles with Cara. Steven tells her all about the letters. It turns out the stationery just happens to match that of Tricia Martin’s. Ugh! Tricia AGAIN!

Abbie encourages him to tell Cara about the letters, but he won’t. Abbie realizes there is major sexual tension between herself and Steven and feels uncomfortable about it. She recalls how Doug started dating Mariel while he was still with Abbie and how bad it made her feel. So she always manages to back away just as he puts his hand on her. Wow, awkward. But by now the twins are starting to realize that something is up. They see Abbie with Steven all the time, and they have seen the letters, even though Steven won’t spill about it to them, and they wind up investigating at the Sweet Valley Mall “Pen and Paper” stationery shop. The sales girl says someone about their age bought the last box of the fancy pink stationery. They figure it’s Abbie and determine she’s trying to steal Steve and freak out. Their suspicions are confirmed when Mr. Wakefield announces he has six tickets to a Lakers game from his firm and decides the sixth ticket should go to Cara. (Why not Jeffrey?) Steven says he wants to Abbie instead because he and Cara are having major problems, and everyone is shocked.

Jessica tells Lila about the basketball game and makes her swear not to tell Cara. You can see where this is coming. When Cara comes over to join them at lunch, Jessica takes off. Lila sees how unhappy Cara is and is astonished that Cara wants to go crying to Steven and make him love her again. So she tells Cara about the b-ball game and Cara is LIVID. I’m all ready for a showdown with Cara and Steven that I probably won’t get.

Eventually, the twins confront Abbie in front of Steven, who has found out he has a variety of allergies by the way. Don’t care. Everyone turns on Abbie and accuses her of writing the letters and trying to steal Steven. Abbie tells them they are wrong and goes home sad but proud that she stood up for herself. Then Cara comes over and spills that SHE wrote the letters. She was trying to put more mystery into their relationship and didn’t realize that the stationery was Tricia’s. Steven claims he was acting like a dick to begin with because his allergies were bothering him (bullshit) and he’s worried about his schoolwork (bullshit). I think he just finally got some real college tail somewhere and is feeling guilty about it. Steven and Cara make up and he acts like she is crazy to think he would even want to be with another girl. Sure, after you pretty much ditched Cara on her ass as soon as a chick who looked just like Tricia Martin showed up. (Ferney, anyone?) The Wakefields and Cara go over to Abbie’s house and apologize and everyone is friends again. Mr. Wakefield manages to get a seventh ticket for the Lakers game so that Cara can go too. And LOLZZZZ, they all have a great time! And Cara easily forgives that Steve didn’t even want her to come the first time. I would so be done with this bullshit.

Even though Abbie basically infiltrated their family for weeks on end, I’m guessing that’s the last we will hear of her. Good, she irritates me.

The sub-plot: I guess this is supposed to be about Abbie Richardson and her troubles making friends or something. The Oracle did a survey of its readers and noticed that readership is down. Man, they really take their high school newspaper seriously, huh? Winston’s solution is to make a humor section. The paper runs a contest to see who gets to start doing the new humor feature, and the two finalists are Abbie (with a comic strip called “Jenny”) and Amy fucking Sutton (with a Miss Manners-style column). Wait, are you fucking kidding me? Since when is AMY well-mannered? Fuck her, I hate her. Abbie has such a need for friendship that she helps Amy craft her column, but Abbie wins anyway.

Other stuff: Abbie thinks to herself that she wishes she could be Elizabeth Wakefield. Yes, another sad sack who desperately wants to be Liz’s friend since she can’t actually be Liz. GAG ME WITH A SPOON ALREADY. And there’s this: “[…] Abbie couldn’t help thinking how great the Wakefield family was.” You and everyone else in this town, Abbie.

Steven is still a freshman at the “local state university” which is said to be “45 minutes” away from Sweet Valley.

Abbie’s middle name is Bain. It’s an old family name.

Jessica jokes, “Maybe you’re allergic to college. You come home often enough.” Finally, somebody said what we were all thinking!

Here are the kids who are at Cara’s luncheon at the Marine House: Steven, Jessica, Liz and Jeffrey, Maria and Winston, Sandra and Manuel, Amy and Bruce, and Jean and Tom. I can’t help but notice that Enid and Hugh aren’t there. Man, Enid seriously has no friends outside of Liz. I think Enid has maybe one scene in this whole book, to be honest. Also, why don’t Robin and Annie ever hang out with the cheerleaders? They’ve been absent from a lot of these books. I guess Jessica still has issues with both of them. And finally, what is up with Liz and Jeffrey always invited to events for people who are more Jessica’s friends? Since when does Liz even like most of these people?

Amy and Bruce still mess around on occasion but have drifted apart since Regina died.

Once again, we get the implication that when a relationship is on the verge of ending, it’s okay to just go ahead and get in someone else’s pants before you have actually grown the balls to break up with that person. It’s a more subtle implication than it was in books 40 and 41, but it’s there.

Steven talks about how Cara never wanted to talk to him about Tricia. Gee, I recall that not being the case when they got together. She was the one who helped him get over that shit.

Cara tells Lila she thinks Liz is behind Steve’s inviting Abbie to the game and not her. Ha ha, I guess she’s still remembering how Liz didn’t want them to get together in the first place. I was eagerly looking forward to a Cara-Liz smackdown, but it never happens 😦

From the Mouth of Lila Fowler: “Is something wrong with you? You look like you just lost every share of stock you own.” -to Cara, at the lunch table

Coming up next: The twins have another stupid cousin coming to town. This time it’s the daughter of Alice’s sister Laura. Her name is Kelly Bates and we have never heard of her before.

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Comments on: "#44 Pretenses" (4)

  1. I hate Cara for not growing a backbone! Between this one and the Andrea/Ghost of Tricia Martin storyline, she just looks like a loser 🙂

  2. […] writer I think I’m supposed to have more of an opinion about this, but all I could think was, where the fuck is Abbie Richardson? Jessica suggests Liz just print out rogue copies of the article and distribute them herself apart […]

  3. Kanna-Chan said:

    Like Lila knows anything about the stock market. If her dad leaves her his fortune and business, she’ll be broke within a year.

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