Look everybody, it’s Olivia Davidson on her very first cover! And she looks totally stoned and glassy-eyed. (I wish I had a bigger picture to show you just how crazy she looks … if you click on this one, you can try to enlarge it and see!) She musta been sniffing some of those acrylics. The earrings make my lobes hurt just lookin’ at them, and that shirt is … guuuuh. (I want those bracelets though!)
Background of this book: Olivia and Roger broke up back in book 48 (Slam Book Fever), and it was probably the most normal break-up that has ever occurred in Sweet Valley. They decided they were tired of fighting over every little thing and that it just wasn’t worth it anymore, so they called it quits, and that was that. Now let’s compare and contrast to some of the other break-ups we’ve seen:
- Elizabeth and Todd: Evil Suzanne Devlin got into a car accident, and the twins and their friends learned she had been diagnosed with MS and wasn’t evil anymore. Then Liz realized Todd had fallen in love with Suzanne and decided to quit dragging out her long-distance relationship with him. Suzanne then received the joyous news that her MS was a wrong diagnosis by some crap doctors.
- Elizabeth and Tony Sargent/”Jamie”: Liz found out her beloved college boy was really a famous pop star after his stalker tried to kill him in front of her. Then she ignored him and refused to have anything to do with him ever again because she’s an old sourpuss who can’t have any fun.
- Jessica and A.J.: Jessica realized she just couldn’t stay with A.J. after Christopher (“the other man” for a weekend) stalked her and then tried to kidnap her twin in a case of mistaken identity.
- Jessica and Jack Howard: Jack tried to slit Jessica’s throat after she found drugs in his apartment and flew into a rage over them. Hey, he was already secretly engaged to Lila anyway.
- Regina and Bruce: Regina dumped Bruce after he made out with Amy Sutton pretty much right in front of her, and then she died of a heart attack the first time she tried cocaine to help her get over him.
- Enid and George: He crashed his plane and paralyzed Enid while trying to tell her he had fallen for another girl.
- Steven and Tricia: She died of cancer and left behind one hell of a lot of baggage for Steve and any other girl he tries to date, which we will be reminded of forevermore in Sweet Valley world.
- Nicholas and Barbara: She had to move back to Switzerland and leave him forever after weeks of meeting secretly and then dodging murder attempts from her “uncle” and his insane brother.
There are way more, but let’s not drag this out … unless you want to discuss your favorite ones in the comments! (Go for it!)
Sweet Valley is doing a special two-week “minicourses” program for the juniors and seniors. Time will be shaved off of the end of each class and the lunch period so that the students have an extra fifty minutes for a special elective at the end of the day. And that’s all they are – electives: pottery, dance, nutrition, painting, electronics, bla bla. Everyone is all up in arms about which one they want to sign up for. Jessica gets so much attention at the lunch table, making a big show out of choosing her mini-courses, that I want to throw up. I guess I don’t get what the big deal is about this program. Wow, so you get to add another class onto your day and have more work to do. Fun fun. Of course, Enid and Liz are about to orgasm on themselves at the thought of an extra class.
Olivia, Caroline Pearce, Liz, Maria Santelli, and Enid all get the painting class. Olivia starts whining to Liz in the very first chapter that she’s lonely and miserable without a boyfriend. Which reminds me, why haven’t we heard anything about Roger lately? Isn’t he dating somebody new by now? Weren’t he and Olivia best friends before they started dating anyway? Now there’s zero word on him. Truly out of character, Liz thinks that Olivia doesn’t need a boyfriend and she should be happy to be independent. What the fuck? Is this the same girl that tries to set all the Miss Lonelyhearts in the school up with their own man and smugly pities everyone for not being in the fantastic relationships that she is?
The painting teacher is a local artist named Stuart Bachman. He’s described as being handsome in a hipster nerd way, and Olivia is infatuated instantly. She gets totally annoying, offering to help him set up and clean up the classroom, monopolizing the class, and being a teacher’s pet to the max. Caroline and Maria are pissed that Olivia gets all Stuart’s attention because she’s the best artist. Olivia’s behavior grows progressively more obsessive, and Enid gets concerned and tells Liz they should do something. Liz isn’t convinced and is like, “Oh, it seems natural to me” and Enid has to try and prove it to her by having Liz track Olivia’s behavior in one class. It’s pretty obvious that Olivia is acting like a psycho, but Liz still doesn’t believe Enid. Again, what the fuck is up with Liz in this book? She is totally not herself. I expected her to follow Olivia and Stuart around and nose into their business, and corner Olivia in the Oracle office so she can lecture her on the dangers of student-teacher relationships. Liz only thinks Enid is right after Olivia is late with her stupid proofs for the Oracle. You know you don’t mess with Liz and her Oracle. God.
Seriously, Olivia is fast morphing into a scary stalker. She decides Stuart likes her after he winks at her. She freaks out when Liz and Enid remark that Stuart is a great teacher and seems to care about his students, because it’s news to her that he cares about anyone but her. She changes her outfits, wearing a tight black dress and boots to school rather than her usual long tie-dye skirts and Birkenstocks, or whatever it is she wears. She finds out that Stuart’s favorite artist is David Hockney, who of course has paintings at the Sweet Valley Museum, so she conveniently works that into her conversations with Stuart. She says that’s her favorite artist also, but I’m never clear if that’s really the case or if she’s making that shit up to impress him. She starts reading the same art magazines that Stuart reads, and talking about how awesome he is to anyone that will listen. She reminds me of DeeDee in book 22 (Too Much in Love). The worst is when she looks up Stuart’s address in a Riverside Arts Academy alumni directory, drives to his apartment on a Saturday morning, then decides to just go ahead and ring his buzzer. She wakes Stuart up and he is confused as to why she is bugging him on a weekend, not to mention how the hell she found out where he lives, but invites her up for coffee anyway. Olivia doesn’t like coffee, but she drinks it and tells Stuart she likes it. Okay, I get being madly infatuated with a hot teacher, but this is getting ridiculous. Oh, but wait … it gets worse.
Stuart shows Olivia some earrings he’s considering getting for “someone special” and Olivia is SO CRAZY that she thinks they must be for her. Her birthday is coming up that Friday, you see, and even though Stuart has no way of knowing this, she’s convinced he somehow snooped around, found it out, and is going to surprise her. He even takes Olivia shopping because he wants her to help him pick out a present for the same someone special, or at least, that’s what he says. I think it’s really because she won’t go the fuck home already. Man, I’d really be afraid of being accused of statutory rape if I were old Stuart. He’s 25 or something. Anyway, Olivia picks out an artsy frame and Stuart is all, “THAT’S PERFECT” woooooo. Enid thinks Stuart is leading Olivia on and I gotta say, uh, way to go Captain Obvious. But the book wants us to think that’s not correct and he really has no idea. If you want my personal opinion, I think Stuart is enjoying egging her on because it makes him feel younger that some loony piece of jailbait wants to blow him as he paints his Hockney-inspired masterpieces.
By now, there’ve been a few clues that Stuart is attached to someone else, other than, you know, the whole “someone special” bit. First, there’s a picture at his place of him with some friends, including a pretty woman next to him. Then, Olivia practically invites herself to this Alumni Association night he’s speaking at, where someone asks Stuart where “Monica” is. Stuart tells Olivia he has a surprise for her that Friday at his gallery opening at the Sweet Valley Museum and he wants her to meet him there. She sees him buying the frame she showed him earlier and loses her shit. It’s really happening! He’s going to confess his feelings and make sweet sweet love to her! She spends a ton of money buying some ugly purple jumpsuit for the opening so that Stuart can rip it off later as he presents her with his penis with a ribbon tied around it and a dangling “Happy Birthday” card. Instead, Stuart presents her to his girlfriend Monica, who’s wearing the earrings Stuart showed Olivia, and gushing about the fabulous frame Olivia helped Stuart pick out for her. ‘Cause guess what! It’s Monica’s birthday too! HAHAHA! And then a lady named Cyndi talks about how “adorable” Olivia is! ‘CAUSE SHE’S SO YOUNG! Olivia almost cries in front of everyone. This part is indeed awesome. I read it in a sleep-deprived state and laughed deliriously.
So what’s the big surprise? Stuart has Olivia’s painting from class on display at the gallery! Wow, I didn’t see that one coming. That’s all it takes for Olivia to get over herself, seeing her art on display between Stuart’s shit. She realizes what a nut she was being. Then she goes home to find a big surprise party everyone had set up for her, and Stuart and Monica show up there too. Ha ha ha, I wonder what Stuart had to promise to do to Monica later to make up for dragging her to some high school party.
OH OH OH I almost forgot. There is a totally forgettable kid named Rod Sullivan who pops up out of nowhere to tell Olivia how much he admires her Oracle work and gives her a new layout for it that he designed. He asks her out twice and each time she says no, but he keeps following her around mumbling about shit and calling her house. And then he shows up at the party because Mrs. Davidson and Liz thought he should come! So Olivia tells him she’d like to go out with him after all and I guess she got her wish for a new man and can get over her stupid “Lonely, I’m so lonely” blues and I hope we never have to hear about this bullshit ever again. Unless the Droids write a song about it.
Oh god, you guys. This was the worst one to slog through. In fact, I used it as an insomnia cure the night before Thanksgiving. No joke. And then I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of something decent to say about the plot ever since.
The sub-plot: Jessica jokingly puts electronics as a third or fourth choice on her minicourses sign-up form, mainly because it gets her attention from everyone at the lunch table. And wouldn’t you know? She gets electronics! It’s taught by the nerdy Mr. Drexel, whose teaching methods consist of standing there asking people what they want to make, and then walking around hovering over people as they magically construct some crazy shit in just two weeks. So I guess everyone already knows how to make talking toasters and shit like that? This school is so weird.
Meanwhile, Lila is bragging about two things: that she got into dress design and is making a fabulous frock for herself, and that her father is dating Anika Hunt, star of The Willoughbys soap opera. Jessica is all jealous and doesn’t believe that old George Fowler is really dating Anika, so she’s inspired to make a lie detector … only she cajoles Randy Mason into doing it for her. GROW A SPINE, RANDY!
Lila’s dress doesn’t work out right, so she gets Jessica to loan her one that looks just like it by holding some great secret over Jessica’s head, and promising to tell her only if Lila can wear the dress and tell her teacher that she made it. You see, at the end of the minicourses, there’s a special day for everyone to show off their projects in the auditorium. So Lila walks around preening in Jessica’s dress, and then Jessica displays her lie detector and it’s a huge hit. She can’t wait to make Lila use it so that she ask if George Fowler is REALLY dating Anika Hunt and humiliate her. Lila’s answer is, “What a dumb question. Of course he is.” And it’s the truth. Ha ha ha, I love Lila. Jessica is “dumbfounded” because she didn’t want to believe that a filthy rich, handsome computer magnate could somehow snag a hot piece of ass like Anika Hunt.
The lie detector also exposes that Winston owes Ken Matthews $25, which embarrasses Winston. Hey Winston, go ask that man who got his winning lottery ticket back from you to loan ya a little. Oh, and then Olivia gets shoved up to the lie detector, and someone yells out that Jessica should ask Olivia if she is in love with Stuart Bachman. Everyone laughs! Olivia had NO IDEA that she was so obvious about it, so she yells at Liz, assuming that she let her secret out and runs off crying. Oh, no worries, they make up at her surprise party. I love the way Liz always gets accused of doing shit like that, and then we get to read about her oh-so-graciously accepting whomever’s apology later on. Gag me.
This book made me lose all respect I ever had for Olivia … or whomever decided to turn her character into such a self-deprecating stalker piece of shit! Isn’t it time for DeeDee and Bill to break up? Make DeeDee act like this, her history proves she’s well-suited for it!
Some other bullshit: Anika Hunt is described as a soap star, someone who’s solely famous because of her role on The Willoughbys. Then later on, they refer to her as a movie star. Then she’s called a famous soap star again. Pick one!!!
Amy and Jessica and Lila are all coming to Olivia’s birthday party … uh, why???? They’re trying to pick out a present for her and all that. What the fuck? Next we’ll have Amy Sutton highly concerned about what flowers she should put on Regina Morrow’s grave. Yes, I just went there.
Olivia says she has never really tried painting before and seems to not know much about art other than she kinda likes looking at cool paintings and shit. I’m confused. Isn’t she always described as the artsy, granola type? I mean, she is the arts editor for the Oracle after all. Maybe I just assumed!
Maria Santelli says she has gotten the nutrition & fitness minicourse rather than her first choice, which was dance. But then Maria is in the painting class!
When Jessica first sees the list of kids in the electronics class, she’s dismayed that she doesn’t recognize anyone besides Winston and Jeffrey. So that means she has forgotten Randy Mason exists, which I suppose makes sense when you consider that she’s the most popular girl in school and he’s just a nerd who helped her hack into the school system to change her grades, and then put up with her bullshit on an island field trip. Yep, no importance to her, just another doormat for her to wipe her fucking peaches-and-cream feet on!
If Lila is so rich, I don’t see why she can’t just hire a seamstress to fix her dress or make her a new one, or go buy a lookalike like Jess has.
Mr. Jaworski is described as the history teacher. Dude, he’s the drama teacher!
Random facts: Sweet Valley has a sewing shop called McMahon’s and an artsy boutique called Domain. Todd’s dad’s name is Bert Wilkins. George and Anika are going to be on the cover of the next Celebrity magazine along with six other couples.
Coming up next: The secret that Lila was hiding from Jessica: Todd Wilkins is moving back to Sweet Valley for good. She springs it on Liz at Olivia’s surprise party while Liz is hooked up to the lie detector, wanting to know if Liz and Jeffrey would survive, and Liz just gets up and calmly walks out of the room rather than answer. But even if you really have no idea, the next book is called Brokenhearted, so I guess that kind of gives it away. I HATE obvious titles!