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

Oh, jeez. This book … I just … I feel like Samir in Office Space:

This should be the cover of a brochure about emotional and mental abuse in relationships.

Bear with me okay, because this is one of the most painful books I have had to review in recent memory. And it made me angry because I thought of young girls who read this and every other book Steven and Cara are in, and think this is a good way to behave in relationships. Maybe you think I take YA literature too seriously and maybe I do especially since I don’t think any girls are reading these books nowadays. But here’s what’s going on. Steven is a fucking idiot. In the last book, Elizabeth dragged him into Unique Boutique with her where they ran into a new salesgirl who looks – *gasp!* – just like Tricia Martin! Only her name is Andrea (no, it’s not Ferney again). Steven went straight home, dialed Cara and broke their date, then dialed Unique Boutique, asked for Andrea, and asked her out. He never even said much to Andrea other than asking her name, but she’s game. So when this book opens, they’re about to go out. Elizabeth figures it out and has to promise not to let it slip to Jessica since Cara is one of Jessica’s best friends. Personally, I think that friendship is doomed anyway.

Steven meets Andrea at a Pacific Shores restaurant called La Paloma. (That means “dove” in Spanish!) And here’s where he turns into a major creepazoid. He keeps calling Andrea “Tricia” and he pushes her to order the chef’s salad because that was Tricia’s favorite. When Andrea does, that’s proof enough for Steven that she’s “just like Tricia.” Oh, that and Andrea kind of liked La Paloma, which is “where Tricia and I used to go all the time” – I thought they went to Valley Inn all the time. Seriously, Steven takes chicks on the worst dates ever. He babbles about himself THE WHOLE TIME and we learn nothing about Andrea. She finally tells him he’s called her Tricia three times and he has to explain how she died, bla bla, but doesn’t bother to mention Cara. This should be the point where Andrea says “check please” but instead she feels sorry for him. I’d be ready to dash out the door already. I’m not trying to be insensitive, but if someone tells me they want to date me because I look just like their ex who recently passed away, I’m going to suggest they start seeing a good grief counselor instead. When he gets home, Liz tries to talk some sense into him, but he’s busy getting fixated on learning to hang glide because that’s going to take his mind off of Tricia/Andrea … sure it is. But Liz thinks she has the right to try and talk him out of it because it’s dangerous! even though SHE attempted to purchase a hang-glider on her own out of nowhere in the very last book, with no plans to take lessons or anything; she was just going to up and purchase the hang-glider and run around with it. I hate her.

Steven takes Cara out on a surprise hike to Castle Rock at Secca Lake because he thinks that getting sweaty and bug-bitten is a good way to revitalize his relationship with his prissy cheerleader girlfriend. Cara wears everyday sandals to the hike because well, it was a surprise and Steven didn’t bother to tell her she would need sturdier shoes for the surprise. But Steven has the gall to get all pissed off when Cara gets a blister. Then he mentions hang-gliding to her and she thinks it sounds dangerous and that gets his balls all in a bunch too. He is really rude to Cara all day long and I SO don’t get why she is still in this relationship. She even does that thing where you start apologizing to somebody when they’re the ones being rude to you for no reason. Cara, ditch this fucker, please? Steven goes home thinking Cara is silly and immature. Hello, she IS in high school while you’re in college, Steven. So that means that yes, your stupid law projects are boring for her to hear about. Date someone your own age if you can’t handle it. Asshole.

Steven gets all dolled up for another date, which Jessica assumes is with Cara. But then after he’s long gone, Cara calls the house to ask Jessica what’s up with Steve’s behavior. Jessica is such a self-absorbed bitch that all she can do is babble about her own drama. And it’s only when they hang up that Jessica realizes Steven is in fact not out with Cara. I hate everyone in this book.

Steven and Andrea continue to date. He takes her out to an aquarium and – God, this is SO creepy. First, he goes to the aquarium because Tricia liked it. Then, he suggests they look at the otters because Tricia loved seeing the otters. Of course, Andrea also likes the otters so that means she’s just like Tricia. Who the fuck doesn’t like otters? And hey, Andrea thinks hang-gliding sounds interesting although a bit dangerous. Her response isn’t much different than Cara’s, just worded differently. And Steven doesn’t even tell Andrea he wants to do it. But Andrea is somehow so much better than Cara because of this. Then Steven takes Andrea’s hair down out of nowhere because Tricia always wore hers down. He doesn’t even ask her, he just takes it down. Oh, God. I’m getting the chills, and not in a good way. Andrea tries to put it back up and he begs her to leave it down, so she does. RUN ANDREA RUN. Then, they go to get ice cream cones and Steven just assumes Andrea wants a chocolate cone, because – well, you know why. Andrea corrects him and tells the man she wants a vanilla cone and it nearly ruins Steven’s day. He comes home all elated about the rest of the date and asks his parents about hang-gliding and it sparks a fucking ridiculous argument between them. I hate Ned and Alice drama. Ned agrees to loan Steven the money for hang-gliding (without even hearing how much it is) and Alice is pissed.

Steven starts taking the lessons but doesn’t tell Cara. All he can think about is the second coming of Tricia. He is with her constantly but Andrea still has no idea that he has another girl already. Fucking cheater, get rid of Cara first before acting out your elaborate Ghost fantasies. Cara tries to ask Liz what’s up with Steven but Liz won’t tell her anything even though she knows. And Jessica couldn’t care less what the fuck is going on: There was no reason for Cara to make everyone else depressed just because she and Steven were having some lovers’ quarrel. Great friends. Lila and Jessica drag Cara to the mall with them where they see Andrea at Unique Boutique and freak out. Then Andrea takes a call that is obviously from Steve. Cara hears the whole thing and runs out of the store crying. Okay, so what would you do in this situation? Would you: a) break up with your cheating ass of a boyfriend and sob it out on your own or b) try to reason with him that you’re the best girl for him, beg him to stay with you, and basically just take it when he gets mad at you for daring to confront him about it? Well if you happen to be Cara, you already know what the correct answer is. Steven goes ahead and breaks up with Cara despite her pleas, then feels just a little bad about it after they hang up. Cry me a river, helmet-head Ken-doll douche.

Steven goes on his first real hang-glide, I guess. I don’t know how these lessons work but wouldn’t you have a tandem dive first? Who cares. The important thing is that he’s so caught up in comparing Tricia, Andrea, and Cara to one another that he crashes. Good! That’s right, I just condoned terrible accidents for a fictional character. I think the book should end here. But don’t worry, we can’t have Cara and Steven stay apart. Steven wakes up in the hospital. He’s been in a mild coma, and his arm is broken. Jessica tells him she saw Andrea at Valley Cinema and Steven gets all upset. He stumbles out of his hospital bed and over to his window to think, and conveniently sees Andrea’s new man dropping her off at the hospital and giving her a big old smooch. Andrea comes upstairs and explains to Steven that she doesn’t want to date someone who is simply projecting the image of his dead girlfriend onto her. Well, why the hell did you go on so many dates with him then? Meanwhile, Liz’s ass is all chapped that Jess dared mention seeing Andrea with another guy to Steve. You know what, fuck you Liz. You meddle in everyone’s damn business but you can’t be bothered to let someone you supposedly care about see what a fucking dick he’s been/is.

Only after Steven hears that Andrea doesn’t want him – she doesn’t even want to be friends with him – does he decide he wants Cara back. You heard me. I’m not convinced in the slightest that he genuinely loves Cara. He just wants somebody, anybody and since all the Tricia Martin lookalikes in the world aren’t up for it, Cara will have to do. And what do the twins do about this? They insist that Cara go to Steve’s room at the hospital and she does. Oh yeah, she was there earlier and she heard Steven mumble Tricia’s name, then she ran out of the room just before he also mumbled Cara’s name. Whatever. Cara comes back to the hospital where she makes a sob speech about how she knows Steve’ll never love her as much as he did Tricia, but that’s okay! She still loves him! She can put up with all his crap! Just say that you love her too! And they get back together even though he clearly is just taking her back now that the Tricia Martin lookalike is out of the picture. FOR THE SECOND TIME.

So let’s review: Steven has used Cara as a bounce-back from Tricia, ruined her real birthday, ruined her fake birthday, and attempted to cheat on her with two Tricia lookalikes, and probably would’ve also done the same with Abbie Richardson (don’t tell me he wouldn’t have). He constantly bitches at Cara for everything, ignores her, keeps secrets from her, and every time she confronts him, he freaks out, yells at her, accuses her of being nosy or spying on him and tries to make Cara feel like the bad one. This isn’t a one-time occurrence, it happens in every single book that has any significant scenes with them. And it works. She apologizes, feels bad, and always always takes him back, every time. You guys, Steven Wakefield is an emotional abuser, I’m 100 percent serious, and the twins enable his behavior to the max, even encourage it. Cara should’ve let Jessica break them up for good that one time she convinced both of them that the other was cheating … at the time, I thought, yeah right, like Cara would ever leave Steve if it really happened. Hah, and this book was our proof of that. And we’re supposed to think this an example of a great couple whose love is everlasting (until one of them moves away).

I am totally fucking pissed at this book. I need to go find my sense of humor because I think Francine ate it.

This cover disgusts me. I hate any cover that has Steven on it because he always has that same stupid expression, every time. Here his skin looks plastic. I think the cover model was a Ken doll. Andrea looks ridiculous. That sweater is so fucking ugly with its giant droopy 3/4 sleeves and oddly-frilled high neckline. Did we really wear shit like that back in 1990? Her hair is fine for the time period I guess although it looks full of tangles, but she has no chest and her head looks way too big for her body. I’m going to have nightmares tonight.

The sub-plot is meant for comic relief. Lila’s friend Angie from Palisades High invites her and Jessica to a beach party. And Jessica meets a brand new dude there whom she hasn’t made out with before. I was getting worried about her for a while because she’s definitely run out of options at her own high school. The new guy’s name is Keith and he’s a total granola hippie. He’s the male version of Olivia Davidson. Now keep in mind that I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but he is so not Jessica’s type. But when has that stopped her before? God, the chick never learns shit. Keith takes Jessica to places like a trash incinerator information meeting and the Whole Earth Cafe. Jessica keeps thinking about how bored she is and how she’s sure she can get Keith to do things she likes to do, like shop, party, eat fatty decidedly non-whole food at the Dairi Burger, and maybe actually make out or something. But the only lady Keith is hot for is Mother Earth. Seriously, I can’t tell if he genuinely likes Jess or if he is just relieved to have a friend who supposedly supports the same causes that he does. But it’s all over when Jessica wants to go see a new thriller movie and he gives her a lecture about “Hollywood garbage” and wants to see a documentary about Laplanders and their reindeer. Jessica insists and gets her way, but then decides she’s going to have to dump him anyway after he asks her if she would consider doing a fast. (You mean she wouldn’t? You’d think she’d latch onto that as the newest way to lose 2.5 pounds.)

WTF? Where do I start?

Okay, okay, even if there was no Ferney, this would still be unbelievable. But there was a Ferney and ultimately that plotline was the same minus the life-threatening accident. I get that sometimes things that happen in Super Editions are supposed to magically not count in the “regular” books (although sometimes they do – it all depends on what the ghostwriter du jour feels like doing). But come on – it’s the same story!

Also, let’s think about what this series has taught us about “dangerous” hobbies. If you ride on a motorcycle, you’ll get in a life-threatening accident. If you learn to fly a plane, you will have to make an emergency crash landing in water. If you learn to surf, you’ll almost drown. If you take up hang-gliding, you will crash and break your arm and see the chick you are obsessed with making out with someone else. I will have to remember these things at my next scheduled skydive. I wonder if I’d read all of these books as a kid if I’d be too scared to try and take up things like this today as an adult.

Cara’s mother calls her cara mia.

Maria Santelli’s dad Peter is going to run for mayor of Sweet Valley. Was that his name in Forbidden Love?

Steven’s doctor at the hospital is a woman. I think this is notable because I couldn’t help but see how most of the authoritative figures of power in these books have been men, if not all of them, up to this point.

1990-tastic: a cordless phone is no longer a luxurious thing only the Patmans would own. The Wakefields now have one and we even get a description of Jessica pulling the antenna out of the handset to talk!

Lila allows Jessica to cajole her into letting her borrow her car to meet Keith. RIGHT, that would totally happen. I think Lila made like a rich friend of mine once did and let Jess borrow some old beat-up car they had hanging around in the garage instead and the ghostwriter just left that part of it out.

Is it possible to have a character interested in charitable causes and Earth Day and shit who isn’t portrayed as a loon or as someone who looks down on people who want to do anything “normal”? I’m just curious. Anyone with an interest that the Wakefields wouldn’t have is an automatic freak about it, apparently. It used to be funny to me but it’s starting to genuinely disgust me.

I don’t even know what to think about this title … actually, I guess it’s appropriate and I kind of like it. Hey, I have to find something positive.

Coming up next: Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield have been having dumb arguments about everything. Not only is this the main theme of the next book; it is also the main theme of the two books after that. I don’t know if I can do this. I may need to take a mental health break first!

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Comments on: "#64 The Ghost of Tricia Martin" (8)

  1. aubynpeach said:

    I am so glad you are back. Please don’t leave again just because the next books are silly. They are all silly. And this most recent entry was kind funny. I think you should let out all of your lifes frustrations on these books. I used to love them when I was a kid and I am surprised at how bad they were. What was I thinking?

    • Okay, you got me! I’ll slog my way through the next ones … sometimes the ones I think are going to be really awful aren’t that bad, and vice versa. Either way I’m sure I can have some fun with it. And I think the next time I have a bad day and someone asks me what’s going on I am going to randomly blame it on Liz Wakefield and see what they do. 😉

  2. I am so glad I did not buy this book! You’re absolutely right – I detested Steven Wakefiled! Still do. Cara’s such an idiot. It’s amazing that someone as fab as Lila can have such sillies for pals – Jessica, Amy and Cara.

  3. pibetaalpha said:

    Steven doesn’t have a brain. He is an abusive emo idiot.

    It freaked me out when he took down Andrea’s hair without asking. Run away, Andrea, run far away.

  4. i really enjoy reading svh…….its wonderful

  5. And to think that Cara has a crush over Steven “Picture-Perfect” Wakefield for years (as shown in Book #10 where she is groveling around on the patio like a snake), when he is a real creepy slimebag. Why would I want to date someone who reminds me of his girlfriend who DIED???? If I want to be loved, it is for my own unique characteristics, not as reminder to someone else. Good thing that Cara moved to London in “Steven’s Bride” – she had moved away from this crazy town and lunatic Steven WAkefield earlier. By the way, I love your blog. 🙂

  6. Neidin Mccullough said:

    Oh my gosh I hated this book! Cara is such a door mat she infuriated me way more than Steven did she should have dumped his ass! Creepy weirdo

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