So we’ve finally got a book told from Amy’s point of view, and I couldn’t be less excited. This girl ain’t too bright. I cannot get over the difference between Amy now and Amy back in Sweet Valley Twins (which, now that I think about it, I probably read more, back in the day, than SVH). We get to see Amy here in all her boy-crazy, shallow glory, and it’s kind of … boring.
Amy has been longing for a boyfriend for a little while, and she’s feeling lonely, like none of her friends nor her family take her seriously. Can anyone blame them? When Amy hears Jean West dumped Tom McKay, she runs up to the cafeteria table while Jean’s sitting there bawling and loudly proclaims she’s about to chase after Tom for herself since Jean doesn’t want him. She also wants to know what’s wrong with Jean for breaking up with a fox like Tom. Everyone is appalled – Jean broke up with Tom because things had gotten boring and passionless between them, not because she doesn’t love him. Jean is so upset that she gets up from the table and runs off, with Sandra and then Cara chasing after her. Jessica is already pissed off that Amy has been so “boy-crazy” lately, but really she’s just mad because Amy started hitting on a hot boy named Dan at the Beach Disco before Jess could get to him. (Don’t worry, Liz calls her out on her hypocrisy.) Now Jess and Lila are so stunned at Amy’s insensitive treatment of Jean that they decide it’s time to teach Amy a lesson. They give her the cold shoulder for the rest of the book, not speaking to her, calling her, or inviting her anywhere. Amy doesn’t get it. HAha, I’ll bet she doesn’t.
Feeling rejected by her friends, Amy tries to find solace in her parents, but both of them are often too busy for her. If I was Amy’s mom, I’d make sure I was “too busy” for her too, bwa ha ha. Amy’s mom Dyan is a sportscaster, as is often mentioned, and Amy’s dad is a photographer on the brink of fame, or something like that. Amy makes grilled barbecue chicken breasts for dinner to show them she’s important too, but she doesn’t defrost them first, even after her dad reminds her to. Her parents don’t eat the chicken breast but remark that the salad is nice. Ha ha ha. Is anyone else sick of dumb hi-jinks revolving around how these kids can’t cook? Then Amy’s parents ask what’s going on in her world and the only thing she can come up with is a story about how Ralph Woodley and A.J. Morgan were arguing over who got to sit next to her in art class. She makes sure to note that A.J. is Jessica’s ex; I guess that gives her a thrill or something. At least we know A.J.’s still around. Her parents are annoyed that this is the only thing their daughter wants to talk about, and then her mom gives Amy a lecture later about taking life more seriously since she’ll be applying to college soon. Amy decides that if she gets a serious boyfriend, that will show her parents she is turning over a new leaf. No, really. That’s her plan. This chick is hopeless. I tried to think of what MY parents would do if, at 16, I announced I had decided to get a steady boytoy to show them how serious I am about my life and my future and I actually shuddered a little.
Amy’s sociology teacher Ms. Jacobi hands Amy a paper back on social work with an “F” on it. The teacher wants Amy to do some real social work and then write a paper about that to adjust her grade. Amy is volun-told for Project Youth, a center that caters to teens that need help. Amy has to serve as teen counselor on the hotline two afternoons each week. She’ll be working with Barry Rork, a kid on the tennis team who hangs out with Tom, Bruce, Kirk Anderson et. al. but whom Amy thinks is a “drip” because he wears glasses. Why all the hate for people who wear glasses in these books?!
Amy keeps her hotline stuff a secret from kids at school because she doesn’t want her reputation affected. And she hides it from her parents because she thinks Tom McKay will be more impressive than Amy doing something for the greater good. That should tell you all you need to know about Amy Sutton. She’s really good at answering the phones and talking to depressed people, much to my great surprise, but she makes Barry not tell Tom about what she’s doing … she doesn’t want people to think she’s … anything more than a boy-stealing cheerleader, I guess? I really hate her. Barry of course gets a huge crush on Amy almost immediately but Amy is always asking him to speak with Tom for her. And man, back to that – Amy is really chasing after Tom McKay everywhere she can find him, and I mean that “chasing” word very literally. She runs him down at the Beach Disco, at parties, the library, school, his tennis lessons, you name it. He doesn’t want anything to do with her and literally darts away when he sees her coming most of the time, but she DOES NOT GET IT. Meanwhile, Jessica overhears Barry and Tom talking at the Beach Disco about how Tom doesn’t like Amy at all and wants her to lay off, while Barry confesses he’s the one who has the crush on Amy. Jessica thinks it’s hilarious. Me? Getting bored!
Enid’s cousin Jake Farrell is in town from San Francisco, and she throws a big party for him at her house. Haha, ain’t no party like an Enid Rollins party, ’cause the Enid Rollins party…will definitely stop at some point, probably in an hour or so. Amy follows Tom around the party like a puppy dog while everyone else laughs about how ridiculous she is. It’s seriously embarrassing. In her last act of self-destruction, Amy buys the last two tickets to the Number One concert. She asks Tom to go at the lunch table in front of Jess, Lila, Barry, and Kirk Anderson and he says no. So what does Amy do next? She asks two more times!!! Then Kirk goes: “Tom, I think you’re going to have to spell it out for her. N O means no. You know, Amy’s not exactly a rocket scientist. What else can you expect from a dumb blonde.” Amy freaks out and runs off while Barry stays behind and tells off Kirk. Come on Amy, is that really the first time you had someone call you on your shit? Really? I think we’re supposed to feel sorry for her because no one deserves to be put down that way, but I can’t muster any sympathy. This bitch is hella mean to everyone else!
Tom does feel bad about the scene Kirk made, so he tapes an apology note about the concert to Amy’s letter. Don’t apologize to her Tom! You’ll egg her on! Then Amy is volunteering at Project Youth when Liz comes in there to do a report for the Oracle. Amy’s secret is out! She does something worthwhile with her life! Liz is surprised but learns all about Project Youth from Amy and Barry. Amy even tells her parents and Jess about what she’s doing and everyone starts to see her in a new light. Whatever. Oh oh oh, and as for Barry? Well, Amy learns he stood up for her and then Jessica tells her she thinks Barry’s kind of cute underneath it all, and funny too. Almost immediately, “a warm feeling” comes over Amy and she realizes she likes Barry after all. He sends her flowers, she takes him to the Number One concert and their “first real date” at the Dairi Burger. How nice. Have I mentioned how much I hate Amy Sutton?
The sub-plot is way more important than Amy finding herself, or whatever that was. Tom McKay feels confused as to why he can’t make himself feel any real passion for Jean. Then he meets Enid’s fashionable cousin Jake Farrell who is visiting from San Francisco. Jake is very handsome, a well-known local tennis champ, and he and Tom get along really well. When it’s time for Jake to leave, Tom feels unusually sad and down about him going on his way. Then Jake tells Enid in private, before his grand party, that he’s gay. We don’t get to see Enid’s reaction, but she doesn’t handle it super well, and feels bad. Later she tells Jake she loves him the way he is, but in the meantime Jake is having a sad time. He goes for a walk to think about it (and to get away from Jessica and Lila who are throwing themselves at him nonstop) and Tom sees him leave, and asks to come with him. Jake tells Tom he’s gay and that a lot of people stopped liking him or being his friend when they found out. Tom tries to act like he’s okay with this revelation, but in reality he’s stunned because he suddenly realizes that’s what’s been bothering him … he’s (probably) gay. He doesn’t say it out loud, but Jake’s not an idiot, so he can pick up on Tom’s growing discomfort and they head back to the party. Tom decides to talk to Mr. Collins about his feelings and Mr. Collins suggests he go to Project Youth. OF COURSE, the day Tom is waiting to speak to the head counselor lady (Kathy Henry) is the same day that Elizabeth is over there to talk to Kathy and interview Amy and Barry. Liz catches Tom sitting in the waiting room reading a pamphlet titled “Teens and Homosexuality.” Oh, lord! Liz feels she has to break the uncomfortable silence so she sits down and slowly gets Tom to talk to her about his feelings. Why is it always Liz? WHY? Why does everyone just readily tell her everything about themselves when they barely know her? I’d like to smack her in her face. Anyway, after coming out to Liz (sort of), Tom has a good talk with Kathy, then he tells Barry he thinks he might be gay but he’s not sure, and Barry’s like, “Okay cool, glad you don’t want a piece of Amy, now let’s play some tennis.” And I guess that’s it. Lord, it must be especially tough to come out in SWEET VALLEY of all places. But it must be even tougher with freakin’ Amy Sutton trying to insert herself in your pants all the time. Oh yeah, and Tom feels bad about the way he acted to Jake (kinda standoffish) when Jake came out to him, but Jake seems to understand and wants Enid to help him stay in touch, and there’s the possibility of Tom going to visit Jake in San Fran. Hmmm, will they become a couple or just stay good friends? You know, I’d much rather read about Jake and Tom at Miller’s Point than Liz and Todd. … I’m just sayin’!
Amy looks terrible on this cover. She needs to stick with her pouty-faced poses like on Last Chance and Bitter Rivals. Seriously, I don’t know what the hell happened. I never thought she was THAT hot, but apparently when she smiles, all hell breaks loose. Also, the kid on the right is a major source of confusion for me. First of all, he’s wearing mascara and eyeliner. He sure has a purty mouth. Hahahahaha I could go on, but I won’t. But is it Barry or Tom? I had assumed Tom, but reading the book, Tom has blond hair and Barry has dark hair (not that these books gives a damn about getting cover images lined up with the text). Also, Amy never has a chance at hugging up on Tom like that, and if she did he certainly wouldn’t be smiling about it (although it is kind of forced … like, get this bitch off me before I catch something aaaaaaah). Third, the Sweet Valley Confidential Facebook page displays that character in their Sweet Valley High Characters photo album as Barry Rork. So who is it? (Any SVC people reading this want to help me out?) If it’s not Tom, are there any pics of Tom on later covers? He was kind of a major-ish character for a while. The only book cover I can think of is Sweet Valley Twins #16, Second Best:
Yep, he’s blonde there, and looks way different than pretty boy floyd here.
On a sadder note, this book represents the very last of the classic circle covers. Our next book displays the SVH early 90s redesign. Although I think British readers still got circle covers up through book 94, and Especially for Girls book club readers got those funky hardcover versions that always had the circle, we were not so lucky in the U.S.
WTF? Jessica’s diet of the week is a liquid diet. But, as she explains to Liz, she’s decided not to follow it because it’s “unhealthy.” Is this a coincidence, or a sign of respect for the previous storyline? I don’t know if I have that much faith in the ghostwriters.
Speaking of the previous book, Robin Wilson is back and she’s helping coach the cheerleaders, but not moving around as much because she’s still weak.
Amy catches hell from Jessica and Lila for the time she made an ass out of herself chasing Lila’s hot cousin Christopher around when he was really interested in Enid. “Hey, remember what happened when my cousin came to town?” says Lila. Love how she and Jess suddenly can’t remember how they egged Amy on and bitched at Enid for “stealing” Christopher. Amy should’ve snapped, “Hey Jess, remember what happened Enid’s other cousin came to town?” BURN. (That would be Brian, the one Jessica was making out with when she was supposed to be giving Liz a ride, prompting Liz to ride on Todd’s bike and almost die in an accident)
All those jokes way back about Jessica turning Tom off to the female sex for good are hysterically funny right now.
Reader of the Month: YES! It’s our first one! Shannon Allison from Hawaii has a very well-written little essay on the inside of the back cover about how much she loves Sweet Valley. She had me going until I started reading her last paragraph: “I really think that the Sweet Valley High series is the best series in the nation today and Francine Pascal is the best writer.” Hehehehehehehehe. Shannon, don’t kill me if you are reading this! By the way, her picture is on the inside cover and I have to say she looks way more fashionable for the time period than I did at that age. I looked like a dork in 1991. Hey, I was only 9 years old when this book came out; leave me alone!
Coming up next … Yet another beauty pageant is coming to Sweet Valley, and everyone is acting like this is something to be shocked by. Liz is all fired up … you’re a little late there Skippy.