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

Archive for May, 2011

Wow, Sweet Valley U. sounds like a heap of crap!

Happy Sunday! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, and thanks for all the support of my blog! In the meantime, while I work on Olivia’s Story, I noted that one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek blogs, Studies in Crap did a review of the first Sweet Valley University book! Blog author Alan Scherstuhl routinely reviews really weird books that he finds at thrift stores and flea markets.

I have never read any of the SVU series, but I’m slightly familiar with the basics of what happens. Still, I’m surprised by how BAD they sound in his review! I had no idea! Have any of you read them and did you like them better or worse than SVH?

You can read the review by Alan Scherstuhl here:

Studies in Crap: Before SVU Meant SVU: Lessons Learned at Sweet Valley University

#80 The Girl They Both Loved

The ... hairspray they all loved?

So April Dawson is dating Michael Harris who … wait wait, Who? you ask. Well, April Dawson was mentioned back in book 60 very briefly! She’s a friend of Terri Adams, and Zack Johnson on the football team wanted to date her. (Now you ask “Who’s Zack Johnson?”) Michael Harris was on the cover of Forbidden Love as Maria Santelli’s fiance. He’s shown up occasionally since then, sometimes when a mean boy is required. So yeah, those two cats are dating and they’re both really into dirt bike racing. Lately, Michael has gotten more and more obsessive about it. He’s especially obsessed with the idea of beating his rival, Artie Western. Who? you ask again. Artie was in book 24 for a nanosecond as one of Steven’s friends who was still in high school. Anyway, April is getting more and more annoyed at Michael because all he ever wants to do with April is talk about bikes and work on their bikes. Hoping to make Michael more of an exemplary boyfriend, April starts nosing around trying to figure out what happened between Mike and Artie to make Mike hate him so much. But no one really seems to know. Some people think that they fought over a girl, and some think there was an accident during a race in which Mike was injured because Artie deliberately cut him off and made him crash. But people also seem to agree that Artie is a nice guy. What? This wasn’t helpful at all.

April’s as confused as I am, but she’s still awake at this point in the story, so she does have a one-up on me there. So um … oh yeah, she gets pissed off at Michael for breaking a date because he has to go see his grandmother in Texas, who’s fallen ill suddenly. Shes not pissed that he has to break the date, just that he doesn’t seem to give a crap that his grandmother’s sick. Instead he’s mad he’ll miss the big race coming up. He couldn’t give a damn about old Grandma. This Michael is a real sweetheart.

So Michael leaves and April goes to the movies by herself, where she runs into none other than Artie Western. It turns out Artie and April get along great! They go to Guido’s after the movie and Artie won’t talk about Michael at first. But then he suggests to April that they team up in the relay race that Michael has to miss because he also lost his partner, and this way they can still compete. April agrees and they win the race! VROOOOOOOM! Here comes Michael’s raging anger! Because when he returns to school, Jessica blabs to him about how great April and Artie were! She mistakenly thought that if April and Artie were racing, that must mean that Mike and Artie are friends again. Ken makes it worse by telling Michael how he saw April and Artie hanging out at Guido’s and he’s glad they’re all friends. When Jess realizes her mistake, she runs away with Ken, who’s confused like he is every day of his life anyway, and then Michael storms off in a huff to go yell at his girlfriend. He makes her promise not to talk to Artie ever again and she agrees! As you can see, he hasn’t changed any since he was ordering Maria not to talk to Winston! That Michael Harris is such a fucker! If I knew Michael Harris in real life I would stomp over to his house and yell MICHAEL HARRIS IS SUCH A FUCKER! right in his window! andthenrunaway. But guess what, Michael breaks another date for the movies with April, she goes by herself, and she runs into Artie yet again who might be stalking her at this point. I guess that’s what I was expecting since the book is called THE GIRL THEY BOTH LOVED and I’m still waiting for the LOVE part to come in. They go get some coffee and Artie tells April that he and Michael aren’t friends because of the whole “Michael thinks I made him crash” story. When Artie brings April home, THERE HE IS! Michael Harris is sitting right there on April’s porch with some flowers waiting to apologize for what a fucker he is! He and Artie start to get into a fistfight and April’s dad comes after them with a broom! YES! Then the boys are all “We’ll settle this with a little dirt bike race!” Ha ha, what is this, Grease 2? Or any other of a handful of movies, that’s just the first one that popped in my head involving teens racing something to settle a score while a girl looks on.

The next day, Vroooom Vroooooom! It’s the pedal to the metal in the Liz meddle wagon when she finds out Michael and Artie plan to race to prove who’s better! Enid, Liz, and April all race to the dirt bike track to try and stop the race. Of course it’s Liz trying to fix it! LIZ LIZ LIZ ALL THE TIME! But hey, they’re too late! The boys race and the fucker Michael Harris cuts Artie off and Artie gets thrown up in the air and goes to the hospital. April is enraged and breaks up with Michael. She tells him to stay out of the hospital because no fuckers are allowed. Liz tells Michael to go bring Artie some cheeseburgers and he does and they make up. Then Artie encourages April to make up with Michael, and then April secretly borrows a shitty rookie racer Roy’s helmet and bike and races in a relay with Michael to show him how much she loves him or something dumb like that. They make up. I’m not of the opinion that Michael is going to be any less controlling. He’s only sorry once he loses you or thinks he’s going to lose you. Maria should’ve told you that, but of course she only said nice things about Michael to April when she asked! So that’s this story. Everyone’s all happy and can go to the Dairi Burger now and make fun of how much Cara Walker eats now. Oh yeah, Artie ate three cheeseburgers, fries and a shake in the hospital, and Todd ate six chocolates and an order of fries for a snack, but neither of them catch any shit for it! Vrooooom

The sub-plot: It seems to be a trend that we now get two sub-plots, one for each twin. Elizabeth’s story is that she gets a hair up her butt because Todd offers to fix her sink and she thinks he’s saying women can’t do it, which honestly, he is not. Is it just me, or is Liz just looking for things to break up over these days? It’s time for Jeffrey to come out of hiding if you ask me.

So Liz and Todd each give the other a list of three things that match their respective gender roles, although of course that’s not the way they put it in the book! Whoever proves that they can do anything the other one does, gets a free dinner on the other one. Here are the manly tasks Liz has to perform: change a tire, build a shelf, replace the washer in a sink. Here are the womanly tasks that Todd has to perform: go grocery shopping, sew an apron, cook Liz a full-course dinner complete with a salad, sides, and cookies for dessert. I’m tempted to think this plotline is cute, but I’m also tempted to be insulted by it. Well, whatever, let me at least enjoy telling you what happens. Ned Wakefield teaches his daughter how to change a tire, but she isn’t sure she did it right. Then she goes to the hardware store with Enid and asks for the materials for a shelf to hold cookbooks, and the clerk is extremely rude to her so she leaves without buying anything. Then she comes back with Jessica who acts sweet and clueless and another clerk eagerly helps her get everything she needs. Liz builds the shelf and feels full of herself, especially when Todd says that he messed up the shopping for his mom and made a mess of the apron, which he also sewed to his jeans by mistake.Ha ha! It’s okay Todd, I don’t know how to sew an apron either, but apparently I should. Finally, Liz changes the washer in the sink; it takes her a while, but she gets it right. Todd comes over the next day to cook her dinner and messes everything up and Liz is all smug about it until the shelf she built falls off the wall. HA! They agree to go to Castillo San Angelo and split the bill and call it even. Silly couple, trying to branch out and learn new tasks outside of their gender roles!

Jessica’s sub-plot is cuter if you ask me. She meets a hot biker named Sam Woodruff through April, who’s suddenly a good friend of hers, or something. They fall for each other right off the bat, but Jessica is terrified to introduce him to her parents because of the motorcycles issue, as Liz and Jess are still forbidden to go anywhere near one. Her mom finds a dirt bike magazine in Jessica’s room and freaks out and Jessica assures her it’s just something she was glancing through and it means nothing. Soon Alice learns Jessica is seriously dating someone, but they can’t get enough information out of her about who he is or what he’s like, and Alice is confused as to why her daughter doesn’t want her to meet him. So why not just tell her she can’t go out till you do? That’s what my mom would’ve done. Were my parents unusually strict or something? Anyway, Sam rides his bike to victory in the race and then I’m sure Jessica will ride something else to victory at Miller’s Point that night … I couldn’t resist!

Eventually Sam starts saying he wants to meet Jessica’s family because he wants to make their relationship official and serious, but she keeps stalling. Then one morning Jessica goes to run some errands for her mother and forgets to call Sam at home to tell him where she can meet him for his race. So she gets home to find Sam’s bike already parked. Oh, no! Except Sam comes out chatting and laughing with Alice and Ned. They’re totally cool with Jessica dating Sam because he’s such a “nice boy” and because he’s promised not to let Jessica ride the bike unless/until they say she can. Didn’t Todd say the same thing to them about Liz? How the hell did they get over that this fast? Well, whatever … all’s good for Sam and Jess … for now …

Well before we go any farther, WTF is up with this cover? We have two dudes thrusting their crotches at April, whose own crotch looks a mite uncomfortable with those mom jeans riding up it! Seriously, she has two count ’em two pseudo-cameltoes! Ouch! Check out Artie on the left with that hair … does Greenpeace know about that oil spill? Michael is on the right looking like a major creeper, and there’s no way that high hair will stand up under a helmet! Hell, April’s hair IS a helmet … I mean damn girl, put that pink thing you’re holding down ’cause you don’t need it with that height. Her bangs are thicker than my ass!

And um, so yeah … THIS TITLE. THE HELL??? WHO is the girl they both loved? Does Artie secretly love April? Did I miss something? Was there an original plot they decided to change and then they just forgot to also change the title? And love how the tag line’s all, “April’s caught between two boys!” Am I supposed to grab this book and go, “Oh, man, April!” ’cause everyone is already supposed to know who that is?! EDIT: I’m slipping – I forgot that they did like (not love) the same girl, some chick whom they both saw at races and were trying to impress, a girl who somehow caused the big crash that initially ended their friendship. BUT they never even talked to this unnamed lady, and then it turned out she was there to watch her boyfriend race anyway and couldn’t care less about watching either Artie or Michael! So I still say this title is very misleading, especially with the whole tag line and crotch-thrusting poses!

So besides that, Michael’s interests have certainly changed from previous books. He used to be a rather well-to-do douche. He was engaged to Maria Santelli and was a controlling, sexist asshat until Elizabeth gave him a talking-to (which of course fixes everything). Then, he helped Kirk Anderson torment Penny Ayala with those secret admirer letters. Now all of a sudden he’s into dirt-bike racing, something we never heard of him giving a damn about before, but now we’re told it’s his life’s passion. But yes … the douchery part never changed.

April talks to Cara about how she used to date Artie and Cara tells her what Artie’s like. But Cara only had one dance with Artie in book 24, and a date which I seem to recall she broke off. She barely knew him and she was obsessed with Steve at the time. They were never an item.

The Sweet Valley food-conscious lines of the week occur when April notices how much food Cara is taking in line at the cafeteria! Cara helps herself to a salad, a hero sandwich, a bag of chips, and a brownie. April thinks about how she could never eat that much.

There’s no mention of A.J. and how he was Jessica’ first real serious boyfriend in high school and how she was in love with him. I wonder what A.J. will say when he learns Jessica is now seriously dating someone else, since she dumped A.J. because she wasn’t ready to date seriously yet.

There’s also no mention of Rexy, the twins’ cousin who died in a motorcycle crash and who is the original reason they aren’t allowed to ride motorcycles!

Jessica to Liz, after Liz thanks her for helping her get a one-up on Todd in their competition: “Well, to keep things fair I might have to offer Todd my services.” All I could think was, “You’ve already done that Jessica dear, and it didn’t turn out so well.”

Here is something realistic in the book that made me laugh. Jessica’s mom keeps popping up out of nowhere while she’s talking to Liz about Sam. For example: “Why didn’t her mother ever stay in one place anymore, Jessica wondered. She always seemed to be tiptoeing around the house, going through wastebaskets or checking on what Jessica was wearing.” HAH! I’ll be damned if I didn’t have that same thought about my mother umpteen times as a teenager. She ALWAYS seemed to pop up at the most inopportune moments with no advance warning!

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: “It’s a shame you can’t afford to go to Rome. There are the most fabulous shops there.” -with genuine sadness to Jessica when she complains about needing something exciting to happen

To Jessica, after she says that she doesn’t understand boys: “You’re not supposed to. That’s what makes them so fascinating.”

Reader of the Month:Katie from Connecticut wrote this month’s essay and I don’t have anything really to say about it. Her essay’s good. In fact, her essay pretty much says what I would’ve said if I’d had the balls to be a Reader of the Month. 🙂

Coming up next … We haven’t heard from Olivia Davidson in a while. So now get ready for her own Super Star!

#79 The Long-Lost Brother

Why "Long-Lost"? It's not like he was MISSING ...

We’re getting closer and closer to the “great change” – no, not menopause, the time when the SVH books switched from their usual format, to a neverending loop of soap opera-ish miniseries. In the meantime, the books are getting worse and worse. I really think it’s all downhill from here till we reach the infamous A Night to Remember Magna Edition, at which point I can only hope this trend will reverse course.

So yeah … that was a lengthy way of saying – surprise! – this book was boring. In fact, I’ve spent over a week trying to figure out what to say about it. Let’s see … we’ll start with the random new characters that have been thrown at us.

Sara Osborne is a relatively new student at Sweet Valley High. She moved to California from Connecticut … it’s a small world in these books; I’m surprised they didn’t have her come in as an old friend of Amy Sutton’s. Sara lives with her mom, who is divorced from her father. Sara has fond memories of her dad from before her parents split, but now they rarely talk.

Tim Osborne is Sara’s “handsome” and friendly older brother who just moved to Sweet Valley from his dad’s house back east. Everyone loves Tim right off the bat, but Sara hates him because she knows he just got out of reform school in Connecticut. He’s moved to California to make a fresh new start away from drinking, drugging, and stealing cars. He’s even joined Alcoholics Anonymous at the Project Youth center. But Sara had already been telling everyone she knows that her brother made straight A’s and was a track team star back east, so now she’s constantly yelling at Tim to back up her lies, and giving him the cold shoulder the rest of the time. It seems that Sara had a best friend back east named Darlene who ditched her once Tim started stealing cars and shit, so rather than blame Darlene for being an asshat about something Sara has no control over, Sara blames Tim for taking her friends away. Tim adores his sister and wants to rebuild the bond they once shared, but Sara would rather sit around brooding about how much he sucks all the time. Their mom starts heading to Al-Anon meetings to help her deal with her son’s alcoholism and encourages Sara to visit the teen counterpart (Alateen), but Sara is all, “NO MOM! GOSH!” and sometimes talks to her in a way that may have gotten me backhanded at her age. Of course, Tim instantly crushes on Elizabeth when he first meets her and they become fast friends.

Amanda Hayes is Sara’s pretty best friend. Sara and Amanda enjoy a popular social status, despite the fact that 1) we’ve never heard of them before and 2) Sara has ZERO personality. Sara spends most of her time sitting around pouting, acting weird and withdrawn around her friends, and being a real pain-in-the-ass. Amanda is peppy and friendly and puts up with most of Sara’s bullshit. I don’t know why.

Bob Hillman is Sara’s boyfriend, from a well-to-do family, which of course means he spends all his time at the country club with his parents, who of course as rich people in Sweet Valley are required to be snooty and to hate their son’s girlfriend because she doesn’t have an opinion on the health implications of tanning. No, really, Sara is so busy brooding that she misses Mrs. Hillman’s question about Sara’s thoughts on tanning and that ruins the whole dinner. Because Bob is wealthy, it should go without saying that he cares very much about his parents’ absolute approval of the chicks he dates, so he seems ready to dump Sara over that perceived slight. You know, Bob and his parents could seriously be Gordon Stoddard (from Rumors) and his ‘rents all over again. They should’ve just brought back Gordon and saved the ghostwriter the trouble of coming up with new names.

Stupid Jerry “Crunch” McAllister has a huge crush on Amanda and follows her around, but she has some sense and doesn’t like him. When Tim comes to town, he and Amanda start hanging out, since Sara won’t have anything to do with him and Sara isn’t explaining to Amanda what the hell her problem is. Tim and Amanda soon fall for each other. Sara gets pissed off, of course, but won’t say why, and her relationship with Amanda is fractured. Then Crunch notices Tim checking out his hideous van – a purple van with a fucking lion on the side – and after it goes missing, decides that Tim must’ve stolen it. The useless Sweet Valley police decide that Crunch’s seeing Tim checking out the van must mean that he stole it, so they come and arrest Tim just because, you know, there’s nothing else going on around here. Tim’s history comes out and the whole school is appalled. Sara is humiliated and I kind of think she deserves it. Amanda dumps Tim and bitches out Sara for not telling her the truth about her brother. Crunch confronts Tim in the school parking lot and punches him out for supposedly stealing his van. The Osborne twins’ father flies to Sweet Valley to re-establish a bond with Sara and to help out Tim, who decides he wants to move back to Connecticut again since the school is treating him like a pariah.

Elizabeth to the rescue! She convinces Sara to go to an Alateen meeting with her, which she’s attending for a giant Oracle series she’s writing. Sara instantly starts bawling and realizing her mistakes once she receives that magic Liz touch. Suddenly Sara feels bad for the way she treated her brother and the lies she told about him and she rushes to the airport and stops Tim from getting on the plane with her dad just in time! Yay! It’s another everyday Sweet Valley miracle! The real van thief is caught and then Tim is cleared and Amanda starts dating him again. The twins hold a pool party and Bob tries to get Sara to go with him and she tells him to fuck off. Oh yeah, Sara and Tim’s dad is getting married or planning to get married or some shit; meanwhile, Sara’s mom has started dating someone new. Sara feels happy for them, but she never does find her personality lying around anywhere, so if you ask me this book does not have a happy ending at all.

This plot is so uncreative. I was hoping it would turn out Crunch had just hidden his van somewhere so he could accuse Tim of taking it and get back at him for dating Amanda, but nope. Someone really stole it. BLAAAAAAH.

The sub-plots … are kind of worthless. Liz visits a battered women’s shelter for her Oracle articles on community initiatives. The lady who runs the shelter just goes ahead and tells Liz where it’s located even thought it’s supposed to be top secret, and trusts this random teenager writing for a high school newspaper won’t tell anyone. She meets Tim at an AA meeting and he spills his life story to her. Of course. Meanwhile, Jessica continues to whine about her Miss Teen Sweet Valley duties while Liz preens over how right she was to protest the pageant. Didn’t we already have this sub-plot? But just when Liz gets especially holier-than-thou about it, Jessica yells at her saying that she should stop picking at her and understand what it’s like to be somebody. This is right after Penny congratulates Liz on her compassion or something, so Liz falls for it and takes over as Jessica for the day so that Jessica can go on a surfing date with Dennis Hanover. I’m pretty sure Jessica has already dated two other guys who were also named Dennis. Liz has to hand out cheese samples in the mall and comes home complaining that her feet hurt and having a better understanding of her sister’s incredibly horrible, backbreaking daily life!

WTF? This bit about Crunch being in the book blows my mind. This is the same Crunch who drunkenly hit Todd’s bike while he and Liz were riding on it, destroying the bike, almost killing Liz, and causing Liz to go apeshit and dump Todd for a while as she ran around dry-humping every other dude in school. This is ALSO the same Crunch who helped Charlie Cashman and friends beat Andy Jenkins within an inch of his LIFE because they are a bunch of violent racist thugs. Yet in this book, everyone’s like, “Oh, that Crunch! Ha ha!” Todd sees Crunch at the Dairi Burger when he walks in with Liz and waves at him like he’s a good guy! He almost killed the both of you Todd!!!!! People even make jokes about how Crunch and Tim might even become friends! Seriously, WHAT – THE – FUCK! This is definitely the part that blows me away the most about this book .. well, other than how much it sucks in general. God, I love how Tim stole a car a long time ago and gets treated like ass for it but people like Crunch who almost murder people are alright to say hey to at the fucking Dairi Burger!

Amanda of course gawks about how much Liz and Jess look alike. It wouldn’t be an SVH book without someone pointing that out somewhere.

I love the way Jessica has already dated every other available male in the whole school, so they’ve had to start making up new males.

Tim’s nickname for Sara is “Sari” I like it.

Additional note: What is up with the number “37” in these books? In almost every book, someone (usually Jessica, or in the case of Sweet Valley Saga, the Jessica-equivalent) says “a hundred and thirty-seven” or “thirty seven kinds of” or some variant thereof. In this book, it’s surprisingly Liz who says something about “a million and thirty-seven” at some point. Different ghostwriters put out different books, so it has to be some kind of inside joke, or perhaps Francine’s lucky number. Many blogs have talked about this, but I’m not sure anyone’s ever solved this puzzle. I just KNOW the answer lies within the Sweet Valley ghostwriters’ bible! Any SV ghostwriters reading this who can leave us a comment with what the deal is with 37?

This cover annoys me. Liz doesn’t even look like Liz. I hate her sweater and pants. Tim’s moody expression is supposed to make us think he’s a typical delinquent or something, I suppose. I don’t know. I hate this book you guys. Please let us never speak of it again.

It’s time for … *drumroll* … the Reader of the Month! Meet Brandy Denton. Her short essay mentions how she and her friends acted out a Sweet Valley story at a slumber party and filmed it, and how she writes SVH fan fiction. Okay, typical fan things to do (and my, how brave she is to admit such things in a public forum. These Readers of the Month are pretty ballsy). But then she goes on to talk about how realistic the SVH teens are, how morally correct the stories are, and what a good influence Francine Pascal is. Brandy, be honest … did Francine pay you to write this?

Coming up next … Two dudes we don’t care about fight over a chick we also don’t care about, and the chick has some crazy Aqua Net hairdo man.

#78 The Dating Game

The stupid game that assholes play

Oh, Francine … you make me go from Sweet Valley Saga to THIS?

Good lord, this book slew me, and I don’t mean that in a positive way. I mean, for starters, it’s about two girls no one really cares about fighting over some dumb boy that no one really cares about either, but dating drama and potential catfights could make for a semi-entertaining read, right? RIGHT? Guess again! I was so hopelessly bored with this one! It didn’t help that this book is saturated with an especially nosy Liz, and peppered with a dash of Enid whining about how she’s sick of being single. Well, quit being such a drip then, Enid! Or at least go troll Sweet Valley College for a date, the older dudes sure seem to dig you. And finally, the book was filled with some of the cheesiest, dated statements I have ever read, not to mention the constant insinuation that you’re nothing unless you have a boy who likes you. One of the sub-plots is boring, and the other one made me want to throw up.

Okay, so let me get off my high horse and tell you what happens already. Scott Trost is back on the football team, and apparently that means Claire Middleton is no longer quarterback, or even on the team, maybe. I don’t know what in fuck is going on. Claire and Jean West are both boyfriend-less, Jean for all of three books, so that of course means something is wrong with both girls that needs to be corrected immediately. Enid is also single, but no one’s trying to set her up. That’s probably because she spends most of her time sitting around fucking whining about it! I guess Jeffrey French didn’t want anything to do with her after that one New Year’s in the last Super Star. He woke up with a killer hangover New Year’s Day, and then he saw what he had made out with the night before and the hangover got a lot worse.

Scott’s friends on the football team are all giving him a hard time about not having a date for the upcoming Love in Bloom dance, so he sends both Claire and Jean the same RIDICULOUS love letter on purple paper, asking for dates. The girls talk about their upcoming nights out and even go shopping for clothes to wear before they each realize they’ve got the same dude chasing them with the same letter. I find it really hard to believe neither girl wanted to ask the other who her date was any time before that.

Claire has been digging on Danny Porter (Jessica’s crush from Ms. Quarterback), so she’s ready to bitch Scott out and then just forget about him. But Jean was already kind of interested in Scott, so she’s especially enraged that he tried to play both of them like this. She’s felt like a “heel” ever since Tom McKay dumped her for no apparent reason (because he still hasn’t come all the way out of the closet, so Jean doesn’t know about that whole thing). So Jean comes up with a plan that she thinks will humiliate Scott. Instead of … bitching him out in front of everyone and walking away while the whole school laughs, Jean thinks that she and Claire should … go on their dates with Scott, then bitch him out afterwards in front of everyone and walk away while the whole school laughs. I’m sorry … what? So now Scott can run his mouth about what he supposedly did with each of you on your respective dates in revenge, I guess. This is really really dumb. I can’t believe Jean wasn’t tired of all the fucking game-playing after she essentially tried to pull some shit just like that on Tom back in Jealous Lies. So essentially, she’s now planned to fuck over a boy while secretly falling in love with him twice. I think it’s safe to say that Jean LOSES at “The Dating Game.” HAAAAAH YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE LOLLLLLL1!!!!

Scott takes Claire out for … coffee. Okay, wait. Who here drank a lot of coffee when they were 16? Hmmmm? I don’t know. This feels like a college-y date. Whatever. Jean sits in the coffee shop so that Scott will see her when he brings Claire in, freak out, and make them leave. Oooooh, that’ll get ‘im. Scott takes Claire out to a pizza place an hour away to get away from Jean, where he bores her to tears. For Jean’s date, they’re supposed to meet at the Box Tree Cafe, and Jean deliberately shows up very late to piss him off, but he doesn’t give much of a fuck. Then Jean has a really good time in spite of herself. Jean still backs off when Scott tries to kiss her at the end of the night, so that he falls over in the car as she bolts.

Claire is now more than ready to ditch the plan, because she is afraid Danny will think she’s really interested in Scott, but Jean insists on pushing ahead. Jean’s next big idea? Tell everyone that she went out with Scott, while Claire also tells everyone that she went out with Scott, so that … oh god, I don’t know if I can keep reviewing this. Sometimes I hate something when I read it and then I start reviewing it and I get madder and madder that I subjected myself to it in the first place.

Okay, so these dumb girls get the whole school talking and demanding to know which girl Scott really likes and he proposes this stupid ass contest where he’ll date both girls and then decide which one he likes better, and that girl will be his date to the Love in Bloom dance, which is totally like, the biggest dance Sweet Valley has ever had! Like, ever! OH MY GOD! So Scott takes the girls on stupid dates while Liz stands around fuming about how degrading it is and how much she hates men. Claire hates the dates and almost passes out with boredom each time. But Jean loves being with Scott. At one point Scott takes Jean to Cote d’Or in Malvina and is very nice to her, AWWWWWWWW. Cote d’Or, isn’t that the same place Nicholas took Liz to on their one illicit date behind Todd’s back? Hahaha.

So yeah, Scott’s so nice when the guys aren’t around! The guys pressure him and he doesn’t know how to handle it so he acts like a big asshole! Oh, and he has a big brother named Jack who’s always made him feel small and worthless! For fuck’s sake, fuck this guy. No, not literally, Jean! Oh shit, she wasn’t listening I guess, because he takes her to a beach and they make out and she falls in love. Then the day comes when Scott will announce the “winner” of The Stupid Shitty Contrived-Plot Game and both girls plan to turn him down while the whole school laughs. I guess. Jean knows she loves Scott and wants to call everything off, but she can’t bring herself to say anything to Claire. I guess she’s afraid Claire will beat her up or something. So Jean eventually breaks down and cries to everyone’s favorite patronizer, Liz the smug old biddy, who’s seriously had her nose up everyone’s ass all book long. Even fucking Sandy has no idea what’s going on in her best friend’s life, although we all know Sandy’s a real bitch at heart, so whatever. Liz encourages Jean to tell Claire the truth, but like I said, Jean is a-tremblin’ at the thought for some reason. What the hell, Jean was all about executing this bullshit to begin with! Just fucking tell her! But when they get in the cafeteria, where the whole damn school is waiting (really? everyone gives that much of a shit?), Scott is back to acting like his old smarmy self. He announces Jean the winner and puffs himself up but she screams at him, throws a pint of milk onto him and storms out of the cafeteria. Bravo Jean, that’s the first thing you’ve done right all week. Then Scott shrugs it off and offers himself to Claire instead, and she laughs in his face and walks away with Danny Porter. Jean goes home and cries, Liz and friends impose themselves on her privacy and sit there staring at her like they’re at an intervention meeting, and then they toddle on out. And then Scott comes over and forces the door open with his foot and backs Jean into a corner (no, I’m being 100 percent literal, that’s what he does) until she has to admit she is in love with him and then they make out right then and there. So yeah, Scott’s a big dickhole but it’s okay because … wait, why is it okay? I … don’t … know.

I think this book has turned me into a raving lunatic. Either that, or Jeff Spicoli.

The sub-plots: There are two of them. They both suck. #1: Jessica reads an article on interpreting your dreams and suddenly considers herself an expert. Then she has the same dream over and over, about meeting a hot boy named Jackson on a beach in Hawaii, so she’s convinced she has a hot man named Jackson waiting there for her. To earn the money to fly to Hawaii and find Jackson, she starts her own dream interpretation business. Only Jessica doesn’t actually charge people anything, so she doesn’t make any money. So she has no way to go to Hawaii.

Could this book make any less sense? Is it possible?

All’s well that ends well; Jessica sees an ad in the same magazine that she read the dream article in, that shows a man in a Hawaiian shirt named Jackson … bingo. That’s why she had the dream. She was wasting all her Saturday nights on analyzing people’s dreams for no reason … not even money, since she wasn’t charging people? Why didn’t she charge them? Gee Mr. Hand, I … don’t …. know. Then Jessica realizes her latest sorta-crush Steve Anderson wants to take her to the Love in Bloom fucking dance anyway. Is it not kind of creepy that Steve has the same name as Jessica’s brother? With all the damn relative-worshipping that goes on in that house?

#2: Liz and Todd have a fight. Everyone is stunned because they are such a perfect couple. You should know I’m not even being sarcastic. Enid almost pisses herself with shock. The worst part is that Liz just agreed to have a picture of herself and Todd put in the fucking Oracle as an example of the world’s best couple. And why do they fight? Because Liz conducts a survey on dating at school, and after she gets the results, she thinks boys are horrible, bossy, and chauvinistic and Todd dares to defend the male sex, saying not all of them are bad, and Liz flips the fuck out. She launches a campaign or something to convince Todd he is, in fact, a big asshole and every man in the world is also an asshole. Todd won’t cave and they stop speaking to each other, then someone writes a letter to the Oracle in response to a sexist column Liz wrote about why she hates men, then Liz realizes it was Todd, then … I … DON’T … KNOW!

The cover … is supposed to make us think that Jean and Claire are fighting over Scott, I guess? Claire doesn’t even give a shit about Scott, who is so not all that, so I don’t know why they have her draping herself over him. Claire looks prettier than she did on her last cover. Jean is an uglier version of her same expression on Jealous Lies. Nice late 1991 clothes. Ha ha ha.

WTF? I hear that some Sweet Valley High books were cut from the line-up and never released. I think this one slipped through by mistake.

Here’s how Todd makes up to Liz: “After yesterday, I think I’d rather be an aardvark then a teenage boy.” Awww, I wish you were, Todd! Because then you would be much cuter and more bearable.

I'm adorable and I don't punch people!

Claire tells Maria, Enid, and Liz about her new boyfriend at the Dairi Burger, but makes them guess who it is first. When she gives the clue that he’s “devastatingly handsome,” Enid goes, “I know, I know. Randy Mason. It’s got to be Randy Mason.” She’s really not kidding! WOW Enid … you need help! I mean, more help than we originally thought you did.

John Pfeifer has a crush on Claire and follows her around. There is zero mention of John Pfeifer’s girlfriend, Jennifer Mitchell, or why they suddenly aren’t dating anymore.

We learn Jean spends every Saturday night doing macrame since Tom dumped her. What? Why would she do that? Isn’t she one of the most popular girls in school? Do ALL of her friends spent all of their time out on dates every single Saturday? What about all those parties? Barf.

Todd’s letter to the Oracle is signed “Not Blind and Not Stupid” but we don’t learn this until much later when it’s referred to that way and we have no clue what the fuck that’s about!!!! CONSISTENCY! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Caroline and Jessica are suddenly good friends again. I thought they fucking hated each other.

The slang in this book is too weird. I think this book was written by someone born in 1920.

Finally, all throughout the book Liz demands to know what’s going on in people’s lives, even physically forcing either Claire or Jean (don’t remember which, don’t give a fuck) to head into the cafeteria to confront Scott. And THIS is what Liz tells herself near the end of the book: “I guess Jessica isn’t the only romantic twin in the Wakefield family after all! Or the only one capable of meddling in other people’s lives, either.” OH I GET IT! This book was written by a comedian! HAR HAR!

Reader of the Month, please take me away with your lovely essay. Oh wait, it’s a poem. Ahem, Robbenmarie writes:

“Tell me a place where the romance is hot;
Where the parties never stop;
Where I can find so many gorgeous guys,
And identical twins with blue-green eyes;
Where sports cars are fiery red,
A Saturday night without a date
Is cause for dread! (Yeah no shit, just ask macrame crazy Jean over here)
Still haven’t guessed?
I’ll tell you on the sly,
I’m talking about Sweet Valley High! (NO WAY)
It’s so fun to read;
It has all the dating tips you need! (oh my god … please tell me no one tries to make their dating life work according to an SVH book. You just put the fear of God into me Robbenmarie)
In the end, the good guys always win,
With a little help from the Wakefield twins.
If you’re looking for fun, then come on!
We’ll go to Beach Disco,
And hear the Droids play their newest song. (THAT DOESN’T RHYME YOUNG LADY)
Don’t get hurt
When Jessica decides to flirt with your guy;
But Elizabeth’s there
And on Jessica she’ll keep an eye.
Come along, if you choose;
This is Sweet Valley High
You’ve got nothing to lose! (I think several million of my former brain cells would disagree with you there)

Wow. There is nothing I can say to this at all. Because mere yards away from me lies a huge stack of boxes of old clutter I’m trying to rid myself of, and within lies a poem I wrote about tarantulas in the fifth grade that puts this to shame … and not in a good way.

Coming up next: A ton of people we never heard of do something stupid. Here, this is more entertaining: Listen to songs from the SVH musical that was put on exactly once, Fastbreaks, at Forever Young Adult!

Magna Edition #1/Sweet Valley Saga #1 The Wakefields of Sweet Valley

I want you guys to know that I wondered how to post the title of this entry for way too long. Hurrrrrrr

So hey, I’m back! And this is the very first of two new Sweet Valley “series.” It’s the first of the Magna Editions, these big-ass books that typically had well over 300 pages and fancy stepback cover illustrations and shit like that. But it’s also the first of a brand new set called Sweet Valley Saga, which I originally thought was a whole new series a la Sweet Valley Twins or Sweet Valley Kids. Instead, the Saga series is meant to tie-in to the regularly scheduled SVH books. The Sagas track the family lineage of the Wakefield twins and that of the Patman and Fowler families.

Wow, so now that I feel like one of those old hosts on the classic movie channel, I’ll swivel back around to the fire in my upholstered chair, and let the story begin.

1866. Alice Larson, an orphan, travels to New York from Sweden at 16. Everything important happens at 16, right? When the ship hits rough waters “somewhere in the Atlantic”, a little boy runs from his mother to look and falls overboard. Alice dives in after him with a life preserver, and then a young Englishman named Theodore Wakefield rescues both of them. Alice and Theodore spend the rest of the voyage falling in love. Theodore whittles Alice a rose out of a piece of lumber he found onboard. (The rose shows up again in a Sweet Valley Twins story!) They have a “date” at the dining hall, for which Alice’s friends dress her up. Theodore takes them to eat outside and imagines out loud that their gross porridge and hard tack are seafood bisque and steak. He makes Alice laugh even though she can barely understand him, and she slowly improves her English. When they dock in NY, Theodore wants to have the ship’s captain marry them, but Alice says they should wait to marry once they’ve gotten settled in the New World. They set a place to meet up after they are finished going through immigration. Apart from Alice, Theodore is told he might have typhus and is packed off to quarantine. From a distance, he sees Alice waiting for him at their spot, but can’t catch her attention before he’s sent away to the hospital. So Alice waits and waits. Her Uncle Par and Aunt Elisabeth come to pick her up and they all return every day for a week to check for Theodore. Finally her family tells her he has clearly deserted her, and refuse to keep waiting around. Alice and her broken heart head for St. Paul, Minnesota with her aunt, uncle, and two little cousins, Helga and Anika.

1877. Alice is now married to a George Johnson and living in Prairie Lakes, Minnesota. She gives birth to twin girls, Elisabeth and Jessamyn. Elisabeth has a mole on her left shoulder which is how you can tell the twins apart. Oh, lord, hereditary moles. We learn Alice and George previously had a son named Steven who died of scarlet fever as a baby. Alice thinks of Theodore Wakefield and hopes he’s as happy as she is.

1884. Elisabeth and Jessamyn are now seven years old. Jessamyn is a “headstrong frontier tomboy” who dreams of joining the circus, while Elisabeth is a boring pushover who does all the chores Jessamyn leaves her with. Gee, does that sound familiar? Jessamyn disappears at yearly family circus outing for a while to hang out with the bareback riding lady and momentarily scares the shit out of her family. After they find her, Jessamyn tells her mother that there’s an animal “talker” there who goes by “the Magnificent Theo W.” Alice flips out thinking it might be her first love and steals away to the circus to find out, only to see it has already packed up and left town.

1893. Now 16, the twins attend a corn-husking bee with their family and friends. There’s a set of bully brothers named Billy and Bobby Tyrus and Bobby makes fun of Jessamyn for liking “boyish” stuff like bicycles and baseball. She tells him off. Elisabeth gets jealous when she thinks Jessamyn is flirting with her crush, Tom Wilkens. Tom Wilkens? Really? You mean to tell me the twins’ love stories are hereditary too? What? Jessamyn also pisses off Alycia Germond by flirting with her love interest Tad Schmidt. Then Tom finds a red ear of corn; the tradition is that he can kiss the girl of his choice. He chooses Elisabeth and she floats on air. Jessamyn is momentarily annoyed but goes back to flashing her ankles at Carl Bergen and Tad, or however people flirted back then, I don’t know.

Jessamyn has also been taking bareback riding lessons from an old Native American named Peter Blue Cloud, on his horse Smoke Signal. Peter Blue Cloud shares a lot of his people’s history and legends with Jessamyn and she genuinely likes hearing them. She is the one person who seems to bring him any sunshine in life; they make great friends. I think it’s pretty cool that Jessamyn’s character is a lot less shallow than modern-day Jessica. In fact, she’s my favorite character in this whole book. But don’t worry, we can’t have Elisabeth not looking like a do-gooder. She has her own elderly man friend, a former slave named Matthew whom ‘Lis is teaching to read.

When the circus comes back that summer, Jessamyn dresses as a boy so she can either access the circus more easily or volunteer to work in exchange for free daily tickets. The new bareback riding lady tells Jessamyn she is a natural and offers to get her a job, so Jessamyn runs away with the circus, leaving a note behind. Elisabeth is devastated; Matthew says that this is Jessamyn’s chance to make a new life for herself. Tom continues to court Elisabeth and comfort her. Elisabeth slowly starts acting a bit more like Jess to feel closer to her, taking horsey lessons from Peter and sneaking rancid old cheese into Bobby Tyrus’ dinner pail to fuck with him the way Jess used to.

When Elisabeth hears that Peter Blue Cloud is dying, she asks her parents if she can find Jessamyn and bring her back, because Peter really wants to see her one last time. Her parents refuse, so Elisabeth sneaks off herself. She stows away on trains until she finds Jessamyn’s compartment. Jess is doing great and is the star of the show now and caught between twin trapeze artists, Mario and Dario Morrelli. The twins decide to return to Prairie Lakes after Jessamyn’s next performance so that Jessamyn can tell Peter goodbye. Elisabeth is wowed by the flips Jess does on the horse, Goldilocks, and Jessamyn agrees to let her try out a ride. But Elisabeth gets reckless and goes too fast, and Goldilocks throws her. Elisabeth is killed instantly. Damn you horse!

Needless to say, Jessamyn is devastated. She quits the circus and returns home. She’s too late for Peter Blue Cloud; he died the same day Elisabeth did. 😦

1900. Jessamyn is now a hostess at a hotel in San Francisco, California and actively courted by hordes of wealthy male guests, none of whom she really gives a damn about. She turns down tons of marriage proposals and thinks sadly about how she hasn’t known any real joy since her sister died.

1905. Taylor Watson of Watson Motor Company is the first man Jessamyn has ever been serious about. She feels comfortable with him, but isn’t sure she loves him. He asks her to marry him and she holds off on an answer, but wears the ring anyway. Then Taylor introduces her to his top Watson Motors race car driver Bruce Farber, and lust blossoms!

1906. Jessamyn is now having a passionate affair with Bruce Farber while still “engaged” to Taylor. On a hilltop overlooking San Fran, Bruce and Jessamyn are having a picnic and Bruce is pressuring Jessamyn to take off her ring. He wants Jess to finally tell Taylor that she’s going to marry Bruce instead, but Jessamyn is still hesitating. She knows that if Elisabeth were here, she’d tell Jess she should stop stalling and marry Taylor and tell Bruce to fuck off. But instead, Bruce seduces Jessamyn on the hilltop. No, for real, it’s definitely implied that they have sex up there. It’s always a Bruce that inspires the closest we get to sex scenes in Sweet Valley, isn’t it?

Then the San Francisco Earthquake hits and wakes our lovers up from their post-coital slumber on the picnic blanket. Jessamyn sees the city on fire and insists that Bruce drive her back down there in his Model E (get it? Like Model T? haha) so that she can check on her hotel guests and Taylor. Bruce refuses, because he is a big asshole and doesn’t want to help his rival. What a dick! Jessamyn promises to be his forever in order to get him to help her guests. They find the hotel split open and fire rapidly approaching, and an elderly lady guest named Mrs. Burnham trapped inside. Jessamyn begs Bruce to rescue the woman, but it takes her insinuating he is a coward to make him do it. When he heads in, Taylor Watson shows up and is saddened to see that Jessamyn was with Bruce, but he rushes to help Bruce pull a bed off the trapped woman without hesitation. The old woman is saved, but Bruce doesn’t make it out of the burning building with them. Taylor rushes back to save him, almost losing his own life in the process. Taylor and Bruce make it out alive thanks to Taylor. Jessamyn realizes she’s in love with Taylor and rushes to tell him so, much to Bruce’s utter shock and disapproval.

1908. Jessamyn and Taylor live in Detroit, where they have a one-year-old son named Harry and infant twin girls, Amanda and Samantha. More twins!

1920. Amanda is like Elizabeth Wakefield and Samantha is like Jessica Wakefield. One wants to be a writer and the other wants to be a movie star. Prohibition is in full effect and the twins argue over whether or not people are “supposed” to drink. Amanda gets mad at Samantha for gossiping their neighbor Elise DeCecco drank every day while waiting for her boyfriend to return from the Great War. Wow, Amanda is definitely exactly what a 1920s Liz would be like.

1925-26. Amanda is seriously dating the popular Geoffrey Aiken. (Geoffrey = Jeffrey?) Samantha has fallen in love with a hot picture of Harry’s college buddy, Ted Wakefield and can’t wait to meet him and make him hers when he visits at Christmas. The girls go to a local club where Samantha dances with Scott Turner while her ex-boy toy, sleazy speakeasy-goin’ boy Kevin Hughes, mopes around that she doesn’t want him anymore. Then Ted comes to visit with Harry. He’s a writer and needless to say, that’s all the excuse Amanda needs to fall for him. Ted fascinates everyone with his manly manliness and stories of how his grandfather, Theo W. (yes that one) struck gold in Colorado after he left the circus. One night, Ted finds Amanda writing poetry after everyone else is asleep. He gets her to read him some of her poetry, they make out, and Amanda feels horribly guilty because she knows Samantha is still after Ted, so she doesn’t tell her. So Sam continues to make a fool out of herself pursuing Ted, and doesn’t seem to realize he isn’t returning her feelings.

After Ted and Harry go back to school, Amanda breaks up with Geoffrey and returns his ring. Ted starts writing to Amanda every day. Amanda always grabs the letters before anyone else in the family can see them, and keeps telling herself that she’ll let Samantha know the truth, but squanders every opportunity she has to do so. She lies and tells Ted that she has told Samantha. Can you tell how this is ultimately going to go down?

Yes, Samantha one day gets home from school unexpectedly early, sees one of Ted’s letters to Amanda, and steams it open and reads it. Then she finds the rest of the letters where Amanda has hidden them under the mattress. Man, is she PISSED. Sam starts burning future Ted letters that Amanda receives, including ones that mention he’s going to visit again with Harry for spring break. Ted thinks Amanda doesn’t love him anymore or something, but goes ahead and shows up for the visit anyway. He is confused to find Samantha, not Amanda, waiting for him. Samantha has already taken the liberty of trashing the school newspaper office so that Amanda has to stay behind and clean it, so that Sam can get to Ted first. Samantha gets Ted to take her out in his car by saying she’ll show him the way to the high school so they can pick up Amanda; instead she redirects him to a secluded bluff and throws herself at him. Ted pushes her away and Samantha stalks out of the car and off down the road by herself. She heads straight to a speakeasy called the Cellar Door where she convinces her sleazy ex Kevin to help her bring down Ted and get back at Amanda. And what a nasty plan it is: Kevin plants a shitload of bathtub gin or whatever in the trunk of Ted’s car. Then Samantha goes and gets Ted out of bed in the middle of the night, posing as Amanda, and telling him a friend of his is in trouble and needs him down at the Cafe Car. So Ted and Samantha drive over there and the police pull them over as Samantha has advised them Ted is planning to make an illegal delivery. The police tell Ted that Amanda told them he was coming, Ted thinks she planted the liquor, and the fake “Amanda” says she did it because she thinks Ted made a pass at Samantha.

Wow, Samantha is kind of a loon.

Ted is hauled off to jail thinking that the girl he loves is a horrible double-crossing bitch. I can’t believe the idea that it might’ve been his true love’s twin sister plotting all this never once crossed his mind, especially after the erratic way she behaved just the day before!

The next day, Amanda hears what happened to Ted and goes to the police office, where she’s told he was released for “lack of evidence” (what? how is liquor in the trunk not evidence enough?) and that he complained his girlfriend had tricked him. Amanda realizes what happened and she and Sam have a horrible fight about it. Sam tries to get Amanda to forgive her, but Amanda is not as wimpy as Liz, and she refuses. The twins stop talking to each other and then Sam takes off for Hollywood after they graduate from high school. A few months later, she’s married to a Jack Lewis and starring in a new movie. Amanda refuses to go to the wedding or speak to her sister ever again. She’s also unable to track down Ted and tell him the truth.

1927. Amanda races back to Hollywood to finally reconcile with her sister after she hears she’s about to die from childbirth complications. Amanda promises Samantha that she will look after her daughter, Marjorie, with Jack. Samantha dies a minute or two later.

1935. Amanda is now a high school teacher in Sweet Valley. Jack, meanwhile, moves to France after he lands a good job there, allowing him to escape the Great Depression. He takes Marjorie with him.

1939. Marjorie misses her aunt, but is loving life in Val-le-Doux, France. Val-le-Doux? That roughly translates to Sweet Valley. Come on, let’s get a bit more creative here. Also, we learn that back home, one of Amanda’s students is a class clown named Walter Egbert.

1940. Marjorie and her father navigate Val-le-Doux around all the Nazi Germany soldiers who have occupied it. Marjorie doesn’t approve of the close friendship of her father and beautiful Frenchwoman Mademoiselle Pinget, even though her dad assures her they are just friends.

1941. Jack decides it’s too dangerous for Marjorie to continue living in France and makes arrangements to send her back to the U.S. to live with Amanda. Marjorie tearfully bids her best friend Marthe Giradoux goodbye. But then the United States enters World War II and Marjorie and her father, as Americans, are now enemies of the German-occupied France. The Nazis come and arrest her father while Marjorie is out one day. Mlle. Pinget and her friend, Monsieur Bourget, put Marjorie into hiding; it turns out they are members of the French Resistance. Marjorie stays in a wine cellar with a younger, Jewish girl, Sophy Berg, who tells her about her handsome older brother, Jacques. Marjorie realizes her father is also a member of the Resistance and that’s why he and Mlle. Pinget were so close. (They couldn’t also be lovers?) She feels proud of him.

1942. Jacques reunites with Sophy in the girls’ farmhouse hideaway, and invites Marjorie to become a member of the Resistance by transmitting Morse code messages in English and French to help their mission. Marjorie is excited to take up the task, but it means she must leave Sophy behind and constantly be on the move. Jacques helps her out, and it’s not long before he and Marjorie fall in love. While operating the radio, Marjorie receives an incoming message which says Sophy has been discovered and arrested by the Nazis, who are actively looking for Marjorie as well in the hopes that her capture will force her father to cooperate. The messages state that Marjorie’s dad is believed to have deliberately been turned over to the POW camp in order to work from the inside. That knowledge inspires Marjorie to draft a drastic plan to save Sophy. Jacques talks to a former classmate of his, Pierre Trichet, who collaborates with the Germans sometimes. Jacques convinces Pierre to offer the Germans Marjorie in exchange for Sophy. Jacques will bring Marjorie to a nearby train station and hand her over after Pierre releases Sophy. Sophy will not be allowed to stay in France, but will be given false papers and put on the train to Spain to start a new life. After Sophy gets on the train, Marjorie will flee from Pierre after a disguised Resistance fighter “accidentally” rams a cart into Pierre and knocks him over. Marjorie and Jacques will dash onto the train as it pulls away and leap off at a pre-arranged point to meet with more Resistance fighters and continue their work.

The plan appears to go well at first until the part where Marjorie and Jacques flee from Pierre. Swarms of Nazis fill the station and a gunbattle erupts between them and hordes of hidden French Resistance fighters. As the train carries Marjorie away to safety, she sees Jacques gunned down.

Damn, is no one allowed to find happiness with their first true love in this book?

On board the train, Marjorie meets with Sophy and they embrace and cry. Marjorie plans to leap off the train at a pre-arranged point to meet with more Resistance fighters and continue her mission, but Sophy thinks it’s time for her to fulfill Marjorie’s work while Marjorie returns to her home country. Marjorie insists that Sophy be the one to find freedom with the papers, but Sophy locks her inside their compartment, slides her papers under the door for Marjorie to use to find freedom, and then throws herself off the train to stay and fight in her home country.

1949. Home in Sweet Valley, Sophy marries Charles Robertson, an airman shot down over Val-le-Doux whom the Resistance helped rescue. At the wedding, Uncle Harry is there with his wife Stephanie and their sons, Peter and Stevie. No sign of old Ted though!

1962. Marjorie’s daughters Nancy, Alice, and Laura watch the first moon landing and make family trees.

Late 1960s. Alice Robertson attends the College of Southern California where she dresses like a hippie and joins in protests. Rich Hank Patman pursues her but she thinks he’s a ridiculous snob. But then the students hold a sit-in to protest the firing of a professor who was “too vocal” about the cause of civil rights. The administration attempts to starve the students out by cutting off deliveries from the building, but Hank saves the day by flying his helicopter over top the building and dropping food onto the roof while making an announcement over a bullhorn. The students eat and stay and the professor’s job is reinstated, and Alice falls for Hank. They date pretty seriously and eventually get engaged later that semester. At a beach party, Alice catches Hank walking off with a girl named Brenda and they have a fight. Alice swims off in the ocean in a rage, gets caught in an undertow, and is saved from drowning by handsome law student Ned Wakefield. It’s literally a re-do of Theo Wakefield saving Alice Larson after she fell off the ship. No, for real: even the text of the two incidents is the exact same with perhaps an extra sentence thrown in. It’s fate! Alice and Ned aren’t sure why, but they are instantly drawn to one another. Still, Alice turns Ned down when he eventually asks her out, explaining that she’s engaged. The day of the wedding, Alice and her sisters overhear Hank and his friends making fun of the causes Alice values and the hippie clothes Hank had to wear to convince her he was serious. Alice tells Hank she’s leaving him and he only seems to be upset about it because it will shame his family. He kicks her off the Patman property in a rage. She walks all the way to a pay phone, finds Ned’s home address in the attached phone book, and walks to his house where they embrace. At long last, the spirit of Alice Larson can rest as the Larson line and the Wakefield line are finally united … I guess. It’s destiny, or something.

“A number of years later.” The Wakefield twins are born with golden halos over their heads and an operatic chorus singing arias in the background

This cover is awesome. It is the first one that wasn’t done by the usual cover artist, James Mathewuse. I don’t know why. Franco Accornero did this one. So let’s check it out … here’s the full stepback …. (click to enlarge)

Voila!

To the left, we have Theodore and Alice embracing on the dock, with Alice and Hank zooming around in his Mustang right below them. Then there’s a mountain range with a steam locomotive, and Jessamyn on a horse in front of it. The horse matches the description of Smoke Signal, not Goldilocks, but Jess is not riding him bareback, so I’m confused. Also, I don’t know if the train is supposed to be the one that Elisabeth catches to find Jessamyn or the one that Marjorie and Sophy escape on, but I’m guessing the former since it looks like the horse bit is supposed to be part of it. And then finally we have Samantha sashaying around in her flapper outfit while Ted looks on.

The identities of the ladies going down the righthand side has always confused me a bit. I think the top lady is Alice Larson, all dressed up by her friends on the boat with pearls and makeup for her first date with Theodore Wakefield. Then we have Elisabeth all prim and proper in her bonnet. Next, well, I guess that’s Alice Robertson, looking all feisty and protest-ready. I would say that’s Liz, but I don’t see any barrettes! And lastly, we have Jessica with the Aqua Net going on. Seriously, no Marjorie anywhere on this cover?

WTF? So yes, I genuinely liked this book. I do like historical sagas, but I thought this one was very well-done. (Of course, I did read it right after Sweet Valley Confidential, so consider the post-recovery factor from that piece of shit.) It was a super easy read, but it didn’t bore me at all. Okay, maybe Alice’s story started to make me nod off after a while. Can you blame me? It was hard to go from tales of war bravery and crazy speakeasy schemes to Alice fucking fretting over Ned.

I like the title; The Wakefields of Sweet Valley sounds appropriate for a saga. Yet it’s not really about the Wakefields until the last chapter, and the two Wakefield men that appear prior to Ned aren’t in Sweet Valley.

The font in this book is HUGE. If they made it the regular-sized font, they probably could’ve shaved off at least a good 50 pages.

Continuity police: I believe there are now three different versions of how Ned and Alice met – the one in this book, one in an earlier Sweet Valley High book, and one in a Sweet Valley Twins book (Jumping to Conclusions).

So, we learned about Alice’s sisters. We know that Laura went on to marry shitty Greg Bates and have Kelly Bates. So the other cousin, Jenny Townsend (in Taking Sides) must be Nancy’s daughter.

The Super Edition Spring Fever said that Uncle Herman and Aunt Shirley were Alice’s aunt and uncle. Okay, so due to the last name situation, we can guess that Shirley is either Marjorie’s half-sister (if Jack remarried), or Charles’ sister, who married a Herman Walker.

That leaves us with Cousin Rexy (who died) and Cousin Robin (from Sweet Valley Twins), neither of whom is mentioned; I can only assume these are children of Ned’s siblings. I know he has a half-brother named Louis.

Is Mr. Patman’s name Hank or Henry? I know Hank is short for Henry but I thought he generally went by Henry. Whatever.

Speaking of Hank/Henry, let’s talk about why Alice’s engagement to Hank is “a painful romantic choice she will hide forever – even from her twin daughters”, as the back cover tells us. Why? The whole town knew Alice and Hank were engaged and that she walked out on their wedding day. So why is it such a secret? Are their daughters really never going to hear about this growing up in the same small town? I know this is talked about a little later on in the SVH series, but I don’t get it.

The redundancy of names and connections got a bit annoying after a while. Is Bruce Farber supposed to be an ancestor of Bruce Patman? Is Tom Wilkens an ancestor of Todd Wilkins? It’s fate, right? And I guess Walter Egbert is Winston’s grandfather.

Of course the left shoulder moles get passed down for each Elizabeth-like twin, and the size six gets passed down as well! Seriously, isn’t that fucking pushing it just a little!

Whatever happened to Ted Wakefield, the one Amanda fell in love with who thinks she betrayed him? Did he die or just not show up at Alice and Ned Wakefield’s wedding? ‘Cause man, I’d love to see THAT showdown.

It’s entirely possible that I missed it, but I never saw where the Nazis were looking for Jacques Berg, only Sophy, nor did I get why Pierre didn’t want to turn Jacques over to the Nazis if he was such a collaborator.

The first names of Wakefield/Robertson family members are clearly passed down from generation to generation. I guess that whole bit in the SVH series where Ned claimed he named Steven after his dead college friend was something he made up to fuck with him.

I would love to hear more about what happened to Sophy Berg after she left the train to join the Resistance. Maybe she will reappear in the next Saga, but I doubt it. This isn’t THAT big of a series. Even characters randomly mentioned throughout this book intrigued me as to what their fates were, such as Alice’s friends on the ship: Angelique Stone, Birgitta Svensen, Sarah Thurber, and Jane McCarty, who come from different countries and help her look good for Ted.

Reading and enjoying this book left me with a whole new disdain for Sweet Valley Confidential. It also made some of the things that happened in SVC seem that much weirder.

Coming up next … We’re back to the boring original SVH books, in which two supposedly smart girls fight over that douchey Scott Trost.

Sweet Valley 101: The College Course

A reader with handle apathetic_damp on the wicked awesome LiveJournal Sweet Valley recap community 1bruce1 recently posted that there is a college course on Sweet Valley High at Simmons College in Boston … HOW FRICKIN’ AWESOME.

The accompanying textbook, Reading the Adolescent Romance: Sweet Valley High and the Popular Young Adult Romance Novel by Amy Pattee, is available on Amazon.com. It is already in my shopping cart.

Should I recap it?

Anyone reading this taken the class by chance?

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