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

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!


Comments on: "#80 The Girl They Both Loved" (2)

  1. pibetaalpha said:

    “It’s okay Todd, I don’t know how to sew an apron either, but apparently I should.” I was thinking the same thing…how many women sew aprons these days…?

    • Probably not many! As for me, sadly I just recently learned how to adequately sew on a button! Wait, I just admitted that in a public forum …

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