Teen gambling is a serious issue, you guys.

I think by book 51 the SVH ghostwriters had covered most of the pressing issues facing teens in the 1980s, and it came down to teen gambling and teen pregnancy. Of course, no one dared to do anything that had to do with sex, so it was someone’s job to make a moral tale for all about the dangers of gambling.

It can be dangerous. Remember what happened to Brandon Walsh? He went overboard with gambling on basketball games and eventually….his rich friend bailed him out. Yea, it can be bad.

Ronnie Edwards, who no one likes because he was mean to Enid and is not a Todd or a Bruce, is having problems at home with his single father. You know what that means- a life of dysfunction. He’s been dabbling in gambling and his bookie, Big Al, has given him lots of loans, like a Mustang convertible to drive. He’s showing the car around to everyone and metaphorically swininging his dick around. No one cares. Some guys try to beat him up for his car and Jeffrey and his super strong soccer legs come to bail him out. Suddenly Jeffrey is Ronnie’s best friend. Or Ronnie thinks.

Big Al, the bookie, specializes in taking bets on high school sports. Is this normal in the bookie world? I don’t know. If you are a bookie, fill me in. Ronnie owes a lot of money to Big Al, and Big Al sends his henchmen Max to rough him up a bit. Jeffrey starts to feel bad for Ronnie and considers throwing the game. Then Liz comes sniffing around to judge Ronnie and Jeffrey becomes mildly annoyed with her. Isn’t Jeffrey always sort of mildly annoyed with Liz? That’s why we love him.

The big soccer game. Liz has a person-in-need-boner, so she keeps an eye on Ronnie during the game. She sees Max come in and lead him away. Liz follows them to an abandoned warehouse (Sweet Valley seems to have several set aside for gang fights and torture). When Liz goes to a pay phone to call the police Max kidnaps her and holds she and Max captive. Liz, for whom death threats are a typical Saturday activity, thinks fast and they are able to knock out Max, and escape back to the soccer game in time to tell Jeffrey that he doesn’t have to throw the game. The police come to arrest Big Al and everyone runs off to celebnrate by binge-eating at the Dairi Burger. Except for Elizabeth and Jeffrey, who need time to make out.

In a side story that someone started and then never really came up for an ending with, Jessica, starts designing jewelery. And she uses a lot of feathers and big pieces of metal. How Claudia Kishi of her. Everyone loves them so she decides to bring them to a boutique to sell, and the boutique owner asks for more. Liz charges $900 worth of materials on her mom’s credit card, but then, as you can guess because you are not an idiot, the boutique does not want them anymore. So, Jessica took a GAMBLE on buying the supplies thinking her stuff would sell, but GAMBLING does not pay off. See how that worked? Gamblers never win, people. That’s the lesson of the day. Alice gets tiffed and makes Jessica promise to pay her back every week until she pays off her debt. Yet, as we know in the next book, she’ll probably charge a slutty gold lame dress from Lisette’s because of some dance coming up.

Do I even have to tell you that this one was a total stinker? The only thing that saved it for me was this exchange between Jeffrey and Ronnie:

Ronnie ran over to his side like a sick puppy. “Hi Jeff!” he said. “How did it go?”

“It’s Jeffrey,” Jeffrey snapped. “No one calls me Jeff.”

You heard it hear first. Do NOT call him Jeff.

That and there were about a dozen mentions of students and classmates never mentioned before. I may need to update the roster.

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50 comments

  1. Rio · February 6, 2010

    “You heard it hear first. Do NOT call him Jeff.”

    Until SVHSY, in which he becomes a snowboarding DJ with a pierced ear. No, really. NO, REALLY.

    • anastasia · February 6, 2010

      Yes… I *hate* Jeff in SVHSY. He was a useless plot device!!

  2. M.T. · February 6, 2010

    So I’m confused, is that supposed to be Liz on the cover glaring at Ronnie? Because it looks like Jessica to me.

    • kimkelly · February 6, 2010

      It’s definitely Jess, Liz would never wear anything that low cut.

      • MT · February 6, 2010

        So does that scene actually happen in the book? Since it’s Liz harassing Ronnie about the gambling? Or is this another cover a la Crash Landing?

      • kimkelly · February 6, 2010

        I could have sworn Ronnie borrows money from Jess and doesn’t pay her back and she confronts him.

  3. perfectsize12 · February 6, 2010

    Person-in-need-boner!!! That’s awesome!

    • AmberTan · February 6, 2010

      Ha! Yes! You should copyright that term, ihatewheat!

  4. Sara · February 6, 2010

    I agree with perfectsize12. BRILLIANT :)

  5. Vanessa Saxton · February 6, 2010

    The cover is definitely Jessica because of the fancy earrings she is wearing. I remember noticing them when I first read this book and when the jewelry business came into play I thought, “nice work, Jimmy, on the cover art with the earring reference.” Anyways this book was probably the worst one- goes down with the horrendous likes of Perfect Shot or My Best Friend’s Boyfriend. Ronnie is also a sad sack of shit and I was so happy when Francie killed him off.

    • anastasia · February 6, 2010

      Yes… also, if I recall correctly, she borrow money from Ronnie to help get supplies for her venture, and he needs it back to pay off his bookie… or something along those lines!

      • MT · February 6, 2010

        OH I get it! I was like, why did James Mathewuse (or whatever the artist’s name is, I think that’s it) paint this scene? Why not have Liz there with her dumb barettes condescendingly touching Ronnie’s shoulder? Hahaha
        ~M.

    • Becca · February 6, 2010

      Ronnie dies?! How? I’m intrigued. Also, that exchange between Jeffrey and him almost made me feel bad for him. But he was such a tool in Secrets.

      Also, Liz gets kidnapped AND escapes in less time than it takes to play a soccer game? That is ridiculous, even for Sweet Valley. This one sounds horrible.

    • jms · February 6, 2010

      Even though I own this book, I never noticed Jessica’s fab earrings! Nice touch, Jimmy.

  6. BartTempleton · February 6, 2010

    Why does Jessica have a steel gray bouffant mullet pageboy?

    • Neek1981 · February 6, 2010

      HA!! I agree. The first thing I noticed about the cover was the grey hair. And she’s supposed to be the best-looking thing in the history of the world, right?

      • Laura @ Hungry and Frozen · February 6, 2010

        I definitely noticed the grey ahead of everything else. The grey and…the bouyancy.

  7. Regina Morrow · February 6, 2010

    I think Ronnie is one of the earthquake casualties.

    RIP

    • opangster · February 6, 2010

      hahaha this comment made my day (and what a sh*tty day it was!)

  8. Jen S · February 6, 2010

    Wait–Liz called THE POLICE?? And they showed up?? I thought they only arrived for big ol’ drug busts when you get instructions from your dead friend’s camera!

    Why the Sweet Valleians haven’t come together to burn all the local warehouses to the ground is beyond me.

  9. nikki · February 6, 2010

    I may or may not know two bookies on a close personal level. (I do.) Neither takes bets on high school sports. Neither will take a bet from a teenager either.

    How very Jack Hunter of Ronnie though…to have a gambling problem.

  10. Neek1981 · February 6, 2010

    “they are able to knock out Max and escape back to the soccer game.” Oh, right. ‘Cuz going to the soccer game was the most natural thing to do immediately after being freed from kidnappers.
    Good recap.

  11. MT · February 6, 2010

    The kidnapping scene in this one sounds too much like Liz being kidnapped in Two Boy Weekend! I know, what a shock, SVH reused an idea. Hahaha

  12. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen · February 6, 2010

    This book was an absolute stinker. Worth it for your line about the abandoned warehouses – Sweeet Valley is so useful like that.

  13. Jenn · February 6, 2010

    I love how Jessica gets all pissed off at Ronnie for not having money to loan her. Guess she should have gotten his loan offer in writing lol

  14. Magpie · February 6, 2010

    Jessica’s massive hair makes her head look too big for her body. Alice is practising selective parenting again – one minute she believes in punishment, the next she’s failing to notice that her daughter’s been replaced by a murderous psychopath.

  15. CL · February 6, 2010

    There’s a story arc on the CW series One Tree Hill where the high school basketball team is going to the State Championship and bookies loan Nathan (main character bball player) money and then pressure him to lose the game. A very special episode – clearly high school gambling IS a big issue. Spoiler…he doesn’t throw the game and then the bookies try to run over Nathan’s pregnant wife.

    (I just admitted I watch One Tree Hill.)

    • Neek1981 · February 6, 2010

      You’re not alone. I was a big OTH fan for seasons 1-4. I stopped watching shortly after the second psychotic killer showed up in Tree Hill. Remember Nanny Carrie and Psycho Derek?
      Come to think of it, OTH is SVH for the current generation. The characters on OTH are constantly validated by everyone as the best-looking people in the history of the world(just like Liz and Jess!). OTH characters are also incredibly succesful for no good reason. A group of five friends contains a world famous fashion designer, a professional basketball player, a novelist whose published two books by age 23, a singer who toured with the Wreckers, and a 22 year old who manages and owns a record label. It all seems to fall in their lap effortlessly. Gimme a break!

      • maybeimamazed02 · February 6, 2010

        I keep considering watching earlier seasons of OTH…then I think of a clip that my husband Joel McHale showed on The Soup, involving a dog and a human heart.

        Then I go throw up.

      • MT · February 6, 2010

        I watch that show too and there are definitely SVH parallels! This season (7) seems especially boring and stupid, but I just keep right on watching.

      • Magpie · February 6, 2010

        Add me to the list of people who watch OTH. Except the point where Nanny Carrie turned up was actually what convinced me it was OK to like this show, because it’s so stupid there is NO WAY I can take it seriously. More shameful to me is the fact that I still love Dawson’s Creek, because there is absolutely no irony in my obsession with that show (just an eternal love for Joshua Jackson).

  16. Whallie · February 6, 2010

    Seriously, BEST LINE EVER! “He’s showing the car around to everyone and metaphorically swininging his dick around.” LMFAO!! Who needs to read the book when you cover it so much better and clearer for us. If it wasn’t for you, all of us would still read these books and I dunno…actually like them for what they are. Cheers!

  17. Whallie · February 6, 2010

    Also, it’s the 80′s. Why would supplies to make shitty earrings cost $900. bucks when they’re made out of feathers and big pieces of metal?

    • Cally · February 6, 2010

      About the $900 earring supplies- Jess was retarded and bought everything in bulk. Because everyone EVERYWHERE is gonna want your little Claudia Kishi knockoffs. Dumbass. That said, I think it said it still would’ve been a couple hundred dollars for a more sensible supply. Yep. Sure. Pull the other one, Fran.

      • Whallie · February 6, 2010

        Totally. LOL I was watching the Millionaire Matchmaker (a show I’ve only watched once before), and one of the girls on the show said that she makes earrings and had turned it into a business. LOL I immediately thought of Jess in this book and thought to myself, “I wonder if they’re all made out of feathers and metal.”

      • Miss Moppet · February 6, 2010

        I made jewellery as part of a Young Enterprise scheme when I was in high school. Despite carting our produce round to Christmas Fairs and the like and forcing it on all our female relatives, I do not think we turned a profit. Roll on 15 years and my younger stepsister, who went to the same school, is doing the same thing. We went to some of the big Cash and Carry places to get supplies for her team and it’s amazing how much lower the non-retail prices are! Jess must have filled a whole room with feathers and stuff for $900!

  18. Roger Patman · February 6, 2010

    Ronnie looks like Archie from the ‘Archie’ comic books. Jess looks like Lucy from ‘Dallas.’
    And yeah, this book blows (as opposed to the other literary gems from Francine and Co.).

    • Whallie · February 6, 2010

      The only difference is that Ronnie doesn’t have those stupid over-sized black freckles on his face like Archie does. But Still as much as a dillwad as Archie is though.

      • ihatewheat · February 6, 2010

        Dillwad. I like that.

  19. opangster · February 6, 2010

    *snore* i am surprised that ronnie even got his own book! i thought he was a big L after that whole Enid thing. but then again, Enid was always a big sheep to me. I swear, I actually likeed her character better in SVU when she started to develop a spine and turned into a semi-slut. i wonder how the ghost writers decided on what and who to write about it. did they have all the lame svh’er names written on a piece of paper that they picked out of a hat?

    anyway – as always, big props to ihatewheat. never fails to elicit a laugh from me.

  20. Svugirl90 · February 6, 2010

    Lol I always wondered how many abandoned warehouses one town had!

  21. maybeimamazed02 · February 6, 2010

    This whole book sounds like a really horrible Lifetime movie directed at teens. Only if it were done today, there would be sexting and rainbow parties along with the gambling.

  22. Neek1981 · February 6, 2010

    MT, if you like unbelievable, over-the-top bullshit, then you will love OTH!

    • maplesstraveler · February 6, 2010

      Yeah, I’ve watched it every year since Season 1 :) and it just keeps getting dumber and dumber! That stuff with the dog and the heart was crazy! So funny to think when I first started watching it it seemed like a nice little show about a regular old small town … that no one ever wants to leave … just like Sweet Valley … :)

  23. Amber · February 6, 2010

    That whole high school sports gambling racket is legit but everyone knows the real money is in middle school sports.

    • Roger Patman · February 6, 2010

      Diet Coke just came spewing out of my mouth! Love IT!!

  24. the "s" word · February 6, 2010

    “Liz follows them to an abandoned warehouse (Sweet Valley seems to have several set aside for gang fights and torture).” That made me scream with mirth.

  25. 1979semifinalist · February 6, 2010

    Wow. ihatewheat…did you see this? From Publisher’s Weekly today:

    Francine Pascal’s SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL, following her iconic identical blonde twins and full cast of characters into adulthood, now in their late twenties and early thirties, “where the real world intrudes,” to Dan Weiss at St. Martin’s (who created the original series with Pascal when he was a book packager), with Hilary Rubin Teeman editing, for publication in early 2011.

  26. Артур · February 6, 2010

    Хм… Какой кошмар!

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