With some consutation of my peers, this was considered one of the more “racier” ones, and the one we all felt we had to hide from our parents. I found it to be the most damaging to young girls (i.e. me) about their perceptions of self (i.e. my perception of my self).
So it starts out at – SHOCKER! – a school dance, this time a Sweet Valley High dance contest (wtf?) and Jessica was voted skankiest of the dance or something, and she finally gets Bruce Patman to notice her. Bruce, if you didn’t know, duh, is allegedly the hottest guy at school, he’s also the richest. And the cockiest. And the preppiest. And the one most likely to date rape. I envision him somehow as James Marsden, but not X-Men Marsden, more like Sugar and Spice Marsden, with dockers and lots of Izod. However, the cover makes him look about 46.
Nice chokehold on Jessica. Well, this book does make Jessica the posterchild for dating violence. So, after the dance, they all go to a party and Bruce and Jessica are in the pool and he UNTIES HER BIKINI TOP! I just remember that being sooooo scandalous. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t even sure what he was untying for, but I knew Bruce was naaasssty. Also, that was about the most sexually explicit and SVH will go in about 80 books. So don’t expect anything else that’s above PG. Then they go to make out in the woods. Elizabeth is worried about Jessica so she goes to spy on them and confronts them basically while they are dry humping, but Jessica insists she knows what she is doing. Oh, and Francine (i.e. ghostwriters) deliver the most fabulous SVH writing ever: “He responded by turning his face to hers and kissing her hard, his arms crushing her against him, his mouth demanding what his body wanted to take.” Imagine my eight-year-old self trying to wrap my mind around that.
I have to hand it to Liz, she kind of handles this one alright. She wants Jessica to see what a douche Bruce is, but as soon as she confronts Jessica, she knows she will push her right into Bruce’s arms. So she just lets it ride and hope Jessica sees it. Which she doesn’t. She sits around waiting for Bruce to call, and will drop everything to do what he wants. They play tennis together and when she doesn’t let Bruce win, he throws a tantrum. It was awesome.
Yea, so they also make out all over the lawn in school everyday and Jessica skips classes and steals from tests so Bruce can cheat. Blah blah blah. You’s think that based on Bruce’s aversion to women wearing tops he would try to go further with Jessica, like cop an under-the-bra feel, but that doesn’t seem to happen, which I call bullshit on. So, finally Bruce has a birthday party of whatnot, and takes Jessica there and he tells her she needs to sit and wait for him to talk to her and for her not to talk to anyone else. Great. So then Bruce pretends the party is over and Elizabeth schemes to pretend to drive Jessica home but then pretends to forget something back at the party, and they go back so Jessica can see that Bruce is still at the party, but this time he brought another girl back with him. Jessica finally sees the light and throws pizza and soda on him. If my book had a tiny audio implant, Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” would play at that part.
What pisses me off is that it is that Bruce was not monogomous to her that breaks Jessica, and not the emotional manipulation. Cheating sucks, but the abuse was fine when Jessica was the only one he was manipulating. Sigh.
Oh, there is a subplot about how the Droids, a student band (they play at all the dances- the ones that happen three times a week) get noticed by a manager who promises to get them a record deal but the pressure almost breaks them up. I think this was added to send a message about being yourself is the best way to be. Sorry Francine, don’t even try to bring morals into this. Just stick to dry humping in the woods.
Oh, and here is the other subplot. There is a girl that follows Jessica around because she wants to pledge their sorority (don’t even get me started with that) but she is nerdy an socially awkward. And surprise, surprise- she’s overweight. Because that means she’s a total nerd and loser. Of course, I forgot Francine, thanks for teaching me about body image. Jessica promises to get her into the sorority if she does shit for her- like keep Winston occupied, and steal test answers. Of course, Robin agrees and Jessica gives her makeup and shopping lessons or some shit like that. But, and I quote, Jessica feels that “this girl can’t seriously believe that anyone would want a butterball like her for a sorority sister”. HATE!
Yea, so I am not sure if we learned any lessons, but we’ve now established Bruce as a a complete misogynist, capitalist. materialistic douche.
Can we talk about the gossip column that Elizabeth writes for the school paper:
The halls are buzzing with the news of a hot and heavy thing going on between Lila F. and a certain blond football player. Chalk up one more for Lila…Three cheers for Lois W. ! John P. showed up at her party. Guess sometimes dreams DO come true…Bill C.’s found another surf bunny…Enid R.’s packing her suitcases for another weekend visit with G.W.- fourth in a row, but who’s counting? …Cara W. has her eye on a basketball-playing senior. Maybe she can get him interested in something besides dribbling!…Danger: Toni J.s now on the roads. Pedestrians beware…
Firstly, she’s calling Lila a slut. And does anyone care if she went to visit her boyfiend? for the millionth time I ask, HOW IN THE HELL DOES THE SCHOOL ALLOW THIS?
My grade: B+