The one where we learn a lesson, or #50, Out of Reach


To: ghostwriters
From Francine

Well, despite our best selling storylines that have made me rich by not even picking up a pen, I got some word that we have to add some “diversity” to our books. I am not even sure what that means. Apparently the one about the poor boy who works as a janitor didn’t count. I thought maybe something about Lila’s maid would be fun, maybe a storyline where Lila loses some designer shoes and blames the maid, but that didn’t sit well with my publisher. So I am throwing it out to you all. We should have a dance in there. And maybe a desciption of Lila’s house. Make sure there are no fat people involved. Have it on my desk by Tuesday. If you need me, I’ll be out shopping for taffeta skirts and culottes.


I was really wanting to hate this one. I mean, it was no literary feat, but it actually had- gasp!- a positive, healthy message. When I read the back cover I was fearing (hoping) that they would use every stereotype under the sun. Well, they did and they didn’t. Jade is Chinese-American and her parents keep her sheltered. Her father is strict and only wants her to interact with other Chinese-Americans. This has made Jade really reserved and shy. Oh, she’s also a good dancer. So, SVH is putting on a dance showcase (uh, why) and Jade auditions and gets the lead, but doesn’t tell her Dad. She also kinda gets cozy with the set director, David Prentiss, who is poor and has a single Mom and has to –GASP!- work a part-time job after school. What a FREAK! Because of the uptight classist wasps at SVH, he keeps it a secret. Jade keeps rejecting his invitations for a date, because her dad doesn’t allow her to date non-Chinese men, but Davey thinks it’s because he’s poor. Star-crossed lovers!

So Jade is all happy that she is involved with the show and it brings her out of her shell and introduces her to a lot of new people. She is rully excited to get to hang out with Liz Wakefield, cuz she’s soooo pretty and popular, Liz is the stage manager, obvs, and acts like typical Liz and a total meddling mother and takes jade under her wing and acts like she’s ten years older. Ugh. Jade doesn’t want people to know about her strict family, especially that her grandparents run a laundry business- because it is so stereotypical, I guess. So, Amy Sutton, mega-sociopath, is toooootally jealous that Jade got the lead over her, finds out about it, and sreads the rumor everywhere. Okay, so they are petty close-minded high school students, but why is this the talk of the school? I know kids can be cruel and incredibly racist, but it disturbs me that SVH would totally alienate someone for this. . But maybe I have too much faith in Chrome Dome’s leadership skills as a principal. You also gotta remember that they gave a crap about Enid and her letters to George and that was the talk of the school.

So, finally Jade’s dad comes around and comes to see her in the show and is really proud. Also, a talent scout for a dance fellowship is in the audience, and offers the opportunity to Jade, but is all, we don’t want someone too…ethnic, you need to change your name. Jade is all, fuck you, take me for who I am or don’t take me at all. That was actually the one moment in SVH where I actually was proud of one of the characters. Jade learns that she should be proud of who she is and her heritage and is all “yea so my grandparents run a laundry business, wanna make something of it?” Like I said, it’s kind of a positive message, I have no criticisms. But wait…I’ll try.

So Jcredibly strict parents do a complete turnaround and let her dance her heart out anywhere and give David their blessings to boink their daughter. That was a little much.

Ick. I can’t stand Elizabeth’s condescending look. Jade is pretty. Nice mock turtleneck, Liz.

Not much Jessica in the book, there’s a stupid side story about how Ned Wakefield has a mid-life crisis over his twentieth high school reunion and tries to act all young. Alice and the twins hatch a plan to help him realize he should be happy about his age. So Jess takes him out with her to the Beach Disco and loud concerts and stuff. So then…oh wait, it’s just so dumb I can’t even get into it.

Other thoughts:

So, David’s set design is a picture of jade dancing, which will go behind Jade when she dances…yea, it’s really stupid.
Fucking Liz. She’s so perfect and give Jade a pep-talk about accepting her identity. Like Liz has ever been oppressed.

They actually give Jade’s Dad a history. He got his doctorate in physics and then worked as a consultant. I’m surprised they didn’t give him a fake university.

On the whole thing about Jade’s dad wanting her to meet more Chinese-Americans- they’re in Southern California for fuck’s sake, not Nebraska. I’m preeeeety sure there may be just a couple Asian-Americans living in the area. Just get her into another school district. Get her out of Sweet Valley while you still can!

Have you ever noticed the obsession with eye color? How many times do we have to hear about their sea-green eyes. Or they are always like “Todd’s brown eyes softened” or “Enid’s green eyes widened.” Amy has grey eyes. To be honest, I am not sure if I have ever met anyone with grey eyes. Then again, I am super-short, so I am usually looking at someone’s chest when I talk to them.

Aaaaaaannnd I am pretty sure jade will never end up in any other books.

My grade: B+

Next time: Bitter Rivals, where Amy moves back to Sweet Valley and we can delve into her complicated psyche.

21 thoughts on “The one where we learn a lesson, or #50, Out of Reach

  1. kiwimusume says:

    Fucking Elizabeth fucking Ingalls. Shut up!

    Oh btw, Jade turns up in the Sweet Valley Senior High books, only now she’s really wild and rebellious. And she steals Jessica’s boyfriend!! (well, sort of.)

  2. Becca says:

    Not only does Jade show up in SVH Sr Year, she is now in the same grade as the twins, is a skank, and her parents have been divorced since she was younger. Because God forbid they make up another Asian character to keep the group of friends diverse in Senior Year. I think Jade was also in some of the miniseries books, the later SVH books, where Jessica makes her own cheerleading squad.

  3. Merrie says:

    Love, love, love the memo!

    Heard the other day that Tom Perrotta (author of ‘Little Children’ and ‘Election’) once ghostwrote a SVH book for the money, but his story was rejected because it was too sarcastic. Thank God that didn’t stop him from writing!

    It took 50 books to introduce an Asian character? Sad!

  4. coquelicot says:

    Not to be nitpicky…well, ok, to be nitpicky…

    I thought it was Ned’s 25th high-school reunion mentioned in the book. If it were only his 20th, that would make him about 38, meaning that he was 20 when Steven was born and 22 when the twins were. That’s quite a feat to finish undergrad and go through law school with a wife and 3 kids!

  5. Em says:

    Bitter Rivals, eee! Looking forward to that.

    On the grey eye front, about the only thing I ever liked about Amy, aside from her bitchy turn in Bitter Rivals, is that her eye color is grey, like mine. 😛

  6. Merrie says:

    To kiwimusume:

    A friend of mine took a writing class with him. They were talking about the jobs people will take to make money while they write, and he talked about his ghostwriting experience that wnet nowhere. I wish I could read the rejected book, too. On the other hand, how sad would it be not to be chosen a SVH ghostwriter?

  7. Beth says:

    Hee! I LOVE how you brought up the whole “no fat chicks” stereotype in the SVH (AND SVM) books! I have lived my whole life being a bookworm, starting with SVM………Fuck Francine! You apparently had to be skinny, blonde, or, in later years, slutty! I remember reading this one thinking “OK, so here is an ASIAN (gasp!) who overcomes! Yea for a minority (I am Hispanic/White and look white, but still dealt with a minority last name)!” I don’t remember when Jade comes back “bad”, but I am not surprised! Francine and ghostwriters giveth and taketh away! I used to LOVE Amy!! But I was heartbroken when she came back a bitter whore! My whole 13 yrs came crashing down…………

  8. Angela says:

    The part at the end of this book where that internship person tells Jade she will have to go by Jade Warren so she doesn’t sounds so ‘ethnic’ always made me giggle. Uhhhh, perhaps the old bat of a woman would notice when Jade Warren turned out to be an Asian teenager, in spite of her name?

  9. Onnie says:

    R – i am “embarrassed” to admit (ok not really) – i actually went out and bought some of the SVH Senior books waaaay back when they first started coming out – and yes, Jade does turn into a ho…very defiant, seems to me, bitter about her broken family…
    but on a different note – remember the trilogy SVH when Jessica needs to audition people for HER squad so she can one up Heather Malone? Jade comes back there, and she is still “normal”… I guess that big quake really fucked them all up over the summer before senior year, eh?

  10. StarryEyed says:

    “Have you ever noticed the obsession with eye color? How many times do we have to hear about their sea-green eyes. Or they are always like “Todd’s brown eyes softened” or “Enid’s green eyes widened.” Amy has grey eyes. To be honest, I am not sure if I have ever met anyone with grey eyes. Then again, I am super-short, so I am usually looking at someone’s chest when I talk to them.”

    Ha! This is so funny… I like when they describe Todd’s eyes as coffee-brown. And the twins’ eyes range from aquamarine to sea-green, sea- blue, etc etc.

    My blue eyes can appear grey if I am wearing certain colors of clothes.

  11. Rio says:

    Y’know, maybe . . .

    Creator of hit teen book series seeks qualified GHOSTWRITER to do all the work.


    -desperation for a quick buck to the extent that the applicant will sell their own soul
    -creative writing experience an asset but not required


    -fill in blanks on 130 pages of Sweet Valley Mad Libs (i.e. “[name]’s [eye color] eyes [past-tense verb],” “Only Elizabeth Wakefield knows what [name] is really going through,” etc.)
    -other duties as assigned by creator, who will be in the next office counting her money

    Francine Pascal is NOT an equal-opportunity employer. Meaning, no fat chicks.

    Send applications to:

    Francine Pascal
    20 Calico Drive
    Sweet Valley, CA 90210

  12. Anne says:

    Okay, one thing: isn’t Amy supposed to be a TERRIBLE dancer (but a great cheerleader due to her ability to twirl a baton in 6th grade). Didn’t she suck royally in SVT when she took ballet lessons? Why would she even think she would win the lead role?

  13. Sonnie says:

    It may be quite possible that Francine Pascal is actually related to Paris Hilton. I know she’s not, but it’s the same kind of crappy role models that we have for teenagers today. Blonde (even if it’s fake), blue eyes (even if they’re fake), skinny (she does look like a chicken), rich (your family SUCKS!), and a spoiled, bitchy brat! (enough said)

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