The Mexican Festival comes to Sweet Valley.

Yay, because one West Side Story rip-off is not enough.

Here’s what you need to know about Manuel:

  • He’s Mexican, and usually hangs out with the other Mexican students in school. What there’s other Mexican students? Oh yea, there is. One other person.
  • He’s totally in love with Sandra, even though she seems to have zero personality.
  • He and his family are totally stoked for the upcoming Sweet Valley Mexican festival. Yes, you heard me right.
  • He’s pissed that Sandra won’t tell her parents about him and feels totally disrespected.
  • He actually seems like a decent guy.

Here’s what you need to know about Sandra:

  • She has no personality and is supposedly a cheerleader and in Phi Beta Pi.
  • Her parents are country-club membership carrying, old-fashioned racists. In fact, her father wrote a letter to the Sweet Valley News”complaining how minorities and immigrants are ruining the community”. I was thinking about trying to recreate that letter, but maybe that would be going too far?They are also the kind of racists that cover it up with “we just want what’s best for you Sandra, and you will have a hard life if you associate with ‘that sort of crowd'”.
  • She hides her relationship with Manuel from her parents and makes everyone cover for her. Manuel feels disrespected but she ignores that. Good job Sandy.
  • She appears to be 37 years old.

How does Liz get involved?

Well, it wouldn’t be an SVH book if Liz didn’t get to stick her nose in people’s business and tell adults how to raise their children.

Suddenly, she is Sandy’s best friend. Considering Sandra is a cheerleader, why wouldn’t she go to Jessica? Anyway, Liz is about to print something in Eyes and Ears about Sandy and Manny and Sandra asks her not to print it. Liz gets all huffy and spouts off about journalistuic integrity and takes this opportunity to coach Sandra on the right thing to do. And then wonders to herself that she’s soooo lucky that she has such a tolerant and accepting family. I’ll let you do the vomit noise.

Then, to further assert her whiteness, Sandra asks Manuel out on her sailboat, but she needs to tell her parents that she’s taking a friend. So that friend gets to be Liz. Miracle of all miracles. the engine catches on fire and Manuel saves both Liz and and Sandra, but Sandra tells him to scram when the police come and to let Liz take the credit for saving them. Sandra’s a real peach.

Lix secretly loves being the hero, but still urges Sandra to tell her parents, especially after bystanders report seeing a MEXICAN BOY tampering with the motor. So now the police suspect Manuel! And when they bring him in for questioning, Sandra pretends that she doesn’t know him. Why in the fuck does he not dump Sandra?

Finally, her parents found out that Manuel was the one who saved her, they totally absolve their racism, decide to go to the Mexican Festival with Manuel and his family, and invite him to the dance at the country club. Yea, because that’s all he ever wanted, so be accepted into the snooty white crowd. Of course every person of color in Sweet Valley’s ultimate dream is to be treated just like the white people! Happy Ending!

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33 thoughts on “The Mexican Festival comes to Sweet Valley.

  1. Rio says:

    The cover artist gave Manuel the “Christie Doll treatment”*: otherwise Caucasian features with a slightly darker shade of skin.

    * reference to Barbie’s token black friend, Christie

  2. Goldie says:

    Wow. What a bitch that Sandra is. You’d almost think she was taking notes from Jess. Gotta love that casual racism and reinforcement of class.

  3. BartTempleton says:

    Whoa. Now I have to go out and get this one. How is it that I missed it?

    I just wanna know one thing: Is there evidence presented of how “tolerant [hate that word] and accepting” Ned and Alice are? I get all shivery when I think of the scenarios the ghostie would treat us to: Ned and Alice serving lemonade and cookies to the twins’ one non-Euro friend; Ned and Alice preaching; Ned and Alice doing a toreador dance/shouting Ole` at the Mexican Festival.

    And don’t think for a minute Jess wouldn’t be racist, because she totally would be. We’re talking about a girl who won’t be seen at the same lunch table with overweight people and people in last season’s trends, much less people with–horrors! oh no!–non-silky hair or naturally brown skin.

    At least she’d be REAL and up-front about it though, whereas Lizzie…well, no need to remind you.

  4. Vanessa Saxton says:

    She sure does look like Julia Duffy! I love this cover art-so 1980’s family portrait or prom portrait. And yes, Sandy is such a tool. I hated this book. It made me hate Sandy even more than the book when she made it hard for Jean to get into PBA.
    The only remaining question I have is: where are her boobs?

  5. Krysten says:

    Is it wrong I picture her parents at the fair and saying things like, “You people,” thinking they’re paying a compliment and his parents just letting it go for the greater good.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Re: whether the twins are racist, well, in Senior Year, their shared new bff is Tia Ramirez. And then in college, Elizabeth’s bff is a black girl named Nina.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also, in SVU, Liz’s friend Nina and Nina’s boyfriend are attacked and beaten because they’re black. Liz dates a guy who is president of a secret society and the mastermind behind the attack. Good old Sweet Valley must be a wonderful place to live.

  7. Donna says:

    I never read this one…if I didn’t know better, I would swear that you made up just how awful this one is…but I have read far too many other SVH books to know this is not the case, good grief, this one sounded appalling! Sorry you had to read it :<(

  8. Jake says:

    Just wanted to say that this blog is fantastic and I never read any of these books, but accidentally stumbled on to the sight and love it.

  9. Magpie says:

    “Finally, her parents found out that Manuel was the one who saved her, they totally absolve their racism”

    To quote liberally from The Simpsons, he won their respect and all he had to do is save their daughter’s life. Now, if every Mexican in Sweet Valley could do the same, the Bacons would be set.

    In other words: Sweet Valley sets the cause of racial equality and integration back by about 20 years single-handedly!

    Anonymous, you’re right, and also Liz is friends with Maria Slater (who is black) in SVT, the later SVH books, and Senior Year. There’s never any mention that the Wakefields have a problem with this.

  10. Onnie says:

    *snore* I remember this book bored me to tears. Your write-up was way better. I always hated Sandy and her bff, Jean. They were annoying. Any s/l with them I tried to avoid as much as possible.

  11. I like toast says:

    Wow. This book sounds terrible. I love how reading these when I was younger, I missed all the prejudice, racism, hatred of the overweight/love of very skinny, self-esteem breaking elements that the books have. Guess I wasn’t a very observant reader. Why the heck didn’t he just dump her? I mean, on top of letting Elizabeth take the credit for saving them, she leaves him hanging in the police station???? Geez.

  12. kimmay says:

    Well, it wouldn’t be an SVH book if Liz didn’t get to stick her nose in people’s business and tell adults how to raise their children

    LMAO that is sooooooo true…

  13. Malika says:

    They allowed this book to be published! ( Eyes roll to heaven) Yet forgive me for being more outraged at Manuel’s Imposed- By- The -Ghostwriters lack of character. And does his family feature in this? Does his moether shake some maracas and yell caramba at the fact that her son is being acknowledged by the Arian race while his father sleeps peacefully underneath his oversize sombrero?

    Off topic: When are we going to get a much needed dose of Caitlin? It’s time for the next part of whiney dramatics from the fictional character that has the highest level of ‘life’s been too kind’ syndrome.

  14. Enid Rollins says:

    Wow. Just wow. And this taught…what? Allow your racist GF to crawl on your, because she’s a Sweet Valley cheerleader and they are the Master Race?

  15. Sarah C. says:

    The soundtrack from Dirty Dancing is echoing in my head right now. Johnny’s sad desire for validation from Baby’s upper-class father was so sad.

    And here we have an even worse scenario. Poor Manuel looks so defeated lurking behind proud Sandy (who does look amazingly like Julia Duffy). I can’t wait to read this one.

  16. Vanessa Saxton says:

    I just realized that this was posted on November 1- in the Mexican culture it’s Day of the Dead (Dias dos Muertos I think) and they have a “Mexican Festival” that day. I Hate Wheat, was this planned? In the words of Bruce Patman from the TV show “Bravo, Bravo!”

  17. Jen S says:

    Malika, nope, but it’s almost as bad– The Sandster’s at Manuel’s house and his mom asks her to stay for dinner, saying “you can tell them you’re about to experience how real Mexicans cook!” GAHHHHGHHHH. Because naturally all people of Hispanic heritage eat nothing but enchiladas and tacos AT ALL TIMES. They never have salad, or potatoes, or Lucky Charms. And Sandy, living in Southern California, would somehow have never in her entire Whitey McWhite existence ever have come across one of these exotic foodstuffs.

  18. Cara Walker says:

    This book bored me to death – mostly because Sandy and Manuel look almost middle-aged on the cover – but also because Sandy is, well, BORING.

  19. jordanbaker says:

    I was thinking about this post at lunch, and how any time an SVH book mentions a Hispanic character, they have to mention how for the most part, “all of the Mexican kids” hang out together.

    And I thought: there should be a parallel series that talks about Sweet Valley from the perspective of “all of the Mexican kids.” I have a feeling they would not be as charitable in their views of las Wakefields as the rest of the school.

  20. Amber Tan says:

    “upcoming Sweet Valley Mexican festival. Yes, you heard me right.”

    Whoa! [head explodes from trying to suspend my disbelief]

    “They never have salad, or potatoes, or Lucky Charms. ”

    Hee! I didn’t read this one — is the menu listed by chance, Jen S.? ‘Cause for some reason that just triggered the dinner scene with the French exchange student in “Better Off Dead” for me.

    “In honor of Monique’s visit, we’re having Fransch fries with Fransch dressing. And to drink — Peru!” 😉

  21. RollingStone says:

    Actually, there are even more “West Side Story” rip-offs: you’re forgetting about the whole Gang War miniseries. But if that’s because you WANT to forget it, I understand:)

  22. Anonymous says:

    This is off slightly topic but still deals with race. I have a question about Maria Slater and Ken Matthew’s romance. Was anything ever said about her being black? Was it an issue that she was dating the blonde and blue Ken?

  23. CNJ says:

    Sandy pissed me off here (so did her bigoted parents, esp. her overbearing, self-centere, snobbish, conniving mother); it also played up to the stereotypes some people have of Hispanics in general. It does get tiresome when ppl. (I have several Hispanic friends) assume that all Hispanics are dark-skinned, black-haired and dark-eyed.

    And that West Side rip off is an all too-commonly overused plotline, esp. the girl being the Anglo (usually Protestant) one (usually of wealthy parents) and the guy being the minority one from the poor family and the girl’s parent’s disapproving of the guy.

    Then the hackneyed clincher at the end that’s all too-commonly used…the guy heroically rescues the girl and the girl’s parents miraculously overcome their prejudice/disapproval and welcome the now-heroic boyfriend into their lives.

    That end of Manual saving an unconscious, helpless Sandy from the burning boat was so predictable that I just had to laugh.

    At least switch roles around a bit…even the much-better BSC series did this…in the BSC’s case, it was the boy, Logan Bruno who was from the wealthy, bigoted home and his parents, esp. his arrogant, narrow-minded dad disapproved of his Jewish girlfriend, Mary Anne…and at the end of one book (Mary Anne to the Rescue, #109), Mary Anne saves Logan’s bacon from being shipped off the a militant, ultra-conservative boarding school. I love the BSC because there, the girls got the chance to be heroes without some boy rescuing them.

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