Project Youth: solving your teen’s problems, one condescending phone call at a time

I don’t think I even need to describe the plot of this. If you’ve seen The Truth About Cats and Dogs, you are all set. Denise and Ginny are best friends who obviously don’t matter because this is the first time they are mentioned. Ginny is shy and mousy, Denise is popular and pretty. Denise is tired of Ginny being such a sack of pathetic shit, so she convinces her to volunteer at Project Youth, where local teens call in the get help with their problems, like which silk jumpsuit to where to Lila’s party. On her shift, Ginny talks to Mike, who is having problems with his new stepdad, and wants to run away from home. Ginny talks him out of it, and Mike is in love with her. He asks to meet in person, and since Ginny is a brunette and “mousy”, knows he will vomit when he sees her. So she convinces Denise to meet him instead and pretend to be her. Mike is really hot and Denise gets all hot for him, so she continues to date him. Mike is a moron and can’t tell that it’s not really Ginny. Denise brings Ginny along for a date, and she and Mike hit it off. Okay, some mixups and tears happen, and Mike figures out what happened and he and Ginny fall in love and suddenly all of Ginny’s self-esteem issues are solved, natch. Also, Mike is not really all that (see cover pic). Also, did you know that Denise Hadley sits with Lila and Jess and the crowd at lunch? Yea, me neither until now.

Meanwhile, Amy Sutton shares with the twins that a girl called the PY hotline complaining that she was being sexually harassed by a teacher. (This is at a school other than SVH. Let’s say it’s Big Mesa. They’ve got all sorts of fucked up stuff going on there, like making the kids go to eight periods a day). Liz gets all in a huff and decides she MUST write an expose on this. Yea, of course Mr. Collins is a bit uncomfortable, but probably thinks it’s some sort of hint from Liz, and goes on and supports it. Liz goes off and makes love to her typewriter, meanwhile Chrome Dome gets word of it and decides to forbif it because…well, he’s the fucking principal and it’s a dinky student newspaper. Liz gets all huffy and claimes that the way the admin is shutting her down is akin to how some girls are shit down by being sexually harassed. Surprisingly, Bruce Patman and Rick Andover were not contacted for a counter-point editorial. Liz decides to print it anyway, on separate paper that she hads out. Ah, the world before blogs. Obvs, the article is so amazing and she is so strong in her convinctions that Chrome Dome backs down and apologizes to Liz profusely.

Let’s get back to Project Youth. What the fuck? Are they really that busy that they have like 5 volunteers at a time manning the phones? Also, they let Amy Sutton answer the phone. That should tell you something. It is also revealed that the Morrows gave a generous donation to Project Youth in memory of Regina. Because “If a teen line had existed sooner, Regina would have had someplace to turn when she was in trouble.” Uhhuh. Also, didn’t the Morrows contribute to the new darkroom? What’s next? A new hamburger at the DB named for Regina?

Some quotes too good to ignore:

Lila being awesome:

“It’s not nothing” Penny cut in. “I’m taking this very seriously.” “So am I,” Elizabeth said. “OK, now we’re all curious,” Enid said with a smile. “What are you two getting so worked up about?” Lila yawned. “Probably something like whether or not to change the typeface in the newspaper.”

Make sure you haven’t eaten anything for the last four hours before reading this.

Todd leaned against the wall and folded his arms. “Sometimes I get the sneaking suspicion that you care more bout your word processor than you do about me.” “Don’t  say that!” Elizabeth smiled. “My word processor doesn’t kisss the way you do.” “Yeah, but it’s better at spelling,” Todd murmured,pulling her close for a kiss.

42 thoughts on “Project Youth: solving your teen’s problems, one condescending phone call at a time

  1. Magpie says:

    What could be hotter than a word processor joke just before making out?! Todd’s got it all figured out.

    I’m having trouble deciding which of the two girls on that cover is meant to be the mousy, plain one? Mike looks like he’s trying to conceal his terror, but I don’t blame him, as they both seem kinda creepy in this artwork.

    The thing I never understood about Project Youth is that surely at a school as nosy and interfering as SVH, the hotline workers would know *exactly* whose “anonymous” problems they were hearing? I don’t know about anybody else’s schools, but there’s no way in hell I’d have wanted a bitch of Amy Sutton’s magnitude knowing all my personal crap. I can picture her giggling and making notes for future gossip on the other end of the line.

  2. Rio says:

    This turned into an episode of the SVH TV show, only Ginny was replaced by Enid and Denise was replaced by Jess.

    “What’s next? A new hamburger at the DB named for Regina?”

    Maybe if Regina had eaten a burger before going to the party, she would have been full enough not to get drunk so quickly and then take TEH DRUGZ. Or something.

    “My word processor doesn’t kiss the way you do.”

    Is that how she’s referring to Collins now?

    • Bart_Templeton says:

      When I think of Todd, I sometimes literally picture a large cob of corn. He’s such a flipping 50 year old bachelor-by-circumstance-not-choice-Uncle.

  3. Renee says:

    If SVH, 90210, Saved By The Bell, and countless other outlets have taught me anything, it’s that Teen Lines can only breed misunderstanding, confusion, and crisis. I really think they need to just shut ’em all down.

    Freakin’ Heck, Todd. Your insecurities about spelling are grossing us all out.

  4. Neek1981 says:

    Never read this one. It sounds bad. What’s the purpose of letting a friend meet the guy for you? Is it Ginny’s attempt to let the guy have the chance to fall for Denise or does she just want Denise to check him out so that Ginny can find out what she’s missing out on?
    Also, hate how Liz is always described as being such a great writer, but we’re never given concrete examples. She’s always praised, but we don’t get writing samples or anything to support the idea that she’s so awesome. Reminds me of what made me stop watching One Tree Hill. Anyone ever watch that show? It’s about five friends who all have these extraordinary talents. One is a world famous fashion designer who started making clothes in high school, another has published 2 novels by age 23, another is a recording artist, another owns her own record label by age 22, and last but not least is a 6 foot 2 white guy who makes it as a pro basketball player. I’m not saying that no one can do these things, because obviously people do, but I just don’t believe these characters are capable of what the writers claim they can do. For example, we never see Lucas writing at all, then after about 2 episodes of sitting at a typewriter, he’s produced a novel by the end of senior year in high school. It’s insulting to people who actually write and have an idea of how much work goes into it.

    • Magpie says:

      In Liz’s Secret Diaries, we’re given samples of her “poetry”. And it’s craptastic.

      Incidentally, I love One Tree Hill… but only because I pretend to myself that the writers don’t expect me to take it seriously 🙂

  5. Roger Patman says:

    Denise Hadley? If memory serves, Super-Hore Jess attempted to steal Denise’s boy-toy, Jay MacGuire away in #29, Bitter Rivals.
    And, by the way – you all will not believe all the other useless knowledge that I have in my (gasp) redhead….If I were in a SVH book, I guess that I would probably be Caroline Pearce’s only friend.

  6. Mrs Dallas says:

    Wait. WAIT WAIT WAIT. Isn’t something like the Project Youth conversations supposed to be CONFIDENTIAL? If I was that student getting all skanked at by the Mesa version of Collins and all of sudden there was a newspaper article making the rounds, I’d be hunting Amy AND Liz down and ripping her arm off before she could pat me on the shoulder.

    AND ANOTHER THING. Wtf, wouldn’t there be some clause somewhere that the Project Youth volunteers weren’t allowed to meet up/accept gifts from/have a RELATIONSHIP with the people who call? This is all making my brain hurt.

    Todd, you make me taste vomit in my mouth.

  7. Vanessa Saxton says:

    Love this craptastic one about D-List characters we’ve never heard of before and will never hear from again. I love the concept of Project Youth, too. I am getting my Masters in Counseling right now and the first thing we learned was everything is kept confidential- so why is Amy blabbing it like it’s gossip? Oh wait, it is gossip for her.
    Keep them coming, IHW!

  8. Roger Patman says:

    Oh, and another thought – do you think Ginny and Mike masturbated to one another on the phone? Wishful thinking?

  9. RollingStone says:

    Is this the same Ginny from SVT who moved to Sweet Valley and had trouble fitting in because she was the worst hillbilly stereotype ever?
    The red-haired girl on the cover kind of looks like an older version of her, especially considering the awful-looking teeth.

    • Bart_Templeton says:

      I recall that it WAS that Ginny because I always used to read these early 90s SVHs at the time they came out and think, “WTH? They are totally inserting characters drawn from the (more recent) SVT world.”

      Meanwhile, the 30 year old me thinks…”And the ghostwriters are concerned about SVT-to-SVH continuity but not, oh, INTERNAL SVH CONTINUITY?”

      Also, I find it very, really, truly unlikely that a seventh or eighth generation Appalachian family would have the werewithal, means, and DESIRE to upend themselves from their Smoky Mountain birthright and move to Sweet Valley, CA. It is such a ridiculous premise that I scoff; I scoff aloud several times, alone in my room.

      • Rio says:

        Bart: SVT, #22, “Out of Place,” in which Ellen Riteman torments her science teacher’s visiting Tennessee-born niece – Ginny Lu Culpepper, who says things like “Well, heck, I know that!” – then later gets her comeuppance when Ginny Lu delivers Ellen’s horse’s premature foal.

      • EmilyKate says:

        OMG. I still remember the last line in Ginny Lu Culpepper’s Sweet Valley Middles School Talent Show banjo-playing song. Sing along with me now, “as the coonhounds bayed and bayed!”

      • Bart_Templeton says:

        Woo-hoo, that be the very SVT, Rio and EmilyKate.

        Alright, so I guess it’s not the same Ginny, after all. I knew any type of continuity was too much to expect.

  10. Katie says:

    I’ve never read this book…and already, it sounds bad!

    Todd is such a tool. Sure, it’s better than some disgusting and horny jerks…but god, do they really have to portray him to be the ‘perfect’ boyfriend and so god damn cheesy?

    I agree Neek 1981, I hate it when Liz gets praised for her ‘talent’. She’s nice, smart, pretty and talented…we get it, Liz is perfect! How many people can possess all these qualities?

  11. Jen S. says:

    Ahhh, girls’ low self-esteem; good for not one, but TWO craptastical plots in one book!

    I agree that Mike looks terrified in the cover art, mainly because the two girls look like Stygian witches who’ve lured a plump, tasty morsel to their boiling kettle and are just deciding who gets the kidneys and who gets the liver. But Mike could only have a real career as a Giotto model anyway, and he’s dead, so it’s just as well he falls in the flower of his youth.

    OH NOES! SEXUAL HARRASSMENT! IT IS TEH BAD!!! In other news, Mr. Collins has officially moved his office into a huge cast iron pot, while issuing regular “The Kettles That Are Black” bulletins from therin.

  12. Holz says:

    Does anyone else remember that Denise moved away, so they had to do cheerleading auditions, again! I swear that was before this…way to ghost writers :p And yeah Todd SUCKS…cock most likely :p

      • anastasia says:

        That was Helen Bradley in book 28/29 – leaving the door open for Amy to become a cheerleader. But Helen came back during the Pom Pom Wars…

        I don’t recall Denise moving away.

  13. eejm says:

    Huh – I never knew Wil Wheaton posed for any SVH covers.

    Is it my imagination, or did the boys on the covers get more and more prepubescent looking as time went on?

  14. Sadako says:

    I hate how people with no real problems like Brenda Walsh or Zach Morris would man the teen talk hotlines. I really want advice from perfect size sixes, ugh!!

  15. Robyn J. says:

    oh yes i remember denise from another book- jess was trying to go after her boyfriend. Don’t ginny and denise sort of remind you of sandra bacon and jean west? i never actually read this one though. your updates rule. thanks!

  16. 88Keys says:

    – Liz gets all huffy and claimes that the way the admin is shutting her down is akin
    – to how some girls are shit down by being sexually harassed.


  17. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Which girl is supposed to be which? Also I agree with Neek1981 – what on earth was Ginny hoping to achieve with this? Ah, the secondary characters books. I suppose there were only so many times that Jess and Liz could get kidnapped or proposed to by princes so they had to pad out the series somehow.

  18. 1979semifinalist says:

    Hilarious…as always. Except, I totally secretly (not so secretly now I guess) like The Truth About Cats and Dogs. Damn.

    Also, which one on this cover is supposed to be the “ugly” “shy” one? They look about equal to me. I’m guessing the one on the left since her hair is more brown…but really…I’m undecided. And the dude? Looks like a total dick.

  19. Karla Keffer says:

    Maybe Liz does care about her word processor more than she cares about Todd. Maybe she uses it as a vibrator. Oh my, I need help. 😉

  20. Lara says:

    I’m reading this now, and it’s really awful. I find it annoying that Mr. Collins doesn’t want Liz to write the article, but then she does anyway (freedom of speech!) and it is naturally so awesome that he changes his mind.
    page 100: Mr Collins says “if I had to grade it, I’d have to make up a new grade, one above A plus.” UGHHHH!

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