Well, it’s my once a year update! I keep getting notified that people are still coming here and I really do appreciate it. Although I’ve put the Sweet Valley High series to bed [like Bruce Patman does the ladies, am I right?] I’ve got some other projects in the works. If you live in the Bay Area, I write for a regularly performed sketch show you can see. For info on this and other upcoming stuff, and my important thoughts on both the highbrow and lowbrow, subscribe to my tinyletter emails.
Hello! If anyone is still checking this out, great! Some of the best times of my life were writing and posting here.
Even though I am done recapping Sweet Valley High, my recap days are not over. I’ve recapped Season 3 of Vanderpump Rules for Entertainment Weekly. The show is very Sweet Valley-like and I am sure some of you watch it. I won’t even say I hate-watch it. I genuinely enjoy watching these incredibly attractive but incredibly damaged people.
I’m also slowly getting through all the seasons of The Golden Girls.
See you in another couple of years.
The book includes the recaps of the first 100 Sweet Valley High books, which first appeared on this here blog, but the book also contains recaps of the second hundred-or-so books in the series which are not on here. I’ll keep this blog up for posterity (and there’s also some non-SVH recaps on here, see the categories on the left) but it’s officially come to its grand finale.
There’s not much more to say but thanks for hanging in there with me the last six years. I appreciate the support and even the fact that you have taken the time to read things I wrote amazes and flatters me.
After spending the last seven or so years revisiting Sweet Valley High, I’m excited to move on to other things, including
The Golden Girls Reviewed By [a Golden Girls recap blog]
You can always see what I am up to on my website at http://bit.ly/robin-hardwick
and following me on twitter @robinhardwick
or on Tumblr
or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep in touch and let me know how you like the book.
Run, don’t walk, to your local bookstore (if you have any) or to your computer to order a copy of The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding. Not only is Amy a friend, a fantastic writer, but is also a big fan and supporter of this here blog (in fact, that is how we met and I am NOT ASHAMED TO SAY IT). If you like good Young Adult fiction, and I am sure we all do, you’ll love it. There’s no vampires, no dystopian worlds, no superpowers, no Mary Sues. As Amy first described it to me, there’s lots of musical theater and cute boys. I was sold! Purchase it here, follow Amy on Facebook, twitter, and read her blog.
Another excerpt from my forthcoming book. I recap the “Lila The Arsonist” in the style of everyone’s favorite nihilistic writer and snarky tweeter, Bret Easton Ellis.
#135 LILA’S NEW FLAME / #136 TOO HOT TO HANDLE / #137 FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE
as written by Bret Easton Ellis, author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho
and I was like in my living area with the Ralph Lauren sheets and the Renoir painting and then this flame came at me and my last thought was oh wait this is a chanel suit and marnie shoes but i want to die but then Bo would be sad for breaking up with me and he would regret it. suddenly the flames came close and i thought, this is it, this is how you die and i felt okay and imagined my parents when they got back from their vacation to Bali or whatever colonized island they will rape of its tourism and what my funeral will be like and I hope no one serves canapes.
As the flames lick at my perfectly manicured nails I pass out and wake up in a hospital in a gown that I am sure is less threadcount than my dinner napkins and I see Jessica Wakefield wearing a jumpsuit from Lisette’s and her twin sister wearing head to toe LL Bean and Jessica tries to talk about shopping because my entire wardrobe and house burned up but I am so sick I want to die but I pretend to hear them anyway. While Jessica talks about crop tops and halters, all I can think about is my mother and father on a beach in expensive loungewear drinking mojitos and conversations that don’t involve me. “Li-dear, a French cut blazer is going to make a comeback.” “Lila, we’ve decided to go with the marble angel fountain instead of the stone minotaur fountain.” “Henry dear, what time did we make out massage appointment?” “Lila, did you know I make very expensive computer chips?” “Lila dear, don’t put, you’ll get frown lines.” “Lila, that French cut maillot is dynamite for your hips.” “Henry, that’s not appropriate, that’s our daughter.” “Grace, leave me alone, or I’ll divorce your ass gain.” “Henry, how dare you, after I let you go back door on me.” “Grace, shut up with the sex talk. Our daughter was almost raped for god’s sake.” “Henry, you imbecile. That was almost two books ago.”
I think time has passed but I don’t know because I kept refusing the disgusting hospital meals so they stopped bringing it. This is what it must be like to be unpopular. No one bothers to talk to you and you don’t matter and no one cares and you wear the same dirty outfit and you don’t have any worth except being a warm body to fill the world. Suddenly I woke up and Steven Wakefield appeared in a Sears brand suit, Bugle Boy shoes, Wayfarers, a Chess King Shirt, Depp Hair Gel. He is asking me about how the fire happened but I kept looking at the sad flowers on my bedside table. “I wonder how something like this grows in such a environment.” “Lila, we need to talk about how the fire started.” “Who decides when it will bloom. God? No one? How can there be a god when my Persian rug was destroyed?””Lila, why were you holding matches?” “I wish I still had a photosynthesis for life.” “Lila, did you notice anyone suspicious on the scene?” “We are all just flowers waiting to be destroyed.”
If You Lived Here, You’d Be Perfect By Now: The Unofficial Guide to Sweet Valley High will be released in February 2013.
It was over email, but still exciting nonetheless. My hunch is true, she’s got a thang for Bruce.
Mr. and Mrs. Pike return to the place where Mallory was conceived- Burning Man. They rent two RVs to drive the family to the Black Rock Desert, and bring Stacey and MaryAnne along as mother’s helpers. Kristy whines about not getting to go, so Watson brings the family, along with Claudia and Dawn. Kristy decides that they should all make a stop-motion animation documentary about their experience, using only ancient Latin. After some moaning and groaning, Kristy reminds them that the club was her idea and that her stepfather is an effing millionaire so stfu and do what she says or she will cut them all off and that means no more kid-kits. Kristy sure can be bossy sometimes!
Dawn is embarrassed about the way her friends are acting and tries at every turn to get away from their village. One night she has a terrible trip and can’t find her way back to her camp. She learns she is taking her friends for granted and that she was stupid for trying to make friends outside of the BSC.
MaryAnne is scared to leave the RV and spends the week driving everyone crazy trying to tidy up the RV and whining about missing Logan. Claire Pike teaches her the lesson that “if you don’t try something, you’ll never experience life.” They go on a naked bike ride together in the moonlight and MaryAnne is reminded that even children have something to teach adults (although she herself is still a child.)
Stacey meets Breegan, a cute older guy at a rave on the Esplanade. She is mesmerized by his white man dreads and his worldliness. Stacey tells the guy she is twenty-three and many hi-jinks ensue as she tries at length to keep up the lie, going so far as to pretend the Pike children are her own. Turns out that Breegan is really Arthur, an actuary from Livingston, New Jersey just trying to get away from his boring life by creating a new identity. Stacey learns that it’s best just to be herself because her fabulous, Manhattan-raised, sophisticated, permed self is better than enough.
Claudia annoys everyone by bringing five suitcases of costumes. To make matters worse, she has massive junk food withdrawal and is forced to scavenge their village for any sugar she can find. She’s mistaken for an ancient tribal deity by a neighboring camp and is showered with as the drugs she wants. After her five day bender, she learns that too much of a good thing “kan sumtimz be teo mmuch”
Kristy, upon seeing some kids run around camp without abandonment and partially clothed, get a Great Idea (natch) and opens a day camp for the kids at Burning Man and then demands sympathy from everyone when she complains how hard it is. They go on a field trip to the Burning Man, but Karen “accidentally” sets fire to the Burning Man early, much to the angry mob of Black Rock City dwellers. Karen eventually wins them over by doing an insult comic routine and has everyone laughing. She’s eventually forgiven and a float is made in her honor at the parade. Karen learns that being an annoying brat will get you lots of attention.
Meanwhile, the Pike triplets build a Burning Man vehicle out of an old tin barrel and some toothpicks, but won’t let Nicky participate because he’s their younger brother and a fucking idiot. Vanessa rhymes everything and drives everyone crazy. Margo gets sick by eating sand because she may actually be developmentally retarded. Mr. and Mrs. Pike and Mr. and Mrs. Brewer try out polyamory for the week and wake up from an orgy only to find Richard Spier and Dawn’s mom in the person pile next to them. What a small world!
If you like what you see, please support my upcoming book!
Stephanie Green’s parents built her a detached apartment in the backyard. Stephanie says she’s been living there six weeks.
I’ve known Stephanie for three years.
This is the first time I’ve heard of the apartment.
On Friday nights, the Friday night Sleepover started. Kate. Patti. Me. The apartment in the backyard. We’d watch tv, make prank calls, apply makeup on each other, and gorge ourselves with food and Stephanie would regale us with questions we didn’t want to think about.
What were we wearing to school on Monday?
What new boy did we like?
….Be careful, she warned. The people we liked may end up liking us.
Instead of answering, we just gorged on fluffer nutter.
Better to fill up the despair with food than think inward to our own existence.
Next Friday we gathered. And the next. Friday Sleepovers became our new unit of time. It was getting harder to live my non-Friday life. One Saturday my mother sent me away from the dinner table because I almost fell asleep in my PB and J sandwich. I sneered at her and a snot bubble exploded out of my nose.
he didn’t mention it to me after that.
At lunch one day Patti pointed out that my sweatshirt had some dried up guacamole on it.
The school cafeteria doesn’t serve guacamole.
The days in between Fridays didn’t seem to matter. Nothing mattered anymore, except Sleepover Friends and her apartment in the backyard. I began to keep track of the days of the week by the color of the jumper our fifth grade teacher wore.
Red. With the little flowers. It must be a Wednesday.
Stephanie and I sit on the stoop outside the school way past the last bell, drinking Capri Suns. “We could make more Sleepover Friends” she tells me with a belch. “We have the people. They’re talking about them at the junior high now.” She throws the shriveled Capri Sun in a perfect arc, landing directly on top of a discarded Lunchables Tray.
I silently seeth. I am filled with rage and bile. What is this? It’s jealousy. I didn’t like the feeling. Sleepover Friends was ours and ours only. It was like a beautiful, individual flower. And Stephanie wanted to make it into a Walmart- franchised, copied, ordinary, with every common kid, jock, nerd….and boys.
It’ll be the first coed Sleepover in the history of the school, Stephanie says. It will be something everyone will remember.
I stand up and begin to aimlessly write on the basketball court with chalk. Where did I get chalk from? We weren’t aloud to take it outside.
Stephanie’s fingers are already stained with chalk.
I write out “eskimo”, “lunchbox”, “parabola”, “starfruit” like they mean something. Like it’s the answer to the whole fucking universe.
“Pete Black wants in” Stephanie says to my back. My bile creeps up to my throat.
Sleepover Friends was feeling less like friends.
On Friday, Patti and Kate are standing outside Stephanie’s private apartment in the backyard,, screaming at Pete Black as he stands perfectly still.
“Go home, you can’t be here” screams Kate.
“We don’t except BOYS in this club, asshole” Pattie says into his ear.
“Stephanie’s parents won’t ALLOW boys to sleep over, you disgusting miscarriage of a deformed elephant” Kate screams in his face.
Stephanie is standing in the doorway, wearing her signature black, white and red and eating S’mores. “It’s part of the ritual,” she tells me, already sensing what I was about to ask her. “You tell them to leave and if they stay, they are ready to be recruited.”
After an hour goes by, it starts to rain. Patti and Kate and I go in, but Pete Black stands in his same posture, even though the rain is gathering in puddles in the pockets of his Bugle Boy pants.
We stay inside and play truth or dare, Two Truths and a Lie. We don’t mention Pete Black.
Pete didn’t show up to school that Monday. Monday meant the blue jumper with the gingham trim. We were studying vocabulary, but I was writing meaningful limericks and handing them out to the class.
There was once a girl who was told to study math
But in protest she refused to ever take a bath
The world’s going to end
Why can’t you comprehend
That everything you do and say doesn’t fucking matter anyway because ot all sounds like the whining of corporate drones sent out on a ledge to junp off like a group of pathetic lemmings
Mrs. Blue Gingham found the Limerick and told me she was calling my mother.
Mother, I repeated the word. I didn’t know the meaning. The only family I knew was Sleepover Friends.
The third Friday after the Limerick incident Pete Black was in Stephanie’s backyard apartment when I arrived with an industrial sized can of Chex Mix..
Pete’s new, Kate said. The first rule of Sleepover Friends is that if you are new, you have to make a prank call..
The second rule of Sleepover Friends is that only one MASH game at a time, Patti added.
The third rule of Sleepover Friends is no shoes, no school clothes, just pajamas.
The fourth rule of Sleepover Friends, snarled Stephanie, is don’t talk about Sleepover Friends.
Just as Pete was about to pick up the phone, it rang.
Lauren, said Stephanie. Pick it up. My hands are covered in cookie dough.
When Stephanie asks, I can never refuse.
“Hi honey”. Mrs. Green sounded like she just came from a tupperware party that suddenly turned into an orgy and they all took a blood oath not to tell anyone. “Don’t stay up too late, you have an orthodontist appointment in the morning.”
“Stephanie, I mean it this time. Be in bed by midnight.”
“What did you call me?” Throats sure can close up quickly.
“Don’t be fresh with me, Stephanie.”
I looked down. My hands were covered in cookie dough.
Sure, mother.Whatever you say.
[Photo made by my friend John.]
“No that’s fine,” said Stacey, smiling. The more to admire her!
Dr. J lowered her voice. “I left you some quinoa and spelt bread for a snack.” Dr. J was so understanding when Stacey admitted her gkuten allergy. It was so hard to find people to understand her affliction.
Stacey fluffed out her hair, adjusted her Steve McQueen romper and headed up to Char’s room. She heard Char from the hallway “ok, a little to the left,” Char was saying. Stacey put her head through the door and saw Becca lounging on her bed and Char filming her on her flipcam.
“What are you guys doing?” Stacey asked. “We’re playing Celebrity. Char is Kim Kardashian.”
Stacey giggled. Charlotte was so imaginative, that was part of why she was her favorite sitting charge. “Hey are you guys ready for your snack?”
They went down to the kitchen and Stacey prepared their Kale and soy-mayo sandwiches. “MMMppphhh” Becca said, her mouth full of kale. “Stacey aren’t you having any?” she asked.
“No,” Stacey looked down. “Uhhhhh, I’m on a diet.”
“What?” asked Charlotte. “But you’re already so skinny! You’re a size zero.”
“Yea, but I want to be a size double zero for when I go shopping at sample sales in New York.”
“Come on Stacey, just have one half! It’s low carb bread.” Char urged.
“I, uhhh……hey, let’s go outside and play!”
The issue quickly forgotten, the girls ran outside . The Johanssens had built an elaborate treehouse for Charlotte,.and she and Jessi were pretending that they were at the Jersey Shore house. Among screams of “Raaaaahhhhhhnnnn!” and “GTL! DTF!” Stacey snapped some pictures and sent them to the BSC tumblr account.
“Hello?” said someone at the backyard gate. “Oh, hey Hayley!” waved Char. Hayley lived next door and had a stylish, ironic mulllet. “What are you up to?”
“Well, my mother baked these brownies, but I’m off of carbs with week, so I thought you guys could use them. I thought to myself, ‘Becca and Charlotte DEFINITELY don’t care what they eat.”
Oblivious to the hipper, more stylish girls back-handed compliment, Jessi and Becca reached for brownies. “Yum!” said Becca. Stacey, try one!”
“Nah”, said Stacey, blushing.
“Oh come on” said Hayley. “Yea!” said Charlotte, chocolate smeared across her “Team Edward” tee shirt. “They are sooooo good!”.
“I SAID NO!” snapped Stacey. The three girls froze, mid-chew.
“I’m sorry” sniffed Charlotte. “I dibn’t meed to bake you mad.” She said through her tears and mucus..
“Oh guys,” Stacey felt horrible. She hoped Kristy or Charlotte’s parents didn’t hear her yelling on the live webfeed they had coming from all their client’s homes. “I….I have something to tell you.”
“What is it You can tell us,” said Becca. Becca is black.
“I have this problem….I have a gluten allergy. I can’t eat any gluten, and I have to watch what I eat really carefully. When I lived in New York, all my friends- those who I thought were my friends- thought I was weird and started being mean to me. This one time, at a sleepover, we had garlic bread, and during the night, I had gas. It was so embarrassing. They spread rumors that I had epilepsy. It was so horrible. That’s why I didn’t tell anyone when I moved to Connecticut I didn’t want to tell anyone- I wanted to make a fresh start.”
Stacey was looking down as she talked, and waited to hear the girls reaction.
“That’s it?” Charlotte said. “That’s what you;’re embarrassed about? That’s nuts. We don’t care! You’re still our favorite baby-sitter!”
“Yea” said Hayley. “My mother only eats things that are red. That and cayenne pepper. And then throws is all up. No biggie.”
“Really you guys” said Stacey? “Wow, I am so lucky.”
Charlotte said, “Come on guys! Let’s go back inside and play America’s Next Top Model! I’m Andre Leon! Stacey, you can be go-see and judge each of us on our potential to be a model.”
“Ok Char,” said Stacey. “Lead the way!” She couldn’t wait to put this all in the BSC blog.
“pMMMNNNTT” came a muffled voice from under the bed. The voice came from a pair of legs and a backside, which belonged to Claudia Kishi, who was searching furiously for something under her bed. Claudia hid her goodies in her bedroom because her parents didn’t approve of them. The meetings were held in Claudia’s room, because she was the only one in the group that had her own wireless network that allowed bitTorrents. For that reason, Claudia was also Vice President.
“What is that smell?” Dawn said, scrunching her nose and flipping her long dreadlocks over her shoulder. Dawn was the group’s bleeding heart, tree-hugging liberal.
“Nevermind that,” said Kristy impatiently. “Where’s Stacey?”
Suddenly, Claud’s head emerged from under the bed. “She’s skyping in from the N.Y.C. She went back this weekend to go to some loft party in DUMBO.”
“CLAUD!” the girls shrieked. “You’re wearing MEAT!”
“Yea, it’s so Gaga, don’t you think?” she said, smiling. Claudia, who was Japanese-American and had almond shaped eyes, was an artist and her clothing often looked like a work of art. She could be found wearing things like neon suspenders with bike shorts, earrings made out of fruit, sweaters knitted from human hair, a pair of pants made from discarded Zune players. But this time, she wore a fitted dress made from slabs of meat. She even fashioned a necklace made out of veins and entrails.
“I think I;m gonna be sick,” whined Dawn. “MEAT IS MURDER!”
“Wow,” said Mary Anne. “My dad would never let me wear anything like that,” she said wistfully. Mary Anne’s mother died when she was very little and was raised by her father, who was very conservative. She was not even allowed to watch Entourage! However, Mary Anne was the first one of them to have a steady boyfriend. Logan Bruno was nineteen and lived in a house with his electroclash band.
Kristy fiddled with her iPad and dialed Stacey on Skype. “Official business first.” The rest of the girls settled in, and Claudia dug into the stash she just found, breaking it into lines across the cover of her copy of Breaking Dawn.
Kristy set the iPad upright on Claud’s drafting table and Stacey’s face popped on the screen, except that the picture was shaking and the background sped past. “Sorry guys I’m on my iPhone at the Heatherette store. I need to look for something to wear for the party.” Stacey and Claudia, although were both thirteen years old like Kristy and Claudia, but oftentimes seemed more sophisticated. They certainly had more interest in clothes and boys than the rest of them.
“Oh Stace, while you are there, can you pick up those feather eyelashes for Karen? She has a pageant coming up next week.”
“I thought we were only supposed to be talking about official business” snapped Dawn, who was sitting on Claudia’s beanbag chair assembling Molotov Cocktails for a protest she was attending against Stoneybrook’s town hall.
“I know,” said Kristy shortly. There was still some tension between Kristy and Dawn. Kristy and Mary Anne had been best friends since they were just in diapers. When Dawn moved to Stoneybrook last year, she and Mary Anne had become best friends. There were both still a little bit jealous of each other. Not to mention that Kristy was a Mac user and Dawn was a PC user. Kristy supported Sarah Palin and Dawn was a geo-anarchist.
“Claud!” yelled Stacey from the iPad. “We just spent our BSC dues on an intervention! Do we need to do another one?” Claudia lifted her head up from snorting a line, some powder still on her nose. “No,” she said sheepishly. “My parents told me that if they have to pay for rehab one more time, they were going to stop paying for my art classes.”
“Claud, your art! You are so talented!” said Mary Anne.
“You’re right.” Claudia finally gave in. “I guess I should get rid of those Crystal Meth rocks.”
“Oh that’s what I was sitting on!” exclaimed Dawn, pulling the baggie of rocks out from under her behind.”I thought they were Jamie Newton’s marble collection!”
The girls burst into a fit of giggles. Kristy laughed too, in spite of herself.
“ok, ok. We should get started with the meeting. First order of business. How’s the treasury look, Stace?”
Stacey, who was a whiz at math, stopped looking through a rack of sequined thongs at Bergdorfs, sighed. “Not great you guys. Between the interventions for Claud and the pizza parties, not to mention the extra we spent on the gluten free pizzas, we are close to zilch.”
“Kristy, why don’t you just ask Watson for the money?” asked Claudia, adjusting the rump roast-slash-sleeve. Watson was Kristy’s stepfather, who was a real-life billionaire.
Kirsty stuck out her tongue at the suggestion. “No, I don’t want any of his help. He’s done enough to my family as it is, trying to get us to agree to that reality show. I think it’s time to launch another Kickstarter campaign, you guys.”
“I could offer some of my artwork as investor incentives” offered Claudia.
“I could offer a makeover,” said Stacey.
“I could offer my virginity” said Mary Anne.
“That sounds great everyone! We’ll launch next week.” Kristy checked the iPad for the agenda. “Now, let’s check the ticket queue for baby-sitting requests.”
“Let’s see: said Mary Anne, who was the Secretary of the Club and managed all the appointments. “Cokie Mason needs a sitter for little Jeffrey on Saturday.”
“Ugh, again?” asked Dawn, her mouth full of quinoa, kale and Four Loko..
“Yea, she has another callback to be cast on Teen Mom.”
Mary Anne read off the other requests and the girls scheduled the appointments. It was a hard job to keep track of all their schedules, with Stacey’s doctor’s appointments for her celliac’s disease, Claudia’s benders, Mary Anne’s pole dance aerobics, Karen’s pageants (Kristy was her handler) and Dawn’s protests.
“How are the Kid Kits looking these days?” asked Kristy.
“Pretty good,” answered Stacey, who was now at a restaurant in the Meatpacking District that only served 60 different varieties of rice pudding. “But the app seems to have some glitches with you run it with the new iPhone. There are some movies that you can’t stream directly.”
“We really need to make it an app for Android too” added Kristy. “We’ll have to ask the Pike triplets to program it.” Byron, Adam, and Jordan were identical triplets, frequent clients, and computer prodigies. Mary Anne, can you ask them when you sit for them tomorrow?…..Mary Anne? MARY ANNE??”
“Sorry,” Mary Anne blushed. “I was texting with Logan.”
Kristy made a vomit noise and stuck her tongue down her throat. Kristy had no time for silly things like gross boys. She had other things to think about, like her startup idea.
“One day you’ll start to see that boys are not so bad” said Stacy, now back at home in her bedroom with the posters of Sookie and Eric covering her walls.
“She’s just saving herself for Mark Zuckerberg,” teased Claud. Once again the girls dissolved into giggles.
Just then, Charlie, Kristy’s older brother pulled up outside to drive her home to the rich part of town. “I think the meeting is officially adjourned.”
As she ran down the stairs and out the front door, she logged onto her twitter account.
@msKristyThomas Another great BSC meeting #itsgoodtobeprez
Her mind wandered back to the time when she had the Great Idea for the BabySittersClub.biz…..