You’ve got to make your own kind of music, sing your own special song

Is making fun of Olivia's receding hairline too easy?

Olivia’s an artist. Did you know that? She’s super artsy dresser too. And she’s an original. And she usually has paint splattered on her clothes. Because she’s an artist.
But for real you guys. Olivia has a studio in the garage that her parents set up for her. Which is pretty cool. Even the Kishis didn’t do that for Claudia. Also, why is it that the free spirits are always artists? I’m a mid-level manager in higher education administration, and I consider myself a free spirit. Aren’t I? Where’s my book? Liv is starting to experiment with Abstract Expressionism. You guys, I took 4 art history courses in college so I’m so the expert on this stuff.

Which, way to go ghost writers, for looking in an encyclopedia (that’s the written version of Wikipedia for those of you born after 1986) for things to include for her artwork. She’s trying to experiment with stuff but is nervous that other people won’t get it. Which, I’m just sayin’, is a valid concern, because I am sure in Sweet Valley, people’s houses are filled with pre-Raphaellite Ophelias and Van Goh’s “Starry Night”.

Olivia is also taking classes at the local college and meets fellow artist James. They never actually attend any classes, but that is where they meet. James, oh James. James is totally that douchebag artist who lives for nothing but his art. And lives in squalor because he loves his ART! Olivia has a total girlboner for James, but James is more interested in fondling his charcoal brushes than Olivia’s peasant skirts.

James shows Olivia his shiity artist loft, with his super high ceilings, concrete floors and cupboard of ramen noodles. James is SUCH the archetypal hipster in that he lives in a loft in a seedy part of town to gain “cred” while simultaneously gentrifying the area, and then acting all holier-than-though about it. Olivia gets her hemp underwear in a bunch because she is starting to think that she may not be making a lot of money as an artist and is she willing to give up everything to be a slave to her art like James? Surprisingly, James doesn’t make a move. James reminds me of Miles from Work of Art on Bravo, who is a total douche. (Are you watching that? It’s similar to Project Runway, except instead of Heidi’s German accent, we get China Chow’s Brooklyn accent and just as much crazy personalities).

Oh, James, that good looking guy that you just keep hanging on to every word and get excited to see him even if he treats you like shit every time but you think this is the time he will realize how awesome you are and you hate yourself for coming back for more because you consider yourself a total feminist and this isn’t you but you are just mesmerized by his skinny build and his tats and his ability to talk about deep things even though he can’t do simple things like do his dishes or his laundry and oh my god he is such an asshole but oh my god he is really hot. Not like I have experience with anyone like that or anything….

Coincidentally, because it helps the plot along, Olivia’s cousin Emily shows up for a visit because she wants to look at colleges in California. Emily is a professional college-applier, and it is all she talks about and thinks about. SERIOUSLY, WHY DOES E VERY CHARACTER HAVE ONE DIMENSIONAL IDENTITIES? Why can’t she like art AND college? Like parties AND be on the school newspaper. Ugh. ALSO, if Emily is really into getting into good schools, shouldn’t she be someone who is occupied with grades and extra-curriculars because that helps college? Her only activity is actually applying to colleges. A color coordinated Filofax organizing brochures and applications doesn’t impress the Ivies. I don’t get how this shit gets written.

Olivia doesn’t really like Emily and vice versa. Emily comes with Olivia to meet James and although she acts like a giant tool and annoyed that they taqlk about art, James’ douchey artist in peril charms works on Emily. So much that she borrows some of Olivia’s clothes and goes to see James on her own, trying to convince him that she is artier than he thinks. I don’t know folks, I just report what I read.

Olivia decides to quit art to be more practical and gets a job at her mother’s department store and starts hanging out with the owner’s son, who actually buys clothes for her. Emily reports to James that Olivia has given up art, and James suddenly realizes that Olivia probably won’t fall for his douchebag artist persona ANYMORE, and finally admits that he loves her. Olivia realizes that she should continue with art, because it’s what she loves! Besides, as we all know, she won’t live past high school anyway, so might as well makes some splatter drawings! Yes, I went there. Plus, her mother was an artist and gave up on her dream, and now she’s a measly manager at a dept store, and she doesn’t want Olivia to make a mistake. Yay, all is resolved! Who’s up for a triple bacon cheeseburger and lard fries at the DB?

Of course, it wouldn’t be an SV book if we didn’t include the inhaling and exhaling of the Wakefield twins. Because it is Christmastime again, they also gets jobs at Simpson’s Department Store. Liz does such a good job she gets medals for department store working, and Jessica is all set on nailing the son of the owner. She has never met him, but is convinced that once they meet he will ask her out- of course not even stopping to consider if she will like him, but he does have money and status, of course. The intense fixation on this just feeds into Jessica’s diagnosis of a Socipathic Narcassist, and is not at all charming, which I am sure the writers thought they were doing. So her plotline is the wacky hijinks that happen as she tries to be in the same place with him. Imagine her surprise when the guy chooses Olivia over her. Zing!

Oh yes. Important to mention that this is the book where Olivia wears a record in her hair. Prompting Lila to snark: “She thinks this is Greenwhich Village or something”. Oh, to remember the time when Greenwhich Village was actually Greenwhich Village. New Yorkers, are you with me?

If Book Covers Could Talk: In Love Again

Courtesy of The Closet

Liz: Hi Todd!

Todd:  Hey Liz, you sure look pretty.

Liz: Thanks. Randy Mason made a time machine, and I traveled to the future to a place called Urban Outfitters, and got this dress.

Todd: Wow! Who are we posing for?

Liz: I don’t know, but keep smiling!

Todd: Well, that won’t be hard, I am so glad my family moved back to Sweet Valley and now we are super rich! Too bad I go to Lovett Academy, the snooty prep school. The kids here have names like Campbell Rochester, hang out with celebs like Michael Jackson and take seminars on ancient Greece. Since we don’t go to the same school anymore, I rarely get to see you.

Liz:I know! It’s so hard!

Todd: THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!

Liz: Who said that? Jessica? Enid?

Todd: Oh never mind. We should spend every waking moment together after school, going to Secca lake, where you can give me a b-

Liz:…book to read that expresses how much I love you?

Todd: Sure…yea, I guess. That’s what I meant.

Liz: Oh Todd, but this is so hard! By being with each other, we are neglecting our other commitments! The Oracle will fall apart without me!

Todd: Well then…maybe we should break up.

Liz: Oh Todd, you really mean it? It’s just like when you were here!

Todd: I know, but this may be awkward, because Courtney, the girl whom I rejected for you, has decided to take her revenge out on us by convincing her radio-producer father tio sponsor a battle of the area schools to see which school is best. There will be a geography bee, really races, and rope climbing. Oh, and a trivia bowl. Because those things prove the best school. All the schools will agree to this, and the entire event will take place at Lovett Academy. All the schools will get a week off, of course and somehow coincidentally, we will end up doing the same event- rope climbing. Only you will be on the SVH team and I will be on the Lovett team. And the competing against each other will serve as a metaphor for our competing commitments and lifestyles that keep us apart. Only Courtney will loosen your rope, causing you to fall snd almost break your neck. This near-death experience (your 15th) will cause me to see how much I really do love you, and I will convince my parents to let me enroll back in Sweet Valley High, where I really belong.

Liz: But Todd, that seems so unlikely to happen!

Todd: I know, right? It’s so far-fetched!

Liz: I mean really, a geography bee? Of course it would be a spelling bee! Who do you think I am, an idiot?

Todd: No, of course not. Now shut up and let’s get to the Dairi Burger so I can hand feed you some french fries and lick the salt off your fingers.

the plot, in a nutshell

Plans to create very Aryan offspring were thwarted when Wakefield and French broke up, authorities said on Tuesday.

Lila: Todd is moving back to Sweet Valley!

Liz: Oh no, I still love him. Wait, but I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz.

Liz: I love Todd!

Jeffrey: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Todd!

Jeffrey: Hi Liz.

Liz: I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz.

Liz: I love Todd!

One week later….

Jeffrey: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Todd! But wait, Todd doesn’t love me. I guess I love Jeffrey. By default.

Todd: Liz, I still love you.

Liz: I love you too! Jeffrey, despite risking our relationship, hatched a plan so you and I can get back together! He’s so unselfish! Let’s reward him by sending him into the SVH character Bermuda Triangle. Only to emerge as a funky fresh DJ in our alternate reality senior year.

Todd: Too much talking, not enough smooching, Liz.

Working Class: Only if they are hot, please

I can’t believe at only book #19 the ghostwriters went downhill so quickly. Also, I was kind of saving this one for a bit because I thought it would be one of the more fun ones. Why do I continue to have expectations?

What this book could have been:

  • Lila and Jessica both have an interest in the same guy.
  • The guy seems mysterious and too good to be true.
  • Lila and Jessica both try antics that result in hijinks to compete for the guy
  • They both realize the guy is not worth it and decide to remain friends (frenemies)
  • OR the guy realizes the girls are mean-spirited and dumps them both, both teaching them a lesson

What we get is:

  • Jack is a LOWLY construction worker that Lila meets, and everyone is all judgmental and disgusted by that. However, Lila’s digging it and declares him her new man. Everyone is convinced that Jack is really hiding some secret identity, like he’s the prince of some tiny nation, because no one can REALLY be just a construction worker. Ugh, the working class!
  • Jessica proves her insane sociopath personality and hits on Jack at Lila’s party while Lila is not looking and gives Jack her phone number. Really Jess? You are a disgusting, mentally ill manipulator.
  • Jack begins to date both the women, but only Jessica knows. Jack convinces Jessica that he went out with Lila because he felt bad for her. After one, date, Jack and Jessica are walking on the beach and Jessica declares she is in love. From what? He smells her hair and he talks about how hot she is. Furthermore, Jack, who is older and has his own apartment, doesn’t even try to tap that ass. yea right.
  • After one weekend together, Jack tells Lila he wants to marry her. Because…why? All we see is them making lovey talk over lunch. Francine, can you please show the normal steps of attraction? Even with teenagers?
  • Coincidentally, Nicholas Morrow sees Jack out with Jessica and recognizes him as someone he used to go to prep school with in Connecticut. What are the odds? Also, Francine, did you know that there are other states on the east coast besides Connecticut? Nicholas remembers that Jack had an evil side and held a girl at knifepoint at school and was kicked out. Also he had violent mood swings that made him like “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.” In other words, he was probably bipolar. But god forbid these books are medically correct.
  • Nicholas uses this an excuse to go impress Liz by being the hero and saving Jessica. Nicholas, Liz, and Nicholas’ unimportant friend go to Jack’s apartment to save Jessica. Well, good! They are just in time! Jessica, determined to find Jack’s real identity, rifles around in his bathroom and finds a shoebox of pills and marijuana. Oooooo nooo, teh drugs! If having a shoebox full of pills and a pinch of skunk is a crime, than put me away forever. When Jessica confronts Jack, he holds her at knife point. Good judgment on guys, Jess! Well, this wouldn’t have happened if Jack worked at, say,  his father’s company, but he was a construction worker, for god’s sake.
  • The Scooby squad bursts in and saves Jessica at the last minute! Boy was that lucky! They all laugh about Jessica’s shenanigans with boys and then go out for a triple bacon cheesburgers at the Dairi Burger. You know, normal reactions when your life is threatned by the man you thought you loved. Deb Morgan would agree.
  • There is never a g-damn SHOWDOWN between Lila and Jessica, so wtf? Liz calls Lila to find out Jack’s address, Liz tells her that Jess has been seeing Jack and now Jack is probably trying to kill Jessica, Lila responds with “thank Jess for saving me the trouble!”. Ok.
  • Oh? And the subplot? Penny Ayala has mono (what? I thought guys didn’t want to kiss her? ZING!) so Liz of course is taking over as editor and she’s a fucking martyr about it. Turns out there’s a fantastic photographer at SVH who leaves their photos under the Oracle door. Liz wants to find out who it is, and it turns out that it’s Tina Ayala, Penny’s sister, who doesn’t want Penny to know its her because Penny never takes her seriously. Liz, always happy to tell families what to do, and convinces Tina to tell Penny. Well, this happens “offscreen” and all is well. Way to build up tension and suspense, ghostwriters. NOT.

Wow, what. an. absolute. stinker. The plot made no sense, had no purposeful plot turns and devices, and none of the conflicts were ever resolved thoroughly. Why was Jack even manipulating the two girls/ just because he was crazy and on drugs? Well, the one thing we got was a great cover, loving Lila’s pearls and general hotness, where Jess looks like an anorexic soccer mom.

Jack has got some game! Here’s how we wooed the ladies:

The ocean wind blew softly as they strolled down to the water’s edge. “It’s so vast, so wild,” Jack reflected as he stared out at the seemingly boundless sea. “It makes you feel like nothing more than one of these tiny grains of sand. Know what I mean?”

and here’s the deal sealer:

“I think I’ll name a star after you.” He and Jessica looked upward. Every star in the sky sparkled like a cut diamond. “That one,” Jack proclaimed, reaching his finger out to point towards the star. “Because it shines more brightly than all the rest.” Jessica followed his outstretched arm with her eyes. “But, Jack, that’s the North Star!” “Not to me, it’s not. Not any longer.” Jack carewssed Jessica’s cheek with his fingertips. “From now on that star is called Jessica, and every time I look at it, I’ll tink of this wonderful evening.”

Wow, it was great seeing my lunch again.

A Sorta Fairy Tale; #91 In love with A Prince

Dana: Ugh! Everyone is fawning all over the Prince of Santa Dora that has come to Sweet Valley. I’m so disgusted. Because I’m an individual.

Prince Arthur: My oh my! Dana is such a spunky American woman! She’s getting my royal britches in a bunch.

Dana: I am a spunky individual! Therefore, I need to totally hate on aristocracy!

Mr. Collins: Great! I was too busy fondling a lock of Elizabeth’s hair last night to do lesson plans, so let’s host a debate! Prince Arthur, I’m not sure why you are even in class, since you are just visiting. But I guess I’ll go with it to advance the plot.

Dana: Oh, the Prince totally pwned me in the debate. But what is this I’m feeling?

Prince Arthur: Oh Dana, I am so glad that you now like me. And how flattering that you are wearing the flag of my home country as an outfit.

Dana: Oh this dress? I got it on sale at Dress Barn.

Prince Arthur: Oh never mind. Will you marry me?

Dana: Oh yes, of course! And everyone totally supports it! Nevermind that I’m sixteen, since you are rich it’s all good!

Lila: Since I was just almost raped in the last book, I have to act as a desperate, torn woman and creepily stalk Prince Arthur and force him to pay atrention to me. To get back at Dana, I will reveal the Prince’s secret: that he must announce his engagement before he turns seventeen! He was just settling on Dana!

Dana: No! I’ll never love again! I hate Prince Arthur!

Dana: Prince! I had to see you before you left! And because this book’s plot really had no focus, so we have to wrap things up in the last few pages!

Prince Arthur: Oh, Dana, your American spunkiness has taught me so much. I will stand up to my whole country and abolish this archaic tradition. Thank god for the people of Sweet Valley to tell me how to run my country!

Dana: Ok, one second I was ready to marry you, now I’m fine with you leaving! I guess I’ll have to count on getting a part in a Super Edition to see you again.

————

Seriously, I have to give them credit: Dana and Prince Arthur are one of the only couples in SVH that actually have interesting things to talk about- they actually talk about politics and even a bit about each other. Although, Prince Arthur talks like a 60-year-old butler. Of course, Todd gets all jealous because he’s Liz’ pen pal (seriously, they actually referenced something that happened in a Twins book. And there was a even a mention of the Unicorns!). Jessica is vile, and so convinced that the Prince will fall instantly in love with her and doesn’t give a fuck about hitting on the Prince right in front of Sam. Lila’s a mess, because she can no longer have a functional relationship because she was dumb enought to almost get herself raped. Sigh.

Lynne Henry makes an appearance! I thought she disappeared. She hangs out with The Droids and writes songs. She wrote one for the Prince called “Rule my World”. And Dana sings it to the Prince. Do they actually charge for gigs? Or do they just drop everything when Lila has a party?

Dana = still really boring. For a singer of a band, I couldn’t give less of a shit about her.

the first death of the series or #12 When Love Dies

Hey all, I had some time to read an old skool one…be back next week!

Good lord, Tricia Martin. Leukemia is the least of your problems. Let’s talk about how you are dressed as an Amish school teacher. And I’d suggest some hot oil treatment.

So Tricia has leukemia and breaks up with Steven so it will be easier for him when she dies. Cara throws herself on Steven and to get back at Tricia he goes for it. Finally, Steven finds out the truth and goes to Tricia to be with her when she dies. Blah blah blah.

Meanwhile Jessica finds out that local tv star Jeremy Frank (are there really local tv stars? Who actually watches public access?) has broken his leg so Jessica convinces Liz to volunteer to be a candy striper with her. Jess acts like an ass if front of Jeremy and keeps hurting him and spilling stuff on him. She even walks in on him naked. It’s crazy! I thought everyone in Sweet Valley had no genitals. They just looked like Barbie and Ken dolls. So Liz and Jeremy plan on getting back at Jessica (the ONE time I thought Liz had a good idea) and Jeremy pretends he is in love with Jessica and proposes to her. You’d think Jessica would catch on but she is so dense that she is flattered and accepts his proposal. Jeremey then pulls a “you’ve been punked!” on her.

Oh, and Liz is the one that discovers that Tricia has leukemia and convinced her to go to Steven because of course without Liz’s advice how would anyone ever live their lives?

Whenever anyone goes to the poor side of town, the streets are always littered with bottles and garbage. Like the city of Sweet Valley is so disgusted with poor people that they do not ever send over sanitation trucks.

At the end, Liz is kidnapped by Carl, a creepy orderly in the hospital. Probably has something to do with her beauty and size six figure. We’ll figure it out in the next book, peculiarly named Kidnapped!

How about some vomit-inducing Liz and Todd foreplay talk:

“He thinks Tricia has another boyfriend, but I’m not so sure. Why would she be so miserable if she had someone else?”

“You’re right. I don’t buy it either. Somehow I can’t imagine Tricia with anyone but Steve. They seemed perfect together.”

“Like us, you mean?” Elizabeth fed Todd a french fry off her plate, yanking her hand away with an outraged giggle when he began nibbling her fingers.

Todd laughed. “Face it. Nobody is like us. If we were crazier about each other, they’d have to send out the little men in the white coats.”

“You’re so romantic, Todd.”

Lesson learned: having a deadly disease is great for your looks. If I had a nickel for every time I read about Tricia’s thin frame and beautiful pale skin…

Grade: C

So an heiress, a tramp, and a nerd walk into a bar….or Sunset Island #1

Okay, originally when doing a blog, I wanted to blog the Sunset Island books, by Cherie Bennett. A year ago I was super depressed so I ordered the whole series on ebay (best $60 I ever spent) and read them over again…I think I gave away my original copies. It totally worked better than prozac, these books always give me the warm fuzzies. I think I was in junior high when I read these, and if I do say so myself I was quite an advanced reader (I read Flowers In the Attic in the seventh grade) so they did seem a bit childish. But awesome nonethless.

They were basically a combo of the Baby-sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and Beverly Hills 90210. And like the BSC, there were vivid descriptions of outfits, which were my favorite to read. And with some drinking and some talk of sex. Shocker! The three gals are au pairs on Sunset Island, which is a fake island off the coast of Maine.

Ok, so the characters are:

  • Emma: super-rich heiress who wants to break away from her privileged background and hides her wealth from people because she feels people will jusge her. Is very prim and proper.
  • Sam: a redheaded tease who was wild and crazy. She was from Kansas and a dancer. And very thin, as we are told every page. She has a dance scholarship to Kansas State.
  • Carrie: the “fat” one. She got accepted to Yale and was a photographer and had low self esteem. Oh, I’m sorry, they used “curvy” not fat. She is going to Yale in the Fall.

Omg! Hot dogs and sea shells! Double tank tops! Yay! These things represented the epitome of fun. This whole book was kind of like BSC #8, Boy-Crazy Stacey, except for the whole series!!! Did I just blow your mind???

Well, Emma meets the hot swimming instructor Kurt, and he is all working class and she doesn’t want to alienate him by declaring her heiress status (I think she is worth about 125 mil) so she lies to him and her friends. She and Kurt go out on some cheesy dates. Meanwhile, her arch nemesis from boarding school, Diana and her friend Lorell show up on the island and try to make things hell for Emma. They basically act like Jessica and Lila. Finally, Kurt and her friends find out she is rich and yell at her for lying and get mad at her but then they all make up in the end.

Other stuff:

They meet the members of a local band called Flirting with Danger, namely Billy Sampson who Carrie gets a major crush on and some guy Presley who has a southern accent that the author needs to put in all the pronunciations. Sam is all over him. Also, like the BSC, stuff goes on with the kids that they take care of that mirror what is going on with their lives and teach them lessons. The kid that Emma takes care of is in love with her and buys her expensive presents he can’t afford. The lesson is to stop lying to people you care about about your socioeconimc status. Or something.

Emma’s mother is a mess. She dates a 25-year old artist named Austin Payne who shows up on Sunset Island and is all over the teenage girls. Yuck.

Some creepy photographer named Flash Hathaway also hangs out on the island trying to convince girls o pose for him. Creepy, and comes into some plots later on.

Lots of fun outfit descriptions! When she gets to the island, Emma goes to the trendy shop and spends two thousand dollars on stuff like a read leather mini skirt and matching cropped jacket. Noyce. Carrie’s outfit: “an oversized loose-weave pink sweater over a long, flowing gauze-and-chiffon flowerprint skirt. When the oversized sweater slipped off one shoulder Emma could see the narrow strap of a lacy pink loetard. Sam looked stunning in a sheer antique white lace blouse and a black and white polka-dot lace miniskirt”. Holy early nineties, Batman!

We even get boy-clothes descriptions! Billy was wearing “torn, faded jeans and a navy t-shirt that he filled out to perfection. His streaky blond hair was tied back with a piece of rawhide, and he had a tiny diamond stud in one ear.” Welcome to Jon Bon Jovi, circa 1989.

Okay, their interactions with the boys are ultra cheesy, but they actually do have somewhat real conversations about stuff other than their relationship [cough-Liz and Todd-c0ugh].

Emma’s dream is to study primates in the Peace Corps in Africa. Uh, she may want to do some research into the Peace Corps and realize that’s not the point. Plus, they may be a veiled racist statement but I won’t give the author much credit.

Carrie is an au pair for Graham Templeton and his trophy wife Claudia. Graham is a famous rock star (I think is supposed to be like Bruce Springsteen) who happens to have a house on the island. Sam is an au pair for ultra-slutty thirteen year old twins. Think the Wakefield twins if they both were like Jessica.

Grade: A

I know there was some interest in these a while back, and I will try to put these in the mix. Since I read them about a year again, I am not sure I will get all the nitty gritty details because I spend enough of my time reading SVH novels, but some really fun shit happens that I will try to remember. The girls end up becoming back-up singers for Flirting With Danger, Emma and Carrie start a perfume business, Sam designs clothing and they fight and break up with boyfriends a lot. And they wear really bad (i.e. awesome) nineties fashions.

The One with Todd’s Evil Twin, or #24 Memories

It’s a lucky day here at the Dairi Burger, because I recently uncovered a fantastic cultural artifact: an agenda from a Sweet Valley High PTA meeting.

SVH PROUD GLADIATOR PARENTS MEETING
October 25, 1993

1. Welcome!
2. Update on annual fundraiser: Father-Daughter Date Auction. Fathers, start prepping your daughters to auction off to the fathers! Highest bidder wins a free membership to the Country Club!
3. Beware of the town drunk. He’s been showing up at the school and peeing in our perfectly manicured, size-six bushes.
4. The vote was unanimous: Yom Kippur will be canceled this year, and we will have two Spring Breaks instead, so that our students can have more than one kooky vacation adventure.
5. Scoliosis screenings will begin this week. Mr. Collins has graciously volunteered to conduct the screenings.
6. The Wakefield twins took a shit this morning. It was so lovely and perfect and slender, we will have it on display at the school for all to admire.

My main motivation for reading this one is: what is the motivation for Cara to wear that sailor suit? Although it is kind of cute. Steven also looks like Christopher Reeve. And 37.

So Tricia died recently, aka about 20 books ago, and Steven is pretty crushed. He often gets together with Betsy, Tricia’s sister, to talk about Tricia and look at old pictures. If you remember, Betsy and Tricia’s dad is the town drunk. Recently, Steven has been having fun with Cara Walker, former gossip and Jessica’s friend. See, Cara has changed. Her parents got a divorce so she knows what it is like to lose someone. I don’t want to play who hurts more, but is a divorce the same as a teenager dying of cancer? I would say no. Stop making Cara out to be a saint.

Steven feels guilty for liking Cara because he feels he is being disloyal to Tricia. So he struggles with that and keeps being an ass to Cara. Cara takes it because she has always had a crush on Steve. They do date-y things like go on a picnic at the zoo (huh?) and go to the Village Inn and eat the early bird special and dance to the cheesy band. Meanwhile, Steven’s friend Artie Western(yes, his real name). And yay! We’ve identified another senior at SVH! So far he and Bruce are the only seniors at the school, apparently. Cara doesn’t want to compete with a ghost, she dumps Steven’s whiny ass.

Steven mopes around long enough for Jessica to spout the most insightful thing she has ever said. She tells him that he should go for Cara, because the advantage she has over Tricia is that “she’s still alive.” Steve gets super peeved, but that wakes him up. The twins trick them into meeting and he and Cara walk into the sunset together.

Oh yea. Elizabeth, as the fucking patron saint, pays a visit to Betsy and asks her to let Steven go and to let him have a life. Because Liz has wisdom far beyond her years. It is so fucking condescending and classist, because as Liz travels to Betsy’s house on “the wrong side of town”:, suddenly the streets are lined with filth. Wasn’t Sweet Valley supposed to be perfect? I’ll bet there is one street where the Martins, David Prentiss, and Roger Barrett’s mom lives. Because if you don’t live the typical waspy, rich lifestyle in Sweet Valley, you live in squalor and filth. No in-between.

Secondary story: Jess hears that Winston’s cousin is coming to visit and is a big time Hollywood producer. So she signs up to do a project with him so she can meet this visiting cousin. It is uber creepy how she keeps inviting herself over to hang around with him and the adults are okay with that. Turns out Jess heard wrong and he is a really a civil engineer working on waste disposal. Hahaha, how hilarious, Jessica is once again a manipulative sociopath with no regard for anyone’s feelings but her own. I feel like this storyline has been used a dozen times already. And how when the twins are secondary characters, there always seem to be a really bad attempt at a humorous storyline.

Oh, and this one got really Saved By the Bell on us. SVH is playing a charity volleyball game with another school, and of course the team to represent is Liz, Jess, Ken, Bruce, Lila and some others. Isn’t that basically the whole school? The opposing team has a Todd lokkalike that Liz goes gaga for but it turns out he’s pretty chauvinist and nothing like Todd. The moral? Stop living in the past and move on! Also, Todd’s a tool!

Steven reeeeaaaaallllyyy needs to not hang out with high school students anymore. It’s becoming borderline pathetic.

The one where we learn that sluts don’t make good cheerleaders, or #10 Wrong Kind of Girl

Annie looks like Brittany Murphy, pre-anorexia and cocaine. Like in the Clueless days. Jessica’s smirk and stupid wavy bangs make me want to punch her directly in her size-six stomach. Ugh.

Okay, just a warning: I’ll be quoting verbatim from many parts of this one. Because it is so fucking horrible you won’t believe it. First:

The cheerleaders at Sweet Valley High were the cream of the crop- the prettiest, most sought after girls not only in the school but in the town of Sweet Valley, California. They included Robin Wilson, the current Miss Sweet Valley High; Helen Bradley, a stunning redhead, Jean West, a pixie brunette; and Maria Santinelli, who could do backflips that took everyone’s breath away. Finally, there was Jessica, who at five feet six, with a crown of glorious, sun-streaked blond hair, and sprakling blue-green eyes, was the envy of most of the girls in Sweet Valley High…..Of course, looks were only part of it. It took more than that to make the SVH cheering squad…you had to keep your grades up…and the cheerleaders had some indefinable style….above, all she had to have talent.

Great! If they are unique women, they shall only be known by hair color and looks. Second of all, there doesn’t seem to be an adult coach or anything overseeing the team, so wtf? Can a school really allow the students to pick their own members based on looks? ARRRGGGHHHH!!!

So Jessica labels Annie a slut because she has “dated” several different guys, including Rick Andover, Bruce Patman and others. As far as I know, Annie hasn’t slept with any of them, but gets the nickname “Easy Annie”. And she doesn’t want a tramp on her team, because others will start thinking they are tramps. Is it REALLY not possible that someone at SVH does not already think that Jessica is a slut? Can someone PLEASE call her out on her hypocracy? I think the real reason she doesn’t want her on the team is some jealousy thing, because Annie is really thin (we have to hear about it every page) and talented and may move in and steal the attention from guys.

Oh another reason Annie is a vile outcast: she lives in AN APARTMENT! AND HAS A SINGLE MOM! OMG! THE HORROR! Her mother had her at sixteen (wow, at least some teenagers in SVH are having sex) and kind of doesn’t act like a mom and I get the feeling this is why Annie gets her validation from male attention. Which, is a legit reason, but can we please have some characters with non-traditional family structures that are well-adjusted? Because, you know, it does happen. And by my calculations, Annie’s mother is my age. Wow. I need to sit with that thought for a while. Again, Francine implies that if you don’t grow up in a family with 2 straight parents, 2.5 kids and a dog, you are a ruined and tainted person.

Liz is tutoring Annie to get her grades up to she can be eligible to try out for the cheerleading team. And Liz can’t stick her nose out of people’s business and thinks that without her help people will fail.

Oh right, Annie and Jessica have a dance-off at the Beach Disco. How Britney and Justin of them.

Oh, Annie did some modeling when she was thirteen. Who HASN’T been a model in Sweet Valley? The hell? The writers need to understand that pretty people don’ t automatically become models. There is an in-between on the scale of attractiveness.

Annie makes it through the semi-finals and finals and impresses everyone, apparently she is good. And thin and pretty. But Jessica schemes and wines and bullies the rest of the team to pick Cara Walker and Sandra Bacon. I wish Robin Wilson, as co-captain, would stand up to Jessica. I wonder how she even puts up with her.

Also to mention that the team has a manager, Ricky Capuldo, who is shy and is afraid of dating girls, but loves to hang out with the cheerleaders. Um, gay much? But he does have a major thing for Annie. And calls Jessica out on her shit, so that put him on my short list of SVH characters that are bearable.

So Annie doesn’t make the squad, and she tried to kill herself. I guess I should feel bad, but I feel like this does not do justice to the notion of suicide, and glosses over it and suggests people try to kill themselves are just overreacting about an event, and ignores any deep-rooted depression and issues. But why would I even expect Francine to take this seriously? The doctors say she has “no will to live”. Jessica suddenly feels guilty and realizes what a cruel, heartless, selfish wench she’s been. However, that doesn’t carry past the last page of this book, so don’t get too excited.

The twins come in and explain the situation to her doctor, and

Dr. Hammond pressed his hands together and stared at Jessica for a long time. “Do you really want to help Annie?” he asked….”I don’t know” he said slowly, “Perhaps…it’s possible. Now Jessica, you must tell me something. Are you willing to have Annie on the cheerleading squad? If you aren’t, then please say so right now. It would be terrible to raise her hopes and then let her down again. That would be quite traumatic.”…

Wtf? Why does the doctor even entertain this thought? Seriously, if someone was brought in because of an intentional overdose, they would be sent to psych to be under observation for a few days, and here this doctor is prescribing a talk from a stupid teenager to help Annie. HE THINKS THAT BECOMING A CHEERLEADER WILL OVERCOME A SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION. Someone take his license away! ARRGGHHH! THE RAGE! So anyway, Jessica asks Annie to be on the team and that wakes her out of her coma or whatever. And all is happy and well. You’d think that maybe Jessica would learn something, but we have a hundred or so books after this that prove she learned nothing.

So…[taking deep breaths]…what is the moral of this one? If you want to change your life for the better, you need to be validated by an exclusive group that bases people on looks. That’s one. The other one is, just as we saw in the Robin Wilson weight-a-palooza, was that the best way to get revenge on those that are being mean and judgmental is to become just like them and be accepted. Seriously, if Robin and Annie are that talented and good looking, they could go off by themselves and make their own clique. Thirdly, if you are blond and pretty and come from an upper-middle class home, it is okay to date around. However, if you are poor and brunette and come from a single family home, it’s considered slutty. These are great messages, Francine. Thank you.

Other thoughts:

They mention that Mr. Collins is in his late-twenties. So, Mr. Collins is actually younger than I am. Yikes.

Want to hear some gross Lizz-Todd lovey dovey talk?

Elizbeth felt Todd as he put his strong arms around her, hugging her tightly. “When we hold each other like this, I believe you. But you had me scared.” “Scared? You? The star basketball player of Sweet Valley High is scared by little old me?” she teased. “I’d better run right down to the Oracle office and stop the presses.” Todd’s response was a tender kiss. “if the opposing team had five beautiful blondes exactly like you, I’d be helpless,” he confessed when they finished their embrace. “But that’s be impossible, because there is no one exactly like you, Liz”.

I threw up in my mouth when I read this. Also, what Todd says is actually kind of gay when you think about it.

Grade: B-

Rage factor: 146 million

The Fresh Prince of Sweet Valley, or #16 Rags to Riches

Just a warning, this one is so beyond ridiculous. Everyone’s annoying personality traits are magnified by about a thousand. And I want to fucking kill them all.

Jessica’s boobs look really weird. And Roger looks…not right. Like he has the smirk of an annoying sitcom little brother. On the body of a 35 year old. If his collar was popped anymore, it would turn into a display rack at Hollister.

If you remember, Roger is so poor that -gasp!- he has to work as a janitor after school to support his single mother. Apparently, at the end of the past book, Roger’s mother dies of cancer. After she dies he finds out he is part of the Patman family and heir to the Patman inheritance- his father was actually Bruce’s dad’s brother. So now he is living in the Patman estate. And the patmans are planning on throwing a big party at the Sweet Valley country club to instroduce Roger as a patman into a society. Almost like a debutante coming out thing, I guess.

How convenient that at the beginning of the book Roger is recapping the last few weeks’ events to his girlfriend Olivia. Ok,so his mother worked for Henry (Bruce’s dad) and Paul, his brother. Paul had an affair with Mama Barrett, got her knocked up and then died in a fiery crash. Unbeknownst to everyone, he left his inheritance to Rog. As he tells it,

“I guess my mother fell in love with Paul Patman, and they spent more and more time together, and-” Roger stopped, his face turning red. “I understand, Roger” Olivia said softly.

Mama Barrett was fooling around with Patman and gets knocked up. AND ROGER IS TOO EMBARASSED TO TALK ABOUT IT. Like 16 year old boys are embarassed to talk about sex. I swear, everyone in Sweet Valley has no genitals, like Alan Rickman in Dogma.

Jessica feels she lost her chance to hang around the Patman family when she struck out with Bruce, so she decides she wants to be Roger’s date to the big party, not Olivia. So they are at a BBQ at the patman’s and she sucks up to Mrs. Patman, Bruce’s mom and Roger’s aunt. Mama Patman likes Jessica’s je ne sais quoi (i.e., her Aryan good looks) and helps Jessica plot to get Olivia out of the picture. See, the Patmans don’t approve of Olivia, because-gasp!- she has frizzy hair! And wears flowy skirts and sandals! And likes poetry! How is she not stoned on the streets of Sweet Valley?

Meanwhile, Roger is having a hard time living at the Patman’s. Bruce is being a big dick to him, and Mama Patman hates him. Because he likes to run and not play tennis. Or some other dumb reason. He feels out of place at the Patman estate. His bedroom is large and wooden and has a large four poster bed. What? They don’t let him decorate? He has to live in a replica of a Tudor’s bedroom? He is at a dinner party for the Patman’s friends and he spills wine or something and Bruce and mama P act as if he killed someone. Papa Patman (who we are told is called Henry Wilson Patman) is the only one that is nice to Roger and tried to make him feel welcome. How is he not aware that his wife is a wicked old harpy and his son is a date rapist?

Meanwhile, Jess starts sucking up to Olivia and pretends to help her become someone the patmans would approve of. Liv continually feels like an ass and assumes she is embarassing Roger. For one, at a BBQ she feels like an ass because…she has a full plate of food. Yup, that makes her an ass because she eats more than 400 calories a day.

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.

This is incredibly infuriating. If Olivia is supposed to be all independent and free spiritied, why should she care about changing her image and fall for Jessica’s manipulations? And if she and Rog are supposed to be so close, WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT? Ugh. Way to make your semi-respectable characters act like shitheads.

Oh wait, it gets worse. Olivia is supposedly one of Elizabeth’s bffs, so you would think she would get suspicious of Jessica’s interest and I don’t know, maybe defend Olivia? But no, Liz decides she should just mind her own business and let Olivia suffer alone. What an asshole.

Jessica takes Olivia shopping at a trendy boutique, and Olivia remarks that she can’t tell which are the salesgirls and which are the mannequins. Apparently, she’s retarded.

Liz is busy being a total douche to another friend- Reginia Morrow, the rich deaf girl, has been leaving early from school. So, instead of just, oh, I don’t know, asking her friend if she is okay, she and Todd gossip like little girls about it and sneak around and follow her when she leaves after school. They see her with an older ma downtown. Lila is totes jealz of Regina because Regina usurped her position as the only rich brunette teenager in Sweet Valley, and also sees Regina with the older guy and spreads the rumor round that Regina has a sugar daddy. Obvs, this is juicy news over in SVH because they give a shit about the dumbest things.

Oh, so it turns out the older guy is the editor of Ingenue magazine (I guess it is like Cosmo?) and his job is to scout out young teenage girls to profile and model for the cover. Yup, that’s his job. Also, how convenient that the headquarters of a major mag is in SVH.

Reginia is profiled because of her ability to overcome the struggle of being deaf. Okay, no disrespect to the deaf community, but….has Reginia really struggled? her parents are loaded and therefore have been able to get her every treatment available and even had her in a special private school for the deaf her whole life. Not everyone deaf child has that luxury. Also, she is lauded for being able to lip-read perfectly and speak “perfectly”. Again, isn’t that conforming to dominant society and seeing her deafness as abnormal?

In reading this I was already up to my armpits in ridiculousness, but here is the kicker. We learn why Regina is deaf. Her mother used to be a famous model, and when she got preggers with Regina, she was going to quit, but she got one more offer to do a swimsuit shoot, but was told she needed to lose ten ponds, so she took a lot of diet pills which ruined Regina’s ears in the womb. THE FUCK? This made mama Morrow have to give up modeling, and ever since Regina was born, she also had hoped that Regina could model omeday. EVER SINCE SHE WAS BORN? Isn’t that the most awful expectation for a child? Francine thought she was making a tragic background story, I guess.

So back to the Patmans. Jessica tells Olivia the dress she made for herself is fugly, and embarasses her while playing tennis with Bruce and Roger, and other stuid manipulative stuff. Olivia finally breaks up with Roger over it. Both of them are so fucking stupid about it. Jessica convnces doormat Roger to take her to the country club. When they are there he realizes his mistake and declares his love for Olivia in front of everyone, much to Mama Patman’s chagrin. Papa Patman sets her straight and says that Roger is part of the family, so fucking deal with it. Papa patman is the only bearable person in the story.

Other thoughts:

Roger really doesn’t ever mention his grief over his dead mother…

Mama Patman walks around is silk loungewear holding a martini glass. What is this, Falcon Crest?

The SVH cafeteria serves Hungarian ghoulash, in case you cared. Why is Lila eating school lunch anyway?

In his free time, Bruce heads up to the university to cruise on college girls. Do they really want to hang around with a high school boy?

Also, Bruce apparently wears a teeny tiny speedo. Todd says it looks like a band-aid. Gay much?

Contiuity error: is this really the first time Jessica is meeting the Patmans? When she was dating Bruce, didn’t she hang around with them at the country club?

Do these kids ever go to a class?

In every book, one of the twins thinks about how lucky they are to live in Sweet Valley and how they couldn’t believe anyone would want to live anywhere else. Except for the racism, close-mindedness and lack of bars, it sounds like a dream.

Starting a new tradition: a poll with each entry. Today’s question:

Who is more of a DILF?

a. Ned Wakefield
b. Henry Wilson Patman
c. George Fowler
d. Roger Collins