This patterned jumsuit will make you feel as pretty as Linda Ronstadt! or #28 Alone in the Crowd

Raise your hand of Elizabeth’s all-knowing, demeaning look (plus her baby blue polo and matching barrettes) makes you want to punch her in the face! Also, Lynne is not bad looking. Those glasses…yikes. Although, take a trip to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. You’ll see some of the hipster kids wearing those.

Wow, Lynne Henry is a sad sack of shit. And the author really wants us to know that. This girl is actually someone that should be on suicide watch. And I’m not being fecicious. She wears dirty old clothing, has frizzy brown hair (because anything other than sun-streaked blonde is FREAKISH) and has glasses (THE HORROR). Plus, she looks like a stringbean, because she is tall and lanky and awkward. Wait, hold up, now that’s a bad thing? Of all the modeling that goes on in Sweet Valley, SHE should be the one who actually does the modeling. To make matters worse, her mother is head of a beauty salon and always trying to tell Lynne to take care of her looks. Could it get any worse?

She realizes what an unloveable loser she is when she hears Mr. Collins reading an Emily Dickinson poem: “I’m nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too?” She feels like Mr. Collins is saying this directly to her.
Check out more of these deep lyrics: “I never thought I’d be the one to say/A day is something more than just a day”. Wow…deep?

Ugh. Check out what Lynne thinks when she sees Jessica:

She couldn’t get over how grogeous Jessica looked in that shiny red sports car. She looked like an actress in a movie- her tanned skin, her perfect skin, her perfect hair, her sparkling bluish-green eyes. Lynne would have given anything in the whole world to be Jessica Wakefield just then. It just wasn’t her beauty, either, Lynne thought, Jessica was confident [I like to call it sociopathic].

Can it get worse? Yes it can. Guess who has taken an interest in Lynne? Yes, Liz “God complex” Wakefield. Liz bites her lip worrying about Lynne most of the time and thinks about how she can “save” her. Shut up and just go back to your privileged life.

The Droids are sponsoring a song writing contest. They don’t say why, but I am pretty sure that it is because since they play at every fricking school dance and they are running out of material. Lynne totally lurves Guy Chesney, the keyboard player, who lives in her neighborhood. They walk to school together and talk about music a lot. Lynne loves music and songwriting, but doesn’t tell anyone. At LEAST the girl has something she enjoys. I wanted to kill myself by proxy just reading about her. However, they talk about Linda Rondstadt and Lynne thinks Guy only likes attractive singers. [Checking date of book: 1987? Did teenagers seriously like her then?] I can see her wanting to look like Samantha Fox, Madonna or Susanna Hoffs, but Linda Ronstadt? Omg, remember Samantha Fox? Anyway…

Lynne secetly enters the singwriting conrest with a song about Guy. I seriously want to make fun of the song, but it is seriously so pathetic it hurts to laugh.

Day after day I’m feeling kind of lonely,
Day after day it’s him and him only.
Something in his eyes
Made my hopes start to rise.
But he’s a part of the world that doesn’t include me.
Nothing he says could ever delude me.
I’ll never win.
This is how it’s always been.
I’m on the outside…looking in.
Night after night I’m saying a prayer
Night after night…hat somebody will care!
Somebody to hear me,
Somebody to stay near me…
But nothing’s going to change. Dreams can’t deceive me.
I’m all alone. You’ve got to believe me.
I just can’t win.
This is how it’s always been…
I’m on the outside- on the outside…
Lookin’ in.

Oh, get a load of this. Jess and the cheerleaders need new uniforms, so they are sponsoring a fundraiser. (Why not give the money to the needy families of Sweet Valley? Oh yea cuz they are gross and deserve whatever they get.) So she decides to have a rock-a-thon at the gym where people will pledge the cheerleaders for each half-hour they rock. They turn it into a party and have the Droids play. (Won’t the dance cost money therefore eating their profits???) The Droids are going to annouce the winner of the contest at the dance.

Of course they are BLOWN away by Lynne’s song, and Guy practically goes insane with lust for the girl who wrote it. I think he actually puts the cassette down his pants. Lynne doesn’t want to reveal herself because she thinks Guy will be disappointed.

Elizabeth is at the guitar store (for no fucking reason) and hears Lynne giving lessons and realizes that she is the songwriter. She of course, gives Lynne the pep talk that only Liz can give In fact, Guy ALSO confides in Liz about his obsession with the singer. Why is Liz always the patron saint?

So, obviously, all the plot twists can only point to one thing: A MAKEOVER! Lynne decides that she needs to start taking care of her looks and puts on some stylish clothes- which includes a patterned jumpsuit and her mother’s earrings. HAWT! Her mother then takes her for a day at the salon and they do her hair and makeup. Lynne has “never felt closer to her mother”. Thanks Ms. Henry for withholding your love until Lynne wants some finger curls. Also, they have the requsite “self-esteem comes from the inside, not the outside” speech. So why the hell do we need this makeover montage? (Not that there is anything wrong with makeover montages. I happen to love them).

So finally, mentoning Linda Ronsdtadt to guy makes him realize it is Lynne Henry. Okay, random: he has a POLICE SKETCH artist sketch what he thinks the artist looks like and of course it looks like Lynne and she knows that he knows and BOOM! They fall in love and of course, everything is sealed with one big kiss. Isn’t that magical? [VOMIT]. I wonder if he would have kissed her pre-jumpsuit.

You can probably predict what I am going to say. Lynne’s happiness and “success” should be because she wrote a great song and won a contest, gained some self-respect, and finally connected with her mother. Instead, the ultimate end result is kissing the boy she likes. It seems that Guy’s and Lynne’s relationship is based on something deeper than most relationships, but it is so not going last. Lynne has dealt with serious depression issues and the second Guy doesn’t call her back right away or says something that she interprets wrong she is going to freak out and get seriously clingy. You can’t “cure” the years of depression and self-doubt with one kiss. She needs to be okay with herself before she is able to love someone else. I hate to sound like Dr. Phil, but that’s the reality. And I hate that this is sending the message that getting a boyfriend cures all ills. But am I really surprised at the lack of social accountability?

Other thoughts:

Guy actually seems like one of the more interesting guys at SVH. And thats not saying much.

Jess dances with Ken Matthews at the dance and Liz doesn’t blink and eye. Isn’t she supposed to be crazy jealous? Oh, that’s right, the writers put in that story AFTER THE FACT! CONTINUITY PLEASE!

Aside from her stupid rocking chair dance, Jessica actually did not do anything manipulative or assinine. it was kind of weird.

In case you care, the team DID raise enough money for the outfits. They bought ones that were super-slutty.

Classes are canceled on a Friday so the school can play a softball game in the park. You can guess who the members of the team are- the same ones on the volleyball team. How does the school allow this? The school board is probably in the Soviet Union again.

Grade: B

The one with the artifical intelligence science project, or #36, Last Chance

My god, Amy Sutton is a worthless, disgusting, soul-sucking piece of shit. And the thing is, I am not sure if her high school persona is supposed to be hatelful to the reader, or supposed to personify popularity. Apparently in junior high she was smart and nice and driven, and now she is anything but, and that is really never addressed. My god, even Jessica gets annoyed with her. And that’s saying a lot.

The Clark Kent guy is Peter DeHaven, someone who apparently is the shit at SVH and we are only hearing about him now. He’s a computer science genius, and he’s been accepted to MIT. Funny how he’s totally smart and the gals are all over him, but god forbid a girl does well in school and she’s a hideous dog. Oh, and he maaaaayyyy be wearing pleated jeans. It’s hard to tell. The blonde is Amy, duh. The other gal is Johanna Porter, sister of Julie Porter, the one who was caught up in the pledging mayhem.

Jo dropped out of school because she was failing and had no motivation. Her parents and sister Julie were way into music and she wasn’t, so she felt like the outcast of her family. She had no interest in music, so she felt she wasn’t repected. I actually felt for her a little. Then her mother was killed and felt even more alienated and depressed. She has been working as a waitress at the Whistle Stop which she actually enjoyed more than SVH because the people were real and she felt respected. Honestly, she is better off being there and making an honest living. But, she decides to give school another try. Once she arrives every is all bitchy and judgemental. She chats with Pete, who is a childhood friend, but is also going out with Amy. When Amy is away, he and Johanna hang out, although he only talks about himself and doesn’t seem to care about her. Although, she is starved for attention and sympathy and unfortunately totally falls in lurve with him. However, he is a total dick and won’t break up with Amy. He doesn’t even like her, he guesses it is just easier to be with her.

Meanwhile, guess who is assigned to tutor Jo to help her catch up? That’s right, our resident Ingalls, Miss Liz Wakefield. Not only does she tutor her in school, she tutors her in LIFE! Why the fuck does she always have to tutor people? Ken, Annie, and now Johanna! As if Liz wasn’t sticking her condescending nose into everything already, she goes and confronts Peter about how he is treating Jo. Yea, like she has the right to say how to treat people in relationships.

Finally Peter does realize he really does love Johanna but he is staying with Amy because he is not truly interested in her, so he never has to be vulnerable. Finally after Johanna drops out again, he finds her at the Whistle Stop and professes his love for her, but….she TELLS HIM TO FUCK OFF! And that she needs to get her life together for her, and not for anyone else! Can it be true? Does a character actually grow a spine? I am actually overjoyed that things don’t end up in a stupid cliched happy ending with a kiss.

Meanwhile, for now reason other than she is a manipulative sociopath, Jessica decides that she does not want Cara and Steven to go out anymore. She feels that since she got them together, she OWNS them and has the right to break them up. She makes each of them believe that they are seeing other people. They fight about it and when they realize that it was Jessica that was behind it all, she pulls this shit: “I was only testing you two…if you really loved each other, you’d never fall for any of that stuff I said.” And Steven and Cara bend over and take it. Cara: “She’s right, Steve. We’re really the ones at fault. We should have trusted each other.” And Jessica gets way with it!!!! Why does she get all this validation?

Other stuff:

It seems that every character is soooo beautiful and that has to be mentioned a thousand times. Is there anyone at this school who is NOT beautiful? If so, they never get any airtime. In fact, I think they have to take special classes. Joanna’s “long hair made her look old-fashined, and her eyes were such a beautiful shade of green. That afternoon she was wearing a flowered jumper and a Victorian lace blouse. She had a style all her own, which Elzabeth thought was charming. But she couldn’t help thinking that it was a shame it was that Johanna couldn’t show the same independent style when it came to expressing her ideas.” SHUT UP LIZ! Also, I think I wore that outfit for my secind-grade school pictures.

God, Amy is so dreadful. She hates when Peter talks about his science stuff because it bores her, so she doesn’t allow him to talk about it.

Steven has a math assignment from college that Johanna helps him with. It is pictures of pieces of paper with fold lines and you have to imagine the shape of the final folded project. Wtf is that? It’s like an IQ test. And, suddenly after one chemistry test, the teachers claim that Johanna is gifted and enroll her in collge courses. Wow. SVH has some great assessment tools.

The author uses “computer programs” very loosely here. Peter’s science project is one that he is writing a program for a robot psychologist. It will answer yes or no questions and from the answers determine the patient’s emotional state. Yes. The one part he gets stuck on is how to program it to determine love. And Johanna helps him solve that part too, because what do you know, she’s suddenly a computer whiz. And see what we did there? Johanna “helps” him learn love. Barf.

Of course, there is a dance in this book. A PTA dance. What in the hell does that mean? A PTA-themed dance? A PTA sponsored dance? Why in the hell would anyone go to it anyway? Jess and Cara look real classy. “Jessica fluffed up her hair and admired her leather miniskirt and skimpy white top”. Cara was dressed in “a pair of tight black jeans and a sparkly t-shirt” Actually, that sounds kind of cute. Anayway, I’m still baffled over this PTA dance. The Droids are playing, natch.

Did I mention I hate Amy?

Grade: C

Todd is from Mars and Liz is from Venus, or #78 The Dating Game

Suddenly, all these other SVH students come out of the woodwork that we’ve never heard of before. Scott Trost, Danny something, Zach something, all football players. You’d think Jessica would have dry humped them all by now. I think the enrollment of SVH just tripled. Why haven’t we heard of them before? Especially since so many of them are on the football team???? Why am I still under the assumption SVH storylines are logical?????

Sigh. Here we go. Jessica is having reocurring dreams about some guy named Jackson who lives in Hawaii and feels she is meant to be with him. Gross thing is, she tells her parents all about it. I still can’t talk to my mother about boys, and I am 30. Alice agrees that if she can earn the money to go to Hawaii, she can go and look for this guy. In order to make money, she offers up her services as a dream interpreter. So we spend a lot of time hearing about the cheerleaders dumb dreams. Befoe you call Alice a bad mother, she probably figures out that Jessica won’t end up making the money. Somehow I am hoping that this guy Jackson actually turns out to be Jackson Ripner.

Meanwhile Liz tried to be all investigative reporter and is doing a feature for the Oracle on what attracts men. Yes, you heard that correctly. Mr. Collins, can you please do you job correctly and put a stop to this? So she makes up a survey to give out. The other suggest that a picture of she and Todd go with the article because they are “the perfect couple”. We are on book 78- shall we tally up the fights and indescretions? Nothing I love more than heterosexism and validation about a social contruct. Liz claimes that guys only go for looks, while women look for deeper reasons. Todd disagrees and writes a letter anonymously claiming that both women are equally shallow. Viva La equal rights.

That’s really the secondary storyline, because there is an inane plot about Jean West and Claire Middleton (the gal who tried out for the football team- don’t actually know if that worked out). They both go one Saturday night without a date and suddenly they are old maids. They both get the same cheesy love letter from Scott Trost, the quarterback, who we’ve barely heard of until now. They both realize they’ve been two-timed, but instead of confronting him, they play along with his game. Finally, when they confront him about it, he decides that there should be a contest between them about who is a better dater and the prize is him. They plan to go along with it and when he announces the winner at a fucking school assembly they will both turn him down. Although somehow, Jean still has the hots for him. They go on several cliches dates, so the ever fancy Box Tree Cafe and mini-golfing. Yes, there is nothing hotter than some manipulation and oppression. So Scott explaines that he only asked out both of them because there was pressure from his teammates to be macho. That only makes Jean want him more. They fall in love. The end.

Meanwhile, Claire really loves Danny Porter. I don’t know what happened with that, the whole plot of this book is so fucked up, like the ghostwriter wasn’t even trying. Seriously, nothing made sense.

Meanwhile Jessica won’t shut up about her dream, and even her father wants her to shut up. She goes in to business as a dream interpreter. It turns out that her dream was only because she saw a magazine ad about Hawaii. I think that storyline was for comedy. I’m not sure.

Other thoughts:

Jeez, these kids are so date-y. As in the guys wear suits and they go out to dinner. Did sixteen year olds EVER do this? You see this a lot in 80s teen movies too. Maybe I am just jaded, because nowadays sixteen year olds have orgies in their finished basements.

Check out this nugget of feminism from Jessica: “If you think about it, when someone asks you out, it means you’ve won a competition , with all the other girls he could have asked out. We’re competing all the time!”

Another great quote: “It’s just that I don’t know what people do who don’t go out do on Saturday nights. Are there special shows on television for them, or something like that?” Yes, Jessica, it’s called Battlestar Galactica, and it’s fucking amazing.

And now it’s time for a new segment I like to call When Todd Says Things That Make Him Sound Gay. You’d be surprised, it happens a lot: [about Scott Trost]

“He’s a hard worker, and also a terrific team player.” He winked. “And even you can’t deny that he’s attractive”.

What’s with the wink, Todd? Are you trying to tell us something?

My grade: D-

Today’s poll: isn’t the Gossip Girl show a piece of shit? I wanted to give it a try to perhaps be one of my guilty pleasures, and thought it would be more sardonic, like Mean Girls. The books are for the generation that came after me, but I assumed they were like SVH. I mean, in the first episode alone, there was a character who attempted to sexually assauly two girls. Please make this go off my television.

p.s. Since I had a great response to my Sleepover Friends post, I am thinking of recapping some other series on here. I just had my parents ship me a whole carton of my books from when I was a kid/teenager. Don’t worry, I am still loyal to our aqua-eyed. sun-streaked twins.

The one where all of Jessica’s boyfriends die or #100, The Evil Twin

As someone mentioned earlier, Margo, aka the evil twin, is good because she “gets shit done”. I totally agree. But let’s go back to the beginning.

So as I started reading this, I realized it was sixth in a miniseries and was worried that I should have read the first few before this. Then I realized that my IQ is over 40 and I would have no problem. Some background: Jess and Liz were in competition for Jungle Prom queen, and Jess wanted Liz to look like an idiot so she spiked her punch. She accidentally spiked her boyfriend’s Sam’s punch too, and then they drove off and Liz killed him. There was a trial and shit, and in the meantime Jessica stole Todd for a while but then there was a not guilty verdict and Todd is back with Liz, but needless to say, Jess and Liz are talking. Meanwhile, Margo, who is a fucked up foster child who HAPPENS TO LOOK IDENTICAL TO THE TWINS, is on her way to SV to take over Liz’s identity after seeing her picture in the papers. Along the way, Margo killed lots of people, including some boy named Georgie. Georgie’s bro, Josh, is on Margo’s tail to take her down. Margo also hired some guy, James, so spy on the twins, but meanwhile he has fallen in love with Jessica. Because no one can ever not fall in love with them.

I feel bad for Jess- all her boyfriends dying. I mean, I hate Jessica, but isn’t that a little much to put her through? I did start to feel a lil bad for her. And why the hell do boys always fall in love with her? I mean, in high school years “love” really means “lust” but let’s just call it like we see it and not have guys professing their innermost feelings for her, but rather just trying to get into her pants.

Oh, and Jess and Liz are not talking to each other. Because at one point during the trial, Jessica intercepted some love letters from Todd and had her way with them. Also, Liz doesn’t know that Jess was the one that spiked the punch. They both have dreams about the incident, cuz their twins, they have a connection. I guess it must be the matching size six figures.

Finally, Margo gets the same dress as Liz and goes to Lila’s New Year’s Eve ball and lures Liz into a boathouse intending to kill her, but Jessica and Josh show up in time to push Margo through a glass window onto concrete, and a shar of glass goes through her jugular. Didn’t that happen in Ghost?. Good times. Murder always makes for a happy ending.

Ok, plotline out the way.

Showing you the cover here is kind of pointless, because it is a SPECIAL fold out cover, and the inner flap shows Margo dressed as Elizabeth weilding a knife, and Liz showing fear. Also, an inset of the twins in bathrobes opening presents under the tree, and they look about 47. If you own the book you can enjoy it yourselves.

Margo is batshit crazy. No doubt. Something about her growing up in foster homes and being abused. Okay, I’ll give her that, but she kills anybody in her way just for the chance to become a Wakefield. Seriously, Francine makes it seem as if you don’t grow up in a heterosexual nuclear family, you are a lunatic. Suzanne Devlin was a sociopath because she had neglectful parents, Lila is all fucked up because of her broken home, Tricia Martin and the whole town drunk dad thing, etc. etc. Like the Wakefields are the perfect family- pshah. Do Alice and Ted realize one of their twins is a raging cock tease and the other one is a condescending hypocrite?

Speaking of Ned and Alice, Margo hatched a plan to send them on a fake trip to San Francisco on some “lawyer consulting” thing. With a big-shot lawyer that Ted is, why in the hell did he fall for the bait? Well, as soon as they get to San Fran of course they do the toursity stuff- Fisherman’s Warf, Golden Gate, blah blah. I’s like to see Alice end up at Haight-Ashbury and reminisce about her hippy days. Anyway. Alice starts getting mother’s intuition that something is wrong and they try to get home despite train derailings and shit. I hate when they write from the adults’ point of view. It’s insulting.

Ok, so Margo apparently looks so much like the twins she sneaks into the house a lot and pretends to be them. Uh, even their mother couldn’t tell them apart? She also goes shopping with Lila and hangs out with Enid, and they are none the wiser. They just think their friend is in a weird mood. Whatever. Also, didn’t they have a dog, Prince Albert? Where did it go? Wouldn’t the dog detect strangers? Ghost writers, check your notes!!!!

Margo also went out with Todd and they made out and shit, and Todd didn’t say anything. He just thought it was Jessica. What a dick boyfriend.

I love how it is ony Christmastime, and apparently everything that happened in the last 99 books took place over three months. Including several spring breaks, summer trips, etc. Gotta love warped Sweet Valey time. Also, the day before Christmas vacation, every class at SVH has a party. Wtf?

Ken Matthews dressed up as Santa to deliver candy canes. What? Is he showing a hint of personality?

Also, a Jungle Prom? What is going on with that? I’m kind of offended.

Jessica’s friends really don’t offer her support after James dies, because they don’t know what to say. Assholes.

Can I mention that I am still reeling at the possibility that there is a lunatic foster child that LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE TWINS??? This is the likedaytime soap fodder.

Now, here is the big question. Why does everyone worship the Wakefield twins? People are dying to be friends with them, idolize them, and go on a killing rampage to become one of them. Surely, SOMEONE must hate them with a passion. Even when they treat one like shit (ahem, Robin Wilson) they still come crawling back for approval/acceptance, and this drives me fucking crazy. My god, Jessica has screwed over countless boys, I am sure they are not too happy with her. She basically hates and ridicules other girls, so there must be some goth/alterna chick at SVH who hates her. And Liz…she acts all perfect and sweet, but we know she is a hypocrite. If we ever saw them in classes, I have a feeling that Liz would be such a know-it-all and a teacher’s pet. Even through grad school there was always one of those in every class and I always loathed them. I mean, this is high school. Jealousy and exclusion are enough to fuel school shootings. Also, have you ever known someone where other people keep telling you how awesome they are and that alone makes you kind of hate them a little? Maybe that’s just me.

My grade: B. The later ones seem to have a totally different feel, and are way dumber. In a good way.

Next time: I got a whole new batch of books from ebay, so I don’t know. I want to get into the trilogies, but there are so many other shit-tastic ones from the 50s and 60s. We shall see.

Today’s poll: If you could look identical to a SVH character and murder them and take over their life, who would it be? I would say Penny Ayala, and turn the boring Oracle into an underground anarchist publication.

The one with the crash landing or #20 Crash Landing!

Ok, when I say this one was bad, I don’t mean like so bad it was good, I mean so fucking stupid. George Warren, Enid’s boyf, has fallen in love with former fatty Robin Wilson while they are taking flying classes. [cue needle scratching across record]

Um, what? Flying lessons? The last I heard of any teenagers taking flying lessons was when Theo and Cockroach convinced their parents to let them do it and then decided it was too expensive. Why the fuck is Robin taking flying classes? Isn’t she too busy cheerleading and losing weight at explosive rates? I know they are rich kids, but please.

So George takes Enid up in his plane one last time before he plans on dumping her (uh, why?) but they crash land in the water. See how the book got its title? So Enid is now paralyzed and George feels guilty for wanting to dump her and reluctantly stays with her. Enid knows about him and Robin but manipulates George into staying with her. They even go to a dance (it is Friday, after all) and Enid really sees that George is really in love with Robin and needs to let go. Um, sad?

But, she still can’t walk and Liz thinks it’s psychosomatic. So she hatches a plan using Mr. Collins son Teddy. This is rull appropriate. She leaves him in the pool with Enid and Teddy pretends to drown and Enid is forced to jump up and save him. It was totally like when Nellie Olsen fell off Laura’s horse and pretended to be paralyzed but then Laura pushed her into a lake forcing her to stand up. Except that it wasn’t as cool.

And here’s the icing on the cake: Liz is a HERO after playing that trick on Enid. People at school run up to her and cheer. Errrrr, isn’t Enid the one who just became unparalyzed? Shouldn’t someone give a shit?

Um, the cover? It makes it look like Liz is saving Enid right after the crash. Or, if they are in the hospital, shouldn’t she not move Enid around like that?

Other thoughts:

Robin Wilson gets all stressed and guilty, so of course she starts stuffing her face. Eating is weakness. The book takes place over the span of a week, and she puts on ten pounds. And both Liz and Jessica both take notice in the form of condescending thoughts in italics.

So high school kids and their love lives can often be shallow, but I really don’t know why some of these kids are together. They never really talk about why why and how George and Robin fell in love. Their love of planes? Their burning desires for mainstream acceptance?

Sorry y’all, I couldn’t give you more. This one was dreadful.

My grade: F

Next time: Rags to Riches: it is so fucking ridiculous you won’t believe it.

The one where Robin Wilson loses 100 pounds and joins the cheerleading squad in a timespan of a week, or #4, Power Play

Jessica “I like gingham”.

Elizabeth: “I am going to give you an open-mouth kiss”.

Also, Elizabeth has a receding hairline.

I digress. Jayzuz, this one was disturbing. So many horrible messages sent to young impressionable minds. So let’s get into it. If you remember in book three, Jessica strung Robin Wilson along and took advanatage of her. She even told her she would nominate her to be a Pi Beta Alpha. Now that the whole thing with Bruce went haywire, she wants to forget it. Elizabeth thinks it is unfair and thinks Jessica should keep her promise. Okay, I’ll give her that. Jessica doesn’t want anyone fat in her sorority. So, you would think that Elizabeth would be on Robin’s side for Robin, but no, she just does it to prove a point to Jessica, Lila and Cara, the trifecta of c*nts. So to try to dissaude her, they give Robin these impossible hazing tasks, like running five miles around the track while people oink at her. And make her go to the beach in a bikini. Ok, everyone say it with me: WHY DOES THE SCHOOL ALLOW THIS? MR. COLLINS, DO SOMETHING!

Instead of telling Robin that she shouldn’t go through this, she helps her complete the tasks. I think she secretly wants to see Robin go through it. So Robin does do everything they ask, so they give her one final task: get Bruce Patman to ask her to the Discomarathon (another dance-a-thon?). That’s a punishment, he may try to touch her boob. Or drug her and date rape her. It could happen. So Elizabeth goes to him and promises to write a feature for him in the Oracle if he asks her to the dance. His ego wins out, and they go to the dance. Once they get there, he acts all Bruce Patman-y and says to everyone when he arrives, “Ok, that’s it. I brought you to the dance, Tubby. I’ve got better things to do now. Hey! Anyone want to steer the Queen Mary around the floor tonight?” Wow, real nice. So Robin is humiliated and finally realizes that everyone is having a laugh at her expense with this whole pledging thing. Just NOW she realizes it. So she runs out and after that withdraws from everyone and walks around not talking to anyone and all withdrawn. And acts pretty suicidal. Jessica and the Pi Betas blackball her.

So apparently, a few days go by and Elizabeth starts noticing that Robin is losing weight. Then, maybe another week goes by and suddenly she is a size zero. And BOOM everyone wants a piece. Even Patman. And get this…Elizabeth talks to Robin’s mother!!!! What a fucking tool. Ok, the nominations are heating up for the Miss Sweet Valley High title. Ok, what school sponsors a beauty pageant? WTF??? In what fucked up world is Francine in? Of course, Robin wins, which is a big fuck you to the Pi Betas, because Miss Sweet Valley High is ALWAYS a Pi Beta, doncha know. Then, Robin tried out for the cheerleading squad and is made co-captain with Jessica. Uh, Robin has never cheerled in her life, now co-captain? Apparenty the only requirement for the team is being skinny.

Ok, back it up. Apparently, Robin also happens to be one of the smartest students at Sweet Valley. But that doesn’t seem to matter here. Only when does she win Miss Sweet Valley does she get acceptance and self-confidence. Ugh. And she gets acceptance from the people that once mocked her. UGH! Seriously, if Robin is smart, just wait it out a year. She’ll go off to a good college and be successful and Jessica will have three kids by age 20. But no, being thin and popular is the ultimate success. Of course, how could I forget.

And obviously, since Robin is fat, she is a bumbling idiot as well. Don’t you know the two go hand in hand? When Liz is with her, she stuffs her face with candy bars all afternoon. When she gets the news she is pledging, she rushes to the fridge to eat an entire cheesecake. Francine really hates overweight people. According to her, they get what they deserve.

When Robin is losing weight, there is an obligatory scene where she explains to Liz that she is not starving herself. I think it is a little late for a public service announcement.

Oh yea. There is a side story about how Lila is shoplifting because she wants more attention from Daddy. Elizabeth forces her to confront the store and tell the truth. Because Elizabeth is full on Little House on the Prairie syndrome.

The moral of the story: thin is in.

Other tidbits:

Robin wears tent dresses everyday, because my god, no one must make clothes in her size, ANYWHERE. Actually, if she were around today, she’d be totally hip.

Omg, a really dumb Todd/Elizabeth moment: Liz won’t tell Todd why she is pissed at Jessica, so Todd apparently pretends to be a fortune teller: “Don’t tell me. Let me gaze into zee futur. Ziss beeg trouble starts with a J is look almost as bee-yoo-tiful as you.” I cringed when I read that.

We get a description of Fowler Crest (Lila’s estate): sculptures on the grounds, red brick courtyard with a big fountain filled with tropical fish. Francine has such a fetish for rich people.

During the campaign for Miss Sweet Valley, the football team has a sign that says “Robin has us Throbbin'”. Heh.

On another note, I sheepishly netflixed the first season of the Sweet Valley High tv show. Oh god, what a mistake. It was paaaaaaiiiiinful. Not funny and no matter what they were wearing or what they were doing, the twins looked like porn stars. And there was this horrendous scene at a dance (where else?) where Elizabeth and Winston do a choreographed dance (you can see a lil of it in the credits. And Todd is fugly (Ryan James Bittle) and Bruce looks about 50 (Brock Burnett). Full cringe factor in effect.

My grade: F

Next time: Perfect Summer and then Lovestruck, told from Ken Matthew’s perspective. Because he’s so insightful. Or something.

The one where Bruce touches Jessica’s boobs, or #3 Playing With Fire

With some consutation of my peers, this was considered one of the more “racier” ones, and the one we all felt we had to hide from our parents. I found it to be the most damaging to young girls (i.e. me) about their perceptions of self (i.e. my perception of my self).

So it starts out at – SHOCKER! – a school dance, this time a Sweet Valley High dance contest (wtf?) and Jessica was voted skankiest of the dance or something, and she finally gets Bruce Patman to notice her. Bruce, if you didn’t know, duh, is allegedly the hottest guy at school, he’s also the richest. And the cockiest. And the preppiest. And the one most likely to date rape. I envision him somehow as James Marsden, but not X-Men Marsden, more like Sugar and Spice Marsden, with dockers and lots of Izod. However, the cover makes him look about 46.

Nice chokehold on Jessica. Well, this book does make Jessica the posterchild for dating violence. So, after the dance, they all go to a party and Bruce and Jessica are in the pool and he UNTIES HER BIKINI TOP! I just remember that being sooooo scandalous. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t even sure what he was untying for, but I knew Bruce was naaasssty. Also, that was about the most sexually explicit and SVH will go in about 80 books. So don’t expect anything else that’s above PG. Then they go to make out in the woods. Elizabeth is worried about Jessica so she goes to spy on them and confronts them basically while they are dry humping, but Jessica insists she knows what she is doing. Oh, and Francine (i.e. ghostwriters) deliver the most fabulous SVH writing ever: “He responded by turning his face to hers and kissing her hard, his arms crushing her against him, his mouth demanding what his body wanted to take.” Imagine my eight-year-old self trying to wrap my mind around that.

I have to hand it to Liz, she kind of handles this one alright. She wants Jessica to see what a douche Bruce is, but as soon as she confronts Jessica, she knows she will push her right into Bruce’s arms. So she just lets it ride and hope Jessica sees it. Which she doesn’t. She sits around waiting for Bruce to call, and will drop everything to do what he wants. They play tennis together and when she doesn’t let Bruce win, he throws a tantrum. It was awesome.

Yea, so they also make out all over the lawn in school everyday and Jessica skips classes and steals from tests so Bruce can cheat. Blah blah blah. You’s think that based on Bruce’s aversion to women wearing tops he would try to go further with Jessica, like cop an under-the-bra feel, but that doesn’t seem to happen, which I call bullshit on. So, finally Bruce has a birthday party of whatnot, and takes Jessica there and he tells her she needs to sit and wait for him to talk to her and for her not to talk to anyone else. Great. So then Bruce pretends the party is over and Elizabeth schemes to pretend to drive Jessica home but then pretends to forget something back at the party, and they go back so Jessica can see that Bruce is still at the party, but this time he brought another girl back with him. Jessica finally sees the light and throws pizza and soda on him. If my book had a tiny audio implant, Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” would play at that part.

What pisses me off is that it is that Bruce was not monogomous to her that breaks Jessica, and not the emotional manipulation. Cheating sucks, but the abuse was fine when Jessica was the only one he was manipulating. Sigh.

Oh, there is a subplot about how the Droids, a student band (they play at all the dances- the ones that happen three times a week) get noticed by a manager who promises to get them a record deal but the pressure almost breaks them up. I think this was added to send a message about being yourself is the best way to be. Sorry Francine, don’t even try to bring morals into this. Just stick to dry humping in the woods.

Oh, and here is the other subplot. There is a girl that follows Jessica around because she wants to pledge their sorority (don’t even get me started with that) but she is nerdy an socially awkward. And surprise, surprise- she’s overweight. Because that means she’s a total nerd and loser. Of course, I forgot Francine, thanks for teaching me about body image. Jessica promises to get her into the sorority if she does shit for her- like keep Winston occupied, and steal test answers. Of course, Robin agrees and Jessica gives her makeup and shopping lessons or some shit like that. But, and I quote, Jessica feels that “this girl can’t seriously believe that anyone would want a butterball like her for a sorority sister”. HATE!

Yea, so I am not sure if we learned any lessons, but we’ve now established Bruce as a a complete misogynist, capitalist. materialistic douche.

Can we talk about the gossip column that Elizabeth writes for the school paper:

The halls are buzzing with the news of a hot and heavy thing going on between Lila F. and a certain blond football player. Chalk up one more for Lila…Three cheers for Lois W. ! John P. showed up at her party. Guess sometimes dreams DO come true…Bill C.’s found another surf bunny…Enid R.’s packing her suitcases for another weekend visit with G.W.- fourth in a row, but who’s counting? …Cara W. has her eye on a basketball-playing senior. Maybe she can get him interested in something besides dribbling!…Danger: Toni J.s now on the roads. Pedestrians beware…

Firstly, she’s calling Lila a slut. And does anyone care if she went to visit her boyfiend? for the millionth time I ask, HOW IN THE HELL DOES THE SCHOOL ALLOW THIS?

My grade: B+

The one with the socioeconomic issues, or #9 Racing Hearts

When I read these the first time around, Lila Fowler was my favorite. Probably because she was rich, pretty, and popualar (supposedly). Criminy, her house actually had a name- Fowler Crest. I totally got a Sarah Michelle Gellar circa Cruel Intentions as my picture of her. I would say I still do like Lila. She is a total beast. but at least she is honest and not manipulative and borderline like Jessica. Plus, she’s got MAJOR daddy issues, so cut her a break.

Roger Barrett is sooooo poooor. Bruce Patman is soooooooo rich. In case you didnt already know, Francine, has to mention it about a thousand times. And she only thinks in extreme binaries. Roger is totes channeling Edward Norton. And ick! He has to wear a sweatshirt. Cuz he’s so poooor!

Ok, so there is this big annual race happening at SVH. It has never been mentioned before this book, so I am pretty certain it will never be mentioned again. The winner get some cash plus a scholarship to Sweet Valley College. Uh, okay. A track scholarship? They don’t mention it. Also, there is a big dance that follows the race. Because Sweet Valley can’t go five fucking minutes without having a dance. Lila suddenly shows interest in Roger once he becomes a strong contender for the title, because she “wants to be seen at the dance with the winner”. See, she’s a cold-hearted beast, but at least she’s straightfforward. But uh oh! Roger actually can’t make the race because on Saturday afternoons he is at his job as a janitor in an office building. BECAUSE HE’S POOR! God forbid a teenager has an afterschool job in Sweet Valley. And he couldn’t work at the mall?

Oh wait, Jessica decides she is totally mature and wants to go work at her father’s law office. Seemingly because she wants to learn more about it. But she delivers this gem, probably influences tons of preteen girls to apply to law school.:

It was one thing to defend lost causes but quite another to have to defend really grizzly, dangerous criminals. Civil law, something more along with the lines of her father’s practice , was much more better, she concluded. Conferring with other lawyers-including lots of handsome men- certainly had to be exciting , and a lot less dangerous

But about eight books ago, she was okay with giving it up to the town criminal when he picked her up on the walk home from school. Anyhoo, about five minutes into the job, she got annoyed that she actually has to make copies. What is this, Heidi from The Hills? But, she sneaks out and meets another guy working at the law office across the way. Because she is soooooo pretty and soooooooo popular (as we are constantly reminded) he asks her out. Except that he never wants to go out. They meet in the copy room after everyone goes home. Well, what is the purpose of this subplot? Well, I love when Jessica gets embarassed. Turns out the guy doesn’t take Jessica out of the building because he can;t drive because he’s really fifteen. Oh! The horror! Jessica’s a shallow cunt so breaks it off. But during her late night rendezvous, she sees Roger working as a janitor in the building.

Ok, so of course Liz always has to be so condescendingly moral, she asks her father to ask Roger’s boss to give him the time off work so he can run the race. Oh, because his boss is making him work on Saturdays because he’s just a mean bitter guy. Not because he actually needs to get the office clean because the big shot lawyers like Ted Wakefield will complain. No, he’s just mean. I can’t wait til the class riots overtake Sweet Valley and loot the Dairi Burger.

Yes, Roger wins big shock and realized Lila is not the girl he wants, so he gets together with his friend Olivia. You know, the weird girl who eats alfalfa srouts and wears peasant skirts.

Snore.

Oh wait, Lila may be mentally retarded. Check out the poem she wrote for Roger:

Roger Barrett, a boy so fine

His speeding runner is so divine

In school, too, he is very smart.

He’ll walk away with the trophy from the Bart

In everything he operates in the highest stratum.

We at Sweet Valley are so proud we have him.

Wow Lila, great use of active voice.

My grade: D +

The one where we find out that Enid was a slutty criminal, or #2, Secrets

What’s that pink thing? Is it a…phone? Why is there a cord attached to it? I don’t understand.

Ok, so the title is a little obvious. Enid, Liz’s nerdy best friend, has a secret. She has a police record! And she’s been writing letters to her old boyfriend! She has a new boyfriend, Ronnie, and she doesn’t want him to find out because he’s an abusive prick and she’s a pathetic doormat. Thanks Francine, I learned everything about how boyfriends should treat me in high school from you. Boyfriends are not about talking and joking and making life plans together, they are about not upsetting them and going to makeout point when they want. When we do talk to them, we should only talk in lovey-dovey flirty talk. I digress.

Jessica is an insane, manipulative cunt and she hates that Liz has any other friends but her (but she can hang out with Lila and Cara and the cheerleaders, and it’s okay). So she finds the letters to Enid’s old boyfriend and spreads it around school. Liz is the only one Enid told, so she gets mad at Liz and makes her cry about a thousand times. The funny thing is, the rumor is all over school! People actually give a shit that SOME GIRL WRITES LETTERS! Again, this is social suicide for Enid, because everyone in SVH are the uptight moral police.

So, blah blah, Enid reunites with her old boyf George who is now hot and has cleaned up his act, and Liz gets back at Jess by makinf sure that the class nerd Winston Eggbert wins Homecoming King so Jessica has to dance with him when she wins homecoming queen.

What, another dance? I think that SVH holds dances every night.

Francine has also introduced us to the timeless madonna/whore theory, best illustrated by the twins. Once can either be completely pure and no backbone and a pushover, or a raging slut with no other thoughts or ambitions.

When I first read the books, I imagined the characters as the drawings, but I am getting a Jake Gyllenhaal vibe from Todd.

God Francine, we GET IT! The twins are beautiful. You don’t have to make all the characters mention it all the time. If I hear one more thing about “perfectly toned legs” or sea-green eyes, I will scream. Funny, but today’s standards, the twins are LARD ASSES. Size six? Omg!!! Not size zero? Seriously.

I also love how this takes place about 5 seconds after the last book, and Todd and Elizabeth already have regular places and places they frequent. I think they’ve been dating for about a day.

Elizabeth is a fucking grandma. To cheer Enid up, she invites her over on a Friday night to bake cookies. Ok, so I think I did that last week, but believe me, it’s so dumb! “Enid Rollins was spending the night at the Wakefields’, and Elizabeth initiated Project C.C. Cookie in the hope it would distract Enid from whatever it was she’s been so jumpy about.” Oh my god, so stupid. Francine, hire a better ghost rider.

My grade: F

The one where Todd and Liz get together (for the first time), or #1 Double Love

Well, book one seems like the logical place to start? Because if it’s one thing that Fran Pascal and her ghostwriters know about, it’s logical plot devices. Ok, so we meet the twins and their annoying perfect selves and all the gang briefly. Liz has a crush on Todd. Scratch that. She’s in LOVE with him. After he looks at her in the caf and then they have a five minute convo about some chemistry exam. But Jessical also likes him. No, she doesn’t actually like him, to her he’s just another notch on her belt to validate herself through her sexual attractiveness. So Jessica basically goes after Todd, and Elizabeth basically wants to commit suicide when she hears Jessica talking about him. In all fairness, Liz never even tells Jessica her feelings. Ugh. I hate defending Jessica.

Then Jessica walks home from cheerleading practice instead of catching a ride from her friend because she “enjoys the attention she will attract” if she walks home. Ugh. Then the town punk picks her up and asks her for a date (in Francine’s world, a boy always asks for a proper “date” even though he is a complete fuck up). Of course, because it strokes Jess’ ego, says yes and lies to her parents and goes with him to Kelly’s, the town bar (Sweet Valley has one bar, apparently), and she gets into a brawl, or caused a brawl, or something, and the police come. Because the system is unfair and Jess is a manipulative skank, she convinces the cop to let her off. So he gives her a ride home. THe policeman calls her Elizabeth on her way out of the car, and Carline Pierce, the school gossip, overhears and then spreads it all over time that Elizabeth was at a bar and arrested.

The next day it is all over school and I am surprised that they don’t brand a letter “A” into Liz’s chest. Because she was out at a BAR! And possibly DRINKING! Jayzus. Kids these days have blow job parties and cook crystal meth after school. But apparently no teenagers drink at SVH. Jessica let’s them believe it, and Liz’s friend Enid is ahamed and breaks off their friendship. Todd of course sees Liz in a different light and decided to go to the dance with Jess.

After the dance, Todd doesn’t want to make out with Jess, which of course if a man doesn’t want Jessica, there MUST be something wrong with him. So she tells Liz that he tried to sexual assualt her. Because Francine likes to perpetuate the sterotype that women often cry rape. Thanks, Fran. So then Liz thinks Todd is a creep and there is more miscommunication.

Finally, somehow, it is all worked out, and Todd and Liz kiss and use stupid metaphors about their love. So, at least Liz grows some balls and tries to get back at Jessica. Ok, back up. Liz writes the gossip column for the school newspaper, The Oracle, and no one knows who it is. When they find out, they throw the person in the pool. Liz lets everyone think Jess is her, so they storm Jess and throw her in the pool. Oh, those SVH kids and their hijinks!

Oh yea, the twins’ brother Steven, who is in college, keeps coming around. It’s because he is secretly seeing Tricia Martin, but he is embarassed about it because she comes from a bad family, and her father is the “town drunk”. Because there IS ONLY ONE DRUNK IN SWEET VALLEY. Well, I guess that can happen when there is only one bar.

Some other points.

  • First, the twins are rushing Pi Alpha, the “best” sorority on campus. And they have to pledge and be hazed. (Liz was forced to have a pizza delivered to her science class). If your high school had a sorority, please let me know because WTF???? How is that allowed and sanctioned by the school? How do they allow hazing? WHERE ARE THE ADULTS?
  • Ok, my high school had a joke of a newspaper. So it took them half a school year to print a story about a tree that was planted outside or something like that. This is like a full time endeavor. I also get it confused with The Blaze and expect Andrea Zuckerman to be shouting orders at everyone. And they have a gossip column? How is that okay? Can Mr. Collins, the pervy advisor, please put a stop to it?
  • I hate how Jessica never wears a watch, because things don’t really start “until she gets there.”
  • If someone wants to make a statement, is mad at someone, or wants to flirt, they use the person’s full name. “I’ll get back at you Jessica Wakefield, if its the last thing I do!”; “Todd Wilkins, you are one hunk of man!” When Todd and Liz fight (which is uh, ALWAYS) they call each other Miss Wakefield and Mr. Wilkins. How…kinky?
  • Francine aka Kate William does not understand how a sense of humor works. Do teens ever/have they ever talked like this?: When Rick asks her out again, she’s all, “No thanks, I’d rather go on a date with an Octopus!” HAR HAR HAR!
  • The Fowlers and Patmans are set up to be this Hatfield and McCoys of Sweet Valley. They are both fighting over property of the SVH foodball field.Like they’s give a flying fuck.

Two words ladies: hot oil treatment. What’s with the bangs? Oh I forget, it’s 1984. That denim jacket should have more pins on it, Jess. Oh, and btw, you have a combover.

My grade: C+