April 30, 2010
I think whenever I make a post that doesn’t have anything to do with anything, other than just drawing things to people’s attention, I’ll call it an emergency club meeting. I’ll try not to abuse that as much as Kristy does.
Just a couple things:
1. It’s not just you – I redesigned the site. This is what happens when I have some time to kill and realize I haven’t looked at WordPress’ themes for a while. I’ve only been working in marketing for six months, but the idea of redesigning things over and over to see what works is starting to get to me. I’m weirdly proud of the doofy-looking banner.
2. Of course I scored 100% on this quiz.
April 25, 2010
Summary: Kristy starts getting love letters (I know, right?), and at first she’s flattered, but then she gets creeped out because they turn dark. Her mystery admirer says he/she will remember her when she’s dead, and other weird stuff like that. Kristy and Shannon (who’s barely been mentioned since Kristy and the Snobs and is possibly featured more in this book than in any other) think Bart’s writing the notes to psych Kristy out since their teams will soon be facing off for a World Series.
Poor Bart gets the silent treatment from everyone until he finally confronts Kristy about the situation. It turns out he did write the love letters, but not the creepy ones. Those were from Cokie Mason, who wanted revenge for the events of Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery. Kristy’s only revenge is to tell everyone at school what Cokie did, then write her a stupid fake love note of her own. That’s weak, even for Kristy.
A lot of the other stuff in the book has to do with the World Series, which is really only one game, and not even a nine-inning game at that. And Kristy and Bart are pretty much officially dating now, which makes her the second girl in the BSC to get a steady boyfriend. Her? Yes, her. Also, Buddy Barrett develops a crush on Shannon, but that doesn’t go anywhere. Probably because Shannon is as boring to the ghostwriter as she is to the readers.
Thoughts: Seriously, Shannon is bossy and has no distinguishing personality. No wonder she barely appears in the series.
This book is so tame. If it were written today, Shannon would turn out to be the secret admirer and Cokie would be arrested for making death threats.
Kristy says that Shannon isn’t “gorgeous like Dawn or even attractive like Stacey. She’s more…interesting-looking.” Look, just because she’s not your type….
One of Kristy’s notes says she’s “as beautiful as a snow-covered mountain.” Frigid and insurmountable?
Stacey wears a fedora. Oh, sorry – a “distant” fedora. Also, Kristy and Bart go to a school Halloween dance dressed as lobsters. You read that right.
Mallory comes to a Krushers practice but apparently Stacey and Shannon don’t talk to her. Thus begins the dweebification of Mallory Pike.
April 23, 2010
Summary: Some chick named Susan is pretty and popular and gets money and gifts from some mysterious person who everyone thinks is her famous mother. She lives with a woman named Helen who says she’ll tell Susan who her mother is when she turns 18. Anyone who has ever read a book knows immediately that Helen is Susan’s mother; the question is, why doesn’t she just tell her? Turns out it’s because she got pregnant out of wedlock (OH, THE HORROR!) and didn’t want Susan to suffer because of her mother’s decisions. I guess it’s better for her to think her real parents don’t love her than to know that her mother had sex before someone put a ring on it.
Oh, and Susan’s father is a famous movie director who’s in town casting for a movie. He keeps saying that he hasn’t sent money, and various people mention that Helen has to work a lot to make money to support herself and Susan, so what happened to the various gifts and stuff from the mysterious non-mother? Someone wasn’t paying attention when this book was being written and edited.
Before the truth about Susan’s parentage comes out, Lila spreads a rumor that her mother’s in a hospital for the criminally insane, so everyone turns on Susan, because I guess beauty doesn’t solve every problem after all. (Which means every lesson I’ve learned from this series has been a LIE. I feel so betrayed.) But the situation teaches Susan who her real friends are, and also that she likes Robin Wilson’s ex-boyfriend Allen.
The B plot involves Jessica and Elizabeth thinking that Alice is pregnant. At first it’s completely predictable that that’s where the story will go (in books, movies, and TV, women who don’t feel well always wind up either pregnant or dying), and then it’s completely predictable that, obviously, that’s not the situation at all. So pretty much every plot in this book was predictable, making it all a waste of paper.
Thoughts: This book could have been a whole lot better if the writer had just done a little more, you know, work. We could have been introduced to the famous director character earlier, or introduced any other character to the story as a red herring to be Susan’s mother, or…you know, who cares? It would have sucked no matter what.
This scene is actually pretty funny, and not just because it involves people making fun of Lila and the other rich snobs in town who are planning on going to a big ball:
“I know!” Winston declared, jumping to his feet. “We can start an annual poor people’s ball! Nobody with incomes of more than five hundred dollars a year allowed.”
“Speech! Speech!” called Dana, rapping on her desk.
Winston assumed an air of modesty, then stood up on his chair. “Thank you. Thank you, everybody. The first annual Poor People’s Cotillion will be held in this classroom every February thirtieth from now on. Potato sacks are acceptable dress. Black tie – that means wear shoes with black laces in them–”
“No fair! My sneakers have white laces,” Ken Matthews called out, leaning back in his seat and sticking his feet up in the air for inspection.
Winston solemnly regarded Ken’s sneakers and shook his head. “You don’t qualify. I’m most terribly, terribly sorry.”
“Oh, no!” wailed Ken, burying his face in his hands. “And all I ever wanted was to go the ball and dance with Winston Egbert.”
“Well[,] if that’s all you want, why didn’t you say so?” Winston jumped down, and while the whole class looked on and laughed, the two boys danced boisterously around the room.
Lila spreads the rumor about Susan, then thinks Susan’s boyfriend is a jerk for dumping Susan because of it. Lila makes my head hurt.
April 18, 2010
Summary: Dawn falls in luv with Kristy’s brothers’ friend Travis, who’s 16 and from California. Travis buys her presents and takes her out to eat and shop, suggesting that she cut her hair and wear it a certain way. Dawn thinks he’s in luv with her as well, even though he’s 16 and she’s 13, because really, I can’t say that enough. HE’S 16. SHE’S 13. IT’S GROSS. Then Dawn learns that Travis is seeing someone else, so she stalks them, then confronts them. Travis doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong by making Dawn think he’s interested in her while he’s dating someone else. Of course, he also doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with being a 13-year-old girl’s sugar daddy.
Dawn’s mom, Richard, and Mary Anne all think Travis is bad news, and Mary Anne thinks the situation sounds very Pygmalion/My Fair Lady-ish. She figures out how much Travis is controlling Dawn after seeing the way one of the Hobart boys is being controlled by a friend. She lets Dawn know, and eventually Dawn calls Travis to tell him he’s a controlling jerk and she’s done with him. I think he was really done with her first, but whatever.
The B plot involves the Hobart and Perkins kids putting on a cute little play about a dog lost in the mall. They use Chewy, the Perkinses’ hyperactive dog, as the play’s star, with predictably disastrous results.
Thoughts: I think this was an attempt to address issues like dating violence and bad relationships, but in a series aimed at kids who are in middle school and younger, it doesn’t quite work. It also doesn’t really make sense that Travis has basically two conversations with Dawn in which he tries to be controlling, and Dawn makes it seem like he does it all the time. What also doesn’t make sense is that Dawn would let herself be controlled – doesn’t she pride herself on being individual and independent?
What kind of creepy 16-year-old guy wants to hang out with a 13-year-old girl? Also, how did Travis find out where Dawn lived? And who buys presents for a girl he’s only met once? Then tells her to cut her hair so it’ll have more lift? (That last one gives me some completely different ideas about Travis….)
I call total bull on Kristy having a “fluffy pink quilt.” Do your research, ghostwriter.
Dawn thinks about telling Travis that she doesn’t eat meat, but she loses her nerve. When has Dawn ever not told someone she’s a vegetarian? Like I said, I can’t see Dawn letting herself be controlled.
Travis’ secret girlfriend wears a white cotton flight suit. What the–?
April 17, 2010
Summary: Johanna Porter, who dropped out of SVH before the series began, decides to return to school to honor her late mother’s wishes. She feels like an outsider, mostly because teenagers are mean and think she’s stupid. She also feels like an outsider in her own family, since her father and sister Julie are talented musicians and Johanna doesn’t love music as much as they do. What (or who) Johanna does love is Peter, Amy Sutton’s self-absorbed boyfriend. Peter is a big brain on his way to MIT, and seems to return Johanna’s feelings…as long as Amy isn’t around. He asks Johanna out, then ignores her when they’re back in school.
Though Johanna’s doing all right in terms of schoolwork, and even showing a never-before-noticed aptitude for math and science, Peter’s behavior towards her makes her decide to drop out again. Fortunately, Johanna figures things out for herself, realizing that boys are dumb and she can be awesome on her own. Or something like that. She goes back to school and doesn’t get together with Peter, who’s already dumped Amy. Finally, a girl in Sweet Valley who knows she doesn’t need a guy to complete her!
Jessica’s kind of in that same camp, in that she doesn’t want to be tied down by one guy (though that’s more so she can date anyone she wants), and doesn’t think anyone else should be, either. And by “anyone else,” I mean Steven and Cara. Jessica decides that they both need more independence, so she uses psychological warfare to make them mad at each other. They figure out what’s going on and get back together, and though Steven wants revenge, he doesn’t get any, at least not yet. Fingers crossed.
Thoughts: It only took me 36+ books, but I think I’ve figured this seires out: someone has a problem and confides in Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Jessica does something stupid. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Why is Jessica so in favor of Cara and Steven seeing other people? Didn’t she help them get together?
Johanna wears a flowered jumper and a Victorian lace blouse. Each of those is horrible separately; together, they’re an explosion of awfulness.
No way is the school brain also a jock, and no way is he dating a cheerleader, especially not one as vapid as Amy freaking Sutton.
Sweet Valley College is an hour away from Sweet Valley High? How big is this town? (Answer: big enough to fit Jessica’s ego and all of Lila’s shoes. Rimshot!)
Cara, if you’re dumb enough to take relationship advice from Jessica, you deserve whatever the result is.
Speaking of dumb – hey, Elizabeth, if you tell Jessica a secret, you should be surprised when she doesn’t spill it. You should learn after the first experience – fool me once and all that. To quote Joey from Friends, pigeons learn faster than you.
Steven and Cara fix their relationship through communication. Boring!
April 11, 2010
Summary: In the months before the series begins, Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey struggle through the summer, dealing with tons of issues that all pretty much come down to one thing – growing up is really, really tough.
Kristy is about to turn 12, and all she wants for her birthday is some sort of contact from her estranged father. She also really doesn’t want her mom’s boyfriend Watson around, partly because she likes her family the way it is and partly because she doesn’t want Watson to replace her father. Kristy gets her hopes up way too much, and when her father doesn’t show, she beats herself up for putting so much faith in him. Mary Anne creates Kristy Day to cheer her up.
Claudia has fallen in looooove with an older boy named Frankie, effectively stealing him right out from under Janine. She’s spending so much time with her new boyfriend that she has less and less time for Kristy and Mary Anne, but she feels like they’re growing apart anyway, since Kristy and Mary Anne haven’t quite matured to Claudia’s level yet. Frankie winds up dumping Claudia when the age difference proves to be too much, and as Claudia realizes that she doesn’t have many friends to turn to (a point she brings up early in the series, when she says Stacey’s her first real best friend), she discovers that even though she, Mary Anne, and Kristy are different now, they still have a friendship.
Stacey is preparing to move from New York to Stoneybrook and leave behind the only life she’s ever known. She’s more excited than nervous, as her friends have become total witches and she wants a new start. She finds Stoneybrook much more comfortable than she expected, and as the book ends, she’s starting to form a friendship with Claudia.
Mary Anne is stuck between childhood and adolescence, but mostly because her father has stuck her there. She wants to babysit like Claudia and Kristy, but her father only lets her sit with another person. Meek, mousy little Mary Anne takes her first stand in this book, letting her father know that she’s growing up and, though she still respects his rules, they’re going to have to start changing.
Thoughts: This book has quite a different tone than the others in the series – it’s very bittersweet. But even in my 20s, I find it relatable. Things are changing for all four of the girls, and they don’t know how to handle the new things they’re dealing with. They’re all growing up, in their different ways, and some faster than others. And that’s what adolescence is like. Some people mature faster than others, some people fit in more than others, and some people handle change better than others. But everyone has to deal with new experiences and feeling out of control. It’s all part of growing up.
I find it hard to snark on most of this book. There are a lot of moments that feel very real – like Stacey realizing that her relationships with her old friends are never going to be the same, or Claudia realizing that she doesn’t have anyone she can really talk to, or Mary Anne being frustrated over her the way her father treats her, or Kristy feeling devastated over the fact that her own father hasn’t taken the time to acknowledge her birthday. I think every woman can relate to this book. We were all teenagers once, and it wasn’t easy. No one has a perfect life. These girls just find a way to make it work.
Okay, so there is some snark here. Why does Stacey’s mom tell her to “have fun and be careful” in Connecticut but not in New York? Because Connecticut is such a dangerous place?
Janine wears jeans. Does that seem out of character to anyone else?
Possibly the best line ever in a BSC book, from Stacey, re: Laine, who has seemingly turned everyone against Stacey so that Laine won’t turn on them: “Her Royal Meanness had evil superpowers.” Laine is a complete bitca in this book, and I’m kind of surprised Stacey agrees to be friends with her again in The Truth About Stacey.
Should I be concerned that Stacey asks her parents for a dog after seeing a sign for a taxidermist?
Yeah, I bet there’s a synagogue in Stoneybrook.
April 9, 2010
Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth go visit their great-aunt and -uncle in Kansas. It’s as boring as it sounds. No, even more boring. Jessica falls in looooooove (of course) with a guy named Alex who claims to have an identical twin named Brad, who Elizabeth starts hanging out with. Except there’s a twist! Alex is Brad! He doesn’t have a twin! I totally didn’t see that coming AT ALL! Elizabeth tries to get revenge on Alex for being a scumball and dating sisters at the same time, but she basically chickens out and lets it go, because Elizabeth can’t do anything right, even get revenge. And she never tells Jessica, for some reason.
Adding complications to Jessica’s loooooooove affair is the fact that her great-aunt and -uncle are really strict about boys, and they don’t want the twins dating while they’re visiting, so Jessica has to sneak out to meet Alex. The great-aunt and -uncle are really unreasonable about the boy thing, and kind of overstep their boundaries in terms of telling the girls what they can and can’t do. Chill out, they’re not your kids. If they get pregnant, it’s not your problem.
The equally boring B plot is that some girl in town, Annie Sue (yes, really), has it out for the twins because she’s heard they’re awesome and she’s worried that they’ll be more awesome than her. Not possible, A.S. She catches Jessica out with Alex and blackmails her (for fashion accessories, which is kind of awesome in a cheesy way) in exchange for not telling her great-aunt and -uncle what she’s been doing. But then Jessica saves Annie Sue while she’s on a runaway horse, and suddenly everything’s okay and they’re, like, best friends. Which is why I finally added a tag that says “near-death experience makes everything okay.”
Thoughts: This was easily the most boring SVH book so far. I can’t believe I got through it. People think Kansas is a boring place, so why would we read a book that takes place there? Other than The Wizard of Oz, of course. No offense to anyone in Kansas – I just don’t think of it as a happening place. Also, I wonder what ned and Alice had to promise Jessice to get her to go there.
Jessica seems surprised to be randomly hated by another girl. You’d think she’d be used to it. Also, of course Annie Sue doesn’t like Jessica. They’re exactly alike.
Any book that ends with a square dance automatically sucks.
April 3, 2010
Summary: Jessi’s aunt Cecelia (introduced in Baby-sitters’ Island Adventure) moves in with the Ramseys after Jessi’s mom decides to go back to work. Cecelia is really unlikable, taking charge of everything and bossing Jessi and Becca around. The girls try to get revenge with some very Von Trapp-like pranks, but Cecelia gets meaner and meaner, even forbidding Jessi from attending a BSC meeting (GASP!) because she was late coming home from a sitting job.
Jessi’s working with Jackie Rodowsky on a science-fair project (a model of a volcano, because there always has to be one) and basically doing everything for him. Eventually she realizes that she took charge of the project like Cecelia has taken charge of her life. This leads her to actually talk to her parents (what a concept!) about the Cecelia situation, as they didn’t know what was really going on, and the family works things out.
Thoughts: Why do Jessi’s parents let Cecelia talk to Jessi and Becca the way she does (in front of them, no less)? My brothers would never let me criticize or order their kids around that way. Which I never would, since, you know, THEY’RE NOT MY KIDS.
Jessi thinks Cecelia moving in is “a matter of life and death.” First Mary Anne goes all drama queen, and now Jessi. These girls are weird.
Kristy takes roll (not role, ghostwriter) at meetings. I’m picturing Summer from The School of Rock. Kristy’s a factoter.
We get another mention of the triplets’ Wandering Frog People game, which, much like the noodle incident in Calvin and Hobbes, is sometimes mentioned but never explained. “That has been going on for about two years now, which is one year and 364 days longer than Mal had hoped it would last.” Hee.
The Pike kids create their own library, which I thought was awesome when I was younger. Let’s be honest, I still do.
On top of some ongoing foreshadowing of Stacey’s health going downhill in Stacey’s Emergency, we get some brief foreshadowing of Mallory’s family’s situation in Poor Mallory! Color me shocked that the ghostwriter knows how to use this technique.
April 2, 2010
Summary: Aaron Dallas’ parents are getting divorced, and he’s taking his anger over the situation out on everyone. He throws tantrums, flips out over nothing, and attacks a soccer teammate for accidentally tripping him. Apparently the only thing that can calm him down is his girlfriend Heather’s baby-talk. Eck. Elizabeth, who’s writing an article about the soccer team and their upcoming big game, instead writes about Aaron, apparently not worrying that she’ll make him even madder. That’s exactly what happens. He also gets into an argument with Jeffrey and punches him, even though they’re best friends. Facing removal from the soccer team, Aaron realizes that he has a problem and goes to the guidance counselor. Yes, that’s right, he does something mature and addresses his issues rather than ignoring them or excusing them.
In the B-plot, Jessica buys a bunch of all-natural products made with tofu and becomes a poor man’s Avon lady. Except she doesn’t refrigerate the products, so they rot, and she offers everyone a money-back guarantee, so everything gets returned. She’s almost out all the money she borrowed to buy the products, but Ned finds out that the company who sold them to her is corrupt, and after the world’s shortest lawsuit, Jessica gets her money back, and then some. I hate it when annoying actions are rewarded.
Thoughts: This book is really boring. Who the heck cares about Aaron Dallas?
Jessica says 137! I’m way too excited about this!
After Aaron punches his teammate, the coach threatens to knock him out. What a fantastic role model.