September 30, 2010
Summary: Lila gets her own book! And the twins are barely in it!
Lila’s father is dating a woman named Joan who has a daughter Lila’s age named Jacqueline. They’re supposedly rich, but Lila notices that they rarely spend any money and instead let George pay for everything. Joan is also overly sweet to the point where she has to be fake, and Jacqueline basically wants to be Lila and starts taking over her things and her friends.
Lila overhears Joan and Jacqueline talking about how a) Joan’s relationship with George is all a scam, and she plans to marry him, divorce him, and get tons of alimony because b) she’s not actually rich. Lila tells George, who doesn’t believe her because she’s been complaining about Joan and Jacqueline for ages, so Lila awesomely plants microphones in the room, then gets Joan to admit that everything was a scam. Oh, and did I mention that this happens literally moments before she’s supposed to marry George? He can’t ignore the accusations this time, so Joan and Jacqueline are out of luck.
In the B-ish plot (both plots get pretty much equal time), Lila falls in looooooove with a guy named Evan who races cars. He has a girlfriend, Sonia, who used to have a huge crush on Bruce, so Lila gets Bruce to meddle in their relationship and help her break them up. It works, but then Bruce wants to cash in on the favor Lila owes him for his help – he wants Evan to skip a race so his friend Toby can win it, since Bruce has a bet riding on it.
Lila easily gets Evan to drop out of the race, but soon after she learns that Evan has been seeing Jacqueline behind her back. And this is after Lila gave Evan $500 to enter a race. But she manages to get revenge on him while keeping herself out of trouble for taking the money from her father without permission – Evan gave her an IOU for the money, so she gives it to George and tells him Jacqueline loaned Evan the money. And then Lila winds up with Toby, who won the race because she got Evan to drop out of it. So long story short, Lila owns you, and don’t you forget it.
Thoughts: While reading this book, I learned that my brother and sister-in-law considered naming my niece Lila. I really like the name, but it’s probably for the best that they went with something else – that name is a heck of a lot to live up to.
Random trivia: Lila is five-seven.
Dear ghostwriter, Lila would never wonder how to break up a couple. The girl almost masterminded Jeffrey and Elizabeth’s break-up. It was just a couple books ago – remember?
Jessica thinks the sexiest car on earth is a Lancia. Exactly what about a Lancia is sexy?
Jacqueline borrows Lila’s car, so Lila takes the bus. First of all, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Lila Fowler would never take the bus. Second of all, there’s no other car for her to drive? Wouldn’t George have a bunch of them?
September 23, 2010
Summary: A bunch of elementary school kids are doing projects for Heritage Day (which sounds like something straight out of Gilmore Girls), and Mary Anne realizes she doesn’t know much about her own family history, so she goes looking for some answers. She winds up getting a huge shock – when she was a baby, right after her mother died, her father sent her to live with her maternal grandparents in Iowa for a year. Oh, and he never told her. And apparently never told her that her grandparents were even still alive, as she’s never met them.
Mary Anne freaks out about this and spends a few days in a daze. Then she overhears a phone conversation between her father and grandmother, Vera, who wants her to come back to Iowa. Mary Anne thinks Vera means permanently, then starts panicking that there will be a custody battle and Richard will be declared an unfit parent. A visit from a census taker, who Mary Anne mistakes for a social worker, just makes her panic more.
Mary Anne finally decides to actually talk to her father (it’s amazing how many problems in this series would be solved through better communication), and she learns that, yes, he sent her to Iowa, but it was because he was having a hard time dealing with her mother’s death, not because he didn’t want her. The grandparents wanted to keep Mary Anne, but Richard refused and brought her home. He claims that telling Mary Anne about all of this would have brought up bad memories for everyone, which sounds like a cop-out to me. Then he gives her a letter her mother wrote her and lets her to go Iowa for a visit.
Thoughts: I find it hard to believe that no one ever mentioned Mary Anne’s trip to Iowa in front of her. That, my friends, is what we call retconning.
Vanessa rhymes “strong” with “strong.” WRONG.
Why does Mary Anne think she’ll be sent to Iowa just because her grandmother wants her there? How much power does she think Vera has? And does Mary Anne think it’s any match for the BSC girls, who think they can convince anyone to do anything?
Claudia can’t even spell the name of the city where she lives? Are you freaking kidding me?
Mary Anne again goes on a date (in Iowa) with a guy who isn’t Logan – and swears Dawn to secrecy. How does she not see anything wrong with this?
September 19, 2010
Summary: Ken Matthews has two admirers – the annoying Amy Sutton and some chick named Terri Adams, who’s the assistant statistician for the football team. Ken doesn’t think of Terri as anything more than a friend, which is all he would like to think of Amy as, since he finds her much less charming than she finds him. One night after a victory party for a football win, Ken is run off the road by a drunk driver and winds up blind (just go with it). Suddenly we’re in a soap opera. (If this is General Hospital, Jessica is Carly, since she’s a manipulative shrew, but, interestingly, Elizabeth is also Carly, with the meddling and the self-righteousness.)
Amy blames Terri for the accident, since Ken was driving her home. Almost everyone except Jessica and Elizabeth has a weird reaction to Ken’s situation, not sure how to treat a blind person, especially someone they’ve known so long. After a month of rehab, Ken returns to SVH and tries to get back to his normal life, but it turns out Terri’s pretty much the only person who still treats him the same. Elizabeth advises Terri (shocking, right?) to pretend to be blind so she can better understand how Ken feels, and Terri uses that experience to get Ken back out in the world, experiencing things in a different way.
Ken and Terri start spending a lot of time together, and Amy doesn’t even object, because she’s already moved on to the guy who’s taken over for Ken as quarterback. Um, ouch. Terri and Ken start spending a lot of time together, until it gets to the point where he’s become really dependent on her. He realizes he’s falling for her, but he doesn’t think she would want to date a blind guy, so he does that typical movie/TV show/book thing of pushing her away. They get into a big fight and Terri finally announces that she loves Ken, which wakes him up and gets him doing things on his own. Then he declares his love for Terri and they get together. And then he sees the sun. Awwww. Or something.
Thoughts: I think whoever chose the title for this book meant to use the word “fateful” instead of fatal. No one dies, so “fatal” makes no sense.
Ken drinks orange juice at the party. I don’t advocate teen drinking, but these people are so lame.
Enid: “Lila and Bruce would make a perfect couple!” I KNOW, RIGHT! Enid sees what no one else does. Especially Ken. (Rimshot!)
Elizabeth tells Terri to tell Ken how she feels. Darn it, if she keeps giving actual good advice, we’ll never be able to stop her.
September 18, 2010
Summary: The BSC girls start sitting for a family named the Lowells, whose three children are kind of weird. When Claudia takes a job for the family, Mrs. Lowell is cold toward her, and the kids act strangely around her. Then when Jessi goes over to sit, Mrs. Lowell won’t even let her in the house. Kristy figures out that the Lowells are racist, which especially hits home since the girls are helping a bunch of their charges form a multicultural band called All the Children (gag), which will perform songs from Fiddler on the Roof. By the way, the band was Jackie Rodowsky’s idea (as he keeps telling everyone), so he’s the Kristy of the sitting charges, I guess.
Kristy’s realization leads to a Very Serious Conversation at a BSC meeting, in which the ghostwriter schools the readers about centuries of wrongs done to people because of their races and religions. Just as we’re all getting sufficiently bummed out, Mrs. Lowell inadvertently makes things funny by calling to request a blonde-haired, blue-eyed sitter. They should send Jessi over again just for laughs. Kristy proceeds to tell Mrs. Lowell that she has an Asian sister, which freaks the woman out. She then notes to the other girls that all of the club members have family situations that wouldn’t suit the Lowells – Dawn and Stacey are blonde but have divorced parents, Mary Anne has a stepfamily, Logan’s a boy, and there are just too dang many Pikes. Shannon gets no mention because she’s the exception that proves the rule.
The kids put on their concert (and the band is never mentioned again), which the Lowell kids show up to, most likely against their parents’ wishes (Mrs. Lowell didn’t want them in the band because, you know, there are non-white kids there). The BSC girls are sad that they had to deal with bigots but hope the kids don’t grow up believing what their parents do. They want to get revenge on the Lowells but decide that would make them no better than bigots, or something, so they decide to just brush them off if they ever call for a sitter. Which, why would they if they might get a non-Aryan?
Thoughts: Trivia tidbit #1: Kristy and Jessi hoard their money, according to Claudia. But wouldn’t Jessi spend a lot of hers on ballet stuff?
Kristy admonishes Claudia for not saying anything about her bad experience with the Lowells, and Claudia says she wrote about it in the club notebook. So Kristy didn’t read the notebook! I wonder if she has to punish herself.
Trivia tidbit #2: Jamie Newton is part Native American.
Jackie, upon being hugged by Claudia: “Do not hug me. You are a girl! I hope Nicky didn’t see that.” Love it!
September 13, 2010
Summary: Todd is back, and now that he and Elizabeth are back together, they want to spend all the time together they can, since, you know, they’re 16. But Todd is getting more and more used to his new rich lifestyle and his snobby private school, Lovett, which makes Elizabeth think he’s changed too much for her tastes. They start fighting, and they find it harder and harder to make time to be together. Then they find out they’re competing against each other in some stupid Battle of the Schools, and somehow that makes things worse. (Don’t forget about the fact that Todd has the nerve to tell Elizabeth to drop out of the event.) They wind up breaking up because they have no idea how to have a mature conversation and deal with their issues without yelling.
Meanwhile, Courtney, who reared her ugly head in the last book, is still after Todd, and she also wants to fix the Battle of the Schools so Lovett wins and Sweet Valley is humiliated. (She’s really, really obsessed with the latter, for some reason.) She cheats in a trivia competition (Jessica, of all people, catches on), then puts up a rotting rope for the rope-climbing competition Elizabeth and Todd are in. Elizabeth falls, so Courtney thinks Lovett has won the battle…but Todd’s so worried about Elizabeth that he realizes he wants to be with her after all. He also decides he wants to go back to Sweet Valley High. Sucks to be you, Courtney!
In the B plot, Jessica wants to transfer to Lovett for the guys. She doesn’t. That’s about it. Also, Jeffrey’s on Elizabeth’s team for the Battle of the Schools, so things are awkward, but that never goes anywhere. Poor Jeffrey. Eh, he’s better off without her.
Thoughts: The Oracle doesn’t have an advice column? But what better way for Elizabeth to get involved in multiple people’s business at once?
Funny that Jeffrey would tell everyone that “Elizabeth is as loyal as they come” when, you know, she dumped him for another guy.
Amy calls jessica unpatriotic for admiring Lovett. Amy, why are you still here?
September 10, 2010
Summary: Watson’s aunt and uncle want to leave him a cabin at a lake in their will, and they invite him and his brood to check it out for a couple of weeks to see if he likes it. Kristy, of course, invites the whole BSC. There are numerous “adventures”:
Kristy makes everyone keep a diary of the trip to convince Watson that they really like the cabin. This includes much popping into other people’s diary entries to drive the point home. She also learns to drive a speedboat.
Stacey finds herself the target of Sam‘s inability to flirt. He does that eight-year-old boy thing where he teases her because he likes her. It would be cute if, you know, he were actually eight, but he’s 15, so it’s just annoying. Thanks to Charlie, who is always awesome, Sam finally straight-out tells Stacey he likes her, so I guess they’re together now.
Dawn is obsessed with a Lake Monster she’s sure exists, as well as the story of a family who lived in town and vanished without a trace. She’s incredibly annoying (even more so than Sam).
Jessi meets a guy named Daniel and kind of develops a crush on him, despite the fact that she can’t think of one thing they have in common. Then she decides she’d rather be with Quint, but it’s okay because Daniel has a girlfriend back home.
Mallory is bitten and stung by every bug at the lake. She starts wearing mosquito netting and using way too much bug spray, which makes the other girls be nasty to her, for no apparent reason. I mean, I get that they’re embarrassed, but geez, she’s supposed to be their friend.
Claudia decorates a speedboat for a boat parade. It’s boring and dumb.
Mary Anne doesn’t actually have a plot. She just watches the little kids.
Karen and her friends (Hannie and Nancy) find a playhouse in the woods, which David Michael and his friends (Nicky and Linny) want to play in. The boys decide to build a fort instead, and the kids bet the performance of each other’s chores that each group will have the better playhouse.
Then there’s a dance, for some reason. And then they all go home, and Watson decides he wants the cabin. And amazingly, it does come up again in other books.
Thoughts: Watson tells the Brewer/Thomas kids they can invite friends to the lake “within reason.” Kristy hears, “We’ll take an extra car so you can bring six people along.”
Charlie jokingly suggests leaving Karen behind because there’s so little room in the cars. Again, I must ask Charlie to marry me.
Why the heck do they take the cat with them??
Sam tells Stacey she looks ravishing, then says he’s glad she arrived at the lake unscathed. Someone’s been studying for the SAT!
Mallory complains about having to share a room. Did she think there were 20 bedrooms? Now I get why the others are so mean to her.
Another vacation where the parents spend no time with the kids and the BSC girls are always watching them. This time, though, they sit for free. There really are no child-labor laws in Stoneybrook, are there?
David Michael’s handwriting is waaaaaay too nice for a seven-year-old.
I get David Michael and Karen doing each other’s chores, and Hannie and Linny doing each other’s chores, since they’re siblings, but what are Nicky and Nancy getting out of this bet?
I would call bull on Emily Michelle being able to write an E, but my two-year-old niece can write the first letter of her name. And I really just wanted to brag about that.
Why does the ghostwriter think kids don’t use contractions? It’s really distracting. Oh, sorry – it is really distracting.
Claudia doesn’t know what “gutsy” means. Y’all, she’s Kellie Pickler dumb.
Why is Dawn so afraid of the island when she lives in a supposedly haunted house? Oh, right, to annoy me.
Jessi thinks Daniel’s going to profess his love for her at the dance. I wouldn’t be 11 again for all the money in the world.
September 6, 2010
SVH #58, Brokenhearted: All the Single Ladies, Put Your Hands Up. Wait, There Are No Single Ladies in Sweet Valley
Summary: Todd’s back!!!1!1!! And he totally wants Elizabeth back. I’m not sure he even knows she’s dating Jeffrey. Elizabeth realizes that she still has feelings for Todd and needs to choose between her ex and her current boyfriend, but she’s not sure who she wants to be with. When Todd invites her and a guest to a big party he’s throwing, she realizes that means he’s not going to ask her to be his date, and THAT makes her realize that she wants to be with Todd. But it’s too late, because he’s already involved with a girl named Courtney.
…Except he’s not – she’s spreading rumors that they’re involved because she wants the news to get back to Elizabeth, so Liz will back off. It works, and Elizabeth basically resigns herself to being with Jeffrey, even though she knows that’s not what she wants. At Todd’s party, Courtney slips Elizabeth a note, signing it from Todd, to get her to meet “him” at a gazebo. When Liz gets there, she finds Todd and Courtney making out. Yeah, Courtney employs some lame tactics here. But Jeffrey, of all people, has put together that a) Elizabeth is still in love with Todd and b) Courtney’s playing games, so he explains everything to Todd, effectively giving Elizabeth up and letting the lovebirds get back together. Weak, Jeffrey.
In the B plot, Jessica’s only excited that Todd’s back in Sweet Valley because he’s rich now and is attending a private school. She visits the school, hoping to meet a hot guy, and falls for a boy named Sheffield. But then she finds out he wants to spend a semester living and working in a homeless shelter, and she decides she’s waaaaaay too good for him. She’d better run; his generosity might be catching.
Thoughts: I wish there had been ONE confrontation between Todd and Jeffrey. They spend about five minutes together, and Jeffrey doesn’t even fight for Elizabeth. Where’s the fighting? Where’s the drama? Where’s the…anything interesting at all?
Why does Elizabeth think she’ll have to choose between Todd and Jeffrey just because Todd’s coming back to town? She broke up with one and started dating the other. Seems to me like she already made her choice. And Jeffrey doesn’t have much faith in Liz if he thinks she’s immediately going to dump him for Todd.
Ah, we finally get an explanation for why Lila and Bruce don’t go to private school: Sweet Valley has a good school system, and the best private school is too far away.
“Not too long ago she had contemplated falling in love with Ken for lack of anything better to do.” That’s our Jess.
Sheffield Eastman’s parents should be declared unfit just for giving him that name.
The private-school dorm party the twins go to with Todd serves iced tea. These are teenagers, right? They suck at partying.
Speaking of which, there are three parties in this book. The ghostwriter is out of control,
Lila actually says to Jessica, “Enjoy your dessert. I hope it makes you fat.” Why would Jessica be friends with her? It must be Regina George Syndrome.
September 4, 2010
Summary: Jessi takes synchronized swimming, competes in SMS’s Sports Festival, and wins a gold medal. Trust me, the details are too boring to go into.
There are three B plots, two boring, one not. In the first boring one, the BSC girls put on a mini-Olympics for their sitting charges, though it’s more like a fun fair. In the second boring one, Mallory panics about possibly having to participate in the Sports Festival (even though it’s completely voluntary) and decides to fake an injury so she’ll have an excuse to skip it. But she actually does hurt herself and makes a big deal about it. Shut up, Mallory.
In the not-boring B plot, Kristy challenges Alan to an obstacle-course race at the Sports Festival. The loser will have to be the winner’s personal servant for a week. Kristy wins and totally milks Alan’s loss for all it’s worth, which is exactly what we would expect from her.
Thoughts: I feel like this whole thing is just Olympic propaganda. Now all I want to do is watch gymnastics and eat Wheaties.
Claudia wears floral-print suspenders with electric pink track shorts. Did anyone examine her for a head injury?
You know what I just realized? Alan and Kristy were the original Ron and Hermione. Which I guess means they’ll end up married in 10 or 15 years.