March 1, 2011

SVH Super Star, Olivia’s Story: Don’t Sell Out to the Man, Man

Posted in books tagged , , , at 10:46 pm by Jenn

Of all of Olivia's outfits, this is the least objectionable

Summary: Olivia’s all artsy now. Just go with it. Her cousin Emily visits to check out some colleges in California, and she’s Olivia’s exact opposite – conservative, organized, and kind of dull (not that Olivia’s a thrill a minute or anything). Inspired by James, a guy in her art class, Olivia decides to embrace her artistic nature, mostly by dressing weird and trying not to care what other people thing. Her mom is a little uncomfortable and thinks Olivia needs to be more practical – you know, more like Emily.

Olivia starts hanging out with James a lot, and gets to see how a starving artist lives. Because James refuses to sell out, man! You gotta be an artist and not worry about where your next meal’s coming from! Getting a job is for losers! Also, James doesn’t want to date Olivia because he’s too focused on his art. If this weren’t Sweet Valley, that would totally be a line so he could have sex with her without any kind of commitment.

Emily meets James and thinks it’s weird that he doesn’t care even a little about his future. Olivia finally realizes that it’s weird, too, and decides she needs to be more practical. She gets a job at Simpson’s, the department store where her mom works, and meets Robert, the son of the owner. (There’s a minor plot here where Jessica and Elizabeth also get jobs there – it’s Christmas and they need the money – and Jessica wants to meet Robert but he’s not interested in her.) He’s the Emily to James’ Olivia, conservative and focused on his future and all that. Robert seems like the much better pick, but of course we’re supposed to think that Olivia and James should be together. Even though he kind of treats her like crap.

Emily runs into James and tries to connect with him, but since he has such a one-track mind, it doesn’t really work. And yet Emily starts falling in love with him. Go figure. She decides she needs to be more Olivia-like, so she borrows some of Olivia’s clothes to try to make a different impression on James. He’s still not interested, and it probably doesn’t help that she doesn’t get his abstract art. Robert invites Olivia to a big, fancy party, and she wants to look conservative, but she starts going overboard, changing her whole image. She starts borrowing Emily’s clothes and even cuts off her hair.

Robert gets permission from his father for Olivia to sell some of her still-life paintings in the store. She doesn’t like that kind of art and would rather do impressionist paintings, but she knows the still-lifes will make money. Olivia goes to James’ place to give him his Christmas gift, a paperweight, and he tells her it’s meaningless and she’s selling out. Uh, okay, but at least she’ll have money to buy food, you moron. Olivia’s mom tells her she’s gone too far with the image makeover, then shows her some of her own art, explaining that she gave up on it when she got a job and started a family.

Emily tries one last time to get James’ attention, but he’s clearly not interested. At the same time, Olivia goes to Robert’s house and gives him one of her paintings. He gives her a planner, which is at least better than a paperweight, but still boring. Olivia and Emily see each other in the borrowed clothes and realize that they’re going about things the wrong way. Olivia gives James one of her abstract paintings, and he shows her two portraits he painted of her on a brick wall. (Merry Christmas, here’s some street art that will probably be painted over tomorrow!) One portrait is Conservative Olivia and one is Artsy Olivia. She decides she needs to be Artsy Olivia all the time. But James probably still won’t date her.

Thoughts: This book is so frustrating, and not just because it’s boring and James is the most stereotypically artsy character ever. It’s because there’s no middle ground here between being artsy and being responsible and corporate. You don’t have to give up art when you get a job and start a family! You don’t have to have a career in the arts to be considered a true artist! SHUT UP, JAMES.

Olivia’s parents couldn’t have let her convert the garage into a studio “about a year earlier.” She only started painting in book #57.

Elizabeth thinks Jessica is wasting her “charm” being nice to a receptionist at a job interview. So she’s complaining about Jessica being nice? And actually, if she wasn’t nice to the receptionist, it could come back to haunt her after the interview, so Jessica’s actually being smart here.

Olivia’s embarrassed that Emily doesn’t know the difference between Monet and Manet. Olivia, the only person who knows the difference between Monet and Manet is Tess Ocean.

Why would a painter need a paperweight? James should sell it for food.

And now, a roundup of Olivia’s ridiculous fashion decisions:

  • a record as a ponytail holder. First of all, I don’t think that’s possible. Second, Claudia Kishi is SO jealous.
  • a black leotard, leggings, a pink and yellow chiffon skirt, a blue checked vest, and black sandals. I…have no words.
  • a batik jumper. No one over the age of six should wear a jumper.
  • blue gauze overalls over a red tank top. I just hope they’re not made of actual gauze.
  • a sarong and a tie-dyed coat. I would actually wear a tie-dyed coat, but I’m weird like that. And I would never in a million years wear it with a sarong.
  • a long-sleeved dark green dress with an off-white lace collar and cuffs. I didn’t realize she was five years old, but after the jumper, it makes sense.

And one from her aunt: She wears a silk polka-dot bowtie. So clearly the poor fashion sense runs in the family.

1 Comment »

  1. Elle said,

    I totally wore a record as a ponytail holder in middle school. I saw it in Seventeen and tried it out for Halloween. I’m still not sure if I was way ahead of my time or just completely fashion challenged.

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