February 16, 2016
SVU #51, Living Together: Sophomore Slump
Summary: As was briefly mentioned in Loving the Enemy, Jessica and Elizabeth, now sophomores at SVU, are going to be living with Neil. They’ve found a duplex with four bedrooms, though they didn’t take a look inside before signing a lease, so they’re surprised to see how run-down it is. Also, they got a place with four bedrooms despite not having a fourth roommate or being able to afford the place without a fourth roommate. Great planning, guys. I trust you to live on your own and take care of yourselves.
The roomies start interviewing people to take the fourth room, but as anyone could predict, all of the options are horrible fits. There’s the pierced punk who loves loud music. There’s the smoker who doesn’t even last ten seconds, jetting as soon as she learns that the duplex is non-smoking. There’s the nerd who probably won’t appreciate living with college students who like to party. Yeah, but at least he’s probably neat and would pay his rent on time.
While Neil and Elizabeth suffer through unending, unpromising interviews, Jessica has a catastrophe to deal with on campus. She’s learned that, despite paying her tuition, she’s not enrolled at SVU. She has to run all over the place to fix this, barely making it to the bursar’s office by the end of the day. No worries, though – some idiot credited her tuition check to Elizabeth instead of Jess. How did that person not see that Liz had paid twice? Maybe that person should cut back on his or her hours and attend more classes. Anyway, Jess is set to go, and now has a new friend in the office, a guy named Alejandro.
Sam happens to be in Sweet Valley, looking for a place to live. He couldn’t get housing at his school, so he’s checking out flyers for rooms to rent when he runs into Liz, who’s putting up an ad for the duplex. Of course, he’s going to end up moving in with the twins and Neil, but right now we have to pretend it’s not a sure thing. Which is reasonable, because Elizabeth is justified in not wanting to live with the guy who treated her so badly over the summer.
Neil meets with his new advisor, who’s surprised that he’s transferring to SVU from Stanford. Neil admits that his financial aid didn’t come through, which isn’t true: His parents cut him off after he came out. I just want to give Neil a big hug and bake him cookies and binge-watch trashy reality shows with him. Unlike the twins, whose parents are paying their rent and tuition, Neil has to fend for himself financially. He doesn’t want anyone to know.
Eventually, as anyone could predict, Sam mentions to Neil that he needs a place to live, so Neil immediately invites him to move in. He loves the idea of living with someone the group already knows. Sam’s jerky friend Floyd helps him move in. Sam’s a jerk, too, insisiting on setting up his beer can collection in the living room. Everyone fights, though things would probably be a lot tamer if Floyd weren’t there.
There are B-plots galore. First: Todd also doesn’t have a place to live, so he’s been staying at Dana’s. Dana’s three roommates aren’t happy about that. They think he hogs the phone, the hot water, and their food. They gang up on him and Dana, announcing that it’s time for him to leave. Totally reasonable. But Dana makes things worse by siding with him, telling her roommates that if they kick him out, she’s leaving, too. They call her bluff and show her the door.
Dana and Todd crash in a motel room since they have nowhere else to go. Here, I have to quote the recapper at 1BRUCE1: “Apparently she’s been lying there, crying for hours on end. Here’s the thing, though — I’m not sure if it’s from the housemates-kicking-her-out thing, or the motel room’s decor of ‘paintings of sad-eyed children in clown suits.’ WHAT?! Did Todd ask for the nightmare suite? That is, quite frankly, terrifying. Nobody has ever taken a woman to a motel room adorned with sad clown babies with any other intention but to face-stab her. Dana is going to get stabbed in the face here.”
Todd goes looking for a place to live (and yes, he does briefly consider the duplex, but he’s smart enough to know that’s a horrible idea), quickly realizing that since Dana needs a home, too, they might as well just get a place together. He rents an apartment and surprises Dana, who isn’t that thrilled that he didn’t talk to her about it first, especially since moving in together is a pretty big relationship step. She starts to warm up to the idea, even if it means they can barely afford food. Everyone in this book needs to get a job. Things are tense, but when Dana plays her cello, Todd realizes how much he loves her, and vice versa. If music be the food of love, etc., etc.
Chloe is now a freshman at SVU and, like Neil, is keeping a secret: She’s super-rich. So I guess not everyone in this book needs to get a job. She wants her classmates to like her for who she is and not think she’s a snob, so she tries to ditch all her expensive clothes and slum it in the dorms like a common townie. This despite her mother offering to rent her a penthouse apartment. Chloe, dignity is overrated. Go for the penthouse.
Chloe’s roommate, Moira, is really annoying and immediately pegs her as rich. Chloe hangs out with her anyway. She tries to make friends with some other girls in her dorm, but she’s too quiet to get into their conversations. To make the girls think she’s more awesome than she actually is, Chloe tells them she has a boyfriend at SVU, a popular senior who adores her. His name? Tom Watts.
Tom himself is still struggling to move on from Elizabeth. He meets up with a friend from his football days and gets back into the groove of being obsessed with sports and being called Wildman Watts. Tom decides to ditch his journalism major and the TV station so he can go back to being a jock. In fact, he’s considering going back to the football team. I’m sure his years away haven’t hurt his skills at all.
Chloe learns where Tom lives (from Winston, in his sole appearance in the book – hi, Winston!) and stakes out his dorm so she can pretend to run into him. Even though Tom seemed to really like her after their first date, he now is pretty indifferent to her. But since she seems to have a crush, he decides to humor her and ask her out. This is just what Chloe wanted: Her new friends get to see her being picked up for a date by the guy she claims is her boyfriend. She even makes out with him in front of the other girls. Slow it down, Chloe. He’s not that great.
The final B-plot, which is more of a C-plot, involves Nina being lonely because she’s finally broken up with Bryan (yay!). She has a new roommate, a girl named Shondra who won’t stop talking about her boyfriend. Then she has a long, dramatic phone conversation with said boyfriend and trashes the room. Seems to me that Nina would make a much better roommate at the duplex than Sam, but she wants to be more independent or something. I’m sure she regrets that decision now.
Thoughts: Whoever wrote the back-cover blurb gave away that Sam would be the fourth roommate. Boo!
Always be suspicious of a rental you don’t get to see ahead of time. It’s not going to be the Ritz.
“Chloe didn’t fit anywhere at SVU.” You haven’t even been there 24 hours. Chill.
“Sometimes I think I should play it safe and do something a little more academic, like English or art history.” First of all, English is “safe”? And second, the idea of Jessica as an English major is the funniest thing I’ve heard all month. Just imagine her having to write a 15-page paper about, like, Chaucer.
Neil bought orange crushed-velvet drapes. Wow. Hideous.