Welcome back to another week of Sweet Valley High! As a reminder, I’m doing both Monday and Tuesday’s post this week, because Ariel and I decided to split up our chapters. We realized pretty late that more shit happens in the 159 pages of one Sweet Valley High than in the 525 pages of Insurgent.
This chapter begins with a Jessica-Elizabeth scene that serves as a handy overview of all the people who are with the wrong people:
- Jessica is going to the dance with Todd, although Todd and Elizabeth were the ones with feelings for each other.
- Elizabeth is going to the dance with Winston, whom neither Jessica nor Elizabeth find attractive, but as Elizabeth points out, “he doesn’t have three heads, for heaven’s sake”, so there’s, um, that.
- But the only reason Elizabeth is going to the dance with Winston at all was so she could turn down Bruce Patman, who is actually totally Jessica’s type! Also, his name sounds like Bruce Batman. This isn’t really a fault on the book’s part, but I can’t shake the mental image anyway.
Jessica asserts what a mistake Elizabeth made by explaining all of Bruce’s many delightful qualities.
“Bruce Patman!” Jessica squealed. “Liz Wakefield, how dare you sit there calmly and tell me Bruce asked you out as if it weren’t important! […] No girl alive would turn Bruce down. He’s handsome, Liz. He is sooooo rich. And he drives that awesome Porsche!”
Bruce’s parents Bruce sounds well-off and that’s pretty much it like quite a mega hunk!
Elizabeth asks Jessica if she’s sure she wouldn’t rather go to the dance with Bruce instead of Todd. Jessica asks Elizabeth if she’s sure she’s okay with her going to the dance with Todd. Nobody explains how they really feel, so the book can continue instead of solving all its problems right now.
As soon as Jessica left the room, the smile left Elizabeth’s face. Will it really be such a terrific night? she asked herself, tears filling her eyes.
I mean, mostly. That still would have been awkward to explain to the boys, but baby steps.
Speaking of the boys, the book continues to lay “everyone really wants to be dating someone else” on pretty thick.
“Hi, Mrs. Wakefield. I’m Todd Wilkins. I’m here to pick up Li—Jessica, I mean, for the dance.”
When Elizabeth is ready and enters the room, she finds both Winston and Todd there, which is mega awks! Almost as awks as the dialogue:
I’ve died and gone to heaven!” Getting up, he made a grand bow. “Princess Elizabeth, you are totally—totally—that’s what you are, Liz Wakefield—totally!”
Elizabeth found herself laughing so hard she was nearly in tears. “Win Egbert, you are totally crazy! And if you make me cry and ruin my eye makeup, I’ll kill you!”
The prose manages to get even more unnatural than “eye makeup” somehow.
Alice Wakefield was smiling that particular smile every mother does when her child is happy.
Jessica is upset that Todd is obviously not in highest spirits, but manages to look on the bright side anyway.
Maybe he’s not good with words, she thought. But she knew from the other day that he was good with kissing—and there certainly would be more kisses that evening!
At the dance, Jessica and Winston are upset that their respective dates aren’t acting super into it! At the end of the night, Todd merely kisses Jessica on the cheek! Jessica, furious that her sister and Todd have ruined her night, continues to ruin everyone’s life by instead telling Elizabeth that Todd “tried just about everything” and that she “had to beg him and beg him to please stop!”
Meanwhile, back in Steven’s subplot, Steven hasn’t left his room in two days, so his parents make him talk to them about Tricia Martin, who is also a character in this story we have to keep track of.
he told them how he had pretended that her family’s problems didn’t matter. He loved her “anyway,” he had told her, and he was above that sort of thing.
“She saw right through me,” Steven said bitterly. “She saw the truth—a truth I didn’t even realize—that I was ashamed of her family.”
This is a truth that he didn’t realize? It’s literally the only detail we’ve been given about this character and her family. This would be like not realizing the Cat in the Hat is a cat.
His parents help Steven realize that it doesn’t matter if other people approve of Tricia but “whether you approve of her”. Steven goes to Tricia’s and things escalate from “I approve of you!” very fast.
“Can you forgive me, Trish, for being a complete fool? I love you. I love you so much.”
“Oh, Steve,” Trish said. “I love you, too.”
As Steven drives home from the world’s fastest-resolved subplot, he spots his dad’s car and follows him, when the story unexpectedly shifts over to the parents’ subplot when he discovers his dad isn’t going home, but is driving with Marianna West to her house!
Steven didn’t know what to do. He certainly hadn’t planned to spy on his father. But there he was, following his father and Marianna—and wondering what in heaven’s name was going on. It was too late, he realized, for them to be coming home from work.
Spoiler: Nobody thinks about how weird it is that his dad was giving sage romance advice earlier in this chapter.
He sat in the car for a long time, waiting for his father to come out. He listened to at least a dozen songs on the radio, without hearing any of the music, before he finally gave up and drove home. […] He wanted to be awake when his father arrived home—if he came home at all.
And that was a whole chapter of not-the-twins’ high school romance plot, which is way more serious than their relatively light one. So I guess I would recommend this book for everyone who liked the sweet pangs of adolescence on Lizzie McGuire, but wished there were an episode where Lizzie’s younger brother suspected their parents of infidelity.
Question of the day! What music are you listening to right now? Make something up if you have to, it’s cool. Nobody will know you’re lying.