Courtroom Drama, Infidelity, and Bears! OH MY!: Sweet Valley High #1 Chapters 14-15

Sometimes I really struggle to title these posts. [Ariel says: I’m glad you have this problem too. Most of the time I just want to write, “Insert Joke Here: Book/Chapter Numbers.] [Matthew adds: Right? So who noticed yesterday’s post went out to all of BBGT’s social media as “Blah: Sweet Valley High #1”?]

Chapter 14

Chapter 14 begins with yet another handy summary of literally the entire plot so far:

Elizabeth couldn’t remember a time when life had been such a mess. Everything was in a shambles. Her father was chasing around after another woman, and her mother was blind to it. The money-grubbing Fowlers were grabbing the Sweet Valley High Gladiators’ football field away from them just when they had a really terrific team. And who was trying to stop the Fowlers? The Patmans, who were just as bad—a formal English garden! The whole disgusting mess was now in the courts, which only threw her father and that woman lawyer, Marianna West, together even more.
And to top it off, Todd Wilkins had turned out to be practically as bad as Rick Andover.

Elizabeth has to keep covering the football story for the school paper and has to go to the Court at 9:30 on Tuesday, because apparently she doesn’t actually have to go to school, I guess. Making things even more complicated, Todd finally gets a word in with Elizabeth, who’s been trying to avoid him. But we still have about 33 pages of book left, so it’s just for another misunderstanding.

“I just wanted to say that—well, people make mistakes. I know that. People do things without realizing it, and then they’re sorry. And you can’t hold it against them forever! It’s not fair.”
No, Elizabeth thought. That was true.
If Todd apologized for what he tried to do to Jessica, that wouldn’t make it all right, exactly. But it would make her at least stop hating him some.
“I just wanted to apologize, Liz, for the way I’ve been acting. […] I’ve cooled down some
now, but it took me a lot to be willing to forgive you.”

He forgives her?

snape bitch please

“You’re willing—?” Elizabeth felt she was going to explode. “Just forget it, Todd.” […]
“Elizabeth, I’m trying to keep my cool. But this is getting to me.”
“Isn’t that too bad.”

Aw snap! Elizabeth finally stood up for herself! Not to Jessica, though. But then this book would have been like six pages long if anyone ever stood up to Jessica.

[Ariel says: Also seriously, what the fuck is Todd forgiving Elizabeth for in the first place? He’s not her boyfriend or even her friend. Even if she had been the one to get caught by the police, she doesn’t owe Todd jack shit.]

Chapter 15

Elizabeth goes to court to report on the football field trial for the school paper, which is still evidently a thing that high school papers can do. Elizabeth also gets recognized by a writer at the local paper, because everybody in this town knows everybody else, even though none of them can fathom that Jessica is maybe the one that ran into legal trouble and not Elizabeth.

Speaking of legal trouble, Elizabeth notices her father (a lawyer on the school’s side) with none other than Marianna! Get it? Because it looks like trouble, and he’s a lawyer and they’re in a court room and… ok nevermind.

After the other two minor characters deliver speeches for their respective arguments (that aren’t really important because this subplot is over, like, superfast), Elizabeth is surprised that her father isn’t delivering his firm’s statement, but Marianna is! And then she’s really good!

Elizabeth scribbled frantically, trying to keep up with Marianna’s powerful argument. She seemed to know everything about the matter, all right. Her father must have told her every detail.

He must have! Her womanbrain sure couldn’t have done this on its own. [Ariel says: I’m surprised Elizabeth wasn’t like, “Marianna was clearly on her period, so without the help of a man, she never would have been able to handle herself in the courtroom.”]

A recess is called and Elizabeth’s father introduces her to Marianna, whom Elizabeth is confused to find she actually likes. Then the judge decided school wins the property and gets to keep the football field.

and there was much rejoicing
and there was much rejoicing

Elizabeth writes the story for the school paper, and words stop having meaning for a moment.

Mr. Collins read over her story and nodded approvingly. “Good, Elizabeth. Very objective.”
Elizabeth sighed. She didn’t feel very objective. […] How could she be happy when her father was about to leave them for another woman?

"I don't know what that means"

Things get worse when Elizabeth’s mom tells her that Marianna West is coming over for dinner!

“Marianna West!” her mother said, smiling. “And—”
She didn’t have a chance to say who the other guest was because Elizabeth interrupted. “Marianna West?”
“Yes! And your father has a very important announcement to make.”
“An announcement about Marianna West?”
“Yes!”

Being the rational soul she is, Jessica is on TEAM DIVORCEAPALOOZA.

“I know!” cried Jessica, collapsing in tears on her bed. “They’re going to announce they’re getting a divorce. Oh, I could just die!”

There’s more.

“This is the most horrible day in my entire existence!” Jessica raged, stomping out and heading for her room.

I’m not saying this wouldn’t be terrible, but bear in mind that Jessica’s previous “worst day ever” announcement was when she had to microwave dinner because her mom wasn’t home to cook.

The scenario gets some more wacky mishaps when Steven’s subplot gets roped in.

“He’s going to make an announcement at dinner,” said Elizabeth. “We’re not sure yet what it is, but under the circumstances, it’s got to be terrible.”
“Oh, no,” he said, falling into a chair. “But I’ve invited Tricia Martin to dinner!”

The book, of course, misses no opportunity to shit on Tricia Martin’s family.

[Steven wasn’t] able to reach Tricia to tell her not to come. She would discover that she was not the only one whose family was a mess.

It's not often you read a book that sounds like it was written by Draco Malfoy.
It’s not often you read a book that sounds like it was written by Draco Malfoy.

The big moment comes.

Mr. Wakefield raised his glass. “Listen, everybody,” he said. “I was going to announce this at dinner, but I just can’t wait. […] I offer a toast to Marianna,” said Ned Wakefield,“the newest partner in our law firm!”

throw our heads back in laughter

Question of the Day: ARE YOU TOTES SURPRISED?

– – –

Dear Readers,

On a personal note, a family friend was recently diagnosed with cancer. They’ve set up a campaign on Go Fund Me in the hopes of some help to pay for the treatment. In the spirit of crowdfunding, I thought I would reach out to our readership. A few thousand people will read this message at the end of this post today. If you are in a position where you have a few dollars to spare, I hope you – and anyone else here in the BBGT community – could consider helping to make a little difference together.

Many thanks from your friends at Bad Books, Good Times

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