Sweet Valley High, Secrets Chapter 9:
Sweet Valley High continues to introduce characters who serve to remind us that no matter your age, if you are in a story about attractive high schoolers, you must also be very attractive:
The next day Elizabeth broke down and confided in Mr. Collins. Besides being the faculty adviser for The Oracle, Roger Collins had become a sort of unofficial “Dear Abby” to the kids who worked with him. Of course, he resembled anyone but Abby—more like a taller Robert Redford, Elizabeth thought, with his crinkly blue eyes and ruggedly handsome features. Sometimes it was hard to keep her mind on what she was saying when she talked to him.
House of Night has scarred me so much that my reaction to this scene was to recoil and silently warn Elizabeth that he was probably working with (and banging!) her arch nemesis and former mentor to isolate her from her friends. To be fair, that does seem like a very Jessica plan, so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that something similar will go down in Sweet Valley High. Tread carefully, Elizabeth.
Mr. Collins makes the very good and blindingly obvious point that Elizabeth couldn’t have been the only one who’d known about the letters if she hadn’t told Ronnie about them. You’re so close to realizing it was Jessica, Elizabeth, come on. I know you can get there.
Except she totally can’t.
Elizabeth thought for a moment. “I suppose he could have told Winston Egbert.” She knew they’d been friends from the age of about five, though Winston had kept far away from the trouble George had gotten himself into.
Fine, okay, that’s a good detail to remember, and it definitely came up in the letter we saw from George, but really shouldn’t Elizabeth be at least considering it’s her evil twin?
With the help of Mr. Collins (who may or may not be the Vampyre Poet Laureate), Elizabeth determines that Winston wouldn’t have said anything to be malicious but may have let something slip to Ronnie accidentally. She resolves to talk to him later.
Another member of the paper walks in, “bearing an armload of letters she’d collected from the box outside their office.” These sure were the good old days before gossip apps like Yik Yak, or whatever the hell the kids are using, became the preferred method of spreading salacious rumors.
In any case, there are letters addressing the issue of Ms. Dalton and her alleged affair with student Ken. This infuriates Mr. Collins who is probably the one involved with Ms. Dalton. Rumors at Sweet Valley always turn out to have a respectable truth lurking behind the sordid lies. Remember when everyone thought the twins’ father was having an affair with a co-worker and it turned out he was just helping her get a promotion (not in an affair-y kind of way)?
At this rate, I expect that in the next book everyone will be talking about how Winston keeps sneaking off with bags full of kittens who he is undoubtably torturing. The twist will be that actually he’s saving all of these kittens from danger and opening a kitten cafe right outside of Sweet Valley High.
“I wonder how Kenny’s taking it,” she mused aloud.
“Nobody seems to know,” Olivia answered. “He’s been absent the past couple of days. There’s a nasty rumor that he got mononucleosis from k—”
“That’s enough!” In a rare show of temper, Mr. Collins slammed a book down on his desk. “Haven’t you two got anything better to do than talk about this thing?”
This isn’t your first day, Mr. Collins. Of course they have nothing better to talk about!
Elizabeth blushed. Mr. Collins was right—the best way to deal with gossip was just to ignore it. But that was easier said than done when you were on the receiving end. Her heart went out to both Ms. Dalton and Enid. She knew only too well what it was like having conversations end abruptly when you walked into a room, having people look at you as if you’d just sprouted another head or something. People had treated her like that when Jessica had been picked up at an off-limits bar during a wild brawl—and had let the police believe she was Elizabeth. The next day everyone at school was smirking behind her back. Elizabeth would never forget what a miserable time that had been.
But she would certainly forget that Jessica is to be trusted under no circumstances whatsoever. Put. The pieces. Together. Elizabeth.
Later, Elizabeth talks to Winston. He’s super nice about the whole thing, but is basically like, “I don’t even know Ronnie, why would I ever tell him about George’s letters? Pointless.” Well, Winston, it’s apparently not pointless if you’ve got your eye on the homecoming crown. It’s got a convoluted point, but a point nonetheless.
“Anyhow, in my book a friend isn’t someone who blabs a secret all over the place. I know everyone thinks I have a big mouth, but I know how to keep it shut when it counts.”
Elizabeth looked at Winston with new respect.
Sweet Valley High just gave Winston more depth in thirty seconds than the Casts have given the twins in what is now THREE books.
Todd is also sort of in this scene, playing basketball while Elizabeth and Winston talk on the bleachers. Just thought you should know he’s still around.