Monday, February 18, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Heartbreaker

I love writing these Sweet Valley High posts, but MY GOD they take forever to do. I usually end up reading the book I'm recapping about three times over, between counting things, looking for ridiculous quotes that I forgot to make a note of the first time around, and generally making sure I've covered all the most hilarious/weird parts. I'd love it if it was my actual job to just read SVH books all day and write smart-arse blog posts about each one, but unfortunately real life and real life work and hangovers and suchlike have a tendency to get in the way. But anyway, enough of that. Onwards to book eight! 

Sweet Valley High #8: Heartbreaker

Our story begins with Jessica rehearsing the drama club's spring play, Splendor in the Grass, with Bill Chase and having him kiss her over and over as she insists it's not right each time. You see, at the end of the last book, Bill was supposed to go on a date with Elizabeth, but Jessica went in her place as revenge for him turning her down when she asked him to one of SVH's four thousand dances this one time. On the date, he told her he loved her, then Jessica revealed that she was Jessica and since then has somehow convinced him that it's actually her that he loves. For the hell of it.

At school, Elizabeth sees Todd with his arms around some mysterious hottie, who turns out to be Patsy Webber, an old girlfriend of his. Patsy has just come back from living in Paris, and has "coppery-red hair cut fashionably short in back, with a tumble of curls that dipped over her forehead", which is totally sophisticated you guys, and makes her sound like she's a member of The Holograms. Elizabeth gets all jealous of how glamourous and sexy Patsy is and tries to convince herself that she has nothing to worry about.

Jessica gets Bill to call over to her house with a script for the play, despite the fact that she's not even going to be there as she's got a date with Tom McKay. So Bill turns up and is all disappointed when Elizabeth answers the door. Bill leaves and drives off to the beach to stand around in moonlight and feel his feelings. We learn that Bill had a girlfriend called Julianne back when he was living in Santa Monica. Julianne was cute and blonde and into surfing, just like Bill and "they were both crazy about old movies and monster comics and Mexican food". She actually sounds like great craic and more fun than pretty much everyone in Sweet Valley. But...disaster struck! (Of course it did, it's SVH after all.) They had a big argument one night at a party, so Julianne stormed off and got a lift home with her friend and was killed in a horrible car accident. We also learn that he turned Jessica down that one time ages ago because she reminded him too much of Julianne.

While Jessica is busy fucking around with Bill's feelings, DeeDee Gordon is wistfully pining for him from the wings. At one point Bill is giving DeeDee a surfing lesson while everyone is out at the beach, which winds Jessica up because apparently he's supposed to be at her beck and call at all times, even though she's off dry humping Tom McKay every other night. She interrupts DeeDee's lesson with Bill, by swishing out to them in her "bronze wet-look bikini" (which is either a continuity error, as she bought a bronze, wet-look one piece in Secrets, or she has TWO bronze wet-look swimsuits. Which wouldn't surprise me in the least, it being Jessica Wakefield and all) and being all flirty so that DeeDee runs off crying.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is sad because Sexy Patsy turned up at the beach and Todd went swimming with her and now she's super jealous because she thinks Todd wants to bang his ex-girlfriend. She also runs off crying, but meets Enid Rollins in the car park, along with Olivia Davidson and some bird called Lois Waller. I'm only really including this bit because of the appearance of this line:

"Lois Waller made her a little uncomfortable - always trying so hard to impress people, to be in the centre of things."

Which is a bit fucking rich, considering her twin is the kind of person who quite literally stops a pool party later on in the book so everyone will watch her dive into the water. Shut up Liz.

Jessica continues to ladycock-block DeeDee, practically jumping in front of her every time Bill talks to her, for no reason other than to keep him for herself even though she doesn't actually want him. She's such a genuinely terrible person. Bill is infuriatingly oblivious to her manipulations and treats DeeDee like shit, abandoning her every time Jessica bats her trampy eyelashes at him. Jessica invites the drama crowd over to her house for a pool party after rehearsal one evening, but makes it sound like it'll just be her and Bill so he'll bail on his plans to go surfing with DeeDee. Unsurprisingly, he ends up miserable when Jessica spends the evening getting felt up by Tom.

Elizabeth arrives home from the library, to find her dad in the living room while everyone is out in the back garden by the pool.

"Elizabeth was struck, as she often was, by how athletic her father looked for someone who spent so much of his time at a desk poring over legal briefs."

Stop checking your father out Liz, you weirdo.

Anyway, she gets into her "striped two-piece" and heads out to the pool to meet Todd, who is already there. But UH OH, he's leaning over Sexy Patsy, who is lying on her stomach with the back of her bikini top undone like some kind of whore, while he slowly rubs suntan lotion on her back. NOT COOL TODD. Elizabeth runs off to her room all upset and Todd doesn't know what the hell is going on, because apparently there's nothing wrong with massaging lotion onto your half naked ex-girlfriend. Jessica comes up to the room to see what's wrong, and when Elizabeth tells her she thinks there's something going on between Todd and Patsy, instead of consoling her like a NORMAL NON PSYCHOTIC PERSON, Jessica says "now that you mention it, I have noticed Todd spending a lot of time with Patsy at rehearsals", because she feels like Todd takes up too much of her sister's time. What the actual fuck? I looked up the characteristics of what makes a person a sociopath, and guess what? ALL THE TRAITS APPLY TO JESSICA.

This is actually one of the best book covers in the entire Sweet Valley High series. Jessica looks like a soccer mom who hasn't realised that her pool boy plaything prefers to have sex with dudes.

So it turns out that DeeDee's father is some big shot Hollywood agent and after seeing a rehearsal of the play, has chosen someone who he thinks has real talent, but won't reveal who until the end of the week, on opening night. Naturally, Jessica assumes it's her and actually stops torturing Bill for a while as she's too busy being unbearably smug about her supposed film star future. So when Bill asks her if she'd like to go to the cast party with him on opening night, she turns him down and suggests he ask DeeDee instead, as she's got better things to do now than dangle her vagina in front of some surfer dude.

That evening, DeeDee and Bill are out surfing, because apparently DeeDee is now good enough to enter the Women's Junior Surfing Championship after a few lessons and she needs to practice for the competition. But Bill is so busy feeling sorry for himself after being rejected by Jessica that he doesn't notice when DeeDee enters a wave a few seconds too late and gets pulled underwater. When he eventually spots her floating face-down in the water, he springs into action, bringing her back to the shore and giving her CPR. While he's giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he suddenly realises how pretty she is, which is kind of an odd place for someone's mind to go when the person in front of them is half dead.

DeeDee comes to, but instead of calling an ambulance, or taking her to A&E, seeing as y'know, SHE PROBABLY HAS A CONCUSSION, Bill realises that he's actually crazy about her so they start shifting in the sand, because going to the hospital is for quitters. Also, every time Bill has some manner of emotional upheaval in this book, his feelings are described with a hilariously heavy handed sea-related metaphor.

"When he kissed her it was as natural as a wave breaking."

"Jessica's appearance was like a wave knocking him over."

"Being in love was a lot like getting wiped out by a wave, he thought."

"The feeling must have been there all along, tugging at him like an undertow beneath the calm surface of their friendship."

"He suddenly felt as if he was the one who was drowning."


Meanwhile, Liz has been moping around over Todd instead of actually talking to him, ever since the suntan lotion/naked back fiasco and subsequently seeing Todd with his arms around Patsy in school. Opening night of Splendor in the Grass eventually arrives and the play gets a standing ovation, while Jessica blows kisses to the adoring crowd like the insufferable diva she is, convinced that she's about to be discovered as an actress. Unfortunately for her, it turns out that Bill is the one that DeeDee's father has his Hollywood agent eye on, so she ditches Tom McKay like yesterday's jam, in order to hop on Bill's movie star coattails. DeeDee runs off crying when Jessica wedges herself between her and Bill and starts cooing and purring at him, not letting him get a word in edgeways when he really should be telling her to go fuck herself.

DeeDee meets Roger Barrett ouside while she's crying her face off, who comiserates with her as he's in love with Lila Fowler but he's all poor and nerdy so he doesn't stand a chance. They decide to go along to the cast party together, even though they're both miserable. Elizabeth and Jessica arrive at Lila's mansion for the party, but Elizabeth runs off crying (there's an inordinate amount of running off crying in this book) when she sees Sexy Patsy. While she's outside crying, Todd appears and demands to know what the hell is going on with her. He explains that he had his arms around Patsy that day in school because her French boyfriend had dumped her and he was just comforting her. They make up and exchange I-love-yous. Aww. I guess.

Inside at the party, Jessica is almost sitting on Bill's lap and probably giving herself friction burns from all the rubbing up against him she's doing. When DeeDee arrives with Roger, Bill jumps up and runs over to her, spilling his ginger ale on Jessica (ha! Fuck you Jess). Anyway, Bill finally straps on a pair and tells Jessica he's with DeeDee now. So Jessica runs off crying. And her Plan B boy Tom is now hooking up with Sexy Patsy. Everybody else is happy, so yay!

Notable outfit:
The appearance of Jessica's wet-look bronze bikini might have taken this honour, only it already did in Secrets, and anyway Patsy's totally sophisticated Parisian wardrobe wins out.

"She looked stunning in a low-cut halter-top jumpsuit made of some shimmery, peach coloured fabric."


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 134
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 7
Amount of times people blush: 24 (TWENTY FOUR. For realsies.)


  1. Love it.

    Might you ever consider covering the Babysitter's Club?

  2. Oh that would be spectacular.

  3. Hi there,

    Not sure if you've seen this, but if not you might find it interesting. An article by one of the ghostwriters of SVH!

  4. Annie & Bani (that rhymes so nicely! You should be a double act!) - I never read the Babysitter's Club as a young wan, so for me it just doesn't hold anything like the nostalgia appeal that Sweet Valley does.

    Krankykitteh - Thanks for that, I actually just read it this morning after it was sent to me on Twitter, it's such a fascinating read!

  5. Splendor in the Grass?! Jaysus. Great choice for a High School play. I actually remember this book cover (not the story, weirdly) because in it, Jessica looks exactly like a girl who lived on our road. Way to go Liz, perving on your father. Wonderful. I'm imagining Patsy as that bloke who did that cover of 'Remember Me' with Jessie J. Sexy. Also, I think I may be a sociopath...

    1. I just looked up Splendor in the Grass there, as I didn't realise it was a real thing and HOLY SHIT THAT IS DARK. What the hell is WRONG with that school!?

  6. Bravo! Bravo! You never disappoint with these write-ups. you cover 50 Shades of Grey??? WHERE??? I must must must read this.

    And yes, Splendor in the Grass was pretty fucked up. Unless you see the Melissa Gilbert version, which is like that first mouthful of a strawberry shake, when you clearly told the McDonald's cashier you wanted chocolate. Flat, rancid, and totally cathces you off guard like a surprise punch to the gut.

    1. Sounds...horrible!

      I very VERY angrily recapped the first 50 Shades of Grey book in twelve parts, they're all here:

  7. I thought you'd be fascinated by this!

  8. Just what I needed, thanks a lot….


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