Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Starting Over

Ok, this one isn't as particularly exciting as other Sweet Valley High books, but we're inching ever closer to the infamous Regina Morrow cocaine storyline in book 40 so just HANG IN THERE.

Sweet Valley High #33: Starting Over

Sweet Valley's hottest band, The Droids, are rocking out in guitarist Max Dellon's basement, but lead singer Dana Larson is spacing out because she's preoccupied with the fact that her cousin Sally is coming to live with the Larsons. Thirteen years ago, Sally's father walked out and when her mother remarried, she dumped Sally into a foster home and she's been bouncing around the system ever since.

The only problem was that Sally's situation was embarrassing. A father who was a bum, no real home, a year behind in school. Sure, it wasn't Sally's fault, but...

Excuse me? But what, Dana? Don't make me hate you goddammit, DON'T DO ME LIKE THAT DANA.

Meanwhile, and let's face it, more importantly, Elizabeth Wakefield is working on an article in her room, when Jessica comes barrelling in the front door and up the stairs to her sister, all excited and nervous becauuuse...she brought home a puppy! She was at some game and there was a guy with a box full of Labrador puppies giving them away, which sounds both unlikely and very sketchy. At least he didn't have them in the back of a van, so nobody's been kidnapped or anything. Well, nobody important at least. Anyway, Ned and Alice are away for the weekend, so Jessica reckons that if she can keep the puppy a secret in the house for a week, they'll see that he's no trouble at all and let her keep him. She's going to keep him in her room, because Alice has given up on going in there and trying to get Jessica to tidy up, so it's a great hiding place. It's actually a pretty adorable storyline for Jessica, as much as I enjoy her unfounded revenge escapades.

Mr and Mrs Larson arrive home after collecting Sally at the airport and I sorta have to wonder why they've only stepped in now after their niece had spent over a decade having a terrible time and going from one foster home to another. In any case, Sally is nervous and determined to make this newest development work, desperately telling herself that she'll do anything to make the Larsons glad that she's around. Dana is all enthusiastic and shows Sally to her new room, which has been recently vacated by Dana's brother Jeremy, whose room is now in the attic instead. Jeremy arrives home late and is a total dick to Sally, but Dana assures her that he's just a grouch and always like that. Jeremy's an asshole.

Dana and Sally go shopping at the Valley Mall the following day, but Sally is a bit intimidated by Dana's energy and confidence and outrageous haircut and just goes along with the clothes Dana foists on her. They run into the Wakefield twins, who've just bought a dog collar for their secret puppy and make a big pointless deal of hiding it behind their backs, because everyone is SOOoOOOo invested in every tiny thing the twins get up to. Except they actually are and Dana badgers Jessica into showing her what's in the bag, which Elizabeth explains away as an accessory for a punk outfit for a fancy dress party. Stop enabling them, Dana.

Back at home, Dana insists on giving Sally a makeover, but really just faffs with her hair for a bit and says really insensitive things like telling her to just forget about her past and pretend it never happened and also advising her to tell people she's sixteen so no one will know she had to stay back a year. Goddammit Dana. After Sally's first day at Sweet Valley High, she's feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the new teachers, classes and students and doesn't feel comfortable in her new clothes, which, in an act of aggressive rudeness, the ghostwriter doesn't even describe to us. Dana then drags her to band practice to meet the rest of The Droids and suggests that she could be their manager. Sally doesn't really like rock music but she wants to please Dana so she agrees and then feels happy to be part of something. At dinner back at the house, Jeremy continues to be an unmitigated assface to Sally and when she volunteers to clear the table despite it being Dana's turn, Mr and Mrs Larson later talk about how helpful Sally is and tell Dana that she could learn a thing or two from her cousin, which pisses Dana off no end.

Jeremy's friend Mark calls over to the house at some point and is friendly when he meets Sally, like a normal person, so Jeremy gets all HE'S *MY* FRIEND STOP TALKING TO HIM and continues to be an absolute fucking toerag, although Mark either can't read social cues or is just ignoring his terrible friend and happily chats to Sally and is pretty clearly interested in her. He calls her up a few days later and asks her out, but she fobs him off and says she can't, even though the truth is that she really wants to but she thinks Jeremy will "never forgive her" if they spend time together because he's such a dickbag. Also Dana has been spiky with her whenever she tries to do anything for her, so she's starting to feel pretty isolated and it's really sad. These kids are just. Awful.

I'm absolutely loving how completely full-speed turbo Eighties every inch of Dana is in this picture. Also is it just me, or does she look like Sandra Bullock with Roxette hair? And Sally is giving Lila Fowler a run for her (not inconsiderable amounts of) money in the haughty bitchface stakes.

Over at the tastefully decorated, split level, ranch style Wakefield house, Jessica has named the puppy Prince Albert and is keeping him in the basement during the day before walking him and putting him up in her bedroom before her parents get home. When she brings Lila over one afternoon to show him to her though, she finds a chewed-up black tube that he's pulled off the back of the washing machine, so she has to organise a plumber to come over and sort it before Ned and Alice find out. That evening over dinner, after Elizabeth contemplates her hot dad ("he was an attractive man to have for a father, Elizabeth always thought" relax Electra), and Jessica explains away the howling noise from her bedroom as her stereo being left on, Alice mentions that she's putting on a dark wash if the twins have anything to throw in the basket. Jessica panics and says that she'll do the laundry, and when Elizabeth brings Jeffrey downstairs to see the secret puppy, they find Jessica halfway out the basement window with the laundry basket as she's bringing the washing to their neighbours house to cover up the broken washing machine. Aww, cute shenanigans Jess!

Meanwhile, Dana's ma is getting on her case to clean her room and mentions how tidy Sally is, which makes Dana even madder at Sally and prompts an incredibly unfair bitching session about her between Dana and Jeremy.

"You know what I don't understand though," Dana continued, "is why Mom and Dad are acting so weird about it. It's not as if Sally was abused or anything."

DANA. STOP IT. You're meant to be the Jem to the Droids Holograms and you're being such a cunt for absolutely no good reason. COP ON. JERRICA BENTON WOULDN'T ACT LIKE THIS.

Sally happens upon the pair's nasty conversation and they tell her to take their mother's car for the evening in the most dickish way possible and Sally's just like "uh ok, thanks?" even though she has nowhere to go and no one to see. She ends up driving out to the school and decides to check out the Oracle offices because she really enjoys writing but feels like she doesn't have time to get involved with the paper while she's working with the Droids and she doesn't want to let Dana down. Elizabeth is in the office typing up her Eyes and Ears gossip column and Sally ends up chatting to her and telling her her whole life story and how she's afraid that if she pisses off Jeremy and Dana then she'll be sent away again. Because of course she does, Elizabeth being the Sweet Valley confessional box and all. Back at home, Sally mentions to Dana that she ran into Liz and talks about how nice she is and Dana gets all weird with her and says she can't stop her being friends with Elizabeth and reminds her that she's committed herself to the band and it's SO FUCKING MEAN and makes Sally feel like she can't hang out with anyone but Dana and I'm so mad at this storyline for making me hate Dana. Liz ends up calling Sally and asking her if she'd like to go to the mall the next day with her and Sally has to reject another person she likes because her cousins suck SO HARD. Elizabeth is confused by Sally's reaction and wonders what's going on with her.

"But why?" Elizabeth said aloud. "How could she think that would make the Larsons like her more?"

She's got a point, normally if someone dares to turn down an offer of friendship from a Wakefield twin, the town of Sweet Valley will descend on their house in a pitchfork-wielding mob and run them out of town for slighting one of their hottest and most valuable residents.

At dinner, Jessica broaches the subject of getting a dog with Ned and Alice, but they're not sure about it, so Elizabeth chimes in to help and they realise that Jessica is super serious about it so they say they'll think about it. On Saturday, both parents are working so the twins take Prince Albert for a walk but he wriggles out of the collar and runs off and they can't find after searching all day. OH NO PUPPAY!

On Monday morning, Mrs Larson tells Jeremy, Dana and Sally to come home right after school because Mr Larson is flying back from a meeting in San Francisco and will have some news for all of them. Sally is convinced that it means she's being sent away and she's super sad all day long and it even rains that day, such is the tragicness of the situation. I think that's the first time it's rained in Sweet Valley this whole series. She runs into Elizabeth at lunchtime and apologises for turning her down last week.  

She would probably never see Elizabeth again.

Which is truly the most tragic part of whole tale. After school, Jeremy is driving her and Dana home and decides to pick up two "rough looking hitchhikers" on the way because he's a fucking idiot.

One of them flicked his burning cigarette into the grass on the side of the road.


They hop in and proceed to creep all over Dana who's stuck between them in the backseat and demand to be taken to Kelly's, the shady bar that only shady people go to and are generally all menacing and scary. When they get to Kelly's they basically threaten to rape Dana unless Jeremy gives them his wallet and then demand that the girls come with them into the bar. Sally suddenly puts on a tough act and tells them not to bother with Dana because she's a "dead bore" and says she'll go in with them because she knows how to have a good time and tells Dana and Jeremy to get lost in an obvious attempt to save them from any unpleasantness. Jeremy and Dana drive away and fucking LEAVE HER THERE and Dana then realises that Sally was just taking one for the team and didn't actually want to go into the scary bar with the would-be rapists, shockingly enough. Once Jeremy realises this too and what an absolute wanker he was being in bailing on her, they drive to Mark's house which is nearby and it turns out that Ken Matthews and John Pfeiffer are there too, so they all head over to Kelly's and Dana and Jeremy then realise on the way what a pair of total fuckers they've been to Sally this whole time.

The gang descend on Kelly's and rescue Sally because grown men are afraid of a few sixteen year old young lads and Dana calls Sally her sister during the confrontation and afterwards apologises for being such a dickhead. When they get home, Mr and Mrs Larson gather everyone in the kitchen and keep getting interrupted with their big news by Dana and Jeremy saying they want Sally to stay, but it turns out that they've arranged to legally adopt Sally so everything is fiiiine. Because all it takes to be accepted by your blood relatives is to throw yourself into harm's way to save their ungrateful asses.

That same evening, Ned Wakefield comes home with a surprise for the twins. He and Alice had decided that the girls were ready for a dog and stopped by the animal shelter, only to bring home...Prince Albert! YAY PUPPAY!

Notable outfit:
Obviously it's one of Dana's.

She was wearing skin-tight, black stirrup pants and a gold lamé dinner jacket, sleeves pushed up, over a black and white checked shirt.

Stirrup pants! Gold lamé! Sleeves pushed up! There is literally nothing I don't like about this whole entire sentence!

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5


  1. My mom is cleaning out her storage and guess what she found?? All of my SVH books! I instantly thought of you, haha.

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