Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Outcast

Uh ohh...IT'S CONSEQUENCE TIME.

(Also, best to have read the book 40 recap before this one, as it follows on directly from that storyline. And hey, while we're clickin' links, come say hi on Facebook and Insta!)

Sweet Valley High #41: Outcast
 

We pick up immediately after the point where the last book finished up, so everyone is crying after the memorial service for Regina at school. Elizabeth finds Bruce and Amy (Amy is holding Bruce's hand "defiantly" at the funeral of the girl she schemed against because she has no class) and tells them about the letter she got from Regina from ~beyond the grave~ and how Regina had said that she didn't hold anything against the pair of them. Bleh. I hold it against them and I think they're assholes. Elizabeth and Jessica arrive home to find both of their parents and Steven home for a Serious Family Meeting About Drugs where Ned and Alice tell the twins that they can always talk to them about anything. Elizabeth laments that it was so unlike Regina to try drugs and Jessica cries out that it's all Molly Hecht's fault for having the party, but Ned insists that it was Regina's decision.

At school, everyone is jumping on the Blame Molly Bandwagon, including Justin Belson. Molly tries to talk to him at lunch but he literally turns and flees from her, because he's putting his old life behind him now. Molly is left entirely alone and feels completely terrible as she walks home. She can't help feeling like it's not fair that she's the one taking all the blame and quite rightly wonders "What about Bruce and Amy? What about Buzz and Justin and Jan? What about Regina herself?" and I'm with you Molly, Bruce and Amy should absolutely be taking some heat for this too. She's fifteen minutes late when she gets home because she spent all day at school being ostracised and waited until the hallways were clear before leaving as people had been physically moving away from her as she passed. Once she gets home though, she's berated by her furious parents for being late (her dad has come back from San Francisco to shout at her and tell her she's responsible for Regina's death) and she tearfully pleads with them to let her transfer to another school because everyone is treating her like a murderer, but they're not having it and tell her she has to take whatever the kids at school throw at her. Parenting!

Jessica calls an emergency Pi Beta Alpha meeting and announces that she wants to set up a college scholarship fund in Regina's memory, to be awarded to someone who has overcome "some kind of handicap or hardship" and that the sorority could fundraise to get it started. Everyone thinks it's an amazing idea and Elizabeth tells Jessica that she's proud of her. After school, Elizabeth is sitting on the steps outside the front entrance with Jeffrey talking about how much she misses Regina and shows him a poem about grief by the poet who Regina liked and the whole thing is printed in full, like the poem by the same author in the last book which was read at the memorial, and is the ghostwriter just filling up the word count here or trying to win a bet? Anyway, while all this is going on, Molly is on the other side of the door, psyching herself up to talk to Elizabeth.

For days now, she had a strong, compelling need to talk to Elizabeth, to try to apologize, explain what had happened.

It was well known that Elizabeth Wakefield could be counted on as sympathetic, honest and scrupulously fair.

Oh PLEASE.

When Jeffrey leaves, Molly emerges and asks Elizabeth if she can talk to her for a minute, but she backs away and says she can't. Molly begs Liz not to hate her and Liz says she's doesn't hate her but she loved Regina and then runs away from her too.

Now that Elizabeth and Justin had turned away, nothing seemed to matter anymore.

Ok, Justin at least is her ex and until recently was a close friend but as far as we know, her and Elizabeth had never even said as much as hello to each other, so REALLY? Now that Elizabeth, who you've never had anything to do with, has turned away, NOW everything is meaningless and over? How the hell is a judgemental pain in the hole like Elizabeth so central to the happiness of all these tertiary characters that she's never even interacted with? Even when it's not about the Wakefields, it's still somehow about the Wakefields. You can't buy that kind of personal brand reach. Anyway, now that Molly is completely alone without even a Wakefield shoulder to cry on, she decides that the one person who can't run away from her and who she can get everything off her chest to is Regina, so she ends up walking to the graveyard where Regina is buried. Unfortunately for Molly, Nicholas Morrow is there leaving roses on the grave and crying. He sees her and loses his shit, yelling at her that she's done enough damage already and how dare she come here.

"Get out of here!" he screamed, raising one hand as if to hit her.

NNNNNNNNOPE. For good measure, he also screams at her that she killed his sister and Molly runs away and collapses when she gets home to an empty house. The phone rings and it's Buzz, who's been on the run from the cops since the party. She tells him to leave her alone, but Buzz talks her round by being nice to her and saying he's on her side and that he understands what she's going through, and poor Molly is so starved of any kind of sympathy that she stays on the line and agrees to meet him at Kelly's that night. Now I know I used this line in the last recap, when talking about Regina, but this girl's name actually is Molly so I think the situation warrants a MOLLY YOU IN DANGER, GIRL! We also learn that Buzz is lying low in some shady empty apartment with "sagging clothes-lines" draped between the rundown brick buildings. Ah, the lesser-spotted poor part of Sweet Valley, generally populated by people that Elizabeth can benevolently take pity on.

Back at the Wakefields' split-level, Spanish-style, better-than-your house, Jessica is trying to figure out the logistics of managing the money that will be raised for the Regina scholarship and is worried she's taken on more than she can handle. Alice then arrives home with a Chinese takeaway and Jessica is thrilled out of her fucking mind.

A pungent, savory odor wafted out of the backseat as Jessica opened the door. "Mom!" she shrieked excitedly. "You ordered Chinese food!"

Everyone agrees it was a great idea and is happily stuffed after eating out on the patio and STALL THE BALL LADS, because back in Nowhere To Run, it is explicitly stated that Ned doesn't like Chinese food and yet here he is, popping chunks of water chestnut into his lying mouth with his chopsticks. I mean, it was like twenty books ago but STILL. After dinner, Jessica tells her parents about the Regina scholarship plan and Ned offers to take care of all the admin and investment-y side of things once they raise the money, as they deal with that type of stuff at the office anyway so it's grand. So that's that sorted. Jeffrey calls over to hang out with Elizabeth later that evening and while they're watching telly he can see that there's something on her mind, so she tells him that she feels bad for shunning Molly and admits that everyone is taking their anger and grief out on her which is pretty unfair. However, despite all this, Liz can't bring herself to actually talk to the girl because it's "too painful" and she hopes that Molly has someone to talk to or offer support to her, so she goes ringing Justin Belson to bother him about it. Unsurprisingly, Justin isn't too impressed at being told to go be friends with Molly by this self-righteous busybody who can't be bothered to go do the same thing herself.

Stung, Elizabeth stared at the mouthpiece of the phone. Why was he reacting this way?

Haaa, suck it Liz, not everyone is desperate for your approval. Anyway, Justin tells her he's trying to sort his own life out and won't go backwards and that's the end of it.

Oh hello SVH cover JACKPOT! Look at all this feathery hair! It's like being inside a fancy pillow full of birds! Also why do these three high school girls look like thirty year olds? Are they all wearing pyjamas? And am I crazy or does that girl on the left look like Whiny Scarlett from Nashville?

Meanwhile, Molly Hecht is sneaking out her bedroom window and making her way to the car park of Kelly's where she meets Buzz. They sit in his car and he hands her a joint and gives her a lot of "I've never felt this way about anyone" type talk because he needs her for his plan to leg it out of Sweet Valley. Molly is reeled in by his supposed sympathy for her situation and he manipulates her into agreeing to leave town with him and to bring the few thousand dollars she has in a savings account that was meant for college. Molly is so tired of everyone shutting her out and shitting on her that she ignores her instincts and goes along with the plan, thinking that'll show everyone, including "that goody-goody Elizabeth Wakefield". I have to say, I'm really enjoying the Elizabeth-slagging that's going on in this book.

The following day, Nicholas Morrow shows up at the Wakefield house super early in the morning, because he wants to talk to Elizabeth. Jessica lets him into the house and pours him a coffee, telling him about the scholarship she's organising while he waits for Liz to come downstairs. He loves the idea and takes her hand, saying that his parents will be touched and Jessica tries her best to flirt with him and you just have to admire this gal's hustle. Never let up, even when he's grieving his sister's death. Anyway, Elizabeth arrives into the kitchen, and Jessica is immediately forgotten about, as Nicholas asks if he can drive Liz to school. On the way, in his jeep, he tells Elizabeth about how he went off on Molly Hecht at the graveyard and asks if she could apologise to Molly on his behalf if she sees her at school. They come to the conclusion that Molly has just been an easy target for everyone and that it's not fair how she's been treated. Of course, Liz also came to these same conclusions with Jeffrey but didn't bother her hole doing anything about it then herself. So she ends up doing the exact same thing as before, and instead of approaching Molly herself at any of the many opportunities she had during the day, she seeks out Justin Belson again to badger him about it.

He's in the library working on a Hamlet paper and Liz tries to ease her way into her badgering by offering to help him with his assignment in return for him helping her with Molly. She pleads with him to help, and points out that wrecking Molly's life won't bring Regina back and just wears him down until he says he'll think about it. At lunch, Liz goes asking around after Molly in an effort to find her and someone tells her they heard Molly asking about which buses go past the Union Bank, so Elizabeth heads over there and runs into Molly as she's about to leave with stacks of fifties in her hand from the $2,300 she just emptied from her account. Elizabeth says she wants to talk, but Molly doesn't want to hear it, saying she's fed up with being everyone's scapegoat and, magnificently;

"You can take your talking and shove it."

GODDAMN I just love it when people tell Elizabeth to go fuck herself. It's so rare and even though it always ends up that Elizabeth was actually right and they should have listened to her, it's just so bloody satisfying.

Jessica and Elizabeth are in the Oracle office working on an article about the Regina scholarship, when Penny Ayala and Olivia Davidson come in. Elizabeth types out the story and then Jessica, Penny and Olivia read it and a hush descends over the office in reverence at Elizabeth's amazing writerly writing. No, really.

There was a silence as the four girls finished reading Elizabeth's article. For a moment none of them spoke.

Then Penny, the editor, is like, it's perfect, no changes, front page! Because you DO NOT EDIT ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD. Sexy ol' Roger Collins then comes in and also says it's great and then they all have a big conversation about how people on drugs need help and Jessica comes to the realisation that Molly shouldn't be treated like it's all her fault.

After school, Justin goes to Molly's house but her mother won't let him see Molly because she's grounded and when he's back at home, Elizabeth calls and says she has a feeling that something is wrong and tells him about seeing Molly with her wads of cash earlier. Justin immediately realises that Molly is planning on running away, so he picks Liz up from her house and they head over to the Hecht's just in time to see Molly getting into her mother's car alone with a big backpack and taking off up the road. They follow her and end up in the Kelly's car park, and see Buzz emerging from the shadows to meet her and put her bag in his car. Justin tells Liz to go to the payphone and call the cops to tell them to be out at old route seven, as that's an old deserted highway that Justin correctly reckons they'll be taking out of town. He follows the car as they leave Kelly's and once Buzz and Molly realise they're being followed, a car chase ensues on the old highway, ending with Justin overtaking Buzz's car and blocking off the road so they have to stop.

Buzz gets out of the car and starts shouting at Justin, Molly also gets out and tells him to go, that it's her decision to leave, but Justin talks her around and she runs to him. Buzz then tries to take her bag with the money in it and when Justin stops him, Buzz pulls out a knife and lunges for him. He misses and they fight, Justin manages to knock the knife out of Buzz's hand and they bate the heads off each other until the cops eventually arrive on the scene.

The following day, Molly pops into the Oracle office and thanks Elizabeth, who had arrived on the scene last night with Jeffrey once he picked her up from outside Kelly's and had comforted Molly while she was in shock from the whole ordeal. Molly says she's going to straighten her life out and that she wants to do well in school. Also, Mr Collins told her that if she really gets her act together, he'd nominate her for the Regina scholarship the following year and Elizabeth says that Regina's family would be delighted.

A moment of true friendship passed between the two girls, and Molly smiled gratefully.

True friendship my arse, I'd bet a tenner that these two never have another meaningful encounter for the rest of the hundred million books in this series.

Notable outfit:
Not a single one. Everyone was too depressed to wear anything fun.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2 (TWO? That's only one eye per twin, come on guys!)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5

 

3 comments :

  1. FANTASTIC recap! I never got my hands on this one which is a real shame because the cover art is magnificent.
    I started reading Sweet Valley around 2003 and got them from a dodgy little second hand book shop. Books were $2 or you could donate two books in exchange for one book.
    I originally bought about 50 Sweet Valley books, read them, traded them for 25, and so on...until I was left with no books and just vague memories of feathered hair

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  2. In certain parts of Florida and Georgia, that feathery hair is still a thing, RIGHT NOW.

    Also, I'm not loving this SVH series' shift across town to Wrong Side of the Tracks. Bring back the glamour fluff. I WANT THE FLUFF.

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  3. I wish they wrote a secret diary Buzz edition. Such n intriguing character

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