Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sweet Valley University #3: What Your Parents Don’t Know…

Jessica Wakefield is a moron and this book (not to mention the other early books in the University series) only serve to emphasize this point. She moved in with Mike at the beginning of the last book and then runs out and spends a shitload of money decorating their apartment. She also spends a ton on new clothes, to “keep up” with him. Uh, isn’t he a mechanic who always wears jeans and tee-shirts?

She goes to the bank to make a withdraw from the account her parents setup and discovers that she only has 55 cents left. Good old Ned and Alice apparently deposited enough to get them through the whole semester and Jess spent everything in about 2 weeks. She changes clothes, goes back to the bank and makes a withdraw from Liz’s account because apparently you don’t need something as basic as a picture ID to use the college bank.

Liz of course is way too busy to deal with her sister. She and Tom are on the hunt for a new storyline and decide to do one on freshman frat hazing. Liz tries to convince Winston to spill the beans, but he won’t because he really wants to be a frat brother. She doesn’t get that at all because she turned down an invitation to join the Thetas and everyone should be like her.

Liz also has trouble because William White came forward and admitted to being the one who wrote the poem, even though it was Tom. They go out a few times, but she keeps thinking about Tom. Plus every time they get close, William turns up. Of course Celine gets all pissed off because she wants William so she acts like an even bigger bitch.

Oh yeah and Alex/Enid is very briefly mentioned, as is Todd. Alex shows up at Liz’s door towards the beginning and tells her that they shouldn’t talk anymore. She’s dating Mark Gathers who’s on the basketball team and she thinks Liz only did the team story because she was pissed about Todd dumping her. Todd turns up for exactly two pages to give Winston advice on pledging.

The funniest thing of all is how freaked out everyone gets about Winston and his “hazing” rituals. You’d think they were tarring and feathering him or something. He has to wear a brick around his neck for a few days, swallow live goldfish (it’s apparently 1954) and can’t talk to anyone outside the frat for two days. Everyone gets all concerned about him and talks behind his back.

Celine starts dating snobby Peter, who’s in charge of the frat and she lets it slip to Liz that Winston won’t make it. Apparently the frat picks one loser each year and make him go through the worst hazes and then don’t let him into the frat. Liz goes all psycho and does all this research and discovers that once every seven years, someone from that frat dies during hazing.

Look, they try to explain why this is, but all I could think about was that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think the frat has a giant snake monster in the basement. The whole seven year sacrifice thing really doesn’t make sense the way they explained it. But this is one of those seven year moments. She and Tom rush to the frat house when they learn that Winston has one more challenge.

Nina is now dating Bryan, a guy she meets when both become members of the Black Student Union. They both have parents who worry about their actions and she finds him incredibly hot. As Liz and Tom and running to the frat, Nina and Bryan are coming back from a date. A group of people dressed in black come out of the shadows, make some racist comments and proceed to beat the snot out of Bryan.

Dumbass Winston is drunk on whiskey and sent to the roof of the frat. If he can walk across the top, he’ll become a member. Tom runs upstairs to stop Winston from doing something stupid and Liz convinces him to walk towards the window. He slips, but Tom’s there to grab him and pull him inside. She wanders home, only to stumble across Nina and Bryan.

What about Jess? Jess blows off the Thetas to spend time with Mike and because he hates the snobby, rich girls (and he’s in love with…Jess?). Every time she tries to go to a meeting or hang out with them, he pitches a hissy fit and she stays home. She gets really pathetic and basically just sits around the apartment, waiting for him to come home from work.

She also has to get a job waiting tables to pay Liz back. Her and Mike have a big fight the night of her induction ceremony and he storms off. She goes to the café and finds that she has to wait on a table of Thetas. As Alison (the VP) makes fun of her, she realizes that Mike was right and she’d rather be with him so she tells them she’s not joining.

She runs home, makes dinner for him and gets all purty. Then she just sits and waits…and waits. He doesn’t show up until midnight and finds her sleeping at the kitchen table where she cried herself to sleep. Mike immediately starts in, calling her a spoiled brat and a poor little rich girl. She starts crying, tells him she quit the sorority and suddenly everything’s fine because he loves her again.

Look, I know that these books were done for 12-16 year olds, but this is ridiculous. I was around 14 or 15 when they came out and I remember thinking that Mike was an asshole and that I never wanted a guy to treat me like that. I guess the writer is trying to set it up so that you believe he cares about her so much that he ridicules her to make her better. I don’t buy it. I want to climb into the book and slam him against the wall…


  1. "She changes clothes, goes back to the bank and makes a withdraw from Liz’s account because apparently you don’t need something as basic as a picture ID to use the college bank."

    Oh man, I'd be turning my sister in if she pulled this crap.

    Live goldfish? Gross. What year DID these books take place, anyway?

  2. I'm going to have to kill these people...

  3. That goldfish/wood chips scene was so disgusting. I'm glad Winston has his girl-dorm buddies to get him through it, though.