Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sweet Valley High Super Stars: Olivia’s Story

Liz and Jess are working at Simpson’s Department Store during the Christmas holiday, the same store where Olivia’s mom works. She mentions in passing that maybe Liv should work there too, but she isn’t interested. Jessica finds out that the owner’s son Robert is super-cute and becomes obsessed with him. She thinks that once he meets her, he’ll fall in love with her and she’ll never have to work again.

Olivia kind of falls for this guy James, but he kind of irritates me. He’s one of those super pretentious artist guys who a teen girl might love, but adult girls eventually realize are losers. All he cares about is creating true artwork, even if that means he doesn’t have money to pay rent or buy food. Trust me Olivia, you can do so much better.

Spending time with him makes her realize that she should be more individualistic and not care what people think. Um, isn’t that the whole point of the character, that she’s oh-so different? She then expresses her individuality by wearing an ugly ass outfit and ruining an Elvis record by wearing it as a ponytail holder.

Olivia and James have a “date” at a coffee shop near campus, which I’m sure she had to pay for. He takes her up to his apartment, which in most cases would be a euphemism for date rape. He’s a college student taking a high school girl to his place after all. Actually though he just wants to show her his artwork and give us more examples of how poor and dedicated he is. Olivia tots wants him, but he lets her know that he can’t have a girlfriend because he has to focus on his art. Whatevs.

The next day she works her ass off on a new painting that I completely don’t understand. She’s making a painting of a mother and child, but using only colors and no bodies or shapes, which is supposed to give off the emotion of a mother and child. Her aunt June arrives in town with her daughter Emily and the two are forced to make small talk with Olivia. Emily is kind of a nerd. Okay, she’s totally a nerd.

Emily is only in town because she wants to check out colleges. I think she’s graduating early or just getting head start for the next year. She has a bunch of file folders and is already thinking about minors and double majoring. She also doesn’t understand Olivia’s artwork, but she loves her still life paintings and sketches. Basically she loves anything plain or boring.

Being around Emily makes Olivia start doubting her own future. Even her mom starts riding her about working and looking for a career in the future. She goes to meet James and takes Emily with her. Emily and James have nothing in common and he pulls the “I’m a temperamental artist” crap and Emily develops a crush on him.

Olivia starts working at the store, where she runs into Robert Simpson, the owner’s son. Jessica keeps trying to him on him, but he only has eyes for Liv. He doesn’t get her artwork, but he too likes the boring stuff. She decides to put away her good stuff and only leave around the boring pieces, especially after he suggests selling some in the store.

Robert asks her on a date to some country club thing and she lets him pick out her outfit. Jessica keeps hitting on Robert, thinking that once he realizes the real Olivia, he’ll dump her and Jess can swoop in. Meanwhile Emily keeps borrowing clothes from Liv and trying to impress James, who barely notices that she’s alive.

Olivia’s date with Robert kind of sucks because he’s so focused on his friends. The girls at the party are all stunned that Olivia isn’t planning for the future and she starts freaking out. Don’t worry sweetie, you really don’t have a future. Olivia cuts her wild hair short, starts wearing suits and decides to look into colleges. Even Liz realizes that something is wrong, when she notices Olivia working on boring paintings.

Olivia gives James a fancy silver paperweight in the shape of his initial. He gets kind of pissed off and tells her that the gift you give someone is a reflection of you. He doesn’t like what the gift says about her. She starts crying and runs off. I’d kick him in the balls and take back the gift! Of course she’s really upset because she’s “in love” and wants him to like her.

We know we’re getting to the end because Liv finds a bunch of paintings that her mom did. Apparently her mom wanted to be an artist, but let everyone talk her into a more sensible career. She knows what it’s like to give up something and doesn’t want Olivia to do the same thing. Emily goes to see James and from the way he talks, she realizes that he loves Liv.

Olivia goes and he gives her a boring organizer. She runs off because she doesn’t want him to see her as that type of girl. She changes clothes, goes back and gives him one of her paintings. He gives her a painting too, but his is some huge one on an alley wall. He confesses that he loves her and they live happily ever after, which in Sweet Valley time is probably three books.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sweet Valley High #66: Who’s to Blame?

It’s Liz, it’s all Liz’s fault!

The book opens with Ned and Alice officially getting separating. This is probably the most stable and realistic thing they’ve done in all of the books, but of course no one is happy. Ned is moving across town and into some bland apartment complex and all the kids are helping. There’s a funny scene where he mentions that now he’ll have more time to work on his campaign. Considering how Sweet Valley is, I’m surprised they don’t run him out of town for not having a stable home life.

Liz keeps blaming herself for their split. They took one weekend away from Sweet Valley as a family and she gave Alice’s assistant their number. She called and Alice ran off, which was apparently the last straw for Ned.

Everyone tries to put on a chipper face about the whole thing. Steve starts coming home from college a lot…wait, is that any different from any other week? Liz throws herself into making their mom feel better and Jess is, well Jessica. In the last book, she started calling some teen hotline that charges a shit-load of money.

Alice finds the phone bill and naturally freaks out. I think it came to over $300 or something. She demands that Jessica pay back the total bill from her allowance. Instead, she runs to Ned and whines that she only started calling the line because of their problems and because she wanted someone to talk to. Ned calls Alice, who then goes off on Jessica about playing her parents against each other.

Jessica’s been talking to this guy Charlie on the teen line and they exchanged home numbers. She’s tots in love with him, but he keeps putting off her suggestions of a meet up. Eventually she gives into pressure from Amy of all people and demands that they meet for a roller skating date that weekend. Ah, the 1980s. She then runs to Ned and gets money for a new date outfit. Somehow a suede vest and “western-style” jeans don’t really sound all that cool to me.

Jessica and Charlie meet at the skating rink, with Amy lurking in the shadows because she wants to get a look at him. He’s really cute, but also incredibly bland. Every time she makes a joke, he doesn’t get it and he doesn’t say much. She decides not to see him again, but then he calls and makes a big deal out of their date.

So they go on a second date and the same basic thing happens. She finally decides not to see him anymore, but calls the teen hotline and learns that she wasn’t going out with Charlie. Charlie told another girl on the hotline that he was worried Jess wouldn’t find him attractive so he convinced his friend Brook to take his place. She wonders what he looks like and Amy (accurately) points out that Jessica wouldn’t date him if he wasn’t good looking.

Throughout the whole book, Liz keeps blaming herself for what happened with her parents. She keeps focusing on making their mom feel better, while Jessica hangs out with Ned, even asking if she can move with him if they get divorced. They eventually go after each other, with Steven stuck in the middle.

Liz even decides to break up with Todd. She decides that she doesn’t really have enough time for a relationship because she needs to spend time with her mom. This changes pretty quickly, when she starts dating a bunch of random guys. She tells Enid that she just wants something fun and worthless for awhile and not a serious relationship. This sets Jess off because there can only be one whore in the Wakefield family.

Liz finally decides to run away from home. She plans to run away to Texas and live with her aunt or Detroit, to live with her grandparents. Enid convinces her to come to her house for a few days instead. Liz leaves notes for both her parents, telling them that she’s going to stay with a friend, without saying who. Then she takes the phone off the hook, so no one can reach her.

Of course everyone finds the notes and freak out. Ned rushes over because he’s so worried. Here’s the part I love. In every Sweet Valley High book, we’re constantly told how popular the twins are. Yet, the only friends they call are Enid and Todd. They never even think to call any of her other supposed “friends”.

Liz spends one night with Enid and suddenly everything is fine again. She goes home and everyone is happy. To make up to her for the other crap, Jess and Steve decide to help her get back together with Todd. Jess dresses up like Liz and talks to Todd out by the lake. Steve drives Liz there and makes her listen to them talk. Once Todd professes his love, Jessica slips out and makes Liz go back, so they make up too.

Jessica comes up with the best plan every at the end of the book. She calls Charlie and tells him that she knows what he did and that she wants to set him up with her friend Amy. Jess and Brook, Amy and Charlie all go to some dance held by the sorority. Jess figures that she’ll have both the cute Charlie and the real Charlie and they’ll fight over her all night. Instead, Charlie and Brook end up spending the entire night with Amy, leaving Jess out in the cold. It would be a lot more satisfying if they ever mentioned him again…