Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sweet Valley Twins #33: Elizabeth's New Hero

The gymnastics team from East Germany is coming to Sweet Valley. Caroline is more excited than anyone because one of the guys is staying with her. Everyone in town had the chance to sign up and volunteer their homes. There were 10 kids who needed a place to stay, and the Wakefields were number 11 on the list. Caroline can't stop talking about all the things they'll do and paints her own sign to take to the airport.

Alice mysteriously tells the twins that night that plans might change. Caroline's grandmother is so sick that she needs to come and stay with them, so they can't take in Christoph like they planned. As long as the board approves, Christoph can come and stay with them. They learn later that night that they got the nod, so Alice makes Steven move into the den and give up his room for Christoph.

Jessica immediately starts making plans with the Unicorns about everything they'll do with him, to the point that Liz wonders if she'll have any time with him. They have to listen to a big speech at the airport before taking him home. It turns out that Christoph is pretty much a normal kid. While he does gymnastics a lot, he also loves music and drumming. He wins them over so much that Steven even likes him.

When the twins wake up the next morning, they try to be quiet and not wake him up. He's actually already up and outside playing basketball with Steven. Jessica wanted to take him to the Dairi Burger to hang out with the Unicorns, but he wants to go to a football game instead. They go to the game, go shopping at the mall, and then go to the movies together.

The Unicorns are super unhappy that she blew them off until they actually meet Christoph. I'm pretty sure half of them have a crush on him. Though all the other guys on the team are pretty nice, Bruno is an ass. He tells Christoph that he should spend more time practicing and less time flirting and makes it clear that practice is the only thing that matters. When Christoph scores higher than him in a competition exhibition, Bruno comes close to pushing him.

The day of the biggest exhibition, the Unicorns take Christoph shopping. Bruno shows up and tells him that the coach changed the time by an hour. When they get there though, they find out it was all a lie. Coach Schmidt refuses to hear what he has to say and benches him so he can't perform. Bruno strides up and tells Christoph that he's now the best.

They have yet another exhibition competition. Christoph is so discouraged and just plain down that he doesn't make any effort and keeps scoring really badly. After a pep talk from Elizabeth, he suddenly does his best, but he still finishes third. He kind of breaks down because he knows the coach will call his dad. His dad dreamed of being a gymnast before an injury ended his career and now wants his son to do what he couldn't do. He's sure that his dad won't let him join a band and will probably make him give up drumming.

The night before they leave, the school puts on a big dance. Christoph, despite having people fawn all over him and getting a bunch of gifts, still feels down. Liz arranges for him to drum on stage with the band. It turns out to be the best night of his life, especially when his team gathers around to congratulate him. The twins see Bruno putting on his coat and sneaking out the back.

When they wake up the next day, Christoph has a stomach bug. After a meeting with the coach and a doctor, the coach asks if it's okay for Christoph to stay an extra few days. While the other boys are going home, he has a training conference in San Francisco. He'll come back in a few days, pick him up, and fly back home. Though the twins think it's great that they can spend more time with him, he spends the whole weekend in bed.

It doesn't take long before they start noticing that food keeps going missing. Someone took that last piece of cake, ate a whole bag of cookies, that kind of thing. Liz finds the wrappers and dirty dishes around Christoph's room. When the twins confront them, he announces that he's defecting to America. Nothing they can say or do will stop him. He even tells his mom over the phone that he's not coming home.

The Wakefield kids team up with their friends and family to make him go back home. They plan a birthday party for him, decorate with German decorations, play German music, and even make German food. His dad calls him on the phone in the middle of the party to tell him that they have a new drum set waiting for him at home. He gets so homesick that he decides to go back home after all. Coach Schmidt comes back to pick him up and take him home without realizing that he came thisclose to losing his star gymnast.

*Can we just have a laugh over the fact that the gymnasts visiting Sweet Valley are from East Germany and not Germany?

*The girls make fun of Caroline for painting a sign with a horrible version of the German flag on the front. Lila snidely comments that she hopes the first thing Caroline does with him is have him show her what his flag looks like. I sometimes remember why I loved her so much.

*Do Johnny Gordon and the Waves ever come back again? That's the band that plays the dance in this one.

*In the beginning, Steven thinks that all East Germans are spies and keeps a watch on the skies. Ah, the Cold War. I wonder if kids reading this book today would even know what the hell is going on.

*The Unicorns give him a gift that is a set of wood drumsticks. It's cute and a nice thought, but then they have to engrave the set so he'll always know they came from them.

*Did a lot of people actually defect from East Germany to America? I was only nine when this book came out so I was too young to know about that kind of stuff.

*It's funny that the book describes him as short, the cover shows him being shorter than Jess, ad yet the girls are all obsessed with him. I can't really picture any of the Unicorns dating a guy shorter than them.


  1. Tons of athletes, ballerinas or anyone who came to the US for a tour or competition many defected then Mikhail Baryshnikov defected first to Canada while touring with Kirov Ballet before moving to the US. Rudolf Nureyve did the same thing but defected to Paris he was also a member of the Kirov Ballet, motorcycle racer Ernst Degner defected from East Germany, Stalin's own daughter defected, Tennis player Martina Navratilova defected when she came for the U.S. Open, many more ballerinas, ice skaters. Any chance anyone got to get out of the Soviet bloc they pretty much took it. Not just the US, and time they got the chance anywhere outside of the Soviet bloc they took it.

    I was eleven when it finally broke up. It used to be so normal to pick up a book like this one and see someone from East Germany, now its weird to pick up a book and see someone from East Germany.

    I remember being completely shocked that it was actually happening and so excited for Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and all of those countries there had been revolts before but always got crushed by Soviet Union. This time it didn't happen. It was such an awesome moment.

    1. Thanks for all the info! I was probably too busy playing with my NKOTB and Barbie dolls to pay attention to the news back then :)