Friday, April 26, 2013
Double Love (Sweet Valley High #1)
Kate William, Bantam Books, 1983
Genre: Realistic, Romance, School Story
Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are awaiting the results, along with a number of other the girls, of whether or not they will be admitted to the Pi Beta sorority. They have endured their dares, such as Elizabeth having to call in a pizza for delivery to Mr. Russo's chemistry class—one of the best but toughest teachers –or sending a singing telegram to Chrome Dome the nickname of the principal, or when they dyed the mashed potatoes in the cafeteria purple. However, it is Jessica who is a little bit more excited about belonging to the sorority. Elizabeth wants to be a writer. She's currently a reporter for the school newspaper the Oracle and is the secret writer of the “eyes and ears” column. Her best friend, Enid, has been asked by Ronnie Edwards, the new guy, to the Phi Epsilon dance. Elizabeth herself is hoping that Todd Wilkins will ask her. When Todd asks Elizabeth to meet him after school she is late because of work she had to do in the Oracle office and is disappointed to see him and Jessica drive off together. She is shocked to find out the next day the gossip going around school—that Jessica and Todd are the hot new couple.
While Jessica is interested in Todd she is also quite a bad girl, such as when she accepts a ride from Rich Andover, a 17-year-old dropout. He takes her to a local dive bar where he gets in a fist fight with the patron and the cops show up. Jessica, ashamed of being out with him, doesn't contradict the police officer when he accidentally calls her Elizabeth. When Elizabeth asks who she was on a date with and Jessica won't tell her, Elizabeth assumes that it must've been Todd. Unfortunately for Elizabeth Caroline Pearce, the resident gossip queen, witnesses Jessica getting out of the police car and being called “Elizabeth” so she spreads rumors around school that Elizabeth got arrested. Elizabeth doesn't understand why everyone is talking about her behind her back until Enid tells Elizabeth the rumor.
Todd is depressed at the thought that Elizabeth would get arrested and is doubly disappointed when Jessica tells them that Elizabeth already has a date to the dance. He hangs out with Ronnie and Enid and is shocked at how Ronnie is a total asshole who flatly denies Enid's protesting of Elizabeth's innocence and demands that Enid not hang out with Elizabeth anymore. (Considering how straight-laced Elizabeth is and how Jessica is seen as the bad girl usually it is pretty infuriating to read this and to see that no one—including Elizabeth's best friend—even considers the fact that it could have been Jessica, Elizabeth's twin sister, who was really the one arrested!)
A few days later Jessica tells Elizabeth it will blow over. In fact no one even talks to her about it anymore. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is supremely pissed off. She tells Jessica that she is a walking conversation stopper. Everyone hints at it when she's around. In the Oracle office someone even wrote on the board about how the big shot editor makes the news but it isn't even mentioned in the school paper. Elizabeth is tired of her reputation being dragged through the mud. Elizabeth tries to focus on one of the biggest stories currently happening. Sweet Valley High might lose their football field. George Fowler wants to take the football field and turn it into another factory while the Patman's supposedly want to turn it into an amusement park. Basically the two rivals are using the football field to continue their longstanding family feud. The Patman family made all their money in the canning industry while the Fowlers are of “new” money and made it on silicon chips. The reason why they might win the football field is because the school leased the land through the city and the lease is coming up. It turns out that the rumors are partially true. The Fowlers do indeed want to build a factory while the Patmans want to re-create the Vanderhorn garden as it was in 1916. The football team convinces everyone to stage a sit in which is successful until people start to accost Lila and Bruce. Bruce says that if they want to talk about a disgrace to Sweet Valley Jessica should look at her own family as her dad and his assistant, Marianna West, are clearly fooling around.
To try to make it up to Elizabeth, Jessica tries to come clean to Todd and admit that it was her that was at the bar and got arrested. Todd thinks she's being noble and trying to take the blame for Elizabeth. He kisses her that asks her to the dance. Elizabeth meanwhile is being bugged by Bruce Patman and finally tells him that she has a date to the dance and won't go with him. When Bruce asks who, Winston pipes up and says him. Bruce, being an egotistical jock, can't believe that Elizabeth would rather go to the dance with a nerd. Jessica tells Elizabeth that she told Todd everything and that Todd forgives her (Jessica) and asked her to the dance. However, she fails to tell Elizabeth that Todd thanks Jessica was just trying to cover up for Elizabeth.
Jessica and Elizabeth talk with their older brother, Steven, about rumors that are going around about their father and Marianna. Stupidly, Jessica admits that they know that Steven is seeing Betsy Martin, the town druggie. Steven says that they've got it wrong as he is actually seeing Tricia, her sister. Unfortunately since he was hiding the relationship she realized that he was ashamed of her family and dumped him. When Elizabeth tells Jessica that she is going to the dance with Winston Jessica can believe that she chose that clown over Bruce who she would kill to go with. When the day of the dance arrives Elizabeth makes a stunning entrance into the living room while Winston acts like a dork and causes Jessica to get mad that he spoiled her own entrance. At the dance Jessica is jealous that Todd seems disinterested in her so she points to Bruce and claims that he is just one of the many boys who asked Elizabeth to the dance. Winston easily notices Elizabeth interest in Todd and urges her to talk to him. Meanwhile, Steven is depressed and confronted by his parents after they forced the truth out of Elizabeth and Jessica. They encourage him to go and make up with Tricia. On his way over to her house later Steven sees his father and Marianna driving in the car and he follows them to a house.
After the dance Jessica, in her jealousy towards how Todd was paying attention to Elizabeth, tells Elizabeth that Todd is a player that has nothing but sex on his mind. So with Todd now showing an interest in Elizabeth she wants absolutely nothing to do with him because of what Jessica said. Todd eventually calls her to apologize for his behavior and says that he will forgive Elizabeth if she promises never to see that creep Andover again. He says that everyone “knows” it was Elizabeth. Elizabeth can't believe that Todd is taking a bunch of rumors for truth and says that she never wants to speak to him again.
Elizabeth focuses on the court case to take her mind off of things. It is Marianna who does most of the speaking and ends up getting the lease awarded to the Sweet Valley High Board of Education. When she discovers that Marianna is being invited over to dinner and that her father has a huge announcement to make she immediately decides that it has to be about a divorce. The announcement in fact happens to be that Marianna is now a new partner at her father's firm.
Elizabeth eventually tries to go on other dates as she sees Todd out with other girls. One day after a meeting of the sorority Jessica and Elizabeth discover that their car is being followed. It is a drunk Rick Andover who gets in their stalled car, fixes it, and races away with them. It causes havoc at the Dairi Burger and Todd gets in his car to try to save the girls. They end up in the pub parking lot were Todd and Andover get into a fight. Todd wins and Elizabeth kisses him. Todd takes them home and that is where he reveals that he should've known that Jessica was the one who got arrested and Elizabeth learns that Jessica told him that she was supposedly uber popular and had tons of dates to dance. Elizabeth learns that Todd at the end of the dance was hardly grabby and all he did was give Jessica a kiss on the cheek. Elizabeth is upset at Jessica and has the perfect plan for getting back at her.
Elizabeth and Jessica ride to the rally for the football team with Todd. It is part of her payback plan. While they are getting dressed she accidentally dumps water on Jessica to force her to change clothes. She offers up her own outfit so that Jessica will look like Elizabeth. Once there Elizabeth goes to see Dana, lead singer of the Droids. Pretending to be Jessica she tells Dana that Elizabeth is the writer of the “eyes and ears” column. Dana makes an announcement to the entire crowd and Jessica gets dumped in the pool as per the tradition that if the writer of the column gets ousted they get dumped in the pool.
Later that night Enid shows up at Elizabeth's door. She says that something awful has happened and Ronnie will never talk to her again.
Thoughts and Nuggets of Wisdom for Research
Sweet Valley is best known as being full of gender and physical stereotypes. When I was younger I read the Sweet Valley Twins spin off but this was actually my first Sweet Valley High. On the very first page we get numerous accounts of how the perfect Jessica Wakefield with her “All-American” good looks thinks she’s disgusting (p. 1-3):
“Oh, Lizzie, do you believe how absolutely horrendous I look today!” Jessica Wakefield groaned as she slipped in front of her sister, Elizabeth, and stared at herself in the bedroom mirror. “I'm so gross! Just look at me. Everything is totally wrong. To begin with, I'm disgustingly fat. . . .” With that, she spun around to show off a stunning figure without an extra ounce visible anywhere.
She moaned again, this time holding out one perfectly shaped bronze leg. “Isn't that the grossest? I swear I must have the skinniest legs and America. And the bumpiest knees. What am I going to do? How can I possibly go to school looking like this today? Today of all days!”
Jessica stared at herself in the full-length mirror and saw a picture of utter heartbreak and despair. But what was actually reflected in the glass was about the most adorable, most dazzling 16-year-old girl imaginable. Yet there was no stopping Jessica Wakefield when she was in this mood.
“Why couldn't I at least have an oval face? It looks like someone stuck a pumpkin on top of my neck. And this hair—a dull yellow mess of split ends. I hate it!”
In a gesture of absolute hopelessness, she ran her hand under her silky blonde hair, lifted it up, and watched as it drifted lightly back to her shoulders.
“Only thing duller are my eyes. Look at that color, Liz.” She put her face under her sister's nose and fluttered long eyelashes over almond-shaped eyes the blue-green of the Caribbean. “They're so blah.”
Both girls had the same shoulder length, sun streaked blond hair, the same sparkling blue-green eyes, the same perfect skin. Even the tiny dimple in Elizabeth’s left cheek was duplicated in her younger sister's—younger by four minutes. Both girls were five feet six on the button and generously blessed with spectacular, all-American good looks. Both wore exactly the same size clothes, but they refused to dress alike, except for the exquisite identical lavalieres they were on gold chains around their necks. The lavalieres had been present from their parents on their sixteenth birthday.
The thing that bugged me the most about this series is how utterly selfish Jessica is. I can’t believe any teens when this series was popular actually liked Jessica. I have always been an Elizabeth girl because I enjoyed school like her (of course there are those readers who complain that Elizabeth, being a nerd, is horribly stuck up). In this one volume alone there are numerous occurrences to how stuck up Jessica is and, quite frankly, how rude she is to others, including her own sister!
Page 4 -
He wanted her sister! Jessica's eyes narrowed dangerously. One of the cutest boys at Sweet Valley High, and he was calling to talk to Elizabeth! Todd Wilkins was currently the basketball team’s hottest star, and Jessica had been admiring him for some time now as she practiced her cheers in the gym alongside him. The idea that he would prefer Elizabeth to her infuriated Jessica, though she was extra careful to conceal this from him.
Page 8 –
At noon the Wakefield twins would find out if they had made Pi Beta Alpha, “the positively best sorority at Sweet Valley High,” according to Jessica. That meant “the snobbiest” in Elizabeth's book.
Page 18-19 –
“How can you be best friends with somebody as blah as Eeny Rollins? I don't want you to go over there. Somebody might think it was me talking to her.” (Jessica)
“Enid is a wonderful person. Why don't you like her?” (Elizabeth)
“Eeny is a nerd. And there's something weird about her.” (Jessica)
Page 34 –
“You wouldn’t think it was funny if you really were gross-looking,” Jessica said, shuddering at the thought of having anything other than an attractive family.
Page 47 –
“No, really, Todd,” Jessica was saying, “don't laugh. It's not funny. Really. I really am one of the most unpopular girls in school. Everyone else has a date for the dance. Really, everyone. Every single girl I know. Everyone but me.”
Page 49 –
Jessica felt a tiny twinge of panic. Why was Todd ignoring her? Had something happened to the Wakefield magic? Impossible! she told herself. She was still the most fantastic girl in school. So why didn't Todd know it? Cheers and angry frustration filled her eyes. She decided she would walk home from school. Whenever she was out walking, she never failed to attract a good deal of attention from passing cars. The more the better, she thought, swinging her hips a little as she set off.
Page 75-76 –
“He [Andover] has everything to do with all the kids in school thinking I have a police record and that I'm out on parole!” Elizabeth shouted, for once making no effort to control her temper.
“Oh, that.” Jessica shrugged, flushing guiltily. “I can clear that little thing up in no time.”
“Do it now!” Elizabeth said.
“Later, Liz! I'm talking about something really important. I found out this afternoon why Steve has been coming home every weekend. No wonder he's been so mysterious and obnoxious to everybody. He should be ashamed of himself! My whole life is going right down the tubes! How could he do this, Lizzie?” she began to cry.
“Stop babbling, Jess! And stop crying! Tell me what Steve has done.”
“Our brother, a member of the Wakefield family, has been spending every weekend,” Jessica got out between sobs, “with Betsy Martin!”
“Jess, are you sure? I can't believe it. Betsy's been doing drugs for years—she sleeps around—”
“And her father gets bombed out of his mind every night,” Jessica said wildly.
Page 117-118 –
“Bruce Patman!” Jessica squealed. “Liz Wakefield, how dare you sit there calmly and tell me Bruce asked you out as if it weren't important! You’re incredible! No—you must be dead! No girl alive would turn Bruce down. He's handsome, Liz. He is sooooo rich. And he drives that awesome Porsche!”
“Are you saying you wish you were going to the dance with Bruce instead of Todd?” Elizabeth challenged.
“Of course not. Why in the world would you think that? Todd is terribly good-looking, and he's so sweet. I just wish he didn't drive that gross excuse for car. Bruce's Porsche is so—so . . . I mean, it's a Porsche.”
“Hi, Jess,” he answered. “You look nice—really very pretty.”
Nice! she screamed silently. Three hours of working on my nails, my hair, my makeup and I look “very pretty”? Whatever happened to gorgeous?
“Thanks, Todd.” Maybe he's not good with words, she thought. But she knew from the other day that he was good with kissing—and there certainly would be more kissing that evening!
Page 126 –
No guy—not even Todd Wilkins—could take Jessica Wakefield to a dance and treat her like a piece of furniture. He wasn't going to get away with it, she vowed.
Page 128-129 –
“Oh, Liz, it was so awful!” Jessica's eyes filled with tears.
“Awful? What are you talking about, Jess?”
“I thought he liked me, Lizzie,” she said between sobs. “I thought he respected me and everything!”
“Jessie, what happened?”
“Oh, Liz, I can't. I can't tell you!” Jessica collapsed, covering her face with her hands. “I'm—I'm too ashamed.”
Elizabeth put her arm around Jessica shoulder. “It's all right, Jess. You can tell me anything, you know that.”
“Maybe I should tell you.” Jessica sniffled. “You really should be warned about him. You might go out with him sometime, and I'd just never forgive myself if I didn't tell you what the real Todd Wilkins is like.”
“What did he do?”
“That rat tried just about everything. The horrible thing was that I could hardly make him stop. I had to beg him and beg him to please stop!”. . .
“He just wouldn't stop. His hands! Oh, God, they were everywhere.”
Page 133 –
Tricia Martin's family was no bargain, and they knew it. Her father was the town drunk, and her sister Betsy had a horrible reputation. The mother had died of leukemia when the kids were little, which really torn the family apart. It was all understandable, but that didn't make it any easier. And now Steven was mixed up with them. The question was, how seriously?
Page 172 -
“Lizzie, honey. I did it because I felt he was wrong for you. That you wouldn't be able to handle him.”
“Jessie, honey. You're really full of it. You did it because you liked him yourself and you were trying to get rid of the competition.”
Page 174 -
“I knew if it got around school that I was in a bar with those terrible people, I'd be finished. It's a rule, an absolute rule, that you can't be on the cheering squad if you have any black marks against your name. I couldn't give that up, Liz. You know how much being co-captain of the cheerleaders means to me.”
There is some talk about how affluent and well off the Wakefield family is:
Page 14 – The twins squealed with delight. Only on rare occasions were they allowed to drive to school in the family's second car, a little red Spider convertible.
Page 15 – As she did very often, Elizabeth thought how lucky she and Jessica were to live in Sweet Valley. Everything about it was terrific—the gently rolling hills, the quaint downtown area, and the fantastic white sand beach only 15 minutes away. She and Jessica were even luckier now, with a new in ground pool their backyard.
Page 33 – “They're so busy I hardly see them. Mom's always rushing off to meet a client. Her design business is really booming. And dad—well, he's always out. He's working on a case with a new lawyer in the firm, somebody by the name of Marianna West. She used to be married to the big heart specialist, Gareth West.”
A few interesting non-Jessica occurrences happen in relation to the importance of looks and reputation. When Bruce attempts to ask Elizabeth out thinking she’s the one who was out with Rick the following conversation occurs (p. 104):
“I never thought you were such a fast number until now. But from what I hear, I decided you're my type. I'd like to take you to the dance.”
“Is that so?” Elizabeth snapped.
“Sure. I can't stand most of these wimpy girls. We can put in appearance of the dance, then head for someplace where we can have some real fun.”
Later when Elizabeth asks Winston if he really wants to go to the dance with her he says, “You want to know the sort of girl people fix me up with? It goes like this: 'Win, have I got a girl for you! Was a personality!' that always means 250 pounds and two-foot-five! I have to put her hamburger on the floor so she can reach it” (p. 125).
The biggest and scariest part of the book was Jessica going off with Rick. Here are key elements from that:
She'd heard a number of stories about Rick and the fast lane life he led. He ran around with an older crowd and always had a lot of money in his pocket, even though it didn't look as if he had a job. He spent most of his time either working on his Camaro or cruising around in it—usually with a gorgeous girl at his side. Jessica squirmed with pleasure at having been selected as Rick's companion for the afternoon (p. 51).
Conversation at page 52-53 –
“I'll pick you up at eight,” Rick told her as they were cruising down Calico Drive, doing 50 in a 35 zone.
He grinned. “Tomorrow, at eight. We've got a date, Heaven.”
“But you never even asked me,” she complained.
“I told you—I'm used to getting, not asking. Are you saying no?” he challenged, as if the thought were unheard of.
“No.” She frowned slightly, biting her lip. “It's just that I'm not sure my parents –“
“Mommy and Daddy wouldn't like the idea of their Little Red Riding Hood going out with the Big Bad Wolf?” he supplied, sneering. “What do you want?”
He was looking at her in a way that made her skin tingle. His heavy-lidded eyes held a hypnotic hint of the excitement to come and she decided to go out with him. Jessica found it irresistible.
Page 58-60 –
For an instant she wondered if she would be able to keep him at bay, but she quickly dismissed the worry. She had yet to come up against the situation she couldn't handle.
Even so, nothing could squelch the nervous fluttering in her stomach as Rick's car spun to stop in a shower of gravel in front of the seedy-looking beachfront roadhouse. A red, blinking neon sign advertised that it was Kelly's. Loud music spilled from the open doorway, punctuated by harsh bursts of laughter.
None of Jessica's friends had ever been inside Kelly's. It had the most notorious reputation of any bar in the whole valley. A mixture of alarm and excitement raced through Jessica's body. Boy, would she have something to talk about tomorrow!
Jessica had never been so acutely aware of both her age and her appearance before. Several of the men stared at her, and one let forth a low wolf whistle. Her face was burning from anger and embarrassment, and her eyes watered from the cigarette smoke that wreathed the cramped room. As they slid into cracked vinyl booth, she leaned over to tell Rick how uncomfortable she felt, but her words were drowned in a sudden burst of twangy country-western music from the jukebox.
. . .
“And I should have known you were the kind of guy who couldn't keep his hands to himself,” she scolded lightly.
Rick's eyes narrowed. “All tease and no tickle, huh? Didn't your mommy tell you not to put anything in the window that you don't sell in the store?” His fingers groped higher, and she noticed he was beginning to slur his words. “Well, I've seen the merchandise, baby, and I'm sold.”