Sweet Valley High #34: Forbidden Love
It's Friday afternoon and Sweet Valley High is abuzz with the news that cheerleader Maria Santelli and her boyfriend Michael Harris have gotten engaged. Who? Exactly. But let's pretend we care. She's sixteen, he's seventeen, their parents hate each other and this is all clearly a huge mistake, so let's see what happens. Jessica Wakefield thinks it's the most romantic thing she's ever heard and Elizabeth has her frowny disapproving face on, but at least in this case she's more justified than usual. Elizabeth and Enid discuss it while walking home, along with the upcoming social studies project where the students will be paired up into husband and wife teams and have to figure out how to manage a budget and work through assorted problems that will be thrown at them. It's a little on the nose, as subplots go.
At cheerleading practice, everyone is crowding around Maria to bombard her with questions and get a look at her engagement ring. She explains that they have to keep the engagement a secret, because her and Michael's fathers used to be business partners but after some big deal fell through four years ago, the partnership split up and the two families haven't spoken to each other since. Maria has been telling her parents that she's seeing some guy called Josh and taking the ring off every evening when she gets home.
The following day, the social studies class project gets underway. Jessica gets paired up with Winston Egbert, Olivia Davidson gets Jeffrey French, Lila is paired with Bill Chase, Maria and Michael just happen to get randomly put together and Elizabeth gets Bruce Patman.
She couldn't help smiling at the prospect of pretending to be married to one of the richest boys in school. In the old days, Bruce would have been a pain to work with, she thought.
Hey Liz, speaking of the old days, remember that time he got you drunk and tried to rape you? No? Alright then.
The teams are all assigned their individual details, so we have Jessica annoyed with the fact that Winston is a bus driver, they have seven children like a Catholic family in the seventies (imagine what seven pregnancies would do to her perfect Wakefield figure! THE HORROR) and she works part time at a beauty salon, but it's nothing compared to Lila's outrage that she's a cook and her husband Bill is unemployed. Michael and Maria get designated as a vet and a housewife and Maria rolls her eyes, saying she must be the only "wife" who didn't get assigned a job, but it turns out that Michael actually wants his wife to stay at home and mind the kids, "like the good old days".
Go fuck yourself.
Jessica catches up with Lila and Cara after class and they decide to throw a surprise engagement party for Maria and Michael at Lila's mansion that weekend, so the two can have a chance to celebrate, seeing as they're having to keep the whole thing under wraps from their parents. And seeing as there's no dance coming up, you can be fucking sure that there'll be a Fowler mansion party at the very least.
Meanwhile, Winston is running for Student Council PTA representative and Maria has been helping him with his campaign. (Quick aside, literally every time I type Maria's name, I end up spelling it Maris and I'm starting to wonder if the character in Fraiser was a typo all this time. Seriously, every time you see the word Maria in this post, I've had to go back and change it from Maris. Every. Time.) She's been working on it with him on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last while and has been really enjoying his company and seeing a more serious side to him. However, Michael wants her to come with him to buy a present for his older sister on Tuesday so she has to cancel on Winston and he's all disappointed. And then while they're out shopping, Michael makes a big deal over a tennis match he's playing on Thursday and demands that Maria ditches Winston again and comes to support him. She ends up suggesting that maybe she could get someone to take over from her with the campaign stuff and Michael jumps on the idea, saying that he doesn't like the way Winston looks at her. He's getting all weird and possessive and I hate this guy. Maria breaks the news to Winston at school and makes up some lie about starting piano lessons rather than telling him that her fiancé is being a dick.
Later that week, Maria calls Elizabeth at home and explains that she can't help Winston with his campaign any more and would she consider taking her place. Elizabeth hops onto her nearby high horse and proclaims that Maria made an agreement with Winston and she should see it through. Maria gets upset and huffy and accuses Elizabeth of being jealous of her and Michael. HA! As if a Wakefield twin, with their superior genetics and peaches and cream complexions and flawless parallel parking skills would be jealous of Maria Santelli. Who even ARE you, Maria.
Afterwards, Maria feels bad about blowing up on Elizabeth and decides that she shouldn't quit on Winston and that Michael will just have to accept it. She's also getting fed up of keeping their engagement a secret. Part of the reason that they got engaged in the first place was to show their parents how serious they are about each other when they eventually come clean with them, but Michael keeps putting her off when she brings it up. Later, in the social studies class, the pair of them are given a problem to work through. Their fictional son has been acting out and shoplifting, Maria wants to take him to a psychologist but Michael thinks they can't afford it and wants to beat it out of him instead. Super. After class, she tells him that she's going to keep helping Winston and he sulks a bit but tells her to go ahead.
|These kids look like they're forty.|
It's the night of the big surprise party for Maria and Michael and the twins are getting ready at home. Elizabeth thinks the party is a bad idea, since the engagement is meant to be on the down low, and "unhappily" moans about how it's "wrong" but she's going anyway because she's a fucking hypocrite. Maria and Michael end up having a row in the car on their way to Lila's because Maria doesn't want to keep lying to her parents and Michael accuses her of wanting to break up with him. They arrive at the house in bad form with each other and are shocked to find the drawing room decked out with silver bells, white balloons and a wedding cake. Michael gets dragged away by his friends and Maria has to feign delight and sign the guest book that Lila brings her over to, and of course her parties feature leather-bound guest books, because LILA = MAGNIFICENCE.
Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Santelli are going to the cinema and run into Caroline Pearce's mother in the queue, who's waiting on her friend while she parks the car.
"The show should start soon. Did you come with a friend or are you alone?"
Mrs Pearce had been divorced for years.
OUCH, GHOSTWRITER. This is such an unnecessary burn and I can't help but love it. Also, it turns out that Caroline's mother is as much of a blabbermouth as her daughter as she congratulates the Santellis on Maria's big news, which they are understandably thunderstruck to discover. They call the Harrises and explain what's happened and all four of them head over to the Fowler mansion together, reunited by the idiocy of their children.
Back at the party, The Droids play a song written especially for the unhappy couple, there are photos taken in front of the cake, and Winston asks Maria to dance. When the song ends, Michael takes the microphone and thanks everyone for the party, says how much he loves Maria, and then announces that he's going to run for student representative thingy as well, and that Maria will be helping him, which makes her look like a massive asshole in front of Winston. Poor Winston gets upset and runs off outside because he's SENSITIVE, you guys. :( Maria goes to follow him, but:
She hadn't gone far when Michael stepped in front of her. "Let him go," he said roughly, grabbing her arm. "Let him go, you hear me?"
Unsurprisingly, Maria and Michael then have a blazing row in front of everyone, culminating in her handing the ring back, because everything has sucked balls since they got engaged. The Harris and Santelli parents get to the mansion, where Michael meets them and explains that he and Maria aren't engaged anymore. Maria is out the back, looking for Winston, so Michael has to do all the talking and the Santellis don't demand to see their daughter, which seems a bit odd. Anyway, the parents realise they were being stupid falling out over a business deal and forbidding Maria and Michael from seeing each other so everyone makes up and they just go home. Michael goes back to the party, where Elizabeth asks him if he's alright and he confides in her about how hard it's been and how sad he is but that it's probably for the best.
Meanwhile, Maria is in the garden looking for Winston and feeling relieved that she and Michael have broken their engagement. She finds Winston sitting near a fountain and sees that he's been crying (ah WINSTON! :(((( ) and explains that she had no idea Michael was going to announce his candidacy. She also tells him that it's all over between her and Michael and how much she cares about him and they end up smooching. They go back inside and Michael tells her that their parents arrived and he explained everything to them and they're all good again and she and Michael agree to be friends.
At school, they complete their social studies project and give a speech about how important compromise is and that a marriage will never work without love and trust and Mr Jaworski is all "yes, you're right, thank you, wise children". Michael tells Maria that he's not actually running for that position that I can't be bothered looking up the proper title of because who caaares and Winston wins the thing.
The ghostwriter didn't exactly break her heart on the outfit front in this one, unfortunately. Elizabeth wears a peach coloured dress to the party and Lila wears a silver dress and I'm like DETAILS PLEASE FFS. However, there is some notable hair to be mentioned.
Lila dressed the part of the daughter of one of the richest men in Sweet Valley, and that day she looked especially good. Her white skirt showed off her tan to perfection, and a new perm made her long light brown hair look fuller and prettier than usual.
A PERM. Lila, you're a beautiful, opulent mermaid, but there is just NO WAY that a perm in the Eighties is a good look on you. I still love you though.
Things I counted:
Number of pages: 138
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4
Amount of fucks I give about Maria and Michael: 0