Sweet Valley High #15: Promises
Oh no! Tricia Martin is dying! The Wakefields are at her bedside and the very first thing we're told is that Elizabeth's huge blue-green eyes are filling with tears. Because even if you're literally on your deathbed, the Wakefields are more important than you. So Steven's poor frail girlfriend finally succumbs to leukemia in the first chapter and it's all very sad.
Or at least it would be if the ghost writer could stop telling us how DAMN SEXY the Wakefields are every four seconds, in between all of Tricia's super poignant last words.
"his handsome face" (Steven)
"the tears began to stream down her pretty face" (Elizabeth)
"hugged her to his own powerful chest" (Ned)
Goodness. Anyway, Jessica feels bad for always being such a dick about the Martins, and marvels at Tricia's bravery and serenity.
"Jessica's own day could easily be ruined by something as minor as a run in her stockings. But Tricia kept right on smiling in the face of death and showed the courage of a female Luke Skywalker."
A female Luke Skywalker. Gosh, if only there were such a thing as a heroic lady that she could have been compared to. What a pity that the film that Luke Skywalker was in had no female characters. Like, say, an equally brave sister, or something. Also, do you think the ghost writer had a bet with her friends that she could crowbar a Star Wars reference into a Sweet Valley High book? I'd like to think so.
Right before Tricia dies, when she's alone with Steven, she asks him to look after Betsy for her, as the two sisters only ever had each other and he agrees. As the Wakefields morosely make their way out of her hospital room, a drunk and distraught Betsy Martin rushes into the lobby, looking for her sister. But instead of anyone feeling particularly bad for her, what with the tragic timing of her arrival and all, Elizabeth notes that she's wearing heavy makeup (ugh! If you're not a natural beauty, then you're clearly a terrible person) and a skimpy shirt with buttons missing and Jessica mutters about how she can barely walk in a straight line.
While the twins are busy quietly pulling on their matching judgeypants, Steven explains to Betsy that she's too late to see Tricia. Daddy Wakefield then insists that she comes back to stay with them because no one can find her alcoholic dad and she shouldn't be left alone. Jessica is horrified at the notion because Betsy hangs out in shady bars like Kelly's (as did Jessica), used to run around with bad news bear Rick Andover (as did Jessica) and has hooked up with half the guys in town (HELLO JESSICA) but there's only room for one untrustworthy skank on Calico Drive, bitches.
The next day after school, Elizabeth decides to bestow the greatest gift of all upon poor misfortunate Betsy, the friendship of a Wakefield twin. She discovers that Betsy loves to draw and is actually really good at it, but tends to keep it to herself. She has also sworn to change her ways and stop drinking and doing drugs, determined to turn over a new leaf.
At Tricia's funeral, their dad is a no-show and afterwards Betsy is so upset that she tries to cave on her new promise and tells Steven to bring her to Kelly's. He refuses and tells her that she's going to stay with them for good, much to Elizabeth and Jessica's surprise/outrage.
Later that day, when the twins are back in school, Jessica tells Lila Fowler and Cara Walker that Betsy is moving into the Wakefield's split-level, ranch style house of Aryan wonder complete with swimming pool.
"How positively awful - having to share your house with such low class trash" commiserates Lila. She then goes on to utter what might be the most wonderful sentence that I've come across so far in this series.
"Why, our stable boy has more class than Betsy Martin."
BUUURN! Oh Lila, you magnificent bitch.
Jessica then goes on to be her usual selfish and sociopathic self, complaining that everyone feels so sorry for Betsy, "but what about poor me?" she whines, infuriatingly. This is literally the same day that Betsy has had to bury her sister and Jessica is actually feeling sorry for herself because of what people might say when they find out that Betsy is living in her house. Oy vey.
Lila suggests that Jessica should search Betsy's room for drugs and get her kicked out of the house, because it's not as if her sister just died and she has nowhere else to go or anything. Jessica ransacks her way through Betsy's stuff, but comes up empty. While looking through her sketchpad, Jessica finds a drawing of Steven and freaks out because that means that smelly ol' Betsy is in love with her perfect brother. AND THAT JUST WON'T DO.
Outraged, Jessica bursts into Elizabeth's room to tell her, while Elizabeth is getting ready to go for dinner with Todd, Nicholas Morrow and his sister Regina because kids in Sweet Valley act like 40 year olds for some reason.
At school, Cara Walker tells Jessica that it's all over town that something is going on between Steven and Betsy, as they're constantly together and Caroline Pearce has been spreading it around school.
"Cara, you know how Caroline can take a perfectly innocent thing and twist it around so it comes out racier than a Bo Derek movie."
Bo Derek! Hee! Amazing.
Meanwhile, in the half-baked subplot, Winston Egbert has been eating loads of pizza at school because he's in training for a world record attempt to eat seven extra large pizzas in one sitting.
Anyway, everyone goes to the Beach Disco because it's Sweet Valley and there has to be at least one dance or big party per book. The Droids are playing, of course, so Todd and Elizabeth head to the dancefloor.
"Todd spun Elizabeth around in the air, putting her down with a flourish. They made a perfect team as they danced under the flashing strobe lights, Elizabeth's smooth, graceful movements complementing Todd's more playful style."
Wow, it sounds just like me when I was sixteen and at school discos. :-|
Also, I'd like to point out here that earlier in the book, before Betsy moved in, Jessica was complaining to Elizabeth about what a hobag Betsy is and mentioned that she was seen at Miller's Point the previous week with TWO GUYS.
Then when we meet Jessica at the disco, she's coming up the steps from the beach with Aaron Dallas on one arm, Neil Freemount ("Sweet Valley High's newest heartthrob", apparently) on the other and her navy espadrilles in her hand. You see, it's not slutty when you live in a nice house and your dad is a sexy lawyer with a powerful chest.
However, her night is ruined when Steven appears with Betsy on his arm, bold as skanky brass. They run into Steven's friend from college, Jason, who tries to be nice to Betsy and takes a real interest in her and her drawing. He teaches an art class at weekends and suggests that she should come along but she's all weird and defensive and snappy because she seems to think he just wants to get into her pants. Steven calms things down and she eventually agrees to go along to the class the next day.
Unfortunately, Jason does actually fancy Betsy and asks her out after the class. She freaks out and storms off, telling Elizabeth back at the house that he's only after one thing and won't listen when Elizabeth tells her that Jason is a nice guy and probably just wants to take her for dinner and get to know her.
Elizabeth and Jessica then separately get on Steven's case a bit about how much time he's spending with Betsy. Jessica's point is basically that her reputation is being ruined and she can't stand the thought of Betsy fancying her brother, whereas Elizabeth is worried that he isn't giving himself a chance to deal with Tricia's death because he's so busy looking after her. He knows he's spending too much time with her but wants to keep his secret promise to Tricia. Poor Steven! His handsome face is all tired and miserable and everything. Womp womp.
|Jessica looks perplexed by Betsy's hair and I don't blame her. I'm perplexed by Betsy's entire look here, to be honest. She looks about as wild and trashy as someone off to play polo at a country club.|
Jason shows up at the house the next day because Betsy ran off without her sketchpad after the class. He then tells her and Steven about an art school in LA that's doing a talent search and the winner gets four years of free tuition and accommodation.
But when he offers to help Betsy with her application and organise her portfolio, she has another conniption and tells him to stick it up his hole. Well, not quite, but she goes on about how he was just after a night alone with her and runs off again. She's getting pretty annoying at this point. Elizabeth, Steven and Jason then plot to enter Betsy's work anyway, as they think she could win it, even if she doesn't, and Wakefields know what's best for you. Their family crest is a smug-looking knight with a superiority complex.
The night of Winston's world record attempt arrives, because that's still going on and everyone from school descends on Guido's pizza place for the big event. There are tv cameras and everything, but Winston hits a wall after six and a half pizzas and fails, so the whole B plot was basically pointless. When the Wakefields are watching the news report at home that evening, the doorbell rings, and Betsy gets up to answer. And there, standing in the door, with bloodshot eyes and unkempt clothes is her father, Jim Martin. DUN DUN DUUUUN.
But the big reveal is all for nothing, as the next chapter begins the following day, and nothing really happened with Betsy's dad, he just went away after a while. It's almost as if the ghostwriter forgot to come back to it after making it into a half-assed cliffhanger. Bad ghostwriter. Ned and Alice are concerned about Steven taking on Betsy as a responsibility and while they're all discussing it, Steven eventually tells them about his promise to Tricia.
Jessica overhears all this, as devious wenches are wont to do, and immediately hatches a plan to get rid of Betsy. This was spurred on by an earlier insult from Bruce Patman, who made fun of the fact that Betsy is living in Jessica's house. And of course, instead of just ignoring the words of a renowned fuckface like Bruce, the logical thing for Jessica to do is to go and ruin someone's life. It's like that's her default setting. Life-ruiner. So while Ned and Alice are over at a friend's house, Jessica creeps into Betsy's room and comes up behind her, silently watching her draw, like a fucking serial killer. She eventually strikes up a conversation with Betsy about how well she's doing and casually mentions that Steven is only being nice to her because of his promise to Tricia. Upset and angry, Betsy packs up her stuff and runs off. It's kind of her thing.
Steven and Jason turn up at the house because Betsy has won the art school competition, only to hear the twins explain that Betsy left and Jessica heard her making plans to meet some shady guy called Charlie. Steven and Jason head straight to all the dive bars in town, i.e. Kelly's and the Shady Lady and find Betsy siting at the bar with two dudes, one of whom is Crunch McAllister, the guy who knocked Elizabeth and Todd off a motorbike in book six.
Betsy tells Steven and Jason to get lost and starts talking about some "dynamite pot" that they've gotten their hands on. Scandalicious! But when Steven and Jason won't leave without her, Charlie starts throwing punches. Suddenly Jason calmly takes off his glasses and proceeds to beat the shit out of Charlie and Crunch, going all JCVD on their sorry asses because he's a brown belt in karate. It's actually pretty cool. Betsy then realises that he's the one for her and is suddenly "overcome by tenderness for him". Bleh. Then there's a big barbeque to celebrate Betsy going off to LA to art school and not being a tramp anymore. Who needs rehab when you've got the Wakefields! Hooray!
Jessica's beach disco outfit was a bit of a letdown, as the navy espadrilles I mentioned earlier were worn with "a pair of indigo blue cropped pants and a matching blue-striped t-shirt", which is all very understated and un-plunging of her. So I'll give this one to Elizabeth and her outfit for her old lady dinner date with Todd, Nicholas and Regina.
"Elizabeth stepped into her lavender sweater dress and fastened the row of tiny buttons that ran up the back [...] slipped into a pair of low heeled blue pumps."
Blue and lavender together Liz? Really?
"Elizabeth pinned her shoulder-length blond hair back with a navy blue comb."
No. Stop that.
Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6
Amount of times Betsy storms out of the room: 4
Amount of times people blush: 15