Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SVH update: Racing hearts

Today I finished Sweet Valley High No. 9: "Racing Hearts." I might have enjoyed this book more than any other in the series because of the several literary and cultural gems throughout the book. A sampling:

  • The dance was a big event on the Sweet Valley High social scene. [just like every other dance in the series so far ...]
  • Olivia shook her head, letting her untamed curls cascade around her narrow shoulders. "But not too hard," she insisted. "School's supposed to be fun, too." Maybe for some people, he thought, but not when your mother's too sick to hold a steady job and your father's a drunk.
  • Todd wasn't usually so testy; in fact, he was one of the most easygoing students at Sweet Valley. But when he was pushed hard enough, his anger ran deep, and he still had a good reason to hold a grudge against Bruce. The smooth-talking Bruce had tried to take advantage of Elizabeth Wakefield, Todd's girlfriend, when she'd been at her most vulnerable -- after an accident that had left her acting completely out of character for several weeks. Fortunately, Bruce had failed. But only barely.
  • With an arrogance born of years of practice, Bruce Patman strutted slowly out of the dressing area and onto the track. His brand-new red running shorts were short enough to expose nearly the entire length of his long, muscled legs, while his white, sleeveless T-shirt emphasized his sleek, tanned arms.
  • This wasn't the first time Bruce had treated him this way -- once he'd told Roger that the sweat shirt he wore in gym was so old it belonged in a museum -- and he was sure it wasn't going to be the last time either.
  • "Now there's a class-A bod," Lila said, admiring the back of the lean, tall boy dressed in a blue running suit.
  • "You can't even see his face from here," Jessica pointed out. "But I can see even in those baggy sweats that everything's in the right place."
  • She just wanted some privacy to replay the evening with Dennis in her mind. It hadn't taken them long to dispense with the formalities and take up where they'd left off in Dennis's father's office. His kisses were as satisfying as Jessica could want, and he was eager to please her, though enough of a gentleman to realize when their passions were reaching the point beyond which they would no longer be able to control themselves.
  • How can she do this? Jessica thought frantically. She's using one of my very own tricks to get to me! It was unlike Elizabeth to resort to blackmail, but nevertheless Jessica couldn't help but feel a reluctant sense of admiration of her twin's scheme. [Right, Elizabeth doesn't use blackmail, except every time she uses blackmail ...]

This book had it all: Jessica has a new love interest; Elizabeth saves the day; a minor character becomes the star of the school and goes back to being the same person he always was; Bruce Patman acts like a jerk.

And the end of the book provides quite a lead-in to the next one. Annie Whitman is introduced toward the beginning of the book as Bruce Patman's next potential conquest, and the last 20 pages of the book hammer home the fact that she really wants to try out for the SVH cheerleading squad -- which just so happens to be the topic of SVH No. 10. Once the readers can figure out how the book is going to end, I think writer Kate William is ready to give them a sample of what is coming next.

The Roger parts of the books were the best. I loved that he was such a good runner because he ran around the school frequently. I'm puzzled by this entire premise because the race Roger qualified for was one mile around a track ... which is a little different than being able to run through the hallway of a school, where human obstacles and short distances would limit your ability to actually run well. I also loved that he was a freakish outsider until he proved how fast he could run, and then Ms. Popularity Lila was fawning all over him. I don't know of any popular girls from my high school who would have instantly forgotten about an outsider's status just because he showed that he was athletic. Sweet Valley sure is a strange, strange world.

-- Cheryl Sadler



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