Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #37 – Sweet Valley High #45 – Family Secrets

“Family Secrets”


Sweet Valley Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Twins

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are thrilled when their cousin Kelly Bates arrives in Sweet Valley. Kelly’s mother is planning to remarry and hopes that living with the Wakefields for a few months will prepare Kelly for a life with a new stepfather and two stepbrothers. As soon as Kelly gets settled she shocks her cousins by going out with troublemaker Kirk Anderson. Then she tells the twins that she plans to stay in Sweet Valley and live with her father. Kelly says that she has the perfect dad, but that is not how it looks to the twins. Kelly seems to have a blind spot when it comes to her father, as well as Kirk. Will Kelly find out what’s keeping her from seeing the truth before it’s too late?

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are SO excited! Their cousin, Kelly Bates, is moving in with them for two whole months! Why? Because she is having problems getting along with her mother who is getting ready to marry a doctor. I don’t get this. You and your child are having problems so you ship her off to a relative’s house, hundreds of miles away. I know the ghostwriter tried to make this make sense by claiming living with the Wakefields would allow Kelly, who is an only child, get used to having siblings, but it isn’t really her stepbrothers that are the problem.

Anyway, when Kelly arrives, she is a hit. She looks a lot like Elizabeth and Jessica and the three of them dress identically to get a reaction out of people at school. I didn’t get this either since the twins often make a point of having their own identities and while Kelly can pass as their sister, they are far from identical and even have different eye and hair colors. Kelly goes on and on about how wonderful her dad is and it is clear she resents her mother for leaving him. It is also clear she doesn’t have a clue about who her father actually is and romanticizes him as much as she vilifies her mother. In reality, her mother worries about her and her father let’s her do whatever she wants.

The twins know that Kelly’s father was a dirtbag. He was a serial cheater and had quite the temper. But Kelly’s mother doesn’t want to prejudice Kelly against her father (and makes everyone else promise not to say anything negative about him) so she takes the brunt of blame for the divorce like some sort of martyr. As a child of divorce I had both kinds of parents. My mother would bad mouth my father like nobody’s business and most of what she said wasn’t even true, because what was true wasn’t juicy enough (I was old enough to know the truth). Whereas my father was as blind as Kelly’s mother, in terms of speaking ill of his former spouse. “You should call your mother. I don’t care that she tried to cut you with a steak knife last week. She is the only mother you’ll ever have.” Both kinds of parents suck, what Kelly needs is what I would have liked, someone between these two extremes.

Kelly gets asked out by Sweet Valley’s most eligible bachelor, Nicholas Morrow. He is hot, smart, sensitive and filthy rich. But she breaks her date with him when Kirk Anderson pays her some attention. This is the same Kirk Anderson who played that horrible prank on Penny (see Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #27 – Sweet Valley High #39 –Secret Admirer) and is Sweet Valley High’s biggest douche (even worse than Bruce Patman).

Kirk is pretty transparent to everyone except Kelly. He is seeing his ex-girlfriend behind Kelly’s back or sometimes right in front of her face – he constantly makes Kelly wait while he is ‘just a friend’ to his ex, who is getting all of this one-on-one time with him. He is constantly late and the way he talks to her just isn’t right. But Kelly is wearing the same blinders that she wears with her father. Elizabeth even points out that Kirk and her father share all of the same qualities and behaviors. Obviously we are in ‘daddy issues’ territory. (I also think that Kirk is only dating Kelly to get back at Elizabeth for the ‘fake cousin’ prank that she and Enid pulled on Kirk to get back at him for messing with Penny in Sweet Valley #39 Secret Admirer. I mean he even brings it up when he first meets Kelly, saying she should apologize for standing him up by going out with him.)

Kelly’s seventeenth birthday rolls around and finally her father makes an actual appearance in the book. When he finally shows up he is charming, but he is also an hour and a half late, and stays less than five minutes before making an excuse to leave. On his daughter’s birthday! Kelly is clearly upset but continues to defend him even though no one is saying anything bad about him – they’re just all uncomfortably silent like the good little WASPs they are.

The next night there is a big costume party at the country club and Elizabeth, Jessica and Kelly go as the ‘No-Evil Monkeys’. This is where I needed a break because… seriously? Other costumes of interest: Lila Fowler as Princess Diana, Enid Rollins as a hippie, Jeffrey French as a Wino (I think he was my favorite) and Winston Egbert as a bunch of grapes (here is hoping he is wearing something under all of those balloons). Kirk is a pirate, but I think this is just an excuse for him to be shirtless.

Kirk convinces Kelly to join him for a private party and she follows him, hoping he will finally kiss her – but he has a lot more planned than kissing. Another near date-rape ensues (they almost seem to be standard when a vulnerable girl goes out with a ‘confident guy’ in this series). Kelly kicks him (yes!) and runs away. In response, Kirk throws a beer bottle and the sound of the glass breaking freaks Kelly out because suddenly all of the memories of her childhood in Sweet Valley, when her parents were still married, come back to her and a recurring nightmare she has turns out to be her last memory before she blanked it all away. Kelly’s father was raging at Kelly’s mother the night before they left and broke every dish they had one by one. He made such a racket the neighbors called the police.

Kelly is horrified and overwhelmed by these memories. She breaks down in tears and Jean West and Tom McKay find her on the side of the road and take her back to the Wakefields’ house. Kelly tells Elizabeth everything she remembers in between tears before falling asleep. Elizabeth tells the rest of her family and Mrs. Wakefield calls her sister and tells her that she needs to tell Kelly the truth.

Kelly’s mother flies out to Sweet Valley the next morning and she and Kelly have a long talk. Kelly’s memory is true and everything suddenly makes sense. Kelly decides to go back home with her mother. She doesn’t hate her dad because of her newfound memories but isn’t delusional about how wonderful he is either. And she recognizes that she has been horrible to her mother and needs to do everything she can to make it up to her. The end!

This was a book that had me shaking my head (a lot!) but at least I never wondered how the ghostwriters managed to stretch it out into an entire book. That makes it kind of special, right? 😛

My biggest regret about this book was when Kelly kicked Kirk. She kicked him in the shin, but she should have aimed higher. 😛 The next Sweet Valley high post is on a very special Sweet Valley book. The second Super Thriller and the first Sweet Valley High book that I ever read! It is going to be great going back to my beginnings with this series, nearly two decades ago… 😉


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