Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #53 – Sweet Valley High #55 – Perfect Shot

Here is another Sweet Valley High female athlete going through something. On the one hand I totally got it, but on the other hand it just seemed like another version of the “ugly-pretty girl” story. Anyone who grew up between 1980-2006 totally knows what I mean. 😛

“Perfect Shot”


Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins

People are always telling Shelly Novak that she has everything going for her. She is one of the best basketball players at Sweet Valley High, and she’s as tall and graceful as a model. But the problem is that being so tall makes Shelly feel like a freak. Then she meets Jim Roberts. He has a way of making her feel special. But when Jim, a photography buff, starts taking pictures of Shelly, she makes him promise never to show them to anyone. Then The Sweet Valley News sponsors a photography contest and Jim thinks he could win with a photo of Shelly. But if he’s wrong, will Shelly ever forgive him?

Shelly Novak feels like a freak because she is super tall. Even though her height is her greatest asset and makes her a star on the basketball team, leading them to a state championship, or makes her look just like the tall models in fashion magazines – she just hates how tall she is. To make matters worse she has a crush on her next door neighbor and good friend, Greg Hilliard, like in the serious kind of way. While they’re walking home from school one day, Shelly finally has the nerve to float the idea of going to the upcoming Varsity Club dance together. Greg is nice enough, but he is taken by surprise so his clueless insensitivity comes out and he questions how weird they would look since she is taller than him. Dumbass. Shelly is absolutely mortified.

Some dance hotshot named Patrick McLean is giving free ballroom dance lessons to anyone who wants them at Sweet Valley High. The idea is that he’ll earn buzz for his dance studio that is opening in a month. (I totally understand these free lessons – great way to get people talking.) Amy Sutton convinces Jessica Wakefield to check them out with her and it turns out Patrick is the best looking guy to exist – EVER. So both girls start competing for his attention, naturally. Shelly is one of the girls there and she gets paired up with a boy named Jim Roberts. Her first impression is that he is nice, but sweaty and klutzy and I kind of loved this. It made me chuckle.

Anyway, the first playoff game does not go so well. Shelly is playing badly and she knows it is because she is upset about Greg, and to make matters worse Jim Roberts is taking pictures of her. Sweet Valley High loses and when Shelly leaves the locker room she finds Jim waiting for her. She asks him not to take any pictures of her and to get rid of the ones he already has. Then she sees Greg walking with his ex-girlfriend Carol, who of course is super tiny, and feels even crappier. Jim asks if she wants to grab a soda and she agrees (very loudly) but Greg doesn’t notice. That’s fine though because Jim seems nice enough and is actually the same height as Shelly. Shelly and Jim have a great time, and it is the beginning of something wonderful.

The Sweet Valley News is having a photography contest for budding photographers, and Mr. Collins, an English teacher and faculty advisor for the student newspaper is encouraging people to submit their pictures, and collecting the submissions for the paper. Winning first place is a big deal because the winning photo will be published on the front page of The Sweet Valley News and the winner gets a brand new video camera. Jeffrey French, Elizabeth Wakefield’s boyfriend, is working in the darkroom when Jim Roberts comes in and develops some of his pictures. Jeffrey is blown away, and realizes that while he loves photography and is always working at it, Jim is in an entirely different league. Jeffrey encourages Jim to submit something to the contest, but Jim declines, saying photography is just a “silly hobby” to him. I don’t understand why he minimizes this – he is very good, and even if he is blind, acting like it doesn’t matter to him, when it obviously means everything in the world to him… oh well.

Jim and Shelly go on a few more dates and they’re both practically swooning. They got it bad. On one of their dates Jim takes out his camera and teasingly takes a few photos of Shelly and she freaks out. Again, she asks him to never take her picture, and never show any of the pictures he has already taken to other people. What she doesn’t tell him is why – she is embarrassed by her height, and does not think she is pretty. (Girl, you are a redhead, which means you are pretty – period. Red hair, don’t care! 😛 ) Jim apologizes and promises that he won’t. And he really did intend to keep this promise, but the next time he is in the darkroom with Jeffrey, Jeffrey admires a photo he took of Shelly playing basketball. Jeffrey tells Jim that he thinks this particular photograph would win the entire contest but Jim again declines. But when he’s alone he looks at the picture and realizes how beautiful and graceful Shelly looks in it. He is sure that if he submits the photograph and wins that she will have to realize just how beautiful she is. And this is his major motivation for going through with it. He submits the photo for the contest.

When Jim drops off the photograph to Mr. Collins, Olivia Davidson sees it, and later tells Shelly what a wonderful picture it is, because it is, and she doesn’t know Shelly is camera shy (understatement!). Shelly instantly freaks. She confronts Jim and really tears into him. They don’t break up officially, but… Shelly’s best friend Cathy talks her down from her anger. She tells Shelly that Shelly is overreacting and has a self-image problem, which is her problem, not Jim’s problem. True that.

Shelly calls Jim to apologize, but Jim is kind of abrupt with her. He apologizes and tells her that he was able to reason with Mr. Collins and take the picture out of the running. Then he hangs up. Shelly feels terrible, because she is big on sportsmanship and compares Jim’s photography to her playing basketball. The next day she finds Mr. Collins and convinces him to put the picture back in the running, after explaining everything to him.

Jim wins the contest and is surprised because he thought the photo had been taken out of the running. When he goes to talk to Shelly about it, his confusion gets in his way. He is frustrated because she made a big deal out of it, but then put it back in anyway. And she is frustrated that he doesn’t realize the sacrifice she made for him, because she doesn’t want anyone to see her photo, which is now soon-to-be-published. And they end up arguing – facepalm. When the picture is actually published, everyone keeps coming up to Shelly and telling her how beautiful she is and how she should be a model. When Shelly looks at the photo in the newspaper she realizes that she is beautiful. And when she reads Jim’s interview where he talked about the photo, she realizes she is in love with him.

Shelly tries to find him to tell him before the last playoff game, but can’t. The first half she is playing terribly and she knows it is because she never got to clear things up with Jim. Then at halftime she sees him and writes him a note, apologizing and telling him she loves him. A cheerleader delivers the note and when he reads it, he stands up and smiles. Everything is good again, which means Shelly’s talent and skills on the court suddenly return. Sweet Valley High wins the big game! Shelly is completely surrounded after the same and there are a lot of pictures taken (and it no longer matters 🙂 ). Greg (You remember Greg, right? The guy Shelly was all in love with at the beginning of this book.) comes over and congratulates her and then asks her to the Varsity Club dance, but now it’s her turn to say no. She is going to the dance with Jim. Yeah, baby!

Jessica and Amy are still being super annoying about who will land Patrick. For once, I’m on Jessica’s side because I hate Amy Sutton something fierce. They make a bet about who will be the first girl he dances with at the Varsity Club dance. And then they both show up… in the same dress! Now they both just want to die of embarrassment, though Jessica takes it a lot better than Amy does. (I did this at prom once – showed up in the same dress as a friend. We both laughed about it, I genuinely thought it was funny, but her boyfriend told me a few weeks later she was a tad upset about it. But I got my dress months before, so I didn’t sweat it.) Anyway, Patrick shows up in a limo, and has a gorgeous woman as his date. So much for Amy and Jessica’s bet. 😛

Shelly is awarded “Athlete of the Year” which includes a $5,000 scholarship, which I am thinking back then is like a full ride for one to two years. But Jim and Shelly are on a roll and that isn’t enough, so they win the dance contest later on that night. (And this proves that love conquers all, since in the beginning of this book Jim seemed to be cursed with five left feet. Seriously, he was that bad.) 😛

I liked Shelly, and I liked this book, but she is a redhead – she should have figured out her shit on her own. Girl, you don’t need a man to feel good about yourself. You just keep on doing you.


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