This book is like a bad eighties version of the movie “The Crush,” featuring Alicia Silverstone. I mean this girl has got it bad, and goes just a tad over the deep end… You’ll have to read this train wreck to believe it! 😛
Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins
Olivia Davidson, the pretty and talented Arts Editor for Sweet Valley High’s student newspaper has always been independent. So it comes as a total surprise to Elizabeth Wakefield when Olivia confides that she is lonely. Everyone that Olivia knows seems to be going out with someone, and she’s ready for a new boyfriend herself. Then Stuart Bachman, a gorgeous local artist, starts teaching a painting course at Sweet Valley High. Olivia takes his class and immediately finds herself madly in love with him. Soon Stuart Bachman is all Olivia thinks or talks about. And it looks as if he may return her feelings. Has Olivia found true love, or is she in over her head, and on her way to some serious heartbreak?
I’m not going to lie… this book was bad. It was so bad it was either good or flat-out horrible, and to be honest I’m trying to figure out just which category this book falls into. Olivia Davidson is pulling the whole, “Oh my God, I need a boyfriend, why am I single?” thing that I am pretty sure all of us has gone through once, or at least had a friend play this card in high school (and hopefully not since high school). It’s annoying, because now instead of a book just blatantly sending a message about how a girl needs a man, it’s actually saying it too. Ugh. Elizabeth Wakefield is surprised, because Olivia has always been such an individual – why now? It’s a good question, but not one that is ever answered.
Sweet Valley High is participating in a series of workshops it is calling mini-courses. Basically, they are two-week classes such as “Electronics” or “Paining” or “Dress Design” and students sign up for what they want and hopefully everyone gets their first or second choice (but they have to list four choices just in case). Every class and the lunch period is going to be five minutes shorter for two weeks to make room for these new classes. Each student will have completed a project in their class to show off to everyone else on the last day in a sort of “Student Fair.” I loved the idea, but honestly it sounded a lot like electives to me. Oh well.
Jessica Wakefield makes some big noise about putting down “Electronics,” as one of her three options because it is a class that is bound to be full of boys and no other girls. I love how a chance to take something she is actually interested in like “Dress Design” has turned into another ploy to snag a man. You never should have let A.J. go, bitch! (All right, I’m better now.) Of course, even though it is her third choice, Jessica finds herself in the Electronics class and she was right – she is the only girl, it’s full of boys, but all of those boys are major nerds. Sad times.
Meanwhile, Olivia, Enid and Elizabeth got into their first choice, which was painting. Their teacher, a local artist named Stuart Bachman, is super hot and Olivia is bit hard by the love bug. Olivia is a natural talent and Stuart tells her so. He seems to pay her extra attention and Olivia seems to think he likes her like that too. Girl get a grip, he admires your work and your talent. Sheesh. Olivia becomes obsessed, like crazy-ass stalker “Fatal Attractions” obsessed. She cuts out a picture of him in some magazine and sticks it on her mirror so he will be the first thing she sees when she goes to bed and the first thing she sees when she wakes up. She always helps him before and after class and monopolizes his time during class. And then Olivia finds out where he lives, and even “drops by” with a lame excuse of needing to borrow a book… All right, I know this was a different time and all, but when has it ever been a good idea to invite a teenage female student into a male teacher’s apartment, alone? Seriously?
Olivia goes with Stuart to some event at the art school he went to. Poor Stuart is so dense he doesn’t realize Olivia is totally into him – he just thinks she is passionate about painting. And whenever he is kind to her or tries to encourage her artwork, Olivia believes he is showing his undying love and devotion to her because she is that delusional. Stuart asks for Olivia’s opinion about some earrings he designed and then for her opinion on a special gift for a special friend for a special occasion. Yes, they said special that many times, so I can too. Olivia thinks the earrings and special gift must be for her since her birthday is that upcoming Friday. Girl… I don’t even know what to say at this point. The reality is that Stuart just thinks Olivia has great taste and is a girl, so yeah.
Meanwhile, Jessica is having a horrible time in the “Electronics” class. She has no idea what she is going to do for her project and to make matters worse she is paired with Randy Mason as lab partners. And apparently this makes things a whole lot worse because Jessica acts like being around him is a fate worse than death:
“Just looking at him made her want to cry. He was shorter than she was and wore the kind of corduroy jeans that nobody wore anymore. Plus, he kept a calculator in his back pocket. Jessica swallowed hard. The workshop was getting harder and harder to bear.” (Page 47)
Jess must have forgotten about that one time she manipulated poor Randy into hacking into the school’s computer files and changing her math grade… sigh. At least, Jessica is good about finding the silver lining (no matter how twisted) and decides to convince Randy to build her project for her, and she knows just what she wants to do. Jessica wants to build a lie detector. Lila Fowler, her best friend, has been bragging about how her father is dating some soap opera star and Jessica is so jealous that she convinces herself Lila is lying, and soon she’ll be able to prove it!
Back to Olivia… Stuart invites Olivia to a showing of his paintings. Olivia is disappointed because the opening is the same day as her birthday, so maybe he isn’t planning something special for her after all, but then he makes her promise to come and says he has a surprise for her so she is more excited than ever. Meanwhile, Olivia’s parents are planning a surprise party for Olivia. Jessica, Lila, and Amy Sutton are shopping for a gift for Olivia. Lila stops in the sewing store to get some things she hopes will save her mess of a dress project when she overhears Mrs. Egbert (Winston Egbert’s mother) telling someone that Todd Wilkins and his family are moving back to Sweet Valley.
On Friday at the Student Fair, Jessica tries out her lie detector on everyone, including Lila. It turns out she was telling the truth about her father and Anika Hunt (the soap star) and now it’s Jessica’s turn to be embarrassed. When it’s Olivia’s turn someone tells Jessica to ask Olivia how she feels about Stuart, and Olivia is furious and takes off, but not before tearing into Liz and accusing her of telling people about her feelings for their art teacher. Um Olivia, the whole school is talking about it dear.
Olivia goes to Stuart’s show and the first thing that jumps out at me is the time. The show is on a Friday night at 4:30? Get real. But she’s there and is horrified to meet Stuart’s girlfriend, Monica, who is wearing the earrings Olivia thought were for her. Then Monica thanks Olivia for helping Stuart pick out her birthday gift. Olivia wants to leave (and tries) but Stuart sees her and tells her he wants her to see her surprise. There is an exhibit of student work from the private art college he went to, and Olivia’s painting that she did in the mini-course is sitting in the center of the room and people are raving about it, and her. (She was the only high school student to have work featured – there has to be some bragging rights to go along with that.) Olivia realizes how crazy she’s been and is still disappointed about Stuart, but thrilled about her painting and how well it is being received. On the way home she stops by the Wakefield’s house and apologizes to Elizabeth.
Later that night, the surprise party for Olivia goes off without a hitch and is a complete success. Stuart and Monica even show up, which I thought was odd because it’s a high school party and they’re both in their mid-twenties. Oh well. Some boy named Rod Sullivan is there and gives Olivia a present and she decides he is “not so bad.” (He asked her out earlier in the book, but she was too deep in her delusion to think properly and turned his ass down.)
And then Lila spills her secret by hooking Elizabeth up to Jessica’s lie detector and then telling her that Todd Wilkins is moving back to Sweet Valley. Lila asks Elizabeth if she thinks it will affect her relationship with current boyfriend, Jeffrey French. The entire room is silent and Elizabeth detaches herself from her sister’s machine and leaves the room… Dude!
I have to say one of the things I hated the most about this book was how it portrayed Olivia. I mean usually she is the artsy individual who is level-headed, wise and completely independent. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks, so what the fuck? They made her into some crazed stalker girl whose life is defined by delusions of being with an older man. I want to punch this ghostwriter. Also, she looks way different on this cover than she has on other covers. Usually she is way prettier. When I saw this the only thing that came to mind was: “Crack is whack.” I will let you draw your own conclusions. 😛
I may not have been crazy about this book (hey, Olivia is crazy enough for the two of us here) but what an ending! I loved the cliffhanger, one of the better ones in the Sweet Valley High series so far, but I am also upset because I don’t want Jeffrey and Elizabeth to be over. Todd was a scrub, Liz! Team Jeffrey! Team Jeffrey! Team Jeffrey! Sigh, Dammit Liz. I know I am going to be so pissed at you come the next book…