Is this the end of the Wakefield family? One can hope… okay, but seriously, major trouble is brewing and it looks like the end of a marriage is seriously nigh…
“Trouble At Home”
Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins
There is trouble in the usually happy Wakefield household, and Elizabeth, Jessica, and their brother Steven, are caught in the middle. Mrs. Wakefield is so busy at work that she’s hardly ever home anymore. When she is, all she and Mr. Wakefield seem to do is fight. Tensions rise when Mr. Wakefield tries to help his friend, mayoral candidate, Mr. Santelli after he is accused of accepting bribes, and he case doesn’t go as Mr. Wakefield hopes. When Mr. Wakefield is asked to run for mayor in Mr. Santelli’s place, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield have a huge fight that might just end their marriage. Elizabeth, Jessica and Steven can’t do anything to help… Could this be the end of the perfect Wakefield family?
In a hurry? Let me save you a lot of time. Mr. Wakefield is acting like an ass because he is going through his own stuff and taking it out on his wife. And then Mrs. Wakefield gets stupid at the end, and they both are being ridiculous and it looks like they’re heading for divorce… But if you have a little more time, here are all the sordid details.
The fighting between Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield is escalating and it seems to be all that they can do with each other. Mr. Wakefield is very unhappy with his life and what he has, or has not, accomplished. It seems to be some sort of midlife crisis, only they have already done that storyline, only this time it’s for real. He’s disillusioned with the law, and thinks most lawyers are only in it for themselves and their paycheck. Where has he been? (Remember, I said most. I happen to be very good friends with a few of the exceptions.) So he keeps picking fights with Mrs. Wakefield. Sometimes it is twisting something she has said to mean something else entirely (boy, he really is a lawyer) and getting pissed about what he twisted it into. And then he yells at her. Other times it’s just because she can’t say or do anything right. Essentially, he’s being an asshole.
Meanwhile Mrs. Wakefield has gone from part-time interior designer to overtime interior designer. Her firm is being considered for designing the new wing of the Sweet Valley Mall. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and what she has been waiting for her whole career, but to land the job it means working ten to twelve hours a day – for a week. Oh the horror. But this just gives Mr. Wakefield more ammunition to use against his wife and he is an unsupportive dick about the whole thing.
Elizabeth is beside herself with worry and she tries to help out, making dinner, grocery shopping etc. while she falls apart and cries to anyone who will listen. Jessica on the other hand doesn’t mind it because with both her parents so busy she has a lot more freedom. And they’re also less likely to notice a sharp increase in their phone bill. Jessica has been calling this teen party line, and it costs $1 per minute. She did this because she was determined to outdo Lila Fowler, who always has the newest and nicest stuff, but I never understood why Lila should be jealous of some hotline. And wouldn’t you know, neither does anyone else – including Lila! Ha!
Jess finds herself falling for this guy named Charlie, from the teen line and they exchange their real digits. Jessica wants to meet him but he keeps making up lame excuses to why he can’t. My guess is he is super young or her age but super ugly because when Jessica calls his house, his father answers – so we know he’s not some creepy old guy preying on unsuspecting youth. That’s reserved for the internet anyway. (But seriously, since this was written before the internet – it really plays on the whole, you don’t know who he is, he could be anyone thing – so this could totally translate and be relevant today… Never thought I’d say that about a Sweet Valley High plot – ever.)
A friend of the family, Peter Santelli, is running for mayor. But then he is accused of accepting bribes from an “anonymous” source. It’s so obvious he is being set up, but I don’t understand why everyone is making such a big deal about it when it is that obvious. He is charged and asks Mr. Wakefield to represent him. Mr. Wakefield has his doubts because he doesn’t do criminal law, but when Mrs. Wakefield echoes his own sentiments he feels strongly that he “has to” take the case. And then the case gets thrown out because there isn’t enough evidence… even though they were already at trial… Yeah I know enough about the legal system to know if they don’t have sufficient evidence they either don’t go to trial or they do, and then the person is found not guilty. They don’t just start a trial to say, “Oh, never mind,” two weeks later. Or at least when this happens, it is a good thing for the defense… Sigh.
Mrs. Wakefield has been made her firm’s leader on the mall project and they win – they’ll be designing the new wing of Sweet Valley Mall. But instead of being happy for his wife, Mr. Wakefield tells her that she shouldn’t take the job because he is so busy trying to help Peter. What an ass. Mrs. Wakefield doesn’t listen, because she is not usually a doormat, thank goodness. Of course, this just makes it easier for both of them to find things to argue over.
Mrs. Wakefield keeps trying to be supportive of her husband and encourages him to attend his legal fraternity’s reunion, because she hopes it will reenergize him and how he feels about the legal profession. But it backfires because everyone just wants to talk to her about her landing the mall design project. And of course this is her fault, and Mr. Wakefield has a tantrum (yeah, he literally stomps out of the place) and then takes off in the car, leaving his family behind (they brought two vehicles – we don’t really know why except that it lets the author have Mr. Wakefield take off without it being so unforgiveable as stranding his family would be).
Up to this point, Mrs. Wakefield has tried to downplay or not talk about her work, to spare Mr. Wakefield’s feelings, but now she is over all of his shit. It’s about time. Mrs. Wakefield stops calling when she is going to be late and really escapes in her work, but it’s at the cost of their kids and only adding fuel to the fire. This is how she is starting to get stupid. I’m all about not putting up with her husband’s immature outbursts, but now she is being just as bad – it’s like she’s trying to egg him on.
Mr. Patman (Bruce Patman’s father) and some other guy come to talk to Mr. Wakefield. They want him to run for mayor. Mr. Wakefield is surprised and thinks it is a silly idea at first, but it has its appeal. He decides to talk to Mrs. Wakefield and the rest of the family about it before he gives them an answer. This is the first respectable thing he has done the entire book. But because Mrs. Wakefield is recently stupid, he doesn’t get his chance for a week. And then it is time for their annual weekend at Lake Tahoe. Mrs. Wakefield mentions being worried about leaving for the entire weekend, because she’s lost sight of her priorities. Elizabeth is worried so she calls her mom’s assistant hoping to convince her to convince her mother to go. The assistant says she can only do that if Elizabeth gives them the number to where they’ll be staying. And because she’s an idiot, Elizabeth does, even though it’s a big rule to never give out that number – this is about getting away from it all. And shocker – it comes back to bite her.
At Lake Tahoe, everyone is more or less enjoying themselves until Jessica blabs about Mr. Wakefield running for mayor (she was eavesdropping). Mrs. Wakefield loses her shit and is mad Mr. Wakefield hasn’t already told her about it, but he points out he has tried many times and she’s too busy, and now he’s the one with a point. Mrs. Wakefield acts like Mr. Wakefield did when she got the mall project. Hypocrites never prosper. But then her work calls with an “emergency” and it’s Mr. Wakefield’s turn to lose his shit.
The next day, Mrs. Wakefield’s work calls again and there is an even bigger emergency that requires her immediate presence. So she tells everyone she is leaving. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I think that is totally jacked. She should spend the last day with her family since she is going to be totally MIA as soon as they get back. If fire is not falling from the sky, it isn’t the end of the world. And that “emergency” will still be there the next day. But I’ve always had high expectations and to me family (in my case not blood, but family) always comes first. Period.
This book ends on a major cliffhanger, Mr. Wakefield’s response to his silly wife: “Alice, if you take off right now, you’re doing more than just walking out on a weekend. You’re walking out on me and the kids, too.” And then he goes on to say… “If you leave now, you’re leaving me. You’re leaving our marriage.” And then the bitch takes off anyway. Without even saying goodbye, to anyone. Now I’m completely against ultimatums of any kind. They’re like a kiss of death in terms of relationships; they’re unfair and probably almost always avoidable. But still… While what Mr. Wakefield said (and in front of the kids) was totally uncool, Mrs. Wakefield’s response is quite possibly even worse. And yes, the book ended with Mrs. Wakefield taking off and their kids realizing that this might be the end of their parents’ relationship after twenty years of marriage…
So, if you’re still with me, what is the takeaway from all of this? Everyone in the Wakefield family is an idiot. Elizabeth is an idiot for giving out that phone number. Jessica is an idiot for thinking her parents fighting all the time was a good thing, just so she could call a 900-number. Steven is an idiot because he’s Steven. Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield are both selfish idiots, who can’t only not communicate, but… I mean, ugh. There’s nothing left to say.
On a positive note, this book was surprising in the fact that I did not get the urge to slap anyone… not even once! 🙂