It is the beginning of Sweet Valley High’s book series, the third season. As I said a few Sweet Valley posts ago, because these books are getting more involved, or I just can’t seem to dial it back, don’t be surprised that I am only going to cover a single book per Sweet Valley High post. Of course, hopefully that just means each book and corresponding blog post is just that much juicier… 😉
Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins
Johanna Porter knows that the students of Sweet Valley High are surprised to see her back at school after she dropped out. She’s never done well in school, but now with everyone talking about her, behind her back, it seems that much more impossible to succeed. But Johanna is determined not to give up this time. Peter DeHaven is one of the reasons Johanna is set on sticking it out. She always had a crush on him, and she thinks he likes her too. When Peter’s girlfriend, Amy Sutton, is away for the weekend, Peter and Johanna go out and have a wonderful time. But when Johanna sees Peter back at school, he completely ignores her. Is Peter like all of the others who think Johanna is just a failure? How can she prove once and for all that she can make it at Sweet Valley High? Can she?
This is a Sweet Valley High book that kind of annoyed me. Why? Because for most of it, it featured a girl defining herself and her life on some guy who didn’t deserve her (gag), but I guess I am getting ahead of myself. Johanna Porter thinks she is stupid and does not excel in school when her entire family is full of academics, so she drops out. Her mother dies and Johanna discovers a journal of her mother’s saying how she wishes Johanna would return to school but doesn’t want to say anything because Johanna needs to go back for herself and not someone else. So what does Johanna do? She returns to school to honor her mother’s memory – sigh. She encounters Peter DeHaven who she always used to have a crush on, and he is nice to her (maybe, it seemed more receptive of worship to me) so she falls in love with him all over again. But he is dating Amy Sutton. Johanna wonders if it was a mistake to come back because everyone is judging her for dropping out in the first place, and she is a junior when she should be a senior. But she decides to stick it out since Peter is paying her a little attention.
Johanna is constantly selling herself short in this book and it gets frustrating since she is obviously bright. When she is with Peter he never asks about her and only talks about himself, which Johanna thinks is because she doesn’t matter and he is so wonderful (ugh). She thinks she is stupid because she needs a tutor in English (from Elizabeth Wakefield of course) even though she is obviously extremely talented in science and math. She solves college spatial puzzles in minutes for the twins’ brother, Steven after he complains about being stumped, but writes it off. Then she understands a computer program that Peter is explaining he built, and figures he is dumbing it down for her (double ugh). He even explains a problem he can’t figure out and Johanna makes a suggestion on how to fix it, but he dismissed it as silly and too simple. But that doesn’t stop Peter from making out with Johanna, even though he ignores her at school. She is certain he is going to dump Amy for her, but yeah… you know where this is going.
Meanwhile, Jessica Wakefield thinks her friend Cara has become boring since dating her brother Steven and tries to break them up, convinced she is doing what is in their best interests because it is in her best interest. (I find this ironic, since Jessica spent so much time and energy trying to get them together in the first place, spanning several books.) She tells her brother that Cara has been seeing other guys behind his back and tells Cara she shouldn’t count on Steven because he just isn’t that into her. They believe Jessica because they are both idiots. Cara makes plans to go to a high school dance with Ken Matthews (she was going to go with Steven) and the two aren’t speaking. When they go to the dance they’re both jealous and then find out what Jessica has done but think it is their own fault for believing her in the first place. Okay two things: yes it is their fault for believing her, but someone still needs to take Jessica down one of these days. Like seriously. And second, why the hell is Steven at a high school dance when he brought a college girl to it? I understand going when he is Cara’s date, but dude, you’re in college. Anyway…
During one of their tutoring session, Johanna confesses to Elizabeth about what is going on with her and Peter. Elizabeth is worried and asks Jessica (after swearing her to secrecy, but why bother) if Amy and Peter are serious. Jessica tells Amy to get back at her because Amy didn’t agree with her scheme to break up Cara and Steven. Amy confronts Peter who says some terrible things about Johanna and then snubs her in front of Amy every chance he gets (creep). Peter continues to be a complete jackass to Johanna and despite her getting the highest grade in her entire class on a chemistry assignment she decides to drop out again because of Peter. (This is the only way she is, in fact, stupid.) Peter continues to be a douche and Elizabeth calls him out on it (in private of course, she is not the twin who likes to cause a scene). Peter has no excuse, even though he tries to make several excuses. When he gets home he works on his computer program and in desperation tries Johanna’s suggestion, which immediately works. He wants to celebrate but finds out Johanna is waitressing again. He goes to see her, but his charms don’t work on her anymore. (Waitresses are very, very wise.)
Johanna realizes she should have never gone back to school for her mother, but should be in school for herself. A few weeks later she is back in school and thriving, and even though a now single Peter comes crawling back, she tells him to piss off (politely of course). Yay! That is finally one for the girls of Sweet Valley! This book would have been rated lower if Johanna had bought Peter’s bullshit in the end and that is a major win (and progress) for a Sweet Valley High book where girls revolve around the boys in their lives.
This is a solid book is an inconsistently solid series. I liked it, even if Jo was hard to take with her whole “I’m not worthy” complex. But the end, when she disses Peter, makes sitting through all that worth it, and worth the read for anyone else. 🙂
Something that is truly awesome to take note of with this book… Johanna actually had the self-respect to kick the jackass she was crushing on, to the curb in the end. This is huge since in the world of Sweet Valley High, a girl is only defined by the man she is dating. You go, Jo! 😉 What a way to kick off the third season of Sweet Valley High: The Book Series. 🙂