Sweet Valley High #9: Racing Hearts
The moral of the story: It’s embarrassing to be poor so you shouldn’t tell anyone until it’s the last minute and you have no choice. Also, boys who only want to make out in your dad’s office and never want to go anywhere are probably lying to you about something. Or they’re just teenage boys…
The Big Deal: Through the whole book we hear about the upcoming Bart dance (a dance that will follow the Barton Ames Memorial Mile race) and a party at Lila’s, but the book ends before either event happens.
Jessica “drops a bombshell” on the family when she says she wants a job at Ned’s office. Ever since the acting debacle in the last book, she’s been thinking about her future and she’s decided she wants to be a lawyer. Lila is appropriately disgusted when Jessica tells her she’s actually going to work. She is similarly disgusted when Roger Barrett slips and falls right in front of her. Roger is mortified because he’s got a mega crush on Lila.
Bruce claims he’ll win the Bart race because he’s the best athlete in school (isn’t tennis the only thing he actually plays?) and he and Todd bicker about it. At the tryouts the next day, the whole school is present because they’ve all been excused from first period to watch. Yeah, that would never fly at any school I went to. Liz tries unsuccessfully to browbeat Roger into trying out (seriously, she wouldn’t let up and I wanted to smack her), but when Lila eggs him on he does it. He surprises everyone (except us) when he wins. Jessica remarks that Roger is going to be very popular if he wins the big race and may turn into someone Lila may want to be seen with. Lila dusts off her feminine charms and puts them to work on Roger.
But poor Roger has a dilemma. He’s super poor and has to work to keep his family fed. He’s sure his boss won’t give him time off to participate in the race so he doesn’t even ask. He also doesn’t tell anyone he won’t be able to make it, he just keeps failing to show up at practice. He’s enjoying his celebrity status too much to ruin everything. He’s so popular now! Lila even butters his roll for him at lunch. Really. Takes the bread and butter knife right out of his hand. I’m not even lying.
Meanwhile, Jessica hates her job. She seems surprised when she’s making copies and running errands instead of helping her father on cases. She’s about to quit on her first day until she meets a dreamboat named Dennis in the elevator. He works in the ad agency across the hall. He and Jessica start staying at the office after hours, making out. Liz, not believing Jessica’s sudden work ethic, goes to the office to spy on her one night. She finds out about Dennis and then sees Jessica run into Roger, who works in the office as a janitor. So now Roger and Elizabeth are both worried Jessica will blab Roger’s secret.
Liz tells Jessica that if she tells anyone about Roger, she’ll tell their parents about Dennis. Jessica agrees. She likes the idea of Lila dating a “cleaning boy” and comes up with a plan to get them together and then humiliate Lila. Unfortunately, Roger tells Lila the truth about not being able to run the race and about being poor before Jessica can put her plan in motion. Roger realizes Lila only liked him when he was a superstar.
But it turns out Roger can run the race after all! Liz talked to Ned, who talked to Roger’s boss, who then talked to Coach Schultz. Coach tells the good news to Roger, who then finds Olivia, the female friend with a heart of gold who’s been rooting him on this whole time in silent but burning passion, and realizes she’s the one he loves.
Roger wins the race and then shoots Lila down when she comes crawling back inviting him to a party in his honor. Well played, Rog.
Oh, and it turns out Jessica’s new man is only fifteen years old. So she has to dump him.
“Liv, when are you going to start shopping at the mall like everyone else around here?”
“What? And be like everyone else? That’s not my style, Roger.”
I don’t get why Roger wants Olivia to be anything other than her skirt-wearing, rally-going, hippie self. What’s up with that, Roger?
The happiness she’d felt at Roger’s victory had faded quickly when she saw Lila make her play for him, and she was writing about her feelings.
I knew this kid once who would out of nowhere just go off and write. We’d be sitting around watching a movie or just talking and suddenly he’d stand up and head for the door with no explanation except, “I have to go write.” I hated that kid. I think I’d hate Olivia, too.
The way she figured it, by the end of the week he’d be hooked on her for sure and more than willing to pick her up at her house for a regular date.
You’re doing this all backwards, Jess. You go on dates before you start making out all the time. Ugh, this logic hurts my head.
“Imagine how humiliated she’d feel chauffeuring him around everywhere.”
Pascal – 1
Feminism – 0
Jessica and the Number 137:
“I’ve got at least three hundred and thirty-seven things to do.”
The Cover: Aw, Lila’s cute! I even like her sweater. Roger, who for no reason at all has a pair of huge Angela Lansbury glasses hanging out of his shirt, looks a little like Arnie in Christine: