Sweet Valley High #33: Starting Over

The moral of the story: Being polite and helpful isn’t enough. If you really want to be accepted by your new family you have to sacrifice yourself to a couple of hitchhikers.

The Big Deal: Nothing. What the fuck, Sweet Valley?

Best Outfit: Dana – “skin-tight, black stirrup pants and a gold lamé dinner jacket, sleeves pushed up, over a black-and-white checked shirt.”


Dana Larson’s cousin Sally is coming to live with the Larsons. Sally has been living in foster care for years. Dana’s brother Jeremy is not happy about her moving in because he’s had to give up his room and move to the attic. Jeremy is a total jerkface to Sally, but Dana is pretty friendly. Sally takes one look at Dana’s stylish outfit (see above) and worries she won’t fit in at Sweet Valley High. Dana takes one look at Sally’s clothes and offers to take her shopping. At the mall, they run into Jessica and Liz, and Dana badgers them until they show her what they bought. I’ve decided Dana is obnoxious and I might hate her.

The twins are being mysterious because they’ve bought a dog collar for the puppy Jessica brought home. Their parents are out of town for the weekend and the twins are keeping the puppy a secret. The puppy, Prince Albert, manages to give the twins the slip while they’re walking him one day and he runs off. Days later, Ned brings him home from the pound as a present for the girls. And nobody was the wiser.

Dana keeps insisting Sally forget about her old life and just focus on her new life. She drags Sally to a Droids practice and is adamant that she join the band in some capacity. Since Sally can’t sing or play an instrument, Dana appoints her band manager. Sally doesn’t like the music and would rather be working for the school paper, but of course she doesn’t say anything. She wants to be accepted and not have to move again so she forces herself to do whatever Dana thinks she should do. Also in the interest of not being kicked to the curb, Sally does all the chores she possibly can. It’s nice at first but after a few days it starts to get on everyone’s nerves, especially Dana’s after her parents tell her she could learn a thing or two from Sally. Then Jeremy’s friend Mark asks Sally out and Jeremy gets even more obnoxious. Sally’s sure her aunt and uncle are going to kick her out any day.

Sally wanders over to The Oracle office and of course she ends up telling her whole life story to Liz, who encourages her to just be herself. Sally can’t seem to do that and keeps being annoying and helpful, but the more she tries the more Dana and Jeremy seem to hate her. Still, when Sally broaches the subject of maybe joining the paper, Dana acts like she doesn’t want her to be friends with Liz or have any responsibilities that would take time away from The Droids. One morning, Mrs. Larson tells the kids to come right home after school so they can have a family talk and they’re all sure Sally’s going to be sent away. On their way home that afternoon, Jeremy stops to pick up a couple of hitchhikers who make him take them to Kelly’s Roadhouse. They insist Dana and Sally come with them, but Sally saves the day because, you know, she’s street. She convinces the guys that Dana is a bore and makes them take her alone. Dana and Jeremy go for help and come back to Kelly’s with a couple guys and save Sally. When they get back home, Mr. Larson says “it’s all been arranged,” and everyone thinks it means Sally has to leave, but really he and Mrs. Larson have arranged to adopt her. Hooray!


“Elizabeth Wakefield to the rescue!” Enid teased, raising her hand into the air. “Fear not, all you sad, lonely people! Elizabeth will come to save you!”

This would be funny if someone like Lila said it.

Why weren’t they nicer to her, when she was breaking her neck to be agreeable and easy to get along with? A rare spark of anger kindled in Sally’s heart. Why did Dana want to keep her all to herself? Why should she have no other friends? Why should she do only the things Dana wanted her to do? It wasn’t fair at all of Dana to act like that.

But as quickly as it had flared up, her resentment died down again. “Dana wouldn’t do that,” she whispered aloud…Maybe she still wasn’t trying hard enough, she reasoned, beginning to feel guilty for her angry thoughts.

*deep sigh* Ugh, it’s okay to get angry. And you know, this is never resolved. Dana never explains why she didn’t want Sally to be friends with anyone or join the paper or anything.

The Cover: Dana looks like a hairdresser, and not just because she’s playing with Sally’s hair. Doesn’t she look like every hairdresser you ever saw in the 1980’s? And man, I don’t know what she’s doing to poor Sally’s hair.


  • Mara April 28, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    The gold lame jacket really makes the outfit, but probably only because of the Miami Vice style pushed-up sleeves


  • Kate April 29, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I just have to comment on the damn dog.

    Prince Albert? Really? Because that’s a kinky-ass penis piercing.


  • MissPinkKate August 6, 2009 at 12:47 am

    What was really never explained was why Jeremy was such a jerk about her coming in the first place. Who gets like that?


  • Darren August 16, 2009 at 4:01 am

    I wonder what the ‘new Dana’ may look like on book 33, when they eventually redo it? I almost picture her looking like Raven of Teen Titans for some reason, sporting gothic hair! Valley of the Dead is the Droids’ new band name.


  • margie April 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Why do both of the girls have lazy eyes? Is no one in SV allowed to be pretty unless they are the twins?


  • kylie90210 April 24, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Sally really had a raw deal, and Dana and Jeremy were such jerks. Plus, why did it take so long for Sally’s aunt and uncle to get her out of foster care? I would if she was my neice.


  • angela June 12, 2013 at 12:53 am

    I like dana she looks beautiful on the cover


  • Kanna-Chan February 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Have to admit, Dana looks really cool compared to the rest of the characters, who more or less all look like they are headed to a Mormon meeting.


  • Erica Chestnut August 28, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Thank-you so much! The whole time I was reading this that was all I could think about. Maybe that’s why Dana’s parents were tripping over themselves to be nice to Sally-they felt guilty as hell for ignoring the child who had been in foster care since the age of four and they had finally decided to do something to help her out-fourteen years later. Sweet Valley is the bad parenting capitol of the world.


  • Alex Kennedy October 21, 2016 at 8:51 am

    The Wakefields are out of town yet again for the weekend. Most parents do not leave sixteen year old children alone for the weekend.


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