Sweet Valley High #42: Caught in the Middle
The Big Deal: Surprise party for Lila
Sandra Bacon is going out with Manuel Lopez, a Mexican kid. Sandra’s parents are totally racist (though somehow the word “racist” never gets mentioned) so she’s keeping their relationship a secret from them. Sandra’s mom apparently grew up in a neighborhood where “racial violence tore the community apart.” I don’t get if that’s supposed to be violence between members of one race or between members of different races or what, but I guess Mrs. Bacon wants to perpetuate the problem? I don’t get it. Sandra’s father wants to set her up with a nice young man, the son of someone at the country club. Sandra changes the subject and goes to her room.
Lila’s birthday is coming up and she’s hinting at her friends for them to throw her a party. Jessica ignores her because she already has a surprise party planned for the day after Lila’s birthday. She gets Amy and the other cheerleaders on board and every time Lila brings up her birthday, they all act like they’re so over birthdays and like birthday parties are for babies. Lila gets really mad and vows never to speak to any of them again.
Sandra is hanging out at Manuel’s house when his mom asks her to stay for dinner. She calls her mom and says she’ll be eating at Jeanie’s house. Manuel overhears and gets upset. Sandra has not explained her parents to him yet. She promises she’ll talk to them soon, she just needs more time. Later that night, Jeanie tells her Liz is planning to write about her and Manuel in the next “Eyes and Ears” column. Sandra finds Liz first thing in the morning to ask her to take her out of the article and Liz is all, “Why? Why? Why?” So Sandra tells her about her parents and Liz advises her to be honest with them. Sandy tries, but she keeps chickening out. And her mother is about the stupidest woman in the world and totally doesn’t put it together when Sandy keeps coming at her with the whole, “Suppose I fell in love with a Mexican, what would you do?” thing. The whole idea upsets her so much she can’t sleep. Everyone keeps telling Sandy her parents will never get over their prejudices if she doesn’t help them. Yeah, way to put it all on the kid.
Sandy wants to go out on her family’s boat with Manuel, but she needs to tell her parents she’ll be with somebody else. She talks to her best friend Jeanie, but Jeanie doesn’t want to cover for her anymore. Sandy asks Liz instead. Liz is more than happy to go boating with them, but only because Sandy lies and says Manuel really wants her to go. Then she tells Manuel that Liz really wants to go with them. On the boat, Liz says something that clues Manuel in, but just then the engine makes some kind of noise. Then it explodes. Liz and Manuel are thrown into the water, but Sandy is passed out on the bow. Manuel goes back to get her and gets away just before the whole boat goes up in flames. On the beach, Sandy wakes up long enough to tell Manuel her parents can’t find out he was with her and insists Liz say she’s the one who saved her life. Manuel is pissed and stalks off, leaving Liz with the reporter who’s suddenly arrived on the scene. Sandy tells the reporter it was all Liz, but there’s a guy hanging around who says he saw a guy with dark hair get Sandy off the boat.
At school, Liz is hailed as a hero and only her family and Jeffrey know the truth. She’s got the head of the PTA calling to congratulate her and Sandy’s mom giving her presents. Liz feels awful. She goes to see Sandy, who begs her not to blow her cover. Liz tries to get her to tell her parents the truth, but Sandy says they just can’t help the way they are and she can’t tell them.
When Sandy comes back to school, Manuel breaks up with her. He’s tired of the whole thing and feels Sandy doesn’t respect him enough to tell her parents about him. Later that day, the police come and take him to the station because a witness saw him near the boat the day of the accident. They suspect foul play. Sandy’s parents pick her up from school and take her to the police station, where she denies knowing Manuel and lets the police think he tampered with the boat’s engine. What. A. Bitch.
Manuel gives her a look and says, “How could you?” Sandy can’t take it anymore. She sobs out the whole sad story and tells her parents Manuel was the one who saved her, and suddenly they aren’t racist anymore. They ask Manuel to accompany them to the spring dance at the country club and agree to go to Sweet Valley’s upcoming Mexican festival with the Lopezes. Lila’s surprise party is a roaring success. Hooray!
The fund had been set up in memory of the junior who had died recently of an extremely rare reaction to a small amount of cocaine.
Okay, so now it’s a small amount? Is two lines a small amount for someone who’s never done it before? This is a real question, I really don’t know. What I do know is that with every passing book, the ghostwriters downplay the dangers of coke more and more and make it seem like something that could have only happened to Regina, only on that night, only at that place. Pick a message and stick to it, guys.
Sandra felt she had to pinch herself to prove she wasn’t coming.
My, that’s quite the Freudian slip on the ghostwriter’s part.
The Cover: I hate Sandy Bacon. She always looks like such a bitch.