Sweet Valley High #42: Caught in the Middle

The moral of the story: If your parents are racists, it’s probably your fault for not telling them about your Mexican boyfriend.

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.

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  • Sally May 12, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Seriously, what a horrible bitch. Of course this book proves that Manuel is either totally whipped or a complete masochist. Who in their right mind would still date a girl who was going to let him go to jail? I’d like Manuel more if he refused to take her back and bitch slapped her.


  • Larissa May 12, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I want to know why on almost every cover with a couple on it, it looks like the chick’s preggers and the guy is holding her belly. And why the hell do all of these 16 year olds look like they are 30-something soap opera characters??


  • Sadako May 12, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Seriously? Her first thought after a boat explodes (er, okay) is a cover story to make sure she doesn’t get caught. Manuel should have dumped that gringo’s ass.


  • tracy london May 12, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Really Sandy? Agreed, Manuel should have dumped her.


  • LongWinter May 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I totally agree about the cover. It looks like it belongs on the cover of True Romance magazine with the headline “I fell in love with my daughter’s rapist” or something. OMG – not to say Manuel looks like a rapist because he’s Mexican! That would be totally Mrs. Bacon of me.


  • Shannon May 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I totally agree. He should have bitch slapped her and walked out.

    Larissa, they really do all look like they’re in their thirties. It’s kind of horrifying.


  • Mara May 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I love the way the ghostwriters try to skirt every issue in a really passive aggressive “we’re not really addressing anything directly” sort of way.

    And really, these covers are too much. The facial expressions are all over the place, and everyone looks horribly uncomfortable. Where exactly are these candid poses supposed to be coming from?


  • whitegirlthatisdatingamexican May 12, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I wonder what Liz’s Eyes and Ears column would sound like… “guess who’s dating the gardener??” Ugh!!

    “Sandra felt she had to pinch herself to prove she wasn’t coming.”

    Damn Latino heat. . . making bitches all hot and bothered. God knows Bruce Patman could never get that reaction from anyone!


  • Jan aka Girl Talk Read May 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Manuel looks pretty cute in a 35 year old Enrique Inglesias sort of way whereas Sandy Bacon looks Mary Kay Letourneau- and yeah why did Manuel go back to Sandy? WHAT A BEEYOTCH!


  • girltalkread June 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm


    Shannon- and others- this is my blog!!! I recap all sorts of YA novels- everything from the Girlfriends and Sleepover Friends to SVH, SVT and BSC! ENJOY! Shannon I will link your blog to mine for sure I love this blog!


  • Angela2BPecked May 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Sandy looks like Catherine Hickland, Mrs. Camden from 7th Heaven.


  • Angela2BPecked May 29, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I meant Catherine Hicks.


  • Wahine July 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    2 lines is a very small amount. Unless they’re really BIG lines, then it’s a moderate amount. There is no reasonable way that two lines of coke could kill somebody. Trust me. 🙂


  • Andrea November 22, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Everyone is too hard on Sandra. I am not saying that I approved of what she did but in a way she was emotionally blackmailed by both her parents, especially her mother. I read the book SVH#42 Caught in the Middle which explained that the presence of her parents was too strong, but she did stand up to her parents because she had so much suppressed anger at her mom for her predujice and herself for not in being successful in getting her mom to be more open-minded because her mom’s mind was made up. How do we know that Sandra’s parents were not pushing the police. What happened here was the fact that peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus knew that he would, Peter did not think he would, but on that fateful night when Jesus was arrested, three times Peter was asked if he knew Jesus and he said no. The third time before the cock crowed, Peter denied Jesus three times and when he realized what he did, he wept bitterly.


    Shannon Reply:

    I’m not sure what Jesus and Peter have to do with Sandra and her mother, but thanks for sharing…?


  • Tom December 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Gotta say, I think the idea with the coke story might be ‘even a small amount of coke might kill you guys, cos you can have a weird reaction’ … they could have had her doing an absolute spoiler on coke and she died because she did such a huge amount of coke … but that might suggest that she only died because she did too much. and it would look a bit silly for them to make it sound like you’ll always die if you try some coke.


  • Sandra January 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I’m kinda offended. My name is Sandra, and the Sandra on the cover is UG-Leey! And there is no way in hell I would EVA do that to my boyfriend, And, EW! Sandra on the cover looks like my friends gramma! And Manuel is ugly to the center of the earth!


  • Gia January 13, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Um wasn’t Sandy Bacon’s hair a different color on the cover of #30 Jealous Lies???


  • Natalie April 29, 2014 at 2:11 am

    All the covers are so bad they are really wrong and fun.. I wish I had been on one pushing Elizabeth over a cliff.Or in front of a car. Something..
    Sandra Bacon.. stupid name and stupid character always.. and if Manuel is too silly to forgive her so fast.. well.. kinda deserve it…
    pinch herself to prove she wasn’t coming….so many things I want to say there.. so,so many things..


  • Anonymous June 9, 2017 at 2:10 am

    She denied Manuel at least two or three times by saying that she knew not the man. Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed by saying he knew not the man.


  • Anonymous August 27, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Are you off your psych meds?


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