Sweet Valley High #44: Pretenses

The moral of the story: If you’re going to write your boyfriend anonymous love letters, don’t use his dead girlfriend’s stationery.

The Big Deal: Cara’s crappy birthday lunch


Liz and Penny are all down in the dumps because The Oracle isn’t as popular as it used to be. Winston says they need a comic strip and suggests they hold a contest to find someone to do it. Some chick named Abbie Richardson offers to make posters to advertise the contest. Abbie has been going out with a guy from Palisades High for two years and hasn’t had much to do with her classmates because she let him decide on everything they did together, but she and the guy just broke up so she’s trying to make friends again. What I want to know is, like, okay – so she’s been dating this guy and spending all her free time with Palisades people, but what has she been doing during school hours? Who has she been eating lunch with for the last two years? Anyway, Abbie worships Liz and hopes they can be good friends. She comes up with a comic strip called “Jenny.” It’s about a high school girl who’s just like her.

Steven is coming home from college for a couple weeks because he has “allergies or a sinus problem.” He’ll have to go to the doctor and get tests done and junk. Cara’s all excited that he’ll be nearby, but Jessica convinces her she needs to add a little mystery to the relationship. Haven’t we done this already? And didn’t it end in disaster? Cara comes over for Steven’s homecoming (no wonder he comes home so often if he gets a special dinner every time) and she gets all upset when Steve would rather hang out inside with his family than outside alone with her. Never mind that he’s sneezing from the pollen, Cara. It’s really all about you.

Cara is having a birthday party at some fancy restaurant and can only invite thirteen people. She accidentally mentions the party in front of Abbie, and now Abbie is sitting around waiting for her invitation. She goes out and gets a new dress to wear and a present for Cara, but when the day of the party rolls around and she still hasn’t been invited, Abbie finally gets that she’s not going to be. I can’t figure out why she’s so sure she’s going to get invited anyway. It’s not like she’s really good friends with Cara or anything. And Abbie knows it’s a small party, and she wonders if the reason Cara doesn’t want to talk about it at lunch is because maybe Jean or Sandra aren’t invited. Like Cara would invite this chick she hardly knows, but not her friends from the cheerleading squad.

Cara’s party kind of sucks because Steve is being a jerkface. He’s all withdrawn and quiet. He excuses himself and Cara goes after him. She finds him reading something written on pink paper. She asks him about it, but he acts all secretive and they have an argument. The next day at school, Abbie gives Cara her present and Cara feels like crap for not inviting her to the party. That afternoon, Abbie goes to the Wakefields’ house so Liz can help her with her comic. She meets Steve and notices he looks sad so she asks him what’s wrong. He tells her Cara’s been clingy lately and it’s annoying him. Then he goes upstairs and reads the pink letter again. It’s a love letter, typed and unsigned, and Steve is freaking out because he doesn’t know who it’s from. Uh, maybe your girlfriend? Abbie starts hanging around the house all the time, doing chores and stuff because she thinks that’s the only way to make people like her. That Palisades boyfriend of hers really did a number on her self-esteem. One day, Steve tells Abbie about the letter and that he’s all confused because it’s written on the same stationery Tricia Martin used to use. Abbie suggests he tell Cara what’s going on. Then Jessica walks into the living room and sees Abbie and Steve sitting close together and gets suspicious.

At lunch the next day, Cara tells Lila and Jessica that she and Steve are having problems and can’t seem to communicate anymore. That afternoon, Steve tells Abbie the same thing. The twins find out about the love letters and both think the stationery looks familiar. They go to the stationery store in the mall and ask the saleslady who bought the last box of it and find out it was a girl their age who might have had brown hair. Suddenly, Jessica is convinced Abbie’s been sending Steve the letters. They run into Betsy Martin, who tells them Steve asked her what happened to Tricia’s stationery after she died. The twins put it together and are horrified that Abbie is writing love letters to Steve on Tricia’s stationery. And then Ned comes home with six Lakers tickets and gives the extra one to Steve. He asks Abbie to come along, which just makes the twins think they’re right. Jessica tells Lila and Lila tells Cara. And for some reason Cara thinks Liz is behind the whole thing. What? That came out of nowhere. And then it’s never mentioned again, so whatever.

Abbie and Steve are talking in the Wakefields’ living room and Steve shows her the latest letter he’s gotten. He gets up to go to the bathroom and just then Jessica walks in and sees Abbie holding the letter. She runs outside to wait for Liz to get home, and when she does, Jessica tells her Abbie’s definitely the one writing the love letters. They go inside and confront her. Steve can’t believe Abbie would write those letters and the twins are pissed that Abbie was coming over pretending to be their friend when she really wanted to steal Steve from Cara. Abbie suddenly finds her backbone and tells Steve and the twins that she didn’t write the letters and she hasn’t done anything wrong. Then she leaves.

Meanwhile, Lila is at Cara’s trying to comfort her. Cara tells Lila she took Jessica’s advice about adding mystery to the relationship. She’s been writing Steve love letters on nice romantic stationery and she can’t understand why Steve seems to have reacted badly to them or why they can’t seem to talk about anything. Lila encourages her to go to the Wakefields’ house and just talk to him. When she gets there and sees the latest letter sitting in the living room, she asks Steve if he ever guessed they were from her. Steve says it never occurred to him. I think that would piss me off more than anything. They have a talk and everything is wonderful again. Then everyone goes over to Abbie’s to apologize and everyone is friends and Abbie has found her self-esteem and won’t let anyone treat her like a doormat anymore. Ned gets another Lakers ticket and they all go and have a terrific time. Oh, and Abbie’s comic strip wins the contest.


Abbie had been noticing Elizabeth from afar for a while now, and she secretly thought Elizabeth was one of the smartest, nicest girls at school.

Just in case you forgot how amazing Liz is.

“Cara,” Lila said… “Is something wrong with you? You look like you just lost every share of stock you own.”

I love Lila.

The Cover: Why does Steve always have to look like such a doofus? Cara’s cute. She’s pretty much the only character who looks on the covers the way I picture her in my head.

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  • Mara May 15, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Ahh, that quote! Why is it that everyone seems to have a huge crush on Liz? Personally, I think that type of sanctimony would be kind of annoying.

    And what is the deal with the stationery? Do these kids write so many letters that they a)can relate a sheet of pink paper to a dead girl and b)have some relationship with the stationery store owner?

    I love the ending, too, how everything magically works out in its Sweet Valley way. Oh, Ned gets an extra Lakers ticket? How positively convenient! Now they’re all just one big happy family.


    Shannon Reply:

    Ha! EVERYONE loves Liz!

    I guess back in the day before cyber sex and whatnot, stationery was the way to express your love.


  • Megan May 15, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I want to know how far away SVU is from Sweet Valley….I mean, its not like Steve doesn’t come home every other weekend or anything.
    I like how when Liz and Jess went, they hardly ever came home.


  • tracy london May 15, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    i am pretty sure that if i lived in sweet valley, i would blame everything that happened on liz. just on principle.


  • nugirl77 May 16, 2009 at 4:35 am

    I agree: Cara (and Lila) pretty much look consistently fabulous on the cover art of these books! I’m not sure why Steve is wearing a suit and tie to Cara’s birthday party? Is it really THAT formal an affair? Again, his hair is not the best. 😉 And I always pictured Tricia using light / pastel blue stationery paper, not pink – I’m not sure why! It could harken back to the one and only cover she shared with Steve (#12 When Love Dies)?!?


  • Sandy July 31, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    If I were Cara I would have dumped Steve by now. Geez, can’t even write a love letter without thinking about Trish. Call me when you are officially over her.


  • VLB September 25, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I just read this. Ugh the Steven centered books are always kind of dull. I also like how they act like Steven coming home to visit is a big deal..doesn’t he visit like every week? Does he spend any time at college at all?


  • lauralap October 22, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Isn’t this Cara’s second birthday party this year? Was her birthday not part of the story line when Steven and her first got together?


  • Darcy June 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    How does Steve not flunk out of college? He is always home for some reason.


  • Natalie April 29, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Everyone has missed the point here- Ned got another ticket to the Lakers game at the last minute EASILY…. yes.. of course…


  • Alex Kennedy November 30, 2016 at 11:56 am

    How can Steven come home from college for a couple of weeks? If normal people did that, they would either have to drop out entirely or defer their place. Why does Steven spend so much time at home anyway? At this point in time, is he not studying to be a lawyer?


  • Deitra Pawley August 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Why is steve always home from college seriously every other book he’s home from college for some inane reason


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