Sweet Valley High #53: Second Chance

SVH053The moral of the story: If you have a social life, you’ll lose tennis tournaments.

The Big Deal: The Patmans’ annual blowout party at the country club.


Liz and Enid are organizing a Big Sister program. They stick Jessica with a little girl named Allison who loves shopping, magazines and fashion. There’s a little girl who loves tennis and Liz thinks they should pair her with Kristin Johnson. Enid’s not sure about that because Kristin isn’t very friendly and never seems to have time for anything but tennis. Liz decides to ask her anyway. When she tells her about Emily Brown, whose mother is dead, Kristin says she’ll think about it but isn’t sure she’ll have time because she has a pro tournament coming up. She goes to her tennis practice with tears in her eyes because her own mother died when she was seven. Her mother was a tennis champ as well, and Kristin wants to win Wimbledon someday because her mother died before she could do it. These days, though, she kind of just wants to be a normal kid, but she’s afraid her father won’t love her anymore or something if she quits.

Liz tells Kristin she’d only need to spend time with Emily once a week and that she could probably take the kid to her tennis practices. Kristin agrees. After school, she gets a message that her tennis coach has an appointment and she’ll be an hour late. Kristin wanders out to the school’s tennis courts and sees a bunch of kids watching Bruce and some other guy play. They convince her to play Bruce, and she lets him win because she knows he’d be humiliated if he loses to a girl in front of all his friends. Blech. Afterward, Bruce gives her a ride to the tennis club and asks her to a movie on Friday. She agrees, and on Friday she tells her father she’s going to the library and meets Bruce on the corner. She’s sure her father wouldn’t approve of her going on a date, not this close to the qualification rounds to get onto Nick Wylie’s team for the Avery Cup tournament. She has fun with Bruce, even though he keeps telling her she worries too much about tennis and not enough about having fun.

Liz is going to do an interview with Kristin for the paper, so she gets to the tennis club early on Saturday morning to ask her some questions. Kristin is late and her father is making a big deal out of it. Liz thinks he’s being awfully critical and unfair, because, you know, she’s allowed to pass judgment on people she’s known for one minute. During the interview, Liz thinks Kristin is being untruthful when she says she doesn’t regret not doing all the things other girls her age get to do.

When Kristin gets home from practice, her father tells her that Bruce called a few times. She calls him back and he says he wants her to come over to see the new speakers his dad bought him. She tells him she can’t because she’s having dinner with her father and her coach. Bruce can’t believe she’d turn him down just for a family dinner. Kristin laughs and says he should give her more notice next time. Then she hangs up. I think I love Kristin. The next day, she takes Emily to the tennis club and shows her around. Emily is really excited to be hanging out with a real tennis star. Bruce comes over that afternoon to take Kristin out for ice cream. She tells her dad she’ll only be an hour, but when she gets in Bruce’s car, he takes her to some jazz club or something and she ends up coming home after ten o’clock. Her dad is pissed about her not taking care of herself before such an important tournament. Because she’s supposed to go to bed early, you know. Kristin is irritated by her father’s constant nagging.

On Tuesday, Kristin isn’t doing so well in the first round of … qualification rounds, or whatever. I’m so unsporty it’s ridiculous. Anyway, she wins, but barely. In the car on the way home, her father tells her she can’t go on anymore evening dates because she has to get her sleep. She says she knows how much sleep she needs because she’s the one in the tournament, not him. Her dad looks all hurt and upset, and Kristin feels bad for what she said.

Bruce calls Kristin and tells her he wants her to be his date at this party his parents are throwing at the country club on Saturday. She really wants to go, but if she makes it past the rounds on Thursday, she’ll have to be in bed early Saturday night for the match on Sunday. She tells him she’ll think about it. At the match on Thursday, Kristin wins again, but she’s still not playing as well as she usually does. Her coach looks disappointed in her, and Kristin snaps and asks why she and her father can’t love and support her whether she wins or not.

Liz and Jessica bring their Little Sisters home to have a cookie baking contest because the ghostwriter just realized there wasn’t enough Wakefield action in this book. Jessica and her kid, Allison, bake fifty cookies in an hour, while Liz and Kim have only three dozen. But Jessica’s cookies suck because they left out ingredients in order to win. The moral of this story is the old tortoise-and-the-hare thing. Whatever. Back to Kristin.

Kristin decides to go to the Patmans’ party, but Bruce wants to meet her there instead of picking her up. Everyone at the party is wearing formal attire and Kristin feels out of place in a sundress and sandals. Bruce doesn’t pay any attention to her and she has a miserable time. She leaves early and is relieved to know she hasn’t been missing anything all these years by giving up a social life. Kristin loses the match the next day. She’ll only be on Nick Wylie’s Avery Cup team as an alternate. She tells her coach she feels like a failure, and her coach, who was best friends with Kristin’s mom, tells her that her mom was going to quit playing tennis after Wimbledon so she could have a normal life and spend time with Kristin. Jeez, don’t you think you could have told her this before? I mean, Kristin’s only been playing tennis this whole time because she thought it was what her mother would have wanted.

The next morning at school, Bruce tries to flirt with Kristin, but she tells him off. Hooray! I love when Bruce gets served. After school, she goes to see Emily. Emily is crying because she thinks Kristin will hate her for losing a tryout to get into tennis camp. Kristin tells her she likes her for who she is, not for her tennis skills. And then a light bulb goes off (yes, exact words) and Kristin realizes her father and coach will love her no matter what. Then she thinks about it and decides she really does love tennis, she just has to play for herself and not because someone else wants her to. Way to go, Emily, for teaching us that important lesson. The next day, Nick Wylie himself calls and says one of his players is hurt. He asks if Kristin can take her place and she says yes.

Liz and Enid find out that Kristin will be playing in the tournament, so they get a group of Sweet Valley High kids to go watch her. Kristin wins the match because she’s playing from the heart, yo.


If Bruce was worth getting to know, he would understand how much tennis meant to her.

Thank goodness, a girl who won’t fall all over herself just because a guy pays attention to her!

“Wow!” Kim Edgars exclaimed when she saw the Wakefields’ Spanish-tiled kitchen. “This is fantastic! Is this where we’re baking cookies?”

Kid, it’s just a kitchen.

The Cover: Damn, she looks mean, holding that racket like a soldier holds a gun. Tennis is serious business.

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  • tracy london June 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    i don’t remember reading this one, but it sounds boring as hell. was it?


    Shannon Reply:

    June 2nd, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Yes! It was awful. I hate these books that introduce new characters I’ve never heard of and am supposed to care about. B-O-R-I-N-G.


  • Sally June 2, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    “I love when Bruce gets served.”

    Cause it’s about tennis?! If this was unintentional I heart you so hard, heck even if it was on purpose I still love it . . . maybe I’m the only one who that it was hilarious


  • Jan aka Girl Talk Read June 3, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Just wanted to say I adore your blog!


  • Merrie June 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I think I could beat Bruce in Wii tennis!


  • Anonymous April 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I hate the dress they put her in for the party. UGLY!


  • Kathryn Rebecca March 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I’d forgotten about the Wakefield’s “Spanish-tiled kitchen.” It’s not an SV book without detailing how wonderful their lives are, how stylish their house is or how attractive Ned is.


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