Sweet Valley High #80: The Girl They Both Loved
The Big Deal: Not much. Some dirt bike races.
Some girl named April Dawson is dating Michael Harris, who you may remember from such disasters as being engaged to Maria Santelli. Michael and April race dirt bikes, but while it’s just a hobby for April, it pretty much consumes Michael’s life. All he ever thinks about is racing his bike and beating Artie Western. You probably won’t remember Artie from such annoyances as asking Cara to dance and making Steve jealous. April doesn’t really get what the deal is between Artie and Michael. They were best friends a year ago, but Michael won’t say what happened to end their friendship. One day, April asks Maria if she knows about Artie Western. Maria says she never got to know him very well, but both she and Liz agree that Artie is a great guy. This surprises April, since all she ever hears is how much Michael hates him.
Liz and Todd are in the Wakefields’ kitchen that afternoon. The sink gets backed up and Todd gets it unblocked, then teases Liz for not knowing how to fix a clogged sink. Even though Todd was clearly just teasing, Liz gets all defensive and acts like Todd was saying she couldn’t do it because she’s a girl. So now they’ve got a stupid bet going: they’ll each list three things they do well, and each will have to do the things on the others’ list. I hate this. And the challenges are: For Liz – change a tire, build a shelf, replace a washer. For Todd – Do the grocery shopping for a week, make an apron, cook Liz’s dinner, including chocolate chip cookies. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.
Michael is really upset one day and tells April his grandmother in Texas is in the hospital. The reason he’s so upset is that his parents are taking him with them to go see her and he’ll miss a race. He’s, like, terrified that Artie Western will win if Michael’s not there to beat him. April is worried about Michael’s obsession and asks Cara if she knows what happened, since Cara used to date Artie. (I don’t think they ever even went out, but I’m too lazy to check.) Between Cara, Jessica, Amy and Lila, April finds out the boys were either fighting over a girl, fighting over a bike, or one of them almost got the other killed. In short, nobody knows.
That night, while Michael flies to Texas, April goes to a film festival by herself and meets none other than Artie Western. They start talking in line and end up going for pizza together after the movie. Artie asks how Michael is doing and expresses his admiration for Michael’s riding skills. April asks Artie what happened between them, but Artie won’t tell her and just says it was a misunderstanding that was as much his fault as Michael’s. April is surprised, considering Michael acts like Artie is the devil. The next day is the rally Michael is missing. It’s a relay, and April isn’t planning on entering without her partner. Artie calls and says his partner is sick. He and April decide to enter together.
Jessica has decided she needs to meet some new boys, so she decides to go to the rally. I guess she and April are friends, even though we’ve never met April before this book. Jessica gets a magazine about dirt bikes in the hopes of figuring out what a person wears to a dirt bike rally. April and Artie win their race, and Jessica assumes the thing between Artie and Michael has been resolved. After the race, April invites Jessica to go to the Dairi Burger with her and some of the other bikers. When she sits down at their table, Jessica meets Sam Woodruff and instantly falls in love.
Monday morning, Jessica sees Michael and tells him how awesome April and Artie were in the race. Then Ken comes up and says he saw April and Artie at Guido’s the other night and he’s really glad Mike and Artie patched things up. Michael looks mad. Jessica realizes they fucked up and drags Ken away. At lunch, Michael and April have it out, and in the end Michael still won’t say what his problem is with Artie, but April agrees to stay away from him. Michael calls that night to apologize for all his yelling, and April tells him Artie said some really nice things about him.
Alice finds Jessica’s dirt bike magazine and gets all scared and reminds Jessica how she and Ned feel about motorcycles. Jessica calms her down by saying she’d never get on a bike because wearing a helmet would mess up her hair. Then Sam finally calls and asks her out for the next night. Jessica is afraid he’ll show up on his bike so she says she’ll meet him at Guido’s. Liz and Enid go to the hardware store to get stuff to build a shelf, but the sales guy is really unfriendly and unhelpful. They don’t understand any of his questions and end up leaving. Jessica takes Liz back to the store a few days later and flirts with a salesman to get his help. Liz doesn’t like it, but as far as I’m concerned, actually buying the shit just requires people skills. It’s building it that’s going to get you, Liz. I hope it falls down when you try to put a book on it.
Jessica’s relationship with Sam gets off to a smashing start. They have tons in common, such as being popular, enjoying parties and being good at sports. Sam is perfect except for the fact that he rides a dirt bike. Every time they go out, all Jessica can think of is how upset her mother would be if she knew Jessica was dating a guy with a dirt bike. I don’t know why. I mean, it’s not like Alice Wakefield has ever done any actual parenting before, so I don’t know what Jessica thinks she’s going to do.
April knows she can’t stay with Michael much longer if he’s going to continue to be all obsessive and horrible. She wants to do something fun and relaxing. She says Ken and Terri go bowling sometimes and she’d like for her and Michael to join them, but Michael only wants to work on his bike. She tries again for the next night, but then he wants to work on her bike. One night, she finally gets him to agree to a date, but then he calls and says his dad has to work late and he has to stay home with his sister. April thinks he’s relieved that he has an excuse to stay home with his bike, and she goes ahead and gets pissed at him based on this assumption. She goes to the movies by herself.
April runs into Artie at the theater and they go for coffee afterward. April finally learns the whole story about Artie and Michael, which is long and uninteresting. It comes down to the two of them racing, Michael crashing, and then thinking Artie somehow made him crash on purpose. Whatever. Artie takes April home, and there’s Michael sitting on her front porch with a bouquet of flowers. The boys almost have a fistfight, but decide to settle the score on the bike path the next day.
April calls the Wakefields the next day, hoping to find Sam because Sam is someone Michael would listen to. Sam isn’t there, but Liz is and this is how she fills her meddling quota for the week. She and Enid pick up April and they find the boys just in time to fail in stopping them from racing. Michael cuts in front of Artie, causing Artie to crash. They call an ambulance and everyone goes to the hospital.
Artie’s fine, but April is pissed at Michael and won’t talk to him. She’s also told him Artie doesn’t want to see him, but Artie would like nothing more than to have his friend back. Liz wishes there was something she could do to let Michael know that Artie doesn’t hate him. I guess she finally figures out she can, you know, tell him, so Michael goes to the hospital with some burgers and fries from the Dairi Burger. They make up, and later, Artie tells April he wishes she would make up with Michael, too.
Liz gives this convenient wrap-up for me near the end: “April and Michael are back together. Artie and Michael are friends again. Jessica and Sam are out celebrating his victory in the last race. My parents are so happy Jessica finally has a boyfriend they completely approve of that they’ve gone out to celebrate, too…And I’ve had a gourmet meal prepared for me by the best apron maker in Sweet Valley.” Todd and Liz call their contest a tie since Liz’s bookshelf crashes down while they’re eating Todd’s really awful dinner.
Steven shook his head. “You know, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea for you to learn how to do this, too, Jessica. After all, you drive the Fiat as much as Elizabeth. What would you do if you got a flat while you were all by yourself?”
Jessica laughed. “Well, that’s easy,” she said with a toss of her head. “I’d wait till some cute boy came along and I’d get him to fix it for me!”
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Tuesday afternoon after school Elizabeth Wakefield and Enid Rollins, her best friend, found themselves standing outside the lumber and hardware store, staring at the door.
“I don’t know about this,” Enid said. “I don’t see any women in there…There aren’t even any salesladies.”
Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.
“Your father and I had a long talk with Sam, and he understands exactly how we feel. He’s promised that he won’t let you get on a bike without our permission.”
I seem to remember Todd making the same promise.
The Cover: Oh, so wrong. Everything about this cover makes me sick. Artie over there on the left makes me think of when Bruce McCulloch dresses like a woman. Michael (who doesn’t look a thing like he did when he was going out with Maria) just looks like an ass. And April. Oh, April. What…um. What are you doing? T-shirt tucked into your too-high jeans, weird expression on your face. And the hair. Oh lord, the hair…