Sweet Valley High #90: Don’t Go Home with John

SVH090The moral of the story: All boys are evil, even the nice ones.

The Big Deal: Costume ball at Lila’s


Lila is having a costume ball in two weeks. Which is awesome. I mean, how many of your high school friends threw costume balls? Jessica, Amy and Maria are complaining that they can’t get their boyfriends to dress up the way they want them to. Then they tease Lila about her lack of a date, and then about her crush on John Pfeifer. Lila and John have been spending a lot of time together lately, though they haven’t been on a date yet. Lila likes John because he’s a serious guy, but sometimes his seriousness freaks her out a little. She’s also pretty sure his breakup with Jennifer Mitchell has left him a little damaged.

Sam and Jessica make out after a date. Surprisingly, Jessica is worried that their kissing might go too far one of these days. Without once saying the word “sex,” Jessica and Liz discuss the difficulty of keeping in control. Liz tries to tell her not to worry, that all couples go through this, but Jessica thinks it’s the biggest problem ever. She decides to make sure she and Sam are never alone together.

John finally asks Lila out. They have dinner at the Box Tree Café, and Lila thinks everything is just beautiful and awesome. She suggests they go for a drive, and they end up at Miller’s Point. They start to make out, and then John turns into the kind of sex monster you usually only see in V. C. Andrews books. He pulls her hair, unbuckles his belt and ignores her requests for him to stop. Lila takes his keys from the ignition and stabs him in the neck. She gets out of the car, throws the keys in the bushes and walks to a gas station, where she calls a cab to come take her home.

The next day, Lila is a wreck. She wants to tell someone what happened, but she’s sure she’ll be laughed at and blamed. After all, she wore a little black dress, she suggested Miller’s Point, she’s the flirt. When Jessica calls to find out how the date went, Lila changes the subject pretty fast. That isn’t like Lila, and Jessica is convinced something is wrong.

Meanwhile, all the girls are having trouble getting their boyfriends to decide on costumes for the ball. Winston wants him and Maria to be Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Sam wants to be motorcycle cops, Hugh wants to go as chickens and Todd wants to go as a horse. While all this is going on, Liz has been getting letters from Arthur Castillo, the Crown Prince of Santa Dora (he’s from a Sweet Valley Twins book). They’ve been pen pals for years, but he’s been writing a lot more lately. Todd finds out and gets jealous. Whatever, back to Lila.

Lila goes to school on Monday wearing a shapeless dress and almost no makeup. Amy and Caroline try to ask her how the date went, but she just tells them it was boring and then runs away from them. Jessica is really worried, but Lila won’t tell her what’s wrong. She gets even more worried when Lila says she’s thinking about canceling the costume ball. Jessica talks to Liz, who thinks it sounds like Lila is depressed. All of Lila’s friends are getting worried about her.

Lila decides not to cancel the party, but she does want to tell John not to come. She finds him alone in the Oracle office and tells him what she thinks of him and that he’s not welcome in her house. He kind of smiles in an insolent way and says, “If that’s the way you want it.” Lila feels a little better until John does show up at the party the next night with a cute little sophomore girl. Lila tells him to leave or she’ll have him thrown out, but John taunts her and asks her what reason she’ll give everyone. Lila tries to ignore him, but he turns to his date and loudly says they should leave. Lila tells the girl not to go with him and ends up screaming at John, “Tell her how you tried to rape me last Saturday night!” John tells everyone that something did happen, but it certainly wasn’t rape. Lila runs upstairs to her room and John leaves.

By the way, Liz and Todd go to the party as the sun and the moon, Sam and Jessica are Han Solo and Princess Leia, Enid and Hugh are the base and receiver of a telephone, and Lila is Peter Pan.

Jessica goes to Lila’s room and knocks on the door for a long time, but Lila won’t come out. The next morning, after trying to call three times, Jessica goes to Lila’s house. Lila finally tells her everything that happened and feels better about things. Jessica goes home to find Sam waiting for her. She realizes she’s lucky to have a boyfriend who respects her and who would never do anything to her like what John did to Lila.

Monday is hell for Lila. The story has spread, and while some people are nicer to her than usual, most of the school seems to believe John’s version of what happened. Tuesday is just as hellish, and Lila nearly panics when John stands in her path as she’s walking to her lunch table. She already feels like everyone is watching her and talking about her, and now she’s worried John is going to speak to her. Suddenly, Liz and Enid are on either side of her, thanking her for the party and loudly saying the only thing wrong with it was the gatecrasher. Jessica talks to Jennifer Mitchell to see if there’s anything she can do to help Lila. Jennifer says the reason she broke up with John is because he was controlling and always had to have everything his way, “but that has nothing to do with this other thing.”

That night, a sophomore named Susan Wyler shows up at Lila’s house. John and Susan went on a date after John and Jennifer broke up but before he asked Lila out. Susan had to fight him off, too. The only thing that saved her was the arrival of another couple at Miller’s Point. She and Lila plan to confront John and hopefully get him into counseling.  On Wednesday morning, Lila puts a note in John’s locker asking him to meet her at the Dairi Burger that night. Then she tells Jessica about Susan Wyler and their plan.

The Dairi Burger is more crowded that night than Susan and Lila would like, and John is sitting with a large group of other guys. Lila sits down next to John and says she wants to talk privately, but John is all cocky and says she can talk in front of his friends. Lila mentions Susan Wyler. John looks worried and says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but then Susan Wyler is right there and they both tell him he needs help. One of the other guys at the table says Susan is his little sister’s best friend and Susan is like a part of his family. John says they’re lying, but the other guy says Susan doesn’t lie. The boys start to move away from John like he’s Arlo Guthrie on the Group W bench, and then Jessica, Liz, Sam and Todd gather around Susan and Lila and they all leave the restaurant together.

I have a problem with this book. John Pfeifer has been around since the beginning. He’s always been a nice guy. And I understand that this is the problem Lila has: John is such a nice guy that it’s hard to believe he could do something like this. But it’s just not believable in this context. It would have been one thing if John had just gotten carried away while making out with Lila, but it’s more like he’s turned into this asshole who goes out of his way to try to rape girls. When he’s at Lila’s party telling his date they should leave, he’s doing so in a way that makes it clear he’s going to try to rape her, too. It might have been better if they had created a whole new character. Using John for this story just made it ridiculous and unbelievable.

Setup for the next book: Dana Larson and Aaron Dallas are having relationship troubles. Prince Arthur is coming to Sweet Valley for a visit.


“Sam, could you give me a hand with this [costume]?” she asked. “I need you to pin me up.”

Sam came up from behind and put his arms around her. “I’ll pin you up any time you want,” he said in her ear.

Oh, Sam. My heart’s all aflutter.

[Elizabeth] thought about how he had acted when he was trying to get Jennifer Mitchell to break up with Rick Andover. Even though she had agreed that he was right, she hadn’t approved of his methods. “Strong-arm tactics,” she had thought of them as at the time.

Read this and tell me where John used “strong-arm tactics.”

The Cover: This is a difficult cover to look at. I hate that Lila looks all scared, but I mostly hate John’s evil face and the fact that it looks like it was designed to make you think you can tell a rapist by his ugliness.

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  • Jan aka Girl Talk Read August 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    the whole ” Lila blaming herself” thing is at least somewhat realistic let’s give the ghostwriter credit for that!!

    I never cared about the stupid prince and I was no Dana Larson fan ( OK I am blowing the next book!!)

    I didn’t like John P. turning all evil. I had liked him before this!


  • Jan aka Girl Talk Read August 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Shan you are so right in that they should have had a new guy be this rapist instead of John- it made no sense to have John do this total 180 in his personality at all!


  • Sadako August 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I always wondered–I didn’t read any Sweet Valley High books, mostly just the ones where the girls are middle schoolers…seems they got a bit more explicit. Well, they didn’t say “sex” but in the BSC world, they never even hinted at sex or menstruation or anything–way too sanitized, man!


  • quackingpenguins August 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    You know, I have to disagree on the making-up-a-character issue. The reason that it was so believable in so many ways is because we know John and we liked him as a character. It makes us a lot more sympathetic to Lila’s case. The problem is that the ghost writer went a little bit too far in turning him into an asshole, but honestly, couldn’t that have been a by-product of his breaking up with Jen?

    I hate how they turned John into a psycho, but the problem is that many rapists do seem like nice guys who just blend into society..


  • Sandy August 13, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Yay for Lila’s LBD, I would wear that today. And boo for her dressing as Peter Pan. WTF?


  • Daners Isadora- Bond Girl August 14, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Oh, Lila. You’re rich, you can have him killed. And yes I am advising killing John Pfeifer.

    How random bringing up the prince like that. Oh, wait, I guess it’s not after finishing the post. I really stopped reading the series here. Except for a few here and there. Unfortunately, the Jungle Prom one was one I had happened to pick up. I wish I had never read it. I would prefer to go on blissfully unaware. Poor, poor Sam.

    Jennifer is an idiot.

    I’m totally crushing on Sam for the Hans Solo outfit alone. My inner geek falls to his feet.

    Lila is wearing pearls. That is all around awesome. I’m trying to block the fact the cover looks like a still from some cheesy 80’s soap opera.


  • Megan August 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    “They start to make out, and then John turns into the kind of sex monster you usually only see in V. C. Andrews books.”

    He would have made more reference to how he just can’t stop loving her, no matter how many parents they share.

    I’m torn on the “New character/John” issue. On the one hand, I agree that they went overboard with the “John is now a serial rapist” tactic, but I can see where they were trying to take the plot by using a familiar, seemingly nice character. Oh SVH, stop trying to make me think.


  • Katia November 25, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    OMG There is sex talk in Sweet valley? Surely thats not right? What happened in this book? Jessica is scared she might have sex, apparently Liz and Todd are pretty heavy and Lila is almost raped??? Seriously there has been no mention of sex in like a hundred books and now we get this overdose. And poor poor Sam 🙁


  • Kerry Lynn January 5, 2010 at 5:38 am

    I have been reading these on my nightshifts and catching up on books I did not read…..wow these recaps are making me realize where all my hangups come from…..I suggest Kirk should have been the rapist!!! Long time character with the ick factor!


    Shannon Reply:

    I know how you feel. Reading these books as an adult, I’ve realized Francine Pascal is directly responsible for almost all my problems.


    Karla Reply:

    Me three. Jeezis.


    stella Reply:

    me too! i just realised i’ve always thought a ‘dream’ job was either being an architect or lawyer. it was only yesterday that i traced that back to Ned and Alice! >.<


  • Hina December 18, 2010 at 4:39 am

    “Sam came up from behind and put his arms around her. “I’ll pin you up any time you want,” he said in her ear”

    WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! -wolf whistles- Of, fuck off now Jessica, this one’s mine! AND THE JUNGLE PROM NEVER HAPPENED!!!!!! -lalalalalala-


  • Sonnie April 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

    It’s really stupid that Lila would actually try getting him to go to consoling. If something like this happened to me whether in HS or whatever, I would not care if a truck ran over the bastard. In some of the books following this one says that Lila has issues with guys because of John.


  • kate August 28, 2011 at 6:00 am

    shaan u r right, john is not that sort of a person and so he is not good for acting that rapist part


  • Anonymous January 8, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    bitch shes is


  • laurenlangley March 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Did anyone ever get their period in these books?I read them all and no-one ever seemed to even have cramps, let alone periods….adding to the concept that no SVH student had genitals.Mr. Collins got a boner once from Suzanne Devlin I think, and of course when he was stroking the pair of Liz’s granny pants he kept under his pillow.I think John took his belt off in this so the intention was implied but it bugged the hell out of me that sex was this great big mystery, if Sam and Jessica were having these perfectly normal horny teenage feelings why were they seen as unnatural?Surely talking to her parents about it and contraception would have been a good start.
    All that time Jess spent getting hot and heavy in public and private with Bruce ‘date rape’ Patman and she never did more than let him accidentally touch her boob?Maybe he wanted to get some like every high school senior who isn’t part of a celibacy club and knew the wake fields are cock teases extraordinaire who take no responsibility for leading guys on.Although Lila and Amy Sutton are two disturbing examples of girls who ‘got what was coming to them’ ie;sexual assault because they were provocatively dressed.So wrong.Every boy I dated in high school (and I dated lots)never seemed to want to go beyond beyond base if anything I was way hornier than them and my ‘perfect size six figure’ ‘long copper hair’ and ‘sparkling catlike green eyes and full pouting lips’ (Yeah I was a cute kid, those were the days that’s all gone to pot fifteen years later) didn’t seem to make me a constant target for rapists, murders, kidnappers,and more rapists.I actually believed this book in my mid teens and though all boys were like this.


  • wendy August 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

    I’m reading this book and there’s something just different about the way it’s written. It’s almost as if this is a completely different host writer than the books prior. I do not like it.


  • Krista November 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    The more I think about it – the more I think this was the ONLY time where the series could have addressed the attempted rape episode between Bruce and Elizabeth. We could have had Liz becoming angry because Lila’s situation drudged up the bad memories of that night. She could have confronted Bruce, and we could have finally had Bruce acknowledge what happened and make a sincere apology for what he did. That I think would have gone a long way towards putting that episode to rest in the most satisfying way possible, without white-washing it or sweeping it under the rug. Just a thought.


  • Ellie September 7, 2014 at 4:45 am

    My thought is that John could still be the attempted rapist, but he should not have suddenly turned evil. It might have been too much of a challenge for the ghost writer, but there are ways to play this off while staying in character. This could have benefitted the plot more, rather than the “and then he’s batshit” angle. The turning batshit story does happen in real life, but this context makes what could be an educational and progressive story into just another soap opera.

    Otherwise, I’m in Shannon’s make up a new character camp.


  • Claudia July 15, 2015 at 11:13 am

    The problem is that it was a bit out of character. We have been inside of John’s head and therefore know that it’s completely out of character. Even when Liz overheard him talking to some guy at the Orcale office, it was out of character because we knew what John thought since we had been in his head before in previous books. It’s not like a TV show where you can’t go into people’s heads, in this book they did but since in SVH where everyone is one or two dimesional they had to change it around


  • Claudia July 18, 2015 at 8:55 am

    So the word rape is appropriate but not the word sex? Okay then…


  • Kim December 4, 2015 at 5:29 am

    I agree about the 180 they did with John’s character. It’s like they wanted a character for a rape storyline and decided to use this guy. Imo it would have been more believable if they used Bruce. He has a history of attempted rape and taking things too far (with both Liz and Jessica. I seem to remember him doing a little more than Jessica was comfortable with, though he didn’t attempt to rape her like he did Liz). Of course, by the time this book came out, the writers had since attempted to somewhat “redeem” Bruce (ie: his relationship with Regina).


  • kueth December 8, 2015 at 11:10 am

    i want this more and more


  • kueth December 8, 2015 at 11:11 am

    i need this book always


  • kueth December 8, 2015 at 11:12 am



  • Another Shannon July 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Yeah they didn’t have to make John this cocky asshole all of a sudden. Liz should have remembered the Bruce incident and originally sided with Lila and not John just because he is on the stupid Oracle. And I know Jess has gone farther than kissing than this book let’s on.


  • Alex Kennedy April 28, 2017 at 9:17 am

    This book is obviously about something that is quite disturbing. As awful as the series is, on a serious note I agree with the decision of the author to portray someone who is generally well liked at school to be the rapist. I is often the nicest guys who, behind closed doors, are quite aggressive to the point where no one would believe that they engaged in reprehensible behaviour.


  • This series is very odd August 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    WHY I LIKED THIS BOOK – The subject matter was awful, but it did make some good points:
    1. Having the attemoted rapist be someone who people know and respect. Part of the problem with some rapists/ abusers is that they come across as charming and likeable and no one can see them in a different context.
    2. Lila’s personality change. She does not trust anybody – not that she did a lot of that before. Shedoes not take pride in her appearance.
    3. She has few friends in whom to confide – JW is not a REAL friend. she is too stuck up and loves herself too much.
    4. Lila thinking – in another book – that Nathan was making improper advances.
    5. The whole school judging so overtly in such a high school context. I feel sorry for anyone who has had this hapen to them. Nowadays with Facebook etc., it makes things worse. If this has happened to you, it is not your fault. As soon as you say “NO,” it means no. Some of the time, someone is too scared or startled to say no.


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