Sweet Valley High Senior Year #1: Can’t Stay Away
A new school year is about to start and Sweet Valley is still feeling the aftereffects of the earthquake. The Wakefields are living at Fowler Crest while their house is being rebuilt. Five hundred kids from El Carro High, which was destroyed in the quake, are going to be attending SVH. Nobody is happy about this, including me. It’s just like on Degrassi when Lakehurst burned down and all these badasses had to switch to Degrassi. The El Carro kids wear Doc Martens and black t-shirts and make Liz feel like a goody-two-shoes in her yellow sundress.
Some of the new kids are:
- · Conner McDermott. Conner expects SVH to be painted pink and be full of airheaded bimbos. He’s a judgmental ass and I hate him.
- · Melissa Fox. Kind of weird. She’s happy that her locker number has all her favorite integers in it. Melissa was captain of the cheerleading squad at El Carro. She’s kind of a manipulative bitch and I hate her.
- · Will Simmons. Melissa’s football player boyfriend. Also kind of an ass. Melissa’s friends think she can do better, but they’ve been together since eighth grade and Will is always thinking of something mysterious that happened in Melissa’s past that keeps him with her.
- · Tia Ramirez. Conner’s best friend. Tia actually appeared in Party Weekend. She was the only El Carro student who was nice to the SVH kids.
There are a few other changes as well: Penny Ayala seems to have disappeared, so Liz is now editor-in-chief of The Oracle. Mr. Collins must have run off with Penny, because this year’s faculty adviser is someone named Mrs. Halsey. The cheerleading squad now has a coach who appears to be calling the shots, and Jessica has to try out again along with everyone else. I haven’t seen a few of the usual suspects around, like Winston or white Maria.
Liz: Conner McDermott is in Liz’s creative writing class. On the first day of school, Conner makes fun of Liz and says she probably writes stupid girly poems. The first assignment is to write an essay on loss. Liz writes about Olivia. Conner is assigned to read Liz’s essay aloud to the class, and she’s assigned to read his. They realize they’re both good writers and now they have crushes on each other.
Liz hates living at Fowler Crest. She thinks it’s terribly stuffy and she hates Lila because she plays her music too loud and Liz can’t sleep. I find it hard to believe that in this ridiculously huge mansion, there’s not another bedroom Liz can move into where she won’t hear Lila’s music. Lila shows up at the first Oracle meeting of the year and says she thinks there should be a fashion editor and it should be her. Liz absolutely refuses to put Lila on the staff, but everyone convinces her to create the fashion editor position and ask interested parties to submit sample articles. Luckily, Lila’s article sucks and Liz can in good conscience appoint someone else to the position. Liz and Lila have an argument about it at dinner one night, and Mrs. Wakefield decides to let Liz move in with her new friend, Megan Sandborn, who knows Liz is unhappy with the Fowlers and has offered her the use of her family’s spare bedroom. Megan keeps talking about her brother and how much he won’t mind having Liz around and sharing a bathroom with her. And the brother, of course, turns out to be none other than Conner McDermott. He and his sister have different fathers, hence the different last names.
Jessica: Jessica has decided Will Simmons will be her boyfriend. She does all her flirty Jessica things and gets him to come over to Fowler Crest one night to study. When he gets there, they end up making out and don’t stop until Will reaches for the zipper at the back of Jessica’s dress. The next day, Will tells Jessica that Ken Matthews, still mourning Olivia’s death, has quit the football team and Will is now the big deal quarterback. He takes her out that night to celebrate, and Jessica tells everyone in the drama club all about it. Tia Ramirez tells her Will has a girlfriend. Jessica doesn’t believe it at first, but it turns out to be true. She’s beyond pissed, and she yells at Will and tells anyone who will listen what a bad kisser he is. Melissa overhears some of this, and she goes to confront Will. He says Jessica is a troublemaker who came on to him but he never kissed her. Melissa decides she doesn’t care whether or not he’s lying. She still loves him and she hates Jessica.
Melissa spreads a bunch of rumors about Jessica, and then she invites Lila and Amy to hang out with the El Carro kids before the dance on Friday. Will tells his football friends a few nasty things about Jessica, so when she shows up at the dance all alone, nobody wants to talk to her and the guys make snide remarks. She sees Will and Melissa dancing together and runs out of the room. At the end of the book, Will feels bad, but I guess not bad enough to do anything about it.
The Cover: That shirt is hideous. I don’t even know who that’s supposed to be. I’m also not sure to what the title is referring. Who can’t stay away from what?