Sweet Valley High Senior Year #25: Straight Up

The Moral of the Story: If you act like a psychopath, you’ll win prestigious scholarships.

The Big Deal: The Lydia G. Senate scholarship competition


The Lydia G. Senate scholarship is a super duper scholarship that pays for everything included in a four year college plan. Meals, books, housing, the whole works. The only catch is that the recipient must choose a school from Mrs. Senate’s approved list, and all the approved schools are on the east coast. Five female students are nominated, and a panel of student judges chooses who gets the scholarship. That seems like a pretty terrible system.

Tia is shocked when the guidance counselor, Mr. Nelson, tells her she’s been nominated for the Senate scholarship. She’s hardly even thought about college because she knows there’s no money in her family to pay for it. Her parents are thrilled until Tia tells them she’d have to go to school on the east coast. Then they decide they don’t want to talk about it. Um, hello? FREE COLLEGE. What’s the problem?

Melissa has never heard of the Senate scholarship because it’s a Sweet Valley thing, but she figures it’s only natural she’d be nominated. She is Melissa Fox, after all. She’s still thinking she’ll go to Michigan, as Ken’s girlfriend instead of Will’s, of course, and she’s sure she can convince Mrs. Senate to okay it even though it’s not on the list of approved schools. Ken thinks it’s weird that a girl he’s been dating for two weeks is going to follow him to college.

Maria is nominated and she’s a total bitch when she finds out Tia’s up for the scholarship, too. She says something snotty about being surprised Tia got nominated, and Tia takes it far too personally and starts bitching. Liz tells them both to shut up; she doesn’t want to hear about the scholarship because she wasn’t nominated. Burn! All her mooning over Conner and slacking off in the beginning of the year knocked her out of the running. Maria later overhears Liz telling someone she’s one of the student judges, and the other person says Liz should get the scholarship. For some reason, Maria is pissed when Liz doesn’t immediately say Maria is just as deserving of the scholarship as she is. Get over yourself, Maria.

Melissa tells Ken about the scholarship and then says Maria doesn’t stand a chance against her. Ken starts singing Maria’s praises and telling Melissa how smart his ex-girlfriend is. Melissa doesn’t speak to him for the rest of the day. Mr. Nelson tells Ken he’s been selected to be one of the student judges. Ken tries to tell him both his girlfriend and his ex are nominees, and Mr. Nelson tells him he’ll just have to try that much harder to remain neutral. Wow, this guy is useless. Ken calls Melissa that night to tell her, and she says they should just not talk until the whole thing is over. Then she hangs up on him. Ken starts rethinking this whole Melissa-girlfriend situation.

All the nominees need two faculty recommendations, and Maria is pissed when Tia gets the drama teacher to write one for her because drama is her thing. Then there’s an interview with all the student judges and all the nominees, and Maria gets mad at pretty much everything Tia says because she thinks Tia’s not taking it seriously enough. She’s also angry for some reason about how depressed Liz looks during the interview. Oh my god, I hate Maria.

After the interview, Maria actually goes off on Tia for not caring about the scholarship. Good lord. Poor Tia feels bad because she really doesn’t know where she wants to go or what she wants to major in, so she thinks Maria is right; she doesn’t deserve to win. In the hallway later, Ken wishes Maria luck, and she totally flips out, telling him she doesn’t need his pity and the only reason he’s on the panel is because football is so overrated at Sweet Valley High. She says if Will hadn’t gotten hurt, he’d be the one judging instead of Ken. Then she storms off. Okay, so Maria’s not just a bitch, she’s a super crazy psycho bitch.

That night, Tia has an argument with her still unsupportive parents, and she realizes she really doesn’t want to go to an east coast school and have to deal with all the other requirements the scholarship puts on its recipient. She decides to drop out of the competition. She gets to school early the next morning and tells Mr. Nelson, and then she runs into Maria, who tells her she’s also decided to drop out because she’s ashamed of the way she’s been acting (as well she should be) and she’s realized her friends are more important than the scholarship. Tia tells her she just dropped out so Maria should stay in the game.

Everyone goes to Mrs. Senate’s house for a dinner where the winner will be announced. And it’s Maria. Of course it is. Just so you know, there were two other girls nominated, Hannah and Leah, but it wasn’t hard to figure out neither one of them was going to win. Anyway, Ken is glad his vote was anonymous because he voted for Maria. Melissa feels better when she tells herself Maria might have gotten the scholarship, but Melissa has her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Will is yearning for the day he can rejoin the football team and make Melissa fall in love with him again so he can turn his back on her. It’s enough to make you feel warm and fuzzy, isn’t it?

Some non-scholarship stuff: Jade’s father is at her apartment when she gets home from cheerleading one night. He’s been living in Oregon since the divorce and Jade hasn’t heard from him in four years. He comes in and looks around the cluttered apartment in disgust, and then tells Jade he wants to take her to dinner on Friday night. During dinner, he starts asking questions about her mom, and Jade says Ms. Wu has to work a lot because someone doesn’t send child support checks. Jade wakes up the next morning to find her father in the kitchen yelling at her mother. He doesn’t like the way Jade’s being raised, so he’s suing for custody. What a dick.


“In a lot of ways that poor little potato” – [Evan] pointed directly at Jade’s French fries – “symbolizes the reckless consumerism that plagues America.”

Dude, they’re just fries.

The Cover and Title: I don’t get what the title is supposed to mean, and I don’t get why the three of them are posing like that. Why does Liz look so happy? And I know she’s probably wearing a dress, but I can’t help imagining her outfit is, like, some kind of awful jumpsuit with pants.

Ooh, maybe the title is about Maria being a straight up bitch.

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  • Sadako April 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Scholarships in books are so weird. And TV shows/movies. I remember that on TWOP they pointed out that Joey was a little…snotty, to turn down Worthington b/c she didn’t get a full scholarship. She was all, “No. I’m not taking out a loan.” And then the same thing happened to Katie Holmes’ character in Teaching Mrs. Tingle–she loses her scholarship, almost, or something b/c Mrs. T thinks she cheated. And this mythical scholarship is always the big shebang. Four years, all expenses paid. OK, end rant. 😀


    HelenB Reply:

    God I wish there were four-year-long-all-expenses-paid-scholarships that were this easy to get. Maybe then I wouldn’t be in so much debt.


  • Anonymous April 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I hated this book.

    *Evan is annoying. They tried too hard to make him that cliche California Environmentalist type and I found myself not caring for him at all.

    Ken thinks it’s weird that a girl he’s been dating for two weeks is going to follow him to college.

    That should have been the first sign for Ken to run in the other direction. Pronto.


    Shannon Reply:

    Everything Ken does is so stupid. I hate him a lot.


  • HelenB April 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I love the titles for this series. None of them make the least amount of sense, but they’re clearly meant to appeal to teens with their hip teen talkin’ jive.


    Shannon Reply:

    For sure, they’re all supposed to be “edgy” or something, but they don’t seem to relate to the books at all.


  • Fear Street April 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    These are some truly shitty human beings.


  • Lorelai April 12, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Straight Up? Seriously? That’s…that’s the title they came up with? I simply cannot think what this is referencing, except maybe the way Conner likes his tequila.


    Shannon Reply:



  • Misty April 12, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Feat Street – I completely agree! I don’t remember reading this book, but everyone in it sounds completely awful. And Maria and Melissa should just drive off into the sunset, “Thelma and Louise” style. They are both crazy bitches and deserve each other.

    The only thing I think of when I hear this title is that Paula Abdul song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5A3yF0bjLo&feature=fvst


    Shannon Reply:

    That song was in my head for days after I read this. And now it’s back!


  • Misty April 12, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Sorry – I meant “Fear Street.” My finger slipped 🙁


  • Sandy April 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Ew, this one sucked badly. But on the bright side this means we are getting rid of Maria. Graduation can’t come soon enough!


  • Claire April 14, 2010 at 2:02 am

    I’ve finally caught up to you 🙁 I’ve been addicted and would spend hours reading your blog, now I’m not too sure what to do with myself. I definitely know for sure that I will not be reading SVH myself haha. Fantastic job you’re doing Shannon! Can’t wait for SVH University series.

    PS this book sucked. BUT I’m loving how the twins aren’t so much in la-la land as they were in the original series.
    I HATE the fact that I felt sorry for Jessica when everyone was calling her a slut – she IS a slut and she IS a bully. Karmas a bitch but bloody Francine knows how to make us feel bad for the Wakefield twins. Must be their golden tans, aquamarine eyes and perfect size 6 figures.


    Shannon Reply:

    Thank you so much! Don’t worry, I update pretty regularly so at least you won’t have long to wait between posts!

    I hate that I felt sorry for Jessica, too. Damn you, Francine, stop pulling on my heartstrings!


  • Diana April 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I always liked this book because Elizabeth wasn’t nominated. Any book that involves a Wakefield twin not getting what she wants is alright by me. 🙂


  • Afrancis July 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I know black Maria replaced Enid as Liz’s “best friend”, but do they even mention her anymore? At all??


  • jennifer October 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Jade hasn’t seen her dad in four years??
    He was like, a stern chinese dad who dominated
    Over the household only like a few months ago
    Back in junior year!!


  • Ira April 20, 2014 at 1:13 am

    Are the ghostwriters even reading the other Sweet Valley series? There seems to be a problem with consistency. I thought Jade Wu’s dad is a doctor? He seems to be really present in her life when she was a Sophomore and the twins, Juniors. Now they’re telling he’s an absentee father for four years?


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