formative fiction: Sweet Valley High #4 – Power Play

September 2, 2013 2 Comments

Let’s all hop into our mom’s Fiat Spider and speed away from Guido’s Pizza, leaving a soggy and sadfaced Bruce Patman in our rearview mirror. Our friend Jessica appears to have taken a tablecloth with her on her way out the door to fashion a shirt, according to the cover of Sweet Valley High #4 – Power Play.


At least, I’m assuming that’s Jessica on the left. (They are identical twins, in case this hasn’t been drilled into your head frequently enough.) I think Liz is the one on the right because she’s clad in a virginal white shirt and her hair is pulled back demurely, while Jessica’s locks are loose, much like the trollop she is. SOME PEOPLE JUST CAN’T BE TAMED, Y’ALL.

Power Play opens with an angsty Elizabeth agonizing over Robin Wilson’s desire to join Pi Beta Alpha, the “snobbiest sorority at Sweet Valley High”. (The use of the superlative suffix would seem to indicate that there is more than one sorority roaming the halls of SVH. However, I could be wrong – they might be the only one. I used to work at a company where we had a VP of Marketing, but no one else was in the department, so she was the VP of herself.) Liz is a member of PBA, but she doesn’t approve of their antics or attend their meetings, instead preferring to write her feel-good, family-friendly gossip column “Eyes and Ears” for the SVH newspaper. (Sample blind item: “Which Wakefield twin made sure to put her laundry away immediately after she took it out of the dryer to avoid unnecessary wrinkling?”)

Robin Wilson is a problem for PBA because she does not fit the “typical slim and pretty” profile. While she may not be a size 6 like the Wakefield drones twins, Robin’s sturdy frame makes her an ideal workhorse for Jessica (the newly elected PBA president). Jessica has Robin running all over Sweet Valley picking up her dry cleaning and returning her library books. (OK – I’m calling bull. No mother of a high school student would allow her child to have multiple “Dry Clean Only” garments, and we all know Jessica kant reed gud.)

Liz calls Jessica out for using Robin and Jessica gaily laughs her off – Elizabeth, you so cray. Liz then ups the ante and says that if Jessica won’t nominate Robin for PBA, she will. This bold move ruffles Jessica’s shoulder-length, sun-streaked blonde feathers hair, hair that is accented by the new sapphire-colored silk scarf jauntily tied around her neck. Liz wonders where Jessica got the money to pay for it, and Jessica explains that Lila Fowler gave it to her – something about an aunt in New York City and an unflattering color blah blah blah. Anyway, Jessica tries to end-run around Liz and hold a secret PBA meeting without her, but Liz uses her Oracle-sharpened investigative skills to find out about the meeting and crash it. She nominates Robin as a PBA pledge and the aforementioned power play is OFFICIALLY ON.

Jessica and her two lackeys, Lila “Suddenly Generous” Fowler and Cara Walker, set a trio of humiliating tasks for Robin to perform. She has to run around the school track 5 times every day for a week, play volleyball on the beach in a bikini, and… wait for it… get Bruce Patman to take her to the Discomarathon. (Don’t even get me started about this new event on the SVH social calendar.) Interspersed among what seems like 30 pages of fat shaming, Robin sprints and spikes her way toward PBA-dom while Jessica wears the new delicate gold earrings that Lila Fowler gave her. Robin is ready to give up when it comes to Bruce, however. Liz works her Wakefield magic behind the scenes – apparently, Brucey Boy is tormented that the Oracle doesn’t give him any love for being a fantastic tennis player, despite the other numerous national news publications that apparently fawn over him. Liz promises to write an article about him if he takes Robin to the dance. He agrees, and Liz goes home to pen a tear-stained entry in her diary about having to break her journalistic ethics.

Meanwhile in Sweet Valley:

  • Lila almost gets caught in her own lie when Liz asks her about the aunt from NYC with excellent, albeit misguided taste in accessories. Lila is also rocking a giant gold ring with an Egyptian pharaoh’s head carved into it. Trendsetter!
  • Bruce Patman takes Robin to the Discomarathon and abandons her unceremoniously on the dance floor.
  • Robin runs out into the parking lot and gets a taste of her own medicine when she hates on Allen Walters for being too nerdy to associate with. They somehow manage to bond over liking old movies and being lousy dancers. Love blossoms… or does it?! Find out in SVH #463, No One Gives A Shit.

After Discodisaster, Liz heads to the mall to get Todd a birthday gift that will really get his pulse racing – a watch band. oweasenmpkenahsakdaskdjwiuad oh sorry, I fell asleep for a minute there. While ogling the merchandise at Lisette’s (an exclusive, expensive French boutique that just so happens to sell all of the items Liz has noticed on Jessica and Lila), she knocks over a display and gets the hairy eyeball from the clerk who warns her that her shoplifting days are over. Liz and I are all like “Whaaaaaaaaat?!”

good guy greg

Liz, whose world has been rocked, manages to pull it together long enough to find out about the PBA vote session, which is a secret vote conducted with the use of colored marbles. Suzanne Hanlon is inducted and receives a nod of approval from Lila Fowler because Mr. Hanlon has a Rolls Royce. (Funny side story: A colleague/mentor of mine once told me that her mother said the most pathetic thing in the world was to have a Rolls Royce, but no chauffeur to drive you around in it.) Poor Robin Wilson, however, has been BLACKBALLED. Jessica breaks the news to Robin by sweetly saying, “I know you feel it leaves you out of everything worth having at Sweet Valley High, but I’ll still be your best friend.” #douchebag

And the plot keeps chugging along:

  • Robin goes crazy and starts working out and dieting. Naturally, adhering to the SVH societal norm means that all the guys start lusting for her.
  • Elizabeth writes a “spirited” article entitled “Snobbery Is Alive And Well At Sweet Valley High”. Take that, jerks!
  • Liz asks Jessica if she’s been shoplifting. Jessica is horrified. She may be a sociopath, but never a shoplifter!

Liz has to go back to the mall AGAIN (something about Todd’s big birthday watch band – who freaking cares) and notices Lila crying in the parking lot. Jessica got popped by the mall cops for shoplifting at Lisette’s! Please please PLEASE let them throw her in juvie. We miss the chance to see Jessica thrown into the slammer when Liz tells Lila she knows it was LILA who stole the sweet-ass pharaoh ring from the store. Lila cries that she did it because her father is always traveling for work and no one pays any attention to her blah blah blah. I bet she’s an ugly crier.

dawson creek

Liz and Lila have a BFFs In An Alternate Universe For An Afternoon Moment when Liz has to testify about the shoplifting incident in court and then Mr. Fowler takes them out to a fancy dinner. Did I mention they were ferried around in a limo to both places? Sigh.

Robin Wilson completes her moth-to-butterfly transition via “designer jeans, a rainbow top, and a new hairstyle”. I guess I need to get me a rainbow top. She tries out for the SVH cheerleading squad, and… whaddya know? She and Jessica Wakefield are going to be co-captains!

The battle for who will be named Miss Sweet Valley High is heating up. This is an actual event; I’m not being snarky. Robin takes out an ad in the Oracle baiting the PBAs and the entire student body takes sides – Robin vs. Jessica. After two weeks of drama, Robin is crowned Miss Sweet Valley High at the homecoming game. Television stations and newspapers are there to document this event, and Liz gets her big newspaper break when the editor of The Sweet Valley Daily News asks for her help in writing an article about the biggest day since D-Day.

Jessica manages to pick up the shattered pieces of her life through art therapy. She’s apparently spending a ton of time at Castle Cove, sketching the “magnificent natural wonders” and partying with the indigenous college boys who live in the dunes. One college boy in particular, Scott Daniels, has caught Jessica’s eye. Find out where his super-sexy perv mustache will take them in Sweet Valley High #5, All Night Long!



BTW – I totally called it – Robin Wilson and Allen Walters start dating. Yawn.

Favorite line(s) of the book:

Jessica: “Do you think my thighs look all right, Liz?”

Liz: “Your thighs are not important right now. What happened with Robin?”

Jessica: “Thighs are always important.”

Second favorite line(s) of the book:

“The Gladiators’ offensive line and backfield paraded through the lunchroom carrying a big banner: Jessica Is Just Right!

Then, the defensive line came through the auditorium with a huge placard: Robin Has Us Throbbin‘.” (emphasis mine)



  1. Reply


    September 2, 2013

    LOVE the well-placed Miley link and Dawson photo…

    • Reply

      Blonde Seeking Ambition

      September 2, 2013

      She caaaaaaaaaaan’t stop… and she wonnnnnnnnnn’t stop…

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