Jan 30, 2009

And this commences my Sweet Valley experience.

First Place
Sweet Valley Twins #8

Some people have all the luck...
Lila Fowler, the snobbiest girl in Sweet Valley Middle School, has gotten her own beautiful horse -- and she doesn't seem to care. Elizabeth Wakefield thinks it's not fair. Elizabeth absolutely adores horses, so much that she'll do all of Thunder's grooming -- just for the chance to ride him every day.

Elizabeth's behavior makes her twin sister Jessica furious. Jessica accuses Elizabeth of trying to steal her best friend away. And that's not all Elizabeth is doing! She's deceiving eveyrone at the stable and is making trouble for her closest friend, Amy. Just how far will Elizabeth go before she loses everything -- all for the love of a horse?

Okay, seriously? Who thinks Elizabeth is about two seconds away from whacking Lila in the head with that crop?

I was never a Sweet Valley fan, but when I read Lucy Takes the Reins earlier this month I knew I'd have to read First Place eventually. Now that I have completed this book, I can call my stint with this series complete and move on with my life.

Lila is the bitch of Sweet Valley, Jessica is mainly her minion, and Elizabeth is a volunteer minion because Lila has a horse, and is using the horse mainly as an attention getter. This whoring out of the horse ruffles Elizabeth's adorable indignant feathers, and she's determined to ignore Lila's attention whoring until she gets roped into seeing the horse and he is the most gorgeous horse ever.

Seeing as how Elizabeth appreciates horses and Lila doesn't, Elizabeth decides to do just about anything to keep in Lila's good graces so she can keep riding the horse. Jessica gets upset that Elizabeth is taking over her minion job, and Elizabeth is mostly disgusted with herself and everyone around her, but keeps doing what she's doing because she loves the horse so much.

Because Elizabeth rides the horse so much, she seems to be under some impression that everyone else at the stable thinks that the horse is hers and not Lila's. As if everyone has suddenly forgotten who the actual owner is because someone else rides the horse. I mean, I guarantee someone is paying the board and those checks don't have Wakefield written on them. Elizabeth, sweetie, stop thinking you're so important. Anyway, this owner's competition is coming up and Elizabeth wants to enter because despite just learning how to ride she's already clearing two foot jumps. Somehow. Like, she was cantering successfully after one lesson, so she must be on some amazing learning curve.

Anyway, at a Unicorns sleep over, Elizabeth spends her time not being thrilled by her invitation and Jessica broods over her sister having been invited. During a bit of gossip involving Elizabeth's friend, Amy, she explodes and tries to make Amy sound cool by divulging Amy's big secret -- Ken kissed Amy! Someone must think Amy is cool besides Elizabeth! Well, that was a mistake. The Unicorns start making kiss sounds at Amy (I find it amusing that a group of teen girls would obsess over boys, but would ridicule another girl over a kiss...I can't decide if this is insane or completely logical, which seems to happen a lot with teen girls). Anyway, Amy freaks out and accidentally discloses Elizabeth's secret about the owner's competition.

You'd think Lila wouldn't care, but she totally does and runs to the stable to insist that Elizabeth can't ride because she's not the owner! Of course, no one cares. Elizabeth convinces Lila that her horse would win, and thrilled with the chance to attention whore again, Lila tries to get Elizabeth to ride. Elizabeth refuses to whore herself out for the sake of gaining Lila more attention, but Ted is sooo thrilled to do that for her. He rides the horse in the advanced show and they win because Jessica shows up and Ted has a crush on Jessica, elevating his game to some super awesome level. Lila sells the horse to Ted, and Elizabeth is at first concerned about this until Ted assures her that she will still be able to ride. Because it's all about Elizabeth, and I guess this horse is so fantastic that lesson horses could never compare.

Random Points:

  • "I'm not skinheaded, either." Um, wait. Can we back up for a second?
  • Apparently the "greatest race horse of all" is Man-of-War.
  • Elizabeth admired the perfect slope of his neck, rising like a tree trunk from his forequarters. This doesn't sound like a comfortable horse to me.
  • Lila's "spare set of riding clothes" was nothing less than a Stetson, a wool challis shirt with a matching silk bandana, riding pants, a belt with a mother-of-pearl buckle, a buckskin vest, shotgun chaps, and custom-made calfskin boots. Really, do I even need to make a comment on this?
  • Apparently this local stable has the biggest collection of tack in southern California. Shocking! I had no idea people kept statistics on that...

Next there will be more McLeod's Daughters, and then I'm going to take some time to ponder Running Horse Ridge. Because I know we're all too curious for our own good.


Elizabeth said...

You mean you have no desire to read the equally stellar "Out of Place" (which, granted, is less about horses than Acceptance and Tolerance and whittling)? There are also horses in The Big Camp Secret, but it's not really about horses. It's about big secrets. At camp.

Mara said...

Damn it, Elizabeth, do not tell me there are more Sweet Valley horse books. Don't they have enough boys and catty friends to keep these girls occupied?

Bookworm said...

OMG that's hilarious about the outfit. And the tree-trunk neck? Yikes. Don't you hate when people who know nothing about horses write books about them>? :D

Elizabeth said...

@Mara: Out of Place is even better because there is a pregnant horse. And even better, it is a pregnant horse belonging to Ellen Riteman, who has never shown any interest in horses. Oh, and there are PLENTY of catty girls in that one, too (just like all the other books that involve Jessica and her friends, which would be ... all of them).

Anonymous said...

SO FUNNY! Ha ha ha as soon as I read Elizabeth mention whittling re "Out of Place" the name Ginny Culpepper jumped out of my head. I've always remembered that name!

That is my only memory of that book - Ginny Culpepper and whittling. Ha ha!

Molly said...

How would Elizabeth riding Thunder in the owner's show even COME UP, let alone be a foregone conclusion?

And what the shit is an "owner's show" anyway?

I'm willing to bet that Francine Pascal, or whoever wrote this book, hasn't actually been near a horse in their life.

For some reason, the thing that sticks in my mind about this book is Elizabeth asking out of the clear blue, "So what is he, a quarter horse?" Generally, don't kids in these books drool over Arabians and Thoroughbreds?

Between the QH thing and the outfit, maybe the author has been near a horse before. At a dude ranch.

Anonymous said...

I belong to a Sweet Valley High, original series, snark site. Laughs a plenty. SVT is a spin-off, and I snarked on Lucy Takes the Reins for that site that I mentioned.

The Liz one sounds HILARIOUS!