“Can Roger melt Lila’s icy heart?”
If you're looking for the 2018 podcast episode about this book, click here.
Apparently, there are only so many plot lines that the Wakefield twins can carry on their shoulders. Book No. 9, Racing Hearts, marks a kind of turning point in the Sweet Valley High series, where new characters are introduced, their dilemmas are presented, and their lives are made fabulous by Chapter 12. Well...sort of. So far, new characters have been introduced one book ahead of time — Robin, Bill Chase, Scott — and that rule seems to be intact now that some secondary characters are getting their 15 minutes of Sweet Valley fame. Let me elaborate. Remember “frizzy haired Olivia”? She was cleverly mentioned in Book 8, so we’re fully prepared for her more central role in Book 9. And perhaps you’ll recall Roger Barrett’s curious appearance in the last installment...it seemed extraneous at the time. Well Roger is back in a big way for Racing Hearts. He’s the main character, and he has a big problem.
Roger Barrett is dirt poor. His mom is too sick to work and his dad, apparently, is an alcoholic. He has to work as a janitor at Ned Wakefield’s law firm to help pay rent. The book would have you believe that this is his main problem; I think his main problem is that he’s an idiot. All right, maybe I’m being a little hard on old Roger, but guess, just GUESS who he’s “in love” with: LILA FOWLER. This girl is such a bitch she makes Jessica look like Elizabeth (figuratively, I mean; literally, Jessica always looks like Elizabeth). Lila wouldn’t be interested in a million years – even Roger knows it. This changes, however, when Roger’s superior running skills make him a prime candidate to win a multi-school race called “the Bart”, which Sweet Valley High hasn’t won in ages. By winning this race, Roger can win more than Lila’s cold, dead, heart – the winner gets a full ride to prestigious Sweet Valley University.
What Lila doesn’t know is that Roger can’t be in the race. His after-school job, which he needs to support his family, conflicts with the event. Roger decides there’s no point in asking his boss for the time off – See? Idiot. – He also doesn’t bother to tell anyone at school about this for as long as possible, as he is profoundly embarrassed of his job...I mean, a JANITOR! Gross me out...or so he imagines people will react. But not to fear, everything works itself out in the last few chapters thanks to Olivia (who is totally into Roger) and problem-solver extraordinaire Liz Wakefield.
A cynic might say that Bill and Roger are no different from any real-world man, but I’m no cynic. I think it takes a special kind of idiot to fall for a heinous bitch, and Sweet Valley seems to have more than its fair share of both. Expect more of this behavior in the future,.
In other news, thank God, Todd and Elizabeth don’t break up in this one! This means my obsession can continue unhindered...for now. Also, Jessica has a rather physical relationship with a guy she later finds out is only 15! Groooss! But wait...isn’t Jess...16? Still, he can’t drive, so, eew. Hey! I think an OLDER guy who’s a much bigger jerk is available...