Will DeeDee’s dependence chase Bill away?
Somebody came down from outer space and zapped her. They took my DeeDee away and left this strange, sad girl down here in her place. – Bill, p.37
If I were to choose one thing about the Sweet Valley High novels that boggles me most, it would not be "Why is Elizabeth such a pushover?" It would not be "Why does Jessica keep learning her lesson and then forgetting it?" nor would it be, "Why does Kate William feel the need to keep reminding us that the Wakefields' kitchen has 'Spanish tiles'?" It wouldn't even be, "Why are Elizabeth and Jessica the only blonde girls in school?" These are all reasonable concerns, confusing and frustrating. But no Sweet Valley issue bothers me as much as the way time REFUSES to proceed in a sensible, linear fashion. Do these people live on a planet with a 700-day calendar? How many dances can fit into one Junior Year? WHY, if the first Special Edition volume, Perfect Summer, went to print before Book 22, Too Much In Love, is the latter still set in the middle of the preceding school year? In fact, two of our Earth Years have passed between Books 1 and 22, but what does that translate to for these people? I can't begin to imagine, but someday, mark my words, I will map out the most generous possible version of Sweet Valley High's calendar of events.
When Too Much In Love opens, we know a few things about Bill and DeeDee's situation. DeeDee has stopped taking the art classes she signed up for at the civic center, and that, among other things, has been causing the two to fight a bit. Early on in Book 22, we learn the reasoning behind DeeDee's decision, which is a bit, shall we say, faulty: DeeDee's hardworking mother is divorced from DeeDee's father. After talking with her recently-divorced design teacher, DeeDee develops a theory about busy women – namely, that they don't have time for their relationships and end up destroying them. While such a scenario is certainly plausible, DeeDee's fear of being too busy for Bill drives her to decide that she will be actively subservient to him; she'll ask him before making any decision, she'll devote all her spare moments to him, and she'll count him into any plans she's forced to make. This will make it impossible for them to grow apart. "…Now he knows I depend on him for everything. Nothing else matters but him."
Okay, so I'm exaggerating a little. This is Sweet Valley High, not Fear Street, so no one gets murdered...yet. But Bill does break up with DeeDee, leaving her utterly confused. Somehow in her quest to be Bill's shadow, she lost herself and all of her self confidence. The worst part of all of this is that Bill never asked her to change at all – she invented a problem and then realized it. I could just slap her. No, scratch that; I could punch her right in the face. I really despise the type of relationship that she was attempting to create, where both parties are totally dependent on one another. Bill and DeeDee were Sweet Valley's most functional couple! She had to go and ruin everything.
Luckily, one of DeeDee's friends has a plan to bring the old DeeDee back and save the day! Can you guess who it is? That's right, Elizabeth saves the day, again. She convinces DeeDee to take over set design for the school talent show (which Elizabeth is organizing, of course). Then she stages a severe illness that leaves DeeDee in charge of everything and forces her to realize that she is, in fact, her own very capable person. And guess what? Upon seeing that DeeDee has pulled herself out of the gutter, Bill is enticed to reconcile. Yay! Happy ending! In fact, maybe a bit too happy...doesn't anything go really, really wrong in this book? Don't we need a huge problem to address in Book 23?
Curse you for asking! There is a problem that arises in Book 22, and it's a doozy. Need a hint?: It involves Todd crying while reading a romantic poem on stage in the talent show. Shit. This is a B-Story so dark that I can't even discuss it. You'll have to wait until next week. And I will have to come up with some way to water-proof my computer; I have a feeling Book 23's going to cause a serious tearjerking.