Ken Matthews

Book #60: THAT FATAL NIGHT (with guest reader William J. Stribling)

Honk if you love the Gladiators

It's the (main episode) Season 6 finale and all the stars are out: Terry Adams! Zack Johnson! Skip Harmon! You know, all your favorites. Oh, and the Wakefields and such are there too. But let's quit beating around the bush: this is the book where Ken Matthews becomes (temporarily???) blind in a car accident. Director (and former guest reader!) William J. Stribling is along for the ride...but, you know, figuratively. Safer that way.

Blind on the Move: Do Blind People Count Their Steps?

Florence Nightingale Effect


Episode Transcript (Auto-generated and shoddily edited; apologies for the many errors)



[00:00:00] Marissa: Welcome to sweet valley diaries. It's just like Friday night lights except ridiculous book number 60 that fatal night. 

[00:00:17] Will: will Ken's life be ruined in one tragic moment. Was that good?

That was great. 

[00:00:23] Marissa: Well, hello, Gladiators. And welcome to this, the full episode season finale of season six. I didn't realize this was a season finale. Yeah, well, surprise, surprise. Well, do you recognize that voice, Gladiators? Probably not, but there's always a chance. I'm Marissa Flaxbart . Did I say that?

Well, I'm the host of the show. My name is Marissa Flaxbart. You should get that down. Cause I'm going to be here every time. I am joined by William Joseph Stribling. Will you were on the show once before. Do you have any recollection of that, of 

[00:01:00] Will: that happening? Because it was me and Sinead Persaud together.

It was years ago. 

[00:01:08] Marissa: Yeah. Well, now we're getting close. Like this December will be four years that we've been doing so it was an 

[00:01:13] Will: early one. I think it was. 

[00:01:17] Marissa: Oh, yeah, it was book 11. It was called "Too Good to Be True." And Too Good to Be True is the story of a visitor to Sweet Valley named Suzanne Devlin. Does that ring any bells?

[00:01:27] Will: Mean, yeah, the name Devlin definitely ring some bells.

And was there something with her flirting with a teacher? 

[00:01:35] Marissa: Yeah, there, there was something with that and she tried to ruin his career by making up a story. It was a very problematic book, 

[00:01:44] Will: This one is also a little problematic and it makes me wonder, are they all like this? Or am I just lucky? Because, 

[00:01:52] Marissa: uh, I think it's a little bit of both, a little bit of both.

 The fact that every sweet valley high book is a little problematic is kind of like the thesis statement of the whole podcast. You know, why is it interesting? We're here to talk about That Fatal Night, 

[00:02:07] Will: A bad title. Yeah. Why That Fateful night? 

[00:02:12] Marissa: You know, when I put this in my calendar, it's like at the beginning of the season, I'll like structure out, this is where every episode will fall. If I start on this date, but I'm deciding when to start a season. And I noticed the other day that I had put "that fateful night" in the calendar because my brain was like correcting, couldn't possibly be "fatal!" And 

no one died. So it's not a fatal night. Yes. No one dies.

Our guest in the last books episode, Libbie Hawker did to spoil that for everybody. So Gladiators, I didn't issue a spoiler alert because it was pre- spoiled. So, 

[00:02:45] Will: does anyone ever die in these books? Oh, yes. 

[00:02:49] Marissa: Right. Once I noticed that the book was called That Fatal Night, which honestly the whole fatal/ fateful thing was like a low level realization.

Like it was not rising to consciousness that I had been making that confusion, but I was like, oh no, who's going to die. But then you read the back of the book and it's like, it seems like some serious stuff is going to happen, but I don't know who might die. Um, well, I mean, we can talk about the cover of the book because...

[00:03:13] Will: The cover's so silly..

[00:03:15] Marissa: Okay. If you hadn't read the book and you haven't read the back of the book, what would you think is happening on the cover? 

[00:03:22] Will: I would think that the blonde boy did something bad and he's looking off into the distance with guilt and his girlfriend, who is kind of like clawing at his clavicle, is concerned that she doesn't know the secret thing that he has done, that he is responsible for.

He also looks like. Like Brian Wilson from the early beach boys days. 

[00:03:51] Marissa: I was trying to think of what he looked like

[00:03:53] Will: a little, like a, one of the Wilson brothers. 

[00:03:55] Marissa: He has a lot of hair, but it's short, but it's just like a long, this, um, this fellow is such a hunk. Ken Matthews. He is. 

Does he 

exist before this book?

Ken Matthews, has been a favorite, like, background character of these books since the beginning, he hasn't gotten a book of his own for a really long time. 

[00:04:19] Will: So this is a big deal for Ken. 

[00:04:21] Marissa: He gets his own book? Yeah. It's a big deal. 

[00:04:23] Will: That this all happens to him. 

[00:04:24] Marissa: Oh yeah. I mean, basically Ken's short, like one- sentence biography it's included in this book.

It's he's the star of the football team. He's got those handsome. I think the phrase all American probably gets used because these books love that phrase. But, he's the football star. He's, well-liked, he's popular.

He's not all that bright, but you know, he can hold a conversation and, uh, he's mostly famous for being the captain of the football team, the quarterback. 

Now, would you consider this book like a side plot or it doesn't really focus on the twins. And I know they're the stars of the show, basically. 

So this is one of these books of which the kind of like parade of randos is what we call it here on sweet valley diaries.

Ken, Ken Matthews is not a rando, but The, a Woman on the cover is turning Ms. Terry, Terry Adams, Terry...Polo? Not Teri Polo.. 

[00:05:24] Will: Oh man, I'm going to find that it is, I mean, she doesn't even show up right away. Come on, Terry.


[00:05:33] Marissa: Terry.. Sorry. I can't remember what her last name is. The book doesn't care. And Terry. like Kind of appeared at the end of the previous book, but she's new. She's the rando. She is one of many randos that this book brings 

[00:05:45] Will: She so random that she's not even the main statistician for the football team.

She's the assistant, that's 

[00:05:51] Marissa: her job. She's a junior. She is a junior 

[00:05:53] Will: Terry Adams by the way. 

[00:05:55] Marissa: Got it. Okay. So yes, she is the statistician. She's a junior and I at the high school, which most of the characters in these books are, but we've never heard of her. 

[00:06:04] Will: They're all perpetually juniors? Do you see people graduate?

[00:06:08] Marissa: Not in sweet valley high. There are other series sweet valley senior year. Got it. Sweet valley university. But even those, it was like, they were written in different eras, so it's sort of confusing. 

[00:06:20] Will: When was this book 


[00:06:21] Marissa: This, oh, that's actually an important question because, um, this book was published in November of 1989, which is pretty momentous because that means 

[00:06:32] Will: I wasn't born yet. 

[00:06:34] Marissa: That's right now what I was going to say, but thanks for reminding me of that. I'm sure me and all the listeners that are older than me, it will be thrilled to hear that. Um, no, the reason is that it's about to be the nineties. Like when we return for season seven of Sweet Valley Diaries. It's going to be the nineties.

[00:06:53] Will: And does that get reflected in the books that follow this one? 

[00:06:57] Marissa: I don't know. 

[00:06:59] Will: You've never read them. 

[00:07:00] Marissa: I've never read them. 

[00:07:01] Will: Oh, I thought that you read all of these as a year. So many of them yeah, 180 Wikipedia says. Yeah. 

[00:07:09] Marissa: So I read 50 of them before I started the podcast. So a lot of books, I thought it was a lot.

Yeah. But, uh, and I read the Sweet Valley Twins books, which are like younger. Um, but yeah, so it's November, 1989 and there is actually something in the back of the hard copy of the book that I thought was so precious, it says 


[00:07:28] Marissa: Sweet Valley wants to know what's your new year's resolution? Announcing the Sweet Valley, New Year's Resolution Contest.

How are you planning to start? The 1990s? Sweet Valley wants to know and entering our contest is so easy. Just send us a short description of your new year's resolution. 50 words or less. 

[00:07:48] Will: It does not take 50 words to say that you just want to kiss a boy at midnight. 

[00:07:53] Marissa: My new year's resolution. Yeah. So it's like a nineties resolution too, um, so anyway, this is, isn't that cute?

[00:07:59] Will: That is extremely cute. 

[00:08:00] Marissa: You were asking me about the. The structure of the books. This is one of those, it's kind of like the structure of what, of these parade of randos books that are not about the twins in any real way, in that it starts reminding the reader.

These books are mostly about the Wakefield twins, because the very first thing that happens is that we have, you know, Elizabeth and Todd doing their thing and Jessica and her perspective on things before we get into the fact that. The book is going to be about Ken Matthews. And they're at a football game.

Cause the Gladiators, 

[00:08:34] Will: That was my high school mascot as well. I did not, not go to any football games, but I knew that we were the Gladiators, 

[00:08:40] Marissa: Did you guys have football? 'Cause you went to like an art school. 

[00:08:43] Will: Yeah. But it was an arts magnet within a big public school. The public school, big football school. Gibbs High School, the Gibbs Gladiators. 

[00:08:51] Marissa: Oh, well that makes a lot more sense than the Sweet Valley High Gladiators.

[00:08:54] Will: What makes the valley sweet is what I want to know. Oh, I understand what makes a valley hidden, but not what makes a valley sweet. 

[00:09:01] Marissa: We actually recently had a sort of conspiracy theory that maybe a Sweet Valley had once been Hidden Valley, but like some terrible curse had struck it and it had become 


[00:09:12] Will: Like an overgrowth of strawberry plants? And now it's a sweet valley? 

[00:09:17] Marissa: Ugh, yuck. Sorry, I was thinking about the ranch dressing and the strawberries. And it's ugly 

[00:09:21] Will: You don't dip your strawberries in ranch? 

[00:09:22] Marissa: I haven't tried it yet, so maybe I shouldn't knock it.

[00:09:24] Will: You're missing out. It's savory and sweet. It's I don't even know what ranch flavor is. 

[00:09:30] Marissa: It's like buttermilk and pepper. Hmm. 

[00:09:32] Will: Okay. Right. That's a lot simpler than I would've thought.

[00:09:35] Marissa: Well, I don't know. I'm just spitballing. Um, so the first chapter of this book. My head was spinning because it reads like a yearbook, like whoever was the ghost writer for this book was like, we got to get as many teen full names as we possibly can. We've got a who's who of sweet valley sports I wrote in my, 

[00:09:57] Will: and then there's a party that immediately follows.

So there's two big opportunities to meet way too many characters for me to understand what the hell is going on at any point. Like where, where is this going? Whose story is this? The point of view is constantly shifting. There's so many people with so much skin 

in this game. 

[00:10:16] Marissa: Right? Right. Well, and there's an, well, the point of view shift is wielded creatively in this book and a few points, but I will get there. Um, so I'm going to read this. Uh, this is my thing that I noted as who's who of sweet valley sports. 


[00:10:31] Marissa: Down in the first row of bleachers, Sweet Valley High as basketball star, Shelley Novak exchanged high fives with her friend, Kristen Thompson, who was well on her way to a professional tennis career.

John Pfeifer, the sports photographer for the Oracle was standing on his seat, snapping pictures of the celebration. His girlfriend, Jennifer Mitchell, was standing beside him sitting quietly in the middle of all the commotion, next to Shelly, was Terry Adams, a petite pretty junior, who was the gladiators assistant statistician.

Her eyes closed, she hugged her clipboard tightly, a dreamy smile on her lips. That last run of Ken's was his 57th of the season. 

This book holds up the 57th run as if it's like a special number. 


[00:11:12] Will: I don't know nearly enough about football to know if that is an impressive thing.

High school, college professional. 

[00:11:19] Marissa: We don't know how long their season cause you know, 

Terry always had all the facts right at hand, especially when they concerned Ken Matthews. 

So Terry Adams has a big crush on Ken Matthews. Terry. Yeah. Knows everything about the Gladiators football stats that, and she's like interested like it... it's not just that she loves Ken. And so she loves football because she loves Ken much of the books credit. She doesn't don't you think she's genuinely into, right? Well, her job. 

[00:11:49] Will: As, as the assistant statistician at the school. 

[00:11:53] Marissa: So it's like, I'm sure she has like a volunteer thing. It's like being a water 

[00:11:56] Will: or like writing for the school paper or the other kid.

John Pfeiffer. Who's a photographer who somehow standing on his seat. Why wasn't he down on the sidelines? Why did he have to sit in a seat? 

[00:12:06] Marissa: That's a really good point. I mean, this whole book. The way that football is described in this chapter also struck me as both confusing and vague. And I was thinking about the fact that these books were published, like all across the world, but especially in the English speaking world.

And there's not, I mean, there are other countries that have football, like American football I know there were a lot of Canadian readers, but like, I don't know what is Australian football 

[00:12:31] Will: No they're more into 

rugby, right? 

[00:12:33] Marissa: Yeah But there is something called Australian football 

[00:12:35] Will: It's probably soccer 

[00:12:37] Marissa: Well, then there's soccer, which of course the British call football.

[00:12:40] Will: Which most of the rest of the world calls.


[00:12:42] Marissa: Yeah. 


[00:12:44] Will: Yeah. 

I mean, it was definitely dumbed down enough that I understood it as someone who doesn't really get football. 

[00:12:50] Marissa: It's a complicated sport. 

[00:12:51] Will: Yeah. 

[00:12:51] Marissa: I mean, for a sport, that's just like "run it down from one end to the other,"

[00:12:55] Will: There's a lot of chaos.

[00:12:56] Marissa: The little bits and bobs. 

[00:12:57] Will: And the nuances of the chaos 

[00:12:58] Marissa: How, how many chances do you have to go how far? If you get that far, then you get to go a little further and then you can score seven points or you can score two points or you can score one point.

[00:13:10] Will: Well you score six. And then... 

[00:13:12] Marissa: OH, six plus one 

[00:13:13] Will: plus one, or plus two, 

[00:13:15] Marissa: we should have a football podcast. We explain how football works to the world. 

Like this is the level of understanding that, um, the book conveys as well. For sure. So another, character that gets mentioned early on, is a fellow named Scott Trost.

So as long as we're talking about characters in the world of sweet valley, let's just real quick. Do a little bit of talking about boys. 

 Okay. So Scott Trost, I kind of think he's come up in the book before, but I'm not totally sure. How did he 

come up in this one? I don't remember him. 

First of all, he's on the football team.

Okay. Oh, is he the one that replaces Ken, the quarterback. He's going to 

replace Ken as the quarterback, once events of this book unfold. 

[00:14:06] Will: I'm bad with names.

[00:14:07] Marissa: Well, that's a problem in a book like this, cause there's about a thousand characters.

[00:14:12] Will: Yeah, but they also just constantly call each other by their full name, by their full name, last name.


[00:14:18] Marissa: later on in the book, they're like, "Ken, it's me, Aaron Dallas." " I'm here. Lila Fowler." She doesn't say that, but yeah. Um, it Gladiators, if you don't know what this book is about, it'll all become clear when we get there, but, uh, start imagining what you, why you think people might be introducing themselves to Ken by their first and last name.

You were saying like, you're not good with names. And I was noticing how many names were being introduced. I was just thinking about how many characters already exist in Sweet Valley and how ridiculous it is that like still more characters are being introduced. Like this book almost feels like a big push into like a new era of Sweet Valley where they're going to be more characters to have stories, but like, there are plenty of characters have stories about all right.

[00:15:00] Will: Did Egbert exist already? Okay. Because when he casually calls this guy Egbert in his car, it seemed like a quip like an insult. Yeah. Is that like a weird insult from the eighties I'm not aware of? Literally. And then they came up later. Oh, okay. His name is, is Egbert. And that made me sad for him. 

[00:15:21] Marissa: So here's an intro to Scott Trost.

[00:15:23] Will: Seems all right. I feel like he gets painted as a villain later. He is the replacement of Ken, , we're definitely supposed to be team Ken, not team Scott. We're supposed to get right? Like empathize? So I feel bad for 


[00:15:41] Marissa: The Wayfield twins feel bad for Scott too, in a funny scene. Um, but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Just a quick intro of Scott Trost? 


Elizabeth clutch Todd's hand is Ken dropped back to pass. "Complete!" She cried happily as Scott Trost caught the ball and scooted out of bounds, stopping the clock with 40 seconds left.

So Scott's a good football guy. Elizabeth and Todd are having a great time at the game. That was a little taste of the football , in this book. there's another boy who gets introduced his name is. Johnson. I wrote in my notes for the question mark, 


" Terry!" She turned and saw Zach Johnson trotting over to her.

I got trust and trot. Was there similar words? Is that, is that something, is that something? I dunno. Okay. 

She turned and saw Zach Johnson trotting over to her, his uniform. Zach was a sophomore linebacker and a good one too, but on a team like the Gladiators, with so many talented upperclassmen, Zach spent most of his time on the bench.

So Zach is inviting, uh, Perry to a party at Amy Sutton's house. So Amy Sutton is on the cheerleaders. She is really gunning for Ken and she has this whole big elaborate fantasy, about how she's going to be Ken's girlfriend, but this is the first we've ever heard of Zach Johnson. I'm pretty sure. Yeah. So like Terry doesn't really want to go to the party because she's like nervous to even be around Ken. 

[00:17:06] Will: Has Terry existed before this book?

[00:17:07] Marissa: Only to set up this book in the briefly in the last book.

Okay. Uh, but wouldn't you say like she's so in love, with Ken, like she's has such a big crush on Ken that she's like nervous to go to the party. 

Yes. Yes. Which is. Weird and also totally authentic to teenage anxiety. 

Yeah, totally. It's a thing that seems actually fairly warranted.

She's got this feeling about Ken. Like he doesn't really know. I exist my, my dream of falling in love with him or him falling in love with me is only that. And I know that it's just a fantasy, so why torture? Plus the party's at Amy's house. And everybody knows that Amy is like of gunning for Ken. And if they didn't know..

[00:17:48] Will: And Amy's been around the block. Amy has dated everyone apparently. And is that accurate with the previous books? Amy's just always got a new boyfriend? 

[00:17:56] Marissa: Yes. And Amy has this interesting quality where like, at the end of the last book, Jessica was thinking that she was worried that Amy would.

Kind of just want to toy around with Ken and Ken was looking for something serious, but when Amy thinks about Ken in this book, she's thinking about... actually marked a particular passage. This is much later, but this is a glimpse into she was thinking about Ken. 

Amy loves Ken

[00:18:20] Marissa: The two of them had so much to look forward to. There were the rest of the football games. She would be out front shearing for him as he carried the team to victory after victory. And then there was college.

Ken would probably go to a big university on a football scholarship and she could go to the same school. Maybe Ken would even end up playing professional football one day. Amy wouldn't mind that one bit. 

She's basically like married to Ken daydream and she's got their whole lives planned out.

But this is what Amy does. She like falls madly in love with a boy for like five seconds. But do you remember how she is at her party? 

Yes, I do. I mean, she's kind of, uh, really swinging for the fences with this public Ken relationship. 

He walks into the party and she's like, it's the man of the hour 

[00:19:06] Will: just like makes out with him publicly in front of everyone.

[00:19:09] Marissa: They were not even dating. She just plants a kiss full on his lips 

[00:19:13] Will: and then like paragraphs go by. And then it says, And then she breaks away from the kiss and I'm like, whoa, they were kissing this whole time? You know, like, was 

[00:19:20] Marissa: it just like lips against lips? Like, like no movement for like 

20 seconds?

[00:19:26] Will: Everyone's just staring at this. Poor Terry 

[00:19:29] Marissa: poor Terry is right. You know, also poor Ken cause he's like what? And he hears at the party, this rumor, that Amy is basically saying that they were an item, she's like "the secreting" it, right. She's like willing it into 

existence. She's definitely manifesting this relationship, 

which we could probably work in a high school relationship, especially with someone who's manipulating as Amy, and as like, sort of malleable as Ken, but.

 I know we kind of stopped talking about boys, but there is another boy at the party that's worth talking about. 

[00:20:07] Will: skip? 

[00:20:08] Marissa: Yeah. It's almost like why does he even exist in this book, but there's this guy named Skip Harmon. Here's the funny moment I thought, um, Skip is Jessica's date to the dance or... the dance. An easy mistake to make to Amy's party. Dancing at this party are dancing.

let's see. I have so many notes. 

[00:20:27] Will: I wrote no it's at the beginning, like, okay. Elizabeth Wakefield, dating Todd Wilkins, and then quickly went, this is not worth my time writing. These things are not nearly as important as I thought they were going to me.

[00:20:40] Marissa: Uh, well, they are .Important, but not to this book. Uh, the whole last book was all about Elizabeth dating Todd. Ken, Todd and Liz, or they're just standing around and, um, Jessica comes up to them. She's been dancing with Skip Harmon, 

skip harmon

[00:20:55] Marissa: Hi Liz. Hi Todd. Great party. Huh? She asked. Sure is, Elizabeth agreed. Skip is a terrific dancer. You two look fabulous dancing together. Dancing isn't everything Jessica said rolling her eyes toward the ceiling. In answer to Elisabeth's quizzical look, she added "I'll tell you later."

[00:21:11] Will: Later. Does she ever tell her later? I don't think she does.

[00:21:14] Marissa: She does tell her later, but only after like, Skip has gotten worse. So whatever it is that he's done up to that point. Got it. Um, I wonder if I made an, a. I wonder if I made a note about skip 33, I put 33 exclamation point here. So they're still at the party. I'm the page 33 of this book. It's a long party.

 We get a description of him to, 

skip h

[00:21:36] Marissa: every time he passed a mirror, he would whip out a comb slick back his dark hair, and then smile at his reflection as if you were looking into a movie. To be this good looking and this talented? Skip sighed. Well, what can I say? I've been very fortunate.

[00:21:52] Will: He goes on a whole rant about his, his good fortune and his luck being talented, handsome. How he, it wasn't his, his choice, nothing he earned. It, you know, such a strange fellow, Skip. 

[00:22:06] Marissa: And when he asked her to dance again and she says, no, that because she's tired, he says, 

"can't keep up with me, huh? "Skip teased her.

What's the matter are you out of shape or something? No, but I am out of patience, Jessica replied. 

She's like, she's not into it. So that's funny, but there's like, nothing really comes 

of that

[00:22:26] Will: . there's no, payoff to Skip in this book, 

[00:22:28] Marissa: Like I would call it a B story, but that's all the whole story.

[00:22:32] Will: Skip Sucks. 

[00:22:35] Marissa: So Winston is there with his girlfriend, Maria, and they need to go home, but they're going to have to take the bus.

Oh my God. 

[00:22:43] Will: No one takes the bus in sweet valley. 

[00:22:44] Marissa: No, and it's because Winston's cars in 

the shop or something 

[00:22:49] Will: VW needs new tires this time. 

[00:22:52] Marissa: That's great. Good memory. Um, you're kind of a car guy. 

[00:22:57] Will: I don't understand how they work, but I, I, you know, I understand occasionally they need new tires. 

[00:23:03] Marissa: So Ken like wants to get away from the party.

He's seems like he's maybe a little bit more introverted than people expect him to be, but also he's like weirded out by the Amy thing. He offers to drive Winston and Maria home kind of insists, 

[00:23:17] Will: he's looking to get out of this party. 

[00:23:19] Marissa: Yeah. And he says, he'll come back. You know, he's just gonna drop him off and he'll be right back.

And it'll be nice to kind of get away for a minute. Um, Terry is so feeling like shit about the whole Amy Ken thing, like she just feels really devastated, like, cause how could she compete with Amy Sutton for Ken Matthews? So it does like they're a perfect obvious pairing, you know? Right. So. Winston offers somebody somehow she ends up in this car too..

[00:23:44] Will: I thought it was pretty well done the way she ended up in the car. She's crying in the bathroom and talking to Elizabeth, probably what, meanwhile, um, Maria and Winston are arranging their ride with Ken, 

[00:23:58] Marissa: You're doing SO good.

[00:23:59] Will: And I thank you very much. Just so many, so many names. 

[00:24:05] Marissa: The Elizabeth thing is actually another facet to this particular kind of framework that some of these randos books have.

It's like, how are we going to get the twins involved? Jessica doesn't really have anything to do. Maybe she'll like spread a rumor or be like a way to get information around, which she is in this book. And then Elizabeth needs a job and Elizabeth job is always the same. It's to be the person that's going to fix everything through a phone call that happens.

And also through some, a scene like this, usually where she likes 

[00:24:35] Will: she's a good friend. 

[00:24:36] Marissa: Yeah. So she kind of knows Terry, Terry's been doing some stuff for the newspaper lately, I guess. And has recently made friends with Elizabeth. We didn't see any of that happened with the book, tells us that we take it for granted and then Elizabeth is stepping in and helping out, or is the person that the Rondo character thinks to call for advice. It has happened many times at this point in these books. 

[00:25:00] Will: Yeah, I'd call her. She sounds like she knows everyone and everything is comfortable talking to other people's parents 

[00:25:06] Marissa: And also like understands the true subtext of everybody's emotions. I mean, she's not always like that, but in this book, when Terry eventually calls her and is like explaining what's happening with Ken and her interpretation of the story, Elizabeth is like, "well, but maybe Ken feels this other way." And she, what she says is totally true. Anyway, we're, we're, uh, being vague, but we're going to get there.

So this is actually a really important moment because after Ken drops off Winston and Maria, he goes to drop off Terry and it's raining. It's raining so hard. Oh my gosh. I can hardly see in front of me and Terry's like, come inside. Right? Doesn't she say, come inside and wait out the rainstorm. She's so awkward.

But like they started talking about football 

and it's okay. 

[00:25:52] Will: I thought it was going to lead in a romantic direction. I honestly, to be fair at the party. There's a scene where, uh, this is me trying to figure out where this story's going and what's happening. I didn't trust Amy for one second. So there's a scene where.

Offers to get Ken a drink. And I was like, she's going to roofie him. Like, there's something going on here? 

[00:26:15] Marissa: What does she do? 

[00:26:16] Will: She gets him juice? Is that ..

[00:26:17] Marissa: Orange juice! She actually 

doesn't even, she says that he comes into the party. She says, Hey Ken, can I get you a drink? And he's like, sure. And she says, orange juice, right? As if like she knows that's his order.

And I was just like these, I can not believe the juniors of Sweet Valley High are having a post football game party at Amy Sutton's house. No parents. And she's going to serve him orange juice. I mean, I love it. 

[00:26:39] Will: He's depleted of his vitamin C after the game. 

[00:26:43] Marissa: This is just not what you think of as a stereotypical, like, 

[00:26:47] Will: but the way that she, she exits the scene and we don't go with her and then she comes back and she's just being so manipulative.

I was like, she's, she's up to no. Good. And then he's driving on the dangerous wet road and I'm like, oh, the roofie's going to kick in.

Well, the, the cover of the book, the teaser makes it seem. Like, what, what 

does it say? 

[00:27:09] Marissa: Will Ken's life be ruined in one tragic moment? 

[00:27:12] Will: Yeah. In one tragic moment. And I guess it is tragic because it's totally random and is not a cosmic or karmic punishment for anything it's truly bad luck. Um, but I thought it was going to be a cautionary tale of sorts where it's like oh, mess with the wrong people and you know, this is what's going to happen. But no, it was just bad luck. She didn't do anything malicious. She's just really overplaying her hand trying to get this boy to date here. So fast forward, back to the car. It's dark, it's wet. It's very rainy and dangerous slick roads, I suppose.

And Ken gets in a car accident with a tree avoids, a drunk driver 

[00:27:53] Marissa: Yeah, there's a drunk driver whose fault it really is. Ken was driving really slow and there's somebody with the like headlights careening really fast, like right toward him. And so he swerved to avoid the drunk driver and hits a tree. 

[00:28:04] Will: and they're pretty delicate with how they deal with the drunk driver. I thought it wasn't totally written off and it wasn't over the line.

Like he wasn't belligerently drunk. Like he was very sad. There's a mention of a breathalyzer. He gets led to a cop car, but it's not too explicit. You're definitely left to fill in the blanks a little bit. And then later the kids are all like "some drunk driver ran him off the 

road and he hit a tree." 

[00:28:29] Marissa: The drunk driver is like crying. He's like a middle-aged man.

He's like, oh, I can't believe this happened. Yeah. Um, but that we see all of that stuff through Elizabeth and Todd and Jessica's eyes because they are driving home together. Jessica is like excited to get away from Skip Harmon. And a moment happened that, um, is tragic and heartbreaking, but also seemed like a real, like potential kind of merch opportunity for Sweet Valley Diaries.

Okay. So here's what. Um, they're driving and they see an accident, right? They see this ax to the site of this accident. 


[00:29:06] Marissa: It looks like a bad one. There's an ambulance. Todd said pointing the ambulance was pulled over next to a crumpled white car. Todd isn't that? A white Toyota like Ken's? Elizabeth asked. Stodd top...


Todd stopped the car and stared at the wreckage. The front end of the white car was crumpled like an accordion. The windshield had a gaping hole in it, and there was shattered glass everywhere. It's a Toyota all right, Todd said. Elizabeth strained to see the back of the Toyota as they slowly passed by.

Ken had two bumper stickers in his car. That's wrong. 

Ken had two bumper stickers on his car. One simply had the name of the school on it. And another said, "Honk if you love the Gladiators." She tried to focus on the relatively unharmed bumper, but it was difficult with all the flashing lights. She was able to make out the words, "love the Gladiators." She felt her heart leap in her chest. 

[00:30:17] Marissa: So what do you think would be the better bumper sticker branding opportunity for, for the podcast? Is it "honk if you love the gladiators" or just "love the Gladiators"? Um, 

I liked the, I liked the idea of the merch somehow representing the moment from the story where it's like half torn away.

[00:30:37] Will: It's it's but he survived. It's not a fatal night. It's a fateful night. 

[00:30:41] Marissa: See, this is, we're celebrating the fact that Ken Matthews is alive, he's alive, 

[00:30:47] Will: but is it a life worth living, which is the, the, I guess that's really 

[00:30:54] Marissa: the takeaway for the rest of the rest of the book. Is his life going to be worth living or not?


[00:30:59] Marissa: Okay. We're back in a new location. Does it sound different? Oh my gosh. It was like the ceiling about lower or something. So we are displaced. Yes. But displaced to a place 

[00:31:14] Will: and not forgotten 

[00:31:16] Marissa: displaced. That's beautiful. That's a really beautiful sentiment. Um, we just had to stop talking cause it was so emotional.

You know, the poor Ken, could he be dead? 

[00:31:26] Will: No.

[00:31:27] Marissa: Well, he couldn't be, we are, we did already say that nobody died, but they do. Uh, somebody does say, before we know what's going on with Ken, 

ken dead?

[00:31:36] Marissa: Ken Matthews was on his way to the hospital. He was unconscious and from what they had seen, his chances didn't look good.

[00:31:43] Will: They really drive it home. The idea that Ken could die at any moment. He's fine...but he could also die. 

[00:31:49] Marissa: Yeah. But then it seems like what's actually happened is that he has received some bruises and scratches to his face. Primarily. No other part of his body seems damaged.

He is very touch and go, 

[00:32:02] Will: can I read a quote that I wrote down in full in my notes, this is something that a doctor says to him once he's woken back up. Right. The doctor says 


[00:32:12] Will: once the swelling from the bruises and the small cuts goes down, you're going to look exactly the same as you did before.

Like as a way of consoling, like, don't worry. You're going to be exactly as, as you were. And it worked on me, it threw me off. I thought, oh, he's going to be fine. I did not see the, the, I was, I was blindsided. I was blindsided. 

[00:32:38] Marissa: Well, and is that a football reference? No, it's not a blindness reference because.

Uh, Ken has these bandages that totally are covering his face.

[00:32:48] Will: I imagine like the invisible man? 

[00:32:50] Marissa: It was like that! With like a little slit for his mouth and, oh, I mean immediately in the aftermath of having seen this accident, Liz Todd, and go back to Amy's party and like tell Amy what happened. Amy is distraught.

She wants him to the hospital right away. Cause like, this is her man, you know? But then they, Elizabeth is like, no, one's, they're not going to let you see him. Or somebody says that. And then they resolve to go the next day. Yeah. So Amy goes there with Jessica the next day and also, you know, Mr. And Mrs. Matthews are there and say like, yeah, no, he's can't have visitors yet. Cause he's still in the ICU and Jessica notices, that Amy seems sort of relieved. Like all of this is like a little bit much for. Which is understandable. I mean, they're not actually dating. And her whole interest in Ken is basically this daydream that she has that not real 

what's interesting is that she never comes to the realization that she was too much and pushed him away.

And, you know, poor Terry thinks she's the reason that he got in this car accident, but really you can draw. To Amy. Oh, yes. Amy's I guess over zealousness in trying to lock this man down, forced him to leave the party, which is why he got 

in the car. Right. Um, and instead like nobody ever connects those dots, but Amy does like flat out confront Terry and tell her that it is her fault.

Because if Terry hadn't, I mean, it's all, everything that is in the accusation is not true. Like if Terry hadn't sourced him. Yeah. Well that must be, it must be protected. She doesn't know. But she actually, I think doesn't realize that Ken wanted to leave her party. We'll never really know. Um, but we didn't even, we, we stopped at the bandages and the invisible man, like eventually.

Yeah, I guess nobody else, no other kids are there. It's just Ken and his parents and the doctor, but eventually it's time for the bandages to come off and they all come off and it's like, he looks exactly the same, but then 

what does he ask? He says something like, when are you going to take the menus, this off my eyes.

So sad. And the doctor's like, oh, we were afraid of this, but there was no way to know until we took them off your 

[00:35:00] Will: eyes. So I have not Googled this yet, but my assumption is that this would be the rarest possible outcome from a car crash to just go blind, to be totally fine. Cuts and bruises. Yeah, it 

[00:35:15] Marissa: didn't go good with either.

I mean, I, so since we're going to be talking for the rest of the book about Ken Matthews and his struggle with blindness. I mean, I'll read some quotes. I think there are places where the book actually handles it fairly. Well. I just want to say, like, if we ever feel like we're making fun of the book, we're making fun of the book.

The, I have actually really recently, um, gotten a chance to talk with some people for another podcast project about people who like Ken Matthews, uh, no, not in a car accident. I don't think I don't really know the details, but they became, uh, blind after having been sighted for the first part of their lives.

They're awesome. Normal people. Like there's nothing. I. This 

[00:35:57] Will: is what makes a lot about blindness. Like it makes a big to do about it and it is both warranted and also laying it on 


[00:36:04] Marissa: little thick. I mean, we'll see, I think it handles it. Okay. But I just want to, I guess I'm just trying to hedge my bets here just in case it comes up.

We cross come across sounding in anyway, callous, it's just that the book is ridiculous. Well, 

[00:36:16] Will: I, as a joke was going to pitch you on the idea of wearing blindfolds to record this, and then do you know, 30 pages later, poor Terry comes up with that idea herself. And I was like, oh man, this is 

[00:36:31] Marissa: Elizabeth doing her Elizabeth thing.

[00:36:34] Will: She plants the seed 

[00:36:35] Marissa: of the idea. So basically after Ken Is blind, uh, Jessica and Elizabeth go to visit him 

[00:36:40] Will: what page does he become blind on? I was trying to track the structure 

[00:36:45] Marissa: it's right around page 59 because I did, I marked this down 

[00:36:48] Will: pretty deep in there for the premise to take shape 

[00:36:50] Marissa: at page fifty-nine..

It's like two thirds of the, this book is 150 pages long. ,

okay. This is just before the bandages come off. I thought this was kind of funny. 

Ken's Dad

[00:36:58] Marissa: Ken breathed a sigh of relief as the gauze was removed and he could actually feel the air on his head again, he raised his hand to the top of his head. Whoa. He said with half a laugh, where's my hair? We had to shave it, Dr. Arquette explained in order to treat some of the cuts and to take some x-rays, don't worry. It'll grow back in a few weeks. That's good. Ken grinned. I'm going to look pretty scary on the football field right there. You always do Mr. Matthews replied, especially with that arm of yours, 

[00:37:26] Will: how fast his hair grow?

[00:37:28] Marissa: We don't know, but I thought that was such a funny, like dad comment, you always do look scary, son. You always 


[00:37:34] Will: But the dad knows that you assume the doctor has told the dad like your 

[00:37:39] Marissa: reaction suggest to me that they already knew 

[00:37:42] Will: overcompensate the possibility of a joke, like with a dad joke. Okay. 

[00:37:46] Marissa: So not long after that Jessica and Elizabeth come by and, Ken momentarily thinks about like, pretending that he can see still, like he doesn't want to deal with it.

And they brought him a car that has like everybody in the club in a school basically signed it and they're like, read the poem and he's like, I'm blind. He just blurts it out. I 

do love that. We get a little bit of his thought process. He considered. Saying, oh, I have a headache. Can you read it for me?

But then he does the right thing. He's honest. 

Yeah. Although when he had that, I was like, oh, that's a good idea, Ken. That would work, that would totally work.

Yeah. But it is like at a certain point. So they go back to the school and they, I think Jessica intercepts Amy at the hospital and mentions it to her and Amy leaves, she's like, fuck this.


[00:38:35] Will: For, for someone who is that into him, uh, she bails just as quickly as this romance began. 

[00:38:41] Marissa: She has come to visit him at the hospital at some point and sent some letters. And Ken is like touched by that early on. But then he gets sent to this rehab facility for like a month, a month that gets totally elided in this book.

It's like, you turn a page to a new chapter and it's like 

[00:38:58] Will: A lot happens very quickly in this poor boy's life. Yeah, it's just a few weeks at the end of the book they talk about, oh, remember just a few weeks ago, like, oh, wow. I didn't realize all this could happen in such a short span of time. He went to a school for the blind and learned how to live his life as a blind person.

He, he did get screwed a little bit. He did not get a dog. I feel like a seeing eye dog would have done wonders for poor ken. 

[00:39:25] Marissa: Yeah. He could have had a buddy, but yeah, no chapter nine starts after like the last thing that happened was that Terry went to visit Ken at the hospital and, he was happy to see her and, she cries at him because she feels so guilty.

Amy has like full on confronted her, like blaming her for the accident as well as we mentioned earlier now. So she's all sad. She goes to the hospital and. Um, or wait, is that, did that happen already that Amy confronted her or was that yeah. Yeah, it did. So,

 The beginning of chapter nine... Ron Jablonksi. 

Yes. Which 

[00:40:03] Will: is a fantastic name. Yeah. 

[00:40:05] Marissa: Yeah. Um, when I'm naming characters, I tend to give them last names like Jablonski because

[00:40:09] Will: A lot of Polish people in your stuff. 

[00:40:11] Marissa: Yeah. Everybody that, when I was growing up, this was the kind of last names people had 

where I lived, 

[00:40:16] Will: they roll off the tongue in a very, in a very nice way.

[00:40:19] Marissa: Yeah. 

Ron Jablonski

[00:40:20] Marissa: Attitude is everything. Ron Jablonski told Ken, if I keep saying that over and over again, it's because I want to drill it into your head. Ken nodded, he didn't know what Ron looked like, but he sure had learned to recognize his voice. Ron had been his counselor, therapist and friend during the month Ken had spent at Holly field. 

So it's like, oh, okay. He's been there for a month already now. oh, I know. I, sorry. I understand what I was confused before. So Terry doesn't come to visit Ken at the hospital. Amy accosts Terry, Terry wants to go visit Ken, and Elizabeth is like, you can't visit him because he's at this facility rehab facility for people who've become blind and you can't, 

no one can visit him.


not allowed no visitors, 

[00:40:59] Will: but then, Terry's that one that asks. "Hey, do you mind working your Sweet Valley magic?" She 

[00:41:06] Marissa: basically is like, "Can't you talk to his parents and tell them how important it is?" , Because she wants to apologize to Ken for what she now feels is her fault.

So she's 

[00:41:15] Will: His blindness, by the way, it shook me. It really, it really did catch me by surprise. I did not think that that's where this story was going. And then I, it just went full, full into it. Uh, a premise about the, what if the star football player became blind? I just, it took me, it took the book this long to figure out what it was about.

And now we're into an interesting premise.

[00:41:39] Marissa: well, this 

is kind of a funny side effect of having you read the ebook because on the physical copy on the back of the book, the second paragraph starts, 

Back cover

"then one rainy night, Ken is in a terrible car accident that leaves him blind,"

[00:41:51] Will: Yep, nope. Didn't read that. This was truly a rollercoaster.

[00:41:56] Marissa: Ah, well rollercoaster for Ken too, because he is when he's about, it's about time for him to leave. Now, his month is up and he goes into his room to kind of like pack things up. And he's got all these cards from students at sweet valley. 

Ken's Cards

[00:42:13] Marissa: Ron had read each one to Ken as it arrived. And he had re-read them.

Whenever Ken felt lonely, his favorite card was the homemade one from the football team. It was shaped like a football and a shoelace was threaded through it. Ken ran his hand over all his friends' signatures. He could feel the impressions, the pens, and may in the paper, remembering the guys on the team made tears come to Ken's eyes.

He was funny. His eyes couldn't see anymore, but they sure were good at crying. In his whole life, Ken hadn't cried as much as he had in the last month. There were all kinds of cards from lots of different people. Mr. Collins --

should remember him. He's 

--coach Schultz, Olivia Davidson, the Wakefields, Cara Walker.

Amy had written too, but both of the letters had come a long time ago, in the first week. Ken knew them by the scented envelopes that were Amy's trademark. Her letters had been friendly, but there wasn't much to them beyond the same old, "you'll be fine" that most people wrote. With a wave of his hand, Ken sent the cards, flying to the door, not one of these get well wishes had brought him any closer to seeing again. 

You know, so he's about to go back to sweet valley high and he feels bad about it. Understandably. So then we get his first day at sweet valley high. 

[00:43:27] Will: They mentioned later that he had gotten like a, a private walkthrough to, to learn the layout 

because he was doing a lot of like step counting to like figure out his way around. And he hadn't changed 

the step. I had never thought about that, but it's, it's clear that whoever wrote this book did the very minimum amount of research into what happens when you go blind.

Like, what are the things that they teach you immediately? It's like, Count your steps. That's, that's where we're going to start. 

[00:43:54] Marissa: Hi, Marissa chiming in real quick. After listening back to this episode, I thought maybe it would be a good idea for me to actually look into this whole step counting thing. And lo and behold, I I quickly uncovered many articles written by people who are blind referring to the idea that they count their steps as a "popular misconception." And that this is not really a recommended method for getting around because it's not particularly reliable. Uh, it's possible that this is something that has just changed in the course of the last 30 years, in terms of the way that people are taught. But that's just me giving the ghost writer the benefit of the doubt. 

I'll put some links in the show notes to what I uncovered. 

It seems to me like, if. There was a popular misconception. It might've been really easy for an author to just trade in that rather than doing the research, anyway, I thought it was worth popping in to comment on after the fact, rather than just deleting that whole part. Now back to the show!

And just to call myself out here, like if I had really been thinking about this, I probably could have tried to to ask one of the people that I have met that is blind and to be the guest on this book, but then you would have been deprived of reading this.

Beautiful. Okay. Well soon that's what Terry is going to do because so Ken, I mean, just to, I guess like fast forward through it, Ken is having a really tough time in all of his classes. Understandably. Winston on the first day I was leading them around and it has to like meet him, like I have to arrange to like meet each other between every class so that one student can lead him to the next class.

[00:45:29] Will: The acknowledgement that he wasn't a great student to begin with. And now things are going to be waiting. 

[00:45:34] Marissa: Yeah. It's like he's recording his lectures, but then the teacher will say something like open your books. Dammit, you know, he's still learning to read braille. I passed a braille Institute on the way over here, by the way.

Really? Yeah. Well, on the way to the first location and then, Amy like used to sit by him in one of these classes and now she doesn't, 

[00:45:59] Will: they're treating him like a leper. 

[00:46:00] Marissa: But then Terry goes to talk to him and they actually have like a great conversation. Uh, it's really nice. I think that might be when he goes out by the football field on his own.

He goes rogue. Winston's supposed to meet him. And that's when he overhear a Scott Trost talking to some other football player, he learns a couple things.

[00:46:20] Will: That Scott is quarterback of the team. Yes. What else does you learn? Oh, that Amy and he are dating, right? Yeah. The 

Amy is like going after him, pursuing him hard. She has dropped cam like a hot potato. 

[00:46:33] Marissa: Here's what it says. 

Scott and Amy

[00:46:34] Marissa: So are you going with her? 

Said an old timey way to say it. Yeah. Ken heard a distant voice say. A couple of guys seemed to be heading back to school from the athletic fields. She's been after me to take her out. That's for sure. Ever since coach made me quarterback.

Oh my God. It's so transparent.

 From his position on the bench, Ken, tried to figure out who he was listening to. It sounded like Scott Trost, but whom was he talking about? 

[00:47:01] Will: I wonder if I'd be able to, to identify my friends just by their voice. I feel like I do a decent job. I was, I think I was silently judging him.

I'm like, you don't know who these 

[00:47:10] Marissa: people are. Well, I don't do they ever even say no, but this is a cool, this is the cool example of when we're in Ken's POV, after he becomes blind, this is how it is. It's like , if he doesn't know who's talking, we don't know who's talking right there, you know, and it sort of comes up as it becomes clear to Ken. 

"you know, Amy, she's got to have somebody to go out with. Another boy said Ken was certain that the second guy was Skip Harmon. 

There you go.

Ken's breath caught in his chest. Could they mean Amy Sutton? 

[00:47:40] Will: The only Amy that's ever been referenced? 

Of course it's Amy Sutton. 

Yeah. So 

[00:47:45] Marissa: he feels like crap, but then Terry comes out and they started talking and he forgets, you know, the pain of his blindness for a little while. 

[00:47:54] Will: When she starts basically nursing him back to, to health.

It's very like, what do they call it? Nightingale syndrome. Isn't it. 

Uh, where you fall in love with the universe, like Florence Nightingale. I mean, there's Stockholm syndrome, but that's when you fall over with your kidnapper. So that's not what 

happened. Well, I think it's, I think there's a Nightingale reference.

Um, I'm remembering from, from something or some movie. And I caught that very early on. I'm like, this is not going to go well, I see where this, this conflict is going. 

[00:48:24] Marissa: What happens is that Terry, like the first thing is that Terry talks to him, but at some point in the conversation, he has this moment where he's like, oh no, she is just talking to me out of pity.

Like, I like this girl. I'd like to spend more time with her, but you know what? She wouldn't want to spend time with me. And he gets all solid and runs away. And Terry takes this kind of personally. And so she calls Elizabeth and that's when Elizabeth advisors heard it. You know, I read this weird thing in a magazine.

This is kind of strange to try, but Terry has said, I wish I could understand what was going on inside of him. And Elizabeth recommends that Terry cover her eyes for a little while. I tried to spend some time like blind. Yeah. So this on the face of, it seems a little silly, but the way that it's actually written about I thought was pretty like surprisingly nuanced for sweet valley high.


[00:49:13] Will: I just, as a side note in a, in a Boy Meets World episode, I feel like this would lead to the character showing up to school, you know, with their eyes taped, shut and sunglasses on and a walking stick, trying to live the life of a blind person for a day to see how it is. And it would not go well there either, but 

would be way funnier.

[00:49:31] Marissa: Yeah. This is not played for comedy. So Terry's walking around her house with a scarf over her eyes. Uh, I guess it must be a pretty thick scarf because otherwise that wouldn't do too much, although your eyes are closed underneath the scarf. Right. 

[00:49:45] Will: Scarf is there to keep you honest. 

[00:49:47] Marissa: Yeah. So she's understanding that this is kind of scary, like to not really know where you're going. So she's relating to Ken on that level. 



The reality of blindness was turning out to be a lot harsher than Terry had ever imagined. 

[00:49:59] Marissa: It's kind of a strange choice of words. The reality is like this isn't, that's not what this is, but okay. Whatever. every simple task she tried gave her a whole new sense of respect for how much can it already learned. He was really doing well at this. At school, he walked at a normal pace by himself. That alone was a major achievement. When she finally managed to get some juice into a glass, Terry found a chair next to the window and sank into it. A sweet fragrant breeze blew in the kitchen. Terry took a sip of the juice, then stood up and walked over to the sliding glass door that opened onto the deck.

The smooth glass felt cool to her fingertips, but standing at the window made her sad. Ken would never be able to look out a window again. Blindness had robbed him of even the simplest pleasures. Suddenly a bird started chirping. The sound was startling. It stood out like a bright color against the darkness in her head, standing at the window.

She listened intently, drinking in the music. She must have heard those birds in the backyard every day of her life, but she had never really listened to them before, never realized how beautiful they sounded. Being blind was terrible, but it did have its compensations, Terry suddenly realized. She was hearing and touching things she had merely taken for granted before.

Still, when she took off the blindfold, a few minutes later, Terry was immensely relieved to have her eyesight back then a feeling of sadness overwhelmed her. She had only been blind for an hour. Ken might be blind for the rest of his life. 

Oh, which I guess we should say the doctor has allowed some wiggle room that Ken might get his eyesight back.

[00:51:31] Will: Don't count your chickens before, 

[00:51:34] Marissa: like, okay. I better not get my hopes up. 

[00:51:35] Will: Another instance in that passage of a sweet valley kid, drinking juice as their beverage of choice did not clean up the spilled juice. 

So we never saw that. And you know what, Terry takes this experience and turns it into like, what feels like a very deep understanding of blindness, because suddenly now when she offers to hang out with Ken and like, she wants to take him to the beach and she, she like, kind of knows exactly what to say to him.

She narrates what's happening, 

yeah, yeah. I never thought about that, but that was clever. 

[00:52:09] Marissa: Yeah. It's like, she's driving and she's like, I'm on going on this street now I'm stopping at the stoplight. Then I'm going to turn on this street because she felt like not knowing what was happening was part of what made it scary.

And they get to the beach and he's sort of sad, like, oh, I used to come running on the beach and she was like, you can run, you know, like, I'll be right here. 

It's a private cove, basically. 

[00:52:31] Will: It's not the Sweet Valley beach. It's North Haven, which is just vacant. It's just a two miles just vacant 

You know, one of those vacant beachess between, 

[00:52:40] Marissa: uh, like Newport and Santa Barbara of which there are so many, you know, one of those, um, uh, there are parts of the beach that are quieter than others, for sure.

They spend a few days, like she invites them to a football game and he's a little bit iffy on it, but he goes and has a good time. 

Right. It was a romance plot, but neither of them is acknowledging the romantic part 

of it. Yeah. And I was actually surprised when it came back to, Ken at a certain point it's like, he's going to kiss her.

And then he's like, oh no, shoot. There was nothing romantic between us. Like she would hate that. And I was just like, oh, okay. I didn't. I thought that they were like, had become an item, but I guess 


[00:53:20] Will: Yeah. For someone who's the star quarterback of the football team, his, his confidence is, is quite low. And I appreciate that perspective.

You know, he's not super cocky. He's not, you know, overconfident and just, you know, assuming that everybody loves him, he's like, no, she must just be taking care of me and I'm thinking too much about it. 

[00:53:39] Marissa: Yeah. And then once that realization. He now he has a whole new, weird attitude towards Terry, which this is the book is winding down at this point, but he's like, 

[00:53:51] Will: Winding down and building towards what we hope is them getting together 


[00:53:56] Marissa: This is like the part of the romance novel, where the two characters are convinced that the other one is all wrong for them. And that, that can never work out. So, uh, it's like the last hurdle, they both they've fallen in love, but like they can't confess their love to each other for reasons inside their own mind. Yeah. So Ken is like simultaneously reliant on Terry for every little thing to the point that he is not doing things on his own as much as he should be. And also he's kind of like being a Dick to her because it's like, if he's friendly to her, it'll only be making him feel his love for her more?

[00:54:33] Will: He's keeping it very professional. He's treating her like an employee. I feel like. There's a distance that he's forcing by his behavior. Yeah. I got, I felt, I felt like for a book and a series that seems very broad and soapy, this was accurate, I think, to a certain extent and nuanced in the way that people behave.

Well, there 

[00:54:55] Marissa: was one part... So when Terry eventually calls Elizabeth again and, uh, like for the, at least the third time in this book, you know, Elizabeth to the rescue, like help advise me, um, she called and she kind of tells Liz that he's kind of been a jerk lately. And Liz is like, have you ever told him how you felt?

Cause like everybody else knows that Terry has a crush on Ken and has like all year, Elizabeth says, 

Liz love advice

[00:55:20] Marissa: "Terry, when you see him today, why don't you tell Ken how you feel about him?" Elizabeth suggested. "That might make things easier between you. You'll know one way or the other if he's interested in you, you know, as a girlfriend.' Terry, let out a little laugh, "I'll try, but I don't think I want to know the answer."

And that was just like, oh, it's such a gut punch because I have been Terry like so many times in high school and beyond, you know, this thing of like, well, I get to spend all this time with this person that I have strong feelings for. Like maybe it'll just work itself out, but what's happening with Terry.

I don't know if this ever happened in one of the situations for me, but you know, is that can actually does have feelings for her, but he has his own reasons for not 

voicing them. 


[00:56:00] Will: both doing the same thing. To to the situation. 

[00:56:04] Marissa: So there's a big fight that they have the next time they see each other,

[00:56:07] Will: at the Droids concert?

[00:56:09] Marissa: They do go to the droids concert, but that's where Terry is kind of like, he's been kind of a dick lately 

[00:56:14] Will: Are the droids, a recurring band? 

[00:56:17] Marissa: Okay. Usually referred to as sweet valley high's own rock band. They're a great, 

[00:56:21] Will: That's a great name. I mean, I assume that they're a great band and I would enjoy, 

[00:56:27] Marissa: I wish I wish they 

were real.

Is it, do you think it's a star wars thing? Like we're in the eighties, there's a band it's like, oh, like the Droids. 

Okay. I think it's gotta be, um, do you have your book handy? Um, I, yeah. Do you want to read, do a dramatic reading of this fight with me? Is that too intense? No, not at all. Let me bring it up.

This'll be our first time probably acting together since grad school. 

Did we not do one of these on my previous episode? 

Oh, maybe. I don't know. I listen to. When I introduced you, I said your full name, but I didn't say a single thing about you. 

[00:57:04] Will: I liked the mystery. 

[00:57:06] Marissa: So what gladiators may or may not know is that Will, is a, director, a film director, and also other things and writer. And so, you know, you can tell me about my performance.

I could take it. 

[00:57:19] Will: Oh no, 


Ken, spending time with you was my idea.

[00:57:24] Marissa: You know that, but I can't go on like this forever. I've got my own homework to take care of too. 

[00:57:29] Will: I'm sure you do.

[00:57:31] Marissa: Ken. I'm not saying I don't want to see you anymore. 

[00:57:34] Will: Aren't you? It was fun to play candy striper for awhile, but now you're sick of it. I understand perfectly. 

[00:57:40] Marissa: That's not true. I only want to help you Ken! 

[00:57:43] Will: Look, Terry, you're not blind. You can't help me because you have no idea what it's like. So why don't you just get out of here? Like everyone else. 

[00:57:53] Marissa: Terry stood up ready to run out, but she couldn't let him have the last word she had to tell him how she felt about him. You're right. I don't know what it's like to be blind, but I do know it's not the end of the world Ken! Plenty of blind people have accomplished great things.

And you can too, if you stop sitting back and feeling sorry for yourself, letting other people do everything for you. 

[00:58:13] Will: I said, get out of here! 

[00:58:16] Marissa: Terry stormed through the open doorway, then spun around to face him, tears streaming down her face. All right. I see now that you've been taking advantage of me this whole time. Oh, you like it when I help you out and do things for you, it's fine with you that I make you feel good about yourself, but you ever stopped once to consider how I feel? 

Why in the world did you think I was doing all these things for you anyway? Because I love you. That's why. And if you never noticed that you're even blinder than you think, 

[00:58:43] Will: all right, we'll go for another take. 

[00:58:44] Marissa: I know we should have your wife come out in, but she's literally currently teaching an acting class.

[00:58:51] Will: So this is true. This is true, but, uh, yeah, it's really dramatic and it's just like Ken and Ken, when 

[00:58:58] Marissa: the chapter closes ken's house. end 

Terry turned and ran down the front sidewalk to her car. She heard Ken calling her name, but she didn't stop. So Ken's like calling after, you know, he is, it's been a big revelation.

He's just like, oh my gosh. You know, so what does Ken do? 

[00:59:15] Will: He yells Terry Terry. I mean, that's the beginning of the next chapter. It's 

[00:59:20] Marissa: an, it's a, it's a direct pickup. So yeah, he calls her house after we cry, like sits on the porch and like mopes for 15, 

[00:59:32] Will: it goes into, I think what we can admit as a classic romcom ending, you know, where he resolves his, his inner flaw and does a big romantic gesture.

Something that's very difficult for him, which in this case is doing things without her. So he figures out a way to, um, well he first realizes she's not home. I know where she is. She must be at the beach. He rejects everyone's offers to give him a ride to the beach and says, he's going to do it on his own.

He storms out of his house. He gets to the bus stop, gets 

on the bus. Sweet valley has 

buses. Oh, great buses that no one would ever take. There's no reason to ever take the bus. So the bus driver's really nice. He gets to the beach, he gets off, he counts his steps. , you know, 

he knows that's where she is. And he knows the beach really well because he spent so much time with her there.

And it 

feels like this like epic long. Yeah. 

[01:00:27] Marissa: It seems like it must've been really hard. He has to like ask people strangers for advice, like, you know, is this the bus stop and bus driver? Can you tell me like, things that, I mean, we've probably seen, I mean, living in the city, like you see people that are navigating the world like this who are blind all the time.

You know, it happened in Chicago recently, there was a guy getting off the Metro rail who myself and several other people were kind of like telling him where the stairs were and thinking, you know, helping him go the right way. And I just remember thinking. This must be his whole day, like, cause he's, this is clearly a guy who's like brave enough to risk, you know, walking down a train platform and not knowing where the stairs are. I mean, I don't know what his story was, but I was just thinking like, wow, that must be like, on the one hand, I don't want to like, he's, he's out there living his life. So I don't want to treat him with like pity, but on the other hand, like, oh, that would be so hard to have to navigate the world that way, especially in a new situation, right.

With no buddy to like lead you around. 

[01:01:25] Will: Well, I could hear the music, you know, it felt like the end of a movie and they run into each other's 

arms and at the setting they're back at the beach, which is the place that began their relationship. Yeah, it was very, it was very nice. The one thing I will say is that I.

I wish that he didn't get his sight back. 

[01:01:43] Marissa: Well, yeah. And so what happens is that there's a big romantic moment at the end and it goes like this. 

Romantic Moment

[01:01:49] Marissa: Suddenly his lips met hers in a warm, passionate kiss, standing on the beach, the wind tousling their hair and the waves crashing around them, their kiss said more than all the words in the world could ever say.

 This is very Princess Bride 

For the first time, Terry didn't have any doubts about the way Ken was feeling. "Terry you're too good for me," he whispered in her ear when the kiss was over. " We're good together, Ken," she replied, resting her head on his chest. "You're right. And we're going to be even better," he said, squeezing her waist. "Ken," she said, excitedly, "the sunset is so beautiful.

I wish you could see it. The sky is light pink and the sun is gold. Like it's on fire." Ken removed his sunglasses and turned his face toward the ocean. "Are there clouds?" he asked. "Only a few," she answered. "The sun's over this way, right?" he asked, pointing. "Yes," Terry answered, her voice quivering. "How did you know that?"

"Because I can feel its warmth," Ken answered. "But you know what, Terry?" when I looked that way, there's a brightness... a definite brightness." 

And then a second later, he's like, I don't see it anymore. And she's like, Ken the sun went down? So it's like, your vision is coming back, you know? So that's like basically the end of the book, like he doesn't get his vision back, but it's like, he's gonna get his vision back.

Which, I mean, when the doctor said he might get his vision back, I was like, okay, so they're going to have Ken be blind for like a book or two. And then that's what happens in his books. people are differently abled for, like, a couple of books and then they get a 

taste of it.

[01:03:17] Will: Yeah. It's almost, it's almost like he's been rewarded, you know, in the same way that, that he was punished unfairly. He is also rewarded unfairly. There's a balance to this universe for 

[01:03:33] Marissa: sure. Yeah. The, oh, that's interesting. 

[01:03:36] Will: And then we don't really know in the epilogue the final chapter, uh, if he's still blind or not, do we like, even in that chapter, they're running, it's all about Patty Gilbert and Deedee Gordon, and it's about setting up the next book, I assume.

Yeah. But yeah, I mean maybe he's, he can see again, or maybe they're, they've established that the two of them run when he can't see, so 

[01:03:59] Marissa: yeah. Well, I guess find out next season on sweet valley diaries.

 would you care to tease the next book, which will be the premiere of season seven or sweet valley diaries.

[01:04:14] Will: It sounds like there's something malicious going on. I don't, I it's 

[01:04:20] Marissa: Patty. So Patty Gilbert, Gladiators, if you don't remember her, she is a friend of Dee Dee Gordon's and in some of the Dee Dee books, or like Bill and Dee Dee books, she factors in, but this is definitely gonna be her first time in the spotlight. 

[01:04:33] Will: And her boyfriend is off at college and he's....

Jim is coming back this weekend and they haven't seen each other in a while. And she's really nervous. Patty's really nervous. She wants it all to be perfect. When her boyfriend comes back, 

she seems to think that maybe he's cheating on her and Dee Dee 

seems... I read this as Dee Dee's, the one who's cheating with.

Oh, that would be quite, he seems to know way too much. And she's withholding. 

[01:05:01] Marissa: I wouldn't worry about it. I wouldn't worry about Jim. I'm sure he's off doing wonderful things for you and like planning a great, 

[01:05:08] Will: yeah, I see. Straight through 

[01:05:10] Marissa: you. Well, do you have the, the part about coming next month as well?

Would you read the whole thing and the gladiators are going to be pretty excited? 

Teaser 1

[01:05:20] Will: Will everything work out between Patty and Jim? Find out in Sweet Valley High Number 61: Boy Trouble 

and then there's another one.

Teaser 2

[01:05:27] Will: Coming next month, the first Sweet Valley High Superstar Edition: Lila's Story. 

As if that's what we wanted. Lila, who's been a terror in this book. It's like, you know what? I want a whole spinoff superstar Lila. 

[01:05:40] Marissa: We didn't even tell them about the scene with the cake and all the people at the world's largest cake. there's this moment with a cake where they like are having a welcome back to school party that Elizabeth and Enid have like arranged for Ken and, um,

There's this big, uh, big, 


[01:05:55] Marissa: a huge rectangular box containing a sheet cake that read "welcome home, Ken." "Poor, Ken," Jessica said with a shake of her head, "he won't even be able to read the cake." "Jessica," Elizabeth replied impatiently, "ken doesn't need people feeling sorry for him. The cake will taste just as good, even if he can't read it, besides it's really to show him that we're happy he's back."

 And then Jessica says, 

"Are you really happy he's back?"

 She's just like... it's so sad. Like it's and Elizabeth is pissed off at Jessica, but she's like, at least she's being honest about how she feels as opposed to like Amy who never apologizes to Ken or says anything about Scott Trost to Ken. But there's this other moment that I thought was hilarious.

Uh, also around the cake, just the next. 

Lila Cake

[01:06:35] Marissa: I think this whole cake ideas stupid Lila Fowler complained, when they found her at the locker adjusting a tortoise shell barrette in her long light brown hair. I mean, how's he even going to know there's a cake for him, "we're all going to yell, surprise, and then we'll tell him that's how." Enid answered.

I love that 

Lila gave a bored shrug. "All right," she said, "I'll be there even though he won't know if I am or not." 

[01:07:00] Will: This was my favorite part of the whole book. I can't believe that I didn't bring it up because that scene was everything. 

[01:07:05] Marissa: Well, the next sentence says, 


[01:07:06] Marissa: Enid looked as though she was about to punch Lila. Elizabeth took her friend by the hand and gently guided her down the hall. 

And then when they have the cake scene, that's when everybody's like, Hey, it's me, Aaron Dallas. And Winston says like, Hey Amy, aren't you going to say something? So, you know, 

[01:07:22] Will: the cake, the cake scene was really special and that, that was.

Intentionally funny. And we were rallying around Lila being awful. I think we were allowed to laugh at the idea that that a cake is to be read. You know, a cake is not to be read, it is to be eaten, but then the idea of "will he even know there's a cake here?" Like we could tell him there's a pony. We could tell them there, you know, who is a, a popular football player at the time that he would look up to OJ Simpson.

We got OJ Simpson to come here and, you know, participate in your cake ceremony, 

[01:08:00] Marissa: like OJ, say something, oh, he's 

[01:08:03] Will: talking 

[01:08:05] Marissa: awful. Um, but that does seem like Where Lila's head is, well tell me this, Will, having read this book, is there a character that you relate to in particular? 

[01:08:18] Will: I feel like I shouldn't say Skip, but

[01:08:22] Marissa: Maybe Ron Jablonski? 

[01:08:23] Will: Ron Jablonski gets totally shafted because we never know what he looks like. We never, I pictured that Ron Jablonski is just the generic name that all the workers at this facility get, because, you know, it's, everyone deserves a Ron Jablonski, to help their rehab process. But there's just not enough.

[01:08:47] Marissa: true. Um, there is a moment toward the very end of the book, like in the last chapter. 


[01:08:54] Marissa: 'Did you hear that Ken's sight is starting to come back?" Patty asked absently 

I didn't say that very absently, but, 

"Uh, did you hear that Ken's sight has started to come back?" she asked absently. 

"Yes. Isn't that great?" DeeDee answered. "Someone should make a movie out of his story. Maybe they could even film it at Sweet Valley High. We could all be extras. Wouldn't that be terrific."

So I think that in next week's extra drama episode, you and I should think about this movie. 

[01:09:20] Will: Yeah, absolutely. And, and that's not the, the only time that, uh, like a movie is referenced because early on with skip, he looks at himself in the mirror as if he's looking into a movie camera.

So there is this idea that these kids are kind of self-absorbed and, and picture their lives as if they're interesting enough to be in movies. Yeah. But their proximity to Los Angeles can explain 

away all that. It's true. What's true. And I mean, high school is kind of like that, right? Like you just think of yourself through that lens.

I certainly did. 

I don't know if I did. Looking looking back. No, I don't know if anything that exciting happened that I've thought it should be. 

[01:09:59] Marissa: Uh, I guess not, well, we can save all this for the, for the bonus episode in the meantime, gladiators. Thank you so much for listening. I'm so excited about next season, but we can get into all of that in the next episode.

Um, thank you for listening and for telling your friends and remember that you can email me at [email protected] or find me on Instagram at sweet valley diaries. The website is sweet valley Do you have anything you want to plug? 

[01:10:24] Will: Well, no. Well, I mean, we have a movie that is theoretically coming out in the next calendar year.

If it happens to come to a film festival near you keep an eye out, it's called The Mirror Game and we're pretty excited 

[01:10:36] Marissa: about it. Oh, The Mirror Game. Yeah. So surprise twist ending, Gladiators! Well, Teya was on. Earlier this season, 

[01:10:45] Will: do we have a title for the movie at that point? We didn't keep an eye out. Marissa wrote it I directed it, Teya's in it. You better love it. 

[01:10:52] Marissa: I mean, you better believe that I'm going to tell you more about it when it is coming to theaters near you. Should that happen or if it's on streaming at some point, which should also happen. All right, we'll see you next time. And, , I have, , some advice that I actually wrote down in advance this time, 

 The cake tastes just as good.

Even if you can't read it. 

[01:11:12] Will: That's great. I, you can have a bumper sticker that says "honk if you love reading cakes, 

[01:11:18] Marissa: I like that. I like that a lot. 

 We are recording. Okay. The pressure. No pressure. Okay. Welcome to sweet valley diaries, the podcast where it's just like, oh wait, no, that's not. I going to say, sorry. I usually, sometimes they say the podcasts and who knows, I don't this time. I don't want to say, oh, this will go at the end.

I always say gotta save. You gotta have a least one flub to put at the end. Yeah. 





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