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02 May 2008 @ 11:21 pm
SVH #25 Nowhere to Run  
SVH #25 Nowhere to Run
Emily Mayer is the troubled girl with brown hair and long face in the pink shirt. Elizabeth “St. Liz” is, once again, playing her familiar role of meddling caring friend (for the 137th time I might add). 
Hee, I love covers where Liz’s barrettes match her shirt!
Ever notice 99.9% of all school scenes in SVH take place in the cafeteria? It’s like everyone comes to school and immediately goes to lunch. But hey, aren’t we all mentally “at lunch” for most of our days anyway? Whoa, that’s deep.
Anyway, as you might have guessed, our story begins in the SVH lunchroom with Jessica and Elizabeth, eating lunch and anticipating tonight’s arrival of Grandma and Grandpa Wakefield, traveling all the way from Michigan, for a three week visit!
It’s been one whole year since Ned’s parents came to Sweet Valley. The twins love it when Ma and Pa Wakefield come because with every visit they get spoiled rotten with shopping trips, new outfits, dinners at fancy restaurants, hot air balloon rides and, best of all, lots of one of one time-just the four of them!
It’s enough to make any mother jealous of her own in-laws (“Hot air ballooning? How can I possibly compete with THAT?”) and start to question her own parenting skills! (oops, spoiler alert!)
Looking at her sister’s face across the table was like staring into a mirror
Blah, blah, blah-you know the rest!
Jessica has now finished her carton of yogurt and is tearing into an ice cream sandwich, (since fat doesn’t apply to eternal size sixes I guess Jessica’s only worried about osteoporosis) Jess has a neato idea! Immediately after school they should go home and decorate the house to surprise their Grandparents, but Liz can’t join her, she’s got Oracle duty after school today. Bummer.
As Jessica continues to chatter on about how much she’s looking forward to the “Big Visit” Liz can’t help but overhear the conversation taking place farther down the cafeteria table, which has been growing more and more intense.
Emily Mayer is the Droid’s drummer. She’s described as 5”2’ petite and slender with long, dark, wavy hair and hazel eyes flecked with green that sparkle when she gets emotional, especially when involved in her music or, like now, as she’s talking with the Droid’s lead singer, Dana Larson.
Dana just won’t shut up! She keeps going on and on about cute, sweet, adorable, babies! Emily is THIS CLOSE to loosing it, it’s not that Emily doesn’t like babies, it’s that this particular baby (named Karrie) isn’t her sister, she’s her stepsister which makes a big difference, Dana.
Dana pulls Liz into the conversation, “Help me convince Emily about the wonderfulness of babies.” Elizabeth takes the safe route by lightly switching the topic back to Emily commenting on what a big adjustment it must be suddenly having a new baby in the house.
Emily is convinced Karen, her new wicked stepmother, hates Emily’s stinking guts! Ever since her father remarried and they had the baby, Karen has been slowly elbowing her way in and making sure Emily is always OUT. Karen is not the sweet, giving person everyone in Sweet Valley believes her to be, she really has it in for Emily who grips the table so hard her knuckles turn white, she’s that upset, and know what? She’s not gonna take it anymore! Distraught, Emily leaves as Dana chases after her while Jess and Liz wonder what’s really going on in the Mayer home. As if its any of their business.
It’s four o’clock and Liz is hard at work in the Oracle office writing on the tenure system, when the door swings open and who should appear over the threshold but Mr. Collins (YES! I finally get some “Mr. Collins if you’re nasty!” snarking!) faculty advisor for the school paper, popular among all his students, always taking time to help everyone out and he was one of the most all-around generous teachers in the school. (“Generous” huh??? Yeah, bring it on baby! Hee.)
Mr. Collins needs Liz’s help because Emily Mayer recently talked to him and she’s interested in joining their happy little Oracle family so he told her to come by the office after school today where he was hoping Liz could take Emily under her wing, show her around, give her a tour of the office, (is the Oracle office so big she might get lost?) maybe give her a little “moral support”since Liz is so patient, as usual, Liz is glad to help out, (Anything for YOU Mr. Collins! That's why she's his favorite student you know.) Meanwhile, he’s got to run over to the school office and is just about to turn and leave when…
Emily appears at the door. She looks awful, red-rimmed eyes, it’s obvious she’s been crying. Upon seeing her Mr. Collins gives Emily a long look, “Can you stick around when Liz is done with her tour? I’d like to talk to you.”
We all know what that means.
Bow chicka BAW BAW!
“He’s so nice,” Emily says softly, pulling up a chair after Mr. Collins leaves and sitting down, “He reminds me of…”
Jason? Freddy? Richard Simmons?
“Of what?” asks Liz gently
 “My father, before he married Karen.”
Liz is a bit puzzled over why Emily is here. She’s a musician not a writer and no one in Sweet Valley is allowed to have TWO hobbies, it would totally mess up all the character profiles for the ghostwriters! Except evil, wicked, stepmother Karen will ship Emily off to boarding school far, far away from Sweet Valley and all she loves unless Emily changes her ways so Emily thought maybe by going along with Karen’s idea of her joining the squeaky clean newspaper staff Karen won’t hate her so much. Apparently her wild rocker friends, the Droids, with their screaming guitars and drums are a “bad influence” on baby Karrie, so by giving that up hopefully she can stay on stepmom’s good side and ultimately STAY in Sweet Valley. She really has no other choice. Since her Mom died years ago, Dad’s been so blinded by his new love, he takes Karen’s side in everything now. Poor Emily.
Hearing Emily’s sob story, St. Liz’s soft heart is just breaking into pieces for her but there’s nothing anyone can do.
After her meeting with Mr. Collins, (dang, no details!) Emily walks home. We get about seven pages of boring plot exposition as Emily reflects on what life was like, just her and Dad back in the “pre-Karen days”. They had a special daddy-daughter relationship back then, he encouraged her in her music, and to take up the drums and get involved in the Droids, back when it was just the two of them and no one else. Wicked stepmother has made sure it’s all about HER now. Her and baby Karrie.
Meanwhile, at Casa Wakefield, Alice has managed to put an entire seven course home cooked meal on the table after working all day. She’s getting her first signs of jealousy as the twins eagerly talk with their Grandparents at the dinner table and make plans for the upcoming weekend, plans that don’t include HER. Maybe she’s (GASP) loosing touch with her children!
At the Mayer home, Karen has been bitching about Emily’s late night habits, they disturb the baby, so her Dad pops into her room to let her know from now on, Emily’s got a curfew. The color drains from Emily’s face at this news. She’s NEVER had a curfew before!
The phone rings and Karen bitches some more to Emily-the phone wakes the baby up every time it rings, doesn’t she realize that? “I had no idea a baby was such HARD WORK!” she complains. (I could totally picture Jessica saying that in some future Sweet Valley Estates book) Karen has never had to do anything for herself, she never learned to cook, clean or manage a household. Since she and Mr. Mayer have made plans to go out this Friday night Wicked Stepmother is making Cinderella Emily stay home and baby sit.
Except that phone call was from Dan, the Droids bass guitar player, the boy Emily’s “sort of” dating right now. They’re just friends, but Emily is hoping it will progress to something more. She’d just barely made plans for him to come over this Friday evening to check out her new cymbals. They'd made their FIRST DATE! Now she’s stuck babysitting. Remembering the curfew issue with her Dad earlier, Emily meekly holds her tongue and tells Karen she’ll cancel her Friday night plans with Dan . Karen’s word is law around here now and no one will stand up to her. Bummer for Emily.
At school the next day Emily finds Liz in the Oracle office and pours out the whole story to her about her current, depressing, home life situation. “She makes me babysit all the time now and I don’t have a life anymore!” 

And you know that story she’s told everyone, about her mother dying when she was a girl? (as if anyone at SVH would care) Well, she LIED! The truth is her mother abandoned her and her dad! “Please don’t tell my secret,” she begs Liz. (It’s a cardinal sin in Sweet Valley to have an absent parent, you know.) "So, Karen is really my wicked stepmother, would love nothing better than to ship me off to boarding school and Dad doesn’t seem to care."
“You poor kid,” St. Liz puts her arm around Emily, feels badly about the whole thing, and, as only St, Liz can says, “Hey, Mi casa is su casa! You are welcome to come over anytime; whenever things at home get too much for you, our door is always open.”
Or something to that effect.
It’s the least St. Liz can do and, by the way, she won't tell anyone about Emily's deadbeat mom.
Emily is eternally grateful.
Alice arrives home with steak and potatoes all gung-ho ready to cook a “See what a great mom I am!” meal for her family. Ah, shoot! Liz and Jess have already made plans with the Grandparents to eat out at a Chinese restaurant tonight. We’re told Ned can’t stand Chinese food anyway so now Alice can stay home tonight and enjoy a nice, quiet evening with her husband. (Ned hates Chinese food? Since when? Continuity sluths can help quote me on this because I KNOW there’s a previous SVH book with the entire Wakefield family sitting down to enjoy their favorite meal-CHINESE TAKEOUT!!!) 

Sorry Alice, but round one goes to the Grandparents! The twins just don’t need you anymore.
Uh oh, brochures from boarding schools keep turning up in the Mayer’s mailbox. One more wrong move and Emily may have to leave Sweet Valley and her father for good.
Karen screams some more at Emily, her drumming just woke up the baby, AGAIN! But Emily is not breaking any newly set house rules, it was already established that between 4 o’clock and later she’s allowed to practice in her special studio in the basement. 
Karen's put a stop to that now.
She keeps changing the rules on Emily and that is just SO unfair!
Phone interrupts this discussion. It’s Dan and Emily fights back tears as she admits she won’t be able to see him at Droids practice tonight. She doesn’t want to get into the details. If Dan knew the truth about how things really were at her house, he’d want nothing to do with her. 

I love how everyone in Sweet Valley freaks out at the thought if anyone, especially BOYS, find out their silly secrets, no one will like them! Talk about insecure.
On the phone, Dan says he still wants to see Emily and this makes her feel better. Since Karen has to take baby Karrie to the doctor tomorrow afternoon Emily realizes they’ll have the house all to themselves. They make a new date for him to come over and check out those new cymbals. 
I feel a sense of foreboding here.
Emily and Dan meet up after school and walk home together. They’re having a great time laughing and chatting. Emily is crushing on him even more now. Dan is really impressed with her basement studio where she keeps her drum kit. Like Ringo Starr on a good night, Emily’s banging away for him when suddenly Karen and a sobbing baby are home!
Karen yells at Emily for making so much noise and upsetting Karrie, is offended because she invited a boy over UNCHAPERONED, she spills the beans about Emily’s mother walking out on her father when she was young (Oh no, Karen, not THAT!) and, to top it all off, calls Emily’s mother a TRAMP and accuses Emily of being a bad influence on the baby! At the conclusion of this little tirade, Karen bursts into tears and runs back upstairs still carrying a sobbing baby. The woman is PHYCHO! And she said all of this in front of Dan. Yeah, I’d be embarrassed as hell too, just like Emily is. A red faced Dan makes a hasty exit while Emily is too numb to even cry, she can only do that in front of a Wakefield!
Emily calls Liz (her number’s on everyone’s speed dial in Sweet Valley, you know) and is now crying so hard she can hardly choke out the words to explain why she’s even calling. Liz tells her to come on over.
When Emily rings the bell, the Wakefields and their Grandparents are all sitting down to eat that steak dinner Alice finally got to make. As Liz goes to let her in, Jessica stage whispers to the family that “Emily is having problems at home.” This news upsets Grandma Wakefield “I just don’t know what’s happening to the American family these days,”
“Parents don’t have enough time for the children any more, that’s what it is,” says Grandpa. (Yeah, way to rub in the salt for your daughter-in-law, Ma & Pa!)
They share their steak dinner with Emily who bursts into tears when prodded to share her troubles. Grandma jumps up to comfort her “You poor, poor thing!”
Yeah, this is the THIRD TIME Emily is sharing her sad, sad story with people she hardly knows! She pleads with the Wakefields to let her stay here for the night. After all the horrible things Karen said to her, she just CAN'T go back there. Lawyer Ned reminds her of the moral and legal boundaries they’d be crossing but if Emily at least calls her Dad and lets him know where she’ll be, then she's welcome to stay at Casa Wakefield tonight. Emily agrees.
Mr. Mayer is a real jerk on the phone to his only daughter. As usual, he’s taken Karen’s side of the story right off. If Emily hadn’t been “banging around on those drums with no chaperone in the house” this would never have happened. Emily’s all, “Um, did Karen mention one very important detail about Mom?” Course not. Does Emily tell him? Heck, no. It’s obvious he’d never believe her word against Wicked Stepmom’s anyway. Emily’s eyes fill with tears. Mr. Mayer insists he’s coming get her, but a rightfully peeved Emily WON’T TELL HIM where she is! Hee. 
“Fine!” says Mr. Mayer, “if you’re not home in one hour, I’m putting your drums out in the STREET!”
Wow, I’d be all calling his bluff if these were MY parents, (“Fine, do it! I’m STILL not coming home.”) but Emily’s made of sterner stuff than I am, I guess, and besides this is Sweet Valley parenting. This method WORKS! Emily meekly agrees to come home. She really loves those drums.
Yeah, she loves those drums so much she’ll put an ad in the Oracle with Liz the next day to SELL them! I’m not kidding. She figures, “this’ll show em all how desperately I want to stay in Sweet Valley!”
Meanwhile, Dan has been feeling really bad since the big scene with Wicked Stepmom. He really likes Emily and it makes him furious every time he remembers what happened, but it makes him feel helpless too, he doesn’t think there’s anything he can do to help Emily, wicked stepmom's spell over Sweet Valley is too powerful.  So much for a Prince Charming to come rescue Emily.
Dan is a really boring, secondary character in this drama.
Spineless too.
Seeing Emily in the hall at school Dan hurries to catch up to her and tell her his feelings for her. Emily coldly tells him she’s quitting the Droids and brushes off his weak, “But what about US?” and hurries away before he sees her cry.
Meddling Liz finds Dan, and they pow-wow about Emily. Since she really is going through with selling her drums and quitting the Droids, Liz is agonizing over what they can do to stop her from going through with it. Dan has an idea. Run the ad. He’ll buy the drums, give them back, and when he does Emily will realize they’re her friends with only her best interests at heart.
Emily is minding the baby, having a “big sister” moment. Tears sting her eyes, she’s suddenly feeling very protective of her soft, cuddly, vulnerable, yet fragile 8 month old stepsister (who has no idea what a wicked bitch of Mom she has) Karen then calls out “phone” for Emily, it’s “that boy” again!
Dan feigns a “friend” is interested in buying her drums, Emily agrees to sell them and Dan comes right over to pick them up and take them off her hands.
When Dan arrives, Emily is still so embarrassed about that Big Scene and she’s so paranoid Dan has already told everyone at school the truth about her deadbeat Mom (Oh, come ON, Emily, this is Dan, not Caroline Pearce!) she turns him down for a movie date tonight. Besides, she has to baby-sit tonight, so she can’t even go out with him anyway. She accepts the $200.00 or Best Offer payment, as stated in the ad, and leaves Dan out by the curb with her beloved drums. She can’t bring herself to look back at him.
Later, Emily is awakened from a late afternoon nap by Mr. Mayer. Suddenly he’s showing his old soft side, the one he had before getting re-married. He actually seems concerned for Emily. He even asks her if she’s been able to work anything out with the Droids practice time so she can continue her hobby and keep her curfew AND thus the peace in the Mayer house. Emily bluntly states, “I sold my drums,” Great dad that he is, Mr. Mayer changes face and is now all accusing Emily of being rash and calls her a martyr. This hurts Emily’s feelings and makes her cry. (Way to go Dad!) “I’m GLAD I sold my drums.” She says woodenly, “In fact, I never want to play the drums again as long as I live.” Emily insists she knows what she’s doing and Dad says, “Fine, the number for where we’ll be is on the desk in the study.” And so, “Emily the Martyr” settles in for an evening of baby sitting and reminiscing some more about the good old days when she had a real mother and a father who both loved her.
 Emily is bathing the baby when Wicked Stepmother passes by “Aren’t you done yet? I’ve just about had it with you! I want to go to the mall this afternoon and buy a new party dress to wear, so guess what? You’re babysitting for me again! And. Cinderella  Emily, maybe you could fix dinner for all of us tonight too…”  When Emily tries to stand up for herself, Karen gets all annoyed and snappish. Man, if Karen keeps pushing Emily like this she’s REALLY going to do something drastic: like tell Daddy what Karen said about her Mom!
So she does. After Karen has left and Mr. Mayer gets home and is relaxing with a beer, Emily broaches the subject of Karen and her evil ways to him. “Well, we need to consider Karen’s feelings here” is his heartless answer. “But what about MY feelings?” Emily asks and tears run down her cheeks as she finally tells her father what Wicked Stepmother said about their Mom during the Big Scene, “She called her a TRAMP! In front of Dan!” this makes Dad so angry he slams his beer glass on the table, startling the baby so she begins to cry. 

Instead of being upset at Karen over this news, it's Emily! He doesn’t believe his OWN DAUGHTER! He tells her she’s being disrespectful to Karen, doesn't want to hear another word, and storms angrily out of the kitchen. Emily’s face is wet with tears as she tries to soothe the still crying baby.
Know what? I think her Dad is psycho too, or maybe this is Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Sweet Valley style! (That’d be sooo COOL)
At Casa Wakefield, Ned takes the twins aside, tells them Alice has been feeling left out and Jessica comes up with a great idea. They’ll enlist their Mom’s help to throw a big surprise going away dinner for the Grandparents. They act so helpless at planning this, Alice is delighted her twins came to HER for advice on something, so she agrees to help them with the menu and guest list, ect. Now Alice doesn’t feel like such a looser Mom and everyone feels better about themselves. And that’s how the B plot is resolved.
Emily is in the living room doing homework and keeping an eye on baby Karrie at the same time when Karen enters with a new doll for her little daughter. Emily notices the doll has a questionably loose bead for an eye sewn onto its face and tries to take it away. Karen snarls and shows her teeth, “Back off!”
The phone rings, It’s Karen’s mother. Karen sits on the couch to argue over the phone with Karrie next to her. As Karrie investigates her new toy, she manages to get the loose bead off, pops it in her mouth and promptly starts choking.
All hell breaks loose as Psycho Karen begins SHAKING her baby (Idiot! Haven’t you ever heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome??!!!) and can only scream Karrie’s name over and over while sobbing hysterically.
Emily jumps up, she knows immediately what to do, but Phycho Karen won’t relinquish her grip on her child, she’s that hysterical. What does Emily do? She slaps her own stepmother as hard as she can right across her face! (YES!)
Shocked, Karen lets Emily snatch the baby from her. Emily performs the Baby Heimlich Maneuver by placing Karrie in front of her, forming a double fist, and pushing on her stomach which pops the bead out. (Three cheers for first aid courses!) Baby Karrie takes in a lungful of air and starts to scream.
Mr. Mayer storms in demanding to know what’s going on. He assumes the worst, seeing all three girls crying, an overturned chair, and a dangling telephone receiver and immediately blames Emily! “What have you done now?" he screams at her, "GET OUT!” 
So Emily runs away from home.
Hope someone remembered to hang up the phone.
Emily hides out at the Box Tree Café and decides she will set off on her own to find her real mother, all she has is an old phone number in Chicago to go on. She’ll get to Chicago somehow and make a new life with Deadbeat Mom.
But instead of calling social services or even a teen hotline for runaways Emily calls…Elizabeth Wakefield! who drives the Fiat Spider she and Jessica share right over to pick her up from the café. As Emily tells her what happened in the car on the way to Casa Wkefield St. Liz is SHOCKED hearing her story. Emily is a hero yet her Dad blamed her!
Making a quick pit stop at the store for some milk, Elizabeth learns Heroically Deaf Regina Morrow is back in town but saving Regina from a questionable hostage situation will have to wait until later. Liz’s first duty right now, is to help Emily!
Emily is taken upstairs to Liz’s room to rest. She’s too exhausted from stress to even TRY and explain this latest Mayer family argument to the Wakefield Family Counseling Service! 

So Liz tells everyone FOR her. Everyone promptly feels bad and tries to decide what they can do to help Emily. Jess thinks it would be “tattling” but Liz suggests maybe they should call the Mayers and let them know where Emily is. (Maybe you should call Social Services too, Liz, cause it's really none of your damn business, ever think of THAT?) Alice thinks Liz should be the one to call Emily’s house so Liz picks up the phone and makes the call. Alice is feeling like a better mother already.
A numb Emily has just tried the number in Chicago. Deadbeat Mom remarried and moved to Mexico over two years ago! NOW what will she do? Running away to Chicago was the only plan she had. She tries hard not to cry.
Now that Elizabeth has blabbed the whole story to the family downstairs, Grandma Wakefield enters to share some of her own Wakefield family history with Emily. (Continuity sleuths, help me here, because this story sounds suspiciously made up by a ghostwriter!) When she first met her husband, Bob, (Robert Wakefield) she knew he’d been married before (To WHO?) and had a little boy named Louis, now eleven. (Who the hell is Louis?) Louis didn’t really trust his new stepmother at first so their relationship together those first few years was a bit rocky. Then Grandma had Edward (aka “Ned” the twins father) so she can sympathize with Karen the new stepmother stuggling to fit into a new family AND she can even understand Emily’s feelings too. But, as her own stepson, Louis, grew older their relationship began to grow stronger AND it got better. Now Grandma Wakefield considers BOTH Louis and Ned to be her very own sons and Louis calls her “Mom” now, ain’t that sweet? So, everything is going to be alright now for Emily in the Mayer family.
Hearing this makes Emily start to sob so hard she throws her arms around the plump, kindly woman “I wish I had a grandmother like you.” (Grandma Wakefield’s kinda like a fairy godmother here, huh?) Grandma stokes her hair and Emily cries in her arms as if she would never stop.
Karen, Mr. Mayer, and baby Karrie arrive downstairs. After Grandma W’s inspiring story, Emily is ready to face them. The Wakefield’s silently hover in the background, observing the scene.
Karen is a changed woman, she’s seen the light and Emily can’t believe what she’s hearing as Karen APOLOGIZES to Emily and admits she’s been very a selfish, pigheaded stepmom. She was jealous of Emily, all this time because Emily knows so much more about homemaking and saving baby’s lives than she does. Karen breaks down in tears so grateful her baby is OK now, thanks to Emily. Emily breaks down too and throws her arms around her stepmother who's holding Karrie and, crying, they kiss and make up. Mr. Mayer steps up and completes the sandwich hug. Thanks to Grandma’s Wakefield Legacy story, another struggling family has been saved!
Yeah, I’m still scratching my head over that.
I think this is what is known in literature as Ghost in the Machine.
For the Grandparents big surprise-going-away-dinner, the Mayers were invited to Casa Wakefield and all are enjoying a toast before dinner while Elizabeth is busy sneaking the Droids AND all their instruments through the back door and into the dining room to surprise Emily.
In ten minutes they’ve managed to set up Emily’s drums and the rest of the speakers and equipment without arousing any attention at all! (Another Sweet Valley miracle!) 

Guess everyone forgot this was supposed to be a farewell dinner for the Grandparents not Emily and the Mayer family! Emily is so surprised as Liz leads her into the room to see her drums back and the Droids including Dan, all waiting for her. They play a song and everyone smiles and claps along to the music. Emily and Dan smile at each other as they play. 
Everything’s cool now in Sweet Valley.
Finally, after 149 pages where Emily has cried FOURTEEN times (yes I took the trouble of counting) she’s just sooo flippin’ HAPPY now!!!