The Best One Book Wonder Characters: # 2 April Dawson from SVH #80 “The Girl They Both Loved.”

10 Jul
Image result for sweet valley high 80

Epic bangs, and product placement with the pink helmet.

 

April Dawson is the coolest lipstick-wearing dirt bike racer to ever rock Sweet Valley. The title, on the other hand, is a total misnomer, as only one of those dudes is in love with her [slash using her for her dirt bike skills. Read on].

Although April is a total ace dirt bike rider, it doesn’t take over her whole life. Her boring boyfriend Michael Harris [previously of the ill-fated engagement to Maria Santelli ], on the other hand, is so obsessed with dirt bike riding it has rendered him housebound. He legit complains about visiting his dying grandmother because he’ll have to miss a race and run the risk of Artie Western scoring more points for the Sweet Valley team than him.

Michael stays at home every Friday night so he can sleep before the big race  meets on Saturdays, and unlike every other girl in SV, April is sick of compromising just so she can say she has a boyfriend, and wants a freaking social life at the Beach Disco, y’all! She is also increasingly unimpressed with Michael’s insane competitive streak. The dirt bike riders of Sweet Valley are really challenging my “hard-living” “bad boy” impression of the biking community, albeit from little experience.

April is just so chill she even hangs out with Lila, casually, when bored with her boyfriend. Or binges Hitchock movies.

April’s big challenge is to sort out why her boring boyfriend has a long-standing rift with his former best friend and racing partner, Artie Western, who sounds like he should be in a cowboy movie, a la Sam Elliot. [Fun fact, Artie is actually the ex-boyfriend of Cara Walker. Shout out if you know the book.] Rumours fly about the mystery of the rift – was it over a girl? Turns out the rift eventuated after a race meet during which Michael was injured. Apparently it was an accident, but he’s blamed Artie for it ever since.

While Michael is grudgingly visiting his poor grandmother, April goes to a Hitchock movie marathon alone [in the 80s! I love her!] and bumps into Artie. Popcorn eating and Guidos ensue! Eventually, word gets out about their “date”,  and Michael is livid and displays the same sort of controlling behaviour he showed with Maria Santelli. When Michael is unavailable for a race because his grandmother is dying, April enrages Michael even more when she races with Artie. Uh, they’re all on the same team! Michael and Artie have a legit duel and have a secret ad hoc race between themselves, and Artie comes flying off his handlebars on the treacherous track. Makes them even, I suppose. Elizabeth and Enid are suddenly Artie’s BFFs and visit him every day in Joshua Fowler hospital while he is recovering from multiple injuries. Elizabeth is of course a world expert in this arena, and probably has some helpful pointers for Artie after her own recovery from a motorcycle accident earlier in the year. Michael finds himself shunned by April and everyone at SVH for his apparent role in the accident, which is a little unfair given that Artie signed up for the race of his own accord. Michael eventually visits Artie and repairs the rift, before declaring he will give up biking for good to save his relationship. At no point is it clear that Artie has anything other than friendly feelings toward April. April eventually comes around and realises that although Michael is a control freak, she admires his dogged determination and fierce competitive spirit. So in the final scene, she sets out to show Michael a thing or two about how to cope with being second best. April convinces another rider, Roy, to pretend he will be Michael’s relay partner, and she dresses up as Roy and borrows his bike.  April totally eclipses the course and wins the race for their team. Michael is psyched, which he says is because he got his two friends back, but is probably just because they won and now he can never let her leave, now that April has proven herself to be his golden ticket to victory. Oh well, that’s for April to figure out in another book, if only she got one.

It’s refreshing to see a female character in one of these books not totally obsessed with her boyfriend and having a life of her own. All too often these 16 year olds shelve any hobbies and personal goals to keep their controlling/wandering high school boyfriends on side and it is pathetic. I wish you gave us more Aprils, Francine. That is all.

The B plot shows Todd being a sexist fuck, yet again, accusing Elizabeth of being uable to change a tire or do basic plumbing, because “handyman Todd” [his words] can take care of it, and Elizabeth should STICK TO MAKING HIM CHOCOLATE COOKIES. OMG, I hate Todd and his violent, condescending brand of masculinity. They have a little contest, each having to do three gender stereotyped tasks each, and the loser shouts dinner at Castillo San Angelo.  Elizabeth’s tasks include plumbing and carpentry, and Todd has to bake, and both of them totally suck because sometimes I swear these books are set in the 50s, not the 80s. More than Todd, I hate Ned Wakefield, for reinforcing Elizabeth’s inability to unclog a pipe by remarking “but honey, some people are just better at things than other people”. To be fair, I would probably call a plumber, it just shits me that the most feminist book Francine has written has this backwards B-plot.

In the C plot, Jessica is breifly disillusioned by all men, and has gotten over her fear of motorcycles after, you know, her cousin Rexy was buried under one and her sister had a serious ICU admission with post trauamatic amnesia after she came off her boyfriend’s bike. So of course, Jessica is gearing up to start dirt bike racing herself, in the hopes of snagging her soon-to-be-dead boyfriend Sam Woodruff [spoiler alert: murdered by her own twin in a jeep, not a motorcycle. Thank God, otherwise the motorbike warning might have really stuck, and nobody would’ve given a fuck about Devon Whitleaw in 60 books’ time]. Jessica and Sam totally hit it off, and he remains her boyfriend for a record 15 books! If Nicholas Morrow is my Keanu, then Sam Woodruff is definitely my Bradley Cooper. Sob.

More one book wonders next time!

 

3 Responses to “The Best One Book Wonder Characters: # 2 April Dawson from SVH #80 “The Girl They Both Loved.””

  1. urbanpeasants July 10, 2019 at 1:48 pm #

    Yay, you’re back 🙂 How’s it going?

    On Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 1:25 PM WHAT WINSTON SAW wrote:

    > winstonegbert posted: ” April Dawson is the coolest lipstick-wearing > dirt bike racer to ever rock Sweet Valley. The title, on the other hand, is > a total misnomer, as only one of those dudes is in love with her [slash > using her for her dirt bike skills. Read on]. Altho” >

  2. Claire Middleton July 14, 2019 at 3:54 am #

    While I voted for Tom (Amy’s True Love is one of my favorite SVH books), I’d love a post about Adam Marvel too. Anyway, here’s a reminder that I love your blog.

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