I’m sitting here with a cup of cocoa , and a toasted English muffin, spread with peach jam trying to collect my feelings on this Sweet Dreams offering. If there was an Olympic event for shot putting books this might’ve reached orbit! The truth of the matter is this could very , well be, the only novel in the history of the series, in which the heroine resembles more , the typical villain. It’s unique – kinda like when Betsy Haynes gave us Laura’s Secret in the Fabulous Five – told from the p.o.v of view of the resident ‘bad girl.’ Unfortunately it’s a Sweet Dreams novel and she’s not supposed to be the villain. It’s not clever , it’s a slip up , a blow out. What’s especially sad is that the author, no slouch to Sweet Dreams with eight titles to her name ( Suzanne Rand ) has done better. On Her Own was one of my favorites! And we can’t even excuse this as her first Sweet Dreams book.
So, what’s the problem?
This book wants to be a story of realization – a character transformation story – which is a dicey theme to begin with, because it forces the author to achieve a super-controlled balance between a character who needs to get a clue, without making him like a total idiot and or obnoxious creep. Often the creepy side hangs on waaaay, too long for a reader to get to the good part. Scrooge is a clever exception because it’s episodic and his fate hangs in the balance of recognizing where he failed. There’s no ,poof , sudden change it’s gradual.
Julie, our titular, Green eye’d psycho, spends the first three pages demonstrating how screwy she is, by holding her breath until her boyfriend stops talking to some girl in the hallway, and heads to his rightful place by her side. Here’s the exact quote -“My breathing went back to normal just a minute or two later when he said goodbye to her and started heading in the direction of where he belonged. With me.” Hmm, that’s not too possessive. Then she drones on and on about how lucky she is to have nabbed him. She builds Dan up into some kindof of ethereal, golden boy , an eerie flip flop, of the fair-haired dream maiden’s that plagued earlier fiction, like Dickenson’s Little Nell. He’s not so much her boyfriend as A BOYFRIEND. A type , a label , a swimming champ , an acquisition. But maybe I should cut , this paranoid loon some slack after all she’s invested her whole sophomore year stalking Dan when he was already hooked up with a gorgeous blonde named Pam. Julie even joined a swim team, very subtle, because he was captain.
Her interior dialogue is about as grating as you might suspect, and she sounds like a crazy person trying to reassure herself – Dan’s arm was around my shoulders cause I was his girl , and he was taking me to Hodies because I was the girl, he wanted to be with, and Mimi Carson was just another girl in our class. Seeing as how she was so predatory, I guess she figures everyone must be just as determined , to nab Dan. Hodies has to described to be believed – it’s a high school hang out joint – every Sweet Dreams ( or for that matter any teen light-lit) has one – but this one becomes a zone to sort out the losers from the popular kids! The ordinary joes ( losers ) sit in ( I kid you not ) the ‘unpopular parlor’. The popular kids sit up front and are smart enough not to name their zone – however it gets worse, for Julie admits that even to make it into Hodies in the first place you ‘had to be something of a non-mutant.’ Guess where Julie and dreamboy sit?
Even a meeting with her friends, despite the cheery greeting of “Hi Kids,” has her swirling in self-doubt ; Don’t they know how hard it is to be Dan’s girlfriend? and for two whole chapters she hems and haws about her appearance and what people think of her and I, I , I – it’s enough to drive a reader mad. Her insecurity is downright pathological and laughable – I was always afraid that once he got to know me he wouldn’t like me. Probably not kid, if he discovers how paranoid you are. The real ‘her’ however is described with mainly cosmetic faults – hair out of place ( she has a Dorothy Hamill wedge cut , how out of place can it get? ) , messy clothes , old bathing suit , that sort of thing while Dan’s ex Pamela is in contrast described along the lines of Rapunzel – with supernaturally, beautiful hair the color of lemon meringue and everything in place.
( The Dorothy Hamill wedge cut )
But Pam’s not a threat…not yet. This other girl Mimi Carson is. She plops herself down in the booth and tries to worm ‘homework help’ out of Dan. Her flirting is so transparent even Dan dismisses her with a chuckle but Julie’s interior dialogue rips Mimi to shreds. Though Julie admits – I know I’m being catty, her revelation rings false , when she goes on to harp that Mimi uses girls for friends , when she doesn’t have a man on her arm , forgetting that she , herself, for two whole chapters, acted like the world revolved around snagging the glorious Dan! Resisting the urge to reach across and yank Mimi’s hair, Julie stalks out of Hodies shocking Dan. He’s not totally dim he knows what the problem is and tells her to get it under control , he won’t live under lock n’ key. Whoa , sounds like a chastity belt! Julie scrambles for an excuse – she’s worried about school starting , yeah, yeah that’s good, Mimi rubs her the wrong way , better , better – and then heaps on the praise – she knows how many girls are hung up on him and that she’s the luckiest girl in the world. Gee shawks – flattery gets him every time. He puts his arm around her, buying it… for now.
Sometimes, despite one rotten character, a book can still shine through with glimmers of hope , but in Green Eyes even the secondary characters are destroyed by an overdose of cliches and or, hampered with sounding like something out of Leave it to Beaver. Julie’s family suffers from both afflictions – her brother , a nineteen year old who acts like fourteen, teases her with such nuggests as this – “Wait till your boyfriend finds out what a zilch you are underneath and decides to find someone foxy instead” – charming. Her parents are like something out of Norman Rockwell riding out Julie’s highs and lows with plenty of veal cutlets , hot apple pie , her mother singing ‘some enchanted evenings’ while doing the dishes before escaping with the hubby to play bridge with the neighboors. And when Julie has the nerve to accuse her father of not being ‘with it’ cause he calls a car ‘wheels’ the reader could bust a gut laughing. Wheels is dated? – but not chirping out hi Kids, like Gidget , or Right-o or Yipes?
Before things get better ,they get worse , with a flashback – no less, describing how the lovebirds met ,which includes more self loathing because she hasn’t polished her toenails. Oh you hideous zilch , you. She even wonders how he could be interested in her because she has no status – yipes! ( to borrow her word ) isn’t that being a little backhanded to Dan? – like he’s pretentious, thereby not worth the fuss? She even offers up an interesting alternative to the title by calling herself Miss Mental Moron. Oho! When he finally does make his move stating “Why’d you think I kept asking you to practice with me? Boy ,don’t tell me you think I care about swimming that much.” the reader has a hard time accepting his interest – what exactly does he see in Julie? Apart from her obvious adoration..
I think their relationship might have had true success had it remained in a pool – a restricted one of course – no other bathers allowed , or a biosphere. Any bubbled world in which Julie could be reassured that she, wasn’t being compared to anyone. Zero competition , for in her mind – everything is a competition.
I tell you, as a reader, I could do without Julie’s bi-polar highs and lows – if Dan isn’t chanting I love you , she feels neglected and when they’re swimming she’s all gaga – ‘my happiness sealed like colored crystals in a paperweight’. ( I do love that sentence , though! ) But her lows far outweigh her highs. During a normally fun event of decorating the Christmas tree, she learns Pam ( Dan’s ex ) is returning and sulks. Sulk is a mild word for her reaction- for as Julie describes it her entire world has come crashing down. Her only highs happen when she’s alone with Dan and I mean alone – swimming practice , summer , Christmas vacation.
Right about now is where the book flies off into jaw-dropping idiocy. The launch pad is the announcement that Dan DUMPED Pam before she moved away giving Julie no real rhyme or reason for her jealousy. But that doesn’t stop her. Even before Pam arrives – Julie makes an ass of herself by childishly flinging herself at every boy she sees, flirting wildly and bizarrely. Needless to say golden boy Dan ( who really does deserve a better girl) , is puzzled. Then angry. When Pam finally does arrive and stops by to say hello to Dan , he’s indifferent and she’s blase. And Julie’s blind.
Dan’s finally had enough and calmly tells Julie that they should stop seeing each other so she can have her freedom. Julie however, seeped in her crazy delusion, screams that now he can go back to Pam. Dan is downright disgusted. By now so is the reader. Her friend Maryjo tries to set her straight exposing her jealousy as being unreasonable and though Julie says a rational part of her agrees with Maryjo , it’s like an addiction and she can’t stop. Her mother even offers – If you hadn’t held on so tight he wouldn’t have slipped away. For a whole month ( pages ) they’re split and you do have to hand it to Julie – she didn’t give up the swim team – ( though I think, that’s the author exercising her control – I doubt Julie herself, has the kind of maturity to pull off such poise.) But then Julie takes her mother’s words to heart and does a complete 1-80. This is the chapter that’s supposed to make up for the rest of the book – and it almost does…. if the reader can buy it!
With nobody asking Julie to an upcoming dance – ( she’s scared off most of the boys with her pushy flirting ) , she decides to donate her night to punch bowl patrol. By now the other characters are wrapped up in typical fashion ,the ole’ duh-wouldn’t-you-know-it – Julie has misjudged them ; Pam we learn is a modest , kind girl who doesn’t like to achieve things based on her looks and has befriended Mimi because Mimi needs a friend. Even Mimi has been misjudged ( and ironically it’s Pam, who, like Dan, is able to peg Mimi – she flirts out of nerves. ) Dan comes to the dance , stag and tells Julie , the girl he wanted to ask was busy… working on the refreshment committee. Aawww. ( Personally as Julie cries, I’m kind of wishing Dan had reconnected with golden girl Pam or maybe some other plain girl that wasn’t so self absorbed )…They dance and Julie vows never again, would she let her own happiness slip between her fingers. A nice wrap up , but it still rings – ‘too little too late’, maybe if Julie had gone through shock therapy , conked her head on a diving board , anything besides a simple colloquialism to clear things up. I mean what do you think would’ve happened if some gorgeous girl cut in on their dance , right in the middle of Julie’s vow? I have a feeling she’d steam up like the hulk with that old familiar green, seeping into her eyes.
Here’s my rating – * – okay, it seems mean to give a book one star but when the main character is unlikeable , what choice have I got? Not only that, but the overall situation was uncomfortable and the wrap up too easy. Suzanne Rand has definitely done better! Sorry.
For my 80’s nostalgia – I decided to dig up my own 80’s dream guys! Julie drooled on and on about her fabulous Dan – which I have to give Suzanne props for giving him a totally ordinary name to contrast with Julie’s slavish praise. With her attitude you would think she was talking about a Gabriel , or a Hunter or a Sebastian not a Dan!
Here’s some truly ‘golden’ 80’s hunks – try not to drool on your keyboard!
Tom Cruise young and beautiful!
Perry King – dreamy blue eyes!
River Phoenix – Young and gorgeous
Who knew Gere could look this sexy?
Scott Masden – the body by Soloflex model. One word – Wow!
Christopher Atkins – I doubt those lipstick prints were stamped on!
Christopher Reeve smoking hot!
Before there was Brad Pitt – there was Brad Davis – Love the sailor hat!
And my favorite 80’s hunk – Jon Erik Hexum – This guy was totally yummy!
If you don’t believe this guy is for real ( nobody looks that good! ) check this out – he was in a great Hotel episode – playing a visiting Prince ( probably giving future series authors like Sweet Valley High , the idea to create their own visiting prince! )