Can Elizabeth survive the heartbreak of losing Todd?
"I don't care how far away he is – I'm not going to let this move destroy the wonderful thing we have together!" - Elizabeth, p. 14
When I last left you, it was with a warning: Tragedy was coming. And sure enough, behind the cover of Book 23 there lurked a fate worse than the many deaths, comas, drug overdoses, and car crashes we've already seen in Sweet Valley, CA. That's right. Todd is moving to Vermont.
If those of you who, like myself, suffer from a deranged obsession with Todd and Elizabeth can compose yourselves, we'll continue. If I could have draped this entry in a black veil, I would have, but I can only assume there are a handful of sane readers out there who'd like to read something more than a tearful epitaph to Sweet Valley's perfect relationship. Besides, Liz and Todd don't really break up. You see, their love is strong enough to support a long distance relationship...OR IS IT?
This conundrum is the primary focus of Say Goodbye. Todd and Elizabeth are steadfast in their commitment not to see other people while they're apart, but in that conviction they're at odds with the popular wisdom of their friends and families, who feel that such an agreement might be unhealthy. And then there's Jessica, who is convinced that having boring Todd out of her life will be the best thing that ever happened to Elizabeth. Hmmm…I smell trouble.
After Todd's departure, Elizabeth spends most of her time writing him letters and waiting for him to call (the pair are amusingly concerned with the amount of money the calls will cost…remember land lines?). Enid, the Wakefields, Mr. Collins…everyone is very worried about the depressed Liz. Jessica is able to leverage this concern into a date for her sister. She asks Mr. Collins to give Liz a special newspaper assignment to "take her mind off Todd" and then convinces Nicholas Morrow that it would be a great idea for him to escort Liz to the special assignment, which just happens to be a sailboat race that Nicholas is competing in. Perhaps you recall from the scandalous Book 14 that Nick is in love with Liz, so his heart jumps at the prospect of a Todd-free Sweet Valley, especially when Jessica tells him that his chances with Liz look good. A little fib, Jess thinks, that will help the two fall in love. And handsome, rich Nick is so much better than boring, absent Todd.
Now, you and I both know that Liz wouldn't normally fall for such a stunt, but her initial resolve to remain "just friends" with Nicholas is broken down as more and more time passes without hearing from Todd. He's not available for her calls and doesn't return them, and he hasn't written in a week or so. Liz becomes convinced that he must have forgotten her. Little does she know, Jessica told Todd over the phone that she was concerned about Liz, and that Liz might be better off without the anchor of commitment tied around her neck. Yikes! Todd tries to keep his distance, worried that he's being unfair to Liz by expecting her to stay faithful to him.
Oh, yes. You read that correctly. Todd comes back.
When, at the start of Chapter 12, I read the words "Todd Wilkins" and "turned his father's car down the familiar streets of Sweet Valley," I nearly fell off the treadmill. Did I mention I read this book on a treadmill? He'd been gone for, like, two weeks! And, get this, he says to himself, "It's the same old neighborhood, but it feels so different." WHAT?! TWO. WEEKS. After the initial shock, my heart rate shot up about ten points when I realized that Liz and Nicholas were at Lila's party together...and that's where Todd was headed! Oh no! They'll break up forever! When Todd sees Liz with her head on Nick's shoulder, he runs out of the party and causes a scene.
Never fear, dear readers. Liz finds Todd in his old backyard, and they make out hardcore. Also they finally talk to each other, thank God. They decide that their love is strong enough to keep them together, but that the pressure of rules like "no dates ever" is too much to handle. They need to have their "own separate lives" and Todd tells Liz, "we've got to let our hearts be our consciences." Hmmm. Interesting. Very wise…
For all the bonehead moves Liz and Todd pull in their relationship, it turns out that they're pretty smart. Or at least, that's how this book ends up. Who knows what will happen next month. But in the end, the decisions Todd and Elizabeth make are the healthiest for all parties, and for once, they are able to set a good example for couples everywhere. In fact, if you know any teenagers (or maybe even adults) who are broken up about dealing with long-distance love, I genuinely think this book might help. But be prepared to explain what "long distance phone bill" means.