Sweet Valley High #1: Double Love
The Big Deal: the Phi Epsilon – Pi Beta Alpha dance
The series opens with Jessica staring in the mirror, complaining about how fat and ugly she is. This affords the narrator the opportunity to tell us that Jessica and Elizabeth are, in fact, the most spectacular looking identical twins in the whole world. I feel like throwing up already.
Liz has a major crush on Todd Wilkins and he seems to like her, too. They agree to meet after school one day, but Liz ends up running late. She gets out to the parking lot just as Todd drives off with Jessica, who thinks Todd is totally hunky. The next day, the whole school is buzzing with the news that Todd and Jessica are the hottest new couple in town. Jessica tries to hint to Todd that she wants him to take her to the upcoming fraternity/sorority dance, but Todd just keeps asking if Liz has a date. Jessica gets pissed and implies that Liz always has a date, if you know what I mean. Then she stalks away and decides to walk home to see if she can get some horny guys to notice her swinging her hips.
Seventeen-year-old Rick Andover, who dropped out of school six months ago, pulls over and offers Jessica a ride. He takes her home, saying he makes it a point to “know where all the foxiest chicks in Sweet Valley live,” (creeper) and tells her he’s taking her out the next night. Jessica is thrilled with this attention. Rick takes her to Kelly’s Roadhouse, the baddest bar in town, and proceeds to get drunk and start a fight. A cop shows up and takes Jessica home, calling her Elizabeth as she gets out of the car. Caroline Pearce hears this and tells everyone at school that Elizabeth was at Kelly’s with Rick Andover and started a riot. Liz tells everyone she never went there, but nobody believes her, despite the fact that she has an identical twin who would totally do something like that.
Liz’s best friend, Enid, has her knickers in a twist because the new guy, Ronnie Edwards, has asked her to the dance. Things are just swell between them, but Ronnie believes Liz was at Kelly’s and doesn’t think Enid should talk to her anymore. Todd believes it, too, especially after hearing Jessica’s stories about how many guys Liz has gone out with. But when Jessica confesses to Todd that it was actually her at the bar, he thinks she’s covering up for Liz. Then he kisses her for being so noble and asks her to the dance.
Todd spends the entire dance watching Liz, and at the end of the night he kisses Jessica on the cheek. Now she’s super pissed and wants to “get even.” She goes upstairs and tells Liz that Todd “tried everything” and she had to beg him to stop grabbing her. Over the next few days, Todd tries to talk to Liz and tell her he forgives her for seeing Rick Andover (insert big eye-roll here), but Liz is ignoring him because she thinks he tried to have his way with Jessica.
One night, the twins are driving home from the Dairi Burger together when they realize they’re being followed by another car. At a stop light, Rick Andover pushes the twins over and jumps into the driver’s seat of their mother’s Fiat. He’s totally drunk and decides he wants to take them to Kelly’s. He drives them through the Dairi Burger’s parking lot, and Todd can see the twins are terrified. He gets in his car and follows Rick and the twins to Kelly’s, then he beats up Rick and gets the twins home. Jessica says something about never wanting to see the inside of Kelly’s again, and Todd realizes she was telling the truth about Liz having never gone there. Todd and Liz work out all the lies Jessica has told them, and then they kiss.
In a subplot, the Fowlers and the Patmans are having some stupid feud over the football field. The school board stupidly let the lease on it run out, so now the Richie Riches are trying to buy it. Ned Wakefield is a lawyer on the case, working to keep the field in the hands of the high school. The football field storyline is good for only one thing: to make the twins suspect their father of having an affair with his partner when he works late on the case. He’s not.
Sadly, there was no drama at the dance in this book. All that happened was that Todd and Jessica were terrific dancers and the rest of the students cleared the floor for them in true 1980s fashion.
Also, the twins get into the Pi Beta Alpha sorority.
“This sounds like a job for my new tuxedo shirt,” Elizabeth offered…
“Could I wear the pants too? … And the little bow tie?”
Oh, the eighties, how fashion misguided they were!
“I’m sure you’ll be allowed to drive again soon,” she said encouragingly.
But Jessica wasn’t listening to a word. She was out of the car in a flash, slamming the door so hard that Elizabeth winced.
[The next page:]
She threw her arms around Elizabeth and gave her a swift, powerful hug, almost lifting her off the ground.
“I’ve decided to forgive you,” she announced, beaming.
Then she shoved her hand into her pocket to feel the car keys. They were gone! And then she remembered Jessica’s sudden hug – that was when she had filched the keys.
This was my first inkling that something was seriously wrong with Jessica’s mental state. Mood swings, trickery, bursts of anger…
“My whole life is going to go right down the tubes! How could he do this, Lizzie?” She began to cry… “Our brother, a member of the Wakefield family, has been spending every weekend…with Betsy Martin! …I will be totally ruined forever when this gets around school!”
She didn’t like Elizabeth being close friends with anyone but her.
Elizabeth wondered how her sister could possibly descend from cloud nine with Todd Wilkins to the pits of depression so fast – and simply because she had to do a little thing like help fix dinner.
No guy – not even Todd Wilkins – could take Jessica Wakefield to a dance and treat her like a piece of furniture. He wasn’t going to get away with it, she vowed.
…and a vengeful mind.
“I can’t ever stay angry with you…”
And that about sums up Liz, loyal to an insane sister who spreads lies about her, steals the boy she likes and lets rumors that she’d been arrested go uncontested.
Jessica and the number 137
“You’ve got to be seven hundred and thirty-seven kinds of idiot not to be excited about associating with the best girls at Sweet Valley High.” p. 35
“He has got to be the most wonderful boy in a hundred and thirty-seven states!” p. 108
“This family has got to be the biggest bummer in five hundred and thirty-seven cities!” p. 111
“I’ll never forgive you, not if I live to be a hundred and thirty-seven years-“ p. 182