Sweet Valley High #49: Playing for Keeps

The moral of the story: Be yourself! Finally, a message I can get behind.

The Big Deal: Picnic at Secca Lake? I don’t think it counts.

Synopsis:

Jessica has snagged A. J. Morgan, the hot new guy. He likes serious girls, so Jessica is determined he not find out she’s really a bubble-headed snob. She starts acting all boring and serious all the time, dragging A. J. to Save the Whales meetings and the like. She writes a love poem for him and shows it to Liz, who thinks it’s awful. Here is the poem:

Time is a grinding wheel of merciless pain

We are trapped in our lives until the hour of death.

But love breaks our chains and lets us fly into the universe

Where everything is real and alive

Forever.

Is that awful? I can’t tell. I kind of hate poetry and think it’s pretty much all awful. Liz keeps trying to tell Jessica to just be herself, but Jessica insists she knows about these things and is sure that if she just pretends to be who A. J. thinks she is, he’ll fall in love with her.

There’s a picnic at Secca Lake and A. J. wants to go hiking beforehand. Jessica gets all into it and suggests they do this every weekend. A. J. seems subdued, so Jessica comes up with all manner of depressing things to talk about, like world hunger. When A. J. takes her hand and tells her she’s special, she’s so surprised she snatches her hand back without thinking. A. J. suggests they go back because people are starting to arrive for the picnic. Jessica is disappointed. When they get back, Liz can see that A. J. seems irritated, but she doesn’t feel it’s her place to say anything. Lila says the owner of Lisette’s is going to have some kind of contest and the winner will get a custom designed wardrobe. Jessica acts like she doesn’t care, but Liz knows she’s dying to enter. She says it might be fun to enter, just as a joke, and Jessica gratefully uses that as an excuse.

While jogging along the beach, A. J. and Jessica hear someone calling for help. There’s someone out in the water and A. J. goes to the rescue. He comes back to shore with a voluptuous girl in a skimpy bikini. This chick, Pamela from Bridgewater, immediately starts flirting with A. J. and sending Jessica challenging glares. The next night, she calls A. J. and says she has his towel and he should come get it because her parents want to thank him for saving her life. He thinks about Jessica, who he’s starting to get bored with, and then about Pamela who promises excitement. He decides he’ll just go say hello, get his towel and leave. But when he gets there, Pamela’s parents aren’t there and it’s clear the whole thing was a ploy to get him alone. A. J. hates those kinds of games, but Pamela is so super sexy he has trouble resisting her. He finally manages to leave, but not before Pamela asks him to a Bridgewater dance. He says he’ll let her know in a few days. When he gets to his car, he realizes he was supposed to meet Jessica twenty minutes ago.

Jessica is waiting at the library when A. J. comes in. She hides all her emotions when he tells her he was at Pamela’s and is even truthful about her parents not being there. Jessica is freaking out, but acts like it was so nice of Pamela to give him back his towel. She pretends she has to leave and races out of the library before he can see her crying. When she gets home, Liz tries to tell her that Pamela ain’t got nothin’ on the real Jessica, but Jessica still thinks A. J. wouldn’t like the real her. Liz does manage to convince her to enter the fashion contest though.

Lila and Amy go to Lisette’s with Jessica so she can sign up for the contest. And who should they run into? Pamela. That bitch. She hears about the contest and decides she’s going to sign up too. She drops a lot of remarks about A. J. and how he really seemed to like her dress the other night. Then Lila fake-whispers to Amy that A. J. said he met a girl on the beach with a huge rear end to match her huge ego. I freaking LOVE Lila. Amy and Lila tell Jessica they’ll keep an eye on Pamela so she doesn’t try anything funny during the contest.

Liz and Jeffrey go on a double date with Jessica and A. J. It’s a disaster. Jessica says she’ll have whatever kind of pizza A. J. likes and play whatever songs he wants on the jukebox. She gets up and A. J. asks Liz if Jessica’s always like this. Liz wants to tell him how Jessica really is because she’s convinced he’d really like her, but, you know, she promised Jessica she wouldn’t. At home, she wants to tell Jessica that A. J. is bored with her because she’s so serious and wishy-washy, but she’s afraid it will break Jessica’s heart. So she does nothing. Way to be, Liz.

At the fashion show, Pamela is a nightmare. She’s sabotaged every garment Jessica is supposed to wear. But our girl Jess improvises and pulls off the whole thing with a flourish. Things come to a head on the last turn. Jessica is backstage waiting to model a swimsuit and coverup when Pamela dumps a big cup of water on her. Jessica’s had enough. She starts yelling at Pamela and everyone in the audience can hear what she’s saying. Then Lila and Amy pull back the curtain so everyone can see how great Jessica looks, even covered in water. Jessica wins the contest, Pamela runs off in tears and A. J. decides he likes the real Jessica.

Setup for the next book: I don’t know, some shit about Jade Wu, whoever she is.

Quotes:

It was the old Jessica up there on the stage, and she hadn’t looked so fantastic in weeks. Drops of water glittered in her hair like diamonds, bouncing a halo of rainbows all around her every time she moved her head. She seemed to be surrounded by stars. And the sexy, clingy beach outfit she was wearing showed off every curve of her body. She looked absolutely stunning.

Only Jessica would look “absolutely stunning” after having a cup of water poured over her head.

The Cover: Ah, the traditional “hold me, please, I’m just a weak girl” pose. With matching shirts, no less.

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Comments
  • tracy london May 27, 2009 at 12:09 am

    “It was the old Jessica up there on the stage, and she hadn’t looked so fantastic in weeks. Drops of water glittered in her hair like diamonds, bouncing a halo of rainbows all around her every time she moved her head. She seemed to be surrounded by stars. And the sexy, clingy beach outfit she was wearing showed off every curve of her body. She looked absolutely stunning.”

    Lord…this quote would make the baby jesus cry.

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  • Megan May 28, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Save the Whales meetings?? I thought she didn’t care about whales!

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  • Karla January 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    “She writes a love poem for him and shows it to Liz, who thinks it’s awful.”

    Liz, I know you find this hard to believe, but you yourself cannot write your way out of a wet paper bag, so STFU.

    That said, Jess’s poem is pretty lame, but it’s not that bad for a sixteen-year-old. I’m pretty sure I have similar crap tucked away someplace.

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  • Anonymous June 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I thought the part when Liz asks her to stop being so passive and stuff and Jess says I was just acting like you, and Liz gets mad is a great part. Finally Liz sees that the way she acts can be unattractive.

    This might just be me, but when I read this the first time when I was like 12 I always thought Lila and Amy ruined Jess’ clothes and blamed Pamela so that Jess would get angry and return to normal.

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  • Kim December 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    The poem sucks. It doesn’t even rhyme. However, I do agree with the part about being trapped in our lives until death. That part rings true.

    “It was the old Jessica up there on the stage, and she hadn’t looked so fantastic in weeks. Drops of water glittered in her hair like diamonds, bouncing a halo of rainbows all around her every time she moved her head. She seemed to be surrounded by stars. And the sexy, clingy beach outfit she was wearing showed off every curve of her body. She looked absolutely stunning.”

    Seriously? Water glittered in her hair “like diamonds”, “rainbows around her”, “surrounded by stars”? How cheesy is this? These writers come up with the most ridiculous descriptions to describe how “stunning” the Wakefield twins supposedly are. It’s like they go out of their way to show us they are goddesses. We get it already, they’re hot.

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