Sweet Valley High #78: The Dating Game

SVH078The moral of the story: It’s okay for a boy to mess with your head and act like a complete jackass as long as he apologizes afterward.

The Big Deal: Love in Bloom spring dance


Jessica has had the same dream three times. In this dream, she’s walking along the beach and all these guys want her to sit with them, but she keeps walking. Then she’s suddenly alone and it’s raining. She starts running and falls down. The most gorgeous boy she’s ever seen helps her up. Since she’s had this dream three times, she knows it’s going to come true because she’s suddenly an expert on dreams (she read an article in a magazine).

At lunch one day, Liz and Todd badger Claire Middleton for a while about who she wants to go to the upcoming dance with, but Claire’s not talking. After she leaves the table, the football players nearby get really loud. Scott Trost, who is back on the team after an academic suspension, tells the guys he can get any girl he wants. Liz gets all worked up and Todd tells her Scott isn’t really such a bad guy. Liz doesn’t believe him, and she’s still pissed when she gets home. She tries to explain her feelings to her mother, but Alice just placates her by saying that at least Todd isn’t like that. Then Jessica comes home and doesn’t sympathize at all. ‘Cause let’s face it: Jessica is just a female version of Scott and really believes she can get any guy she wants. I wonder why that doesn’t make Liz’s blood boil. Liz has a dream about a huge tree on the high school lawn. There are girls in swimsuits growing from the tree, and Scott Trost is taking his pick. Liz wakes up even more pissed at Scott.

Jean West gets a love letter from Scott Trost and doesn’t know how to react to it. She asks around about him and thinks about him all day. In the end, she decides to leave a note in his locker saying she’d like to get together sometime. (Believe it or not, this book is supposed to be about Jean.)

Liz has a great idea for The Oracle. Again. This week, she’s going to distribute a questionnaire to couples at school to find out what attracts boys and girls to each other. She wants a photo of one of the couples to go along with the article, and Claire suggests Liz and Todd. Then Enid calls them “Sweet Valley’s Couple of the Year!” Oh, somebody just shoot them. Liz notices Claire staring at Scott and gets worried, but then she decides Claire was actually staring at Danny Porter, who was sitting right next to Scott, and feels better about things. Scott’s been ignoring Jean all day and she’s starting to get worried. She goes by his locker after school, but finds only Claire, who says she’s looking for Scott because he has her history notes or something. Scott finally calls Jean at ten o’clock that night and asks her to go out with him on Saturday.

Jessica continues to have her recurring dream, and eventually learns the boy’s name is Jackson and he’s waiting for her in Hawaii. She decides to interpret people’s dreams and charge them for the privilege. She makes a bunch of flyers and tells Liz she’s going to use the money to go to Maui. Liz asks her if she really thinks she’s an expert, and Jessica gets pissed and stalks off.

Scott ignores Jean at school, even though they talked on the phone for half an hour the night before. Jean sees one of Jessica’s flyers and tells her everything, but says it’s all happening in her dreams. Jessica tells her the boy in the dream is just shy. At the Oracle office, Claire tells Liz she’s had the same dream for two nights about being on the football field and not being sure to which of two boys she should pass the ball. Liz says it sounds like she’s interested in two boys, and Claire says one boy likes her, but she likes another. Then Danny Porter comes in all smiley and annoying and Claire blushes and gets really quiet. Liz sees romance blooming.

On Thursday, Jean tells Claire she has a date and that she’s really nervous about it. Claire says she has a date the next night, her first date since moving to Sweet Valley, and she’s nervous, too. They decide to go shopping after school to boost each other up. Neither girl says the name of her date.

Liz starts getting questionnaires back and finds that most of the boys listed “looks” as the most important thing when hunting for potential girlfriends. Todd tells her that guys act one way around girls and another way around other guys, and if the boys filling out the surveys were surrounded by other guys at the time, it would skew the results.

Jean and Claire go shopping and figure out they’re both going out with Scott. They compare letters and find he wrote the exact same thing to each of them. Jean is angry, but like a good Sweet Valley girl, she’s mostly angry with herself for being so stupid. She and Claire decide to play along with Scott and “see how far he’s planning to take it.” On Friday, when Scott and Claire go to the coffee shop and see Jean sitting inside, Scott takes Claire’s arm and nearly pushes her out the door. On Saturday, Jean finds herself actually having a nice time and has to keep reminding herself that Scott really is a creep. She and Claire decide to spread the news about their dates all over school and then confront Scott. So on Sunday, Jean tells Jessica about Scott, and Claire tells Liz, Enid and Maria. Liz is shocked and concerned that Claire’s new boyfriend isn’t Danny Porter. Liz tries to tell Todd how upset she is, but Todd says Scott’s really not a bad guy and that he has an older brother whose shadow Scott has always lived in. So? After Liz’s article about boys only being interested in looks comes out, she gets an anonymous letter that says everyone is interested in looks first because before you talk to someone, looks are all you have to go on. Liz starts to rethink her newfound manhater feminism.

On Monday, Claire and Jean are each confronted by friends who have heard Scott is dating both of them. They march up to him in the lunchroom, expecting him to be apologetically embarrassed, and are surprised when he arrogantly suggests they compete for him. He’ll go out with each of them again and then decide who he’ll take to the dance. Jean says they’ll do it. Ugh. Double, triple, times infinity ugh. Claire goes out with him first and has a really boring time, but when Jean goes out with him, she finds herself warming up to him again. Then Scott says he wants to explain “this thing with Claire,” but Jean quickly excuses herself. Why? Why don’t you want him to explain himself?

The next morning, Claire meets Jean after a breakfast date with Scott. Claire’s all annoyed that Scott saw an injured dog and insisted on taking it to the animal clinic. Jean starts to feel bad about herself again because Scott is acting like such an awesome guy while she and Claire are playing this game with him. Jean! The game was HIS IDEA! Later, after Liz accosts her in the hallway, Claire finally tells her everything and mentions that she really likes someone else and hopes the guy doesn’t think she actually likes Scott. Liz sees Danny Porter walking down the hall and, convinced that Claire is really in love with Danny, says, “Well, I’m really glad to hear you’re not interested in Scott after all,” loud enough for Danny to hear. Then she walks off all proud of herself for meddling in someone else’s affairs. Seriously, see the quotes below.

Jean goes out with Scott again and he tries to apologize for everything, saying he wishes he’d only written one letter and given it to Jean. She simply says he wrote two letters and dismisses his apology. On their last date, though, Scott takes Jean to a super romantic beach and she totally falls in love with him.

Jessica is looking for something in her room when she comes across the magazine in which she’d read that article about dreams. She flips a few pages and sees an ad for Jackson’s Fashions featuring a picture of a Hawaiian beach. The model in the ad is the guy from Jessica’s dreams. So that’s that. Liz finds out it was Todd who wrote the letter to The Oracle. She gets mad and leaves in a huff to go write her reply. They make up later and the Earth rests comfortably on its axis.

On the day Claire and Jean are supposed to ruin Scott, Jean doesn’t know what to do and naturally ends up pouring her heart out to Liz, who tells her she has to tell Claire and call off the contest. Jean doesn’t get a chance to talk to Claire before lunch, and when they enter the cafeteria, everyone is looking at them. Scott stands up and does his arrogant ladies’ man routine and smugly announces Jean will be his date for the dance. His attitude disgusts Jean and she tells him off, just as she and Claire planned, and then runs away in tears. Scott offers his hand to Claire, who turns him down and walks off with Danny Porter.

Liz and Claire visit Jean the night of the dance and Jean convinces them she’s fine. As soon as they leave, she starts crying over Scott again. Then Scott himself shows up and apologizes again for everything. He explains it all by saying the guys pressure him and he only sent a letter to Claire so he’d have a backup. Then he and Jean make out. UGH.


“Jean,” Sandy said gently. “I know how much you liked Tom, but don’t you think it’s time you gave somebody else a chance? … It really upsets me to see you sitting home by yourself every Saturday night.”

Why does she have to stay at home every Saturday night just because she doesn’t have a boyfriend? Ugh!

Her breakup with Tom had been a big blow to her self-confidence. Just the thought that someone was interested in her again had changed her outlook overnight.

That’s right, girls. Self-confidence comes from boys liking you.

Instead of minding her own business, as she knew she should, [Elizabeth] decided to push things along.

Frankly, I’m shocked that the thought of minding her own business occurred to her at all.

In Sweet Valley, the fastest way to spread gossip was to talk to Caroline Pearce. Unfortunately, Jean wasn’t particularly friendly with Caroline. But Jessica was.

What? Last I heard, Caroline stole all Jessica’s clothes and left her stranded in a fitting room in her underwear.

I guess Jessica isn’t the only romantic twin in the Wakefield family after all! she thought happily. Or the only one capable of meddling in other people’s lives, either.

Really? REALLY? Is this a joke? Liz, what do you think you’ve been doing all this time?

The Cover: I think Jean is making the same face she’s making on her other cover. Claire looks way better in regular clothes than she does in a football uniform. Scott’s ugly.

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  • Merrie July 21, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I was just so happy they used the same cover model for Jean.

    I never read this book. And I’m glad we have you to do the hard part for us!


  • Kate July 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    It’s as though saying “they’re the best couple” or “it’s true love” ad nauseum for Liz and Todd will somehow negate the fact that their relationship is clearly the pits.


  • Callie July 21, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I cannot for the life of me remember why I liked these books so much. I suppose my only excuse is that I didn’t realize women had backbones or voices until high school. . . It’s almost embarassing how much these books piss me off.

    How is always the girl’s fault when the guy acts like a jackass?


  • Daners Isadora- Bond Girl July 21, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Scott is a prick and Jean is a tardo.

    Ha, Liz is so blissfully unaware.


  • rachierach July 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Jean looks like Phoebe Cates on this cover…(Please tell me you all know who she is, and I didn’t just age myself.)


  • Sadako July 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Apologize? I thought love meant never having to say you were sorry!


  • Karla January 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    “Since she’s had this dream three times, she knows it’s going to come true because she’s suddenly an expert on dreams (she read an article in a magazine).”

    Read this and wanted to hurt myself. Ohmigod, it’s just like being back in middle school! Don’t tell the guidance counselor!


  • Hina December 18, 2010 at 3:38 am

    “At lunch one day, Liz and Todd badger Claire Middleton”

    Since when did Todd go to SVH? I thought he went to that Academy place. IT WAS THE SUBJECT OF A JESSICA PLOTLINE!!!! Fark. This writer SUCKS at continuity!


  • flintshire August 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm


    Shannon's Sweet Valley High Blog » Blog Archive » Sweet Valley High #78: The Dating Game…

  • Kim December 4, 2015 at 4:23 am

    I remember reading this one. God, what a degrading book. I remember thinking how stupid they were to actually agree to compete for him.


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