Sweet Valley High #92: She’s Not What She Seems

SVH092The moral of the story: Be wary of anyone who worships Jessica Wakefield. He or she is clearly not right in the head.

The Big Deal: Party at the lake, party at Lila’s


Famous theater director David Goodman has chosen Sweet Valley High for his annual student theater production of Macbeth. Jessica is going out for the part of Lady Macbeth and is sure she’ll get it. She makes it through the first two cuts, and Steven asks her if she’s sure she wants to be in the play. Apparently, there’s some curse associated with Macbeth, people dying before the play can be performed, that kind of thing. Jessica thinks he’s teasing. Meanwhile, there’s this weird sophomore girl named Paula Perrine who has been following Jessica around and it’s getting creepy. Jessica finally confronts her and says she’s seen Paula watching her. Paula gets all crazed and falls all over herself to tell Jessica how awesome and popular she is. When Jessica says, “You’re Paula Perrine, right?” Paula just about faints because Jessica Wakefield knows her name. Wow.

Jessica starts being nice to Paula now that she knows she adores her. Paula helps Jessica with her lines and prepares her for the final audition, and in the meantime, starts sitting with Jessica, Amy, Lila and their friends at lunch. Jessica’s hard work pays off and she gets the part of Lady Macbeth. Lila is cast as one of the witches. Ha.

One night, while Paula is at the house, Jessica leaves her alone in the living room when Sam calls. Liz can’t believe how rude Jessica is being, so she takes some soda and cookies and goes to talk to Paula. Paula can’t believe how nice Liz is, but then says that of course she’s nice, she’s Jessica’s sister. Then she asks Liz what Jessica is like and what it’s like to be her friend. Paula reminds me an awful lot of Dobby the house elf. Liz asks Paula about her family and finds out Paula’s mother died last year and her older brother ran away a couple months ago to get away from their abusive, alcoholic father. Paula is in Sweet Valley living with friends of her mother’s. Later that night, Liz tells Jessica what Paula told her. Jessica decides to be even nicer to Paula. She gives her a fakeover and talks her into auditioning for one of the smaller roles in the play.

Paula starts hanging around all the time. She gives Annie a present (a headband) and gets Lila to give her some tennis lessons. She does a lot of things that make me think that the whole story about her family was a lie. Paula starts doing little things to turn Jessica’s friends against her. She purposely does things to make Jessica angry, and then Jessica yells at her in front of everyone. The whole gang knows about Paula’s troubled past and they can’t believe Jessica would be so mean to someone who’s been through so much.

Jessica starts to get wise to Paula, and she knows for sure that something is wrong when Paula doesn’t tell her that Lady Macbeth’s understudy got mono and Paula has taken her place. Then she finds out Lila, Amy and Paula organized a party at the lake and didn’t invite her. Jessica is really tense around Paula and a little scared of her, but everyone thinks she’s just being a bitch.

Finally, it’s opening night of the play. Just two hours before she’s supposed to be at the school, Jessica gets a call from Paula, who says she’s an hour away in Cold Springs. She gives some sob story about how she thought her father was in the hospital, but he really just wanted money and stole Paula’s bus fare home. As much as she dislikes Paula, Jessica doesn’t want her to be stranded in Cold Springs. She drives up there and tries to follow the directions Paula gave her, but they don’t make any sense. She finally finds a map and discovers that none of the streets Paula gave her even exist. She calls the school to tell Mr. Goodman she’s on her way, but he says they can’t wait and Paula is already there in costume.

Jessica gets to the school and slips into a seat beside Liz, Sam and Todd. When Liz got home earlier and discovered that Jessica wasn’t there, she called Paula’s house and found out that not only is Paula’s mother alive and well, but her father has been dead for ten years. When Liz called, Paula and her brother were at the mall. Liz tells Jessica all this on the way to Lila’s cast party after the performance.

At Lila’s, Jessica confronts Paula in a most melodramatic and ridiculous way, with Liz and the boyfriends being the only ones behind her at first, but most everyone else moving to stand next to her by the end of her speech. The whole thing ends with Liz starting a slow clap.

The next morning, the twins have their friends over and everyone is hanging out by the pool. Then Paula shows up and doesn’t notice that everyone is giving her the evil eye. She finally catches on, says a few bitchy words and then turns around to leave, but Prince Albert the dog trips her and she falls into the pool. She refuses Jessica’s helping hand and pulls herself up and walks away in a huff.

There’s a hilarious side story about Lila playing the witch.


“Stop playing big sister with me,” said Jessica. “Remember, you’re four minutes older, not four years!”

Ooh, a twist on the usual page 2 spiel.

“Oh, wow! I don’t believe Jessica Wakefield actually knows my name!” cried Paula. Then she stopped, blushing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. It’s just that you and your friends are so beautiful and so popular, I never dreamed you would notice someone like me.”

That’s just fucking creepy.

“Sleep shall neither night nor day hang upon his penthouse lid,” [Lila] said, throwing out her arms dramatically. In the process, Jessica noticed, she carefully positioned her hands directly in front of Annie and Rosa’s faces.

This actually made me giggle. Lila is awesome.

The Cover: Remember when we all wore our button down shirts knotted like Jessica’s? And our jeans all up around our waists? ‘Cause the early nineties were so awesome. Paula looks like a bitch.

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  • girltalkread August 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I definitely remember that style, Shannon! And yes Paula is super creepy.


    Lelandria Reply:

    She makes me think of the girl in She Gets What She Wants. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRG1AKchLlw&feature=watch-now-button&wide=1


  • quackingpenguins August 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I wouldn’t trust anyone who “worshiped” me… nothing good can ever come from that.


  • Daners Isadora- Bond Girl August 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    What’s up with Jess’ wonky eye on that cover?!

    I’m so glad I stopped reading the series after John turned out to be a Rapey McRaperson. Not that Sweet Valley U was any better, which is what I “graduated” to for about a minute


  • Sandy August 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I’m kind of disappointed Jessica didn’t get back to the show on time. And I didn’t like the ending. Paula was supposed to admit she was wrong and then borrow some clothes from Liz because hers were wet. And they the gang all gets along, screen fades to black.


  • Jenna August 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I didn’t remember this book until Prince Albert pushed her in the pool!

    Lila is awesome as ever, haha.

    Jessica should have gotten Liz to go pick up Crazy Paula! That was so out of character for her!


  • Enid Rollins August 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Aww, someone tried to be bitchier than Jess? HOW AWFUL!

    P.S…it’s considered bad luck to say “MacBeth”. IDK if anyone else mentioned that. I learned it from ‘The Simpsons’, season 15 episode, ‘The Regina Monologues’


  • Janelle March 26, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I know this discussion happened forever ago, but I just have to comment on this one! I never read it when I was little, but did during my own read-through of all of them over the last couple years and it was hilarious! I think I especially loved it because my little sister (who was a theater kid in high school) had a similar situation- not quite so creepy, but a younger girl who followed her around and pretended to adore her and then tried to steal her boyfriend!


  • Bethany June 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

    this sounds like a terribly re-written version of All About Eve or something:


  • Meredith November 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    This is like All About Eve but it’s incredibly cheesy


  • Suzanne April 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    When did Jessica turn into Drew Barrymore? Seriously, look at her face in that picture!


  • me February 25, 2013 at 11:43 am

    aww!! poor jess!!!


  • Mad Dog June 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    On the cover of the version I have you can’t see Paula’s left hand and it looks like she is levitating the crown.


  • Cressida July 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Yes Paula was a bitch but she was right towards the end when she told Jess that she was “hopelessly naïve about the way show business really works” Because yeah in Hollywood and Broadway people stab you in the back all of the time!


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