Sweet Valley High #117: Jessica the Genius

SVH117The Moral of the Story: If you coast through life and never apply yourself, you’ll do well on important tests.

The Big Deal: Party at Lila’s after the SATs, big basketball game

Best Outfit: Dana, the original American Apparel model – green tunic, black leather belt, purple tights, black high-heeled boots


It’s time for the SATs and Liz is freaking out. She stays up late studying every night while Jessica shops and sunbathes. Unsurprisingly, Liz is so tired and stressed that she does badly on the test. Her scores are in the four hundreds. Jessica is shocked and horrified when her own scores are in the seven hundreds. She doesn’t want to tell anyone because she’s worried about being seen as a nerd. She does tell Ken, but he doesn’t believe her. Jackass.

After the scores come out, Jessica is again horrified when she gets to school and there’s a big banner congratulating her and Winston on having the highest SAT scores in the junior class. There’s even an assembly to recognize their achievement. Everyone is congratulating her and Jessica is relieved that being smart won’t totally ruin her reputation. But then people keep coming up to her and saying how surprised they are that she did so well. Jessica is upset that everyone thinks she’s dumb.

Jessica gets called to the principal’s office and Chrome Dome tells her the school board thinks she cheated on the exam. Caroline Pearce overhears and starts spreading the gossip. By the time it gets to Liz, the story is that Jessica sneaked back into the classroom after the test and switched her exam with Liz’s. Liz gets pissed and starts a fight with Jessica.

While all this is going on, Todd is turning into a real asshat. He scored in the six hundreds and now has college scouts coming to watch him play basketball. He’s acting really arrogant and obnoxious and he doesn’t seem to care at all about Liz’s problems. Liz’s self esteem is shot. She even tries to resign from The Oracle because she thinks she’s too stupid to be a reporter, but Mr. Collins doesn’t let her. She manages to tear Todd away from his constant rereading of scholarship offers and they go to Miller’s Point. Liz tries one more time to talk to Todd about how she’s feeling, but he can’t stop blathering on about how awesome he is. Liz kicks him out of the car. Just a few feet away, Jessica and Ken have a fight because Ken wants Jessica to tell him the truth, that she really cheated on the exam. She jumps out of his car and runs into Todd. Then Liz drives by and offers Jessica a ride. They make up on the way home and Liz says she knows Jessica didn’t cheat.

The twins both decide to take the SATs again. This time, Jessica is determined to do just as well as she did the first time so she stays up all night studying and even invites Winston over to help her. Liz has decided she doesn’t even care about the SATs anymore, so she acts like Jessica and doesn’t prepare at all. This time, Liz scores in the seven hundreds and Jessica in the four hundreds. The school board is convinced Jessica cheated the first time, so she is suspended from school.

Liz is determined to clear Jessica’s name and she comes up with a plan. Chrome Dome gives her permission to hold a mock trial. Liz will act as Jessica’s lawyer and the jury will be six students and six faculty members who don’t know Jessica very well. If Liz and Jessica win, Chrome Dome will fight for Jessica’s case against the school board.

Jessica is allowed to come back to school the day before the trial, and when the twins get there they find a whole rally going on. Half the school is wearing “We Believe in Jessica” t-shirts while the football team, led by Ken, runs around yelling and the cheerleading squad (minus Heather) does a cheer. I wish I was kidding. While that’s going on, Heather and Bruce are leading the rest of the school in a display of scowling while wearing “Jessica is Guilty” t-shirts. Because everyone has an opinion. Fucking Wakefields.

To my complete lack of surprise, Liz wins the trial and Jessica’s good name is cleared. Ned and Alice decide the twins should take a few days off from school and go visit Steve at Sweet Valley University.

Oh, somewhere in there, Todd falls at his big basketball game and breaks his ankle. This prompts Liz to make up with him and everything is wonderful again.


“You’re really beautiful, Jessica,” Ken said. He touched her fingers. “You’re without a doubt the prettiest girl at Sweet Valley High. I’ve heard guys on the football team talking about your incredible looks when they thought I was out of earshot.”

Do I really need more confirmation that Jessica is totally hot? Does Jessica really need it?

“Well, I’m not too surprised, Jess,” [Ken] said with a smile, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “It’s not like anyone expected you to do really well.”

Damn, that’s cold.

“What school should I go to, Liz? You used to know a lot about college,” Todd said.

Ha ha. Because she’s suddenly forgotten everything she’s ever learned now that she scored low on a test.

The Cover: I don’t know what’s going on here, but I don’t think anything on this cover actually correlates to anything that happens in the book.

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  • Megan October 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Bruce is such an ass. I love it.


    Anonymous Reply:

    Ken was such an ass for not believing Jessica did well on her SATs without cheating. I mean, it is hard to cheat on those tests because everything is monitored. He found it hard to believe that she could do so well because she is beasutiful. Obviously, he did not appreciate her intelligence. Is it any small wonder that later on she found a man that told her that she was beautiful and intelligent and he was challenging her to be alot smarter than anyone is willing to give her credit for.


  • Sandy October 28, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    This was Craptacular! I loved how the whole school is making a big deal about Jessica’s trial.
    And Todd gets injured! lol There goes his dream. No quotes from Lila?


  • Shannon October 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Megan, he is such an ass! It’s pretty funny sometimes.

    Sandy, nothing from Lila today. She was edged out of this book by all the Wakefield-ness going on. There should have been a series just about her.


  • Sadako October 28, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    So the lesson is…don’t study for the SATs? Good to know.

    Love the “smart kid does terrible/slacker does great” plot. Remember Jessie and Zack on Saved by the Bell?

    Also aren’t the SATs usually held months apart? Would there be time for the girls to retake it and get their scores so fast?


    Shannon Reply:

    That is, apparently, the lesson.

    There might have been a couple chapter headers that said, “A few weeks later” or something. Nothing concrete, of course. I have no idea how much time elapsed in this book.


  • Fear Street October 28, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Freaking unbelievable. My hatred for these people grows by the minute!


    Shannon Reply:

    Aren’t they ridiculous? I wish I knew them in real life so I could beat them up. I would have totally been on Bruce and Heather’s side today because they’re slightly less ridiculous than the twins.


  • Lori October 28, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I guess I wasted my time studying for the SATs.

    There were kids at SVH that didn’t know the twins to make up a jury? That’s a surprise.


    Shannon Reply:

    You know, that surprised me too. I guess they must have been loner nerds who haven’t yet needed Liz to solve some life problem for them.


  • HelenB October 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I thought this was cliche’d but cool up to the bit where they retake the tests the first time. I mean, Liz could actually realistically become depressed since her self-image is all about being “the smart twin”, and Jessica would totally be horrified at being thought smart, but then suddenly, wtf, a trial happens!

    One day I will actually stop expecting realism in these books.


    Shannon Reply:

    Yeah, it takes a while, but eventually nothing surprises you anymore.


  • Lorelai October 28, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    This kinda reminds me of that episode of 90210 when Donna isn’t allowed to graduate ’cause she got drunk at prom, and EVERY SINGLE STUDENT refused to take their finals and march for her rights. I mean, come on! That is so ridiculous.

    At least Bruce is giving us a different option. It would’ve made 90210 slightly more interesting if someone’d rocked up in a ‘Let Donna Rot In Summer School’ T-shirt.


    Shannon Reply:

    Oh man, I can totally see that happening in Sweet Valley. That’s what makes Bruce and Heather so cool in this book.


  • Lorelai October 28, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Oh, and one more thing…and while I don’t mean to brag or EVER compare myself to Jessica Wakefield, your Moral of the Story line is pretty much exactly what happened to me in high school. So it does happen, even outside of Sweet Valley.

    Does this mean I blame the Sweet Valley book for my poor work ethic? Well yes, yes it does. Damn you, Francine! I coulda been somebody! I coulda been a contender! 🙂


    Shannon Reply:

    Ha ha, I’m sure it does happen. I just don’t think we should be teaching kids that Jessica’s approach to life is necessarily the best one. “Who needs to study? I’ll ace the test anyway. Let’s party!”


  • Tracy London October 29, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Not only Saved by the Bell, but remember when it happened to one Mr. Downward!Spiral! Dylan McKay as well?


    Sadako Reply:

    Oh yeah. I forgot about that episode.

    Though the SAT moment I remember most is Dylan and Brendan walking out because they wanted to be with Brenda after her biopsy.

    And of course, Dawson and Pacey walking out of the PSAT.

    Yeah, the lesson here is SCREW THE SAT!


    Shannon Reply:

    Hmm, seems to be a recurring theme.


  • Lindsay October 29, 2009 at 12:21 am

    I want a “Jessica is Guilty” Tee.

    Also, I’m kinda happy Todd fell and broke his ankle. Fuck Todd.


    Shannon Reply:

    I’m really kind of tempted to make “Jessica is Guilty” t-shirts on Cafe Press.

    Seriously, fuck Todd.


  • Darren October 29, 2009 at 3:25 am

    I was happy Bruce looked like an ass, and Heather had to admit that SHE BOUGHT THE CHEERING SQUAD! I KNEW Heather was doing something to convert those girls to her side and SHE HAD TO EXPOSE HERSELF in the hearing! I just loved it that Heather wheeled and dealed and Jessica never fell for it! I bet Heather was glad to have graduated from SVH and probably said ‘good riddance!’

    That was funny to tease Bruce about his score and ‘way to let mummy and daddy down’ not going to Harvard, ha ha!

    What happened to Pamela now? BTW, is Pamela’s last name Jacobson I believe? I was reading SVTwins no. 24 and they had a Pamela Jacobson in there. Let me know on that.

    I was happy Todd fucked himself up after being ‘the big man’. He’s got to be luckiest man in the world for Elizabeth to put up all the shit he’s pulled:

    Nicholas Morrow, 2 times with Liz
    Todd has cheated at least 2 times himself I belive
    Jeffrey French
    Suzanne Devlin (SV Xmas where Suzanne came back (After 11/after Tricia’s death)
    Ken Matthews (SV 112/114!)
    Setting up Dana and Aaron, then getting into a fight about it
    The one episode from Liz’s diary, and then SV 89, friends turning on Liz and Liz not getting support!
    Finally, John Marin (need to read that one) and then The SATs.

    But wait, there’s another instance, and it’ll involve SVU! You think the twins will have a normal visit with Steven and his live in girlfriend Billie? Guess again!

    BTW, I think Steven should’ve had Cathy Connors and not this Billie. Billie later leaves for good in SVUniversity book 20, moves to Spain.


    Shannon Reply:

    I believe Pamela’s last name is Robertson.


  • Darren October 29, 2009 at 3:27 am

    Also: On the book cover, obviously that’s Jessica showing off her shirt and her pretty skirt, but is that Elizabeth apparantely studying with Todd?


    Shannon Reply:

    I have no idea. At no point in this book does Jessica get excited enough about college to wear an SVU shirt. Liz does study with Winston, but, I don’t know, that guy doesn’t look like a Winston to me.


  • Lizzie April 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Ok I know I’m about two years late for the discussion about this horrendous mini-series, but is this the first cover where the twins look like the twins from the TV series?

    I love this blog Shannon. I read these books when I was a young teenager, and living in England, I assumed that Sweet Valley accurately depicted life in California. How wrong I was.


  • Nadia September 21, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Lizzie, me too. I am from Malaysia and back in those days, I thought these books were the best series in the world… Now that I am 31, I could see how wrong I was… the books were just a load of crap with too much emphasis on looking good etc.. if u look good, u’re in the ‘in’ group… i wish i could give francine pascal and her team of writers a good whack!!!


  • Lila Flowers January 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Hmmm. Is this a recycled plot from SVT? Called Jessica the Nerd or something original like that?


  • Kylie90210 May 12, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    I only read this one for the first time a coupld of years ago, and yeah, the whole school revolving around the Wakefields was lame. So, in the end, they just assume the results were accurate and they both got high scores? I wonder how many others kids got to retake their tests and improve their scores? Mm…


  • Natalie Hulett March 29, 2016 at 2:01 am

    What gives me the continual complete and utter POX is how Jessica is such a twatmonkey to EVERYONE and yet if anything bad happens to her fair or not the shit hits the fan if no one believes her or trusts her .. W.T.F.


  • Anonymous October 27, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Kylie, in the US a person can take the SATs as often as one likes to improve their scores


  • Natasha December 11, 2016 at 5:41 am

    I hate Todd and I kind of laughed when he fell and broke his ankle. Am I evil?


  • anon May 14, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    If Todd fell and broke his neck, I’d laugh.

    Interesting how Liz goes sailing with Nicholas Morrow in the middle of the story. I always liked the idea of them.


  • Dane Youssef May 16, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    I’d only be happier if Todd broke something that would end his basketball career. Why couldn’t the Wakefield Bobbseys break something? Even when they hit their heads and lose their memory or develop a new personality, they can just hit their heads again and it all comes back.

    Damn it, permanent injuries for everyone in Sweet Valley! NOW!!!

    –REALLY Sincere Now, DANE R. YOUSSRF


  • This series is very odd August 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

    It makes me so angry that people think that JW cheated on the test. I know that she is a horrible person but I cannot stand it when people are innocent and are being accused of something that they did not do. I am under the impression that security when one takes the SAT is very difficult and that it is nearly impossible to cheat on them. I am also chocked that EW scored so horribly in the test.


  • This series is very odd August 12, 2017 at 10:10 am

    There is no way that JW could have switched tests with her sister. First of all, if you take the SAT, you fill in your name using a scantron sheet. Thus it is impossible to switch tests in the manner suggested by the author. Second of all, the security is so tight during the SATs that it is virtually impossible for a student to have access to the tests after it is taken.


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