Sweet Valley Twins #9: Against the Rules

The Moral of the Story: You have to be talented if you’re poor. Otherwise nobody will like you.

The Big Deal: Party at the Wakefields’


Jessica is disgusted by Liz’s behavior. Know why? No, she’s not trying to get the color purple outlawed or anything like that. It’s because she’s hanging out with Sophia Rizzo. Sophia is POOR! Her brother is a CRIMINAL! Their mother is DISABLED! Liz being friends with her is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Jessica.

Ned Wakefield has a client who has a daughter the twins’ age, and this client has invited one of the twins to L. A. to hang out with the daughter. Liz automatically offers to stay home and let Jessica go, but Ned insists the girls draw straws. Jessica loses. This, too, is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Jessica.

Sweet Valley Middle School is going to put on a play, and the two best English students from each grade are chosen to write it. Sophia and Liz are the sixth grade representatives, and Jessica can’t stand that Liz is going to be working with Sophia. Because, remember, she’s POOR! Even brother Steven warns Liz not to get too close to the Rizzos. He knows Sophia’s brother, Tony, is a CRIMINAL who went to REFORM SCHOOL. Sophia comes over to work on the play one night. Lila happens to be there, and Jessica tells her Sophia’s there to pick up a box of old clothes. She says this, of course, right in front of Sophia.

Liz is worried at the first play committee meeting because the two seventh grade reps are Mary Robinson and Peter Jeffries, a Unicorn and a friend of Bruce Patman’s. Liz is sure Sophia is going to have a rough time, but it all turns out surprisingly well. The other kids like Sophia’s ideas and she’s chosen as the head writer of the play. Liz is feeling good about things until she gets home and sees Steven’s black eye. Tony Rizzo punched him in the face, so now Steve and Jessica are pissed at Liz. Weird Wakefield logic, don’t ask.

When the Wakefield parents see Steve’s black eye, they tell Liz she can’t hang out with Sophia outside of school anymore. That really sucks because Liz just told Sophia she’d throw her a birthday party at the Wakefield house next month. See, Sophia’s never had a birthday party, on account of her being so POOR. Things are even worse when Liz finds out her trip to L. A. is on Sophia’s birthday. She begs her parents to let Jessica go instead, but they say that just wouldn’t be fair. Okay, the Wakefield parents are being ridiculous this week.

Steven suggests the twins switch places so Jessica can go to L. A. Ned and Alice are going to be at an all day beach party that Saturday, so Liz figures she can throw Sophia a little party while everyone is gone. Jessica loves the idea of switching places, of course, and thinks Liz is the best sister ever, but then in the same conversation she gets all pissy about Sophia writing the damn school play. She says she won’t be auditioning and neither will any of the other Unicorns because nobody wants to be involved with Sophia in any way.

Sophia collides with Jessica and Lila in the hallway at school and papers go flying everywhere. Before Sophia can pick them up, Lila snatches a page and starts dramatically reading a scene from the play. All the kids who have suddenly gathered around start laughing and Sophia runs away. Liz runs after her and Sophia tells her how much her life sucks. When she asks Liz to come home with her, Liz can’t help but say yes. She starts spending time at Sophia’s every night to work on the play, but she feels totally guilty about it. I don’t know why she doesn’t just tell her parents she and Sophia have to work on school stuff together.

Almost nobody will try out for the play at first, but after a few roles are cast and scenes are performed in English classes, people start to come around. Eventually, Jessica is the only holdout, but Liz tells her she won’t let her go to L. A. in her place unless Jessica at least goes to watch the play.

Opening night is a roaring success, and the last scene moves everyone to tears. After the actors take their bows, someone in the audience starts chanting, “Author! Author! Author!” Does that really happen? Sophia takes another bow, and on the way home, Jessica and Steven admit they were wrong about Sophia. Even the Wakefield parents concede that she’s talented. How nice of them.

Jessica goes off to L. A. the next day, Ned and Alice leave for their party, and Steven has some kind of basketball thing he has to go to. As soon as Liz is alone, she calls Amy and Julie to come over and set up for Sophia’s party. Pretty much the whole school – including Lila and Bruce – show up since Sophia’s a famous playwright now, but Ned and Alice come home early, before Sophia gets there. Oh, no! But wait, it’s all good. Liz had good intentions, so she’s off the hook. Ned even drives to the Rizzos’ house to pick up Sophia’s mother and bring her back to the party. While there, he gives Tony the number of a psychologist who might be able to help him out. Then Alice offers Mrs. Rizzo a position designing afghans for her interior design firm. Sophia has the best birthday ever and the world explodes in a sugary ball of cheese.


She was small and dark like her daughter, and, like Sophia, her clothes were faded from age and countless washings.

Sophia is faded from age and countless washings? (Cheap shot, I know, but misplaced modifiers crack me up.)

As her path took her back into her own familiar neighborhood, filled with spacious homes on carefully manicured lawns, Elizabeth wished that more people shared Sophia’s talent for understanding others. But, as Jessica came bounding out of the Wakefields’ front door, Elizabeth wondered if the happy, pampered kids of Sweet Valley would ever be able to put themselves in Sophia’s place.

Oh, not like you, Elizabeth! You’re the only kid in the whole world who can look past your carefully manicured lawn and reach out to the hopeless po’ folks.

The Cover: Liz looks like she’ll pull a muscle if she gets any friendlier. Amy looks like she just woke up. And actually, if I had to guess which kid on this cover is the poor one, I’d guess Amy. She looks like crap. At least Sophia’s shirt fits her.



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  • Casey May 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I didn’t realize the yelling of “author” was a thing until I watched the Shakespeare episode of Doctor Who last week. Maybe it’s more of a British thing?

    The fact that her last name is Rizzo makes me think of Grease.


  • Sara May 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Why is the tagline, is Elizabeth about to make the biggest mistake of her life?! This is hardly a “big mistake.”


    Whallie Reply:

    Because in Sweet Valley, their lives are so pristine and perfect that just glancing at someone who’s poor is the worst mistake that a Sweet Valleyian can make.


  • Ellie May 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    YES!! I love an appearance by Mary Robinson. She was the popular and mature 7th grader – so wise. Amy on that cover cracked me up, too.


  • Jenn May 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    “Sugary ball of cheese” made me snort-laugh.


  • Lauri May 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Does the drawing straws to go to LA remind anyone of drawing straws to go to New York with the Hanlons?


    Darren Reply:

    That’s Devlin, not the Hanlon. The twins drew straws to see who went to New York to see suzanne’s family in a ‘daughter exchange’, and Suzanne got to come to California. SVH, book 10, and SV SPecial Special CHristmas, Suzanne returns to make amends, and no matter what Confidential said of that one, Suzanne did not die.


  • Margarita May 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Why are the twins, beautiful since birth, always blonde, but Amy, a nerd, has brown hair, until she becomes a beautiful teenager, and then is blonde?


    Darren Reply:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Amy the 16 year old dyed her hair in Connecticut to fit in with their crowd when she moved there when she was nearing 13, and then came back to Sweet Valley as a real jerk. I hated Amy for a long time when she dated Bruce and it killed Regina. I was inspired to write up a 2010 version where Regina didn’t die, but somebody goes back in time to get her to the hospital in time to save her life. Amy had no right to date Bruce and she should’ve been called a killer and murderer back then for killing Regina. Thankfully, Amy finally got a boyfriend and took a look at her life.


  • Sonnie May 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I really don’t understand why someone would never have a birthday party just because they’re poor. That’s just what Sophia’s parent(s) want her to believe, when really, they just don’t give a flying fuck. Yet, Mrs. Rizzo (muppet pops into my head) gets a job offer for being a terrible and lazy-ass mother. She could have even done what I do when I throw parties; B.Y.O.B., everyone chips in for pizza, radio on for the entertainment – the end, cool party!


  • Sonnie May 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Oh, yeah. I too think that Amy looks like the poor one on the cover. Plus, I thought Sophia’s clothes were supposed to be old and worn looking. Amy’s the one with the sweatshirt 10 sizes too big, greasy unwashed “mousy” hair, and a “my life sucks” look on her face.


  • Diana May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    This post CRACKED ME UP!!!!!! Hysterical as usual! And Yes, Amy does look poor!


  • Deitra July 18, 2011 at 1:05 am

    I think I know the real reason,Jessica and her friends didn’t like Sophie not because she was poor,but because she was Italian(horrors! gasp!),seriously though,I think Sophie was Italian ,I remember reading this when I was 13


    Darren Reply:

    Well, also, the other reason was Tony was in reform school and possibly did burglary like acts I believe it was. I’m not that sure if it was racism involved because I don’t think anybody cared Sophia was Italian. It was the brother, and yeah, the conditions of the family being poor. ALso, Mrs. Rizzo is not disabled, she got a job later on making purses, it’s in book 62.


  • Anners July 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Poor Sofia. She looks so happy to have a birthday cake. Also, neither she nor her brothers was ever mentioned again in the SVT series, were they?


    Darren Reply:

    Yes they are, in book 62. Sarah’s Dad and Sophia’s Mom Sarah Thomas and Sophia Rizzo’s parents are in love but they hate each other!
    Sarah Thomas is introduced in book 21 where her father dates a real creep for a woman named Annie that purposely leaves Sarah the 12-year home all alone and poor Sarah falls down stairs and breaks her arm and can’t even move! I thought it was upsetting to have Sarah getting hurt and then her Aunt (her mother had died) wanted her to live with her, but SUper Liz to the rescue as Sarah confides she wants to stay and SUper Liz encourages her to talk it out to her Aunt of her feelings.
    Elizabeth was sure a SUper Twin back then. Jessica was something else in book 9, saying that Sophia had to pick up clothes and Sophia was rightfully upset and humiliated! Then what Lila did in mocking Sophia’s play was something else, Lila was one mean 12-year old.


  • Darren August 26, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Wrong description, Shannon. Yes, Anthony (Tony) was a crimiminal, BUT Sophia’s mother WAS NOT disabled as she got a job eventually making purses, specialized purses, don’t recall if she got it early on, or later, but Sophia’s mother was not disabled, and Sophia’s mother was divorced, and that’s what made Anthony have problems.

    As for Tony as I call him, he did get help that he needed as there is another far off chapter where he’s a nicer guy and got to know a new father in Mr. Thomas, Sarah Thomas’ dad. Sophia gets to know another girl, but it seems like she’s in a tough girl role in that chapter as she’s had to be reserved because of Tony and took it out on Sarah. I think that’s book number 62. That one is really funny when Sophia and Sarah hate each other and get into fights!


    Shannon Reply:

    “Elizabeth noticed that she moved very slowly and limped when she walked…”

    Sophie: “You see, we don’t have a car, and Mama can’t get around too easily. When she had a job at the factory, people at work used to give her rides home or to the store. But her leg got worse, and she had to stop work.”

    Both those quotes are from chapter 2, and that’s as far as I feel like re-reading this book.


  • Darren August 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    OK, I guess it was a case of the ghostwriter that wrote 62 didn’t remember what was written in book 9, as when you do get around to book 62, Sophia’s mother was working and designing purses when she was told to go see the principal after Sophia and Sarah had their paint war. I don’t know why ghost writers can’t go back to see what they put into their work and refer to it, it’s confusing to say in one instants, Mrs. Rizzo can’t work, and in another instance, Mrs. Rizzo came home from her job and was angry at Sophia and sent her to her room in being grounded, no, as she said. I get a kick out of Sophia and Sarah sent to their rooms and they both kick up a fuss about it.


  • miu December 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    in this book and others ned and alice can recognize liz isnt jess right away but in a svh book alice mistakes her for jessica. so BS


  • Natasha October 17, 2015 at 4:24 am

    I’m currently collecting and rereading the series myself. I used to read them when I was younger and now at 30-something I find some of the stories slightly silly but still a fun read.

    This is not my favourite. In fact, Elizabeth’s parents had no right to tell her who she can’t be friends with-just because they are poor?? Wow, talk about judgmental.


  • Ilya June 7, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I swear, Sweet Valley must exist in the Twilight Zone where everything has to be perfect.


  • Alex Kennedy July 9, 2016 at 4:32 am

    The parents made some horrible decisions in this book. The whole family was being tainted by Tony’s befhviour. Lawyer Wakefield (it is never clear what sort of law that he practices) is often willing to help out the “downtrodden” and he needs to make up his mind as to whther he likes Chinese food or is allergic to it (authors cannot figure it out either). Both parents lacked any form of compassion. Poverty is being treated like it is a contageous disease and more than once girls cannot join the Unicorns because they do not have the right clothing.

    Furthermore Naughty Lila needs some serious scolding. Can anyone count how many times that “she flocks her long brown hair over her shoulders?”


  • Alex Kennedy November 11, 2016 at 3:43 am

    I loathed “Sarah’s Dad” And Sophia’s Mom.” Sophie appears once again inthis book. I cannot wait for you to review it, Shannon. It was absolutely horrible. Just because Sophia’s mother is Italian, the authors make her look ridiculous and they made her character one who was not able to speak the language properly. I am currently reading it, but I do not think that I can get through it all. One of the scenes shows Sarah (who has suddenly become a snob – up until now, I thought she was really nice), standing outside Sophia’s house not wanting to go in, because it “looks poor.” The traditional divide between poor=bad and wealthy/comfortable=good rears its ugly head again here.


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  • This Series is Very Odd October 3, 2017 at 2:56 am

    I have been trying to read this book but I cannot. It makes me so angry. Poor Sophia – And I do not mean that in a derogatory way. She was treated horribly by some of the kids in this book.


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