Sweet Valley Twins #10: One of the Gang

The Moral of the Story: You can’t make friends unless you can win contests.

The Big Deal: Mini Olympics

New Kid with a Problem: Pamela Jacobson, heart condition


Liz’s new friend this week is Pamela Jacobson. Pamela is a recent transfer to Sweet Valley Middle School. She has a heart condition and was attending the “special” school, but all she wants is to be a normal kid! So she’s gotten her parents to let her transfer, but at the first sign of fatigue or depression, it’s back to Ridgedale.

Steven Wakefield has been annoying the twins by saying he has ESP. They want him to STFU, so they tell him people with ESP have visions. That night Jessica puts on a ghost costume and climbs a ladder up to Steve’s window. Steve opens the shade and starts screaming, and he scares Jessica so much that she falls off the ladder and sprains her ankle. She has a fun time getting fawned over at school the next day, but by the second day she’s sick of her crutches and she just wants her old life back, dammit.

Jessica has been put in charge of the Mini Olympics at school. Ever since Liz started getting to know Pamela, she’s been trying to get Jessica to change the Olympics and put in more activities for kids who can’t do athletic stuff. Jessica thought it was a lame idea, but now that she’s handicapped herself, she thinks Liz just might be on to something. She doesn’t care anything about Pamela, but Lila’s been trying to take over her job as chairman and Jessica thinks this is the perfect opportunity to get the power back.

Pamela’s parents don’t think she’s progressing very well at normal school, and they’ve decided that she’ll go back to Ridgedale next month if things don’t improve. They seem convinced that since she can’t do anything athletic, she’s totally isolated from the rest of the kids. I don’t get it. I never did anything athletic in school and I don’t feel like I was ever lacking in friends. But whatever…Pamela says she’d like to stay at Sweet Valley Middle, and her eighth-grade brother is pissed because he’s embarrassed of her. Pamela starts thinking they’re right, that the fact that she can’t participate in the Mini Olympics means she shouldn’t have even tried to go to a normal school.

Jessica goes to Pamela’s house and tells her she needs her advice about what kind of special activities can be added to the Mini Olympics, and she convinces Pamela to go to that night’s committee meeting with her. She figures that if Pamela is there, the faculty advisers won’t put up too much of a fight about changing things around. She also figures that Lila will argue and end up looking like a jerk. Who needs enemies, right?

Pamela and Jessica spend many long hours reorganizing the plans for the Olympics. What they come up with is ridiculous. One of the new events is a bed-making contest, which is just, like, what? But okay, fine. Let’s say there’s someone on your team who is awesome at making beds. You can’t just put that person in the bed-making contest. Names will be drawn at random to decide who will participate in each event. I think this is really dumb. Only Lila agrees with me.

The day is broken up into three parts. First, the talent competition. Each team puts on a skit and performs a song. Next, Brainpower. Spelling bees and such. Then, the bed-making and wheelchair races, along with Crutch Croquet and junk like that. So, no actual sports at all. I thought this new version was supposed to accommodate everyone?

Pamela and Jessica both end up on the blue team, and they’re tied with Lila and the red team at the end of the day. The last event is the wheelchair race, and Pamela wins it for the blue team. Way to go, Pam. I’m a little confused, though. The entire book, we’re told she can’t even walk up a flight of stairs without stopping to rest her weak heart, but she can exert herself enough to win a wheelchair race? Whatever, good job, blue team. Pamela’s father sees how much everyone loves her now that she’s won something, and he decides she can stay at Sweet Valley.

Setup for the next book: Ellen and Jessica find a mysterious box buried in Ellen’s back yard.


“Unless you’re really pretty, or really good at sports, or really smart, no one notices you.”

That’s right, Liz. If you’re not doing anything terribly noticeable, you probably won’t get noticed.

Lila frowned. “It sounds ridiculous,” she said. “Who ever heard of a bed-making contest in a Mini Olympics?”

Indeed, Lila. I hear you, sister.

The Cover: I don’t really know what the tag line has to do with anything. “Is Jessica really as perfect as she thinks she is?” I guess? Pamela’s cute, but I hate her 80s hair. Jessica seems to be swimming in that huge pink sweatshirt.


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  • Roxanne May 15, 2011 at 6:32 am

    I love your blog Shannon – I found it after reading the BBC article and subsequently spent about a week reading every post. I thought I grew up reading SVH and SVT, but I only recognise a handful of the actual stories – either they’re very forgettable, or I my library only had a few books and I re-read the same ones again and again.


  • Amiee May 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    This one isn’t as familar to me, but the one about Ellen coming up next is!
    Just another example of any illness being overcome by the twin healing power.


  • Whallie May 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Uhhh, Francine… I grew up with a serious heart condition, was even in a wheel chair at some point. But I still went to a “normal” jr and hs. My only thing was that I couldn’t take gym class. AWESOME! So they gave me study hall instead, where you sit in the library and do whatever you want. I was actually popular because of it. The other “normal” kids at my school thought it was really cool to just doodle, do homework, or sleep for a period instead of sweating to death, followed by same sex showers before running into that hot guy, um girl…no wait guy….Oh, I don’t know anymore…you have a crush on in your next class.


  • Claire May 18, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I’m loving your blog Shannon! Keep up the good work. You’re hilarious! What happened to SVU? Will you recap them eventually? They’re the ones I remember the most with the ridiculous story lines :s


    Shannon Reply:

    I will eventually get all the books done (except probably not SVKids), but I started in on SVU and hated it! I’ll suck it up and get them done one of these days though.


  • Jen May 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    The only thing remotely true about this book is that having crutches for one day is awesome, but by day two it SUCKS. Preach on Jess.


  • Milti May 27, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Oh man, I was looking for the synopsis of this one. It stood out for me when I first read it as a 12 year old because I remember finding it ridiculous. Sure, as a heart patient, it has been fun throughout my teenage years to tell people I can never run like them because of a heart condition, or make a dramatic announcement to a new boyfriend that there’s something he should know. But I never took it seriously until I read this one and realised that these declarative stereotypes hang around for a reason. Our movies and books would love to latch on to a plot like this. Though a melodramatic part pf me is thrilled at the attention, the grown up, adult me is revolted at this kind of segregation being sanctioned.


  • Milti May 27, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Sorry for the double post but I can’t help but feel sorry for the character of Pamela and kids who are treated like her (I sincerely hope not). A heart condition imposes limitations on the individual’s physical activities ONLY, unless it is accompanied by deafness/short sight, both of which can be dealt with so the individual is ‘normal’. In no way does it compromise the cognitive abilities. A special school for her seems like somewhat of a stretch. Yes, there will be problems with stamina and the PT period, but how does that matter when you’re inside a classroom most of the day? In the class where everyone else has to run around and do things that appear terribly exhausting to you, just relax and thank your stars you can cheer on the team or read a good book or take a solid nap!


  • Mara May 30, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Holy cow this blog is better than apple sauce. I’m excited to revisit all these books! Like an earlier commenter, I’m surprised that I don’t remember more than I do, but it seems odd if forget such silly storylines. In any case, I look forward to reading more. 🙂


    Shannon Reply:

    Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I keep expecting to remember more than I do as well. I read this series more than any other.


    Enid the Penid Reply:

    Now I want applesauce.


  • pibetaalpha June 11, 2011 at 12:02 am

    So many Pamelas in Sweet Valley…


  • Anners July 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Ugly cover.


  • Alex Kennedy July 18, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Pamela’s parents are very archaic in their way of thinking. Why should she go to a “special” school?


  • Natasha October 23, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I liked this book because I can actually relate to a character-Pamela. I also have a heart condition and ican do some physical sports but I do know my limits. I never went to a special school.


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