Sweet Valley Twins #16: Second Best

The Moral of the Story: If you win a contest, everyone will like you. (I feel like this is a recurring theme.)

The Big Deal: Party at Kimberly’s

New Kid with a Problem: Dylan McKay, loser


Three super important things are happening in the lives of the Wakefields. 1. Steven has some kind of sports banquet coming up. *yawn* 2. Liz is all excited about an essay contest. *double yawn* 3. Jessica wants to go to Kimberly Haver’s upcoming birthday party but she’s still grounded because of last week’s shenanigans. Her parents have been thinking she might have been grounded long enough, but then they get the kids’ report cards and decide Jessica could do with another two weeks. Jessica schmoozes herself into a “probation period” and if her grades haven’t improved in two weeks she’ll be regrounded.

Liz overhears an argument between the cute and popular new kid, Tom McKay, and his awkward older brother Dylan. Tom would like Dylan to get involved in stuff at school, but Dylan doesn’t feel like there’s any point because he sucks at everything. Dylan is actually a pretty good writer and he’s been working on a piece for the essay contest, but he gives up when he hears some kids talking about how great Tom’s essay is.

There’s a schoolwide project everyone has to do, that thing where students have to create a business. Liz is determined to be nice when Dylan McKay is assigned to the group she’s in, but he’s unfriendly and shoots down all Liz’s suggestions about contributions he could make. Tom is in Jessica’s group and he’s all excited about Jessica’s idea to start a boutique. When Dylan sees how much fun the other group is having with Tom, he gets even crabbier and pretty soon nobody wants to talk to him because he’s acting like a jerk. That makes him even more crabby and he decides it’s all Tom’s fault. He starts a fight in the cafeteria and punches Tom in the nose.

Liz’s group is going to publish a book of students’ writing, and she puts Dylan on typing duty. When Liz gets home that night, she finds Dylan’s essay mixed in with the other papers. She thinks it’s great and she calls Dylan to tell him it has to be postmarked today or it won’t be counted. Dylan tells her to throw it away. Liz can’t bring herself to do that; instead, she gets her mom to drive her to the post office so she can mail it herself.

Everyone in the seventh grade gets invited to Kimberly Haver’s party. Except Dylan. This is the last straw; he’s going to run away. He goes to the bus station, but realizes he can’t afford a ticket. Then Jessica (who is at the bus station for some dumb contrived reason) sees him and he makes up a lie about seeing an aunt in San Francisco. Jessica loses interest almost immediately, but Dylan decides to wait until next Friday. Everyone will be at Kimberly’s party and nobody will even notice Dylan is gone.

When Friday rolls around, Liz finds out Dylan actually won the essay contest, but he’s nowhere to be found. The Scooby gang gets together: Kimberly says she “forgot” to give Dylan his invitation, Jessica says she saw Dylan at the bus station, Tom says there is no aunt in San Francisco, and Liz puts it all together and she and Tom run off to the bus station. They find Dylan about to get on a bus to Los Angeles and they pull him out of line. Dylan whines about how everyone likes Tom better than him and he’s such a loser who’s not good at anything, so Liz tells him he won the essay contest. With his newfound confidence, Dylan goes to the party and has a grand time because everyone wants to hear about his awesome essay.


“We’ll probably need to construct a booth or something. How are you in wood shop?”

Dylan shook his head, still refusing to meet [Liz’s] eyes. “Terrible. The only thing I ever managed to do in wood shop was almost cut off my finger,” he told her glumly. “The teacher would hardly let me near the tools after that.”

The Cover: Liz looks like she’s messing with a hearing aid or something, and Tom just looks confused. His left hand is clawing at his back pretty intensely.

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  • rachierach August 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Wait a second. They had a character named Dylan McKay? I recall a TOM McKAY but not a DYLAN….90210, much?


    Shannon Reply:

    Ahaha, I never even thought of that!


    Margarita Reply:

    That is an interesting observation/coincidence, but in SWT’s defense, this book did come out 2 years before 90210. The publishing date was Jan 1988 and BH 90210 start in 1990.


    Anonymous Reply:

    Margarita–I REFUSE to believe that one of the SVH “ghosties” launched a trend pre-90210… 🙂


  • bayerngirl74 August 24, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Thank god all the ugly losers in SVH/SVT have glasses and are sometimes fat/geeky/tall and skinny. That’s how I chose my friends after learning from the Wakefields.

    But when they take off their glasses/lose weight/whatever their social faux pas may be, then wow, everyone is hot.

    But geeks stay geeks. Poor souls. Oh, except for Winston. He turns into a womanizing super-douche.


    lainiew Reply:

    Your use of ‘super-douche’ is genius and I salute you. 🙂


  • Anonymous August 24, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    elizabeth looks like she’s getting off on the drama.


  • MV August 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I remember this book. Dylan was so annoying


  • miu December 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    tom looks kinda hot! too bad hes gay


  • amanda ports June 9, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    dylan was really stupid


  • amanda ports June 9, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    dylan was really stupid.


  • Natalie March 30, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Jeebus SVH 21 Runaway much??!!


  • Natasha October 27, 2016 at 4:30 am

    I’m halfway rereading this and Dylan started a fight with his younger brother for no reason! And Liz says he must have his reasons. Wtf Liz? Dylan needs to see a Shrink.


  • Alex Kennedy November 16, 2016 at 8:34 am

    There is no mention of Dylan in SVH.


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