Sweet Valley Twins #32: Jessica on Stage

The Moral of the Story: Be nice to the old lady down the street. She might be a glamorous actress in disguise.

The Big Deal: Acting workshop performance

Townsperson with a Problem: Mrs. Harrington, old and depressed

Synopsis:

Alice is driving the twins around town one day when a dachshund runs into the road and she has to slam on the brakes, causing a fender bender. The old lady in the car behind them is moaning about how much her neck hurts, so Alice takes her to the hospital. Between Jessica’s complaints about how late she’s going to be to her Unicorn meeting, Alice mentions that she thinks Mrs. Harrington looks familiar. The old biddy doesn’t have any injuries, but she has to wear a neck brace for a week or two and stay in the hospital overnight, because that’s apparently something you do when you don’t have any injuries.

Liz and Alice go back to visit her the next day, and Liz asks intrusive questions about Mrs. Harrington’s family (no kids, dead husband). Liz frets about how lonely she must be. When they get home, Jessica tells them she was watching an old movie called Winds of Eden, and Mrs. Harrington played the lead (before she got married and changed her first name to Mrs. and her last name to Harrington). Now that she knows Mrs. Harrington is someone important, Jessica wants to go visit her. So she and Liz walk to her house and find her crying because someone robbed her house while she was in the hospital. Apparently, all they took is the scrapbook that meant everything in the world to her. She’s having a terrible couple of days.

Jessica starts going to Mrs. Harrington’s house every day after school to help clean things up, while Liz moves on to more important things, like adopting a stray kitten Amy and Belinda found. This adorable kitten is being adorable all over the Wakefield house while the twins discuss getting Mrs. Harrington a dog because she seems so lonely. One of Steven’s friends is giving away puppies, so the twins get Ken to help them pick one out and they bring it to Mrs. Harrington. The woman is not pleased. She tells them a dog is too much for her. Liz takes the dog back, and Jessica stays behind to read the paper to Mrs. Harrington. In doing so, she finds out there’s an acting workshop for aspiring young actors. She thinks it sounds like a lot of work, but Mrs. Harrington convinces her to do it.

For the next four weeks, Mrs. Harrington helps Jessica learn her lines for the workshop’s performance. Jessica is supposed to bring a kite to the dress rehearsal, so she and Liz go to the flea market to find one. Liz is going through the book stall when she finds one of Mrs. Harrington’s books. Figuring this must be the guy who robbed the old lady, Jessica buys the book while Liz gets the vendor’s license plate number. They give it to the police and then Jessica is off to dress rehearsal. After rehearsal, the twins go back to the police station. In the short time since the twins left, the police managed to track down the burglar, search his house and get him to confess. Officer Carey lets the girls take Mrs. Harrington’s precious scrapbook so they can give it to her themselves.

When Jessica gets to the auditorium that night for the big show, she’s told her partner, Martin, has let his stage fright get the best of him and Jessica’s segment has been canceled. Mrs. Harrington won’t stand for this! She knows this play like the back of her hand, so she makes a stunning transformation into Dolores Dufay and performs with Jessica. She has so much fun that she decides to come out of retirement. And she’s thrilled when the twins present her with her scrapbook, and touched when they give her the kitten.

Setup for the next book: Some boys from the East German gymnastics team are coming to Sweet Valley.

Quotes:

“With this brace on my neck, it will probably take me weeks just to put everything back where it belongs.”

Yeah, yeah, your neck hurts. But then a couple of chapters later…

And with that, Mrs. Harrington herself squatted in the middle of the kitchen floor with her arms tucked back along her sides like wings. Then she began to dart her heard quickly from side to side in a perfect imitation of a chicken.

Hmm, I guess her neck only hurts when there’s a set of twins around to do her housework for her. Seems just fine when she wants to show Jessica how to be a chicken. (Wouldn’t you feel so awkward if an old lady you hardly knew got down on the floor and imitated a chicken for you?)

The Cover: What an awkward shot. I hope that’s not her costume.

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Comments
  • Whallie October 25, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I don’t like the way Jess looks on the cover. At first glance, I thought she was trying to puke, or she was doing some weird contortion stuff.

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  • Kanna-Chan October 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Her nose is weird. Too roundish. And those teeth bring to mind a Stephen King short story called Chattery Teeth, where a set of toy teeth with feet come to life and eat a guy alive. She looks like she wants to jump out of my computer screen and bite my nose off.

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  • jennifer October 26, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Jess looks older than 11

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  • Anonymous October 26, 2012 at 5:35 am

    I’m pretty sure she is supposed to be 12.

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  • Shannon October 29, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Kanna-Chan, I love that Stephen King story! I’m a big King fan.

    [Reply]

  • Lila Flowers January 4, 2013 at 1:08 am

    I thought the twins were prettier in middle school than they were in hs. And maybe a littles less annoying.

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  • Isabel E. December 21, 2013 at 11:17 am

    I think I recall a plotline about the twins hiding a mother cat that had kittens in their house, but they couldn’t keep it because their dad and Steven were allergic to cats. It seems that it was one of the earlier books in the elementary school series, with drawings of the characters in it and everything. Was there any mention in this book of why they didn’t keep the kitten they adopted, or did they just decide to give it to Mrs. Harrington because she was lonely?

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    As far as I can remember, they just gave it to her because she was lonely. I don’t remember now if there was any mention of the guys having allergies.

    [Reply]

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