Author Archive

Sweet Valley High #54: The Big Party Weekend

Friday, May 27th, 2016

SVT054The Moral of the Story: No consequences! Ever! Do whatever you want!

The Big Deal: Party at the Wakefield house

Synopsis:

The Wakefield parents are going to Mexico. Good riddance. They never do much parenting anyway, which is probably why Jessica and Steven assume the kids will get to look after themselves. They start planning a party for Saturday night and inviting all their friends. It’s not until the day before they leave that the parents tell them a very nice elderly woman named May Brown will be staying with the children. She’s a total stranger, but she comes “highly recommended” so I guess that’s safer than leaving the kids alone?

The parents leave Wednesday after the kids go to school, and when the twins get home that afternoon they find Steven and May glaring at each other in the kitchen. The old woman won’t let them have any snacks, they have to go to bed at nine, they only get one hour of TV a day, and she has the nerve to suggest the twins wear nametags so she can tell them apart. She’s a real bitch about all of it. The kids decide to get rid of her. They pull a few stupid pranks, like putting garlic in May’s coffee and setting her alarm clock to go off in the middle of the night, but all that gets them is the loss of phone privileges.

While all this is going on, Steven and the twins are also on a mission to clean out the garage and have a garage sale. They don’t get many customers, but Jessica manages to accidentally sell their mother’s antique wooden rose, given to her by her great-great-grandmother. So now Liz is freaking out, but Jessica is happy they’ll have money to buy stuff for the party she’s still convinced she’s going to have. Liz goes to every pawn shop in town trying to find the rose, but no luck.

In other news, Amy Sutton has a boyfriend all of a sudden. His name is Rob. Amy found him at the mall. Liz is surprised because she thought Amy liked Ken, but Amy says Ken is more interested in sportsball, and besides, Rob is in eighth grade and he’s really cute. Amy is showing signs of becoming her future self. Amy and Rob drag Todd and Liz on a double date to Casey’s, and Rob is a total ass.

Saturday rolls around and May is still the worst baby-sitter ever, so Steven and the twins put their latest plan into action. Steve tries to get himself a snack, which prompts May to yell at him about her no snacking rule, so Steven packs a bag and leaves the house, saying he’s never coming back. A few hours later, he calls May and tells her he got a ride to a friend’s house really far away, but the friend isn’t home and May needs to come get him. When she’s gone, Steven comes home from the supermarket with party supplies.

The party starts out okay, but it gets out of control pretty fast. Amy’s stupid boyfriend keeps putting on terrible music and turning it up too loud, there are people outside throwing food into the pool, and half the guests are people the Wakefields don’t even know. Amy tells Rob to get lost and then asks Ken to walk her home, so that’s all right. Then Aaron says he has to leave and just as he’s kissing Jessica good night for the first time ever, someone starts a food fight and Jessica gets hit in the face with a piece of bologna. Soon, the only people left are strangers who want to dance on the furniture. That’s when May comes home.

May is royally pissed, and she goes right upstairs and starts packing. The twins apologize and beg her to help them get rid of the kids downstairs. May relents and starts yelling, and pretty soon all the jerkface kids are gone. Steven and the twins apologize some more, and May apologizes to them for being so strict and terrible all week. They all call it even. The next morning, the kids wake up super early and clean the house while May is off on some errand. She comes back later with the antique rose Jessica accidentally sold. It turns out one of the pawn shop guys Liz talked to was at an auction in Big Mesa and he saw the rose. May went up there and bought it back. When the Wakefield parents finally come home, the kids are actually sad to see May leave.

So, to recap: the kids threw a raging party and did not get in trouble, and the antique rose is back where it belongs. Nobody is grounded or in jail. Everything is wonderful.

Quotes:

“I’m not wearing a nametag,” Jessica said. “You can tell us apart by our hair. I wear mine down, and Elizabeth wears hers up.”

Always and forever.

The Cover: Steven, with his expressionless face, is apparently sweeping the couch. Well done, young Steven.

Sweet Valley High #53: The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

SVT053The Moral of the Story: Follow your dreams! You’re probably actually really good at acting if that’s what you really want to do.

The Big Deal: Humiliation party, movie screening

Synopsis:

The kids are getting restless at school, so Mr. Bowman asks them what kind of fun project they might like to work on for English class. Leslie Forsythe, a nerdy girl that never talks to anyone, suggests they all make a movie together. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea. Liz and Amy go with Leslie after school to Sweet Valley Video to hang out with Leslie’s friend Deirdre who works there. Deirdre studied acting at UCLA and now she works at a video store, so clearly she knows everything there is to know about making movies. The girls browse around the store for ideas, and finally settle on a horror/love story spoof.

Liz and Amy come up with a title. The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley. It’s about a kid growing cucumbers in his basement, and one day the plants turn into a slime that eats people. The kid will have to save his girlfriend from the slime. Jessica and Lila have been arguing over which one of them should get the lead role and they both audition for the part even though they’re both disgusted by the plot. Lila is terrible. Jessica is pretty good, but that’s mostly due to the surprising talent of nerdy Randy Mason, who reads opposite her. Leslie hangs out in the back of the auditorium, trying to get the nerve to audition. She secretly wants to be an actress, but she’s much too shy. She also secretly really likes Randy and she’s so nervous about auditioning with him that she decides she’s just not gonna do it.

Jessica gets the female lead, and she’s horrified when Randy gets the male lead. He’s so geeky! How can she ever pretend to be his girlfriend? Lila is offered the role of the Slime, which is kind of hilarious, but she indignantly turns it down and Winston gets it instead. Mr. Bowman tries to put Lila on the cleanup crew, but she insists on being a camera person because her father just bought an expensive new camera. He’ll let the school borrow it on the condition that Lila be the only one to use it. She starts taking the camera everywhere and filming her friends in all kinds of embarrassing situations and generally pissing everyone off.

Liz, Amy, Maria, and Leslie start writing the script. Liz and Amy want to get to know Leslie better and figure out why she looked like she wanted to cry when the lead roles were announced. Leslie sort of wants to tell them about her crush on Randy and her secret desire to be an actress, but for some reason she thinks Liz and Amy will think she’s dumb or something. Every time she talks to them, she thinks they’re going to hate her. She’s got some issues.

Jessica is furious when she reads the script and finds out she has to kiss Winston and Randy in the movie. They’re both huge nerds, but that’s not the whole problem. Jessica has never kissed anyone before and she’s nervous. She doesn’t want her first kiss to be taped by Lila. So when rehearsals start, she acts like she has a cold and can’t kiss anyone. She also acts like a prima donna and won’t bother to learn her lines. She figures if she has to kiss nerds, she’s going to demand star treatment.

Lila suddenly starts acting like she’s not mad at Jessica for getting the lead role, and she invites her over to teach her how to pretend kiss. She videotapes Jessica kissing a pillow and says she’ll let Jessica watch the tape as soon as her VCR is back from whoever is borrowing it. Jessica thanks her for her help because she’s an idiot. Lila has a party the next day and invites the whole damn school. OF COURSE she shows all the embarrassing videos she’s been making of her friends, including Jessica’s pillow kissing. Jessica and the other girls Lila has humiliated get back at her by taping her doing the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. It’s at a sleepover, she’s in her pajamas with a facial mask on, and her Romeo is a dust mop.

After the humiliation at the party, Jessica quits the movie. Nobody is sad to see her go. Leslie has finally told Liz, Amy, and Maria her secrets, and they cheer her on while she auditions. She gets the part because she’s secretly been a really great actress all this time. The movie is a huge success. The best part is that Jessica got one of the guys to edit in Lila’s Romeo and Juliet scene as a coming attraction before the movie. Leslie’s friend from the video store is so moved by Leslie’s courage that she’s decided to take up acting again. Good for you, Deirdre.

Quotes:

“It’s really too bad you got that part, Jessica,” Lila continued. “But I guess there’s nothing you can do about it now, is there? Is there?”

Lila is downright diabolical.

The Cover: Liz is taking entirely too much enjoyment from Jessica’s pain.

Sweet Valley Twins #52: Booster Boycott

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

SVT052The Moral of the Story: Discrimination against boys actually is a thing. Who knew?

The Big Deal: Cheerleading competition

Synopsis:

Winston Egbert wants to join the Boosters. He knows it’s full of snobby Unicorns, but he’s actually a pretty good gymnast and he just wants to do it, you know? Grace Oliver and Amy Sutton are all for it, but the rest of the squad aren’t having it. Winston starts a petition, and Janet snarkily tells him she’ll let him try out if he gets a hundred signatures. Most of the girls are worried about two things. First, their image. Of course. And second, their very first championship competition is coming up and they’re sure Winston will ruin their chances.

Winston actually manages to get over a hundred people to sign his petition, but Janet and the rest of the Unicorns tear it up at Casey’s Place after school. Liz, Amy, Todd, and Ken show up and get all pissed off when they realize what all that paper on the floor is. They go to the mall’s food court to get away from those bitches. Todd gets all irritated and jealous when Liz keeps talking about how unfair all of this is to Winston.

Winston is pretty calm about the Unicorns’ reaction to the petition. That’s because he’s already made a copy and given it to Ms. Langberg. Langberg tells the Boosters they have to let Winston try out. And can I just ask where the fuck this woman is the rest of the time? Why are the kids running this show? Anyway, the girls get together at the Wakefields’ house to watch cheerleading videos and come up with some impossible stuff for Winston to do. Liz and Amy, along with Grace Oliver (she’s on the squad but she likes Winston) head over to Winston’s house to warn him. When they leave, Liz sees Todd riding his bike and calls to him, but he rides on by because he’s still being a jealous little punk.

Most of the school comes to watch Winston’s audition, The Boosters try their hardest to embarrass Winston, but he just keeps doing everything he’s told, including back handsprings and no-handed cartwheels. When they try to get him to do the “he’s our man” cheer, he shocks them all and changes it to “Grace, Grace, give her a hand.” At the end of the tryout, he has Grace stand on his shoulders and do a flip down to the floor. The crowd goes wild, and Winston is a now a cheerleader.

Most of the school is either congratulatory or they just don’t care, but then there’s the Neanderthal fringe. Charlie Cashman tries to give Winston some shit in the cafeteria, but Winston turns the joke around by telling Charlie he’ll make a place for him on the squad. Charlie doesn’t take kindly to that, so he finds Winston after school and punches him in the face. Then Winston gets to go to Booster practice, where the girls – minus Grace and Amy – do everything they can to make his life miserable, including putting peanut butter in his shoes and super glue on the bleachers where he’s sitting so he rips his pants when he stands up. Winston takes it all in stride.

By the next day’s practice, the girls have pretty much resigned themselves to having Winston on the squad. However, Todd is still being a dick about Liz defending Winston. Liz comes up with a plan that involves Amy asking Todd to help her with a science project. It’s all Liz’s idea, but when she sees them in library one day she gets all pissy and jealous. Things all work out when she goes to Amy’s after school one day when she knows Todd will be there. She yells at him while he insists that he and Amy are just friends, and then tells him the whole thing was a setup. They make up. It’s lovely.

Grace draws a cartoon of Winston in a skirt and has Liz print it in the paper to welcome Winston to the squad. She and Liz both think Winston will get a kick out of it, but he quits the squad instead. When Liz asks him why, he tells her he has a huge crush on Grace and it seems like she thinks he’s a big joke. Liz tells him she thinks Grace likes him, too. Winston tries to rejoin the squad, but Janet tells him to get lost.

The day of the competition arrives. The other schools’ squads all have boys on them. The Boosters…well, the Boosters suck it up all over the gym floor. After the first round, they all stand around feeling sorry for themselves and, of course, they realize they were much better with Winston on their squad. Just then Winston arrives to wish them luck, and they ask him to come back to the squad. He goes to the locker room to change, and that’s when Charlie Cashman comes out of nowhere with three of his friends, cracking his knuckles and making snide remarks. He’s about to start throwing punches when the rest of the Boosters shows up. The girls threaten to spread so much gossip about Charlie and his friends that no girl will ever want to date them again. The boys back off.

Because of the disastrous first round, the Boosters don’t win first place, but they take second! And Grace and Winston are holding hands by the end of the day, so that’s great. Todd and Liz are back to being obnoxious together, so all is right with the world.

Quotes:

Could it be that he was actually jealous of her friendship with Winston? She pushed the thought out of her mind. Todd, jealous? Impossible.

Oh, Liz. Just run away. Run away now. There are so many years of horrible Todd jealousy ahead of you.

The Cover: It’s Winston’s first cover! We’ve never seen what he looks like before. He’s not so bad, right? What’s everyone’s problem with Winston?

Sweet Valley Twins #51: Elizabeth the Impossible

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

SVT051The Moral of the Story: Never let on to someone how well they’re doing at life. It’s nothing but trouble.

The Big Deal: Model Student contest

Synopsis:

Liz recently won fifty dollars from the Sweet Valley Tribune when she entered a Junior Journalist contest. Today, she’s won an essay contest from Teen Scene magazine. The prize is two hundred dollars and a trip for two to Los Angeles. When Mr. Davis announces a nationwide search for the model student (no word on who is actually conducting this search), Jessica decides to convince the teachers to nominate Elizabeth. She spends the entire day talking to all the teachers she can find.

This weird chick, Pamela McDonald, has been following Liz around for weeks, copying her hairstyles and wearing outfits just like hers. It’s weird and creepy and totally annoying. When Pamela tells Liz she wants to start a petition to get Liz nominated for Model Student, Liz firmly tells her no. But Pamela, along with Liz’s actual friends, keep telling her she’s perfect for this Model Student thing. So when Liz overhears Mr. Bowman telling Principal Clark that Elizabeth is his best student and “she’s the one I’d nominate,” Liz assumes the nomination is in the bag, so she tells Jessica and the rest of her family.

The next day, wanting to look the part of the Model Student, Liz wears the terrible outfit you see on the cover. Everyone tells her she looks like a librarian and Liz almost takes her hair down, but Pamela tells her to leave it. Pamela also urges Liz to make a change at the Sixers after some errors slip past final editing. From now on, all changes have to go through Liz. Everyone is pretty pissed at her, but Pamela tells Liz she did the right thing. Liz continues to act all sanctimonious and annoying. She lectures Aaron when he calls during dinner and tells Jessica she should take up a worthwhile hobby like chess. She makes everyone eat brown rice pudding for dessert and tries to throw away all the junk food in the house.

Amy comes over on Sunday afternoon to play Scrabble with the twins. Things are going okay until Pamela shows up. Amy gets fed up with the sickening compliments and the way Liz drinks them in. She storms out. Pamela tells Liz that Amy is just jealous, and that’s when Jessica dumps her tiles on the board and walks out in a huff, too. Pamela assures her they’re both jealous, and then they go to Liz’s room to pick out some more boring skirt-and-blouse outfits for the coming week.

Caroline starts telling people she’s heard that Todd might actually be nominated for Model Student. Jessica, Amy, and the rest of Liz’s friends all agree that someone else being nominated would be the best way for Liz to quit acting like a dick. So Jessica goes around to some of the teachers, campaigning for Todd this time. When she tells Liz that Todd might get nominated, Liz throws a hissy fit and starts talking about all the times Jessica has been wrong before.

It all comes tumbling down for Liz when she finds Mr. Bowman’s door locked. She assumes he and Mr. Clark are talking about the Model Student thing, so she puts her ear to the door. She almost falls over when the door opens. Liz gets a week of detention, and that’s what makes her realize she’s been a total asshole all week. She apologizes to her friends and tells Pamela to fuck off. At the Model Student assembly, Mr. Clark announces that Sweet Valley Middle School is allowed to nominate two students, and yes, Todd is one of them. And Liz is the other. So even though she’s a total jerkface, she still wins! Hooray!

Quotes:

“Listen, Elizabeth,” Jessica said. “I’m myself, and I’m satisfied with the way I am. I like to waste time. I love shopping with the Unicorns and talking on the phone and going to parties… Maybe I don’t have a lot of self-discipline, and maybe I’m not the most cultured person in the world. But I’m an individual, and I’m happy.”

A round of applause for Jessica. This is the most relatable thing she’s ever said.

The Cover: Ugh, what a brat! I don’t care how much you’ve brainwashed yourself, that’s not a good look. And Jessica looks high.

Sweet Valley Twins #50: Jessica and the Secret Star

Monday, October 26th, 2015

SVT050The Moral of the Story: Your lies will be forgiven as long as your friends get to party on a yacht.

The Big Deal: Yacht party

New Kid with a Problem: Maria Slater, secret identity

Synopsis:

There’s a new girl named Maria Slater in the twins’ homeroom and Jessica thinks she looks familiar. She strikes up a conversation with her, and Maria is all mysterious about her last school. The next day, Jessica is out with a convenient cold and she watches a movie on TV. The little girl in the movie happens to be Maria Slater. Jessica figures she’ll keep Maria’s secret for now because she wants to remain friends with her, but she can’t wait until Maria introduces her to all the movie stars she undoubtedly knows.

Jessica is confused when Maria gets all excited about writing for the Sixers. Like, why isn’t she signing contracts and hanging out with movie stars? She invites Maria over after school, but Maria spends most of her time talking to Liz about the article Liz wants her to write for the paper. Maria forgets her backpack when she leaves. Jessica looks in one of the notebooks for Maria’s phone number, but “accidentally” reads the notebook instead. In it, Maria talks about how she’s learning to be an average kid as research for a movie.

The truth, as we find out during a conversation between Maria and her sister, Nina, is that Maria hasn’t gotten a job since she quit being a cute little kid and turned into an awkward adolescent. She’s a little worried she might never act again, but she’s excited about being a normal kid for a while, and she might even try out for the drama club. What Jessica read in the notebook was a short fiction story. Jessica calls to tell her she left her backpack, and Maria thinks she’s totally weird and way too eager about bringing it over after dinner. Maria tells her to just meet her early at school the next morning.

Of course, Jessica can’t keep her mouth shut. When she gives Maria her backpack, she falls all over herself about how exciting it must be to be a star. She confesses to reading Maria’s diary and asks if Maria knows Johnny Buck. Maria doesn’t know what to do or how to act, so she sort of says she knows Johnny and yeah, she’ll introduce Jessica to him one of these days. She feels guilty for lying and letting Jessica believe she’s still a movie star, but doesn’t really know what else to do.

OF COURSE Jessica tells the Unicorns Maria’s secret. They want to let her know they know, but they think it’s best if Maria tells them herself. So they have a sleepover and invite Maria, with the intent of playing Truth or Dare. Then she’ll HAVE to tell the truth! And so Jessica asks her if she’s an actress in hiding, and Maria tells them all the lie about how she’s researching a movie and they’ll all be invited to the set when it starts shooting. She’s mad at herself for lying. Again. She should stop doing that.

Maria’s lies are turning into a whole big thing, because Lila has now secured her father’s yacht for a party for the cast of Maria’s fake movie. Maria is freaking out, so she tells Liz the truth. Liz does the old shoulder-pat routine and tells Maria she has to tell the truth.

Maria is fashionably late to the yacht party, and she gives a speech about how she’s just a normal kid and she’s sorry for lying. Someone starts a slow clap and everything is totally all right.

Quotes:

Maria hung up the phone and sighed. The Wakefields might be twins, but she definitely preferred Elizabeth. Jessica seemed a little weird.

Finally, someone notices!

The Cover: Who are you posing for, Maria? You’re not a star anymore. Nobody is taking your picture.

Sweet Valley Twins #49: The Twins’ Little Sister

Monday, October 12th, 2015

SVT049The Moral of the Story: Babysitting sucks.

The Big Deal: Party at Janet Howell’s

Synopsis:

The twins think it would be super neato if they had a little brother or sister. They think if they can just prove how good they would be at taking care of it, their parents will decide to go ahead and have another kid. As luck would have it, some friends of the Wakefields’ are going out of town and need someone to watch their five-year-old daughter, Chrissy. The twins volunteer.

As you probably expect, the kid is a real brat and the twins have a hard time keeping up with her. Then Chrissy overhears the twins talking about boys and she tells brother Steven that Liz has a boyfriend named Todd. Liz gets pissed and blames Jessica for everything because it was her idea to watch Chrissy.

Jessica gets home from school one day to find Steven in the kitchen with THE CUTEST BOY IN THE WORLD. His name is Chad Lucas and he totally flirts with Jessica (in Jessica’s mind, anyway). Even though Jessica is dating Aaron Dallas, she flirts back and has fun imagining what it would be like to be Chad’s girlfriend. After seeing him at the house a few more times, Jessica is convinced he’s in love with her and she gleefully frets about how to choose between him and Aaron. Chrissy, having overheard Jessica talking about Chad, blabs to Steven. Steven tells Jessica he’s going to tell Chad and Aaron about her crush.

Janet Howell and her brother Joe are having a party Friday night, and the Wakefield parents have agreed to watch Chrissy for the twins. However, we all know the Wakefield parents suck at life and they end up having to bail. Alice has to work and Ned gets a flat tire or something. Meanwhile, Amy is trying to earn enough money to buy her parents soccer tickets for their anniversary. She’s still short seven dollars, so the twins ask her to babysit.

At the party, Steven tells Chad that Jessica thinks he has a crush on her, but then he asks him to dance with her and kind of let her down easy. Chad is cool and even gives her a kiss after their dance. Lila and Ellen see them dance and they think Jessica let Chad down so she can be with Aaron. It’s all terribly romantic. They all go off to find their boys, and are pissed when they won’t stop playing with Joe’s model train. Jessica goes home, but Liz stays to talk to Todd. He tells her he doesn’t mind if people think he’s her boyfriend. Which is romantic, I guess?

Back at the Wakefield house, Amy and Chrissy play hide and seek. Amy is an idiot and tells Chrissy to hide anywhere. So now Chrissy is lost. When Jessica gets home, she and Amy look everywhere. Then Mrs. Wakefield gets home and they expand the search to the backyard. Jessica finally finds her at the neighbors’ house in front of the aquarium. Chrissy has asked to go there every day after kindergarten because she likes the fish. The neighbors aren’t even home, but they left their back door unlocked because there’s no crime in Sweet Valley. The twins decide they don’t actually want a little sister.

Amy buys her parents the soccer tickets, Chrissy finally gets the fuck out of our lives, and – setup for the next book – there’s a new girl starting school soon.

The Cover: Chrissy totally looks like a brat, doesn’t she?

Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

SVT048The Moral of the Story: Wanna be popular? Get yourself a life-threatening illness!

The Big Deal: The Unicorns spend the whole book planning a party, but they end up canceling it.

Classmate with a Problem: Mandy Miller, wants to be a Unicorn

Synopsis:

Mandy Miller has been hanging around the Unicorns, especially Jessica, and being super annoying and trying to get invited to join their club. During an emergency meeting before school, the Unicorns decide that while Mandy is very pleasant and makes them laugh, she just isn’t Unicorn material because she wears homemade clothes and she’s friendly and…well, I think that’s it. It’s decided that Jessica has to be the one to let her down.

Jessica is late to her social studies class because of the meeting, and she finds herself partnered up with Mandy for some project. Liz later tells Jessica that Mandy was the only one who was willing to work with her because Jessica sucks at school. In fact, she sucks so bad at school that Mrs. Arnette gives her a progress report to take home for her parents to sign.

Mandy invites Jessica over after school so they can talk about their project, and Jessica decides that will be the best time to give her the bad news about the Unicorns. But, of course, once she and Mandy get to talking, Jessica realizes they have a lot in common and she can’t bring herself to do it. When Mandy asks her to go to the library the next day, Jessica gets worried that someone will see them in public together. She offers to let Mandy borrow an outfit and Mandy tells her she’ll wear her own clothes, thank you very much.

Jessica finally manages to tell Mandy she isn’t going to be a Unicorn, but she kind of blunders her way through it and makes it sound like Mandy isn’t good enough for the club. Mandy gets mad and they yell at each other for a minute, and then Jessica goes home and feels sorry for herself. They apologize to each other the next day and go to Mandy’s house again to work on their project. It’s going to be a vaudeville routine, and while looking through a trunk of costumes, Mandy falls down. Mandy has also been dropping things lately. When they present their routine to the class on Friday, Mandy forgets one of her lines and her timing is off. When Jessica asks if she’s okay, Mandy says she’s been tired and there’s a bump under her arm that’s been bothering her.

Jessica doesn’t hear from Mandy all weekend, and she doesn’t come to school until Wednesday morning, when she faints during gym class and gets sent home. She stays home the rest of the week, and on Monday, Jessica gets a call from Mandy’s mother. Mandy wants to see her and it’s very important. Jessica is supposed to have dinner at Lila’s, but she visits Mandy instead.

Mandy has cancer. She’s going to have surgery on Friday and then they’ll know if it’s spread or not. Mandy tells Jessica it’s okay to tell everyone at school, so Jessica tells Caroline Pearce the next morning and by lunchtime everyone knows. Oddly, the Unicorns send Mandy flowers but don’t ask Jessica to sign the card. They don’t know Jessica and Mandy are friends, but it seems weird anyway. Mandy’s mother calls Jessica one day to tell her Mandy can finally have visitors. Jessica is surprised that all the Unicorns are already there. It turns out they didn’t invite her or ask her to sign the card because they thought Mandy and Jessica didn’t like each other after Jessica had to tell Mandy she wasn’t going to be a Unicorn.

When Mandy starts radiation and her hair falls out, the Unicorns use their party fund money to buy her a nice wig. Then they ask her to join the Unicorns. Mandy isn’t sure at first, but Jessica tells her she thinks the Unicorns really have come to like her. Mandy agrees to join.

Quotes:

“I may not have as much money as Lila Fowler, or as many clothes as Janet Howell,” she said through clenched teeth. “And I may not be as pretty as you are, or as popular as Ellen Riteman. But that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough to be a Unicorn!”

Oh, Mandy. Money, clothes, looks, and popularity are literally all the Unicorns care about.

Best Outfit: Mandy – khaki pants, red t-shirt that says “Ski Bear Valley,” army fatigue jacket, purple sneakers

The Cover: Jessica looks less sad about her sick friend, and more sad that Lila is stealing said friend.

Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica’s New Look

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

SVT047The Moral of the Story: Wearing glasses isn’t so bad as long as boys still think you’re cute.

The Big Deal: Skate-A-Thon

Synopsis:

There are BOYS sitting at the Unicorns’ table in the lunchroom (a.k.a. the Unicorner). One of them is Aaron Dallas, who Jessica thinks is the cutest boy in school. She wows him with her basketball smarts (suddenly there’s a girls’ basketball team and Jessica is apparently on it?) and he asks her to go to a Lakers game with him and his parents. The other Unicorns are annoyed, especially since Jessica won’t shut up about it.

Mr. Bowman chooses Liz to be a Junior Journalist for a thing the Sweet Valley Tribune is doing. She’s supposed to write about kids making a difference. The fame-hungry Unicorns want her to write about them so they start trying to come up with good deeds they can do. After throwing out ideas such as community curling irons in the girls’ locker room and new uniforms for the Boosters, they settle on a skate-a-thon to raise money for a new encyclopedia set for the library.

Jessica has been having a lot of headaches lately and is having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school. Mr. Bowman tells her she should get her eyes examined because she might need glasses. Jessica is horrified by the idea because only nerds wear glasses. She hides the note Mr. Bowman sends home to her parents, but he calls them anyway and Jessica has to go to the eye doctor.

The doctor determines that Jessica’s eyes each work fine on their own, but they don’t focus well together. Wearing glasses for a few months will solve the problem. Is that really a thing? Seems made up. Jessica reluctantly picks out some purple frames, and she only wears them when she’s around her parents. Things are going fine until the Wakefields go to a movie and run into Lila. Jessica buys Lila’s silence by giving her an outfit she just got and carrying Lila’s books for her at school. Because, you know, her life will be over if anyone even suspects she owns a pair of glasses. I don’t think Lila even cares about the glasses, she’s just irritated with Jessica because she still won’t stop talking about her upcoming date with Aaron.

The Unicorns’ skate-a-thon is surprisingly successful, but it ends for Jessica when her parents show up and see her not wearing her glasses. They go home, where Jessica locks herself in her room and claims she’s canceling her date with Aaron and never leaving the house again. No amount of bribery or trickery will make her change her mind.

Liz tries to trick Jessica into thinking she’s going to ask Aaron out, but Jessica isn’t buying it because Liz is a terrible actress. Liz pretends to admit defeat and offers to call Aaron and cancel the date. Instead, she pretends to be Jessica when Aaron comes to pick her up. Jessica sees him compliment the glasses, and now that she knows she can still be attractive to boys, she decides to keep wearing them and go on the date. Liz runs upstairs so they can switch clothes, and Jessica has a wonderful time at the sportsball game.

Quotes:

Elizabeth put the finishing touches on a peanut butter and banana sandwich and placed it on a plate.

What would “finishing touches” on such a sandwich entail?

The Cover: WHAT A NERD! Actually, that dress is worse than the glasses will ever be.

Sweet Valley High #46: Mademoiselle Jessica

Friday, September 11th, 2015

SVT046The Moral of the Story: If you’re going to make up a story, do not leave it around the house. Your conscientious sister will mail it and then you have to pretend to like France.

The Big Deal: Unicorn party at Jessica’s, Dynamo concert, fake French dinner

Synopsis:

Lila calls all the Unicorns to the Dairi Burger to announce that she has decided Brooke Dennis is Unicorn material. She states her case, everyone agrees, and then Lila goes on to talk about the new stereo her father just bought her and her latest trip to Hawaii. Jessica, as usual, is super jealous and wants Lila to shut up. Brooke, meanwhile, is enjoying an afternoon at the beach with Liz and Amy. She tells them she’s been hanging out with Lila a little lately, but she’s going to back off from being friends because Lila never stops bragging about herself. Case in point, Lila calls Jessica later that night to talk at her for half an hour about the VIP sky box from which she’ll be watching the next Dynamo concert.

Jessica is feeling pretty inferior about her stupid regular family. Just then, she comes across a contest in Teenager Magazine. Just write an essay about your perfect family and you could win a trip to France! Jessica fictionalizes her family members: Ned is a high powered lawyer who paints magnificent paintings on the side, Alice supplements her interior design income by being a prima ballerina, and Steven is a star basketball player who is also a trombone virtuoso. She just writes the essay for fun and has no plans to send it in, but Liz sees it laying around and assumes it’s supposed to be mailed. Jessica is horrified, but forgets about it after a week or so.

The Unicorns throw a party/meeting at Jessica’s house and invite Brooke. They tell her they want her to join and can’t figure out why she wants to think about it for a day or two. Then a special delivery from Teenager Magazine arrives. Jessica’s been chosen as a finalist. She thinks she’ll have to contact the contest people and tell them they’ve made a mistake, but Lila is such a bitch about the whole thing (Paris isn’t that big a deal and you’ll never win anyway, Jessica) that she decides she’ll actually try to win.

Brooke tells Liz about the contest, and Liz tells Jessica to withdraw. But when Marie Harris from the magazine calls to schedule a time to come and observe the family, Jessica is so caught off guard that she agrees. She finally presents the situation to her family, and she’s amazed when her mother agrees to go along with it. She’s so happy she runs out the door, leaving Alice to explain to everyone else that she thinks Jessica needs to learn a lesson. She calls the magazine people and tells them what’s going on, and the rest of the family plans the best way to humiliate Jessica when Marie gets to their house. What a really great family.

At lunch that day, Jessica tells the Unicorns her idea for Brooke’s pledge task is to have her dress in a maid’s uniform and serve dinner when Marie is at the house. Brooke spent a year in Paris and she speaks French, you see. Brooke agrees because she thinks it’s amusing, especially when Liz tells her about Alice’s plan. Brooke even comes over with some old costumes for the Wakefields to wear, telling Jessica they’re all the latest rage in Paris. Jessica thinks they all look weird, but whatevs, Brooke says they’re French.

Jessica spends an entire evening cleaning the house and thanking her lucky stars that she has such an awesome family that really comes through for her. She doesn’t know they’re all a bunch of jerks. The night of the interview, while Jessica is upstairs getting ready, Steven messes up the house, cluttering up every room. Jessica is mortified when Marie gets there and the house is a mess. She tries to keep things okay, but Ned comes in wearing a beret and has a paintbrush behind his ear, Alice serves macaroni for dinner while wearing a chef’s hat, and Steven actually plays his trombone. Badly. After Ned shows off his latest painting (it’s horrible), Alice announces she’s going to perform a dance in the living room. That’s when Jessica demands to know what the fuck is going on.

Marie explains that Alice contacted her and the whole evening has been a joke. Everyone gives Jessica a hard time about exaggerating in a contest SHE DIDN’T EVEN MEAN TO ENTER. It’s all good though. Alice has been doing an interior design job for the parents of Dynamo’s lead singer, Nick England. She gets front row tickets for Brooke and the Wakefield kids, and Nick England pulls Jessica on stage to dance with him. Meanwhile, Lila is stuck in the VIP box, where the PA system is out and the closed circuit television isn’t working. Sucks to be you, Lila!

Oh, and Brooke turns down the invitation to be a Unicorn. Lila doesn’t understand.

Quotes:

“You all remember, don’t you, that my father just bought me a fantastic new stereo?”

Oh, Lila. You’re the greatest.

The Cover: This cover is boring, but Jessica’s hair is really good.

Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

SVT045The Moral of the Story: Twelve-year-olds know better than their parents what’s best for them.

The Big Deal: Horse jumping or whatever competition

Classmate with a Problem: Lucy Benson, secretive and weird

Synopsis:

Liz has suddenly remembered that she likes horses, so she goes to the stable to hang out with Ted’s horse, Thunder. She finds out Ted is behind on his payments to the stables and he’ll have to sell Thunder if he doesn’t come up with some money soon. His only real hope is to win a riding competition and pay off the stable with the prize money. One day, Liz and Ted meet a girl named Lucy Benson. She’s just lurking around the stables, as one does. She says she’s been riding since she was seven and used to have an awesome horse. Liz wants to ask what happened to the horse, but Lucy seems sad. When Ted offers to let her ride Thunder, Lucy gets skittish and runs away.

Jessica and Lila go to the beach to discover there’s been an oil spill. Jessica rescues a baby seal that’s stuck in a hole. A cute boy named Adam Scott (lol) comes along and says he’s with a group called Ecology Now, and they’ll be working on cleaning up the beach. Lila thinks it sounds gross, but Jessica decides to volunteer. She starts rethinking this decision the next day when she realizes she doesn’t want to get all dirty, and besides, Aaron Dallas is way cuter than Adam Scott.

Um, excuse me. Nobody is cuter than Adam Scott.

adamscott

Adam Scott being cute.

The sixth grade tours the aquarium the next day, and Jessica is happy to see the seal she rescued. She’s named him Whiskers. Unfortunately, Whiskers isn’t looking so good and Jessica is worried he won’t pull through. She runs into Adam Scott, who asks her why she wasn’t at the beach the day before. Jessica, now remembering how cute Adam is, assures him she’ll be there after school today. Elsewhere at the aquarium, Liz tries to say hi to Lucy and ask her if she’ll be at the stable later, but Lucy is weird and doesn’t seem interested in talking to her.

Ellen Riteman comes to the stable after school to practice riding her horse, Snow White. Lucy tries to offer her some advice, but Ellen is snobby and won’t listen. She tries to goad Lucy into riding Snow White to prove she knows about horses, but Lucy gets weird and runs off again. She tells Liz she wants to ride, but she won’t say why she won’t do it. Very mysterious. Meanwhile, Jessica is at the beach helping clean up the oil spill and hating her life. She’s ruined her outfit and she’s thinking again that Aaron Dallas really is much cuter than Adam Scott.

Ahem.

Adam-Scott-is-Henry-Pollard-party-down-6944432-680-380

At the stable the next day, Lucy and Ellen flash their claws at each other again. Lucy gets fed up and tells Ted she’d like to borrow Thunder for a minute. Liz asks if she’s trying to prove something to Ellen, but Lucy says she has to prove something to herself, y’all. She gets on the horse and gets him to jump over all the things with ease, though Liz thinks she looks scared. Ellen still isn’t impressed and she asks why Lucy doesn’t have her own horse. Lucy continues to be very mysterious on the subject of her erstwhile horse.

Liz calls Lucy later that night to invite her over for dinner sometime. Lucy’s dad answers the phone and says Liz must be one of Lucy’s friends from glee club, which is weird, and then Lucy seems totally uninterested in having dinner at the Wakefields’ house. Which, I mean, it does sound kind of lame.

Lucy doesn’t mention Liz’s dinner invitation the next day at the stable, so Liz decides not to bother her about it. It’s starting to storm and the horses are getting antsy. There’s a flash of lightning and Thunder throws Ted. The girls call an ambulance and everyone ends up at the hospital, where Lucy starts acting pretty damned weird. She mutters about how much she hates hospitals, and is totally rude when a nurse recognizes her and asks how she’s feeling. Lucy insists to Liz (who hasn’t said a word) that the nurse is a friend of her mom’s and she hardly even knows her. I’m kind of hoping we find out Lucy was in the psych ward at some point.

Ted’s leg is broken and there’s no way he’ll be able to compete, which means he’ll have to sell Thunder. Liz asks Lucy to compete in his place, but she just can’t, you guys. Then she looks at a list of the other people who are competing. When she sees there’s a girl named Alison Thatcher on the list, she decides she’s going to do it after all. What is going on with this girl?

Adam and Jessica go to the aquarium on Saturday to visit Whiskers. Jessica is super happy to feed Whiskers and doesn’t even mind getting her outfit dirty. Now that she cares so much about animals, she feels way better about getting all grossified while cleaning up the beach. Ellen stops by the beach and tells Jessica how weird this Lucy chick is. She wants Jessica to nose around and find out what Lucy’s secret is.

You know, I just have to say I have never liked books about animals and I don’t like this one, either. I’m bored.

Anyway. Lucy finally accepts Liz’s invitation to dinner. Jessica asks her a thousand probing questions, and Lucy excuses herself to take some aspirin. She pulls a medicine bottle out of her backpack that doesn’t look anything like aspirin. Hmmm. Later that evening, Dr. Robinson from the aquarium calls Jessica to tell her Whiskers might be dying. It’s a rough day for everyone.

Jessica can’t deal with school the next day, so she goes to the nurse’s office and pretends to be sick. While she’s there, she overhears Lucy come in and talk to the nurse. Apparently, there was some kind of accident before Lucy’s family moved to Sweet Valley. Lucy has to take pills now and her parents won’t let her ride a horse. That’s why she had to sell hers. That same day, Liz is doing research for an article about the competition and she finds a thing about Lucy’s accident. She fell off her horse during a competition. She was taken to the hospital and Alison Thatcher won the blue ribbon. Liz gently confronts Lucy about it and Lucy tells her the reason she fell that day is because she has epilepsy. End of chapter. Very dramatic.

Lucy swears Liz to secrecy. She wants to ride in the competition to prove to herself and her parents that she can still live a normal life. If her parents find out before the competition, they’ll never let her do it. Unfortunately, Jessica has already told Ellen everything she found out, and Ellen is planning to call Lucy’s parents. Ellen is convinced Lucy is going to beat her in the competition, so she wants to make sure Lucy can’t compete. When Liz finds out Ellen’s plan, she frantically tries calling Lucy to warn her.

Luckily, nobody is home at the Bensons’ house that night, and Lucy shows up early for the competition the next day. Liz tells her about Ellen’s plan. Ellen is acting awfully smug when she gets there, and Lucy is afraid she got through to her parents after all. And sure enough, just as Lucy is about to take a difficult jump, her mother comes out of nowhere shouting her name and waving her arms. Because that surely won’t make someone fuck up and fall off a horse. Lucy manages to keep her wits about her and she rides through the course with no mistakes. Her parents are obnoxious, but after a single paragraph speech from Lucy about not letting epilepsy beat her, the parents come around and tell her she can keep riding.

Lucy wins, naturally. And Whiskers the seal is just fine. Jessica cries when he’s finally released back into the ocean a month later, and that’s pretty sad. Oh, and Adam Scott’s cuteness hasn’t been mentioned in like sixty pages, so I guess we don’t care about him anymore.

Great, now he's brooding. Way to go, Jess.

Great, now he’s brooding. Way to go, Jess.

 

Quotes:

“Well, it’s probably a dumb theory—“ Lucy began.

“Probably,” Ellen interrupted.

I hate Ellen, but this was such a Lila thing to say. I dig it.

 

“I’m so afraid I might let Ted down. Or worse.”

“Worse? What do you mean?”

Lucy shrugged. “Oh, nothing,” she said quickly.

She kept saying weirdly ominous things like this. I don’t think she’d be much fun to hang out with.

 

The Cover: Blah, blah, horses and stuff. I wonder if the reason I never cared about horses is because I didn’t want to wear stupid riding gear.