The Moral of the Story: If you keep on lying, you could end up on a radio show and your sister will be miraculously cured of a vague unnamed disease.
The Big Deal: Party at Lila’s, barbecue at the Wakefields’, radio show at the mall
Friend with a Problem: Samantha Williams, pathological liar
It’s a big holiday weekend in Sweet Valley. What holiday? No idea. But the twins have a full weekend coming up. Lila’s having a party Saturday night, the Wakefields are having a barbecue on Monday, and on Monday night some high school senior named Dave Carlquist is broadcasting his radio show from the mall and everyone is very excited for some reason. Dave is holding a contest to see who comes up with the best name for his show. Both twins entered, but only Jessica cares about the prize, a party at a “teen dance club” called Jupiter. Dave has a velvety radio voice so Jessica is convinced he must be gorgeous, so I predict he’ll be ugly. Brother Steven is in the radio club or whatever, so he goes to the mall to check out the broadcast booth they’re building. He tries to introduce Jessica to his friend Buddy, but Buddy looks nerdy so Jessica doesn’t care. Taking bets now that Buddy is actually Dave Carlquist.
In other news, Amy Sutton has been worried about her pen pal, Samantha Williams. Sam used to send at least a letter a month, but it’s been a while since Amy’s heard from her. But then Sam shows up on Amy’s doorstep with a suitcase in her hand. She claims she wrote Amy to tell her she was going to visit, but Amy never got such a letter. Amy’s mom says she wants to call Sam’s parents, but Sam tells her they’re camping that weekend and are unreachable, and of course Amy’s mom takes Sam’s word for it because she’s super good at parenting. Amy takes Sam to Lila’s party, and is surprised when Sam seems to actually enjoy talking to the Unicorns. Sam tells them all about San Francisco, and about her boyfriend, who is the son of an actress the Unicorns like. Sam spends the entire party ignoring Amy and she dances with Ken three times, even though she knows Amy likes him. Amy gets upset and calls her mother to come pick them up, but Sam decides to stay when Lila assures her she can get a ride home later from someone else.
Predictably, Jessica is the only Unicorn who doesn’t like Sam. You know how she feels about the spotlight being on someone other than her. Lila wants to put Sam up for honorary Unicorn membership. Jessica hates the idea, but she doesn’t like to argue with Lila. The Unicorns decide to get together at the Dairi Burger to discuss it. Lila calls Amy’s house to invite Sam, but Amy’s mother has insisted Amy and Sam stick together that day, so Amy reluctantly agrees to go along.
Jessica and Amy are equally miserable at lunch, but only Jessica seems to be picking up on the fact that Sam is lying to them about pretty much every aspect of her fabulous life. She claims her family just bought a house in Hawaii but seems confused when someone asks her what island it’s on. She says she wins all the spelling bees at school, but at the party last night she was talking about how bad a speller she is. Jessica is suspicious. She’s sure she read in a magazine that the actress’s son Sam claims to be dating is much younger than Sam, so she and Liz set out to find the magazine and prove Sam’s been lying about everything. By the time the Wakefields’ barbecue rolls around, most of the Unicorns are pretty well convinced Sam’s been lying. Jessica finds the magazine, which says the actress’s son is only nine, and shows it to the Unicorns.
Janet Howell’s presidential plan is to come up with a crazy story and see if Sam goes along with it. If she does, they’ll know for sure she’s been a big fat liar about everything. They tell her they heard Melody Power was making a movie in San Francisco and got hurt, and Sam takes it from there and says she knows all about it and even went to see Melody in the hospital. Sam and Amy leave the barbecue, and the Unicorns discuss how to proceed. They have Lila call Sam to tell her Dave Carlquist wants her to come on his show that night and talk about meeting Melody Power. The idea is that Sam will go introduce herself as the famous DJ from San Francisco (she’s been telling everyone she’s a DJ) and then Dave will laugh her off the stage and she’ll be humiliated. After Sam hangs up with Lila, she and Amy have a fight about how unpleasant Sam has been, and then Sam wonders how the hell she’s going to get through the interview.
The Unicorns come pick Sam up to take her to the mall, and then Liz comes over so she and Amy can go together. Liz is conflicted about the Unicorns’ plan for Sam, so she confides in Amy and is horrified when Amy says she thinks they should laugh right along with the Unicorns. Then Mrs. Sutton FINALLY decides to call Sam’s parents so she can arrange Sam’s trip home, and Sam’s mother tells her Sam ran away and they had no idea where she was all weekend. Apparently, Sam’s little sister has been sick so nobody was paying any attention to Sam and she decided to run away to a place where people would notice her. Mrs. Sutton tells the girls Sam’s parents are on their way and to just go to the radio show and not tell Sam anything or else she might run away again. Now Amy and Liz feel really sorry for Sam and they want to keep her from being embarrassed at the show, but they don’t want to tell the Unicorns anything because one of them might say something to Sam. They go to the mall and talk to Steven, who comes up with a plan.
Steve arranges for Dave to call Sam up and interview her about what it’s like visiting Sweet Valley. Sam does the interview and goes back to the Unicorns, who can’t believe their plan was foiled. They tell Sam they found out about her lies and wanted her to be humiliated. Sam runs away from them in tears, and Amy and Liz do the arm-around-the-shoulder routine and make her feel better. Then Dave announces the winner of the contest to name the show. Liz wins with “The Awesome Hour.” Huh. Awesome. Liz gets to be interviewed by Dave, and she tells him she and her sister will host the Jupiter party together. Isn’t that nice.
Amy’s mom comes to pick up Amy and Sam, and Sam’s parents are waiting when they get home. They hug Sam and tell her how much they love her. Her sister is coming home from the hospital so things will be different now, blah blah blah. Sam apologizes to Amy for the way she’s been acting and they agree to keep being pen pals. And by the way, yes, “Buddy” turns out to be Dave Carlquist’s nickname, and Jessica is horrified to find out she’s been so rude to him this whole time.
Setup for the next book: Mary Wallace wants to run away now. Ugh.
“I made sure the gardeners worked extra hard to make the patio look nice.”
Picture this: Twelve-year-old Lila bossing around some sweaty landscape guys, telling them her patio better be damned gorgeous for her party that night. I love it.
Lila: I’m really surprised you and Sam are such good friends.
Amy: Why is that?
Lila: She’s wonderful. It doesn’t seem like you two would have much in common.
Daily dose of Lila awesomeness.
It would have been terrible if it had rained on their barbecue.
Don’t worry, Liz. Rain is only a plot device in Sweet Valley.
Mrs. Sutton seemed to be trying to put the pieces together. “I thought Sam’s story was a little odd, but I was so busy this weekend…” Her voice trailed off.
Best parents in the world, right here in Sweet Valley.
The Cover: Dead mackerel eyes. God, she looks like she’s come to devour Amy’s soul.