the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (classic)
...Wow. It's been awhile, eh? I have good reasons that I shall not bore you with. I do come with news, if you can call it that. Tuesday this lovely book was released.


  Take a moment to admire the twins right up close and personal-like. Oooh. Ahhh. I gather the general consensus, at least a week or two ago, was that this was the re-released books smooshed together. Not true, my friends. These are the original stories. Jessica sweet talks Liz into the use of her tuxedo get-up, Enid and George hit a kid in his GTO, and there's plenty of PBA to go around.

  This edition is also larger than your average SVH book, and we don't mean thickness. So it's going to stick out on your shelf. I know some people don't like that, so I figured fair warning and all. Also, working against it? It seriously looks like someone went back and Xeroxed originals and then bound them together. The cover blurb took more time. Since the book is larger than your average SVH novel, there are now margins to doodle in, on all sides. It's a bit strange to see, actually.

But I'm a completist by nature, so I had to buy it. I'm not sure I would recommend that you pay full price for it, but since I was facing a s/h charge that was about this much for something else, and this bumped me into freebie territory? Everyone won. There is, btw, no blurb for Power Play, leaving me to wonder are they releasing the next bit or is this a one shot?

Next week, SVC. Can you handle the destruction of your childhood memories by the very person responsible for bringing them to the page initially? I still haven't recovered from the preview, personally. And the audio preview didn't help much either.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Oh random LJ ticky box, do not tick the "remove comment" feature again. It confuses me as to how in the heck it happened!
the_oracle: (twins shattered)
That Fatal Night
November 1989

Will Ken's life be ruined in one tragic moment?
Sudden tragedy...

  Terri Adams loves football. In fact, she's one of the Sweet Valley Gladiators' biggest fans. She's also the biggest fan of Ken Matthews, the team's quarterback. Terri thinks Ken has everything going for him-he's good looking and popular, and he's led the Gladiators to an undefeated season.
  Then one rainy night, Ken is in an terrible car accident that leaves him blind. His football career is over, and even worse, his friends are so uncomfortable about his blindness they avoid him. Ken would be miserable if it weren't for Terri. She's the one person who is always there when he needs her. But when Ken realizes he's falling in love with her, he's convinced that she could never return his feelings. Can Ken and Terri ever be more than friends?

   That Fatal Night gets a lot of flak for its completely misleading title. There's nothing fatal about the night since Ken eventually regains his sight and since they're stuck in a time-warp of fairly epic proportions, not even his junior year football career has ended. Fateful, I think, is the word you were looking for, guys. But fatal is catchier so, whatever.

  I remember bits and pieces of this book from when I was a kid. I remember Terri's blindfolded for an hour trick, I remember the rain and Ken's accident, and I remember Amy being an incredible witch. Now that I'm older I can use the more colorful terms, such as skank-ass ho, bitch, and insensitive cow. Or simply call her Slutton. (Really. How did SY not make this connection?) I also remember 'shipping Terri and Ken because they were so cute together. You know, before they were a couple.

   But I've skipped way ahead, so let's backup and start again, shall we? That Fatal Night begins with Terri Adams feeling a little out of place in Sweet Valley. She's the statistician for the football team, which means some of the team members think she's cool, but one of them doesn't happen to be the object of her larger than life crush, Ken. Still, it could happen and Terri's not so much shy as she is a little reserved, and usually only around Ken. So she goes to Amy's big after-game party and she even works up the nerve to sort of talk to Ken. Sadly for Terri, Amy whisks Ken away and smooches him in front of everyone. It's the female version of pissing on a tree to mark your territory. (If you just envisioned Amy humping Ken, I really do apologize because now I can't get it out of my head. MAKE IT STOP.)
  See, Amy thinks it's time she settled down with one guy, and what guy could be better than the quarterback of the undefeated football team? The fact that they're both blond and gorgeous doesn't hurt, and Amy's sure that Ken will get a football scholarship and they'll go to college together and it'll all be grand. Yup. Ken is the guy for her. Even if he doesn't seem at all interested, really. Doesn't matter. He will be hers!

   Ken is kind of the anti-typical jock in that he doesn't really want to date, or whatever it is that Amy does, Amy. He thinks she's too flighty to be girlfriend material, and besides, he's not really sure he's boyfriend material just yet. He doesn't really crave the spotlight and he gets embarrassed when Amy goes full-on PDA without even talking to him about things first.
  So he jumps at the chance to leave the party (even though it's in his honor) and take Winston and Maria home. It'll give him time to clear his head before charging back into battle with Amy.
  At the same time, Terri decides she can't spend any more time at this god awful party pretending to sort of have a good time while Amy keeps making out with Ken just because she can. So she bums a ride from Winston and Maria... not realizing that they're going home via Ken's taxi service. After Winston and Maria get out at the Egberts, Terri and Ken are left alone. At first it's a little awkward, but they find some common ground and by the time Ken drives away, Terri is over the moon at having gotten to spend some quality alone time with her crush. Aww!
   Too bad Ken didn't stick around at Terri's. Driving back to Amy's, a drunk driver runs Ken off the road and into a tree. For a moment, as a kid, I had to stop reading and flip to the back cover just to make sure I hadn't misread and that Ken would survive.

   After Jessica escapes the boring clutches of self-centered to the extreme Skip Harmon, she, Liz, and Todd head home. On the way, they drive by the hill where Ken's accident has taken place. The rain has let up (which makes me wonder how long it took for medical personal to arrive since it was pouring when Ken had his accident) and Liz catches sight of one of Ken's bumper stickers. She has Todd stop the car and they run into a very chatty officer who doesn't seem to keep up with high school sports. This seems a bit odd to me, but that's just because I think a good chunk of the policemen around *here* know who most of the really important players are at the local high schools, at least in the areas they work. And I always imagined SV to be a smaller town/city/whatever, so... there you go. Anyway, confirmation is given that it is indeed Ken and they watch as he's loaded into the ambulance and carried away.
  The trio decides to head back to the party and break the news to Amy and whomever is left waiting for him. Amy flips out because she's a drama queen, but I also feel bad for her since she actually likes Ken and no one wants their friend to be in a life or death situation like this. Liz keeps Amy from rushing over to the hospital immediately, which is odd since anytime Liz, Todd, or Jessica is in the hospital, everyone runs like hell for Fowler Memorial even if there's no way in hell they'll be allowed to see them. Suspicious!

  Soooooooo... it doesn't take long for word to get out about Ken's accident, but somehow Terri misses the memo and when she gets to school she can't figure out why everyone is so down. Until she eavesdrops on Amy holding court and is blamed for Ken's accident. D'oh! Poor Terri. :/
  Ken's a pretty good sport about his accident right up until he realizes he's blind. Then he sort of momentarily loses his shit and I don't blame him. When the twins visit, he tries to play off his blindness until they hand him their card which Jessica proclaims over 200 people have signed. For a second Ken tries to fake having a headache and then he comes clean. Liz is speechless and Jessica is outraged on his behalf. Liz sends Jessica away so she and Ken can talk (because of their super secret love affair?) and Jess runs into Amy. Ames was thrilled at having a football hero boyfriend, but a blind former football hero boyfriend? So not happening. She runs away, leaving Jessica more than a little baffled.

   To learn how to deal/cope/live with his blindness, Ken goes to the Hollyfield (which I keep reading as Holyfield) rehab center. A couple of days into his stint there, Terri and Elizabeth get permission to visit. Terri asks if it's okay if she visits Ken alone and Liz agrees. Terri breaks down about how sorry she is for not making him wait out the storm at her house and Ken tells her that it's not her fault, he's just as much to blame for not staying put. They both agree they wish he had stuck around, although for slightly different reasons.

  Fast forward a month and Ken is ready to rejoin society. Winston escorts him around campus, but everywhere Ken goes, sympathy and awkward silences follow. The breaking point comes in History when Amy says hello and then sprints across the room to sit with Lila when she used to sit right next to Ken before his accident. Funny how he only seems interested now that Amy's no longer giving him the time of day, huh? Unable to deal with the reactions people have been giving him all morning, Ken goes outside during lunch to get away from it all. He overhears Scott Trost talking to Skip Harmon about how strong Amy's been coming onto him lately. Ken realizes that the moment Scott replaced him as QB, he also took Ken's spot in Amy's interest. Ticked, Ken has to convince himself not to belt Scott. (I wish he'd slug Skip though.) After they leave, Ken thinks he'll get a moment to himself, but no. Terri comes along.
   However, instead of going on about how sorry she is about Ken's accident or something similar, she starts in on how pretty the magnolias smell. Ken's thrown off balance a bit and she follows up with a lot of football talk. For the rest of the lunch period, Ken forgets his unhappiness right up until the end when he realizes that Terri would probably never be interested in him. No girl would, now that he's blind.

  Terri's taken aback at how abruptly Ken leaves her at the end of lunch, so she calls the school's resident busybody, Elizabeth. Liz points out that it's possible to get a small taste of Ken's discomfort by blindfolding herself for awhile to see what it's like. I won't lie. I totally did this repeatedly as a kid. It really lost it's appeal once I had to get glasses though. Especially when I realized I took after my father in terms of sight, which meant I was blind as a freakin' bat. Then the whole blindfold thing just worried the hell out of me. But until then, good times. Anyway, Liz is sure this will work because she saw it in a movie!
   Terri takes her advice the next afternoon and she realizes what a bitch it is to get around without seeing things, but hey. At least the birds sound prettier and you can feel things better. Right? ...Right? Totally. Makes. Up. For. It. Not.
  In an unexpected burst of confidence, Terri calls Ken and asks him out to the beach the next day. When Ken starts to turn her down, she points out that this is the first time she's ever asked a guy out and if he turns her down, she will be crushed and scarred for life. Way to guilt the guy, Adams. Still, she's cute enough so we'll play it cute and not desperate, k? Ken agrees and the next day she picks him up and they go to a deserted little beach that Terri is fond of. They chat and walk along the sand, Terri hands him shells and tries to describe things without going overboard. She convinces Ken that he can still run and they run along the beach. Really, I'm just wondering the likelihood of him not cutting himself on a shell or something, but that's just me.
   It doesn't take long for Terri and Ken to slip into an easy pattern of hanging out all the time. The problem is that Terri starts doing things for Ken, so that he's depending entirely too much on her. He's falling in love with her for real and the moment he realizes this, he also figures (again) that she'd never be interested because she's never shown any interest (that he can see... what, too soon?) and she never will because he's BLIND.
  Terri can't figure out why Ken's being such an ass towards her half the time. It's like they skipped the relationship portion of the dating and skipped right to the awkward breakup part, and once more she calls upon Liz. Liz listens and asks if Terri ever confessed her feelings for Ken. Terri admits she never did and Liz says that maybe Ken feels the same way, since she's not blind and she can see how he looks at Terri and all. Terri agrees to talk to Ken and to stop doing every damn thing for Ken. The fact that her grades are slipping? Probably doesn't hurt.
   Only when Terri tries to slowly disengage, she's more than a bit awkward and since Ken's so damn sensitive, he shuts down when he thinks she's pulling away. They end up yelling at one another and Terri asks why he thinks she did all this for him, and then answers because she loves him, you idiot.
  Then she storms off.

   Terri, you don't flounce off on a blind guy. He's at a severe disadvantage when it comes to chasing you down to have that big romantic kiss moment! Still, Ken hoofs it to the nearest bus station when Terri's mother says she's still not at home. He takes the bus to their beach and finds Terri and cops to his asshole tendencies and then he confesses he's fallen in love with her and this is all overshadowed by the fact that Ken can see where the sun is and when it hides behind a cloud he can totally tell.
  Healing has never been so poetic, y'all. :P
  The final chapter has a lead-up to book 61, but we'll be taking a slight detour since the next book is Lila's book. Hell. Freakin. YES!

  BTW, there's no B-plot really. We just spend most of the book examining things from Terri's as well as Ken's perspectives.


  • When discussing the odds of the Gladiators beating the Pumas (they're four points behind and only a minute to go), Todd seems awfully sure of the team, even going so far as to say "Besides, we've been undefeated all year".. dude. You've been back like, what, a month? And that month was spent at another school. There is very little "we" involved here.

  • Todd remarks that Ken doesn't seem all that interested in having a girlfriend. As someone who has read the SUPER SEKRIT DIARIES, I know this is because he's still friggin' hung up on your girlfriend. But that was more of a retcon, yes? Still. I get the giggles.

  • When trying to decide whether to go to Amy's bash after the big game, Terri waffles because she doesn't know most of the people there. Except she's the assistant statistician for the football team, one of the team members comes over specifically to ask her if she's going, and she's just described Shelley Novak as her friend. Um, I'd say Liz is the least of your friends (Jessica too) at this point.

  • Ken is up to 57 runs for the season by the end of the Palisades game, and the game winning touchdown was his seventh running touchdown.

  • Terri Adams is the assistant statistician for the football team. She's described as "petite and pretty" with short, glossy light brown hair, and large brown eyes. She has a huge crush on Ken. All her friends know. She's only shy when Ken is around.

  • Zack Johnson: sophomore linebacker who spends most of the time on the bench despite being good at what he does because the upperclassmen are better. Has a thing for April Dawson.

  • April Dawson Thick, dark hair

  • Amy's house: "It was a huge contemporary house with a cathedral ceiling in the living room."

  • Those in attendance at Amy's party: Amy, Jessica, Lila (the latter two are mentioned as being door greeters), Cara, Jean West, Liz, Todd, Winston, Maria, Ken, April, Zack, Shelley, Jim Roberts, John, Jennifer Mitchell, Skip Harmon, Kristin Thompson

  • Jessica spent portions of the last book being a bit stuck on Skip Harmon and now they're dancing at Amy's shindig. But by the time Liz and Jessica talk a few minutes later, Jessica seems to have moved beyond him, even if he can dance.

  • Ken drinks OJ at the party.

  • The only other person to have more running touchdowns than Ken was Richard Chico, six years ago. Ken has five more games ahead of him and Terri is sure he'll break the record.

  • When Winston and Maria attempt to ditch the party early because Winston's VW is in the shop (needs new tires) and they need to take the bus, Ken offers to take them home. Immediately. To get away from Amy and her too-public displays of affection. Despite the fact that if they had a ride home, they wouldn't need to leave as early because they wouldn't be *waiting* for the bus. Later Winston says his uncle wants to go fishing in the morning and Win has to be up at 6am.

  • Terri bums a ride from Win and Maria, which means she's also bumming a ride from Ken. She and Winston live near one another, apparently.

  • Terri was in the Chess Club her sophomore year. Winston's still a member.

  • Ken swerves to avoid a drunk, middle aged man driving a red Cutlass who is in the wrong lane and speeding over the crest of a hill. Ken's car skids and when he tries to correct it, he ends up swerving into a tree.

  • Ken's white Toyota's front end is crumpled "like an accordion", the front windshield has a huge, gaping hole in it, and there's glass everywhere. Liz can only identify it by looking for either of the bumper stickers that Ken has on the back of his car. One simply says Sweet Valley High, the other says, Honk If You Love the Gladiators. This is the one Liz sees part of.

  • Skip Harmon is Jessica's date to Amy's party and she likes that his "fire-engine-red" Ferrari matches her dress exactly, but she quickly grows tired of Skip going on about the car and how gorgeous and lucky he is. Jessica later describes him as worse than Bruce, which is saying something.

  • Liz and Todd are leaving Amy's party at quarter to midnight, and Jessica bums a ride when she can't stand Skip anymore.

  • The officer at the scene of the accident doesn't seem at all familiar with Ken, which seems a bit odd since SV is supposed to be pretty small, all things considered, and usually football is BIG. He has to look at Ken's license and read his full name and address to the twins and Todd. Kenneth Matthews, 1512 Azalea Court in case you needed to send flowers. ;)

  • I'm guessing Todd isn't considering Ken his best friend since Todd's reaction isn't really much of anything. Winston gets more airtime as Ken's friend.

  • Amy wants all her guests to leave before Ken comes back to the party so that they can be alone for awhile before her parents return from L.A. where they went to see some play.

  • Of the small group of guests left at the party when Todd and the twins return to break the news about Ken, only Aaron is mentioned.

  • Amy immediately wants to rush to the hospital, but Liz talks her out of it. The next day when Amy and Jessica actually do go to the hospital, they still can't see Ken, and Amy continues to act like an ass after Ken's mother leaves them. Then, when Ken can have visitors but they've discovered he's blind, Amy freaks out and refuses to see him.

  • Sunday, after the accident, Ken is listed as critical but stable, and he woke up around eleven in the morning. He's still unable to have visitors while in the ICU, which isn't a surprise.

  • Ken's mother is described as tall and pretty. Later, Liz will describe the Matthews as both being very nice.

  • Monday at school, Amy is rocking the huge-ass sunglasses indoors look because she's been crying so hard.

  • Amy keeps referring to Terri as "that girl Terri" and blames her for Ken's accident, and she really goes off on her when Ken's blindness is revealed.

  • When Amy does go nuclear, no one stands up for Terri, even though Jeffrey is standing right there. So disappointed, French. I expect better of you.

  • Terri miraculously hadn't heard about Ken's accident from anyone for the entire weekend. I find it odd that it wouldn't have even been in Monday's paper since Ken is a Big Freakin' Deal in HS sports.

  • Dr. Arquette is Ken's doc at the hospital. In order to treat some of Ken's wounds, they had to shave his head.

  • Amy visits Ken after school Monday and for at least a second she considers how romantic it would be (as well as ironic) if it was Ken's accident that finally brought them together. This means she acknowledges how distant he seemed, even when she planted a big ol' kiss on him at the party.

  • To learn how to cope with being blind, Ken is sent to Hollyfield rehabilitation center for a month.

  • While at Hollyfield, his counselor is Ron Jablonski.

  • Amy brings Ken a plush SVH football but she leaves without giving it to him when Jessica informs her that Ken is blind.

  • There are 68 steps from Ron's office to Ken's room at Hollyfield.

  • Amy sent Ken two letters during his first week at Hollyfield. He can identify them because of the scented envelopes she used.

  • Ken's favorite card is from the football team because it's shaped like a football and has actual laces.

  • Other cards came from Mr. Collins, Coach Schultz, the Wakefields, Cara Walker, oh, and Olivia Davidson. [/squee]

  • When Ken returns to school, Winston helps him around for the first day. Ken is only a little bitchy towards Winston when Win holds onto him the wrong way. You've got to lead the blind, Egbert, not the other way around.

  • Ken's homeroom is 210 with Mr. Traviano. Mr. Traviano talks really loudly and Ken tries to sort of politely inform him that he's blind, not deaf. Only he just embarrasses his teacher in front of the whole class. D'oh.

  • In English class, Ken's tape recorder freaks out during Cara's poem, French is okay, chem lab is pretty useless since Ken can't visualize the reactions Russo is describing, and History involves Amy blowing Ken off completely.

  • At lunch, Ken decides to go outside and avoid people. Before Scott and Skip notice him, Ken overhears them discussing how Amy's throwing herself at Scott who happens to be the new QB for the football team.

  • Before Ken can completely go insane, Terri stumbles across him and goes on about the magnolias and how nice they smell. Funny, I never really think of magnolias and SV without there being some crazy southerner running around trying to kill one of the twins.

  • Big Mesa got a new coach when Redner quit after his team was doing so horribly. The new coach from LA lead them to victory against Palisades 17-6. Terri goes on some more about football, but I got bored.

  • Liz cribs ideas from movies she's seen. When Terri mentions how Ken freaked out at the end of their conversation, Liz suggests that Terri blindfold herself to see how life must be for Ken.

  • Terri does this for an hour the next day. Show of hands, how many of you also did this at least once? Bonus points are awarded if you did this after/because of reading this book.

  • The twins arrange a surprise party at lunch for Ken. With donations from other students, mostly Bruce, they order a chocolate sheet cake from Delano's Bakery (Ames assures us they make the best cakes) that says, "Welcome Home, Ken!" Party starts at 12:30 in the cafeteria.

  • Despite making such a generous donation, Bruce backs out of the party by saying he lost a filling and has to go to the dentist at noon to have it replaced.

  • Lila's a bit of a bitch about going to the party but she goes anyway.

  • Amy says she didn't know about the party, doesn't seem interested in going, and still appears but wasn't going to say hello until someone busted her. Fuck you, Slutton. Just because the guest of honor is blind, it doesn't mean everyone else in the room is.

  • Jeff has American History with Ken and teases him about snoring in class.

  • Terri's mom drives a blue Volvo which Terri borrows frequently when she and Ken start hanging out.

  • Terri takes Ken to North Haven beach, a place Ken says he hasn't been to since he was a kid.

  • SVH loses their last game of the year when Scott drops back to pass and no one is open. Good going, Trost.

  • When Ken realizes how much he's come to care for Terri, he starts to act like a real asshole because he's sure she'd never feel the same way about him since he's BLIND.

  • There's a big thing involving Terri botching her confession (I love you, Ken!) and then Ken takes the bus to their beach to apologize for being a jackass to her and taking advantage of her time and to confess that he's totally in love with her, too.

  • Ken can see the sun enough to know when it's hiding behind a cloud. This has always struck me as a bit odd in determining that his sight is coming back, but hey.

Quotable SVH:
  Fortunately, just at that moment the door bell rang, and John and Jennifer burst in, followed by Kristin, Shelley, and Shelley's boyfriend Jim Roberts. "Hi, everybody!" John shouted. "You can start the party now. We're here!" - I am highly amused by the B/C list characters doing this. Well played. p14

  "Well, my dear, not only do we have room, but we have California's finest chauffeur tonight," Winston said. "Here's James now."
  "Hi, Terri," Ken said. - I'm a dork. I think this is cute. p23

  Ken thought again of the way Amy had acted toward him at the party. He didn't want people to get the impression he belonged to her, because he didn't.
  Ken wasn't ready to go with anybody-and certainly not with Amy, who was anything but the steady type. She had dated more guys since she had transfered to Sweet Valley High that year than Ken could remember. - Remember, class, the difference between Amy and Annie is that Annie put out. Amy just changes boys in mid-date. p30

   "I'm talking about luck. Let's face it, not many guys are as good-looking as I am. Hey, I can't take the credit for that. Looks aren't something you achieve, you're born with them."
   Jessica leaned forward on the couch so Skip couldn't see the look on her face. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and mimed a silent scream. - Oh, Skip, you can achieve your looks with a good plastic surgeon or if you're as diet friendly as Robin, right? (Also, I love the mental picture Jessica's reaction invokes.) p32

  "Bye, Amy. This was a great party. Say good night to Ken for me, will you?" Jessica asked. "I'm really sorry I have to leave. But I can't stand being around Skip anymore," she added in a whisper.
  Amy giggled knowingly and gave Jessica a little hug. "I'll call you tomorrow, and you can tell me all about it," she said. - This is probably the only time I like Amy the entire book. p35

  "Did you guys know that Skip was a child genius? He kept telling me about his his IQ was the highest in the state when he was five years old."
  "So what happened to him?" Elizabeth joked. "He's not exactly Honor Society material now." - Ooh, low blow, Liz. I like it. p36

  He wouldn't be known for all the wonderful things he could do, but for all the things he would never do again. - p84

  It wasn't like Jessica to be so insensitive. - Really, Liz, where the hell were you for the start of the series? p102

  Elizabeth told herself she shouldn't have been surprised. She knew how self centered Amy was. - Wow, Liz, you really are pretty bitchy in your thoughts, huh? p103/104

  Enid looked as though she was about to punch Lila...- This tickles me. I don't know why. p104

  "You know," Enid remarked as they watched him go, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Lila and Bruce would make a perfect couple!" - See? Enid is wise! p105

  "Anyway, I wouldn't worry about Ken right now. If you ask me, it's Scott Trost who's got the problem!" - the problem Liz is referring to? Dating Amy. Again, low blow, Wakefield. Excellent. p115

  Although the Wakefield twins were identical, it was always easy to tell them apart because they dressed so differently. Jessica was wearing a short black miniskirt, a bright red blouse, and matching red shoes. p12 (she also happened to be color coordinated with a red Ferrari.)


   Over time I'd forgotten how much I actually like That Fatal Night. It was one of the later additions to my collection so I haven't re-read it all that often, which meant this was a refresher course for me. The book holds up pretty well after all this time. It's funny and a little sad, but it doesn't dwell too much, partly because it really doesn't have time to.
  Terri's pretty sweet and she's not your traditional girl-girl, but she's also not full on tomboy either. She just really enjoys the game of football, although not as much as Claire Middleton will later on. I like that she feels like an outsider in the SVH hierarchy because who can't relate to that? Also, she has a nice little moment with John and it's one of the few scenes that you don't really get to read any of his darker moments into, and I appreciate that.
   I admit I'm biased when it comes to Ken. I don't really know how I felt about him as a kid, but whenever they decided to pair him up with Jessica? Instant love, and it works retroactively in the series, too. A big part of the love might have to do with how nice Ken is until the end of the book when he's begun to take Terri for granted (but let's be honest, no one else is even trying to hang out with him. How weird is that?) and trying to push her away at the same time. Go figure.

   This book pretty much puts my loathing of Amy on full display. Why are these people friends with her? Why is she popular? EVERYONE thinks she's flighty, too flirty for her own good, and incredibly self-centered. And these are the people she's supposed to be friends with. Amy basically took over the role of the bitch with very little redeeming value when they realized they couldn't have Jessica be that way (like she is in the beginning of the series), and since she's not the head of the group, I guess she's left to be the one to carry out the bitchier duties of the clique. Except no one seems to be asking her to, she's taken the initiative. I can't help but think middle school Amy would DIE if she knew how she turned out.
  Also, it kind of makes the Ken/Amy hookup awkward considering how much they liked one another in middle school and how much Ken doesn't return the feeling with new!Amy. Hunh. Weird how continuity works for Ken since it would make sense for him to be less of a jerk to people, even though his football position means that he could, what with all the crap he got for being so freakin' short when he was younger. But Amy... oh, Amy. Did anyone stop to see if she had her own evil twin who took over her life when she moved out East? Because it would explain a lot, now that I think about it...

  Can we take a moment to wonder what in the hell is going on with Ken's looks? Depending on the angle you hold your book, he goes from looking vaguely good looking (or at least enough that you're pretty sure the model was probably handsome or possibly even just cute) to "this is the last face you see before you die" scary. o_O
the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (classic)

  Whatever you celebrate, make sure to celebrate it in style. So don your fuschia party dress or black leather, grab the largest knife you can find [but only if it glitters in the light], and take a stab at being a Wakefield for a day... or a lifetime. Tis the season, after all.

Trivia This year we fall into the same timeline/calendar configuration as The Evil Twin. Which means next Friday night, Margo tries to off Elizabeth at Lila's!

  I'm off to finish watching the last episode of the first season of Dexter and then finish reading about Margo. I hope you all have a great holiday/holiday season, and eventually I'll finish That Fatal Night and we can move on to Lila's Story.

But now back to the holiday in the Valley books! :D
the_oracle: (troo wuv)
In Love Again
October 1989

Todd's back and Elizabeth's got him!

   Todd Wilkins and Elizabeth Wakefield are back together! After living in Vermont for several months, the Wilkins family has returned to Sweet Valley. Now it's just like old times between Elizabeth and Todd-only better. In fact, they've never been so much in love.
  But before long Elizabeth notices that Todd is different now. His family has a lot more money. Todd lives in a mansion, attends an elite private school, and drives an expensive car. He even has a whole new set of friends, and some of them don't like Elizabeth. Can Todd and Elizabeth's love survive the changes in Todd's life?

   When we last left our heroine, Elizabeth had finally chosen between her boyfriends and good old Todd Wilkins came out on top because he is truly the love of Elizabeth Wakefield's life.* In a particularly touching move, the lovebirds would have continued to be separated if not for the valiant intervention of one Jeffrey French. Deciding that his girlfriend's happiness was worth more than his own, he unselfishly** gave up his claim on the middle Wakefield and helped reunite the lovebirds who were only separated because of one Courtney Kane, bitch of Lovett Academy, who only liked Todd because all Courtneys are contractually obligated to do so.

  So looking at the cover you probably think that this is a book all about the joys of Liz and Todd being Liz&Todd again, perhaps with a slice of Jeffrey guilt thrown in for good measure, and probably a wacky Jessica B or C plot, depending on how much they're going to milk Jeffrey's anguish for, right? (Also, you might wonder why Todd is gripping Liz so tightly that she's attempting to pry his hands off her arm before she loses circulation completely. But that's probably a different book entirely.)
  WRONG. This book is little more than Lovett Academy vs. SVH, with a little brokenhearted Jeffrey thrown in for good measure. Who would ever have guessed that?

   Todd's back and Liz is over the moon. The couple are all lovey dovey and so thrilled at being with one another again that they gladly give up important activities just to squeeze in more time together. (Remember, Lovett is an hour away from SVH, so that really eats into their after school time together.) I can't really say anything bad about this because come on. Pretend for a moment that this isn't the place where logic goes to die. Your first serious boyfriend, who isn't your boy/girlfriend anymore simply because he's geographically undesirable and you figured the next time you'd live in the same state, let alone city, would be two years away, suddenly moves back and you can be together again? Hell yes, you're going to be all over one another.
  The problem here is that neither Liz nor Todd is a slacker. Todd's doing basketball at Lovett and wants to pick up some other extracurriculars and Liz has The Oracle and meddling in other people's business. Todd misses so many practices that they threaten to kick him off the team and Liz leaves an Oracle meeting early just as they're about to seriously debate axing her column (how's that for bad timing?) and screws up her column with some fun typos. I'd like to pretend that they're the sort that ruined a relationship or two because I'm just that vindictive and petty. Sure, they'd probably include that information in the book, but it could happen off screen. Most of Jeffrey's moping does, for instance.
  Our lovebirds agree to dial back their obsession and settle for trying to cram as much fun into evening dates and weekends. Because this still doesn't resolve the big problem at hand (Todd's not at SVH! Whatever will the Gladiators do?) we must create MORE CONFLICT.
   Liz is pretty judgmental, which I'm sure you've picked up on since we're 60+ books into this series. Saint Elizabeth feels that the Lovett Academy kids are like Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman, only cranked up to 11. Spoiled, vain, self-involved, and painfully boring would probably all cross Elizabeth's mind when describing them. But she's not sure if she just resents the school because it's something she and Toddles don't have in common or if the students really do all suck, aside from Toddles and Shef, of course. We know Courtney does, but what about the others?
  Yeah. If you went to a rich boarding school/private school, you should either have devoured this long ago or run screaming from the building because it is not pretty. Courtney invites Todd to a Country Club thing in Cedar Springs (didn't we get this whole big thing about how Lila and Courtney know one another from the SV Country Club? How many of these things do you need to be apart of anyway?) and he finagles an invite for Liz, too. Liz doesn't really want to go, but of course she does. While there, Liz is uncomfortable and matters are not helped by Todd disappearing to mingle with his new classmates. Left alone, Liz zeros in on the first familiar face she sees. Turns out there's some Ben Somethingorother who works as a caddie at the Club, and of course the moment the Lovett girls catch sight of Liz mixing with the help they turn their noses up and disappear, making catty comments as they exit stage left.
  Of course they do.

   The rest of the outing sucks just as much. Eventually Liz decides that Lovett must be destroyed is doing horrible things to Todd and when he's late for a date of theirs because he's doing Lovett Stuff, she flips her shit. First she asks Todd how he's doing, what his day was like, the usual. Poor clueless bastard proceeds to tell her that he got his CD player fixed, that he made some new friends and went riding with Shef and the guys, and that he's finally starting to feel like he fits in at Lovett. Which is fair enough. If these girls are so snobby about saying hello to a caddie, I'd imagine the fact that Todd's family is only a couple of months into Super Wealth probably means that he doesn't necessarily fit right in.
  Liz starts to twitch because all she apparently hears is Lovett is taking her man and changing him. Right. So she asks him to change the subject and tell her about him, that they haven't really Talked lately. And in the way of guys everywhere, Todd stumbles for a moment. He thought they were talking. He thought they were discussing his life. But no. Liz just doesn't want to hear because she hates all mentions of Lovett.
  So far I'm going to have to side with Todd, Liz. Liz protests that she doesn't hate Lovett but Todd isn't buying what Liz is selling. He starts to freak out a bit because it's just so hard to be newly rich and his father so obviously wants him to be at Lovett like all the other kids of the company's higher ups. Why can't she just pretend to be supportive?
  Now, if this were Todd from SVTwins with a father who I do believe did flip out over his boy's activities (did he? Am I confusing things? Doesn't tween Toddles run away because of daddy?) I'd still be on his side.
  But in a stunning upset, Liz channels her inner Jessica (or Mary Anne if you're more of a BSC fangirl at heart) and stands up for herself. Sort of. By bringing Todd down. She wants to know if he's fucking serious about wanting sympathy for his oh so difficult life of luxury because she doesn't see what's so fucking difficult about it. She finally officially calls BS on his "but Dad wants this for me!" line and then shit gets real.
  Todd bristles at the "poor little rich boy" response and somehow they end up breaking up.
  Somewhere Courtney and Jeffrey both leap back from their voodoo dolls in amazement.
  Stunned, Liz clings to her pride and refuses to tell Todd she doesn't want to break up, she just wants the Todd she's in love with back. Yeah. That's a great idea, Liz.

   So who wants a wacky B-plot now?
  For whatever reason, Jessica has decided that the place she most belongs is no longer SVH. Instead, she wants to join Todd at Lovett. Whenever she mentions this to anyone, they all assume that instead of furthering her education, she simply wants to meet someone rich. Truthfully, they're right. Jessica seems more interested in making a mental montage of herself walking the school campus, captivating everyone's attention than she actually does in learning anything.
  The kicker is that Lovett is extremely difficult to get into. The entrance exams are exceptionally tough and Jessica actually spends two weeks studying. No. I'm serious. Liz is all aflutter over Todd and the fallout of their differing schools, and Jessica is home. Studying. And this starts because Jessica wants to be the center of attention, not merely the center's twin.
  To achieve this goal she... studies. A lot. o_O What have you done with the real Jessica Wakefield?!
  Why is the sky green? Why is up down and down is sideways? My world, she is not right!

   Obviously we need a C plot. Though technically I think Jessica's plot is small enough to count as a C plot. Whatever. You can letter these next time, smartass. Courtney, remember her? The one who has to like Todd not because he's kinda cute or usually a decent guy, but because all Courtneys love Todd? Yeah. She's not thrilled that he chose Elizabeth over her, especially not when Courtney went to all that trouble to try and ensnare him with her elaborate soap opera-y setup. Still, he's Todd and she's still drawn to him. So she keeps flirting.
  Wait. Fuck. We can't make a C-plot about this. You know what we need? Inter school rivalry! Oh, sure, we've got SVH vs. Big Mesa (or Palisades when we need to be their big rival instead) but we need to really drive home the whole private vs. public school rivalry. So Courtney's father owns a television station, and some new guy at the station (the PR guy) decides to host a Battle of the Schools but calls it that instead of something, I dunno, catchy. Lovett will be hosting because they've got the best campus/equipment/they're rich as hell so if something goes wrong, they can fix it.
   Courtney decides that Lovett's biggest competition is probably SVH and because she HATES Elizabeth, Lovett cannot lose to such a tacky hellhole. So she prances around declaring that since her father owns the station holding the competition, Lovett can't possibly lose, even if they... you know, do. Everyone else is appalled that she'd think of having her father rig the competition and I had to laugh. Caddie mocking is fine, but rigging a contest is too much? Really? And it's not even like they're just sure that they're better than everyone else. Color me surprised as hell.
  With that plan thwarted by her father, Courtney decides that she and her best friend, Dominique will hang around and figure out how to rig the competition in Lovett's favor. (Despite the fact that there are 8 other schools in the running, SVH and Lovett win the qualifiers.) They'll twitch the curtains during the conveniant true/false Quiz Bowl thing so obviously yet only Jessica manages to notice them doing so. (Are these things normally true/false?) Still not enough bitchery in this itty bitty book.
  Odds are good that if you remember one thing about this book, you remember this: Courtney and Dominique help set up the obstacle course and of course when told to avoid the rope in the back because it's rotting, Courtney uses that for the SVH side. Liz is trying to shimmy up the rope when it snaps and sends her toppling to the ground. This is a Big Freakin' Deal because the scores are tied and whichever team wins this wins the whole shebang. So as Liz falls down boom, the audience is silenced. Except for Courtney who screams for Todd to keep going.
  Yeah. Someone looks like a stone cold bitch. Todd jumps down from the rope (I'm thinking rope burns are involved) and sees to Lizbeth. She's fine, she's fine, really. Another event has to be thought up and someone decides on a tug of war. Liz and Todd both sit it out and Jessica takes Elizabeth's spot because she realizes that going to school with Courtney at a place where pretending to be Elizabeth doesn't even get you respect is just so not for her. SVH wins.
  Todd decides to go back to SVH. The world is once more reset on its axis.
  There's a bit of set up for the next book involving Amy and Ken and this book is done.

*Well, if you ignore Ken, Luke, Devon, and basically any guy Liz meets while on holiday.
** You could argue that Jeffrey realized just how much life with Liz would suck and bailed when he had the chance.


  • Lovett offers Russian and Chinese in addition to French and Spanish.

  • No one really buys this as a reason for Jessica to attend the school, though she does try really hard to sell it.

  • You must do well on three of the five entrance exams to get in. Science, Languages, Literature, Math... and fifth is given. Toddles took the first three.

  • Jessica is jealous of the attention Elizabeth's soap opera love life is getting her.

  • Proof that Jessica's life is in the dumps, according to her: Skip Harmon ignored her in the lunch line and she failed a math test.

  • The twins are described as "unusually pretty" in their little intro. This amused me greatly.

  • When discussing Lovett with Jessica, Ned and Alice act as if they've discussed private/boarding schools with her before and not necessarily as a threat. Interesting...

  • Todd's old house is described as being really similar to the split-level ranch house the Wakefields live in. His new house? "Their new home was entirely different; it was more like a mansion. In fact, home was probably the wrong word to use to describe the huge place, with its high ceilings, marble floors, elaborate furnishings, ballroom, and Olympic-size pool!"

  • Proof that Liz is letting her life slide: Eyes and Ears is on the chopping block and she ducks out of that pivotal meeting early, she gets busted for not doing her math homework, and her column goes to print with four typos, causing Penny to break out the ruler of justice. The horror!

  • Tim Sollers (a classmate of Todd's) claims to have been invited to dinner at Michael Jackson's house. *bites lip and sits on hands which makes typing increasingly difficult* Still. Too. Soon. Yes?

  • Sandy Winters, another guy at Lovett, likes basketball and soccer like Todd. Since when does Todd give a damn about soccer? Oh. Since he wiped the field with Jeffrey, at least in terms of Elizabeth's affections.

  • Dominique Roy, Courtney Kane's best friend, drives an Alfa Romeo.

  • Mr. Kane owns the WXCY television station. Mr. Wright, the new public relations director at the station proposes the lamely titled Battle of the Schools competition between public and private schools (ten in all) including: SVH, Lovett, Big Mesa, Palisades, and Crestville Academy. There's swimming, running, track and field, a relay race, tennis, a spelling bee, and a mini College Bowl. Later Tug of War is added as a tie breaker.

  • The BoS is being backed by Kidd, a tennis shoe company. I love that they keep saying "tennis shoe." It's so cute.

  • Students of the winning school get a to be in the newest Kidd commercial. Well, some of them do, anyway, and there's a trophy, and as always, serious bragging rights.

  • Jessica's tests to get into Lovett are 14 days away on a Saturday after the BoS. She spends a ton of time studying for once.

  • Qualifying for the BoS is held on Thursday at Lovett.

  • School/team colors: Red/White - SVH while Lovett is blue/grey.

  • At the qualifiers, Lovett "swept most of the track and field", but SVH won swimming and tennis. Yay Bruce, Bill, and Kristin! Liz loses the relay race for SVH, so they come in second to Lovett, with Big Mesa and Palisades rounding out third and fourth.

  • Mr. Kane throws a party at the Cedar Spring Country Club and Courtney invites Todd, who insists on an invite for Elizabeth. There's a pool party, polo, golf, tennis, and dancing.

  • Cedar Springs CC: "The dark mahogany-paneled walls of the main room were covered with pictures of hunting scenes, and huge maroon leather chairs were set up against two walls. Elizabeth was tempted to laugh because it all looked so out of place in Southern California. But everyone else seemed to think the club was terrific." (Anyone else want to smack St. Liz?)

  • Campbell Rochester the 4th, is Courtney's date for the Country Club pool party. He's the son of Wilson Rochester, who runs the Rochester Advertising Group. He's an ass and got a thing for Liz.

  • Todd's old car didn't even have a radio according to Elizabeth, so she's irked when he keeps fiddling with the CD player trying to get it to work. (Liz, the future called: You will spend hours trying to fix a CD player in a car because, dammit, it should work! Also, I'd imagine iPods will blow your mind.)

  • Ben Orson, a sophomore who has submitted a few pieces to the Oracle, is a golf caddy at the Cedar Springs CC.

  • Liz thinks the Lovett boys are spoiled and boring because they keep "going on and on about their new cars or their new synthesizers" and I die. I really, really do. Synthesizers? Really, Liz?

  • The CSCC dinner consisted mostly of salad with tiny, elegant hors d'oeuvre that weren't particularly filling.

  • When Todd comes to cheer Liz on during the SVH practice for the relay race, Todd and Ken wrestle around and have a good time, but when it comes down to work, Ken kicks Todd out. Again, I die.

  • Todd asks Elizabeth, semi-jokingly, to drop the relay, and she gets pissed at him.

  • Apparently one of the things Todd liked best about their relationship was that they didn't really compete with one another.

  • Todd met a guy whose mom is the diplomat at the French Embassy. His girlfriend is Jacqueline Livingston (of Livingston Pictures!) and the pair were just featured in the paper as one of L.A.'s hottest couples. Todd's excited, Liz is all, "Lovett. Rich people. Bah!"

  • The Lovett kids see Crestville Academy, Big Mesa, Palisades, and "especially SVH" as big competition.

  • The judges at eliminations are: Mr. Kane, Saul Robinson, and Dale Carter. They cannot be bought, but thank you for trying, Courtney Kane.

  • After Todd and Liz break up, Courtney invites him to a Lakers game. He doesn't say no.

  • The Battle of the Schools starts at 9AM.

  • SVH's BoS teams: Bruce and Kristin Thompson - mixed doubles for tennis. Bill- swimming. Aaron and Shelley - track and field. Patty Gilbert, Peter DeHaven, and Winston - College Bowl. Olivia - spelling.

  • Relay- Ken, Liz, Jeffrey, and Robin. Jeffrey and Robin are doing the three-legged race, Ken was doing the egg sprint/balance, and Liz is doing the rope climb.

  • Lovett's relay team has Todd on rope climb. Roberta Thornton and Jonathan Davis are also on the relay team.

  • Morning competitions at the BoS are College Bowl, spelling bee, tennis and swimming events, then we break for lunch, and after that other events proceed until the end of the relay race. Each event is worth 10 points and there are 10 events.

  • Jake Iser beat Bill Chase in the swimming event, but Bruce and Kristin dominated in tennis. (I'd expect nothing less.)

  • Lovett's College Bowl team consists of Sheffield Eastman, (nerdy senior) Bradly Tushingham (really?), and "a movie director's daughter named Alison deLong."

  • Mr. Smithfield, an old and distinguished history teacher at Lovett, was moderating the bowl.

  • Alison needs Courtney and Dominique to do their "two curtain twitches for true" deal for the following question: "The name of the man who made these words famous 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' was Neil Armstrong. True or false." ...Face, meet palm. She also nearly misses water boiling at 212 degrees centigrade being false.

  • With Courtney and Dominique's help, Lovett wins 20 to 15. Poor Winston looks ready to weep.

  • The four hundred meter race ended in a tie, giving each school 45 points leading up to the relay race.

  • Bob something or other, a senior, trusts Courtney to help set up the relay race ropes. Fool.

  • Most of this book would be rendered moot by the proliferation of cellphones. Todd and Liz could just text the hell out of one another, they'd call/text when they changed their minds about hanging out because they realized the plans they were blowing off were important after all... Yeah. This book would either have to rely on cell phone coverage being down in the Valley or be seriously retooled for today.


  "Here comes trouble," Enid Rollins said under her breath. "Trouble with a capital T, and that stands for Twin." - Enid occasionally cracks me up. ♥ p8

   Elizabeth blushed. She had a feeling it was going to take some time before she got used to being madly in love again. - That is just cold, Wakefield. If Jeffrey developed telepathic powers right now, you'd break his heart all over again. p 14

  Was he secretly thinking, You weren't like this when you and I were going out? - Elizabeth wonders if Jeffrey's thinking this about the time you start to think, "Jesus, Liz. You act like you've never had a boyfriend before" with the way she's all over Todd and slacking off in other departments. p29

   "Well, well, well. What are you doing in this part of the world, Elizabeth?" Courtney asked, looking Elizabeth up and down. "What a sweet little outfit," she added. "I didn't know you could find skirts that length anymore." - Oh, Courtney, sometimes I do love you. p58

  Elizabeth felt tears spring to her eyes. "I can't believe you!" she cried. "Why are you feeling sorry for yourself? Because you have to get used to having your own screening room and a mansion to live in and a brand-new BMW? I don't think it's your parents who care so much about Lovett Academy," Elizabeth continued, unable to repress her anger anymore. "Let's be fair, Todd. You like being at Lovett. And you can't blame it on your parents."
  Todd gripped the edge of the table, his knuckles turning white. She had never seen him this angry before. "Cut it out, Liz. I mean it. Cut it out right now."
  Elizabeth hadn't meant to hurt him. The words had just slipped out. But she did feel as if Todd's values had changed. And she loved him too much not to speak her mind. "I have to tell you how I feel," she said weakly.
  "Well, I'm sick of you judging me," Todd snapped. - Told you it was worth the price of admission. p90/91

   Courtney thought one of Todd's least attractive trains was his loyalty to Sweet Valley High. It was so tedious the way he went on and on about it. - p126

  Honestly, Courtney thought to herself. Todd was incredibly cute, but he could be such a bore sometimes! - She. Read. My. Mind. No way! p127


   Here's the thing. I don't know how I managed to forget so much about Jeffrey's stint in the Valley as Liz's boytoy, but I did. There's a moment in the book where Liz and Jessica are talking about Jeffrey and Jess mentions that he's moping around school and Liz agrees. And she goes out of her way to avoid him because she can't think of anything to say or do to make things right with him.
  And I can't figure out if someone should get points for realism in the Valley or if I'm just too busy feeling bad for Jeffrey. He does the "right" thing and is... shunned for his good deed. No mention is made of his friends rallying around him. It's as if he and Liz broke up and BAM. Social pariah. So, irrational or otherwise, this little scene in the book irks me.

   Otherwise... *shrug* In Love Again isn't half the fun of Brokenhearted (how bitchy does that make me sound?) but I do sort of wonder what would have happened if Jessica had made it into Lovett. How crazy would that have made Liz if both Todd and Jessica ditched her? Not that we needed Jessica at an expensive boarding school. We already had Caitlin by then.
  I kind of love how dismissive Jessica is of Amy. Amy is Jessica's flirty, over the top, no boundaries self without any of the braincells beyond scheming and even Jessica finds her off putting each time she starts to plot. In a non snarky sort of way, I love how she's calling her Ames, too. That's just adorable.
   I also love how, ever briefly, you get the feeling that the Wakefields seriously discussed private/boarding school for the twins, Jessica in particular. It's not just the Switzerland thing that Liz tried to do, this comes across like Ned and Alice wanted to send them off, or wanted them (Jess) to know it was always a viable option. SV: Boarding School. Or, y'know, Caitlin, with blonds.
the_oracle: (better than you)
   To prove that I'm a big ol' nerd, we're going to disect one of the things about the new Sweet Valley Confidential US cover that is driving me INSANE.

The lavaliere.

  It's very sparkly and very pretty on its own. This much I agree on. However, it is not *the* lavaliere. It's not even close.

This is the lavaliere in its original glory:

  BEHOLD. It is ridiculously simple in that it's a simple gold bar pendant. Google search that and you'll find quite a few things that are pretty much right on target (and even more that aren't.) It survived Margo trying to whack Lizbeth and was still prominently displayed until #115 when the illustrated versions of the Daniel twins took up residence above the SVH logo on the books.

Like so:
  Right. There. Couldn't miss it if you looked for it at all. (Which you probably didn't but hey. It's there between the E in Francine and the P for Pascal if you needed help.)


  This is a key. How in the... why... what?

Look. From the aforementioned google search. Tiffany's, even.

  See? Simple. This isn't my favorite but it's still closer than a friggin' KEY. (And I love key necklaces something crazy.)

    Odds are good that the magical lavaliere was given by Ned and Alice to the gruesome twosome because it would go with *everything*. It might not always be the best choice *coughLIZcough* for a given outfit, but it wouldn't look out of place with a tank top (see Secrets) and it worked well enough with the dress Margo and Liz wore to Lila's NYE party. And you know Lila's dress code. How is this hard to grasp?

With that out of the way, we return you to new!cover glory.


   Congrats, art department. You've airbrushed them into non-people. I'm getting the re-launch of The Vampire Diaries from the front cover and I've got to agree with people on the back cover. It's vaguely porntastic and the more you look at it, the stranger her upper lip and nose begin to look. See? Now you can't unsee it either.

I will say that if the back cover picture looked less like wax melting, I would love it. It's not perfect (even if you fixed the previously discussed flaws) but it sets the tone. Mystery! Sex! Bad sex, even! And blondes doing bad things to one another. I get it.

   I... still don't know how to feel about this one. I've had less time to come to grips with it. I think the red and the pink clash, but it's not the first time they've used the combo (and Playing with Fire is a pretty well known SVH cover so...). It needs something tweaked to make it not so... "intern in the basement threw this together as a mockup"-y. I will say the models are very pretty, but the lack of a background is making things weird. White space! *is ded*

Thoughts? Opinions? Votes for me to be committed?
the_oracle: (left of normal)
September 1989

Who is Elizabeth's true love?
Todd's back...

  When Todd Wilkins moved to Vermont, Elizabeth Wakefield's heart was broken. She thought that she would never get over losing him. But after months passed, Elizabeth fell in love again. Now she and Jeffrey French are one of the happiest couples at Sweet Valley High.
   Then Todd writes to Elizabeth and tells her that he is moving back to Sweet Valley and that he still cares for her. Although she loves Jeffrey, Elizabeth realizes she still has strong feelings for Todd. Suddenly she is faced with a very difficult choice-a choice between the only two boys she has ever loved. What will Elizabeth do?

  So it's probably come as no surprise to anyone who's been playing along that I've been dragging my feet getting around to the end of Jeffrey. It's weird, because before I started the re-read, I thought Jeffrey was nice but enh. A placeholder until Todd came back rich and things really got weird. But either I've changed or my memory was shot because Jeffrey? Was a pretty damn good boyfriend. He didn't let Liz walk all over him, he had his own interests that he didn't force on her, and Liz didn't cheat on him all the damn time. Go figure.
   Still, all good things come to an end... so I present to you, Brokenhearted. Grab your tissues because Jeffrey's going to do the Right Thing. Again. Damn it.

  Last time in the Valley, Lila dropped the bombshell that Todd Wilkins was moving back to the Valley. This time she ups the ante by knowing that he's moving to the same neighborhood that holds the Patman estate and Fowler Crest. Dude is rich now and this interests Lila more than a little. Liz is a little confused and hurt. Why did Todd write and let everyone else in the town know, but leave her hanging? Does this mean he doesn't care? Does it mean he does and he just couldn't find the words? What does it all mean?
  To add insult to injury, Liz has to tell Jeffrey what everyone else already knows. Todd's back and you're gonna be in trouble, French. Jessica is so excited at the thought of all this potential drama that she wakes up early, on a Monday morning no less, to ask Liz what the hell she's going to do. Liz hasn't been sleeping well and is not really in the mood for Jessica's natural curiosity. Which is a shame because I'm actually a big fan of these little sisterly scenes. Woe. Jeffrey takes it sort of well. He doesn't do cartwheels at the thought but he's not punching his locker in preparation for a fight to the death over one Elizabeth Wakefield. So, good on you, Jeffrey.
   Of course then we fall into a time warp issue. This book goes by the thought that Jeffrey and Todd have not met. Bullshit. They met in that one Super Special that was so spectacular a puzzle was made in it's honor. Dude, once you've got merchandise, it's a little late to play the "never happened" card. The other elephant in the room is that Liz never denies that she might still be interested in Todd and both Jeffrey and Liz notice her lack of denial.
  Liz's emotions are thrown further into the blender when she arrives home and finds a letter from Todd waiting for her. It looks like it's been all over the country, twice, in a hand basket headed for hell, but still. He wrote to her. Her eyes well up with tears when she realizes that if the date on his letter is correct, it means she had to have been one of the first people (if not the first) to know about the move. Actually reading the letter, Todd says that he wanted her to be the first to know and he ends his little letter by letting her know he's still in love with her and that while he's going to be going to a new school and she's dating someone else, he hopes that with the distance between them erased, he has a chance at being the new Mr. Elizabeth Wakefield. Yes. I might be paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea.
  Liz is torn. By the way she's reacting to a letter, she acknowledges the fact that she's obviously not as over Todd as she thought. But there's still Jeffrey to consider. She luffs him, she truly does... doesn't she?

   Todd makes his triumphant return to the Valley and his first stop, after dropping stuff off at the new house, is to see Liz. The spark immediately, and awkwardly, flares back to life and Jessica has to bounce into the room to keep the two former lovebirds from doing things Jeffrey would really rather they didn't. Ned and Alice invite Todd back to the house for a dinner in his honor the following Wednesday and again I say, "DUDE. Your daughter HAS a boyfriend. Are you inviting Jeffrey, too?" But no. Jeffrey isn't exactly thrilled that the parents Wakefield are welcoming the ex back with such open arms but what can he do?
  Apparently what he can do is sit around and wait for his relationship to die a horrible, horrible death. Each time Liz and Todd hang out, Liz realizes how much she's missed Boyfriend #1 and gosh, she's so damn conflicted! Woe. Bitch. Woe.

   I think we need a B and a C plot. Despite initially cheering for Jeffrey since Todd was so dull, Jessica quickly changes her allegiance once it's revealed that Todd will be attending posh Lovett Academy. Jess and Lila have both been trying to snag a Lovett guy for quite some time and if Liz hooks up with Todd again, it will make this task infinitely easier. I guess she figures the Lovett guys will see Liz and then hear, "Oh, you think my gf is hot? She's got a twin, one without quite so many hangups and a thing for miniskirts. Yeah. She's single. Want her number?" from good old Todd.
  Being Jessica, it doesn't take long for her to find a Lovett guy the moment she's let onto campus. She runs into Sheffield Eastman, a dead ringer for a young Paul Newman, and he falls easily under Jessica's spell. What we realize, that she doesn't, is that Shef is more than a pretty face with amazing eyes. He's going to be far too boring and stable for Jessica.
  Lila, not content to merely herald the arrival of new!Todd, is playing mouthpiece for Courtney Kane, a pretty, bitchy girl from Lovett. It appears that Li is desperate to get into Lovett's social circles and that Courtney has finally found a use for gauche Lila. Just a freakin' second, Kane. No one speaks to Our Lady of Awesome like that. Lila demands your respect. Now give it, or I will forcibly take it from you.
   Anyway. Courtney meets Liz when Jessica finagles a tour of Lovett from Todd. Court's heard all about Liz and realizes the only thing keeping Ms. Kane from being Todd's girlfriend (aside from her heinous attitude) is little Miss Wakefield. Court isn't impressed and once she realizes that Lila is Jessica's best friend, well. She suddenly has a use for Lila Fowler. Poor Li is unaware she's being used to spread Courtney's half truths and flat out lies.

   Like the one about Courtney co-hosting Todd's big "reintroduction to Sweet Valley" party. To ensure that Todd does ask her, Courtney discreetly uses Shef's newfound friend status with Todd to pass along a little whopper of a lie involving Jeffrey, Liz, and a ring. Not an engagement ring, that would be silly, but the next best thing! Gasp. Poor Todd. If only... Shef falls into Courtney's trap, passes along the story immediately to Todd, and Todd falls into Courtney's clutches. I feel like someone should do a maniacal laugh right about...
  Here. Muhahahahaha!

   Back to Jeffrey. Over the past couple of weeks he's noticed that he and Liz haven't spent a lot of time together and that when they do, she's not as fully there as she used to be. But he doesn't know what to do, so he tries arranging a fancy date for two and basically just letting Liz know that he's still ready to fight for her, if she wants him to do so. The moment the invitations to Todd's party arrive, Jeffrey realizes he's "won." Liz resumes spending a lot of time with him and I'm betting Todd mentions are down, and everything should be fantastic, yes? But Jeffrey's no fool. He knows Liz isn't happy and he can't help but worry, and rightly so, that Liz just ended up with him when Todd moved on to someone else. With this in mind, Jeffrey notices Courtney slipping a note into Elizabeth's pocket at the party. Before he can intervene and see what the note said, Liz disappears to the bathroom. Jeffrey wanders over to Court and Todd, only to have them head outside. Jeffrey follows them because his Spidey sense is telling him something is not right. Smart man.
  While hiding in the bathroom (something Liz seems to do a lot at parties), Liz finds the note from "Todd" telling her to meet him on the west lawn (seriously?) in the orange grove (...really?) at the gazebo so they can talk. Dare she see what her old boyfriend wants? What if he just wants to officially let her down easy? But what if he wants to tell her he's made a horrible mistake and he loves her, not dumb old Courtney? Whatever will our heroine do?

   Remember Jessica and Sheffield? Well, they've been out on a few dates and because he's so handsome and so rich, and is essentially the deluxe version of Bruce, but with less attitude (and dancing skill), Jess decides it's time to show him off to her SV friends. Particularly Lila. At first her plan works perfectly. He's handsome, he's rich and well bred. He's charming. He's got everything! So Jessica decides to ask him about his senior thesis project. And shit hits the fan.
  She's thinking he's going to go globe-trotting, maybe run a vineyard or something cool. Instead, Shef announces he's going to spend his senior year living and working at a Santa Barbara homeless shelter. Oh, yeah, and his sweet Mercedes? Totally up for sale so the money can go to charity.
   Lila emerges triumphant without having to do a damn thing. Well played, Fowler.
  Before Jessica's head can explode, Bruce pushes Winston and Ken into the pool (double pool push!) and lots of other kids jump in the pool, too. Jessica barely resists the urge to shove Sheffield in too, and heads off for the ladies room. Where she runs into her twin who is unable to tell up from down, left from right... You get the idea. Jessica listens halfheartedly and then declares that Liz should ignore all the times she's said, "Lovett boy all the way!" because Todd probably just wants to tell her he's selling all his stuff and doing something crazy and stupidly boring with his life. Then she shoves Liz out of the bathroom because Jessica needs to meltdown RIGHT NOW. Move!

   Liz decides she'll go to Todd, but that she has to tell Jeffrey first. She's been horribly unfair to him, after all, and now is the time to rectify this. She wants this to all be aboveboard and all that. But she can't find Jeffrey anywhere. Odd. After trying, and failing, to find him, she heads out to see what Todd could possibly want.

  Jeffrey, remember, is following Todd and Courtney. Court claimed she had a headache and that no place in Todd's big old mansion would be far enough away from the noise to properly let her heal. But maybe the gazebo on the west lawn? Flutter, flutter with the eyelashes. Todd agrees, mostly just to shut her up, and the two set off. Halfway there, Court "stumbles" and "twists" her ankle, so she's leaning pretty heavily on Todd by the time they get to the gazebo. Once there, Court makes a miraculous recovery and kisses Todd just in time for Elizabeth to come along and see. Liz is horrified and humiliated and literally runs away.
  Jeffrey sees all of this, picks up the note that Liz dropped, and immediately figures out what's going on. He's left with a choice. All he has to do to keep Elizabeth is do nothing. Liz obviously thinks Todd has moved on, and Todd obviously thinks Liz has... and in time, Jeffrey might get back what he had with Elizabeth. But she would be utterly miserable and she wouldn't have chosen Jeffrey. He was just the consolation prize.
   Plus it would involve letting Courtney win. So Jeffrey does the right thing and heads off to tell Todd the truth.

   Heartbroken, Liz has driven aimlessly until she finds herself at Secca Lake. Her world is definitely more down than up at the moment. Todd and Courtney are obviously together and Liz has come to truly understand how messed up things with Jeffrey were and are. She doesn't love him, at least not the way she loves Todd, and that's not fair to either one of them. But Todd... sob... chose Courtney! Oh the unfairness of it all. Before you think she might fling herself into the lake, headlights cut through the darkness and Todd comes flying out of his new BMW. The two immediately run to one another and zing! Sparks fly.
  Todd tells Liz that Jeffrey solved it all and Liz is all, "say what now?" Todd explains and the two are so overcome with emotion that things get more than a little sappy. The two head back to the party, intent on making things right with Jeffrey (dude, you're getting dumped) and... I dunno. But there's a pledge of love thrown in there somewhere and... end book.


  • Jeffrey wasn't at Olivia's party because he was visiting family.

  • Speaking of Olivia, she isn't mentioned once in this book.

  • Jessica wakes up early on a Monday morning because she wants to know how Liz is going to tell Jeffrey about Todd.

  • When Enid tries to talk to Liz after school about how weird Liz feels with the whole T/J thing, they foolishly choose to hit the DB where they run into Lila, Jessica, Aaron, Ken... and Jeffrey.

  • Mr. Wilkins is now the president of Varitronics, soon to be one of the Fortune 500 along with George Fowler, complete with a mansion near Fowler Crest.

  • In keeping with his new status, Mr. Wilkins is choosing to send Todd to Lovett Academy. Lovett is located in Cedar Springs which is 40 minutes away and described as a prep school and a bit like a college campus. Wolfe Hall, one of the dorms, is a Spanish style building where Todd takes the twins for a party when they visit the campus. There's a 50/50 split between day students (like Todd and Sheffield) and boarders.

  • Lovett's Wolfe Hall has a common room described as: "They found the party in the large common room at the end of the hallway. Elizabeth caught her breath. Tall French doors opened out into a palm-filled courtyard. Overhead, crystal chandeliers glimmered. Beneath their feet was a genuine Persian carpet."

  • Mrs. Beckwith, the Wakefield's next door neighbor, drives a yellow Buick.

  • Ned's study is wood paneled.

  • Mr. Kane, Courtney's father, is the new CEO and former president of Varitronics.

  • Todd returned to SV on Sunday, the 15th. Too bad Liz didn't get the letter telling her this until the 13th.

  • Speaking of the letter, there are at least three postmarks on it, the earliest cancellation being three weeks ago. Toddy's messy handwriting meant the letter bounced all over creation before finally finding its destination.

  • Did you know the Wakefield's fridge is copper colored? All this time and I never knew.

  • Jessica initially backs Jeffrey as the boy toy of choice due to how dull T/L were as a couple. When she hears Todd is at Lovett, she switches her allegiance because she wants a Lovett boyfriend. She spends the book bouncing back and forth, usually for selfish reasons, but always letting Liz know that it's Elizabeth's choice to make.

  • Todd drives a black BMW now.

  • Todd owes Elizabeth a double dip cone down at Casey's because Liz correctly bet that Ned would make a corny, but sincere toast in Todd's honor when the Wakefields invited him over Wednesday night for dinner.

  • The menu at this dinner was chicken divan, salad, and peach pie with homemade whipped cream topping.

  • Liz can't keep up with all the rooms at Todd's new house. Some of them include a parlor, a family room, a den, a library, a ballroom (and adjoining patio), and possibly 12 bedrooms. Yeah, my eyes would glaze over. Later we learn he's got a great hall (no kidding), and an orange grove on the west lawn where a small gazebo is located.

  • Jeffrey takes Liz to the Valley in for their special date the Friday night before Winston's "Welcome back, Todd!" party, which is the following Saturday.

  • Aaron bets that Jeffrey will win Elizabeth's heart and Ken's money is on Todd.

  • Sheffield Eastman looks like a young Paul Newman. He used to date Courtney but she found him too dull after awhile, what with all his giving back to the community crap. The Eastmans have lived in SV for nearly a hundred years. The Eastman estate is close enough to the Lovett campus that it's possible for Courtney to ride a horse there, simply by going down the bridle path, going around a small pond and voila! Eastman estate to the right. Good to know.

  • Courtney Kane is tall and curvy with mahogany hair in a side part. The only person who doesn't seem to describe her as shallow is Lila.

  • Moonshadow is the horse Court rides to the Eastman estate.

  • Cliff is the head groom at Lovett and Courtney likes to give him a hard time.

  • Kent Eastman is Shef's incredibly cute younger brother.

  • Court tells Shef that Jeffrey gave Elizabeth a ring (that she accepted) and Sheffield tells Todd the same day.

  • Okay, whoa. Why can we mention (repeatedly) Suzanne Devlin and Todd hooking up but Winter Carnival is banned from memory? Why?

  • Sheffield waited five days to call Jessica. (He ends up calling on Tuesday.)

  • Sheff drives a midnight blue Mercedes.

  • Jessica and Shef go for coffee and desert at Venezia, a "chic Italian restaurant just outside SV." Shef has a slice of Amaretto flavored cheesecake and Jessica has gelato.

  • Sheffield has been to France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, the Greek Islands, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, Brazil, and Mexico. Next on his list? The Soviet Union. What, Canada's not good enough for you?

  • Todd's invitations are on creamy, expensive paper with raised, black letters. They don't seem very Todd-like. Possibly because not even Lila sends out invitations like this.

  • Elizabeth's invite is addressed to Miss Elizabeth Wakefield and Friend. Gasp!

  • Jeffrey wears a paisley tie and a navy blazer to Todd's party.

  • Liz wears a royal blue, spaghetti strap dress with a "loose" jacket over it, and a tiny black evening bag to complete the look.

  • Jeffrey's car is in the shop, so Liz picks him up and then Jeffrey drives the Fiat to the party. (Dude, this means when Liz ditches the party, she's also ditched her date in more ways than one. Uncool, Wakefield!)

  • Todd's sporting a white dinner jacket, complete with a red carnation in the lapel.

  • Courtney is wearing a strapless emerald satin gown "that accentuated every curve of her body." She's also got a corsage of tiny, white rosebuds on one wrist and her hair is loosely piled on top of her head, secured with glittering jeweled clips. I'm getting prom queen, not classy sophisticate.

  • In attendance at Todd's party: Todd, Courtney, Elizabeth, Jeffrey, Jessica, Sheffield, Bruce, Amy, Winston, Ken, Lila, Drake Howard, Enid, Hugh, Maria, DeeDee, Bill, Steve, and Cara.

  • Sheffield is also wearing a white dinner jacket, while Jessica is in Amy's "slim, black, strapless dress." It's nice that Amy shares her clothes so readily.

  • Lila's date is Drake Howard, a sophomore at Sweet Valley College, who happens to be in one of the frats. Yay.

  • Sheffield is going to work and live 24/7 at a homeless shelter in Santa Barbara for his senior thesis. He's selling his gorgeous Mercedes and donating the money to charity.

  • Bruce pushes both Ken and Winston into Todd's pool. Maria slips out of her shoes and jumps in after them, and others follow suit.

  • Todd finds Liz out at Secca Lake at their spot, after he initially tries to find her at Casa Wakefield.

  "They'll have to fight for you, I guess. Like in the old days-a duel!" The idea clearly appealed to Jessica. She giggled. "Picture Todd and Jeffrey going at it with french fries in the Dairi Burger!" - Taking this so... many different ways. p5

   Jessica's love-hate relationship with Lila had always mystified Elizabeth. One minute the two would be happily mall-hopping together, and the next, Jessica would insist that she was never speaking to Lila again. As far as Elizabeth could tell, this cycle was repeated at least every other week. -I could, and will, take this a completely different way than intended. p13

  "I don't remember what I said at breakfast," Jessica now declared, making it sound as if breakfast had occurred sometime in the last century.- p28

  "You're as beautiful as ever, Elizabeth."
  "Oh. Thanks." She blushed. "You look great yourself! You're still-tall!" - First you laugh and then it's kind of cute. p33

   Jessica walked away from Aaron and Ken, flashing them both a big smile. They were both very attractive-she had dated each of them a number of times. In fact, not too long ago she had contemplated falling in love with Ken for lack of anything better to do. - Yes. Exactly. p48

   Conversation stopped abruptly when the group caught sight of Jessica and Todd. Before stepping into the silence, Jessica had time to notice that while Todd remained composed, Jeffrey looked extremely nervous. That's natural, she thought. He has a lot more to lose. - This scene actually doesn't play right for me, given how self-assured Jeffrey normally is. It makes sense, but it still doesn't feel right. p 51

  "Jessica, why don't you just go back to the mall and buy the pants and spare us your moaning and groaning?" Elizabeth burst out, slamming shut her American history textbook. -Temper, temper. p68

  And Elizabeth Wakefield was the only obstacle between Courtney and what she wanted most in the world, for the moment at least-Todd Wilkins. p76

  Three girls sat down at the next table, chatting loudly and obviously intending to attract Todd's and Sheffield's attention. They were all pretty, but they didn't have the simple, natural style Todd liked. They had too much makeup, too much jewelry, too much perfume-and too little substance.
   And there was Elizabeth. He imagined her soft, gentle fragrant hair, the way she always smelled fresh and sweet. He could talk to Elizabeth. She was real. And she cared about so many things. Todd had always admired her unselfish energy and ambition.
  Courtney Kane was the obvious choice. Inviting her to the party would make both his father and her father happy. Courtney was beautiful and glamorous. Most guys would be thrilled to date her.
   But Courtney wasn't Elizabeth. She didn't even come close. -- Before you stone me for this, let me point out that if you ignore the fact that this is another notch for the perfection of Saint Elizabeth of Wakefield and just think of it as a guy missing his ex-girlfriend, it's incredibly sweet. Not necessarily terribly realistic, but very sweet. And for this alone, my inner 10 year old demands that it be included. p82/83

  "He's driving all the way down from Cedar Springs just to take me out for dessert and coffee!"
  "Can't he afford dinner?" Lila asked.
  "Of course he can, you idiot." - Oh, Lila. Oh, Jessica. Don't ever change. p85

   As Sheffield reeled off a list of popular causes, Jessica began to understand why he wanted to save the whales and feed hungry people all over the world. Really rich and famous people were always involved in some philanthropic scheme or another. Look at the Mellons and the Rockefellers. They had their names plastered over schools and charitable organizations nationwide. And all those big rock stars put on concerts to benefit something or other. It was obviously the thing to do.
  Once you have more money than you could ever possibly spend, it's fashionable to donate some to charity! Jessica realized, eating a spoonful of gelato. This charity business is just part of being an Eastman. - Oh. My. Lord. p88

  Jessica slammed the phone down and then leapt straight into the air, flinging out her arms and shaking imaginary pom-poms. "Yee-ha!" she hollered. - if you need ask why I love Jessica, this should tell you all you need to know. ♥ p94

   It didn't make much sense. The only thing Courtney and Elizabeth had in common was Todd Wilkins, and Jeffrey couldn't picture Courtney writing Elizabeth to thank her for handing over her old boyfriend. - Oh, Jeffrey. This is why I'm going to miss you. p105

  As Sheffield shook hands with the guys, Jessica smiled at the envious expression on Lila's face. She couldn't remember when she'd had so much fun showing her up! - I do so love the catty in my SV. p109

Fashion, circa 1989:
  Elizabeth stood up and nervously straightened her jade-green twill skirt. Then she adjusted the collar of her white silk blouse. Putting a hand to her throat, she felt the gold locket on the chain around her neck. -This is Elizabeth's outfit for welcoming Todd back to SV. p31


   Brokenhearted gives Jeffrey a pretty decent swan song. While he is responsible for sending Todd and Liz running into one another's arms, it's because it's the right thing to do. Anything less and I wouldn't know who you were, Jeffrey French. I hate how he basically disappears after the next book, and then they'll trot him out for, what, Enid's super star book and the Senior Year series where he's a friggin' tool and the less said of that the better.
  You had a good run, Jeffrey. For the most part, Liz didn't cheat on you, which is pretty funny when you think about it. She's going to spend the next hundred books cheating on Todd left, right, and center and he's the boy she loves!
  Go figure. Then again, you should sue for this cover art, boy. SUE.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Teacher Crush
August 1989

Has Olivia met the man of her dreams?
Madly in love...

  Pretty and talented Olivia Davidson has always seemed independent. So it comes as a total surprise to Elizabeth Wakefield when Olivia confides in her that she's lonely. Everyone she knows is going out with someone, and now she's ready for a new boyfriend.
  Then Stuart Bachman, a gorgeous artist, starts teaching at Sweet Valley High. Olivia takes his class and is completely swept off her feet by him. Soon Mr. Bachman is all Olivia things or talks about. And it looks as if he may return her feelings. Has Olivia found true love, or is she headed for heartbreak?

  "You're so young, sweetie. Your life is just beginning!" It's nearly impossible for me to re-read certain books without looking for foreshadowing of the Terrible Things to Come. Regina Morrow's short stint in the Valley is made even shorter by the countdown to her dalliance with cocaine. Early John Pfeiffer has to duck the cans and rotting fruit thrown his way for what his future!self will do to Lila. To a lesser degree, Jeffrey French has to fight to get people to remember that Liz actually managed to be faithful to him, whereas she cheated on Todd (the guy she'll dump Jeffrey for in just a few minutes) every chance she got. And then there's Olivia.
  Dear, sweet, spacey Olivia, your number is nearly up, sunshine. It's going to take awhile, but not nearly as long as your mother seems to believe... On the very, very slim silver lining side, the fact that you know Olivia's going to end up on the wrong end of the earthquake that killed SVH makes it much easier to write her a free pass for all the stupid assumptions she makes in Teacher Crush.

   Olivia's more than a little lonely. With more than 60 books under our belt, Olivia's noticed that just about everyone in the Valley is paired up, and those that aren't (Jessica or Lila for example) have no shortage of willing volunteers. Artsy Olivia, however, hasn't exactly been fending off a bunch of would be boyfriends ever since she and Roger broke up. But when she mentions feeling like she's the only one not paired up on this extremely strange version of the Ark, Elizabeth tells her she's cr-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy. It's not that bad. And immediately is glomped upon by Jeffrey. Smooth, Wakefield. Real smooth.
   Before we can wallow in too much misery, we're reminded of the co-A plot of this book. You might recall that at the end of the last book we learned that SVH would be doing a two week crash course/workshop that would give students a chance to explore something beyond normal classes. Everyone signs up for three possible classes, with the third being their last choice. It doesn't take a genius to see that some classes are bound to be more popular than others. Film making, painting, and dress design are all very, very popular. Which is why so many people are shocked when Jessica chooses to put down electronics as her third choice. She believes that she'll be the only girl in a room full of cute guys and what could be wrong with that? Still, she's not foolish enough to put it down as her first or second choice.
  Thing is, Wakefield, I know half the city also happens to have last names that end in W, but by the time they got to you, I'm thinking the rest of the classes had filled in and they saw you put down one of the more unusual classes for a girl so... they thought they'd accommodate your unusual request. Or else someone's got a sick sense of humor. Yes. Jess ends up in the electronics class with a bunch of guys she does not consider cute. (Except Jeffrey, but he's rather taken so...) The wacky, hilarious hijinks are sure to follow, yes?

   Not so much. As far as I can tell, the electronic workshop doesn't *teach* a damn thing. They're told they have to create something. And it must work. After that, every time we see Jess in class, she's being asked if she's thought of something and she's always saying no while everyone else is hard at work. I'd have been fantastically thrown, too. I would have thought you'd be doing a little more learning and a little less being thrown into the deep end and told not to electrocute yourself.

  While you ponder Jessica's fate, let's switch back to Olivia. Liv, Liz, and Enid have all made it into the painting class they wanted. Apparently, until this book, Olivia didn't actually create much in the way of art (outside of poetry, perhaps, and her contributions to the Oracle, which mostly seems to be in the field of editing) which is why she wanted to take this course. The fact that their teacher is amazingly hot? Yeah. That didn't hurt either. He's nice and funny and tells them all to call him by his first name (Stuart), but on the downside, he's young enough that a) Olivia believes she has a chance in hell and b) he doesn't know enough to not play favorites. When it becomes obvious to anyone who isn't blinded by cattiness that Olivia is beyond naturally gifted, Stuart lavishes praise on her work and her way of thinking outside the box. Olivia sees this as a sign that they have so much in common and she begins to volunteer to help him with everything. Liv's got stars in her eyes and it only gets worse with every passing second.
  Enid, proving that the sidekicks in these books are the only ones with brains at times (yes, I just lumped Lila and Enid in the same group. Deal with it!) quickly realizes that there are crushes and then there's statutory rape. She worries that Olivia's overly interested in Stuart and, later, that Stuart might actually either be interested in Olivia too, or that he's stringing her along, unintentionally or not.
   Saint Elizabeth laughs this off and there's a weird thing where Enid keeps insisting that while Elizabeth always tries to see the best in people, maybe this trait is blinding her to Olivia's rapidly growing obsession. How is believing that Olivia, who was bitching about being painfully single less than two weeks ago, isn't interested in their teacher "seeing the best" in someone? Isn't that just being dense? Whatever. I was busy gearing up for third grade when this came out, so my view on this particular bit of 80's mindset is probably definitely off.
  So, Saint Elizabeth doesn't believe what we already know. Just in case you're tempted to believe that Olivia wouldn't be throwing herself at someone who is 23/24, Olivia would like to prove you painfully, painfully wrong. In addition to always volunteering to help in class, she offers to come early and help set up for class, stay after class to clean, and looks up Stuart's address so that while she's out running errands and the urge to stop by his apartment is too great... she can actually stop by his apartment on a Saturday morning. Which she does. So early that he's still asleep. Thing is, Stuart is so new to this teaching thing, and so blown away by Olivia's natural talent (and possibly a little flattered that she's interested, though this one is purely speculation), that he invites her up, unchaperoned, to his apartment so they can look through art books and Olivia can drool over him. Somewhere, Enid's spidey sense is tingling big time.

   But what about Lila? you ask. Well, fear not, our ghosty has provided us with some lovely Lila C plot this go round. Lila's father is dating a soap star named Anika Hunt. Apparently she's so popular and famous that when she says jump Hollywood does without a second thought. I'll allow this because once upon a time, soaps were huuuuuuuuuuuge. And besides, Lila's father wouldn't waste his time on some nobody... *cough*
  Lila is so taken by the thought of Anika and her father dating that she goes on and on and ON about it. Which is a nice change of pace, because unlike other flings her father has had, Lila doesn't seem to be plotting to push Anika off a cliff or blackmail her into disappearing. It's refreshing. But then, I do wonder whether Lila really does like her father spending so much time with someone else, time he never spends with her... Whatever. Because Lila is so gaga over Anika, Jessica is sure that Lila is making it up. She never has any proof, like pictures (ah, the days before instant paparazzi hordes descended on anyone just on the off chance they'd get lucky!) or an autograph. Lila points out that she knows her father is dating a star and it would be terribly gauche to ask for an autograph. I mean, really, Wakefield. This is Lila. Why on earth would she lie? I mean, except for that one time... and her shoplifting... and, fine. Okay. I see your point.
  Jess becomes obsessed with proving that Lila is lying, because to believe otherwise would be to concede that Lila is just that fabulous. (She is, though! She is!) Luckily for Jessica, this means that she figures out what she'll be doing for her mini course workshop. She'll be making a lie detector and this time she'll prove Lila's a big, fat liar!
  Lila is completely unaware that her best friend is plotting against her, again (must be Tuesday), as she's a little preoccupied with the realization that she can't sew worth a damn. First she sews the darts of her dress on the wrong side (d'oh!) and then she makes the hem waaaaaaaaay too short and now her teacher is insisting that she wear this travesty in front of the whole school during their little fashion runway. The horror!
  What is a Fowler to do when being threatened by such public humiliation?
  Accidentally uncover the biggest, juiciest piece of gossip to rock the school since... well... you'll see.

   Back to Olivia. At Enid's insistence, Elizabeth has been paying careful attention to the interaction between Stuart and Olivia during class. By now Enid's worrying about whether Stuart realizes how Olivia feels (because the entire class knows, so even Liz has to admit that Olivia's got it bad) but she's willing to allow the thought that maybe Enid isn't cuckoo after all, especially once she hears Stuart and Olivia making plans to see one another. After class. O_O!

   Before you start thinking something, let Stuart explain. Stuart has been asked to be one of the three speakers at the Riverside Art Academy alumni association's presentation. He's invited Olivia to go along because she's his star pupil and he thinks it would be good for her to meet some of the people at Riverside. Of course Olivia leaps at the chance to go. Thing is, Stuart doesn't realize that to Olivia this is practically a date. To him, he's just helping an aspiring artist. Boys, boys, boys...
   Monday afternoon, Olivia's on top of the world as Stuart introduces her as a talented new artist in his mini course workshop. She's so over the moon that not even people asking where "Monica" is can really bring her down for long. Afterward, Stuart asks if Olivia has to run home already, or if she'll be able to help him out with something. I have a feeling that even if Olivia had to be home immediately after the presentation, she still would have gone shopping with Stuart. Stuart is looking for a present for a special occasion... for a special person. Olivia is sure that he's heard that her birthday is coming up (Friday, the last day of classes!) and she's hoping he's trying to suss out what sort of gift she would like. She finds an absolutely breathtaking picture frame and for half a second Stuart is in love with the piece. But then he comes back down to earth and starts second guessing the genius of it. She's not entirely sure this special occasion is for her, but then she asks Stuart what it is and he tells her not to worry about it and winks at her. Again. Stuart winks a lot and this goes a really long way in making Olivia think he's seriously interested. To some of us, we begin to wonder if he needs his kneecaps taken out.
  Olivia comes home, still riding high on the rush of spending the afternoon with Stuart, and asks if it's okay if she sets up her easel in the basement to work on her painting for class. Her mother agrees and lets Olivia know that she comes by her artistic talent naturally, as her maternal grandmother was also a painter. Olivia is thrilled at this and heads off to artistic glory. When she comes up for air, her mother informs her that she's missed a call. Liv is sure that it's Stuart (...) but Mums tells her it was someone from school named Rod. Olivia is confused until she remembers there's a Rod Sullivan in her English class. Perplexed about why Rod would be calling, we segue way into...
   Rod running into Liv at school. He seems perfectly nice but Olivia is still so enamored with Stuart that poor Rod is written off as a nice guy before he even asks Olivia out. Which he does. And she turns him down. Stuart shows up and flirts a bit with Olivia, but not in a sketchy way. He caught Rod running off and teases Olivia who is sure that his, "Well, he has good taste" comment is a SIGN. Oi.
  Later, Olivia tells Enid and Elizabeth that she doesn't want to hang out with them on her birthday because she's sure that Stuart has something planned for her. Enid and Liz exchange glances as Olivia floats off into the stratosphere.
  Liv finds out that the 22nd (her birthday), Stuart has an exhibit opening at the museum. Which means he can't have a birthday surprise planned for her after all. Olivia feels like a complete ass for a half a second because she's told her parents she doesn't want to do anything and she's just told Enid and Elizabeth the same thing. Oh, cruel fate! But then, before her shame spiral really gets going, Stuart asks that she attend because he has a surprise for her.
  Naturally, Olivia is sure that this means True Love! My cringing for fictional characters probably began with this book, y'know.

   Come Friday, things have gotten a little bit twisty in our B/C plots. Jessica's lie detector is coming along perfectly, probably because Randy Mason has done all the work on it. Jessica is sure that she's going to catch Lila in her lie and then the whole school will know how desperate Lila is for attention. (Pot, kettle. Kettle, pot.) Lila is desperate to avoid wearing badly sewn hooker wear, so she's managed to convince Jessica to loan her the dress that's nearly an exact replica of the dress Lila would have sewn... if Lila had any skill as a seamstress. Or, you know, as much as one could have in two weeks without prior experience. She promises to tell Jessica her juicy gossip, especially as it so directly deals with Jessica's family. Jessica is intrigued, but Lila keeps not having to spill because other people keep interrupting.
  Jessica sets up her lie detector and has Winston try it out. Blah, blah, blah, he owes money to Ken. With that out of the way, Jess grabs Lila, who quietly begs Jessica not to expose the dress switch. Jess asks about Anika Hunt and... Lila is telling the truth. Jessica is so distracted that she isn't really paying attention to anything else. Olivia is roped into participating, but some jackass in the back of the crowd asks if she's really in love with Stuart. Olivia turns red as can be and tears out of the room, ready to rip Elizabeth a new one when the sensitive twin follows her. You'd think by now Elizabeth would be sort of used to people screaming at her for spilling their secrets...

   Olivia goes to Stuart's exhibit and quickly realizes her shitty day is just going to get worse. Monica, it turns out, is Stuart's glamorous, beautiful girlfriend who had been out of town Monday. It also happens to be her birthday and Stuart bought her a beautiful picture frame. Poor, poor Olivia. As she's about to lose it, Stuart appears and shows her his surprise. He's taken her painting from class and put it on display because he believes so strongly in her talent. Olivia is blown away by this as well as the realization of how desperate she was.
  It probably doesn't hurt that she's sure that her birthday is ruined since she kept telling people she had other plans... and those plans aren't happening; they never were. Realizing how out of it she was, she stops by Casa Wakefield and appologies to Liz for trying to decapitate her. Liz forgives and forgets. Then Liv goes home, still a little shaken in ways good and bad, and her mother tells her that while they knew she made plans, her parents would like to take her out to dinner. Olivia agrees, and her mother sends her off to pick up her father because his car is in the shop.
  Only it's not. It's a surprise party that her parents had been planning all along! Stuart and Monica show up and everything! Cuz that's not awkward in the slightest! Good, good times!

   But wait. What about Lila's secret? For whatever reason, Jessica has brought along the streamlined version of her lie detector to the party. Her classmates make her admit that she had serious help with the creation of her project (fine, so she lied, but they knew it) and then Jess pounces on putting Liz on the hot seat. Thing is, she can't think of anything to ask. So Lila, sporting a Cheshire Cat smile, asks how well Elizabeth and Jeffrey will fare once Todd Wilkins moves back to the Valley.


  Winston freaks out because no one else is supposed to know and everyone is more than a little relieved that Jeffrey couldn't make it to the party because dude, so awkward, but still. Todd! Is! Coming! Back!

   Well played Fowler. Well played.


  • Arts and Vocations program is the official name of the mini courses/workshops being explored this go round. There are no grades, but at the end of two weeks, you will have to show off what you've been working on in front of the whole school. In order to make room for an extra class, five minutes were shaved off each class, including lunch, and ten minutes were tacked onto the end of the day resulting in a fifty minute class that starts at 2:15.

  • This means that SVH has seven classes, plus lunch, a day. Ah, math.

  • The workshops are only for juniors and seniors. How does this work for the freshmen and sophomores? Are there two sets of bells? (It's not unheard of.) Do they just go about their normal classes because at best, only a handful of sophomores might be in classes with upperclassmen? Do they go home early? Do they all get crammed into homeroom or studyhall or something?

  • Workshops offered: film making, pottery, electronics, dress design, modern dance, painting, jewelry design, nutrition and fitness, printing, and engineering.

  • Jessica chooses film making, pottery, electronics, and dress design as her four choices, in that order.

  • Olivia sees DeeDee & Bill, Winston & Maria, and Jeffrey & Elizabeth all as she's feeling particularly lonely and all one right after the other. This place really is the Ark, Davidson. Pair up or shove off!

  • Enid understands Olivia's loneliness while Elizabeth is a bit baffled by it. Enid points out that when you're single, and not necessarily by choice, it can be hard seeing everyone else paired up, and later Olivia will point out that of course Liz wouldn't get it. She's been with Todd and then Jeffrey... and we all chime in on the names of the boys Olivia missed because she doesn't know Liz's inability to be faithful.

  • Winston, Jeffrey, Jessica, and Randy Mason (as well as five other boys) are in the electronics workshop taught by Bill Drexel.

  • Bill Drexel is skinny with wirerim glasses that sit crookedly on his nose, a penchant for drab, nondescript suits, and he works in an electronics firm.

  • Cara Walker got poetry, her second choice, in stead of painting.

  • Maria Santelli originally claims that she's in nutrition and fitness and not modern dance, her first choice, but later she's seen in painting class.

  • The painting class has Elizabeth, Enid, Olivia, Caroline, and Maria, as well as five others girls who are never mentioned. Maybe they're seniors.

  • Lila plans to make a strapless sundress like the one she saw in Ingenue that also happens to be a double of one Jessica recently bought.

  • Some of the workshop teachers are from San Diego and L.A.

  • Elinore Whitcomb is the dress design adviser/teacher/whatever. Lila claims she looks a little like Anika Hunt.

  • Anika Hunt is on the hit soap, "The Willoughbys" and is currently dating Lila's father.

  • Unlike 99.9% of the women he dates, Lila seems incredibly enthusiastic about Anika Hunt. Possibly because she's famous and it gives Lila a subplot, or maybe Lila's getting lonely again, although truthfully it sounds like Anika keeps Mr. Fowler away more than you would think Lila would like.

  • Stuart Bachman is the painting instructor and he's apparently so hot that most of the girls in the program take notice, and probably some of the boys. Just guessing on that last one because you know they don't allow for that just yet. Anyway, he's got dark, long-ish curly hair, "stylish glasses", green eyes, prefers to be called Stuart and not "Mr. Bachman", and has been an artist since he was five. He doesn't take roll in class. He's a graphic designer at a fashion company and designs logos and helps design ads for the company. But his passion, his passion y'all, is "painting." He went to Riverside Art Academy, his father is a history professor, and his mother is a book keeper. He's a night owl and thus, not much of a morning person, as he tends to work all night and sleep in til noon, at the earliest.

  • The first thing Stuart has his class do is guess what he means by an exercise in color. Enid guesses that it might be painting different colors next to one another, and Caroline offers that maybe it's painting different shades of the same color next to one another. When it's Olivia's turn, she suggests (very shyly) that maybe it's painting a color without ever using it. She uses green as an example and bam! She has guessed the first real assignment for the class.

  • Caroline tries, sort of, not to laugh in Olivia's face before Stuart announces that Olivia's guess was the right one. Suck it, Pierce.

  • The electronics workshop is to design and create a project that will be finished in less than two weeks.

  • Randy wants to make a robotic calculator.

  • Winston throws out various ideas including musical toaster, electronic page turner, and voice activated coffee maker. Bill Drexler looks more worried by each suggestion. Ultimately he goes with a voice activated toaster.

  • Jeffrey is writing a computer game and it's not as easy as he thought it would be.

  • Olivia took a watercolor class last year at the community center.

  • Liv usually wears a peasant style wrap skirt, big hoop earrings, a pastel tee shirt, sandals, and lots of beads.

  • The second day of the workshops, Liv is dressed in a body hugging black dress, leather boots, a leather jacket, large triangular earrings that freak Jeffrey out, and her hair is slicked back with gel. According to a couple of sources, she looks like a model. Me, I can't get past the hair thing.

  • Some of Olivia's newfound magazine obsessions include Art World, and A, which has an interview with Stuart.

  • Stuart and Olivia share the same favorite artist, David Hockney. Stu has Olivia wax poetic about Hockney's use of colors and shapes to the class.

  • Olivia expects to find Stuart in the library at lunch, but instead finds him in the art room. I don't understand why he'd be at the school that early to begin with.

  • Jessica's at a loss for what to do for her electronics project. The best she can come up with is a heated coat hanger but she doesn't really think that's a good idea.

  • Stuart assigns his class a trip to the art museum over the weekend. They're to find a painting and then write an essay about what the artist was trying to convey/do.

  • When Jessica is late to class, she's paired up with Randy. I find this a little hard to believe since Randy is known for being a genius. You'd think the other guys in the class would *want* to pair up with Randy, if only because he'd be able to help make their project that much better.

  • Randy Mason: short, small, with braces on both his upper and lower teeth, wears hopelessly outdated corduroy jeans, and has a calculator in his back pocket.

  • Olivia tracks down Stuart's address from a copy of the Alumni catalog for Riverside Art Academy and then drives past his apartment building. She stops and visits #214, which is his apartment.

  • Olivia's father is six years older than her mother.

  • Liv is so caught up in her fixation with Stuart that she doesn't have the proofs for the Arts section of the Oracle.

  • Stuart doesn't like borders, at least in art.

  • Ty Rourke is a hot, new producer in Hollywood. (I've gotta say I probably couldn't ID any producer in Hollywood.) Anika is taking George to the set of the Willoughbys and then they'll hang out at Ty's for dinner.

  • Saturday morning, with less than a week to go, Olivia's mother asks what Liv would like to do for her birthday. Liv lets her mother plan her birthday and still doesn't suspect the surprise birthday Mrs. D plans.

  • Lila sews the darts of her dress backwards/inside out. Then she tries to lengthen the hem of her dress, only to chop it off and make it shorter and now it's skank-length I guess.

  • Olivia and Stuart leave SVH at 4pm and the art lecture at Riverside is over by 5:30, even with three speakers. (Stuart was the first one.)

  • Domain is a store that sells sleek, ultra modern stuff which also happens to be really expensive.

  • Olivia finds "a picture frame made of light wood with darker wood inlaid in a geometric pattern." Stuart declares it perfect about half a second before backing off.

  • Liv's maternal Grandmother Lea died before Liv was born, and she was also a painter, but did not live in a time when she could pursue her artistic love.

  • Rod Sullivan is in Olivia's English class. He's thin with light brown hair, tortoiseshell glasses, and seems to be the sort to become more good looking the more you get to know him. He's taking the printing workshop and wants to help punch up the Oracle. He'd also like to date Olivia.

  • Elizabeth gets uncharacteristically mad at Jess for leaving Liz's "good, silk blouse" lying on the closet floor. Usually when Liz is pissed about these things, there's an underlying cause, but Jessica's been too preoccupied with being mad at Lila to really do much to Liz, so what gives?

  • Stuart brings a flier for Olivia. It says "New Paintings from Stuart Bachman. Preview, Friday the 22nd, Madison Gallery."

  • So Olivia's birthday is the 22nd of some month.

  • Enid's pulse, when Jessica is setting up her lie detector, is 120 over 80.

  • Liv's mother wants everyone at the Davidson home at eight for the surprise party. For some reason she invites Jessica and Lila (and Amy) and they all go and bring presents and no one acts like this is weird even though Lila and Jessica have both actively plotted against Olivia and repeatedly refer to her as weird over the course of the series. o_O

  • Olivia goes shopping at L'Idee, which is right next to Domain. She buys a dark purple silk jumpsuit and pairs it with a silky scarf, a broad, leather belt, and is instructed to not forget the makeup to truly make a statement.

  • Grandma's birthday check to Liv pays for this.

  • Lila stops at McMahon's Sewing Supplies to pick up some last minute fixits for her doomed dress, and she overhears Winston's mother discussing Bert Wilkins moving back to Sweet Valley.

  • Lila manages to keep this a secret until Olivia's party, when she throws it in Elizabeth's face.

  • Winston owes Ken $25 from a bet he lost.

  • Olivia keeps thinking she's twelve when she's around Stuart.

  • Monica, Stuart's girlfriend, is very, very tall, slender, beautiful with "very classical features", "gorgeous high cheekbones, creamy skin, and beautiful blue eyes." Her blond hair is cut in a simple blunt cut with bangs. She seems on the mature side, but she's very nice to Olivia and not at all bitchy like you would imagine she might be.

  • Stuart designed earrings for Monica.

  • Monica and Olivia share the same birthday.

  • At the gallery preview of Stuart's paintings, Olivia is surprised at the fact that no one is really looking at, or commenting on, the paintings hanging around them. Instead they're gossiping with one another.

  • There's a woman at the preview with bright, turquoise hair.

  • Stuart's surprise for Olivia is that he smuggled her painting to the gallery and displayed it amongst other paintings done by Riverside students, but Olivia has the distinction of being the only artist still in high school and apparently her painting is also generating a fair amount of buzz.

  • George and Anika are going to be part of a feature on the private lives of starlets in Celebrity magazine "next month."

  • Jessica's pulse rate at Liv's party right before she's interrogated about making the lie detector is 72.

  • The fangirl in me squees like crazy at the fact that Ken was at Olivia's birthday party.

Quotable SVH:
  Lila burst out laughing. "Why don't you suggest your own workshop, Jess? Something like 'boys and dating'?"
  " 'Advanced boys and dating,' " Amy Sutton murmured, studying the list. - I love that Amy doesn't even have to pay attention to get a dig in. p2

  She'd had no idea that Olivia had been feeling so down. Olivia was such a pretty, talented girl. Why should she need to have a boyfriend to feel happy? - Normally I agree with the whole "you don't need to be paired up to be happy" philosophy. However, Liv's been single for ages and she's lonely and why is it not okay for her to be lonely for a bit? Why does Liz automatically assume there's something wrong with wanting to be in a relationship when you're single? Let Olivia feel what she feels and then distract her with other activities until either the mood passes or she finds someone. Jesus, Liz. p11

  Enid shook her head. "I don't know. But it doesn't surprise me that much. So many of the girls we know at school have boyfriends. No wonder Olivia feels left out. And I don't blame her for feeling a twinge of jealousy about you and Jeffrey," she added. "You two are such a perfect couple." - Odd how anytime Enid makes comments like this, the ghosties rarely mention Enid's huge crush on Jeffrey and how Elizabeth was supposed to hook those two up and failed. p13

  "Now, Amy," Jessica said calmly, "that is exactly where you're wrong. Don't you know anything about the psychology of lying?" - p56

  Randy covered his mouth with his hand and let out a sound somewhere between a grunt and a giggle. - I... lack the words. p69

  "Jess, I really don't see why you have to be so snide about my father and Anika Hunt. I think it's really nice Daddy finally has a steady girlfriend." She flipped her hair back over her shoulders. "Besides, have you even thought for a minute how hard it is on me, living alone with Daddy without a woman in the house? You ought to be happy for me!" - Oh, Lila. We love you, isn't that enough? p101

  "Well, you're not my mother, Elizabeth. You have no business judging me." - Olivia, where have you been for the last sixty-odd books? This is what Elizabeth *does*. p115


   TC has never been my favorite book of the bunch. I like Olivia, but I hate books/movies/TV shows/whatever where I get to feel painfully embarrassed for someone else. If it's on screen, I have to either cover my ears or turn the channel. Since this is a book and it keeps happening, I have to suck it up and get over it. Or speed read. And then I avoid the book which costs you your monthly snark.
  I like certain things this go round. I like that Enid and Elizabeth are talking about a semi-mutual friend and that while Liz is closer to Liv, it's Enid who understands what the hell is going on and pursues it, even if Liv never really gets that. I love it when someone isn't paired up and isn't thrilled about being single. Except for the saints among us, I think most people who go through an exceptionally long single stage start to get a little stir crazy when everyone else around us is dating (happily, no less) and it makes sense for Olivia to get lonely.
   And I suppose her complete inability to read the writing on the wall concerning Stuart is a nice counterpoint to her magically newfound artistic genius.
  I could have done without all the "Olivia could have died" to show her mortification over things, but hey, I'm no longer the audience intended for these books. :P
  It gives me the giggles that when Lila suggests having Jessica twin-switch with Liz so she can be in Stuart's class, Jessica shoots it down. Not because Liz would see it as Wrong, but because Liz would want to keep the hot teacher for herself. Oh, Jessica... sometimes I'm not sure you know your twin at all. And then I think about the super secret diaries and realize you really do know your twin best of all.
the_oracle: (gasp!)
Lost At Sea
June 1989

Will Elizabeth ever see Jessica again?

   It's a beautiful sunny day when a group from Sweet Valley High sets sail for a special science field trip. Jessica Wakefield is looking forward to a few hours of sunbathing and flirting while her twin sister, Elizabeth, can't wait to get to the deserted Anacapa Island to study the marine life. Neither of them could have imagined the nightmare the trip will become.
  On the way back from the island, a violent storm sets in, and the group is forced to abandon ship in the middle of a raging sea. Then when the lifeboat carrying Jessica and Winston Egbert capsizes, they disappear into the fog.
   After the storm clears, Jessica's life preserver turns up. And soon the Coast Guard spots the missing lifeboat-but it's empty! Will Jessica and Winston ever be found?

   When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to read this thing. I don't know why, other than the title made it seem awesome. My brain was sure that this would be epic and fantastic and would no doubt be amazing. In reality, it's a let down.
  Despite my brain assuring me that Win and Jessica kiss, they do not. What the hell, brain? For the last five years every time I look at this cover you say, "At least Win got his kiss... and Maria never had to know." You are a dirty, rotten liar and I think we should break up.

  Yeah, so moving along, let's begin.

   Because Jessica and Amy have spent the last twenty books bitching about other people instead of doing their work in chemistry, they're both told that the optional trip to Anacapa Island is no longer optional. This part happened in the previous book, but we needed a recap of the recap. Because Amy is a sneaky sort, she got out of the trip by lying through her teeth saying she had a family obligation. In reality, she's at the beach with Bruce.. In return, she'll be writing a super long essay while Jessica, Lila, and Ken all bask in the glory of Anacapa Island. Jess (and Ken) figures she'll let the geeks do all the work while she sunbathes. I... kind of admire this, actually. The geeks who volunteered for this want the good grade so they won't let her fuck it up. Perfect!
   Except Mr. Russo isn't an idiot. He realizes who the slackers of certain teams are and he forces them to record all the data, thus making them actually do school work. Sneaky. I like that. Jessica ends up in a group with Lois, Randy, and Winston so you know Russo's got a sense of humor. A sick, twisted sense of humor. Winston goofs off and manages to nearly ruin just about each of the assignments they've been given, but things work out fairly well for Jessica, even if Winston does drop a crab on her head. Ken seems amused, not horrified, anyway.
  A storm is brewing offshore so the field trip is cut short. About fifteen minutes into the trip, the storm really kicks in and the boat begins to sink. Russo's sick sense of humor comes back to bite him in the ass when Jessica, who would have been in a lifeboat with Ken Matthews (leaving Elizabeth with Winston), gets snagged by Winston who cheerfully reminds her, "Buddy System!"
   Somehow Aaron only grabs one oar and doesn't notice until he's out in the ocean. Also, Winston grabs three (despite being the last student lifeboat set out to sea) and you know where this is going, right? King Klutz stands up in the boat and attempts to throw the oar to Liz and Aaron. Only a wave comes along and bitch slaps their boat, which sends Winston stumbling into the sea. When Jessica attempts to grab him and keep the boat afloat, she's also dumped into the sea. A strong current pulls Jessica, Winston, and their boat away from the others but no one's entirely sure just how bad things are due to such crappy visibility. When the storm blows over, the group quickly realizes that Jessica and Winston are lost.
  I have to interrupt and call bullshit. You're telling me that Elizabeth freakin' Wakefield did not immediately try and find an adult to inform them that her dear twin sister was lost at sea? Seriously?

   Anyway, the group looks for Winston and Jessica but all they find is one lone yellow life jacket. Jessica's. Dun-dun-DUN.

  Briefly we get Jessica's POV as she's out in the ocean, scared out of her mind, and not entirely sure whether she's swimming further out to sea or towards land or even back towards the island. She berates herself for not properly fastening her life jacket so that one of the first waves to hit her after she fell into the water ripped it away. Aww, nearly dying brings out the introspective best in the littlest Wakefield.
   Eventually Jessica washes up on shore. She takes a moment to make sure that she isn't just hallucinating and then moves further up the beach to pass out. I can't say I blame her, really. Just going to the beach makes me super sleepy. *yawn* Apparently reading about it does, too.

   Back in Sweet Valley, the captain of the boat calls the Coast Guard to alert them to the two teenagers lost in the Pacific. When the group makes it back to dry land, poor Elizabeth has to call her family and give them the bad news that Jessica's lost at sea. Russo calls Winston's parents. I should mention that when they initially realize the mismatched pair is missing, Lila freaks out. You either find this endearing or a bit "really, Drama Queen?" but once the life jacket appears, Enid joins in the sobbing brigade. (I am totally not using this as proof of a Jessica/Enid hookup. I'm merely pointing out that if read properly, there is a lot of evidence in these things. Who knew?)
  Dry land again: I think my favorite bit of this book (aside from the Enid/Lila weeping above) is how the school reacts to Jessica being lost at sea. If you ignore the focus on Jessica being lost, it's actually one of the better things in the series. In high school if two kids, particularly ones like Jess and Winston, got lost at sea, even if there were a million islands they could wash up on, after a couple of days would anyone at the school really, truly expect them to still be alive? Especially once the lifeboat has been found empty. Of course not. The drama potential for weeping and sobbing and reminiscing about them as if they were already dead is too high. Liz is one of the few people to believe they made it, and that's not nearly as impressive as you would think. Twin Spidey sense and her stubborn refusal to believe in Jessica's death later on in the series kind of makes this an enh sort of moment. But the way Jeffrey and Steven both support her is sweet. Also loving the way Bruce gets in on the action, mentally picturing the way Jess is surely bossing poor Winston around. These kinds of things make me love my SV addiction.
  Nicholas is sweet talked into taking his boat out to search the various islands for the missing duo, but another storm blows in and no one feels comfortable enough to wait it out. I must say that I'm a little disappointed that no mention is made to Jessica's NDE in France where a storm also nearly killed her in the water. Someone dropped the ball, people. Meh.

   Out in the middle of nowhere, Jessica quickly realizes that she isn't alone on the island. Fearing cannibals untouched by modern science and pop-culture, she awaits her doom... only to find out that the thing making so much noise? Winston. He cheerfully informs her that after the boat capsized, he found his way back to said boat, righted it, and ended up on the island. Jess is ecstatic thinking they have a boat and are saved! Only Winston was so tired when he came ashore that he didn't properly secure it and now the ocean has a boat.
  Poor Winston. Even when he does something right, he does it wrong. Woe. Anyway, it doesn't take long for Winston to realize that if left to her own devices, the youngest Wakefield would be content to sit on the beach all day to work on her tan. Not wanting to turn into a lobster and develop skin cancer later in life, Winston suggests that they set up something to alert planes flying overhead to their whereabouts. Jess is all about it when she thinks she'll get to write something in the sand, but Winston vetoes that idea quickly. It will take too long, a storm will fuck it up, and let us not even begin to discuss the tide. He eyes her shiny bracelet, but Jessica refuses to give up her gift from one of the grandmothers. Winston grumbles a bit but decides to use their emergency knife (he was smart enough to remove the first aid/emergency kit from the boat before it was lost) since it's plenty shiny. For a moment Jessica feels bad, but then Winston starts in on shelter.
   For the class clown, Winston is surprisingly well adapted to life on a deserted island. Good to know. Anyway, he bargains with Jessica. If she'll help build the damn thing, he'll let her decorate it anyway she likes, so this way they get a place to hide from storms and she gets to pick pretty, pretty flowers. .
  With shelter out of the way, Winston decides that now would be a good time to find firewood and food so they don't have to keep venturing out into the wild to get some berries. Jessica agrees and they forage for food. Sadly Winston seems to have suffered a severe loss in brain cells as he refuses to turn around and take the food and wood they've already acquired back to their shelter. Instead he wants to push on until they can find the blueberries he found earlier while he scoured the island. Naturally, this being Jessica, they run into a bear.
  Not a word is mentioned about Jessica's previous run in with a bear, but who cares? (Me.) Winston freezes and Jessica has to save the day by throwing berries at the hungry animal. Eventually the bear is distracted enough that Jess can grab Winston and they run like hell all the way back to their beach. Winston is mortified that he went so completely numb in front of Jessica. If it had been left to him, they both would have died, he's sure of it. Jess does her best to console him but she's not so great with the jokes and thinking about others. Still, she tries. The two actually get along rather well, with both admitting that Jessica's a bit of a bitch at school and then Winston points out that for as much as he likes being the comic relief, sometimes he'd like to just... be. Jessica points out that maybe if he wasn't "on" all the time, he wouldn't come across as annoying so much.
   Their ceasefire is short lived as the two begin to really think about what would happen if they fail to make it off the island. (I feel like I should have a Lost joke or twelve, but you'll have to supply your own.) Maria will find someone new. Jessica will never go to the mall again, and they'll both grow old and not even Tom Hanks could pull that look off without it being more than a little disturbing. Jess begins bargaining with the universe about what a better person she'll be. Suddenly they hear the whirring of a chopper overhead. They're saved!

   Back home, Jessica claims credit for 98% of the actions on the island because the reporters are dying to know what it was really like on the island. When finally given a chance to speak, Winston breaks out the old crazy class clown bit and... I marvel at how Jessica always gets her way.
  Okay, fine, I don't. I'm annoyed that the island they ended up on is named Outermost Island... because it's the outermost island before you hit open waters. Good grief.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • Jessica is interested in Ken again. Sort of. He's the cutest unattached guy going on the field trip and she needs something to perk her up while on the high seas.

  • While the field trip has nothing to do with chemistry, Mr. Russo admits it and basically says it's a gimme. So not such a hard ass after all, huh?

  • Going to the island: Jessica, Elizabeth, Enid, Lila, Ken, Tom, Aaron, Winston, Lois, Randy Mason, and some girl named Katrina.

  • Amy's at the beach with Bruce while claiming to have a family obligation that kept her from the trip. She'll have to write a three page essay to make up the extra credit points.

  • Team One: Enid, Liz, Ken, and Aaron. Team Two: Jessica, Winston, Lois, and Randy.

  • The scribes for the teams are: Ken, Jessica, Tom, and Katrina.

  • Apparently Lois is the daughter of the school dietitian. Say wha?

  • It takes an hour, each way, to get to/from Anacapa Island on the Maverick.

  • Winston has his San Padres hat on backwards. Later it will be found in the ocean along with Jessica's canary yellow life jacket.

  • Captain Marsden will be losing us at sea this afternoon.

  • Winston's big feet disturb the tide pool, which manages to splash Jessica in the face. Ick.

  • Win is invited to all the parties at school because they see him as free entertainment. This, oddly enough, makes me feel badly for him.

  • Task 2 is to rope off a ten square yard area and identify twenty different plans and insects.

  • Team Two only manages to find 15 before Winston causes Jessica to flip out.

  • Ken apparently has blue-gray eyes this go round.

  • Jessica and Ken went to homecoming sophomore year (why don't they just say last year?) and ran out of gas on the way home. Jessica thought Ken did it on purpose until he got out and walked off to get gas, alone. Thing is, wouldn't Ken have been 15 then? So... driving in California during the 80's was... different?

  • "Last spring" they went to the Beach Disco and things got all kissy at the end of the night.

  • Jessica is the only one to wear a canary yellow life-preserver. Everyone else has orange.

  • Liz and Aaron are buddies, as are Enid and Ken as well as Jessica and Winston.

  • Jess starts out swimming the crawl but switched to the breast stroke to conserve energy.

  • Liz thinks her parents look old while they process Jessica being lost at sea. Duh, Liz.

  • Lila calls the Wakefields (who are practically having a party with Cara and Jeffrey there) when she can't get any word on Jessica's status. Instead of being her normal understanding self, Liz is more than a little put out by Lila's attitude.

  • Cara, on the other hand, actually gets how Lila's feeling.

  • At 10pm one can usually find Elizabeth studying quietly while Jessica is listening to her stereo cranked up while she's on the phone, decidedly not studying anything academic.

  • Winston's last meal before the Anacapa Island trip? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

  • Jessica refuses to let Winston use her chunky, 14 carat gold bracelet because it's a gift from her grandmother. The reason you don't see it on the cover is because it's on her right wrist.

  • After Winston makes breakfast (fish and fruit) he lets Jessica have some without picking on her. In return, she makes a big deal about doing the dishes. This is actually very cute.

  • Nicholas has a new boat (well, it's certainly not the boat he sailed in #23): the twenty-eight foot Nighthawk.

  • Ken figures they should check out the southern-most Channel Islands as they were only fifteen minutes away from Anacapa when they jumped ship.

  • Nicholas, Bruce, Liz, Jeffrey, Ken, Steven, and Cara go looking for Jessica and Winston.

  • Outermost Island is the last island before you hit open ocean.

  • One of the reporters sent to interview Jessica and Winston is from WSCN.

  True Story:
Anacapa Island really does exist. Outermost? Not... so much, at least not with that name and the five minutes I devoted to Google. :P Anacapa seems to have had a rat infestation while Jess would have been stranded there, but not a single rat was seen. Interesting. If nothing else, the Google pictures that pop up are gorgeous. I don't want to swipe someone's photos so I'll leave it up to you to look 'em up, but they are pretty. I might be biased though, since I'm an ocean loving freak.

  It was as if people were already thinking, "There goes Elizabeth Wakefield, the girl whose twin sister was drowned during the science class field trip." - Right, that's what they're thinking, Liz. p 72

  "I just can't believe it," said Amy Sutton. "I almost went on that field trip. I'm so lucky I didn't! I could be out there with Jessica in the middle of the Pacific Ocean right now." She shivered.
  Elizabeth shook her head. Trust Amy to worry about herself instead of one of her best friends, she thought. - See, Amy, there are things you say out loud and things you say in your head. There are things you can say out loud in front of people and things you should leave for your inner circle. This? This is a time to shut your friggin' mouth. G'ah. p73

  "Hey, Patman! What are you doing with my boat, trying to fly it?" -Nicholas, p102

   "I happen to know for a fact that Jessica Wakefield doesn't like to be kept waiting!" -I'll just bet you do, Bruce. p102

  By this point in her life Elizabeth was used to the fact that she shared a physical identity with her twin. - This kind of contradicts what SVC's promo chapter says, but whatever. p107

  Maria laughed and swatted him on the shoulder. "Put me down," she told him, giggling. "Please?"
  "Nope," Winston refused, his voice cracking with emotion. "I didn't think I'd ever get to hold you again. I'm not letting you go so easily." ♥ Aww, first he swings her around in a circle and then he whispers sweet nothings. Winston!
♥ p142

   She would never see her family again. Elizabeth and Steven would grow up and leave home. Steven would marry Cara, and Elizabeth would marry Jeffrey. And Jessica, simply by virtue of being a castaway, would be deprived of her right to be maid of honor at both ceremonies. Ken Matthews would date some other girl, forgetting Jessica Wakefield ever existed. She would never get to be a senior at Sweet Valley High-she'd miss all the fun of graduation! - Given what happens, I'd say you got off lucky if you spent the next few years on an island, Wakefield. p 130

  She would be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, maybe even the 60 Minutes team. - Funny how this list is written in reverse order of importance today... p135

  Jessica glanced down at herself. She was wearing new flimsy thong sandals the same cherry red as her toenail polish. Her very short, very snug iced-denim shorts made the most of her slim, bronzed legs. On top, a skimpy bandeau left her shoulders bare for optimal tanning exposure-and optimal exposure for admiring male eyes. In contrast, Elizabeth, always a conservative dresser, wore a shell-pink scooped neck top, Bermuda shorts, and sneakers. -p6


  I like Lost At Sea, but not for the reasons I remembered liking it. Yes, Winston and Jessica do bond, but it's only a little bit and they're back to squabbling and annoying each other in no time. I like the way Ned and Alice freak out when a storm blows in while Liz and Steven are out looking for Jessica and the way they react as if Jessica is already gone. They have hope that they'll find Jessica alive and well, but the thought of losing all three children in such a short span of time freaks them right out. Sounds about right.
   I love Lila's freak out. I hate how Elizabeth is so uncharacteristically nasty about Lila. DUDE. Liz. If Enid were lost at sea, you'd be surgically attached to her mother until Enid was found, so don't judge Lila for calling and then wanting to talk once it becomes clear that you have left her out of the loop. And yet, I kind of like that Elizabeth is annoyed. It shows she's not a robot and sometimes I really do wonder about that.
the_oracle: (twins shattered)
Ho-shit. Have you signed up to read the SV Confidential first chapter? If not, go and sign up so you can read this. Now.

I can wait.

You back?

Excellent. )
I need a drink. Also, Liz has shitty taste in music. Agree? Disagree? Discuss! (Or you can join the communal brain bleach session at [ profile] 1bruce1)
the_oracle: (amy thinks)
Perfect Shot
May 1989

Will Shelley Novak lose her chance for love?
Camera shy...

   People are always telling Shelley Novak that she has everything going for her. She's one of the best basketball players at Sweet Valley High, and she's as tall and graceful as a model. The problem is, being so tall makes Shelley feel like a freak.
  Until she meets Jim Roberts. He has a way of making her feel special. But when Jim, a photography buff, starts taking pictures of her, Shelley makes him promise never to show them to anyone.
   Then the Sweet Valley News sponsors a photography contest and Him thinks he could with with a photograph of Shelley. But if he's wrong, will Shelley ever forgive him?

   If you've ever been the tallest kid (or one of them) in class, or the tallest person in the room... this one's for you. Meet Shelley Novak, the six foot tall, redheaded basketball star. She's got a problem. Not with her game, she's pretty damn talented when it comes to basketball, and it probably doesn't hurt that she's got to be one of the tallest girls on the team, if not the tallest. She's so good that the girls' b-ball team has qualified for championship playoffs against Emerson High. The guys didn't even come close to qualifying. That's what happens when you send your star to Vermont, guys.
  Back to Shelley.
   No, her problem is that she's got a huge crush on the boy next door. "But wait! Haven't we already done this storyline but without the tall factor?" Yes. Yes we have. But we'll pretend we haven't because it's more fun that way. See, Greg Hilliard is Shelley's dream guy except he's considerably shorter than she is. But unlike Jessie on SBTB, the height thing only worries Shelley. It's not enough to make her rethink her crushing decision.
  That probably has a lot to do with the fact that Greg is the one responsible for teaching Shelley how to play basketball... and because he's dreamy. To add to her joy, Greg and his girlfriend Carol have recently broken up and Greg is back on the market. (He doesn't appear to be nursing a broken heart so there aren't any rebound worries at play either. Score!) Luckily, the Varsity Club's athletic dance is coming up and Shelley really wants to go with Greg. She's just... too shy to ask him out. Cathy, her best friend, convinces her that she's got nothing to lose in asking the guy out. She's going to do it. She's going to!

  Just not today.

   I probably should have mentioned that the book doesn't open with Shelley, it opens with Enid and Elizabeth looking for Jeffrey. There's a moment when we all nearly drown in the descriptions of green eyes, and I giggle at the way Enid is almost fawning over Jeffrey because it's cute, and then the competition is announced. The Sweet Valley News is having a photography competition, although it's never made clear whether it's for all the high schools, some of them, or only SVH. Enid and Elizabeth are all atwitter at the thought of how perfect this is for Jeffrey and how he has to enter. He just has to!

  Where there's one twin, the other can't be too far behind. Jessica has fallen for Kurt Campbell, a football player. I'd tell you more about him, but there doesn't seem to be much more to him than that. Thing is, he doesn't seem to be beating down the door to get to our sneaky Wakefield, so when Amy suggest ballroom dancing, Jessica considers the notion. It doesn't hurt that Amy makes a couple of catty remarks about how she could get a guy to do anything for her, even take a ballroom dancing class that he might otherwise avoid like the plague. Jessica's in, but only if she's allowed to ditch if the instructor is too much of a loser.
  Needless to say he's not. He's hot. Hotter than hot. Jessica and Amy both try and catch his attention with varying degrees of success. It turns out that Shelley has decided to try and make herself more graceful (the better to ask Greg out, my dears) and she's the first person the dance instructor, Patrick McLean, picks to help demonstrate a dance step. When asked, Amy says she didn't quite get the hang of the box step and Patrick takes her out for a spin on the dance floor (well, gym floor). In a moment of blinding stupidity, Jessica then claims she didn't get it either, but Patrick finds this hard to believe (or maybe just doesn't want to deal with someone who didn't get the box step after two demonstrations) and class continues.
   When the students are paired off, Shelley ends up with Jim Roberts. He seems nice enough and they seem to be exactly the same height, which is always a plus. Thing is, dude is a klutz and keeps stepping on Shelley and the two do not dance well together at all. Sigh.
  After class, Shelley works up her nerve to talk to Greg. She tries subtle. "Were you surprised to see me at dance class?" Greg answers that he thought it was something girls liked, so no. Enough with this subtle crap, Shelley. She dives in and says she thought it would be helpful. For a dance. Like the one coming up. Is he going? Would he think of going, say, with her?
  Seconds after asking, Shelley gets an answer. Just not the answer she wanted. From the look on his face to the way he behaves, it's obvious that he's never considered (at least not seriously) her dating material. He doesn't quite laugh at her, but he does make jokes about their height differences and Shelley feels completely humiliated and dejected. Poor Shels. :/

   After getting her heart handed back to her in pieces, Shelley does not play basketball well. As she's busy helping the team to lose the second game in the playoffs, a flash goes off in the crowd and she realizes someone has just taken a picture of the moment she basically killed the team's chances of winning. She's not thrilled.
  She's so not thrilled that when Jim comes around after the game, she snaps at him and tells him to dump the roll of film he just wasted. A bit flustered, Jim soldiers on, telling her that he sees her as graceful and amazing and he's got a thing for her. Only less gushy and stalkerish. Shelley's flattered and a bit confused. Does Jim really like her or is he just setting her up for an incredibly humiliating photograph?

  Jeffrey and Liz are busy not making out in the dark room, so when Jim stops by to develop the picture of Shelley he shouldn't have taken, Liz feels the call of busybody-ness and peeks at it. It's a gorgeous photo and Liz tells him so. Jeffrey does his best to shoot himself in the foot by insisting that Jim enter the photography contest because he's obviously insanely talented.
  Jim considers the idea and I wonder if it's really possible to be as nice as Jeffrey is. He's seen what Jim can do and he's got to be pretty sure that Jim is better than he is and yet he still encourages Jim to enter the contest anyway. Maybe it's that whole "if you didn't beat the best, you didn't win" mentality. Or maybe he's just that perfect. Who knows?

   Doesn't matter. Jim and Shelley get to know one another and it does wonders for Shelley's basketball game. She's fantastic and the team wins the third game easily. Problem is, Jim's favorite subject still happens to be Shelley. It makes sense. He likes her and he loves photography, so when you add in the fact that he thinks she's beautiful, of course he's going to want to photograph her. Thing is, he promised not to, and he definitely promised not to show anyone those photos.
  But naturally Liz and Jeffrey see them and make yet another push for the dude to enter the contest. Jim begins to seriously, seriously consider it. Maybe if Shelley saw how he saw her, it would help her get over her self image issues. Still, that's a big leap...
   Of course he does it, and of course as he's turning his photo in, someone else sees it. Olivia Davidson (hi, Liv!) is blown away by Jim's natural talent and wonders why he hasn't submitted anything for the Oracle. Remember, she's the art editor. She continues on her way to the caf where she marvels at how little Shelley eats and then compliments the Towering Inferno (I'm sorry, that's just exceptionally clever for kids to have come up with so I had to use it) on the picture Jim submitted of her for the contest. Needless to say, she's surprised when Shelley goes from thrilled to pissed the hell off in record time.
  Shelley storms off and avoids Jim for the rest of the day. When he finally catches up to her, she blows up at him for betraying her trust. Later, when Cathy calms her down, things get a little muddled. Cathy points out that it's not exactly fair to not let Jim enter a competition with the photo he feels would best help him win. Shelley counters that she didn't stop him from photographing everything else under the sun, just not her. Cathy points out that maybe the guy thinks she is beautiful and that she should stop being so weird about her looks. She's tall, so what? Fashion models are tall. Ditto to the slim, and no one's made any jokes about her red hair so I imagine that while not "sleek", it's still pretty awesome. Get over yourself, Shelley.
   Shelley considers this and calls Jim to apologize for going insane. Jim is cool and reserved and informs her that he shouldn't have gone back on his word and to make up for it, he removed his photo from the competition. Good day, Towering Inferno. I said good day.
  Crap. Shelley realizes that she actually really, really likes Jim and that due to her insecurities she might have just killed the best thing to happen to her. So Shelley goes to talk to Mr. Collins and asks if it's possible to have Jim's photo put back in for consideration. At this point I might have to call foul because if the judges of this contest are aware of how many times this thing has bounced in and out of play, wouldn't it draw their attention to it thus giving the photo an unfair advantage?

  Whatever. I'm not in charge here.
   It doesn't take long for the contest winners to be notified and Jim is shocked that he won considering he didn't think he had a photo entered anymore. Jeffrey came in second, but that doesn't really matter since Jim is freaking out about the thought of his photo being in the newspaper. Won't that make Shelley even more upset?
  He rushes to find her and they sort of talk, but they keep saying the wrong thing to one another. Shelley tells him that she realized she was being a bad sport about the whole thing and Jim's hurt because if that's the only reason she changed her mind, it means she's not interested in him after all. Sulk. He stalks off.
   The crowd goes wild when the photo is printed and everyone keeps telling Shelley how beautiful she is, how wonderful the shot is, and how she could totally be a model. Did you know that Lila could have been a model too, if she wanted to, that is? Totally. Pay no attention to Jessica and Amy cracking up in the corner. They're just jealous. Jealous, jealous, jealous!
  Fast forward to the big game and Shelley's a bit of a mess because Jim hasn't shown up. Why would he, darlin'? You made your intentions clear. No photos, no feelings, no show.
  And yet Jim does show after all and Shelley realizes she has to be brave, so she writes a quick note to Jim and tells him that she loves the photo as well as the person behind the lens, and has Maria Santelli deliver it for her. Maria's a bit confused as to how she ended up carrier pigeon but she's game for it. Jim gets the note and for a moment nothing.
  Then he flashes her the best smile and she knows she can win the game and the guy and somewhere I'm sure the music swells.

   After the game, the SV News has sent a photographer for the big game, but Shelley insists only Jim can take her picture. Photodude is remarkably not bitchy about the fact that a high school student told him to not do his job and that another student is actually doing said job. Greg (remember him?) appears and gives Shelley a huge hug and starts acting all buddy-buddy with her even as Jim is standing right there. He asks her to the dance and Shelley takes a little glee in telling him she already has a date. I like this little evil streak, Novak.

  You might be wondering about Amy and Jessica. Well, as dance class progressed, the two became more and more competitive, ultimately leading to them betting each other one whole outfit at Lisette's that she would be the first one to dance with Patrick at the Varsity Club dance. There's a cute moment in the second dance class where Lila and fifty other girls show up and Miss Fowler declares that Patrick is just as gorgeous as she'd been told. Only she says this too loudly and Patrick is left wondering whether Jessica or Lila was the one to speak.
  Anyway, the night of the dance Jessica is wearing her new outfit, thinking that she probably should have bought new shoes to really make Amy pay. She gets to the dance early and stands outside mentally critiquing what everyone else is wearing. Fifteen minutes later there's no sign of Patrick OR Amy and she starts to worry.
   Sadly she forgot to worry about the little fact that what looks good on Jessica would probably also look good on Amy... and yes, that means Amy shows up in the exact same dress but with better shoes. The two fuss and snipe at one another even as Lila walks by and cracks that she thought Jess got enough of the twin thing at home. Then Patrick arrives and of course he's got a stunningly beautiful girlfriend, so the accidental twins learn to laugh at themselves.
  I'm sorry, I'm still stuck on the description of Amy skipping.

   At the awards portion of the dance, Shelley is awarded the first annual Athlete of the Year, complete with five-thousand dollar college scholarship. As if that weren't enough, there's an impromptu dance contest and she and Jim win that one as well!

  Lest you think this is a happily ever after for everyone involved, Jessica and Amy get bitched out by Russo for ruining their chemistry grades and are told they have to attend the field trip to Anacapa Island, leaving us all to wonder for the next month what in the blue hell that has to do with chemistry.


  • Sweet Valley News is sponsoring a photography competition. The winner wins a video camera and their winning photograph will be published on the front page of the paper. Submissions are due a week from Friday.

  • Mr. Collins will be acting as the liaison between SVH and the SVN.

  • There's a moment when you wonder how many green eyed people there are in SV because you're introduced to Jeffrey, Enid, and Elizabeth all at the same time. (Sure, blue-green but still green!)

  • Patrick McLean is the head of the new dance studio in town and he's giving free ballroom classes to anyone who wants them in the gym on Wednesday after school.

  • The Varsity Club athletic honors dance is coming up. It's scheduled to be held at the new luxury hotel at 8pm.

  • Kurt Campbell is a senior who plays varsity football. He also happens to be Jessica's newest crush, at least until she meets Patrick McLean.

  • The Girls' Basketball team is in the playoffs against Emerson High. They ultimately play 4 games and SVH wins three of them.

  • The boys' basketball team didn't even qualify, and upon learning this, all I could think was that if Todd had been there, they totally would have.

  • Shelley is six feet tall (and gets her height from her father's side of the family), thinks herself gangly (but Jessica does not share this opinion), has curly coppery hair, huge mutant feet, almond shaped brown eyes*, and legs for miles. She says she puts on weight easily, but we also know we can't really trust her observations about her body.

  • * At the end of the book when Shelley is getting ready for the dance, her eyes are described as large and gray.

  • Jessica seems to be awfully nice towards Shelley while Amy is decidedly threatened and thus a super bitch to/about the girl.

  • Cathy Ulrich is 5'9" and "one of the best guards in the state," according to Shelley, her best friend.

  • Cathy's boyfriend, Tim, is a freshman at UCLA.

  • Greg Hilliard: Well built but slender, thick, dark brown hair, gray eyes, an inch or two shorter than Shelley. Has black racing bike and is responsible for teaching Shelley to play basketball in the first place. Plays soccer and tennis. Lives next door to Shelley, has two brothers.

  • Mr. Hilliard and Mr. Novak work at the same consulting firm.

  • Carol Stern, Greg's on/off again girlfriend is described repeatedly as small, tiny, cute, delicate.

  • Patrick McLean's dance class consists of: Jessica, Amy, Elizabeth, Jeffrey, Shelley, Greg, Carol, Winston, Bruce, Jim Roberts.

  • Patrick: at least 6'3, chiseled features, light wavy hair, "penetrating dark eyes", slender build and a tiny diamond stud in his left ear. Graduating from UCLA at the end of the semester, majoring in dance and theater. Wants to open "a series of dance studios in Southern California" with the first opening in Sweet Valley. Has a thing with European style clothes, so make of that what you will considering it's the 80's still.

  • Dance class starts with the box step and Shelley is chosen to help demonstrate it to the rest of the class.

  • Jim Roberts has sandy hair, green eyes, is "okay looking", six feet tall and appears shy.

  • Gordon Tilman, girls' basketball coach.

  • Ferini and other college scouts are expected to be at the big game.

  • Shelley seems a lock on a UCLA scholarship.

  • Not so cute nicknames Shelley's picked up over the years: The Towering Inferno, Halfback Novak, the friendly giant, Too-Tall Novak.

  • Cathy raised her right arm and made a fist- a secret victory sign the two girls had shared since they were little girls. Now you can be a better mimic than Margo ever was because no one would ever think to use that as a victory sign...

  • SVH loses the first game in the playoffs to Emerson, 84-76.

  • Jim drives an old Camaro.

  • Jeffrey finds portraits the hardest photographs to take, while they're Jim's favorites.

  • Liz can't identify Shelley in Jim's photograph of her.

  • Nikon- Jim's camera brand, in case you wondered.

  • Amy has a special voice reserved just for teachers: sickeningly sweet.

  • By the second dance class, word has gotten around about how hot Patrick is. There are at least 50 girls there, including Lila.

  • Jessica is chosen to dance the tango with Patrick. For the first time, she's awful at a dance.

  • SVH wins the second game in the playoffs 86-64.

  • When Shelley is in love, she plays freakishly well.

  • Jeffrey finds it difficult to choose between two photographs. One is a landscape he took back in Oregon, the other is of kids playing downtown. Ultimately he goes with the kids.

  • Shelley's healthy lunch is yogurt, fruit salad, and an iced tea.

  • Olivia seems a bit surprised at how small the meal is and oh, yeah, mentions that someone entered a picture of Shelley in the photography contest.

  • Jim apparently has a sister who answers the phone the first time Shelley calls him, prompting her to realize they've never spoken on the phone to one another. Their first call does not go well.

  • Game number three is also a win for SVH though no score is given, and game 4 ends 110-80.

  • Shelley is another SVH student who has babysat Teddy Collins, and she seems to live close enough to walk there.

  • Jim comes in first and Jeffrey comes in second.

  • Amy and Jessica bet a whole outfit from Lisette's on who will be the first to dance with Patrick.

  • Then they accidentally buy the same lilac dress.

  • And Patrick brings an incredibly beautiful slightly older date, Ellen, to the dance. Real diamond necklace, guys!

  • Shelley promises the coach she'll be in bed by no later than 10pm the night before the big game.

  • Jim's picture is "Poetry in Motion." I'm not sure if I found this as lame as a kid as I do now.

  • Continuity for Lila's attempt at being a model when everyone tells Shelley she should totally model.

  • Jeffrey hears that the SV News will be offering Jim freelance work and doesn't appear jealous. Dude is a robot, y'all.

  • Liz and Jeffrey missed the dance class on the cha cha.

  • At the VC Awards, a Mr. Townsend mysteriously appears. Who the hell is this guy and why is he the one giving Shelley her Super New Created Just For Her Award?

  • Ellen and Patrick suggest a dance contest. Cue the Viennese Waltz.

  • Greg & Carol, Kurt & Jessica, Amy & Bruce, Liz & Jeffrey, Shelley & Jim, Lila and Nameless Date, and a bunch of other people Shelley doesn't know all participate.

  • Greg/Carol, Kurt/Jessica, Amy/Bruce, and Shelley/Jim are the four finalist pairs.

  • That's whittled down to Jim/Shelley and Greg/Carol. Ultimately Shelley and Jim win. At this point I'm sick of Shelley winning stuff. Seriously, where's the backlash? I expect worse/better of high school students!

  • Due to Amy and Jessica's war with one another over Patrick, the two are forced to participate in the field trip to Anacapa Island. How exactly will this help their _chemistry_ knowledge?

  "Don't you know anything, Jess? All those movie stars in the thirties and forties always knew how to waltz. You can't fall in love and go on big luxurious cruses and be totally romantic unless you know how to waltz. I mean, really." - Amy is amazing for quotes sometimes. p8

  Jessica couldn't believe Amy sometimes. Much as she thought her friend was a lot of fun, Amy occasionally surprised her with her mean streak. - Heh, pot, meet kettle. I think you'll find you're both evil. p11

   And the boys seemed permanently stuck at the same height: shorter than she was. p23

  "I happen to be your best friend, remember? Things that hurt you hurt me." - Cathy reminds us that not all friends in SV are backstabbing bitches. Huzzah! p42

  "Sometimes I feel like I can't see things any other way than through a camera lens." - Jim is surprisingly deep... p 51

  "The funny thing is, it's usually the things we're most embarrassed about that are the very things other people envy in us." - Mr. Collins is occasionally used for wisdom. p88

  "Jessica Wakefield, get out of that dress right now!" Amy practically shouted.
  "What do you mean get out of it? What am I supposed to do, go to the dance naked?" - general male population (and some of the girls) says yes. p128

  "Jessica, there's no way we're going into that ballroom wearing the identical dress. I'd rather die."
  "So die," Jessica said furiously. - Now that's compassion... and an awkward bit of phrasing, but still. ♥ p129


   This is one of those books I like right until the end and then I get mean. I don't mind Shelley being one of those girls who is completely unaware of how beautiful she really is. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that she's an athlete and unlike a lot of the ugly duckling/swan stories, Shelley doesn't really seem to have any intention of using her looks for evil.
  Also, I get the being taller than a lot of people is hard thing. I was never the tallest girl/kid in class, but for a couple of years I was the third tallest (which I only remember because they had to divvy us up for volleyball and things to be 'fair') and of my closest friends I'm easily the tallest. Even when I'd tick a friend's mother off, if she needed something off the top shelf I was forgiven. :P

   I get the "I don't think I'm pretty!" thing and the aversion to cameras. Thing is, Shelley's got all these people telling her how pretty she really is, so when Jim expresses a real interest in taking her pictures AND seems to like her as a friend, why does she cling so stubbornly to the thought that he's secretly out to humiliate her? As far as we know this isn't exactly a normal occurrence for her, right? So other than needing a plot line for the book, what's fueling this paranoia?
  I'm betting it's a lack of food.

  Crap, I'm getting as bad as Amy. *runs away in fear* Anyway, have her help win the big game. Excellent. Have her get the guy, find her self worth in a photograph, and hell, I'll even buy the whole Athlete of the Year since I'm betting part of it is a press thing too, and Shelley's given them great press lately. But having her win the friggin' dance competition too? That just... really, guys? It's overkill. I get that it's a bit of a thing against Carol and Greg and showing him what he missed out on, but it's a little too much to swallow.

   For whatever reason, I always think this book deals more with Jim's side of the story than it does. Namely my brain has it filed under dude takes gorgeous shots of this redhead who won't let him show them to anyone and not for smutty reasons. Dude then goes behind her back, wins contest, and shit hits fan. Which is not how the book is presented, but that's how I remember it. Go figure.

  But the absolute best part of this book is this little blurb:
   Will the science field trip go according to Jessica's plans? Find out in Sweet Valley High #56, LOST AT SEA.
  Yeah, nothing like giving it all away with the title there, dudes. Well played. :P

   To make up for the stunning lack of alternate covers (seriously, what the hell?), I give you this:


  Same basic cover, similar premise, and same name. The gods, they smiled?
the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (Default)
I know, you're thinking to yourself, "Dude, I totally thought there'd be updates. I called in sick all week for this?" And no, no you didn't. You called in sick to work all week because you're quite possibly insane.

Which means you might actually get a kick out of this.

So that's the blue-green of the Pacific )

And yes. I'm now working on what I'm supposed to be working on.
the_oracle: (geekout)
  Hey, you know what next week is? That's right. It's vacation time for me. Which, in a strange and cruel twist of events, means I'll actually not be on vacation from this lovely place. I know, I know. This thrills you with JOY. And possibly glee.

   Who knows.

   I haven't decided if there's going to be a super awesome "you wants free books, I'll give you free books!" giveaway this year. Mostly it's because I took for freakin' ever delivering last year's goods and I still feel bad about that. Damn my inner Elizabeth. Also, a lot of the book stores around here stopped carrying them, though odds are good I will make my yearly trek out to visit the various bookstores and see if anything of them have reconsidered their evil, evil ways. And if they haven't, I will probably do unspeakable things because my inner Margo never wanted to be Liz, she just wanted to kill her.

  I'll know the odds on the trekking come this weekend (hello, 4th o' July!), so if you're still looking for something in particular, you might want to gather your list, just in case. If nothing else, I still have a bag of SV books (mostly SVT but still) that didn't get adopted a couple of years ago and I'm pretty sure that various trips to ebay and finding boxes of books in my closet have helped to add to the collection.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to covet the pretty SV compacts they had at the SV Summit.
the_oracle: (broken)
Two Boy Weekend
April 1989

Has Jessica found someone new?
Love gone wrong...

  Jessica Wakefield doesn't know how she'll survive a long weekend without her steady boyfriend, A. J. Morgan. But when she meets Christopher, a mysterious, good-looking boy, her lonely weekend turns into one of the most romantic times of her life. Jessica knows she'll have to stop seeing Christopher when A.J. returns, but in the meantime, she's going to enjoy herself.
   Then, what started out as fun turns into a nightmare. Christopher refuses to leave Jessica alone. He calls her every night, then begins following her. Jessica is terrified that A.J. will find out and break off their relationship. Has Jessica gotten herself in too deep this time?

  There are two types of people in the world. Jessicas and Elizabeths. Those who mourn the loss of A.J./Jessica and those who don't. That latter group can be further broken down into subgroups, including those who don't care, those who thought the whole thing was a farce, and those who have no idea who A.J. Morgan is. (Where you been, guys?)

   I fall squarely in the "A.J.! Noooo, don't go!" camp. I blame the fact that I was seven when this book came out. Which meant I was probably eight when I read it. And to an eight year old, this is a Big Freakin' Deal. This also means any hope of me being impartial when it comes to this book flew out the window, oh, say, twenty years back.

  Let's skip straight to the good stuff. A.J. and Jessica have been on shaky ground for the last couple of books, but since this is Jessica's first "real" relationship, she still has no idea what to do about it. She's not Liz, so she can't just talk her relationship to death. She's the proactive twin (those of you who just imagined her in an ad hawking an acne system have my sympathy. Crap, got me, too!) so she has to actively work to sabotage her relationship. But how, oh how can we do this while still making Jessica seem vaguely sympathetic?

   I know! We'll have A.J. go to Texas for his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. Jessica subsequently throws a massive bitchfit about his going away (How dare he miss Ken Matthews' party! His PARTY, dammit!) and then spends the remaining time she has with him sulking. I've done a similar trick so I can't really fault her for this one, especially when she acknowledges that it's dumb but that she just can't help it.

  A.J. leaves with promises of being back early Sunday afternoon, and Jessica proceeds to spend the rest of the week making everyone else's lives miserable. Amy, Lila, and Cara are a bit tired of putting up with this crap by Friday, so they decide to coerce her into going to the beach with them after school.
   I still don't know why since they don't actively try and cheer her up and mostly they just kind of bitch about her to her face. Jessica heads out to the water to escape their ignoring her Very Real and Very Important Pain. She thinks that it would serve them right if an undertow dragged her out to Hawaii or something and isn't it rude that they aren't even asking how she's coping without her boyfriend? I mean really. Those selfish cows.
  When she returns from the watery depths of the Pacific, her friends decide it's time for some DB action. Jessica declines, fully expecting her trio of friends to attempt to talk her into going with them. They don't. I believe Amy would be so dense, and that Lila would just plain be tired of the attitude, but Cara's awfully clueless this go round for some reason. The girls leave Jessica behind and Jess spends the rest of the afternoon staring out into the ocean. She fixates on a surfer until she realizes just how long she's been sitting on the beach, alone. When she starts to leave, Mysterious Surfer Dude emerges from the water and starts chatting. He's incredibly cute and it doesn't take long for him to ask Jessica out.

  To give her some credit, Jessica is a bit torn at this. On the one hand, she rationalizes that she's allowed to make new friends, guys included, and there's nothing wrong in getting dinner with a friend. On the other hand, given the way she feels when she's with Christopher, she knows full well that this is actually a date.
   Yeah, it doesn't take long for the shoulder devil to win this debate. Jess hurries home to get ready for her not!date with Christopher. While she's trying to shower and get prettiful, Liz keeps popping into the bathroom looking for stuff. When she asks why Jess is getting so made-up, Jess tells her she made a new friend, Chris, and that they're going out to dinner. Liz assumes that Chris is a girl and encourages Jessica to bring Chris to Ken's party later. Jess says she'll think about it and then promptly runs away.

  It doesn't take long for Jessica and Chris to hit it off, and I'm still not sure whether Jessica kisses Christopher first or what, but the damage is done. The combination of having someone so good looking fawning over her and the forbidden nature of their weekend romance is sending Jessica's mind into a tailspin. The pair arrange to meet in Pacific Shores the following day. Jess is feeling more than a tad bit guilty over sneaking around on A.J., but not so guilty that she blows Chris off Saturday morning. They wander around the town so that Chris can surprise her with roses and a small stuffed sea lion. The next day they agree to meet at the beach before noon. Jessica's heart breaks a little as she tells Chris that she can't see him anymore. When he asks why, she confesses she has a boyfriend and that this could never be more than a fling. She attempts to soften the blow by saying, "Maybe one day..." but Chris believes it's better to leave things at a complete end. He actually takes this all very, very well. But since this is only page 47, you know something bad is going to happen.

  A.J. comes home later that afternoon and for the rest of the book Jessica acts like a complete spaz which I don't understand. Jessica is a master liar. How is it that she can't keep her cool around A.J. at all? Are we supposed to figure that she's just so overcome with guilt that she's unable to use her most valuable skill to date around him?
   Then the phone calls start. Christopher has changed his mind and he wants to be friends with Jessica. Given how badly Jess is handling just being around A.J. there's no way in hell she could handle having Chris in her life at the moment. She tells him no and hangs up. Yeah, that doesn't stop him. He keeps calling and appears around Sweet Valley enough to freak Jessica out completely and convince her friends (and sister) that she's lost her damn mind, what with all the shrieking and dropping things and not really paying attention without an obvious reason as to why.

  Thing is, because Christopher doesn't really know Jessica, he also doesn't know she has an identical twin, so when he sees Elizabeth around town, he thinks Jessica is further blowing him off. I wonder how this could go horribly, horribly wrong...

  Christopher ups the crazy ante by showing up to give A.J.'s car a test drive, because by some twist of fate A.J. is selling his car. When he arrives at A.J.'s house, Jessica is there, but instead of busting her right then and there, he pretends to have never met Jessica. He pretends to be in a real hurry so when A.J. gets another call about the car, A.J. tells Jessica to ride in the car with Christopher because it's not like Chris is going to kidnap Jessica or anything, right? Oh, A.J....

  While out on the test drive, Christopher drives like a maniac. He threatens to tell A.J. unless Jessica goes out with him on Saturday night. Jess refuses at first because that's the Citizen's Day Ball and dude, she is going to be QUEEN, dammit. He appears to play chicken with a building until Jessica caves. Jessica has no intention of actually going out with him but she still doesn't know what to do.

  Uh, you call the cops, Jessica. That little carjacking was enough to at least tell your parents. But wait! You'd have to confess to A.J. and that might mean he would break up with you and you wouldn't get to be the center of attention at the ball and this just cannot be!
  Instead she eventually confesses to Elizabeth who doesn't tell Jessica to tell their parents or the cops, despite the fact that hello! Christopher is obviously unhinged. Hell, Jessica even makes a comment that this whole being stalked by a psycho is not cool and Liz comes back with, "He's not a psycho, Jess." Really? Because I think anyone who shows up outside the fast food joint you're at, takes down your boyfriend's phone number, sets up an appointment to see boyfriend's car, then takes you for a death ride while trying to blackmail you into a date is grounds for a certificate of insanity, Liz. The boy needs help.

  What do I know? I've only read this book ten times.

  Liz keeps pressuring Jessica to tell A.J. which will get rid of the hold Christopher thinks he has over Jessica. (This is your advice, Lizzie? Not tell A.J. and the parentals and maybe the cops? You are so not the smart one anymore.) Jessica refuses because she doesn't want to lose her chance at the crown. Liz is a bit taken aback that Jessica would really say that aloud instead of at least pretending that A.J. was worth more than the crown he offers her sociopathic twin. Oh, Lizzie...
   The best part of this is that Jessica then realizes what a bitch she sounds like and mentally justifies it by saying that if she told A.J. before the Ball, not only would it cost her the crown, it would shake A.J. so badly that it would ruin his night. Most impressive is how logical this sounds. Oi!

  The night of the Ball, Jess waits for Christopher to call. When he does, she convinces him she's coming down with strep throat or something. He gives in entirely too easily, again, but Jessica is convinced this has less to do with him not believing her and more to do with her superior acting skills. Liz must secretly hope this guy takes Jessica DOWN because she doesn't really try to point out how stupid this is beyond a brief, "That was a little too easy, huh? comment.
   At the ball, Jessica is more than a little antsy for her coronation. When Liz and Jeffrey head outside to dance on the terrace, Chris appears and cuts in. Liz lets him and then shoots Jeffrey "it's okay, pay no attention to the psycho whose arms I'm currently in" looks and Jeffrey is a bit confused. Can't blame the boy. Unlike Todd, he hasn't really been around for any of the crazy murderous boys who come in and out of the twins' lives. He's always out of town when they show up during his run.
  For reasons beyond my belief, Liz agrees to go with Christopher when he tires of dancing. She says it's so that Jessica can have her moment in the sun but no one can be that dumb, can they? Apparently they can, because she disappears shortly thereafter. Jeffrey goes in to talk to Jessica who immediately realizes what's happened. Chris appeared and mistook Elizabeth for her and Liz let the nut job think what he wanted because Elizabeth is the Patron Saint of Stupid.
   Knowing the creepy feeling Chris has been giving off since he decided they should be together FOREVER, Jessica debates the merits of immediately going after her twin or waiting the approximate five minutes until she's crowned. If she waits, A.J. will make her his queen and might never need to know about Chris. Of course, who the hell knows what Chris will do to Liz in the meantime. On the other hand, really, who knows if Chris is doing anything more than talking Elizabeth's ear off?

  Jessica chooses her crown over her twin.

  Which means that Chris tricks/drags Liz to his car, prompting her to flashback to when Carl kidnapped her many, many moons ago. She starts to cry and freak out, which makes me actually want to protect her. Poor Lizzie. See what happens when you do something stupid? When Liz considers screaming and running for safety, Christopher unveils a knife and begins his creepy ranting about how none of this would have happened if she'd only loved him as much as he loved her. Chris ties her wrists up and shoves her in the trunk of his car and about the time this happens...
  A.J. is called up to the stage to read his essay. Jessica is gripped by the feeling that her twin is in serious danger (you think?) and runs out of the building with Jeffrey in search of Liz. Listening only to her twin-sense, she runs to the parking lot and sees Christopher's VW convertible. She runs out in front of his car, and because Chris is insane, he thinks she's somehow escaped from the trunk only to run... right in front of the one person she'd probably be trying to get away from. When Chris tries to round Jessica up, Jeffrey kicks his ass. Jessica takes Christopher's keys and lets Liz out of the trunk where the two marvel at how almost like a miracle this is. I'm pretty sure that this qualifies, guys.
  Liz encourages Jessica to head back to hear the end of A.J.'s essay and take her rightful place in the spotlight. Seriously.
  Ain't making this up.
  On a stack of first editions, people.

   Anyway, Jessica does, but when she hears the end of A.J.'s essay she realizes that such a nice guy deserves far better than she's capable of giving him anytime soon. When A.J. catches sight of how upset Jessica is, he hops off the stage to see if there's anything he can do to help. For a moment Jessica tries to hold onto her news, but ultimately A.J. figures out that she's breaking up with him without him really knowing why. When he asks, she tells him that she's not able to commit herself to one guy, no matter how amazing he is. ( I might be taking certain liberties with the specific wording, but you know, the boy is having his shining moment ruined, so cut me some slack.) She never does confess to having cheated on him, so A.J. I guess just thinks her timing blows. He asks her to be his queen for one night, for the past... and my little heart breaks just a tad.

  Then we lead up to Shelley Novak taking center stage in the next book. Amy bets that no one will invite her to whatever dance because Shelley is taller than all the guys and no guy would want to date anyone taller than he is. Jessica probably realizes that there's at least one guy who wouldn't mind if his eye level was, y'know, boob height thus giving him a legitimate reason to never make eye contact, so she bets that Shelley will have a date. Sure, yeah, I'm still in the spotlight at the ball sniffling, guys.

  We'll miss you, A.J.


  • Liz's recorder flirtation is still mentioned as of TBW, as it's listed as one of the ways Liz is different from Jessica.

  • Elizabeth didn't even enter the essay contest, so anyone who was hoping this meant Liz was bested by AJ is out of luck. (Curses!)

  • She was too busy with the Big Sister/Little Sister program. Which is a bit odd since I thought Enid was doing a good chunk of the actual work behind the scenes...

  • Citizen's Day Ball is hosted by the Samaritans out at the SV Country Club.

  • A.J.'s grandparents live in Dallas and are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on Friday. AJ's parents are leaving Wednesday so that the family reunion won't be as rushed.

  • That same Friday night is Ken's party and Jess is pissed that she's going to miss it because going without AJ feels wrong.

  • AJ and Jess always go to the DB after school and then chat on the phone at night.

  • Jess is a little bored by this routine.

  • AJ will be back in SV Sunday at 1pm.

  • Have I mentioned that I love ♥ Lila using an old, worn oriental rug as her beach blanket? Because I do.

  • Jess uses a big red beach towel. Red does not surprise me. How about you?

  • Christopher has dark, curly hair, green eyes, and a VW convertible. Jess gives his surfing a B-.

  • When stretching the truth about 'Chris' to Liz, Jessica says he lives in Pacific Shores and lets Liz believe that Chris is a girl.

  • Jess and Chris have their first date at Casa Sur and then drive down the beach to Sea Otter Point.

  • The next day they meet at 10pm in front of a cafe in Pacific Shores, which is known for its planetarium which apparently also houses an aquarium.

  • Chris initially buys Jessica a single red rose, then when she loves it, runs back and buys her the rest of the roses being sold at the time. He also buys her a stuffed sea lion pup souvenir.

  • After AJ returns from Texas, Liz thinks his accent has gotten thicker. The urge to drawl is so strong right now, you have no idea.

  • AJ is selling his six year old Toyota, though he's not sure what he'll get to replace it. His starting price is $1,500.

  • Chris sends Jessica an impressive bouquet of flowers that she palms off on Cara when AJ catches her with them. Jess says that Steve asked her to give them to Cara.

  • AJ mentions he'd like to receive flowers sometime.

  • Aaron is interested in AJ's car.

  • Apparently no one has ever offered to buy Kim Edgars, Elizabeth's Little Sister, a book before. Liz puts in a good word for Johnny Tremain and Kim thinks that means that's the book she has to get.

  • At the Citizen's Day Ball there's a mix of SVH students, their parents, "important" citizens, local celebrities as well as the Mayor. Really? None of the other local high schools are important enough to be invited to this shindig? No wonder things get so dicey in SY when the schools mingle.

  • Other notable guests include Jeremy Frank, Skye and Kurt Morrow, and Lila's father.

  • The Coronation starts at 8pm.

  • Paul McKormick is the president of the Samaritans.

  • When Chris is leading Elizabeth away from the country club towards the parking lot, she starts to flashback to her kidnapping in #12/13 and I cheer for continuity.

Quotable Sweet Valley:
  "Yes, ma'am. And we're leaving Wednesday-" - I love that AJ just called his girlfriend ma'am. p6

  "Let's see if they have any tables outside," he suggested, his eyes lingering on her. "I'm getting hungry."
  For some reason, his words sent a shiver up Jessica's spine. Everything he said sounded seductive and thrilling. - Anyone else want to take this the wrong way, or is it just me? p 31

  Elizabeth sat across from her twin, feeling slightly hurt. Sometimes she wished Jessica would be a little more enthusiastic about the things she cared about. - I ♥ Liz at times like this. p53

  More than anything else, she wanted to confide in her twin. Elizabeth was always so reasonable. Nothing like this would happen to her in a million years, but she could help if anyone could. - Oh, Jessica. Liz is just as much a cheater as you are, only she hides it. p 75

Finally Jessica's sobs died down. She sniffed miserably into Elizabeth's shoulder. "I'm such a total jerk," she cried. "I'm the stupidest fool in the universe. I can't believe I did something so mean and-and sneaky!"
"What did you do now, Jess?" - Price.Less! p96

  "It's hard to stay cool when a psycho's after you."
  "He's not a psycho, Jess." - Liz, I'd say the guy stalking you and your sister, calling her at all hours of the day, and taking her for an unsolicited joyride where it was implied that he would crash the motherfucking car if she didn't agree to go out with him qualified as a psycho. p 107

  It seemed almost a miracle that she had found her twin. - Almost? In the midst of a huge party you get the psychic heebie jeebies and run through a country club, bypassing all the various places this guy could have taken Elizabeth, and manage to find him in the parking lot JUST as he's leaving and you call this an almost miracle? What, does a statue need to cry blood before it's declared an honest-to-dog Miracle? :P p135


  God, I suck. It's taken me a year to get from introducing AJ to getting rid of him. Still, at least a few of you have stuck around and for that, the peasants (me) rejoice.

   As for TBW, it's one of those you should probably read, although I hesitate to call it a classic in terms of SVH, because you could really just tell yourself that Jess cheats, doesn't exactly get caught, and then breaks up with AJ when she realizes that she's not good enough for him. On the other hand, if you don't read the back of the book and you haven't been spoiled (because this is 1989 and you're not going to flip to the end of the book because you're a Liz-type), the fact that the book is presented so wildly different from what you actually get? Is a nice bit of whiplash. You go in expecting the one where Jess and AJ break up and you get a psychotic surfer dude who kidnaps Liz and threatens her with a knife!
  Still, AJ's a sweetheart and the fact that Elizabeth refuses to see what a psychopath she and her twin are dealing with are both definite reasons to give this book a whirl. Also? I have a serious soft spot for the Liz/Jessica scenes as they get ready for their nights out, or when Jess is trying to confess and can't bring herself to actually speak the words aloud. Whichever ghosty wrote this is one of the ones I like.

the_oracle: (tear)
Second Chance
March 1989

Will a normal life make Kristin Thompson happy?
Just like everyone else...

  Quiet, determined Kristin Thompson knows exactly what she wants from life. Since she was little, she has had one goal-to become a world-class tennis player. Now all she has to do is win one more tournament and she'll qualify to turn professional.
   Then handsome Bruce Patman invites her out and sweeps her off her feet. But there's not enough room in Kristin's life for a boyfriend and professional tennis. She begins to wonder if a romance with Bruce will make her happier than winning the tournament ever could. Will Kristin give up the dream of a lifetime to live like an ordinary teenager?

  Fair warning: Second Chance has never been my favorite book. It has never been my least favorite book. It's one of those books where I forget everything but these key words: Kristin, tennis, star, yawn.

  Not exactly a glowing recommendation. That said, there are good things to be found. If tennis is your thing, (ahem, [ profile] luxken27 ) then you're in luck. Tennis terms are thrown around left and right and the matches are detailed enough that I got a little lost, but not so detailed that you begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe, paint drying would be more interesting in the long run. Which means that if I had any idea what they were talking about, I might have either been impressed with them managing not to screw things up, or highly amused at what was wrong. However... not my area. You read it and let me know. I promise to be impressed.

  Kristin Thompson is a tennis star. She's so good that she practices every day to the exclusion of just about everything else in life. While she seems to have no friends, at all, she's nice enough to Elizabeth and Jeffrey, and neither makes any comment about her other than "talented and driven."
   Thing is, Kristin's not so sure she wants to be quite so driven anymore. When she was younger, her parents asked if she was sure tennis was what she wanted. It was. When her mother died on her way to Wimbledon (no. Really. I mean it.), Kristin gave tennis up for awhile, then picked it up again and really, really pushed herself. Since then, no one's bothered to make sure she didn't change her mind because kids are notorious for never changing their minds about the little things, let alone something big like What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. Never, ever.
  When Liz invites her to the beach in the previous book, Kristin begins to wonder about life outside the compound tennis. There are friends and days at the beach, and possibly not going to bed sore all the time. Also, there's this newfangled invention called a "boyfriend" and she's reasonably sure she'd like to have one of those, if it's not too much trouble.
  Still, those things require work and time, and Kristin's not exactly big on excess time. Once again, Elizabeth asks Kristin if she wants to join the world outside and mentor a little girl named Emily. Kristin's all set to say no way in hell (no time!) when Liz says that Emily's mother died recently and tennis is the only thing the little girl seems interested in. How convenient. Kristin decides to move heaven and hell to work the kid into her schedule.

   Due to her coach, Dorrie, having a doctor's appointment, Kristin suddenly has a free hour to do whatever she wants. For a second she considers going to the beach, but then realizes it's not really enough time for that. She wanders over to the tennis courts at school (of course she does) and after a few minutes Jessica is betting that Kristin could kick Bruce Patman's ass in tennis. Duh. This should be a no brainer, right?
  Still, Bruce's ego has never met anything in a short skirt that it doesn't think it could handle, so he sweet talks her into a match. Shortly into it, Kristin thinks to herself that Bruce will be humiliated when he loses to a girl, so she throws the game. WTF, Thompson. You're a motherfucking pro and you want to lose to him?
  Thing is, for one glorious second it appears that Bruce knows what she did for him, and for that one second you think maybe he's less of an ass than usual.
   But no. He starts chasing after Kristin who shows remarkable restraint. She figures out pretty early on that Bruce is more interested in Bruce than he is in Kristin, but every time she's about to tell him she's going to be busy for the rest of forever, her father or someone makes a comment about how she doesn't have time for this crap. Then she rebels by going out with Bruce.

  I love that for the most part, she keeps him on his toes to the point where he doesn't even freakin' bother trying to keep up. He just can't stand letting her walk away, so he chases again when it's convenient for him.

  Kristin's been in training for the Avery Cup and trying to make it to Nick Wylie's team (and every time his name comes up, I read it as Noah Wylie) for... I don't know. It's an honor and a good thing and it means she's officially a pro or something. Whatever. Thing is, she's so shaken up by Bruce and the fights with her father that she keeps sucking spectacularly in her games/matches. Eventually she loses her shot at the team, but she tells Bruce off and things are good.

   Our B-plot concerns... Kristin. WTF, man. Kristin and her 'little sister' Emily. They play a lot of tennis together and when Kristin loses her shot at Wylie's team, she's worried that when she tells Emily, Em will be disappointed in her. Turns out Emily has bad news of her own. Emily tried out for a tennis camp and managed to blow her shot even bigger than Kristin did, saying she knew what she was doing was wrong even as she kept doing it. Then she tells Kristin that she'll understand if K doesn't want to be her big sister anymore.

  BAM. Kristin realizes that all this time she's been worrying for nothing. Her father loves her and would want her to be happy, even if that meant no tennis anymore. That her mother wouldn't want her to carry on doing something out of obligation. That failure is an option and not the end of the world. Because of course Kristin still likes Emily, tennis camp or not.

  Gotta say, I feel bad for the kids who thought this message was true only to find out that their parents did have a conditional sort of love. You know at least one of them had to have this problem... Anyway.

  Kristin and her dad talk it out, good times are had, and then Kristin gets a call. From Nick Wylie. Turns out Sharon twisted her ankle and cant compete for at least a month and a half, would K like to take her place? DUH.
  Happy ending there.

  PLUS, Kristin's coach who is always hanging around for whatever reason (because she's not only Kristin's coach, but the former Mrs. Thompson's best friend and doubles partner) and Mr. Thompson are in love. Probably. Not entirely sure because it's alluded to, but we're never given confirmation even though right after Mr. T sort of confesses, Kristin is all, "I'm so happy we can talk like this, so openly!" Dude, you didn't even let Daddy tell you whether he and Dorrie were still in like or had moved beyond that to stepmommy on the horizon. Some of us like to know these things, damn it!

   We set the scene for the next book (Jessica wants to be any sort of queen, and yes, you can make your own obvious joke... _now_), and I may or may not be dragging my feet because it means A.J. is toast.


  • Allison Post is described as a mini-Jessica. That said, apparently a strict diet of shopping and beach-time isn't enough for Allison as she seems a bit envious of other people's big sisters.

  • Jade Wu is paired with a wannabe dancer.

  • Lynne Henry, Maria Santelli, Olivia, Dee Dee, Cara, Caroline, Kristin, Jade, Liz, Enid, and Jessica all take part in the Big Sisters program.

  • Jessica takes credit for the program when telling A.J. about it.

  • Emily Brown is Kristin's little sister. She's nine and her mother died in a car crash last year. The only thing she seems interested in these days is tennis. She's small for her age, with smooth brown hair that's cut fairly short, dark brown eyes, and a shy, closed off expression.

  • Kristin is in Enid's math class.

  • Kristin's English paper is on The American Dream.

  • Apparently lunch @ SVH is an hour long. Jealous. Ours were shorter. Unless you had study period for third period and then, I don't know, cut study hall to eat lunch with your friends during their lunches...

  • Kristin's lunch period is at noon.

  • Kristin gets up at 6am to jog, lift weights, or run sprints. Then she goes to school, and after she meets Dorrie at the tennis club. They practice until dinner, then around 8:30/9pm she does her homework until lights out at 10:30.

  • Dorrie Graham is Kristin's tennis coach. She's 38, strikingly attractive with black hair (completely with grey streaks), and blue eyes. She was also Elise Randall Thompson's best friend and pro-doubles partner.

  • Kristin wants to qualify to play the Avery Cup on Nick Wylie's pro circuit tennis team.

  • Kristin has short auburn hair and wide set hazel eyes. Her favorite ice cream is double cheesecake with nuts. She's got a royal blue ten-speed, and practices four hours a day. Her mother died in a plane crash when Kristin was seven years old.

  • Neil Thompson owns several tennis clubs and is a partner in a tennis club outside San Diego. He went to Stamford.

  • Elise Randall, Kristin's mother, won the Us Open and died less than a year afterward. Made winning look effortless, married Neil when she was 19, upon graduation, borrowed money and opened their first tennis club together. Died en route to Wimbledon when her plane crashed into the Atlantic.

  • Kristin normally meets Dorrie at 3:30.

  • Bruce was playing against Adam Tyner and stomping Adam's ass.

  • Kristin advises Bruce to keep his harm completely straight on his backhand, to take only one step when serving instead of the two he has been taking, and to never, ever take his eye off the ball.

  • The first qualifying round for the Avery Cup is on Tuesday.

  • Bruce has a car phone and a big deal is made about compact discs.

  • Betsy Webber is Kristin's first opponent. She wins the first game, 7-5, Kristin barely wins the second set.

  • Wendy Gibson is the fifth seed

  • Jess, Allison, Elizabeth, and Kim (Liz's little sister) have a contest to see which pair of Bigs/Littles can make the most and best cookies. Jess and Allison make 50 cookies, but by omitting crucial ingredients, their cookies come out strangely pale and taste disgusting. While Liz and Kim only made three dozen cookies, theirs taste like cookies. Winners decide to help the losers clean up the messy kitchen.

  • When Kristin plays against Sharon, she wins the first game at 6-2, then loses the second 4-6, while the third game ends in a tie of 6-6. Sharon wins the tie-breaker and the slot on Nick's pro team.

  • Poor Sharon Owens sprains her ankle at the start of the Avery Cup (her second match) and Kristin is tapped as the new alternate to take her place.

  • Since when is the elementary school called Sweet Valley Grammar School?

  • Rachel Rose is a small, wiry, girl with dark, frizzy hair, and is expected to kick Kristin's ass during their match. Instead Kristin realizes that Rachel has no backhand and wins the match.

  • Longview Club was hosting the tournament.

  • Liz, Jeff, Jess, AJ, Enid, Bruce, Kim, Winston, and Amy all turn out to see Kristin kick Rachel's ass. 4-6 (Rachel won), 6-2, 6-4.

  • The Good Samaritans are business people who meet weekly for social and professional reasons. They're sponsoring a contest wherein students write about Sweet Valley in the Year 2000. The winner gets a $100 gift certificate to Laughton's, a downtown bookstore, a medal of honor, and becomes the king or queen of the Citizen's Day Ball.

Quote Me:

  "Hey, Jess," Cara teased, "remember who you're talking to. Kristin's ball boys are better tennis players than Bruce Patman is!" - point and match, Walker. p36

   The Patmans seemed to have an unlimited amount of money, and Kristin was beginning to suspect that Bruce had an unlimited ego as well. - What gave it away, Kristin? p 56

  Jessica and Lila exchanged glances. Bruce had dated Amy a few times in the past, but she'd acted as if they'd had a real relationship. Bruce had only ever seriously dated one girl, Regina Morrow, and her tragic death from trying cocaine had affected the whole school. Now Bruce was back to playing the field, but the merest suggestion that he might be interested in someone else was enough to drive Amy crazy. - p 77

  He acted as if she was the first girl who had ever criticized him! Well, if that was true, she hoped she had started a much needed trend. - Nice, Kristin. Next time, though, pour a drink on his head and push him into a pool or something, too. p 102


   I just re-read this book (twice, actually) and in the couple of weeks it's been since I finished it, I've managed to forget, I don't know, 80% of it. Part of this may be due to the massive sinus infection/cold/whatever weird bug my nephew picked up at school and then shared that initially delayed this being reviewed. But part of it is... Kristin. Tennis. STAR.



  Bruce manages to maintain a very shallow personality while still giving glimpses to the more interesting guy underneath, but as Regina proved, Good!Bruce is a little too dull and bad!Bruce is a little too jerkish for my tastes. I love that little bit about Amy being totally delusional as to how important her dates with Bruce were. Also, sometimes I wonder what Regina's death was like for the fringe students at the school. Did it really affect them, or are we to just care about the A-list?

  Also, apparently this is one of the later additions to my library because it's got the mark of the my former favorite used bookstore that stopped carrying SVH last year. Odds are good it wasn't added until just before then since it was never really high on my "must own!" list. I also want to say it's one of the few SVH books the library still carries. Hmm.
the_oracle: (troo wuv)
White Lies
February 1989

Will Jennifer despise John Pfeifer when she finds out the truth?
Hiding the facts...

  John Pfeifer, popular sports reporter for the Sweet Valley High Oracle, is worried that his good friend Jennifer Mitchell is becoming too involved with dropout Rick Andover. When he finds out that Jennifer plans to run away with Rick, he enlists Elizabeth Wakefield's help to stop them.
  Then Rick is arrested. Jennifer is convinced that her father has turned him in. Furious, she refuses to speak to her father. John is the one responsible for Rick's arrest, but there's no way he can admit it now that Jennifer has turned to him for comfort. Then Mr. Mitchell becomes seriously ill, and John is faced with a terrible dilemma. Should he tell Jennifer the truth and risk losing her friendship, or let her go on thinking her father is to blame?

   Okay, let's address the elephant in the room. Yes. Yes, Jennifer will despise John when she finds out the truth, only it's going to take the rest of us 40 books to catch the hell up.
  Yeah. This is one of those books that's impossible to look at objectively once you've read/heard what John does to Lila later on. That warning out of the way, let's continue.

   John, you might recall, has a thing for his friend Jennifer. Too bad she's got a thing for Rick Andover whom you might recall is one of those jerks that pops up often enough to remind you that drinking is bad! And so is dropping out of school! Yeah! In a twist, the action that any other SVH book would make us wait for most of the book happens fairly early on. Jennifer tells John that she and Rick are running away to New York to start a band. John has met Rick and knows the dude is scum and that nothing good will come of this. Still, Jennifer will not listen to reason so John worries and frets.
  John turns to Liz who isn't entirely sure what to tell him. The night of Dana Larson's party, John and Liz follow Rick and witness him robbing Mello Music. John wants to call the cops immediately but Liz points out that Rick does work at the store and they should call the owner first to make sure it's exactly what it appears to be. John agrees and it doesn't take long for Rick to be arrested.

   When Jennifer's father tells her that this is why Rick didn't show for their meet up in the middle of the night (not that daddy dearest knew of that), Jennifer is convinced that her father set Rick up, despite the fact that Rick had the guitar and the cash in his possession. Really, Jennifer? You're not doing your part to keep people from thinking blondes are idiots. Just a thought.
  Anyway, Jennifer shares this theory with John, but this is after she's already begun turning to John more than usual. John's torn because he knows that if he doesn't tell Jennifer, she's going to continue to hate her father and if he does come clean, she'll hate him. John? This is an easy one. When she finds out you let her hate her father, to whom she's especially close, she's going to hate you for that, too.
  But! We need drama. So Jennifer's father's heart starts to act up and still Jennifer refuses to talk to him. John lets it go so long that Mr. Mitchell is scheduled for bypass surgery before John gets the balls to think about telling Jennifer the truth.
   Still, John doesn't want to give up his hope for a relationship with Jennifer, so he talks to Liz who tells him point blank that if John doesn't tell Jennifer the truth, Liz will.

   This leads me to wonder why the hell John doesn't even try and get Liz to tell Jennifer that SHE ratted Rick out. Then Daddy's off the hook and so is John. Liz even has an excuse for not having come clean sooner: she didn't know Jen blamed her father until John told her about the surgery.
  But he doesn't even think of asking and Liz doesn't volunteer. Really, what kind of teenagers are you? It's not like John's above lying and Liz has had plenty of practice covering for Jessica over the years. Jesus, people.

   Anyway, John comes clean but not soon enough for Jennifer to reconcile with her father before his surgery. Out of her mind with worry and guilt, Jennifer lashes out at John and basically tells him to go to hell.
  John and Liz try and wait out the surgery at the hospital but when Liz realizes the doctors won't tell them about anything (and the Mitchells aren't bloody likely to volunteer the information), Liz convinces John to head home. Funny. Todd would have stayed. [/random]
   At dinner, Ned offers to call Wells and Wells to see how Brian Mitchell is doing. Sure enough, the next day when Jennifer is absent from school and John is worried, Liz calls Ned and Ned makes the call. Turns out Mr. Mitchell is doing fantastically so Liz takes John to the hospital, but John is too much of a chicken (smart boy) to go in first. Liz goes in to smooth things over and gets the idea to buy flowers and put John's name on the card. It works and after a bit of "John was just looking out for you and then ended up in a bad situation" mojo, Jennifer agrees to talk to John.
  The music swells and all is forgiven.

  But what of Jessica? you might ask. Well, Jessica and AJ are finding out that they're more than a little different. But instead of being mature and discussing things (they are teenagers, so it's not like I can fault this really), Jessica manipulates things to get what she wants without thinking about what AJ might want. And AJ? He doesn't actually talk to Jessica when she ticks him off. Oh, honey, no. That's just a bad way to go about things.
  Liz sees this but never really tries to help things along. Instead she just muses, a lot, about how different AJ and Jessica are and how odd it is that they're still together. Yeah, well, your use-'em-up-and-throw-them-away sister might need some help when dealing with the non-honeymoon period part of a relationship, Lizzie. You might want to offer some unsolicited advice. Just a thought.
  Mostly Jessica does really thoughtless things and endangers her relationship without realizing what she's doing. She tells AJ she and her friends were discussing who the best kisser at the school is, but she doesn't lead with the lie that she thinks he's the best. He's upset, but he slinks off and we don't really see them discuss anything beyond Jess sweet talking him out of dinner at his uncle's.
  Break out the black because this relationship is fading fast.

   Oh, and there's a lot of lead up to Kristin Thompson for the next book. More tennis. Wow. How can I handle the excitement?


  • Jessica has a pink duffel bag. Alert the media!

  • Jess is described as both a cyclone and a whirlwind within mere paragraphs but nary a mention of Hurricane Jessica.

  • Jennifer Holland Mitchell is a sophomore and has long, straight blond hair, brown eyes, and a cleft chin. She's described as "memorable" which, I'm sorry, in high school rarely means anything good. She plays piano, eclectic keyboards (and synthesizers! oh 80's...), and Dana believes she could be really good if she wanted to be.

  • Brian Mitchell is a lawyer at Wells and Wells who also volunteers his legal services down at the Juvenile Hall where he's run into Rick Andover on more than one occasion.

  • Rick Andover works at the Mello Music Shop where he tells everyone about his big break in L.A. that was ruined by jealousy and people sabotaging him.

  • Dana says that Rick's got no guitar talent to speak of and is lazy.

  • Rick's been arrested for drunk driving, brawling, and vandalism among other things. When John and Liz rat him out, you can add swiping a Fender Stratocaster and some cash to that list as well.

  • John Pfeifer has green eyes.

  • A.J. is great at pinball and manages to get a score of 200,000. Huzzah?

  • A.J. has an uncle who lives two hours away and he and Jess were supposed to have dinner with him but Jess wanted to go to Dana's party instead.

  • Apparently Dana's parties are too awesome to be missed.

  • Jennifer and Rick are going to run away to New York to start a band. Excuse me while I die of the laughter.

  • Robin's not at cheerleading practice, so Jessica is in charge.*

  • Jeffrey's aunt is visiting the family from Oregon, so he has to miss Dana's party.

  • Liz doesn't go to Dana's party either. First she goes shopping at the mall (the bookstore is having a half off sale, but she only shops for half an hour. What sort of book nerd is she?), and on her way home she stops at the Dairi Burger. She and John get busy busting Rick for stealing and then she goes home.

  • While shopping, Liz picked up a book of Ernest Hemingway's short stories.

  • Kristin Thompson, a slender girl with auburn hair and a bit of an attitude, allegedly wins junior championships all the time. Tennis phenom.

  • Elise Thompson died ten or eleven years ago and John and Liz wonder if there's any relation.

  • Ditto for the relation to Mr. Thompson owning the local tennis club.

  • Luke Lander owns Mello Music. His phone number is 555-1793.

  • Jessica claims the Droids have a lot of new songs.

  • Jennifer was supposed to meet Rick at 11:30 at the corner of Madison and LaBrea. At 12:10 she's panicking about where he is, but she doesn't give up and go home until 2 A.M.

  • Jack Parker is a lawyer at the DA's office and a friend of Mr. Mitchell, as well as a tennis buddy of his.

  • Jessica believes the ideal vacation would be shopping someplace like L.A. or New York and then partying until dawn.

  • A.J. believes you should go somewhere like the mountains to get away. Maybe climb a little, fish a little, read a lot.

  • A.J. also tans which is kind of unusual for a redhead. Well played, Morgan.

  • Amy is always the first to remind us of the slam books. Always.

  • Since when does Lila complain about tax shelters? I can sort of see trust funds, which are also mentioned, but not tax shelters...

  • Mr. Hamilton is Jennifer's biology teacher.

  • According to Lila, Jessica, and Amy, three of the best kissers in school are Bruce, Tom, and Kirk Anderson.

  • Jessica actually tells A.J. this when he wonders what the second incarnation of the bitches of SVH are so gleefully discussing. Then she can't figure out why he's so miffed.

  • Liz tries to practice a baroque flute solo, but keeps getting interrupted.

  • AJ thinks Jessica is getting bored with him.

  • Jen rides on John's lap because Jess has crowded the back of the Fiat with her junk.

  • Brian Mitchell is in room 538 in ICU.

  • Lila gets two tickets to see Jack Hunter, some new rockstar, and Jess wants to go see the concert but thinks AJ will get all pissy that he's not going.

  • Enid doesn't appear until page 109, and even then it's just to introduce the concept of Big Sisters to Liz. Later Jess will take credit for this in an effort to impress AJ.

  • John owes Liz $11.66 for a bouquet of white carnations and yellow daisies that she bought and passed off as a gift from him to Jennifer and her family. Because when I keep a secret that helps a friend continue hating her father right through bypass surgery, I know flowers from the gift shop always make everyone forget all about it.

  • Jen blames her father for turning Rick in and even thinks he framed the guy despite all logical reasons against this.

*- I don't know why, but it always surprises me that when given a chance, Jessica will work the cheerleaders to the bone instead of slacking off. It's nice that there's at least one thing she takes seriously.

  She was tempestuous and exciting, a self-centered five-foot-six whirlwind. - I love this description of Jessica. p2

By contrast, Jessica was known to be interested in only one person- herself. - Wow, you don't pull punches, do you, ghostie? p3

   Jennifer's long, straight blond hair and cleft chin made her attractive in an unusual but memorable way. - Something about this just trips me up every time. p6

  Elizabeth stared at John with pity. - What? I didn't say a thing... p7

  "They started talking, and he acted like she was the hottest thing to hit music since Elvis Presley." - It's 1989 (88 for writing, I'm guessing) and that's who you're gonna go with, John? p.8

Nothing was so satisfying as getting her own way. - Remember that when your relationship implodes, Wakefield. p19

It didn't seem right that John was getting so fanatical about Rick Andover. - Listen to your gut, Liz! p38

  "My theory about men is you have to make them do what you want. Otherwise, they'll never think of it themselves." - Liz seems unimpressed with Jessica's words of wisdom. p46

  "I always said that guy would end up on a chain gang. Now it looks like he's on his way," he drawled. - Who knew Bruce could drawl? p59

  Her eyes danced with amusement as Jessica pretended to strangle A.J. "Are you trying to eliminate the competition?" Elizabeth asked lightly.
  Jessica looked over at her, an innocent expression on her face. "That's right." She went back to strangling A.J. who made mock choking noises.
  "Okay, Jess. I agree with you," Elizabeth spoke up.
  Jessica let go of A.J.'s neck and smiled. "Thank you."
  "I change my vote, too," Jeffrey said. Looking at A.J., he explained, "Only because I don't want to see you murdered." - p62/63

   Lila hooted. "Or we could just interview Jess. She's dated half the boys in school-"
   "And you've dated the other half," Jessica interrupted. - Jess/Lila is love.


   The good. I like that unlike most other SVH books, the action pretty much happens right away and the rest of the book deals with the fallout. Ignoring later books, it's nice that John finally gets a storyline that is more than "Bruce's sidekick" and hell, Bruce's friendship with John isn't even mentioned.
  I like the style of the writing in this book. It's snarkier but not campy. Liz isn't a pushover and snaps at Jessica even though it's not necessarily about things she should be fussing at her sister about. Normal sibling behavior, shocking!
   I think I've mentioned this, but I'm a sucker for any time Jess calls Elizabeth "Lizzie" as she tries to wheedle something out of her.

  I don't like the way Jennifer forgives John and even thinks he's the best friend she's ever had. If he hadn't let her believe her father had ratted Rick out (we won't speak of that framing him nonsense because really, WTF) even after he knew Mr. Mitchell was in the hospital, I might actually agree that John was a good friend to Jen. But the moment he chose not to confess after he knew her father was sick?
  That is not the guy you think of as a good friend. That's the guy you walk away from.

   Random thoughts: Liz tells us there's no sense in brooding about something she can't fix. Really, Liz? Really? Have you ever looked in a mirror or your diary because that's who you are. It's what you do. You overthink things and then stick your nose into things you shouldn't.
  Ned tells his family that Brian Mitchell is a young man and will bounce back from the heart troubles, I laughed. Hard. I know, odds are good he's in his late thirties (at least) and that's hardly old, but it sort of reads like Ned wants to believe he's also still pretty young. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a giant step to the left so you can throw your rotting fruit at me... now.

   Backing up to the start of the book, I get the giggles whenever they go on about how people love to be in the Eyes and Ears column because Liz keeps it so lighthearted and nice. I believe this, I really do, since people like to know people are interested in what they're up to. But given the number of times people have asked Liz to leave them out of the column, I have to snicker a little.

  What have we learned? Nothing new. John is not the guy you want as your boyfriend. Also? Serious anger issues. When he's ready to follow Rick out of the DB, Liz comments that he seems a little too upset and y'know, I think she's onto something... Oh. Wait.

If this seems less... fantastical than normal, let's all blame the fact that I burned the hell out of my thumb halfway through this. Apparently my cooking is more like Jessica's than I would like to admit... Ow. (You try typing without your right thumb.)
the_oracle: (plotting)
Against The Odds
January 1989

Will Ronnie Edwards lose the biggest gamble of his life?

Against The Odds
A dangerous game...

   Ronnie Edwards is having the time of his life. By betting successfully on high school sports, he's made more money than he knows what to do with. He's even offered Jessica Wakefield a loan. Unfortunately, he hasn't been keeping up with the payments to his bookie, Big Al. When Big Al decides to collect, Ronnie's out of cash. So Big Al offers him another option: if Ronnie can fix the state championship soccer game, Big Al will forget about Ronnie's debt.
  Ronnie turns to the only friend he has-Elizabeth Wakefield's boyfriend, Jeffrey French, star soccer player for Sweet Valley High. A college scout is coming to see the game, and if Jeffrey doesn't play his best, he'll jeopardize his future. But if he doesn't help Ronnie out, his friend may not have a future.

   Against the Odds is an incredibly quick read. I'm not sure if this is due more to the book itself or the fact that I had to sit here and wait for ages while my computer underwent it's virus scan the other day. I read it in under an hour, which still left me with two hours to sit here and want to slam my face into the desk. However that's neither here nor there so let's move on.

  AtO is actually a pretty classic SVH book once you boil it down. You've got Liz involved with our B-lister of the week and their problems. You've got a Wacky!Jessica B-plot, Alice is on hand to dole out loving parental advice, and Liz's boyfriend gets screwed, but not in the way he'd probably like. There are differences, most noticeably in that Jeffrey takes a much more active role in things than Todd ever did. Todd basically sat in the car until someone needed to be punched in the face.
  Jeffrey, however, manages to intimidate someone just by a smidge of tough talk. Seriously. Jeffrey. Go look ahead and find the cover to Brokenhearted. GO. I've got time.

   Got that image firmly in mind? Good. That guy. That one right there. Mmhmm. Him. He manages to scare off three wannabe thugs who are all ready to mug Ronnie Edwards. Not one punch is thrown. Jeffrey's only six feet tall and I've actually found that the shorter a guy is (after a certain age), the scrappier they are because they get shit for it. So they learn to throw a punch or at least start the blitz attack before the bigger guy sees it coming. But Jeffrey. JEFFREY manages to talk three of these guys out of a fight.
  Then Jeffrey defies Wakefield Law and sort of befriends someone who is on their blacklist. Ronnie, you probably don't recall (because you have lives or your memory is not necessarily holding onto useless 80's trivia like this) is the guy who dumped Enid when he found out she had herpes did drugs Once Upon A Time and still talked to her ex. In letters. While he was in reform school. Ronnie, I must admit, has been on my blacklist because you don't make Enid sad and make me happy. Also, he was an all around ass.
   But! Jeffrey still decided that since Ronnie obviously had no friends and was probably a semi-decent guy who could be better if he just had someone who didn't want him thrown face-down in a ditch somewhere, Jeffrey doesn't tell him to fuck off.
  Now, we all know this turns out to be a mistake. But for awhile, Jeffrey has the balls to tell Liz he's capable of making his own friends and she doesn't have to marry the guy, she just has to turn the nagging down because EVERYONE deserves a friend. Isn't that what Liz is always preaching?
   Dude. French, I love you at this point. The only thing Todd was allowed to stand up to Liz about was Jessica and that's only because of how they started. After awhile he even loses bitching rights there.

   But I've skipped ahead a little. The book opens with a big soccer match. Excuse me while I yawn. I never really caught the soccer bug despite the 80's pushing it as the best new drug ever, so no matter how many terms SVH throws at me, I can't help but have my eyes glaze over as the flashbacks begin. (Your goalie should not possess the preternatural skill to duck and avoid things coming her way. It's the opposite of what you want, in fact.) Liz goes on a bit about how Jeffrey isn't the flashiest player or even necessarily the best, but he's dependable. Oh, Jeffrey. Woe. Then she points out that he's the backbone of the team and has definitely helped them get to point where they're one step away from tying with Big Mesa for the division championship. To get to that point, they have to beat the Palisades Pumas. We all know what happens next.
  Jeffrey manages to score the winning goal. Cheers erupt all around. SVH is set to advance to the playoff game with Big Mesa or something. Jeffrey's welcomed as the team hero down at the DB after the game. Which leads us to our actual plot.

   Ronnie's been flashing cash all around town lately and no one can figure out where it's coming from. Lila gets a few very loverly snarky comments in and I love that she's always got to know where people's money comes from. She just... has to. She's not interested in Ronnie, she just wants to know how the hell he has enough money to offer to buy everyone at the popular table food from the DB. Soooo new money, Fowler. We love that.
  Jeffrey's a smart guy and has figured out that Ronnie's been betting on various games and he's disgusted by the whole thing, so he leaves the table. One of the aforementioned thugs wanders over and starts chatting to Ronnie about his new Mustang convertible and Enid can't take the weirdness anymore, so she and Hugh jump ship. Liz watches as Thug #1 lures Ronnie outside and a few moments later, Thugs 2 and 3 head outside after them. She runs over to Jeffrey and he goes out, alone, and scares the thugs away.
  That's when Ronnie latches on and decides Jeffrey is his bestest friend ever. He follows Jeffrey around like a puppy (and is described as such repeatedly) and soon Liz is ticked the hell off. She wants sexy alone time with her boyfriend and Ronnie just won't leave. When Liz mentions this to Jeffrey after A.J. has finally gotten rid of him for Jeffrey, Jeff points out that he's allowed to have friends and that maybe Ronnie needs a friend more than most people do since no one seems to like him, and hey, isn't Saint Liz always going on about how we should be good to our fellow man? Liz agrees, begrudgingly but points out that he was an ass to her bestfriend and that's hard to get over.
   Reality has given us a drive-by. So true. Your best friend isn't going to forgive the guy who dumps you in front of the entire school and bad mouths you afterward. Which is why you should always make it a point to never tell your BFF every shitty thing your boyfriend does, so that when you break up and then make up, she won't be forced to smile pretty while a montage of all the crappy things he's done plays on an endless loop in her head.
  The two agree to disagree.

   Ronnie, meanwhile, goes from having entirely too much cash for a high school boy to not having nearly enough. It seems that he's been living a bit of a lie. His flashy new Mustang is really Big Al's and Big Al is a bookie, and not the type with a heart of gold. Ronnie's behind on his debts and Big Al has called in to collect the two grand Ronnie owes him. I have no clue where all Ronnie's money went in a couple of days, but it's gone. Ronnie's parents are divorced and his mother is long gone, and his father hasn't been Big Al's biggest supporter, so Ronnie turns to his new best friend to bail him out of his new jam. He hits Jeffrey up for a hundred dollars, then drops it down to fifty. Jeffrey's more than a little put off because a) who does that? and b) Ronnie finally cops to his gambling as the source of his revenue. Jeffrey finds out that Ronnie owes a lot more than a hundred bucks but all Jeffrey has is $25, but he gives that to Ronnie and advises Ronnie to make other arrangements to pay Big Al off and then cut all ties. Immediately.
  Ronnie says yeah, yeah, but he's already planning on hitting up his Phi Epsilon brothers. Right. Because the first place I'd want to go and advertise the fact that I'm temporarily broke is a meeting held at Bruce Patman's mansion. Riiiiiiiiiight. Ronnie's awfully clueless, man. He hits Winston up for cash, Winston has none, and Bruce overhears and makes typical bitchy comments. Tom McKay is playing the part of one of the sock puppets this go round, for those who like to keep tabs on him. Bill Chase is slightly more polite when he turns Ronnie down, but the damage is done. Ronnie's pissed that his brothers won't front him the cash. Some brotherhood.
  Bitch, please.
   Anyway, Ronnie gets in touch with Big Al (Ronnie's Smallfry. If you need me for the next twenty minutes, don't bother. I'll still be laughing.) and Big Al is pissed until Ronnie says he'll do anything he can to make it up to Big Al. Big Al informs Ronnie that it's his lucky day, and you can feel the Cheshire cat grin from here.
  Ronnie turns to Jeffrey once more, only this time things are worse. Big Al's solution is to fix the SVH/Big Mesa game. If SV wins by two points and only two points, Ronnie's off the hook. When Ronnie suggests this to Jeffrey, Jeffrey's pissed. He tells Ronnie to go fuck himself because a real friend wouldn't ask something like that and it's unfair of Ronnie to expect Jeffrey to bail him out of a jam he created for himself. This scene is repeated a few times and during one of them, Jeffrey gets all snippy and points out that he hates being called Jeff, which is what Ronnie keeps calling him.

   The problem with this is that Big Al keeps threatening Ronnie and even goes so far as to meet up with him at SVH Friday morning, scare him into a bit of a car chase that ends at one of the beaches. Ronnie gets his ass handed to him. When he finally makes it back to school, he demands that Liz tell him where Jeffrey is. Liz tells him that he's taking an exam, Ronnie doesn't believe her because it's lunchtime. Liz explains that it's a long story and Ronnie? Demands she tells him the long story. I won't lie. I snorted my drink at that point because I'm easily amused. Ronnie finds Russo's classroom and tries to get to see Jeffrey. Jeffrey is pissed because DUDE, he's in the middle of taking an exam that determines whether he'll get to play soccer on the school team anymore. STFU, Ronnie! Jeffrey finally throws in the towel and goes out to see what the hell Ronnie wants now. Ronnie starts up with the whole two point spiel and Jeffrey tells him, again, to get lost. Ronnie's freaked out due to the ass-whuppin' he just endured. Jeffrey notices the sand on Ronnie's shoes and lets Ronnie speak. Eventually Jeffrey realizes that Ronnie was right. Big Al might actually seriously hurt or kill him. Jeffrey struggles to figure out what the right thing to do is in this case.
  On the one hand, he knows that not playing his best in an effort to intentionally fix the score is wrong. There's no way around that. It goes against everything that Jeffrey holds dear and has lived his life by, but then so does turning his back on a friend who could seriously be hurt and only Jeffrey can help.
  Still... A little more waffling and then Jeffrey agrees to sell Ronnie part of his soul. Jeffrey agrees to do what he can to keep Ronnie from ending up fish food.

   But we need a twist, so Liz finds out that a college scout from Branford college is coming just to see Jeffrey. Jeffrey has no idea until Liz tells him about it after school. Now Jeffrey's even more confused. Doubt the boy could live with himself if Ronnie ended up broken, let alone killed, even if Ronnie did bring it on himself. On the other hand, now we're talking about Jeffrey's future.

  Doesn't seem to matter. The inner conflict is making it so that even the JV team can kick Jeffrey's ass on a regular basis. The day of the big game, Jeffrey gets a telegram. Everyone on the team assumes it's from Liz, which is.. weird, to say the least, but hey. Really it's from Big Al who has decided that maybe Jeffrey would leave Ronnie out to dry and now threatens Jeffrey himself. Gulp?
  Liz is on her way to her seat when she sees Ronnie being escorted off by a shady looking dude in sunglasses... on an overcast sort of day. Being the nosy sort, Liz follows Ronnie to the bad part of town (everyone wave to the Martins!) where Liz is completely unfamiliar with the landscape, thus proving someone doesn't volunteer for the truly less fortunate. As Liz is calling the police on a pay phone, she's abducted and taken to the dive bar where Ronnie's being held.
  Taking a page from Jeffrey's book, Liz talks tough and is bound and gagged for her troubles. Ronnie eventually finds his balls and knocks their kidnapper, Max, out with a liquor bottle to the head. Good show, Edwards. Took you long enough. Ronnie and Liz call the police and head back to the big game.
  Where Jeffrey is playing horribly. Liz rushes over to Coach Horner and we're given a bit of a tangent about how Liz thinks the coach respects her from her gig at the Oracle. I...won't make any obvious jokes here, but you can supply your own. Coach calls a time-out and Liz tells Jeffrey he's free to play like the star he really is or some such nonsense. I'm distracted by the fact that Big Al and Ronnie are both carted off by the cops but Liz isn't. You'd think as the kidnap victim she'd be taken down to the station as well, but what do I know?
  Blah blah, SV wins 3-to-2 and the crowd, she goes wild. I think it's time to take a peek at Jessica's wacky B plot.

   Jess is making some seriously ugly 80's oversize jewelry that her friends are too polite/taste challenged to tell her look like arse. But I guess it was the 80's and her stuff actually does seem popular when she manages to sweet talk the manager of Treasure Island into stocking her designs (with a little help from Lila who still can't act). When all but three of the pieces sell almost immediately, the manager asks Jessica to bring in all the other pieces she's made and they set up a verbal agreement. Idiot. You get this in writing for the very reason you're about to find out...
  Remember when Ronnie was flashing all that money around? Well, he offered Jess a loan of up to two grand and Jess files this away for future use. When she's told to bring in her stock (and she has none) she decides it would be insane not to make a ton of pieces, which requires quite a chunk of change. She asks her mother who agrees to float her $200. Jessica calls up her supplier (again, too easy) and he talks her into nine hundred dollars worth of stuff. Jess freaks out and asks Ronnie for the money about the time he's desperately trying to con Jeffrey into partially throwing the big game. He laughs in her face and tells her she's barking up the wrong money tree. Jess is more than a little miffed but she's pretty good in the face of rejection.
  She then returns to Alice and manages to sweet talk Alice into forking over the credit card. Sadly for Jessica, this victory was entirely too easy because any second now the manager at TI is going to call and say the store owner is changing the store's direction and getting rid of the funky and going more for clothes and established jewelry lines. Poor Jess is now stuff with massive credit card debt to the point that her father is declined at the gas station. When the parentals find out how much she charged, it's decided Jessica needs a job. She mistakingly jokes that she could get a job at TI since they're hiring and Ned tells her obviously it was meant to be.
  Oh, Jessica!

   There's the lead in to the next book and hey, John Pfeiffer is acting like an ass with anger management issues. OR, you know, if you still don't know what he did to Lila, then he's acting like a guy who just found out the girl he's mooning over is falling for Rick Andover.
   But that's next time. Same bat station, same bat time. Or something.

Trivial Matters:

  • SVH's Gladiators are playing the Palisades Pumas as the book opens. If SVH wins (and they do), they'll tie Big Mesa for the first place in their division, leading to a special play off game to decide who gets the championship.

  • The seating up in the stands seems to be: Julie, Liz, Enid, A.J.

  • Jess blows a kiss to A.J., people actually turn to see who she's directing her affection to. Duh, guys. It's totally Enid.

  • When Jeffrey helps win the big game, there's a scene after everyone rushes out where Liz takes a few minutes to savor the moment. Which is, in hindsight, foreshadowing for when Todd comes back and Liz pretty much forgets Jeffrey ever existed except when it's needed for a future plot.

  • Soccer players still seem to be Aron, Tony Esteban, Michael Schmidt, and Brad Tomasi.

  • When Enid fails to see the genius in Jessica's big ol' ugly 80's earrings, Lila and Amy both stick up for Jess. Not surprisingly, my heart only turns to mush for Lila.

  • Ronnie is usually in jeans and a rugby shirt. Sorta like Kristy from the BSC, only with less sweaters? Lately though, he's been sporting designer shirts, pleated pants, and a Mustang Convertible.

  • The Mustang is Big Al's car and for some inexplicable reason, he's letting a HS student drive it. Dude?

  • Ronnie may look like a weasel on the cover (sorry, weasels!), but he does have lovely sapphire blue eyes.

  • Enid and Jeffrey both walk away from Ronnie when he starts flashing his money and offering to buy everyone's lunch. Enid. And Jeffrey. Two of the nicest people at SVH.

  • Enid, you might recall, dated Ronnie back in book 2 though no one understood why. She was so nice and mousy and he was so new and shiny and a world class a-hole. Then Jessica broke them up, Enid dated George, then George dumped Enid for Robin, and now Enid's dating Hugh who has all the personality of wet cardboard. But at least he's not a weasel.

  • Brad Tomasi is the left wing, Michael is the co-captain of the soccer team with Aaron.

  • Three creepy older, leather wearing, stubble sporting, heavy cigarette smoking guys are giving Ronnie the eye and only Liz notices.

  • One of those guys introduces himself as Bruno and is shorter than six feet tall, another is "heavy-set with dark beard stubble", and the third is a blond with a ripped leather jacket.

  • Ronnie screams when Bruno starts to rough him up.

  • Jeffrey's 6' tall.

  • Ronnie usually drives an old Toyota his mom left behind after the divorce.

  • Mr. Edwards owns an all night grocery store.

  • Big Al Remsen is the richest, most cold hearted bookie in the area. But for some reason he lets Ronnie, whom he's never actually met, drive his convertible.

  • Big Al and Ronnie 'met' through a customer at Mr. Edwards' store.

  • Ronnie is not a fighter, can't even talk tough, and while his confession makes me a little uncomfortable, Jeffrey decides that all Ronnie needs is a friend to make him less of a weasel.

  • When Enid has an art project and the other Oracle editors are working on their assignments, Liz realizes she has no one to sit with at lunch. Luckily, A.J. pulls out a chair for her at Jessica's table. For some reason this gives me warm fuzzies.

  • Cara's Jessica Wakefield original earrings involve small, bright colored feathers. Neither A.J. or Elizabeth is all that impressed. But they obviously do not fully appreciate fashion.

  • Jessica decides to sell her stuff at Treasure Island boutique.

  • Jessica hits Ronnie up for money and when asked how much she'd need, Jessica says five hundred. Ronnie laughs and says she thought real money, like a grand or two. When Jess perks up a little too much at that thought, A.J. all but pushes him towards the lunch line to get rid of him.

  • Jack Everly, Big Mesa's left wing, twisted his knee two weeks ago and is allegedly out of commission for the play-off game.

  • The Gladiators need a C or better in each class, not a C average, which means Jeff is screwed because apparently chemistry is not his strong suit.

  • Mr. Russo offers to stay late after school or at lunch for any students who need help figuring out chem before the big exam Friday. The soccer players manage to convince him to let them take the test at lunch instead of at the end of the day, which is when their class is. I... don't really understand why giving up at least one, probably two class periods you could, in theory, use to cram is helpful. You want to take the test EARLIER? Someone explain this to me!

  • Coach Horner's training seems to involve ten laps around the track, corner kick practice, dribbling around corners, scrimmages, and other things too boringly gruesome to have been mentioned.

  • Ronnie hits Jeffrey up for a hundred bucks, then lowers his expectations to fifty, figuring that'll help keep his L.A. 'business contacts' from breaking some legs, namely his. Jeffrey gives him twenty five bucks.

  • Ronnie isn't too worried because he figures he'll hit up the Phi Ep brothers, only none of them offer a dime. Bruce, to no one's surprise, mocks Ronnie for blowing all his cash.

  • Phi Ep members mentioned: Winston, Bruce, Ronnie, Tom McKay, Michael Harris, Bill Chase. Of those, only Bill and Winston seem sorry to be unable to help Ronnie, and even then... the weasel factor makes them less sorry than they would be for, I dunno, Todd or someone.

  • Sadly, the 'odds makers' were expecting two grand and all Ronnie has is $25. Big Al makes Ronnie an offer. SVH beats Big Mesa by two points or ELSE.

  • Lila helps Jessica convince Ms. Lussier at Treasure Island that Jessica's designs actually do appeal to people.

  • Ronnie's code name from Big Al? Smallfry.

  • Jessica dropped eight pieces of jewelry off at the TIB and only three are left. Two pairs of earrings and one necklace.

  • Big Mesa's the Bulldogs, only I never remember this. Pumas I remember, but not the Bulldogs.

  • Jeffrey snaps at Liz over Ronnie and Liz tries not to cry. My heart, she feels for you, Lizardbreath.

  • Chris Wells is the SVH Jr. Varsity forward and actually manages to score off Jeffrey since Jeffrey is so distracted because of Ronnie.

  • Alice once gave factory measurements in feet, not yards. Jessica comes by her talent naturally.

  • Alice agrees to loan Jessica $200, which should be enough for ten more pieces.

  • Stuart, Jessica's sales dude supplier at Classic Land, manages to talk her into $908.10 worth of stuff. This can't end well.

  • Classic Land closes at 6pm.

  • Ronnie freaks when he sees a silver Lincoln Continental with some dude with black hair, a suede jacket, and sunnies waiting for him outside SVH. For good reason. Sunnies follows Ronnie to the beach and then... well, let's just say it ain't pretty.

  • Jeff has issues with the differences between molarity and molality in chemistry.

  • Ronnie's last class of the day is in room 302, Mr. Frankel's math class.

  • There's a cute scene with Penny and Liz teasing John about being in love, but then you remember what John becomes and the cute wears off. Still, Oracle teasing cuteness ahoy!

  • Bradford College sends a talent scout to scope Jeffrey out. It seems their star halfback will graduate in time for Jeffrey to take over or something. I cannot imagine they'd mention the halfback thing if it weren't what Jeffrey were up for but I, like much of America, do not follow soccer. Sorry!

  • Big Al loves cigars.

  • Jessica's agreement with T.I. is only an oral agreement. Had she gotten her deal in writing, maybe she wouldn't be stuck with $900 worth of beading stuff and no place to sell it.*

  • Winston, Tom, and Bill all help hold up a banner that says, "Phi Epsilon Says Go Gladiators!"

  • Liz follows Max Roper and Ronnie to Wilby's Bar and Grill where Max is holding Ronnie semi-hostage.

  • Jeffrey gets a telegram from Big Al that warns him to fix the game or Ronnie's toast. All the guys on the team think it's from Liz since Jeffrey doesn't exactly share the message with them.

  • Dave Evans is the soccer team manager. He also happens to give Jeffrey the telegram.

  • Max ties Liz to a chair and uses a handkerchief as a gag.

  • Max considers knocking out teeth, kneecaps, and tying Ronnie and Liz back to back and leaving them in the basement for the rats.

  • Despite taking the time to tie Liz up, Max leaves Ronnie free and pays for it when Ronnie breaks a liquor bottle over Max's head.

  • At the end of the first quarter, the score is Big Mesa 2, SV 1.

  • Big Al plans to fuck Jeffrey up the same way he does Ronnie. Thoughtful!

  • Liz would rather Sweet Valley lost the game than win by two points. Remember, she's the nice twin.

  • Ultimately Sweet Valley wins by one point. (SV: 3, BM: 2)

  • Elizabeth believes Coach Horner respects her as a journalist.

  • When the police (Liz and Ronnie stopped at a pay phone to call them) show up at the game, they only take Ronnie (and Big Al) and not Elizabeth. Really? I'm doubting that highly, guys.

  • Jeffrey scores two goals and has his picture taken for the Sweet Valley News.

  • Jeffrey's final score on the chem test? B-minus.

  • Jessica made fifty pieces and missed the soccer game all for nothing because T.I. changed it's business focus.

  • Ned's card was declined at the gas station and he argued with the attendant about it, then felt like a jackass when Jess and Alice spilled the beans. Dude, Ned, what could the guy do? Give the guy a break, man.

  • Ned forces Jessica to take the job at Treasure Island to pay the money back.

  • Jennifer Mitchell is the latest girl to fall under Rick Andover's spell, thus leading John P. to be all jealous and bitchy towards Penny.

  • Do. Not. Call. Jeffrey. Jeff. Unless, of course, we're in SVH: SY. Then he's cool with it.

* I get that Jessica's fickle, but you'd think she'd try another boutique or something to sell her stuff, if only to avoid having to go back to T.I. for a job.

Quotable Sweet Valley:

  But for a moment she wanted to stand still and take it all in. Jeffrey looked so wonderful, and she wanted to remember this moment for a long time. - Liz knows the end is coming... p5

  Ronnie shook his head listlessly. In a soft, almost inaudible voice, he said, "You don't understand. If I can't guarantee this, I may not make it to this weekend." p54

  "I hate to say this," Enid whispered to Elizabeth with a sly look, "but those earrings look ridiculous."
  Elizabeth tried to suppress a giggle. Amy, Cara, and Lila were all wearing Jessica-designed earrings. "Come on, Enid. They're just trying to support Jessica," Olivia said sympathetically.
  "Must be tough. I'm sure it's hard enough just supporting those earrings." - for those of you who like your Enid/Olivia/Liz trio. p77

  "You just don't have a business sense, Lila."
  Lila shrugged. "I guess not. But then, I don't need one, do I?" -Jess/Lila p78

  "Come on, now. That wasn't so bad, was it?" Mr. Russo asked.
  "Nah," Michael Schmidt said. "Piece of cake."
  "Big talk, coming from the guy who thought uranium was the name of a planet," Tony retorted. - sometimes the ghosties get it right. p84

   "So you're going to play badly on purpose, just because-"
  "Just because what, Elizabeth?" Jeffrey snapped. Suddenly his eyes were ablaze with emotion. "Just because Ronnie might be hurt or killed? I mean, come on. I know the game is important, but we're talking about the real world here! When guys like Al Remsen don't get their way, the hurt people. What am I supposed to do? Stick to my principles and let him do what he wants to Ronnie? That would really teach him a lesson, wouldn't it?" - Time has erased how feisty Jeffrey really was from my memory and I'm enjoying the hell out of the reminder. You tell her, French! p107/108

Big Al is awfully dumb

Elizabeth let her head roll back and forth with each stroke of his hand. "Mmmm, keep doing that and I'll forgive anything." - I think we all know I took that completely out of context, but way to go, Jeffrey. p 143

Fashionably SV:
  She dropped her leather bag onto a kitchen chair and adjusted the shoulder pads of her cream-colored silk blouse. - Alice, I know it's the late 80's, but shoulder pads were rarely a good idea.

Against the Odds: English covers

   I have to admit that some of my favorite parts of this book are the throwaway bits with A.J. I love that he's polite enough to snag Liz a chair at the lunch table when Jeffrey's running late and Liz has no other friends to sit with. I love that he's possessive enough to tell Ronnie he'd better leave, but polite enough that he uses the excuse that the lunch line is almost over to get rid of him.
  But my irrational favorite moment comes during the big game at the start of the book, when Jessica blows A.J. a kiss, he blushes, and my inner conspiracy theorist points out that yes, Jess probably intended it for him... but Enid was also sitting to Elizabeth's right, which means the J/Enid pairing is totally possible.
  ...Shut up. I just like to point out the possibilities.

  I also like the foreshadowing that goes on in this book. Right after Jeffrey helps the team win against Palisades, everyone is rushing the field/off to the DB, and Liz wants to just bask in the moment. She wants to remember Jeffrey just like that. Which works in a couple of ways. One? The type of girl Liz is would totally do something like that. (Guilty. You?) Two: Jeffrey's not long for this world, at least as Liz Wakefield's better half, and as a kid I adored the joys of hindsight.
  A bit of foreshadowing for John and his anger issues, but that you could reasonably argue was just typical teen/human behavior.

  But most of all we love Lila sticking up for Jessica even when she doesn't have to. Yay, Lila!
  Obviously this book is held together by little bits of joy and as such you should ignore Jessica's old lady hair on the cover and read it.

Against the Odds: Non English Covers
the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (classic)
I'm pretty sure 99.9% of you also check out [ profile] 1bruce1, but if you don't, or you haven't yet, you should. They're running a Best of Sweet Valley poll. I'm still trying to figure out my absolute SVU favorites (it's harder because I haven't been re-reading them as much) and I haven't got a Senior Year favorite, really. But Twins? Easy. The Magic Christmas. SVH? I believe in the holy trinity: Comas (Dear Sister OR Dangerous Love, though DS brings crazy!Liz), coke-is-bad (On The Edge), and psychotic twins (The Evil Twin). Also: Double Love. There's a reason I list this icon as "classic".

You should go and vote for the best. You can also disagree (or agree) here and we'll all just agree that I'm taking too damn long to finish my Against the Odds recap. I can't even claim snow as an excuse, unlike 70% of the U.S. population.
the_oracle: (gasp!)
No Place To Hide
December 1988

Secret lives...

   When Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield invite Nicholas Morrow on a picnic to help cure his blues, their plan has unexpected results. Nicholas falls in love with Barbara, a beautiful girl who involves the twins in their most dangerous mystery yet.
  Barbara tells Nicholas they must hide their relationship from the uncle she's visiting. Hearing the fear in her voice, Nicholas decides to tell the twins, and they start investigating. The more they find out, the more desperate Barbara's situation seems.
   Then Jessica and Elizabeth are threatened by an anonymous caller. Now they face a terrible choice: either give up their search and leave Barbara in deadly trouble, or save Barbara's life-and risk their lives and Nicholas's!

  No Place to Hide is a bit of a standout in the SVH-verse for me because I always forget that it exists. Oh, I'll remember it for three months after I've read it, but come next April? I'll wonder what the hell the book was about. So, for me, it's like I'll always have a SVH book that's almost new for me. Sure, I remember the basics: Nicholas Morrow finally gets over Elizabeth by falling for a girl who, in any other book put out at the time that wasn't SV or BSC, would've been a ghost. Happy fun times do not ensue. That much I recall. But even now I couldn't tell you the exact specifics without looking at my cheat sheet or the book itself.

   Well played, ghostwriter of the month. Well played.

  It's the summer of the twins' internship at the Sweet Valley News again still and we've finally progressed to... July. I know, I would've thought that we would have progressed a little bit further, but hey. I'm not in charge here, I'm merely here to mock and squee as needed. The newspaper is having its annual picnic in Ronoma, a county in California we've never heard of before and will likely never hear from again. Liz and Jess are excited because picnics have always been a big deal to them. Jess I think is more interested in the party aspect and Liz is dreaming of networking, but still. Excitement?
   Liz decides to invite Nicholas because he's seemed a little bummed lately, what with his sister dying and all. (...yes.) Once at the picnic, Nicholas is far from the life of the party and decides he would rather walk around the park and sulk. Liz grumbles to herself that she invited the boy so she has to play the gracious hostess/friend and keep him company because, hell, the way he's been lately, he's likely to fling himself off the nearest cliffs. But she resents this because of the missed networking possibilities. Next time don't invite the guy who was all too interested in you until your sister's untimely demise that you sort of had a bit of a hand in, Miss Nosy Reporter Wannabe. Just sayin'.

  Nicholas walks and walks and gets further and further from the party/picnic in the park. Liz worries they're trespassing. Nich doesn't seem to care that some people don't want strangers traipsing around their yards and wants to get a better look at the cliffs and their view of the sea. Instead he finds a girl who is so gorgeous that she appears to be from another time period entirely. If you listen carefully, you can hear Tricia Martin screaming about someone stealing her shtick.
  Nicholas falls immediately for Barbara and she seems to fall for him as well. Can't say I blame her. TV!Nicholas aside, the dude's supposed to be dreamy. Anyway, Nicholas lets Barbara slip away without so much as a phone number or a last name, so he returns the next day to find her. Luckily for him, Barbara seems to delight in traipsing about in the woods and garden near her grandparents' creepy mansion by the sea, and she sings to her Yorkie so Nicholas can fairly easily find her.
  I'll spare you the whole romancing of the couple because there isn't much. Barbara's beautiful. Nicholas is beautiful. Nicholas shares Regina's love of drama, so the moment he gets wind of B's "Uncle John" and his controlling ways and temper (made clear by John telling him to get lost and never come around again, EVER), the boy is hooked. Immediately he begins to worry about B and how her not!Uncle seems to have too short a leash on her. So what does he do? He invites the twins out to Barbara's and they are immediately chased away by B before her uncle comes to drag her back to the house, warning her of what terrible things will happen to Josine, their housekeeper and the only friend Barbara has had all summer.
  Nicholas keeps returning to Barbara and they manage to away for a dinner in town where more than one person reacts as if they've seen a ghost the second they catch sight of Barbara. It appears she's the spitting image of her grandmother who died tragically years ago. Upon returning from their meal out, Nicholas finds his Jeep's tires have all been slashed, proving that someone is on to them. Barbara repeatedly asks and tells Nicholas to stay away, that it's not safe for him to see her anymore, but that's not going to discourage a drama junkie. Instead Nicholas vows to find a way to rescue Barbara. If you don't get that Nicholas imagines himself the prince on a white horse by now, you either missed out on all the fairytales as a kid or you're just slow.

   Meanwhile, Jessica and Elizabeth are back at the paper doing research of their own. It appears it's nearly time for a new SV mayor and the paper is abuzz with news on each side. There's the mysterious Russell Kinkaid who is amazingly charming and charismatic and yet still manages to rub Elizabeth the wrong way. (Proof that he's Evil.) And then there's Miles Robinson who has the support of the Valley News but really, we don't ever find out much about him. Is he the current mayor? Is the current mayor embroiled in scandal so awesome that they dare not speak its name? Who knows.
  Jessica is assigned a seemingly unrelated story about Paul Lazarow, the leader of an artists' colony in Ronoma County in the 40's. At first she can't find out much, but in the interest of time, we'll skip to the important stuff. Eventually the twins find that Russell Kinkaid studied at the colony years ago and was actually an exceptionally talented artist who had a thing for Lazarow's daughter... Barbara. Unfortunately for Barbara, she was in love with Jack Pearsall, Kinkaid's artistic rival. Barbara and Jack eloped, keeping their marriage a secret from everyone but Josine. Eventually Barbara became pregnant and shortly after her daughter was born, news of her relationship with Jack broke. Kinkaid was so enraged that he pushed her from the cliffs behind her house on the night of her birthday. Since there were no witnesses, the police couldn't charge him and he got away with murder.
  Paul Lazarow died six months after his daughter due to cancer, and Jack went completely mental. Unable to cope without Barbara, he moved into an assisted living facility, and Gwen, their daughter, went off to live with family friends in Switzerland.
   Of course, the twins and Nicholas only learned part of this. When Liz finds out that Russell Kinkaid was questioned about his part in Barbara's death, she calls Jessica and tells her that they're that much closer to cracking both cases. (Why Barbara is being kept prisoner and why Russell gives Liz the creeps.) The twins hang up, excited beyond belief, but then the phone rings again and Liz is threatened by someone who points out that the Jeep's tires didn't slash themselves and that Rory's disappearance was no fluke. Warnings, people. Warnings! Liz freaks out and the next day she tells Nicholas all about it.
  Nicholas decides that the only thing left to do is go to the police.

   No. That might be logical considering Liz did just get herself threatened and all. No, what they're going to do is go and kidnap Barbara on her birthday. He asks the twins for help and when they reasonably ask what his brilliant plan is, Jessica balks immediately at the insanity that pours forth. His plan? He'll grab Barbara while one twin waits in the car and the other distracts Uncle John.
  That's... pretty simple, actually. And yet it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Jess draws the short straw and is stuck in the Jeep, Liz twists her ankle but Nicholas doesn't notice because he's a little obsessed at the time, and then Jessica has to distract the occupants of Bayview House by ringing the doorbell. ...Right. So, naturally Liz gets found by John immediately after she sends Jessica off to play decoy. She pisses him off when she makes him yammer on about why he's torturing Barbara (simply a side effect of torturing his brother, Russell) and he pistol whips her. And the peasants rejoice!

  Jessica bangs on the front door to no avail. No one's answering, probably because John's out front knocking Liz into unconsciousness and Russell? Russell is out on the cliffs with Nicholas and Barbara. Jessica watches in horror as Russell wrestles with Barbara, hands wrapped around her wrists, apparently trying to push her off the cliffs. I'm not entirely sure how that would work, and apparently neither is gravity, because Russell slips and falls _backwards_, sending him and Barbara both over the edge of the cliffs. Russell falls to his death but Barbara manages to catch on to a rock ledge somehow. Again, I... don't think that would necessarily happen given the way they both fell, hands on her wrists and all, but I don't recommend trying this at home in any case.
  Nicholas and Jessica (whom Nicholas still thinks is Liz) pull Barbara to safety. There's a lovely moment with B/N and then B starts blubbering about rescuing Josine. Jessica freaks out when she hears the younger Kinkaid has a gun and Nicholas finally realizes Jessica isn't Liz. They rush back to where they left Elizabeth and find her lavaliere on the ground. Jess freaks out but Barbara out drama!queens her when she nearly faints. That's right. Jessica's twin is missing but Barbara is the one with a case of the vapors. Rightio. Because the sight of the necklace lying on the ground reminded her of Rory's collar and that was too much for her. Mmmhmm. Whatever.
  The dramatic trio return to Bayview House and find Josine who lets them know that Kinkaid the younger grabbed the keys to the studio, so they rush to see if they'll be in time to rescue Elizabeth. The doors to the studio are locked, but with a boost from Nicholas, Barbara manages to shimmy in through a window and they rush to find Elizabeth passed out and Rory alive. The paramedics are called and everyone is whisked away to either the police station or the hospital.
  John Kinkaid actually took his brother's often mentioned silver Jag and made a break for it. The police actually catch him without any help from the twins (shock!) and he immediately confesses. It seems he was the brains behind the Kinkaid fortune and when Russell dumped him right before his mayoral bid, John decided to get revenge. Russell had told his little brother the truth about Barbara's death years before and John realized that since granddaughter!Barbara was the spitting image of her grandmother, she would be perfect to torment Russell. John would invite Russell to Bayview and then force Barbara to dress in her grandmother's things and go out for walks along the cliffs, all in an effort to make Russell think he was being haunted. Russell snapped all right, but seemed determined to commit the same crime. History and all that, I guess.
   Barbara is surprisingly sympathetic with the elder Kinkaid considering the man killed her grandmother and died trying to kill her, but she's probably a better person than I am anyway, so we'll chalk it up to that.
  Liz racks up another concussion but is ultimately fine.
  The same cannot truly be said for Nicholas though. His heart breaks when he realizes that Barbara's parents are whisking her away to home and safety right after her birthday. Nicholas helps Barbara reconnect with her grandfather, Jack. Jack, by the way, is surprisingly okay with the fact that his granddaughter looks identical to his late wife. I guess my years of V.C. Andrews prepped me for a completely different reaction, but hey. Once they flee back to Switzerland, we never hear from them again, so maybe things did go all VC. *cough*
   Anyway. The book ends with Nicholas lonely once more, but finally distracted from Regina's death. Yay?


  • Miles Robinson is one of the mayoral candidates and is the one the SV News supports.

  • July in the Valley is apparently a very slow news month.

  • Russell Donovan Kinkaid is the other mayoral candidate. He's handsome in that "dark, rugged, muscular" way, with angular, well pronounced features and steely gray eyes. He's in his early 60's, a private business man who ran an import/export business. Rumors of illegal campaign fund usage run rampant but there's no proof. Ditto the rumors for bribery. Owned a factory in Tijuana that was shut down due to inhumane working conditions. Name has been linked to infamous names in underworld crime. Favorite author when he was younger was Hemingway, wanted to be a painter.

  • Ronoma County is a rural area 40 miles South East of Sweet Valley. There's a loverly park with a pond used for the annual SVN picnic and it used to be home to Paul Lazarow's artist colony back in the 1940's. It was a popular beach community 50 years ago. (Well, 50 years ago from the 80's, which would be, whoa, 70 years these days.)

  • The SVN picnic started at noon. Volleyball, a cookout, and even fireworks but no mention of the ghostly haunting down the road at Bayview House. Next time they should really schedule that one in, too.

  • Nicholas sees a shrink once a week, partly due to the nightmares he has.

  • Bayview House is a beautiful but rundown gray clapboard house, with a wrought iron fence, a rose garden, turrets, a widow's walk, a brass knocker and no bell for the front door.

  • Rory, Barbara's dog, is a Yorkshire terrier.

  • Barbara is beautiful (naturally) with a perfect oval face, creamy skin, waist length chestnut brown hair, huge wide-set pale blue eyes. She lives in Switzerland with her professor parents who are doing research work in Greece over the summer. Her grandmother died right after Barbara's mother was born.

  • Josine, the housekeeper, is very old and more than a little senile.

  • Uncle John Kinkaid pretends to be Barbara's grandfather's cousin, executor of the original Barbara's will. He's in his 50's and handsome, but mean.

  • Jess desperately wants to cover the makeover workshop at the mall for the paper. Instead she ends up doing research on Paul Lazarow.

  • Mr. Robb is always at his desk by eight A.M.

  • Robb's 8:45 assignments: Dan Weeks, art exhibit at the Sweet Valley Museum for Paul Lazarow who headed the Ronoma artists' colony in the 1940's. Jessica is assisting. Liz is working with Seth on a special feature on Robinson and Kinkaid.

  • Jess feels sorry for Liz having to deal with all the boring politics even more than she was already.

  • Russell Kinkaid drives a silver-blue Jaguar.

  • Paul Lazarow was born in 1895, studied art in Paris, came back to California to start his artists' colony in 1939. He died in 1949, shortly after his daughter, Barbara. Lazarow spent most of his time divided between three places: Ronoma, Paris, and Brittany, and the paintings in the show at the museum are divided as such, with Ronoma being the last section.

  • The Kinkaid brothers were partners for 35 years, mostly in real estate.

  • Barbara Lazarow drowned after being shoved off the cliffs behind her house July 28, 1949. She'd just turned 21.

  • 80's!Barbara has nightmares about her birthday involving cake, a creepy dude, and being chased and then falling. Note to B: run. away.

  • Du Pres, a painter, took Barbara's mother, Gwen, to Europe after the deaths of Barbara and Paul Lazarow. Gwen never really understood why.

  • Denning is the largest town in Ronoma County.

  • Francesco's is a small, charming Italian restaurant's in Denning.

  • The gas attendant thought he saw a ghost when he caught sight of Barbara when she and Nicholas escaped for their date.

  • Barbara speaks French. Of course she does.

  • Rory's collar is found up on the cliffs, leaving everyone to assume John threw poor little Rory over the cliffs.

  • Nicholas finds his Jeep's tires slashed and his windshield smashed.

  • The Sweet Valley Museum is a small, modern building overlooking the ocean with a palm tree lined driveway.

  • In addition to the artist colony, Paul bought Bayview House so that Barbara could summer in California.

  • During the summer of 1947, Kinkaid studied with Lazarow.

  • Bravo, Nicholas, for using the word sadist in a SV novel. Well played!

  • After having lunch with the twins, Nicholas returns to find a threat slipped under his windshield: "You'll stay away from Barbara if you know what's good for you. This is your first and last warning."

  • Barbara's song that she's overheard singing at least twice: You came to me from out of nowhere. You took my heart and found it free... Google tells me this is 'Out of Nowhere' and is worth a listen.

Quote Me On That:

"He's allegedly mishandled campaign funds from day one, but no one can prove it. There's also talk of some bad connections he's made in business. He owned a factory in Tijuana that was shut down by the government because of inhumane working conditions. His name has been linked with some people in the world of organized crime as well."
Jessica looked triumphantly at her sister. "See, there's nothing wrong with the guy." - Seth/Jessica, p6/7

Jessica stared at her, alarmed. "Haven't you heard what Nicholas has been like lately? Lila says he's losing his mind." -p14

"It's very common for people that old to confuse real people with people from the past." -Uh, Nicholas? Just because they're from the past doesn't mean they aren't/weren't real. Just saying. p 73

"Nicholas, have you completely lost your mind? That isn't exactly what I'd call a fair division of labor." -Jess speaks true, if a bit stiffly. p140

"I should never have let you two come out here," he mumbled. - Nicholas? You recruited THEM, not the other way around. p159

Bonus Fashion Spectacular:
Today Elizabeth was wearing a navy blue skirt- slim-cut and flattering, but on the conservative side- and a simple blue-and-white-striped cotton sweater, while Jessica looked as if she had just stepped out of the pages of Ingenue, her favorite magazine. She had on a linen miniskirt, a boxy sweater with padded shoulders, and funky, dangling earrings. p3/4

And not far away from him, Barbara, looking resplendent in a pink-and-ivory silk dress, was sitting on an ivory-colored blanket, her legs tucked under her, her long hair gleaming in the sunlight. Her straw bonnet was thrown carelessly next to her on the blanket and a novel was open on her lap. p 42


  Ultimately, for all the mocking I may or may not have done, I really like No Place to Hide. It appeals to my inner child who loved all the mysterious something fierce. Plus, I like the cover art. I know, I'm shallow. I like the way they keep beating poor Nicholas down and I feel for him, plus who doesn't love an epic romance that spans less than a month? It's not like it's the shortest romance ever. The drama heightens everything and it works very well as it unfolds. It's just that later, when you start to pick at it, that it unravels awfully quickly.
  Also? I think I've established that any book where Jessica is fantastically protective of Elizabeth is bound to make my list of happy making books.

  Bonus points given for connecting Regina and Barbara. Both are unnaturally beautiful and have ties to Switzerland. Creepy!

Please forgive me for being late and for this not necessarily making a lot of sense. It's cold up here (no heating!) and my hands are probably colder than some of the stuff in your freezer. No, I mean the freezer that works, not the one you keep out in the garage hoping that one day you'll need it for some MacGuyver schemes.
the_oracle: (yay)

  Whatever you celebrate, make sure to celebrate it in style. So don your fuschia party dress or black leather, grab the biggest knife you can find [but only if it glitters in the light], and take a stab at being a Wakefield for a day... or a lifetime. Tis the season, after all.

   No. I'm not dead. I've just been buried under work and falling down a staircase or two. No. Seriously. ANYWAY, Happy Holidays. If you need me, I'll be writing up the No Place to Hide info sometime and re-reading The Magic Christmas, The Evil Twin, and Return of the Evil Twin. Anyone else re-read these (or any of the other numerous Christmas/holiday themed books) this time of year?


the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (Default)

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