the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (classic)
Boy Trouble
January 1990

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Patty's life is falling apart.
Can Elizabeth help?



  Boy Trouble, or, the book that took forever to recap because life got in the way! Yeah, we'll go with Boy Trouble. Less tricky to pronounce. :p
   Don't let the cover fool you; Elizabeth Wakefield is barely a supporting character in this tale. Jessica, on the other hand, is our comedic b-story, but that would take away from the pain and anguish poor Patty is emoting on the cover. Or something.
  Patty Gilbert's thrilled. Her boyfriend, Jim Hollis, is finally coming for a visit after three long weeks of studying up at Pacific College, where he's a freshman. Unfortunately for her, her older sister, Jana, chooses that same weekend to descend upon the family with a big surprise. Since Patty hasn't seen her sister in six months, she tries to call Jim to see if he can visit the following weekend instead. Only Jim isn't answering his phone. Ever. Patty's a little worried by this, but tries to tell herself it's perfectly natural for someone not to answer their phone at midnight on a Thursday. Given the number of drunk people who race across the road every Thursday on my way to work, I'll say nothing further about the subject.

   Jim arrives in the Valley and for one moment everything is perfect. They kiss and talk cute and both are just so happy to see one another that this couldn't possibly explode in their faces, right? Riiiiiight.
  When Patty drops the news about Jana, Jim does what every thoughtful and considerate boyfriend would do. He gracefully bows out of the weekend's plans and decides to spend quality time with his family, or perhaps just chill at the beach with any of his remaining SV friends. No? Okay, then he points out that since he and Patty have been dating for two years, obviously the Gilberts wouldn't mind him joining in on the family activities once Patty knows what they are. No?
  No.

  Instead, Jim reacts as if Patty has just run over his foot and told him to walk it off. "But I drove two hours after cramming for a calculus test!" and other such facts are thrown about. Dude. Go take a nap or something. Instead he lays into his girlfriend for wanting to spend time with her sister. Nice, Hollis. Real nice. In return, Patty jumps to the most obvious conclusion: he's picking a fight with her because he's cheating and wants to get back to PC so he can score with girls who are not his girlfriend. You bastard!
   Yeah. Jim doesn't see that one coming and the two end up breaking up then and there. Awkward. On the drive home, Patty debates turning around and admitting that she obviously took twice the legal limit of crazy this morning and perhaps they should discuss things like the adults they so obviously fancy themselves to be. Instead she decides to let them cool off and resume the fight at a later time. Besides, Jana's home and ohmygosh, this couldn't possibly go wrong in any way, right?!
  Why do you keep jinxing yourself, woman?

   Jana's home alright. And she's brought Ted with her. Ted? Ted. Ted is Jana's fiancé . Surprise!
  Patty reacts the way most of us would. "Wait, last I heard you weren't even dating anyone. Are you knocked up?" Well, fine, she doesn't say that last part, but the first part is definitely thought. Then Patty pastes a smile on her face and tries to summon up some happy for her sister because marriage is a big deal.
  But wait, there's more! Jana's getting married in two weeks! Surprise!
  And then she and Ted are moving to West Germany! Trifecta of surprises!

   Patty is a bit stunned by this, and I don't blame her. On a good day, this would be enough to put me in a bit of a funk because you're losing your sister (that's how it'll feel, anyway) and having to plan a wedding in an extraordinarily short time. But remember, Patty isn't having a good day. Her day sucks because she and her longtime boyfriend just broke up... and now she'll be hearing nothing but wedding talk. Congratulations, Patty, I think this qualifies as a level of hell. Enjoy your stay.
  Sadly, Patty doesn't use her one drama queen for a day card at the start of this whole mess, by bursting into tears and having someone say, it's not that bad, we'll still talk on the phone and then she could blurt out the whole Jim situation and bam! Crises averted. But no, that would make the book too short, so instead she reacts as a mature adult and represses her true feelings, figuring that she'll have time to talk to Jana later.
   Fool.

  B-story time! Jessica Wakefield is tired of the same old boys, the same old scene, the same old thing. She's tired of the beach (yawn, another beach cookout for another former boy toy's birthday), she's tired of the boring boys who go to boring old Sweet Valley High... so she winds up at a Crafts Fair at the mall, looking for something, or someone, different. Instead she finds a bunch of old hippies and she is not impressed. Shopping wise though, things have gone well. She runs into DeeDee Gordon who begs her to watch over her t-shirt booth while DeeDee runs to get lunch and something to drink. Jessica reluctantly agrees, since she's not in a massive hurry to admit defeat and head over to the beach party.
   While manning DeeDee's booth, Jessica makes eye contact with a seriously handsome twenty-something guy. He makes his way over to 'her' booth and the two flirt up a storm. Well, at least Jessica thinks they're flirting. Vincent seems to be interested in DeeDee's shirts, but naturally assumes Jessica's the artist he wants. Jessica doesn't correct him, figuring he won't care one way or another since she's Jessica Wakefield and once he's had a chance to date her, who'd even remember some painted t-shirts at a crafts fair?
  Vincent promises to call her and Jessica is sure he will. And he does. Eventually. He says he wants Jessica to meet his partner, Cassie, and they can hammer out the details concerning selling her shirts in their store. Jessica figures they're painted shirts, how hard can it be?
   Based on the shocked reactions that greet her (and her own frank admission that they're awful), pretty hard. Turns out Vincent really did want the shirts and not a date with Jessica (shocker!) and while Cassie does try to let Jessica down easy, Vincent wants the name of the real artist. He then calls DeeDee who is over the moon at having her artwork recognized as good enough to sell. Aww, DeeDee. If only I cared more about you, I'd be touched.


  Back to Patty's predicament. DeeDee decides that Patty should get out of the house and invites her to the movies with Bill and Bill's friend Craig. Patty reluctantly agrees and I have to admit that Craig is actually amusing and I wish he'd pop up again. Who knew that was possible? Anyway, they all head to the movies and of course it's a love story (DeeDee, we need to talk about your friendship status...) and by the end of the film, Patty has decided she can work things out with Jim. Unfortunately, the lights go up and Patty sees Jim... with another girl.
   Also? Jim totally sees Craig with his arm around Patty. Not good. When Jim calls to explain that the girl he was with is his cousin (in town for the crafts fair), Patty blows up and tells him to go fuck himself. Nice, Gilbert.
  Depressed, Patty isn't exactly in the mood for her interview with Elizabeth. Liz is starting this new column called Personal Profiles, which is a spotlight on a senior at SVH. Patty is their first star. I do have to take a minute to bitch that Liz and her friends act like it's going to be super hard to do PP and Eyes & Ears at the same time. Really? I ain't buying that from Serious Reporter Elizabeth Wakefield, so stop it right now.
   Anyway, Liz invites Patty over to talk, off the record, and points out that she's a good listener, even though thus far she hasn't exactly proven that to be true this book. Whatever, Patty goes and the two discuss Jim, Jana, and how Patty wouldn't be able to limit herself to an hour a weekend by the pool. I'm with you, Patty.
  Liz convinces Patty that it's possible Jim's 'date' was simply a friend, like Craig was just a friend of Bill's and not an actual movie date. Patty agrees and drives by his house after leaving Elizabeth's. But there he is, playing Frisbee on the front lawn with his cousin. How dare he?! Patty speeds by and is most upset.
   Eventually Patty tells Jana that maybe if she spent a little less time stressing about a wedding she chose to orchestrate in less than two weeks and a little more time on the fact that Patty is clearly unhappy, maybe she wouldn't a colossal bitch of a sister. Jana fires back that Patty's been this incredibly awful sister for not being thrilled to help plan things in minute detail. The two are not speaking to one another at all by the weekend before the wedding. Oops.

  The deep freeze continues until Jana makes a scheduling mistake and needs Patty to drive her to the bridal shop for her dress fitting. Patty agrees to drive her, but when they arrive at the store, Jana then wants Patty to come in with her. Again, Patty agrees, but makes Jana promise to be quick. Yeah, that's not gonna happen, Patty.
   Doesn't matter because this is a set-up so that Patty will take one look at Jana in her wedding dress and start to thaw. Patty realizes that she should be there for Jana at her wedding and they've got such a short time left that they shouldn't be fighting... assuming Jana apologizes first. And she does. Aww, the two make-up and go home to really discuss the break-up between Jim and Patty. By now Patty knows the girl was Jim's cousin (Jessica bought some earrings from her, Liz admired the earrings and found out the true identity of the mystery girl, and quickly headed over to Patty's house to deliver the news.) but he won't answer any of her calls, so obviously he's avoiding her even though this is well before caller ID. SIGH. But Patty did write this really heartfelt letter she's been too chicken to send. Jana gets an idea...
  Turns out Jim is on some special class trip for his geology course and is in the mountains without any contact with the outside world really. Jana sends Patty's letter to him and includes a note of her own, asking him to call her when he gets the letter. He does and a Plan is made.

  Wedding day! Everyone is all teary and happy and blah, blah, blah. While walking down the aisle, Patty spies her boyfriend (ex?) standing at the end of the second row of pews in the church. Jim! He kisses her on the cheek and later, at the reception we find out that Ted, who'd previously disappeared from his own wedding rehearsal dinner, prompting Patty to wonder about him, drove out to pick Jim up so he could surprise Patty at the wedding. The two make up and not a word is said about Jim's insane blow-up that prompted this whole mess.
   Aww?

  The book ends with Jessica bemoaning the lack of interesting guys in SV. Next up?
What kind of scheme does Jessica have planned to meet the boy of her dreams? Find out in Sweet Valley High #62, Who's Who?


Trivia:

  • Liz has a new column: Personal Profiles. It centers on one senior and details their plans for the future as well as highlighting some of their memorable experiences at SVH.

  • Patty Gilbert is the first person up to be interviewed for PP. She's got dark, almond eyes and long black hair.

  • Jessica's best friends are apparently Lila and Amy with no mention of Cara whatsoever. Sad face.

  • There's a Crafts Fair at the Mall over the weekend. One of DeeDee's friends from her design class at the Civics Center was supposed to help her run her booth, but they came down with the flu.

  • DeeDee brings 20 shirts to the Crafts Fair.

  • The Crafts Fair starts at noon, but all the vendors must arrive an hour earlier to set up. Poor DeeDee has one of the outside booths in the mall parking lot.

  • Jim Hollis is Patty's boyfriend. He's a freshman at Pacific College.

  • Pacific College is two hours north of SV.

  • Most of Patty's plans for Jim's visit seem to include food, including a picnic at the beach and a romantic dinner.

  • Jim has a calculus test Friday.

  • Much is made about the fact that Jim hasn't been home in three weeks and hasn't been calling as much. Bad form, Hollis.

  • Also bad form? Liz says, "I thought you two got together every weekend" mere minutes after DeeDee told her this hadn't been true for the past three weeks. Liz, learn to listen!

  • Patty is supposed to visit Liz at home 7pm Sunday evening for her PP interview.

  • Patty writes this info on her notebook cover as a reminder and I immediately suffer flashbacks to middle and high school.

  • Patty takes the bus to dance class at the Modern Dance Academy. The bus stop, at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Ridgeview, is three blocks from her home.

  • Mrs. Gilbert drives a Buick and works at a computer consulting firm.

  • Jana Gilbert, 21, is Patty's older sister. She lives in San Francisco, where she has a job at Bay Area Environmental Coalition, a non profit environmental organization, and drives a blue VW. She hasn't been home in six months.

  • There's a palm tree outside Patty's bedroom window.

  • Patty plans to follow Jim to Pacific College, where she'll study liberal arts and major in dance.

  • When Jim gets back to town, he calls Patty and DeeDee's house.

  • Jim's house on Orchard Road is a stucco ranch design.

  • Orchard Road seems to intersect Ocean Avenue. For those of you making a map at home, that is.

  • Jim gets inexplicably angry when Patty tells him that Jana is in town and that their couple weekend is going to be massively downgraded. While I can understand why he'd be upset at the plans changing, given the fact that Jana seems to seriously think Patty/Jim are one day going to get married themselves, it makes no sense to not invite him along for part of the surprise weekend. In any case, dude goes OFF and it's never explained why he's so pissed off.

  • Patty accuses Jim of cheating.

  • Ted Brewster is Jana's fiancé . He's a tall, broad shouldered, handsome black man who drives a sports car and is in the Air Force. He's originally from Philadelphia, where his mother, Martha, is a second grade teacher and his father is the principal of an elementary school. He's an only child. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and in three weeks he will be transfered to an Air Force base in West Germany.

  • That's right, Jana and Ted have two weeks to plan their wedding. Surprise!

  • Mr. Gilbert courted his bride-to-be by visiting her every Sunday for two years, sitting in the parlor room with her parents as chaperons. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert say it was decidedly not love at first sight.

  • The wedding reception will be held at the Gilbert's home and Jana wants Reverend Jacobsen to officiate.

  • Jana's wedding dress is coming from Elaine's Bridals.

  • Bill is out surfing with a friend of his, Craig McCaffrey.

  • Alert the media: Jessica Wakefield is bored with the beach scene. Not even a cookout on the beach in honor of Aaron's birthday can cheer her up.

  • DeeDee informs a customer that all of her t-shirts are large because people like to wear them big. Customer agrees and shells out money that even Jess finds a little pricey.

  • By 1pm, DeeDee has sold six shirts already. Her system for keeping track of the shirts is fairly simple. Each shirt is priced and marked with a number so that when one is sold, DeeDee writes it down in a book to keep track of which styles went first. By the end of the day she's sold 19 shirts.

  • Vincent Deleno, 20, is the co-owner of Blue Parrot Crafts. He's got longish black hair, sexy brown eyes, and is rugged and romantic. When Jessica first sees him, she thinks he's an Italian director or maybe a famous artist.

  • Blue Parrots Crafts sells handmade pottery and glass, as well as unique women's clothing and accessories.

  • Normally, Patty eats 2-3 slices of pizza from Guido's.

  • Patty's studied all kinds of dance, including ballet, but says she prefers modern and jazz.

  • After the disaster at the movie theatre, where Jim thought Patty was dating Craig and Patty thought Jim was dating his cousin, Jim calls to explain his side but Patty goes off on him, hanging up before he can say much of anything at all.

  • Patty's usual Sunday breakfast includes bacon, eggs, and cinnamon coffee cake.

  • The phone in Patty's room is beige. Ah, memories.

  • Liz loves fresh pineapple and tries to allot herself at least one hour by the pool every Sunday.

  • Patty's bridesmaid dress is from Bibi's. It's cornflower blue with tiny white flowers, a scooped neckline, and little puff sleeves.

  • Alice Wakefield usually works til 6pm.

  • The Wakefield's kitchen phone cord reaches all the way to the dining room.

  • Mr. Gilbert is left in charge of the wine and champagne at the reception.

  • Aunt Marlene is throwing Jana a bridal shower, and cousin Tracy (a junior at SVH) is tapped to be Jana's maid of honor when Patty and Jana blow up at one another. Tracy doesn't mind stepping down when the sisters make up.

  • Jim Daley asks Jessica out for Friday night and she turns him down.

  • DeeDee buys her fabric paint at Ferriter's Design Supply on Main Street.

  • Patty doesn't have dance class on Wednesdays.

  • Jana's problems: The caterers need the menu and a headcount by the day after tomorrow, the florist can't get gerber daisies for the centerpieces, and she has to hire an organist to play during the ceremony because one is not included in the church. *

  • Jess ditches cheerleading practice to meet with Vincent and Cassie at Blue Parrot. Robin runs practice.

  • After the disastrous meeting, Vincent calls DeeDee and offers her the same opportunity he offered Jessica when he thought she was the artist. DeeDee flips out at her designs being sold in a real store.

  • Jana seems to consider DeeDee a part of their extended family and this gives me warm fuzzies.

  • When Jana makes up her mind to do something, she does it. Case in point, getting Jim and Patty back together.

  • Jim went to the mountains for two weeks for a geology course. His mother suggests sending a letter care of general delivery at the local Post Office.

  • Ted's family makes it to SV Thursday and the Gilberts invite them over to dinner. This is the first time they've met Jana. The Brewsters are hosting the rehearsal dinner at the Valley Inn, which Liz remembers as the last place Jeffrey took her when they were dating. *sniffle*

  • Ted's best man is Marshall Borden, an Air Force buddy.

  • Patty and Jim's two year anniversary was a "a few months ago" at the Valley Inn.

  • Ted disappears after Marshall's toast and only Patty seems to notice or care.

  • Jana is set to walk down the aisle at 11:30AM, but they're still home at 11AM.

  • Jana feels like getting married is that magical step that will turn her into a grown-up.

  • Patty's Maid of Honor gift is a gold chain with a pearl pendant.

  • The florists forgot to bring the men's boutonnières.

  • Patty doesn't get nervous when she dances in front of an audience, but she is nervous to walk down the aisle during her sister's wedding. Oddly enough, I of the terrible stage fright (and complete fear of public speaking), had no problem heading down the aisle at my friend's wedding.

  • While walking down the aisle, Patty sees a tall, handsome young man in a gray suit, standing at the end of the second row of pews. Jim! Just before she stands at the front of the church to await Jana's entrance, Jim kisses Patty on the cheek. I may have aww'd at this moment.

  • Patty's whole family was in on the plot to reunite Jim and Patty. Aww and again I say they'd have been fine with Jim taking part of some of the weekend fun when Jana first arrived!

  • When DeeDee asked Jessica about Vincent's offer, Jessica pretended she'd simply forgotten the conversation, not that she'd tried to swoop in and date Vincent.






Quotes:
   One thing was for sure: They needed this weekend together if their romance was going to survive. - Three weeks, guys. That's all I'm sayin'. p7

  "I'll never forget the first time I saw him. He was wearing his uniform, and he looked like something out of a movie. An Officer and a Gentlemen, you know?"
  Patty nodded. She didn't think he was that handsome, but there was no need to upset Jana. - Because upsetting her will come later. p33/34

   "This way I'll be standing at the altar to prompt you. I could even hold cue cards if you want."
  Jana giggled and rolled her eyes. "I think I can manage 'I do.'" - Patty/Jana, p35

Jessica hated keeping secrets, and for the past week had been dying to announce her latest caper. - p122


  "You must be starving after that brutal cheerleading practice," Elizabeth joked, rummaging in her book bag for the keys. - Geez, Liz, don't be such a cheer-hater. Given the comments characters have made over the series, I'd say Jess probably is hungry after working her ass off for the last hour or so. Shove it, middle Wakefield. p135

   "Dad, I'm so nervous," Patty whispered as they stood in the back of the church, listening to the organist's prelude.
   "Me, too," Mr. Gilbert admitted, smoothing the lapels of his morning coat. "I've never been the father of the bride before." p 143



Fashion File:
  Jessica emerged from her bedroom. She frowned down at Elizabeth, who was wearing shorts and an oversize t-shirt over her new powder blue bathing suit. - p41

   She wove her way among the lunch tables, her mint-green jersey miniskirt swinging against her slim, tanned legs. - Jessica always dresses to kill? p91

  Five minutes later she reemerged into the now empty hallway. Instead of the bright blue tank top and stone-washed miniskirt she had worn to school, Jessica had changed into a boxy, wheat-colored linen jacket and matching knee-length skirt that she had smuggled out of Elizabeth's closet that morning. The jacket sleeves could be rolled up slightly, and with a lacy camisole, her new earrings, and her hair loose, Jessica thought she looked artsy, sophisticated... and entirely irresistible. - p123


* Jana, we need to talk. These aren't problems enough to push you over the edge. Having to guard the wedding cake because you don't want the bride's little sister to destroy it after she feels ignored all day while trying not to make the bride feel like she's being ignored? Yeah. That's a problem. Yours are just part of the whole "getting married in two weeks, yay!" thing.

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(on the right, hardback)


   Sooo... this took forever. 2011 sucked. My computer died a couple of weeks ago which wiped out my review of this as well as my picture folders (noooooooooo) and... yeah. Mostly 2011 sucked and this year wasn't really off to a great start either. :/

  That aside, Boy Trouble isn't actually a bad book. I like the way it's written, and I'll try not to hold the miscommunication against anyone for long because there's no point in it. Patty's justifiably upset at the people in her life, but she's not overly obnoxious about it. She's able to be happy for DeeDee when things are going well in her life while Patty's still broken up over Jim and Jana's non-stop wedding chatter. She realizes she should be happy for Jana and does try, though apparently it's easy to see through her although NO ONE asks her about it at home. That's a little odd, truthfully.
  Jessica's B-story is fun and isn't drawn out too long, either. She gets called out on her scheme but still manages to avoid outright humiliation, and it serves as a nice set-up for the next book.
  Overall, it's one of the better written books and is fairly believable at times, plus I love the way Jana and Patty tease one another. Also? Craig is love.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Teacher Crush
August 1989


Has Olivia met the man of her dreams?
svh
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!
  Gasp!
  Shock!

   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.

  Dun.
  Dun.
  DUN!

  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.


Trivia:

  • 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

svh


   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: (troo wuv)
White Lies
February 1989


Will Jennifer despise John Pfeifer when she finds out the truth?
Photobucket
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?



Trivia:

  • 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.



Quotable:
  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.


Photobucket

   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: (amy thinks)
Out of Reach
November 1988


Will Jade Wu have to defy her father to get what she wants?

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Impossible dreams...

   All Jade Wu wants is to be as all-American as the other girls in Sweet Valley. But her traditional Chinese father won't let her date or do anything of the things other teenage girls do, so Jade's sure she'll never fit in.
  Jade is a talented dancer, and when she wins the solo part in a dance show, she takes the role despite her father's objections. Soon she's happier than she dreamed she could be, especially when the show brings her together with handsome David Prentiss. Jade begins to confide everything in David-until it suddenly looks as if he's betrayed her deepest secret about her family.
   Can Jade really find happiness in her two worlds, or was her father right all along?


   Oooh, shiny. One of the few SVH books to get the special treatment in terms of actual shiny-ness added to the book covers. Probably because it's #50 and #100 was busy giving me hope that they'd kill Elizabeth and have a psychopath assume her identity. Where the hell is my alternative reality fic involving that, huh? I demand it, now!

   Uh, anyway. Out of Reach also sports a lovely Giantess Elizabeth as she gives the shoulder pat of condescension to poor Jade Wu. Which means this book also serves as a major source of Continuity Headaches for when Jade makes her triumphant return in Senior Year.
  For now, Jade is the daughter of an exceptionally traditional Chinese father. Dr. Wu (Ph.D. in physics!) left China was he was 23, so he's still very big on doing things the way they're done in China. Sadly, his daughter has other ideas. Jade is a dancer who dreams of dancing professionally. She seems to prefer ballet, but also excels in modern dance. As a non-dancer, I'll take her word for this. Daddy dearest, however, won't let her dance in front of an audience. I don't think he gets what dancing *is* then. Because Jade's mother is also traditional, she believes wives should defer to their husbands, and children should defer to their parents and doesn't really interfere much unless she's positive she can convince her husband he's being a little too stubborn. Except Jade's an American teenager and she's all about the rebellion, baby. I wish I could pull the Wus aside and tell them that they've got so much more to worry about than 'modern' dance. Jade's a bit of a skank in SY, so really, someone dropped the ball somewhere in the ten years or so between. Just sayin'.
   If you cast your memory waaaaaaaay back, you might recall that the previous book ended with people wondering who Jade Wu was and why the Eyes and Ears column seemed to think she was a shoo in for the solo in some stupid dance fund raiser. You might not. It doesn't matter. They did, and the fund raiser is to get enough money so that SVH can offer ballet and modern dance as electives next year... or the year after or something. Whenever the school board has time, I guess. In your average school, odds are good no one would care. (I'm just guessing here.) But because this is SVH, everyone gives at least half a damn. Why? Because Elizabeth is in charge of publicity and Amy Sutton is wandering around declaring that she's so much better than everyone else that she's sure to get the lead solo.
   Stop. Rewind.

   Despite mentions of at least two other fantastic dancers from the last time Jessica decided she was the best dancer in the school, Amy still thinks she can beat them all, plus the cover star? Oh, Amy. You really are an idiot. Jessica, in a surprising move, agrees with this assessment, but has no real desire to squash Amy like a bug or really discourage her in anyway. Luckily for all of us, Lila decides to take up the slack. When Amy declares that she should get the solo because she looks the part and Jade doesn't, Lila calmly points out that Jade's American, too. Oh yeah, and she can dance. Oh, Lila, honey. You've come a long way from your crack against anything ethnic back when Sandy was interested in Miguel. I'm so proud. Tear.
  Since this is Amy, logic doesn't work at all, and she's still convinced she's the best hope the school has for a true All American Beauty to dance the solo. *yawn* Wake me up when Lila comes back, k?

   Jade wants desperately to try out for the show, but her father would never approve. Still, she asks, and he says no just like she knew he would, and then Jade finally remembers she's a teenager and tries out anyway. Naturally she gets the solo when Amy manages to bungle the relatively easy audition (who knew Cara was so good?) and incurs Amy's wrath something fierce. Jade also attracts attention from David Prentiss, the guy in charge of set design and art. Hey, that's supposed to be DeeDee's gig! Don't worry. She's second in command. So, naturally David likes Jade and Jade likes David. But if you'll remember, Jade's father is terribly traditional which means ain't no way is the girl going to date. But every time David asks Jade out, she turns him down. Which is understandable, except she thinks to herself that she could never tell David that her father would kill her first, that he'd never believe it. Instead she just doesn't tell him anything at all.
  And my head hits the desk each time this happens. Particularly impressive when reading in areas lacking desks. The guy won't understand that your traditional, conservative father won't let you date, but he'll be fine thinking you're just not interested? To complicate matters, we have a couple of other issues at play, although neither one explains fully why Jade is lacking the logic gene. At least Amy's an idiot and seems to have bleached her extra braincells away. What's Jade's excuse?

   Jade doesn't want anyone to know that her family is different from theirs. It's bad enough that they look different, but she doesn't want them to actually be different. So she doesn't tell anyone, except for her best friend, that she runs home every afternoon to help her mother prepare dinner for their family. She doesn't tell anyone that the house is decorated in a decidedly Chinese way, or that her mother's parents own a laundromat because heaven forbid that it's yet another Chinese laundromat!
   On David's side, his father ditched his family of six kids when David was seven, and his mother works as a housekeeper/maid, so when Jade keeps turning him down with no explanation (after he's told her about his family) he assumes she's ashamed to be seen out in public with him. A bit stupid when you consider she's not all that worried about being seen with him during ever rehearsal to the point that everyone in the show assumes they're dating, but still. Justified when she tries to make him understand that she does trust him... by telling him about her grandparents. David doesn't get why it's a big thing to Jade and figures she really is ashamed of him considering how she seems to be treating people who paid for her dancing when her father wouldn't.
  Remember when I said Amy was ticked off that Jade, a mere sophomore, managed to "steal" her solo? Yeah. Amy's out running errands with her mother, who has just switched to a new laundromat. I know and you know where this is going, right? Exactly. Jade's grandparents are so proud of Jade that they've got one of the gorgeous posters David designed prominently displayed. Amy comments on the show and Jade's grands are all, "Our granddaughter is the staaaaaar!" in the way of grandparents everywhere. Amy is a bitchy teenage girl so she runs home and calls everyone she knows and spreads the news as fast as she can.
  Personally, I still don't get it, but the bitches of SVH certainly do. Plus, Jade set herself up when she made a crack in history one day about how her family is just so utterly normal, it's not like they own a laundromat or anything. Oh, Jade. You created this mess with your misplaced shame. Since Jade has only told one person about her grandparents, and the news spills almost immediately afterward, Jade sets off to deal with the person she believes betrayed her.

   Ultimately, Jade and David fight and fight big. David quits the show because Jade isn't who he thought she was and he can't stand to be around her anymore. He tears down the set he made especially for Jade's solo, so you know it's serious. Remember, he's an artist. Their work is their life or something. Jade's mother and dance instructor manage to finally convince Jade's father to let her dance in the show just in time for Jade to no longer care.
  Now, you're probably wondering where Liz is during all this. Good timing. David and Liz have a bit of chat and Liz uses actual logic this go round. She points out that Jade's family seems awfully conservative and that while it's possible Jade is ashamed of David, she doesn't think that's true or the reason Jade kept turning him down for a date. Liz figures Jade isn't allowed to date. Because Liz knows about these things, David begins to ponder if maybe his own insecurities were clouding his judgment at least a little.
  Jade concentrates on the mission dancing, but she's more upset than she'd imagined she would be when her father gives his permission but says he will not attend because he thinks her dancing in public is wrong. She got what she wanted, she just didn't know to ask/hope for more.
  The night of the show, Jade is a bit nervous, but mostly sad that the two men in her life will not be there to see whether she stumbles or soars. Before she goes on, she peeks out into the crowd and her father is there, amidst her mother, grandparents, and her dance instructor. Score! That leaves...
   David reconstructed his set (with Dee Dee's help) so you know he's forgiven her. She dances like a maniac she's never danced before, but in that good way. She's amazing. Fantastic. Wonderful. Whatever. Standing ovation, numerous bows are taken, the show is a success! Jade's approached by a talent scout who offers Jade a fantastic dance internship. Everyone, including Jade's father, is impressed and thrilled and all that jazz. But then the kicker comes. Mr. Wicker, the scout dude, wants Jade to change her name because the woman shelling out for this big honor is a bit old fashioned and would not like the name Jade Wu. Too ethnic. How about something nice and American like Warren?

   Excuse me while I slam my head into something. HELLO. Racist lady will NOTICE Jade's CHINESE. You can't really confuse Liz and Jade on the cover, people, so I doubt the little old lady is going to go, "Oh, well, with a name like that I'm sure my cataracts just makes you look Chinese." NO. Fail. Back of the line.

   Sorry about that. Jade doesn't use any of that logic and instead goes with the whole, I'm proud of my heritage and I will not dance under any other name because it's who I am. Wicker stalks off in a huff, everyone else celebrates. Even Amy, because she's sure she looks American enough for Scout Dude.
  David asks Jade's father's permission to take Jade out. Dr. Wu is impressed by this show of respect and of course Jade can go out with David. We'll ignore the fact that I'm thinking he'd be impressed, but he wouldn't really want Jade and David dating. Everyone lives happily ever after! Until next time, anyway.

  B plot: You're thinking to yourself, "you know what this book needs? More cowbell! Jessica. Freakin'. Wakefield!" And I present to you the B plot. Ned gets an invite to his 25th high school reunion. Midlife crisis ensues. After enduring an eye-searingly bad tie, Jessica decides to teach her father a lesson. If he wants to be young so badly, she'll show him that being young isn't exactly what it was. She enlists her mother's and Elizabeth's help. Alice encourages Ned to exercise himself into oblivion. Jessica and Liz drag Ned out to the Beach Disco to see the Razors, a band I'm guessing is supposed to err on the side of heavy metal or at least less friendly rock than the rest of the series. The song titles are precious. Anyway, it doesn't take long for Ned to get the idea (I'm thinking being squished in the back of the Fiat might have done it, honestly.) but he endures the pain a little longer than anyone sane might have. I'm betting he wanted to see how far they'd all go. :p
   It's a fun little side trip when Jade's antics get too facepalm worthy, but it's not one of the better Jessica plots.

Trivia:

  • The music and dance show is to raise money to start a dance program, so that students can take modern dance or ballet as an elective.

  • Ms. Bellasario is directing.

  • Maria Santelli was the student producer until she got the flu and had to drop out. Never is it mentioned that anyone sent her a get well card or anything, but you know if either twin got sick, there'd be get well cards and parties and balloons and presents...

  • Liz starts out doing the publicity for the show before being tapped as student producer.

  • Jade Wu: sophomore, Chinese American (she was born in America), recently moved to SV a few months ago.

  • Melanie Forman, Jade's best friend, sophomore. Seems to be the more grounded of the two.

  • Eve Miller: Jade's dance teacher, her lessons to Jade were a gift from Jade's maternal grandparents. Believes in Jade's dancing ability.

  • While complaining to Mel about her parents, Jade says she couldn't sleep over at any friend's house because they didn't have sleepovers in China, but maybe if she hadn't been an only child, her brothers and sisters could have deflected some of the parental insanity. Didn't the 80's subscribe to the theory that if you were Chinese, you had one, maybe two kids?

  • Dr. Wu came to America when he was 23, has a Ph.D in physics from Cal Tech. Was a professor, then a business consultant, moved his family from San Francisco to SV six months ago.

  • Mrs. Wu's parents, the Sungs, live in SV and run Sung's Laundry. They met in America after leaving China, and had at least three girls (Mrs. Wu says "my sisters" when defending them to Jade) but no sons.

  • Jade takes the 3:22 bus downtown after school. Now you know about when SVH gets out for the day.

  • David Prentiss: tall (a foot taller than Jade), sandy brown/blond hair, green eyes, freckles, shy, the oldest of six kids, painter, father ditched the family when he was 7, Mrs. Prentiss is a housekeeper/maid, in charge of set design, part time job at a delivery service.

  • Jade sits behind Kevin Johnson in history.

  • It's time for Ned's 25th high school reunion and as a result, he starts to spazz out.

  • Ned orders an exercise bike, joins the health club, is dragged to the Beach Disco by the twins, Jessica takes him shopping and makes him try on "trendy Italian" stuff, Jess makes him listen to prog rock, the twins gave him a t-shirt from the mall that apparently did nothing for him, Jess invites him to watch music videos with her, Alice has him spend two hours of pain on that bike and enrolls him in the Marathoner's Club, which promises to work him up to a 12 mile run a day. o_O

  • Mrs. Wu is a plump, conservative wife who defers to her husband, but still finds ways to convince him to come around to her way of thinking in regards to Jade. Whenever possible, that is.

  • Dr. Wu wants Jade to marry a Chinese boy, preferably one from his province.

  • Jade's studying the Cultural Revolution in China. She's worried people will ask her about it, as if she'd just magically know by virtue of being Chinese. They do, she doesn't.

  • Patty Gilbert is the student choreographer for the dance show.

  • The Sutton family car is a beige sedan.

  • Jade always goes home at five after dance class and helps her mother prepare a traditional family dinner.

  • Jade, Amy, Cara, and Susan Stewart are all chosen to audition in the same group.

  • Amy keeps flubbing things. First there's a problem with her shoe. Then there's something in her throat and she's going to cough. Then her hair is in her eyes. None of these things help. She's still awful.

  • Call backs for the solo audition: three seniors (Denise Hadley, Jennifer Morris, Yvonne White), two juniors (Cara and Susan), and Jade.

  • Ms. Frankel, the assistant music teacher, is playing the piano for the auditions.

  • A dozen dancers (four boys, eight girls) were chosen for the show: Betsy Weiss (sophomore), Amy, Susan, Denise, Cara, and Jade are all mentioned.

  • The Droids will also be partaking in the show.

  • Dee Dee Gordon is David's assistant.

  • 1st Act- musical, then a short intermission, then dancing, Jade's solo, and the big chorus line finale.

  • Rehearsals are from 4-6 nightly, but later Amy mentions that Jade frequently leaves early. Later the rehearsals will last longer as they get closer to the show.

  • Ned's usual Friday night is reading the newspaper instead of just skimming it like he does the rest of the week.

  • When he's conned into going to the Beach Disco, Ned wears "a pair of corduroy pants, a conservative stripes shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and his new purple tie." The tie, btw, is mentioned as being eye searingly awful.

  • The Razors are a fantastically awful heavy metal-ish band with some awesome song titles. You Tear Me Up and Cut Me Babe, Why Don't You Cut Me.

  • The Beach Disco apparently doesn't carry club soda (what Ned wants) but they do have Grape-lime-raspberry fizzes.

  • When Jade keeps balking at spending time with him, David thinks she's ashamed of him and his family.

  • Jade keeps water up onstage in case she gets thirsty and leaves everyday at 5pm. Amy is not thrilled by this.

  • When Jade tells her mother about word getting out about Sung's Laundry, Mrs. Wu decides maybe Jade shouldn't be dancing in the show after all. Eventually Jade realizes what a brat she's been.

  • Jade's big night outfit: rose colored leotard, matching tights, filmy dance skirt, and a silver barrette from Eve for luck.

  • The audience loves Jade. She takes two bows and the applause continues until the finale starts.

  • Mr. Wicker is there to nominate Jade for the the Amelia Higginson Award and to ask Jade to dance as an intern with the L.A. Summer Stock Dance Company in June.

  • Mr. Wicker wants Jade to change her name to Jade Warren.

  • Amy decides that since Jade told Mr. Wicker to shove off, he might need someone more American... like her.




Quote Me-
  As much as she liked Amy, she had to agree with her twin, Elizabeth, that Amy had an inflated sense of her own worth.- And these are your friends, Ames. p2

  "But she's Chinese! She doesn't look right for the part. The soloist for the finale should be blond, all-American like me!" - Die, Sutton. Die. p4

  Jade wanted to be American in every way. She wanted American clothes, American food, American friends. If she could look American, she'd be overjoyed. - p8

   "There's nothing unique or Chinese about my family," Jade lied, her cheeks still hot. "My dad doesn't run a laundry or anything." -Stay classy, Wu. p31

  "Did you see that tie he wore to work this morning? I don't know where he got it, but it was purple, and it had all those weird paint swirls on it. I wouldn't let Jeffrey wear something that wild!" - Like you needed proof that Liz wears the pants in that relationship. p49

  When Amy Sutton was being unreasonable, she could be very imaginative. p 53

   "But you've got a good point, Jess. Since when does he have the money to come to school with all this fancy new stuff? Like that brand-new Walkman?" -oh, 80's. You make me smile. Cara, p150

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   Overall, this is kind of a crappy 50th book. It's fine as a regular book in the series, but I would have expected something bigger for a milestone such as this. My favorite bit, other than Amy being so incredibly... Amy, is that Jade doesn't sneak around behind both parents' backs to get what she wants. She appeals to her mother's sensible side and pray that Dr. Wu comes around. I don't particularly like the way Mrs. Wu seems to disregard the fallout of what will happen if Jade is unable to dance in the show, especially once she becomes to focal point of the posters, but I'd like to think she's just that confident that she'll be able to sway her husband to her side.
  You could do a lot worse in the SV-verse, but there's a reason it took me so long to buy the book. There are so many more awesome books out there.

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If you collect excuses as to why there's a giant gap in posts, I offer you this: I burned out on reading in general for awhile, the Diablo Cody thing killed my SV love for a bit ( I still don't know why), my dad was in the hospital, work kicked my arse for a bit, I wanted to read other things, and all of this happened after I decided to take a mini-break until I could make sure I had all the books in the foreseable future. Namely, I had to snag a copy of #52. Then life went meh. It also explains why I've not done other things I should have. Working on fixing that. Hey, all new people.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Caught In The Middle
January 1988


Is love enough to keep Sandra and Manuel together?

Off-limits...



   Sandra Bacon has finally found a boy to love. Manuel Lopez is kind, sensitive, and handsome, and he cares about Sandra as much as she cares about him.
   But there is one problem: Sandy's parents don't approve of Manuel. So the couple must keep their love and their precious moments together a secret.
   Then eyewitnesses place Manuel at the scene of a life-threatening accident, and only Sandy can clear his name. If she tells the truth, she may lose her parents' trust and love; but if she doesn't, she will certainly lose Manuel forever.

  So. Mexicans are people, too, right? Yeah, I think we all knew this going in the first go round, but twenty-some odd years later, really. We get it. That said, this would be another star-crossed lovers book. And one I hated for years as a kid simply because this cover did not belong in my collection. It was WRONG. Not because Manuel is Mexican, or because there is no way in Hades that those two on the cover are high school juniors, but because it was lacking in Wakefield. And color. Really, really blah. And I like grey, but this was pushing it.

  Anyway. Sandy Bacon has earned herself another book, only this time she finally gets a guy. He's handsome, he's charming, he's a gentleman, he's kind, he's totally not realistic in anyway, because he's perfect. Except for the fact that he's Mexican. This doesn't bother Sandy, but it might very well kill her racist parents. We're told that Sandy's father wrote a letter to the editor about how the Mexicans [how many times will I have to type the word Mexican?] are taking over and ... good lord, man. Ahead of your time.
   So, in the tradition of all great loves kept apart by disapproving parents, Sandy lies. A lot. At first she lies to Manuel about why he hasn't met her parents yet. She says they're really busy a lot and this might've gone on longer had Manuel [I really want to call him Manny. Damn you, TV show!] not overheard her lying to her parents about where she was. Sandy confesses that as awesome as Manuel is, her parents would just see him as someone unfit to date their daughter because they've got a raging hatred of zee Mexicans. I wonder if it's just the Mexicans or if anyone not whiter than white would also be greeted at the door with a shotgun and a shovel?
  Manuel understands that some people in the world are just stupid, but really believes that if her parents met him they'd see how awesome he is too! Nice ego there, mate. But I have to agree. Manuel is the perfect boyfriend, if a little on the dull side. Sandy agrees, but also doesn't. She knows her parents and she's highly doubtful that they'd see anything other than the color of his skin and the parade of all the other people they've hated before him. They wouldn't see Manuel at all. Still, she agrees to try and talk to them.
   And she does. She tries the hypothetical, "Mom, what if I fell in love with someone who was, I dunno, Mexican. Would you be happy that I found someone who loves plain old me, or would you call the cops and have him escorted from the premises while shouting horrible things to him?" Yeah, not quite that phrasing, but that would have been fun. Sandy's mother does that country club laugh and tells Sandy that she's got a vivid imagination, but why oh why would she think of such a thing? At Sandy's next approach she points out that love is hard enough without the added burden of being from different backgrounds, so she'd have to say no to that on those grounds as well.
  At this point I'd have lost my sanity and just blurted it out, or waited until we were in public somewhere that a mob probably wouldn't have formed and just crash-introduced them. I don't have the patience Sandy or Manuel seem to have, y'know?
   Still, Manuel's tired of having to pick Sandy up someplace other than her home. He's tired of sneaking around and feeling bad about himself. He's tired of Sandy lying.
  And Jeanie West is tired of covering for Sandy. I can see how exhausting that would be, given that Jeanie's and Sandy's mothers hang out a lot, but that, honey, that was your in. If Jeanie's mother doesn't share Mrs. Bacon's views, talk. to. her. Have her talk to your mother for, or at least with you, Sandy. DUH.

   Instead, this is Sweet Valley and we haven't had an explosion in a very long time. So, we're off to Secca Lake where we can blow shit up without anyone batting an eyelash.
  Sandy invites Liz on her boating date with Manuel so she can tell her mother that she was out with Liz. She tells Liz it'll be fun and leaves out the part where she's using the other blond, and tells Manny that Liz invited herself along. Charming.
  While out on Sandy's motor boat, something goes wrong with the engine and the ensuing explosion sends Liz and Manuel flying into the water. Sandy doesn't get so lucky and is knocked unconscious and left on the burning boat. Manuel swims back to save Sandy before the boat can explode [gas cans and fire, children] and all three manage to swim far enough away that when the boat does blow, they aren't hurt anymore than they were before.
  On shore, Sandy wakes up enough to thank Manuel for saving her life, but then tells him to get lost as she can't have her parents finding out about him. Liz will take the hero-credit and all will be right with the world.
   Manuel and Elizabeth are both stunned, but neither can manage to articulate the fact that if ever Sandy was going to tell her family about Manuel, doing so when he's the frickin' HERO who saved her life would be the time.
  Manuel disappears and Liz reluctantly takes the spotlight.
  It's not until the police suspect someone tampered with Sandy's boat, given the description numerous witnesses gave of there being three people near the boat before it went into the water and only two taking credit for having been there after, that Manuel realizes that maybe Sandy's never going to come clean with her parents. Sandy's parents are called to the police station and they take Sandy with them. For one completely awful moment, Sandy tells everyone that she's never seen Manuel before in her life. The police decide this means he really did do something to the boat and are about to take him away when Manuel plays the perfect boyfriend card again.
   Instead of yelling or screaming or calling her a bitch [or any real show of temper whatsoever] Manuel asks how Sandy could do this. And Sandy crumbles and admits she's in love with Manuel and that he saved her life and she was so ashamed of her parents and afraid of how they'd see Manuel, how they'd treat him, that she was ready to... to what, Sandy? See if you could get him sent to frickin' jail? That's bad for any relationship, honey.
   Sandy's parents asks Liz, who has timed her arrival just right so as to be there to hear Sandy's confession and back her up, if this is true, and she does that backing Sandy thing up.
  Sandy's father asks Manuel if it's true, if he's in love with Sandy, if he risked his life to save her, and if he would have taken the rap for something he didn't do. Manuel says yes, yes, and are you crazy? Mr. Bacon is awfully accepting of Manuel, considering he's the one we were warned about first. It's really Mrs. B who has the issues and she tries to get over them, but it's obviously a struggle. Ah, reality...
   It all ends well, with Manuel and Sandy together again, Manuel not being sore over Sandy lying to the police about him, and Liz no longer being the heroine of the hour.

   In our sadly underused B-story for the week, it's Lila's birthday. Again. Didn't she already have a birthday? No matter. Jessica decides to throw Lila a surprise-surprise party. They'll all ignore Lila on her birthday and the weeks leading up to it, all the better to really surprise her the day after with the party to end all party! Which 30 people will show up to.
  It all goes as planned. Lila's feelings are hurt for more than a week, but give her one hour or so of being the center of attention again and she's cool with everyone.
  I hate this storyline in that it's awful to be that much of a bitch to someone and include other people so that someone will feel that low all for one euphoric high. Also, it kept making me hope that when people had forgotten my birthday, they were really just pretending.
  They weren't.



Trivia:

  • Jessica gripes that Liz won't go anywhere without Jeffrey.*

  • Ricky is still the cheerleaders' manager.

  • Cheerleading practice starts earlier on Tuesday afternoons.

  • Jessica agrees with Sandy as they both think Sandy is average, though Jess will admit that since falling for Manuel, Sandy's begun to glow.

  • Manuel is a junior at SVH with dark, curly hair, and chocolate brown eyes. He's taller than Sandy, but not too tall, so she doesn't get a crick in her neck looking up at him and kissing doesn't involve apple crates. He's got four little brothers and one younger sister and he works part time after school as an assistant track coach at the elementary school.

  • Manuel's siblings: Carlos is 6, then Juan, Pedro, Miguel, and Maria is 13.

  • Sandy meets Manuel's extended family at his cousin's birthday party.

  • Jessica dreams that Lila tires of being rich, so she writes Jessica a check for all Daddy Fowler's money.

  • Lila's birthday is in a week at the start of the book.

  • Sandy still has three unnamed older brothers.

  • Sandy's parents bought their Spanish-style house ten years ago.

  • There were riots in Los Perros and people were hurt, which just added fuel to Sandy's parents' bigotry. Or something.

  • Sandy's mother, Irene, is forever going on about how she was raised in a racially charged environment and that skewed her view as it were.

  • The Bacons are members of the country club.

  • Mr. Bacon works at a local advertising agency.

  • Sandy is sure that Carl Pierce, the guy her parents want her to date, is going to be blond, blue eyed, and terribly boring because he loves golf. No clue if he is though. I kept thinking, "Whoa, Caroline Pierce?"

  • Cara feels badly for Lila until Jessica reminds her that Lila made a snotty comment about Cara's wardrobe being two years out of style.

  • Jessica and Cara pretend they're going with Amy to see "the Boys" in concert at Westwood Stadium on Lila's birthday.

  • Sandy says she's going to Casey's and she'll be picked up at Enid's. Does Sandy really spend enough time with Enid that this alone wouldn't raise Irene's suspicions, or is there some other life we don't know Enid has?

  • Sandy got a speedboat for her last birthday and it's called Solar One.

  • Manuel worked at the Secca Lake Boat house last summer.

  • Mr. Fowler offered to take Lila to Jacque's in San Mirabel for her birthday dinner.

  • Jessica describes the banner she and Cara are making for Lila's birthday as a "trade union banner" with each panel depicting an aspect of Lila, like... "Lila Shopping" or "Lila Giving Parties."

  • Enid's grandfather died a few months ago and she's hoping to convince her grandmother to move from Chicago to California.

  • Sandy drives her mother's Toyota. What, she doesn't have her own car, but she has a motorboat?

  • Elizabeth introduces Sandy and Manuel to Alice, but shouldn't Mrs. Wakefield know who Sandy is by now? She's been on the cheerleading squad off and on for at least two years and she's definitely B-list of Jessica's friends and had to have gone to other parties Jessica and Liz have thrown over the year.

  • Don is the park ranger who asks Sandy and Liz questions after the explosion.

  • There's a blond guy who called for the ambulance, and he tries to convince Don that he and his friend Bert both saw a guy with Liz and Sandy. Don tells him to take a hike because he's upsetting Sandy. Brilliant.

  • Local Girl Saves Friend In Boating Accident- Headline the next day in the Sweet Valley News.

  • Mrs. Abernathy is still the PTA president.

  • Sandy suffers second degree burns on her palms after the accident.

  • The Bacons give Elizabeth a lovely rope link gold bracelet from Stowe's, the nicest jewelery store in town. Dude, Sandy's loaded.

  • Blue is Manuel's favorite color.

  • Pete Young is the coach at Sweet Valley Elementary.

  • Officer Richard Patterson and Sergeant James take Manuel in for questioning.

  • Jeffrey and Elizabeth make Lila a 'Surprise Surprise Party!' banner.

  • Around 30 people attend Lila's birthday party at the Wakefields. So, that'd be... Jessica, Elizabeth, Jeffrey, Cara, Amy, Enid...

  • There's foreshadowing in this book for Jessica to fall head over heels for AJ. Some might argue that it's for any big Jessica crush, but all the "one day you'll understand when you really, truly fall" and the "ready for one of your infamous Jessica-style head over heels" type discussions smack more of AJ than boy of the week.

  • Also, despite Double Jeopardy coming between this and the last book, we pick up right after Outcast. Right. After.



*I hate it when people neglect their friends/family simply because they're dating/married/shackled to someone else. It's annoying. Stop it!

Quotable Sweet Valley:

"Come inside and help me make dinner," she begged.
"Make dinner?" Lila said blankly.
"Yeah, it's what the rest of the world does while your cook makes yours." - I applaud the Jessica/Lila exchange, even if we've already seen Li half-assedly help the Wakefields make dinner at least once before. p 12

Sandra felt she had to pinch herself to prove she wasn't coming. - ...I... I had to re-read that twelve times, and another time this morning, because I was sure that my eyes were playing tricks on me. They might still be. p 18


"Come on, Liz. Manuel really wants you to come, too." This last comment couldn't have been farther from the truth, but Sandra figured she would have plenty of time to convince Manuel that Elizabeth would make the outing even more fun. - p 75. Because I'm mean, I'll take this to mean that even before Liz was named Heroine of the year, Manuel didn't particularly care for Saint Liz. :P

"Jessica," Elizabeth said reproachfully, "don't you have the tiniest little sense of right and wrong?"
Jessica reached for another piece of toast. "Not in this case," she said cheerfully. "You're only going to mess things up if you start worrying about the truth now." - Sometimes Elizabeth surprises me with just how often she can misjudge her twin's morality levels. p102



   I dragged my feet in starting to re-read Caught in the Middle because it's never been one of my favorites. Partly it's that I think the cover is painfully boring, and as happy as I am that Sandy got a second cover, this is just blah, and I spend more time trying to figure out what, aside from the art, could be done to fix it than I did actually reading the book itself.
   Thing is, it's not a bad book. Yeah, it's obviously one of those Very Special Issue books, but it attempts to wobble that line between exceptionally preachy and just plain after school special. I'm not entirely sure where it falls because I cut it slack for being a young adult book written for an ongoing series in the 80's as well as it being SVH, so the standards, I admit, are considerably lower than what I'd expect for most other things.
   Manuel's a bit of a saint, even if I tire of typing his name out each time. He's also probably a better boyfriend than anyone the Wakefields ever hook up with. I like that "plain" Sandy gets the great guy, and I like that they didn't have Sandy magically grow the stones to tell her parents immediately, and that her mother was still having trouble accepting Manuel even after she found out he'd saved her baby's life. Can't really say that this book made me like Sandy all that much. There's a line you don't cross, and telling the cops you don't know your boyfriend? Yeah, that leaps across that line, backs up, and then drags the carcass of your relationship back over the line.
   Normally I'm all for a Lila subplot, but dude, hasn't this one been done before already? In this series? Maybe it's just that I swear they trot this out at least once in every SV series where Lila plays any part whatsoever. Bah.
   Final verdict: You could do worse. You could, however, do better.



P.S.- If you've got the re-released cover and you want to share, I'll love you. Forever. There's always gotta be one cover that's a bitch to find. Meh.
the_oracle: (plotting)
Caught In The Middle
January 1988


Is love enough to keep Sandra and Manuel together?

Off-limits...



   Sandra Bacon has finally found a boy to love. Manuel Lopez is kind, sensitive, and handsome, and he cares about Sandra as much as she cares about him.
   But there is one problem: Sandy's parents don't approve of Manuel. So the couple must keep their love and their precious moments together a secret.
   Then eyewitnesses place Manuel at the scene of a life-threatening accident, and only Sandy can clear his name. If she tells the truth, she may lose her parents' trust and love; but if she doesn't, she will certainly lose Manuel forever.

  So. Mexicans are people, too, right? Yeah, I think we all knew this going in the first go round, but twenty-some odd years later, really. We get it. That said, this would be another star-crossed lovers book. And one I hated for years as a kid simply because this cover did not belong in my collection. It was WRONG. Not because Manuel is Mexican, or because there is no way in Hades that those two on the cover are high school juniors, but because it was lacking in Wakefield. And color. Really, really blah. And I like grey, but this was pushing it.

  Anyway. Sandy Bacon has earned herself another book, only this time she finally gets a guy. He's handsome, he's charming, he's a gentleman, he's kind, he's totally not realistic in anyway, because he's perfect. Except for the fact that he's Mexican. This doesn't bother Sandy, but it might very well kill her racist parents. We're told that Sandy's father wrote a letter to the editor about how the Mexicans [how many times will I have to type the word Mexican?] are taking over and ... good lord, man. Ahead of your time.
   So, in the tradition of all great loves kept apart by disapproving parents, Sandy lies. A lot. At first she lies to Manuel about why he hasn't met her parents yet. She says they're really busy a lot and this might've gone on longer had Manuel [I really want to call him Manny. Damn you, TV show!] not overheard her lying to her parents about where she was. Sandy confesses that as awesome as Manuel is, her parents would just see him as someone unfit to date their daughter because they've got a raging hatred of zee Mexicans. I wonder if it's just the Mexicans or if anyone not whiter than white would also be greeted at the door with a shotgun and a shovel?
  Manuel understands that some people in the world are just stupid, but really believes that if her parents met him they'd see how awesome he is too! Nice ego there, mate. But I have to agree. Manuel is the perfect boyfriend, if a little on the dull side. Sandy agrees, but also doesn't. She knows her parents and she's highly doubtful that they'd see anything other than the color of his skin and the parade of all the other people they've hated before him. They wouldn't see Manuel at all. Still, she agrees to try and talk to them.
   And she does. She tries the hypothetical, "Mom, what if I fell in love with someone who was, I dunno, Mexican. Would you be happy that I found someone who loves plain old me, or would you call the cops and have him escorted from the premises while shouting horrible things to him?" Yeah, not quite that phrasing, but that would have been fun. Sandy's mother does that country club laugh and tells Sandy that she's got a vivid imagination, but why oh why would she think of such a thing? At Sandy's next approach she points out that love is hard enough without the added burden of being from different backgrounds, so she'd have to say no to that on those grounds as well.
  At this point I'd have lost my sanity and just blurted it out, or waited until we were in public somewhere that a mob probably wouldn't have formed and just crash-introduced them. I don't have the patience Sandy or Manuel seem to have, y'know?
   Still, Manuel's tired of having to pick Sandy up someplace other than her home. He's tired of sneaking around and feeling bad about himself. He's tired of Sandy lying.
  And Jeanie West is tired of covering for Sandy. I can see how exhausting that would be, given that Jeanie's and Sandy's mothers hang out a lot, but that, honey, that was your in. If Jeanie's mother doesn't share Mrs. Bacon's views, talk. to. her. Have her talk to your mother for, or at least with you, Sandy. DUH.

   Instead, this is Sweet Valley and we haven't had an explosion in a very long time. So, we're off to Secca Lake where we can blow shit up without anyone batting an eyelash.
  Sandy invites Liz on her boating date with Manuel so she can tell her mother that she was out with Liz. She tells Liz it'll be fun and leaves out the part where she's using the other blond, and tells Manny that Liz invited herself along. Charming.
  While out on Sandy's motor boat, something goes wrong with the engine and the ensuing explosion sends Liz and Manuel flying into the water. Sandy doesn't get so lucky and is knocked unconscious and left on the burning boat. Manuel swims back to save Sandy before the boat can explode [gas cans and fire, children] and all three manage to swim far enough away that when the boat does blow, they aren't hurt anymore than they were before.
  On shore, Sandy wakes up enough to thank Manuel for saving her life, but then tells him to get lost as she can't have her parents finding out about him. Liz will take the hero-credit and all will be right with the world.
   Manuel and Elizabeth are both stunned, but neither can manage to articulate the fact that if ever Sandy was going to tell her family about Manuel, doing so when he's the frickin' HERO who saved her life would be the time.
  Manuel disappears and Liz reluctantly takes the spotlight.
  It's not until the police suspect someone tampered with Sandy's boat, given the description numerous witnesses gave of there being three people near the boat before it went into the water and only two taking credit for having been there after, that Manuel realizes that maybe Sandy's never going to come clean with her parents. Sandy's parents are called to the police station and they take Sandy with them. For one completely awful moment, Sandy tells everyone that she's never seen Manuel before in her life. The police decide this means he really did do something to the boat and are about to take him away when Manuel plays the perfect boyfriend card again.
   Instead of yelling or screaming or calling her a bitch [or any real show of temper whatsoever] Manuel asks how Sandy could do this. And Sandy crumbles and admits she's in love with Manuel and that he saved her life and she was so ashamed of her parents and afraid of how they'd see Manuel, how they'd treat him, that she was ready to... to what, Sandy? See if you could get him sent to frickin' jail? That's bad for any relationship, honey.
   Sandy's parents asks Liz, who has timed her arrival just right so as to be there to hear Sandy's confession and back her up, if this is true, and she does that backing Sandy thing up.
  Sandy's father asks Manuel if it's true, if he's in love with Sandy, if he risked his life to save her, and if he would have taken the rap for something he didn't do. Manuel says yes, yes, and are you crazy? Mr. Bacon is awfully accepting of Manuel, considering he's the one we were warned about first. It's really Mrs. B who has the issues and she tries to get over them, but it's obviously a struggle. Ah, reality...
   It all ends well, with Manuel and Sandy together again, Manuel not being sore over Sandy lying to the police about him, and Liz no longer being the heroine of the hour.

   In our sadly underused B-story for the week, it's Lila's birthday. Again. Didn't she already have a birthday? No matter. Jessica decides to throw Lila a surprise-surprise party. They'll all ignore Lila on her birthday and the weeks leading up to it, all the better to really surprise her the day after with the party to end all party! Which 30 people will show up to.
  It all goes as planned. Lila's feelings are hurt for more than a week, but give her one hour or so of being the center of attention again and she's cool with everyone.
  I hate this storyline in that it's awful to be that much of a bitch to someone and include other people so that someone will feel that low all for one euphoric high. Also, it kept making me hope that when people had forgotten my birthday, they were really just pretending.
  They weren't.



Trivia:

  • Jessica gripes that Liz won't go anywhere without Jeffrey.*

  • Ricky is still the cheerleaders' manager.

  • Cheerleading practice starts earlier on Tuesday afternoons.

  • Jessica agrees with Sandy as they both think Sandy is average, though Jess will admit that since falling for Manuel, Sandy's begun to glow.

  • Manuel is a junior at SVH with dark, curly hair, and chocolate brown eyes. He's taller than Sandy, but not too tall, so she doesn't get a crick in her neck looking up at him and kissing doesn't involve apple crates. He's got four little brothers and one younger sister and he works part time after school as an assistant track coach at the elementary school.

  • Manuel's siblings: Carlos is 6, then Juan, Pedro, Miguel, and Maria is 13.

  • Sandy meets Manuel's extended family at his cousin's birthday party.

  • Jessica dreams that Lila tires of being rich, so she writes Jessica a check for all Daddy Fowler's money.

  • Lila's birthday is in a week at the start of the book.

  • Sandy still has three unnamed older brothers.

  • Sandy's parents bought their Spanish-style house ten years ago.

  • There were riots in Los Perros and people were hurt, which just added fuel to Sandy's parents' bigotry. Or something.

  • Sandy's mother, Irene, is forever going on about how she was raised in a racially charged environment and that skewed her view as it were.

  • The Bacons are members of the country club.

  • Mr. Bacon works at a local advertising agency.

  • Sandy is sure that Carl Pierce, the guy her parents want her to date, is going to be blond, blue eyed, and terribly boring because he loves golf. No clue if he is though. I kept thinking, "Whoa, Caroline Pierce?"

  • Cara feels badly for Lila until Jessica reminds her that Lila made a snotty comment about Cara's wardrobe being two years out of style.

  • Jessica and Cara pretend they're going with Amy to see "the Boys" in concert at Westwood Stadium on Lila's birthday.

  • Sandy says she's going to Casey's and she'll be picked up at Enid's. Does Sandy really spend enough time with Enid that this alone wouldn't raise Irene's suspicions, or is there some other life we don't know Enid has?

  • Sandy got a speedboat for her last birthday and it's called Solar One.

  • Manuel worked at the Secca Lake Boat house last summer.

  • Mr. Fowler offered to take Lila to Jacque's in San Mirabel for her birthday dinner.

  • Jessica describes the banner she and Cara are making for Lila's birthday as a "trade union banner" with each panel depicting an aspect of Lila, like... "Lila Shopping" or "Lila Giving Parties."

  • Enid's grandfather died a few months ago and she's hoping to convince her grandmother to move from Chicago to California.

  • Sandy drives her mother's Toyota. What, she doesn't have her own car, but she has a motorboat?

  • Elizabeth introduces Sandy and Manuel to Alice, but shouldn't Mrs. Wakefield know who Sandy is by now? She's been on the cheerleading squad off and on for at least two years and she's definitely B-list of Jessica's friends and had to have gone to other parties Jessica and Liz have thrown over the year.

  • Don is the park ranger who asks Sandy and Liz questions after the explosion.

  • There's a blond guy who called for the ambulance, and he tries to convince Don that he and his friend Bert both saw a guy with Liz and Sandy. Don tells him to take a hike because he's upsetting Sandy. Brilliant.

  • Local Girl Saves Friend In Boating Accident- Headline the next day in the Sweet Valley News.

  • Mrs. Abernathy is still the PTA president.

  • Sandy suffers second degree burns on her palms after the accident.

  • The Bacons give Elizabeth a lovely rope link gold bracelet from Stowe's, the nicest jewelery store in town. Dude, Sandy's loaded.

  • Blue is Manuel's favorite color.

  • Pete Young is the coach at Sweet Valley Elementary.

  • Officer Richard Patterson and Sergeant James take Manuel in for questioning.

  • Jeffrey and Elizabeth make Lila a 'Surprise Surprise Party!' banner.

  • Around 30 people attend Lila's birthday party at the Wakefields. So, that'd be... Jessica, Elizabeth, Jeffrey, Cara, Amy, Enid...

  • There's foreshadowing in this book for Jessica to fall head over heels for AJ. Some might argue that it's for any big Jessica crush, but all the "one day you'll understand when you really, truly fall" and the "ready for one of your infamous Jessica-style head over heels" type discussions smack more of AJ than boy of the week.

  • Also, despite Double Jeopardy coming between this and the last book, we pick up right after Outcast. Right. After.



*I hate it when people neglect their friends/family simply because they're dating/married/shackled to someone else. It's annoying. Stop it!

Quotable Sweet Valley:

"Come inside and help me make dinner," she begged.
"Make dinner?" Lila said blankly.
"Yeah, it's what the rest of the world does while your cook makes yours." - I applaud the Jessica/Lila exchange, even if we've already seen Li half-assedly help the Wakefields make dinner at least once before. p 12

Sandra felt she had to pinch herself to prove she wasn't coming. - ...I... I had to re-read that twelve times, and another time this morning, because I was sure that my eyes were playing tricks on me. They might still be. p 18


"Come on, Liz. Manuel really wants you to come, too." This last comment couldn't have been farther from the truth, but Sandra figured she would have plenty of time to convince Manuel that Elizabeth would make the outing even more fun. - p 75. Because I'm mean, I'll take this to mean that even before Liz was named Heroine of the year, Manuel didn't particularly care for Saint Liz. :P

"Jessica," Elizabeth said reproachfully, "don't you have the tiniest little sense of right and wrong?"
Jessica reached for another piece of toast. "Not in this case," she said cheerfully. "You're only going to mess things up if you start worrying about the truth now." - Sometimes Elizabeth surprises me with just how often she can misjudge her twin's morality levels. p102



   I dragged my feet in starting to re-read Caught in the Middle because it's never been one of my favorites. Partly it's that I think the cover is painfully boring, and as happy as I am that Sandy got a second cover, this is just blah, and I spend more time trying to figure out what, aside from the art, could be done to fix it than I did actually reading the book itself.
   Thing is, it's not a bad book. Yeah, it's obviously one of those Very Special Issue books, but it attempts to wobble that line between exceptionally preachy and just plain after school special. I'm not entirely sure where it falls because I cut it slack for being a young adult book written for an ongoing series in the 80's as well as it being SVH, so the standards, I admit, are considerably lower than what I'd expect for most other things.
   Manuel's a bit of a saint, even if I tire of typing his name out each time. He's also probably a better boyfriend than anyone the Wakefields ever hook up with. I like that "plain" Sandy gets the great guy, and I like that they didn't have Sandy magically grow the stones to tell her parents immediately, and that her mother was still having trouble accepting Manuel even after she found out he'd saved her baby's life. Can't really say that this book made me like Sandy all that much. There's a line you don't cross, and telling the cops you don't know your boyfriend? Yeah, that leaps across that line, backs up, and then drags the carcass of your relationship back over the line.
   Normally I'm all for a Lila subplot, but dude, hasn't this one been done before already? In this series? Maybe it's just that I swear they trot this out at least once in every SV series where Lila plays any part whatsoever. Bah.
   Final verdict: You could do worse. You could, however, do better.



P.S.- If you've got the re-released cover and you want to share, I'll love you. Forever. There's always gotta be one cover that's a bitch to find. Meh.
the_oracle: (tear)
Jealous Lies
September 1986

Someone doesn't want Jean in Pi Beta Alpha-
her best friend, Sandra.

Backstabber...



   It's pledge season for Pi Beta Alpha, and everyone in the exclusive Sweet Valley sorority expects Sandra Bacon to nominate her best friend, Jean West. But Sandra's tired of always hearing about Jean's perfect figure, terrific grades, and fantastic cheerleading. The sorority is the only thing Sandra has that Jean doesn't, and even though Jean is her best friend, Sandra wants to keep Pi Beta Alpha for herself.
   When Sandra unwillingly becomes Jean's pledge sponsor, she's determined to do everything she can to insure Jean doesn't make it through the pledge period. But how far can Sandra go and still remain friends with Jean?


  Sandy Bacon is one of those characters who reduces me to my fourth grade self. Mostly I snicker like a fool whenever I read her last name. Also, I really crave breakfast foods. Go figure. Aside from that, she also reminds me of how I felt in fourth/fifth grade. Like Sandy, I had a really close friend who I thought was smarter, prettier, nicer, better, more fantastical than I could ever hope of being. Unlike Sandy, I never intentionally set her up for absolute failure. I figured all her 'better than me' stuff came at a price, namely, I had a summer vacation [and spring, winter, and any other extended period of time off from school] and she... well, she didn't. I could read SVH and she had to read the classics. I could eat junk food and the closest she came was making the most disgusting Jell-o concoctions known to mankind that none of us would ever eat.
  But enough of me, that's for later anyway.

  Sandy and Jeanie West are best friends. They're mentioned off and on throughout the series thus far, although we know more about Sandy than Jeanie at this point. We know Sandy's a klutz and not so hot under pressure [her wipe-out during the great cheerleading tryout debacle] but pretty funny all the same. Jeanie is Sandy's best friend and an excellent cheerleader, one of the nicer ones in fact, but that's about it.
  With this in mind, we step into a whole mess of insecurities. Jeanie's not only an ace cheerleader, she's an A student, really sweet, really nice, really pretty, and sophisticated. No jeans for Jean. Nope, she's all about the skirts and dresses, although I suspect the occasional trouser sneaks its way into her wardrobe. She's a girlie girl with an athletic side.
  Sandy feels painfully average next to her overachieving best friend. Been there, honey. The one thing Sandy has that Jeanie doesn't is membership in PBA. Jean's all excited over joining and really, really wants into the sorority, but Sandy would rather keep her best friend out. She's sure that the moment Jean gets in, she'll dump Sandy after having realized that Sandy's just plain boring. Which isn't exactly an irrational fear, considering how horrible girl world can be. That said, Jeanie's usually described as really pretty, really nice, and Sandy's best friend. I think she knows you're average by now, Miss Bacon. Or maybe, y'know, she sees you in a better light than you see yourself.
  All of this is beyond Sandy, although it must be pointed out that she's well aware that she's being nutty about this whole thing. Figuring too many questions will come up if she doesn't, Sandy nominates Jeanie for PBA. Jeanie's so popular that three or four girls all second her at the same time. Not even Amy Sutton got that kind of love. Since she's the one who nominated Jean, Sandy is her pledge sponsor. It's her job to make sure that Jean finishes all her pledge tasks and makes it into the sorority. Except, y'know, she totally stabs Jean in the back.

  Their first task is to get a certain assigned guy to go with them to a pledge party at Cara's. Upon hearing that Tom McKay isn't all that fond of Jeanie, Sandy suggests that Tom be Jean's assigned date. Lila's not so sure about this, since the general consensus among the kids at school is that after Jessica screwed with his emotions so long, Tom's given up on the female sex forever. She ruined him for all girls. I'd totally forgotten this little tidbit and snorted Pepsi. Foreshadowing! Anyway, Lila relents and Jean is assigned Tom. In an uncharacteristic show of kindness, Lila offers her expertise on guys in an effort to help Jeanie snag her boytoy. It works [like there was any doubt] and Sandy is more than a little miffed. Her plan did not include Tom falling for Jeanie's charms. Still, him standing her up would be even better/worse than just shooting her down to begin with, so she heads over to the mall one afternoon and lets it slip that Jean may or may not have asked him to Cara's party as a pledge prank.
  Tom ain't thrilled about this, especially since he's had a crush on Jean for awhile and fallen even harder since she asked him out. So, he blows her off. Sort of. He calls her well after he should have been there, saying she should grab a sandwich or something, he's on his way. Hours pass and then he calls again, claiming to be at the hospital with food poisoning. Jean heads to the party where Sandy suggests that Jean call and verify Tom's story. Jean is pissed that Sandy is humiliating her, but does it. He's not there, hasn't been there, and poor Jeanie's up shit creek without a paddle. Until she decides that she'll get Tom back by pretending she believed him, getting him to go with her to the Friday the Thirteenth dance, and then when she's supposed to ask him to dance, she'll call out some other boy's name. The PBA girls are all atwitter over this and readily agree.
  Sandy's pissed but what can she do? Doesn't matter. Jeanie falls for Tom and realizes she can't publicly humiliate him, so she never tells him that she's being given the honor of the first dance [as is Dana] since Friday is her birthday, and confesses to Sandy that she's fallen for Tom.
  Then Tom tells Jean that it was Sandy who told him about the pledge party and Jean is crushed. Why would Sandy do this to her? All she wanted was to join PBA so she could spend even MORE time with Sandy... But she decides not to confront Sandy about the knife sticking out of her back, figuring Sandy will either fess up or... I dunno, she'll die from blood loss.

  At the dance, everyone is all freaked out when Jean calls Tom's name, and they're ready to boot her right then and there. Sandy stands up to them and says it was all her fault. She sabotaged Jeanie's first date because she was jealous of her perfect best friend, and had she not done that, Jean would have been a shoo in for PBA. So let Jean in and kick Sandy out.
  Sandy and Jean hug and make up, and the witches of PBA consider their options. In a rare moment of non-bitchery, they decide to keep both girls. It's all very touching.

  On the flip side, we can't have a SVH novel without some Wakefield drama, and this go round we're back to Steven. Steven has decides to drop out of SVU and get a job on his roommate's father's cruise ship. He expects everyone to tell him what a complete ass he's being, but instead they've all listened to Saint Elizabeth and are pretending they think it's great. Naturally her plan works and Steve eventually snaps out of it, but for awhile he actually thinks Cara would wait around without seeing [or really hearing from]him for seven to nine months. Idiot. When I haven't just read a Steven storyline, I think he's fab. When I have, I think he's a giant dumbass. Although, I do feel for him considering he's pretty much going to be in school for a giant chunk of his natural life. Sucker.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • Li is pledge chairman. She takes this job fairly seriously. Yay, Lila!

  • Jeanie: Long glossy, dark brown hair, big green eyes, perfect white skin, petite, fast metabolism, no jeans, only skirts/dresses, A student, award winning flutist, fabulous dancer, great cook.

  • Jessica nominates Amy for PBA. Cara seconds it.

  • Sandy nominates Jean and three or four other girls rush to second it.

  • Winston is sending Lovegrams, a paper airplane made from a love note. Li is not amused.

  • There's mention of Orion High in reference to tennis. Orion. High. I lack the words...

  • Tom McKay's got a thing for Jeanie, but whenever he tries to talk to her she lacks the social skills to make much of a go at it.

  • Tom's blond, clean-cut, a tennis freak, science whiz, and an outdoor junkie.

  • Steven's roommate is Bob Rose. Mr. Rose, Bob's father, owns the Bellefleur, a cruise ship.

  • Tom works at the Tennis Shop, located in Valley Mall. Not even our preppiest of malls has a tennis shop in it.

  • Jean West and Dana Larson share the same birthday. It happens to be the 13th of some month, given that they get the birthday honors at the Friday the 13th dance.

  • Penny Ayala is on the dance committee.

  • Caroline is the head of the dance committee.

  • Most shocking of all? Neither of the twins is mentioned as being involved in said dance committee. The end of days is nigh!

  • Jean got $100 when a bond her grandparents bought her matured. I thought of Monopoly, how about you?

  • Cara's pledge party starts at 8:30 on Saturday night.

  • Amy's date was Aaron Dallas.

  • Sandy's mother has a Toyota.

  • Tom pretends he has food poisoning when he founds out that Jean asked him out as a sorority thing.

  • Tom and Jean have a picnic in front of SVH. Jean isn't too thrilled about it, but they have fun.

  • Tom mentions he has brothers. I know about, uh, Dylan? From SVT. Who else?

  • Jean's oldest brother is Richard.

  • Jeanie is afraid of heights, but she manages to make it up to the top of the Ferris Wheel with Tom and they kiss. Aww.

  • Pledge pranks abound:

  • "Leslie Decker had had to recite a poem in the middle of the corridor; Janice Young and Becky White had had to steal towels from the boys' locker room, and Amy Sutton had to walk backward for an entire day." All we've heard Jean having to do is get Tom to go to two dances with her. Uh, favoritism much? Even if she IS supposed to crush him... though why anyone would care who she picked to dance with first, I dunno.

  • Clinton Falls Amusement Park is the site of Tom/Jean's first kiss.

  • Dana picks Jerry Novak as her dance partner.

  • Jeffrey appears on page 126, but they've been dropping hints for the last two books.



Quote Me:

  "I believe the whole point of having a club is to keep people out."
  "Daddy," Jessica protested, pouting, "it isn't like that at all. Tell them it isn't, Liz." - Jessica's appealing to the wrong girl. p6

He was exactly the kind of guy most girls dreamed about, but he seldom dated. The last girl he'd gone with was Jessica Wakefield, and a few people joked that she had turned him off the female sex forever, having strung him along until someone better came along. - so, so true. p20





   Not the hardest book to get through, and one I could relate to more than a little. I get Sandy feeling second best, I can even understand her thinking that once she and Jean were completely even, Jean, whom she saw as infinitely superior, wouldn't need her, years of friendship aside. I don't think I ever got her sabotaging Jean, but I do understand desperate measures and hoping the other person never finds out.
  But my absolute favorite little twist comes when we realize that for as awesome as Sandy thinks Jean is, the general population of SVH isn't quite so sure. I love that it never occurs to Sandy that her best friend is anything less than perfect and that all the things she admires in Jeanie are things that make other people pause and think, "Hmm, bitch?"
  Also, for years I was convinced that the blond with the unfortunate bangs was Jeanie and that the brunette was Sandy. I don't know how in the hell I could ever have thought this since I own the other Sandy-centric book and it's very clear that she's got short, blond hair and a tendency to look around 30... but yeah. I think my little kid mind decided Jeanie was prettier but looked self assured, which I was positive Jean West was, so that the cover had switched them around. Ignoring, I suppose, the numerous occasions where Jeanie was described as a brunette, and once they went so far as to wax poetically about her ebony hair. For future reference, ebony does not equal dark brown hair, writer of the week.
  The other surprising bit is that when presented with a perfect moment to go batshit crazy, Jean doesn't. She's sure that Sandy had a reason, and she'll try and wait for it. And then it doesn't work, but Jean still tries. Hey, it isn't often you get actual friends in these books, not just frenemies. Also love that they acknowledge that sisters fight, which is something a lot of books gloss over when comparing friendship to sisterhood. My best friends? Sisters. They fight/backstab/annoy the piss out of each other on an hourly basis at times. A little less backstabbing and you can use the same mental picture to describe our friendship. :P
   Oh, I thought the big thing with Robin getting into PBA last go round was that it was essentially her last shot at the sorority... I know the books cycle through time in an endless loop, but if we're still referencing Robin's blackballing, it only stands to reason that we might still remember that little tidbit. Or did I just make up the whole thing? Sleep deprivation...
the_oracle: (tear)
Jealous Lies
September 1986

Someone doesn't want Jean in Pi Beta Alpha-
her best friend, Sandra.

Backstabber...



   It's pledge season for Pi Beta Alpha, and everyone in the exclusive Sweet Valley sorority expects Sandra Bacon to nominate her best friend, Jean West. But Sandra's tired of always hearing about Jean's perfect figure, terrific grades, and fantastic cheerleading. The sorority is the only thing Sandra has that Jean doesn't, and even though Jean is her best friend, Sandra wants to keep Pi Beta Alpha for herself.
   When Sandra unwillingly becomes Jean's pledge sponsor, she's determined to do everything she can to insure Jean doesn't make it through the pledge period. But how far can Sandra go and still remain friends with Jean?


  Sandy Bacon is one of those characters who reduces me to my fourth grade self. Mostly I snicker like a fool whenever I read her last name. Also, I really crave breakfast foods. Go figure. Aside from that, she also reminds me of how I felt in fourth/fifth grade. Like Sandy, I had a really close friend who I thought was smarter, prettier, nicer, better, more fantastical than I could ever hope of being. Unlike Sandy, I never intentionally set her up for absolute failure. I figured all her 'better than me' stuff came at a price, namely, I had a summer vacation [and spring, winter, and any other extended period of time off from school] and she... well, she didn't. I could read SVH and she had to read the classics. I could eat junk food and the closest she came was making the most disgusting Jell-o concoctions known to mankind that none of us would ever eat.
  But enough of me, that's for later anyway.

  Sandy and Jeanie West are best friends. They're mentioned off and on throughout the series thus far, although we know more about Sandy than Jeanie at this point. We know Sandy's a klutz and not so hot under pressure [her wipe-out during the great cheerleading tryout debacle] but pretty funny all the same. Jeanie is Sandy's best friend and an excellent cheerleader, one of the nicer ones in fact, but that's about it.
  With this in mind, we step into a whole mess of insecurities. Jeanie's not only an ace cheerleader, she's an A student, really sweet, really nice, really pretty, and sophisticated. No jeans for Jean. Nope, she's all about the skirts and dresses, although I suspect the occasional trouser sneaks its way into her wardrobe. She's a girlie girl with an athletic side.
  Sandy feels painfully average next to her overachieving best friend. Been there, honey. The one thing Sandy has that Jeanie doesn't is membership in PBA. Jean's all excited over joining and really, really wants into the sorority, but Sandy would rather keep her best friend out. She's sure that the moment Jean gets in, she'll dump Sandy after having realized that Sandy's just plain boring. Which isn't exactly an irrational fear, considering how horrible girl world can be. That said, Jeanie's usually described as really pretty, really nice, and Sandy's best friend. I think she knows you're average by now, Miss Bacon. Or maybe, y'know, she sees you in a better light than you see yourself.
  All of this is beyond Sandy, although it must be pointed out that she's well aware that she's being nutty about this whole thing. Figuring too many questions will come up if she doesn't, Sandy nominates Jeanie for PBA. Jeanie's so popular that three or four girls all second her at the same time. Not even Amy Sutton got that kind of love. Since she's the one who nominated Jean, Sandy is her pledge sponsor. It's her job to make sure that Jean finishes all her pledge tasks and makes it into the sorority. Except, y'know, she totally stabs Jean in the back.

  Their first task is to get a certain assigned guy to go with them to a pledge party at Cara's. Upon hearing that Tom McKay isn't all that fond of Jeanie, Sandy suggests that Tom be Jean's assigned date. Lila's not so sure about this, since the general consensus among the kids at school is that after Jessica screwed with his emotions so long, Tom's given up on the female sex forever. She ruined him for all girls. I'd totally forgotten this little tidbit and snorted Pepsi. Foreshadowing! Anyway, Lila relents and Jean is assigned Tom. In an uncharacteristic show of kindness, Lila offers her expertise on guys in an effort to help Jeanie snag her boytoy. It works [like there was any doubt] and Sandy is more than a little miffed. Her plan did not include Tom falling for Jeanie's charms. Still, him standing her up would be even better/worse than just shooting her down to begin with, so she heads over to the mall one afternoon and lets it slip that Jean may or may not have asked him to Cara's party as a pledge prank.
  Tom ain't thrilled about this, especially since he's had a crush on Jean for awhile and fallen even harder since she asked him out. So, he blows her off. Sort of. He calls her well after he should have been there, saying she should grab a sandwich or something, he's on his way. Hours pass and then he calls again, claiming to be at the hospital with food poisoning. Jean heads to the party where Sandy suggests that Jean call and verify Tom's story. Jean is pissed that Sandy is humiliating her, but does it. He's not there, hasn't been there, and poor Jeanie's up shit creek without a paddle. Until she decides that she'll get Tom back by pretending she believed him, getting him to go with her to the Friday the Thirteenth dance, and then when she's supposed to ask him to dance, she'll call out some other boy's name. The PBA girls are all atwitter over this and readily agree.
  Sandy's pissed but what can she do? Doesn't matter. Jeanie falls for Tom and realizes she can't publicly humiliate him, so she never tells him that she's being given the honor of the first dance [as is Dana] since Friday is her birthday, and confesses to Sandy that she's fallen for Tom.
  Then Tom tells Jean that it was Sandy who told him about the pledge party and Jean is crushed. Why would Sandy do this to her? All she wanted was to join PBA so she could spend even MORE time with Sandy... But she decides not to confront Sandy about the knife sticking out of her back, figuring Sandy will either fess up or... I dunno, she'll die from blood loss.

  At the dance, everyone is all freaked out when Jean calls Tom's name, and they're ready to boot her right then and there. Sandy stands up to them and says it was all her fault. She sabotaged Jeanie's first date because she was jealous of her perfect best friend, and had she not done that, Jean would have been a shoo in for PBA. So let Jean in and kick Sandy out.
  Sandy and Jean hug and make up, and the witches of PBA consider their options. In a rare moment of non-bitchery, they decide to keep both girls. It's all very touching.

  On the flip side, we can't have a SVH novel without some Wakefield drama, and this go round we're back to Steven. Steven has decides to drop out of SVU and get a job on his roommate's father's cruise ship. He expects everyone to tell him what a complete ass he's being, but instead they've all listened to Saint Elizabeth and are pretending they think it's great. Naturally her plan works and Steve eventually snaps out of it, but for awhile he actually thinks Cara would wait around without seeing [or really hearing from]him for seven to nine months. Idiot. When I haven't just read a Steven storyline, I think he's fab. When I have, I think he's a giant dumbass. Although, I do feel for him considering he's pretty much going to be in school for a giant chunk of his natural life. Sucker.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • Li is pledge chairman. She takes this job fairly seriously. Yay, Lila!

  • Jeanie: Long glossy, dark brown hair, big green eyes, perfect white skin, petite, fast metabolism, no jeans, only skirts/dresses, A student, award winning flutist, fabulous dancer, great cook.

  • Jessica nominates Amy for PBA. Cara seconds it.

  • Sandy nominates Jean and three or four other girls rush to second it.

  • Winston is sending Lovegrams, a paper airplane made from a love note. Li is not amused.

  • There's mention of Orion High in reference to tennis. Orion. High. I lack the words...

  • Tom McKay's got a thing for Jeanie, but whenever he tries to talk to her she lacks the social skills to make much of a go at it.

  • Tom's blond, clean-cut, a tennis freak, science whiz, and an outdoor junkie.

  • Steven's roommate is Bob Rose. Mr. Rose, Bob's father, owns the Bellefleur, a cruise ship.

  • Tom works at the Tennis Shop, located in Valley Mall. Not even our preppiest of malls has a tennis shop in it.

  • Jean West and Dana Larson share the same birthday. It happens to be the 13th of some month, given that they get the birthday honors at the Friday the 13th dance.

  • Penny Ayala is on the dance committee.

  • Caroline is the head of the dance committee.

  • Most shocking of all? Neither of the twins is mentioned as being involved in said dance committee. The end of days is nigh!

  • Jean got $100 when a bond her grandparents bought her matured. I thought of Monopoly, how about you?

  • Cara's pledge party starts at 8:30 on Saturday night.

  • Amy's date was Aaron Dallas.

  • Sandy's mother has a Toyota.

  • Tom pretends he has food poisoning when he founds out that Jean asked him out as a sorority thing.

  • Tom and Jean have a picnic in front of SVH. Jean isn't too thrilled about it, but they have fun.

  • Tom mentions he has brothers. I know about, uh, Dylan? From SVT. Who else?

  • Jean's oldest brother is Richard.

  • Jeanie is afraid of heights, but she manages to make it up to the top of the Ferris Wheel with Tom and they kiss. Aww.

  • Pledge pranks abound:

  • "Leslie Decker had had to recite a poem in the middle of the corridor; Janice Young and Becky White had had to steal towels from the boys' locker room, and Amy Sutton had to walk backward for an entire day." All we've heard Jean having to do is get Tom to go to two dances with her. Uh, favoritism much? Even if she IS supposed to crush him... though why anyone would care who she picked to dance with first, I dunno.

  • Clinton Falls Amusement Park is the site of Tom/Jean's first kiss.

  • Dana picks Jerry Novak as her dance partner.

  • Jeffrey appears on page 126, but they've been dropping hints for the last two books.



Quote Me:

  "I believe the whole point of having a club is to keep people out."
  "Daddy," Jessica protested, pouting, "it isn't like that at all. Tell them it isn't, Liz." - Jessica's appealing to the wrong girl. p6

He was exactly the kind of guy most girls dreamed about, but he seldom dated. The last girl he'd gone with was Jessica Wakefield, and a few people joked that she had turned him off the female sex forever, having strung him along until someone better came along. - so, so true. p20





   Not the hardest book to get through, and one I could relate to more than a little. I get Sandy feeling second best, I can even understand her thinking that once she and Jean were completely even, Jean, whom she saw as infinitely superior, wouldn't need her, years of friendship aside. I don't think I ever got her sabotaging Jean, but I do understand desperate measures and hoping the other person never finds out.
  But my absolute favorite little twist comes when we realize that for as awesome as Sandy thinks Jean is, the general population of SVH isn't quite so sure. I love that it never occurs to Sandy that her best friend is anything less than perfect and that all the things she admires in Jeanie are things that make other people pause and think, "Hmm, bitch?"
  Also, for years I was convinced that the blond with the unfortunate bangs was Jeanie and that the brunette was Sandy. I don't know how in the hell I could ever have thought this since I own the other Sandy-centric book and it's very clear that she's got short, blond hair and a tendency to look around 30... but yeah. I think my little kid mind decided Jeanie was prettier but looked self assured, which I was positive Jean West was, so that the cover had switched them around. Ignoring, I suppose, the numerous occasions where Jeanie was described as a brunette, and once they went so far as to wax poetically about her ebony hair. For future reference, ebony does not equal dark brown hair, writer of the week.
  The other surprising bit is that when presented with a perfect moment to go batshit crazy, Jean doesn't. She's sure that Sandy had a reason, and she'll try and wait for it. And then it doesn't work, but Jean still tries. Hey, it isn't often you get actual friends in these books, not just frenemies. Also love that they acknowledge that sisters fight, which is something a lot of books gloss over when comparing friendship to sisterhood. My best friends? Sisters. They fight/backstab/annoy the piss out of each other on an hourly basis at times. A little less backstabbing and you can use the same mental picture to describe our friendship. :P
   Oh, I thought the big thing with Robin getting into PBA last go round was that it was essentially her last shot at the sorority... I know the books cycle through time in an endless loop, but if we're still referencing Robin's blackballing, it only stands to reason that we might still remember that little tidbit. Or did I just make up the whole thing? Sleep deprivation...
the_oracle: (tear)
Love Letters
  March 1985

    Is Caroline's romance for real?

   Make-believe romance...


   Caroline Pearce has always been one of the least popular girls at Sweet Valley High. But when she invents a new out-of-town boyfriend, people finally start to pay attention to her. Brown-eyed, six foot Adam and his romantic love letters are the talk of the school.
   Caroline has everyone fooled-even clever Jessica Wakefield. But what begins as a bid for love and attention quickly becomes the worst jam of Caroline's life, when her friends insist on meeting the boyfriend she's been bragging about. Can Caroline keep the truth a secret, or will her lies be her downfall?

  Love Letters proves that some people should have paid a little more attention to Jan's attention seeking on The Brady Bunch. I know it's the early eighties and all, but shouldn't we have learned by now that making up a boyfriend is a bad, bad, bad idea? Well, no, because if we all learned our lessons, this wouldn't be one of those quintessential stories that a teen series MUST tackle at least once.

  Caroline Pearce is the biggest gossip at Sweet Valley High. When you consider that the school also houses Cara Walker and Jessica Wakefield, you've got to admit this takes some talent, and a whole lot of talking. Thing is, Caroline talks so much, and to anyone who will listen, about absolutely anything she hears or thinks she's heard, or maybe even something she sort of saw while out walking the dog that no one really likes her. You can't tell her anything because you know it'll end up on the SVH gossip-grapevine, probably distorted just enough to make things look really bad for you. And if you can't talk to someone about even the most harmless little thing, you don't really have a shot of hanging out with them at all. Hell, even Saint Elizabeth doesn't really like Caroline. So you know Caroline is lonely. Painfully, mind numbingly, lonely. This hasn't really come up before, what with the inability to talk to Caroline, but this is her show, so now we find out.
  And it makes sense. With the exception of Tricia Martin, so far everyone else brought up in the series has had someone, anyone, to cling to. Annie had her long list of boys, as did Betsy who also had Trish and Steve, Roger had Olivia, Bill had Dee Dee and I'm bored re-capping, so we're done with that now. If you didn't have a single friend at school, you can relate. Hell, if you just had a few friends, you can relate.
  Caroline is tired of being a misfit, always relegated to the outskirts of the SVH-crowd. She decides that enough is enough. She's done with the whole outside looking in crap. So she makes sure that she's got the ears of the demi-gossip-goddesses, and she tells them all about Adam, her amazingly perfectly gorgeous, overly romantic, super secret until now boyfriend.
  Oh, boy does she tell them. She reads his letters, passes them around, details every phone conversation, and in general acts like your best friend's little sister who desperately wants to be cool enough to hang out with you guys, if only for an afternoon. Of course, she probably sounds like that because she is like that. Her sister, Anita, seems like your typical perfect older sister. Pretty enough that dating isn't a problem, popular enough to have friends come and go, and just bitchy enough to point out your short comings over breakfast. So it's not like Caroline needs a guy just to impress the in crowd at school. Nope, a boyfriend would shut her older sister up, too.
  Thing is, Adam doesn't exist. He's Caroline's dream boy, but she hasn't met him and he certainly doesn't send her poetry laden letters every other day. Now the rest of us know that Caroline is only going to get so far with letters, even really spectacular letters, before Lila and Jessica pressure her into producing this Adam.
  This is as good a time as any to point out our B and C stories. Both involve the Wakefield twins, and give them different reasons to help or hurt Caroline when things get down and dirty.
  While trying to glom onto either twin, Caroline finds a letter from Alice Wakefield to a design firm in San Francisco, thanking them for their generous job offer and telling them she'll think about it. When Jessica pushes Caroline too far at the beach, Caroline fakes some sympathy for poor Jessica. It must be so hard to concentrate on other people's problems when you're so caught up in the potential move, huh?
  Yeah, not your best move, Caro. By pointing out that Jessica's perfect life is possibly about to come crashing down around her, you've moved straight to the top of her shit list.
  When the twins, led by overly melodramatic Jessica, confront their parents, Alice admits she's been offered the gig and she'd really like it. Ned points out that it's an incredible honor and that with the twins so close to college, it really would be a good thing for them to make more money. Now, call me crazy, but you'd think the cost of living in Frisco would off-set the major pay increase at least a little. Silly me. Anyway, the parental units are ticked when neither twin is thrilled at the thought of their entire lives being uprooted in the midst of their junior year in high school. Jess does make one possibly out of character observation. She points out that while it sucks massively just thinking about moving, what with cheerleading and all, it would KILL Elizabeth to leave Todd. It's never mentioned as a selfish, manipulative comment, and I for one would like to give Jessica the benefit of the doubt. Sure, she had to know it would guilt the 'rents, but it's also... true. And foreshadowing, but we'll make our way back there soon enough.
  The twins combine forces to convince their parents that moving would be a bad, bad, baaaaaad idea. From brochures inundating them with every possible bit of information on Sweet Valley, to nostalgic visits to various restaurants, right on through to trashing San Francisco, the twins have pretty much thought of everything.
  C story is a continued thread from a few books back. Elizabeth's entering a playwright competition and hers is based on the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
  Now, since Adam doesn't exist and it's not likely that Caroline houses the soul of a poet, where has she been getting her letters? Oh, yeah, she's been lifting from Robert Browning. The smart people are snorting and saying, yeah, what are the effing odds of that? Well, it's simple. In life, particularly high school, the one thing that can unravel your pack of lies is infinitely closer than the rear view mirror would indicate.
  However, Caroline skates on, oblivious to her impending doom.
  Anyway, plots C and B combine to sink Caroline's battleship. After a night that is essentially a Taste of Sweet Valley cuisine, Elizabeth reads her family her play and Jessica realizes that parts of it sound awfully familiar. She's certain she's never read Browning's work before and the only other source of poetry in her diet has been Adam's letters. She puts two and two together and comes up with faux boyfriend.
  In a twist, Lila points out that Caroline could still be telling the truth, completely unaware that her boyfriend has been lifting his lines from a dead poet guy. Jessica all but snorts and asks, "What crack are you on, Fowler?" Lila carefully points out that there are obvious, and normal, explanations for each of Jessica's protests. Adam could have terrible handwriting, leading to him typing his letters. Since he's not doing the heavy thinking parts of the letters, his frequency in mailing them is nothing to look twice at.
  Caroline knows that she can't keep Lila and Jessica at bay for much longer with just letters, so she says she's going to Cold Springs one weekend to visit Adam. Lila and Jessica coo over this and point out that it leaves the following weekend for Adam's party. Perfect !
  Yeah, except for Adam not existing. So Caro "brings back" proof. There's the "Property of Cold Springs Athletic Department" shirt she claims is from Adam, but is really a left over from her cousin Sally's dating disaster with a Cold Springs boy. There's a newspaper picture of 'Adam', though it's from a basketball game and blurry to boot, though that came in a letter. Oh yeah, and then there's the fact that Jessica saw Caroline while she was supposedly out of town.
  Thing is, Lila and Jess are both thrown by the proof. Maybe the guy really does exist...
  Also thrown is Anita, Caroline's big sister. Caro shares the joy and fakes a phone conversation and she and Anita bond. Which is really annoying later on, given how much of a bitch Anita is the first time she shows up. It takes your little sister inventing a boyfriend for you to give her the time of day? Nice, real nice.
  Anyway, to ensure that Caroline can't use the "But Adam is broke..." excuse, Lila buys the elusive Adam a bus ticket. Nice, huh?
  Jessica also sets things up so that Liz finally hears one of Adam's letters. Liz is worried that Caro doesn't realize they aren't legit, but Caro confides that's the least of her worries. Liz points out that Caroline might have some friends if she weren't such a busy body, always poking into other people's business. Yes, you may snort with laughter now.
  Caroline begs Liz not to read her play, as that will expose Caroline as a fraud. Liz reluctantly agrees, and goes home to bitch Jessica out. Anita then busts Caroline, sort of. Seems Mama Pearce doesn't know a thing about Adam, so Caroline confesses. Anita gives her a much longer, much bitchier version of Elizabeth's speech, and Caroline realizes the error of her ways. GASP! Liz failed and bitchy eating disorder riddled older sister prevails!
  The next day, Caroline tells Elizabeth that it was wrong of her to ask Liz to not read her play, and it's okay. She's just going to have to suck it up and admit that she's a big ol' liar. Because of this, Saint Liz and her sidekick Todd resume work on Operation Rescue. Uh...huh.
  However, Caroline chickens out the first time she's given a chance to come clean, and continues to chicken out all week. Not that I blame her, but Jesus, you'd think coming clean at school would beat making a total ass of yourself at a party thrown partially in your honor. It's not like having your execution catered would make it any easier to die.
  For the party, Anita goes all out on Caroline and the girl is glowing so much that Todd gives her a fantastically backhanded compliment. At the party, Caroline decides to bypass the goodies and head straight for the guillotine. She has Lila kill the music and just as she's about to confess her lie, a handsome, 6'2", wavy brown haired, chocolate brown eyed sweetheart of a guy rushes up, apologizes for being late, and kisses Caroline for all the world to see. It seems Adam has finally arrived.
  Operation Rescue involved Todd asking a friend of his to pretend to be Adam to save Caroline the pain of being publicly humiliated. I suspect Todd agreed solely to thwart Jessica's plan for Caroline's downfall, but that's okay. Normally I'd ask what are the odds that you could find this dead ringer for a made-up boytoy, but when you think about it, it shouldn't be all that difficult. Brown-eyed brunettes aren't exactly hard to come by, and Todd knows Jerry from basketball, so odds are good that the 6'2" bit wasn't that hard to fill. But did anyone else notice that Caroline pretty much conjures up Todd Wilkins up when she creates Adam? Looks-wise, I mean. Every time she'd go on and on about his eyes, I'd think of the numerous times over the series Elizabeth would find herself lost in Todd's gaze.
  Eventually Caroline realizes that while everyone else thinks she's found someone fantastic, she's just as lonely as before, if not moreso. So she confesses and runs away. I cannot fault her for that either, as I'd have run, too. Jerry follows her, tells her he's proud of her, and they kiss for real. It's very sweet, although Caroline asking if she can come visit so quickly is a little forward and obnoxious.
  Overall, Caroline gets a happy ending after all. So do the twins. Seems that Alice and Ned turned the offer down shortly into the "YAY, SV!" blitz, but thought to teach the twins a lesson, so they didn't share the news immediately. Alls well that ends well.
  Or as close as the valley's going to let us get, at this point.


*- Not that I have a hat, but since I won't need to eat it anyway, that really doesn't matter.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • Adam is 6'2", dark brown hair, warm laughing brown eyes. He lives in Cold Springs, plays baseball, and is naturally well liked. He was also on the basketball team last year. His mother is an English teacher and perfectly fine with her son's mystery girlfriend spending the weekend at their house.

  • Cold Springs is about two hours away from Sweet Valley.

  • Anita is Caroline's older sister. She's model thin and constantly makes Caroline feel fat because she doesn't exist on ice water and melon like Anita does. If Anita doesn't have food "issues", I'll eat my hat.*

  • Anita suffers under the delusion that the twins are the nicest girls in the junior class.

  • According to Caroline, Annie and Ricky's issues are as follows:Ricky promised Annie a ride in his father's white Seville Cadillac, but when he showed up for the date, it was just in his beat up old Chevy. When Annie went to the bathroom to clean herself up after an unfortunate incident involving cocktail sauce, she returned to find Ricky flirting with Maria Santelli.

  • Elizabeth makes most of the jokes about Jessica's room.

  • John Paine, is the director of the Hurley Group, one of the biggest firms in California. He's offered Alice a job, and even when she declines, he says he'll keep a spot for her anytime she changes her mind.

  • Elizabeth based her play on "Sonnets from the Portuguese."

  • Mr. Wakefield's receptionist is Mrs. Kelly.

  • Jessica runs into Dennis [remember him from book nine?] while visiting her father.

  • Caroline keeps Adam's stationary in her 3rd desk drawer. Said stationary is light blue, in case you wondered.

  • Caroline has been lifting Adam's letters from Robert Browning: Letters, volumes one through three.

  • Miss Priss Caroline finds t-shirts too low cut. Um, mid-80's shirts, no less.

  • Bruce helps Regina out with a math problem, then asks her out, and she still manages to call all the shots.

  • Liz buys her mother a lovely Amaryllis arrangement from Petal Pushers.

  • The 'Taste of Sweet Valley' dinner includes a salad with a special Dijon mustard dressing from Season's Gourmet Shop, Veal Parmesan from Vitos, and a lemon chiffon pie from Caster's.

  • The Wakefields used to eat takeout from Vito's at least once a week.

  • Caroline is the only member of PBA to have perfect attendance at the meetings. Something tells me Liz and Enid have the worst in recent memory.

  • Tiberino's is owned by Sal Ciardi, and it's where Ned proposed to Alice, and their go-to restaurant's for anniversaries.

  • Ned is allergic to Chinese food.

  • Las Palmas Canyon is twenty miles from SV.

  • Elizabeth's play is called "One Woman's Romance."

  • Fowler Crest is apparently now Spanish Style. Who knew?

  • Jerry Fisher is a friend of Todd's, and he pretends to be Adam, but seems to genuinely like Caroline.




Quoted:

"Caroline has it coming to her anyway. I can't believe she tried to trick us! I'll admit it showed she's got more imagination than I ever gave her credit for, but that's all." Jessica defends her malicious streak. p120

"Yeah. There's something different about you tonight-and it's not just your new dress. You're pretty," he said. Todd trips over his words fantastically. p 138




  It's crucial to make your misfit likable in a story like this. Not only do you have to explain why a previously painfully obnoxious character should be pitied and understood, but you also have to make it so that you want them to rise above their past misdeeds, especially if they lack the effortless charm that other characters are graced with. And the thing is, it works, which is kind of surprising. Caroline manages to walk that fine line between previously established busy-body and misunderstood misfit.
  On the one hand, you have Caroline spreading her usual gossip all around. There are her stories about Annie and Ricky possibly breaking up because of Ricky allegedly flirting with Maria Santelli, John Pfiefer being kicked off the Oracle for consistently turning his sports copy in late, and then there's the one about Bill Chase getting help with his play from Mr. Jaworski.
  On the other hand, it's not like she intentionally tries to screw things up for people. The Annie gossip was meant as something to contribute to a conversation where she felt left out. The Bill thing was an attempt to make small talk that failed madly, and well, John's got worse coming to him in the far future, so really, he got off light.
  Anita comes off as impossible to live up to, so you feel for Caroline at home. At school she's the one person just about everyone attempts to hide from, and as the series manages to churn out spin offs like crazy, you realize this has been going on for forever. So yeah, Caroline brought a lot of this on herself, but she didn't mean to. She just happens to be her absolute worst enemy.
  The funny thing about Love Letters is that it's the first time the character makeover introduced doesn't stick. Caroline momentarily tries to be a better person in this book, and then she pretty much lapses back into her gossip-y ways fairly quickly. What little character definition she was given is snatched back and she goes back to being the stereotypical gossip hungry wannabe.

  Now I leave you with two things. One, the reissue of the book is impossible to read the back cover without your eyes starting to bleed a little. Black on bright effing blue is a bad combination for reading. Two, did Adam sign his name, or did he type that as well?



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Love Letters
  March 1985

    Is Caroline's romance for real?

   Make-believe romance...


   Caroline Pearce has always been one of the least popular girls at Sweet Valley High. But when she invents a new out-of-town boyfriend, people finally start to pay attention to her. Brown-eyed, six foot Adam and his romantic love letters are the talk of the school.
   Caroline has everyone fooled-even clever Jessica Wakefield. But what begins as a bid for love and attention quickly becomes the worst jam of Caroline's life, when her friends insist on meeting the boyfriend she's been bragging about. Can Caroline keep the truth a secret, or will her lies be her downfall?

  Love Letters proves that some people should have paid a little more attention to Jan's attention seeking on The Brady Bunch. I know it's the early eighties and all, but shouldn't we have learned by now that making up a boyfriend is a bad, bad, bad idea? Well, no, because if we all learned our lessons, this wouldn't be one of those quintessential stories that a teen series MUST tackle at least once.

  Caroline Pearce is the biggest gossip at Sweet Valley High. When you consider that the school also houses Cara Walker and Jessica Wakefield, you've got to admit this takes some talent, and a whole lot of talking. Thing is, Caroline talks so much, and to anyone who will listen, about absolutely anything she hears or thinks she's heard, or maybe even something she sort of saw while out walking the dog that no one really likes her. You can't tell her anything because you know it'll end up on the SVH gossip-grapevine, probably distorted just enough to make things look really bad for you. And if you can't talk to someone about even the most harmless little thing, you don't really have a shot of hanging out with them at all. Hell, even Saint Elizabeth doesn't really like Caroline. So you know Caroline is lonely. Painfully, mind numbingly, lonely. This hasn't really come up before, what with the inability to talk to Caroline, but this is her show, so now we find out.
  And it makes sense. With the exception of Tricia Martin, so far everyone else brought up in the series has had someone, anyone, to cling to. Annie had her long list of boys, as did Betsy who also had Trish and Steve, Roger had Olivia, Bill had Dee Dee and I'm bored re-capping, so we're done with that now. If you didn't have a single friend at school, you can relate. Hell, if you just had a few friends, you can relate.
  Caroline is tired of being a misfit, always relegated to the outskirts of the SVH-crowd. She decides that enough is enough. She's done with the whole outside looking in crap. So she makes sure that she's got the ears of the demi-gossip-goddesses, and she tells them all about Adam, her amazingly perfectly gorgeous, overly romantic, super secret until now boyfriend.
  Oh, boy does she tell them. She reads his letters, passes them around, details every phone conversation, and in general acts like your best friend's little sister who desperately wants to be cool enough to hang out with you guys, if only for an afternoon. Of course, she probably sounds like that because she is like that. Her sister, Anita, seems like your typical perfect older sister. Pretty enough that dating isn't a problem, popular enough to have friends come and go, and just bitchy enough to point out your short comings over breakfast. So it's not like Caroline needs a guy just to impress the in crowd at school. Nope, a boyfriend would shut her older sister up, too.
  Thing is, Adam doesn't exist. He's Caroline's dream boy, but she hasn't met him and he certainly doesn't send her poetry laden letters every other day. Now the rest of us know that Caroline is only going to get so far with letters, even really spectacular letters, before Lila and Jessica pressure her into producing this Adam.
  This is as good a time as any to point out our B and C stories. Both involve the Wakefield twins, and give them different reasons to help or hurt Caroline when things get down and dirty.
  While trying to glom onto either twin, Caroline finds a letter from Alice Wakefield to a design firm in San Francisco, thanking them for their generous job offer and telling them she'll think about it. When Jessica pushes Caroline too far at the beach, Caroline fakes some sympathy for poor Jessica. It must be so hard to concentrate on other people's problems when you're so caught up in the potential move, huh?
  Yeah, not your best move, Caro. By pointing out that Jessica's perfect life is possibly about to come crashing down around her, you've moved straight to the top of her shit list.
  When the twins, led by overly melodramatic Jessica, confront their parents, Alice admits she's been offered the gig and she'd really like it. Ned points out that it's an incredible honor and that with the twins so close to college, it really would be a good thing for them to make more money. Now, call me crazy, but you'd think the cost of living in Frisco would off-set the major pay increase at least a little. Silly me. Anyway, the parental units are ticked when neither twin is thrilled at the thought of their entire lives being uprooted in the midst of their junior year in high school. Jess does make one possibly out of character observation. She points out that while it sucks massively just thinking about moving, what with cheerleading and all, it would KILL Elizabeth to leave Todd. It's never mentioned as a selfish, manipulative comment, and I for one would like to give Jessica the benefit of the doubt. Sure, she had to know it would guilt the 'rents, but it's also... true. And foreshadowing, but we'll make our way back there soon enough.
  The twins combine forces to convince their parents that moving would be a bad, bad, baaaaaad idea. From brochures inundating them with every possible bit of information on Sweet Valley, to nostalgic visits to various restaurants, right on through to trashing San Francisco, the twins have pretty much thought of everything.
  C story is a continued thread from a few books back. Elizabeth's entering a playwright competition and hers is based on the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
  Now, since Adam doesn't exist and it's not likely that Caroline houses the soul of a poet, where has she been getting her letters? Oh, yeah, she's been lifting from Robert Browning. The smart people are snorting and saying, yeah, what are the effing odds of that? Well, it's simple. In life, particularly high school, the one thing that can unravel your pack of lies is infinitely closer than the rear view mirror would indicate.
  However, Caroline skates on, oblivious to her impending doom.
  Anyway, plots C and B combine to sink Caroline's battleship. After a night that is essentially a Taste of Sweet Valley cuisine, Elizabeth reads her family her play and Jessica realizes that parts of it sound awfully familiar. She's certain she's never read Browning's work before and the only other source of poetry in her diet has been Adam's letters. She puts two and two together and comes up with faux boyfriend.
  In a twist, Lila points out that Caroline could still be telling the truth, completely unaware that her boyfriend has been lifting his lines from a dead poet guy. Jessica all but snorts and asks, "What crack are you on, Fowler?" Lila carefully points out that there are obvious, and normal, explanations for each of Jessica's protests. Adam could have terrible handwriting, leading to him typing his letters. Since he's not doing the heavy thinking parts of the letters, his frequency in mailing them is nothing to look twice at.
  Caroline knows that she can't keep Lila and Jessica at bay for much longer with just letters, so she says she's going to Cold Springs one weekend to visit Adam. Lila and Jessica coo over this and point out that it leaves the following weekend for Adam's party. Perfect !
  Yeah, except for Adam not existing. So Caro "brings back" proof. There's the "Property of Cold Springs Athletic Department" shirt she claims is from Adam, but is really a left over from her cousin Sally's dating disaster with a Cold Springs boy. There's a newspaper picture of 'Adam', though it's from a basketball game and blurry to boot, though that came in a letter. Oh yeah, and then there's the fact that Jessica saw Caroline while she was supposedly out of town.
  Thing is, Lila and Jess are both thrown by the proof. Maybe the guy really does exist...
  Also thrown is Anita, Caroline's big sister. Caro shares the joy and fakes a phone conversation and she and Anita bond. Which is really annoying later on, given how much of a bitch Anita is the first time she shows up. It takes your little sister inventing a boyfriend for you to give her the time of day? Nice, real nice.
  Anyway, to ensure that Caroline can't use the "But Adam is broke..." excuse, Lila buys the elusive Adam a bus ticket. Nice, huh?
  Jessica also sets things up so that Liz finally hears one of Adam's letters. Liz is worried that Caro doesn't realize they aren't legit, but Caro confides that's the least of her worries. Liz points out that Caroline might have some friends if she weren't such a busy body, always poking into other people's business. Yes, you may snort with laughter now.
  Caroline begs Liz not to read her play, as that will expose Caroline as a fraud. Liz reluctantly agrees, and goes home to bitch Jessica out. Anita then busts Caroline, sort of. Seems Mama Pearce doesn't know a thing about Adam, so Caroline confesses. Anita gives her a much longer, much bitchier version of Elizabeth's speech, and Caroline realizes the error of her ways. GASP! Liz failed and bitchy eating disorder riddled older sister prevails!
  The next day, Caroline tells Elizabeth that it was wrong of her to ask Liz to not read her play, and it's okay. She's just going to have to suck it up and admit that she's a big ol' liar. Because of this, Saint Liz and her sidekick Todd resume work on Operation Rescue. Uh...huh.
  However, Caroline chickens out the first time she's given a chance to come clean, and continues to chicken out all week. Not that I blame her, but Jesus, you'd think coming clean at school would beat making a total ass of yourself at a party thrown partially in your honor. It's not like having your execution catered would make it any easier to die.
  For the party, Anita goes all out on Caroline and the girl is glowing so much that Todd gives her a fantastically backhanded compliment. At the party, Caroline decides to bypass the goodies and head straight for the guillotine. She has Lila kill the music and just as she's about to confess her lie, a handsome, 6'2", wavy brown haired, chocolate brown eyed sweetheart of a guy rushes up, apologizes for being late, and kisses Caroline for all the world to see. It seems Adam has finally arrived.
  Operation Rescue involved Todd asking a friend of his to pretend to be Adam to save Caroline the pain of being publicly humiliated. I suspect Todd agreed solely to thwart Jessica's plan for Caroline's downfall, but that's okay. Normally I'd ask what are the odds that you could find this dead ringer for a made-up boytoy, but when you think about it, it shouldn't be all that difficult. Brown-eyed brunettes aren't exactly hard to come by, and Todd knows Jerry from basketball, so odds are good that the 6'2" bit wasn't that hard to fill. But did anyone else notice that Caroline pretty much conjures up Todd Wilkins up when she creates Adam? Looks-wise, I mean. Every time she'd go on and on about his eyes, I'd think of the numerous times over the series Elizabeth would find herself lost in Todd's gaze.
  Eventually Caroline realizes that while everyone else thinks she's found someone fantastic, she's just as lonely as before, if not moreso. So she confesses and runs away. I cannot fault her for that either, as I'd have run, too. Jerry follows her, tells her he's proud of her, and they kiss for real. It's very sweet, although Caroline asking if she can come visit so quickly is a little forward and obnoxious.
  Overall, Caroline gets a happy ending after all. So do the twins. Seems that Alice and Ned turned the offer down shortly into the "YAY, SV!" blitz, but thought to teach the twins a lesson, so they didn't share the news immediately. Alls well that ends well.
  Or as close as the valley's going to let us get, at this point.


*- Not that I have a hat, but since I won't need to eat it anyway, that really doesn't matter.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • Adam is 6'2", dark brown hair, warm laughing brown eyes. He lives in Cold Springs, plays baseball, and is naturally well liked. He was also on the basketball team last year. His mother is an English teacher and perfectly fine with her son's mystery girlfriend spending the weekend at their house.

  • Cold Springs is about two hours away from Sweet Valley.

  • Anita is Caroline's older sister. She's model thin and constantly makes Caroline feel fat because she doesn't exist on ice water and melon like Anita does. If Anita doesn't have food "issues", I'll eat my hat.*

  • Anita suffers under the delusion that the twins are the nicest girls in the junior class.

  • According to Caroline, Annie and Ricky's issues are as follows:Ricky promised Annie a ride in his father's white Seville Cadillac, but when he showed up for the date, it was just in his beat up old Chevy. When Annie went to the bathroom to clean herself up after an unfortunate incident involving cocktail sauce, she returned to find Ricky flirting with Maria Santelli.

  • Elizabeth makes most of the jokes about Jessica's room.

  • John Paine, is the director of the Hurley Group, one of the biggest firms in California. He's offered Alice a job, and even when she declines, he says he'll keep a spot for her anytime she changes her mind.

  • Elizabeth based her play on "Sonnets from the Portuguese."

  • Mr. Wakefield's receptionist is Mrs. Kelly.

  • Jessica runs into Dennis [remember him from book nine?] while visiting her father.

  • Caroline keeps Adam's stationary in her 3rd desk drawer. Said stationary is light blue, in case you wondered.

  • Caroline has been lifting Adam's letters from Robert Browning: Letters, volumes one through three.

  • Miss Priss Caroline finds t-shirts too low cut. Um, mid-80's shirts, no less.

  • Bruce helps Regina out with a math problem, then asks her out, and she still manages to call all the shots.

  • Liz buys her mother a lovely Amaryllis arrangement from Petal Pushers.

  • The 'Taste of Sweet Valley' dinner includes a salad with a special Dijon mustard dressing from Season's Gourmet Shop, Veal Parmesan from Vitos, and a lemon chiffon pie from Caster's.

  • The Wakefields used to eat takeout from Vito's at least once a week.

  • Caroline is the only member of PBA to have perfect attendance at the meetings. Something tells me Liz and Enid have the worst in recent memory.

  • Tiberino's is owned by Sal Ciardi, and it's where Ned proposed to Alice, and their go-to restaurant's for anniversaries.

  • Ned is allergic to Chinese food.

  • Las Palmas Canyon is twenty miles from SV.

  • Elizabeth's play is called "One Woman's Romance."

  • Fowler Crest is apparently now Spanish Style. Who knew?

  • Jerry Fisher is a friend of Todd's, and he pretends to be Adam, but seems to genuinely like Caroline.




Quoted:

"Caroline has it coming to her anyway. I can't believe she tried to trick us! I'll admit it showed she's got more imagination than I ever gave her credit for, but that's all." Jessica defends her malicious streak. p120

"Yeah. There's something different about you tonight-and it's not just your new dress. You're pretty," he said. Todd trips over his words fantastically. p 138




  It's crucial to make your misfit likable in a story like this. Not only do you have to explain why a previously painfully obnoxious character should be pitied and understood, but you also have to make it so that you want them to rise above their past misdeeds, especially if they lack the effortless charm that other characters are graced with. And the thing is, it works, which is kind of surprising. Caroline manages to walk that fine line between previously established busy-body and misunderstood misfit.
  On the one hand, you have Caroline spreading her usual gossip all around. There are her stories about Annie and Ricky possibly breaking up because of Ricky allegedly flirting with Maria Santelli, John Pfiefer being kicked off the Oracle for consistently turning his sports copy in late, and then there's the one about Bill Chase getting help with his play from Mr. Jaworski.
  On the other hand, it's not like she intentionally tries to screw things up for people. The Annie gossip was meant as something to contribute to a conversation where she felt left out. The Bill thing was an attempt to make small talk that failed madly, and well, John's got worse coming to him in the far future, so really, he got off light.
  Anita comes off as impossible to live up to, so you feel for Caroline at home. At school she's the one person just about everyone attempts to hide from, and as the series manages to churn out spin offs like crazy, you realize this has been going on for forever. So yeah, Caroline brought a lot of this on herself, but she didn't mean to. She just happens to be her absolute worst enemy.
  The funny thing about Love Letters is that it's the first time the character makeover introduced doesn't stick. Caroline momentarily tries to be a better person in this book, and then she pretty much lapses back into her gossip-y ways fairly quickly. What little character definition she was given is snatched back and she goes back to being the stereotypical gossip hungry wannabe.

  Now I leave you with two things. One, the reissue of the book is impossible to read the back cover without your eyes starting to bleed a little. Black on bright effing blue is a bad combination for reading. Two, did Adam sign his name, or did he type that as well?



Various other banners have been updated. I think Double Love, Dear Sister, and whenever it finishes loading, When Love Dies.
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When Love Dies
September 1984

What terrible secret is Tricia keeping from Steven?

The end of romance...


  The Wakefield twins' older brother, Steven, is heartbroken. His girlfriend, Tricia Martin, no longer seems interested in him. She breaks their dates and doesn't return his calls. Steven can't understand why Tricia's feelings have changed so suddenly.
  Jessica is thrilled that Steven isn't dating Tricia anymore. She sees it as the perfect opportunity to pair him with her best friend, Cara Walker. Elizabeth, Jessica's twin, thinks that scheming, gossipy Cara is all wrong for Steven. She's determined to find out the reason for Tricia's strange behavior- and horrified when she discovers the awful truth.

  When Love Dies is pretty much the pivotal moment in Steven Wakefield's life. Moreso than when Tricia actually dies [come on, look at the title. While misleading in that she's still alive at the end of this book, she's going to croak SOON] because this is when the angst cranks up to ungodly levels. But let's take a moment to back up, breathe, and start at the beginning.
  Steven Wakefield is upset. His girlfriend of the entire series thus far [though, seriously, how long has this been? Are we still in fall, did we move to spring, or what?] has been blowing him off left, right, and center. He comes home for weekends, basically just to see her, and drop off laundry for Alice to do, and she won't see him. She abruptly ends their calls, she never writes, she won't send flowers, and gosh oh golly, she probably doesn't say I love you either. Zee pain. Oh, the agony. Though to be fair, that must suck. In fact, it does suck, so I'm sorry, Steve. If it weren't for the fact that you'll obsess over this for the rest of your entire LIFE, this would break my heart.
  Anyway, no one can figure out why formerly sweet and devoted china doll Tricia is daring to be all elusive with one of the great Wakefields. Cara Walker begins spreading the word that Tricia's got a new boyfriend. Being the kind, thoughtful, and considerate little sister that she is, Jessica says as much to Steve and offers to hook him up with Cara. Which is a bit cruel as Cara really likes Steve and well, he's still hung up on his tragic girlfriend. In a fit of desperation, Steve goes to the Martins' home and pushes his way past drunk daddy [why doesn't Steve end up in jail? He's an ass at times and he lacks a lot of the bubbly charm his sisters have] to confront Tricia. She's packing and he assumes that she's going away for the weekend with some other guy. She doesn't deny this and they break up. They're both crushed, though Steve thinks Tricia's pain is because she's been caught.
  So the love birds mope around. Jessica can only stand it when she's the one moping, so she convinces Steve to go to a party at Cara's. The catch? Cara isn't throwing a party. They try and whip one up, but for two of the most popular girls in school, all they can manage is Lila Fowler*, Lila's date, Jessica, Aaron Dallas, Steve, and of course, Cara. Seriously? I could get more people to a party on short notice in high school, and I was one of the social outcasts. :P Beers are handed out because Cara's parents are out and the couples break off to go make out. Cara gets to gossiping, which is sort of what Steve wanted, and when he learns that Tricia does indeed have a new boyfriend he overcompensates. Because he's a jealous, impetuous type, Steve ropes Cara out onto the dance floor, and in an effort to prove he's so over Tricia, kisses Cara. While Cara feels the earth move and fireworks explode overhead, all Steve feels inside is cold and dead.
  Jessica skips home afterward, thrilled that her latest matchmaking ploy has worked. Liz is in shock, what could Steve see in Cara? At school, Liz runs into Tricia and they chat awkwardly about why Tricia ran off the last time Liz saw her, but before Liz can ask, "Why're you being so cold to my bestest big brother?" Cara and Jessica waltz by, discussing Steve and Cara's explosive night out. Loudly. Poor Tricia looks as if her heart is breaking, but there isn't anything anyone, even Super!Liz, can do.
  By now we know that Tricia has leukemia and is dying. It's not a maybe, could be, if we're not lucky sort of thing. This is the, aside from God coming down from on high and giving the girl a break, she's toast. Her mother died of the same thing when she was nine, and that's what led Mr. Martin to drink, and probably what led her sister Betsy to being such a skanktastic wonder. Tricia saw how it ruined her family, how it ruined her father, and she decided that she could not, would not, do that to Steve. So they broke up, and she let him hate her, so that when she dies, he won't care as much, and later on he might forgive her, but it'll be okay because he won't be as emotionally entangled as he could have been. The hard part is that this means she's essentially dying alone. I gather Tricia has NO friends at all, because they're never mentioned and you'd think one of them would know, if she had any.
  So as her heart is breaking over the thought of her boyfriend, ex or otherwise, with Cara of all people, part of her hopes that this means Steve is moving on. So she flashbacks to her dates with Steve and tries to be freakishly, superhumanly strong. *sniffle*

  This, by the way, leads us to the B story. Jessica gets wind that Jeremy Franks, a local TV celeb of sorts, is in the hospital with a broken leg. Maybe had he not skied into a tree, his leg would be fine, but when you're that handsome, well, the trees throw themselves in your way. Cara got the word from Janie McBride, a candy striper at the hospital. Jessica decides that she and Liz will finally give back to the community by becoming candy stripers, too. First she has to talk Liz into it, which is a bit more difficult than one would imagine. However, Liz crumbles as she's no match for the youngest Wakefield, and off they go to the hospital, where they both have similarly bad flashbacks. Liz remembers her coma stint and the aftermath of the accident, while Jessica remembers that she just recently drove a girl to attempted suicide. Despite this bit of foreboding, the twins enter and are quickly welcomed to the fold. Jessica gets maternity and Liz gets... some other floor that you know will house Jeremy Franks. It does, Liz meets him, and Jess is jealous. She goes to visit, and flirts. When she leans over to sign his cast, she loses her balances and reaches out, pen still in hand, and somehow manages to jab the poor guy in the knee. This is just the first of many, many horrible things. Poor Jeremy.
  Now, we know that Tricia's going in and out of the hospital, and during one of her In patient moments, Liz goes to see the new girl. They freak out, Tricia confesses that it wasn't a friend, as she'd previously said, but that she's dying and no, you nosy girl, you cannot tell Steve because it would KILL him, and that would kill Tricia even faster. Or something. Liz promises not to tell and it eats her alive. She also promises to tell Steve, after Tricia's been dead awhile, that she really did love him. This complicates matters as Liz is sure that Steve and Tricia should decide together what to do. If he wants to run for the hills, let it be his/their choice.
  So Liz angsts about this for a bit.

  Back at the hospital, Liz and Jeremy have decided that the only way to keep Jessica from spying Jeremy naked again and dropping ice water on him from shock, is for him to pursue her. He gives her roses, he flirts, and eventually he asks her to marry him. For a second it seems as if Project Hurricane is a success. Jessica freaks out and runs away. But given time to think about it, Jessica decides that maybe this will work to her advantage. So she takes him up on it. Too bad it was a bit of a joke/scheme, so he's forced to confess. Jessica agrees to forgive and forget, if he'll let her on his show, something she was angling for all along. Sneaky, sneaky.

  Mr. Collins asks Liz to tutor Max Dellon because he's going to flunk and she's Mr. C's best student. She agrees, but when she's not doing dorky back flips over this, Collins asks what's up. A little prodding later, Liz spills the beans about Tricia. Mr. C never comes out and says she should break her promise, but he does say that some promises were never meant to be kept. Liz decides she's going to tell Steve before Cara gets her hooks in any deeper. We're never really told whether Liz just thinks Cara isn't good enough for Steve, or if she just believes that Trish and Steve are her OTP. Thing is, before she can say a word to him, Steve's off.
  Cara and Steve go to a party at his dorm, where Cara makes the mistake of telling Steve that if they're to be a couple, he can't just go around thinking about Tricia all the time. This makes sense, except that if you have to say that, you have no chance of getting the guy you want, the way you want him. Steve blows up and takes her home, effectively "breaking up" without ever copping to being a couple in the works at all. Liz swoops in and tells him that Tricia still loves him and that she only broke it off with him to protect him. The rest of the story comes tumbling out and Steve is at once heartbroken and elated. Yay! Tricia loves him. Woe! She's going to die. So he runs over to the Martins and tells Tricia that he knows, and they cry and all is good.
  For a second it looks like we'll get a relatively happy ending. Tricia and Steve are joined at the hip, Jessica got her guest stint on Frankly Speaking, and Elizabeth's social calender is filled to the brim. She's on her way to the party at the Morrows after a quick study session with Max. But first she has to make it out of the hospital parking lot. She's made it to her car, all creeped out by the lack of people and the storm heading their way, when Creepy Carl, the orderly who so obviously thinks Liz is beautiful [as he's always staring at her, but rarely says much and is just creeeeeeeeeepy] knocks on her window and says their boss lady needs to see her. Liz reluctantly crawls out of the Fiat and he grabs her, chloroforms her, and gently places her on the mattress he's so thoughtfully put in the back of his creepy van.
  We're told that we have to wait an extra month to find out what happens and we fade to black.


Trivia!:

  • Janie McBride is the candy striper who tells Cara about Jeremy's accident and stay at the hospital.

  • Jeremy Franks is a local celebrity who hosts 'Frankly Speaking' which is a talk show. He broke his leg when he skied into a tree. Oops.

  • Tricia Martin's mother died of leukemia when Tricia was nine. This tore her family apart and drove her father to drink.

  • Cara's little brother is 13.

  • When word gets out that the new family in the Godfrey mansion [the Morrows] is loaded and has a teenage son, what's Cara's first thought? I wonder what car he drives. My money would have been on, "I wonder if he's cute." Oh well.

  • Speaking of the Godfrey Mansion, it's even better than Fowler Crest. Mr. Wakefield was Mr. Godfrey's lawyer and handles the estate now that Mr. Godfrey has died.

  • Alice Wakefield was a candy striper when she was around the twins' age.

  • Kurt Morrow was the star QB for the Hawks. Now he's into computers and is totally loaded.

  • Jeremy Franks is in room 213.

  • Tricia Martin is in room 227.

  • Elizabeth decides to call her series for The Oracle about her stint at the hospital, "A Candy Striper's Journal." Um, is it just me, or is that painfully dry?

  • Carl, the creepy custodian, drives a gunmetal gray Chevy van.


Quotes:
  Jessica gave a huge sigh and announced, "Life has no meaning."
  Elizabeth greeted this statement with only the tiniest flicker of surprise. After sixteen years, she was used to her twin's theatrics. p25

For weeks afterward, Jessica had pretended to feel faint whenever a boy she liked came near, in hopes he'd think she had some romantic, incurable disease. It ended the day she pulled her act on Tom McKay and he'd commented nervously that he'd hoped whatever she had wasn't catching. p27


  "You're an angel!" Jeremy called to her as she was leaving.
  "I just hope Jessica doesn't find out about any of this," Elizabeth responded, "or I may end up getting my halo bashed in!" p81




  I won't lie. Back in the day I'd read this book and cry my eyes out. I also would read Lurlene McDaniel books and cry. Emotional masochism at it's best. It was always more about the what if of the story than the actual story itself. What if I were dying and had a really cool boyfriend. Would I tell him, or would I try and hide it until I was gone? If I'd been in Elizabeth's shoes, would I have told Steven, or would I have honored Tricia's wishes? [I'd have told him, even if I knew he'd be all screwed up later on, as he so obviously is.] I could identify with Tricia having a horrible bad hair day on the cover, as my hair desperately wanted to curl when I was in middle school. Now, I'd kill for that problem, but then I had issues. Never did have that sort of bad hair day though, thank the gods.
  I know it's coming, but when Steven says, "Trish, baby, I know," I tear up like a little girl. I hate it when anyone calls anyone who is not a baby "baby", but in this case I make an exception and sniffle like I have for years.
  As time has gone by, I can think of at least two other Jeremy's Jessica's dated. There's that jerk Jeremy [isn't it a Jeremy?] where Jess 'steals' him from Sue or whatever her name is, only he's an ass, and then there's SVH:SY Jeremy, whom I love almost as much as Sam. Not that she actually dates Mr. Franks, it's just one of those names that keeps popping up.
  Totally random, but in the earlier books, before the girls pretty much take over the Fiat, it's so weird to see Jessica and Cara [or any of the characters, really] riding the school bus. Hee.



  *- Lila is almost always referred to as 'Lila Fowler'. Not just her first intro into the book, but anytime Jess or someone says, "Hey, I spent the day with Lila" they always add her last name. It's the ultimate status symbol. I think they knock it off a bit when Cara moves out of the way as Jessica's best friend, but for now she's Lila Fowler. This amuses me, but I'm weird.
the_oracle: (left of normal)
When Love Dies
September 1984

What terrible secret is Tricia keeping from Steven?

The end of romance...


  The Wakefield twins' older brother, Steven, is heartbroken. His girlfriend, Tricia Martin, no longer seems interested in him. She breaks their dates and doesn't return his calls. Steven can't understand why Tricia's feelings have changed so suddenly.
  Jessica is thrilled that Steven isn't dating Tricia anymore. She sees it as the perfect opportunity to pair him with her best friend, Cara Walker. Elizabeth, Jessica's twin, thinks that scheming, gossipy Cara is all wrong for Steven. She's determined to find out the reason for Tricia's strange behavior- and horrified when she discovers the awful truth.

  When Love Dies is pretty much the pivotal moment in Steven Wakefield's life. Moreso than when Tricia actually dies [come on, look at the title. While misleading in that she's still alive at the end of this book, she's going to croak SOON] because this is when the angst cranks up to ungodly levels. But let's take a moment to back up, breathe, and start at the beginning.
  Steven Wakefield is upset. His girlfriend of the entire series thus far [though, seriously, how long has this been? Are we still in fall, did we move to spring, or what?] has been blowing him off left, right, and center. He comes home for weekends, basically just to see her, and drop off laundry for Alice to do, and she won't see him. She abruptly ends their calls, she never writes, she won't send flowers, and gosh oh golly, she probably doesn't say I love you either. Zee pain. Oh, the agony. Though to be fair, that must suck. In fact, it does suck, so I'm sorry, Steve. If it weren't for the fact that you'll obsess over this for the rest of your entire LIFE, this would break my heart.
  Anyway, no one can figure out why formerly sweet and devoted china doll Tricia is daring to be all elusive with one of the great Wakefields. Cara Walker begins spreading the word that Tricia's got a new boyfriend. Being the kind, thoughtful, and considerate little sister that she is, Jessica says as much to Steve and offers to hook him up with Cara. Which is a bit cruel as Cara really likes Steve and well, he's still hung up on his tragic girlfriend. In a fit of desperation, Steve goes to the Martins' home and pushes his way past drunk daddy [why doesn't Steve end up in jail? He's an ass at times and he lacks a lot of the bubbly charm his sisters have] to confront Tricia. She's packing and he assumes that she's going away for the weekend with some other guy. She doesn't deny this and they break up. They're both crushed, though Steve thinks Tricia's pain is because she's been caught.
  So the love birds mope around. Jessica can only stand it when she's the one moping, so she convinces Steve to go to a party at Cara's. The catch? Cara isn't throwing a party. They try and whip one up, but for two of the most popular girls in school, all they can manage is Lila Fowler*, Lila's date, Jessica, Aaron Dallas, Steve, and of course, Cara. Seriously? I could get more people to a party on short notice in high school, and I was one of the social outcasts. :P Beers are handed out because Cara's parents are out and the couples break off to go make out. Cara gets to gossiping, which is sort of what Steve wanted, and when he learns that Tricia does indeed have a new boyfriend he overcompensates. Because he's a jealous, impetuous type, Steve ropes Cara out onto the dance floor, and in an effort to prove he's so over Tricia, kisses Cara. While Cara feels the earth move and fireworks explode overhead, all Steve feels inside is cold and dead.
  Jessica skips home afterward, thrilled that her latest matchmaking ploy has worked. Liz is in shock, what could Steve see in Cara? At school, Liz runs into Tricia and they chat awkwardly about why Tricia ran off the last time Liz saw her, but before Liz can ask, "Why're you being so cold to my bestest big brother?" Cara and Jessica waltz by, discussing Steve and Cara's explosive night out. Loudly. Poor Tricia looks as if her heart is breaking, but there isn't anything anyone, even Super!Liz, can do.
  By now we know that Tricia has leukemia and is dying. It's not a maybe, could be, if we're not lucky sort of thing. This is the, aside from God coming down from on high and giving the girl a break, she's toast. Her mother died of the same thing when she was nine, and that's what led Mr. Martin to drink, and probably what led her sister Betsy to being such a skanktastic wonder. Tricia saw how it ruined her family, how it ruined her father, and she decided that she could not, would not, do that to Steve. So they broke up, and she let him hate her, so that when she dies, he won't care as much, and later on he might forgive her, but it'll be okay because he won't be as emotionally entangled as he could have been. The hard part is that this means she's essentially dying alone. I gather Tricia has NO friends at all, because they're never mentioned and you'd think one of them would know, if she had any.
  So as her heart is breaking over the thought of her boyfriend, ex or otherwise, with Cara of all people, part of her hopes that this means Steve is moving on. So she flashbacks to her dates with Steve and tries to be freakishly, superhumanly strong. *sniffle*

  This, by the way, leads us to the B story. Jessica gets wind that Jeremy Franks, a local TV celeb of sorts, is in the hospital with a broken leg. Maybe had he not skied into a tree, his leg would be fine, but when you're that handsome, well, the trees throw themselves in your way. Cara got the word from Janie McBride, a candy striper at the hospital. Jessica decides that she and Liz will finally give back to the community by becoming candy stripers, too. First she has to talk Liz into it, which is a bit more difficult than one would imagine. However, Liz crumbles as she's no match for the youngest Wakefield, and off they go to the hospital, where they both have similarly bad flashbacks. Liz remembers her coma stint and the aftermath of the accident, while Jessica remembers that she just recently drove a girl to attempted suicide. Despite this bit of foreboding, the twins enter and are quickly welcomed to the fold. Jessica gets maternity and Liz gets... some other floor that you know will house Jeremy Franks. It does, Liz meets him, and Jess is jealous. She goes to visit, and flirts. When she leans over to sign his cast, she loses her balances and reaches out, pen still in hand, and somehow manages to jab the poor guy in the knee. This is just the first of many, many horrible things. Poor Jeremy.
  Now, we know that Tricia's going in and out of the hospital, and during one of her In patient moments, Liz goes to see the new girl. They freak out, Tricia confesses that it wasn't a friend, as she'd previously said, but that she's dying and no, you nosy girl, you cannot tell Steve because it would KILL him, and that would kill Tricia even faster. Or something. Liz promises not to tell and it eats her alive. She also promises to tell Steve, after Tricia's been dead awhile, that she really did love him. This complicates matters as Liz is sure that Steve and Tricia should decide together what to do. If he wants to run for the hills, let it be his/their choice.
  So Liz angsts about this for a bit.

  Back at the hospital, Liz and Jeremy have decided that the only way to keep Jessica from spying Jeremy naked again and dropping ice water on him from shock, is for him to pursue her. He gives her roses, he flirts, and eventually he asks her to marry him. For a second it seems as if Project Hurricane is a success. Jessica freaks out and runs away. But given time to think about it, Jessica decides that maybe this will work to her advantage. So she takes him up on it. Too bad it was a bit of a joke/scheme, so he's forced to confess. Jessica agrees to forgive and forget, if he'll let her on his show, something she was angling for all along. Sneaky, sneaky.

  Mr. Collins asks Liz to tutor Max Dellon because he's going to flunk and she's Mr. C's best student. She agrees, but when she's not doing dorky back flips over this, Collins asks what's up. A little prodding later, Liz spills the beans about Tricia. Mr. C never comes out and says she should break her promise, but he does say that some promises were never meant to be kept. Liz decides she's going to tell Steve before Cara gets her hooks in any deeper. We're never really told whether Liz just thinks Cara isn't good enough for Steve, or if she just believes that Trish and Steve are her OTP. Thing is, before she can say a word to him, Steve's off.
  Cara and Steve go to a party at his dorm, where Cara makes the mistake of telling Steve that if they're to be a couple, he can't just go around thinking about Tricia all the time. This makes sense, except that if you have to say that, you have no chance of getting the guy you want, the way you want him. Steve blows up and takes her home, effectively "breaking up" without ever copping to being a couple in the works at all. Liz swoops in and tells him that Tricia still loves him and that she only broke it off with him to protect him. The rest of the story comes tumbling out and Steve is at once heartbroken and elated. Yay! Tricia loves him. Woe! She's going to die. So he runs over to the Martins and tells Tricia that he knows, and they cry and all is good.
  For a second it looks like we'll get a relatively happy ending. Tricia and Steve are joined at the hip, Jessica got her guest stint on Frankly Speaking, and Elizabeth's social calender is filled to the brim. She's on her way to the party at the Morrows after a quick study session with Max. But first she has to make it out of the hospital parking lot. She's made it to her car, all creeped out by the lack of people and the storm heading their way, when Creepy Carl, the orderly who so obviously thinks Liz is beautiful [as he's always staring at her, but rarely says much and is just creeeeeeeeeepy] knocks on her window and says their boss lady needs to see her. Liz reluctantly crawls out of the Fiat and he grabs her, chloroforms her, and gently places her on the mattress he's so thoughtfully put in the back of his creepy van.
  We're told that we have to wait an extra month to find out what happens and we fade to black.


Trivia!:

  • Janie McBride is the candy striper who tells Cara about Jeremy's accident and stay at the hospital.

  • Jeremy Franks is a local celebrity who hosts 'Frankly Speaking' which is a talk show. He broke his leg when he skied into a tree. Oops.

  • Tricia Martin's mother died of leukemia when Tricia was nine. This tore her family apart and drove her father to drink.

  • Cara's little brother is 13.

  • When word gets out that the new family in the Godfrey mansion [the Morrows] is loaded and has a teenage son, what's Cara's first thought? I wonder what car he drives. My money would have been on, "I wonder if he's cute." Oh well.

  • Speaking of the Godfrey Mansion, it's even better than Fowler Crest. Mr. Wakefield was Mr. Godfrey's lawyer and handles the estate now that Mr. Godfrey has died.

  • Alice Wakefield was a candy striper when she was around the twins' age.

  • Kurt Morrow was the star QB for the Hawks. Now he's into computers and is totally loaded.

  • Jeremy Franks is in room 213.

  • Tricia Martin is in room 227.

  • Elizabeth decides to call her series for The Oracle about her stint at the hospital, "A Candy Striper's Journal." Um, is it just me, or is that painfully dry?

  • Carl, the creepy custodian, drives a gunmetal gray Chevy van.


Quotes:
  Jessica gave a huge sigh and announced, "Life has no meaning."
  Elizabeth greeted this statement with only the tiniest flicker of surprise. After sixteen years, she was used to her twin's theatrics. p25

For weeks afterward, Jessica had pretended to feel faint whenever a boy she liked came near, in hopes he'd think she had some romantic, incurable disease. It ended the day she pulled her act on Tom McKay and he'd commented nervously that he'd hoped whatever she had wasn't catching. p27


  "You're an angel!" Jeremy called to her as she was leaving.
  "I just hope Jessica doesn't find out about any of this," Elizabeth responded, "or I may end up getting my halo bashed in!" p81




  I won't lie. Back in the day I'd read this book and cry my eyes out. I also would read Lurlene McDaniel books and cry. Emotional masochism at it's best. It was always more about the what if of the story than the actual story itself. What if I were dying and had a really cool boyfriend. Would I tell him, or would I try and hide it until I was gone? If I'd been in Elizabeth's shoes, would I have told Steven, or would I have honored Tricia's wishes? [I'd have told him, even if I knew he'd be all screwed up later on, as he so obviously is.] I could identify with Tricia having a horrible bad hair day on the cover, as my hair desperately wanted to curl when I was in middle school. Now, I'd kill for that problem, but then I had issues. Never did have that sort of bad hair day though, thank the gods.
  I know it's coming, but when Steven says, "Trish, baby, I know," I tear up like a little girl. I hate it when anyone calls anyone who is not a baby "baby", but in this case I make an exception and sniffle like I have for years.
  As time has gone by, I can think of at least two other Jeremy's Jessica's dated. There's that jerk Jeremy [isn't it a Jeremy?] where Jess 'steals' him from Sue or whatever her name is, only he's an ass, and then there's SVH:SY Jeremy, whom I love almost as much as Sam. Not that she actually dates Mr. Franks, it's just one of those names that keeps popping up.
  Totally random, but in the earlier books, before the girls pretty much take over the Fiat, it's so weird to see Jessica and Cara [or any of the characters, really] riding the school bus. Hee.



  *- Lila is almost always referred to as 'Lila Fowler'. Not just her first intro into the book, but anytime Jess or someone says, "Hey, I spent the day with Lila" they always add her last name. It's the ultimate status symbol. I think they knock it off a bit when Cara moves out of the way as Jessica's best friend, but for now she's Lila Fowler. This amuses me, but I'm weird.
the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (classic)
Wrong Kind of Girl
July, 1984

  Watch out, Annie Whitman! Jessica's out to get you!

  Jessica's at it again!


   Jessica Wakefield has sworn never to allow Annie Whitman onto the Sweet Valley High cheering squad. Annie may have the beauty, talent, and spirit to be a cheerleader, but she also has the worst reputation in school. She goes out with a different boy every night, and all the kids call her "easy Annie" behind her back. Jessica's pulling every devilish trick to keep Annie from ruining the cheerleaders' image.
   Only Elizabeth, Jessica's twin, knows what Annie's really like. But can she change her sister's mind before Jessica shatters Annie's dreams?

  I'll admit it. When it comes to Annie Whitman, I'm more of a Jessica than an Elizabeth. I don't think she's evil or a bad seed or anything fascinating like that, I just would prefer her kept far, far away from me whenever we're given more than a brief glimpse in her general direction. She annoys me for reasons that WKoG illustrates repeatedly.
  Ready? Annie Whitman wants to be a SVH cheerleader more than anyone could ever possibly want anything, ever in the history of the world, possibly the universe. Fallen angels wanting to return to heaven have got NOTHING on Annie's desire to join the cheerleading squad. Thing is, Annie's a moron. She lacks common sense of any flavor and is related to the talking Barbie who'd spout such wisdom as, "Math is, like, hard... and stuff?" That is essentially Annie's refrain for much of the first half of the book, but instead of 80's Barbie, imagine that she looks like Courteney Cox did in the 80's.
  In order to be one of the SVH cheer elite, you must maintain a certain GPA and Annie's as dumb as a box of rocks in the math department. She might not be [studying is good for fixing this] if not for her second strike against her: her inability to go without a date on any given day that ends in "y." For this reason, Annie has earned the nickname Easy Annie. Not much in terms of wit or any real time spent coming up with it, but it does the job. Annie likes the boys, and the boys like Annie, but they don't really like each other for long. So Annie finds a new boy, and the old boy counts himself among the many, the not so proud, Annie's dudes.
  What, you need it spelled out for you? Annie's a slut. A tramp. However you want to word it, the meaning is still the same. With a reputation like that, the co-captain of the SVH cheerleaders is a little more than worried about Annie trying out for the squad. That would be Jessica, yes. And as you've come to learn, what Jessica wants usually backfires horribly on anyone, and everyone, involved.
  You might be wondering why the cheerleaders are holding tryouts in the middle of the year for the current squad. You might not. Despite living in the South where football players die every summer due to heat exhaustion, our cheerleaders at school weren't exactly big on the tryouts and no one died to get on the squad that I know of. I think they had tryouts for the next year's squad at the end of the year sometime, but I don't know. But we're well into the school year and we shouldn't be having tryouts, yes? No! It seems sometime in the last couple of books, Lila and Cara were kicked off the squad due to a little prank that some didn't find all that hilarious. Lila says to hell with the squad, but Cara desperately wants back on. Remember, these girls are the most popular, beautiful, fantastic girls ever. Lila's rich, so she doesn't need them, but Cara's no fool. Cheerleaders are the stuff of legends. That leaves Lila's space to fill, although Jessica and Elizabeth have a cute little circular argument about whether it's really one space to fill or two. It's one. Short of breaking her neck, we all know Cara will make it back on the team. That leaves the second slot up for grabs. Jess is eying Sandy Bacon as a suitable filler, but she's got one itsy, bitsy, teeny weeny little problem.
  When Annie shows up, along with 74 other girls, on the first day of tryouts, it becomes painfully clear that the girl is good, possibly even great. She can do stuff that some of the squad's been trying to do for ages, but she makes it look effortless. The only one bothered by this display of perfection is Jessica. Either the other girls are used to being shown up, or they figure that with Annie on the team, the whole squad will be that much better. So either they're fools or fantastic girls. No one knows, and no one's given a chance to know, because Jessica moves fast. When she spies Annie heading off with Tim Bradley, she makes a comment or two towards his sister, Helen, about Easy Annie, and Helen starts to worry. Jess seems to think this alone might be enough to keep Annie from making it through the second round of cuts, but Annie's even better than before.
  Proving that Annie is a moron, she shows up to the Beach Disco with Bruce Patman. The guy's a jerk and Jessica hates him. Not winning any brownie points there, sugar. When a dance contest begins, Annie suffers under the delusion that if she does really, really well, she'll impress the other cheerleaders, especially Jessica. Has she met the younger Wakefield twin? She doesn't like anyone else, not even her own sister, to steal her spotlight. Sharing it with anyone on Bruce Patman's arm is really going to burn her. So while Annie's dying of joy over tying with Jessica in the dance contest, Jessica wishes Annie would just die.
  You might be wondering how Annie managed to get around the academic requirement for trying out. Well, she had a little help from super genius Elizabeth. Liz spends the entire book caught between the right thing and the right thing to do by her sister. It never occurs to her to tell Annie that she has a better chance of being hit by a snowball in Hell than getting on Jessica's squad, or coming up with any reason for Jessica to like Annie. Nope, she tries to get Jessica to feel for Annie, which is impossible as early Jessica only gives a damn if you're in a coma of her own design. Liz tutors Annie to keep her math grades up and begins to realize that maybe Annie actually is easy. She repeatedly goes out with the absolute wrong boys, the ones even Jessica couldn't stand for more than a night, and doesn't seem to care if anyone knows she's got two dates for one day, one of them with creepy Rick Andover.
  Liz is also a little creeped out by Annie's home life. Annie's mother, Mona, is a model, and she's also what seems to pass for an alcoholic in the SV world. Namely, if she's acting a little nutty, she's also slurring her words and is obviously well on her way to happy drunk town. She has a creepy boyfriend in the form of "Call me Johnny" who ruined the name Johnny for me forever. Well, him and another Johnny, but yeah, creepy with the leering and whatnot. Annie's got no friends, so she pours out her skanky little heart to Liz.
  She's lonely, none of the girls like her, the boys don't respect her any more than she respects them, and she can't talk to her mother because Mona's a lush who's done sort of okay by her kid, given that she had Annie at 16, got married and divorced before she was 20, and Annie's dad hasn't been in the picture since she was 13, and gosh oh golly, being one of the elite will change EVERYTHING. Liz suspects heavily that Annie's totally unaware that anyone bad mouths her, but she doesn't say, "Hey, have you thought about not entertaining everything with a penis in town? Cuz the girls kinda frown on it and the nice guys are afraid you're going to give 'em the funny syphilis, y'know?" Or the Liz-ified version, which would work too. Nope, Liz just tries to fluff Annie's ego and get the hell out of Annie's apartment before Johnny comes home. :P

  Oh, and speaking of horrible reputations, we're given a little cameo of Steven when he comes home to check on Tricia. Seems Mr. Martin hit some poor woman while he was driving drunk and is spending a couple of nights in jail. Cara is obviously interested in Steve and has been forever, but he doesn't notice her at all. Woe!

  Back to the interesting stuff. Jessica's got a plan. She knows she'll vote for Sandy, as will Jean West, who is Sandy's best friend in the whole world. That's two votes against Annie. She's fairly certain that Robin will vote however the hell she wants to, and Jess has no sway there, so she counts that as a dead end, as well as Maria Santelli's vote, since Maria's practically dying to try out flips with Annie. So she zeros in on Helen, whose brother appears to have reported back that yeah, Annie's a little slutty. No details at all are given, but Jessica points out that the fate of the SVH squad rests on Helen's pretty little shoulders. She can either keep the squad a good, clean sort of entertainment, or she can get used to people assuming she's a whore like Annie. Really, no pressure at all.
  Helen's in, and there's a wicked little scene with Jess, Jean, and Helen by the Wakefield pool, laughing at Liz and the knowledge that they already know who's the final cheerleader before the final cut. Muhahaha...
  And Jessica's little plan would have worked perfectly if only Sandy Bacon weren't such a world class klutz. She wipes out during her final tryout and everyone is sure she's blown it. Sure, they know Sandy'll get Jeannie's vote, but everyone else is expected to pick Cara and Annie. Cara makes it in, no problem. But when Helen dares to vote Annie, Jessica pulls one final massive bitch fit. If they chose to vote Annie Whitman onto the squad, they'll have to turn right around and find another cheerleader, as Jessica will quit right then and there. We're not told that Jessica's plan worked, but considering she didn't sulk the rest of the afternoon, it's a safe bet that Annie will not be getting a regulation short skirt anytime soon.
  Soooooo, Annie finds out that she didn't make the squad and she freaks the hell out. She wanted it so bad, she was so good, and my god, she even studied, how could they do this to her? Which is where Ricky Capaldo steps in to make matters worse. She badgers him until he tells her that Jessica was the one who threw the hissy fit, although he doesn't say she threatened to quit rather than spend anytime with Annie that wasn't strictly necessary. This involves having to share the legacy of Easy Annie and Annie freaks out. She runs away and is absent from school for days.
  In all the time Annie's ditching, Liz never once tries to check up on the girl, despite having spent so much time worrying about Annie/Jessica that Enid and Todd were both feeling neglected. Way to go, Liz. Way to go.
  Liz finally gets a call from Ricky who has terrible news. Annie tried to kill herself by downing a bottle of pills. GASP! Liz ropes Jessica into going with her to the hospital, and Jessica points out that Annie will NOT want to see her. Liz doesn't care, she needs her security blanket Jessica there. So off they go. At the hospital we're not really told much, but we do see Jessica begin to sob when she realizes that she's an awful person and oh yeah, Ricky thinks so too, deep down, because he asks how could anyone be so cruel, so bitchtastic... and then realizes he pushed it a little far when Jessica bursts into tears. Does Jessica feel bad for what she did, or does she feel bad for how it'll look? Dunno.
  Annie wakes up briefly, says something [possibly, "farewell, cruel world"] and slips back into her coma. Cue Super!Jessica. She confesses to Annie's doctor that it's her fault, and why, and his brilliant suggestion? Tell Annie that she's made the squad after all, but don't lie. Either let the girl die OR give her a uniform.
  And Jessica does it. Just like that, she adds another member to the squad and tells Annie all about it. It isn't until Jessica stops talking, after a late night vigil, that Annie comes to. She really wants that uniform, man.
  So Annie's a cheerleader, she's got the guy [she and Ricky are well on their way to coupledom], and Jessica proves that while she does put people in comas, she's just as good at getting them out. Super!Jessica!
  Thus the book can end with Jessica and Liz wondering, which twin gets to go to NYC and which twin is stuck showing off Suzy Devlin?

Trivia:

  • SVH Cheerleading Squad before the book starts: Jessica, Robin, Lila, Cara, Helen Bradley, Maria Santelli, Jean West.

  • When the book starts: Jessica, Robin, Helen, Maria, Jean

  • At the end: Jessica, Robin, Helen, Maria, Jean, Sandy, Cara, Annie

  • Lila and Cara were kicked off the squad after they pranked the Palisades cheer squad by turning the sprinklers on during their "cheer display."

  • 75 girls tried out for the cheerleading squad.

  • Rick Andover's car is a "souped up 1955 Chevy" he calls his "Campbells Special." Yeah, it wasn't cute when Liz heard it either. Stupid Annie.

  • Annie's apartment is small, but lovely, if you ignore the people living inside.

  • Annie was a model a few years back, when she was 13.

  • Sandy Bacon is not known for her gracefulness, particularly after an incident at Lila's when she tried to impress some dude named Mark and instead of doing a complicated dive, did a belly flop instead. Hi-larious!

  • Cara's had the hots for Steve for years, but he doesn't seem to know she's alive. Sadness!

  • Mr. Martin [Tricia's dad] got busted for drunk driving, after he hit some woman on Palmetto Drive. He's only spending a couple of nights in jail for it, though.

  • Tim Bradley is Helen's older brother. He's a senior, but that doesn't stop him from taking Annie [a sophomore] out on a date.

  • The first cut for the cheerleading tryouts knocked the potentials down to 25, the second down to 8.

  • Annie's infamous double date involved Billy taking her to the Dairi Burger and Rick taking her to the beach that evening for a swim.

  • Mrs. Jorgenson lives down the hall and frequently loses her glasses, which Annie helps her find, much to her mother's consternation.

  • Liz has known Annie for only about a year, and wouldn't consider them good friends at all.

  • The Surfer's Waves are a Northern California band playing at the beach disco. See? The Droids aren't the only band in the state.

  • Skip Harmon is a senior who makes it a point to not date junior girls. Jessica bets Elizabeth that he'll make an exception for her, and within a week, too. He does and Liz has to wash the Fiat.

  • It isn't until Annie gets a B-minus at crunch time, and runs to Liz to thank her, that Jessica finds how whose been helping get Annie's grades up. Oddly enough, Jessica doesn't do much to kill Liz for this little act, despite Liz worrying for the last few weeks about it.

  • Ricky Capaldo, the cheerleaders manager, slips a note to Annie about being one of the final eight, and when she reads it after class, she hugs him and shrieks, "Oh, Rickeeeee!" This is how poor Ricky is greeted for the rest of forever.

  • When Ned and Alice explain the New York trip, and tell the girls about Suzy, for some reason we're told that Suzy is beautiful. Really? Couldn't that have waited until next book, or could one of the twins have been shown a picture, because as it stands, Ned calling Suzy beautiful is a little icky.

  • Mona Whitman has a tendency to call her daughter kitten, and you know it's the 80's because she lights up in the emergency waiting area of the hospital. WTF?

  • Annie's doctor is Dr. Hammond.


Say Wha?:
Jessica stomped out of the kitchen, feeling only helplessness at her brother's infatuation with Tricia. She couldn't get over the feeling that one day her brother would come to grief because of his love for that girl. - Jessica learns foreshadowing, p28
"The three major causes of the Revolutionary War," he noted in his book, "were a denial of basic rights, the Stamp Act, and Annie Whitman." I don't think that's right, Ricky. P 81
"Good heavens, Jess, she's only fifteen years old!" Liz might want to rethink that strategy when trying to call the Jess-dog off Annie's case. p108
"He's right. I am stuck up and cruel. But I didn't know she wanted it so much!" Jessica sniffled and looked pleadingly into her sister's calm eyes. It was very difficult to lie to Elizabeth when she looked at her like that. "Oh, OK, maybe I did know. Or I should have known. After all, I wanted it that much when I was trying out." p122


137:
Jessica had tried over and over again to interest Elizabeth in the cheerleading squad. "The two of us together would be sensational!" she'd told Elizabeth at least a hundred and thirty-seven times. p2



  With Annie, you belong to one of two schools of thought. You either believe that Annie's earned her nickname or she hasn't. I don't think I ever doubted for a second that Annie'd had sex with at least a couple of guys, despite the fact that she's 15 and seems genuinely shocked that anyone would hold any of her "dates" against her. The way she talks of her flings has always struck me as kind of proof that she'd fooled around a little. The interesting thing about Annie is that she's a sweetie, albeit very naive. Hooker with a heart of gold?
  That I'm okay with, although you'd think she'd have heard SOMETHING in all this time. Nope, what bothers me most is that because she didn't get what she wanted, she tried to kill herself. When she comes to, she's given exactly what she wanted and it's all okay. The hell is that? Emotional blackmail of the highest order is what. It's also terribly unrealistic. She's mentally unstable enough to try to commit suicide, but not one mention is made of seeing a shrink, and y'know what? Anytime anyone at our HS tried to kill themselves, everyone knew. They might not lose their friends or anything, but everyone knew, rumors flew, and they did not climb the social ladder immediately. If I'd been at SVH, I'd wonder how come I was fictional, and also, why did Annie get special treatment? What if she hadn't been as good, or Sandy hadn't fallen, would she have still tried to kill herself?
  Yes, I know that it was a whole bunch of stuff that sent Annie spiraling, and it's hinted with her interactions with Liz that she's horribly lonely and possibly depressed, and yeah, her mother kicks Johnny to the curb and this is what seems to make Annie bold enough to turn down the cheerleaders [for all of two seconds], but you've gotta look a bit deeper for that. The average SVH student wouldn't do that, they'd just assume she was batshit crazy.
  The funny thing about this is that later on we'll see she's still got the rep, so the only thing that changed is that she's got the uniform, too.

  The other funny thing is how Jessica treats someone who is so similar to how Jessica herself might be perceived, if she weren't so fantastically fantastic. She dates and flirts easily, like Annie, and has been spotted with some of the bad boys of SV, yet she's not given the same rep. Does Jessica hate Annie because she sees what she could be, if things were just a tiny bit different? That whole hating other people for what you hate most in yourself theory? Possibly, most likely even probably, but we're never actually told.
  Also funny? How Liz still defends Jessica's actions, even when Jess has given up the ghost. "You did what you thought was right." Yeah, not really, but you tell yourself that, Liz.

the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (classic)
Wrong Kind of Girl
July, 1984

  Watch out, Annie Whitman! Jessica's out to get you!

  Jessica's at it again!


   Jessica Wakefield has sworn never to allow Annie Whitman onto the Sweet Valley High cheering squad. Annie may have the beauty, talent, and spirit to be a cheerleader, but she also has the worst reputation in school. She goes out with a different boy every night, and all the kids call her "easy Annie" behind her back. Jessica's pulling every devilish trick to keep Annie from ruining the cheerleaders' image.
   Only Elizabeth, Jessica's twin, knows what Annie's really like. But can she change her sister's mind before Jessica shatters Annie's dreams?

  I'll admit it. When it comes to Annie Whitman, I'm more of a Jessica than an Elizabeth. I don't think she's evil or a bad seed or anything fascinating like that, I just would prefer her kept far, far away from me whenever we're given more than a brief glimpse in her general direction. She annoys me for reasons that WKoG illustrates repeatedly.
  Ready? Annie Whitman wants to be a SVH cheerleader more than anyone could ever possibly want anything, ever in the history of the world, possibly the universe. Fallen angels wanting to return to heaven have got NOTHING on Annie's desire to join the cheerleading squad. Thing is, Annie's a moron. She lacks common sense of any flavor and is related to the talking Barbie who'd spout such wisdom as, "Math is, like, hard... and stuff?" That is essentially Annie's refrain for much of the first half of the book, but instead of 80's Barbie, imagine that she looks like Courteney Cox did in the 80's.
  In order to be one of the SVH cheer elite, you must maintain a certain GPA and Annie's as dumb as a box of rocks in the math department. She might not be [studying is good for fixing this] if not for her second strike against her: her inability to go without a date on any given day that ends in "y." For this reason, Annie has earned the nickname Easy Annie. Not much in terms of wit or any real time spent coming up with it, but it does the job. Annie likes the boys, and the boys like Annie, but they don't really like each other for long. So Annie finds a new boy, and the old boy counts himself among the many, the not so proud, Annie's dudes.
  What, you need it spelled out for you? Annie's a slut. A tramp. However you want to word it, the meaning is still the same. With a reputation like that, the co-captain of the SVH cheerleaders is a little more than worried about Annie trying out for the squad. That would be Jessica, yes. And as you've come to learn, what Jessica wants usually backfires horribly on anyone, and everyone, involved.
  You might be wondering why the cheerleaders are holding tryouts in the middle of the year for the current squad. You might not. Despite living in the South where football players die every summer due to heat exhaustion, our cheerleaders at school weren't exactly big on the tryouts and no one died to get on the squad that I know of. I think they had tryouts for the next year's squad at the end of the year sometime, but I don't know. But we're well into the school year and we shouldn't be having tryouts, yes? No! It seems sometime in the last couple of books, Lila and Cara were kicked off the squad due to a little prank that some didn't find all that hilarious. Lila says to hell with the squad, but Cara desperately wants back on. Remember, these girls are the most popular, beautiful, fantastic girls ever. Lila's rich, so she doesn't need them, but Cara's no fool. Cheerleaders are the stuff of legends. That leaves Lila's space to fill, although Jessica and Elizabeth have a cute little circular argument about whether it's really one space to fill or two. It's one. Short of breaking her neck, we all know Cara will make it back on the team. That leaves the second slot up for grabs. Jess is eying Sandy Bacon as a suitable filler, but she's got one itsy, bitsy, teeny weeny little problem.
  When Annie shows up, along with 74 other girls, on the first day of tryouts, it becomes painfully clear that the girl is good, possibly even great. She can do stuff that some of the squad's been trying to do for ages, but she makes it look effortless. The only one bothered by this display of perfection is Jessica. Either the other girls are used to being shown up, or they figure that with Annie on the team, the whole squad will be that much better. So either they're fools or fantastic girls. No one knows, and no one's given a chance to know, because Jessica moves fast. When she spies Annie heading off with Tim Bradley, she makes a comment or two towards his sister, Helen, about Easy Annie, and Helen starts to worry. Jess seems to think this alone might be enough to keep Annie from making it through the second round of cuts, but Annie's even better than before.
  Proving that Annie is a moron, she shows up to the Beach Disco with Bruce Patman. The guy's a jerk and Jessica hates him. Not winning any brownie points there, sugar. When a dance contest begins, Annie suffers under the delusion that if she does really, really well, she'll impress the other cheerleaders, especially Jessica. Has she met the younger Wakefield twin? She doesn't like anyone else, not even her own sister, to steal her spotlight. Sharing it with anyone on Bruce Patman's arm is really going to burn her. So while Annie's dying of joy over tying with Jessica in the dance contest, Jessica wishes Annie would just die.
  You might be wondering how Annie managed to get around the academic requirement for trying out. Well, she had a little help from super genius Elizabeth. Liz spends the entire book caught between the right thing and the right thing to do by her sister. It never occurs to her to tell Annie that she has a better chance of being hit by a snowball in Hell than getting on Jessica's squad, or coming up with any reason for Jessica to like Annie. Nope, she tries to get Jessica to feel for Annie, which is impossible as early Jessica only gives a damn if you're in a coma of her own design. Liz tutors Annie to keep her math grades up and begins to realize that maybe Annie actually is easy. She repeatedly goes out with the absolute wrong boys, the ones even Jessica couldn't stand for more than a night, and doesn't seem to care if anyone knows she's got two dates for one day, one of them with creepy Rick Andover.
  Liz is also a little creeped out by Annie's home life. Annie's mother, Mona, is a model, and she's also what seems to pass for an alcoholic in the SV world. Namely, if she's acting a little nutty, she's also slurring her words and is obviously well on her way to happy drunk town. She has a creepy boyfriend in the form of "Call me Johnny" who ruined the name Johnny for me forever. Well, him and another Johnny, but yeah, creepy with the leering and whatnot. Annie's got no friends, so she pours out her skanky little heart to Liz.
  She's lonely, none of the girls like her, the boys don't respect her any more than she respects them, and she can't talk to her mother because Mona's a lush who's done sort of okay by her kid, given that she had Annie at 16, got married and divorced before she was 20, and Annie's dad hasn't been in the picture since she was 13, and gosh oh golly, being one of the elite will change EVERYTHING. Liz suspects heavily that Annie's totally unaware that anyone bad mouths her, but she doesn't say, "Hey, have you thought about not entertaining everything with a penis in town? Cuz the girls kinda frown on it and the nice guys are afraid you're going to give 'em the funny syphilis, y'know?" Or the Liz-ified version, which would work too. Nope, Liz just tries to fluff Annie's ego and get the hell out of Annie's apartment before Johnny comes home. :P

  Oh, and speaking of horrible reputations, we're given a little cameo of Steven when he comes home to check on Tricia. Seems Mr. Martin hit some poor woman while he was driving drunk and is spending a couple of nights in jail. Cara is obviously interested in Steve and has been forever, but he doesn't notice her at all. Woe!

  Back to the interesting stuff. Jessica's got a plan. She knows she'll vote for Sandy, as will Jean West, who is Sandy's best friend in the whole world. That's two votes against Annie. She's fairly certain that Robin will vote however the hell she wants to, and Jess has no sway there, so she counts that as a dead end, as well as Maria Santelli's vote, since Maria's practically dying to try out flips with Annie. So she zeros in on Helen, whose brother appears to have reported back that yeah, Annie's a little slutty. No details at all are given, but Jessica points out that the fate of the SVH squad rests on Helen's pretty little shoulders. She can either keep the squad a good, clean sort of entertainment, or she can get used to people assuming she's a whore like Annie. Really, no pressure at all.
  Helen's in, and there's a wicked little scene with Jess, Jean, and Helen by the Wakefield pool, laughing at Liz and the knowledge that they already know who's the final cheerleader before the final cut. Muhahaha...
  And Jessica's little plan would have worked perfectly if only Sandy Bacon weren't such a world class klutz. She wipes out during her final tryout and everyone is sure she's blown it. Sure, they know Sandy'll get Jeannie's vote, but everyone else is expected to pick Cara and Annie. Cara makes it in, no problem. But when Helen dares to vote Annie, Jessica pulls one final massive bitch fit. If they chose to vote Annie Whitman onto the squad, they'll have to turn right around and find another cheerleader, as Jessica will quit right then and there. We're not told that Jessica's plan worked, but considering she didn't sulk the rest of the afternoon, it's a safe bet that Annie will not be getting a regulation short skirt anytime soon.
  Soooooo, Annie finds out that she didn't make the squad and she freaks the hell out. She wanted it so bad, she was so good, and my god, she even studied, how could they do this to her? Which is where Ricky Capaldo steps in to make matters worse. She badgers him until he tells her that Jessica was the one who threw the hissy fit, although he doesn't say she threatened to quit rather than spend anytime with Annie that wasn't strictly necessary. This involves having to share the legacy of Easy Annie and Annie freaks out. She runs away and is absent from school for days.
  In all the time Annie's ditching, Liz never once tries to check up on the girl, despite having spent so much time worrying about Annie/Jessica that Enid and Todd were both feeling neglected. Way to go, Liz. Way to go.
  Liz finally gets a call from Ricky who has terrible news. Annie tried to kill herself by downing a bottle of pills. GASP! Liz ropes Jessica into going with her to the hospital, and Jessica points out that Annie will NOT want to see her. Liz doesn't care, she needs her security blanket Jessica there. So off they go. At the hospital we're not really told much, but we do see Jessica begin to sob when she realizes that she's an awful person and oh yeah, Ricky thinks so too, deep down, because he asks how could anyone be so cruel, so bitchtastic... and then realizes he pushed it a little far when Jessica bursts into tears. Does Jessica feel bad for what she did, or does she feel bad for how it'll look? Dunno.
  Annie wakes up briefly, says something [possibly, "farewell, cruel world"] and slips back into her coma. Cue Super!Jessica. She confesses to Annie's doctor that it's her fault, and why, and his brilliant suggestion? Tell Annie that she's made the squad after all, but don't lie. Either let the girl die OR give her a uniform.
  And Jessica does it. Just like that, she adds another member to the squad and tells Annie all about it. It isn't until Jessica stops talking, after a late night vigil, that Annie comes to. She really wants that uniform, man.
  So Annie's a cheerleader, she's got the guy [she and Ricky are well on their way to coupledom], and Jessica proves that while she does put people in comas, she's just as good at getting them out. Super!Jessica!
  Thus the book can end with Jessica and Liz wondering, which twin gets to go to NYC and which twin is stuck showing off Suzy Devlin?

Trivia:

  • SVH Cheerleading Squad before the book starts: Jessica, Robin, Lila, Cara, Helen Bradley, Maria Santelli, Jean West.

  • When the book starts: Jessica, Robin, Helen, Maria, Jean

  • At the end: Jessica, Robin, Helen, Maria, Jean, Sandy, Cara, Annie

  • Lila and Cara were kicked off the squad after they pranked the Palisades cheer squad by turning the sprinklers on during their "cheer display."

  • 75 girls tried out for the cheerleading squad.

  • Rick Andover's car is a "souped up 1955 Chevy" he calls his "Campbells Special." Yeah, it wasn't cute when Liz heard it either. Stupid Annie.

  • Annie's apartment is small, but lovely, if you ignore the people living inside.

  • Annie was a model a few years back, when she was 13.

  • Sandy Bacon is not known for her gracefulness, particularly after an incident at Lila's when she tried to impress some dude named Mark and instead of doing a complicated dive, did a belly flop instead. Hi-larious!

  • Cara's had the hots for Steve for years, but he doesn't seem to know she's alive. Sadness!

  • Mr. Martin [Tricia's dad] got busted for drunk driving, after he hit some woman on Palmetto Drive. He's only spending a couple of nights in jail for it, though.

  • Tim Bradley is Helen's older brother. He's a senior, but that doesn't stop him from taking Annie [a sophomore] out on a date.

  • The first cut for the cheerleading tryouts knocked the potentials down to 25, the second down to 8.

  • Annie's infamous double date involved Billy taking her to the Dairi Burger and Rick taking her to the beach that evening for a swim.

  • Mrs. Jorgenson lives down the hall and frequently loses her glasses, which Annie helps her find, much to her mother's consternation.

  • Liz has known Annie for only about a year, and wouldn't consider them good friends at all.

  • The Surfer's Waves are a Northern California band playing at the beach disco. See? The Droids aren't the only band in the state.

  • Skip Harmon is a senior who makes it a point to not date junior girls. Jessica bets Elizabeth that he'll make an exception for her, and within a week, too. He does and Liz has to wash the Fiat.

  • It isn't until Annie gets a B-minus at crunch time, and runs to Liz to thank her, that Jessica finds how whose been helping get Annie's grades up. Oddly enough, Jessica doesn't do much to kill Liz for this little act, despite Liz worrying for the last few weeks about it.

  • Ricky Capaldo, the cheerleaders manager, slips a note to Annie about being one of the final eight, and when she reads it after class, she hugs him and shrieks, "Oh, Rickeeeee!" This is how poor Ricky is greeted for the rest of forever.

  • When Ned and Alice explain the New York trip, and tell the girls about Suzy, for some reason we're told that Suzy is beautiful. Really? Couldn't that have waited until next book, or could one of the twins have been shown a picture, because as it stands, Ned calling Suzy beautiful is a little icky.

  • Mona Whitman has a tendency to call her daughter kitten, and you know it's the 80's because she lights up in the emergency waiting area of the hospital. WTF?

  • Annie's doctor is Dr. Hammond.


Say Wha?:
Jessica stomped out of the kitchen, feeling only helplessness at her brother's infatuation with Tricia. She couldn't get over the feeling that one day her brother would come to grief because of his love for that girl. - Jessica learns foreshadowing, p28
"The three major causes of the Revolutionary War," he noted in his book, "were a denial of basic rights, the Stamp Act, and Annie Whitman." I don't think that's right, Ricky. P 81
"Good heavens, Jess, she's only fifteen years old!" Liz might want to rethink that strategy when trying to call the Jess-dog off Annie's case. p108
"He's right. I am stuck up and cruel. But I didn't know she wanted it so much!" Jessica sniffled and looked pleadingly into her sister's calm eyes. It was very difficult to lie to Elizabeth when she looked at her like that. "Oh, OK, maybe I did know. Or I should have known. After all, I wanted it that much when I was trying out." p122


137:
Jessica had tried over and over again to interest Elizabeth in the cheerleading squad. "The two of us together would be sensational!" she'd told Elizabeth at least a hundred and thirty-seven times. p2



  With Annie, you belong to one of two schools of thought. You either believe that Annie's earned her nickname or she hasn't. I don't think I ever doubted for a second that Annie'd had sex with at least a couple of guys, despite the fact that she's 15 and seems genuinely shocked that anyone would hold any of her "dates" against her. The way she talks of her flings has always struck me as kind of proof that she'd fooled around a little. The interesting thing about Annie is that she's a sweetie, albeit very naive. Hooker with a heart of gold?
  That I'm okay with, although you'd think she'd have heard SOMETHING in all this time. Nope, what bothers me most is that because she didn't get what she wanted, she tried to kill herself. When she comes to, she's given exactly what she wanted and it's all okay. The hell is that? Emotional blackmail of the highest order is what. It's also terribly unrealistic. She's mentally unstable enough to try to commit suicide, but not one mention is made of seeing a shrink, and y'know what? Anytime anyone at our HS tried to kill themselves, everyone knew. They might not lose their friends or anything, but everyone knew, rumors flew, and they did not climb the social ladder immediately. If I'd been at SVH, I'd wonder how come I was fictional, and also, why did Annie get special treatment? What if she hadn't been as good, or Sandy hadn't fallen, would she have still tried to kill herself?
  Yes, I know that it was a whole bunch of stuff that sent Annie spiraling, and it's hinted with her interactions with Liz that she's horribly lonely and possibly depressed, and yeah, her mother kicks Johnny to the curb and this is what seems to make Annie bold enough to turn down the cheerleaders [for all of two seconds], but you've gotta look a bit deeper for that. The average SVH student wouldn't do that, they'd just assume she was batshit crazy.
  The funny thing about this is that later on we'll see she's still got the rep, so the only thing that changed is that she's got the uniform, too.

  The other funny thing is how Jessica treats someone who is so similar to how Jessica herself might be perceived, if she weren't so fantastically fantastic. She dates and flirts easily, like Annie, and has been spotted with some of the bad boys of SV, yet she's not given the same rep. Does Jessica hate Annie because she sees what she could be, if things were just a tiny bit different? That whole hating other people for what you hate most in yourself theory? Possibly, most likely even probably, but we're never actually told.
  Also funny? How Liz still defends Jessica's actions, even when Jess has given up the ghost. "You did what you thought was right." Yeah, not really, but you tell yourself that, Liz.

the_oracle: (left of normal)
Heart Breaker
May 1984

Will Jessica break Bill's heart, too?

  Catch a wave...


 The surf's up in Sweet Valley, and gorgeous Jessica Wakefield is making a big splash with Bill Chase, the hottest surfer in town. But after she tricks him into falling madly in love with her, she ignores him completely.
  To complicate matters, shy, quiet DeeDee Gordon is also after Bill. But Jessica has the upper hand. If Bill even looks at DeeDee, Hurricane Jessica blows him off his board and back into her arms. Can Bill escape Jessica's undertow, or is he in over his head?

  Why, oh why, did no one warn Bill that Jessica was a man-eater before he fell head over heels for her? I guess warning wouldn't do much good, as hormones have a way of overriding all logic and common sense, but it might've been worth it. Of course, Todd does try to warn him later, but that's like walking up to the guy whose leg is in a bear trap and saying, "Hey, you might wanna be careful, mmkay?"
  Ah well. Heart Breaker is the tale of How Jessica Gets Revenge. Or possibly, Boys at SVH Are Stupid. As has been hinted at for the last three books or so, Bill Chase is madly in love with the Wakefield twins. He's actually more into them for their looks than anything else, which is why I didn't say he's in love with Liz [he was] or Jess [as this book'll have you believe] since they're sort of interchangeable for him. If you didn't read his character bio in the back of ANL, you just think he's a bit of a raging masochist. You see, Jess managed to sink her claws into him and he's got it bad, but she's pretty much moved on, only throwing him just enough charm to keep him still hopelessly tied to her. What he doesn't know is that Jess is just doing this all out of revenge. Seems Mr. Chase was given the opportunity last year to date Miss Jessica Wakefield and he turned her down. Since no one can do this without the world grinding to a halt and bad things happening, Jessica has decided to turn him into her bitch. And it's working.
  By the time the book has started, they've all tried out for, and gotten parts in the school's production of Splendor In the Grass, with Jess and Bill as the leads. Jess takes great delight in making Bill constantly retry their big love scene. Which makes Bill blush like crazy. Which he will do for most of the book. At first you can't tell if he knows he's being used or if he's completely oblivious to the evil that is Jessica's true nature. What you do notice is that DeeDee Gordon has an incredibly silly name [Sorry to all you DeeDees] and that she's got the hots for Bill. Before you can become too wrapped up in this particular storyline, Jessica shifts the conversation away from her way with torturing Bill to Todd's remarkably hot ex-girlfriend, Patsy Webber. Apparently Patsy went to Paris the year before and France agreed with her. She filled out in all the right places and bam, came back super model ready, possibly ready to rekindle things with Todd. So Liz is jealous. Massively so, but she tries to talk herself out of it. Todd loves Liz, he waited around while she was an awful bitch with memory problems, so why would he leave now? Oh, I dunno, maybe because Patsy could give Jessica a run for the least amount of clothing worn before the word skank is used? Still, Liz convinces herself that nothing is wrong.
  And back we go to Bill, with a cute little scene in the Wakefield kitchen. I'm a sucker for the sisterly interaction. I always wanted a sister [though I suspect that's entirely a theory, as I'd probably hate having one in reality] so when Liz and Jess are goofing off make my little dorky heart that much happier. Unfortunately, Liz still remains a complete idiot when it comes to her twin. By now she should know that if you tell Jessica that her evil plan is coming unraveled because someone else is showing interest in the guy she's currently torturing, it won't make her back off. No, it'll make her step up her game. *cheerfully strangles Liz* So Jess leaves Liz with the lake they've created in their kitchen [as well as the dishes Jess was supposed to do] and skips off to call Bill in an effort to bind him closer to her. And it works. A little while later, while Jess is out with Tom and her parents are on a movie date, Liz hears the doorbell ring. When she answers, she finds Bill looking distinctly unhappy about finding the wrong twin. Liz invites him in and then, in a move that still makes me wonder what the hell, brings him warm root beer but no glass, no ice, no nothing, all because Jessica didn't put the sodas in the fridge. Was there an ice shortage in California that year? Bill leaves, for some reason not having touched the warm root beer, after Liz has tried to gently warn him away from the hurricane that is Jessica Wakefield.
  Switching twins, we go back to Liz's problem with Patsy. Liz goes to call Todd in hopes that Todd can talk some sense into Bill [being Bill's closest and possibly only friend] but instead Todd's mother answers the phone, tells Liz that Todd isn't home, and seems to have some pity for Liz. Wait, what? Liz is convinced that this means Todd is out with Patsy and that since Patsy is 5'9", she's the perfect height to gaze into Todd's eyes and never get a crick in her neck the way Liz sometimes does, and ohmygod, they must be making out! Liz tries to calm herself down, but still feels a little strange. Damn you, writer's imagination. Damn you!

  Now, for all of you who didn't read the little bio three books back, you're given a refresher course. Bill used to live in Santa Monica before his parents got divorced. While there, he was madly in love with his girlfriend, Julianna, and things were good. They liked a lot of the same things, surfing included, although this didn't mean they never fought. Bill picked a fight with Julianna one night at a party, and to spite him, Jules hitched a ride with someone else. Bill immediately felt bad for being a jerk and vowed to call her when she got home. Too bad this tempted fate and Julianna was in an accident on the way home. She died and Bill blamed himself for it. He went a little mad, went surfing in the middle of a storm, and damn near died. He didn't, and eventually came around to the realization that if Julianna really loved him the way he was sure she did, she wouldn't want him to hurt himself. She'd want him to live, the same way he wished she had lived. Very touching, very sweet, actually. When his parents split, Bill came to Sweet Valley with his mother, and found himself seeing Julianna everywhere, particularly wherever he saw Liz Wakefield. Naturally the same thing happened when he saw Jessica, so when she asked him out, he had to say no.
  Now he still sees Julianna whenever he spies one of the twins and is thus helpless against the evil ways of Jessica. The truly standout thing about this little revelation is that Bill doesn't share it with anyone. His past is his own and he doesn't feel the need to share it with anyone, not even Liz Wakefield. Don't worry though, someone else will spill their tragic secret to Liz, so as not to cause the world to explode.
  Another fun little bit of Sweet Valley I love: When the gang hits the beach and cattiness reigns supreme, as well as stupid jokes, I'm a happy little camper. Cara's there, being a lovely study in contrasts with her blond bombshell best friend Jessica, and Liz is there as well, but again Liz proves that she knows noooooooothing. She and Cara both tease Jessica about DeeDee monopolizing Bill's time [they're down the beach and Bill's giving her surfing tips], and only Liz is really surprised when Jessica struts down the beach to reclaim Bill's affections.
  This brings us to DeeDee. She knows Bill has a huuuuuuuuuge thing for Jessica, and when push comes to shove and she has the choice to hand him over to Jessica or keep him for herself, she choses to let Bill have time alone with Jessica since that's what he so obviously wants, and what Jessica was angling for all along. Which is sweet and kind of annoying if you want your characters to fight for something or someone they want. However, it's totally believable as well, as no one in their right mind would choose to compete with Jessica if they didn't have to. With DeeDee out of the picture, Jessica is free to reclaim her property. Later, when Tom McKay shows up, Jessica sends Bill on a food run, begging the question, just how far is the Dairi Burger from the beach? Or did Bill just volunteer to go out of his way completely to get Jessica some food?
  Along with Tom, Lila, Ken, and Patsy show up. When Todd and Patsy run for the water, Liz wanders off to get her book from Todd's car, and runs into Enid who's come to the beach with Olivia and Lois. We're told that Liz doesn't really like Lois because Lois tries too hard, and Olivia's still in her radically weird phase, but it's nice to see that Enid has other friends than just Liz. Enid attempts to console Liz, but Liz is having none of it. Olivia manages to make Liz feel worse, gushing about how Patsy really got hot during her year abroad and how Todd and Patsy never really broke up, she moved and it must've fizzled, and yeah, Liv finally realizes she's stuck her foot in her mouth big time.
  Things only get worse when Elizabeth finds out that Patty does the costumes for the play and that no one told her about it before. She's not thrilled to learn that Patty got the gig because Todd recommended her, and she's sure that all the time spent with Todd cheering Bill on was just a ruse. Obviously Todd is still in love with Patsy. Obviously. When Liz does work up the courage to talk to Todd about it, she sees him rubbing suntan oil on Patsy's back, while her bikini top is untied. Say what you will, but that's a little vexing to stumble across at your own home. I'd be pissed if I saw my boyfriend essentially getting a free grope on my patio, but with some other girl. Thing is, I'd smack him or throw a soda in his face or something. Liz just turns and runs away, refusing to talk to Todd when he attempts to explain it all away.
  This continues on forever. Liz won't talk to Todd because she's sure he just wants to break up, so she just doesn't give him the chance. Girl logic is sometimes hard to explain and even harder to understand.
  Back to the other love triangle! Jess eventually learns that DeeDee's father is a big shot Hollywood agent, but she doesn't start sucking up to DeeDee. Instead, when told that DD's dad really likes one of the actors in the play, she's so sure that it must be her, that she practically gift wraps Bill for DeeDee. I should point out that this isn't such a huge leap of imagination, considering Jessica is supposed to be an amazing actress.
  Sometime in the midst of Elizabeth's angst, she decides to head to her dad's office to interview the guy who owns the building, and instead she runs into Roger Barret. He's been popping up throughout the book, given that he's in the play and in love with Lila [also in the play] but this time he's popping up because he works as a janitor in the building. Poor, poor Roger. No, really, he's so poor that if he doesn't work, his family cannot pay the bills.
  Back to the play! Naturally, DeeDee's father is fawning all over Bill, not Jessica, and Jessica decides that if she can't be the star, she'll deal with being the star's girlfriend. DeeDee steps aside again, bonds with Roger for a moment, and shows up at Lila's party just in time to overhear Bill tell Jessica that her moment has passed and that he's with DeeDee now.
  Wherein we learn that while Jessica doesn't blush often, but when she does, it's a full Technicolor event. To cap off her bad night, it seems Tom McKay has deflected to the Patsy Webber side. Though if Patsy's all over Tom, then doesn't that mean...
  Why yes, yes it does. It means Liz was wrong about Todd and Patsy, which Todd manages to tell her when he grabs hold of her and tells her so. Aww, how sweet. Sort of. If a little creepy all at the same time...

Trivia:

  • The play in question this go round is Splendor In the Grass, with Jessica and Bill as leads.

  • Also in the play: Lila, Roger, DeeDee, Lois

  • DeeDee's parents are divorced and her dad [the talent agent] lives in L.A.

  • Bill's parents are also divorced, but his dad is a forest ranger in Idaho.

  • DeeDee placed 3rd in the surfing championship.

  • Roger and Elizabeth share one class; chemistry.

  • Mr. Pendergast owns the building where Mr. Wakefield and Roger both work.

  • Jessica bragged that she would get Bruce Patman to take her to the Sophomore Fling, but he asked Lila instead.

  • Liz was sick the entire week leading up to the play, though it's possible she sort of made herself sick, obsessing over Todd as she was.

  • Julianne's only real resemblance to the Wakefields seems to be that she was blond, blue eyed, and probably tanned.

  • Patsy was really skinny when she and Todd were dating, but in the year she's spent in Paris, she filled out nicely, so much so that she was a model. She's 5'9", red hair, and manages to walk the fine line between sleazy and hot without falling into the skanky territory. Also was friends with Olivia's cousin Amy, who lived down the street from the Webbers when Patsy lived in Palisades.

  • Jessica hates onions. [yay, Jess!]

  • DeeDee was chubby when she was younger, and now she thinks the mysterious Roger is a spy. Or, you know, could be.

  • Liz subscribes to the theory that it's okay for her to badmouth her sister, but no one else is allowed to. This I completely understand, and I think most people do as well.

  • Without her glasses, Lois Waller is blind as a bat.

  • Mr. Jaworksi teaches drama.

  • The book is dedicated to Marian Woodruff. Gee, I wonder where Sam's last name came from...



Quote-a-liscious:
"It's not your fault that kissing me is such a deadly chore." Jessica teases Bill, p2
"Since when is turning you down for a date a federal crime?" - Liz, p14
How was it that whenever Jessica tried to console her, she always ended up feeling worse? Liz, p70

137:
"Oh, Bill it'll take a hundred and thirty-seven years to learn all this..." p32




  Yet another book that makes it clear that if you get in Jessica's way, bad things will temporarily happen to you. This book has the distinction of being one of the few that doesn't really involve Jess getting herself or someone else into a scrape and then expecting Liz to bail her out, or letting Liz bail the other person out. Sure, there's that brief scene with Bill and the root beer [come on, Liz, ice! Root beer ain't yummy warm] but otherwise, Liz is too busy worrying about Todd to get involved with anyone else's problems.
  Which brings me to this: Why does Enid never step in when Liz is being a complete idiot? They're in high school and I distinctly remember high school romances and friendships would overlap so that when you and your boyfriend were having a stupid fight that everyone else knew was idiotic, your friend would step in and clue the guy in, and then he'd clue you in, or she'd do so. Sure, sometimes it would get messy as hell, but in this case it should have worked. Yet Enid never does, so... why? Is it because Enid doesn't care? That she was upset that Liz would rather go to the beach with Cara, Jessica, and Todd than with her? Are HS politics such as this beneath her? Or was it simply that the book couldn't survive under the Bill/Jessica/DeeDee triangle alone? We may never know.
  Cover note: Bill looks entirely too old and a little disproportionate to Jessica on the cover. Like she's an evil, snotty doll and he's an actual person.

the_oracle: (left of normal)
Heart Breaker
May 1984

Will Jessica break Bill's heart, too?

  Catch a wave...


 The surf's up in Sweet Valley, and gorgeous Jessica Wakefield is making a big splash with Bill Chase, the hottest surfer in town. But after she tricks him into falling madly in love with her, she ignores him completely.
  To complicate matters, shy, quiet DeeDee Gordon is also after Bill. But Jessica has the upper hand. If Bill even looks at DeeDee, Hurricane Jessica blows him off his board and back into her arms. Can Bill escape Jessica's undertow, or is he in over his head?

  Why, oh why, did no one warn Bill that Jessica was a man-eater before he fell head over heels for her? I guess warning wouldn't do much good, as hormones have a way of overriding all logic and common sense, but it might've been worth it. Of course, Todd does try to warn him later, but that's like walking up to the guy whose leg is in a bear trap and saying, "Hey, you might wanna be careful, mmkay?"
  Ah well. Heart Breaker is the tale of How Jessica Gets Revenge. Or possibly, Boys at SVH Are Stupid. As has been hinted at for the last three books or so, Bill Chase is madly in love with the Wakefield twins. He's actually more into them for their looks than anything else, which is why I didn't say he's in love with Liz [he was] or Jess [as this book'll have you believe] since they're sort of interchangeable for him. If you didn't read his character bio in the back of ANL, you just think he's a bit of a raging masochist. You see, Jess managed to sink her claws into him and he's got it bad, but she's pretty much moved on, only throwing him just enough charm to keep him still hopelessly tied to her. What he doesn't know is that Jess is just doing this all out of revenge. Seems Mr. Chase was given the opportunity last year to date Miss Jessica Wakefield and he turned her down. Since no one can do this without the world grinding to a halt and bad things happening, Jessica has decided to turn him into her bitch. And it's working.
  By the time the book has started, they've all tried out for, and gotten parts in the school's production of Splendor In the Grass, with Jess and Bill as the leads. Jess takes great delight in making Bill constantly retry their big love scene. Which makes Bill blush like crazy. Which he will do for most of the book. At first you can't tell if he knows he's being used or if he's completely oblivious to the evil that is Jessica's true nature. What you do notice is that DeeDee Gordon has an incredibly silly name [Sorry to all you DeeDees] and that she's got the hots for Bill. Before you can become too wrapped up in this particular storyline, Jessica shifts the conversation away from her way with torturing Bill to Todd's remarkably hot ex-girlfriend, Patsy Webber. Apparently Patsy went to Paris the year before and France agreed with her. She filled out in all the right places and bam, came back super model ready, possibly ready to rekindle things with Todd. So Liz is jealous. Massively so, but she tries to talk herself out of it. Todd loves Liz, he waited around while she was an awful bitch with memory problems, so why would he leave now? Oh, I dunno, maybe because Patsy could give Jessica a run for the least amount of clothing worn before the word skank is used? Still, Liz convinces herself that nothing is wrong.
  And back we go to Bill, with a cute little scene in the Wakefield kitchen. I'm a sucker for the sisterly interaction. I always wanted a sister [though I suspect that's entirely a theory, as I'd probably hate having one in reality] so when Liz and Jess are goofing off make my little dorky heart that much happier. Unfortunately, Liz still remains a complete idiot when it comes to her twin. By now she should know that if you tell Jessica that her evil plan is coming unraveled because someone else is showing interest in the guy she's currently torturing, it won't make her back off. No, it'll make her step up her game. *cheerfully strangles Liz* So Jess leaves Liz with the lake they've created in their kitchen [as well as the dishes Jess was supposed to do] and skips off to call Bill in an effort to bind him closer to her. And it works. A little while later, while Jess is out with Tom and her parents are on a movie date, Liz hears the doorbell ring. When she answers, she finds Bill looking distinctly unhappy about finding the wrong twin. Liz invites him in and then, in a move that still makes me wonder what the hell, brings him warm root beer but no glass, no ice, no nothing, all because Jessica didn't put the sodas in the fridge. Was there an ice shortage in California that year? Bill leaves, for some reason not having touched the warm root beer, after Liz has tried to gently warn him away from the hurricane that is Jessica Wakefield.
  Switching twins, we go back to Liz's problem with Patsy. Liz goes to call Todd in hopes that Todd can talk some sense into Bill [being Bill's closest and possibly only friend] but instead Todd's mother answers the phone, tells Liz that Todd isn't home, and seems to have some pity for Liz. Wait, what? Liz is convinced that this means Todd is out with Patsy and that since Patsy is 5'9", she's the perfect height to gaze into Todd's eyes and never get a crick in her neck the way Liz sometimes does, and ohmygod, they must be making out! Liz tries to calm herself down, but still feels a little strange. Damn you, writer's imagination. Damn you!

  Now, for all of you who didn't read the little bio three books back, you're given a refresher course. Bill used to live in Santa Monica before his parents got divorced. While there, he was madly in love with his girlfriend, Julianna, and things were good. They liked a lot of the same things, surfing included, although this didn't mean they never fought. Bill picked a fight with Julianna one night at a party, and to spite him, Jules hitched a ride with someone else. Bill immediately felt bad for being a jerk and vowed to call her when she got home. Too bad this tempted fate and Julianna was in an accident on the way home. She died and Bill blamed himself for it. He went a little mad, went surfing in the middle of a storm, and damn near died. He didn't, and eventually came around to the realization that if Julianna really loved him the way he was sure she did, she wouldn't want him to hurt himself. She'd want him to live, the same way he wished she had lived. Very touching, very sweet, actually. When his parents split, Bill came to Sweet Valley with his mother, and found himself seeing Julianna everywhere, particularly wherever he saw Liz Wakefield. Naturally the same thing happened when he saw Jessica, so when she asked him out, he had to say no.
  Now he still sees Julianna whenever he spies one of the twins and is thus helpless against the evil ways of Jessica. The truly standout thing about this little revelation is that Bill doesn't share it with anyone. His past is his own and he doesn't feel the need to share it with anyone, not even Liz Wakefield. Don't worry though, someone else will spill their tragic secret to Liz, so as not to cause the world to explode.
  Another fun little bit of Sweet Valley I love: When the gang hits the beach and cattiness reigns supreme, as well as stupid jokes, I'm a happy little camper. Cara's there, being a lovely study in contrasts with her blond bombshell best friend Jessica, and Liz is there as well, but again Liz proves that she knows noooooooothing. She and Cara both tease Jessica about DeeDee monopolizing Bill's time [they're down the beach and Bill's giving her surfing tips], and only Liz is really surprised when Jessica struts down the beach to reclaim Bill's affections.
  This brings us to DeeDee. She knows Bill has a huuuuuuuuuge thing for Jessica, and when push comes to shove and she has the choice to hand him over to Jessica or keep him for herself, she choses to let Bill have time alone with Jessica since that's what he so obviously wants, and what Jessica was angling for all along. Which is sweet and kind of annoying if you want your characters to fight for something or someone they want. However, it's totally believable as well, as no one in their right mind would choose to compete with Jessica if they didn't have to. With DeeDee out of the picture, Jessica is free to reclaim her property. Later, when Tom McKay shows up, Jessica sends Bill on a food run, begging the question, just how far is the Dairi Burger from the beach? Or did Bill just volunteer to go out of his way completely to get Jessica some food?
  Along with Tom, Lila, Ken, and Patsy show up. When Todd and Patsy run for the water, Liz wanders off to get her book from Todd's car, and runs into Enid who's come to the beach with Olivia and Lois. We're told that Liz doesn't really like Lois because Lois tries too hard, and Olivia's still in her radically weird phase, but it's nice to see that Enid has other friends than just Liz. Enid attempts to console Liz, but Liz is having none of it. Olivia manages to make Liz feel worse, gushing about how Patsy really got hot during her year abroad and how Todd and Patsy never really broke up, she moved and it must've fizzled, and yeah, Liv finally realizes she's stuck her foot in her mouth big time.
  Things only get worse when Elizabeth finds out that Patty does the costumes for the play and that no one told her about it before. She's not thrilled to learn that Patty got the gig because Todd recommended her, and she's sure that all the time spent with Todd cheering Bill on was just a ruse. Obviously Todd is still in love with Patsy. Obviously. When Liz does work up the courage to talk to Todd about it, she sees him rubbing suntan oil on Patsy's back, while her bikini top is untied. Say what you will, but that's a little vexing to stumble across at your own home. I'd be pissed if I saw my boyfriend essentially getting a free grope on my patio, but with some other girl. Thing is, I'd smack him or throw a soda in his face or something. Liz just turns and runs away, refusing to talk to Todd when he attempts to explain it all away.
  This continues on forever. Liz won't talk to Todd because she's sure he just wants to break up, so she just doesn't give him the chance. Girl logic is sometimes hard to explain and even harder to understand.
  Back to the other love triangle! Jess eventually learns that DeeDee's father is a big shot Hollywood agent, but she doesn't start sucking up to DeeDee. Instead, when told that DD's dad really likes one of the actors in the play, she's so sure that it must be her, that she practically gift wraps Bill for DeeDee. I should point out that this isn't such a huge leap of imagination, considering Jessica is supposed to be an amazing actress.
  Sometime in the midst of Elizabeth's angst, she decides to head to her dad's office to interview the guy who owns the building, and instead she runs into Roger Barret. He's been popping up throughout the book, given that he's in the play and in love with Lila [also in the play] but this time he's popping up because he works as a janitor in the building. Poor, poor Roger. No, really, he's so poor that if he doesn't work, his family cannot pay the bills.
  Back to the play! Naturally, DeeDee's father is fawning all over Bill, not Jessica, and Jessica decides that if she can't be the star, she'll deal with being the star's girlfriend. DeeDee steps aside again, bonds with Roger for a moment, and shows up at Lila's party just in time to overhear Bill tell Jessica that her moment has passed and that he's with DeeDee now.
  Wherein we learn that while Jessica doesn't blush often, but when she does, it's a full Technicolor event. To cap off her bad night, it seems Tom McKay has deflected to the Patsy Webber side. Though if Patsy's all over Tom, then doesn't that mean...
  Why yes, yes it does. It means Liz was wrong about Todd and Patsy, which Todd manages to tell her when he grabs hold of her and tells her so. Aww, how sweet. Sort of. If a little creepy all at the same time...

Trivia:

  • The play in question this go round is Splendor In the Grass, with Jessica and Bill as leads.

  • Also in the play: Lila, Roger, DeeDee, Lois

  • DeeDee's parents are divorced and her dad [the talent agent] lives in L.A.

  • Bill's parents are also divorced, but his dad is a forest ranger in Idaho.

  • DeeDee placed 3rd in the surfing championship.

  • Roger and Elizabeth share one class; chemistry.

  • Mr. Pendergast owns the building where Mr. Wakefield and Roger both work.

  • Jessica bragged that she would get Bruce Patman to take her to the Sophomore Fling, but he asked Lila instead.

  • Liz was sick the entire week leading up to the play, though it's possible she sort of made herself sick, obsessing over Todd as she was.

  • Julianne's only real resemblance to the Wakefields seems to be that she was blond, blue eyed, and probably tanned.

  • Patsy was really skinny when she and Todd were dating, but in the year she's spent in Paris, she filled out nicely, so much so that she was a model. She's 5'9", red hair, and manages to walk the fine line between sleazy and hot without falling into the skanky territory. Also was friends with Olivia's cousin Amy, who lived down the street from the Webbers when Patsy lived in Palisades.

  • Jessica hates onions. [yay, Jess!]

  • DeeDee was chubby when she was younger, and now she thinks the mysterious Roger is a spy. Or, you know, could be.

  • Liz subscribes to the theory that it's okay for her to badmouth her sister, but no one else is allowed to. This I completely understand, and I think most people do as well.

  • Without her glasses, Lois Waller is blind as a bat.

  • Mr. Jaworksi teaches drama.

  • The book is dedicated to Marian Woodruff. Gee, I wonder where Sam's last name came from...



Quote-a-liscious:
"It's not your fault that kissing me is such a deadly chore." Jessica teases Bill, p2
"Since when is turning you down for a date a federal crime?" - Liz, p14
How was it that whenever Jessica tried to console her, she always ended up feeling worse? Liz, p70

137:
"Oh, Bill it'll take a hundred and thirty-seven years to learn all this..." p32




  Yet another book that makes it clear that if you get in Jessica's way, bad things will temporarily happen to you. This book has the distinction of being one of the few that doesn't really involve Jess getting herself or someone else into a scrape and then expecting Liz to bail her out, or letting Liz bail the other person out. Sure, there's that brief scene with Bill and the root beer [come on, Liz, ice! Root beer ain't yummy warm] but otherwise, Liz is too busy worrying about Todd to get involved with anyone else's problems.
  Which brings me to this: Why does Enid never step in when Liz is being a complete idiot? They're in high school and I distinctly remember high school romances and friendships would overlap so that when you and your boyfriend were having a stupid fight that everyone else knew was idiotic, your friend would step in and clue the guy in, and then he'd clue you in, or she'd do so. Sure, sometimes it would get messy as hell, but in this case it should have worked. Yet Enid never does, so... why? Is it because Enid doesn't care? That she was upset that Liz would rather go to the beach with Cara, Jessica, and Todd than with her? Are HS politics such as this beneath her? Or was it simply that the book couldn't survive under the Bill/Jessica/DeeDee triangle alone? We may never know.
  Cover note: Bill looks entirely too old and a little disproportionate to Jessica on the cover. Like she's an evil, snotty doll and he's an actual person.

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