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)
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

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