the_oracle: (gasp!)
Deadly Summer
July 1989

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Revenge...


  Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are working as summer interns at The Sweet Valley News when they hear that a patient has escaped from a nearby psychiatric hospital. Assigned to research the man's past for an article, the twins discover that Donald Redman was once a student at Sweet Valley High.
   They learn that his fellow students tormented him and that after a disturbing incident involving one of those students, Redman was expelled. He vowed to get revenge for his humiliation.
  Now a fugitive, Redman sees Elizabeth and mistakes her for the popular, beautiful girl who hurt him most all those years ago. When their paths cross in the deserted high school stadium, he knows he finally has his chance to get even! Can he be stopped before it's too late?



   Somehow during my travels I missed 'capping this one. I suspect it's because my copy of Lost at Sea doesn't tell me to go and read it despite it being the next book in the series. Feh. Also, I think I read it at the right time and just... never worked my magic for some reason. *muse* Anyway, we slide back in time a little bit and head back to the newsroom once more for Deadly Summer.

  The book kicks off with the summer of the Newsroom coming to a close. Lila's jetted off to London with her father (GEORGE, Francine. GEORGE.) and returned, Lizbeth and Enid are doing their reverse snobbery towards Lila and Jessica, and, oh yes, this is before Toddles came back, so Liz and Jeffrey are still together. Except he's still at camp and sending her letters, but still. They are together.
   So, when Lila returns from London, she brings with her a Ouija board because they're "all the rage" in London, dontcha know. Personally, I love that Lila and Jessica sort of believe in this stuff enough to give it a whirl, while Liz is too much of a stick in the mud to even give it the benefit of the doubt. In fact, Liz is openly surprised that Lila, someone she considers a bit above it all, would waste her time. She makes a comment to that effect (only I believe the words "smarter than that", that being Jessica, btw, were used) and Lila gets pissed right the hell off. She stalks off and everyone else makes that same uncomfortable "...so..." face that you do when one of your group completely loses their damn mind. Good, good times. Doesn't matter. Liz and Enid discuss Jeffrey's latest letter, debating what this "surprise" he's hinting about could possibly be. (Any and all who haven't read the book and still guess "He's coming back early!" you may move to the head of the line for your prize. It's a little pin that says, "I'm smarter than the smart twin.")
  Lila returns, sits for a couple of minutes, and then decides she's done with this popstand. So she grabs Jessica, who is spending the night, and they make their dramatic exit. (Jessica, for some reason, keeps saying y'all. Was this a thing back then or is our ghosty a newbie?) All the way home, Lila is huffing and puffing about how upset she is and how she doesn't want to talk about it, which of course means she waits three seconds for Jessica to ask, and then she unloads. How dare that holier than thou Elizabeth Wakefield dare call her stupid in front of all their friends? Why's she always got a stick rammed up her ass, and why does she feel the need to assume that her point of view is the only valid one in the entire godforsaken series? For crying out loud, doesn't it just get on your last damn nerve, Jessica?
   Jessica, true to form, isn't exactly listening. She's debating the merits of painting her nails one vibrant, summery shade, or painting each nail a different hue. (Mine are currently sporting the latter look, but it was an Easter/trial and error thing.) Eventually she checks back into the conversation because she can tell that Lila is plotting something fun. And boy, is she. She decides that she and Jessica need to teach Elizabeth a lesson. They're going to make Elizabeth go from non-believer to psychic adviser junkie in no time flat. And the best way to do that is, of course, trickery. It's very simple. They'll have the Ouija board make a prediction so completely out of left field that Elizabeth will naturally be skeptical. And then it will come true!
  That's great and all, Fowler, but how exactly do you propose they do that?
   Simple. Lila knows for a fact that the big end of the summer concert that's scheduled for that weekend is being postponed. The board will tell them this, Liz will scoff, it'll be true, and Liz will be hooked. An adorable moment of Jess being ticked that Lila knew this for 24 hours and didn't tell her already passes, and then Jessica decides that nothing is better than a Lila scheme, so she's in.

  The next night, the trap is set. Lila points out that Elizabeth should be open enough to try something before she completely writes it off, and Elizabeth reluctantly agrees. The book is worth the price of admission alone for the scenes where Jessica and Lila ham it up with the spirits. Elizabeth leaves when it becomes clear that of course this is all bunk. Obviously Lila or Jessica is pushing the planchette and really, the concert postponed? Yeah, right.

   Only the next day at work, Liz finds out that due to a union issue, the concert really has been pushed back. SHOCK. Amazement! And then her journal, which has gone missing, is found above the fridge, just like the board said! And Jessica, that paragon of virtue, swears that she didn't steal the journal and place it there, God, Lizzie, what kind of monster do you take her for?!

  But really, I think we all know that this is simply the b-story. Our A game, if you will, centers around something far more Sweet Valley-ish. During a particularly slow news day (remember, this is before the internet) everyone is kind of waiting around for something good to come down the pike. Only it's not happening. Not happening...
   BAM. Escaped patient from a mental hospital! Everyone perks right up because well, it's hard to beat an escaped mental patient on a slow news day, k? Turns out that Donald Redman has ties to Sweet Valley. He went to SVH until he was expelled for unknown reasons in his senior year. Elizabeth finds that he was obsessed with a particularly bitchy blond and that something happened between the two of them, probably leading to his expulsion. Also, for those playing along at home, he was arrested numerous times during his senior year for a variety of things. You can see the little thought bubbles above everyone's head. "Nuuuuuutjob."
  It's a gift from the newspaper gods!

  So naturally Liz goes to a babysitting gig after work. For someone we've never met before, but apparently this is a standing, steady gig. While sitting, Liz gets a lot of hangup phone calls and she's a little unnerved by it. Maybe the universe is trying to tell her something, just like the Ouija board said! Or maybe, Liz, your new boss has a secret.

  Or, you know, maybe it was Lila making prank calls as part of her plot to turn Elizabeth into a believer. Whatever. See, Lila's thought of the perfect end to this little charade. She's going to have the board reluctantly tell Elizabeth (and Jessica and Lila) that Bruce Patman, who is currently being his jerkoff self, has a terminal disease that he hasn't told anyone about. Lila wants to see if Elizabeth can overcome her dislike of Bruce simply because a Ouija board said so.
   The kicker? Elizabeth totally buys this. So every time they run into Bruce, Liz turns on the sympathetic charm and Bruce, never one to turn down the harder to get Wakefield, doesn't exactly run away.

  Meanwhile, Donald Redman, who is a bit of a bomb enthusiast, starts leaving little presents around town. He leaves a bomb at the movie theatre while Jessica and Lila are playing hooky (well, Jessica is). But it's not a real bomb. He leaves one at the Be True To Your School event SVH has at their football stadium. And he possibly left one at the airport, too. The city is working itself into a panic and really, I'm still more interested in Lila's scheme. How is this possible? There are bombs being left around Sweet Valley, self! Get with the program!

  Jessica isn't happy about the way Bruce keeps looking at her sister, so she tells Bruce that Liz isn't interested, she just thinks he's dying of some terminal disease. She figures that since Elizabeth's interest isn't in Bruce himself, but in being such a good person that she can overcome what a terrible person Bruce is, Bruce will exit stage left. Instead Bruce decides to kick it up a notch. He calls Elizabeth when she's working, he wants to come over and visit while she's sitting, and she never once questions the fact that Bruce went from being, y'know, Bruce Fucking Patman to acting all "siiiiiiiigh. You know how it is" without ever actually talking about his mysterious illness at all. Never! She's just so fixated on being such a speshul snowflake that she doesn't ask him anything at all, like why the sudden change in 'tude? Cuz as far as he knows (if he were, in fact, sick) she knows NOTHING about it. So... what the hell?
   Anyway. Bruce shows up at the sitting job, Liz chases him away, and some weird guy shows up looking for Elsa, the mother of the kid Liz is babysitting. Liz offers to take a message but does not let the guy into the house because she's not that dumb. (Kristy would approve. I think.) She's a bit perplexed as to why he seemed a bit familiar, but really. This is Sweet Valley. Everyone seems familiar.

  Remember how we all knew Jeffrey's surprise involved him coming back early? Yeah. He shows up just in time to catch Liz telling Bruce how amazing he is. No. Really. I'm not kidding. Bruce is visiting and playing the sick card and Liz is just lapping it up, so it's a little on the awkward side when Jeffrey interrupts them. That said, it's adorable the way Liz just leaves Bruce hanging to run over and hug Jeffrey to welcome him back. Unfortunately the homecoming is marred by the whole Bruce won't get lost thing. Sooooooo... all three go to the Be True To Your School Thing. Where Bruce and Jeffrey fight over Liz and Liz gets tired of this bullshit, stalks off to get a drink, and the whole bomb threat thing happens.
   Elizabeth is now juggling her love for Jeffrey, her need to keep Bruce's secret (not that Bruce has even flat out confirmed things), and oh yeah, that nutty bomber running around. Good, good times. While at work, Liz realizes that Elsa's college friend is quite possibly Donald Redman. You darken the hair, add some stubble, throw on some glasses that really do the trick for Liz (if you're into that sort of thing) and voila! Same guy. But Elizabeth doesn't want to get this poor guy lynched if she's wrong, so she calls Elsa and asks about the guy. Elsa acts totally weird about it but Liz doesn't pick up on this, probably because she's still stuck on the whole tragic Bruce thing. I don't know.

  Elsa, it turns out, is Donald Redman's sister. She doesn't want to turn her brother in, even if he did try and kill their parents back in the day, because he's the only family she has left now. Thing is, he's acting strange. He keeps asking about Melanie, and Elsa realizes his grasp on reality isn't nearly as strong as it should be. Really, Elsa? The fact that he's leaving bombs around town didn't give you a tip off FIRST? Good grief. There's being blind to the truth and then there's just willfully being a dumbass.
   Whatever. So. Where were we? Oh. Yeah. You know who we haven't heard from in awhile? Lila. See, Lila schemes pretty well and she includes backup plans in case certain Wakefields whose names begin with J start to back out of their little agreement. When Jessica wants Lila to pull back and drop the whole thing, Lila points out that Jessica repeatedly lie, stole, and withheld information from Elizabeth, all in an effort to trick her. Really, how is that going to look to the middle Wakefield? Exactly.
  But why, oh why, is Lila so hellbent on this going down the way she wants? Oh. Yeah. About that. See, Lila figured that when Elizabeth got wind of Bruce being sick, she would run to him and attempt to ease his suffering. Bruce has never made any secret about the fact that he's got a thing for the more prudish twin, so Li figured that they would spark like crazy. And even if they didn't, they'd be close enough that when Jeffrey got home, he'd be so put off by the betrayal that he'd fall right into Lila's arms.
  Yeah. Lila's scheming for Jeffrey. AGAIN. What the hell, ghosties? Doesn't Lila deserve someone new to fawn over? I'd start a drinking game for this section of the SVH series, only it wouldn't exactly be fair to anyone's liver, because Lila only seems to show interest in Jeffrey during this stretch of the series.

  Anyway, Lila's interest takes the book down to a dangerous place when Bruce decides to make a play for Liz. He brags to Jeffrey that while Jeffy thinks he has a date with his own girlfriend, Bruce is positive that he'll be the one to end up with the middle Wakefield on his arm this evening. Since Elizabeth hasn't explained her newfound connection to the richest boy in town, Jeffrey isn't exactly thrilled at the prospect, but because he's not Todd, he doesn't immediately launch himself at Bruce, either.
   Bruce, never one to play fair, plays the sick card to lure Elizabeth out to visit him at the tennis courts. Liz, being Liz, falls for it. She swears her twin and Lila to secrecy and heads off to talk Bruce off the ledge before her date with Jeffrey. I can see trusting Jessica (and no, not just if you're psychotic), but trusting Lila seems pretty dim. Sure enough, Lila excuses herself out to her car where she waits for Jeffrey to arrive at Casa Wakefield. When he does, she 'accidentally' lets it slip that Liz has gone to see Bruce. Jeffrey speeds off to rescue his girlfriend from Bruce's clutches.
  Later, Jess and Lila get bored and decide to play with the Ouija board to kill time. Both accuse the other of moving the planchette around when it spells out danger for EW at the stadium. Jessica's twin sense is tingling and when Elsa appears on her doorstep trying to warn Elizabeth that Donald Redman is indeed the creepy guy who appeared on her porch, the trio call the cops and head off to the rescue. Cuz, you know, they'll be oodles of help.

  But, but why would they be at the stadium. you might find yourself asking. Well, they aren't supposed to be. Bruce called Liz from the tennis courts and the stadium is right next door and much better for a private conversation. When Jeffrey breaks in on Elizabeth "comforting" Bruce, Jeffrey is a little peeved when Liz won't give him any further information beyond "why can't you trust me?!" (Uh, your track record with Toddles, Liz. It speaks for itself.) While Liz is struggling with her desire to keep her boyfriend and her need to keep Bruce's secret, she realizes that Bruce doesn't look at all sick. Jeffrey's accusation that Bruce was bragging about their 'date' beforehand makes her finally question just what the hell has been going on. She asks Bruce if he's sick and he admits that he's not. Humiliated, Elizabeth runs away. Frankly, I can't blame her for that.
   She makes her way towards the exit only to decide at the last second to hide out in the utility room just in case someone comes looking for her.

  Bad move, Wakefield. Bad, bad move. This just so happens to be where Redman is hiding as he assembles his bombs for the following night's concert. Since Redman is a little nutter-butters, he still thinks that Elizabeth is Melanie and revenge is going to be so sweet. Redman noticed Bruce and Liz when they arrived at the SVH stadium, so her just falling into his lap? Bonus. Because he knows that Bruce is around, and Redman is crazy and thinks that Melanie and Bruce are plotting against him, he hurts Elizabeth, forcing her to scream, which in turn leads to Bruce and Jeffrey bursting in to rescue her.
   Only Redman still has Elizabeth in his grasp and when Jeffrey attempts to make even one step closer to his girlfriend, Redman twists her arm and Elizabeth's cry of pain pretty much stops the whole 'rush the nutjob' plan before it even begins. Then Redman does something strange after the door closes. He flings Elizabeth towards the boys and resumes his bomb making, while showing them the switch he's going to use to set this sucker off.
  Once again, Bruce proves that he's actually pretty good in a crisis and points out that hello, bomb would take Redman out, too. Sadly, Bruce hasn't realized just how many cards short of a full deck their captor is.
   "You really think I would make a bomb that can kill me? I'm the only one this bomb can't kill!"
  Riiiiiight. Tell us more, they say in the nicest, most awed sort of way. It quickly becomes clear that if they weren't screwed before, they certainly are now, as Redman details his plan for blowing the building to bits. His nasty habit of accusing "Melanie" of lying to him and plotting against him doesn't exactly give them the warm fuzzies, but no matter how she tries to deny it, Redman still believes that Elizabeth is that cold hearted bitch, Melanie. Wrong twin, Donald. It's okay, it happens all the time.
  While Redman is doing his bomb building, Jessica, Lila, and Elsa have arrived at the stadium along with the police. It doesn't take long for the police to announce their presence, which just sends Donald off the edge again, convinced that Melanie is still fucking with him. Then Elsa starts to speak and Redman shows the first signs of actual humanity and starts to cry when she reminds him of who he used to be while proving who she is. One of the things Elsa says while trying to bring her brother back to earth happens to be about Elizabeth. Donald clings to the Melanie illusion a little longer, but reality intrudes. As he attempts to convince himself that Elsa is an impostor, Jeffrey takes a flying leap at the man with a bomb switch in hands. They fall to the ground and the switch disappears under a cabinet. Not to be subdued too easily, Redman manages to hit the switch before it leaves his hands.
  Jeffrey orders Liz and Bruce to get out of there, but Bruce is Bruce Friggin' Patman. He takes orders from no one. He grabs the bomb and runs. Seriously, take a moment to take that mental picture in. Takes the bomb and runs.
   Run, Bruce, run!

  Redman freaks out like a five year old whose candy has just been taken from him. He goes running after Bruce. Jeffrey and Liz frantically try to grab the switch so they can.. I dunno. Turn the bomb off? Who knows. The two labor over moving the cabinet out of the way and finally retrieve the remote control switch, only they're just as confused as I am as to what their plan was when they began the heavy lifting.
"What do I do?"
"Smash it! Rip out the wires!"

  Brilliant. Liz does this, cutting her hands in the process, and for one brief, shining moment logic screams "I don't think this is how that works!" and then... KABOOM.

  No, it's not the end of SVH, though wouldn't it be awesome if they had What If... books? I'd have gobbled those up faster than the regular ones. Um, anyway, back to the point at hand.
   We switch back to Lila and Jessica who still have no idea what's going on in the stadium. When the explosion occurs, they think it must mean that all three are dead. Lila flips out, both at the explosion and at the look on Jessica's face. Say what you will about Miss Fowler, but unless we're in SY territory, she's there when Liz narrowly cheats death and scares Jessica into white-hair territory.
  Jeffrey and Liz are stunned, both by the blast and the sudden, horrible death of Bruce. Realizing that they should probably leave the area as quickly as possible, they shuffle off into the corridor and attempt to make their way to freedom. Out of the smoke a figure emerges. For one moment Elizabeth is sure that it's Redman and that he's come back to finish them. Jeffrey, not having had the extra time with Redman, realizes very quickly that it's actually Bruce. They fall all over one another to get to him and find out what the hell happened.
  The police swarm them and Bruce offers a very brief account of Redman's last actions. Donald Redman caught up with Bruce, took the bomb, and was laughing as he presumably ran away. The blast was close enough that you're left with the impression that Bruce saw more than he'll ever admit, but for the moment we need everyone out of the building so that Jessica can run and embrace her twin. Jessica explains that while the Ouija board did tell them that Elizabeth was in danger, Jessica's twin sense was tingling beforehand. The Ouija board just gave a voice to her fears.
   The twins promise no more messing around with the Ouija board and off they limp into the sunset.



Trivial Pursuit:

  • Lila went to London and returned with a Ouija board, which she claims is the "latest craze" there.

  • Jess greets the SVH gang at the DB with "y'all." Repeatedly. Weird.

  • This ghosty subscribes to the theory that Lila is incredibly insecure. Which I can buy, but she's fairly secure in other ways, ways that aren't acknowledged by our author.

  • Lila's bathroom is described as having wall-to-wall mirrors.

  • Jessica debates painting her nails all the same color (Tropic Flame) or going with a different color on each nail. (Wow, the fashion world really does just cycle back around.)

  • The Endless Summer concert is postponed a week due to a musician's union issue.

  • Lila, Jessica, and Elizabeth see no problem in using the Ouija board in Jessica's room. I'm sorry, but the Hershey Bar is the last place in Casa Wakefield I'd use that. If only because I'm not sure you'd find space on the floor for three teenage girls.

  • Jessica lies straight to Elizabeth's face about reading Jeffrey's letters. And stealing her journal.

  • Elsa Bartel is the latest person to employ Elizabeth as a babysitter. Her husband is out on a business trip and she needs help watching her son, Max, who is five. She's on the board of directors at Max's daycare.

  • After the Ouija board correctly "predicts" the concert being postponed, Liz starts to read "The Beginner's Guide to Occultism."

  • Everyone is described as "drawling" in this book. It's kind of weird, y'all.

  • Anita Solarz is a recently hired staff reporter at the SVN.

  • Donald Redman escaped from the San Rafael Hospital.

  • Speaking of Redman: he's 32, white, paranoid schizophrenic who went to SVH and received straight A's. He was in the science club, liked electronics, but was suspended multiple times for fighting with his teachers. He became obsessed with the homecoming queen their senior year. She was dating the football captain. He was arrested for "disturbing the peace, threatening people, neighbors complaining, that sort of thing." He also kidnapped the homecoming queen, which quite probably led to his expulsion from SVH. A few years after that, he was committed to the SRH after he attempted to kill his parents with an exceptionally well crafted bomb. He also had a sister, who later turns out to be Elsa Bartel.

  • Bruce calls Elizabeth "Goldilocks."

  • Enid is confused by the sudden affection Liz has for Bruce.

  • Homecoming Queen, Melanie, reminds me a lot of Amy: Very stuck on herself and hasn't got the brains not to antagonize someone who is clearly off his rocker.

  • Jessica plays hooky from her internship so she and Lila can go to the 2pm showing of "Terror in the Subway, Part 4" at the Valley Cinema.

  • Redman calls the newspaper office around 3pm and gets Seth's phone, which Liz has answered. He tells them where the bomb is. Since danger follows the twins, it's at the Valley Cinema.

  • Seth takes the pictures for the newspaper story about the Valley Cinema bomb.

  • Neil Freemount and Bruce went to the same movie as Jessica and Lila. Sandy Bacon and Maria Santelli were shopping nearby.

  • The 'bomb' isn't real and is about the size of a typewriter. It has a red ribbon and a tag that says "Got ya. See you next time, kids."

  • After the movie bomb scare, Jessica decides to tell Bruce the real reason Elizabeth seems interested. Instead of being offended, Bruce seems to see the potential in having easy access to Saint Liz.

  • After Jessica's bombshell (sorry, too easy), Bruce immediately starts laying on the "you know"s and veiled comments to being sick, despite not having done so before. Liz never questions his change in attitude or why Bruce would assume she would know a blasted thing. This irks me more than it should.

  • A young, dark haired man with glasses (wire-rim, the kind Liz likes) shows up to see Elsa while Liz is babysitting. He claims to be an old friend from college.

  • The cheerleaders have organized the Be True To Your School night at the football stadium.

  • Liz wants Jeffrey to trust her, despite the fact that she's been described repeatedly as being a fairly jealous person, and he walked in on her telling Bruce how amazing he was.

  • The Droids perform A Plus, which is apparently one of their most popular songs.

  • Redman leaves a "bomb" at the airport as well as the Be True event.

  • In case you needed to know: Police Commissioner Dreyfus.

  • Elsa works at Allied Equity Systems.

  • For some reason, Elsa stands by Donald even after he starts leaving bombs around town. It's not until he starts going on about "Melanie" (Liz) that Elsa decides to turn him in.

  • Our ghosty this go round has Jeffrey resisting the urge to punch people. Silly, ghosty. That's Toddles with the punching problem.

  • Redman is putting a bundle of TNT and plastic in each of the following sections of the stadium for the concert: A1, C3, D1, F3.

  • Redman drives a blue Toyota.

  • When they were children, Donald taught Elsa about astronomy.

  • After Redman hits the switch on the bomb, Bruce takes it and runs. Liz and Jeffrey frantically try to get to the remote, but when they do, all they can figure out to do is destroy it and hope for the best.

  • It's implied that Bruce saw Redman die.




Quotes:

"I can't find a rational explanation for why you always need to borrow my clothes when you have twice as many as I do and when you like totally different styles, but I sort of doubt there's anything supernatural about it." - Liz says what everyone else has been thinking since the early 80's. p5


  "Hell-o Bruce," Ken and Winston intoned in a singsong unison. - Tell me, am I the only one to hear helllllloooooo nurse in that? p9

  Dear Jeffrey, everything is the same in Sweet Valley. Bruce is negotiating for total world domination, and my sister has completely flipped out again. - p10

  Jessica let out a peal of laughter. "She'll be so surprised. She won't know what to say."
  "For once," Lila added.
  Their eyes met, and they both giggled. Jessica had to hand it to her best friend. If there was anyone who could cook up a plan, it was Lila Fowler. - I love devious!Lila and Jessica working together against Liz. I'm pretty sure this makes me a bad person. :p p16/17

   Jessica's mind was racing. Lila was right, it was the ultimate test. If Elizabeth could overcome her dislike of Bruce enough to be kind and sympathetic to him, it would prove she definitely believed what the Ouija board said. A laugh of pure delight welled up in Jessica's throat as she imagined her sister's reaction. It would be a priceless scene: Elizabeth in a tug-of-war between her conscience and her disgust for egotistical, infuriating, pain-in-the-neck Bruce Patman. - Is it wrong that I agree with the glee in this scene? p42

  "But we have to work up to it slowly," warned Lila. "We can't just go, 'Whammo! Bruce is dying.'"
  Jessica nodded and let out a weak chuckle. "Right. I'll sneak another look at her journal and find something to use."
  "And then..."
  "And then, 'Whammo! Bruce is dying,'" Jessica finished for Lila. p43

  "I'm a pessimist because I think the police will find an escaped lunatic before he starts parading through Sweet Valley with a chainsaw?" - Oh, Jessica. You slay me. p50

  Lila curled her legs up under her and frowned. "What should Bruce have?" she added.
  Jessica snickered. "How about the plague?"
  "Can you die of leprosy?" Lila asked with a malicious giggle. "I mean, if he's got to go, he might as well have something really interesting." - Remind me again not to tick those two off. p61

  In the past, Jessica had often poked her nose into Elizabeth's relationships, trying to stir up trouble. But for Lila to do it struck her as unfair. After all, Lila wasn't Elizabeth's twin sister. - Can you imagine what that would have been like? Glorious. p77

  Lila gave Bruce a withering look. "Give me a break. Since when are you such an expert?"
  "Hey, I'm good at a lot of things." Bruce smirked at Lila, who turned her back on him. - 94

"You know there could never be anything between Bruce and me," she added. - Oh, really, Liz? p116



  All she could think of was that he had deliberately ignored her request to wait for her at home and that he had shattered a special, deeply personal moment between her and Bruce. - Uh, that sounds really... strange, Liz. p169

  "Bruce, are you or are you not sick?"
  "Sick?" Jeffrey sounded surprised.
  Bruce looked thoughtful. "Well, not-exactly sick, but I think I'm about to get a major headache." - ♥ p171



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  There are certain SVH books that cross a line. Some are in poor taste, some are badly executed, some involve vampires or werewolves, and some just make you wonder how exactly that pitch meeting went. "So you know what SVH needs more of? Lonely bombers."
   So Deadly Summer is a pretty odd book. I like it, but it's one of those where my brain has attached exactly one label to the book (crazy bomber!) and so re-reading it, even twice within a five month period, it seems somehow new and familiar all at the same time. It's disorienting, to tell the truth. It definitely plays out in the far reaches of the plausibility fields for the series, but there's enough other stuff going on that you can't put the damn thing down. Lila and Jessica plotting to humble Liz? Brilliant. Lila having a secondary plot? Genius. POV chapters from Redman? Thumbs up. Bruce deciding to go full throttle with whole sickness angle just to see how much he can get away with? Fabulous. Jeffrey logically being miffed that his girlfriend is spending waaaaaaaaaay too much time with Bruce? Yes, thank you, I'll have another slice of this crazy pie.

  I love the little bits of Lila/Jessica friendship that flitter through, and it's funny reading this after the whole SVC thing because of the L/B pairing and the initial take on Lila's personality. Scheming Lila is second only to caring Lila, and they both make appearances here. Overall, this is one of the more cracktacular Thrillers and it deserves better cover art. Jess is okay but Liz is looking a little...well, you tell me.

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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: (amy thinks)
Slam Book Fever
September 1988

Look What's Hit Sweet Valley!
Photobucket
Predictions...


   Slam books are the newest craze at Sweet Valley High. They're do-it-yourself books of lists and predictions about everyone in school. They start out as fun but soon stir up big trouble.

   First, Jeffrey French, Elizabeth Wakefield's boyfriend, gets paired up with another girl under the category, "Couple of the Future." Then Elizabeth gets matched with the new boy at school, A.J. Morgan- and her twin, Jessica is furious because she's the one who's fallen hard for A.J.

   Will the mysterious slam book entries spell the end of happiness for both Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield?


   Ah, Slam Book Fever. The book most non SVH fans remember for whatever reason. Is it due to the law of the '80's and 90's that declared that at least once in every teen girl's life [and the occasional teen boy's as well] she would run across a slam book? That if she were high [or low] enough on the social ladder she would probably have her own and be mentioned in a category or two? Possibly. Or maybe it's because for ages if you looked up SVH online, you'd end up at Dwanollah's site. Which isn't to say you still don't end up there. You do. Don't deny it.

  Whatever the reason, SBF is right up there with Double Love in terms of cover visibility and the Evil Twin for plot recognition.

   But we have a formula to follow...so please, allow me to remind you of the glory that is Slam Book Fever.

  It's been awhile since Amy was in the spotlight, what with that whole being partially responsible for Regina trying coke and then dying thing. So Amy reminds everyone that dude, she went away for four years to Connecticut! And back East, they had these things. Called notebooks. But when you divided them into lists and categories, they magically morphed into Slam Books. Jessica and the rest of the bitchy clique of SVH are intrigued. Tell us more, they implored of Amy, all while reminding us that Amy's personality is mostly that of an annoying know it all, boy crazy, vapid, back stabbing bitch. Sadly, I only editorialized a little there. Anyway, Amy tells them how fantastic these slam books are and how awesome it is to find out what your classmates [at least the girls] really think of you.
   Jessica is sure that she'll crop up under Most Popular [sorority president, [co-]captain of the cheerleaders...] or possibly Most Beautiful... but everyone else has her pegged for Biggest Flirt. And Jessica is outraged that anyone would dare call her a flirt. Cara, Lila, Amy, and just about everyone who has ever met Jessica are a little thrown by how ticked Jessica seems.
   Cara wonders, ever so cautiously, what exactly Jessica would call herself then, if not... flirty?
  Friendly. DUH.
   Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

  Jessica's flip out aside, the Slam Books have everyone's attention. Liz appears so we can have our compare and contrast between the twins, and true to form, Liz points out that the Slam Books have the potential to really hurt people's feelings and she'd hate for someone to be hurt needlessly. Everyone at the catty table points out that there's the big difference between the twins. Jess is full steam ahead and Liz is prophesizing doom and gloom. After school Amy and the coalition for cattiness go and buy matching marble notebooks and the Slam Books begin.

   Meanwhile we run into the new guy on campus. Tall. Red haired. Gorgeous enough to tongue tie Jessica without even trying. You all remember him. A.J. Morgan from Atlanta. Jess is so smitten by A.J. that she acts more like Elizabeth around him than she does herself. She can't make small talk, she can't flirt, she can't really do anything but stand there and sort of drool. She's sure that A.J. thinks she's a complete moron and refuses to admit her crush to anyone, even when specifically asked about it. My soft spot for Jessica grows infinitely in these moments because a) who can't relate, and b) she's no longer Alpha Twin. She's actually more human than she's been in awhile.

  Over in Elizabeth land, Olivia has asked Liz to co-edit the new literary magazine, but Liz had to turn her down because of time constraints and wanting to actually see her boyfriend occasionally. So Olivia asks Jeffrey and he's in the process of turning her down, but he does offer his photography skills to help the lit magazine look gorgeous, while still leaving him time to spend with Liz. Olivia lets it slip that she's got the opposite problem. She's trying to work herself into oblivion because she and Roger are breaking up, but neither one is ready to officially cut the ties that bind just yet. Liz and Jeffrey are both shocked [as was I the first go round] because Olivia and Roger have been together for ages and they always seemed like such a rock solid couple.* L/J both worry that if Olivia and Roger can break up, the Wonder Couple could, too. So they reassure each other how much they love one another and that's that.
   Only it's not because that's less than a third of the way into the book.

  Back to the slam books. Everyone's enjoying the hell out of them until... Jessica catches sight of being named Biggest Flirt. She's ticked and hurt and worried that AJ will think she's not his type and definitely not worth his time now. Liz is a bit surprised when everyone starts putting Olivia and Jeffrey down as a new couple in the Crystal Ball section of the slam books. At first she's ready to play it off as people and their idle gossip, but then it keeps happening and she starts to wonder if maybe they're seeing something she just doesn't want to see. Her suspicions rise when Olivia and Roger really do break up and suddenly Olivia and Jeffrey are spending all their time together. Then again, Jeffrey had warned her beforehand that he was going to use Olivia as his model for the lit magazine because he needed someone who could pull of moody and he just couldn't see Elizabeth that way. Oh, sweet sledgehammer of subtlety and foreshadowing. Bet he saw her in a different light when Cara told Elizabeth she saw Jeffrey and Olivia making out at a rest stop on Route 9 and Liz immediately went off to flirt like crazy with AJ.

   Lila of all people offers to help mediate, and Jeffrey... takes her up on it. And so does Liz. It never occurs to anyone that Li would have an ulterior motive. Because apparently they all took their stupid pills. But it's also a bit fitting, because Liz has been proven to have a serious jealous side [see Todd] and Jeffrey's a bit thick. Or maybe just figures that Liz should know him better by now, that he's not the game playing sort and if he wanted to see Olivia instead, he'd tell Liz. But he doesn't, so he doesn't, and she's still flirting with AJ. Which is pissing Jessica off to no end.

   Olivia isn't exactly thrilled that Elizabeth has turned on her and since she knows Jeffrey is still in love with Liz, Olivia decides to figure out who started the stupid Liv + Jeff = <3 thing in the first place. She gets the idea that whomever started the rumour wouldn't have bothered to put it in their own slam book, and... well, Lila has never been known for her selfless acts, has she? So Olivia and Jessica, masquerading as Elizabeth doing an article on the Slam Book stats, round up as many slam books as they can find. Only Lila doesn't have Jeffrey and Olivia down under future couples. They run to tell Elizabeth their suspicions because Lila is on her way to tell Jeffrey to give up on Elizabeth. Liz realizes she's been duped by Lila Fowler and runs to explain her insanity to Jeffrey. See below.

Elizabeth Wakefield's Slam Book )

  Yes. They kiss and make up and all is Right With The World. Liv and Liz create a new category in the slam books called Class Sneak and Lila knows she's been busted.

Slam Book Entries )

  Now that Liz isn't chasing after AJ, Jess feels free to.... continue to act more like Elizabeth than herself because she thinks AJ would prefer a sweet, gentle, quiet Wakefield twin. Everyone else can see how badly this will turn out, but Jess is too far gone to care. She's in Love.

*- I really wish they'd had the Olivia/Roger thing be it's own book, or at least a C-plot for the last couple of books leading up to this. As it was, hello whiplash. Even knowing it's coming, it still seemed out of left field, which takes some skill. That said, I did like their brief scenes together, which is probably why I wanted more, damn it.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • For whatever reason, the SVH caf is exceptionally crowded the day Amy unveils her slam book idea.

  • Liz likes ham and swiss cheese sandwiches.

  • Chez Victoire is one of the most exclusive French restaurants in LA.

  • Jessica does not like being called a flirt. At all. It makes her crazy.

  • The best slam books are in marble notebooks. Everything is better in marble. It's what I use when writing the trivia for these things. Well. What I started with. Then Liz confiscated my slam book. Or I lost it. Whatever. Marble!

  • When pondering the categories she's sure to sweep, Jessica thinks along the lines of Most Popular, Most Beautiful. Everyone else is thinking Biggest Flirt.

  • Slam Book Categories : Least Likely To Go On A Date Before The Year 2000, Most Likely To Always Be A Millionaire, Best Dressed, Least Down to Earth, Most Likely To Have A Million Dollars By Age 30, Most Likely To Get Married First, Most Likely To Be Famous, Class Clown, Most Likely To Be In People Magazine, New Couples of The Future, Biggest Flirt,

  • Winston is chosen for the People category. It's a bit of a pity one though, as he seems genuinely hurt that he's only thought of as Class Clown. On, Winston. We love you.

  • Olivia is working on a literary magazine which she asked Liz to co-edit, but Liz declined.

  • Did we know Bruce's father's middle name was Wilson? Henry Wilson Patman.

  • Out of nowhere, Liv and Roger are not only on the rocks, but breaking up.

  • Wave One of Slam Book Fever: Lila, Jessica, Cara, Robin, Maria, and Amy

  • Jess breaks in Amy's slam book, Amy does Lila's, and Lila does Robin's.

  • First Category in Jessica's sb? Class Clown.

  • The first category in either Cara or Maria's is Most Conceited.

  • Jess puts Bruce down as Most Concieted. Biggest Brain? Peter DeHaven.

  • Liz and Jeffrey are first in someone's book as Best Couple.

  • Most Fascinating New Male [Lila's book] has AJ written twice. Seriously, how many 'new' guys could possibly win this, Li? For shame.

  • A.J. Morgan: Adam Joseph, he's an army kid from Atlanta, red hair, tall, basketball player [new to the game] who loves baseball as well. He's apparently catnip to the senior girls in his art class, according to Maria who is in the same class.

  • Anatomy of an Olivia/Roger fight: Roger hurts Olivia's feelings, intentionally or otherwise. Olivia strikes back or picks a fight. Liv and Roger find themselves unwilling to let go and unable to truly fix whatever has gone wrong, so the cycle repeats.

  • At the first sign of potential waning attention to her slambook idea, Amy has them create the Crystal Ball sections. Someone is desperate for attention...

  • AJ scores 28 points in his first game while Jess fumbles horribly in various cheers. Whoops. Sandy picks up on Jessica's crush first.

  • When Liz asks Alice if she ever gets jealous, Alice scoffs at the idea and then admits that when Ned first started at his current law firm, there was a young, pretty British woman named Annabel who was very interested in Ned. To your fanfics, people!

  • Cara had a dental appointment in Riverside and along Route 9 she sees Jeffrey and Cara in what she thinks is a passionate embrace. Their eventual excuse? Olivia had something in her eye. Seriously, guys. The proper lie is Olivia was so overcome with sadness over the breakup that she needed a hug. That Liz and I could buy. This whole speck of dust or whatever? No.

  • Aaron Dallas, the poster child for anger management, never once gets ticked when his best friend's girlfriend throws herself at the new guy in front of him. Repeatedly. I cry bullshit. Or maybe the ghosty didn't know that Aaron was the wrong backup character to use because he's Jeffrey's bestest [and only] friend. Whatever. Boy would have beaten A.J. down or at least pulled Liz aside and asked when she started taking skank pills.

  • Lila bets she can get Liz to talk to Jeffrey after he and Olivia show up at the beach with their lame "something in Liv's eye" story, and of course Lila probably tells Liz that Jeffrey and Olivia were holding hands or something, so Liz glares at Jeffrey and stalks off. So, Lila loses her bet and "has" to take Jeffrey to L'Escalier. No one is intially suspicious of Lila's newfound philonthropy because she never makes a bet she'll definitely lose, especially not an expensive one. Guys, really. It's not losing if it's essentially a date with a guy you've been into for the last... 15 books or so. :P

  • Dear Ghostwriters of the Past: I don't know where in the South you all grew up, but I really don't think "quiet and sweet" are necessarily words you should use to describe Southern girls in a general way. This, by the way, is AJ's type. Everyone snickers when he describes Jess this way, and even Jess is a little thrown, but hey, compliments about her? Always. Welcome.

  • I never understood why Lila's never bothering to hook Jeffrey and Olivia's names in her own slam book was damning evidence. Surely she would have missed someone else's slam book? Oh, and Lila's handwriting is kind of distinct. Just sayin'...

  • Jess and Olivia gather 31 slam books and even Elizabeth has one.

  • Olivia's literary magazine is called Visions. Aren't all HS lit mags called Visions?

  • AJ is under the impression Jess writes childrens books. Everyone else chokes at the thought.

  • Liz is reading Tender Is The Night and Jess wants the Cliff's Notes version. Because reading is like, hard and stuff.

  • I think it's cute that we get Liv, Liz, and Li.




Quote This:

  Jessica was certain that she was only going to find out good things about herself. Or, at least, things she already knew. She wouldn't be surprised if she were described as most popular. After all, she was a co-captain of the cheerleading squad and the president of Pi Beta Alpha, the most exclusive sorority at Sweet Valley High. Or maybe even most beautiful... - Modest as ever, Jessica. p 5

   Amy and Jessica exchanged a glance. It was just like Elizabeth to come up with a sensible objection. - Pepsi snorted through nose? Painful. p 6

  Jessica felt her face burn. "I'm not a flirt," she objected. "I don't know what you guys are talking about."
  Amy started to laugh. "Come on, Jess. You- not a flirt? Are you kidding?"
  Jessica was beginning to get annoyed. "I'm not kidding," she said flatly. "I don't happen to think of myself as flirtatious."
  The table fell quiet for a minute. "Jess," Cara said a bit timidly," what would you call it if it isn't being flirtatious?"

  "I guess I deserve all the credit," she mused. "I mean, just think about it. If it weren't for me, no one would even know what a slam book is." She frowned. "Do you think everyone appreciates me for introducing the idea? Or is everyone going to forget it was mine?"
  Jessica patted her on the arm. "We'll all remember, Amy. We'll put up a big commemorative plaque in the front hallway." - This is why I love SVH. Truly. Amy/Jess, p 29/30

  "I'm not a flirt," she added sulkily, not giving Lila a chance to protest. "Since when have you guys seen me flirting?"
  Lila started to tick off on her fingers. "Remember that chef who taught the gourmet cooking class?"
  "What about all those friends of Steve's from college?" Cara added. Cara dated Steven, the twins' older brother, and knew how many times Jessica had fallen for one of his friends. Or at least flirted with them.
  "Not to mention Aaron Dallas, Nicholas Morrow..." Lila offered.
  "And Alex Kane," Cara added, referring to a musician Jessica had recently had a crush on.
  "And what about Jeremy Frank?" Lila demanded.
  Jessica cut her off. "That was all ages ago. It's ancient history. Can't you guys see I've changed?"
  Lila and Cara looked at her, then at each other. "You look the same to me," Lila said philosophically. p 34



Photobucket


   Seriously, what else do you need to know about Slam Book Fever? It's awesome and it's awful all at the same time. Jessica's certifiable but she teams up with Olivia, and that's worth the price of admission right there. Amy offers one of her only contributions to the SVH legacy [the others being stealing Bruce thus killing Regina and helping Tom realize he's totally gay] and it's Slam Book Fever. Really. Go.

  But while you're reading [most likely re-reading] this classic, please tell me why Aaron Dallas didn't punch AJ? Or pull Liz aside and ask why she was cheating on his best friend? Cuz really, Aaron, even after the anger management, probably would have had at least something to say.

Oh, and this doesn't live up to my terribly high standards, blame technology. It kept dying on all fronts as I tried. That, or you could blame Amy. Cuz she's the root of all known evil.

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the_oracle: (amy thinks)
Slam Book Fever
September 1988

Look What's Hit Sweet Valley!
Photobucket
Predictions...


   Slam books are the newest craze at Sweet Valley High. They're do-it-yourself books of lists and predictions about everyone in school. They start out as fun but soon stir up big trouble.

   First, Jeffrey French, Elizabeth Wakefield's boyfriend, gets paired up with another girl under the category, "Couple of the Future." Then Elizabeth gets matched with the new boy at school, A.J. Morgan- and her twin, Jessica is furious because she's the one who's fallen hard for A.J.

   Will the mysterious slam book entries spell the end of happiness for both Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield?


   Ah, Slam Book Fever. The book most non SVH fans remember for whatever reason. Is it due to the law of the '80's and 90's that declared that at least once in every teen girl's life [and the occasional teen boy's as well] she would run across a slam book? That if she were high [or low] enough on the social ladder she would probably have her own and be mentioned in a category or two? Possibly. Or maybe it's because for ages if you looked up SVH online, you'd end up at Dwanollah's site. Which isn't to say you still don't end up there. You do. Don't deny it.

  Whatever the reason, SBF is right up there with Double Love in terms of cover visibility and the Evil Twin for plot recognition.

   But we have a formula to follow...so please, allow me to remind you of the glory that is Slam Book Fever.

  It's been awhile since Amy was in the spotlight, what with that whole being partially responsible for Regina trying coke and then dying thing. So Amy reminds everyone that dude, she went away for four years to Connecticut! And back East, they had these things. Called notebooks. But when you divided them into lists and categories, they magically morphed into Slam Books. Jessica and the rest of the bitchy clique of SVH are intrigued. Tell us more, they implored of Amy, all while reminding us that Amy's personality is mostly that of an annoying know it all, boy crazy, vapid, back stabbing bitch. Sadly, I only editorialized a little there. Anyway, Amy tells them how fantastic these slam books are and how awesome it is to find out what your classmates [at least the girls] really think of you.
   Jessica is sure that she'll crop up under Most Popular [sorority president, [co-]captain of the cheerleaders...] or possibly Most Beautiful... but everyone else has her pegged for Biggest Flirt. And Jessica is outraged that anyone would dare call her a flirt. Cara, Lila, Amy, and just about everyone who has ever met Jessica are a little thrown by how ticked Jessica seems.
   Cara wonders, ever so cautiously, what exactly Jessica would call herself then, if not... flirty?
  Friendly. DUH.
   Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

  Jessica's flip out aside, the Slam Books have everyone's attention. Liz appears so we can have our compare and contrast between the twins, and true to form, Liz points out that the Slam Books have the potential to really hurt people's feelings and she'd hate for someone to be hurt needlessly. Everyone at the catty table points out that there's the big difference between the twins. Jess is full steam ahead and Liz is prophesizing doom and gloom. After school Amy and the coalition for cattiness go and buy matching marble notebooks and the Slam Books begin.

   Meanwhile we run into the new guy on campus. Tall. Red haired. Gorgeous enough to tongue tie Jessica without even trying. You all remember him. A.J. Morgan from Atlanta. Jess is so smitten by A.J. that she acts more like Elizabeth around him than she does herself. She can't make small talk, she can't flirt, she can't really do anything but stand there and sort of drool. She's sure that A.J. thinks she's a complete moron and refuses to admit her crush to anyone, even when specifically asked about it. My soft spot for Jessica grows infinitely in these moments because a) who can't relate, and b) she's no longer Alpha Twin. She's actually more human than she's been in awhile.

  Over in Elizabeth land, Olivia has asked Liz to co-edit the new literary magazine, but Liz had to turn her down because of time constraints and wanting to actually see her boyfriend occasionally. So Olivia asks Jeffrey and he's in the process of turning her down, but he does offer his photography skills to help the lit magazine look gorgeous, while still leaving him time to spend with Liz. Olivia lets it slip that she's got the opposite problem. She's trying to work herself into oblivion because she and Roger are breaking up, but neither one is ready to officially cut the ties that bind just yet. Liz and Jeffrey are both shocked [as was I the first go round] because Olivia and Roger have been together for ages and they always seemed like such a rock solid couple.* L/J both worry that if Olivia and Roger can break up, the Wonder Couple could, too. So they reassure each other how much they love one another and that's that.
   Only it's not because that's less than a third of the way into the book.

  Back to the slam books. Everyone's enjoying the hell out of them until... Jessica catches sight of being named Biggest Flirt. She's ticked and hurt and worried that AJ will think she's not his type and definitely not worth his time now. Liz is a bit surprised when everyone starts putting Olivia and Jeffrey down as a new couple in the Crystal Ball section of the slam books. At first she's ready to play it off as people and their idle gossip, but then it keeps happening and she starts to wonder if maybe they're seeing something she just doesn't want to see. Her suspicions rise when Olivia and Roger really do break up and suddenly Olivia and Jeffrey are spending all their time together. Then again, Jeffrey had warned her beforehand that he was going to use Olivia as his model for the lit magazine because he needed someone who could pull of moody and he just couldn't see Elizabeth that way. Oh, sweet sledgehammer of subtlety and foreshadowing. Bet he saw her in a different light when Cara told Elizabeth she saw Jeffrey and Olivia making out at a rest stop on Route 9 and Liz immediately went off to flirt like crazy with AJ.

   Lila of all people offers to help mediate, and Jeffrey... takes her up on it. And so does Liz. It never occurs to anyone that Li would have an ulterior motive. Because apparently they all took their stupid pills. But it's also a bit fitting, because Liz has been proven to have a serious jealous side [see Todd] and Jeffrey's a bit thick. Or maybe just figures that Liz should know him better by now, that he's not the game playing sort and if he wanted to see Olivia instead, he'd tell Liz. But he doesn't, so he doesn't, and she's still flirting with AJ. Which is pissing Jessica off to no end.

   Olivia isn't exactly thrilled that Elizabeth has turned on her and since she knows Jeffrey is still in love with Liz, Olivia decides to figure out who started the stupid Liv + Jeff = <3 thing in the first place. She gets the idea that whomever started the rumour wouldn't have bothered to put it in their own slam book, and... well, Lila has never been known for her selfless acts, has she? So Olivia and Jessica, masquerading as Elizabeth doing an article on the Slam Book stats, round up as many slam books as they can find. Only Lila doesn't have Jeffrey and Olivia down under future couples. They run to tell Elizabeth their suspicions because Lila is on her way to tell Jeffrey to give up on Elizabeth. Liz realizes she's been duped by Lila Fowler and runs to explain her insanity to Jeffrey. See below.

Elizabeth Wakefield's Slam Book )

  Yes. They kiss and make up and all is Right With The World. Liv and Liz create a new category in the slam books called Class Sneak and Lila knows she's been busted.

Slam Book Entries )

  Now that Liz isn't chasing after AJ, Jess feels free to.... continue to act more like Elizabeth than herself because she thinks AJ would prefer a sweet, gentle, quiet Wakefield twin. Everyone else can see how badly this will turn out, but Jess is too far gone to care. She's in Love.

*- I really wish they'd had the Olivia/Roger thing be it's own book, or at least a C-plot for the last couple of books leading up to this. As it was, hello whiplash. Even knowing it's coming, it still seemed out of left field, which takes some skill. That said, I did like their brief scenes together, which is probably why I wanted more, damn it.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • For whatever reason, the SVH caf is exceptionally crowded the day Amy unveils her slam book idea.

  • Liz likes ham and swiss cheese sandwiches.

  • Chez Victoire is one of the most exclusive French restaurants in LA.

  • Jessica does not like being called a flirt. At all. It makes her crazy.

  • The best slam books are in marble notebooks. Everything is better in marble. It's what I use when writing the trivia for these things. Well. What I started with. Then Liz confiscated my slam book. Or I lost it. Whatever. Marble!

  • When pondering the categories she's sure to sweep, Jessica thinks along the lines of Most Popular, Most Beautiful. Everyone else is thinking Biggest Flirt.

  • Slam Book Categories : Least Likely To Go On A Date Before The Year 2000, Most Likely To Always Be A Millionaire, Best Dressed, Least Down to Earth, Most Likely To Have A Million Dollars By Age 30, Most Likely To Get Married First, Most Likely To Be Famous, Class Clown, Most Likely To Be In People Magazine, New Couples of The Future, Biggest Flirt,

  • Winston is chosen for the People category. It's a bit of a pity one though, as he seems genuinely hurt that he's only thought of as Class Clown. On, Winston. We love you.

  • Olivia is working on a literary magazine which she asked Liz to co-edit, but Liz declined.

  • Did we know Bruce's father's middle name was Wilson? Henry Wilson Patman.

  • Out of nowhere, Liv and Roger are not only on the rocks, but breaking up.

  • Wave One of Slam Book Fever: Lila, Jessica, Cara, Robin, Maria, and Amy

  • Jess breaks in Amy's slam book, Amy does Lila's, and Lila does Robin's.

  • First Category in Jessica's sb? Class Clown.

  • The first category in either Cara or Maria's is Most Conceited.

  • Jess puts Bruce down as Most Concieted. Biggest Brain? Peter DeHaven.

  • Liz and Jeffrey are first in someone's book as Best Couple.

  • Most Fascinating New Male [Lila's book] has AJ written twice. Seriously, how many 'new' guys could possibly win this, Li? For shame.

  • A.J. Morgan: Adam Joseph, he's an army kid from Atlanta, red hair, tall, basketball player [new to the game] who loves baseball as well. He's apparently catnip to the senior girls in his art class, according to Maria who is in the same class.

  • Anatomy of an Olivia/Roger fight: Roger hurts Olivia's feelings, intentionally or otherwise. Olivia strikes back or picks a fight. Liv and Roger find themselves unwilling to let go and unable to truly fix whatever has gone wrong, so the cycle repeats.

  • At the first sign of potential waning attention to her slambook idea, Amy has them create the Crystal Ball sections. Someone is desperate for attention...

  • AJ scores 28 points in his first game while Jess fumbles horribly in various cheers. Whoops. Sandy picks up on Jessica's crush first.

  • When Liz asks Alice if she ever gets jealous, Alice scoffs at the idea and then admits that when Ned first started at his current law firm, there was a young, pretty British woman named Annabel who was very interested in Ned. To your fanfics, people!

  • Cara had a dental appointment in Riverside and along Route 9 she sees Jeffrey and Cara in what she thinks is a passionate embrace. Their eventual excuse? Olivia had something in her eye. Seriously, guys. The proper lie is Olivia was so overcome with sadness over the breakup that she needed a hug. That Liz and I could buy. This whole speck of dust or whatever? No.

  • Aaron Dallas, the poster child for anger management, never once gets ticked when his best friend's girlfriend throws herself at the new guy in front of him. Repeatedly. I cry bullshit. Or maybe the ghosty didn't know that Aaron was the wrong backup character to use because he's Jeffrey's bestest [and only] friend. Whatever. Boy would have beaten A.J. down or at least pulled Liz aside and asked when she started taking skank pills.

  • Lila bets she can get Liz to talk to Jeffrey after he and Olivia show up at the beach with their lame "something in Liv's eye" story, and of course Lila probably tells Liz that Jeffrey and Olivia were holding hands or something, so Liz glares at Jeffrey and stalks off. So, Lila loses her bet and "has" to take Jeffrey to L'Escalier. No one is intially suspicious of Lila's newfound philonthropy because she never makes a bet she'll definitely lose, especially not an expensive one. Guys, really. It's not losing if it's essentially a date with a guy you've been into for the last... 15 books or so. :P

  • Dear Ghostwriters of the Past: I don't know where in the South you all grew up, but I really don't think "quiet and sweet" are necessarily words you should use to describe Southern girls in a general way. This, by the way, is AJ's type. Everyone snickers when he describes Jess this way, and even Jess is a little thrown, but hey, compliments about her? Always. Welcome.

  • I never understood why Lila's never bothering to hook Jeffrey and Olivia's names in her own slam book was damning evidence. Surely she would have missed someone else's slam book? Oh, and Lila's handwriting is kind of distinct. Just sayin'...

  • Jess and Olivia gather 31 slam books and even Elizabeth has one.

  • Olivia's literary magazine is called Visions. Aren't all HS lit mags called Visions?

  • AJ is under the impression Jess writes childrens books. Everyone else chokes at the thought.

  • Liz is reading Tender Is The Night and Jess wants the Cliff's Notes version. Because reading is like, hard and stuff.

  • I think it's cute that we get Liv, Liz, and Li.




Quote This:

  Jessica was certain that she was only going to find out good things about herself. Or, at least, things she already knew. She wouldn't be surprised if she were described as most popular. After all, she was a co-captain of the cheerleading squad and the president of Pi Beta Alpha, the most exclusive sorority at Sweet Valley High. Or maybe even most beautiful... - Modest as ever, Jessica. p 5

   Amy and Jessica exchanged a glance. It was just like Elizabeth to come up with a sensible objection. - Pepsi snorted through nose? Painful. p 6

  Jessica felt her face burn. "I'm not a flirt," she objected. "I don't know what you guys are talking about."
  Amy started to laugh. "Come on, Jess. You- not a flirt? Are you kidding?"
  Jessica was beginning to get annoyed. "I'm not kidding," she said flatly. "I don't happen to think of myself as flirtatious."
  The table fell quiet for a minute. "Jess," Cara said a bit timidly," what would you call it if it isn't being flirtatious?"

  "I guess I deserve all the credit," she mused. "I mean, just think about it. If it weren't for me, no one would even know what a slam book is." She frowned. "Do you think everyone appreciates me for introducing the idea? Or is everyone going to forget it was mine?"
  Jessica patted her on the arm. "We'll all remember, Amy. We'll put up a big commemorative plaque in the front hallway." - This is why I love SVH. Truly. Amy/Jess, p 29/30

  "I'm not a flirt," she added sulkily, not giving Lila a chance to protest. "Since when have you guys seen me flirting?"
  Lila started to tick off on her fingers. "Remember that chef who taught the gourmet cooking class?"
  "What about all those friends of Steve's from college?" Cara added. Cara dated Steven, the twins' older brother, and knew how many times Jessica had fallen for one of his friends. Or at least flirted with them.
  "Not to mention Aaron Dallas, Nicholas Morrow..." Lila offered.
  "And Alex Kane," Cara added, referring to a musician Jessica had recently had a crush on.
  "And what about Jeremy Frank?" Lila demanded.
  Jessica cut her off. "That was all ages ago. It's ancient history. Can't you guys see I've changed?"
  Lila and Cara looked at her, then at each other. "You look the same to me," Lila said philosophically. p 34



Photobucket


   Seriously, what else do you need to know about Slam Book Fever? It's awesome and it's awful all at the same time. Jessica's certifiable but she teams up with Olivia, and that's worth the price of admission right there. Amy offers one of her only contributions to the SVH legacy [the others being stealing Bruce thus killing Regina and helping Tom realize he's totally gay] and it's Slam Book Fever. Really. Go.

  But while you're reading [most likely re-reading] this classic, please tell me why Aaron Dallas didn't punch AJ? Or pull Liz aside and ask why she was cheating on his best friend? Cuz really, Aaron, even after the anger management, probably would have had at least something to say.

Oh, and this doesn't live up to my terribly high standards, blame technology. It kept dying on all fronts as I tried. That, or you could blame Amy. Cuz she's the root of all known evil.

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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)
Power Play
January 1984

The Wakefield twins have taken sides- against each other!

Elizabeth and Jessica in a tug of war...


   Chubby Robin Wilson has been following Jessica around for months. First she wanted to be her friend- now she wants to join Pi Beta Alpha, Sweet Valley High's snobby sorority.
   When Elizabeth, Jessica's twin, nominated Robin for the sorority, Jessica is furious. Robin may be friendly and smart, but she's certainly not beautiful or popular enough to be a Pi Beta. Jessica's determined to find a way to keep Robin out.
   But Elizabeth is just as determined to make Robin a sorority sister. soon the twins are locked in a struggle that develops into the biggest power play at Sweet Valley High...


  Power Play is one of those books where I desperately wish I could find the author, as well as Francine Pascal, and beat the tar out of them. Robin Wilson, prior to her transformation, is an insult to anyone who ever even just knew the fat kid in school, let alone anyone who actually was. Every time you see Robin, she's either kissing ass OR stuffing her face. I'm sure, somewhere, there are kids who stuff their face all the time, but this is just over the top. It's as if that's all they can do to show that poor Robin is never going to be the perfect size six of her idols. Time has given the fat kids the last laugh in that regard, what with sixes being considered big these days, but since that doesn't actually help anything, we won't dwell there.
  So. Robin wants desperately to join PBA, which Jessica has taken control of finally, what with the previous [unnamed, no less] president having suddenly moved. You'd think they'd have someone else, possibly a senior, waiting in the wings, maybe a VP of the sorority, but it seems that would be asking too much. I do wonder if it pisses any of the seniors off that Jessica is somehow the most popular girl in school. Ah, well. Jess has been promising to put Robin up for membership for the last FOREVER, but it's obvious to anyone who isn't Robin that she has NO intention of doing so. So obvious, in fact, that Robin's mother tearfully tries to find a tactful way of asking Liz to step up to the plate. She chickens out, but fear not, Robin has no shame. While stuffing her face on a giant chocolate bar, she asks Liz to help a girl out. Liz agrees, and Robin celebrates with another candy bar. What the f... No. Save it for later.
  Jess comes home to find an overjoyed [and sugar high] Robin leaving to go on a shopping trip with her mother [in which she seems to buy nothing but tent dresses] and immediately becomes suspicious. Liz tells her that she's going to sponsor Robin and thus she'll get into PBA and all is well. Jesus, Liz, by now you should know that you might as well have said, "I double dog dare you to ruin that poor girl's life!" as that's exactly what Jessica heard.
  And so the rest of the book goes. Jessica schemes ways to keep Robin from passing her pledge tasks, and Liz schemes right back, making sure Robin pulls through. Observe:
  First up, Robin has to run around the track five times a day. Liz tells the naysayers [Oi, Patman, I mean you] to shove it, and you know full well she goes daily to cheer Robin on. You just know it. Then Robin has to don a bikini, head to the beach, and play volleyball. So Liz ropes Enid, George, and Todd into helping make Robin's day a little less humiliating. Robin needs to get Bruce Patman to take her to the Discomarathon? Liz bribes him with the promise of an article all about his tennis prowess, complete with photo.
  However, this is where things start to get dicey. Bruce brings Robin, but immediately dumps her, loudly and painfully. Robin attempts to run away, and is once more accosted by the nice Wakefield twin, who sweeps her away to the ladies room, leaving Enid to guard the door. She lies to Robin, telling her that while, sure, she ain't tiny, she's got a lovely face. Only, once Liz looks again, she realizes she actually means it. She expects the old, "sure you're fat, but you have a very pretty face" cliche to work wonders. She seems shocked when it doesn't make Robin's day to hear this. Fuck you, Liz Wakefield. Robin runs away. Liz is torn. Does she prevent her boyfriend from getting suspended for punching Bruce in his all too pretty face, or does she chase after Robin, again?
  Problem solved. She runs into some guy we've never heard of before, and sends him after Robin. Which he does. Because no one dares to ignore an order handed down by one of the twins, I suppose. Thing is, Bruce deserves to get punched. Nothing is ever heard again on that front, by the way. Instead, we follow Allen, the tallest, smartest, and of course, shyest boy at SVH, as he races after Robin. He catches up with her and she rakes him over the coals for daring to come anywhere near her. Heaven forbid someone finally actually gives a damn, Wilson. Realizing that lashing out at Allen makes her no better than Bruce, she tries to apologize, only she makes it worse. They bond over a love of old movies, and Robin convinces Allen to head back into the inferno where they share one awkward dance, before heading home, stars in their eyes.
  Time for the PBA to vote on their three new pledges. I know, three? We find out one of them is Suzanne Hanlon, whom Lila feels is perfect for PBA given that she has access to a Rolls Royce. Riiiight, Lila. One by one the girls drop their marbles.... into a box to decide the fate of poor Robin, not because the Kool Aid was spiked or anything fun. In a move Jessica all but illustrated prior to the meeting, Robin is blackballed. I remember being so shocked that anyone could be so cruel, and yet, wishing I had that kind of power when I first read it. Liz is also shocked, but only because she didn't see it coming. IDIOT. Jess kept dropping all these "cryptic" clues about not being sure that Robin would get in, popularity of the twins and pledge tasks completed notwithstanding. The only logical way to accomplish this would be to vote against her. Oi.
  Jess volunteers to tell Robin the bad news in person, and does so, making even Liz tell her to shut the hell up. Robin freaks out and all but threatens suicide. Then she drops off the radar. Allegedly she's visiting an aunt out of town, but haven't we already played the mysterious aunt card already?

  That's right, it's B story time! All book long, Liz has been noticing Jessica's been sporting some really nice things she could never afford, even if her parents went crazy and gave her free use of their credit card. Liz suspects maybe Jess is stealing, but then dismisses it because Jessica would never do anything so horrible as shoplifting. [Because ruining someone's life on a regular basis is that much better, Liz?] While shopping at the mall, Liz finds a new store, one we'll come to know well. Lisette's is an upscale shop that seems to be run by particularly snooty women. Liz notices a scarf identical to the one Jessica claims Lila gave her, a re-gifted gift from an aunt in New York. Snooty Worker tells Liz that the scarf she's pawing has a twin [get it?] but that it was stolen. Whom exactly did she say she saw with said twin? Liz runs away, cuz that ain't suspicious at all. Next time she's at the mall, looking for a gift for Todd, she watches as Lila actually steals something. GASP! Lila Fowler, the richest girl in all the Valley, is stealing! Go figure. Again, SW thinks Liz is the thief, or hell, maybe she just wanted to talk to Liz. No one knows, since Liz ran away.
  Eventually Liz decides she'll just never say a word to anyone, avoid Lila, and all will be well. Until Liz gets a call from hysterical Lila. It seems Jessica's been busted for shoplifting. Why Jessica? Well, it's possible they thought she was Liz and that Liz was the shoplifter, what with her suspicious behavior at the mall as of late. Liz cons Lila into telling the truth, Jess is busted from mall jail, and Liz tries to convince Mr. Fowler to stop neglecting his only child. Lila hugs Liz, there are warm fuzzies everywhere, and all is well for now.

  Unless you're Robin Wilson. Then you're walking around SVH [yes, she's back!], ignoring everyone. Which is great if you want a laugh at how she snubs the bitchy PBAs, but again, they make Robin out to be a little wacky in the brain. It takes super genius Liz entirely too long to figure out what exactly is different about Robin, but if you're paying any attention whatsoever, it's that Robin is losing a ton of weight. This makes things a little sketchy in the timeline department. If Double Love took about two months, and Playing With Fire took at least a few weeks, we should be deep into November by now, at the very least. But we haven't even hit the homecoming game [never fear, we'll hit that now] and midterm cheerleading tryouts. I swear, this is when you should just check your brain at the door, cuz the timeline is collapsing.
  Now, I only mentioned those because they're crucial to the new Robin Wilson and her plot for revenge. She tries out for the cheering squad, and not only makes it, but makes co-captain. Take that, Wakefield! Bruce Patman is terribly smitten and not even the knowledge that this is the girl he previously referred to as Queen Mary can keep him away. Robin runs for Miss Sweet Valley High, much to the consternation of the rest of PBA, particularly Jessica. Robin wins, gets in another dig at Bruce, and pretty much publicly declares her affection for Allen. Aww. The PBAs try to get Robin to join, but she tells them to kiss her noticeably smaller arse.

Random stuff:

  • Jess is PBA's president. The other one moved suddenly. Right. I'm sure no voodoo dolls or embarrassing rumors were started to help her along.

  • Robin's mother is under the impression that her daughter is on the verge of dropping out.

  • In case you wondered, the beach is 15 minutes from the Wakefield home.

  • Jane Fonda's workout tape is Jessica's workout tape of choice. Who knew?

  • Apparently Liz isn't the only one allowed to call Jessica "Jessie." Lila does so as well. It's cute.

  • Robin overuses "Omigod" this book. If someone tries to con you into a drinking game involving shots for each use, you might as well kiss your liver goodbye.

  • If you're stalking the characters, make note that Liz and Todd are both in Mr. Fellow's History class.

  • Palomar House is the poshest restaurant in the Valley.

  • Louis Westman isn't just another W name for the series, he's also the editor at The Sweet Valley News.

  • Liz gets her first byline in TSVN this go round, apparently for a story about The Football Queen. Like the rest of the Valley gives a damn that Robin won.

  • Apparently, the French, if google is to be believed, changed Robin to Marian. Egads, Brain, she's stolen my name and done dirty things with it!



Quote-tastic:
"Let's share the work," Jessica had said. "You clean the johns, and I'll arrange the flowers." p5
Oh, Robin, if you're Jessica's best friend, Atilla the Hun is the prom King. - Liz, p8
"Run errands for you. Lick your boots."
"Liz Wakefield, you know perfectly well I only use leather cream on my boots."
Liz/Jess 13
That's just my point. I'd have a better chance with a dead superstar than a live Bruce Patman!" -Robin, 38
The combination of human and Bruce Patman almost made Elizabeth gag. 41
Elizabeth shook her head, wondering why she was always the one people turned to when things got tough. 107
"Don't worry, Liz. I've learned how to swim with sharks".- Robin, 126
"Not the whole team. I haven't dated a single boy who isn't on the first string." -Jess 133
Robin Has Us Throbbin', defensive line supports Robin. Dirty!


137, the number of the beast? :
Robin can get carried away four hundred and thirty seven times a day, you know?
She's taking about thirty-seven extra courses.
And everybody knows we have thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents in the treasury, so there's no need for a treasury report.
Oh, my head is going to burst into at least five hundred and thirty-seven pieces!
I encouraged her? If I told her once, I told her eight hundred and thirty-seven times that blimps were not popular people!
Nothing but the usual hundred and thirty-seven disasters and boring business and politics, she said to herself.
Bruce Patman is the jerkiest person in thirty-seven states and Mexico.
Oh, Liz, that nonsense is about seven hundred and thirty-seventh on my list of concerns."







  The last half of the book should have been awesome. And once Robin found a personality, it was. I loved her snarky digs at Jessica and even Liz. When Liz continues to try and stick up for Jess, Robin tells her to stop, and it's kinda awesome. Granted, the "we don't love Jessica" club is getting bigger all the time, it's always nice to hear someone say it aloud. It's rare for anyone in the series who isn't a love interest for one of the twins to tell them off in any way. Robin? Does it quite naturally. Sarcastic and a little bitter suits her much better than desperate wannabe ever did. Which, I suppose, is half the problem of the book. Fat Robin is someone you want to shake almost as much as you want to shake the people behind her. Thin Robin happens too fast if you stop and think about how much time could possibly have passed, but not so much in the context of the book by itself.
  I do have to say this, even though I'm sure I read this as a kid, I don't remember feeling bad about myself after reading this. I just remember thinking Fat Robin was written really poorly and any idiot would have known to go back and fix certain things. Even Saint Liz thinks snarky mean thoughts towards the girl and we're given the most annoying intro EVER:
Though Elizabeth and Jessica certainly didn't have Robin's figure problems, they still watched their diets carefully.
  Why so annoying? It's done immediately after introducing poor Robin. Oi. Also? A bit condescending, really. Almost as bad as Robin sitting down and digging into a whole cherry cheesecake by herself. Come on, let the girl have a giant, supersized slice, don't leave me with this mental picture of her picking at the whole thing. Come on.


  On the other hand, the style the book is written is vastly different from most SVH books. The tone is a bit more tongue-in-cheek and Liz is definitely the star. She gets some great lines, and sometimes Jess is mentioned, but not actually heard on the page. If not for all the Robin munching, I might actually like this book. As it is, skip halfway through and make it easier on yourself. However, whenever Liz claims she's too busy with her Eyes & Ears column to do anything, I wonder if she's on crack. It's a gossip column, and while it might take a little time to figure out how to best word things, you live with one of the biggest gossips in school! Info cannot be difficult to come by, ok?
  Also, anytime Liz refers to the three witches of PBA, I mentally edit it to the "three bitches of PBA." The word you were looking for is not snobs or witches, Liz. It's bitches. Learn it. Love it.
  However, the best part of the book falls somewhere in the middle. Which twin actually did Robin the most damage? Jessica blatantly used her and made no real secret of the fact that she had no intention of inviting Robin to join the sorority. None. I bet if pledge time had come and gone and Robin hadn't been asked to join, she'd have been upset for awhile, probably no longer a minion of the Jessica, but not risked total and complete meltdown. Granted she probably would have missed super gorgeous Robin, but we don't know that for sure. Indignation at being left out could have worked almost as well as complete and total humiliation, but without the memory of Bruce publicly embarrassing her to no end. Liz, however, got Robin's hopes up numerous times and ignored the neon warning signs that screamed someone was going to get hurt. Robin nailed it later on when she mentioned that Liz was already in. She was in the sorority, she's dating one of the most popular guys, she's popular, she's one of the IT girls, so for her, life may not be perfect, but it's easier, so Liz would never understand what PBA meant to Robin, since she didn't need it the same way Robin felt she did. And Liz never does get that, which is about the time my disillusionment with Liz began to worm it's way into my brain. It'd sit and fester for awhile, but this isn't a flattering look for anyone except maybe Allen and sarcastic!Robin.

the_oracle: (tear)
Power Play
January 1984

The Wakefield twins have taken sides- against each other!

Elizabeth and Jessica in a tug of war...


   Chubby Robin Wilson has been following Jessica around for months. First she wanted to be her friend- now she wants to join Pi Beta Alpha, Sweet Valley High's snobby sorority.
   When Elizabeth, Jessica's twin, nominated Robin for the sorority, Jessica is furious. Robin may be friendly and smart, but she's certainly not beautiful or popular enough to be a Pi Beta. Jessica's determined to find a way to keep Robin out.
   But Elizabeth is just as determined to make Robin a sorority sister. soon the twins are locked in a struggle that develops into the biggest power play at Sweet Valley High...


  Power Play is one of those books where I desperately wish I could find the author, as well as Francine Pascal, and beat the tar out of them. Robin Wilson, prior to her transformation, is an insult to anyone who ever even just knew the fat kid in school, let alone anyone who actually was. Every time you see Robin, she's either kissing ass OR stuffing her face. I'm sure, somewhere, there are kids who stuff their face all the time, but this is just over the top. It's as if that's all they can do to show that poor Robin is never going to be the perfect size six of her idols. Time has given the fat kids the last laugh in that regard, what with sixes being considered big these days, but since that doesn't actually help anything, we won't dwell there.
  So. Robin wants desperately to join PBA, which Jessica has taken control of finally, what with the previous [unnamed, no less] president having suddenly moved. You'd think they'd have someone else, possibly a senior, waiting in the wings, maybe a VP of the sorority, but it seems that would be asking too much. I do wonder if it pisses any of the seniors off that Jessica is somehow the most popular girl in school. Ah, well. Jess has been promising to put Robin up for membership for the last FOREVER, but it's obvious to anyone who isn't Robin that she has NO intention of doing so. So obvious, in fact, that Robin's mother tearfully tries to find a tactful way of asking Liz to step up to the plate. She chickens out, but fear not, Robin has no shame. While stuffing her face on a giant chocolate bar, she asks Liz to help a girl out. Liz agrees, and Robin celebrates with another candy bar. What the f... No. Save it for later.
  Jess comes home to find an overjoyed [and sugar high] Robin leaving to go on a shopping trip with her mother [in which she seems to buy nothing but tent dresses] and immediately becomes suspicious. Liz tells her that she's going to sponsor Robin and thus she'll get into PBA and all is well. Jesus, Liz, by now you should know that you might as well have said, "I double dog dare you to ruin that poor girl's life!" as that's exactly what Jessica heard.
  And so the rest of the book goes. Jessica schemes ways to keep Robin from passing her pledge tasks, and Liz schemes right back, making sure Robin pulls through. Observe:
  First up, Robin has to run around the track five times a day. Liz tells the naysayers [Oi, Patman, I mean you] to shove it, and you know full well she goes daily to cheer Robin on. You just know it. Then Robin has to don a bikini, head to the beach, and play volleyball. So Liz ropes Enid, George, and Todd into helping make Robin's day a little less humiliating. Robin needs to get Bruce Patman to take her to the Discomarathon? Liz bribes him with the promise of an article all about his tennis prowess, complete with photo.
  However, this is where things start to get dicey. Bruce brings Robin, but immediately dumps her, loudly and painfully. Robin attempts to run away, and is once more accosted by the nice Wakefield twin, who sweeps her away to the ladies room, leaving Enid to guard the door. She lies to Robin, telling her that while, sure, she ain't tiny, she's got a lovely face. Only, once Liz looks again, she realizes she actually means it. She expects the old, "sure you're fat, but you have a very pretty face" cliche to work wonders. She seems shocked when it doesn't make Robin's day to hear this. Fuck you, Liz Wakefield. Robin runs away. Liz is torn. Does she prevent her boyfriend from getting suspended for punching Bruce in his all too pretty face, or does she chase after Robin, again?
  Problem solved. She runs into some guy we've never heard of before, and sends him after Robin. Which he does. Because no one dares to ignore an order handed down by one of the twins, I suppose. Thing is, Bruce deserves to get punched. Nothing is ever heard again on that front, by the way. Instead, we follow Allen, the tallest, smartest, and of course, shyest boy at SVH, as he races after Robin. He catches up with her and she rakes him over the coals for daring to come anywhere near her. Heaven forbid someone finally actually gives a damn, Wilson. Realizing that lashing out at Allen makes her no better than Bruce, she tries to apologize, only she makes it worse. They bond over a love of old movies, and Robin convinces Allen to head back into the inferno where they share one awkward dance, before heading home, stars in their eyes.
  Time for the PBA to vote on their three new pledges. I know, three? We find out one of them is Suzanne Hanlon, whom Lila feels is perfect for PBA given that she has access to a Rolls Royce. Riiiight, Lila. One by one the girls drop their marbles.... into a box to decide the fate of poor Robin, not because the Kool Aid was spiked or anything fun. In a move Jessica all but illustrated prior to the meeting, Robin is blackballed. I remember being so shocked that anyone could be so cruel, and yet, wishing I had that kind of power when I first read it. Liz is also shocked, but only because she didn't see it coming. IDIOT. Jess kept dropping all these "cryptic" clues about not being sure that Robin would get in, popularity of the twins and pledge tasks completed notwithstanding. The only logical way to accomplish this would be to vote against her. Oi.
  Jess volunteers to tell Robin the bad news in person, and does so, making even Liz tell her to shut the hell up. Robin freaks out and all but threatens suicide. Then she drops off the radar. Allegedly she's visiting an aunt out of town, but haven't we already played the mysterious aunt card already?

  That's right, it's B story time! All book long, Liz has been noticing Jessica's been sporting some really nice things she could never afford, even if her parents went crazy and gave her free use of their credit card. Liz suspects maybe Jess is stealing, but then dismisses it because Jessica would never do anything so horrible as shoplifting. [Because ruining someone's life on a regular basis is that much better, Liz?] While shopping at the mall, Liz finds a new store, one we'll come to know well. Lisette's is an upscale shop that seems to be run by particularly snooty women. Liz notices a scarf identical to the one Jessica claims Lila gave her, a re-gifted gift from an aunt in New York. Snooty Worker tells Liz that the scarf she's pawing has a twin [get it?] but that it was stolen. Whom exactly did she say she saw with said twin? Liz runs away, cuz that ain't suspicious at all. Next time she's at the mall, looking for a gift for Todd, she watches as Lila actually steals something. GASP! Lila Fowler, the richest girl in all the Valley, is stealing! Go figure. Again, SW thinks Liz is the thief, or hell, maybe she just wanted to talk to Liz. No one knows, since Liz ran away.
  Eventually Liz decides she'll just never say a word to anyone, avoid Lila, and all will be well. Until Liz gets a call from hysterical Lila. It seems Jessica's been busted for shoplifting. Why Jessica? Well, it's possible they thought she was Liz and that Liz was the shoplifter, what with her suspicious behavior at the mall as of late. Liz cons Lila into telling the truth, Jess is busted from mall jail, and Liz tries to convince Mr. Fowler to stop neglecting his only child. Lila hugs Liz, there are warm fuzzies everywhere, and all is well for now.

  Unless you're Robin Wilson. Then you're walking around SVH [yes, she's back!], ignoring everyone. Which is great if you want a laugh at how she snubs the bitchy PBAs, but again, they make Robin out to be a little wacky in the brain. It takes super genius Liz entirely too long to figure out what exactly is different about Robin, but if you're paying any attention whatsoever, it's that Robin is losing a ton of weight. This makes things a little sketchy in the timeline department. If Double Love took about two months, and Playing With Fire took at least a few weeks, we should be deep into November by now, at the very least. But we haven't even hit the homecoming game [never fear, we'll hit that now] and midterm cheerleading tryouts. I swear, this is when you should just check your brain at the door, cuz the timeline is collapsing.
  Now, I only mentioned those because they're crucial to the new Robin Wilson and her plot for revenge. She tries out for the cheering squad, and not only makes it, but makes co-captain. Take that, Wakefield! Bruce Patman is terribly smitten and not even the knowledge that this is the girl he previously referred to as Queen Mary can keep him away. Robin runs for Miss Sweet Valley High, much to the consternation of the rest of PBA, particularly Jessica. Robin wins, gets in another dig at Bruce, and pretty much publicly declares her affection for Allen. Aww. The PBAs try to get Robin to join, but she tells them to kiss her noticeably smaller arse.

Random stuff:

  • Jess is PBA's president. The other one moved suddenly. Right. I'm sure no voodoo dolls or embarrassing rumors were started to help her along.

  • Robin's mother is under the impression that her daughter is on the verge of dropping out.

  • In case you wondered, the beach is 15 minutes from the Wakefield home.

  • Jane Fonda's workout tape is Jessica's workout tape of choice. Who knew?

  • Apparently Liz isn't the only one allowed to call Jessica "Jessie." Lila does so as well. It's cute.

  • Robin overuses "Omigod" this book. If someone tries to con you into a drinking game involving shots for each use, you might as well kiss your liver goodbye.

  • If you're stalking the characters, make note that Liz and Todd are both in Mr. Fellow's History class.

  • Palomar House is the poshest restaurant in the Valley.

  • Louis Westman isn't just another W name for the series, he's also the editor at The Sweet Valley News.

  • Liz gets her first byline in TSVN this go round, apparently for a story about The Football Queen. Like the rest of the Valley gives a damn that Robin won.

  • Apparently, the French, if google is to be believed, changed Robin to Marian. Egads, Brain, she's stolen my name and done dirty things with it!



Quote-tastic:
"Let's share the work," Jessica had said. "You clean the johns, and I'll arrange the flowers." p5
Oh, Robin, if you're Jessica's best friend, Atilla the Hun is the prom King. - Liz, p8
"Run errands for you. Lick your boots."
"Liz Wakefield, you know perfectly well I only use leather cream on my boots."
Liz/Jess 13
That's just my point. I'd have a better chance with a dead superstar than a live Bruce Patman!" -Robin, 38
The combination of human and Bruce Patman almost made Elizabeth gag. 41
Elizabeth shook her head, wondering why she was always the one people turned to when things got tough. 107
"Don't worry, Liz. I've learned how to swim with sharks".- Robin, 126
"Not the whole team. I haven't dated a single boy who isn't on the first string." -Jess 133
Robin Has Us Throbbin', defensive line supports Robin. Dirty!


137, the number of the beast? :
Robin can get carried away four hundred and thirty seven times a day, you know?
She's taking about thirty-seven extra courses.
And everybody knows we have thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents in the treasury, so there's no need for a treasury report.
Oh, my head is going to burst into at least five hundred and thirty-seven pieces!
I encouraged her? If I told her once, I told her eight hundred and thirty-seven times that blimps were not popular people!
Nothing but the usual hundred and thirty-seven disasters and boring business and politics, she said to herself.
Bruce Patman is the jerkiest person in thirty-seven states and Mexico.
Oh, Liz, that nonsense is about seven hundred and thirty-seventh on my list of concerns."







  The last half of the book should have been awesome. And once Robin found a personality, it was. I loved her snarky digs at Jessica and even Liz. When Liz continues to try and stick up for Jess, Robin tells her to stop, and it's kinda awesome. Granted, the "we don't love Jessica" club is getting bigger all the time, it's always nice to hear someone say it aloud. It's rare for anyone in the series who isn't a love interest for one of the twins to tell them off in any way. Robin? Does it quite naturally. Sarcastic and a little bitter suits her much better than desperate wannabe ever did. Which, I suppose, is half the problem of the book. Fat Robin is someone you want to shake almost as much as you want to shake the people behind her. Thin Robin happens too fast if you stop and think about how much time could possibly have passed, but not so much in the context of the book by itself.
  I do have to say this, even though I'm sure I read this as a kid, I don't remember feeling bad about myself after reading this. I just remember thinking Fat Robin was written really poorly and any idiot would have known to go back and fix certain things. Even Saint Liz thinks snarky mean thoughts towards the girl and we're given the most annoying intro EVER:
Though Elizabeth and Jessica certainly didn't have Robin's figure problems, they still watched their diets carefully.
  Why so annoying? It's done immediately after introducing poor Robin. Oi. Also? A bit condescending, really. Almost as bad as Robin sitting down and digging into a whole cherry cheesecake by herself. Come on, let the girl have a giant, supersized slice, don't leave me with this mental picture of her picking at the whole thing. Come on.


  On the other hand, the style the book is written is vastly different from most SVH books. The tone is a bit more tongue-in-cheek and Liz is definitely the star. She gets some great lines, and sometimes Jess is mentioned, but not actually heard on the page. If not for all the Robin munching, I might actually like this book. As it is, skip halfway through and make it easier on yourself. However, whenever Liz claims she's too busy with her Eyes & Ears column to do anything, I wonder if she's on crack. It's a gossip column, and while it might take a little time to figure out how to best word things, you live with one of the biggest gossips in school! Info cannot be difficult to come by, ok?
  Also, anytime Liz refers to the three witches of PBA, I mentally edit it to the "three bitches of PBA." The word you were looking for is not snobs or witches, Liz. It's bitches. Learn it. Love it.
  However, the best part of the book falls somewhere in the middle. Which twin actually did Robin the most damage? Jessica blatantly used her and made no real secret of the fact that she had no intention of inviting Robin to join the sorority. None. I bet if pledge time had come and gone and Robin hadn't been asked to join, she'd have been upset for awhile, probably no longer a minion of the Jessica, but not risked total and complete meltdown. Granted she probably would have missed super gorgeous Robin, but we don't know that for sure. Indignation at being left out could have worked almost as well as complete and total humiliation, but without the memory of Bruce publicly embarrassing her to no end. Liz, however, got Robin's hopes up numerous times and ignored the neon warning signs that screamed someone was going to get hurt. Robin nailed it later on when she mentioned that Liz was already in. She was in the sorority, she's dating one of the most popular guys, she's popular, she's one of the IT girls, so for her, life may not be perfect, but it's easier, so Liz would never understand what PBA meant to Robin, since she didn't need it the same way Robin felt she did. And Liz never does get that, which is about the time my disillusionment with Liz began to worm it's way into my brain. It'd sit and fester for awhile, but this isn't a flattering look for anyone except maybe Allen and sarcastic!Robin.

the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (classic)
Double Love
October, 1983

Share the continuing story of the Wakefield twins and their friends-
their laughter, heartaches, and dreams.



Will Jessica steal Todd from Elizabeth?


  Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are identical twins at Sweet Valley High. They're both popular, smart, and gorgeous, but that's where the similarity ends. Elizabeth is friendly, outgoing, and sincere- nothing like her snobbish and conniving twin. Jessica gets what she wants- at school, with friends, and especially with boys.
  This time, Jessica has her sights on Todd Wilkins, the handsome star of the basketball team- the one boy that Elizabeth really likes. Elizabeth doesn't want to lose him, but what Jessica wants, Jessica usually gets... even if it ends up hurting her sister.
  Meet the Wakefield twins, their guys, and the rest of the gang at Sweet Valley High.



  Double Love is fairly simple. You're introduced to the Wakefield twins. There's melodramatic Jessica, who isn't above trashing people's reputations to protect her own, but still manages to be incredibly popular. And then there's quiet, serious Liz who isn't above kissing a boy before the first date or plotting against her more diabolical sister. Both are gorgeous, popular, fantastic, and prone to emotional outbursts. Seriously. Liz bursts into tears no less than three times this book, sometimes for absolutely no reason. Jess also cries at the drop of a hat, but it's usually in order to manipulate someone.
  Got that? Good. Jess has set her sights on the current IT boy of Sweet Valley High, basketball captain and star, Todd Wilkins. Thing is, he seems more interested in talking to Jess so he can then get a hold of her twin, Elizabeth. Considering she's such an expert with guys, Jess figures he just doesn't know what he's missing, so she "helps" him realize the error of his ways. She's constantly caught offering him helpful little tidbits that cast Elizabeth as the flighty, popular, boy magnet twin, while she stays at home and, I dunno, washes her hair for the umpteenth time. The kicker, and proof that maybe Wilkins has taken one hit to the skull too many, is that he never cries bullshit on any of this. One could imagine that Liz is asked out plenty, and goes out fairly often, so it's okay if he believes that bit of the lie. Hormones make you stupid, especially when presented with the very real possibility that the object of your affection isn't at all interested in you.
  However, I remember first reading DL and knowing full well Jessica was full of it. You're pretty much told within seconds of meeting Jessica, that she has made her rounds through much of the male dating pool at SVH. Not in a full blown skanky way, but in that, "Sure we can go out and you can tell me how great I am," way. For Todd to believe anything other than this just blows my mind as much now as it did then. Idiot.
  Naturally, Liz doesn't know this, as she sits at home and dreams about her one true love, Todd Wilkins. She doesn't want much, dear diary, she just wants to be his girlfriend. They don't have to scale the highest mountains, swim the deepest seas, write the most epic of all love poems. No, what she wants is normalcy. She wants it to be normal for the two to eat lunch together and for him to randomly kiss her on the forehead, simply because he can and wants to do so. For they are in LOVE. That's all.
  But she never actually tells this to anyone. Ever. Because she's an idiot as well. She never tells her twin. She doesn't tell her best friend [though Enid has an extra braincell or two to rub together, so she's able to figure it out], and being that this is 1983, she sure as hell doesn't tell Todd she thinks he's keen or whatever. That last one I understand, but given that Jess is such a sneaky sort, you'd think it might be wise to let her in on the crush you've been harboring. Either to keep her away from said crush, or to get her to help you out, seeing as she isn't shy and knows her way around the male of the species well enough to snag a date for her sister. Just a thought.
  So Liz is dying a thousand deaths each time Todd calls to talk to Jess. Or she sees the two of them together. To complicate matters, Todd doesn't realize he's being set up as Jessica's newest conquest. So he still makes googly eyes at the wrong twin, still tries to get Liz alone, possibly so he can ask her to the big Phi Epsilon dance, or possibly just to say, "I love you, you idiot." So Liz is getting these "he likes me!" vibes and Jess doesn't know that Liz actually has any interest in Todd, so she sees no real problem in continuing to help Todd fall for the right Wakefield twin.
  This can only go on so long before something goes wrong and true love conquers all. So fate intervenes and decrees, "This shall not be a fifty page novel! We must have MORE conflict!"

  Another thing you should know. Jessica is not accustomed to being turned down. As far as she's concerned, she's the hottest thing around, and anyone who doesn't agree can go to hell. So when it becomes painfully clear that Todd isn't falling for her as planned, she decides to take her anger out on the unsuspecting males of Sweet Valley. Luckily for all of them, Rick Andover [tattooed, 17 year old bad boy drop out] spies Jessica walking home, and picks her up. Turns out he knows exactly who she is [see drop out status that makes this a little less creepy than it would be if he were just some random guy who knew who she was by sight alone] and finagles a date. Jess needs some male attention, so she agrees.
  Check the mini bio given for Rick again, and it'll become obvious that the only way this date is going to end is badly. Sure enough, Rick takes Jessica to Kelly's [local bar, conveniently located not that far from the teen dream hangout, the Dairi Burger] and gets smashed in record time. Seriously, one shot of whiskey and he's slurring his words. Granted, it's implied he had a little something before picking Jess up, but still. ONE SHOT. He also gets a little grabby, so Jess excuses herself and in perfect bad boy form, Rick manages to get himself into a bar fight. The cops are called and Jess gets a ride home via the police. Luckily for her, the cop thinks she's a friend of his niece, Emily Mayer, and assumes she's Elizabeth. [Cuz Liz is so the bar-hopping twin!] He reads her the riot act as he's dropping her off, calling her Elizabeth once more. Jess goes to correct him, but it's too late.
  You see, Caroline Pearce, the biggest gossip in all of Sweet Valley [which says a lot, given that almost all of Jessica's friends are identified as huge gossips as well] just happens to be walking by at that exact moment. She hears the whole thing, complete with the mixed up identity, runs home [three doors down from the Wakefields] and fires up the white princess phone that serves as the easiest way for gossip to spread through the Valley. Take that, Gossip Girl.
  By the next morning, all of SVH knows that good girl Liz has gone to the darkside, courtesy of a trip to Kelly's with bad boy Rick. Possibly fearing that two devious Wakefields is more than one high school can handle, people react by pretty much avoiding her. The boys are divided in two camps. Those who probably think Liz is a good time, though probably one involving a trip to the doctor's before and after, and those who think she's a total skank and should be put in her place. Preferably by never speaking to her again, I guess. This second camp is given a voice in the form of Enid's [Liz's best friend] current crush-turned-boyfriend Ronnie Edwards. The former is lead by rich boy Bruce Patman. But since no one's talking to Liz for fear of the crazy catching, she just thinks the entire school has gone insane.
  Until Enid finally breaks down and tells her that "no matter what, Liz, no matter what..." She spills the rest of the story and at first Liz is confused as to why Caroline would make up such an outrageous story about her. A second later, she realizes that Caroline didn't. She just had one certain fact messed up. So Liz confronts Jessica who in a tizzy over her brother's incredibly poor choice of girlfriends. Namely, the town skank, Betsy Martin. Still, no matter how much this grosses Liz out as well, she sticks to the more important matter. Namely, that her entire school is populated by idiots who believe Liz is the bar crawling twin.
  Because having Jess confess publicly will never happen, and because we've got to make it to page 182, we get another curve ball.
  It seems that we have a feud of epic proportions between the old money Patmans [hey, Bruce!] and new money Fowlers [aloha, Lila!] who for some reason, don't see a thing wrong with destroying the high school football field for their own purposes. Bruce's family wants to restore it to it's former glory as a formal English tea garden. The Fowlers want to build a factory. Now, I should stop to point out one little WTF moment. There are no FolwerS. There is Lila's father, George. Lila's an only child and her parents have been divorced for ages. Seriously, there are two Fowlers in the whole of SV as far as we've been told. I sincerely doubt Lila gives half a damn whether a factory goes up there or not. She'd probably enjoy any influx of money that would come her way, but she might also think it's a bit tacky to have a factory across the street from her school. Who knows? No one ever asked the girl.
  Instead, when news of these insane plans for their football field breaks, the students of SVH turn mob and corner the [mostly] innocent children of insane parents. There's some name calling and foolishly, Jessica opens her mouth and Bruce verbally bitchslaps her for it. It seems Mr. Wakefield has been seen all over town with a hot chick who ain't his wife. The whole town, or at least Bruce's parents, assume he's screwing around, and really, with that in her family closet, Jessica should STFU. Liz is shocked. She thought only the twins and maybe their brother suspected such a thing. For a gossip columnist, she's kinda naive, eh?
  Now, I know what you're thinking. WTF does this have to do with the price of Todd's stupidity and the scheming twins who love him? Well, not a whole lot, but we need some B-story angst. And because in the aftermath of bigmouth Bruce-y bass, Jess comes clean to Todd. Who doesn't believe her, but thinks she's incredibly noble to take the blame for her obviously skantastically confusing twin. So he invites her to the big dance. And they go. And have an absolutely miserable time after a brief dirty dancing fling. You see, Todd spends the rest of the evening staring hopelessly at Liz, who I guess never manages to look over at the same time to see him eying her. But both Liz's and Todd's dates notice. Winston doesn't mind all that much since he's had a thing for Jess for the better part of six years. Jessica, however, is beyond pissed.
  But it gets worse when he drops her off at home and all she gets is this stupid t-shirt a kiss on the cheek. So naturally, having only destroyed one person's rep this book, she decides to confuse Todd's antics with grabby hands Rick. And tells Liz all about it. By this point Jess has kind of figured out that Liz has a thing for Todd, but when given the chance to have Jess step aside, Liz chose not to take it. To keep Liz from getting better from Toddy boy than she did, Jess tells Liz that Todd is slime. And Liz buys it. Mostly. Still, it seems a little weird to her, but why would Jess lie?
  Back to the b story no one cares aboot, Mr. Wakefield and his other woman Marianna West, are working to save the Gladiator's playing field. So Liz gets time off from school, learns all aboot the ways of a real reporter, and yay, Mr. W saves the day! Well, actually Marianna does, which makes Liz feel a little funny that she thinks she could like the woman who is so obviously ruining her parents' marriage. Awkward! Only it turns out that, haha! Marianna really was just working with their father and now she's partner and yay, the perfect Wakefields really are perfect after all!
  Oh, and it turns out that Steven wasn't in love with Betsy, but rather her beautiful non skanky sister, Tricia. But Steve was so ashamed of her family, that he sabotaged his relationship with perfect Tricia, and she called him on it, broke his heart, and left him horribly depressed, something that will stain the poor boy horribly in the future. But for now, it's easily mended by him throwing himself on the mercy of Tricia's kind hearted nature.And again, perfection reigns supreme!
  Which leaves us with but one glaring problem. Todd is considered slime. Liz still wants Todd, and Rick is still pissed that Jess got him in trouble with the law. So Rick carjacks the twins and drives them out to Kelly's for some unknown reason. Maybe to show them that he's not a lightweight and can so totally hold his whiskey. Who knows? But first he drives by the Dairi Burger [told you it's conveniently located] and Todd happens to see them. And notice, in that split second, how freaked out Liz looks considering there's a maniac behind the wheel of their car. So he follows them, punches Rick out, and is rewarded with a kiss from fair Liz.
  The love birds trade notes on their destroyed reps [though, to be fair, Jess only told Liz, and it seems Liz never bothered to put the word out to warn anyone else] and came to one conclusion. Jessica!

  This leads us to our classic bit of revenge. Liz writes the Eyes and Ears column for the Oracle. It's a secret, and if the author is found out, it's school tradition to dunk them in the pool. So Liz dresses like Jess, makes it so Jess dresses like Liz, and while pretending to be Jessica, Liz lets the cat out of the bag. Jessica is dunked, and the newly happy couple is left to laugh and laugh. Gotcha, Jess!



Random tid bits:

  • Liz's tuxedo shirt is later changed to a generic green shirt and her nifty bow tie is changed to a belt in the double edition of Sweet 18, the final SVH [Senior Year] book. The current re-release of the book leaves the tux alone, letting the twins cross dress to their heart's content.

  • Enid and Elizabeth became friends during their sophomore creative writing class, though Liz still thinks Enid a bit mysterious.

  • Which could be because Enid hasn't told Liz that she's been arrested. Ah, good times.

  • As of DL, the Wakefield's pool is a fairly new addition to the house.

  • Ronnie, Enid's obnoxious boytoy, is awfully opinionated for the new guy in school.

  • Marianna's ex, Gareth West, is apparently a big deal heart specialist.

  • Bruce's mother is a Vanderhorn, one of the oldest families in SV. Nobody cares.





Say wha?
  After all, she told herself, if Todd preferred Jessica- and that certainly was how it looked- she would not stand in the way. She'd do the decent thing. Die. -Liz, p34

137 Different Ways to be Cruel:
  You've got to be seven hundred and thirty-seven kinds of idiots not to be excited about associating with the best girls at SVH. What's wrong with you? p35
  He has got to be the most wonderful boy in a hundred and thirty-seven states! p108
  This family has got to be the biggest bummer in five hundred and thirty-seven cities! p111
  I'll never forgive you, not if I live to be a hundred and thirty-seven years- p182.






Inability to discuss her massive crush on Wilkins and crying jags aside, this Liz is probably one of my favorites. She's funny, she's sarcastic, and she's a schemer. But most of all, I love that while we're told how popular Liz is, she seems less so than Jessica. Perhaps it's that Jess is the epitome of the popular girl. She's perfectly lovely to look at, and you want to hear about her exploits, but you know she's a raging bitch. Liz, on the other hand, is the twin you'll find sprawled on the ground collecting her books, wondering how long she has until some jerk kicks her and she has to restart the whole rescue operation. See, the true popular girl wouldn't have this problem, as Liz herself notes. If Jessica's books fell to the floor, her minions would scatter and retrieve them. Liz is without minions at this point, and it's kind of nice.
In general, I have a love/hate relationship with Double Love. Sometimes it's just fantastic enough that I enjoy it like cotton candy. And sometimes I wonder if perhaps I was an exceptionally stupid child and I've been stained forever by this book. But mostly I wish we could get a glimpse of pre-superfab twins. You know there are stories in their past, and the earlier books hinted at them. Later books were content to either ignore what came before or remind you with the sledgehammer of "previously on..."

Double Love non-English covers part 1
Double Love non-eglish covers part2



Re-issue, courtesy of 2008 )


** )

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