December 31, 2010
Summary: A talk-show host named Eric Parker wants to broadcast a live interview with an SVH student, so he holds a contest to pick someone who’s a typical American teenager. Jessica and Lila (the latter with a heavily padded application) both want to win. Jessica’s also searching for something new to put on her application, so she writes an article for the Oracle about her worst dates ever. It includes a smackdown of Bruce, announcing he kisses like a dead jellyfish. The word jellyfish is then used about 137 in the book.
Jessica wins the contest, with Lila as her alternate. The girls are battling each other now, since they can’t handle any kind of competition without wanting to tear out each other’s hair. Lila and Bruce, who’s angry about Jessica’s article, team up to get Jessica out of the picture so Lila can take her place. The day of the interview, Lila takes Jessica shopping about 50 miles from Sweet Valley, then ditches her at the store. Bruce has already called the store to warn them about a serial shoplifter fitting Jessica’s description, so the store owners quickly detain Jessica when she tries to run after Lila while wearing the clothes she was trying on. Bruce and Lila are so pleased with themselves that they actually kiss, though it doesn’t do anything for either of them.
Once Jessica sorts everything out with the police and the store owners, she calls Elizabeth to let her know what’s going on. There isn’t time for her to get back to Sweet Valley before the interview, so Elizabeth takes her place. Jessica gets to be famous (even though she wasn’t the one on TV) and Lila looks like a fool. Not the ending I wanted.
In the B plot, Elizabeth decides that since Jessica’s so good at writing, it must not be that important, or something stupid like that. She decides to become a junior ranger at Secca Lake, but her responsibilities there take up so much of her time that she doesn’t get to write as much as she wants. She finally realizes that she can just say no when she doesn’t want to work, and decides she does want to be a writer after all. Yay.
Thoughts: Elizabeth suddenly deciding writing isn’t her dream career anymore just because Jessica’s also good at it actually makes me mad. Same with her saying, “Anyone can write.” I think I speak for writers everywhere when I say WE DON’T WANT YOU ANYWAY.
Jessica plans to get a “cropped cherry-red top [with] big gold buttons, a white sailor-type collar, and a matching miniskirt.” Every mental image I have of this outfit is hilarious.
Also hilarious: Lila and Bruce’s kiss. It makes me think of Xander and Cordelia.
Jessica eats a sandwich with sprouts on it. Who is she, Dawn?
December 30, 2010
Summary: Stacey has a student teacher in her math class, a 22-year-old college student named Wes, and it takes her about five seconds to fall completely in luuuuuuuuuv with him. And not just luuuuuuuuuuuv, but that kind of obsessive, stalkery love 13-year-olds are prone to. She fantasizes about him, tries to run into him in the halls, and writes him a poem (see below). She also stays after school a couple of times to help him organize some papers, and in one instance scores a ride home from him (inappropriate alert!). Stacey really, really thinks there’s a future there, despite their nine-year age difference and the fact that he’s an adult while she’s not even in high school.
After Stacey gives Wes her love poem, he grows uncomfortable around her, but she still thinks there’s something there. No, she really thinks a 22-year-old has a crush on her. She even turns down Sam when he asks her to a school dance, because she thinks Wes will want to be with her there. And though Wes does dance with her, he also finally tells her directly that she’s great and all, but…you know, she’s 13. It ain’t gonna happen. Stacey’s heart is broken, but we all know Wes will be completely forgotten by the next book.
In the B plot, Dawn and Mary Anne take care of a goat. I don’t want to talk about it.
In the C plot, Charlotte has a similar situation to Stacey’s – she has a huge crush on a guy named Bruce (though at least he’s her age), and she winds up writing him a poem. Only Bruce’s reaction is very different from Wes’s: He starts stalking Charlotte (though in a harmless, eight-year-old way). Charlotte handles the situation by hiding from Bruce, and it actually pays off, as Bruce just transfers his affection to someone else.
Thoughts: I can’t say I’ve never been in Stacey’s shoes, having a crush on an older guy when I was way too young for him (I was probably 12 while he was about 18), but I never took it as far as she did. And I never suffered under the delusion that anything could actually happen. Stacey’s kind of…crazy in this book. And not the fun kind of crazy. The Glenn-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction crazy.
Trivia: Stacey’s dad went to Wesleyan.
Stacey’s math teacher says Wes is getting his master’s, but Wes says he’s a senior getting his BA, which makes more sense, since he’s at a community college (though later he says he lives in a dorm). But why can’t the ghostwriter keep things straight over less than 20 pages?
Stacey’s poem to Wes:
I see two stars in summer’s night,
Hovering, lost, in blinding light,
Each so dull in heaven’s net,
So each remains, as yet unmet.
But Fortune moves in strangest ways;
It lengthens nights, it shortens days.
May this night end, and day begin
And bring two young people back again.
I wish I could include the I’s dotted with hearts.
Bruce’s poetic response to Charlotte’s poem:
Roses are red,
Red’s the same as scarlet;
And so is Charlotte.
Watch out, Vanessa Pike.
Stacey notes that she can’t drink the punch at the dance, since it’s ginger ale and Hawaiian Punch, but then a few pages later, she does. Maybe they should put this girl on suicide watch.
December 29, 2010
Summary: It’s Christmas break, and Enid and Elizabeth are planning to spend some time together since Todd’s out of town. Enid’s also looking forward to a visit from her father, who she doesn’t get to see much since her parents’ divorce. Jeffrey French, unseen since just after his breakup with Elizabeth, makes an appearance at the Dairi Burger and winds up kissing Elizabeth under the mistletoe, thanks to peer pressure. This ignites a couple of sparks between them, but Enid doesn’t seem to notice, as when Jeffrey starts talking to her and wanting to spend time together, she thinks it’s all because of her, and she thinks she might have feelings for him.
Jeffrey asks Enid to a skating party, “just as friends,” and she decides not to tell Elizabeth about it because she thinks Liz isn’t going. Liz shows up anyway, and she’s a little hurt that her best friend didn’t say anything about hanging out with her ex. Also at the party is a guy named Brian, who Enid hung out with back in her druggie days. She wants to avoid him, but Jessica thinks he’s hot. Jeffrey tells Enid that Elizabeth baked cookies for him, and for some reason this makes Enid think that the two of them still have feelings for each other. I guess the secret ingredient in the cookies was subtext.
Brian wants to hang out with Enid, and since she basically has nothing else to do, she goes out with him. They wind up at a party and he has some drinks, even though he’s been talking all night about how he’s changed, and Enid decides she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. Then things get worse for her when she goes to meet her father and he proves her mother right in her accusations that he’s an alcoholic.
Everyone goes to a party at George’s (Enid’s ex) house, and Enid goes off to Miller’s Point with Brian because she thinks Jeffrey and Elizabeth…something. The motives get a little strange here. Brian and Enid do some drinkin’ and tokin’, and Enid trash-talks Elizabeth a little, which is awesome. Jessica winds up at Miller’s Point with a guy named Michael, who’s a friend of Steven’s, and when she sees Brian and Enid together, Jessica decides to hightail it back to the party to tell Lila the juicy gossip. She tells Elizabeth instead, and realizes that this is not a good situation for Enid. Especially now that Brian is driving around town like a maniac and won’t let Enid out of the car.
Somewhere in here, Enid’s parents find out that she’s out with Brian, and her father goes looking for her. The car crashes and Mr. Rollins saves both Enid and Brian, though there’s an explosion and Mr. Rollins and Brian are both burned. Mr. Rollins decides he needs to go to rehab for his alcohol problem, Enid decides her little relapse will be her last, and Brian…eh, who cares?
Thoughts: Enid gives her friends one piece of chocolate each for Christmas. Now we know why she has so few friends.
“Just about the worst event that had ever happened to Elizabeth was Todd’s family moving to Vermont earlier that school year.” Worse than her motorcycle accident, coma, and personality change? Worse than her attempted rape? Worse than her kidnapping? Also, Todd was in Vermont the last time it was Christmas in this series, so the ghostwriter has officially broken the space-time continuum.
No way would Jessica wear a sweater with a snowflake on it. Wrong twin, ghostwriter.
Enid buys Elizabeth a pink heart-shaped box at what sounds like a lingerie store. Is Enid in love with Elizabeth? See, now that I’ve thought that, I’m not going to be able to talk myself out of it.
You can tell this book is from the ’90s because Thai food is considered exotic.
I can’t imagine Enid ever being part of a “wild crowd.” I can’t believe she prefers being so dull.
Pages 127 through 130 are just so weird. First Jessica wants Brian even if Enid wants him, because “all’s fair in love and war.” Then she almost stops to flirt with George, who is, remember, Robin’s boyfriend. When she tries to talk to Brian, he only wants to talk about Enid. (He also thinks Jessica’s name is Jennifer.) Jessica tells Lila she’s mad enough to bite someone, which Lila thinks sounds like fun. Then Jeffrey approaches, but he’s also looking for Enid. Same with Elizabeth. Jessica tells her Enid is suddenly very popular, and Elizabeth says, “I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for the way you’re behaving, but you can tell me later.” And then, like the ADD-afflicted child she is, Jessica gets distracted by a hot guy and moves on.
Enid to Brian: “I think the biggest act of mercy would be to have you humanely destroyed.” Dude! Why can’t we have this Enid all the time?
Why is Lila pretending she cares about Enid when Enid winds up in the hospital? Christmas miracle or sloppy ghostwriting? You decide.
December 26, 2010
Summary: Jeff comes to visit, and the Schafers/Spiers take a trip to Boston. Jeff is being a spoiled brat and trying to avoid Richard, who just wants to do guy stuff with him, and this makes Mary Anne mad, which in turn makes Dawn mad. So the three kids are all bickering and avoiding each other, and the Schafers end up doing different things from the Spiers on vacation. For some reason, Richard and Sharon let this continue, even though they’re obviously not happy. Finally, they tell the kids that they’re going to have to get along because they’re not having separate vacations anymore.
Back home, things are still tense, but Sharon and Richard want everyone to have a family portrait taken together. During the photo session, Dawn and Mary Anne realize how angry they look with each other, which makes them laugh, and everyone apologizes to everyone else. And hopefully Jeff gets grounded or gets half his Christmas presents taken away or something, because he was a total brat through the whole book.
In the B plot, Mrs. Barrett is dating a guy named Franklin DeWitt, who has four kids. The Barrett and DeWitt kids, like the Schafer and Spier kids, can’t stand each other, and every time they’re together, they fight. Claudia and Shannon (yes, Shannon) finally get them to call a truce by pointing out that they can’t play games that need lots of people unless they all get along. Yep.
Thoughts: Dear ghostwriter, it’s the Air and Space Museum, not the Aerospace Museum. Try some research next time.
Mrs. Barrett and Franklin need to take a sitter along on a family picnic? Really?
The Schafers/Spiers sing on long car trips. We must destroy them.
The family gets two hotel rooms, one for Sharon and Richard, and one for Mary Anne, Dawn, and Jeff. Why is a ten-year-old boy sharing a room with 13-year-old girls?? Also, how much does Sharon hate Mary Anne for insisting on staying in her and Richard’s room? You just know Sharon can’t stand how much of a daddy’s girl Mary Anne is.
There is not one chance Mary Anne doesn’t know what the Boston tea Party is, so shut up, ghostwriter.
I thought the BSC girls’ postcard-writing was out of control before, but Dawn writing to Kristy from the car ON THE WAY HOME takes the (sugar-free) cake.
December 24, 2010
Summary: Ken Matthews, blind since That Fatal Night, has regained enough eyesight that he thinks he can go back to being SVH’s quarterback. Claire Middleton, a new student at SVH, also wants to be the quarterback. Most people are accepting of Claire’s desire to play football, including Ken, who recognizes her talent. Jessica’s one of the few detractors, but mostly just because Claire said something snide to her about cheerleading. The cheerleaders decide to come up with a way to embarrass Claire and make her quit tryouts.
Ken’s girlfriend, Terri, starts to get jealous of Claire and thinks she’s going to steal Ken, even though Claire has demonstrated no interest in him. Terri catches Claire crying over a picture of a guy named Ted and passes this info along to the cheerleaders. Jessica comes up with a cheer about Claire that finishes up with, “We know about Ted,” and they perform it at a scrimmage where the quarterbacks will be chosen (they need a first-string and a second-string). It turns out Ted was Claire’s brother. Who died. Oops.
Terri takes the blame for the cheer and apologizes to Claire, encouraging her to continue with the tryouts. Claire in turn encourages Terri to talk to Ken, since she’s sure Ken still wants to be with her. (She’s right, of course.) Claire makes second-string quarterback to Ken’s first-string, but at their first game, Ken has eye problems and Claire fills in for him. Of course, she wins the game and becomes the new school hero.
In other news, shut up, Amy.
Thoughts: Terri’s description of Claire makes me think she’d rather be with Claire than with Ken.
Ken is kind of a jerk for calling Claire pretty in front of Terri, but if Terri’s going to freak out about losing him just because he’s nice to another girl, maybe I don’t blame him. Chill, Terri.
How is asking a girl about trying out for the football team “investigative reporting”? Shut up, Penny.
Claire’s motto is, “I’d rather die than quit.” You shut up, too, Claire. You know what, everyone in this book needs to shut up.
December 18, 2010
Summary: Jessi goes to New York with Stacey for the weekend so she can see Quint in a big performance. Quint and Jessi overhear an argument from an apartment across they alley from Quint’s and realize that the two men fighting are planning a jewel heist. They spent much of the rest of the weekend stalking the guys (Frank and Red), who stop by two places with stealable jewels: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a jewelry store. Jessi and Quint want some sort of evidence to take to the police, so that the cops don’t think they’re just silly kids, and it’s a good thing they wait, because it turns out Frank and Red are actors practicing their lines. Oops!
While Jessi’s in New York and her parents and aunt are out of town at a wedding, Becca stays with the Pikes and cries the whole weekend. Poor Mallory and Mary Anne are incredibly patient with her. Mr. and Mrs. Pike do nothing, which is no surprise.
The rest of the book is basically a guide to New York, because we all know how much this series looooooves the Big Apple. And Jessi and Quint decide to just be friends because they’re too young to be in a committed relationship.
Thoughts: Stacey has Jessi leave her shampoo and conditioner behind before they go to New York because she has too much stuff with her. Is she going to let Jessi borrow hers? Wouldn’t Stacey use some expensive, ultra-sophisticated lightening stuff?
If Mallory would stop whining about her geeky self and just take care of kids, she would be so much more awesome. She should also be a teacher instead of a writer. And not just beacuse I don’t want to have to be associated with her in a writerly way.
Vanessa’s poem: “How fair their little faces are, the flowers of the Spring, turned up to catch the sunbeams that the elves and fairies bring.” I bet Vanessa got all sorts of guys in high school.
You know what would’ve shut Becca up? If, when she stared whining about her mom abandoning her and not loving her, Mary Anne had said, “At least your mother’s still alive.”
When Claudia brings over art supplies to help Becca and the Pike kids make dragons, Becca names hers Charlotte after the spider. Somewhere, Charlotte Johanssen is TICKED.
Quint plays the race card after being kicked out of a jewelry store, but Jessi points out that the guard who kicked them out was also black. Is it wrong that that made me laugh? Like, you’re 11 and a ballet dancer, kid. No one would mistake you for any kind of threat.
Quint suggests that he and Jessi put on disguises (glasses for him, a Halloween wig for her) and pretend to be delivering something so they can see Frank and Red’s apartment. Quint should definitely stick to dancing, because I don’t think the book-learnin’ is going to get him very far.
December 16, 2010
Summary: Neil Freemount (AKA Penny’s secret admirer) is friends with a guy named Andy, who’s black. (Yes, they have black people in Sweet Valley. Who knew?) A huge waste of DNA named Charlie Cashman starts harassing Andy because of his race, and though Neil finds his behavior appalling, he feels like he needs to be nice to Charlie because their parents are friends. (Oh, and their dads are both racist, too.) Even though Andy obviously doesn’t deserve to be treated the way he’s treated, he’s kind of annoying about it, telling Neil that he doesn’t need any support from white people, like, dude, there are only two black people in town who could support you.
Charlie keeps harassing Andy and they wind up in a physical fight at school. Then Charlie and his friends attack Andy in a parking lot, actually beating him unconscious. Neil’s so ticked at Andy for being annoying and rejecting his support that he hits Andy while he’s unconscious, but immediately feels horrible about it. Everyone knows Charlie was behind the assault, but they can’t prove it, and Andy won’t say who attacked him. He does, however, think that Neil actually chased the guys off and got him help.
Neil goes to Andy’s house to tell him the truth, but Andy’s ready to be friends again, and Neil doesn’t get the words out. Then back at school, Charlie threatens to tell the police that Neil attacked Andy unless Neil helps him with another assault. Ultimately, Neil tells Andy that he hit him, which drives Andy away again, and though Penny reacts the same way to the news, she realizes that she needs to at least listen to his side of things. Wait, no happy ending? Am I reading the right series?
The other parts of the book deal with how the seemingly perfect SVH isn’t so perfect after all. Elizabeth is surprised to hear that so many students are dissatisfied with various aspects of SVH, and many of them feel like they’re discriminated against. Jessica also deals with some discrimination during a class lesson about it.
Thoughts: Neil thinks stereotypes about black people “went out in the sixties.” Poor, naïve Neil. Wait till he finds out what things are like 20 years after this book was written.
Yes, Penny, your editorial for the Oracle will certainly end racism in Sweet Valley. Geez, she’s as deluded as Elizabeth.
Apparently when Ken’s eyesight came back, it brought a healthy dose of sexism with it.
December 11, 2010
Summary: Claudia’s failing English, and she dreads returning to the resource room, where she can get one-on-one attention from an actual teacher, so her parents let the BSC girls tutor her. Except it turns into just Stacey tutoring her, and Stacey’s kind of a bitca about it. Basically, Stacey should never be a teacher. She makes Claudia keep a diary to get her in the habit of writing and to use some of her vocab words from class, but Claudia also keeps a diary complaining about Stacey. After the two girls get in a huge fight, Stacey winds up seeing the secret diary (of course), but it helps her realize that she was too hard on Claudia.
Shea Rodowsky is also having trouble in school – he’s just been diagnosed with dyslexia, and also needs help with his English work. The BSC girls are enlisted to tutor him as well, but Claudia, of all people, is the one who connects with him the most, as they’re able to help each other. Each helps the other feel less dumb, and they come up with some creative ways to learn and remember certain spelling rules.
In a sort of B plot, the girls are receiving notes from a secret admirer. At first they think the notes are for one girl from one guy, but after getting a whiff of some of Cokie’s perfume on a note, they decide that she’s pulling the same trick she pulled in Mary Anne’s Bad Luck Mystery, only with nice notes instead of threatening ones. They put on their ugliest clothes to meet the note-writer at a restaurant…and then find out that the notes are from a bunch of the kids they sit for. Jackie Rodowsky organized the outing to show appreciation for the girls. Fortunately, the kids don’t seem to notice how bad the girls look, and they all have a good time.
Thoughts: I don’t get why the Rodowskys don’t just hire Mallory to tutor Shea, since she was so awesome with Buddy Barrett.
Non-sports-lover Mary Anne knows Jackie Robinson played for the Dodgers? Doubtful.
So Claudia’s failing English, her parents and Janine apparently don’t help her with her homework anymore, and they let 13-year-olds tutor her. They really don’t care, do they? They’ve already put all their eggs in Janine’s basket.
Why does Shea ask Claudia to help him with his spelling right after she tells him she’s bad at it? I think he should also ask for help with listening.
December 4, 2010
Summary: Dana Larson and Aaron Dallas both decide they’re totally over love, which makes Elizabeth want to fix them up. She and Todd engage in the bet of the title – if Dana and Aaron get together, Elizabeth wins; if not, Todd wins. They start inviting Aaron and Dana out to various places they’re going, and eventually the two realize they have a lot more in common than they thought. So of course, they fall in loooooooove with each other.
But then Todd meddles, sending Dana an anonymous note, supposedly from Aaron, to make her think he wants more than just a friendship, even though they both keep saying they don’t. Dana thinks Aaron’s going to profess his love, but then she finds out the note is from Todd and realizes he and Elizabeth were behind the whole set-up. She also thinks Aaron doesn’t looooooove her, and she’s humiliated and storms off. When she confronts Elizabeth, Liz and Todd get into a fight over the note, so now everyone in the situation is mad.
Aaron, who was kind of out of the loop, figures out what’s happening and tells Dana he has fallen for her and wants to try out a relationship. (Crap, Elizabeth’s meddling paid off.) Then the two of them send Elizabeth and Todd notes from each other to get them back together. Blah blah blah, happily ever after, blah blah blah.
In the B plot, there’s a Battle of the Bands coming up, and the winner gets to open for a band at a really cool club (a surprisingly good prize for an SVH book). Jessica wants to get closer to famous people, and she figures this is a way to get a foot in the door. No, she’s not starting a band (which would be more fun) – she decides she wants to be a roadie for one of the bands in the competition. Except the only band that needs a roadie is a metal group called Spontaneous Combustion, and the guys are all jerks. Jessica enlists Lila to roadie with her, apparently thinking Lila would be caught dead carrying heavy equipment for people she can’t stand, and in the end Jessica accidentally blows the band’s amps and they can’t compete anyway.
There are a number of references in this book to things that come up in future books – the friendship between two guys named Andy and Neil, a girl named Claire Middleton, and a rocker named Jamie Peters. So I guess we should stay tuned?
Thoughts: As proposed by Todd, the loser of the bet has to grant the winner three wishes. Todd, have you ever even tried not being lame?
“A talented, independent woman doesn’t need a man in order to feel complete!” You do know you’re in Sweet Valley, right, Dana?
Jessica thinks Spontaneous Combustion is a professional-sounding name for a band. Probably because it has so many syllables. Also, why does she think Lazarus is the lead singer’s real last name? Does she think Spy is his real first name?
Ghostwriter, teenagers do not go to Adam’s Rib or outdoor jazz concerts! They go to horror movies and rock concerts! FOR THE LOVE OF BRUCE, WOMAN!
“What does a jock know about music?” Clearly Dana is not a Glee fan.