August 26, 2014
SVT #15, The Older Boy: In This Circus, Jessica Is the Clown
Summary: At the end of Tug of War, Jessica met 16-year-old Josh, who quickly took an interest in her. She tells him she’s 14 (and a half), and a freshman at SVH. She knows her parents will never let her date a guy who’s four years older, so when Josh asks her out, she tells him to pick her up at Lila’s, where she’s spending the night.
Jessica and Josh double-date with friends of his, but the other girl, Melanie, is a freshman at SVH and pokes a couple holes in Jessica’s story. Jess manages to cover, mostly because Melanie doesn’t seem that bright. But then they go to the Dairi Burger, where they’re spotted by Caroline Pearce. Caroline happens to have an older sister, Anita, who happens to be Josh’s ex-girlfriend, so she knows Josh is way older than Jessica. Sadly, this doesn’t really go anywhere. Josh and Jessica hit it off, though, and he asks her out again for the following weekend.
Elizabeth is in the dark about her sister’s new guy until she runs into him at the mall and he mistakes her for Jessica, saying he’s looking forward to Saturday night. When Elizabeth brings it up to Jessica, she claims that they’re just going to talk on the phone. In order to keep her family from finding out about her second date, Jessica has come up with a story about going to Tahoe for the weekend with a girl named Kerry, when she’ll really be at Lila’s again. Jess makes the rookie mistake of not asking Kerry to be her alibi, but again, that doesn’t go anywhere. So many missed opportunities in this book.
The Wakefields remember that they’re supposed to be parenting, so they express some discomfort with Jessica going away with a family they don’t know. Jess gets Lila to call Alice, pretending to be Kerry’s mom, to assure her that Jessica’s welcome. Alice falls for it, because she can’t tell the difference between a 12-year-old and someone’s mom. Good job, Alice! Jessica’s only regret about her web of lies is that “going away for the weekend” means missing her family’s annual trip to the circus. Steven will also be ditching the family, attending the circus with friends. Josh won’t tell Jess where he’s taking her for their date; it’s a surprise, and they’re again going with other people. You see where this is going, right?
Before the big second date, Elizabeth learns from Amy (who found out from Caroline) that Josh is 16 and rumored to be dating someone named Jessica. When she confronts her twin, Jess says that Josh lied about his age. Liz falls for it, of course. Jessica goes on her date, which doesn’t start off on the best note when Josh tells her that he still has feelings for Anita. Wow, thanks, Josh. Then things get worse: One of the people they’re double-dating with is Steven. He’s nice enough not to out Jessica to the group, but when they’re alone, he blasts her for lying about her age to date a junior.
Jessica manages to avoid the rest of the Wakefields at the circus, but Anita’s hanging around, so Jessica’s whole night is already a bust. She’s no longer interested in Josh or in keeping up her lies, so she tells Anita to go win Josh back. Josh ends up apologizing to Jessica for the way things have turned out, telling her he still wants to be friends. Eventually, Jessica’s busted by her parents, and Josh learns that he’s been dating a 12-year-old. For some reason, he doesn’t think that’s insane. I guess it’s good that everyone in Sweet Valley is completely asexual, because Jessica could have gotten into a big mess. She comes away with a two-week grounding, but everyone at school thinks she’s a hero for selflessly stepping aside to let Anita have Josh.
Thoughts: Apparently Alice has a pageboy haircut. I never would have imagined that.
Jessica screwed up the one lie that would have given her a lot of leeway – she should have told Josh she went to a different high school.
Steven’s sad not to go to the circus with his family. No way do high-schoolers want to go to the circus, especially with their parents.
“Amy had a nosy little brother.” I…don’t think she does, actually.
“She was wearing a pair of tight designer jeans and a cotton turtleneck sweater, which she hoped looked glamorous and sophisticated.” Yes, I think we can all agree that turtlenecks are the height of sophistication.
Tom McKay has a brother named Dylan. I repeat: Tom’s brother’s name is Dylan McKay. That’s fantastic.