October 7, 2014

SVT #18, Center of Attention: The C Word

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:16 pm by Jenn

I just don't think Steven would put up with this

I just don’t think Steven would put up with this

Summary: Alice has been sick for a few days, and though she keeps insisting it’s not that serious, the twins are worried. Jessica tries to put it out of her mind so she can focus on auditions for the middle school’s production of Carnival. She’s desperate to play the lead, Lily, and needs to work on her singing so she can beat Dana Larson for the part. Kerry Glenn briefly makes Jessica panic by telling her that when her mother got sick with the same symptoms Alice has, she turned out to be pregnant. I’m surprised Jess doesn’t want a little brother or sister to boss around and dress up like a doll. But anyway, Alice isn’t pregnant, just sick.

In fact, Alice is so sick that she stays home instead of accompanying Ned on a business trip. She even has blood tests done. When she gets a call from her doctor, Jessica listens in and hears that there’s something abnormal in the results. Jessica quickly tells Elizabeth and Steven, and they all ask their mother what’s going on. Alice admits that she needs to have a lump on her neck biopsied – it might just be a swollen lymph node, but it could be something else.

Jessica takes charge of the family, assigning chores to her brother and sister, and appointing herself Alice’s caregiver. I’m not surprised that Elizabeth just goes along to avoid an argument, but I am surprised that Steven doesn’t protest. Jessica gets all the credit for being such a big help. But it might not matter anyway: Alice’s test results are inconclusive, and she could have anything from a virus to the dreaded C word.

Of course, Jessica immediately jumps to the worst-case scenario and starts panicking that her mother’s going to die of cancer. She can’t focus on anything else, even her potential starring role in Carnival. This means that when Caroline Pearce calls to talk to Elizabeth, Jessica makes the rookie mistake of mentioning that Alice is desperately sick. To no one’s surprise, the news spreads around school, and suddenly everyone is feeling sorry for the Wakefield twins, with their possibly dying mother.

Elizabeth isn’t happy about this turn of events, but Jessica loves that everyone’s so interested in her. Yes, it only took a potentially fatal illness for Jess to gain the popularity she so desperately craves. What does that tell you about our resident evil twin? Jessica considers giving up being in Carnival, in case it takes her away from the last precious moments her mother has on Earth, but Alice loves the musical and encourages Jessica to try out. Jess figures that playing the lead could give her mother her last earthly happiness. Then she steals money from the family’s emergency stash so she can order a pizza.

Jessica “bravely” forges ahead with her audition plans, telling the Unicorns that she will proudly martyr herself to star in a musical. The words “my mother’s dying wish is to see me on stage” are implied. After a day of crying and worrying about Alice’s test results, the twins get the news that she just has a virus. Too bad – dying would have been the most interesting thing Alice could do in this series.

Jess heads to the auditions, where Dana tells her that she’s going to drop out so Jessica can be the star. I guess Dana was a shoo-in and no one else was going to audition for the lead. The role is automatically Jessica’s, and she decides not to say anything about Alice’s health, so people will continue to give her things she hasn’t earned. Jessica would rather star in a musical than celebrate her mother’s good health with her friends. I don’t think that’s news.

Ned comes home from his trip, and the family spends the weekend together, swimming in their pool. Dana, Brooke, and the barely mentioned Sandra Ferris drop by the house to spend time with Jessica, who tries to shoo them away so they don’t find out that Alice is not only dying but is actually goofing off with the rest of the family. Just as Jessica’s conscience is about to get the better of her, Elizabeth shows up and pretty much blows her story. Jess pretends she was just about to give her friends the good news that Alice will be okay. She also decides to give up the role of Lily to Dana.

Elizabeth and Steven punish Jessica for her behavior by making her do their chores. Jessica also gets in trouble for stealing money to buy pizza (though she tells Ned she was going to buy Alice flowers – yes, she covers for a lie with another lie). Dana gets the role of Lily, but Jessica gets another role in the musical, plus the sweater she’s been wanting the whole book. Consequences for bad actions? Jessica doesn’t know what you mean by that.

Thoughts: Yeah, you probably shouldn’t tell people (especially kids) you might have cancer when you don’t know for sure. Nothing good can come of that.

“Winston was a tall, quiet boy.” I believe that’s the first and last time Winston’s ever been described as quiet.

So there’s no possibility that someone other than Jessica or Dana could get the lead? Like, say, an eighth-grader? Does Dana still have to audition? If I were one of the other girls who wanted to be in the show, I’d be ticked.

August 26, 2014

SVT #15, The Older Boy: In This Circus, Jessica Is the Clown

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:27 pm by Jenn

That guy's not even cute!

That guy’s not even cute!

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.

July 15, 2014

SVT #12, Keeping Secrets: Thithigis Bithigook IthigIs Stithigupithigd

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:17 pm by Jenn

Should have been called "Everyone Makes a Big Deal Over Nothing"

Should have been called “Everyone Makes a Big Deal Over Nothing”

Summary: Just so you know, I hate everyone in this book except Elizabeth.

Ned takes the twins out to dinner to tell them some super-big secret they’re not allowed to tell anyone. By the way, if you’re a kid and anyone ever says something like that to you, get a grown-up. Anyway, the super-big secret is also super-stupid: It’s a made-up language Ned and his best friend spoke as kids, and he wants to teach it to the twins so the three of them can speak it together and exclude Alice and Steven for no good reason. If I were Steven, I’d be ticked.

The language, Ithig, basically involves inserting Ithig into every syllable of a word, or in front of the word if it’s short. The problem is that no one sticks to those actual rules, and it’s incredibly difficult to read in the book, so it just bugs me. Also, why is it such a big secret? Why does Ned place so much importance on it? Why can’t Steven learn it, too? Why does Ned have to be so exclusionary? I could write pages and pages of everything wrong with this book, but I don’t have the energy or the interest, so we’ll move on.

The twins pick up Ithig quickly, and are thrilled to have something just they and their father share. Caroline Pearce overhears them speaking Ithig and gets overly interested in what they’re doing. The Wakefields give her the brush-off. This is bad. Caroline quickly tells everyone at school that the twins have a secret language, and for some reason, everyone cares. Amy and the Unicorns are especially mad that the twins have something that’s only between them and won’t share it with their friends. I…don’t get that. Like, they’re already sisters and already have a special bond because they’re twins, but THIS is what ticks everyone off?

Everyone turns on the twins, since they refuse to break their promise to Ned and teach anyone their language. Lila and Amy do that whole “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing and are suddenly BFFs. Lila’s allowed to bring a bunch of friends to a party her father’s throwing, which will feature a benefit match with a famous tennis player, and she invites pretty much everyone she knows except Jessica. She agrees to invite Jessica if Jessica teaches her Ithig. Jess has no willpower, so she caves.

This makes Amy even madder, I guess since Jessica was a good enough friend to Lila to break her promise, but Elizabeth wasn’t a good enough friend to Amy to do the same. Then things get worse, because Lila teaches everyone else in school Ithig. Amy soon gets over it, but a new problem crops up. The twins’ music teacher goes out on paternity leave, and when the sub, Ms. McDonald, arrives, the kids pull that middle-schooler magic only preteens can, and act like jerks in her class. They only speak Ithig, they don’t listen, and they misbehave so much that they drive her to tears.

Elizabeth feels bad, because she’s the only person in this book with any humanity. She learns that when the district supervisor comes to visit the class, the kids plan to only speak Ithig so they’ll drive Ms. McDonald crazy and she won’t be invited to keep teaching. Elizabeth warns Ms. McDonald, but the teacher is no dummy: Thanks to language immersion, she’s learned Ithig on her own. When Lila pulls the Ithig trick in class, Ms. McDonald speaks it back to her, telling the supervisor that it’s a secret language the sixth graders use with each other.

Lila is furious, which is hilarious, because she needed to be taken down about ten notches in this book. She and a couple other students try to tell the supervisor that they don’t like Ms. McDonald, but he’s like, “Maybe worry about your grades and not being little punks?” I love that their scheme totally backfired. Probably the best part is that they’re too dumb to figure out that Elizabeth talked to Ms. McDonald, or that she might have learned Ithig on her own. Stupid punk kids. Get off my lawn!

Thoughts: I was thinking that Amy and Lila were being unreasonable about the twins keeping secrets from them, but then I remembered that they’re 12-year-old girls, so they’re unreasonable about everything.

12-year-old girls also aren’t that interested in pro tennis players. Sorry, ghostwriter.

Elizabeth: “How did Ms. McDonald ever learn to speak Ithig?” Well, if Jessica could learn it, anyone can.

“Maybe Ms. McDonald wasn’t such a bad teacher after all.” She never was a bad teacher! Her students were just jerks! That’s not her fault!

Oh, and they’re idiots, too. How can they not figure out that Elizabeth was the squealer? I mean, who else would try to rain on their parade like that?

February 4, 2014

SVT #1, Best Friends: Good Twin, Bad Twin

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:20 pm by Jenn

See, when they dress alike, you can't tell which one's the psychotic one

See, when they dress alike, you can’t tell which one’s the psychotic one

Summary: Before Elizabeth and Jessica were stealing each other’s boyfriends and getting involved in gang wars and falling in love in two days while on fabulous vacations, they were in the sixth grade. They were also still dressing alike every day, sharing a room, and doing everything together. But things are about to change…FOREVER. (Cue dramatic music.)

Jessica’s being courted by the Unicorns, Sweet Valley Middle School’s club for the most popular girls. There are only a couple of sixth graders in the club (Lila being one of them), so if Jess gets in, it’s a major deal. Elizabeth is interested in starting a newspaper at school, along with Amy (before she became popular and flirty) and Julie. Neither girl is interested in her twin’s new interests, but they still want to spend time together.

The girls start hanging out with their new friends, realizing how nice it is to spend some time apart. Elizabeth worries that hanging out with Amy and Julie will leave less time for her to be with Jessica, but Jessica’s really just concerned with impressing the Unicorns. They tell her that Elizabeth isn’t going to be asked to join anyway, but Jessica figures that she can get them to change their minds once she’s admitted.

Before Jess is allowed in the club, she has to complete three tasks. First she has to steal a teacher’s lesson plan book and get it into her bag by the end of class. She completes that with some help from her classmates. Then she has to get three girls to use the boys’ bathroom. That goes more easily than she expected. Finally, Jessica has to come to school looking completely different from Liz. She also can’t tell Liz what she’s doing.

So Jessica waits until Elizabeth is dressed, then puts on something different. She also curls her hair and puts on some makeup. Liz is hurt that her twin doesn’t want to dress alike anymore. But after a day of looking different at school, Elizabeth learns that people like it better when they don’t look exactly the same. People have been wanting to get to know them, but aren’t sure which twin is which. Elizabeth decides to make a couple of changes herself, fixing her hair a way Jess doesn’t like.

Then Liz learns something else (from resident gossip Caroline Pearce): that the Unicorns want Jessica. Liz worries that this will mean even less time for her and Jess to spend together. Alice points out that Elizabeth wouldn’t even like being in the club, so she shouldn’t see it as a loss. Alice is like, “You know you guys are two separate people, right? And that you don’t have to be attached at the hip?” Apparently this is a new concept for Elizabeth.

But Jessica wants Elizabeth to be a Unicorn, so she asks the club if Liz can join. President and HBIC Janet Howell makes it easy on Elizabeth by assigning her one pledge task. She just has to get Lois Waller – the resident fat girl in a time before Robin Wilson – to go to the Dairi Burger with her for an ice cream sundae, then replace her whipped cream with shaving cream. (Side note: Middle school girls can be huge bitcas.) Of course, Liz isn’t going to do that, but Jessica tells the Unicorns that she will.

This leads to what is supposedly the girls’ very first twin switch. Jessica pretends to be Elizabeth, invites Lois to the Dairi Burger, and does the task. The Unicorns approve, so Liz is in. Jessica tells her that they just changed their minds and didn’t need her to do a pledge task after all. Liz goes to a Unicorn meeting and hates it, of course. Ellen Riteman (the village idiot of the Unicorns – think Karen from Mean Girls) mentions the shaving cream to Liz, who figures out what happened. She’s super-upset that Jessica pulled a switch, and that Lois thinks she’s a jerk.

Elizabeth tells Lois what really happened, then forces Jessica to apologize by blackmailing her. If Jess doesn’t apologize, Liz will tell the Unicorns that she, not Liz, did the task. Then Elizabeth helps Lois get revenge by pulling the shaving cream trick on Lila while Amy takes pictures.

In other storylines: Jessica’s obsessed with ballet. The twins start taking dance classes, and Jess is clearly the best of the group, but the teacher, Madame André, hates her for trying to stand out on the first day.

The twins have been sharing a room, but Alice decides they should have their own space. If I were Liz, having to live with a slob like Jessica, I’d be hugely grateful.

A girl named Roberta was kicked out of the Unicorns for staying out late with a high school boy who supposedly trashed the club. It turns out she was dating Steven, but she was the one trashing the Unicorns, not him. And she wasn’t kicked out for dating him – she was kicked out because Janet wants Steven. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but he deserves better.

Thoughts: Janet is Lila’s cousin, but she disappears after SVT and is never mentioned again. My guess is she harassed the wrong person and wound up dead in a ditch.

A man with the last name Nydick became a middle school teacher. Why would he set himself up for torture like that?

“Now I have two sophisticated daughters.” Yeah, one of them wore a yellow sweat suit all day, Ned, so I wouldn’t go with “sophisticated.”

Apparently there’s a middle schooler whose bra size is 36E. I don’t think that’s possible for someone that age.

If my parents made me share a room for 12 years when there was a guest room in the house the whole time, I’d be ticked.

Why did they only get revenge on Lila? Janet’s the ringleader. She’s the one to bring down. You’re supposed to stab Caesar!

April 2, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential: What the Crap is This?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:13 pm by Jenn

Why would you put your name on this, Francine?

Summary: The twins are 27 and haven’t spoken in eight months. Elizabeth lives in New York and writes about off-Broadway plays; Jessica lives in Sweet Valley and works for a green makeup company. Oh, and she’s engaged to Todd, which is why Elizabeth won’t talk to her. Through flashbacks we learn about Todd and Jessica’s affair, Elizabeth’s discovery of it, and the twins’ falling-out.

Long story short, Jessica and Todd fooled around in college, but Elizabeth never knew about it. Jessica wound up moving to L.A., where she met a guy named Regan and married him after only a couple of months of dating. He turned out to be a jerk, and she ditched him while they were in Europe and ran back to Sweet Valley. She moved in with Elizabeth and Todd, and Elizabeth remained oblivious to their sexual tension. Regan showed up to see Jessica, got in a fight with Todd, and announced that it was obvious Jessica and Todd had something going on. Elizabeth finally realized it and left Sweet Valley.

Alice wants Elizabeth to come to Sweet Valley for her mother’s birthday, so Elizabeth decides to bring along Liam, a hot bartender, hoping Jessica will be so interested in him that she’ll show Todd her true colors. Except when Liam flirts with Jessica, Elizabeth gets mad. There’s also some stupid stuff about a playwright named Will who Elizabeth is writing about, and they hook up, but then he gets back together with his ex, and seriously, I can’t believe that was supposed to pass as a storyline.

Jessica decides she’d rather have Elizabeth than Todd, so she leaves him and heads to New York. Elizabeth suddenly forgives her and decides she approves of Todd and Jessica’s relationship. She agrees to be Jessica’s maid of honor. Once again, Jessica gets what she wants, even when that’s HER TWIN SISTER’S BOYFRIEND. And Elizabeth ends up with her best friend, Bruce, which…just…whatever.

The most interesting stuff is what happened to all the lesser characters, but the book barely spends any time on them. We barely learn:

  • Steven married Cara but keeps having affairs. Jessica catches him with Aaron Dallas and tells Cara, which means she’s ruined another relationship with a sibling. And of course, she gets forgiven again.
  • Todd writes a sports column.
  • Ken (and NFL player) and Lila got married two years ago and are separated.
  • Caroline is a real estate broker and runs a gossip website. She’s described as “the Perez Hilton of Sweet Valley.” She also battled cancer, but that doesn’t stop everyone from trash-talking her (Jessica even does it to her face).
  • Jeffrey is a dentist.
  • Enid is dating A.J. Morgan. She’s a Republican, an OB/GYN, and a recovering alcoholic.
  • Robin is a caterer and a food critic.
  • Winston is dead. Bleh.

Thoughts: I hated this book. Hated it. It was like reading about a bunch of people with the same names as SVH characters who act nothing like them. And with all the continuity issues, it’s not hard to think of them as not being the real characters. The book is also horribly written, as if Francine decided a third of the way through that it was a bad idea and then rushed to finish it so she could cash her checks. She has Jessica say “like” 137,000 times, and she’s obviously delighted that she can use whatever kind of language she wants, so she does. This isn’t an SVH book, it’s a book masquerading as an SVH book. It’s not worth your time.

Francine seems to have forgotten that Elizabeth and Todd dated in middle school.

“It’s a body I would know anywhere, even from the back: broad shoulders, neat waist, good legs.” No, Jessica isn’t talking about Todd – she’s talking about Steven. Say it with me: EWWWWWW.

Francine also forgot that Jessica and Aaron dated in middle school. I guess in her world, the whole Sweet Valley Twins series doesn’t exist.

Apparently Amy doesn’t exist either, since she’s not mentioned at all, but I can’t say I’m sad about that.

Trivia: Aaron has one blue eye and one brown eye.

Will thinks Elizabeth is horrible for wanting Liam to seduce Jessica. Oh, really, Will? You know what else is horrible? STEALING YOUR SISTER’S BOYFRIEND. Shut up, Will.

A.J. is described as a blond “bad boy.” Uh, no, he had red hair and he was a southern gentleman. He also dated Jessica. Shouldn’t Francine know this stuff?

There are a ton of other inconsistencies, but I don’t want to spend another minute thinking about this book, so I’m not going to address them. I’m also going to forget this book ever existed.

October 23, 2010

SVH #63, The New Elizabeth: I Wanna Be Made

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:50 pm by Jenn

I'd still rather hang out with the surfboard

Summary: Elizabeth still wants to become more adventurous (since the most exciting thing she did in the last book was get a perm), so she decides to take up surfing. Sean, a guy who works at a surf shop, has made a bet with his friends that he can turn a non-surfer into a surfer with just lesson (rather than the surfer needing to have any talent), so Elizabeth gets her lessons for free. Sean is in luuuuuuuv with her, and doesn’t realize that his longtime friend Laurie is in luuuuuuuv with him, which of course means that she’s jealous of Elizabeth, because high school girls always have to be jealous of other high school girls.

Elizabeth wants to surprise everyone by competing in a surfing competition in a month, so she tells them she’s working on a marine biology project. But she becomes so interested in surfing that she doesn’t spend much time with Todd, and he gets frustrated. At the same time, Laurie, a non-surfer, decides to prove herself to Sean (or something…it’s kind of fuzzy here) by secretly learning to surf as well, then entering the same competition Elizabeth is working toward.

On the day of the competition, Sean loans Elizabeth some expensive board to use, but when she realizes that Laurie’s in love with Sean, she decides not to use it. Then she throws the competition so Laurie can beat her. Because she’s an IDIOT. But Todd’s happy that she was just spending all her time surfing, so everything works out there. And only Bill Chase, who we know is a champion surfer, notices that Elizabeth threw the competition on purpose and didn’t just “accidentally” fall.

In the B plot, Caroline Pearce is awesome. She’s working at a store at the mall called the Unique Boutique, and Jessica’s mad that Caroline’s been gossiping about her Daniella Fromage/Magenta Galaxy disaster, so she decides to get revenge. With some assistance from Lila and Amy, she keeps going to the boutique and doing annoying things like making messes and getting Caroline to carry her bags during a rainstorm, just to be annoying. But Caroline gets the last laugh by giving Jessica a bunch of clothes to try on, taking Jessica’s clothes while she’s undressed, and quitting. Like I said, awesome.

At the very end of the book, Steven and Elizabeth run into a new employee at the boutique, Andrea, who looks just like Tricia. And then Steven blows Cara off to ask Andrea out. I will try to care in time for the next book.

Thoughts: I know I’ve used the Made thing before, but I couldn’t help myself.

Please tell me the Scrabble game Elizabeth invites Todd over for is some bizarre form of foreplay. Apparently he doesn’t care, though, since he’s all happy when he tells Lila and Jessica about it. Fortunately, Lila replies, “I don’t know how you can stand so much excitement.”

Later Todd complains that he and Elizabeth haven’t had fun together in weeks. Well, then you come up with something more exciting than Scrabble.

Why would you want to use a board you’ve never surfed on before in a competition? That doesn’t make sense to me.

December 6, 2009

SVH #17, Love Letters: Uh…You Wouldn’t Know Him. He Goes to Another School

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:56 pm by Jenn

It says I may have already one a million dollars!

Summary: SVH’s resident gossip, Caroline Pearce, is tired of not having close friends or a boyfriend, so she makes one up – she literally pulls the old “my boyfriend goes to another school; you wouldn’t know him” trick. She even writes her own love letters, borrowing heavily from Robert Browning. That’s where she gets tripped up, though – Elizabeth has written a one-act play about Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, and when Jessica hears a portion of a letter she includes in the play, she figures it all out.

Caroline gets clued in that Jessica and Lila are on to her, so she asks Elizabeth for help, and of course, Elizabeth delivers. She tells Todd what’s going on and he recruits a friend to play Caroline’s boyfriend at the party Lila throws for him. Caroline ends up confessing the truth anyway, but she gets a guy out of it, so she’s probably learned…well, nothing.

The B plot involves Alice being offered a job in San Francisco and the twins trying to convince her and Ned to stay in Sweet Valley. Since this series is called Sweet Valley High, not San Francisco High, they’re obviously not going anywhere. The C plot features Regina and Bruce getting involved, which rubs Elizabeth the wrong way, since she doesn’t think Bruce is capable of love, and she doesn’t want him to hurt Regina. I’m pretty sure Regina can take care of herself. And if she can’t, Nicholas will take care of Bruce.

Thoughts: I understand using the secondary and tertiary characters more, since that allows for a ton more plot possibilities, but who the heck cares about Caroline Pearce? Also, if she annoys so many people, how did she get into Pi Beta Alpha? And if she’s such a gossip, why do people talk to her?

Does there have to be a party in EVERY book? To quote both Buffy and Gilmore Girls, we’re verging on having a “somebody sneezed” party or a “day that ends in Y” party, with the theme of “hey, walking works – let’s drink.”

For those who like continuity, Dennis Creighton, Jessica’s brief secret boyfriend who turned out to be 15, makes a quick reappearance, for no apparent reason. Just thought I’d mention it.

I also thought I’d mention that Jessica is willing to take a bus at one point in this book. I’m surprised Lila willingly associates with a person who takes public transportation.