March 7, 2017
Summary: Christmas is approaching, and since it wouldn’t be an SVT book without a party, the Howells want to throw one. Joe has agreed to let Janet invite a bunch of middle-schoolers to his high school party, which is A Big Deal. Janet warns all of the Unicorns to dress appropriately, since there will be older boys in attendance. Jessica is singled out as a fashion don’t. Ouch. Jess vows to find a killer outfit, and to make sure Elizabeth doesn’t embarrass her.
The Christmas carnival is back, and amazingly, Janet doesn’t think the Unicorns are too old to go to it. Steven, a mature high-schooler, also doesn’t find it too babyish. The Wakefield siblings run into each other, and the twins embarrass their brother. I have a feeling that there isn’t a lot about the twins that doesn’t embarrass Steven. This just sets up a slow burn through the book for Steven, who’s annoyed by how immature his sisters are.
Jessica has a hard time finding a party outfit, since everything in the juniors section is too small (really?), everything in the children’s section is too childish, and everything in the adult section is too mature. It doesn’t help that the department-store employees just see Jess as a kid. Elizabeth has similar problems when she tries to buy a book for Amy – everything the clerk recommends is too young, and the horse book she picks out is too expensive. She’s treated like a child as well, so both twins are annoyed that, at the ripe old age of 12, they’re not seen as adults.
Jess tags along on a shipping trip to L.A. with Lila and ends up hitting the jackpot – a woman was having a garage sale and getting rid of a bunch of clothes she’s made over the years. They’re perfect for Jess, and just in her price range. But then Ned finds out that the party at the Howells’ will feature high school boys. Apparently he thought Joe was just bringing some friends over to help set up, and then they would leave. Okay, Ned. Steven plays up this angle, trying to get his sisters banned from the party so they can’t embarrass him. This, plus Alice’s disdain for the twins’ party outfits, leads to the twins being told they can’t go.
The twins try to sneak out, pretending they’re going to the carnival, but Ned and Alice invite themselves along, so they have to go to the carnival for real. The twins are miserable. They head to a wishing well, run by a guy dressed like an elf, and both girls make the same wish: to be grown-ups. If you think this sounds like Big or 13 Going on 30, you’re right.
The next morning, Liz wakes up and realizes her nightgown is too small. At first she thinks she had a sudden overnight growth spurt, but she soon discovers that things are way weirder than that: She’s now an adult. Jessica finds her freaking out in the bathroom, and when they see each other, they both freak out some more. They realize they made the same wish, and both came true.
The twins decide they need to avoid their parents, so they steal some clothes from Alice, as their own clothes are now too small. Jessica runs into Steven, who can’t figure out why there’s a strange woman in his house who somehow knows his name. Ned and Alice start panicking about an intruder while the twins run off to figure out how to get themselves back to normal. Ha ha, no, they don’t. They want to start new lives for themselves as adults.
Jessica’s hungry, so she suggests that they go get donuts, even though they don’t have money. A delivery guy has skipped out on work, so Jess offers herself and Liz as replacement drivers. Never mind that they don’t have driver’s licenses, work experience, or any idea how to drive. Jessica flirts her way to the job and a free breakfast, saying that the twins need to be familiar with the product they’ll be delivering. They both eat a bunch of donuts, because being a grown-up means you need more food. Jess drives the truck, which is a disaster, and when she hits a car, she and Liz flee the scene of the accident, the little criminals.
Having discovered that the twins are missing, Ned and Alice call the police and try to convince them that the girls were kidnapped by the woman Steven saw. The police are unconcerned, figuring the twins just ran away after the fight with their parents about the party. Steven feels bad, since he got the twins banned from the party and then realized it was the wrong move.
He sets out to find his sisters, and accidentally runs into them as they’re dodging the police. It takes some convincing before he believes they’ve grown up overnight. Fortunately, he has some money on him, so the twins get him to hand it over. Steven also offers to make arrangements for them to sleep in the Wakefields’ garage without Ned and Alice finding out. This involves getting Joe to ring the doorbell and run, distracting Ned and Alice long enough for Steven to move things like sleeping bags to the garage.
The twins need money so they can find their own place to live, so they go to a temp agency to get jobs. Again, they have no work experience, no diplomas, and no IDs. Apparently it’s super-easy to get a job in Sweet Valley. Jess gets placed at a fashion company, and on her way to work on the bus, she tells a guy she’s a supermodel. The guy turns out to be a photographer at the fashion company, so Jess is pretty embarrassed when she’s outed as a temp. But probably not as embarrassed as the guy would be if he knew he was checking out a 12-year-old.
The twins both have horrible days – Elizabeth can’t juggle all the phone calls at the publishing house where she’s working as a receptionist, and Jess has no idea how to tackle her company’s filing system. Also, everyone is mean to them, which I find hard to believe. It’s all just to show that being an adult is hard, and you have to, like, work and stuff.
Jessica gets banished to a conference room to put together binders for a meeting. She starts sketching party clothes instead, and the photographer from the bus is impressed. The company has been trying to sell clothes to tween girls, but they can’t figure out what they want. I guess it would be too much work to…ask them? Anyway, Jess is immediately promoted and brought on board to consult for the line.
Elsewhere in town, Elizabeth is supposed to take minutes for a meeting about a book series for tween girls. My favorite part of this is when someone suggests a series about horses, and Elizabeth thinks to herself that since she loves the horse series she already reads, she wouldn’t want to read any other. That’s so ridiculous. Liz decides to contribute to the meeting by saying that the company should do a series about 12-year-old twin girls. This is seen as a genius idea, and, like Jess, Liz is asked to work on the series – which will be called Sweet Valley Twins. Please kill me.
The twins meet up for dinner and celebrate the great days they both had. When Steven joins them later, he tries to hide his disappointment – he wanted to convince them to go to the carnival and make a wish to go back to being themselves, but since they’re enjoying adulthood, he knows they won’t do it. Steven heads home, where Ned has decided to cancel a big meeting because he can’t focus on work when his daughters are missing. Steven realizes that this means he could lose money, which means Steven’s allowance could get cut, and he wouldn’t be able to help the twins. He tells Ned not to cancel the meeting, but won’t say why. Alice and Ned ground him for helping his sisters stay hidden.
Steven sneaks out of the house to meet up with the twins, not realizing that now Elizabeth is struggling to adjust to being an adult. They run into a bunch of middle-schoolers out caroling, and Liz is hurt when Amy doesn’t recognize her. Jessica is now also missing her old life, but it takes a while for the twins to admit to each other that being an adult is hard. And it only took two days!
The girls decide to go back to the carnival with Steven and make another wish. But alas! The carnival has closed and left town! They grab a bus and head to the next location, begging the man at the wishing well to let them in after-hours so they can make their wishes. The man’s wife is with him, and Jessica recognizes her as the woman she bought all the party clothes from. The three siblings make the wish together, and the man disappears in a flash of light. However, the twins haven’t turned back into 12-year-olds yet.
The Wakefields take the bus home, and the twins fall asleep. Steven wonders how he’s going to explain things to his parents. But it’s a moot point – when the bus reaches Sweet Valley, the twins are back to normal. Ned and Alice are so happy to see them that they don’t really care what happened, and the girls’ only punishment is doing a bunch of stuff with the family for Christmas. Well, I guess they don’t get paychecks or proper credit for their single day of work, so that’s punishment, too. And now they have a newfound appreciation for how much easier it is to be 12 than it is to be an adult.
Thoughts: “I can’t wait until I’m old enough to be called ‘Ms.,’ she thought.” You’ll change your mind when you’re older, Jess. I hate being called “Ms.”
“[Jessica] stepped into a sleeveless black sheath dress with a giant tiger head stitched onto the front. It was the coolest dress she had ever seen.” WHAT.
You know what will help convince your parents that you’re mature, Elizabeth? Storming out of an argument in tears.
December 13, 2016
Summary: It wouldn’t be a special occasion in Sweet Valley without a party (really, it wouldn’t be a Tuesday in Sweet Valley without a party), and for some reason, Jessica’s in charge of this one. Apparently she was chosen at random to pick the middle school’s holiday party theme and organize everything. That seems like a dangerous thing to leave up to chance. Liz is in charge of the money for the party, which is a much better choice, especially since the class has raised $386 to pay for everything.
Liz doesn’t have much Christmas spirit right now, though – she’s been volunteering at a homeless shelter a lot, which has hurt her schoolwork a little. Instead of studying, she goes back to the shelter with some Christmas decorations. She’s befriended two sisters, Al and Suzannah Glass, who are staying at the shelter with their mom while their father looks for work in the vague region called “up north.” The Glass family’s situation makes Liz realize that her problems aren’t so big. She may have gotten a B- and a pimple, but at least she has a roof over her head.
While Jessica works on petty issues like picking a theme for the party, Elizabeth and Amy volunteer at the shelter. Suzannah tells them that her father is going to send money so the family can get an apartment in Sweet Valley. They’ve already picked one out, and Al’s excited because there’s a swingset on the property. Suzannah’s just looking forward to having a quiet place to read, since there are too many people and too much noise at the shelter. But the money doesn’t come through, and the landlord can’t keep holding the apartment for the family, so they’ll have to stay at the shelter through Christmas.
Somehow, the Glasses only need $375, and Elizabeth has $386, which gives her an idea. Mr. Glass is supposed to come to Sweet Valley on Tuesday with the money the family needs (no, I don’t know where this money is coming from. Maybe his last paycheck from a job he recently lost?). She can loan the Glasses the $386, plus some money she’ll add from her own savings, so they can get the apartment they want. Then Mr. Glass will repay her on Tuesday, and she’ll have the money for the party later in the week. This won’t give the party committee much time to buy what they need, but Liz will just delay them when they come asking for the money.
Liz knows this isn’t a great idea, since people would be mad about her giving away their money if they found out. But she desperately wants the Glasses to have a home for Christmas, and since she has the ability to help, she really wants to do it. Mrs. Glass refuses at first, but she eventually gives in, promising Elizabeth that she’ll get her money back on Tuesday. What could possibly go wrong?
Lots, of course. First, the Unicorns want the party money so they can start spending it. Elizabeth delays them, then tells them she had Ned put it in the bank so it wouldn’t get lost or stolen. She encourages Jessica to take her time deciding on a theme. Then the Glasses’ new landlord pressures them for the rest of their rent money, worrying that he made a mistake by letting them move in without all of it. This is while they’re decorating a tree Elizabeth got them (for free, because some nice Christmas tree salesman in Sweet Valley has a lot more holiday spirit than some people).
Because Elizabeth has been so distracted with schoolwork and volunteering and giving away her classmates’ money without telling them, her relationship (or whatever you want to call it) with Todd suffers. She forgets to meet him at the mall, and he no longer wants to go to the Christmas party with her. Since when does middle school-era Todd have such a hard time accepting an apology?
The Sixers also suffers from Elizabeth’s lack of attention. Caroline writes an article about Lila’s new bedroom redecoration, and Elizabeth doesn’t catch a couple of typos – specifically “broom” instead of “room” and “wich” instead of “rich.” Lila thinks the paper is trying to paint her as a witch, and she threatens to sue. She also has the Unicorns throw away every issue they can find.
Jess asks Elizabeth for the party money, so Liz says she won’t be able to get it until tomorrow (Tuesday), since it’s in the bank and the bank will be closed by the time school lets out. Jess still hasn’t picked a theme, so I’m not sure what she plans to buy anyway. After school, Elizabeth goes to the Glasses’, since they’re throwing a little party for Mr. Glass’s return home. Except he never makes it. There’s snow in this mythical “up north” region, and Mrs. Glass figures that her husband can’t make the drive. They don’t have a phone, so they’re not able to find out for sure.
The landlord comes by, and since Mr. Glass hasn’t arrived with the money (and the landlord is grinchier than the actual Grinch himself), he doesn’t want the family to stay in the apartment. It’s almost Christmas Eve, but the landlord doesn’t care – he’s kicking them out by 10 the next morning. Despite Liz’s best efforts, the family will be spending the holidays in a shelter.
Elizabeth considers telling her parents what happened and asking them to loan the Glasses the money they need. But she realizes that would mean coming clean about giving them money, which could get Mrs. Glass in trouble, somehow. I guess because Mrs. Glass accepted money that came from kids who didn’t know it was going to her? But she didn’t know that, so I don’t know how she could get in trouble. Liz’s logic is weird. Anyway, the Wakefields spent a lot of money on Christmas presents this year, and Elizabeth decides not to bother them for more.
Mr. Glass still hasn’t arrived in Sweet Valley by the next morning, so the Glasses sadly move out of their new home. I hope the landlord gets visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Most people get a few days’ leeway to pay their rent, you Grinch. Then the Unicorns demand their money, and Liz has to tell them she doesn’t have it. She lies that she lost it and will try to make it back. Everyone’s understandably furious.
Elizabeth goes to the mall, for some reason, crying about how she’s screwed up everyone’s Christmas. She wishes she’d never been born – everyone would be better off without her. Suddenly an angel mannequin comes to life (just go with it) and comes over to her. She’s Laura, Elizabeth’s guardian angel, and she’s here to show Liz what everyone’s life would be like without her.
It takes Liz, like, 100 pages to realize that Laura’s for real, and Liz no longer exists. They’re able to observe people but they can’t interact with them. (For some reason, Laura can eat, and if she does something to affect their surroundings, people will notice, but the logistics of this are never explained. Also, Laura’s super-hungry, but I’m sure it’s not because she’s from the ’60s and spent most of her time then indulging in a certain plant.)
Laura and Liz’s first stop is, for some reason, Sophia Rizzo’s house. Since Elizabeth wasn’t around to become her friend, Sophia is still a loner. Tony’s in reform school, and Mrs. Rizzo never met and married Mr. Thomas. This is partly because Sarah’s dead. The night she fell down the stairs, Elizabeth wasn’t around to find her and get her to the hospital. She died, Mr. Thomas became a hermit, and everyone is sad. Also dead: Denny, since Liz didn’t save him from drowning.
Next Laura takes Elizabeth to the Christmas party Jessica was supposed to organize. The first indication that things are different is that Brooke has no friends. The Unicorns aren’t the Unicorns – they’re the Sharks, wannabe tough girls. Mary still lives with her foster parents because Liz didn’t get her and her mother back together (though I assume Mary’s mother would have tracked her down eventually without Elizabeth’s help, but whatever). Patrick ran away. Amy and Maria are basically the same, which is kind of funny. Todd’s just kind of there.
So where’s Jessica? At home, apparently, and not a part of the Sharks. They decide they want to make her do something that will let her join them as an associate Shark. It’s not clear what “associate” means; all we know is that Ellen is one, and she’s dumber than ever. As Liz and Laura follow the Sharks to the Wakefields’, they pass a bar, and Liz sees her father drinking inside. He’s depressed and no longer married to Alice. The Wakefields’ house is rundown, and everyone who lives there is miserable.
Laura explains to Elizabeth that Ned and Alice divorced after the rumor spread that Alice was having an affair. In other words, Elizabeth was the only reason the two of them stayed together. Okay, not really, but that’s how it sounds. They have no money, thanks to a costly custody battle for Jessica and Steven. Steven is a thug who could go to juvenile detention if he gets in any more trouble. Alice is as ineffectual a parent as ever.
But it’s Jessica who’s changed the most. She no longer cares about her appearance, she doesn’t have any friends, and she’s clearly just not happy with her life at all. She perks up when the Sharks come over, saying they want her to go caroling with them. Alternative Universe Jessica is pretty naïve. The Sharks convince her that they want to be friends with her, give her a makeover, and tell her they’re going to let her perform an initiation ritual to be allowed to hang out with them: She has to climb to the roof of City Hall and steal a star decoration. She doesn’t get a ladder, which means she’ll have to climb a nearby tree.
Jessica’s so desperate for friends that she does it, even though it’s dangerous. Elizabeth freaks out the whole time, realizing that without her around to keep Jess in line, her twin is doomed. Somewhere in here, Laura tells Liz her life story, which involved running away and dying in a fire while trying to save a stray cat. She wishes she’d had someone like Elizabeth in her life to keep her in line. Yeah, yeah, she’s a saint.
As Jessica’s about to fall from the tree, probably to her death, Elizabeth wishes that things would go back to the way they were. Laura sends her back, and everything’s normal again. Plus, Jessica has learned what happened to the party money and feels bad for getting mad at Elizabeth. Mr. Glass has finally made it back to Sweet Valley, money in hand, so the party can go on as planned. The Glasses easily get a new apartment, and hopefully one of them gets a job, since that apartment isn’t going to be of much use if they can’t keep paying the rent. Elizabeth is forgiven and lauded at the party, the theme of which seems to be Elizabeth Is Awesome. I mean, of course.
Thoughts: This book is 250 pages about how Elizabeth is awesome. GAG.
For people without a place to live, the Glasses sure are willing to spend extra money for three bedrooms instead of getting a two-bedroom apartment for cheaper and just having the two girls share a room.
Some of the “without Liz, XYZ” stuff makes no sense, but Jessica being a friendless loser doesn’t. I think she’d at least be friends with Amy and Maria. And why aren’t the Unicorns still the Unicorns? They have nothing to do with Elizabeth.
September 20, 2016
Summary: It’s almost Christmas, and Elizabeth is excited about her present for Jessica. She found a picture of the two of them at their seventh birthday party and has written a story about that day. I don’t know why she thinks Jessica would like this more than, say, a sweater, but okay. Jessica has also gotten her twin a great present – tickets to a big concert in L.A. on New Year’s Day. Considering this is Jessica, who doesn’t usually plan ahead, this is pretty big. But Jess thinks Liz’s present is dumb, and Liz is mad that Jess didn’t remember she’s been planning a big brunch for the Sixers staff on New Year’s Day. They have a huge fight about selfishness.
Alice’s parents come for a visit and give the twins family heirlooms, two harlequin dolls that belonged to Samantha and Amanda. The dolls have medallions that are somehow big enough to contain poems. Elizabeth’s:
Wheels on a cart.
Unite all these things:
Eyes, feet, and wings,
Scissors and socks,
Hands found on clocks.
Joined from the start.
Answer this well,
Escape the dread spell.
And magic’s your friend.
Add a good rhyme,
Escape one last time.
The twins don’t really care about the dolls, since they’re too old for them, and they’re more caught up in their fight than anything else. But that night, they wake up at the same time and realize that Elizabeth’s poem is about things that are usually found in pairs. When they say this out loud, the dolls suddenly come to life, then disappear. There’s some sort of gold haze that makes the twins disappear as well.
Elizabeth and her doll end up in a meadow, where she learns that the doll is really a preteen boy named Prince Adair. He’s from the Hidden Kingdom and was turned into a doll by Medwin, a wizard who wanted to take his throne. Elsewhere in the Hidden Kingdom, Jessica learns the same from her doll, Adair’s brother Dorin. Medwin put a spell on the princes that could only be broken by two people solving the riddle at the same time but in different places. The princes have been dolls for a hundred years. Wow, that sucks.
To get back to Sweet Valley, the twins have to go through a Labyrinth (no David Bowie in this one, sadly), but that means going to the palace, where they’ll inevitably run into Medwin. The princes don’t want Medwin to know they’re back, which means they can’t use magic, because doing so would immediately alert Medwin to their return. Wait, what, magic? Yes, magic. Everyone in the Hidden Kingdom can do it, including the twins, even though they’re just visiting. All they have to do is imagine what they want – clothes, food, weapons, whatever.
As the story gets more Princess Bride-y, Elizabeth and Adair are cornered by bloodrats (think ROUSes) while Jessica and Dorin are chased by a Serpasaur (it’s described as looking like a dragon, but I can’t help thinking of the shrieking eels). Elizabeth and Adair head up a mountain to some snow, since ROUSes hate snow. Elizabeth realizes that she can conjure a weapon, but all she can come up with is a cardboard sword from an elementary-school play. Thanks for trying, Liz. Then she conjures a match, which allows Adair to make a torch and burn a bloodrat. The bloodrat’s shrieks cause an avalanche and kill most of the other bloodrats.
Meanwhile, a mermanon (whatever, it’s a mermaid) rescues Jessica from the Serpasaur. She and Dorin are sent underwater in giant bubble fish to meet with Merelantha, the mermanon queen of Zerasharb. Now we’re getting into Game of Thrones territory, with all these weird names. Merelantha doesn’t like Dorin much, so she has him and Jessica held captive so she can hand them over to Medwin. Dorin calls her bluff, knowing that Merelantha hates Medwin because he killed her sister. He’s right, and Merelantha offers to let him and Jessica spend the night in Zerasharb before they head to the palace to take out Medwin. What was the point of that?
Elizabeth and Adair are stuck in a cave for the night, but the accommodations aren’t too bad. In the morning, Elizabeth uses her newfound magical abilities to accidentally conjure up breakfast. Now that’s a superpower no one ever thinks about. Adair gives her a history lesson – he and Dorin inherited the Hidden Kingdom from their father and planned to rule together. Dorin would do the administrative stuff that kept the kingdom running, while Adair would do the fun stuff like planning parties. In case you haven’t guessed, Dorin is like Elizabeth and Adair is like Jessica.
Underwater, Jessica and Dorin learn that Medwin is throwing a ball, and with all the activity going on around the palace, they should be able to sneak in undetected. Things are tense in the Hidden Kingdom since Medwin is going to attack everyone any day now and kill a bunch of people. Blah, blah, winter is coming. Merelantha has someone give Jessica an emerald key, warning her not to tell Dorin about it. Jess and Dorin start heading for the palace, taking a ride on some unicorns. Dorin’s like, “You don’t have unicorns where you’re from?” Jessica’s like, “Yes, but they’re just annoying girls who like to wear purple.”
Elizabeth and Adair continue their trek up the mountain, where Adair hopes they can chat with Toramon, the wise man who lives at the top. He remembers a nursery rhyme from his childhood about how Toramon, Merelantha, and Medwin (pre-evilness) are the three wisest people in the land. Elizabeth hopes Toramon hasn’t gone bad like Medwin. Luckily, he hasn’t, but he’s a little nuts, and it’s hard to get a straight answer out of him. But the good news is that he can see everything in the kingdom and even events in the future (Three-Eyed Raven, anyone?), so he knows Jessica’s hanging out with Dorin.
Toramon gives Elizabeth a brief glimpse of the kingdom, which lets her know that there’s a ball that night. Adair realizes what Dorin did about being able to sneak into the palace while everyone’s running around, getting ready for the festivities. Before he and Liz leave, Toramon gives Liz a ruby key, telling her to keep it secret from Adair. Then Elizabeth and Adair try to speed up their journey by riding huge leaves like hang-gliders, though Liz almost gets killed in a freak tornado. The two sets of twins spot each other from sky and ground but are too far away to recognize each other.
Jessica and Dorin make it to the palace first, and it’s not a very welcoming place. Medwin has tapped everyone’s magic to make himself more powerful, so everyone’s depressed and poor. Jessica conjures fancy clothes for herself and Dorin, and they sneak into the palace. Dorin’s plan is to get Jess in the Labyrinth so she can go home while he fights Medwin. But Elizabeth and Adair learn that the Labyrinth is locked, and only three people have keys – Medwin, Toramon, and Merelantha. Adair thinks he’ll have to kill Medwin and get his key. Elizabeth decides to keep quiet about the key Toramon gave her. The two of them dress as servants and enter the palace.
Dorin and Jessica find the Labyrinth but also learn that it’s locked. Dorin makes the same decision as Adair about getting Medwin’s key. But before anyone can make a move, Medwin recognizes Adair in the ballroom and attacks him. Adair uses magic to fend off all of Medwin’s weapons, which is pretty impressive for a guy who hasn’t used magic in a hundred years. Medwin finds a way to slow Adair down, and Adair has trouble holding on to his strength. Dorin tries to fight Medwin but doesn’t have much better luck.
Medwin, thinking he’s going to kill the princes and earn the throne for real, taunts that there’s another mystery to solve surrounding the way the spell he put on them was broken. Jessica remembers the part about the poem that said “answer again and magic’s your friend,” and realizes that the things in Elizabeth’s poem aren’t just in pairs, but are also things that work better together. Obviously, the princes need to work together to beat Medwin. Why didn’t they think of that themselves?
Wonder Twin powers, activate! The princes win the battle against Medwin, who disappears. The fight drains the princes and they’re confined to bedrest for a few days. This allows Elizabeth and Jessica to hang out and make up with each other. They tell each other about their keys to the Labyrinth but don’t want to tell the princes; they think Medwin’s in the Labyrinth and the guys will want to go after him again. The girls debate staying in the Hidden Kingdom to be with the preteen princes they’ve known for three days. But ultimately they know they have to go home.
The girls plan to leave without saying goodbye to Dorin and Adair. After one last unicorn ride, they create goodbye presents for the guys. The twins are fighting again, though, still mad about each other’s Christmas presents. Guys, you were almost killed by bloodrats and Serpasaurs and an evil wizard. Get some perspective.
Time to head to the Labyrinth! Inside is a cottage surrounded by roses that look like Alice Larson’s wooden rose. While Medwin hangs around, watching, the twins knock on different doors of the cottage to chat with the Guardian of the Labyrinth, who will give them a test before they’re allowed to enter. The Guardian takes a different form for each girl – Jessica sees Amanda and Elizabeth sees Samantha. But their test is the same, and they just have to answer one question: What’s the most important gift they’ve ever gotten?
The twins have learned the big lesson from the book about appreciating each other, or whatever, so they name each other’s Christmas presents. Unfortunately, that’s not what the Guardian was looking for. No Labyrinth for the twins, and what’s worse, Medwin wants to kill them. The girls make up, thinking they’re going to die, but Elizabeth remembers that Jessica’s poem ends with “add a good rhyme, escape one last time.” Liz’s poem ends with an unrhymed line. There has to be another answer.
Jessica’s solution for a rhyme to “dolls harlequin” is “a pair of aspirin.” Yes, Jessica. The solution to saving yourself from an evil wizard in a magical kingdom is aspirin. Fortunately, the girls’ brains kick in and they finish the poem with, “My very own twin,” meaning that they’re the best gifts each has ever gotten. This is the right answer, and they’re allowed to enter the Labyrinth. First, though, the princes find them, turn Medwin into a doll (poetic justice!), and ask the girls to stay in the Hidden Kingdom. Sorry, boys. Sweet Valley is just too awesome to leave behind.
The twins are magically transported back to Sweet Valley, where it seems no time has passed (though their parents noticed that they were missing). In the morning, Steven announces that he’s solved the riddle in the dolls’ poems. But now they’re different. (Also, the princes sent the twins back with new dolls, I guess so no one wonders what happened to the originals.) Jessica’s new poem:
A place far away
Where unicorns play,
Where a mermanon dives,
And magic survives.
Two princes the same,
Each with his own name.
Say both names together,
And return here forever.
The girls officially make up when Jessica reads (and loves) Elizabeth’s story, and Liz cancels the Sixers brunch so she can go to the concert with Jess. All’s well that ends well! Actually, all’s well that ends awesome, as Lila has received a confusing present she wants to tell the twin about: an ugly doll with a poem on its medallion. The twins know it’s Medwin, though they don’t tell Lila how they know his name. His poem:
As a doll he’s been set.
Free him now? Not just yet.
He lived none too well,
To escape a dread spell,
But all in good time,
You’ll find a true rhyme
To send him back to his kingdom.
But why send him back to the Hidden Kingdom to torture people when he can spend eternity stuffed in the back of Lila’s closet?
Thoughts: After Jessica’s told she might have to wait a year to get home: “‘A whole year?’ Jessica repeated faintly. She would miss the rest of Christmas vacation – and summer vacation too. She would miss dozens of Unicorn meetings, and hundreds of episodes of Days of Turmoil. By the time she returned, her whole wardrobe would be out of date!” Oh, Jessica. We need to discuss your priorities.
“Unicorns are creatures of goodness and light. In a way, they’re like small children.” Clearly Dorin hasn’t spent an extended period of time with small children. They’re more like creatures of destruction and screaming.
There’s a character of Days of Turmoil named Flame. I wonder if Bambi got the part.
“The Hidden Kingdom was beautiful. But it wasn’t Sweet Valley.” Yes, folks, Sweet Valley is better than the magical land where you can use magic to get anything you want.
Stop saying “impetuous,” Elizabeth. Be a 12-year-old.
It’s always bugged me that I can’t come up with a rhyme for “kingdom” to finish the last poem. I guess that’s the point, that there’s no good rhyme, but still.
March 29, 2016
Summary: Lila’s throwing an exclusive party on New Year’s Eve, having only invited a few dozen people. Making the cut: the twins, Denise, Alex, Chloe, Todd, Neil, Sam, and Nina, who I didn’t think Lila had ever even met. She’s barely in the book anyway. And I’m not sure how Chloe made the cut, but whatever. As Lila’s boyfriend, Bruce is also invited, of course, but he hasn’t yet made it back from his semester in France. An anonymous girl who wasn’t invited calls Lila to complain, warning that Lila will be sorry for not including her on the guest list.
Bruce calls Lila from Europe to tell her that his father has their private jet, and since Bruce would never in a million years fly commercial, he’s stuck until the jet is free again. He can’t just hire a private plane? Lila is furious that Bruce would rather sit around and wait than come home to her. She tells him they’re over. Jessica, of all people, tries to cheer Lila up by reminding her that she doesn’t need a guy to make her feel fulfilled. They’re going to have an awesome time at the party with or without Bruce. Chloe meets some grungy guys at the mall and invites them to the party. Chloe, NO. Lila tells the guys there’s no party, and for some reason doesn’t disinvite Chloe on the spot.
The party starts, but Lila’s sad because of what happened with Bruce. She distracts herself by dancing with Sam. Todd learns of the breakup and tries to convince Lila to give Bruce a second chance. Why does he even care? Chloe’s new friends from the mall crash the party, but Lila and Neil chase them off, threatening to call the cops. The guys warn that Lila will be sorry. After they leave, someone watches Lila from the bushes.
The partiers go back to partying, but suddenly the lights go out. The Fowlers’ house is apparently right near some woods, and far enough from the rest of civilization for it to be pitch black with the electricity out. Chloe’s on the deck and has to feel her way back into the house. As she’s getting there, someone grabs her and takes her into the woods. She figures the guys from the mall have come back to get revenge.
Inside the house, Todd heads off to check out the circuits. Lila gets another call from the girl who called before, making Lila think this is what the girl was planning when she warned that Lila would be sorry. Lila, Jessica, Elizabeth, Denise, and Alex light some candles, slowly realizing that a bunch of the partygoers have vanished. In fact, they’re being dragged through the woods by people they can’t see.
There are only a dozen or so people left at the party, and they can’t figure out how everyone else disappeared without anyone noticing. No one heard cars driving away, and it’s pretty unlikely that 25 just randomly decided to leave all at once without anyone seeing them go. They don’t think the guys from the mall could have kidnapped everyone, since some of the guests were big football players and would have fought back.
Lila gets two Theta pledges to go look for Todd, who never came back from checking the circuits. But since this is basically a horror movie, the pledges don’t come back either. The person watching from the bushes has himself a good laugh when he realizes how spooked Lila is by all the disappearances. The 13 remaining guests lock themselves in a room together, realizing that there are only girls left.
Alex and Denise talk Lila and the twins out of calling the police, because why do something logical? They don’t think the police will believe them without any evidence, like, if 13 girls tell the police that 27 other people disappeared, they’ll have to do something. I’ll just say that it turns out to be a good thing that the police never get involved, because someone would be in a ton of trouble. Lila suspects that her caller is responsible, and worries that the girl’s warnings about something happening at midnight mean more danger.
A few of the girls head back to the ballroom to get cigarettes, and another little group heads off to the bathroom. Only Lila, the twins, Alex, and Denise stay behind. Alex and Denise follow the other group the ballroom, since Denise hurt her ankle and needs ice. Jessica follows a minute later, wanting her sweater. This leaves Elizabeth and Lila alone, not wanting to accompany Jess in case someone comes back to the room they’re hiding in.
Jess checks to make sure the deck doors are locked, but while she’s there, someone comes inside and grabs her. Jess realizes that this person must have keys to the house. When she doesn’t return to Lila and Elizabeth, they go looking for her, then decide to call the police, finally. But now the phones don’t work, and Lila’s cell phone is missing. When she finds it, she gets another call from the girl, reminding her that something big is coming at midnight. Lila’s so spooked that she faints. Yeah, I bet.
Elizabeth hears someone in the house and ditches Lila to hide. Sorry, Lila! The person in the house knows Liz is there and is specifically looking for her. She gets grabbed, leaving only Lila in the house, like the only survivor in an Agatha Christie mystery. When Lila regains consciousness, she gets another call from the girl – but this time it’s a confession. The caller is Marnie, a girl from down the street who Lila has babysat for. She was mad about not getting to come to a glamorous party with college students, so she pranked Lila as revenge. Her mom caught her and made her come clean. Since there’s no way a 12-year-old could have orchestrated everything that happened at the party, the calls were a red herring.
The kidnapper comes back into the house, looking for the last woman standing. One of the rooms in the house has a secret room behind a bookshelf (of course), so Lila hides in there. I’m surprised the Fowlers don’t have a panic room, but the movie didn’t come out for a couple more years, so maybe they got one then. The kidnapper stumbles around in the dark for a whole (weird, since he had a flashlight earlier), then figures out where Lila is. He grabs her, blindfolds her, and takes her through the woods to the Patmans’ house, which is apparently right next door (since when?).
Lila realizes that the other partygoers are probably all at the mansion. The Patmans are out of town, so what better place to stash 40 people? She wonders if this is all a scheme to get revenge on the Fowlers and Patmans. But the truth is much, much more annoying. When Lila’s blindfold comes off, the partygoers all yell, “Surprise!” Then she realizes that her kidnapper is Bruce.
The whole twisted story is that Bruce wanted revenge on Lila for being mean to him on the phone. SO HE KIDNAPPED ALL HER FRIENDS AND MADE HER THINK SHE WAS GOING TO BE MURDERED. A totally fair response, right? Bruce enlisted some crew guys to help him “kidnap” the guests, many of whom were in on the game. And most of those people only agreed to participate because they were told that the twins were in on it and approved of the “joke.”
Instead of a New Year’s kiss, Lila gives Bruce a punch in the face. He deserves that and much more. The twins promise that they weren’t in on the plan (neither were Denise, Alex, or Todd). Sam and Neil were given the story that the twins were in on it, so they went along. Bruce tries to make up with Lila, who spends about 15 pages hating him before forgiving him. Lila, no! He’s messed up! That is not normal behavior! Let’s hope she’s just stringing him along while she comes up with a proportionate revenge plan of her own.
P.S. Chloe wasn’t part of the mass “kidnapping” – she was actually kidnapped by the guys from the mall. They took her to a treehouse and then ditched her. If she were anyone else, I would feel bad for her, but she’s really annoying in this book, so I just have to laugh.
Thoughts: Jessica mentions that all of her and Lila’s friends are “guyless and happy,” so I guess Denise and Winston broke up.
Jess thinks the partygoers’ disappearances are like something out of The X-Files, and that Elizabeth is like Scully. Okay, but Jessica is no Mulder.
“Eyewitnesses to the kidnapping – none! So that rules out any proof that the guess were kidnapped.” So Elizabeth’s logic is if no one saw a crime take place, the crime didn’t happen? That might be the dumbest thing she’s ever said.
Lila: “I’m not budging from my decision not to budge, and that’s final!” Hee.
“If there was one thing Jessica knew she could do, it was use her smarts.” Me: “…”
January 16, 2016
Summary: David drops by the boutique after a few days away, which Donna probably appreciates. The two of them and Camille start talking about the wonder that is Internet shopping. David has a friend who can help get the boutique online. Donna’s annoyed to see David and Camille together, and David reveals that Camille’s kind of annoyed about Donna and David’s friendship. At the beach apartment, Kelly tells Matt that she dented his car while he was away, which he doesn’t care about. I mean, it’s not like she dropped acid and slept with someone else! She gushes about what a great guy he is.
Janet and Steve visit with their new neighbors, meeting their pet bunny. The Sanderses are dog-sitting Georgia, who doesn’t hit it off with the bunny, Fluffy. The neighbors, the Gundersons, are less than impressed with the Sanderses’ line of work. Noah finds Ellen hiding in the bathroom, nervous about her first day of work. She complains that Noah’s niceness in helping her find a new job is putting a lot of pressure on her. She also thinks he’s babysitting her so she won’t drink.
Kelly decides that she and Matt should start planning their wedding. Dylan joins them at the Peach Pit, noting that if they get married in a church, Matt can make use of the confessional. A guy named Mitch teaches Donna and Camille about Internet shopping and advertising. Donna’s skeptical that anyone will want to buy her clothes online; how will they find her shop? She also doesn’t want to put up any money or look for investors when she hasn’t secured any sales.
Janet complains to Steve about the neighbors (by the way, the husband’s name is Booth Gunderson, which…okay). Steve encourages her to be nice because their daughter goes to a great private school, and they could use the Gundersons’ pull to get Maddy in someday. Georgia puts the brakes on that plan by coming into the house with the Gundersons’ dead bunny in her mouth. Thanks a lot, Georgia!
Camille goes to the After Dark to ask Dylan if he’s interested in investing in an Internet company. Dylan sends her to his office while he tries to cheer Matt up. Matt thinks Dylan’s enjoying the fact that Matt screwed up. He also thinks that if Dylan were in his shoes, he wouldn’t tell Kelly he slept with someone else. Kelly and Matt visit a potential wedding venue, and clearly, Matt isn’t interested in this part of wedding planning. Kelly notices that he’s not in the best mood and tells him to deal with whatever’s making him so distant.
David checks in with Donna, who tells him she’s not going to go the Internet route. She prefers having a regular store with customers who come in to shop. Camille comes in with Dylan in town and announces that he’s going to invest in their website. Donna’s still hesitant, so Dylan suggests that they discuss the idea more before she makes a final decision. David’s obviously annoyed that Camille approached David.
The Gundersons are out, so they don’t yet know that Fluffy’s dead. Steve doesn’t want to have to be the one to tell their daughter that her pet is dead. He thinks the best option is to throw the rabbit’s corpse into the Gundersons’ yard and make it look like the Gundersons’ dog killed it. Janet says no, but when she mentions how she picked Georgia out at a pet store, Steve comes up with a new plan.
Donna, David, Camille, and Dylan meet with Mitch, who points out to Donna that the Internet will give her a bigger market. David’s now on Donna’s side, cautious about going along with Camille’s idea. Donna lets Mitch know that she’s not hesitant because of him; he’s been very persuasive. He wonders if his powers of persuasion will convince her to have dinner with him. Meanwhile, David blasts Camille for taking over what’s supposed to be Donna’s business.
Later that night, Kelly goes by Dylan’s hotel room to ask him if anything happened on his trip with Matt. Dylan says no, though Kelly isn’t sure she should believe him. Steve’s new plan involves finding a new bunny to pass off as Fluffy, but he hasn’t been able to find one with Fluffy’s markings. Donna’s interested in any details Kelly might have decided on for the wedding, but she hasn’t made any progress. Donna tells Kelly that she’s going on a date with Mitch, even though it could be awkward since he’s a friend of David’s.
Camille comes to the beach apartment to apologize to Donna for overstepping her bounds. Donna reveals that she’s agreed to take Dylan up on his investment offer. Dylan warns Matt that Kelly has questions about their trip, and that he lied to her. He encourages Matt to get better at covering things up if he’s really not going to tell Kelly he cheated.
Steve and Janet try to sneak a new bunny next door, but Steve drops the cage and the rabbit escapes into some bushes. Steve gets distracted and overhears the Gundersons trash-talking him and Janet. The bunny goes into its hutch on its own, and Steve barely escapes the yard without being spotted. Donna takes Mitch to the After Dark, like, why would you take your ex’s friend on a date where that ex works? David’s also not thrilled to see Dylan and Camille chatting. Dylan assures him that there’s nothing between them but business.
Ellen arrives and tells Noah that her first day at work was awful. She slams him for pushing her to take a job she wasn’t ready for. Matt decides to come clean with Kelly, but she has such a bad reaction to hearing that he accidentally took drugs that he chooses not to finish his confession. Kelly announces that she doesn’t believe him – he’s been acting way too weird to have just drunk spiked punch. Matt’s annoyed that he can’t win with her, whether he’s telling the truth or keeping secrets.
Noah saves Ellen’s job, but she doesn’t want his help anymore. He tells her he can’t stop trying to make her life normal. She replies that, in that case, they’re not going to keep having a relationship. Matt asks Dylan if he’s going to swoop in immediately when Kelly and Matt inevitably break up. Dylan says he doesn’t want to see Kelly get hurt. If Matt loses her, it’s his fault and no one else’s.
David is still opposed to the online store, telling Donna that he doesn’t want to see her get pressured. Donna doesn’t want to be the reason he and Camille have problems. Dylan brings some champagne for a toast, trying to convince David that Donna and Camille are making a good decision. David would be a lot happier if Dylan didn’t hug Camille in front of him.
Steve and Janet head to the Gundersons’ for an Easter egg hunt, agreeing to tell them the truth about the bunny. That will be easier said than done, since the Gundersons are confused as to why there’s a bunny in their yard. After all, Fluffy died two days ago and was buried in their yard. “Risen from the dead on Easter? Cool!” the Gundersons’ daughter exclaims. Steve and Janet realize that this would make a great story for the Beverly Beat.
Donna and Noah make awkward conversation at the Peach Pit about her online store. He tells her that when he started drinking again and Donna tried to help him, he realized that he needs to save himself. He hopes Ellen comes to the same realization. I hope she leaves and we never see her again because this plot is dumb.
At David’s, Camille thinks her boyfriend should be a little happier about the fact that she did something good for Donna. David tells her he’s not happy about her sudden friendship with Dylan. Camille throws his friendship with Donna in his face, though David argues that their history makes it a different situation. Camille says the friendship is his problem, not theirs.
Kelly tries to make up with Matt, regretting how she reacted to his confession. He should feel safe coming to her with difficult topics of conversation. Matt assures her that everything’s fine, but he still doesn’t tell her what really happened on his trip. Everything’s great and they can get married and live happily ever after! Yay!
Thoughts: Mitch is played by soap actor Mark Collier. P.S. He’s cute.
I think my favorite thing about Janet is that she doesn’t hide how dumb she thinks Steve’s schemes are, but she still goes along with them.
Donna really needs to stop hanging around her exes so much. Who is she, Robin from How I Met Your Mother?
Does Noah see anything likable in Ellen? Beacuse I sure don’t.
December 15, 2015
Summary: It’s the day after Christmas, and the Wakefields are having lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Jess is annoyed that her fortune cookie calls her vain. Heh. Smart cookie. Heh again. Elizabeth’s warns her to avoid high places if she doesn’t want to fall. Jessica notes that that’s not exactly a deep thought.
Apparently a carnival comes to Sweet Valley every year, and on the way home, the Wakefields pass the fairgrounds where it’s being set up. The twins decide to hang out and watch everything get set up. Some other SVMS students have the same idea, including Amy, Lila, and Ellen. I’m surprised Lila’s that interested in something a lot of 12-year-olds would consider juvenile. Maybe things in Sweet Valley are particularly boring right now, so everyone’s extra excited about the carnival.
On opening day, the twins head to the carnival bright and early. They head to the haunted house, which gives visitors a choice of paths to take. The girls split up, with Jessica taking the vampire path and Liz taking the ghost path. As Liz walks through, she sees a girl of about ten years old with dark hair and an old-fashioned dress. She follows the girl, who disappears. As Elizabeth leaves the haunted house, walking through an open grave, she sees the initials C.C. and the dates 1882-1892 carved on it.
Liz spots the girl in the crowd and goes after her while Jessica visits a fortuneteller, Mademoiselle Z. Mlle. Z says something good will happen to Jess, which is all she needs to hear. When the twins reunite, Elizabeth gushes about the girl, Claire. Her father owns the carnival, which travels, so Claire moves around a lot and doesn’t have friends. Elizabeth to the rescue!
At home, Ned and Alice tell the kids they’re all getting raises in their allowances. Jess is thrilled that her fortune came true. She goes back to the carnival and hangs out with some of the Unicorns, urging them to go see Mlle. Z. Lila doesn’t believe in fortunetellers, so she’s all snotty about it. Mlle. Z. warns that something bad will happen to her. I feel like Mlle. Z. could branch out a little in her predictions. Maybe be a little more specific. In this case, though, it doesn’t matter – a horse gets spooked, which in turn spooks Lila, who falls in a mud puddle and ruins the Johnny Buck shirt she just won.
The next day, Elizabeth heads back to the carnival without even waiting for Jess. She’s excited to spend more time with her new BFF. Amy comes by, having planned to meet Elizabeth so they could go together. Jess tells her that Liz has someone better to hang out with now. Ouch. At the carnival, Elizabeth hangs out with Claire some more, noticing that she keeps wearing the same dress. Claire says it’s her second-favorite – her favorite got ripped.
Mlle. Z. sees the two girls together and glares at Claire. Claire tells Liz that the carnival workers don’t like her; they think she’s a spy for her father. Mlle. Z. tells Claire to leave Elizabeth alone, but Claire says everything’s fine. Not long after, Jessica goes to see Mlle. Z. for another fortune. Mlle. Z. says she knows what Jessica’s friend is up to, and Jess needs to stay away from the carnival if she wants to stay alive. Jess thinks she’s talking about Lila, but she’s not clear on what Mlle. Z. means. Still, she’s spooked enough to run away.
Jessica realizes she left her bike at the carnival, so she goes back to retrieve it. She runs into Patrick Morris, who tells her he was riding the Ferris wheel when he saw a ghost floating next to him, inviting him to come play with her. Jessica’s justifiably spooked again. She’s ready to call it a day on the carnival, and since Lila’s already done with it, they decide to host their own for New Year’s Eve. Later, Jessica sees a man in the yard, seemingly watching her through the window.
Around this point, Elizabeth starts to become completely obsessed with Claire. She’s always thinking about her and wanting to be with her at the carnival. The two have grown so close that Claire seems to be able to read Elizabeth’s mind. She plays a trick on Liz, turning her lemonade black, and Liz asks if she can write about her tricks for the Sixers. Claire just wants to hang out.
She takes Elizabeth to see the funhouse from behind the scenes, and then Liz wants to see the horses. The one she pets is clearly not a fan of Claire’s. Then the girls go to a shooting booth, where Elizabeth is suddenly a great shot. The man running the booth doesn’t seem to register that anyone is there with Liz. Elizabeth remembers that Alice asked her to invite Claire to dinner, but suddenly she forgets all about it. In the middle of the night, Jessica hears Elizabeth moaning during a nightmare. She’s dreaming about walking through the grave at the haunted house and seeing her initials in place of C.C.’s.
Jessica and Lila get together to talk about Lila’s party. Jess is going to be a fortuneteller, and the girls decide to come up with all their fortunes ahead of time so Jess can pull them from a bowl and pretend she’s thinking of them on the fly. Steven’s there and makes fun of them. The party has pretty much all the elements of the real carnival, including a haunted house and a Ferris wheel. Elizabeth is still obsessed with Claire and can barely focus on the party. She’s also suddenly not a good shot.
Jess does her fortunetelling thing, and everyone seems pleased. When Elizabeth takes a turn, Jess tells her that she’s going to learn the value of her true friends. Lila’s last to go, knowing that the only fortune left is one that says she’ll be a supermodel. But there’s a different one in the bowl: “Soon you will go completely bald.” Lila hilariously spends the rest of the book obsessed with her hair.
The carnival is closed the next day, so Elizabeth is miserable. She thinks Claire will be coming over for dinner. Amy stops by to talk about the haunted house; she did some research and found the guy who built it. Elizabeth doesn’t want to talk to her, so Amy turns to Jess. The girls go visit the man, who’s surprised to hear that Claire told Elizabeth that her father owns the carnival. As far as he knows, the carnival is owned by a corporation headed by a man with no children. He adds that when he build the tombstone in the haunted house, it was blank. The initials and date mysteriously appeared one day.
Jessica shares this news with Elizabeth, who accuses Jessica of making things up because she’s jealous of Claire. Speaking of Claire, she never shows up for dinner, of course. Ned and Alice tell Elizabeth not to hang out with her anymore. Things get heated, and for probably the only time in her life, Liz gets grounded. But her obsession is so strong that the next day, she sneaks out to the carnival. Jessica follows her and brings her home.
The next day, Elizabeth pretends she was sick the day before, to explain her strange behavior. She convinces Ned and Alice to let her go to the carnival to say goodbye to Claire, since she’s leaving soon. (Also, Claire didn’t come to dinner because she was sick, too.) Jess briefly distracts her with a recon mission in Steven’s room; she needs a handwriting sample to prove that he wrote the fortune Lila got at the party. (He did.)
Elizabeth heads out, staying at the carnival a lot longer than she said she would. A worried Jess is about to go look for her when a man calls to warn her that “the girl is in great danger.” Jessica goes to the haunted house to find Liz, but instead runs into Mlle. Z.’s assistant. He takes her to Mlle. Z., who reveals that she’s had her assistant (who’s also her fiancé) follow Jessica to keep her away from the carnival.
Story time! Mlle. Z. tells Jessica that the carnival was once owned by a man who was mad that he couldn’t be an acrobat anymore. He took out his anger on his wife and daughter. After his wife died, he became very strict with his daughter, forbidding her from riding any of the rides. This made her bitter as well. On her tenth birthday, she asked to ride the Ferris wheel. When her father said no, she snuck in to ride it alone. Her dress got caught when she tried to jump out, and she was dragged up to the top before the dress ripped and she fell to her death. Creepy!
Jessica puts everything together: The girl was Claire, and Elizabeth has been hanging out with a ghost. Mlle. Z. is confused – she thought Jessica was Elizabeth. When she was a child, Claire appeared to her, but Mlle. Z. let her know that she wasn’t interested in Claire’s idea of friendship (which apparently involves killing someone so they can be friends forever). Mlle. Z. has her fiancé release the horses so they’ll freak out when they get close to Claire (since animals sense and are scared of ghosts).
Meanwhile, Claire’s ready to make Elizabeth her forever friend. The girls go to the Ferris wheel, which Claire starts up just as Jessica and Mlle. Z. arrive. Jess gets in with Elizabeth, who’s so entranced by Claire that she’s practically catatonic, and tries to break Claire’s hold on her. Liz almost steps out of the Ferris wheel to join Claire, but Jessica manages to keep her twin inside the Ferris wheel. The two of them fight over Liz until Jessica gets hurt and Elizabeth realizes what’s going on. She knows she can’t be friends with someone who would hurt her sister, so she’s not going to join Claire in the afterlife. Claire screams until she disappears. Cool!
Liz goes back to normal, and I’m sure everyone’s happy that she’s no longer talking about Claire all the time. Also, Jessica and Lila play a trick on Steven, making him think that Lila really did go bald. Weak, girls.
Thoughts: For most of the book there’s no mention of Claire possibly being a ghost, so the title kind of ruins the “twist.”
Lila finds merry-go-rounds babyish, but the general idea of a carnival is fine to her. Okay….
You’d think that after the events of this book, the twins wouldn’t be so interested in a carnival in Return of the Evil Twin. (Oh, and that was on New Year’s Eve, too. What a weird theme to continue through the series.)
November 7, 2015
Summary: Donna takes Gina to the Martins’ house so Dr. Martin can see both of his daughters at the same time. The Martins want to spend Christmas with both of them, but they’re hesitant to let Gina come to their Christmas party. They haven’t figured out how to explain her to their friends. Gina decides to leave, telling Donna to pick a side. Donna says she can’t go against her father, so Gina tells her she’s an only child again.
Dylan and David help Steve and Janet pick out a Christmas tree, an activity Steve’s filming for some reason. David and Dylan hug for the camera to show that they’re friends again. Janet runs into her parents, who are surprised to see that the baby has already been born. They make some civil conversation before the Sosnas leave.
Dylan takes a tree to the community center as Kelly brings over some presents. The two have some awkward talk about when she basically proposed (he finds it funny). A guy comes by to complain to Dylan about the mess some people make whenever they come to the community center for drug-recovery meetings. That just means Dylan has another problem to solve.
Noah wants to take Donna to Paris for Christmas/her birthday, but she’s not over his lies about going to Harvard. She’s also upset that he let his parents make his problems go away with money. At the Beverly Royale, Gina shares her problems with David, who apparently still wants to be friends after that whole…disaster. Felice shows up and offers Gina any amount of money she wants; after all, Dr. Martin has an obligation to her. Gina says no amount of money will make a difference.
Janet tries to make eggnog but can’t get it the way her mother makes it. Steve urges her to reach out to her parents and let them see Maddy. She calls her parents and invites them to dinner the next night. The annoyed neighbor returns to the community center, complaining to Dylan about declining property values. He pours out a bag of trash left in the neighborhood by junkies. The kids should be used to it, since they come from trash. Dylan punches the guy, who threatens to sue. Dylan tells the kids not to use their fists like he just did.
Gina goes to the Martins’ to tell her father she doesn’t want his money or pity. Dr. Martin wants to know what Gina expects from them. They talk about her stepfather, who Gina barely remembers, since she was so young when he died. She tells Dr. Martin that she doesn’t expect anything from him. Matt meets with a client who wants to sue over loss of intellectual property. He pays a $15,000 retainer. Merry Christmas, Matt!
Dylan and Andrew discuss the neighbor at the Peach Pit, as well as Andrew’s decision to cancel the recovery meetings being held there. Kelly shows up in time to pass judgment on Dylan for punching someone in front of the kids. Dylan denies that he’s a role model; he just finances things and hangs out. Kelly says that’s not enough.
The Sosnas come over for dinner, and things go really well. That is, until Steve mentions the wedding and Mr. Sosna decides it’s time to leave. As Dylan tries to find a new location for the recovery meetings, one of the community-center kids, R.J., hits another boy. Dylan realizes that the kids notice him more than he thought. At the beach apartment, Donna wonders if Noah was drunk the night of the accident that killed his girlfriend. Noah’s mad at her for meddling.
The next morning, Donna has breakfast with her parents, telling them that Noah lied to her. Now she wonders if she really knows him, just like she and Gina wonder if they really know her parents. Felice warns her not to develop Gina’s mindset. R.J. wants to play foosball with Dylan, but Dylan would rather talk to him about how hitting is wrong. He urges R.J. to apologize to the kid he hit. Amazingly, R.J. doesn’t tell Dylan to apologize to the guy he hit.
Donna finds Noah at the After Dark and tells him that she knows her parents were under pressure to make a decision, and didn’t necessarily make a good one. Noah and his family did the same thing after Beth died. Donna hopes they can get past this. Steve goes to the Sosnas’ house to confront them for only showing Janet conditional love. He won’t let them treat Maddy the same way. He invites them to stop by the next day, Christmas, but they only get this one last chance.
Kelly and Matt decorate a tree at the beach apartment, disagreeing on whether or not they should use tinsel. They exchange gifts, a book of maps of L.A. and Orange County for him, and a ring for her. After a slight hesitation, Kelly accepts Matt’s marriage proposal. On Christmas morning, Noah serves Donna a birthday breakfast in bed (well, just a croissant with a candle in it), and Kelly shows off her ring. Donna laments that things are changing quickly. She wishes Noah hadn’t been forced to grow up so fast.
Everyone gathers at the Walshes’ house, forgoing a gift exchange between each other and only bringing presents for Maddy. Donna tells Gina that she didn’t go to her parents’ party since she knew Gina wouldn’t be there. Dylan tells Kelly that she was right about his inability to think about consequences before he acts. He thinks they should try their relationship again. Apparently he doesn’t notice the giant diamond on her finger. Matt and Kelly announce their engagement, so Merry Christmas, Dylan.
Donna pulls Kelly out of the room to ask where her engagement leaves Dylan. Kelly admits that she sometimes thinks he could be the one, but it’s too easy for him to walk away. She loves Matt for who he is, not for who he’s trying to be. Gina and David watch Dylan look at his ex longingly. Janet’s parents arrive, and Janet’s touched to learn that Steve drove all the way across town the night before to talk to them. “We’re glad you both found each other,” Mrs. Sosna says.
Noah tells Donna that the accident with Beth was just an accident, but he’s worried that Donna will keep wondering if he was responsible. He thinks she’ll always find something not to trust him over. He’s gotten past the accident, and he doesn’t want to relive it while she deals with it. They’re done. In happier relationship news, Matt’s looking forward to growing old with Kelly.
Dylan watches It’s a Wonderful Life alone at the After Dark, like, at least go to the community center. Noah shows up and almost joins him for a drink, but changes his mind. Gina goes to see Donna, and they discuss how Gina’s world has been shaken, but that doesn’t mean she has to have a sad ending. The sisters seem to be on good terms now – a Christmas miracle!
Thoughts: What made Felice think Gina would respond to her blank-check offer any different than Ray did?
So Dylan just hangs around the community center and doesn’t play with the kids? What’s the point?
Matt’s defense of tinsel: “It’s shiny!” This is why you’re a good law-talkin’ guy, Matt.
What’s with Donna getting dumped on her birthday?
October 24, 2015
Summary: Everyone’s gathered at the hospital, where Janet has just given birth. Steve’s with his wife, and when she wakes up, he tells her they have a daughter. However, Janet and the baby aren’t in the best shape right now. In the waiting room, Gina catches Donna staring at her. Steve tells the gang that Janet will be fine, but the baby’s having some breathing problems. Matt has a bunch of cigars, and Steve tells him to hold on to them until later.
At the Peach Pit the next day, Kelly and Matt tell Erin about the baby. Kelly’s worried that Jackie and Mel will use Erin as ammo in their approaching custody battle. Matt suggests that he, Kelly, Jackie, and Erin have Thanksgiving together. Dylan arrives, and Nat confirms that he has 14 turkeys for Thanksgiving. Dylan’s decided to host a big dinner at the community center.
The day before Thanksgiving, Noah goes with Donna to her parents’ house so she can talk to her father about Gina being his daughter. Gina’s already there, cooking with Felice. She mentions her “father” and how close they were. At the hospital, Janet’s doctor wants to see if the baby can breathe on her own, though the process could cause complications. On the other hand, too much oxygen could cause other complications, like blindness. Janet demands to see her daughter.
At the boutique, Dylan asks Kelly if she’s interested in helping out with dinner at the community center. Erin hates the idea of doing chores on a holiday. Kelly points out that Dylan can hire people to help him. Jackie complains about Mel and his lawyer, not realizing that Erin’s there. When she does realize it, she’s not apologetic – Erin should know that her father’s a jerk.
Gina leaves for a while, and Felice complains about her lack of cooking ability. Donna calls her out for whining after she fawned over Gina all morning. Dr. Martin comes home, and Donna learns that he had nothing to do with inviting Gina to dinner. She tells her father about her discovery, and he admits that he’s Gina’s dad. Also, Felice has known all along. Donna’s upset that she and Gina were lied to their entire lives.
Donna and Noah go to the Peach Pit, where she tries to wrap her mind around her parents’ lies. David arrives, and Donna has another moment of disbelief, realizing that her ex is dating her secret sister. David asks her to go easy on Gina. Speaking of Gina, Dylan tries to make nice with her with food and a bunch of flowers. She asks if he’s ever had a genuine feeling for anyone.
Kelly and Dylan visit Steve and Janet as they’re preparing to go see their daughter. Kelly laments that she feels useless about both the baby and Erin. Dylan suggests that she come serve dinner with him – it’s at least a direct solution to a problem. Donna returns to her parents’ house, asking for details on how Gina came to be. Apparently Dr. Martin got drunk and hooked up with Bobbi after a fight with Felice. Gina’s stepfather was happy to be considered her father, so the family never said anything. Donna’s mad that they didn’t.
Dylan and Kelly cook together, and he tries to ignore her when she says she needs to call Matt. He pulls her hair back for her, which is totally not an excuse to touch her hair and her neck. Kelly brings up the fact that Gina and David are together, then tries to discuss Dylan’s revelation that he was at her wedding. He decides to give up and let her call Matt.
Gina takes Janet some of the pink roses Dylan gave her. David brings up the fact that Dylan’s still footing her bill at the hotel. He can’t figure out where Gina and Dylan stand. Gina claims that she’s trying to get over her ex. Janet and Steve lament that they’re still unsure of the baby’s prognosis, since they keep hearing different things. Gina appreciates that David wants to know the things she likes, like pink roses. She asks if she can spend the night at his place.
Matt’s waiting at the beach apartment when Dylan brings Kelly home. Jackie calls to accept Kelly’s invitation to help serve dinner at the community center. Matt asks Dylan about the dinner; he doesn’t think volunteering is something Dylan would normally do. He seems to think Dylan’s trying to show Kelly that he’s serious – serious about her, that is.
On Thanksgiving morning, Nat tells Erin that she gets the honor of putting whipped cream on the pies when the time comes. Erin’s more impressed with the hot fudge sundae her father let her have the night before. Jackie complains about her ex’s new living arrangements, so Kelly sends Erin away and tells her mother to stop talking trash about Mel in front of the girl.
Dylan arrives and announces that he can’t help transfer the food from the Peach Pit to the community center. He has to go to the airport and see an aunt Kelly’s never heard him mention before. Kelly blasts him for ditching his volunteers and a project he organized. David takes Gina a pink rosebush, seeing for the first time that she already has plenty of flowers in her room. He’s mad that she claims to be mad at Dylan but kept the flowers. She wishes he would be more patient.
Janet, Steve, Donna, and Noah go see the baby, who’s doing better. Donna and Noah are impressed with how well the new parents are handling the situation. Janet decides that she wants to name the baby Madeline, which means “tower of strength.” Erin’s not helpful at the community center, and Jackie’s still complaining about Mel. Kelly tells her again to stop trashing him in front of their daughter. She’s been in Erin’s position; Jackie clearly has a pattern. Jackie points out that Kelly has one, too – she keeps cleaning up after Dylan.
Donna, Gina, and Noah have dinner with the Martins, who offer to pay for a ticket if Gina wants to go back to Denver to visit her mother. Donna objects, wondering in the next room if her parents are trying to get Gina to leave town. She wants to give Gina the news that they’re sisters. Felice points out that Gina will be mad that Donna had such a great life with lots of money while she and Bobbi struggled. “Happy Thanksgiving. You make me sick,” Donna tells her parents. She asks Noah and Gina to leave with her, but Gina stays, calling Donna spoiled.
Erin’s bratty again at the community center, wanting to do something she claims Mel would let her do. This time Jackie doesn’t make a negative comment about Mel. Yay, she learned! She confirms that she knows the divorce is tough on Erin, but her parents still love her. Then she suggests that Erin call Mel to wish him a happy Thanksgiving.
Later in the evening, the gang takes food to Janet and Steve at the hospital. David and Dylan confirm that they’re able to be in the same room at the same time. Steve says a sweet prayer, thanking God for Madeline and their friends. Matt questions Dylan about his activities that day, mentioning that, since Matt put together Dylan’s will, he knows there’s no aunt. But he’s grateful that Dylan gave him the chance to spend time with Kelly.
Gina arrives to tell David that she threw all of Dylan’s flowers out the window. David apologizes for being a jerk, but Gina’s fine with the way things have turned out. Donna pulls Gina away from the group, asking how dinner was with the Martins. Gina reports that Felice started crying and Dr. Martin left. Donna apologizes for ruining the holiday, which never went well for her after her “father” died. The gang heads to the NICU, where Janet has finally been able to hold the baby. Janet and Steve are all, “It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!”
Thoughts: Now we know why Felice is so awful – her husband slept with her sister! That said, she gets points for being nice to Gina.
This David/Gina thing is a mess and I want it to be over.
Janet looks good for someone who just had an emergency C-section.
Want to feel old? Madeline would now be old enough to drive. Have a nice day!
July 14, 2015
Summary: The twins are at the mall, doing some pre-Christmas window shopping. They see a carousel horse for sale that reminds them of the carousel they used to ride as kids. Jessica thinks Elizabeth should put the horse on her Christmas list, but Liz has already asked for too many things. Plus, the horse is pretty pricey. Jessica decides to ask for the horse herself, even though she knows Liz would like it more. Elizabeth’s feelings are hurt.
Elizabeth, Amy, and Julie are participating in a fundraiser so the local hospital can buy a piece of equipment for their children’s ward. The local middle- and high-schoolers are holding their own mini-fundraisers to help out before the big event after Christmas. The kids have a rummage/bake sale, but the proceeds are barely a drop in the bucket. Time to start selling your plasma, kiddos!
Elizabeth learns that teenage movie star Beau Dillon is going to be in Sweet Valley in a few days. He’s known for participating in children’s charity events, so Elizabeth wonders if he’d make an appearance at Sweet Valley’s big fundraiser. She writes him a letter, even though Jessica scoffs that someone as famous as Beau Dillon will never give her the time of day. If this book took place today, Elizabeth could just hit up Beau Dillon’s Twitter and get an answer right away. Beau would come to the fundraiser, post photos of himself with cute kids, and get himself some instant good publicity. Win-win.
Liz catches Jessica searching for her Christmas presents (I’ll admit, I did this, too) in their parents’ room. She turns up the carousel horse, which upsets Liz. Girl, if you wanted it that badly, you should have asked for it. Whatever. Things start looking up for Elizabeth when Beau writes back to say he’ll stop by the Wakefields’ house the afternoon of Christmas Eve so they can talk about the fundraiser. Jessica can’t believe that he’s actually going to come.
At Lila’s Christmas party, the twins spread the news about Beau’s visit. Lila calls B.S., and Liz gets upset when Jessica doesn’t back her up. When they get home, the twins fight. Jessica says she didn’t speak up because she’s worried about staying on Lila’s good side. Elizabeth calls Jessica selfish and warns that she’ll lose all her friends if she doesn’t start being nicer to people.
The twins kind of make up in time for Beau’s visit…which doesn’t happen as planned. They wait around for him, but he doesn’t show. Eventually Elizabeth has to leave. Jessica’s fuming that her favorite actor is such a jerk. But then Beau shows up, claiming his limo broke down and he didn’t have his car phone with him. He offers to take her to lunch the day after Christmas to make up for his lateness. Jessica’s thrilled. As Beau is leaving, he calls her Elizabeth, and Jessica realizes that he thought he was talking to Liz the whole time.
Now Jessica has a dilemma – tell Elizabeth the truth and let her have lunch with Beau, or keep quiet and have him to herself. (I’d like to state for the record that Beau is 17, so it’s not like a 40-year-old wants to go to lunch with a 12-year-old. I mean, it’s still a little weird, but less weird than it could be.) It’s Jess, though, so of course she doesn’t tell Liz that Beau showed up. Fortunately, she actually feels guilty about it. Not so guilty that she comes clean, but at least it’s something.
Jessica goes to bed feeling horrible, and thinking the purple unicorn on her new poster is judging her. It probably is. Jess notices that her lamp has changed – it now looks like the clown lamp she and Elizabeth had when they were kids. Jess hated it and purposely broke it, then pretended she was sad it was gone. The lamp changes back to Jessica’s current lamp, and she tries to sleep, but the guilt keeps her awake.
In the middle of the night, Jessica sees a little girl in her room. This is the Ghost of Christmas Past. It’s actually Jessica as a kid, and she wants to show Jess how she used to be. She takes Jessica to the carousel, where Jess sees herself and Liz playing as seven-year-olds. Instead of fighting or resenting each other, the girls get along, happy when the other is happy. Jessica sees them at school, dressed alike and wanting to do everything together. Back then, Elizabeth was her favorite person to be with, but they’re not as close as they used to be.
Jessica ends up back in bed, thinking she dreamed the whole thing, but she realizes her unicorn poster is missing. The unicorn is now hovering outside the window. What is this, Stephen King’s A Christmas Carol? The unicorn is the Ghost of Christmas Present, and it wants to take Jessica for a ride. Yeah, that seems normal. They fly to a hotel, where Jessica listens in as Beau talks about how awesome she is (though he thinks she’s Elizabeth). She feels bad that she was selfish when Liz wanted to do something charitable.
Jess and the unicorn return to the house, where the family is opening Christmas presents. Jessica’s mean to Elizabeth for no reason, and I can’t believe Ned and Alice let her get away with that, but then again…Ned and Alice. The real Jess can hear Liz’s thoughts, and she realizes how upset Elizabeth is that Beau didn’t come through for her. Next, the unicorn shows Jessica a scene from Best Friends, when Elizabeth complains to Alice that Jessica wants to join the Unicorns. The real Jess is upset that Liz was so unhappy about them growing apart.
Jessica’s back in bed again, with the unicorn back on the wall. Now it’s time for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. She takes Jessica to the woods, where she sees herself at about 16, hanging out with a bunch of friends. She’s super-popular and everyone loves her, but they all hate her sister. The teens are putting someone through an initiation for their sorority, and waiting for the girl to make it back to them.
In the woods, Jessica comes across the initiate, who happens to look just like her. She’s gotten lost in the woods and won’t make it back in time to complete her task. After a minute, Jessica realizes that the girl is her, not Elizabeth. Liz is the popular one with all the friends. Jessica is the loser everyone hates.
The real Jessica sees herself at a basketball game and at the Dairi Burger, alone and miserable while Elizabeth is the center of attention with her friends. Jess is such a jerk that she won’t even be nice to Lois Waller, the only person considered lamer than she is. Lila uses Bruce to get revenge on Jessica for something, making him pretend he wants to go out with her. He tells her he’ll take her to a dog show, where she’ll be one of the contestants. You can do better, Patman.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come then takes Jessica to Elizabeth’s room, where Liz is writing in her journal. Jessica learns how miserable Elizabeth is because of Jess’ unhappiness. She wishes they were still close. Liz blames the stunt with Beau for the downfall of the twins’ relationship. Little does she know that this is one of the least harmful tricks Jess will pull in her life. In fact, knowing what we know about Jessica’s actions later in life, this is really tame.
Now that she knows that her actions can have negative effects on other people, Jessica realizes that she needs to do something to ensure she and Elizabeth don’t end up hating each other. She tries to talk to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who ignores her. Jess rips off the ghost’s cloak, revealing that it has no face. She starts screaming, which is totally understandable.
Jessica wakes up in bed on Christmas morning, just as her family is wondering where she is. She immediately makes up with Elizabeth and tells her what really happened with Beau. Elizabeth is so happy that Beau’s a nice guy after all that she doesn’t care what Jessica did. She also doesn’t think it would have spelled doom for the twins’ relationship. So basically, everything with the ghosts was a waste of time because Elizabeth would have gotten over it anyway. Awesome.
Jess isn’t sure if her experiences the night before were just a dream, but Alice notices scratches on her legs that Jess thinks could have only come from being in the woods. Whatever. Elizabeth gets a letter from Beau apologizing again for missing their meeting, and formally inviting her to lunch. The Wakefields open their presents, and Jessica gives Elizabeth the carousel horse. Enjoy it, Liz – that’s probably the last selfless thing she’ll ever do for you.
Thoughts: This book is amazingly dumb. I imagine that the ghostwriter wanted to do something special for Christmas but ran out of ideas and just decided to adapt A Christmas Carol for ten-year-olds. Kids, read the real thing. Watch one of the movie versions. This story has been adapted hundreds of times, and every single other version is better than this book.
“She wore a lavender sweater and black miniskirt with leggings and dangling earrings. ‘I think I look great,’ she said.” You put on a shirt and a skirt, Jessica. Calm down.
“The big chandelier was draped in mistletoe. Elizabeth giggled as she saw how the boys all avoided being caught underneath the ‘kissing’ plant.” Okay, that’s pretty funny.
I really doubt that cool teenager Steven Wakefield sings Christmas carols with his family.
This book mentions that future Jessica will try to steal Todd from Elizabeth, which we know she actually deos, so I guess Jessica doesn’t remember this book when that time comes. Way to learn, Jess!
May 10, 2015
Summary: Donna, Kelly, and Gina are discussing an upcoming 12-hour dance marathon. Gina says she’s going with David, though it kind of sounds like a lie. Donna mentions that a shop near the boutique was recently robbed, so now there’s a security guard hanging around. Gina reminds her that she was the one who welcomed a gang member with open arms. Dylan shows up to take Kelly to breakfast, and when she hedges, Gina volunteers to take her place. Gina needs to chill.
Donna and Gina find gang girl Sonia and a guy asleep on the floor of the boutique. She tells them they didn’t have any other place to go. Instead of breakfast, Dylan takes Kelly to an airport – they’re going to Cabo. Matt’s going to have to step up his game. Donna lets Sonia keep working off her debt at the boutique, as long as she promises not to spend the night there again. Another gang girl shows up to show off her switchblade and warn Sonia to stay away from her man. Good thing the security guard is there.
In Mexico, Dylan brings up Matt, then decides he’d rather have fun with Kelly than talk about her relationship. Steve has bought a story for the tabloid, and Matt warns that it will probably lead to a lawsuit. Janet’s more concerned with the fact that they’re not a respectable paper if they buy their stories. Steve doesn’t care – he just wants readers. Noah asks Steve to sponsor him in the dance marathon, which is raising money for Fight AIDS. Steve sees this as a networking event, so he’s definitely on board.
In Cabo, Kelly and Dylan buy crazy hats and a statue. Then Dylan sneaks off to buy some drugs, which he stashes in the statue. They joke that Kelly will be smuggling art back to the States, since they don’t have to declare religious artifacts at the border. Janet objects to the $1,000 Steve offered Noah for the marathon; the paper can’t afford it. Steve says it’s fine, not realizing that he pledged $1,000 per hour, which means he actually has to pay $12,000. Don’t worry, Steve – I doubt Noah can dance for that long.
Noah asks Gina to take care of getting Donna’s birthday cake. Gina tells him about the gang girl who showed up to threaten Sonia with a switchblade. Noah worries that Sonia’s presence at the boutique will threaten Donna’s sales. He asks her to quit, and Sonia obeys. Dylan and Kelly return to Beverly Hills and make out, only stopping when Matt calls. Kelly tells him she was out all day Christmas shopping with a friend. While she’s on the phone, Dylan retrieves his drugs. He’s a little too excited about the fact that Kelly just lied to her boyfriend, but she realizes they’ve gone too far.
Gina’s annoyed with Kelly, as usual, so when Matt shows up to see her at the boutique, Gina outs Kelly’s lie about her whereabouts all day. Kelly comes clean about where she was and who she was with, making Matt flee. Janet urges Steve to withdraw his pledge, but he doesn’t want to look like the Grinch. He has a plan: They’re allowed to pick the people who represent the paper in the marathon, so they’ll just put up people with low stamina, namely Muntz and his wife. Except they’ve been working out with a trainer, and Muntz has been running 10Ks, so he’s not so out of shape anymore.
Gina invites Dylan to the marathon, having to come clean that she’s not going with David. When David arrives, Dylan mentions that David and Gina both want to go, so they should go together. Sonia shows up at the boutique, telling Donna that the other gang girl, Lucy, is pregnant by Tony, the guy they’ve both been involved with. Sonia admits that she wanted to get pregnant so she could leave the gang. Donna announces to Noah that she’s going to help Sonia, as if there were any doubt.
At the Peach Pit, Kelly tells Matt that she was surprised by the trip to Mexico; she thought she and Dylan were just getting breakfast. Dylan shows up, and Matt tries to make a quick escape. He tells Kelly that he’s not going to compete with Dylan for her, not least because he can’t match Dylan’s efforts. Dylan decides to move on from Kelly with Gina. Looks like Christmas came early for her.
When they get back to town the next morning, Dylan and Gina learn that the boutique was robbed. Gina admits that she closed an hour early the night before and isn’t sure she did it properly. Kelly’s more upset that Dylan and Gina went to Mexico, and he bought her a Mayan goddess of fertility. Dylan promises that Gina closed up properly – he would know because he was with her. Gina says that Sonia obviously broke in, as she’s the only other person with a key.
Kelly assures Matt that nothing happened between her and Dylan in Mexico. He doesn’t have to worry about her taking any more trips with him. She wants to get back together with Matt, but he knows Dylan will just keep pursuing her, and she won’t be able to resist him. Kelly tries to prove her commitment to Matt by inviting him to dance with her at the marathon. There, Noah double-checks with Gina that things are ready for Donna’s birthday party right before midnight.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra provides the music as the marathon begins. There are some fun ’40s outfits. Dylan left his second statue at the boutique, but the presence of the security guard keeps him from getting inside to get it. Three hours into the marathon, the Muntzes are going strong, so Janet urges Steve to tell them he can’t afford their pledge. Of course, he’s not going to do that.
Donna’s distracted by Sonia’s problems, the store’s failure to really get off the ground, Gina’s weirdness, and Noah’s distance. She’s also a little upset that she and Noah haven’t discussed plans for her birthday. Her timing is perfect, as it’s time for them to go next door to the Peach Pit for Donna’s surprise birthday party. Everything is good except for the cake – Gina got chocolate, which Donna’s allergic to. Noah pulls Gina aside and she rants about how she’s always been second to her perfect cousin. Donna overhears, shocked that Gina feels like this.
Dylan comes to the marathon, obviously in withdrawal, and asks Kelly to let him into the store. She’s not willing to let him in to get the statue he bought Gina. She makes it clear that they’re over. Dylan moves on to Gina, telling her he needs the statue for luck. The promise of attention makes Gina only too happy to help. Muntz and his wife win the marathon and donate their $5,000 to Fight AIDS. Fortunately, Steve has suddenly gotten a reputation as a nice guy, which has led to an increase in ad sales. Merry Christmas, Steve Sanders!
Sonia comes to the After Dark to return Donna’s keys, and Donna sees that she was beaten. Sonia tells her that the other gang girls wanted her to help them rob the store, but she refuses. The security guard, however, was an accomplice. The happy ending is that Sonia’s out of the gang. Matt and Kelly get burritos, which is as close to a trip to Mexico as Matt can get. She’s surprised that he knows her tastes better than she thought he did.
Dylan and Gina spent the night together, and in the morning, he snorts heroin in his bathroom. Noah gives Donna her birthday presents, fake snow inside the After Dark and a bracelet his father once gave his mother. Somehow, David doesn’t think it’s strange to broadcast from 20 feet away while his ex dances with her current boyfriend.
Thoughts: Kelly and Dylan get champagne in Mexico, so I guess we’re just completely ignoring his alcoholism?
Really the only difference between Gina and Valerie is that Gina’s better at playing innocent when she messes with someone’s life.
I wonder when Vanessa Marcil and Brian Austin Green got together? They don’t really have chemistry (though supposedly couples without chemistry on-screen have it off-screen).
Since when is Donna allergic to chocolate?