March 21, 2017
Summary: The Boosters want to raise money to hire a professional photographer for an upcoming Valentine’s Day dance, so they sell personalized cheers. For $2, they’ll give a shout-out to your crush or significant other in a cheer. For $4, they’ll create a brand-new cheer all about that person. Admittedly, this is pretty creative. But the Boosters aren’t going to spend so much time on this project that it takes away from their mission to find dates to the dance.
Lila is sure that Jake Hamilton, who’s practically her boyfriend, will ask her, so she’s crushed when he buys a cheer for Brooke Dennis. To save face, she tells her friends that she dumped Jake last week, so she’s not bothered. Besides, she’s already seeing a new guy, eighth-grader Gray Williams, who goes to a private school. Lila is so convincing when she describes him that no one catches on that he’s completely made up.
Lila figures she’ll just “break up” with Gray in a few days and her friends will never know the truth. But when the Unicorns come over and see some freshly cut flowers, they guess that they’re from Gray, and Lila plays along. She loves the attention too much to tell the truth now. Plus, she doesn’t want to admit that she’s single and Jake isn’t interested.
The ending of the book becomes clear early on, when Lila meets the Fowlers’ gardener’s grandson, Justin. She’s a jerk to him, but he’s hot for her. Justin, get some self-respect, man. Anyone over the age of five can figure out that Justin will eventually pretend to be Gray. But Lila hasn’t thought that far ahead, and is focused on having a hot date for the dance. She meets a guy at Casey’s, but the Unicorns chase him away, telling him that Lila’s spoken for.
Lila decides to fake a break-up, using an onion to make herself cry when she tells her friends that she and Gray had a huge fight after she forgot his birthday. The Unicorns secretly get him a cake and plan to take it to his school and tell him how sorry Lila is. To keep them from discovering that Gray doesn’t exist, Lila pretends that he called her at school and they’ve already made up. The Unicorns are gullible enough to buy this.
Just as Lila’s about to suck it up and come clean, Janet reveals that Sarah Thomas has been lying about her boyfriend. She said she was dating a ninth-grader, but she’s really seeing a seventh-grader. Now Lila can’t risk confessing her lies and being mocked by her friends. She confides in Justin, who quickly comes up with a solution but doesn’t get the chance to share it with Lila.
Lila’s next plan is to fake appendicitis (inspired by a teacher who just had it) so she has an excuse not to go to the dance. Most girls would just fake a cold or the flu, but not our Lila. She has to go all-out. She’s about to collapse at school when attention shifts to Jessica (more on that in the C-plot), so she misses her chance. Lila then tries to convince her housekeeper that she’s too sick to go to the dance, but she makes the classic fake-illness mistake of keeping the thermometer on the lightbulb too long, so her supposed super-high fever isn’t believable. Plus, Mr. Fowler is going to be one of the chaperones at the dance, and Lila knows she’d disappoint him by missing it. (By the way, Mr. Fowler is pretty awesome in this book, and clearly loves Lila a lot, despite never spending time with her.)
At the dance, Lila makes various excuses for why Gray isn’t with her – he’s running late, he’s getting refreshments, he’s talking to a friend across the room, etc. The Unicorns want to celebrate the new relationship by giving Lila and Gray a spotlight dance. When the spotlight falls on Lila and Gray is nowhere in sight, the Unicorns start to figure out that she was lying about him the whole time. But then! Justin arrives, pretending to be Gray, and saves Lila’s reputation. I would find it sweet, but Justin’s affection for a girl who treats him like dirt is just sad.
In the B-plot, Elizabeth and her fellow Sixers staff are publishing “lovegrams” to make some money. For a little extra, you can hire one of them to write a special Valentine’s message to your crush/significant other. Elizabeth gets really into it, going along the lines of “I burn, I pine, I perish!” On a roll, she decides to write Todd a passionate poem for Valentine’s Day. She thinks it’s more romantic to leave it unsigned, and she’s sure Todd will know it’s from her.
Todd, however, is a dolt and thinks he has a secret admirer. He becomes obsessed with finding out who wrote him a love poem. He’s so sure it wasn’t Liz that he breaks up with her. She turns her sadness and rage into super-passionate lovegrams, which disturb the buyers a little bit. Like, they want to tell girls they like hanging out with them, not pledge their undying love. Mandy Miller’s like, “I want this guy to think I’m nice, not that I want to elope.” It takes a little while, but Liz does get the hint.
Todd starts thinking that any girl who’s ever been nice to him could be his secret admirer. Brooke asked to borrow some money, so she must be in love with him! Maria smiled at him, so she must be hot for him! I fear for Todd’s ability to read signals when he’s older. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has become an object of affection for many guys at SVMS, now that she’s back on the market, and even Bruce wants to take her to the dance. Todd’s upset about this, and eventually realizes that any girl who might want him can’t be nearly as awesome as Elizabeth. He needs to make up with her and get back together.
At the dance, Todd tries to apologize with flowers and candy, but Liz is slow to warm up to him. I don’t blame her. When it comes out that she wrote the poem, she has to laugh at his failure to realize who it was from. I guess it’s a little funny that he dumped her for the poet, who turned out to be her all along, but it was also a jerk move.
The C-plot is that Jessica wants Aaron to ask her to the dance, but he keeps hanging out with and talking to Elizabeth. Jess decides to call him out in the cafeteria, while the Boosters are performing their Valentine’s cheers. But just as she’s about to call him a snake in front of everyone, the Boosters perform a special cheer Aaron commissioned for Jess. (You have to read it – see below.) All is forgiven when Aaron explains that he was only talking to Elizabeth to get help with the cheer. Jess is definitely his preferred twin.
Thoughts: This is almost exactly the plot of Love Letters, just for the middle-school set.
Amy thinks Elizabeth should get Todd a stuffed animal for Valentine’s Day. Amy, stop helping.
Lila: “[Gray] threatened to do something drastic if I didn’t immediately break up with Jake and go out with him instead.” Tamara: “Oh, Lila, how romantic.” OH, GIRLS, NO.
Lila’s outfit for the dance: “The top was a sophisticated black velvet bodysuit. Displayed with it were long hiphuggers with huge bells at the bottom.” OH, GIRL, NO.
Here’s Aaron’s cheer, in all its…well, glory certainly isn’t the right word:
“Oh Jessica, oh Jessica,
You make my heart beat fast.
You’ve always been the twin for me,
From first until the last.
I love the way you chew your gum,
Right in our science class.
Around you I am never glum,
Not even when you sass.
Your long blond hair is like the sun,
Your eyes are like the sky.
With you I have terrific fun,
I’ll never make you cry.
You take a joke just like a boy,
You look just like a girl.
I’d follow you to Illinois,
Or all around the world.
I can’t compete with Johnny Buck,
He sure gives me a blister.
And now I find, with just my luck,
You think I like your sister.
But Jessica, you must believe,
There is no other one.
I’d like to take you out tonight,
In order to have fun.
Please say you’ll be my date tonight,
I’ll bring you one red rose.
There’s no way I’ll be late tonight,
Or step upon your toes.
Be my Valentine, Jessica! Love Aaron! Yay!”
September 15, 2015
Summary: The book starts just where the last one ended, with Jessica and an unconscious Nick in the house where he tried to sting Clay. Nick regains consciousness, and Jessica tells him some of the things Clay said while he was out – namely, that he killed another cop, Riviera. Nick swears her to secrecy, deciding that he’ll pretend he heard the confession so Jess doesn’t have to testify and get involved in the whole mess. Unfortunately, until then, Nick and Jess will have to pretend they’ve broken up.
Jessica decides to make the fake split look more realistic by flirting with Clay. This seems like a foolproof plan. Lila thinks Jessica’s insane, considering what Clay did to Isabella. She tells Nick about Jess and Clay’s possible new relationship, which makes Nick go all Todd on Clay. Nick then covers up his jealousy by screaming at Jessica – in public – that she’s a slut for hooking up with another guy so soon after their breakup.
This doesn’t convince Clay of anything, or if it does, it doesn’t really matter. After all, Clay almost killed Nick, and with Nick…you know, not dead, Clay has a problem on his hands. He tries to have Nick kidnapped off the street, but Nick manages to get the attention of some nearby cops. Clay gets away, but Nick passes along the information that he killed Riviera, so the police are now on the lookout.
Since Jessica is a potential target, Nick enlists a young cop named Graham to be her bodyguard while posing as her new boyfriend. Jessica objects, even when Graham turns out to be cute. She’s pretty awful to him, making it clear that Nick is much more awesome than he is. I don’t think Graham really cares. Graham is a pushover, actually; he helps Nick and Jessica get together for a date when they’re not supposed to see each other. Thanks, Graham.
Despite the fact that Nick is staying in a hotel and using a “light disguise,” Clay is able to track him down. He brings along Nelson “The Nose” Karl, the head of the whole Sweet Valley drug empire. I’m curious whether he’s called “The Nose” because he has a large one or because he does a lot of cocaine. Nick escapes and leads Clay and Karl straight to where a bunch of cops are waiting for them. They’re not the smartest criminals, are they? Also, there’s an appearance by a helicopter, which supposedly takes the criminals by surprise, because bad books and movies always forget that helicopters are loud and can’t exactly sneak up on people.
So this means things get to go back to normal for Nick and Jessica, right? Wrong. There isn’t enough evidence to put Clay away without Nick having to testify, and Nick can’t be protected even after Clay’s in prison. He’s decided he needs to enter witness protection. Jessica wants to go with him, but Nick refuses to make her leave her life. They won’t be able to see each other ever again. There’s a super-dramatic scene where they say goodbye to each other. I would be more interested if I didn’t know what happens in the next book.
Elizabeth and Tom spend the entire book not talking about whether he slept with Dana. Elizabeth is freaking out about the idea but won’t bring it up. Tom notices that Elizabeth is upset about something but can’t get her to tell him what it is. This goes on FOREVER. Elizabeth finally asks the question…and Tom lies. Freaking A, Tom. I can’t take this plot anymore.
Winston gets a ridiculous plot involving a bunch of prep-school girls who visit SVU. They’re all in love with him (though I think it’s mostly because they go to an all-girls’ school and are so desperate for any kind of male interaction that they’d take anything). The girls act like rowdy six-year-olds. They have an actual food fight. And one of them, Brenda, kisses Winston while Denise is watching. This plot is exhausting.
Danny should have the most interesting storyline in the book, what with Isabella still being unconscious in the hospital, but it goes nowhere. Remember how Danny was accused of stealing a test he accidentally picked up? He’s supposed to meet with the professor about the incident and whatever kind of punishment he faces for it, but instead, she realizes that he didn’t do anything wrong. The professor’s suddenly so nice to Danny that I was sure she was going to try to seduce him and kick off a completely different plot. But no, she just lets the whole thing go. And then Danny realizes that he’s not mad at Isabella after all, and he wants her back. She’ll have to wake up first, of course.
Thoughts: The girls on Winston’s hall only get a few hours’ notice that they’re all expected to house overnight guests. I would walk out and spend the weekend somewhere else.
Winston tells the prep-school girls that he has a degree in sexual chemistry. First of all, that’s so weak. Second of all, THEY’RE UNDERAGE, EGBERT.
Jessica wears black velvet jeans. Why do I feel like Lila tricked her into buying those, making her think they were fashionable?
July 7, 2015
Summary: Tom has landed a great summer internship. Elizabeth was supposed to do an internship for some news show, but it fell through, so she’s stuck working at a bookstore. They’re happy to spend the summer together, as they’ve supposedly planned for a while. Tom is also happy to possibly get some – he thinks this summer is going to be when Liz finally has sex with him. The only person who’s not happy is me, because I have to suffer through another book about Tom.
Elizabeth is a disaster at retail, so it’s good news when she learns that she’s won a fellowship to spend the summer putting on a play in New York. Apparently one of her professors submitted a one-act play she wrote but didn’t tell her about it because it was a long shot. What a surprise that perfect Elizabeth Wakefield beat the odds and came out on top once again!
Elizabeth is uncertain about taking the fellowship, since she’s a journalist, not a playwright. You’d think the fact that someone thought the play was good enough for the fellowship in the first place would be a confidence-booster. She’s also hesitant because she and Tom had planned to spend the summer together, and now she might go to New York. Liz tells Tom about the fellowship, and he immediately starts questioning the logistics: Where will she live? How will she get around? Can she survive a summer in a big, dangerous city, seeing as how she’s just a little girl?
Alice helps out by calling a college friend named Tish to get advice on where Elizabeth can stay. Coincidentally, Tish’s adult daughters are both away for the summer, so there’s plenty of room for Elizabeth to move in. Free housing! Lucky girl. Tom starts worrying about being away from his precious Liz for more than five minutes, so he quits his awesome internship and announces that he’s going to New York with her. That’s not weird at all! Have fun explaining that to future prospective employers, Tom. “I see here that you quit an impressive summer internship after just two days. Why is that?” “Sex.” Tom will also be living at Tish’s. Sigh.
While Tom is so certain that Elizabeth is going to sleep with him, Liz is having mixed feelings. She loves Tom and wants to show that love physically, but she also isn’t sure she’s ready for that next step in their relationship. I can’t tell you how boring it is to read about how they keep almost doing it and then don’t. I really, really couldn’t care less about them.
Anyway, New York. The city is awesome! There are so many people! It’s hot! There’s lots of traffic! People are rude! Liz and Tom meet Tish, who is supremely annoying. She’s every New Age cliché rolled into one, with more added on. If I spent more than five minutes with her, I’d have to leave the room. Elizabeth and Tom go sightseeing, then get all turned on and rush back to the apartment to have sex. Unfortunately, the cab ride home is a little crazy, and Liz accidentally bites Tom’s lip, drawing blood and killing the mood.
Elizabeth starts her actual fellowship, which allows her to cast and produce the play she wrote. The other two fellows are a goth girl named Claire (I can’t believe she doesn’t go by another name, like Raven or Abyssinia or something) and a guy named Gerald who is every pretentious English lit major you will ever meet. They think Elizabeth’s play is stupid – and to be fair, it really, really is. It’s based off a fight she and Tom had in the newsroom. It’s pretty basic for someone who’s supposed to be this spectacular writer, and I have a hard time believing someone thought it was good enough to win a competition.
The dramaturg, Ted, thinks it’s lame, too. He gives Elizabeth a bunch of notes, mostly about how the characters are holding back emotion. Since the characters are based on her and Tom, Liz thinks this means that she and Tom hold back emotion, which is related to their lack of sex. She wonders if they should break up. I think they should, but that’s mostly because I don’t like Tom and don’t want to have to read about him. I guess I’m too partial to get a vote.
Tom looks for a job, but it’s not like a journalism major can just walk into a news studio and start working. Elizabeth takes the wrong subway and ends up at Coney Island, so she calls Tom to come rescue her. Girl, get on another train. You don’t need his help. Tom thinks that since he’s coming to her rescue (and spending a lot of money on a cab to get to her), he should be rewarded. In bed. Shut up, Tom.
Elizabeth has another horrible day, since everyone at the theater thinks she’s lame, and they don’t want her input on their plays. In fact, the only person who’s nice to her is an actor case in Claire’s play. After he gives Liz some encouragement, she realizes that he’s mega-hot movie star Vince Klee. Okay, how many celebrities have the twins met over the years? Vince wants to do some serious theater (he’d probably spell it theatre to make it seem even more serious) because he has a reputation as a mindless action star. Hey, don’t knock it. There’s a lot of money in that.
Liz’s day is looking up, but it comes crashing back down when Ted casts a famous character actress as the lead in her play, without consulting Liz. The actress is annoying and totally wrong for the part. Tom spends the day helping Tish with her aromatherapy business (yes, really), and when Liz comes home, he tries to help her relax using the techniques he’s learned. But when he suggests that they head to the bedroom, she snaps at him. I’m on her side – he needs to read the room and realize she’s not in that kind of mood.
So Tom goes out drinking, encounters a sexist jerk trying to get a woman drunk so he can sleep with her, and realizes that he’s been going about this sex thing all wrong. He goes home and makes up with Elizabeth, who lets him sleep in her bed (all clothes on). The next day, he wakes up with a rash. I hope it’s scabies. Elizabeth goes to rehearsal and finally stands up for herself, telling Ted and Hildy that her play will be performed as written. Apparently Ted was pushing her to try to get her to be more confident and assertive. Then Liz is scandalized because Claire wants her actors to perform nude. Who cares? That’s not Liz’s problem.
Lest we forget about the other Wakefield twin, Jessica gets to have an adventure this summer, too. Her friends all have fabulous summers lined up, but Jessica’s plans haven’t been solidified yet. She tells everyone she’s going to a summer program at the Sweet Valley Police Academy, even though she hasn’t been accepted yet. She’s sure she will, especially after she stops a purse-snatcher from stealing Lila’s bag. But Jessica’s wrong – the academy program is full, so we’re spared the ridiculousness that would be Jessica learning to be a police officer.
Instead, we get a different kind of ridiculousness. Someone submitted Jessica’s name for a special training program for security personnel, and she’s been offered a spot in their Florida session, plus some money. Jessica immediately deposits the money, then tells her parents about the offer. Ned and Alice are somehow surprised that their daughter acted impulsively and made a decision that might not be able to be reversed. Jess drags Liz into it, saying that if Liz gets to go to New York, she should get to go to Florida. Never mind that Ned and Alice are the ones financing most of these adventures. They investigate to make sure this training program is legit, and when they confirm that it is, they let Jessica go.
The first person Jess meets is a guy named Harlan, who’s also flying to Florida from California. Jess thinks her summer will be awesome if there’s a hot guy to flirt with. If she weren’t so boy crazy, she’d realize that Harlan is kind of a jerk. Then again, if Jessica were smarter about any number of things, she’d realize that this summer program isn’t going to be the way she expects. She thinks it’ll be glamorous, teaching her martial arts and how to protect hot movie stars from stalkers. Instead, it’s basically boot camp.
It takes about two seconds for Jessica to get on the bad side of one Sergeant Pruitt, who thinks she’s a princess cheerleader girly-girl who’s in way over her head. I picture Pruitt as Kate Mulgrew (in Orange is the New Black, not Star Trek). She picks on Jessica for everything under the sun, which at first makes Jess want to quit, but then motivates her to shine. She and her partner totally kill an obstacle course, scaring off a snake with a makeshift blowtorch Jessica makes using hairspray and a lighter. Pruitt sabotages the truck they’re supposed to drive, but Jessica’s partner hotwires it to save the day.
Unable to rag on Jessica after she did so well in the competition, Pruitt gives her kitchen duty for “fraternizing” with Harlan. Never mind that all the others were talking to each other, too. Some of the other women are given KP duty, too, and at first Jessica’s worried because she thinks they don’t like her. They assure her that they do, and that everyone hates Pruitt, which allows them all to bond.
Pruitt gives Jessica and her new friends overnight guard duty after they failed to complete a bunch of laps she made them do. She also threatens to have a guy working in the gym discharged; I think the ghostwriter keeps confusing this program for the military. After catching Jessica trash-talking her, Pruitt suggests that they settle their differences in the boxing ring. Jessica is dumb enough to agree, despite not having any boxing experience. Oh, and Pruitt is a Golden Gloves champ. Good job, Jess! Let’s see her try to get out of this one.
Thoughts: Whenever I see a phrase like the title of this book – “X ♥ Y” – I think of Jack saying, “I do not heart prison anymore” on Will and Grace. And now you will, too.
“They’d been planning to spend the summer together for months.” That’s impossible – Tom and Elizabeth just got back together two books ago. Does continuity mean nothing in this series?? Oh, and Nick doesn’t seem to exist.
“‘Liz, please, just remember how much I’ll miss you if you go. That’s all I ask.’ Did that sound too manipulative? Tom wondered.” Yes, it does. Stop that.
Tish wears “a green crocheted vest with floor-length fringe over a flowing, diaphanous purple-and-gold blouse and a black peasant skirt.” She also wears “several crystals” as necklaces. I cannot deal with this woman.
Jessica, singing: “Summerti-i-ime, and the living’s easy / The fish are – something…and it’s OK to wear white shoes!” I’ll admit I laughed at that.
Tom runs into a friend in New York who makes $60,000 a year and can afford a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no.
“Doesn’t she realize everything I went through to be with her? You’d think she would want to do something for me!” Is Tom a meninist? Discuss.
May 19, 2015
Summary: It’s Kerry Glenn’s birthday, y’all! …You know, Kerry Glenn! She takes ballet with the twins and pops up every once in a while when they need a random character around. Okay, that’s not important. What’s important is that Sandra Ferris will be coming to Kerry’s party, and no one likes Sandra Ferris. She’s tall. She’s clumsy. She’s shy. She’s awkward. She probably talks to animals and collects soda cans. Kerry says she’s only invited to the party because their mothers are friends. Apparently Elizabeth was friends with Sandra when they were younger, but Sandra went to another school for a while and they lost touch. Liz is the only one who thinks people should be nicer.
Everyone going to the party decides to give Kerry gifts that have to do with ballet (Jessica’s idea). Jess is supposed to let everyone in on the plan, including Sandra. Of course, she doesn’t talk to Sandra. A lot of the girls going to the party find out the plan from each other, because they’re friends and talk, but Sandra’s out of the loop. She gets Kerry gloves. Do people in Sweet Valley even need gloves? Does the temperature ever drop below 60 degrees there? Sandra’s pretty miserable at the party, so Elizabeth chats with her, then invites her to hang out the next day.
What do you do when your twin sister’s hanging out with a loser (and you’re Jessica Wakefield)? You give the loser a makeover, of course! In the grand tradition of Cher and Dionne, the twins give Sandra a new hairstyle, do her makeup, and loan her some not-dreadful clothes. Suddenly, she’s pretty. So pretty that guys like Steven, Aaron Dallas, and even Tom McKay take notice.
When you become hot overnight, your whole life changes, as Sandra learns at school. All the popular kids want to hang out with her, including the Unicorns. In fact, a rumor starts (thanks, Caroline!) that Janet wants Sandra to become a Unicorn. Jessica hates that no one gives her any credit for turning Sandra into an unobjectionable person, and it makes her even madder that Sandra doesn’t praise her for her help. Also, Jessica, who’s suddenly an aspiring fashion designer, tried to sew lace cuffs on her sweater but didn’t stitch them properly, so they fall off.
The Sweet Valley Days festival, the town’s celebration of its founding, is approaching, and the mayor will be speaking at a special assembly at the school. A student will be selected by the social studies teachers to give his introduction. Plus, the kids get to elect a representative from each grade to ride a float in a parade. These kids will be dubbed Citizens of the Year. I love how the teachers pretend this won’t just be a big popularity contest.
Despite her shiny new exterior, Sandra still has self-esteem issues, and she worries that everyone is only being nice to her because she’s pretty. She decides to throw her hat in the ring as a candidate to introduce the mayor. If she wins, that means she’s awesome, not just pretty. Except the teachers are choosing that person, so it doesn’t really mean that. But anyway, she gets Elizabeth to nominate her, even though Liz had already agreed to nominate Jessica. Jessica pouts, but I don’t get why she didn’t just ask someone else to nominate her. Also, amazingly, Elizabeth isn’t nomination, or just given the honor outright for being such a wonderful person.
Once Sandra wins the honor, she rides the high to the competition for Citizen of the Year. Jessica had planned to win both honors, so she’s royally ticked. She and Sandra enter a heated battle to become the biggest teacher’s pet. They should have done that before; this is the competition where the students get to vote. The girls both randomly focus on a literacy program, which need more funds from the students. Why do they think middle-schoolers will be able to fund that? When I was in middle school, I only ever had, like, five dollars, and you better believe I was going to spend that on mini-donuts.
Jessica decides that if she can help raise money for a bookmobile, she’ll be a lock for Citizen of the Year. Because if there’s anything middle-schoolers admire in their classmates, it’s their love of fundraising. A talk with Steve gives Jess the idea to create commemorative booklets for Sweet Valley Days, like the seniors at SVH did for prom. When Jess tells Elizabeth the idea at school, Sandra overhears her talking about selling ads, remembers her older sister telling her about the prom books, and comes up with the same idea Jessica already had. She tells her teacher about it and gets all the credit without even realizing she kind of stole it.
Now Jessica and Elizabeth are both mad at Sandra, thinking she really did steal the idea and is using it to get ahead of Jess in the race for Citizen of the Year. Everything Jessica wanted for herself falls to Sandra, who wins Citizen of the Year and is praised for the booklet idea. But Sandra can’t be happy because the twins are mad at her, and friendship with them is the most important thing in the world.
Sandra goes to see the girls but talks to Steven instead and realizes that he gave Jessica the same booklet idea that Sandra got. She figures that she was inspired by Jess, so it’s reasonable that Jess would think she stole the idea. The girls all finally talk, and everything gets worked out. Then Sandra decides that Jessica should ride on the float instead of her, so she pretends to be sick the day of the parade. Sandra, you need to learn right now not to enable the girl. It’ll just make her worse. Jess does let Sandra take credit for the booklet, since she worked so hard on it, so I guess that’s nice. She just wanted to ride on the float anyway, so what does she care?
Remember how I said Jessica’s suddenly into fashion design? She wants to make a pioneer dress for Sweet Valley Days. Alice is very encouraging and agrees to help but warns that it will take a ton of work. Amazingly, Jessica actually does that work instead of, say, manipulating Elizabeth into doing it for her, or giving up two minutes in. The dress doesn’t turn out great, and she doesn’t finish the hem before the parade, so she has to go around with it taped up all day. When she gets home, she realizes it’s kind of a mess, but she’d rather trash it than fix it. That sounds like Jess all right. She’ll just have to find something else to become instead of a designer.
Thoughts: The first thing Sandra wears to school post-makeover: “A faded denim blouse and a pair of tan stonewashed jeans.” That’s bad even for the late ’80s.
For some reason, the image of Jessica’s lace cuff falling off into her macaroni and cheese has stuck with me all these years.
Amy nominates Ken for Citizen of the Year, rather than Elizabeth, so there’s the main difference between her and Enid.
Sweet Valley’s mayor’s name is Herbert Lodge, which makes me think of Herbert Love, Terry Crews’ character in the fourth season of Arrested Development. He should definitely not be mayor of anything. And from there I think of Herbert Cain, who Herbert Love was based on. And then from there I think of pizza. That was fun!
April 14, 2015
Summary: We pick up pretty much where the last book left off, with Bruce upset that Paul hustled him in a tennis game, and Elizabeth going over the details of the investigation in her head. She teases Bruce about calling the police on Paul to report that he’d stolen money he’d actually won. Bruce mentions that he gave Paul a check, which is news to Elizabeth, since she knows Tom saw him with a bunch of cash, including the bill Tom wrote “buena suerte” on, supposedly for a club employee. So the newest wrinkle in the investigation is that money one of the employees collected went to a club member.
Paul’s father, a congressman, is having a reception at the club, and somehow Dana was invited and asks Tom to go with her. Tom is basically done with Dana, but he needs her to get access to the country club, since you can only go there as a couple. What a stupid club. Elizabeth and Scott are also going to the reception, if anyone cares. And of course Lila and Bruce are going, because Lila practically lives at the club now. Lila chats with Paul for a little while, and then he heads off to switch cars with someone, getting into a van with a missing mud flap. Jessica happens to see this.
Elizabeth and Scott review the investigation, so I might as well, too: A caddy named Dwayne Mendoza was discovered dead in the lake at the country club. Brandon Phillips, a fellow caddy and SVU student, was arrested for murder after some of Dwayne’s things were found in his locker. A busboy named Manuel Coimbra has gone missing, and Elizabeth has uncovered possible voter fraud involving him – he got a voter registration card, despite the fact that he wasn’t a citizen. Plus, the card spells his name Manoel instead of Manuel.
Scott and Liz go to the county records office to look for Manuel’s address. None exists, but there’s info on Manoel. Except Manoel was from Brazil and died in 1991 at the age of 76. So it seems someone was employing some good old-fashioned fraud by collecting the votes of dead people. While Elizabeth is busy doing some actual investigating, Jessica snoops in her things to find out what she’s uncovered about the case. Liz catches her, and Jessica mocks her for keeping secrets so she can compete with Tom, instead of trying to solve the case and get justice.
Tom talks to Carlos, the waiter he gave the “buena suerte” bill to, and starts to think that Paul’s extorting the club employees who are working illegally. This makes a lot of sense, but I hate that Tom was the one to figure it out, because I don’t want him to be right about anything ever. Meanwhile, Scott and Elizabeth pose as lawyers so they can visit Brandon in lockup. Except Scott didn’t tell Liz that he’d planned this, which is pretty rotten of him, since I’m pretty sure they could get in a lot of trouble for this. All they really learn from their conversation with Brandon is that Dwayne may have figured out that Manuel was using someone else’s identity, and was killed so he couldn’t tell anyone.
Reception time! There’s a funny scene where Lila gets upset that Bruce isn’t dressed nicely enough for the reception at the club, so she fake-cries until he changes, because she knows Bruce can’t handle tears. If anyone else did this, I would be disgusted, but since it’s Lila, it cracks me up.
Jessica spots Tom and Dana making out, and she’s so surprised that she accidentally breaks character (as Perdita). Lila overhears her and figures out that she’s Jessica. Jess hightails it out of there. Elizabeth also sees Tom and Dana together, so Tom ditches Dana to try to get Liz to agree to work with him on the investigation. Scott shows up, as he always does, and Tom’s so mad to see him that he decides not to tell Elizabeth anything he’s learned, since she would inevitably give the information to Scott. Lila tracks down Jessica but doesn’t care what “Perdita” and “Chip” are up to as long as it doesn’t keep her and Bruce from becoming VIP members.
Congressman Krandall addresses the guests at the reception, and Bruce seems to be the only one surprised that it’s really a fundraiser. Why else would a politician hold an event for rich people? Bruce refuses to give Krandall any money. While he and Lila are fighting about this, Tom overhears him mention that he gave Paul a check after he was hustled, so now Tom is confused about where Paul got all that cash, including the “buena suerte” bill.
Tom goes looking for Carlos, but he’s busy, so Tom tries to talk to a busboy instead. The busboy doesn’t seem to speak English, but Tom knows someone who speaks Spanish: Perdita! Ha, I knew this would come back to bite Jessica. He pulls Jess in to translate, but unfortunately, Carlos arrives before she can really make a fool of herself. Carlos warns Tom to stop snooping around. While Tom’s trying to figure out if Carlos is threatening him or helping him, Jessica breaks her cover again. Tom tries to get her to tell him about the investigation, but she won’t.
Lila’s mad enough at Bruce to tell him they’re through. She can put up with a lot, but not a cheapskate! She thinks Bunny’s bored with Paul, so she just needs to get in good with him to be able to stay at the club. Speaking of Paul, the van Jessica saw him driving has been found abandoned with a few dozen people inside. Nick and Jessica are sent to talk to one of the people, who reveals that they were brought over the Mexican border after being promised papers and jobs by a guy using the name Wil E. Coyote. So Nick and Jessica head out to check out the van. Tom sees them and follows, while Elizabeth and Scott see him and follow.
While this caravan of fools drives around, Bruce goes back to the club and announces that people are being extorted. Carlos thinks he’s uncovered the whole illegal-worker thing, but Bruce is just talking about Paul’s hustling. Lila hopes that the two guys start fighting over her. Oh, Lila. Bruce makes a big scene, then leaves, stealing the trophy from the tennis tournament Lila fixed. Lila falls in the pool. I don’t know.
The others all meet up at the van, where Nick almost shoots everyone because it’s a little sketchy for people to be tailing a cop. He’s pretty ticked that reporters are running around, getting involved in this investigation but not sharing any information. He’s ready to arrest everyone, even though he doesn’t actually have anything to charge them with. Jessica tricks everyone into getting into the van (AKA the crime scene – come on, Jess), then says they can only get out when they start working together. She wants them to feel the way the immigrants felt when they were abandoned in the van.
Nick, Elizabeth, Tom, and Scott finally start sharing information, which leads to them deciding that Congressman Krandall is Wil E. Coyote, and he was using fake votes from illegal immigrants. They also think that Paul was extorting the illegal employees at the club, so they were getting doubly screwed. They ask to be let out of the van, but Jessica’s in no position to help them – Paul has followed them all out there and has stuffed her in the front of the van, which he plans to drive into a reservoir.
Jessica accidentally knocks herself out, which is pretty spectacular. When she comes to, she manages to get out of the van, like I’m so sure Jess was able to jump out of a moving vehicle without killing herself. She heads off to get help, and just happens to come across Bruce (who, hilariously, doesn’t realize at first that Perdita and Jessica are the same person). They head after the van as Jessica fills Bruce in on Paul’s crimes.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth figures that Jessica’s dead, and though the others convince her that Jess is probably okay, they know they’re going to have to save themselves. They face off with Paul, who reveals that Dwayne wasn’t murdered after all. Paul was just going to beat him up, but when he threw Dwayne in the lake, he quickly discovered that Dwayne couldn’t swim. Also, nothing bad happened to Manuel; they just sent him back to Mexico. (Later, Jessica finds out that he was one of the immigrants in the van, having come back across the border for another shot.)
Paul’s accomplice arrives, and the investigators realize that Paul isn’t Wil E. Coyote. So who is? It’s Carlos, the waiter Tom gave the “buena suerte” bill to. This was a nice twist I didn’t see coming. Paul plans to kill all the investigators, starting with Elizabeth. He shoots at her, but Tom shields her, because they’ve kind of reconnected and she’s given him a reason to live, or something. Carlos doesn’t think Paul’s plan is the way to go, and Tom seizes on his conscience to try to talk him out of helping Paul any longer.
It’s a moot point anyway, because rescue comes in the form of Jessica. She shows up with Bruce’s tennis racket and helps the captives overpower their captors. Carlos ends up with the gun, but Tom talks him into not using it. Then Bruce arrives and knocks Carlos out with the tennis trophy. Then Lila shows up, somehow. Why are all these people driving around in the middle of nowhere at the same time? The bad guys are taken into police custody, and Elizabeth and Tom come close to kissing.
The whole mess with the club leads to Lila deciding that she doesn’t want to be a VIP member after all. Also, she’s turned on by how brave and strong he was. He hit someone with a trophy, Li. Calm down. Tom covers the story on SVUTV, and Scott encourages Elizabeth to write about it for the paper. He also makes out with her, and this time, she’s into it. Too bad he’s about to leave – he was accepted into some investigative-reporting school in Denver. He thinks Liz should apply, too. And in other career news, Jessica announces to Nick that she wants to leave SVU to become a police officer. He tells her he wants to leave the police force and go back to school. Womp womp!
Thoughts: Why no, I don’t know why the book is called Undercover Angels. Thanks for asking.
Bruce: “I’m not obsessing. I’m venting. There’s a difference.” I’m stealing that for future use.
Dana wears zebra-print jeans. ICK.
Lila carries a papier-mâché clutch shaped like a sea cow. Uh, what? Rich people are weird.
My favorite thing in this book as how Jessica keeps saying “adios” and running away from Tom before he can completely figure out who she really is.
Nick gets mad at Tom and kicks the van. Jessica: “Why are you kicking the van?” Nick: “Because it’s illegal to kick him.” Hee.
Elizabeth with a gun pointed at her: “Yikes!” Okay, Liz.
“We’re just two college students, completely unarmed except for a tennis racket and a tin trophy cup. What am I supposed to do? Yell ‘Freeze or I’ll double fault’?” Bruce, you’ve just given me a great idea for a unique new action hero…
March 17, 2015
Summary: For this book, we have to pretend that the previous four never happened, and that it’s only been a few days since Gin-Yung died. We start at her funeral, where everyone is understandably somber, but somehow Elizabeth is the saddest. Interesting, since they were never friends and both wanted the same guy. Todd is also wrecked, and he decides he needs time to himself to mourn, so he and Elizabeth are over. Again. For the 19th time. After the 20th, they get a free sub!
Elizabeth decides to sweep aside the breakup and all the other messes she’s been in through the SVU series, and make a fresh start. She quits the TV station and joins SVU’s paper, the Gazette. What’s awesome is that Liz, star reporter and editor of the Oracle, is a big ol’ nothing at the Gazette. No one cares that she edited her high school paper because everyone at the Gazette did the same. I think a lot of the time Elizabeth forgets that she’s a freshman, and that freshmen have no standing anywhere.
Pretty much the only person who’s happy to have Elizabeth at the paper is Scott, who’s obviously in love with her. He keeps trying to spend time with her, and he’s gotten a little touchy-feely. It makes Liz uncomfortable, but she tells herself that he doesn’t mean any harm. Yeah, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell him to stop. It doesn’t matter what someone’s intentions are – if his/her behavior makes you uncomfortable, speak up. Okay, end PSA.
Elizabeth is assigned to do a fluff piece about the Verona Springs Country Club. She’s mad that she’s given such a softball, and the editor reminds her that she’ll have to work to get to the juicier stories. But Liz does some research and comes across a better story: a murder. The body of Dwayne Mendoza, an SVU student who worked at the club as a caddy, was found in the lake. The club kept the murder quiet for a week before going to the police, more worried about protecting their reputation than getting justice. Yeah, that’s not shady at all. Also, no one at SVU seems to know about the murder. Dwayne’s things were found in another caddy’s locker, so it looks like that caddy robbed and murdered Dwayne, but obviously that’s not the case, since the police are still investigating (more on that later).
While this is going on, Tom’s father, George, is still trying to reach out to him, because he thinks Tom should be over the fact that George hit on Elizabeth. He sends Tom two memberships to Verona Springs, encouraging him to give one to Elizabeth. Because there’s nothing a college freshman wants more from her ex, who dumped her because he believed his father over her, than permission to wear tennis whites and hang out with snobby rich people. Shut up, George.
Tom takes Dana to the club instead, even though Dana is, like, totally punk rock, yo, and completely the opposite of everyone at the club. I’m surprised they let her through the gates. They run into Elizabeth and Scott, and everyone is really awkward with each other. Then they encounter a gardener named Juan, who’s Dwayne’s uncle. He obviously knows something about Dwayne’s murder but is too scared to say anything. Tom decides to investigate as well, and hopefully beat Elizabeth and Scott to the scoop. Oh, and then Scott kisses Elizabeth, and she’s like, “When did I ever give you the impression that I wanted your lips on me, creep?”
Jessica is obsessed with playing cop – she wants to go on a stakeout with Nick, who keeps insisting that it’s too dangerous. Also, they don’t just let random people go on stakeouts. Of course, Jessica has never heard a “no” she can’t turn into a “yes,” so she keeps bugging Nick no matter how many times he refuses. This somehow turns into her saying that she wants to be a cop herself. It also somehow leads to Nick deciding that he needs to choose between his job and his girlfriend. He decides he’ll take one last case – the murder investigation at Verona Springs – and then quit.
Nick is paired with another cop, Eileen, and they go undercover at the country club. Jessica goes nuts over this. How dare her boyfriend work with a woman who’s not her, after he told her the job was too dangerous for her! How dare he do his job and accept the partner who was assigned to him! How dare he speak to another female! Eileen has to leave the case to be with her ailing father, so Nick’s chief suggests that he take Jessica to the club in her place. Yeah, okay.
Jessica thinks Nick’s cheating, so she takes all his stuff to the police station and throws it at him, screaming about what a jerk he is. Hilariously, other cops can be heard in the background, egging her on. Nick tells Jess that she wins – she can be his partner. Because the best way to handle Jessica is to give her exactly what she wants.
Lila is affected by Gin-Yung’s death more than you would expect – it makes her remember losing her husband, the count. Bruce can relate because he lost Regina. Not really the same, but okay. He tries to cheer Lila up with trips to the country club, and she develops a new obsession: VIP membership. She and Bruce are currently just “couples only” members, which I guess means they can only go to the club with each other, but being VIP members would give them access to more areas of the club. I find it hard to believe that they’re not VIP members because of their families, or that they haven’t just bought their way to the top echelon.
Lila’s in for VIP membership is Pepper Danforth, and you can tell from her name exactly what kind of person she is. People named Pepper are usually snooty (exception: Pepper Potts). Pepper is a horrible human being, and hanging out with her makes Lila start acting like her. Amazingly, Bruce doesn’t like her new behavior, and is actually offended by how horribly they treat the staff at Verona Springs. When did Bruce develop human feelings?
Thoughts: The police hang out at a coffee shop called the Mug Shot, which is owned by a former crime-scene photographer. That is brilliant.
Jessica, after learning that Nick and Eileen are going undercover together: “Exactly what kind of covers do you two plan to be under?” Also brilliant.
With all the gossip we know goes on at SVU, how is it possible that a student died and no one heard about it? Wouldn’t the newspaper have run an article about it? Wouldn’t the administration have said something? Why is this the least believable part of the book?
Dana wears a purple dress and red sneakers to the country club. Even Claudia Kishi would class it up more than that.
Dana also calls Dwayne’s uncle “some old Mexican dude,” despite not knowing his ethnicity, which is awesome because I already hated her, and now I feel justified.
January 25, 2015
Summary: Donna’s on the reunion committee for West Beverly’s upcoming five-year reunion. Noah doesn’t want to go, but he looks through a pamphlet they’ve published with info on what the alums are doing now. Donna’s portion is totally inappropriate, about how she was a virgin for so long. She tries to keep Noah from reading any more. David has read the pamphlet as well, and learned that Valerie filled out his portion, which says he’s a rock star. He’s not happy that his classmates will get the wrong idea about him.
Kelly and Brandon go to the airport to pick up Andrea, who’s fighting with Jesse on the phone. He’s just made partner, but Andrea isn’t happy because she doesn’t want to be a housewife forever. Donna goes to a meeting with the reunion committee and lets everyone know she’s not a virgin anymore. Why is this a conversation topic? She tells everyone she’s trying to get David to perform at the reunion. The group decides that they want Andrea to give a speech. Once the meeting’s over, they look through an article about eligible bachelors in the area. Noah has been given the #1 spot.
Steve’s annoyed that the alumni pamphlet says he’ll show up to the reunion with a bimbo. He insists that he’s deep. Brandon brings Andrea by the office so they can brag about how awesome things are there. She teases Steve about bringing a bimbo to the reunion, so Janet speaks up that she’s his date. Andrea’s all, “Ooh, office romance!” Janet’s all, “Excuse me while I go throw up.” Donna confronts Noah over the article and how he failed to mention that he’s dating someone. He says he did mention her, then tries to call the writer. Donna flips because the writer is a woman.
Valerie urges David to go to the reunion despite the false impression she’s given his classmates. He ignores her and plays some of the jingles he’s written recently. Val reports that the reunion committee wants David to play, so she accepted the offer for him. Kelly, Brandon, and Andrea hang out at the beach apartment, talking about their classmates. Andrea resists making a speech at the reunion, starting to cry when her friends pressure her about it. She admits that things aren’t as good as she led on: She and Jesse are getting divorced.
Noah tracks down Donna at the Peach Pit to tell her again that he told the writer he was dating someone. He claims that he didn’t know he was being considered an eligible bachelor. Donna asks him to go to the reunion with her, but he thinks she’s asking him for the wrong reasons. Brandon and Andrea discuss her marital problems, which haven’t gotten better despite counseling and a trial separation. Andrea reveals that she even dropped out of medical school to work on keeping her family together. She tells Brandon to stop second-guessing her decisions.
Steve tries to convince a classmate that he’s sophisticated and reads books with words now. Janet’s excited about going to the reunion with him, and Steve has to pretend they’re going on a real date. Valerie bugs David about the reunion, which he still doesn’t want to go to. She promises that no one will know that he’s writing jingles. Eventually she wears him down, but David wants her to repay the favor at a later time.
Brandon and Steve get ready for the reunion, talking about how excited Janet is. Noah isn’t coming with Donna, which Valerie thinks is because of the article. Kelly teases Brandon for getting on Andrea’s bad side. Steve picks up Janet, nicely giving her a bouquet of carnations because he couldn’t find a corsage. Everyone meets up at West Beverly, and Brandon complains that Andrea keeps pretending that her family is perfect. Kelly tells him to stop thinking that this is easy for her.
Kelly catches up with a friend named April, who’s now married to another classmate of theirs, Ross. Kelly isn’t happy to see him. Valerie tries to endear herself to all the West Beverly people, pretending she works in disaster relief. She also gets under Donna’s skin about Noah. Steve and Janet take a picture together, like this is the prom, then chat with Rhonda, a hot classmate Steve doesn’t remember taking classes with. Valerie tells people that she met David in Tokyo, where he was volunteering with a charity after giving a concert. He plays along.
Steve ditches Janet to talk to Rhonda, who invites him to help her with a prank. Steve and Janet dance, but he can’t keep his eyes off of Rhonda. Kelly can’t keep her eyes off of Ross, but for different reasons. Andrea dissects Valerie’s claims about David, so apparently she’s naïve enough to think they might be true. Rhonda invites Steve to join her in the boys’ locker room for a shower. Janet calls him out for not treating her like the real date he promised she would be.
Brandon tells Andrea that everyone at the reunion is lying, including her and David. She tells him the truth isn’t that simple, even to tell to her friends. She wishes he would shut up and be supportive. She points out that he cheated on Kelly but didn’t put it in the pamphlet, so she doesn’t have to be completely honest either. In the bathroom, Donna hears some classmates talking about Noah, and how much one of them wants to get with him.
Valerie tells Kelly that she’s been pretending to be her all night. Heh. They spot some graffiti that says “Kelly is a slut.” Kelly reveals that it stems from when she lost her virginity to Ross when she was a freshman and he was a senior. After that, she got a bad reputation. (Except…didn’t Steve start that?) Kelly still hates Ross, but tonight he tried to act like nothing happened. Donna follows her classmates to the After Dark, where Noah rejects their advances. Donna spies on them, which Noah doesn’t like.
David performs his only hit while Steve goes to meet Rhonda in the locker room. She’s left him a lipstick note telling him to get naked and get in the shower. Ross introduces himself to Valerie, who says her desire for doing charity work comes from her first sexual experience. She calls him out for the way he acts and how much he hurt Kelly. Now Kelly respects Valerie, but I’m sure that won’t last. Steve’s naked and waiting for Rhonda, who shows up fully clothed. She tells him she’s Gomer, a geek he used to make fun of in high school. She brought him here to get revenge. She leaves with all his clothes.
As Andrea gets ready to make her speech, Brandon offers to go public if she does. As he tells the attendees that he always admired Andrea and wanted to be like her, Kelly and Valerie smash the tile “Kelly is a slut” was written on. Brandon tells everyone that they all want to be better than they are. The best thing they can do is tell the truth and stand by their friends. David decides to come clean about his career by playing a condom jingle. All the fighting couples make up.
Some guy named Bernie asks Andrea to dance, telling her he just got divorced. I hope you like your new stepdad, Hannah! Steve winds up on stage in front of everyone, wearing just a towel. He’s embarrassed at first, but once he realizes how much people are enjoying the sight, he takes off the towel. In the middle of the night, Steve goes to Janet’s house and gives her a corsage. He had to go downtown to get it, and thinks that shows how much he regrets hurting her. He tells her he’d like to take her on a real date. She says no.
Thoughts: Five-year reunions are pointless. Everyone’s either still in school or working crappy entry-level jobs.
Steve: “What kind of portraiture is that?” Janet: “Spell portraiture.” I love Janet.
“Hi, I’m Valerie Malone. I work with the poor.” Things you never thought you’d hear…
I would think David’s classmates would have heard if he’d become super-famous.
She doesn’t get a character name, but one of the alums is played by Constance Zimmer.
I’m pretty sure Kelly’s dress at the reunion is really a slip. And earlier, Donna wears a shirt that looks like a pajama top. Get it together, ladies.
’90s music alert: the Spin Doctor’s “Two Princes.”
October 19, 2014
Summary: Kelly likes Emma’s column for the Beverly Beat, still unaware that Emma’s been hitting on Brandon. Steve gives Carly a pep talk about getting by while her mom’s gone, though she worries that her responsibilities are too much for him. Everyone in the Walsh house hears Valerie moaning and rattling her bedsprings, and they wonder who she’s been sleeping with. David’s in her room, but he’s not the reason the bed’s shaking – Valerie’s just putting on a show for her housemates. Kelly tells Brandon she wants to meet Emma, which he definitely doesn’t want.
When David emerges from Valerie’s love den, Brandon and Steve tease him about getting some. They tease him more when he reminds them that he’s starting his new job at a carwash. Donna comes by to ask Kelly to fill in for a model at a photo shoot that afternoon. Oh, right, Kelly used to be a model. She’s not thrilled about the job but agrees to help. Donna runs into David, noting that he didn’t come home the night before. Val’s like, “That’s because he was here, having the sex with me. Ha ha!”
At the clinic, Kelly overhears a heated phone conversation between Monahan and his wife. He confides that their marriage is pretty bad but Mrs. Monahan doesn’t agree that they should separate. He hopes Kelly never has to experience the kind of distance he and his wife do. She won’t if he keeps invading her personal space. David heads to his new job, where one guy is unfriendly and one guy, Ben, is kind of unfriendly but warms up to him.
Noah auditions stand-up comedians for a comedy night at the After Dark. They shouldn’t quit their day jobs. Steve drops by to supposedly check on Valerie, telling Noah who she spent the night with. Noah brushes it off and encourages Steve to audition for Comedy Night. Brandon asks Emma to write more articles for the Beverly Beat, and she asks to have lunch with him so they can discuss the assignments. Kelly stops by and meets her new favorite writer, who’s suddenly on her best behavior. Brandon turns down lunch with his girlfriend, not telling her his real plans.
Kelly then heads to her photo shoot, where Donna complains about David and Valerie but tries to brush it off. Kelly calls the Beverly Beat to talk to Brandon, who’s still out with Emma. Kelly’s surprised that he left the office after telling her he’d be having lunch at his desk. Out at a restaurant, Emma flirts and Brandon doesn’t shut her down. She wants to spend the rest of the day with him.
At the carwash, some of the guys harass Ben, and David stands up for him. The guys ask David if he’s gay like Ben is. At the Peach Pit, Steve bugs Carly to come next door for his audition. She thinks he’s definitely funny if he thinks she’ll be able to leave during the lunch rush. Valerie joins Noah for the auditions, and he brings up her night of passion with David. Steve does a set, making not just Noah and Valerie laugh, but also some delivery guys and other employees.
Kelly’s worried that Brandon’s up to something, since he was distant earlier and has now left his office. Donna wonders if she thinks he’s seeing someone else. She should be worried – he spent the day with Emma, and now they’re making out. At least he draws the line at going to her place. In the morning, Brandon makes breakfast for Kelly, like that’ll make up for his behavior. He tells her he spent the previous day trying to chase a lead. Now Kelly feels guilty for worrying about him.
Ben and David hang out, and Ben thanks his new co-worker for sticking up for him but says he should let it go. Besides, his parents are the real problem, having kicked him out for being gay. At the clinic, Monahan sees some of Kelly’s pictures from the photo shoot and looks through them as she protests. He remarks that it’s too bad she’s wasting her beauty on a “younger, less experienced man.” Yeah, and he’s a cheater, too.
That night, everyone gathers at the After Dark, and Donna tells Kelly that the photographer they worked with wants to use Kelly for a campaign. She gets distracted by thoughts of Noah, who Kelly reminds her really likes her, since he bought a boat to stay close to her. Donna and Noah join up to glare at Valerie and David together. Kelly tells Brandon that Monahan’s comments have gotten more inappropriate. He encourages her to call him out, then file a grievance if it doesn’t stop.
Donna and David trade barbs, and she tells him he should move into Valerie’s bedroom permanently. Nat looks after Zach at the Peach Pit while Carly goes next door to see Steve’s set. Emma shows up as well, and Brandon’s blood pressure goes up 50 points. She’s mad that he’s there with Kelly. Steve does his set, but this time his audience doesn’t find it funny. (They’re smart – it’s not.) He goes in a different direction and gets a much better reaction.
The next day, David pulls a Brandon, going to Ben’s house to talk to his parents about him. Ben’s mother is sympathetic, but his father couldn’t care less about his homeless kid. Brandon wants to print a good review of Steve’s comedy set in the Beverly Beat, but Steve refuses to let him. That leaves them with a blank space to fill, but Emma’s here to save the day with a column. It’s about how two-timing men are scum. Kelly very professionally tells Monahan that she won’t tolerate his sexual harassment anymore. Monahan mocks her for not knowing how the real world works.
At Carly’s house, Steve admits that he didn’t come up with his comedy act on his own – he stole it from Richard Belzer (yes, the Richard Belzer from Law and Order). Carly’s surprised, because she’s new here. Steve cracks her up by making fun of how dumb he is. Valerie tells Noah that David’s moving in with her, which means Donna’s now living alone. When Donna comes by, Noah insists that he doesn’t care about David living with Valerie. Donna says she might care, but she still wants to move on.
Kelly turns down the modeling job, telling Brandon that the situation with Monahan has made her decide she doesn’t want to “trade on [her] looks.” She talks to Brandon about Emma’s newest article, where she says she still wants the two-timing guy. Kelly thinks that maybe the guy and his girlfriend aren’t right for each other, and Emma and the guy are. Emma calls to tell Brandon she misses him, and he pretends there’s no one on the other end of the line.
Thoughts: ’90s music alert: Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life.” They even left in the line “doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break”!
Can’t David get a job at a radio station? Are we done with that part of his life?
Steve: “I was the funniest guy in my fraternity.” Noah: “I’m curious: How does one decide that?” Steve: “Over a lot of beer.” I believe that.
Y’all know I’m no Brandon fan, but I never expected him to cheat on Kelly. Also, his brown suit with mustard-yellow vest is a tragedy.
April 1, 2014
Summary: Johnny Buck, America’s favorite rock star (or at least America’s teenagers’ favorite rock star) is coming to Sweet Valley for a concert! WHY AREN’T YOU MORE EXCITED? For $25, every Jimmy and Susie in Sweet Valley can listen to the Buck sing songs about…I don’t know. Kittens? Picnics? Something else inoffensive? Lest you think he’s just another product of the machine that gave us such artists as the Biebs, that other guy who’s kind of like the Biebs, and that third guy who’s also like the Biebs except Australian, even boys like the Buck. Or they pretend to because Bruce does.
Anyway, Jessica wants to go to the concert because the last time the Buck was in town, she and Elizabeth were deemed “too young” to go. But they staked out his hotel and he threw Jessica a hat. Well, actually he threw the hat to Elizabeth, but she snoozed and lost, so Jess grabbed it. She’s the bigger Buck fan anyway. And Elizabeth’s a pushover, so of course she let Jessica have it. Jess wants to take the hat to the concert and have the Buck sign it, since he obviously chose her out of all the other fangirls for this very important prize, which means it’s true luv. And Jessica wants to make him an honorary Unicorn. I’m sure he’ll love that.
Alas, Jessica’s hopes are dashed by Alice and Ned, who think the twins are still too young to go to a rock concert. Steven’s going but doesn’t want to play chaperone, which is understandable. And it’s not like it matters, since Jessica doesn’t have the money for a ticket anyway. But she decides to earn the money somehow, and figure out the logistics later.
Jess spots an ad looking for a dog-sitter, and though she hates dogs (and admits to being scared of them), she decides that’s the fastest, easiest way to make $25. The dog’s owner, Mrs. Bramble, is so impressed with Jessica’s maturity (cough) and love for dogs (cough cough) that she asks Jessica take the dog, Sally, home with her while Mrs. Bramble is out of town. Suddenly this dog-sitting job has turned into temporary foster care for a dog Jessica’s afraid of despite the fact that it’s a chubby, senior citizen cocker spaniel. But Jess has never said no to an easy paycheck, so she gets her parents to agree to let Sally stay with them. Mrs. Bramble pays Jessica up front, which is a horrible idea.
The only thing Jessica hates more than dogs is any kind of work, so she gets her family members to take care of Sally for her. Elizabeth is the only one who realizes she’s being manipulated. This works all the way through the morning of the concert, when Jessica’s the only one around to walk Sally. Mrs. Bramble is supposed to come back that afternoon and pick up Sally before Jessica goes to Lila’s to get ready for the concert. But Mrs. Bramble calls to say she missed her bus and won’t be in until that night, long after Jessica’s supposed to leave.
No way will Jessica give up on her dreams of lying to her parents and going to a concert to meet the supposed love of her life. She ties Sally to a tree in the backyard and splits. But Sally goes chasing after a squirrel and her leash comes loose. Run, Sally! Be free of these people! When Elizabeth comes home, she discovers that Sally’s missing. Being the responsible twin, she enlists Amy to help her find the dog, but they have no luck.
Jessica’s afternoon isn’t much better. Her and Lila’s seats suck, the acoustics aren’t very good, and at one point the Buck’s microphone dies. A bunch of people are upset enough to storm out, but the girls stay, still wanting the Buck’s autograph. The technical issues are resolved and the Buck resumes the concert, which Jessica now gets to enjoy from a better vantage point, since so many people left.
But then – a crisis! Jessica sees other girls with the Buck’s hats and realizes that the one he threw her wasn’t an object of his affection at all. He gives hats away like they mean nothing to him. While she’s dealing with her heartbreak, Jessica falls onto some grass, staining her clothes (which she borrowed from Elizabeth without asking). The girls head home, saddened by the reality that life is hard and sometimes rock stars don’t want to marry you.
Mrs. Bramble returns to town, and Elizabeth has to confess that Sally escaped. They do eventually find Sally at Mrs. Bramble’s house, where Elizabeth is confused by the concept of a doggie door. Alice is annoyed that Jessica left to hang out with Lila when she was supposed to be taking care of Sally, and she demands that Elizabeth call her and summon her home. Also, Jessica will have to give back the money Mrs. Bramble paid her. Elizabeth stalls, but that backfires because Alice decides they’ll just go to Lila’s and get Jessica themselves.
At the Fowlers’, Elizabeth gives Jessica the news that Alice is unhappy with her and she has to give Mrs. Bramble back her $25. Of course, Jessica spent that money on the doomed concert. She asks Elizabeth for a loan, but this is one time Liz won’t be bailing her sister out of an avoidable mess. Also, Elizabeth is upset that Jessica borrowed the earrings Liz bought for Alice’s birthday and then lost one.
Jess then has to apologize to Mrs. Bramble, and she ends up spilling everything she did – going to the concert without permission, spending the $25, and not liking dogs. Mrs. Bramble is sympathetic since she did some things as a child that she wasn’t supposed to do. She makes a deal that Jessica doesn’t have to pay back the $25, but she’ll have to walk Sally every day for a month. Jessica decides this is fair, especially since her parents never find out about the concert and she’s able to give Elizabeth a replacement for the earrings. I guess dealing with a slobbering dog is enough punishment for Jessica this time.
Thoughts: I enjoy Alice actually being a parent. Of course, it won’t last.
Johnny Buck’s supposed to be a rock star, but I can’t help thinking of him as being like the Biebs. They even have the same initials! Which are…also my initials. Okay, I’m not sure what that means.
The clothes Jessica borrows from Elizabeth are “a pale beige with a scoop neck and a raspberry jacket,” and leather slippers. Leather…slippers?
Jessica also doesn’t ask to borrow the outfit or the earrings Liz bought for Alice because she’s sure they would both understand how important the concert is to her and would want her to look nice. This is most likely one of the symptoms of Jessica’s psychopathy.
The Wakefields call the police about the missing dog, which is ridiculous, mostly because in SVH and SVU, they don’t call the police abut real emergencies.
Elizabeth: “Lots of animals find their way back from much farther away. Remember Lassie.” Alice: “Lassie did come home.” Freaking A, people.
March 11, 2014
Summary: We’re still on this freaking cruise. It’s never going to end, is it?
So anyway, everyone’s mad at everyone else because of all the kissing of other people’s fiancées and the fighting over whether or not people should know about that kissing. As a refresher, Todd and Elizabeth are kind of back together, Tom keeps making out with Nicole (who’s engaged to Jason), Isabella and Danny are fighting, Leonardo is obsessed with Alex, Noah and Gin-Yung are hanging out, Nina keeps spending time with Rich (even though he’s a pretentious and boring egomaniac and she kind of hates him), Lila wants to break up with Bruce, Bryan is a wimp, and Jessica can’t find her mystery savior. Oh, and Winston and Denise are missing.
Jessica’s search for that mystery savior has landed her in jail. She was caught breaking into people’s rooms so she could find the savior’s button, and after Jason’s wedding ring was reported missing, she was accused of stealing it. (Danny still has it. Danny should probably say something.) There’s a great scene where Jessica tries to appeal to the captain and her other jailers, telling them she was breaking and entering for love, and they pretend to humor her and then laugh in her face. Then some guy shows up pretending to be a lawyer and gets Jessica released, but he doesn’t stick around long enough for her to find out who he is.
Everyone else is at a dance (well, of course) and jealous of the new pairings. Tom is especially mad because Elizabeth went back to Todd two seconds after they split up, but dude, you’re the one who kissed someone else. I mean, be mad all you want, but if you can’t keep your lips to yourself, you don’t get a say in what Liz does.
The steward who turned Jess in for thievery in the first place is after her again, but the mystery “lawyer” trips him and Jessica’s able to hide in a movie theater. Meanwhile, the police arrive and try to arrest Elizabeth for stealing the ring. Of course, they’re not going to fall for the old “it wasn’t me, it was my identical twin!” story. Isabella finds Danny (who’s hiding like a six-year-old afraid of getting in trouble for eating cookies before dinner) and demands that he tell the truth.
So Danny finally comes clean about the “stolen” ring, which puts both twins in the clear. But Jason’s mad that Danny lied to try to stop the wedding, so he fires Danny as his best man…and enlists Tom to take his place. Poor, dumb, naïve Jason has no idea what’s been going on between Tom and Nicole. Oh, and the wedding’s tomorrow, and everyone on the ship is invited.
Jessica’s still hiding in the movie theater through all this, and Nina and Danny wind up there, too. They start talking, and when Nina kisses Danny on the cheek (just as a friend), Jessica misinterprets this as romance. Now she thinks Danny’s a two-timer, and she isn’t sure if she should tell Isabella. Ironically (I guess), in the first book, Isabella insisted that if Danny ever cheated on her, she wouldn’t want to know.
That night, Alex and Isabella wind up in the twins’ room and all four girls cry over their relationship woes. They see Nina and Rich together and think they’re happy, when Nina’s really just faking it. Also not happy: Tom, who’s been kicked out of his and Danny’s room. Todd finds him, they fight, and just when things are about to get sort of interesting, they…stop. And they decide to work together to get Tom and Elizabeth back on track. It involves Todd pushing Tom overboard so Elizabeth will save him. There’s no way this could go wrong!
Everyone goes to the wedding, with Alex throwing Gin-Yung shade for hanging out with Noah, and Danny hiding in the back (Danny hides a lot in this book). Everything goes fine until “if anyone knows why these two shouldn’t be married.” This is when Danny decides it’s finally time to say something to Jason about his fiancée kissing another guy. Jessica shoots him down, accusing him of two-timing Isabella with Nina. Isabella’s madder at Jessica than with Danny.
While Jason’s confronting Danny, Nicole gets super-dramatic and tries to flee in a lifeboat. She winds up in the water, so Danny jumps in so save her. Jason punches Tom, who also goes in the water, but he wanted to be there anyway so Elizabeth would save him, so he just goes with it. But Danny tries to save Tom as well, so Tom has to get rid of him. Elizabeth doesn’t seem to realize (or care?) that Tom’s in the water, so Todd tosses her in after him. Brilliant plan, guys. It doesn’t work, since Tom clearly isn’t drowning, and Elizabeth still doesn’t want to be with him.
Noah’s like, “Well, everyone is has gone insane, so I might as well, too,” and he knocks out Leonardo. Bruce approaches and Noah tells him that Leonardo fell. Alex joins them and the guys stick to their story. And speaking of insane, Jessica decides to recreate her first meeting with her mystery savior by…jumping in the water and pretending she’s drowning again. I’m pretty sure this is certifiable psychopath behavior. Gin-Yung gets a little revenge on Todd by pushing him in the water.
At this point almost everyone’s in or has been in the ocean except Isabella, who agrees to make up with Danny as long as he doesn’t get her dress wet. Jessica doesn’t have any luck fake drowning, but she does finally meet her mystery savior. It’s Randy Mason, Sweet Valley Middle School’s resident nerd. Jessica doesn’t care that he used to be a nerd, or, apparently, that he’s been STALKING HER ALL WEEK. Seriously, this guy is creepy.
Leonardo has decreed that he’s taking Lila back to Italy so she can properly mourn Tisiano. He’s taking Alex there, too, so she can become a model. Bruce isn’t going to let Lila go without a fight, possibly a physical one. Lila, however, is resigned to her fate, especially when she realizes that if the situation were reversed – if she’d died and Tisiano were moving on this quickly, say, with someone like Jessica – she’d be jealous. After all the wedding madness and ocean wackiness, Lila decides she can’t be without Bruce, so they’re back together. And I guess Leonardo regains consciousness with some brain damage, because now he’s okay with them being together, and he’s fine with Alex leaving him and getting back together with Noah. I don’t know.
Bryan is still hanging out with Jean, learning to swim and trying to figure out how to get back to the boat so he can reunite with Nina. He dreams about water-skiing back to the ship, and decides to make that dream come true. Because that’s totally reasonable for someone who only learned to swim two days ago. Bryan takes some skiing lessons (this all happens over less than a day, by the way) and gets a guy to take him on his boat out toward the ship. He shows up while everyone else is falling/getting pushed in the water, but he falls in as well, so Nina has to save him. This is so dumb.
Winston and Denise spend the entire book floating around on a sinking boat, thinking they’re going to die. They wash up on an island and decide to become the new Swiss Family Robinson or something. (I hope there are monkey butlers and chewy, chewy cocoa beans.) Then they’re suddenly both knocked out. It turns out they’re not on a deserted island – they’re on the same island as a resort, and they were knocked out by golf balls. But the good news is they can go home with everyone else. And they didn’t embarrass themselves by falling overboard.
Thoughts: These books would be a lot shorter if they didn’t spend so much time recapping previous books.
Danny describes dating Isabella as “like falling forty floors into a pool of Jell-O with your arms around the person you love most in the world.” Danny, please don’t ever become a writer.
“Jessica instantly loved the bridesmaid dresses, which had a tropical theme. The girls wore brightly colored green, aqua, and pink silk sarong skirts that reached their ankles. Their silk tops were cropped and shoved each girl’s tanned midriff.” I don’t care where you’re getting married – no one’s midriff should be visible.
Nicole’s wedding dress has “tiny seed pearls sewn over every square inch.” That sounds awful.
I’m sure the ship’s captain appreciated everyone jumping in the water. How much do you think that guy hates doing college cruises?