This is one Sweet Valley book I’ve read multiple times! I’m not sure why. I think there was just always a copy of this around somewhere.
The plot: The blurb on the back of the book is completely misleading. The actual story line begins with Jessica being determined to go out with someone who’s older than her (Scott Daniels, a dude from the “state university”) and suffer through his complete jerkass behavior, just so her friends will be impressed. But this leads to her getting into an uncomfortable situation in which the jerk in question unties her bikini top. Gee … sound familiar?
The blurb makes us think that the main point of this story is that Elizabeth is concerned when Jessica doesn’t come home from a college beach party with Scott, and wonders what she may have done. “Where’s Jessica? Why has she stayed out all night long?” It’s supposed to make us think that Jess may have lost her virginity (dude, I just assumed the lothario Bruce Patman stole it in book 3) which as we know would make her an outcast for life. Her family would be shamed and would have to move from Sweet Valley, and neither Jess nor Liz could be married off and would become old maids.
Well, by the end of chapter three, the questions raised by the back of the book have already been answered! Jessica goes to the college beach gathering, where she listens to some older girls bitch about having to hide their sex lives from parents and dorm mothers (did they still have dorm mothers back in the 80s?) and feels uncomfortable and too young when everyone starts passing around beer (which she sips) and joints. When she overhears the college kids talking about how young she is, she throws mud and pebbles all over Scott to flirt with him and get him to chase her. Yes, because that is so grown-up. He shoves his hand down her bikini bottom, takes her to a deserted beach shack, unties her bikini top and tries to force himself on her even after she threatens to scream, as he laughs in her face that nobody can hear her. But he decides not to be a rapist (how kind of him) when “Jessie, baby” begs him to leave her alone and threatens to tell her parents! Good god, he’s like Bruce Patman with a porno mustache. You sure know how to pick ’em, Jess. While Scott leaves her alone (literally – he leaves her in the shack to find her way back), he implies this is all her fault for not putting out after she teased him and insinuates she should be grateful he didn’t rape her. What a winner. Jessica finds her way back to the cabin the group has rented in the woods, where everyone but Scott is off doing it in the bedrooms, and a drunken Scott tells her if she wants a ride home, she has to sleep with him. “I’d rather sleep with a grizzly bear!” Jessica yells. GOLDEN. She goes to sleep on the floor and calls Liz the next day to explain that she’s coming home.
So here’s the real plot: Liz is forced to cover for Jess by pretending to be her for the day. She goes through all sorts of elaborate scenarios to pull this off and protects Jessica’s precious reputation (hasn’t it already been ruined by Bruce Patman, who told the whole school they were doing it in book 3?) by telling Cara that she humiliated Scott after he tried to get fresh. She also has to take a test for Jessica – the twins have applied to be tour guides that summer, and must pass some kind of history test about the area in order to get in the program. Now of course, since this is Liz, she wrestles with her conscience all day long, especially after Todd gets on her ass for fixing Jessica’s shitty mess for her, and they have a big fight and pretty much break up. Needless to say, Todd is not a Jessica fan. Liz takes the test twice, once as herself and once as Jessica, but fails Jessica’s test miserably because she is so upset about breaking up with Todd. Jessica returns to school and learns that “she” failed and is furious with Liz, because it’s Liz’s job to run her life and all. But it turns out that the teacher saw that “Jessica” was not well during the test, however, and so Jessica (the real one) is allowed to take it again. So, yeah. And, in the end, what did Jessica learn? Absolutely nothing, except that she can get away with murder because her sister will always cover for her. Awesome!
This book talks about sex and sexy situations far more than other SVH so far. It also has cuss words! (“Damn”)
Sub-plot: Sonny Callahan and everybody’s favorite SVH golden boy, Bill Chase, compete for the top title in the surfing championship. Bill wins. Duh. It’s perfectly 80s fun 🙂
WTF? Enid’s older cousin “reported” that a college party he/she (doesn’t say) went to had a slumber party theme (but those are the best!) with mattresses strewn all over the floor, and “things had gotten pretty far out of hand, especially with all the drinking that was going on.” Orgy!
A “Bo Derek”-lookalike named Erica, and a chick with too much eyeliner named Greta slyly warn Jessica about Scott’s “reputation” but doesn’t explain what that’s supposed to mean. What, a reputation as a rapist? Thanks for making that so clear ahead of time.
Jessica gets mad when she has to hike back to the cabin by herself, and curses people in her head … “Damn Scott! Damn Elizabeth! Damn everybody!” Real mature, Jessica! But, even better … CUSSING! In a Sweet Valley book! I remember being a little scandalized by this when I first read it as a kid!
Hippie artist Olivia Davidson tells Liz she’s been fighting with her boyfriend, and that she knew it was doomed because he “believes in offshore drilling.” Ha!
Scott has a friend named Bobby who dates Greta, and another friend named – get this – Rod Shockley. WTF kind of name is that? Rod is Erica’s boyfriend and she complains about how she went off camping with him one time, telling her mom she was out with her friend Sarah, only to get caught when Mom called her dorm mother. What the hell, is she in college or not? Why is her mom checking up on her?
Jessica bitches about having to use a ton of calamine lotion after getting poison oak from stomping around in the woods.
Along with his brother, Todd also has a sister, who I think is supposed to be older because she uses the Datsun too.
Ken Matthews takes Julie Porter to the surfing championship with him as his date. In case you care who “Kenny” is hanging around with.
Some of the other surfers at the championship are Gary Wallace, who wins third place, and Dink Halstead … yes, that’s right, his name is DINK HALSTEAD.
Lila gets asked out by Sonny Callahan and is all about him until Bill Chase wins, then she changes her mind. Haha!
The cover: It’s a rather hideous peachy-red color. Scott has a pornstache. Take a good look at his face beyond that and you’ll see he actually looks rather young … as in, Jessica’s age or younger. Jessica’s bikini top is kind of Charlie’s Angels-ish.
In the back of the book: We get a listing of synopses for the first four SVH books, character profiles of Bill and Lila, and an excerpt from book 6. We learn about Bill’s dead girlfriend, whom we’ll hear about again in book 8, and Lila’s family history. Did you know that Mr. Fowler isn’t her real dad? I could swear this idea is never mentioned again, but I haven’t read any of the post-Jungle Prom books so I could be wrong … Also included: the requisite order forms for Caitlin, SVH and Sweet Dreams.
What’s next? Sweet Valley High’s first life-and-death situation!