Alright, so we’re up to #21 now, and as you may have gathered from the previous book’s sub-plot, Jessica isn’t doing very well lately. Her family is treating her shittier and shittier, even when she’s not her usual messy, bitchy, inconsiderate, flaky self. After last book’s mussels fiasco, Jessica isn’t giving up on proving she really is a fabulous cook. She even makes a delicious-sounding chicken dinner for the Wakefield clan here, but they make stupid jokes as they clean their plates. I kind of hate them all. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is still the delightful good sister, and Ned Wakefield drools over her stupid, obvious opinion about the latest case he is working on (see the sub-plot) while acting like Jessica’s is dumb and pointless. If Ned seriously hadn’t already thought about Liz’s points on his own, he is the worst lawyer I’ve ever heard of.
Let’s be real for a sec: Jessica is an inconsiderate bitch most of the time who flies into a ridiculous rage when a boy dares choose someone over her (which happens fairly often). It’s true. But you know what? Elizabeth is a self-righteous, meddling little twat, and her family encourages this while bopping Jessica on the head for doing the same thing. I think a classic scene that illustrates this is in the very first chapter of this book, where Jessica invites Steven (who’s dropped out of school for the term) to come to Cara’s stupid ass high school party with her so he can have some fun for a change. Steven, Ned, and Alice promptly jump all over Jessica for being inconsiderate until Liz butts in to tell them it was actually her idea and that she just had Jessica do the asking for her. Then, it’s okay! Jess is correctly pissed about this. She gets really depressed about this (as well as the events of last book), but only Elizabeth notices. Liz actually tries to say something to their parents, but they couldn’t care less. What good parents they are. But then Jess meets Nicky Shepard. Nicky runs with a “rough crowd” and is the stereotypical sensitive bad boy. He’s so nice that he keeps coming after Jessica even after she and Cara bitchily shun him at the Dairi Burger. This intrigues Jess, and she winds up kissing Nicky in Cara’s bathhouse at her party, and leaves the party with him. Steven, who’s busy avoiding Cara at the party and moping around, attempts to cock block Nicky as he leaves with Jess. Steven, fuck off! Where were you when Jessica dated Bruce?!
Jessica grows more and more comfortable around Nicky, who catches her as she goes to see a movie by herself and takes her to see a park he likes instead. She even goes to a party with him in Tierra Verde (another made-up town, I’m sure), where she meets his “wrong crowd” friends. These oh-so-terrible people really just sit around drinking, smoking pot, and gossiping, like typical high school kids, but I suppose Sweet Valley doesn’t have any of those. (Of course, Cara had beer at a party in book 12, so frankly, the pot is really the only big difference here.) The party is thrown by a friend of Nicky’s named Mike, who is the only one there with a common name. The rest are Sheila, who offers Jess beer about five times even though she keeps getting turned down, June, a straight-edge high school dropout, and then Tad and Susan, who could possibly be getting together behind Sheila’s back. Oooooh, drama. These kids might be more interesting than Jessica’s group. Nicky and Jess leave the party early, which is a relief since we all know Jessica can’t hold her liquor. Nicky is drunk and wrecks his nice Mustang, and his dad shows up and yells at him about what a loser he is.
Soon Nicky confides that he’s planning to move to San Francisco and start some kind of business with his friend Denny, and he wants Jessica to come with him. Jessica can’t make up her mind right away, so Nicky leaves without her and waits for her to join him. Jessica decides to play a game with her family by packing her things and going, but leaving a note behind on her dresser explaining herself and apologizing. She figures if they really love her, they’ll come after her when they see it. Haha, sounds like a fantastic plan there Jess. And in a typical twist, Jessica slams her door on her way out, and the breeze knocks the note behind her dresser. Oh noeeees! Does this mean she’s really leaving Sweet Valley for good?!
Liz figures the whole deal out anyway when she sees how uncharacteristically neat Jessica’s room is. Of course, the family trusts Liz to lead them in the right direction, so they believe her and everyone flies into a panic looking for Jessica. I have a hard time believing this, myself. I mean, they basically laughed with relief at Jessica’ mood change (see “Random”), so why would they suddenly think a neat room means she went somewhere? Their search leads them to the Shepards’ house, where Nicky’s mom is coerced into telling Ned that yes, Nicky left home, and she doesn’t know where and hey, doesn’t really care. So Steven thinks to call his friend Joe Seegar who runs with Nicky’s crowd … Steve, what are you doing talking to dregs like that? Smooth Steven gets Joe to admit where Nicky went by claiming he owes Nicky 100 bucks. Hope that doesn’t come back to bite you in the ass later, Steve! Steve and Liz rush to the bus stop to find Jess’s bus pulling away, where she’s crying to herself while a little old lady calls her “honey” repeatedly and gives her teen magazines from the bus stop. The saintly Wakefield siblings chase the bus to Carver City, where they rush onboard and tearfully reunite with their sister, pissing off the bus driver who is tired of everyone’s bullshit!
While this book was far more well-written that the rest, the ending is UNBELIEVABLE because guess what? Jessica offers to fix everybody a nice dinner on the eve of her return home. And you know what these assholes do? They just laugh and make jokes sabout Jessica’s cooking AGAIN. Keep in mind that this is AFTER she already cooked them a fantastic meal to make up for the stupid fucking mussels, and received a star certificate (or whatever) from her chef idol, Jean-Pierre. Isn’t that part of the reason they got in this mess in the first place? And she just laughs along and agrees that they should order a pizza instead. Only she suggests her dad give her too much money for that pizza, so she can use the extra to get a sweater. And Ned laughs and agrees that’s best, thus enabling her typical behavior. So basically, no one has learned shit from this episode. Give me a fucking break!
The sub-plot: After Liz’ gives her oh-so-brilliant opinion on the case Ned’s working on, he invites her to come watch and write an article about it for the school paper. That sounds really professional of him, to get his sixteen-year-old daughter to air her classmate’s dirty laundry to the school! You see, the case is about Ricky Capaldo’s mother not wanting Ricky’s grandparents to see her son. When Ricky finds out about Liz’s reporting, he begs her to drop the idea. Now, Liz could’ve just anonymized everyone in her article, but she refuses because she is a self-righteous twat who thinks it’s her business to air. She even sends Ricky on a guilt trip about not staning up for himself, causing him to launch into a grandiose speech in the courtroom that sways his mother’s mind. And he thanks Liz for it and apologizes to her for … WHAT EXACTLY? Don’t enable her Ricky! She is such a douche!
The cover is an appropriately dismal shade of gray. I really like Jessica’s outfit, and it’s nice to see her without makeup and a huge smirk on her face for a change! Not that I laugh in the face of her sadness …
Random: Jessica is still fooling around with Neil Freemount when the book begins. At this point, Neil is just a side character with no personality, so I think it’s funny this has been dragged out for so long!
People are drinking Tab in this book, which is interesting since previously we heard they were always drinking Coke. Jessica must have gained half a pound and freaked out! Or Tab just paid a little extra money to have their brand name mentioned several times within one chapter.
Cara says she is on a diet. I guess SHE gained half a pound. Kill me.
Alice says, “I agree that Jess isn’t herself these days, but I think it’s a change for the better.” OUCH.
Although Liz is supposed to be such great friends with Annie, she once again shows she doesn’t really give a crap as she has to ask Ricky how Annie is doing these days.
Ned pulls a fucking “Think of the children” line! He actually says, “Think of the children, your honor. The children.” … and it makes me want to ruin my book, by projectile vomiting on it.
In the back of the book: My copy doesn’t have any ads in the back of it at all. In fact, even the typical “next book” blurb isn’t there. That’s okay; it’s just about DeeDee crying over Bill anyway, so you know it’s going to be dull! But before that even came out, we have our very first Super Edition ever!