It’s April 1986 and we’re on to the third Super Edition, and the twins are off to the South of France for 10 days as part of an exchange program between Sweet Valley and Cannes. The back cover informs us that “Elizabeth can’t wait to practice her French, but Jessica’s dying to meet those romantic French boys.” Of course. Now, if I’m not mistaken this is the twins’ second, possibly third spring break. The first one was in book 11. Then there was a strange one week break from school in book 21, and since that was right before the first Super Edition summer, I guess we have to assume that unnamed break = spring break. Then they had the first winter break with Super Edition 2, and now we are back to spring again. Why do I do this to myself?
March 9, 2010
Let’s talk about the cover. Is that a green coat Liz is wearing? She looks like a psycho with that weird expression. In fact, it’s really quite hysterical if you look at it for too long. And Jessica is apparently so delighted to be in Europe that she’s doing an impromptu joyous striptease. At least we get a decent background for a change … are they near a lake?
The twins’ host family consists of a lady named Avery Glize and her 17-year-old son, Rene (that’s Re-nay – I don’t know how to do the accent mark over the ‘e” and I’m much too lazy to figure it out), and younger daughter Ferney who stays with the Wakefields. Of course, the Wakefields noticed right off the bat that there is no Monsieur Glize and appear genuinely shocked and curious as to why this isn’t a nuclear family. Groan. The family picture the Glizes send to the Wakefields shows Ferney with her head to the side so no one can see her face. It makes so much sense that they would choose to send that one shitty picture.
Avery, a nurse, is very nice to the twins, but Rene acts like a dick and makes bitchy comments about “you Americans” as soon as they meet him. It’s a shame because Liz started crushing on Rene as soon as she saw his picture, and Jessica desperately wants them to hook up because the only Sweet Valley people who are single for too long clearly have something wrong with them. While the twins ride to the Glizes’ house in Cannes, Rene quietly bitches to Avery about stupid Americans and “my father” so I guess it’s pretty obvious that his dad was an American and that’s why he hates all Americans. Of course, it’s going to take a bunch of meddling from Liz to figure this out, so we aren’t supposed to have caught on yet. Jessica instantly hates Rene since he’s a big jerk, but she acts like a 6-year-old about it. Seriously, does anyone above that age stick their tongue out at people? Jess goes for a jog with Liz (I had no idea they jogged) and takes off with some rich kid she meets named Marc Marchieller, who turns out to be totally boring. That leaves Liz with Rene, whom Avery has ordered to be kind to the twins. You see, Avery thinks forcing her son to hang out with two Americans is the best way to get him to stop being so full of hatred for Americans. Sounds great.
Rene takes Liz out to lunch with his friends Edouard and Georges who scold Rene for being mean to Liz. They don’t like that Rene is yelling at the waiter that Liz needs more ketchup because she’s American. This just makes him hate Liz even more.
Rene ultimately deserts Liz despite his mom’s insistence that he show the twins around, so Liz decides to spend some time by herself while Jessica is off with Marc again, who is still boring her. Liz finds a lost puppy named Nykki, who happens to belong to a Countess with a hot grandson named Jean-Claude. The Countess loves Liz (shocker), but Jean-Claude and Liz don’t really click. But Jean-Claude does let it slip that Rene is afraid of the water because his best friend Antoine drowned in the Mediterranean some years ago and Rene couldn’t save him. Liz feels pity and you know she’s on a mission to show Rene the light. Liz goes ahead and makes plans to hang out with Jean-Claude soon anyway because she doesn’t have any other friends here besides the Countess. But then she accidentally stands him up because of an emergency errand she had to run for Avery, and a traffic accident that slows up her bus and makes her late getting back to the house to meet him, wah wah. (Liz gets out of the bus to inspect the accident, naturally, and I seriously thought she was going to solve the issue herself!)
Liz did leave a note saying she might be late because of the errand, but Jessica gets home first (fleeing from Marc, who naturally has a puppy dog crush on her), sees the note, and then is bowled over when hot Jean-Claude arrives. J.C. has no idea that Liz has a twin and assumes Jessica is Liz, and Jess keeps up the charade because she wants a piece of that ass. The fake “Liz” and Jean-Claude fall in love, and Jessica sneaks around with him behind Liz’s back for a few days and lets Liz think that Jean-Claude is mad at her, and that it’s Marc Jess is with the whole time. So when Marc shows up at the Glize house looking for Jessica and saying he hasn’t seen her in days, Liz is a little surprised and wonders who Jess’s mystery man is. She’s with J.C., DUH. Liz agrees to go with Marc to an art gallery where they meet Veronique, the daughter of a famous painter named Joseph Gallirere or something. The painter thinks Liz is unusually astute for a 16-year-old (*eye roll*), Veronique and Liz become friends, and Marc falls for Veronique. Aw, now Liz is the only one left all alone. You know the book won’t let it stay that way for long.
Back at the Glize house, Liz tries to bond with Rene when she finds out his dad has been sending him letters every month from America, which Rene throws away without reading. It only takes a couple of pages for Liz to convince Rene to open the letter. I mean, she’s really badgering him about it and I kind of want to stuff the letter up her nose. But then Jessica comes in and ruins the whole thing. Rene is back to hating Americans again. But you know what’s really funny? Rene bitches at Liz for being all up in everyone’s business. It’s funny because it’s true.
Naturally, it takes a near-tragedy to get Rene over his hatred and fear of both Americans and the ocean. A storm blows up at sea while Jean-Claude and Jessica are out on an island making out. Liz runs into Rene again and he tells Liz that Jessica’s mystery man is Jean-Claude and that Jean-Claude thinks Jess is Liz. Liz is furious but surprises Rene by insisting they go to find Jessica and J.C. and save them. I guess Rene thinks Americans are so evil that Liz would just want Jessica to drown. Liz only briefly stops to think of her dead cousin Rexy and her previous accident before hopping on the back of Rene’s moped. She got over that quick. They arrive at the beach just in time to see Jessica get knocked unconscious by the boom on Jean-Claude’s capsizing boat. It takes Jean-Claude, Rene, and Liz working together to save her. Liz realizes that J.C. and Jess have fallen in real love and helps to keep up the charade by pretending to be Jessica. Later, Jessica tells the Countess and J.C. who she really is, and of course the Countess thinks it’s “intriguing” and of course J.C. still loves her. OF COURSE. Remember that dumb shit with Bill Chase in books 7-8? That’s the way it works when you’re from Sweet Valley, kids.
Of course Rene gets over his fears, of course he does it with Elizabeth’s help, and of course it takes a major near-tragedy to hammer it all home. I’m glad to know that’s all it takes to get someone to stop being prejudiced!
Now that Rene has magically transformed from an ass to a nice person, he and Liz hook up and admit they both thought the other was hot from the very beginning. Rene felt he had to be extra assy to her to fight the feeling of wanting to jump her bones. Awwwww, how sweet.
Meanwhile, back in North America, Ferney arrives and Steven is shocked to find she resembles Tricia Martin. He immediately forgets all about Cara and starts hanging around Ferney nonstop and salivating over her every movement, convinced she is the living version of Tricia. There’s a whole boring scene where Ned and Alice discuss the situation. Of course Ned decides it’s not worth worrying about and Alice just goes along with what he says. Well, Ferney sucks at English and Steven sucks at French, so they wind up just hanging around mooning over each other until Steven’s friend David arrives to help translate. Steven realizes Ferney isn’t anything like Tricia (no, really Steve? You mean two people can look the same but be very different? Like some twins do? Hmmmm); he just assumed she was but she’s rather shallow. By this point, he has completely ignored Cara and made her feel so bad that she’s reduced to confiding in Enid, of all people. But when Steven sees how wrong he was about Ferney, he suddenly remembers Cara exists, comes over to her apartment and apologizes to her, tells her she’s special, she forgives him, and damn, why are we not done hearing about Tricia Martin yet? Come on! Man Cara, dump this guy. Seriously, what if Ferney HAD been just like Tricia? Then what? Would Steven have hopped a plane back to France with her?
The book ends without us ever seeing what really goes down between Rene and Liz. We just know they like each other and have a date, and there’s only a few more days left on the vacation. Come on, don’t leave us guessing like that! I can only hope this will be addressed in the secret diary editions much later. I do have to say I got tired of every adult Liz met telling her how intelligent and perceptive she is. Yeah, yeah, WE KNOW!
Little details: This book was written when it was still kosher for people to smoke on airplanes, as the announcer tells everyone to put out their “smoking materials.”
The twins poke at their airplane meals and talk about how gross it is. You know, I’ve been flying since I was very little, and I seriously have never had airplane food that I thought was truly gross. Maybe I am just unusually blessed?
France was still using the franc for currency when this book was published.
This is apparently Lila’s third trip to France, but neither she nor any of the other Sweet Valley kids appear anywhere in Cannes alongside the twins. It’s kind of nice to have a break from those kids for a change! (And the Ms. Dalton/Mr. Collins drama)
Jessica once dated some dude named Chuck Wollman, who was “tiny.” Hmmm … uh …
I love the way there’s always a good reason for someone being a crappy person, and it’s usually the parental units. Rene is a jackass because of his parents. Suzanne Devlin was a jackass because of her parents. Oh, need we go on?
One of the reasons Steven thinks Ferney is just like Tricia is because he mistakenly thinks she wants to be a scientist — just like Tricia did. I don’t remember hearing about this before, I really don’t.
Marc takes Jessica to a private beach where everyone goes topless. Jessica whips off her own top and then dives face-down onto her towel while blushing furiously. Are we really supposed to believe Jessica would be shy about this?
Occasionally this Super Edition will randomly go into a stupid melodramatic sentence, like many SV books. But I think this one may be the worst I’ve read in ANY Sweet Valley book so far: “An oasis of sympathy sprang up in the desert of anger that Elizabeth had felt.” WOW.
I think it is strange that Ferney barely knows any English. She’s in an exchange program for language classes. At my school, you had to have taken a minimum of two years of the language before you could go on the exchange trip. Of course, I know it’s different when you learn a language in a class and then go to a foreign country and hear someone else speak it, but still! Also, Jessica is terrible at the language when she arrives, and then halfway through the trip she’s suddenly fluent. I don’t think I need to tell you that Liz was perfect from the beginning.
Here’s another random place to add to all the others: Estrella Beach! Steven talks about taking Ferney out there.
The back of this book tells us this is a pretty late printing as it has an ad/order form for SVH Super Thrillers and Super Stars, which were published much later, boys and girls. Lord, I can’t believe I’m still doing this.
Now it’s back to our regular SVH books. It is always hard for me to go back to those after reading the fun Super Editions. And yes, our next one is about Liz meddling in some poor soul’s life, this time back on American soil. I wonder how many books in a row this makes about her fucking meddling.