A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some (with lots of swears)

This book is so lame, especially for a Super Edition. It’s all about Elizabeth taking Jessica’s shit like she usually does, and then resenting Jessica extra hard, and then ultimately realizing the best course of action is to continue to take Jessica’s shit and just be happy about it. There, I summed it up in one long sentence. But seriously, how does Liz feel about having “the old Jessica” back now, huh? (See the previous book.) And where’s this winter carnival? Well, we don’t get to read about any carnival events until the very last chapter, Chapter 19 – and there’s only 11 pages of it. BORING.

Liz’s breakdown begins when she starts silently noticing that everything goes right for Jessica and everybody loves her. I guess it’s Liz’s turn to have a book 21 moment. Liz feels that Jessica has also been treating her especially shabbily lately. But really, it’s just Jessica dicking Liz over the same way she always does: Jessica “forgets” to do the dinnertime chores and then begs Liz to do it (which she of course does, because she’s a fucking doormat). Jessica takes credit for the chicken dinner Elizabeth made, runs off with the Fiat and leaves Liz stranded and forced to walk home from school, borrows Liz’s perfume and then losing it in her room somewhere, and also borrows her mulberry sweater without asking. Ho-hum, business as usual! But Liz just gets especially depressed and moody about it, and never tells Jessica to get her shit together until several chapters in. Grow some ovaries, Liz.

Things only worsen when Jessica and that bitch Amy Sutton hear about a trivia contest a local TV station is holding. The contest involves students from two area high schools sending in answers to trivia questions. Teams who answer all the questions correctly get entered into a drawing, and one team will be chosen from each of the two schools. (The other school is Westwood High … where’s Big Mesa? Or Palisades?) Then the two schools will have a little trivia showdown, and whoever wins gets to compete in the first episode of a local trivia game show on TV. Jess and Amy know Liz and Enid have been studying hard to get all the answers right, so they just go ahead and steal their answer sheet and enter the contest … and they win the drawing!  And hey, Amy even meets with Scott Hamilton, the TV station owner or something, and suggests the name “Trivia Bowl” as the title of the show, and he loves it … did Amy happen to be blowing him at the time? I’m just sayin’.

Jess cheerfully proclaims she and Amy took the answers from Liz, then doesn’t get why Liz looks so upset. And Liz doesn’t bother to tell her what an asshole thing to do that was, but just sits and foams at the mouth. You see why I am out of sympathy for this girl by now. So Amy and Jessica get to compete against the Westwood kids for the grand prize. Jessica announces at the dinner table that one of those kids, David Campbell, is too sexy and, oh yeah, she’s about to go on a date with him in 15 minutes. Her parents don’t even bat an eyelash, and don’t ask to meet this kid they never heard of before he takes their daughter out. Is this normal, or am I the only one whose dad demanded to meet every dude I went on a date with? (Every dude I told them I was going on a date with, anyway) Surprisingly, when Liz explains what’s happened with the show to Enid, Enid is just like, “Oh, well, whatever.” I don’t buy that reaction AT ALL since we know Jessica and Amy are the two people Enid hates more than just about anyone in the world.

Liz gets more depressed when she learns that she only got Honorable Mention in an essay contest she entered. Oh, waaaah. She’s only won every other contest she’s ever entered in her life. To rub salt in the wound, Jessica and the cheerleaders have won an entry into the All-State competition and Jessica can’t stop talking about it. Then Jeffrey tells Liz he’s taking her on a surprise date to Tiberino’s to cheer her up, but when Liz goes home to get ready, she finds that Jessica has run off with Amy and left behind dinner duties once again. Liz tries to call Jess at Amy’s house, but the housekeeper says they are gone. Now, what do you think Liz should do? I think she should just go ahead and go on her date and let Jessica take the heat when Ned and Alice come home to no dinner. Yep, that sounds like a good idea but – hey-o! – Liz calls Jeffrey and cancels the date. Wow. Could you be any more of Jessica’s bitch, Liz?

Despite all of this mess, Liz doesn’t REALLY lose her shit until Jessica fails to leave her an important note. Liz is supposed to give Teddy Collins a ride home from some other kid’s birthday party. Mr. Collins can’t for some reason. Doesn’t matter. Anyway, Liz has to go on a tennis date with Jeffrey around the same time. So she tells Jessica that the birthday kid’s dad is going to call as the party winds down and tell Liz what time she needs to pick up Teddy. Jessica is supposed to write the time down and leave it for Liz. So dude calls and Jessica takes down the information, but then she accidentally takes the note with her on a date with David. Elizabeth gets home from her date, thinks no one’s called yet, and then the birthday kid’s dad winds up having to take Teddy home because he thinks Liz isn’t coming. Why wouldn’t he just call the house again to see where Liz is? Elizabeth is humiliated and has to go to birthday kid’s house to apologize to the dad. Yikes, you can see how cell phones would’ve really helped everyone back then.

Meanwhile, Jessica is out eating at a sushi house called A Taste of Tokyo with David, his pretentious sister Barbara, and Barbara’s boyfriend Mitch. Jessica has never eaten sushi and thinks it looks gross, but decides to try some just to get Barbara off her back about it. She accidentally eats some horseradish instead and almost chokes to death. Good one, Jess. She then sees the note for Liz in her purse, realizes she took it, and tries to call Liz from a payphone, but it’s too late; Liz is already on her way to birthday kid’s dad’s house to say she is sorry. Jessica decides she might as well put it out of her head. On the ride home, she tries to seduce David into losing the trivia contest on purpose so she and Amy can go on TV, but he just laughs. Jessica almost sounds like she was planning to give it up to him if he would agree to lose. How whore-y. Jessica is really mad at David because after two or three dates they’ve had, he should just give her what she wants. She storms inside the house, and Liz is furious with Jessica for making her look like an idiot, and Jessica promises to shape up. She seems like she does mean it, but what Jessica means to do and what Jessica actually winds up doing are rarely the same thing. Funny how I know this better than Liz.

Liz is nervous because Todd is flying back to attend the winter carnival, and Jeffrey doesn’t really like the idea because he thinks Liz might still have feelings for Todd. And Liz can’t attend the opening night of the winter carnival because she already agreed to go to an awards banquet for a Big Brother-like PTA program with Todd, where he’s going to be honored for his work with his “little brother.” But Liz didn’t bother to tell Jeffrey about this dinner, and so when Jessica lets the beans spill at the Dairi Burger one night, Jeffrey is hella mad. He and Liz wind up fighting, and because Liz is a fucking idiot, she actually listens to Jessica’s advice to play hard to get with Jeffrey to make him really jealous. But it doesn’t work and Jeffrey gets even angrier, and they have a huge blow-up at lunch. Of course, Liz blames Jessica for giving her shitty advice, not that Liz actively chose to listen to it or anything. Then Jeffrey leaves her a note in her locker. If Liz can come meet him by six at Las Palmas Canyon (where?), he’ll know that she wants to make it work between them. Otherwise, he’ll assume she’s breaking up with him. Why somewhere so far? Jeez. That sounds like he’s planning to throw her into the canyon. I wish he would.

Jessica happens to be participating in the trivia contest the night of the canyon meeting, but she promises to have the Fiat back in time for Liz to drive out to meet Jeffrey, and you see where this is going. Jessica and Amy actually win the contest, Jessica decides she’ll keep dating David even though he hasn’t bent over far enough to take all of her shit yet, Mike Malloy (the game show host) offers to take them out to the Pizza Palace (not Guido’s?) for dinner, and Jess forgets all about the car. Liz can’t get out to the canyon so it’s over between her and Jeffrey. This is so dumb. Just call him later and tell him what happened! Liz is devastated and sits around crying instead, and when Jessica gets home and is reminded of her broken promise, she swears to herself that she will fix things between Liz and Jeffrey. I don’t know if it’s worth fixing. They just got together two books ago and they’ve already fought and broken up twice. I’d just let it go, dude.

And how about that winter carnival? What the fuck is that anyway? Well, it’s an annual event that takes place at Mont Blanc ski resort for juniors, seniors, and alumni. Here’s all the shit they have planned (and naturally, most of it is organized by the junior class who apparently have a say in everything):

-An ice show (what is that? like ice skating?) on the ice rink organized by Amy Sutton

-A big dance called the Snow Ball, of which Winston Egbert and Enid are co-chairs. Worst dance ever.

-A mock Winter Olympics by Bill Chase and Ken Matthews

-Card and board games, Ping-Pong, and hot cider and chocolate for all the losers who don’t want to do the fun shit outside. Okay, that was mean of me

-An opening night pizza party

Sounds like it would be pretty fun, especially for Sweet Valley since no one there ever sees snow. Except since Liz and Jeffrey are refusing to talk to one another, neither one is really looking forward to it. Also, Jessica has gone ahead and taken the liberty of insinuating to Todd that Liz doesn’t really want to go to the dinner with him. This is part of Jessica’s brilliant plan to “fix things.” Todd does what he assumes is best and tells Liz he doesn’t want her to come to the dinner anymore. And even though Jessica always tells lies to fuck shit up between Todd and Liz, he somehow doesn’t question what Jess says. I hate Todd. Liz thinks Todd hates her guts and gets even more depressed.

Jessica executes the rest of her plan. She writes a note from “Liz” and drops it in Jeffrey’s locker, saying she wants to meet him at 6:30 the opening night of the carnival so they can make up. This is necessary because Liz would just rather mope around about losing Jeffrey and can’t be persuaded to fix shit herself. Then let her reap the consequences, dammit! Jess plans to tell Liz about the note on the bus to Mont Blanc so that Liz will make up with Jeffrey once they get there, and all will be right with the world. Only Jessica and Amy are late meeting the bus for Mont Blanc because Amy is fucking slow and has to pack her whole closet or something, and so it leaves without them and they have to drive to Mont Blanc themselves. My head hurts.

They get there and since Liz can’t be found and it’s almost 6:30, and Liz has no idea she is supposed to meet Jeffrey, Jessica goes to meet him instead, posing as Liz of course. He is delighted they are making up and gives Jessica sexy eyes and she gets uncomfortable. A senior gossip girl we’ve never heard of before named Chrissy Nolan sees them and tells Liz she saw her hanging all over Jeffrey. (I guess we can’t have Caroline be the gossip now since she supposedly redeemed herself way back in book 17.) Liz knows it wasn’t her with Jeffrey, and she freaks out, thinking that Jeffrey is now doing it with Jessica. This is supposed to be an example of Liz blowing shit out of proportion, but you know what? I don’t think so. After all, in the last book, Jessica wasted no time going after Jeffrey when she heard he and Liz had split up. Why should she change now?

Liz has had enough. She packs her shit and takes a bus out of Mont Blanc. Ken, Cara, Enid, and Steven all realize she is leaving but no one stops her. I guess I wouldn’t either, seeing as how we’re now nearly 200 pages into the book and the carnival is just now starting. Liz gets home and Jessica calls demanding to know what’s going on. Liz screams at her that she wishes she never had a sister which is way harsh, come on, and hangs up on her. She falls asleep crying and wakes up from a phone call from the hospital. Jessica tried to drive down the mountain after Elizabeth and wrecked the Fiat, and she’s in bad shape. Liz runs outside and into Todd who obviously should be at the banquet. He drives Liz to the hospital and they are told that Jessica died by their pediatrician (pediatrician? they’re 16!) who’s wearing strange glasses. We get a view of the next couple of weeks in which the whole family mourns Jessica and silently blames Liz. Mrs. Wakefield wears her dead daughter’s clothes which is creepy. When Liz finally meets with her friends again at Enid’s house, Enid is wearing Jessica’s silver ski suit (ew! the one she died in?) and Jeffrey and Todd are both there and they get in a fistfight that is flat-out fucking hilarious. By now, you should be fully aware that this is a dream if you somehow didn’t get it initially. Did anyone read this when it first came out and think Jessica really died? I’m just curious.

Here’s the bullshit ending. Liz wakes up to hear Jeffrey and Jessica come into the house and call for her. She is overcome with joy that Jessica is alive and that it was just a nightmare. Jeffrey apologizes for being possessive. And Liz is so grateful that Jessica is alive that she forgives all the crap Jessica did. That’s nice and all, except Liz decides to keep taking Jessica’s shit because “Jessica was Jessica.” That’s right, she’s not going to force her to be accountable for her shitty nature because hey, that’s just the way she is! At least she’s alive! At least she has a sister! It’s okay that she treats Liz like shit and keeps doing it no matter what Liz says! Fucking enabling bullshit! Then they go to the stupid winter carnival and Jeffrey and Todd get along great and everyone has a blast at the stupid carnival doing goody-goody shit and it’s really, really boring. Oh, and I don’t think Liz ever finds out that Jessica had Todd tell her not to go to the banquet with him, so she gets away with that, too.

This book sucks. A fat one.

The cover makes me laugh so hard. Once again, Liz has a totally stupid expression on her face that makes her look like she ate some shrooms. Nice poofy ponytail. I kind of like Jessica’s jacket. I did not say that out loud. Also, the back of the cover mentions this is the twins’ “mid-winter break.” What the fuck is a mid-winter break? Is that like, a break after the regular winter break so no one has to go to class for more than a week or two at a time?

Stuff and Things: Further evidence that the ghostwriters can’t be too creative with names: Todd’s “little brother” is named Timothy Bryce. Jeffrey’s cousin, mentioned in book 32, is named Bryce.

Amy and Jessica have to go to the library to research what the longest river in Africa is. Uh, you mean the NILE RIVER? DUH!

Jeffrey is irritated because Liz uses the excuse that she can’t let Jessica just take the heat for not making dinner, because their parents will be so tired when they get home they won’t feel up to cooking anything, and that’s not fair to them. I was going to say Ned and Alice should just zap something in the damn microwave until I remembered most people probably didn’t have microwaves back in 1986. In fact, I think we didn’t get ours until maybe a year or two after this book was published.

The outfits in these books have always been amusing, but lately they’ve been especially horrendous. I didn’t think anything could beat the tuxedo pants with the bow tie or whatever the fuck that one was in book 1, but I’m thinking Jessica’s sparkly silver ski suit in this one might do it!

More one shot characters: David’s trivia partner, Jake Thomas. Some senior dude named Craig that Lila dances with at the Snow Ball, while wearing a white dress covered in feathers. HAHAHA I told you … these outfits are hilarious!

Liz wears a hideous-sounding silver dress with puffy sleeves, but Jeffrey thinks she is beyond gorgeous in it. I guess that dress would’ve been really popular back then though. Guuuuh … things I don’t miss about the 80s!

The Droids play a godawful song called “Snow Girl” with crappy ass lyrics. I think “Summer Girl” by Tony Sargent was better. And Dana Larson sings it which sounds funny since she’s telling the “Snow Girl” she sets her on fire with desire or something. Maybe Dana is bi and these early books are more diverse than I thought.

In the back of the book are these weird ads for grown-up mystery novels revolving around virgins and shit that I think are really odd for being in a Sweet Valley High book. There’s also an ad to sign up for the Bantam Deadline murder mystery newsletter … get it … Deadline? Hehehe.

Next time, we’ll find out what happened with Sally Larson and her cousin. I really do not want to read it. I just don’t. It sounds boring. I’ll try.

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