Here’s a book in which the sub-plot is far more interesting than the main storyline. So let’s get this plot out of the way! Jeffrey French and Aaron Dallas are the best of friends, but lately Aaron has had some kind of anger problem. Needless to say, Elizabeth is going to get involved. Since the issue is affecting the boy she loves, I can understand that better than I can when she meddles with kids she never even talks to normally, so I won’t rag on her too much … just yet …
Aaron has only been a bit player in this series so far. We know he’s a popular kid on the soccer team and that he’s dated a number of sexy chicks, including Lila Fowler, Patsy Webber, and now some sophomore girl named Heather Sanford. If you read the Sweet Valley Twins series, then you likely remember him as Jessica’s first serious boyfriend (or as serious as you can be when you are 12). I’m afraid I can’t very excited about getting deeper into the mind of Aaron Dallas. I’m ready to stop reading about secondary characters, and I think the 30s books are getting too ABC After School Special on us. (That’s probably why I found the sub-plot such a relief!)
Aaron’s mother is divorcing his father for another man and moving to New York. Mr. Dallas has been full of rage over the divorce and is taking it out on his son; he even hits him at some point. As a result, Aaron is handling his own rage over the issue very poorly. But for the most part, we don’t get to see much of this story from Aaron’s point of view. Instead, we watch as Aaron freaks the fuck out over tiny things, like:
- Someone stepped on his foot at Lila’s dumb engagement party in the last book
- Mr. Collins gave him a C on a paper
- Tony Esteban made a bad call on Aaron at soccer practice
- Robin Wilson supposedly cheated off him on a math test (she claimed she was just trying to pick up her dropped pencil…riiiight)
- Michael Schmidt agreed with Tony on the earlier soccer call
Despite shit like this, Jeffrey defends his friend to Elizabeth, probably because Elizabeth is always defending Jessica to Jeffrey (although not as often as when she dated Todd). But Liz can’t let it go because she’s worried Jeffrey will be the target of Aaron’s anger next. And, it doesn’t help matters that Liz often winds up being forced to hang around with Aaron and Heather, which she hates doing, and frankly, so would I. Everybody has to walk on eggshells around Aaron, and Heather is seriously fucking annoying with the way she literally baby-talks her man and babbles about clothes in the middle of a movie. Ugh! I hate people talking during movies. But Jeffrey is in denial about what’s going on and wants Liz to shut up and take it. I guess he forgot Liz only bends over like that for Jessica. Their relationship gets slightly strained as Liz tries to keep away from Heather, who is trying to be her best friend. Liz even goes “out of character” and loudly makes fun of Heather’s baby talk voice to a bunch of kids at a sales party Jessica throws after Heather leaves early. Everyone, even Liz, is shocked that Saint Elizabeth would do a thing like that. Right. Elizabeth gets to know Heather better later and feels bad that she made fun of her. But if you think Liz is going to get served her comeuppance for what she did, you clearly don’t know this series well enough.
Things get really bad when Aaron beats up his teammate Brad Tomasi for tripping him up in a soccer game, and the coach suspends him for two days for his “prima donna” attitude, with a promise to cut him from the team if he gets in a fight again. Good job, Coach Horner! Nobody would have been suspended from a sports team at my school for a thing like that. Sports ruled the school. But then nosy Liz decides to write an article for the Oracle about Aaron punching out Brad, because she feels obligated to report on the facts even though it’s just a stupid high school newspaper. Seriously, Liz, get the fuck over yourself! Do you feel obligated to report on who’s having sex with who at Miller’s Point each weekend as well? …Oh, wait, you do.
Aaron is humiliated by this article, and declares Liz and Jeffrey are no longer his friends. Jeffrey is upset that Liz wrote it and annoyed when she tries to pull the whole “I’m a serious reporter and it was my duty” bit. Liz also tries to say that maybe this will convince Aaron to get some help. Heather has the same thoughts. Liz and Mr. Collins talk about the article and Mr. Collins reaffirms Liz’s self-righteous attitude and sense of importance. He also sounds like he is flirting with her, but then, he always does. I think he’s way inapprop.
At lunch, Jeffrey and Liz run into Aaron and Heather. Jeffrey asks him to forgive and forget about the article, but Aaron demands Liz apologize for writing it, and Liz is completely appalled by this. You see, Liz never does anything wrong! Then Aaron freaks out and punches Jeffrey right in the kisser in front of everybody! Everyone gathers around to witness the huge spectacle and talks about how Aaron must be off the team and won’t be able to play in the big game against Big Mesa that day! Surprisingly, Elizabeth doesn’t whip out her stupid reporter’s notebook to record everything! Heather takes off after Aaron to try to help. This time, she doesn’t use her baby talk, which by now we’ve learned is her way of calming Aaron down. Man, if twalking like this to Aaron-poo is what he needs to cwalm down, he seriously does need professional help. But Heather is kind of cool for making her own clothes and insisting Aaron get help. But let’s be straight, Heather is still the type of kid who insists on talking loudly through movies. If this book took place in 2010, she’d probably also be answering her cell and texting.
So, the denouement? Aaron and Mr. Dallas get some help from the school counselor. Coach Horner proves that sports do indeed rule the school as he goes back on his earlier promise and agrees to keep Aaron on the team. Aaron and Jeffrey grudgingly forgive Elizabeth for writing an article about him punching Brad, like Ricky Capaldo also had to do (book 21) because hey, Liz was just doing the right thing even though she humiliated her friends for a FUCKING HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER. Jeffrey forgives Aaron for socking him in the face. Aaron’s anger problem is magically solved in the next soccer game as someone trips him and he doesn’t do anything, even though he punched Jeffrey out just a couple of hours before. Heather overhears everyone begging Elizabeth to do her Heather impression again, but instead of getting pissed off, she shows she’s cool with it by doing her own just-sorta-funny Liz Wakefield impression ’cause she and Liz have an understanding now. And Sweet Valley wins the big game because they never lose any that I’m aware of. Like usual, everyone gets off scot-free in the end, and it all happens within just a few pages.
And OMG! I love this sub-plot! Jessica decides she wants to be rich like Lila Fowler, so she starts selling a beauty product line called Tofu-Glo. The products are made from soy and include shampoo, face wash, moisturizer, and a dietary supplement. Jessica orders a huge introductory shipment of Tofu-Glo, but she doesn’t try the products herself. You can tell this is going to be a huge disaster. I love it. Of course, Elizabeth’s “reporter’s instinct” also kicks in as to what a bad idea it is. You see, only people who write ridiculous gossip columns for a high school newspaper are smart enough to tell something like this just might be a scam.
She throws one of those home parties to sell the products and forces Liz to invite Heather Sanford, whom Liz still despises at that point. Lois Waller is also there, and of course her weight is played for laughs as she asks Jessica about weight loss in connection with the supplements. Jessica lies and tells her that Lois won’t have to eat anything while taking the supplement. She convinces a ton of her friends to purchase the shit. Liz even whines at Enid to purchase something, and Enid gives in. What the FUCK? Dude, Enid hates Jessica more than anything, and here’s Liz forcing her to buy something from her so Liz can feel good about putting more money in their spoiled brat coffers. All because Jessica wants to be able to compete with Lila on the spending money scale. Way to be a good friend, Liz!
Next, Jessica goes around the neighborhood selling Tofu-Crap door to door. She’s a born saleswoman, I guess, because she makes five sales in a row and no one even asks to try the product first! It helps that she lies to a client of her mother’s about how she and her mom use it and love it. When someone finally does ask to try some of the lotion, Jessica is horrified to see that the products have rotted and that the lotion won’t absorb into the skin. Of course, the lady who wants to try the lotion before spending money on it is portrayed as a “hatched-faced” old witch.
Jess goes home humiliated to find all of the products have rotted and smell to high heaven and every dog in the neighborhood is prowling around the house sniffing out the fermented soy. Ewww. People start calling and saying they want their money back because the shampoo won’t wash out of their hair and smells horrible. Cara wails that her hair and therefore her date with Steven is ruined, and Jessica has to keep explaining to Steven why Cara can’t see him. Get over your fucking hair, Cara, like he cares! Mrs. Wakefield makes Jessica go and try the products herself, so Jessica does and finally sees that the shampoo is indeed impossible to wash out of one’s hair. Then she tries the face wash and her face instantly swells up and turns bright red. Jessica’s own date with Neil Freemount is ruined. Yes, that’s right, old Neil is still hanging around! I guess Jessica still uses him as a back-up when there’s nobody better willing to dry-hump her on a Saturday night.
The end of this highly entertaining escapade is that Jessica not only has to give everyone their money back, but she also has to arrange for a shady dump truck man to take the dozens of boxes of rotted tofu out of her house and to the dump for sixty-five dollars. She calls the company who tell her that there is fine print on the bottom of the containers that you have to refrigerate the products. How did they not spoil on the way to the house the first time then? But then Mr. Wakefield saves the day by finding out about a class action suit against the company which means Jessica is going to get all of her money back plus damages. He tries to give Jessica a stern warning about doing things like this in the future, but come on! This is Sweet Valley! There are no consequences! Get real, Mr. Wakefield! Your daughter has a perfect right to borrow lots of money from you for all kinds of modeling and get-rich-quick schemes because her clearly huge allowance just isn’t enough as the rich bitch down the way! And everyone knows that only poor kids like Ricky Capaldo have to get real jobs!
The cover: UGH. Did EVERYONE wear pants up over their bellybuttons back then? It just looks so uncomfortable! I’m talking about you, Liz. And is that an elastic waistband? Liz looks like a schoolteacher breaking up a fight. She also looks much prettier than she usually does. I guess anger is good for her. Her hair is fug though. I think this is the first cover with Jeffrey French on it. Not bad, not bad. Aaron’s hair is like, down in his eyes.
Other stuff: Jessica reads a lot of Sweet Dreams romances, according to page 2. A rare moment of self-promotion for Bantam Books.
The Wakefields make a Mexican dinner at one point that made my mouth water bad. Mmmmmm, Mexican food. Of course, when I say “the Wakefields” make it, I mean primarily Mrs. Wakefield. The book explains that Alice runs the household and implies that she is responsible for cooking everything, even though she has a full-time job just like Mr. Wakefield. How nice.
Since we haven’t had anyone on a diet or complaining about their weight in a while, Heather only orders a Diet Coke at Casey’s Place so she can keep fitting into her clothes or something. Elizabeth snidely thinks of Heather’s diets as “another symptom of her vanity.” Fuck you Liz! Not everyone can chow down on sundaes and cheeseburgers every single day and stay a perfect effing size six!
Does anyone ever watch current movies in this town? I feel like every time someone goes to a movie in this series, it’s described as an old romance or a classic or something. Only recently was a modern spy thriller mentioned. I love old movies, but just sayin’. I don’t think it’s realistic that teenagers dig watching those that often.
When Heather is still desperate to be Liz’s friend, we of course get to hear her thoughts about how Liz is just so poised and perfect or whatever. GOD! Is there ANYONE who doesn’t want to wipe Liz’s ass for her?
Jessica has an obsession with the number “137”. This has been tracked in other blogs (see shannonsweetvalley.com) so I won’t bother to go over all of the instances in which she says it here, but rest assured that she does at least a couple of times in most books, and this one is no exception. I figure that is Francine’s lucky number.
1987-tastic: Soya-Soft face cream has PABA in it, which has since fallen out of favor due to allergy and increased sun damage issues (hence the “PABA Free” labels on many sunscreens).
Jessica and Elizabeth seriously must have the biggest allowances ever for a middle class family. Jessica is able to buy a shitload of health food drinks and snacks for her Tofu-Glo party even though she just spent a hundred fifty bucks on the Tofu-Glo starter kit (AND she had to borrow fifty of that from Liz).
I was confused as to why John Pfeifer wasn’t writing the soccer article since he is the sports writer for the Oracle. I guess that would be too inconvenient to the plot. Plus John probably wouldn’t “do the right thing”
Love this quote from Jeffrey, at Liz when she tries to defend including the Aaron-Brad incident in her article which was supposed to be about the soccer team: “Stop pulling that ‘just the facts’ stuff, okay?” YES. You tell her Jeffrey!
Next up: It’s time for the last Super Edition we’ll have for a long time. This time, the twins are going to Kansas to spend spring break with their aunt and uncle.