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

Archive for September, 2010

WELCOME

Holy crap! I have a lot of new visitors. I would like to welcome everyone, and thank Sweet Valley Confidential for listing me on their Twitter account (here) and Facebook page (here)! I wish I could go back in time and tell my bookwormish, nerdy, scribble-happy 8-year-old self that I would be linked to an official Sweet Valley web page over 20 years later.  Hmmmm, 8-year-old me would’ve had a premature heart attack and died, so no, that wouldn’t be a good idea. Also, I would have no clue what a “web page” was at age 8, but eh …

There are loads of great Sweet Valley blogs out there. I’m happy to be another voice in the SV blogosphere!

Right now it’s very rainy where I am, and I’ve had a long day at work. I noticed that the SV Confidential Twitter noted that it is a “Dairi Burger” kinda day … yes, it sure is now that you made me think about ice cream! But since I can’t go get an ice cream sundae at the Dairi Burger, I guess I’ll have to make do with the McDonald’s down the street … *sadface*

Sweet Valley High Slam Book

AWWW CHECK IT OUT

Francine decided it wasn’t good enough to release a book about slam books. No, she had to release an actual slam book itself. And here it is! My sister and I both went out and bought these ASAP even though none of my girlfriends had one. (I was only seven, and the only one of my friends who read Sweet Valley High at that time.) She passed hers around in school, however, and even got it taken away once. I’m not sure where my original is, so I went and bought another copy off Alibris.com. Andrea Charlton, if you’re out there, I’ve got yours. Don’t worry, I won’t broadcast the names you put in here … Heh heh.

The book opens with a letter from Elizabeth (with post-scripts from Jessica) telling us how the Slam Book works. Different typefaces are used for each of them so you can tell who’s talking later on. Liz has a no-nonsense typewriter print and Jessica has a fun aqua cursive style. Very appropriate. The rules for the Slam Book are basically the same as they are in Slam Book Fever: you have three sections, Boys, Girls, and Crystal Ball, with categories in each section. You write the name of a person you think fits each category on the corresponding page and then pass it to your friends so they can write their own choices in your book. Then you get lots of fun anonymous name-calling. (Anonymous, that is, assuming you don’t already know what their handwriting looks like!) Here’s something different: each page has two dotted lines going across the corners so that you can fold it down after your write your choice in your own book. That way the kids writing in your book have to make 1/137th more effort to find out what you really think. And to see what your handwriting looks like so that they can tell what you wrote in their books. Seriously, is a folded-down corner really going to deter anybody? I would’ve totally peeked! My sister and I didn’t even bother to fold down our corners! In addition, the Slam Book also includes some fun extras in it – advice column letters, horoscopes, and a calendar.

Liz and Jess lay down some ground rules because of course, only they got to have all the fun with ruining people’s love lives and disrupting class. You’re not supposed to use the book for anything mean, and you’re not supposed to use it during class. Can’t you just see Liz storming into your math class to snatch the book away from you and tell you to pay attention? I guess now that these rules are in place, Liz is suddenly a fan of the whole slam book idea. Funny bit: she also notes that she and Jessica argued about which categories to include. “She wanted to fill the book with categories such as ‘Best Looking,’ ‘Biggest Flirt,’ and ‘Best Gossip’ – and that’s where we disagreed. I’m more interested in choosing things like ‘Best Athlete’ or ‘Smartest.’ Jessica says that’s goody-goody stuff and boring.” Ha ha! How clever. Yes, that is boring, Liz, you freakin’ halo-sporter you. Lastly, the twins note that you’ll see where they wrote their own choices on certain pages. Oh boy.

Girls section: I’m not going to name all the categories, just the ones I find interesting or that one of the twins put something in. It starts off with “Most Like Elizabeth Wakefield” and “Most Like Jessica Wakefield.” I would’ve appreciated a “Most Like Betsy Martin” or “Most Like Annie Whitman” but I guess that’s getting into the “mean” categories. “Most Popular” shows that Liz put down Jessica and Jessica put down Liz. How surprising. “Biggest Flirt” does NOT have Jessica written down. Aw, we wouldn’t want A.J. Morgan to see it and get the wrong idea! “Best Athlete” cracks me up because my Slam Book’s previous owner, Andrea, or one of her friends wrote “[Girl] thinks she’s the best athlete, but she’s not.” HAHAHA! Liz put Dana Larson for “Most Talented.” Please tell me you’re talking about her singing and not her lyrical writing abilities, Liz. Jessica put Lila Fowler for “Best Dressed” and Caroline Pearce for “Best Gossip.” “Most Loyal Friend”: Liz says Enid Rollins (shocker), and Jessica put “Cara Walker.” Hmmmm … yeah, I guess Cara is a much better friend than backstabbing Lila or skanky old Amy. There’s a blank page on the other side of that last one and one of old Andrea’s friends put “Mega Worst Dancer” as a new category. Wow Andrea, there is one chick listed in this book that you guys are DEFINITELY not a fan of. I couldn’t help but notice. Hahaha.

Boys section: The first category is “Most Like Bruce Patman”. Uh … so “Most Rapey”? Okay. Hey, why is there no “Most Like Lila Fowler” in the Girls section? You vain little twats, putting “Most Like” yourselves in there but not the esteemed Ms. Fowler! Oh, and the illustration for “Most Popular” in both the Girls and Boys sections is a piece of notepaper with two names and meeting times written on it … so I guess if you’re going to meet up with two friends in one day, or whatever, that’s how you know you’re really in demand. I don’t know; I’m really picking at this thing now. Alright, back to Boys. Jessica says that “Biggest Jock” is Ken Matthews, but he might not appreciate being put in that category now that Andrea or one of her friends has altered it! Someone crossed out “Jock” and replaced it with “Dick” with a corresponding drawing nearby! Yes, that’s right, I can see where you tried to erase the roughly sketched penis and it didn’t work! Elizabeth is going to come after you for violating the rules!

For “Smartest”, Liz says Allen Walters and Jessica says “Peter DeHaven.” “Most Talented” is Guy Chesney, according to Liz. Liz also said Winston Egbert is “Class Clown.” Never saw that one coming. And then lastly, we have “Nicest” with Jessica’s choice of Tom McKay. Really? Tom was one of the frat brothers that helped harass Josh Bowen. And once again, we have Andrea’s added category of “Worst Dancer.” At least it’s not “Mega Worst” this time!

Crystal Ball section: Andrea changed “Most Likely to Be President” to “Most Likely to Be Prime Minister” since she is from Canada. She and her friends really dig them some Tom Cruise, also. I notice the “Most Likely to Have Six Kids” page is blank of any suggestions from Liz or Jess, which must be because Jessica threw a tantrum over that one in Slam Book Fever. There aren’t any contributions from the twins in this section at all actually, which is pretty short.

Advice Questions: Letters asking Liz and Jess for advice are printed in the category sections on the opposing pages. Liz answers one question, then Jess answers the next, etc. These are supposed to be questions their friends always ask them, because they’re advice mavens. There’s a weird one to Jessica from “Worried” who says her friend doesn’t want to double date anymore. Jess is like, “Just ask her what her problem is.” Haha, I bet I know what it is. She wants to make out with her man without you breathing down her neck, Worried! GOSH! But WAIT! What’s this? “In Love” asks a question about her boyfriend being afraid she’ll meet someone else while she is a junior counselor at summer camp. Jessica of course first tries to dissuade In Love from getting tied down, but then she adds that if you must date someone seriously, writing lots of letters will help. “It’s worked for my sister Liz!” RIGHT! Because when Jeffrey was away at camp and calling and writing frequently, it worked so well! Liz didn’t fall in love with another dude or anything! “Responsible” is whining that she’s 14 and her parents won’t let her stay out past 10 o’clock on the weekends. Cry me a river, Responsible! And “Disappointed” asks Liz what to do about a friend she thinks betrayed her. Liz tells her to make sure that her friend did indeed betray her by talking to her first. You fuckin’ hypocrite, Liz. Then Jessica advises “Older Woman” not to care about what her friends think because it’s no big deal to date someone who is a year younger than you are! LIES! She admits that she did this once herself but conveniently leaves out how she dumped him the second she found out he was younger! “Sloppy but Happy” asks Liz if it’s true that because it’s her mom’s house, she has to keep her room clean. Liz says “I don’t know if this is a right or wrong situation” – are you joking? Pristine immaculate Liz says this? Plus, I was a messy ass teenager, but if I own the house, you better keep it clean. I don’t want stinkin’ roaches in my house! Gross!

Cigarettes make an appearance when “Non-Smoker” asks Jessica what to do about her friends pressuring her to smoke. Non-Smoker needs to choose a different name for herself since she’s actually already started smoking, she just doesn’t want to do it anymore. “Hurt” is an identical twin who’s mad because the boy she likes is always hanging out with her sister now. Gee, sound familiar? Jessica admits she is having a hard time answering this one, then says the twins should make an agreement not to go after each other’s “potential boyfriends.” I don’t even need to comment. “Nervous” stupidly asks ELIZABETH what to do about her older boyfriend. She’s fifteen and he’s eighteen, so he could go to jail for it, but Liz encourages her to tell the ‘rents and says, “Unless there’s something wrong with this guy, I don’t see why they won’t approve.” You don’t, huh Liz? Oh wait, I forgot your friend Enid was dating a college boy when she was still fifteen. “Concerned” tells Jessica her sister’s boyfriend is a pot smoker and wants to know what to do. Jessica tells her to tell her sister and let her decide what to do which is a pleasant surprise. Good thing she didn’t ask Liz, or someone would’ve gotten ratted out to the authorities.

Horoscope section: This area just tells you things about yourself based on your sign. I LOVED horoscopes when I was a kid, especially because I really do fit the description of a Leo. Unfortunately, in the back of this book the first line is missing from my Leo ‘scope! Looks like a printing error and actually, I remember it being in my book also. Thanks Bantam. My horoscope says I am “proud, dynamic, and generous” and that I need to think things through before making big decisions. Considering the amount of money I have dropped on Sweet Valley books, I would say that’s very accurate. Sigh.

Calendar section: This is cute. Just three months to each page with a different illustration for each one. Andrea wrote names of people having birthdays in here. I see the September calendar block has one of those old-fashioned bookstraps from like, the 50s, as the illustration.

The cover resembles the speckled composition books that the girls used in Slam Book Fever. The picture of Jess and Liz from Double Love is here, as is the new Sweet Valley High logo that started showing up on the cover backs a few books ago.

Laurie Pascal Wenk wrote this one. I guess she is related to Francine 🙂

If you couldn’t tell, I had way too much fun with this one. What are your Slam Book memories?

Coming up next: The Jessica-A.J. saga begins!

#48 Slam Book Fever

Now, we’re on to one of those books that I consider a milestone in the series. Everyone tried to get a slam book when this came out! Don’t deny it! But I remembered this book as being juicier than it was. My almost-30 self was just not impressed. I guess I’m uh, a little out of the target age range now.

Checking out the cover: Amy looks terrible. She looked “cute” on her other two covers, but here she’s just … fug. I really hate Amy Sutton, so this pleases me. I’m digging Jessica’s sweater. Her face looks more like Dana Larson’s from Starting Over, however. Don’t you think?

Amy Sutton is feeling all pleased with herself. You see, back in Connecticut, everyone had a Slam Book, and even though it’s been like 20 books since she moved here, she’s just now telling everyone about this. She explains how a Slam Book works. First, you “carefully” write your name inside the front cover. Gee, that’s a huge step right there. Next, you divide your book into two parts: one for boys, and one for girls. Then, you put headings at the top of each blank page, which should be superlatives like: Prettiest, Most Popular, Class Clown, etc. Amy even comes up with a third section called “Crystal Ball”, the headings of which are predictions like: Most Likely to Run for President, bla bla. After you’ve come up with these headings, you write down the names of people you think best fit the categories in your book, then swap with your friends. Everyone passes the books around and writes their own choices down in each other’s books, and when you get yours back you have a ton of anonymous gossip! Sounds like a blast, right? Well, of course we have Little Miss Goody-goody Liz Wakefield speaking up to let everyone know that this sounds like it could potentially hurt some feelings. She explains how she gets terribly mean submissions to include in the Eyes and Ears column and how careful she has to be about writing it. I love the way she thinks her gossip is the standard to which all gossip should be held. But Amy goes ahead and gives her ugly ass a pat on the back for starting a new fad at SVH. Everyone makes a “special” trip to the stationery shop to purchase the same speckled composition books that you can get in the grocery store. Then the trouble starts, allowing Elizabeth to once again feel good about herself for always knowing what’s best.

A hot new redhead named Adam Joseph “A.J.” Morgan has moved to Sweet Valley from Atlanta. He plays basketball and is an Army brat. Wait, there’s an Army base near Sweet Valley? Jessica immediately develops a serious crush on A.J. She can’t even talk right when he’s around, blushes and stammers, and messes up the cheerleading formations at the b’ball game. To tell you the truth, that’s more realistic than Jessica’s usual purring at new dudes. And it’s really cute! People keep asking Jess what’s wrong with her, but she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s crushing on A.J., so she keeps denying it. She flies into a rage when she’s listed as “Biggest Flirt” in the Slam Books because she’s afraid A.J. will think she’s well, um … herself. Cara, Lila, and Amy are all like, “What the hell? You’re a total cocktease, Jess!” Jess is also listed as “Most Likely to Have Six Kids” which I presume is the Sweet Valley consequence of being “Biggest Flirt” … 😉

Meanwhile, things are not good with Olivia and Roger. They keep fighting and eventually they decide it’s best to just end the relationship. Olivia is devastated and throws herself into her new literary magazine, Visions. Jeffrey is helping her by doing all the photography. He then decides Olivia would be the perfect model for a series of pictures he wants to include. He would’ve used Liz as the model, but some of the photos have to show the model as looking depressed and angry, and Liz’s face is too sunny for those. Yes, this is true! Even on the cover of book 4, her mean face is too smiley! Haha. Liz is cool with Jeffrey using Olivia as the model … for now.

Things take a nasty turn when everyone checks out their Slam Books and sees that Jeffrey and Olivia have been listed as “Future Couple.” Everyone freaks the hell out. It’s just words, you guys! Liz becomes worried that she and Jeffrey might somehow be threatened by this. Then they also see that under the same heading, Elizabeth and A.J. have been listed, too. Jessica is really upset since she’s harboring the secret infatuation with A.J. Wow, so much drama over some dumb prediction someone wrote in a book.

Liz can’t help but notice that Jeffrey is spending all his time with Olivia. He does sound rather disconnected. Then he doesn’t reassure her in the manner to which she is accustomed so she starts ignoring him and pulling her usual bullshit. The last straw is when Jeffrey calls her to say he’s standing her up for a beach date because he suddenly noticed the light outside was just perfect for a photo shoot in Las Palmas Canyon. So now he’s not going to make it back in time. He even calls Olivia “Liv”! Liz is really sad. Right after they hang up, Cara shows up at the house to hit the beach with Jessica. Cara is upset because she was at an appointment in “Riverside” (where the H is that?) and saw Olivia and Jeffrey in a parking lot at a rest stop, and Jeffrey was holding Olivia in his arms. Rather than confront Jeffrey later, Liz stomps off to the beach with Cara and Jessica where they meet Lila. A.J. goes by, and Liz decides the best way to handle her sadness over Jeffrey is to flirt outrageously with A.J. and get him to give her windsurfing lessons. Wow, so now we have crazy Dear Sister Liz all over again. Everyone is stunned by Liz’s nutty behavior, and A.J. clearly does not want to give her windsurfing lessons, but is too big of a wimp to say so. Jeffrey and Olivia show up and are really confused about what’s happening. Cara explains what she saw, and Olivia says she had something in her eye and Jeffrey pulled over to help her get it out. Lila offers to straighten things out with Liz for him and makes him a bet: if Liz doesn’t want to speak with him again in ten minutes, she’ll owe Jeffrey dinner out at L’Escalier. Everyone gasps because this is THE ritziest French restaurant in town! As opposed to the last few French restaurants we heard about that were supposed to be the ritziest. I guess they keep building new ones all the time.

Of course, the plan fails and Lila conveniently owes Jeffrey a dinner out. That same night, Liz goes out with A.J. while Jessica stews because she can’t bring herself to tell Liz how much she likes A.J. I kind of think this is her just deserts (and yes, it’s just deserts, not just desserts – look it up) for the shit she pulled in book 1, but just barely. Lila starts hanging on “Jeff” at school all the time to “discuss strategy” because Jeffrey is too stupid to try to talk to his girlfriend himself. So obviously, this calls for an elaborate plan to fix things. Jessica has to dress up as Liz and convince everyone with a slam book that she needs to borrow them for the Oracle. The idea is that every book but Lila’s will have “Jeffrey and Olivia” and “Elizabeth and A.J.” under the “Future Couple” category. Why wouldn’t Lila just write it in her own book? But somehow, their stupid theory is right. Lila still isn’t over Jeffrey preferring Liz to her from umpteen books ago, so this was her bright idea to steal him. I would scoff, but clearly since these kids don’t know how to communicate like normal couples, she was on the right track. Jessica is just enraged that Lila would try to do something like this, because she’s never had the idea of stealing Jeffrey herself or anything. (Ahem, book 32.) All it takes to get J and E back together is showing them how Lila’s book is the only one that doesn’t have “Jeffrey and Olivia” in it. Then all of a sudden it makes sense and Liz believes that Jeffrey really didn’t cheat on her. Urrrrrrrrrr! This is so juvenile! They make up and all is well.

In the meantime, A.J. tells Jessica he really likes her. Liz is not for him, although I guess he liked her enough to take her out. And why does he like Jess? Because she’s so quiet, and shy! Like the good Southern girls he’s used to from back home! So now Jessica is going to change her whole personality to make sure he stays interested in her. Sounds like a great plan, that one. Aside from that, what bothers me is how the implication is that A.J. likes a docile, submissive creature. I don’t know, it just gets to the feminist in me. You know I take this shit too seriously anyway.

So how does everyone get back at Lila? They create a new category called “Biggest Sneak” and write Lila’s name in all the books! Ooooooooh! That’ll show her!

How many of you tried to start your own slam book craze because of this book?

The sub-plot doesn’t really exist since everything just interchanges anyway.

Other stuff: Random characters: Paul Isaacs and Jason Mann. They’re basketball players. It kind of bothers me how a character is mentioned in mere passing, usually with no speaking parts, and we will never hear of them again, yet they get names like they are important. Oh, Paul Isaacs! The basketball dude, riiiiiight! Maybe the ghostwriter just wants to do a shout-out to his/her friends by putting their names in the book. That’s totally something I would do, so I guess I need to take the stick out of my ass.

Everyone makes a big deal out of Lila’s shiny gold swimsuit and the fact that her towel says “THE RITZ” on it.

In case you were wondering, L’Escalier means “The Stairs”! Ha ha

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: Talking about her Italian bathing suit: “Italy’s the best. You guys should try to get some stuff airmailed over for you. Sweet Valley just doesn’t have any real selection.”

Coming up next: I review the Sweet Valley High Slam Book itself! You know you had to have one!

#47 Troublemaker

It’s been only seven (okay, technically nine) books since Bruce Patman’s ex-girlfriend Regina died, so I was hoping this book might give us a tiny bit of insight into how he feels about that, now that he’s no longer buried in Amy Sutton’s snatch. That was dumb of me.

So, this book’s terribly pressing teen issue is that of fraternity hazing. Yeah, that’s right, we get to go into the world of high school fraternities and sororities again, a concept that is almost totally alien to me. I did know one person who was in a high school sorority, so it’s not like Francine made it up, but still … weird.

The farternity – haha, I mean fraternity (that was a total typo, I swear) – in question is Phi Epsilon, which I don’t think we’ve heard much about since they had a dance in book 1. Now they’re about to admit some new pledges, and Josh Bowen (who?) is desperate to get in because his big brother Phil was a revered member. Phil is now a junior at Princeton and is kind of a big deal. Unfortunately for Josh, the hazing this year has gotten pretty nasty. And what horrible things are the Phi Epsilon big brothers subjecting Joshy to? Well, things like being stuffed in a locker for a few minutes, eating five ice cream dishes at Casey’s until he pukes (on the fourth one, by the way – FAIL!), and cleaning up a house prior to the party. These are all held out as just god-awful things to do to a person. I can’t wait till these wimps go to college and experience some REAL frat hazing! When you’re doing a shot that’s just been poured through another dude’s asshole, just for starters, you might change your mind there about what’s out of line, Joshy-poo.

Okay, so the big asshole leading the frat crew is Bruce Patman, who appears to be one of the only seniors in the whole frat. But since there’s maybe five senior guys in this whole school, I guess that’s not weird. Other brothers include Tom McKay, Bill Chase, Kirk Anderson, Winston fucking Egbert, Ronnie Edwards, John Pfeifer … basically every major character you’ve heard of so far. Even Allen Walters is mentioned as being in there. Allen Walters! The nerdy dude that Robin Wilson picked over Bruce! And he’s in the frat with Bruce! What the fuck! (Maybe his status went up now that he’s dating the daughter of a famous movie director.) But we don’t even know what other fraternities there are at SVH, since they’re never, ever mentioned, so honestly, at this point I’m just going to assume that Phi Epsilon is the only frat at SVH and therefore it makes sense that everyone is in that one. I know it’s been stated there are others, but I don’t believe it.

Julie Porter and Liz have become really good friends again because Julie is helping Liz with her stupid recorder. Since Josh and Julie happen to be neighbors and good friends, Julie knows all about his pledging Phi Ep, and she notices Bruce Patman hounding Josh a lot. And it’s clear that Julie obviously has a big crush on Bruce Patman. Liz frets and worries over this and tries to tell Julie that Bruce is bad news, but Julie doesn’t want to hear it. You know, it might work better if you just come out and tell Julie that Bruce once tried to rape you, Liz. Just a thought.

Julie, Liz, and Josh are all at Casey’s the night the aforementioned forced ice cream gorging occurs. Liz and Julie are horrified when Josh runs out of the restaurant to barf after this, and Julie thinks Bruce is an asshole. But then she decides Bruce is nice after he follows Josh and the girls outside and tells Josh he knows he went too far. Liz and Josh leave and Julie makes up a dumb reason to stay at the mall. Bruce then asks her to go to the Phi Ep party with him and she agrees and is dancing on air. When Liz tries to talk to her about it, Julie blows a fuse because she’s sick of hearing from everyone about what a bad reputation Bruce has. Well, um, Julie, it’s true. The part that really annoys me is how Julie keeps conveniently overlooking how Bruce cheated on Regina with Amy, and acts like Bruce was still in love with Regina when she died and how that must’ve been so hard for him. What the fuck.

Josh and the other pledges go to Bruce’s house to clean the basement for the Phi Ep party. Josh gets tired of cleaning and gets in a pissy mood, and really loses it when Bruce puts a fuzz ball from the carpet on his head and tells him to keep cleaning with it on there. God, for real? What a fucking wussy. It’s a carpet fuzz ball, not a ball of pubes! Josh mouths off to Bruce and they get in a fight. Some of the other brothers pull Bruce off of him and Josh storms out of the house. John P. comes after him and tells him that he should try to forgive Bruce. You see, Bruce is still hurting from Regina’s death. He thinks he became too big of a softie while he was with her, and that if he hadn’t been so soft, he wouldn’t feel as much pain as he does. Riiiiight. Josh takes off and I think he believes it.

Jessica hears a rumor from Lila that Bruce originally asked someone else to the party who turned him down. So in other words, Julie’s second best. Ohhhh noes. Liz and Josh decide to tell Julie and she is crushed, but ultimately decides that she’ll go with Bruce anyway. Hey, even if he’s an ass, he’s got these beautiful blue eyes! I’m so sick of hearing about his eyes. I don’t even remember hearing that they were blue before. They’re brown on every cover, right?

The night of the party arrives. Liz discovers that the girl Bruce originally asked to the party was a blond senior named Danielle Alexander. She has no idea if Danielle is actually going to go with Bruce or not, but Danielle is going to the party. She winds up not warning Julie about it, because, man I don’t know. I’m getting bored. Bruce makes some excuse that he can’t pick Julie up because has to clean the house, which is total bullshit since the pledges are the ones doing that. So Julie rides to the party with Jeffrey, Liz, and Enid, who’s going solo because – get this – Hugh has a basketball game at Big Mesa that he “has” to go to. Um, like he’s playing in it? Or he just wanted to go to the game? If it’s the latter, he’s so cheating on you, Enid.

The kids get to the party and for some reason they can’t park in the Patmans’ driveway and have to hike up it to the house. What the fuck ever. Josh answers the door dressed like a woman. He and the other pledges are dressed in stupid outfits and this is supposed to be mean. Okay. Julie finds Bruce and he gives her a grand tour of the mansion and makes flirty comments about skinnydipping and bedrooms. Speaking of bedrooms, Bruce’s has a whole wall full of pictures of just himself, but this doesn’t strike Julie as odd. Instead, she thinks Bruce is a great guy because he didn’t try to seduce her. This girl is hopeless. It’s been said (by Josh, I think) that she’s just a naive young teen, but I think it’s a little past that now.

Liz sees Bruce with Danielle and sees him kissing her, but she doesn’t do anything about it, not even after Bruce then goes to dance with Julie and leads her off to a “dark alcove” that he has set up for making out, haha. Come on, we’re really supposed to believe Liz wouldn’t go barging in on them like she did when Jessica was with Bruce? Anyway, Bruce sweet-talks Julie but leaves right before he kisses her to go change the music. He makes out with Danielle and they have a good laugh about something. Meanwhile, Julie thinks Bruce has come back into the alcove to kiss her and they start making out. It’s Julie’s first kiss. Then someone flips on the lights and everyone stands around laughing as Julie realizes she was kissing Josh and flips out and runs out of the house. Liz chases after her and gets the story. Liz realizes that “the old Bruce” is back, and “Julie was his first casualty.” Okay, so Regina wasn’t? Oh, I guess it was okay that he cheated on her because they had started to grow apart or something. That’s what book 40 tried to make us believe. This series makes no damn sense.

Back at the party, we learn what the fuck that was all about. Bruce sent Josh into the alcove thinking he was going to make out with someone he didn’t know who was going to “judge” him. All the pledges were basically supposed to make out with this chick one by one in the alcove to see who was the “best lover.” Uh, so basically they were all going to tag team her. Only Josh didn’t know that Julie was the chick, and Julie, of course, had no idea she was supposed to get a whole line of dudes. That is fucked up. Winston thinks that was a shitty joke to play and he and Josh go off to the kitchen to eat potato chips and dip and talk about how fucked up the fraternity is now that Bruce has taken over.

Josh feels horrible about what happened and tries to apologize to Julie, but she doesn’t want to talk to him. Meanwhile, Bruce and Ronnie continue to haze him, making him do 50+ push-ups every day. They also have Ronnie play an accordion in the hall at school while Josh jumps around like a trained monkey and kisses random girls who pass by. Of course, Julie just happens to walk by and Josh just happens to accidentally kiss her. Oops. Julie freaks out and screams at Josh to leave her alone. Later on, Josh tells Liz the truth about what happened and asks her to tell Julie, but Julie is still so humiliated she wants nothing to do with him.

This lame book is finally over when Josh and the pledges are made to “serve” people in the cafeteria at school like waitresses. Josh wears a baseball cap to hide himself so he can talk to Liz about Julie without Bruce noticing. But then a pledge named Andy Snyder comes over to offer them Sweet Valley’s “finest” half pints of milk — GOD THIS BOOK IS FUCKING LAME – and Bruce sees Josh. And what’s the big punishment for dodging the pledge task du jour? Josh has to go buy six bowls of Jello, mix it up, and serve it to Julie. For fuck’s sake! Josh gets the Jello, mixes it up, and then dumps it in Bruce’s lap while everyone screams with laughter. Oh, except Liz, who’s standing up and applauding. Dumbass. Josh tells Bruce he can take his fraternity and shove it right up his ass alongside the gold-plated stick he already has stuck up there. Then he leaves the cafeteria and he and Julie smooch in the hallway and confess they’re in looooove while Liz probably watches nearby, patting herself on the fucking back for saving another pair of souls while glaring self-righteously at this oh-so-evil Phi Epsilon fake-waitressing that’s going on. This book is so fucking dumb. Oh, and Danielle dumps Bruce because she thinks he’s a dick for the way he treated Julie. Right, like she wasn’t laughing her ass off at the party with everyone else.

The sub-plot: Jessica decides to audition for You Can’t Take It with You, which calls for some dancing. So she spends a good deal of time training to be a dance again, which involves re-learning ballet. (There’s a shout-out to Sweet Valley Twins when it mentions Madame Andre’s ballet class.) Oh, and starving herself. Jessica tries to make herself eat only carrots for dinner so she can develop a lithe, lean dancer’s body. I guess it wouldn’t be a Sweet Valley book without mention of some ridiculous diet. It turns out Jessica is up against Danielle Alexander for the role. Danielle is a professional ballet dancer, so Jessica is sure she’s going to lose out to her. Jessica flubs the audition and falls down twice and tries to joke about it, and she’s miserable. But, as usual, things turn out well for Jess, who never even bothered to read the fucking play. It turns out the role requires that she make everyone laugh with her terrible dancing. So needless to say, Jess gets the part. She’s almost too vain to play a role that requires her to act like an ass, but she comes through in the end and does an awesome job.

Um, so Josh looks pretty cute on this cover. Julie reminds me of DeeDee Gordon from the cover of Too Much in Love. Bruce looks rough. Nothing like the smoldering Patrick Muldoon lookalike on previous covers. Looks like he got older and had some shitty face work done. And nice sweater there, Bruce.

Other stuff: Liz thinks that something is up because if Bruce was just trying to make Amy jealous, “he would have asked someone truly stunning.” In other words, not Julie. I love how Liz has the same fucking thoughts Jess has but thinks she’s morally superior.

Lila complains to Liz that she went on a few dates with John Pfeifer and now he is obsessed with her and it’s really annoying. She wants Liz to run a fake item in Eyes and Ears that she has a college boyfriend so John will give up (which needless to say goody-two-shoes Liz won’t do). When Liz won’t do it, Lila refuses to tell her more about the rumor about Bruce asking someone else to the dance … But let’s think about this bit about John being obsessed with Lila. Considering what we know about John in later books (no spoilers here) that is REALLY CREEPY. I mean, did they set this up way early or something?

At one point, Liz thinks to herself about how upset Jessica was when Bruce dumped her. Um, no, Jessica dumped HIM and made him look like an ass in front of everyone, remember?

Enid yells at Jeffrey that he has to let go of Liz before she has him arrested for “assault with intent to kiss” … worst … joke … ever … Enid is seriously like, the lowest of the low on the popularity scale. I’m convinced Liz is only popular because she looks like Jess and Jess is a head cheerleader and all that jazz, and therefore, Enid’s being Liz’s best friend just barely saves her from being on the lowest rung of the popularity ladder. It’s like, lowest rung: Randy Mason, next lowest rung: Enid, Allen Walters.

Jessica thinks of DeeDee as her “friend.” Wow, on what planet is this the case? Oh, I forgot. The planet where DeeDee is in good with Mr. Jaworski, the drama teacher, and can help Jessica get the role.

There’s a stupid scene where all the Oracle staff members are freaking out about getting the paper done on time. It’s a high school paper. Oh, but someone mentions a band called “the Surf Boys.” AHahhaa sorry I just think that’s almost as dumb as “The Surfers’ Waves.”

Okay, seriously? Where the fuck is Abbie Richardson? She was introduced as being super best friends with Liz or something and constantly at the Wakefields’, and now there’s not even a PASSING mention of her like they’re so careful to give to all the other minor characters.

Stupid nerdy fact about the cover: I noticed that while most covers have a line above and a line below the title, this one only has it above the word TROUBLEMAKER and not below. I can’t believe I a) noticed that and b) am fully exposing my geekdom to this extent.

coming up next … FINALLY, a Sweet Valley book that’s guaranteed to be more fun than the last few I’ve forced myself to read … SLAM BOOK FEEEEEEEEVAAAAAA

#46 Decisions

Waaaaaah!

What the fuck is up with this cover? These kids look like they’re imitating three year olds with their stupid crossed-arm, back-to-back pouty expressions. I’m waiting for one of them to blow a raspberry at the other next. And is that really George Warren? This is the dude that’s supposed to be so gorgeous? He looks like someone’s dad, or older. Come to think of it, my 50-year-old boss looks younger than he does.

So yeah, that’s Robin Wilson, the chick who George cheated on Enid with. She’s pretty, but she’s not even half as gorgeous as they say she is, so I guess she and old George have that in common. We know Robin is co-captain of the cheerleaders with Jessica, that Robin used to be fat, and that she’s a teen pilot, but apparently she’s also got “champion diver” on her resume. Her coach is Dina Taylor, an Olympic silver medalist. She’s also now very close friends with Annie Whitman. Hmmm, that makes sense – they both were victimized by Jessica, and presumably both hate her. They’ve been largely absent from cheerleader scenes in previous books, so I guess they’re keeping their distance from old Queen Bitch. Understandable!

Anyway, the story: Robin’s wealthy artist Aunt Fiona Maxwell has offered to pay for Robin’s college for the full four years. There’s just one catch: Robin has to go to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where Fiona and another family member went. Robin’s mom assumes Robin will just do what her aunt wants. George assumes Robin will just go to UCLA so she can stay close to him. Robin has no idea what she wants to do and hates everyone trying to make an important life decision for her. Unfortunately for her, she’s applied early admission to Sarah Lawrence – meaning she’ll skip her senior year to go there – and has been accepted. The whole Wilson family rejoices and Robin’s mom is convinced Robin’s mind is made up, and don’t even want to hear it when she says she still isn’t sure. Robin decides to keep her acceptance a secret from George, only telling Annie and – what a fucking idiot – Jessica. Needless to say, Jessica tells her sister and then her dumb sister tells George at the library, not realizing Robin didn’t want him to know. George is infuriated, so Robin calms him down later by lying and saying she’s decided not to go to Sarah Lawrence. But things aren’t getting any better for Robin: Aunt Fiona is coming for a visit, and Robin is terrified of what to say to her. And Robin also isn’t getting along with Annie, because she thinks Annie told George. (Right.) The stress is making Robin batshit crazy: she keeps fucking up her diving, much to the delight of her competitor, Tracy King. And she gets in a fight with Annie in front of all the other cheerleaders in which she accuses Annie of telling George because she wants to steal him for herself. Annie, you’re never getting away from your old slut rep, are you? Jessica is secretly pleased that Robin is flipping out because she views Robin as some of her biggest competition.

Aunt Fiona shows up to stay at the Wilsons’s house while attending the opening of her new art gallery or something. She really is an insufferable snob, greatly exaggerated for our benefit. Of course, we could guess that she would be since she’s wealthy and all, and nice wealthy people are a rarity in SV World. Aunt Fiona is so happy about Robin and Sarah Lawrence that she’s also going to buy Mrs. Wilson a new kitchen. Of course, Alice Wakefield is going to design it. Robin realizes to her horror that her mother expects her to shut the fuck up about college already because the kitchen means more to her than her daughter’s happiness does. No, for real.

Aunt Fiona takes the Wilsons out to eat at Cote d’Or in Malvina. Robin tells them all that she doesn’t necessarily want to go to Sarah Lawrence and they all freak out. Aunt Fiona tells Robin she can’t have the money if she doesn’t go to Sarah Lawrence, and come on, that’s her right to decide how to spend her own money. Robin makes a huge childish scene, yelling, “I wouldn’t take your money if I were starving to death” and tears out of the restaurant and gets George to come pick her up. Wow, my parents would have my head if I dared embarrass them like that. But Aunt Fiona and Mrs. Wilson just let her do it and no one goes after her to make sure she hasn’t been kidnapped or anything when Robin doesn’t return to the table. And they apparently never discipline her or demand to know what the fuck was up with that.

Liz calls Robin and tells her that she was the one who told George about Sarah Lawrence, not Annie. Robin feels like an ass. Good. The next day, she goes to her diving competition fully expecting no one to show up and support her, but they all do. There’s a convenient delay of a half-hour when a judge is late, which gives George enough time to go get Robin’s family. He tells Robin later that it took a lot of talking to get them to come, but they seriously show up just minutes later. (George explains he had to tell Fiona that Tracy’s mom is the one with an ugly carriage boy statue in her yard that Fiona had been deriding, in order to get her to come. I’m glad that’s what it takes to get an aunt to support her niece …)

Of course, Robin beats out Tracy to take top prize by like, two points. And George realizes he was also wrong to try to tell Robin what to do. And then Robin apologizes to Annie and Annie immediately forgives her for being a complete and total asshole, in the blink of an eye. Robin tells the Wilsons she will make the decision about where to go to college herself. Aunt Fiona says she’ll pay for it anyway because she admires Robin’s stubborn nature. Presumably, Mrs. Wilson can calm the fuck down because she’s still getting her fucking kitchen. Problems solved. Everyone is happy. Woo woo.

The sub-plot: Jessica takes on a babysitting job to make more money. Her charge is a five-year-old girl named Allison Kane, and the boy who hired Jess to watch her is her older, college-age brother, Alex Kane, who of course is devastatingly handsome. Alex needs the extra time away from Allison to write songs because he’s a world class musician. So Jessica decides the best way to capture him is to pretend to be a world-class recorder player. Yeah, you heard me. Recorder! That plastic instrument we had to play “Hot Cross Buns” and “Brother John” on in the 4th grade! Jessica goes to buy a recorder and gets a plastic one rather than the expensive wooden one (which my dad actually has … so I guess maybe the recorder can be seriously played … I don’t know, he never plays it) and a lesson book, but she sucks at it. Elizabeth sees her playing it and gives it a try, only to find she immediately rocks at it without even trying. Of course. I fucking hate Liz. Liz feels bad that she is, once again, better at something than Jess, so she plays it in secret when Jessica isn’t around, all the while beating herself up for it. Spare me your fake martyrdom, Elizabeth. Ha ha, then Ned and Alice hear Liz playing beautifully upstairs and assume it’s Jessica, then Jessica comes home soon afterwards and “continues playing” and it sounds like shit. Then Ned and Alice mention to Jessica that they heard her playing and it sounded gorgeous until the end, when it suddenly turned to crap. Jessica is confused and Liz is ashamed of herself.

To get Alex to notice her already, Jess pretends to faint. Jessica is a good actress, so I guess she could pull this off. I guess. But even though she’s been annoying the shit out of Alex by interrupting his composing every other second, it’s her fainting that gets Alex to come clean that he does in fact want to go out with her – maybe two years later, when he’s done attending school at Juilliard in New York! Jessica is outraged that he would choose a piano over her. Okay, are we really supposed to believe that after all that work, Jessica would give up rather than try to seduce him for right now? This is Super Cocktease Wakefield we’re talking about!

Obviously, Jessica couldn’t care less about the dumb recorder now, but Liz is still slinking around feeling bad. It’s all over when Jessica catches Liz playing it and doesn’t give a shit. But then Liz continues to have problems concentrating on playing because she’s worried about Robin and Annie fighting, because she knows SHE was the one who spilled Robin’s secret to George. Liz should take that effing recorder and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

Other stuff: Robin has two younger brothers. Adam is in ninth grade and Troy is in eighth. And Mrs. Wilson’s first name is Irene.

Repeating names alert: A dude named Eddie Roth hangs out with the usual SV boys at the beach. The Eddie count is now at four – at a minimum.

Lila brings a fucking Oriental rug to the beach for her and Jessica to use as a beach towel! Oh, that Lila. Seriously, though, that sounds kind of … uncomfortable.

“She felt a bit light-headed from blowing so much […]” -Liz, after a session of secret recorder playing in Jessica’s empty room.

Aunt Fiona tells Robin that she’s glad Robin got rid of the “baby fat” she’d had. Dude, if all it was was baby fat, then I hardly think Robin was the giant hippo that everyone said she was.

Robin thinks to herself that she can’t wait to go to college because of “the classes, studying, stretching her mind […]”. Okay, am I the only one here who couldn’t wait to go to college because of the boys and the partying?

Liz writes a feature for The Oracle about Robin’s diving championship. Isn’t John Pfeifer the sports writer? What’s happened to him? He’s been missing from the last several Oracle plots. I know for a fact he comes back later (…) but it’s like he gave up on the newspaper. Good for him.

Elizabeth meets Enid at the Dairi Burger to tell her about the recorder business, and the scene opens with Enid bringing her a root beer. I swear to God, every scene with these two at the Dairi Burger had Enid rushing to do Liz’s bidding and bring her a fucking root beer or get her food or place her order.

Adam and Troy had to ask special permission to get Cokes with dinner at Cote d’Or. Hmmm, maybe because it will make them even more hyperactive? Or maybe parents were actually concerned about childhood obesity back in the 80s? That must be it, because Aunt Fiona orders Cokes for them, but no one asks Robin if she wants one. Wouldn’t want that baby fat to come back on!

Speaking of Cote d’Or, it’s named after a real place in Burgundy, France and means “golden slope.” Random trivia. I think Francine Pascal has a home in France in real life.

Random character: Karen Doyle, another diver.

I think this is the first book in the series to mention “compact discs.” Hehe.

Liz meets Julie Porter’s neighbor, Josh Bowen, and of course he acts like he is meeting a fucking celebrity. Kill me.

I’m really surprised we didn’t have a scene where Aunt Fiona meets Liz and acts like she’s a remarkable young lady or something. I really am.

Coming up next: The Phi Epsilon fraternity, which I don’t think we’ve heard much about since the very first book, is having a pledging season. And Julie Porter has an obvs crush on its most notorious brother, Bruce Patman.

Dragging My Feet

I know you all are just eagerly waiting to hear all about Robin Wilson and George Warren in Decisions, but I’m only just past chapter 1 and I’m already having a hard time giving a crap. I’m having such a hard time, in fact, that I haven’t opened the book in at least two weeks. Must … soldier … on!

In the meantime, here’s an awesome little tidbit to tide you over. According to Sweet Valley Diaries, the very first Sweet Valley Twins book (Best Friends) was ghostwritten by none other than The Baby-sitters Club creator Ann M. Martin. I had no idea and as a former devout fan of The Baby-sitters Club, I think that’s pretty awesome! (I say “former” because I don’t really like stories that center around babies and kids, so I can’t get excited about re-reading any of those, although the first Super Special where they go on a cruise to Disney World will always be a favorite.)

That’s it. I’ll have a REAL update soon.

Super Thriller #2 On the Run

Welcome to the second installment of the little SV mystery series. We’re back to the (eleventy-billionth) summer after 11th grade, and Liz and Jess are still interning at the Sweet Valley News. Jeffrey is still off at camp in San Francisco. So I guess this book is supposed to be placed right after the first one … I have no idea.

Since our last Thriller was mostly from Jessica’s juvenile perspective, this time around we’re going to get Liz’s lofty one, not to mention her hypocrisy and family worship. One of the first chapters of the book opens with Mrs. Wakefield feeling “bad” for eating a second taco (is there anyone out there who only eats one taco? for real?), while her son assures her that she looks just like a model. And of course we haven’t heard Jessica talk about diets for a while, so she tells us about a stupid grapefruit-and-rice diet that will get you to lose 20 pounds in the first month. Love how no one makes a point to say how ridiculously unhealthy that is.

We get a simplistic view of the “trial of the century” in New York City, involving a mob boss named Frank DeLucca who allegedly had the only witness against him, Ray Greenwood, murdered before he could testify. Everyone is talking about this trial and how DeLucca is expected to go free. (Frank DeLucca … sounds like Frank LaSalle from Malibu Summer… redundant much?) Liz is “passionately involved” with the case and is enraged whenever anyone suggests that the fear of being slaughtered will prevent someone from stepping forward to testify. And she smirks and proclaims her faith in human nature is proved right when a brave new witness steps forward at the last minute to testify! Dr. William Ryan has a handwritten letter from Ray Underwood before he died in which he stated DeLucca is every bit the criminal people think he is … and why he’d give this letter to his doctor, I have no idea. Isn’t that weird for a doctor and his patient to share such a close relationship? Well, the good doctor testifies, DeLucca is put away for good, and then the doctor is put into the witness protection program and moved off to parts unknown! He’s On the Run, get it? Gee, do you think he might wind up in Sweet Valley?

There are some new kids in town, and you’d think they’d make the plot of this more exciting, but they are as trite as ever. I don’t think anything can save a series that fumbles through the justice system and the bumbling Sweet Valley police department this badly.Here are our main players in this series:

Seth Miller, a reporter and the twins’ friend. He avoids Jessica because she had a mad crush on him in the last book and pretty much sexually harassed him at work. I thought they were good friends in the end though, but guess I was wrong.
Adam Maitland, Steve’s college buddy who is staying with the Wakefields for the summer. His beloved girlfriend Laurie was killed in the last Thriller. He was falsely accused of murdering her and was locked up for it, but he’s over it already. Jessica’s eyewitness account helped save his ass – but in this book, he thanks LIZ for saving him! Liz didn’t even believe Jessica, and it was Liz’s tattling that almost ensured Adam got sent to a pound-me-in-the-ass prison for life to begin with! What the fuck Adam!
Darcy Kaymen, the new girl in town and new intern at the News. She just moved here from Toledo and she’s *gasp!* going to Whitehead Academy (wherever that is) in the fall rather than SVH! I guess that’s a convenient way to explain her disappearance later. It’s also a good way for the ghostwriter to excuse her for being a huge snob, not to mention excruciatingly annoying and fucking delusional. Darcy is instant best friends with Jessica, but she hates Liz for no apparent reason (read: Liz is easy to hate), and plays dumb tricks on her, like fucking up a reporter’s coffee order. Darcy is infatuated with both Eric and Andy (see below) and acts like a ten-year-old around both of them. Kind of like Jessica used to act around Seth, only worse.
Eric Hankman, the new boy in town. He works in the Western Building coffee shop, and he also just moved here from Ohio. He’s from Cleveland. Liz and Eric are clearly crushing on each other while Jeffrey is away at camp, but Liz is in denial. Eric is brooding and is clearly hiding something. Since he gets depressed and secretive anytime someone asks him about his life before Sweet Valley, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that something is. He also has lots of sad poetry about a destroyed love or something. Jessica figures he’s just broody because he’s from the midwest … is Ohio really the midwest? Isn’t it more northeast? Whatever.
Dan Weeks, another reporter who I think is supposed to be Seth’s rival or something.
Stan Fisher, the head of the editorial department.
Paul, some typesetter dude.
Andy Sullivan, a college intern who’s a sophomore from Stanford. Darcy wants a piece of it. For some reason, Jess is content to just sit back and let Darcy go after all these hot dudes.
Lawrence Robb, the editor-in-chief of the paper.

Um, has anyone else noticed the lack of estrogen on the newspaper staff? Darcy and the twins are the only females in the whole office, and they’re interns. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, back to this crappy ass plot. Eric and Liz spend lots of time reading each other’s writing and Liz never mentions Jeffrey nor the fact that she is being a horrible cocktease. It’s clear Eric really likes her, especially after he tells her that Liz’s eyes remind him of the ocean. Um hello, you’ve only heard that from dudes who want you before, Liz. Like eighty other times. Yet Liz can’t bring herself to tell him about Jeffrey, even when it’s clear if she doesn’t, she’s probably going to cheat on Jeffrey while both he and Eric go on thinking they are the only ones in Liz’s life. She is just too strongly attracted to Eric and I wish she’d just give up and bone him already. Come on, you’re 16, get it out of your system and quit whining about it. Eric even wants to keep their friendship a secret which confuses Liz but pretty much gives her a free pass if you ask me. Hahaha. Eric and Liz go see a movie and then take a romantic walk on the beach and Eric tells her he’s been writing love poems about her. Liz tries to shush him but he kisses her finger instead. The chapter ends before we find out what happens next but I’m guessing a little roll in the sand was had. Maybe. This is Liz we’re talking about.

Meanwhile, Darcy continues to act like a seven-year-old around her crushes. She calls her friend Sue to see if she has any information about Eric, just because Sue just moved to Cleveland as well. Sue knows nothing, but says that a girl they knew has been found strangled to death in a parking lot. Jessica is still traumatized from having seen Laurie Forbes’s dead body in the last book and doesn’t want to hear anything about it. Later on, Darcy tries to get Jessica to ask Eric out to a Dodgers game for her, and Eric doesn’t take the bait, so Darcy throws a fit about how much he hates her. But then she changes her mind and goes ahead and throws herself at him yet again. She brags that she had to go to the ball game with some other dude named Ted McCarthy (which is a lie) and when it clearly doesn’t bother Eric, she doesn’t take the hint. This chick is crazy!!! She makes Jessica look like a model intern. When Darcy sees that Eric writes poetry, she cajoles him into saying the poems are for her. He stupidly just says they are, which makes no fucking sense, and then she fucking believes him, and this book is fucking ridiculous. Oh, it gets better. Darcy then grabs the book away from him while Eric is trying to work and tears one of his poems out. Eric is way too nice about it. I would totally smash a bitch if she tried to steal my writing. Darcy goes and shows the poem off to the twins and brags that Eric is in love with her and Liz feels sick and believes Darcy because she’s a fucking moron and gets mad at herself because she still can’t admit that Eric wants anything more from her than friendship, and I hate her and I hate this book. I think the same person who wrote Spring Fever wrote On the Run.

Liz starts avoiding Eric because that’s the way she handles shit, but then good old Ned goes ahead and invites Eric and his dad Rich over for a barbecue. Ned is working with Rich on some contract and Eric has been raving to his dad about Liz despite wanting to keep their friendship a secret. Ned announces this to the dinner table and Jessica tries to get Liz to tell her what’s going on, but Liz refuses. Then Darcy’s stupid friend Sue tells her that the police have released a composite sketch of the serial killer that they think killed her acquaintance in Ohio, named Christopher Wyeth, and it matches Eric’s description. Darcy and Jessica agree to start spying on Eric to see if he’s really Chris Wyeth. Yawn. I wish that he would murder both Liz and Darcy, but we’re obviously not going to be so lucky. Eric and Mr. Hankman come over for the barbecue, and the Wakefields’ neighbors the Beckwiths are there, and Mr. Beckwith keeps bugging Mr. Hankman about where he’s seen him before. I must say that it’s really annoying. Jessica is watching Eric like a hawk and noting all his strange behavior for Darcy while also trying to make sure that Liz isn’t going to get involved with Eric. Whatever Liz is telling herself, that ship has sailed.

Darcy convinces Jessica to dress up as Liz and go over to the Hankmans’ house to get Eric to give her his poetry notebook. They’re convinced it will say something in it about his being Chris Wyeth. Right, because he’d just hand it over to Liz if that were the case. Jessica leaves Eric’s house with the notebook having realized that Eric doesn’t just like Liz, he’s been seeing her. Two guys in a Mercedes chase after Jessica and harass her. One of them orders her to stop seeing Eric, knocks her bike over with her on it and steals Eric’s notebook from her. Jessica wants to tell the police, but crazy Darcy is intent on solving the case herself and getting all the glory for it, so she swears to Jessica to secrecy. Jessica agrees not to tell anyone even though she’s terrified Eric is going to kill her sister. Okay. Since when is Jessica this spineless? She is totally not herself in these books.

Liz goes off with Enid and Jessica goes to the Dairi Burger with a bunch of people. Eric Hankman shows up and learns from Aaron and Winston that Liz has a boyfriend. He freaks the fuck out and storms out of the restaurant. Then he stands Liz up for their date at the Beach Disco. Dramaaaaaa.

The book ends stupidly with the usual bumbling criminals that are supposed to terrify us. A little boy chokes nearly to death at the coffee shop where Eric works and Mr. Hankman has to save him with a tracheotomy thus revealing that he is a doctor. Then Mr. Beckwith shows up and realizes that Dr. Hankman is not just any doctor but Doctor Ryan, the one who testified against Frank DeLucca! That’s right, Mr. Beckwith just goes ahead and yells out Dr. Hankman’s identity in front of everyone and carries on about how he’s in the witness protection program and totally wrecks his life. Mr. Beckwith is a real fuckwad.

Dr. Ryan (Hankman) and his son flee the shop and Liz goes to their house and catches them packing. Eric reveals his real name is Michael Ryan and it turns out he has nothing to do with Chris Wyeth, who in fact has already been caught by the police. Eric and Liz confess their love for one another and Eric is literally a breath away from kissing Liz when …. ohmygod, three of DeLucca’s men bust in the house. One is the man who knocked Jess off her bike and the other is this FBI agent who followed Liz and questioned her. Oh I’m sorry, did I forget to mention that? It’s because I don’t give a crap about this dumb book. Dr. Ryan, Michael, and Liz are held at gunpoint and the criminals send Liz and Michael upstairs while they question Dr. Ryan. Even though for all they know, there could well be a phone up there they could use to call the police. WTF!!!! STUPID FUCKING CRIMINALS Liz magically finds an alarm system called the Good Neighbor System and pushes the button to alert their neighbors. And the neighbors show up and somehow tackle three gun-wielding mobsters without anyone getting hurt or any shots even being fired. The police show up and Dr. Ryan praises Liz for showing him that people really are good and they do care and will try to help you … wow. I’m glad to know a 16-year-old is, once again, able to teach adults such important life lessons. And that Liz gets all the credit when the neighbors are the ones who saved the Ryans.

Eric and Liz say a tearful goodbye and blather on about how much they love one another and then the Ryans pack off and leave Sweet Valley with new identities once again. I don’t think Eric ever kisses Liz, but her problem of whether or not to tell Jeffrey that she pretty much cheated on him is now solved! And Eric leaves his notebook with Liz and she reads his poems to her and cries. WAaaaaaaah

The cover: Liz doesn’t look half-bad. She looks kind of beautiful. Jessica looks way older than Liz, and why is she always grabbing at Liz’s arm like that? Totally unnatural poses like usual.

Other shit: Besides Whitehead, Greenwood Academy is another private school mentioned in this book. Amy and Jessica want to meet hot guys that go there at the Beach Disco. So now we know there’s Bridgewater, Greenwood, Whitehead, and some others I can’t remember right now. Apparently Sweet Valley is surrounded by fucking private schools and yet we are supposed to believe that rich people like the Patmans, the Fowlers, and the Morrows want their children to go to public school.

“Honey, can you toss the salad for me?” -Alice Wakefield. Gold

The Beckwiths have a son named Jack who lives in San Francisco. We’ve heard of the Beckwiths numerous times before, but never this dude. I’m guessing Jeffrey is off hooking up with him instead of being a camp counselor. Sorry, I gotta keep this stuff interesting.

Liz asks Jess, “Since when do you barge into my room without knocking?” Um, in every book?

Enid has a cat named Muffy. Hahaha. Muffy destroys a note Jessica left at the Rollins’s for Liz in which she told her to stay away from Eric.

Darcy worries that she looks too “voluptuous” in a dress and Jessica is like, well, she is pretty curvy but she actually looks good. On what planet are the words “voluptuous” and “curvy” bad?

Regarding her sneaking around with Eric, Liz thinks that all this would-be cheating is brand new for her and that “she had never really been in this kind of situation before.” Keep telling yourself that, Liz, and we’ll ignore your little tryst with Nicholas Morrow that stretched on forever … not to mention your sneaking out to meet Alex Parker back in Kansas while your relationship with Jeffrey was still brand-new.

And I just realized that Forbes was not Laurie’s last name in the last book. It was in fact Hamilton. Wow, way to go editors. I think someone else’s name in Double Jeopardy was Forbes though … like her grandfather’s … I don’t give a fuck, what am I saying?

Liz makes me want to PUKE. First she babbles on and on about how grateful Darcy and Jessica should be to work for the newspaper. Bla bla bla, shut up! Then she spends half the book talking patronizingly about both how good people are and how Sweet Valley is a perfect paradise on earth, where unicorns and fairies and magic exist and everyone is happy all the time! Even after they have witnessed a murder or been kidnapped a few dozen times! She even tries to convince the Ryans (Hankmans) that they should stay even after their identity is exposed because it’s so perfect that everyone would always try to help keep them safe. Who cares about gun-wielding mobsters when you have the Wakefields on your side? Shut up ya little twat. Just shut up!

Next up: Some stupid Robin Wilson drama.

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