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

#49 Playing for Keeps

Is it just me, or is Jessica’s hairline receding on this cover? Her sweater almost matches her man’s. When a couple wears matching sweaters, that’s just a bad sign.

Jessica is in love (again), and she’s going to change her personality for the boy of her dreams. Gee, we’ve never seen that happen before. At least this time she’s in love with A.J. Morgan, and not Bruce Patman. I think we are supposed to believe that Jess is genuinely crazy about A.J., even though all she’s done is look at him. Okay, I can buy it. I was a teenager once. But this time around, Jessica thinks she needs to be more like Liz. The hilarious part is that being more like Liz involves being as boring as possible!

She starts wearing terrible librarian-like clothes; in other words, things Liz would wear! She ruins the mood whenever A.J. is with her by making random comments about nuclear war and world hunger. Can you imagine trying to make out with someone only to hear them start carrying on that there are kids dying of starvation? Only Jessica would think this is something a boy would want to hear. Although I’m sure it would make Jeffrey hot. I’m just waiting for her to make A.J. watch PBS specials with her like Liz and Jeffrey do. Jess even gets A.J. to leave the beach when he just got there so they can go to the effing library! The most hilarious is when they go hiking around Secca Lake and Jessica decides to bring binoculars so that they can do some birdwatching. Only she doesn’t have any clue what type of birds they’re to look for, so she makes one up: the “green-crested pod eater.” A.J. is about to crack up at that one! Oh, and then there’s this:

Time is a grinding wheel of merciless pain

We are trapped in our lives

until the hour of death.

But love breaks our chains and lets us fly

into the universe

Where everything is real and alive

Forever.

That’s a poem Jessica wrote for A.J.! Even Liz is astounded by the crappiness! I’m thinking Jessica borrowed some weed from Rick Andover to get some inspiration for her writing.

Although Jessica is, quite literally, petrified at acting like herself – she freezes whenever she thinks one of her friends is about to expose the real her – she can relax when she’s at home. Liz is sworn to secrecy about what Jessica is really like, and is amused to see Jessica promptly come home from a Save the Whales meeting to gossip about what a loser some environmental chick named Monica Bishop is on the phone to Lila. Yeah, you read that right, Save the Whales. Ha ha! A.J. is totally bored with Jessica, but for some reason he keeps dating her. They can’t even go jogging at the beach without Jessica meditating on the meaning of the waves. It’s pretty clear that he’ll be gone as soon as a more interesting chick comes his way … and one does, in the form of a helpless drowning woman! Her name is Pamela Janson and she goes to Whitehead Academy. Private school chick alert! It goes without saying she’s a horrendous bitch because she didn’t choose to go to Sweet Valley, right Francine? Hahaha. Pamela invites him to her mansion later that week, invites him to a dance at Whitehead, and tries to seduce him, telling him he can just go ahead and get in her hot tub with no bathing suit. A.J. gets out of there like a bat out of hell because he doesn’t want to hurt Jessica. He normally can’t stand girls like Pamela, but Jessica’s weird behavior is making him want some of that. Okay.

Jessica hears about a fashion contest at Lisette’s held by a designer named Nadine. And she almost doesn’t enter just because she’s afraid of what A.J. will think, but she gets over herself after A.J. is late meeting her at the library because he’s trying to get away from Pamela before he gives in and plows the field. Of course, Pamela just happens to be in the store and she makes all kinds of snotty remarks to Jessica. Lila stands up for Jessica, even though they’ve fought over boys before, and I love Lila. I know that feeling, you might get snotty with your friend or your sister or your boss but no one else better do it. Pamela enters the contest herself and coos about how she can’t wait to wear a Lisette’s dress to the dance with A.J.

Jessica and A.J. double date at Guido’s with Liz and Jeffrey. Jessica is being so annoying the way she keeps agreeing with whatever A.J. says. You’d think she’d have gotten tired of that behavior back when she dated Bruce! Liz and A.J. have a second alone at the table and A.J. confides that he thinks he’s too lighthearted for Jessica. When they come back home, Jessica is all, Liz, I’m just acting like you! and Liz is all, What, so you think I’m a wimp? I don’t let people walk all over me! Then she turns around and proves that she IS a wimp when she can’t bring herself to tell her sister what A.J. said about her. Way to go Spineless McSpinlesson.

Cara, Amy, and Lila try to tell Jessica she’s being ridiculous also, but Jessica is so convinced that it’s too late for her to change that she refuses to go back to her real self, even though it’s obvious A.J. is about to dump her. I really want to slap her. Meanwhile, Pamela calls A.J. about the dance at Whitehead again. This time, she calls Jessica “that dishrag.” Ha! One point for Pamela. The rehearsal for the Lisette’s fashion contest arrives and Lila and Amy decide to get Jessica good and fighting mad by constantly talking about how awesome Pamela is. It works. At the fashion show, Pamela keeps fucking with Jessica’s outfits. She breaks the zipper on one and “accidentally” gets her bracelet tangled in another, ripping the threads. Jessica manages to pull it off each time. During the last set, Pamela dramatically trips and throws a cup of ice water all over Jessica’s bikini and beach wrap. Jessica finally loses it and tells Pamela to shove her attitude up her ass since A.J. won’t be up there any time soon. Everyone overhears the throwdown, and the curtains open to reveal Jessica standing there soaking wet with “rainbows” dancing around her from the light hitting the water. How utterly convenient! Jessica wins the fashion show instantly. A.J. falls in love with the real Jessica and they drive off into the sunset to make out at Miller’s Point.

And that’s that. Pamela Janson is sucked through the Rich Bitch Black Hole along with Suzanne Devlin, Suzanne Hanlon, and Courtney Thomas, never to be heard from again.

Once again, there is no sub-plot in this book. What the hell? I needed some relief from Jessica reciting poetry at A.J.!

WTF? The book actually gives us a description of Jessica putting on her underwear, but then doesn’t say anything about a bra before she puts her shirt on. Maybe this explains Jessica’s appearance on some of the covers. Bahahahaa

Liz is still playing that damned recorder!

Enid is barely in this book. The funny part is that I didn’t even notice until I was almost to the end. Francine could probably just get rid of her a la Judy Winslow in Family Matters! And we haven’t heard from her boyfriend Hugh in a long time either. Guess he was just a convenient plot device for book 43.

From the Mouth of Lila Fowler: “I was talking to A.J. Morgan the other day. He said he met a girl on the beach with an ego the size of Utah. And a rear end to match.” ~Lila talking to Amy at Lisette’s while “pretending” not to notice Pamela standing nearby.

“I think you’re turning into the bore of the century, if you want my opinion.” ~Lila to Jessica, at lunch

In the back of the book: a Slam Book ad and order form! It says “Make up your own categories …” I remember seeing that ad and getting excited that I’d be able to make my own categories, only to see there was no room! Thanks for breakin’ my heart, Francine.

Next up: There’s a dance contest or something. Sophomore Jade Wu (who? that’s even what Liz said) might want to try out or something. Liz will get involved or something. Cue sounds of projectile vomit!

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Comments on: "#49 Playing for Keeps" (2)

  1. I found this book pretty funny for the poem alone; I also thought it was a satire of Liz’s character 🙂

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