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

#52 White Lies

The title of this is a lie!

I wasn’t too excited about this book until I finished struggling through Against the Odds, which was so undeniably boring that I wouldn’t have cared if Hard Choices 2 was next in line! Seriously, you could pass that book out to people at an Insomniacs Anonymous meeting and dissolve the whole support group, permanently. (To be fair, the author didn’t exactly have a great plot idea to work with, but I don’t care anymore.)

So, the gist of this one is, we get an inside view of some other secondary characters we’ve never given much of a crap about before, or in Jennifer Mitchell’s case, never heard of. Jenn is a sophomore, and she thinks she’s in love with school dropout and resident loser Rick Andover. Rick works at Mello Music (where?), and Jennifer is a stellar keyboard player, so music brings them together. Jennifer’s good friend, Oracle sports reporter John Pfeifer, doesn’t approve of their relationship because hello, Rick is a loser. It doesn’t help that John also has a secret crush on Jennifer. Then Jennifer tells John she’s planning to run away to New York with Rick to start a new music career and be a STAR. Good luck with that one, Jenn. John turns to Liz for advice on whether he should tell or not. (He “turns” to her because she pretty much demands it, after she sees him looking down and he doesn’t want to talk about what’s bothering him. I know, we’re all so surprised.) The real surprise is that Liz gives John the advice to stay out of Jennifer’s business and let her just run away with Rick. What the h? Has a doppelganger murdered Liz and taken her place?

Never fear, this book is definitely trying to make a case for Liz as Patron Saint of Teenagers Everywhere. There’s a scene where she sighs to Jeffrey about how hard it is to give advice to everyone when she doesn’t always know what to say. Jeffrey’s all sympathetic and, “Everyone ends up pouring out their problems to you.” Yeah, because Liz makes them! She practically twists John’s arm to get him to tell her about Jennifer and Rick running away! But like I said, she doesn’t even give a crap about that until she and John witness Rick stealing a guitar from Mello Music. (They’ve followed him because John thinks this is the night Rick plans to run away with Jennifer, which he is, after he finishes ripping off Mello Music. Liz is reluctant to go – another example of what a martyr she must be in order to be a perennial teen guidance counselor. Cry me a river, prissy pants, and get your panties out of the wad your worrying ass has twisted them into.) After witnessing Rick’s hand eerily reach out of the darkness to grab the neck of a Fender Stratocaster, Liz is all about turning Rick in. Snitches get stitches, Liz! Oh wait, that’s only in real life. She helps John call Luke Lander, the store’s owner, to report the theft. That night, Jennifer waits at a crossroads for hours for Rick to come meet her, which he never does since he’s been arrested. Jenn goes home in defeat.

The next morning, Jennifer is a total brat to her parents. She whines inwardly that they treat her like a child because they slightly question her staying out PAST TWO A.M., AT AGE FIFTEEN – then proves she is a child when she yells, “I don’t want any!” as her mother offers her pancakes. Shove those pancakes right up your ass! Then Jennifer’s dad gets a phone call in which he learns that Rick was arrested for burglary. Jennifer convinces herself that her father had Rick framed because he somehow listened in to one of her phone conversations with Rick, and KNEW that she was going to run away. So, in Jennifer’s mind, rather than just be a parent and refuse to let her leave the house that evening, he just made some shit up to have Rick put away. That’s 100 percent ludicrous, but Jennifer believes it and screams at her dad that she hates him out of nowhere. Mr. Mitchell is totally confused. This chick sucks. Of course, her parents don’t make any real effort to find out what her deal is as she ignores him for days on end, so they kind of suck too. My dad would not be having that behavior from ME. Boy I tell you what.

The next day, Jennifer talks to John about what happened and he feels guilty for the fact that Jennifer now hates her father. He even thinks to himself that it’s all his fault that she does. No, John, it’s all Jennifer’s fault that she’s such an idiotic little turd. Then Jennifer gets a call to the office, and John goes with her because she’s upset, thinking that something awful happened to Rick in jail, like he got raped with a toilet plunger handle or something. But no, it’s just her dad needs heart bypass surgery, no big deal. Jennifer refuses to go see him. Someone needs to just let this chick go to juvy. I have zero sympathy. Finally, Liz convinces John that he needs to tell Jennifer the truth and gives him a ride to the Mitchell house to confess his sins. Jennifer is enraged, of course, and they all go into the hospital only to find that Mr. Mitchell had complications and has been checked into surgery earlier than expected. Jennifer cries and punches John in the chest in front of Mrs. Mitchell, who has no idea what’s going on because she is a terrible parent. Jennifer is such an idiotic little brat. “Waaaah, it’s all your fault John!” I mean, who’s the one who made up a whole story in your head that doesn’t even make any sense? You mean to tell me if your dad had in fact framed your stupid boyfriend, it would be okay that you can’t even say goodbye to him before he possibly dies? You little bitch.

Mr. Mitchell survives the heart bypass surgery and Liz strong-arms John into going to the hospital with her to try to talk to Jennifer. Yeah, just barge in on the family in their time of need and cause more stress, sounds great! I hate Liz so much right now. John has second thoughts on the way to the hospital, but Liz is all, “Well fine, I’M just going to go in then.” (But let’s be clear, John WAS a fucking wimp not to say anything earlier, but my hatred for Liz far eclipses his wussiness right now.) She buys some flowers for Mr. Mitchell and fills the card out with John’s name and then gives the whole thing to Jennifer, who’s shocked to see Liz there since Liz has never deigned to give her the time of day before. Liz tells Jennifer a “white lie” by saying the flowers were at the nurses’ station when she got there, but then Jenn sees the card is from John and tries to throw everything away. Liz stops her and Jennifer stalks off crying and Liz fucking follows her, and then sits and presumptuously holds her hand while Jennifer cries. You know, when Jennifer walked away from you Liz, it should’ve been clear she wanted some time to herself, not time with a 16-year-old who snuck into her dad’s ICU against hospital rules to play counselor. I wish Jennifer would punch Liz in the face, and then go play in some freeway traffic. But of course it doesn’t happen that way. Instead, Jennifer pours her heart out to Liz, Liz goes and gets John, who’s been talking to himself and alarming a pregnant lady in the parking lot for 15 minutes, and John comes up and he and Jenn make up. Are they supposed to be a couple now? I couldn’t care less.

The sub-plot is pretty damned boring. Jessica’s true colors are on full display to A.J., leaving Liz skeptical that they will last much longer. Jessica begs out of eating dinner with A.J.’s uncle (or grandfather depending what page you’re on – see WTF?), mock-strangles A.J. into agreeing with her about what the ideal vacation would be (dumb scene), flirts with Aaron Dallas and Michael Schmidt in front of him, coerces him into learning to play tennis, and shows up late for their date. She also admits to A.J. that she and her friends were discussing which boys in school are the hottest kissers without thinking about how he probably doesn’t want to hear about this. We’re supposed to be left wondering if opposites really do attract, or if their relationship will fall apart under the stress of conflicting interests. Isn’t that what we were were supposed to wonder about in book 49, or something? Either way, that’s what Liz does as she fucking noses around eavesdropping on them and thinking all condescendingly about how they can’t possibly survive. A.J. even asks Liz if Jess is getting bored with him, giving Liz further satisfaction that her sister’s relationship isn’t anywhere near as good as the one she shares with Jeffrey. Nosy ass Liz even eavesdrops on Jess and A.J. as they do homework together on the patio, trying to figure out how they could possibly be getting along so well all of a sudden. It turns out that Jess claimed Enid’s idea to start a Big Sisters club at the high school was her own so that A.J. would be impressed, and Liz is appalled. Serves Liz right. I really, really hate her. She thinks she’s so much better than everybody, but she’s at least at their level, if not lower just because she honestly thinks she isn’t! Ugh! And just look at how Liz’s libido totally rises whenever she thinks in her head about the way things should be done in a relationship compared to the way Jess does them. For example, Jess says that tickets to the Jack Hunter (who?) rock concert sold out before A.J. could buy a pair for the two of them, but Lila’s dad was able to score a couple for L and J to use. Yet according to Liz, it would be mean for Jessica to accept the ticket from Lila. Wouldn’t A.J. want his girl to go and be happy, especially since she’s the bigger fan of rock shows to begin with? Shut your trap already, pseudo-martyr!

WTF? The book opens with a very typical scene of Jessica begging Liz to make dinner for her so that she and A.J. can go to the Dairi Burger with “everyone.” Of course Liz agrees to do it, while probably praising herself for making a self-sacrifice to the doormat god yet again.

Elizabeth thinks about how “Jessica had fallen hard” for Rick Andover (during the events of book 1). That’s blatantly untrue. She didn’t fall for him at all; she just wanted to feel better about herself after Todd didn’t give her enough attention, so she went on one shitty date with Rick. But later on the book once again reminds us that Jessica “dated” him like it was something serious. Lila also apparently knows that Jessica dated Rick, even though Jessica let the whole school think it was Liz because she was too embarrassed about it – and neither twin ever corrected anyone’s perception!

A.J. and Jessica have a disagreement because Jessica wants to postpone dinner with A.J.’s uncle so that she can attend Dana’s party. Four pages later, his uncle has changed to his grandfather. A few more chapters and it’s changed back to his uncle.

Dana Larson is apparently good friends with Jessica’s crowd now, even though she always just hung out with the Droids before. Weird.

Everyone is so annoying at the Dairi Burger when Jessica and A.J. have a mild disagreement! They all start breaking in teasing them and acting stupid. Winston is the worst!

I’m confused. In the last book, the soccer team won the state championship against Big Mesa, did they not? Did I just make that up? But in this book the soccer team is still practicing and playing, like the season is still on, with no mention of their big win.

Neil Freemount’s around in a couple of scenes, but Penny Ayala is never with him.

Jessica thinks Bruce Patman and Tom McKay are at the top of the hottest kissers list. And Jess tells Amy and Lila that according to her cousin Kelly, Kirk Anderson was an amazing kisser. Yeah, because 1) Kelly had so much experience before him, and 2) when he finally kissed her it worked out real well for Kelly. I’m not even going to comment about Tom … not this post …

Everyone knows that Jennifer was seriously involved with Rick, but she doesn’t catch even half the shit that Liz did when everyone thought she went on one date with him.

Liz has the unique ability to piss me off without even doing anything half the time. For instance, John thinks to himself that he has some good things going for him, and that “Elizabeth Wakefield was one of them.” Bah! Yeah, fucking Prisspants Liz Wakefield!

Enid doesn’t show up at all until Chapter 11! More proof that she is totally useless! She’s only there to tell Liz about the Big Sisters program. When she sees Liz coming down the hall, she says, “Liz! Thank goodness you’re here!” and Liz laughs, “It’s nice to feel wanted.” Don’t give her false hope, Liz.

The title of this book does not fit the plot. What the hell are the White Lies? A white lie is defined by dictionary.com (and multiple physical reference books that I have sitting right next to me) as “a minor, polite, or harmless lie; fib.” Hello, that hardly fits the “lie” that Jennifer’s dad was the one who turned Rick in. Who really told a lie, anyway? John never actually came out and said that Jennifer was right; he just didn’t admit that he was the real snitch. You could say he lied by omission – the back of the book’s sub-heading is “Hiding the facts…” – but that’s still not a white lie. So if you ask me, this title is bullshit. Okay okay, we could say that Liz told one about the flowers, but that’s hardly the center of the plot.

EDIT: I just published this and realized I left THIS golden gem out! Dana tells everyone that Rick once tried out for the Droids, but all he wanted to do was goof off and get “high” all the time. He wanted all the “rewards” without any of the “work.” So in a way, it sounds like Dana considers getting high a reward. Just the way she phrased it … I just couldn’t help but notice … anyway, I was under the impression that all Rick ever does is cruise around picking up chicks and getting wasted, so I’m shocked that 1) he has a freakin’ job and 2) he made the effort to try out for a band at all.

Possible spoiler for later on: John undergoes a total character assassination later in the series. Although I haven’t read any of those books, I know what happens, which makes this story sound ridiculous to me.

The cover: This is our first cover shot of John Pfeifer. (Why can’t Winston ever get a cover?) John is wearing lip gloss, and perhaps a touch of mascara. Jennifer is really pretty, but could be mistaken for a nicer-looking Amy Sutton, or even Liz. Hate her popped-collar button-down, but love the little tears trickling out of her eyes. Mathewuse is a master at little tears! (See also: Wrong Kind of Girl, Runaway, Say Goodbye, Rumors, etc.)

Next up: Some chick we never heard of before would rather practice tennis than go to the beach. Elizabeth does not approve. I hope the chick whacks a tennis ball into her cranium and knocks a sucka out

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Comments on: "#52 White Lies" (5)

  1. “John is wearing lip gloss, and perhaps a touch of mascara”

    Your recaps crack me up! I so look forward to reading them. I never read this one but it’s amazing how they totally turned John around later in the series. I can’t believe I ever liked Liz when I was younger, she’s such a pain in the ass.

    • Thank you! And isn’t she though? I identified with Liz more as a kid (even though I really wanted to be Lila Fowler), but now I just can’t stand her!

  2. Ahh so this is where we see John. He looks cute here- on the later cover he looks like a 30 something Clark Kent on red krypto

    • I know right! He looks so docile here! And your description of how he looks on the later cover with Lila, made me laugh hysterically. That is PERFECT!

  3. […] book twists facts to make John look like he’s always been a bit of an asshole. In White Lies  he was docile enough to let Liz order him around while he tried to figure out what to do about […]

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