Welcome to one of my favorite Sweet Valley books ever! The Super Stars books give our favorite secondary characters their own Super Editions! And it’s only right that they should start off with Lila Fowler. I was so happy to read this and see that I still like it just as much as I did back in the day. The best part is that while not in first person, it’s still written entirely from Lila’s wonderfully lofty point of view. So we get to see more of what we already know about Lila: She’s used to the best in life and doesn’t take any crap from anybody, and she’s not the nicest person in the world. She’s a schemer and if she wants something of yours, she’ll have it. But she’s also fiercely loyal and protective of her home, her father, and her friends. Lila knows that revenge is a dish best served ice cold, and she’s one to serve it and never look back. We also get some awesome interaction between Lila and Bruce Patman, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Doesn’t Lila look pretty on this cover? The pearls are a nice touch and help remind us that she is rich in case anybody forgot. Her hair always weirded me out a little – the way it’s curled around looks odd, like there’s a big hairy foot draped over her shoulder. Her expression terrifies me. She has that deadly silent glare of a person who is about two seconds away from having you whacked by her Mafia don (if she won’t do the job herself).
So last I checked we were at the end of the fall football season once again, and now we’re being brought back to yet another summer. Repeat after me: I will not think about this too much. I will not think about this too much. Lila is grouchy because she thinks she’s going to have an awful summer hanging around with her father and his new girlfriend from L.A., Joan Borden, whom Lila detests. Joan is too over-the-top delighted about everything to be real, and Lila knows it. Even worse, Joan has a stupid daughter named Jacqueline who hides in her mother’s shadow and acts all meek and sweet. Lila is used to having her dad all to herself on those rare occasions that he is at home, but now all those moments seem to include Joan and Jacqueline. And you know what else? George seriously seems like he just quit working for the summer so that he can spend all his time parading the Bordens around the country club, or have Eva the housekeeper serve them a lunch of cold soup and salmon on the veranda by the lemon trees in the backyard. He couldn’t even pay that much attention to Lila after she was caught shoplifting for fuck’s sake. When the dumb Borden twats aren’t at Fowler Crest, George spends his time barking at Lila to be nicer to stupid, overly-sweet Jacqueline or warning her to stop spending so much on his charge every week, or making weak attempts to discipline her. (Lila thinks it’s too weird that George is trying to put any limits on her at all, because he usually doesn’t. MUST BE NICE.) Then Lila purchases a suede outfit for $600 at Lisette’s even though her father has ordered her to keep within her weekly charging limit. When George asks her about the charge, she claims the store is wrong and it wasn’t her. And he just takes her word for it even though she’s had a problem with keeping to her spending limit lately. Then when he talks to the store and finds out Lila lied, he gives a lecture that’s all of two sentences and doesn’t revoke her charge card privileges or anything. Gee, that’ll stop her. Man, the adults in these books are just paragons of good parenting!
Lila and Jessica go to a concert by “Karla Xavier” and “West End” at the Sweet Valley High stadium. Gee, where else would they host a concert by two hot rock acts? Lila accidentally bumps into a recent Palisades High graduate named Evan Armstrong, and makes him drop all his drinks. She thinks he’s the hottest guy she’s ever seen and goes crazy over him and his car. Jessica wisely says, “This isn’t like you, Lila. I’ve never seen you making such a fool of yourself over a guy before. Usually I’m the one who does that.” And then Jess has to break the bad news that Evan has been dating some chick from SVH named Sonia Bentley “forever”. Lila is depressed, and Jessica reminds her that’s hardly something that would stop Lila Fowler from getting to know a sexy older man. That’s right! And, it turns out that Sonia has always had the hots for Bruce Patman, and it’s a huge bone of contention between her and Evan. So Lila and Jessica meet Bruce at the country club and Lila makes a deal that Bruce will steal Sonia away from Evan so that she can go after him. There’s all kinds of delicious banter between Lila and Bruce about why she wants him to do this and what she’ll owe him in return. And Bruce does all his normal macho posturing and makes Lila want to barf! Ha ha! Bruce remembers how Sonia threw herself at him while still dating Evan, and the only reason Bruce didn’t close the deal was because he was too busy dating a Sweet Valley College (of course) co-ed named Marly Jackson at the time. So really, we can see that Evan is a total chump for dating a girl who will hop onto Bruce’s dick the first chance she gets. Wow, do you even need Bruce to help out with this? Couldn’t you just tell Sonia Bruce wants to date her and let nature take its course? But Lila chose this route, and Bruce can’t think of anything he wants from Lila in return, so they have to agree that Lila will just owe him one. Heh, heh, heh.
The kids go to the Beach Disco where Lila harasses Bruce all night to get in Sonia’s pants, already, and they bicker back and forth. Lila even gets Winston to dance with her near Sonia and Evan so she can listen to Bruce trying to cut in. Then Bruce sits at a table with Sonia and Evan and becomes that proverbial third-wheel cock-blocker, but Sonia is clearly enthralled, and finally agrees to dance with Bruce. Evan is PISSED and punches a table, and storms outside to seethe about what’s happening, and Lila goes out there and “accidentally” interrupts his melancholy. Evan recognizes her from the drink-spilling incident at the Karla Xavier concert and falls in love at first sight, or so he says. Not that Li isn’t beautiful, but he sounds like a total phony. He tells Lila he can’t believe this is happening to him (oh, come on) and then he gets her number and invites her to watch him in a drag race in “Los Palmos”. This deal’s closed as far as I’m concerned.
Lila introduces Jessica to Joan and Jacqueline, and Joan asks Jessica if she’s “Of the Boston Wakefields? Or the Philadelphia Wakefields?” Holy shit! Jessica is confused and it’s great Man, that Joan is a real whiner, prattling about how neither she nor Jackie can have their faces in the sun when George wants them all to eat outside at the country club. Then George starts getting after Lila for not hanging around Jacqueline and Joan every damn second while using “Joan word[s]” like “glorious” and implying he wants to make the Bordens a permanent part of his life. Silly George, don’t you know that there’s room for only one schemer in your household? Lila consoles herself by continuing her gradual seduction of Evan. Evan mentions that Sonia hates racing and has never seen him compete, a fact that is backed up by some other chicks at the track. That Sonia is a real prize of a girlfriend. Lila pretends to love racing, while thinking that she’ll buy some racing magazines to learn more about it as part of her seduction strategy. They go to eat dinner out and Evan goes on about what drag racing means to him, and Lila tells Evan a little bit about her anger about the Bordens and he seems to understand. They should have called this book The Fast and the Furious. Evan seems nervous, though, about people seeing him out with Lila when he and Sonia are still together. It pisses Lila off, so she amps up her game. They spend the next few days talking constantly and going out to eat at La Scala and to a concert, and then Evan finally breaks up with Sonia and takes Lila out to Miller’s Point and they make out and become an official couple.
But back to the Bordens. George is still being a dick about it. I’m sorry but he is. He claims he gave Lila some time to adjust, but that is bullshit. He’s spent every scene either praising Joan and calling Jacqueline “like a daughter to me” and/or glowering at Lila for not immediately wanting to change her whole life to fit some random bitches who just came out of nowhere and help themselves to Lila’s shit and take it upon themselves to redecorate Fowler Crest. (Joan keeps having shit like cheap-o carpets and sculptures sent to the house.) One night, Lila comes home from Evan’s race to find Joan and George having brandy and Jacqueline wearing one of her best silk bathrobes. George has insisted that Joan spend the night with him – oh, because her car’s making a weird noise, of course, that’s all. And since Joan and Jacqueline can’t ever be apart, little Jackie’s staying too. Jacqueline gushes about how “so fancy, so pretty” the guest suites are that George has put them up in, “like a luxury hotel”, and then gives Lila a cheap ass present of some ugly rhinestone combs. Uh, gee, it’s pretty obvious that these bitches aren’t all that loaded. Take your blinders off, Georgie boy.
George makes Lila take Jacqueline to the beach with her and introduce her to some of her friends. Of course, Jacqueline doesn’t have her own suit so she has to borrow Lila’s new maillot (and she gets mustard on it too). Lila complains about it to Evan, and he doesn’t get what her problem is. And then Lila’s friends say that they all love Jacqueline and Jessica even tells Li that she’s just jealous. Lila is more determined than ever to kick the Bordens’ asses out of Fowler Crest.
When Lila learns that Evan isn’t able to take part in a big race because his parents won’t front him the $500 necessary to buy in – they hate racing and think it’s dangerous – she figures out a good way to get rid of the Bordens. First she talks Evan into letting her lend him the money; he writes her an IOU. (haha … I used to have to write those to my dad when I was a kid and wanted something that went over my allowance) Then Lila takes the money from her father’s petty cash drawer and drops the key to the drawer in Jacqueline’s jacket pocket. And Jacqueline had been admiring a gold chain on Lila’s dresser, so she then winds that up and sticks it under the girl’s pillow. I’m thinking she should’ve put it somewhere less obvious where Jacqueline couldn’t find it so easily, but whatever.
The day after Lila hides the key and the necklace in Jacqueline’s room, a deliveryman comes to the door with a chair that Lila’s mom gave her father. Joan had it reupholstered as a surprise. Bitch did not just do that. Oh, but of course Joan doesn’t have the cash to pay the dude. Oops, she didn’t bring any cash with her from L.A. Riiiiight. So Mr. Fowler is stuck paying the bill which he doesn’t see as a problem. He notices the cash is missing from his petty cash drawer and that the key is lying out on the desk in plain sight. Lila takes that opportunity to proclaim that her chain is missing and that there must be a thief. Everyone plus Eva does a search of the house to see if anything else is missing. Lila finally insists that they search Jacqueline’s room just in case, and leads in there while everyone protests. She lifts up her pillow only to see, of course, that the necklace isn’t there. It’s right back on Lila’s dresser and everyone thinks Lila just forgot where it was and wanted to blame Jackie ’cause she’s jealous. They still think a real thief might’ve gotten in the petty cash drawer though … what the fuck, like he’d go out of his way to take 500 dollars but not any of the priceless paintings and shit hanging around. Mr. Fowler is enraged and lectures Lila probably more than she’s ever been lectured by him the whole rest of her life. This plan is a total and complete failure. Even worse, then Jessica calls Lila wanting to know why she didn’t come to meet her at a free West End concert that night; she’d left a message with Jacqueline. Jacqueline calmly swears that she left the note on Lila’s dresser, next to her gold necklace … burn.
George suddenly takes Joan off to Hawaii with him on a business trip, leaving Jacqueline with Lila and Eva the housekeeper for that time. George just goes ahead and tells Jacqueline to help herself to all of Lila’s things. That is so not cool, George. This girl isn’t supposed to be a charity case, she’s supposed to be rich too. Tell her to go buy her own damn clothes! Jacqueline turns into a complete bitch the moment they leave and gets in all her stuff. Lock your bedroom door, Li. They have an unpleasant encounter where Lila catches Jacqueline trying on her new suede outfit and her gold chain and yells at her. Jacqueline responds by telling Lila “I have to give you credit” for seeing through Jacqueline’s fake exterior and tells her to get used to it. Then she takes off in Lila’s Triumph to go meet Jessica without asking. Holy shit. I hate this chick so much. Lila is forced to take the bus, of all things, to meet Bruce at the Box Tree Cafe, where he will tell her what he wants her to do to make up for his stealing Sonia. Doesn’t her dad have another car she could drive, or a chauffeur or something? At the cafe, Bruce gives Lila a hard time for being late. He says he wants Lila to make sure Evan drops out of another big race that’s coming up. Bruce has money riding on a bet that his friend Toby Clement from Santa Barbara will win, and Evan is the only one who could possibly beat Toby. Lila goes home in a bad mood which only gets worse when she finds George and Joan back early from Hawaii … and engaged.
Lila throws Jacqueline off guard by pretending to be delighted about the engagement, and suggesting they combine Jacqueline’s birthday party with an engagement party … and throw it on Friday, the night of Evan’s big race. Ha ha ha. Then she goes for a walk on the beach with Evan, where she tells him she really needs him at the party that Friday to support her. She acts surprised when Evan says that is the night of his race. It takes almost nothing at all for him to agree to drop out of it to support her. In fact, she doesn’t even come out and ask him, she just puts on a sad face. Evan is totally whipped at this point.
That all seems to change at the night of the big party. Evan spends a lot of time talking to Jacqueline but is still very affectionate with Lila and claims she’s worrying over nothing. Then she overhears Joan and Jacqueline discussing how Joan is just a pennyless gold-digger who plans to divorce George and file for alimony as soon as she can. Lila confronts Jacqueline, implying she knows they are phonies, and Jacqueline is shaken up but just runs away with Lila’s pearl earrings, figuring that if Lila tries to tell George he won’t believe her after the whole gold chain mess. And Jacqueline is right. Lila is all “Listen all of y’all it’s a sabotage” – George doesn’t believe Lila and frankly talks to her like she’s a junior analyst at his microchip business who just spoke out of turn on a conference call, instead of, you know, his daughter.
Lila takes a new tack and throws herself into the planning for the wedding, which is happening in just three weeks, hoping that this will help her figure out a new way to expose the Bordens. Meanwhile, she and Evan aren’t getting along so well, and he gradually becomes more and more distant although he’s at the house an awful lot. It should come as no surprise that Lila eventually stumbles upon Jacqueline and Evan making out in J’s suite at Fowler Crest. Even worse, Evan is complaining to Jacqueline that he knows Lila doesn’t really like racing, she just tolerates it so she can support him … isn’t that what a good significant other should do? Support you in your endeavors even if they don’t particularly have an interest in them? I hate Evan. Jacqueline doesn’t want Evan to break up with Lila yet, because she already hates Jacqueline’s guts and would just make her life even more miserable. In other words, J knows L can kick her ass. Lila doesn’t let them know she’s there; she runs off crying.
The wedding day is finally here; the sprawling lawn of Fowler Crest is set up with 300 guests. Lila and Jacqueline are Joan’s attendants because I guess Joan has no other family, or friends of her own, not that George has ever questioned this even once. Lila finally sees her chance to expose the Whoredens with the little mics that will be used to ensure all 300 guests can hear the ceremony and music. Lila takes three of the mics and hides them among plants and furniture in the sunroom. As she and the Bordens wait there for the wedding march to begin in their ugly peach bridesmaids dresses, she loudly confronts Joan about what she knows and then tells her that Jacqueline told her all about it. Joan is irate and she and Jacqueline start yelling at each other with no further help from Lila. As soon as Lila and Jacqueline start going down the aisle, it’s clear that everyone outside has heard everything. The minister stammers all over himself while people get out of their seats hissing and whispering. George is crushed and he tells Joan he heard everything and she’s appalled. Lila loudly tells them all about how she hid the mics because she knew she had to keep Fowler Crest free of trifling bitches. Joan is reduced to disarray in front of everyone as the minister stammers and mumbles and the wedding planner tries to keep the crowd from going apeshit. George tells her and Jacqueline to get packing and they run inside bawling. I’m thinking someone should go with them to make sure they don’t pack up the fine china and the silver. George tells the audience how special his daughter is, and how the wedding is now going to be a party in honor of his awesome daughter. Man, he got over that quick. I wonder if Lila will also get to accompany him on the honeymoon trip to Japan he had planned for himself and Joan. Kick ass.
Oh, and as for the whole Evan thang? As soon as he hears the truth about Jacqueline, he loses interest, and obviously plans to stay with Lila and act like it never happened. He walks up to George acting all chummy, and then Lila cuts in to tell her dad that Jacqueline lent the missing money from the petty cash drawer to Evan and that she has an IOU for it, and that Evan is very eager to pay George back. Ha ha! Later on, Evan tries to make up with Lila even though it’s now obvious she knows about him and Jacqueline, and she tells him they’re over, and then she gets together with his rival Toby Clement right in front of him, and then for good measure thanks Evan for dropping out of the race when she asked him to so that Toby could win. See ya. And in case you care, Bruce and Sonia do date for a while, but he dumps her for an unnamed blonde chick.
So that’s that! Good-bye, Jacqueline. Good-bye, Joan. Now I ain’t sayin’ you a gold-digger … but you ain’t messin’ with Betsy Martin’s dad.
From the mouth of Lila Fowler: Here’s my favorite exchange:
Joan: “Lila, your father just said the most flattering thing to me at the bar. He said I don’t look old enough to have a daughter Jackie’s age. Isn’t that silly of him?”
Lila: “It certainly is.”
LOVE IT. Oh, and this one:
(Lila is taking Jacqueline to the beach with her to meet the twins and friends)
Jacqueline: “Oh! I can’t get over how much alike Elizabeth and Jessica look.”
Lila: “That tends to happen with identical twins.”
It’s so nice to have SOMEONE not give a shit about the twins being twins!
WTF? Lila’s hair was always described as “light brown” but here it’s become “dark brown.”
Typo: Joan’s name is misspelled as “Jean” in one place.
Aaron’s girlfriend Heather Sanford has dropped off the face of the earth. I can’t remember the last time I heard anything about her. Liz tries to figure out who to give all the Karla Xavier tickets to, and names off people and their significant others, but Aaron is mentioned like he’s a single guy. Maybe Heather’s baby-talk finally pushed Aaron all the way over the edge.
There’s one part where Lila sees Jacqueline writing in a blue notebook. Is it supposed to be a diary? I was hoping she’d go get it and see what dirty secrets Jacqueline has.
Do you remember that whole little bio about Lila that appeared in the back of one of the SVH books? I mentioned it here. It talked about how her mother had deserted the family but first revealed that George Fowler wasn’t Lila’s real father. Now not only have we not seen this come to light, but this book tells us that Lila’s mother divorced her father “a few years ago”. It was recent enough that Fowler Crest is still decorated with the original aspects of Lila’s mother’s touch, as Lila points out just to make Joan uncomfortable. Also, when Joan has the chair reupholstered, Lila thinks about how her mother gave it to her father ten years ago. So since this is supposed to be the summer after 11th grade, that means Mrs. Fowler left when Lila was seven, but I’m pretty sure she isn’t around in the Sweet Valley Kids series. (I’d really like to know what the original intent was with Lila’s bio. Was there a book planned to explain more of this that never came out?)
1989-tastic: Jessica is amazed by the white car phone in Lila’s lime green Triumph.
Random facts: Lila’s dad is 45 years old. Lila is 5 feet 7 inches tall. Lila wears a Rolex. Lila and Bruce’s bickering makes it sound like they want to jump each other in this book … wish they would.
Next up: Patty Gilbert is having Boy Trouble and Liz is going to help out … wow, the thought of going back to those kinds of plotlines after reading this book really bums me out!