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

#62 Who’s Who?

Nice necklace, Magenta! That's February 1990 for you!

Um, so I’m really at a loss for what to say about this one. It wasn’t as fun as I thought it might be, but it was still way better than some of the more recent offerings I’ve had to slog through. Here’s the deal. Jessica is bored with dating because she’s already completed her collection of Sweet Valley High senior and junior boy bodily fluids (which can be found on the backseat of the Fiat). At the mall shopping for Valentine’s Day dresses with Liz, she sees a new computer dating service store called Lovestruck with a sign that reads “Teens Our Specialty” (kinda sketchy) which makes her think it will somehow give her different results than the last matchmaking service she hit up. Jess drags Liz in there and fills out two applications for two different made-up personalities. The first one is “Daniella Fromage” who enjoys world travel, art, opera, and speaking French. Fromage is the French word for cheese which is deliciously appropriate for Jessica’s scheme, and really the whole series in general. The second personality is “Magenta Galaxy”, and no that’s not a character from Jem and the Holograms, she’s “a wild rocker with a passion for anything hot.” What the fuck does that mean? Anything hot? Man, that would have a whole different connotation today, wouldn’t it. Liz is dubious about Jess pretending to be someone she’s not, and so am I. Jessica changed her personality in The New Jessica, realized she wanted to be herself, then she changed it again in Playing for Keeps, then she realized she wanted to be herself, and rinse, repeat.

Jessica soon gets two letters in the mail, one for Daniella and one for Magenta, so she has to get to work cooking up her new personas. Her plan is to win both dudes over, dump the one she likes least, and take the other one to the Valentine’s Day dance. By that point he’ll be so in love with her he won’t care that she is a fake. Hey, it worked for Jess when Bill Chase initially thought she was Liz. That’s the magic of Sweet Valley.

Jess spends a lot of time in her room learning very simple French phrases and words – did she not pay ANY attention in Ms. Dalton’s class? Or learn anything from that spring break trip to France and the Frenchman she dated? Jeez. She also makes an appointment with her sorority sister Suzanne Hanlon to learn all about art and culture and Italy, and to borrow some expensive-ass clothing for Daniella to wear. Then Jess has Lila quiz her on some topics and Lila is really insulted that Jessica didn’t ask her for help instead of Suzanne. Jess dodges Lila’s anger by saying she could’ve asked Lila, but Suzanne is such a snob that it was best to ask her. I love the way only rich snooty people can possibly know anything about these topics.

Of course, we have to go to another extreme in order for Jessica to learn about rock music and clubs. Jess enlists the help of Dana Larson, who never really speaks to her much the rest of the time, but is just like, Oh sure, borrow a ton of my clothes so you can basically impersonate me for some dude. Dana tells her about clubs in the area that no one else knows anything about ’cause she’s hip like that. You know, Dana is pretty cool. Everyone else spends their weekends at the Beach Disco over and over while she actually has some fun in life. To Jessica and her friends, the very fact that Dana listens to bands like the “Blues Hogs” and knows about clubs like Jumping Jimmy’s in L.A. means she’s “out there”. And that pretty much sums up everything you need to know about life at Sweet Valley High.

Daniella’s dude is Pierre Du Lac, born in France and of course very sophisticated. And Magenta gets Brett S., another rocker with almost nothing to say. (See, he just uses his initial as his last name, so you know he’s too cool for school.) Right off the bat it’s clear that both of these dudes are also fakes. I mean, they would pretty much have to be not to see through the ruse of chicks with names like Fromage and Galaxy. Pierre takes Daniella to Chez Sam in Pacific Shores, where they have a boring conversation about things Jessica doesn’t even give a shit about. Pierre thinks Fellini is a type of pasta and doesn’t seem to understand what she says half the time, but Jess is so nervous about herself that she doesn’t realize he too is obviously a fake. At the end of the night he kisses her and all her worries that he saw through her melt away.

Jessica as Magenta goes to the Rock Spot with Brett. He picks her up in his “old man’s” brown Olds and Jessica decides he’s using that car only because it’s “so square, it was cool!” Give me a break. Not every teenager gets to pick how cool their wheels are, Jess. Of course Brett plays along with it. He also doesn’t want her to look at the pile of tapes on the floor, grabbing something else from the dashboard instead. Gee, is Brett possibly also a fake? Their date sounds terrible. A band called X-Press plays and Jessica wants to dance but has to pretend she isn’t a dancer after Brett clearly isn’t either. So they sit at a table all night not talking because the music is too loud. What a blast.

Jessica continues to keep up her ruse. Pierre takes her to the Odeon (Sweet Valley’s old school theatre) to watch an art film that sounds kind of interesting, actually. Pierre then makes another big mistake in conversation, mixing up Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman the same way that Ken did once when he was still dating Suzanne Hanlon. Jess thinks she sees Brett S. in line for the movie but decides she must be crazy because there’s no way Brett would see this movie … Earth to Jessica. Pierre takes Jess out for cappuccino after the movie, which she hates, but has to pretend she likes. Then on her next date with Brett, they go to another club called Jax, and then Jess hopes to take him out to Miller’s Point, although we don’t find out if she did or not.

Brett calls the house asking for Magenta and this time neither Jess nor Liz can grab the phone in time, so Alice picks up and tells Brett he has the wrong number. Alice is so not clued in to what her kids are up to. So Jess has to claim she has a new number and have Brett call Lila’s house so Lila can field the calls. Lila is of course not very enthused about this, especially since dudes keep calling her before 11:30 AM on a weekend and waking her up. I like sleeping that late too. I knew I liked Lila. So when Brett calls to say he’s going to come take Magenta out at 6:15 unless he hears from her ahead of time, and Lila can’t get through to Jess because she has a busy signal going on all day, she’s like, “Oh, fuck it.” At Lisette’s, Lila runs into Liz who’s buying a dress Jessica agreed to help her pay for half of. Jess agreed to do this because Liz was helping her out with her ruse so much, yet she still made Liz promise to “owe me one.” What the fuck? Only Jess would do something nice for you in return for the nice thing you’ve done for her and then insist that you still have to do something else nice for her … anyway, Lila tells Liz that Brett is coming by the house at 6:15 that night to take Jess out. A whole lot of freakin’ out goes on because Jessica already has a date scheduled with Pierre at 6 that same night. And she can’t find the number of either boy to tell them not to come by, or something dumb like that.

Hence, Liz’s favor that she owes Jess comes into play. Liz has to break a date with Todd so that she can play Daniella with Pierre while Jess plays Magenta with Brett. Since there’s no time for Jess to give Liz a crash course in being Daniella, they decide they’ll eat at the same restaurant, a giant Chinese place with two dining rooms called Lotus House, and simply switch places every 15 minutes, swapping costumes in the ladies’ room. This is the worst plan ever.

Needless to say, the evening is a disaster. Pierre spends the evening name-dropping and pissing Liz off, and then he dumbly gives himself away as he claims to have grown up in France, but thinks that Paris is on the Riviera. Then after the twins switch, Brett pretty much does the same thing as he thinks “Sympathy for the Devil” is a Doors song. Both guys are confused as to why each girl has to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes. Liz is enraged at having to do this dumb charade, but at least she orders her favorite entree, ginger chicken, for both tables (which Jessica hates … ha ha!). Liz finally tells both boys off as she rotates with each one because she thinks Jess is better off without either of them. I can’t blame her, but that’s just like Liz, to decide what to do for Jess. So the evening ends early and Jess is really mad. But then she goes to play tennis with Cara the next day and gets over it when she meets a hot tennis player, Tony Mangino. I guess Tony is supposed to be Jessica’s new date to the V-Day dance, though that’s never made clear.

So what ultimately happens to Brett and Pierre? Well, leave it to Liz to meddle once again. She takes it upon herself to invite both Brett and Pierre over at the same time to meet with Jessica and explain the truth to her, but doesn’t get to tell Jess in time … god. Pierre comes in and confesses to Jessica that his real name is Pete Lake and he was just faking to impress her. He’s actually more fond of the same things that Brett is. Then Brett S. shows up and Jess seats him elsewhere so he won’t run in to Pete/Pierre, and Brett says he was pretending to be a rocker to impress “Magenta.” Then Suzanne and Dana show up wanting to get that stuff they lent Jess. As Jess goes upstairs to get it … oh, I don’t even have to tell you, do I? The girls meet the guys; Suzanne and Brett get together and Dana and Pete do too, and when Jess comes back downstairs they are all out on the patio yacking at each other. The guys have figured out that Jessica’s name is really Jessica because the other chicks blew her cover, and they don’t care. Is there ever a time when Jessica gets away scot-free with all her shit because it just magically works out perfectly in the end? Must be nice!

So, let’s try to figure out who is who on this cover. I would guess Liz is Daniella and Jess is Magenta since Magenta appears far more gleeful about what is happening, while Daniella looks a little embarrassed.

The sub-plot: In what will develop into a full plot for the next book, Liz worries she is too predictable and dull and tries to make herself more like Jessica, more “different” and “spontaneous.” And here are the things that Liz considers spontaneous and different: painting her toenails red, getting a temporary perm (so it’s not really a perm, right?), accepting Jessica’s help in buying a dress she can’t really afford, sitting at a lunch table with just Enid rather than with all their usual crowd. Liz is fucking hopeless.

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: After Lila runs into Liz at Lisette’s and tells her about the date with Brett: Liz: “Lila, Jessica’s problems always have a way of turning into my problems.” Lila: “That’s true. Well, have fun telling Jess the good news.”

Some other bullshit: I’m just curious, do stores like Lovestruck and Perfect Match exist today, now that we have Match.com and eHarmony?

This book mistakenly calls Jess’s sorority Phi Beta Alpha.

Liz is such a square! When she hears that Brett is taking “Magenta” to Jax, she goes, “Isn’t that one of those places where people throw themselves off the stage into the crowd?” She sounds like my mom!

We never learn where “Pierre” or “Brett” are from. Obviously they aren’t from Sweet Valley, or Jess would likely know them already.

There’s little to no interaction with the typical Sweet Valley kids in the book. It’s almost entirely Liz and Jess, and Jess on her dates. It’s tedious.

Lila randomly asks Jessica what she thinks about David Hockney’s artwork … flashback to Teacher Crush! (That was Stuart Bachman’s favorite artist.)

1990-tastic: Lila brings up Abbie Hoffman, a real life Vietnam War protester who “died in 1989.” (I did have to Google him to find out that he was real, and that he was a he.) This is the first mention of an actual year in these books that I can recall.

We have a new restaurant said to be the most expensive in the area: Le Chou Farci! Which means “stuffed cabbage” so I’m about to die here. Apparently Suzanne and her family eat there once a week.

I find it SO weird that Jessica can just yell at her parents that she’s going on a date and then tear out of the house. And that she can go on umpteen dates with the same guy and her dad never demands to meet him or anything.

The art film “Daniella” and “Pierre” watch intrigued me because it sounded like it could be a real film. So I did some sleuthing – commenter goldray at Shannon’s Sweet Valley High Blog thought the film might be Sartre’s Huis Clois (No Exit) . Here is a scene of a stage production of it that someone posted on YouTube. The film Jessica and Pete saw was described as having characters sitting in a purgatory that looks like a hospital waiting room, talking about how they go there, with a little red ball that occasionally rolls by on the floor. Anyone else think No Exit‘s the one? (I’ve never seen it myself.)

In case you care, Liz is still playing the recorder. And Prince Albert is definitely not a puppy anymore. At one point Prince Albert keeps jumping on Jessica, and she yells at him to get down, and the stupid Lovestruck lady asks her why she needs to use Lovestruck if she has a prince after her. *tiddy-boom*

In the back of the book: an order form for you to use for all three Caitlin trilogies. I’ve never bothered with any of those.

Coming up next: Elizabeth changes her personality in The New Elizabeth. I thought we already had this book and it was called Dear Sister (and it was awesome).

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Comments on: "#62 Who’s Who?" (4)

  1. Yes! I love this one, and recently put together the outfits of Magenta Galaxy and Daniella Fromage, which was a hoot. The “hard rock” necklace made out of scrabble tiles rocked. Lol @ Jessica re Brett’s “square car.” Just because mummy and daddy Wakefield fork out for a new fiat/jeep every time someone kills the other’s boyfriend/ runs off a cliff in an earthquake.
    Also -Liz played recorder? The fuck?

    • Yeah, there was a stupid sub-plot in one of the books about how Jessica wanted to learn recorder as an excuse to impress a college boy, whose sister she’d started babysitting for extra money. Jessica was terrible at it. But then Liz started secretly trying out Jessica’s recorder and found that she was perfect at it (of course!). She was sure Jessica would feel bad that she was better at it because this had happened so many times in the past – Jessica took up a new hobby and sucked at it but Liz was perfect. Eventually the truth came out and Julie Porter started helping Liz out with her lessons. And many books later she’s still doing it and we get to hear about how wonderful she is at it. I wish Prince Albert would take a fat crap on her recorder

      • Who the hell even cares about playing the recorder? Is this something they can really pursue? World famous recorder player?

  2. Neidin Mccullough said:

    I quite liked this book it was more fun and light hearted than some of the previous books. It was published the same month I was born! Love your blog, re reading svh for a laugh then reading each blog post after I finish each book so funny!

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