So this book is all about Liz, obviously, and I figured that meant it would be a giant steaming heap of crap. Or not steaming so much since it was plopped out all the way back in March 1990. But it wasn’t so bad, or at least that was my initial opinion until the ending took a giant shit on it all. But we’ll get to that. So Liz’s dilemma is a common one: she’s tired of being teased for being a lame-o who likes to study, and she wants to play with a new personality and show everyone how she’s way more daring than they think. Okay, someone wants to make a change, I understand, especially because if I were Liz I’d have been bored with myself a long time ago. But Liz is so sensible and level-headed that even her way of becoming somebody else is sensible and level-headed … or at least, way more so than any similar scheme of Jessica’s, that’s for sure. Rather than becoming the opposite of herself, she’s going to take up a new daredevil sport – surfing. How is that daredevil, again? Sure, it’s definitely a courageous thing to try, but look – Jessica surfs (and was said to be “sensational” at it early on), fuckin’ DeeDee surfs, half these kids surf although there’s been less emphasis on it then there was in the earliest books. Even boring ass preppy Todd surfs. (He said he gave Bill Chase his old board in book 5, I think.) Are these kids really going to be that shocked out to learn that Liz can do it too? Even DeeDee became a surf master in like, two lessons.
Liz gets the idea after she sees an ad for surfing lessons at the Sports Shop at the Valley Mall. Can we please get a more creative name for some of the damn stores in these books? So she drives out to Moon Beach, which is apparently the spot all the Big Mesa kids hit up, and meets her instructor, a Big Mesa HS senior named Sean Blake, and his buddies. They all work at this surf shack but don’t seem to have any customers other than Liz. There’s also a chick, another senior named Laurie MacNeil, who works at the ice cream parlor in Moon Beach. She and Sean have known each other forever and she’s secretly infatuated with him. They went on one date not long ago and it went well although they didn’t make out or anything. But the second Sean lays eyes on Liz, he falls for her and forgets about Laurie. Typical.
Sean has a bet with his buddies Sammy and Dave, juniors at Big Mesa, that he can make the next person he teaches to surf place in the Moon Beach surfing competition at the end of the month. How convenient. Liz wants to keep the whole thing a secret from her friends and family so that she can surprise them on the day of the contest, so she tells everyone she is spending so much time out at Moon Beach working on a marine biology project instead. There are a couple of huge loopholes here that I probably don’t even have to call out. First of all, did her friends all drop out of her marine bio class? Is that why they don’t realize what a huge fat lie that is? Secondly, Enid’s boyfriend Hugh Grayson goes to Big Mesa. It seems kind of odd Liz wouldn’t worry that one of the Big Mesa kids would mention Liz and the surfing lessons offhandedly in his presence. Well, this is just more proof that Hugh is a needless character developed solely to convince us Enid isn’t madly in love with Liz. Oh, and to give Enid some extra drama when her dumb grandmother moved in.
I don’t even have to tell that Liz is a “natural” at surfing and picks it up immediately. On her very first lesson she’s able to easily climb onto the board and catch a wave while kneeling. In no time flat she’s standing and catching perfect waves and is even able to do a hang ten without wiping out. This is bullshit. I’m not a regular surfer myself, but I am friends with surfers, I’m related to surfers, and I’ve even tried it myself. It’s not easy. It’s hard. Even climbing onto the board and staying on it is hard let alone standing on the damn thing. The first wave I ever caught was on my belly and I didn’t even catch it myself – someone had to push me off into the waves! So it pisses me off that perfect ass Liz almost instantly masters it when Sean doesn’t even have her practice balance or anything with the board on dry land first!
So Liz catches perfect waves and Sean is really impressed and falls hard for her. Liz can tell he is attracted to her, but does she do anything to dissuade him? Say it with me: OF COURSE NOT. All she has to do is make a little mention of Todd, but she never does. Well, why not? Because when she asks Laurie if she and Sean are dating, Laurie fumbles out a weird “Uh, kind of ” answer, but Liz somehow hears: “Yes, we are dating seriously, and Sean is so in love with me that even though he keeps flirting with you, trying to hold your hand, inviting you to go parking at Jefferson’s Bluff (the Big Mesa Miller’s Point), asking you on dates, and babbling about how hot you are, he doesn’t like you like that, Liz! He can’t possibly because he’s got a girlfriend. Because boys with girlfriends never ever try to cheat on them with a hot blonde that never mentions she has a boyfriend and goes ahead and flirts back.” This is fucking dumb. Just mention Todd, Liz! Eventually, Sean gives Liz a charm shaped like a silver surfboard, confesses his feelings, and tries to kiss her. Liz pulls away and only then does she mention Todd. Then she is shocked, shocked I tell you, to find that Sean isn’t dating Laurie. Sean tells Liz she should keep the charm and they agree to keep doing their lessons. Sean promises he won’t keep trying to flirt with Liz, but it quickly becomes clear that’s a lie. Then Liz wipes out pretty bad one day while surfing in especially large waves and almost drowns in a riptide. Sean saves her and she cries and he hugs her forever and then she realizes something has changed between them but STILL does not address it. She just keeps ignoring the issue.
Meanwhile, Liz has been catching shit from Todd about her marine bio project because she keeps blowing him off and spacing out when he’s trying to make nice in the front seat of his BMW. Now, Liz is lying to him and all, and she is acting crazy, but he makes the worst comments about her “boring” presentation that he has to sit through and how she spends too much time studying. It’s her schoolwork, fuck off! I really like Sean Blake to tell you the truth, and I think Liz should ditch coffee-brown-eyed loser here and go for it, but of course she isn’t going to do that.
Then one day Liz is coming back late from a surf lesson for dinner out with Todd, so Sean gives her a ride. She doesn’t want Todd seeing Sean with her because then she would have to explain the surf thing, but she has never just told Sean she wants it to be a secret up till the big day. (Why she hasn’t is beyond me.) So instead of getting Sean to drop her off at the bus stop or something, she tells him her neighbor’s house is her own. Ha ha, that’s gonna be hilarious when he shows up drunkenly singing you a love song at 3 AM Liz. Liz pretends to go up her neighbor’s driveway like it’s her own and waves at Sean, then runs down to her own house. Todd sees the whole thing and man is he pissed. He thinks Liz is cheating on him, and with behavior like that, who wouldn’t? See, now he has a reason to be upset. He breaks their date abruptly and takes off. Liz swears the marine bio project will make it all worthwhile and explain everything and he’s like, It better.
Liz invites everyone to come watch her give her big “marine bio presentation” out at Moon Beach and all the kids are rolling their eyes and talking about how boring it’s going to be and trying to get out of it. Liz’s friends SUCK. Even Todd is acting that way. Jesus, way to support your girlfriend! I hate him! So they all go to the surfing competition ahead of time because Liz told them it’s taking place ahead of her presentation and they should all watch it and then meet up with her at the Marine Bio Center. And here’s where I want to reach through the page and strangle somebody. Liz and Sean have both gone to a lot of trouble and Liz has found that she genuinely enjoys surfing – like, a lot. Sean even lends Liz his prized Bob Simmons original board to use in the competition. (Bob Simmons was a real surfer/board-pioneer like the book says, by the way.) But then Liz overhears Laurie talking to a friend at the contest about how she’s been secretly teaching herself to surf behind Sean’s back to impress him. She, too, has found she enjoys it more than she thought she would. And now this is her last chance to impress him and steal him away from Liz, or something. Liz realizes she can solve the problem of Sean continuing to throw himself at her, and Laurie pining for him all in one clean sweep. So Liz surfs on her old board and Laurie surfs on the Simmons board. And then Liz, with all of her stunned friends watching and yelling her name and cheering her own, does the worst wipe out she possibly can, on purpose, and THROWS THE WHOLE COMPETITION. She basically says “fuck you” to all that work and all the lies she told and all those times she realized she really did enjoy surfing and couldn’t wait to get back to the waves, literally walking away from her newfound hobby. She doesn’t place in the contest, and Sean loses his bet with Sammy and Dave, but it’s all good because of course Laurie surfs like a pro in the contest, and Sean sees her do it, and falls for her instead. Right. Meanwhile, Liz goes back to her normal life of being boring and meddlesome, everyone laughs their ass off about her clumsy ass wipeout, and Todd is relieved his old Scrabble-playing, History of Communications museum exhibit-touring girl is back to boss around and takes her out to Mario’s. Only Bill Chase can tell that Liz’s wipeout was deliberate, so everyone goes on thinking Liz is the shittiest surfer on planet Earth – but they give her points for trying. But at least Liz can pat herself on the back for making Sean see Laurie as more than a friend and for conveniently getting him to stop asking her out at the same time. That’s nice. Fuck you Liz.
This cover is so appropriate. Look at Liz fucking preening with her ugly perm, and that suit that looks too big for her. No lavaliere?
The sub-plot: Caroline Pearce spills the beans to the whole school about Jessica’s little Who’s Who? scheme which I guess either Suzanne or Dana let slip to begin with. Everyone starts teasing Jess and calling her Magenta Galaxy. Jess is pissed so she has Amy and Lila help her humiliate Caroline in return. (Why is Cara never around these days?) Caroline’s parents have forced her to get a job at Unique Boutique in the mall to pay off some damage she did to their car while they were away. (Um, her parents are divorced. Did they get back together?) So Jessica and her friends keep going into the store, throwing clothes everywhere that Caroline has just folded, spilling drinks on her, and getting her bitch manager to scream at her. But eventually Caroline gets to a point where she’s made all the money she needs to pay for the repairs, so she isn’t going to put up with this shit forever. One day when Jess goes in there by herself, she acts super sweet to Jessica, and helps her bring two tons of clothes to the dressing room. Then she brings some more while Jessica is changing and is standing there in her underwear. She offers to take all the extra clothes away and clears out everything but the shoes. When Jessica realizes it, it’s too late. She hears Caroline gets into a screaming match with her manager and yell at her that she quits. Jessica pokes her head out to tell Caroline she needs to give her clothes back, but Caroline just smirks at her and goes, “Oh, thanks for stopping by, Magenta. Bye, now.” Then she walks out of the store with Jessica’s clothes in her hands or something. Jessica is stuck in the store with only her underwear! Ha ha! So how did she get out of it? There are some ideas of course, but we never find out which sucks because it’s about time Jess got served her fucking comeuppance and I’d like to know how that shit ultimately went down. But at least the whole school has something else to make fun of Jessica for, and they do and she is mortified. That part is awesome!
What the fuck? Enid is the one friend who doesn’t care that Liz is hardly spending any time with her anymore, and still literally jumps at the chance to run and sit with her at the Dairi Burger. Tell me you’re surprised.
Is it Sweet Valley Mall or just Valley Mall? I thought it was just Valley Mall but this book keeps calling it Sweet Valley Mall.
So is Big Mesa another town or just a different part of Sweet Valley? Has this question ever been answered? We know Sweet Valley is a town with its own mayor and its own downtown area with giant buildings and its own mall, and its own university that is anywhere from a mile to two hours away. So I’m guessing Sweet Valley the town is part of Sweet Valley the giant county that has umpteen smaller towns or suburbs too.
When Liz first goes to check out different types of “daredevil” sporting equipment in the first chapter, she tries to just blindly purchase scuba gear and a fucking hang-glider without knowing anything about how to use either! And she’s supposed to be the smart twin?
Liz’s parents don’t come to the surfing competition or seem to give a shit about her marine bio presentation! But they’re such great parents!
Diet reference of the day: Liz thinks about rewarding herself after a super long lesson with a big triple scoop of her favorite with sprinkles at the Moon Beach Ice Cream Parlor, but gets a little one scoop cone instead. Why? “She didn’t want to surprise everyone with how fat she could get!” Well gee Liz, you can normally eat Alice’s huge dinners and breakfasts and giant Dairi Burger fast food meals with abandon, so what’s changed? And did you not just burn umpteen calories surfing anyway? Eat the big cone dammit!
Here are the other Big Mesa kids in case they ever show their faces again: Laurie’s friends Phil Carter and John Monroe.
From the mouth of Lila Fowler: Amy jokes how chaotic a world full of Jessica Wakefields would be. Lila responds: “But imagine a world full of Elizabeth Wakefields. Can you imagine a duller, more predictable place? I think I’d go crazy.”
Coming up next: Stupid Steven is home from college again for eternity, and he’s met a chick that looks just like Tricia Martin, so he immediately starts breaking dates with Cara to date this girl behind Cara’s back … Huh, I thought I already reviewed this exact same storyline in a book called Spring Break. There must be some mistake, because it would just be so crazy and out of place for an SV book to repeat a storyline.