When this book came out, I laughed at the cover because it was so ridiculous looking, not to mention such an obvious rip-off of Runaway. Liz looks rather pretty here, which I HATE to admit, but she definitely lacks Jessica’s runaway chic look. A real runaway wouldn’t wear dumb white plastic barrettes from 1983. Come on, those things HAVE to be out of style by this point.
Anyway, my used, first printing (July 1990) copy of this book still looks brand new, as in, just pulled off the store shelf new. So that should tell you right away that this is going to be shit, if the original owner couldn’t even be bothered to read this.
When we left off, Alice had left the family’s Lake Tahoe weekend vacation a few hours early, despite Ned’s threats of divorce and aspiring mayor-dom. Now it’s fast forward a few weeks or something. Ned is packing his shit and moving out. He’s got an apartment of his own, and yep, he’s really running for mayor of Sweet Valley. Liz thinks this must be some kind of nightmare. Well, it definitely is.
As soon as Ned leaves, the whole family gets thrown into complete chaos. Just trying to recap it all makes me get a migraine, so I’m going to try to break it down by family member. So let’s start with Mrs. Alice Wakefield. She keeps blaming herself for what happened because she’s been working too much on her big mall expansion project. SO FUCKING WHAT? Are people not allowed to take on major work projects every once in a while? Your douche husband could have been a wee tad more supportive and not moved out on you in retaliation!
Ned is … suddenly calmer and more rational and logical, and less poutyish and babyish than he was in the last book. You know, I think this trial separation is doing him good. Oh, but he’s still being a shit parent, and still running for mayor. There’s almost zero talk of how that’s going in this book and I couldn’t really give much of a fuck, so let’s move on.
Steven starts coming home from college all the time. Jessica makes a lot of snide remarks about it and they get into huge fights. Jessica blames Alice for the separation and Steve seems to think it’s Ned’s fault, or something, and whenever Liz tries to referee everything explodes. I have to say reading dozens of pages comprised solely of Wakefield arguments is not very fun for me.
Elizabeth is convinced the separation is really her fault. If only she hadn’t given Julia the number of the inn at Lake Tahoe! Yes, because they were getting along so well before that shit went down. But of course “sensitive” Liz gets extremely depressed over what’s happened to her family and turns into a whiny “oh, nothing’s wrong” type chick. She keeps fucking up her school and homework assignments, royally. But about that whole family splitting apart at the seams thing that she’s going through – no one cares … seriously, no one. Okay, well Enid is only too happy to take Liz into her room and shut the door and snuggle her real close while she cries, but Enid exists only to worship Liz anyway so that doesn’t count. Seriously, there’s a scene in here where Enid wraps her arms around Liz and gets real close to her soft, wet … tear-ridden face! What did you think I was going to say, you sickos! Get your minds out of the gutter! So that’s Enid, but everyone else? Don’t give a shit. Everyone seems to already know that the Wakefields split up, and you think that would be the hot topic at school especially with gossipymouth bitches like Caroline and Amy lurking about, but I guess not. Todd keeps asking Liz what’s wrong even though he can easily guess, then he gets mad when Liz would rather chill with her mom than go see one of her favorite singers at the Palace nightclub downtown. Todd is seriously mad for most of the book because Liz is sad about her family, but never offers to talk to her about it or anything. Finally, Liz decides she and Todd would be better off breaking up. The fact that her family is having a trial separation means that true love can’t possibly exist and she should just dump Todd and get it over with now. Well Liz, yes you should, but that’s not why. It’s because the two of you cause me and my remaining brain cells much despair. So Liz breaks up with Todd and he is completely dumbfounded and shocked that they are really ending things over this. Wow, you guys never broke up before? I could’ve sworn you had. Crazy. The second Amy Sutton hears Todd is single, she orgasms all over herself and bugs him to go out with her. Thinking of his personal health, he turns her down and hangs out with some sophomore named Allison instead.
Liz starts dressing and acting more like Jessica because somehow playing the field is going to help her get over Todd and learn not to love anyone. Cry me a river Liz. I know this has to be a really scary time, but I can’t feel any sympathy for her at all. Anyway, this time around, being like Jessica means wearing miniskirts to school and dating three boys in one week, none of which we have ever heard of before that I can think of: a hot senior named Paul Jeffries with a bad reputation, a junior named Steve Anderson, and a cute new redhead from Texas, John Campbell. I think she should really liven shit up and go after Jeffrey and A.J. Morgan!!! We don’t get to see her on the dates, thank God. I don’t really want to read a scene of Liz bawling about her parents in the backseat while giving Paul Jeffries a handjob although I guess all those tears make convenient lube. Yes, I just said that. Jessica is concerned about Liz getting a “reputation” because she went on four dates in one week or something. Privately she’s just jealous because her own dating life sucks ass lately, and she’s angry that Liz is dressing like her and getting all the hot single boys. She points out to Liz that even Amy Sutton thinks she’s dating too much and you know it’s bad when AMY thinks you’re easy. BURN.
Eventually Jessica totally loses her shit because she’s tired of Liz being “preachy” (nailed it) and trying to moderate fights between her and Steven. It doesn’t help that Jess thought Paul Jeffries was going to ask her out when he really just thought she was Liz because they were dressed the same. So Jess exposes the truth about how Liz gave Alice’s work the Lake Tahoe number, right in the middle of a sibling screaming fight. Steven is appalled at Liz but still insists that the split is not her fault. Liz doesn’t believe him, and here we have our breaking point where “Elizabeth is running away!” Are you ready for this?
She meets Enid at Box Tree Cafe with a duffel bag and says she’d heading to either her cousin Jenny’s in Dallas or her grandparents’ house in Michigan, but she has no set plan for how to do this. Enid convinces her to come stay with her instead. Enid and her mom cajole her into telling her family where she is, but she doesn’t want to call them, nor does she want them to know that she’s at Enid’s specifically, because then they might come get her. So she types out a letter saying she’s at a nameless friend’s house for a while, and has Enid drop a copy off at both her father’s pad and at Ye Olde Wakefield Homestead on Calico Drive and basically do a ring-the-doorbell and run away. Man, Liz can make Enid do ANYTHING for her. Everyone gets the letters just as they’re starting to wonder what’s taking Liz so long to get home. Then they run around trying to figure out which friend she’s with … gee, think real hard, which one could it possibly be? Alice and Ned act remarkably calm about the whole thing compared to the juvenile arguments they were having in the last book. Enid’s line is busy because Liz deliberately left it off the hook, but they figure out she’s there anyway, and Liz goes home the next day … some runaway. Jessica sort-of apologizes for being a bitch to her sister, and that’s that. But the parents still aren’t together although now they’re talking like they separated to work things out calmly rather than um, because Ned threatened Alice with divorce if she left their family vacation to do work. Liz and Todd aren’t together yet either, so Jess decides to fix things before he gives up and goes ahead and catches VD from Amy. Jess dresses at Liz, gets Todd to meet her at Secca Lake, apologies for breaking up with him, has Steve bring Liz to listen in, and then has them switch places as Liz cries with relief at hearing Todd say he loves her … because fucking wimp Liz couldn’t just go tell him she was sorry herself, so a typical stupid twin switch plot had to be involved.
Jessica’s runaway story was a thousand times better than this bullshit.
The sub-plot is about what a scandalous bitch Jessica Wakefield is and how horrible she is to her family. I guess we’re supposed to think this is her way of coping with the separation. Give me a break. First of all, she’s really happy about her parents’ split because she has all these fantasies of her dad becoming mayor and being away all the time and leaving her alone in the mayoral mansion to throw parties, and buying her lots of shit like Lila Fowler’s dad. And she also couldn’t care less that the rest of the family is generally miserable and upset. Mememe, all the time.
Alice finds out about the huge bill Jess ran up on the teen party line in the last book and tries to discipline her for it and so Jessica runs off crying to Ned about how she had to use the line because they were fighting and it made her upset, which of course is a carefully rehearsed lie. So Ned says that’s too harsh and yells at Alice for daring to make Jessica pay the 300+ dollars herself and they fight about that. Then Jessica further guilt-trips her father into handing her a bunch of money to buy herself an expensive new outfit to wear on her first date with Charlie Ryan, the kid from the party line in the last book. Jessica is terrible, I hate her. But yeah, Charlie Ryan meets Jessica at the roller skating rink (haha) and is horribly boring, not at all like the Charlie she knows from over the phone. But hey, he is really cute. After the disastrously boring date she’s ready to forget about him though, until he calls and is his normal dynamic self over the phone again. So they go on date #2, to eat sushi and he is a dour windbag again. Jessica refuses to see him again knowing that it will take her a full year to even get to first base with this dude, but winds up calling the teen party line to ask the kids on there what’s going on with Charlie, because she thinks he’s hot enough that it would be a shame not to figure out what’s going on. Sara is on the teen line but Charlie isn’t. Sara says that she and Charlie have been making nice since Jessica stopped talking to him, finally. She tells Jessica that Charlie told her he had his cute friend Brook Atkins impersonate him in person because he was sure Jessica wouldn’t think the real Charlie was attractive enough. So how does Jessica resolve all this? Well, she needs a date for the upcoming Pi Beta Alpha costume party, and so does Amy since she can’t get her mitts on Todd, and so she offers to set both Brook and Charlie up for dates. She’ll take Brook to the costume party, and Amy will go with the real Charlie who’s not so hot, but both boys will be so infatuated with Jessica anyway that Amy will be totally humiliated. That’s right, Jessica thinks Brook is horribly dull (and well, he really is) and stodgy but hey he’s hot so he’ll do for her date. And Charlie is witty and funny but already said he’s not as attractive as Brook, so she’d rather Charlie go with Amy, whom she’s mad at for trying to date Todd so soon after Liz broke up with him.
Jess dresses as an intergalatic princess or something for the party, and puts tinfoil in her hair and wears a silver cape. Amy is such a dumbass she wears her own cheerleader outfit to the party and walks around with her pom-poms giggling. Okay I’m sorry, does Amy not sound like a perfect porn star or what? Look out Bree Olsen, Amy Sutton is here. But surprise! Charlie isn’t really that bad looking, and he’s hilarious. And he thinks Amy’s costume is supposed to be some kind of satirical take on cheerleading or something? Even Brook is more interested in stupid Amy. So Jessica’s plan backfires as both boys spend the evening ogling Amy and she vows to make them sorry when her dad is mayor. I despise both girls so much at this point that I don’t care about any of this shit or who wronged who.
Seriously, this book was awful. All the books lately are. This book made me think fondly of The New Elizabeth for fuck’s sake. So Who’s really to Blame? Me, for doing this to myself.
What the fuck? Here are the costumes Todd thought he and Liz should wear to the costume party: Batman and Cat Woman, King and Queen of Hearts, a set of bookends. One of these things is not like the other, because one of these things should by all rights get someone’s ass beat after school.
Jessica snidely asks Steven, “Don’t you have a dorm room anymore? I thought you were supposed to be so big and grown-up now.” and a couple of chapters later, “Aren’t you getting kind of worried they might kick you out of school if you don’t spend time there?” Wow Jess, way to catch up to the rest of us.
Can I say, it’s awfully funny how Ned thought it was a good idea to walk out on his wife, just as he declared his candidacy for mayor. And he’s already got close connections to the disgraced candidate who supposedly took bribes. Yep, this race is just a shoo-in.
Coming up next … Will Mr. Wakefield win the mayoral race? Will he and Alice get back together? Will I survive the suspense? Unfortunately, the answer to the last question is yes! See you then.