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

Archive for January, 2017

#98 The Wedding

fullsizerender-6Welcome to The Wedding … gee, I wonder what’s going to happen in this book? The cover and the title aren’t complete spoilers or anything. We have a scene of Lila in a pink dress with Grace Rimaldi, her long lost mother, (re-)marrying what I believe is our first glimpse ever of Lila’s dad, George Fowler. Lila looks very pretty, but also very different. Up on the right-hand side, Jessica celebrates a win at the dirt bike race track with … some dude. (Hang tight, we’ll learn more about who he is in a sec.)

As the main plot in this one seems to be Lila’s ongoing scheme to get her parents back together, let’s start with that. The book opens with a fabulous, “sophisticated” ladies’ luncheon at Fowler Crest, where all of Lila’s friends mill around telling Lila how fabulous Grace is while Lila preens and goes, “I know.” Lila is less thrilled with the appearance of Grace’s live-in boyfriend from Paris, Pierre Ballot, whom Lila has dubbed “Pierre the Pill.” She avoids him and is rude to him until Grace confronts her and tells her Lila should really give Pierre a chance. Lila reluctantly agrees. Later, Lila is hanging out with that bitch Suzanne Hanlon and some other girls when they see Amy come hurriedly stumbling up the back lawn, obviously upset about something. Amy tells Lila she has a headache and has to go home and abruptly leaves, but it’s clear she’s just making some shit up. Later, Lila is painting her nails in her room when Amy calls and tells her that she was talking to Pierre outside when he started coming on to her and slid his hand onto her boob. Lila is outraged and promises to tell Grace and take care of this. But when she DOES go to tell Grace, she can’t bring herself to because she’s afraid Grace won’t believe her. With Grace only staying one more week, Lila had best hurry that shit up and tell her mother she is dating a molester. Lila decides she will first make Pierre’s life hell.

Lila eats breakfast outside with her mother and father before school one morning. When Grace goes inside to take a phone call from her office, George drifts into a stupor and starts mumbling to himself about how he messed everything up in the past. Then he snaps back to himself when Grace returns and acts like he never said all that. Lila and Grace talk about plans for the next day: Lila is going to go to dinner with Pierre, Grace, and George and make nice. Not only that, but Lila got the whole day off with school so she can hang out with Pierre and “get to know him better.” Ugh, gross. I would just tell Grace if I were you, Li. This guy could be dangerous!

Lila starts her day with Pierre by dragging him to a “notoriously bad” Sweet Valley restaurant called Tony’s Diner and suggesting he order the greasiest item on the menu. She suggests he surf, which he sucks at, and takes him on a shopping trip with her at the Valley Mall where she deliberately loads him down with way too many packages when he offers to carry them. Next, she makes him play tennis with her until he’s worn out. With Pierre exhausted but still trying to be polite for some reason, Lila eats lunch at some cafe called the Beach Cove while suggesting Pierre have “a few drinks.” He eagerly agrees, gulping down Scotches until he’s totally wasted. When they get back to Fowler Crest, Lila takes his drunk ass to the basement where he tumbles down the stairs. Since he’s not dead, Lila drags him into a storage closet which she claims is a guest shower, then locks a passed-out Pierre inside and drives off to meet her parents at Cote d’Or without him. Shortly after she arrives, George asks Grace to marry him (again). Grace hesitates because of gross Pierre. Ugh, Grace! You need to take a tip from Vanilla Ice:

drop-that-zero

I guess old George is the hero now. I guess he’s sorry he separated his child from her mother. Anyway! As the pair sit there staring at each other, drunkass Pierre shows up shouting and causing a “disgraceful commotion.” Haha! I love the writer’s choice of words. The restaurant quickly throws Pierre out (literally), and Lila comes outside and tells him if he doesn’t get out of her family’s life forever, she’ll expose what he did to Amy. That’s the end of Pierre, of course. Lila comes back inside to find her mother has accepted her father’s proposal and is wearing a big old sparkler.

The couple take about two weeks to plan the wedding, which is held at Fowler Crest and is the event of the year. Although the cover makes it look like they get married on the balcony, the ceremony is in the back yard. Also, Lila’s maid of honor dress is nothing like the mehhh one on the cover – it’s described as being a mauve dress with cap sleeves. Grace wears the wedding dress she originally married George in and I’m wondering if that’s bad luck … Grace is described as the most beautiful woman ever, and Lila is said to have inherited her beauty. A bunch of Lila’s friends are at the wedding, including some I didn’t think Lila would have bothered to invite (like Olivia), but I guess Li was in one of her more gracious moods. The wedding is a smashing success.

The sub-plots: Todd is still “dating” Jessica, but he’s obviously just not that into her. He spends his time moping around thinking about Liz and how he’s still in love with her. I’m so tired of his bullshit. Jessica surprises him by leaving the Grace luncheon early to come be with Todd, and he’s just like a robot following her around, rebuffing nearly every attempt she makes to touch him. They dance to a band and he barely touches her. Just tell her already, you fool! I have never hated Todd so much in my life. Jessica realizes Todd doesn’t care about her, but she’s deranged and determined to hang onto him because if he goes back to Elizabeth, they’ll be happy again and Jessica will be all alone, missing Sam. Ugh. You know, I don’t think Elizabeth should ever take Todd back, but I know that’s not the way it works in these books. Anyway, when Todd proves to be the worst, most mopey dance partner in the world on their date, Jessica drags his ass out to the beach, ignoring his claims that he has to go help his mom or something. They sit on the sand and Jessica tries her best to initiate a makeout session, and he finally utters the words we’ve all been longing to hear: “It’s over.” Jessica denies his offer of a ride home and starts walking; Artie Western finds her and gives her a ride to the cemetery where she cries and rolls around in the dirt at Sam’s grave. I guess she is re-enacting their old makeout sessions or something, but it’s not clear. LOL, I’m mean. Jessica suddenly has a revelation that she’s got to move on with her life. She gets the idea to host a charity dirt bike race to fund Students Against Drunk Driving at the track next to Secca Lake … apparently that’s where the Sweet Valley track is, or something. She whips into the planning and Alice is happy to see her daughter “getting back to her old self.” By the way, since Liz was declared not guilty or whatever at her “trial,” Alice has regained her marbles and stopped cleaning everything to the point of scaring people, or whatever she was doing before. That’s all it took.

The dirt bike rally race is attended by everyone. I keep reading in these latest books that the racetrack is right next to Secca Lake, which I can’t help but think must be the shittiest location. Doesn’t that make the lake fucking noisy? Don’t people hike and picnic there and shit? Whatever. Anyway, the race is a huge smashing success. Liz decides to go with her parents and Enid, but then feels bad when Jessica’s opening speech mentions that drunk driving killed Sam Woodruff and no one should ever drink and drive. At the last minute, right before the racers take off, a new rider wearing a black helmet and going by the moniker “Black Lightning” shows up and is allowed to enter. He wins, beating Artie Western by a hair, and it turns out it’s a handsome dude named James. James and Jessica become an item almost immediately and Jessica is convinced she’s in love. James wants to know Jessica’s life story and encourages her to tell him absolutely everything about herself, but doesn’t want to volunteer anything about himself and won’t let Jessica take any pictures of him. Jessica fails to see what’s weird about that. I think we’re supposed to believe this is Jessica bouncing back from Sam, and too grief-stricken still to see the obvious, but really, it all makes sense to me. Jessica just naturally believes everything should be about her as it is, so of course she doesn’t find James’ overly inquisitive behavior strange!

Liz is still not doing very well. She feels guilty for killing Sam, but she does make the effort to venture out of the house some. She catches up on her schoolwork at the library with Enid, and then they go to the Dairi Burger where they eat with Winston. Just then, Sam’s old best friend Ted Carpenter appears. Ted has never been mentioned in this series before. He comes right over to Liz and tells her he’s glad she’s having such a good time since she killed his friend, and nothing changes that fact. Oi. He leaves and Liz runs out of the restaurant in tears. After breaking up with Jessica, Todd tries to offer Liz a ride home so he can talk to her, and she turns his ass down. Haha, asshole! Todd drives off in surprise, probably talking like Eeyore to himself: “Well, I guess that’s it for old Todd.” One night, Jessica hears Liz having one of her nightmares, and she goes into her room and holds her and comforts her. Jessica decides to tell Liz the truth – but just as she starts to, stupid Alice pops up wanting to know what all the racket is, and that’s the end of that. Before and after this scene, Jessica continues to avoid her sister.

Since Maria Santelli is out of town, Winston offers himself as Liz’s date for the Fowler wedding, and they dance up a storm. I wonder if they were dancing the way Liz and Sam were at the Jungle Prom? Haha, I have no shame. Unfortunately, when a long ass slow song comes on, Todd asks Liz to dance and she accepts. They have this gross heartfelt slow dance spin around the floor for “at least 10 minutes”, and afterwards Liz looks at Todd in tears. He brushes her tears away, and she tells him, “Thank you” and walks away. No Liz, tell him “Fuck you”!

Margo, who has been living under the assumed name of “Mandy” in a boarding house run by Mrs. Palmer (“an old hag” according to Margo), finds the Wakefields’ address in the phone book and hides in some bushes across the street from their house. She watches everyone go off to school and work and learns that the twins have a brother named Steven who goes to college, which she didn’t know before because I guess it wasn’t mentioned in the newspapers. She thinks Ned and Alice are the most perfect and beautiful parents she’s ever seen, and can’t wait to become their “daughter.” God, Margo is freaking interesting, let me tell you, and I mean that very sincerely. Margo realizes that Liz and Jess aren’t getting along, and she decides she can likely use this to her advantage as she seeks to assume Liz’s identity. She heads off to Kelly’s the dumpy bar we haven’t heard anything about in a while, and has a shot of Wild Turkey with some old drunks. A dirt bike racer named James comes in and Margo sucks up to him and offers to pay him $2,000 if he will enter the dirt bike rally and date Jessica so he can get all the dirt on the Wakefields to share with “Mandy.” Margo is also spending time hanging around the Valley Mall wearing wigs and eavesdropping on conversations at Casey’s Place, trying to collect intel on the Wakefields. She shows up one day at the W. house as Alice is struggling to bring four bags of groceries inside and helps her out of nowhere, then abruptly vanishes when Alice turns to thank her. Margo finds out about the Fowler wedding, and inquires about a job with Valley Caterers, who are catering the event, surprise. Margo is really rude to the receptionist there, which everyone knows is a huge no-no when you’re looking for a job, but I guess that won’t hurt our crazy Margo any. Margo wears one of her disguises with a red wig and the owner, Mrs. D’Angelo, actually takes Margo into her office just to tell her “Sorry, we don’t have any openings; leave me your resume and I’ll call you if something opens up.” Margo isn’t playing around, so she steals an employee file of one of the wedding workers when Mrs. D’Angelo isn’t looking and then rents a car under an alias and drives to that employee’s home. She sees the employee come out with her baby and strap the baby in the car. As the employee walks around the car, Margo guns the engine and hits the woman, killing her, then backs up so the woman’s body will fall off the hood of her car, then drives forward over the lady’s body and takes off as the baby is left behind, crying hysterically. Damn!!! She then wipes down the rental car and leaves it parked in some deserted area. This is actually a really disturbing scene. The dead catering lady should have been Todd or somebody like that. Mrs. D’Angelo calls Margo right after and tells her she’s now needed. Margo shows up at the wedding for work as “Mandy” where Mrs. D’Angelo keeps her close by and chatters about how as soon as she saw Mandy, she knew she had that “something special that a caterer needs.” What the fuck does that mean? Margo hangs around the Wakefields and their friends in her red wig all night, freaking people out. When Mrs. D’Angelo tries to get her to hang back with her in the kitchen more, Margo almost stabs her with a butcher knife, but she’s interrupted by another server. Margo listens to the gossip of the high school wedding guests, like Caroline Pearce (seriously, what is Caroline doing at Lila’s wedding?!). She learns Jessica stole Liz’s boyfriend before she got with James. Then Margo witnesses Winston and Liz dancing and wonders what Liz is doing with such a slob. Seriously, Margo just sounds like Jessica. Then Margo sees Todd dancing with Elizabeth and decides Todd is ridiculously handsome. They’ll be together as soon as Margo kills Elizabeth and assumes her identity, she thinks. (Margo has purchased blue-green contacts so that her eyes are “the color of the ocean” like the twins’ … barf.) Margo, please kill Todd instead. Go ahead, just cut his head off and stuff it in the toilet once Pierre is done with it post-Tony’s Diner.

Lastly, Josh Smith is still looking for Margo following the events in the last book. He finds out she took the train to San Diego and starts to drive there. But on the way there he suddenly remembers that she had a Sweet Valley newspaper with her – DUH! He curses himself and turns around …

Stuff of note… Jessica goes to visit Sam’s grave at Valley Memorial Cemetery. I thought he was buried in Bridgewater, you know, where he’s from, the last time she went there.

Jessica and Todd go to a beach cafe called the Wave Cafe and listen to a band called The Sensations.

We learn Grace is president of a multi-million dollar stationery company.

In keeping with the tradition of abruptly changing characters’ last names from book to book, Pierre’s last name was Ballot in a previous book, but here it’s “Le Peu.” I can’t tell if that’s a continuity error or if they’re trying to make some kind of joke out of him, but I don’t think these books are clever enough for it to be the latter. (“Le peu” means “the little” in French, at least according to a quick Google translate, or you could also say they’re trying to make it sound like Pepe Le Pew the Looney Tunes skunk, I guess.)

The Wakefield parents come to the dirt bike rally, although Mrs. Wakefield remarks it’s “nerve-wracking.” The book explains: “Ever since Elizabeth’s serious accident on Todd’s motorcycle, her mother hadn’t been fond of any bikes with motors.” Actually, Mrs. Wakefield hadn’t been fond of bikes with motors since well before that when the twins’ cousin Rexy was killed in a motorcycle accident, and that’s a large driver of the plot behind the book in which the Liz/Todd bike accident occurred (Dangerous Love). (Maybe the ghostwriter didn’t read far back enough in the Sweet Valley ghostwriter’s bible, haha.)

Here’s Jessica and Lila talking about James:

Jessica: Everything I want to do, he wants to do.
Lila: I assume you’ve been to Miller’s Point, then.

I read Lila’s remark as some kind of sick burn given the way this book just dealt with Pamela’s background story, but Jessica just giggles and nods and says, “I’ve been to heaven.” Don’t worry, I’m sure they didn’t have SEX! Seriously, how does Jessica get away with this while girls like Annie Whitman and Pamela Robertson have their “reputations” ruined? So confusing.

Steven is at the wedding with Billie, now his girlfriend, and Olivia is there with that creepy fucker Harry. You know, that lying fucker from The Morning After. Nicholas Morrow is also there with his girlfriend Ann Hunter, the idiot who decided him puking and acting like a moron was cute and all.

New people: Kathryn Schwartz is introduced as the president of the Sweet Valley High chapter of SADD, but I don’t think we ever see her. And then the book actually lists out all the dirt bike rally racers. The ones from Sweet Valley are Artie Western, Michael Harris, and April Dawson. The racers from Bridgewater are Joel Richards, Tom Lawrence, and Chris Andrews, and there’s a guy named Rod Metcalf from Big Mesa, and Elizabeth somehow knows who all of these people are even though we’ve never heard of them before and Liz never even paid any attention to dirt bike racing that I can remember. She does read the newspaper, so I guess there’s that.

I can’t get over the way Jessica is always trying to say it’s okay for her to steal Todd from Liz because Liz stole Todd from her first (referring to the events of Double Love). Yeah, that is NOT what happened. To refresh everyone’s memory, Todd liked Liz, but Jessica wanted him so she went out of her way to ruin her sister’s “reputation” (there’s that shit again) so that Todd would think Liz was the bad twin. Todd fell for Jessica’s bullshit, and asked her to go to a dance with him. When Todd started to wise up, Jessica lied and told Liz that Todd had tried to rape her so that Liz wouldn’t want to be with Todd anyway. The whole scheme failed in the end, so I guess to Jessica, this all amounts to Liz “stealing” Todd from her.

Prince Albert (the dog) re-appears in this book!

George Fowler has an original Picasso in his house, which is mentioned like it’s just to be expected. Haha! Baller.

In the back of the book: There’s an ad asking readers to send in a form to join the Sweet Valley High Fan Club and get some goodies! Did anyone join this? What did you get and was it worth it? (The ad states new club members will receive a welcome kit with: a membership card, an SVH “Secret Treasure Box,” SVH stationery, an “Official Fan Club” pencil, three bookmarks, a door hanger, two skeins of floss & instructions for making your own flower barrette (so you can look like Liz, I guess), and two editions of The Oracle newsletter.And it implies you’ll get more shit later on.)

Coming up next: Margo continues with her evil plans, and there’s something dumb about Winston and a baby.

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#97 The Verdict

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I got nothing

Oh lawdy lawd, these kids! What will they get up to now? Let’s venture between the Pepto-Bismol pink covers of this book and find out! Warning: I’m not feeling very good tonight, so this is going to be the grouchiest entry ever – like my readers mind, heh.

Let’s just check out this cover first. First we have what I guess is the Sweet Valley Courthouse in the background, with Alice Wakefield – oh wait, that’s Liz Wakefield on the cover. She’s obviously borrowed Alice’s Easter dress jacket and she’s styled her hair like Jessica for some reason, and if you look all the way to the right you can just make out the judge’s hand slamming down a gavel, hahahahaha. Above the gavel, we finally see a photo of psychotic Margo, heading resolutely toward Sweet Valley with a death glare going on. I guess I kind of see the resemblance to Liz and Jess … *tilts head at odd angle to see* *pinches nerve in neck, curses the name of the cover artist*

SPOILER ALERT! There’s zero mention of Nicholas Morrow and his newfound love from the dating show or whatever in this tome. I for one am relieved. Nicholas Morrow is a total asshat. Grab a hatchet and get him, Margo.

Unfortunately, there’s plenty of other asshattery to go around. I’ll start with our main story, that of Elizabeth’s ongoing … trials. It seems the ordeal of poor Liz’s trial has made her entire family a mess. Ned the Wonder Lawyer is frantically trying to get Liz to remember something, anything, about the night of the accident and is so frustrated she just can’t. What the fuck is wrong with these people? If she was drunk, how would she remember? Plus she probably had a head injury from the accident, plus she had a past head injury from her motorcycle accident with Todd way back in the day, plus she is a dumbass anyway. Yet everyone expects her to just magically remember through the alcoholic haze, and that’s going to be the key to her case. Also, I feel like everyone just keeps conveniently glossing over the fact that LIZ WAS DRUNK. It’s like Liz is a visiting queen you don’t want to offend somehow, so when she does something all gauche you just smile and act like it’s cute. No one wants to question anyone else about where Liz might have gotten the hooch from. No one considers that, gee, maybe some of those Big Mesa assholes spiked some drinks (or you know, maybe Liz’s shitty sister did). It’s all up to Liz’s lightweight ass to remember!

Meanwhile, the rest of the family is just crazy. Jessica is pretty much being ignored in her pain for her lost love, which she deserves if you ask me, but the rest of the fam doesn’t know that she deserves it and they kind of treat her like she does anyway. I guess they’re just treating Jessica like they usually treat her. Steven comes home from college each weekend, which we’re supposed to think is unusual now, and he does it mainly just to get in the way and act like his mom is weird for bringing them snacks and cleaning windows. Seriously, Alice keeps cleaning everything and smiling oddly, so we’re supposed to think she’s “lost her marbles.” Isn’t that what she does anyway? she cleans and cooks! Ned sure as fuck isn’t cleaning and cooking anything, old Leave It to Beaver ass. Funny how no one talks about how crazy Jessica’s marbles have always been lost. This bitch is still over here blaming Liz for Sam’s death. Ned asks her to testify in the trial, and she outright refuses. Can’t she be subpoenaed for that shit? She’s the one who witnessed them driving off! If they were smart they would check that shit out, but everyone who ever said the Wakefields are smart was lying to us. So Jessica refuses to go to Liz’s trial and secretly hopes to see Liz convicted, but we’ll get more into that later. Liz is miserable; there’s a kind of disturbing scene where she rides a bus to the beach, wades way out in the water, and it seems like she’s considering continuing to wade out so she will drown and find out “what it’s like” where Sam is. Then she snaps back to herself and wades back out of the water. This book is getting dark! If it was a little less boring and drawn out, I might be more astounded by this.

The trial is a joke. And I’m pretty sure it has no relevance whatsoever to actual courtroom proceedings, but that’s to be expected. Also, the state prosecutor’s name is … get ready for it! you’re not ready for it! … HEMPSTEAD DILWORTH. Hempstead! Like a cannabis farm! Dilworth! Like a creative nickname some came up with for a budding pornstar’s huge wang! They just had to put those two names together! I guess that is their idea of a mega-lawyerly name. And the questioning basically goes like this: “Where’d ya get the alcohol, Liz?” Liz: “I don’t know.” And it drags on like that for four whole days (with a weekend break after three, if I’m remembering what I just slogged through right). The Wakefields and a bunch of the twins’ friends, including Enid, Olivia, Lila, Amy, and sad sack Todd, all take off from school and work to cram into the courtroom and watch. Jessica remains conspicuously absent,  and uh, we don’t hear anything about, you know, SAM’S PARENTS. I assume they care about this case, but if we inserted them into the book, that might remind us that there are people more important on the planet than the Wakefield family. All we know is that it’s totally unfair Liz has to answer for her DUI that killed a person and that Mr. Hemprancher Wangsworth is so mean to ask her questions at trial about it and it makes Steven clench his fists in anger!

On the night before the last day of the trial, Jessica eavesdrops on her family preparing for the final day of testimony. She has some kind of strange out-of-body experience that makes her reconsider her attitude (for maybe a whole split second) and freak out about the secret she’s hiding (that she spiked Liz’s drink). Ned sees her watching them and begs her to join them, but she flees. The next day, however, she does appear at the trial with her mother and only then do things actually get interesting. When the lawyer questions Liz, AGAIN, about where she got the alcohol, because that’s all that ever happens, Jessica flips out and stands up in horror thinking Liz knows the truth, and her mother has to pull her back down into the seat. Just then, Ned calls his surprise witness. It’s a 20-year-old “chubby” guy named Gilbert Harding, from “Ramsbury” (isn’t that where that fair was that Liz was so intent on going to in one book?), and he’s a community college student who lives with his parents. I can’t help but feel like they’re trying to say he’s inferior for these things, like we’re supposed to think this means he is beneath the Wakefields or something. Jessica even compares Gilbert’s appearance to her brother’s when she sees him. Fuck that, not everyone lives like the Wakefields, all getting to grow up to practice law that they clearly know shit about. Anyway, Gilbert says he had a fight with his girlfriend at dinner that night and drove off after having a few beers. He drove on the wrong side of the road and then he sideswiped Liz’s Jeep and that’s what caused the crash. He claims Liz was driving fine before he hit her and the whole thing is his fault. Bam, trial over. The judge rules that Liz’s manslaughter charge is dismissed but that her license will remain suspended because of the whole DUI thing. Everyone celebrates wildly and I can’t help but feel like this is total bullshit. She was still drunk. How do they know she wouldn’t have been able to control the car better when Gilbert hit her, if she was sober? I don’t know how this shit works. Whatever, it’s good enough to get your charges dismissed in Sweet Valley. Jessica is momentarily elated her sister was freed, then she sees how much attention her sister is getting and almost instantly reverts back to “Fuck my sister, she deserves to rot.” She sidles up to Todd in the courtroom and is like, “It’s just you and me Todd, now, right?” She’s so creepy.

When the Wakefields have dinner that night, everyone is just like, Jessica, don’t you think you should help us celebrate your sister for getting away with killing your boyfriend? This does seem pretty fucked up man. Jessica screams at them and tears out of the room, and they’re all like, Gee, what I’d do? Margo, kill them all. I’M BEGGING YOU GIRL.

The sub-plots: Todd Wimpkins is a totally useless piece of shit who can’t stand up to Jessica about anything. He keeps thinking about how he really misses Liz, but then Jessica just throws herself on top of him and he’s all “Okay, I guess I have to make out with you.” He seems scared of her for some reason. I mean, I’m scared of her too because she’s clearly a fucking psychopath, but not enough to make out with the bitch. Jessica drags Todd out to the Beach Disco on a school night and he just goes along with it and makes out with her anyway. And then there are several more scenes like this. Whenever Todd protests, Jessica says the worst things about how Elizabeth deserves what’s coming to her and she’s dead to them and he just kind of lamely agrees like this: *Eeyore voice* “Okay Jess, whatever you say. I wish I could move my lips and make sound come out of them when I see Liz. Since the first 37 misunderstandings we had in this series didn’t teach me how to do that, I’ll just thrust my tongue down Jessica’s throat instead.” I mean, if Todd is too frightened to tell Jessica he doesn’t want her deranged twat in his life, he could at least fake like his dad is suddenly poor and he has to sell his BMW or something, and I’m sure that would take care of things there. Instead, Todd goes to see Steven to whine at him about what’s going on and ask his advice, and Steven is just like, You’re an asshole, son. He doesn’t really flip out as much as I was hoping he would. Seriously, someone needs to give Todd a good ass-beating. Todd finally decides that since his voice box doesn’t work around Liz anymore, he will write her a letter and slip it through the mail slot at the Wakefields’ house, and ask Liz to wear a turquoise bracelet he once gave her as a sign. He requests that she touch the bracelet when it’s okay for him to approach her. Jessica of course, finds the letter first, and she trashes it after a good crying bout for having lost Sam. She then lies to Todd and tells him she saw Liz ripping up a letter, and since we already know Todd is a stupid piece of shit who believes anything anybody tells him that’s negative about his own longtime girlfriend, he believes Jessica and mopes. You know what, Todd, I’m not sure why you would think Liz would want to talk to you anyway, though, when she knows you are clearly banging her SISTER, you presumptuous DICK. At the end of the book, there’s a disturbing scene where Jessica walks with Todd on the beach and waxes romantic about how the Jungle Prom showed her they were always meant to be together, and he’s all, “What’s wrong with you? That’s the night Sam died!” And she’s like, yeah well I don’t think of it that way, and starts making out with him again, and thankfully it cuts away before we’re treated to another nauseating beach make-out scene, but I hope Jessica gets sand up her crack that won’t come out, and I hope a big crab comes along and pinches off Todd’s limp ween … A crab with a magnifying glass that is, y’all know what I’m saying

Bruce and Pamela … whanggggg, there go my eyes rolling into the back of my head. Whannnng, there goes Bruce’s penis of stone every time he spies Pamela, though he tries to hide it by being the biggest asshole you can possibly imagine. Yes, Pamela has transferred to SVH and is trying out for the tennis team and she’s also teaching little kids arts and crafts after school at Project Youth, trying to keep her mind off of the fact that Bruce is the only boy she will ever love, even though he’s busy making horrible remarks to her about what a slut he thinks she is. She even goes to the Dairi Burger by herself, and just sits there staring at her food and feeling sorry for herself because nobody will come to talk to her. And yes, this girl has zero self-respect. Every time Bruce makes her cry, she’s still just like, “Oh, if only I could make him see!” Girl, he’s a jerk, give up on him already. The worst part about this part of the book, is that it tries to convince us Bruce is only a jerk because Regina died and broke his heart. Bruce even thinks to himself about he’s only this way because his girlfriend died. This is so not correct. Bruce momentarily thought he was in love with Regina, but he then he decided to slide right into Amy Sutton’s outstretched beckoning vag, and basically made no effort to hide it from Regina, and Regina actually stood up to them and she dumped him. And then she decided to do some coke to feel better and she died suddenly. Oh, but let’s gloss all that over. Let’s act like Bruce is actually a good guy with a decent heart, and he just needs to heal from “his girlfriend’s death”, that’s all. And that’s all they have to say about that. And Pamela is the bad one in everyone’s eyes, because she is alleged to have a (male) harem of her own about a sixteenth of the size of Bruce’s. So basically she’s the straight female version of Bruce, or let’s be real, she’s Jessica, she’s Amy, she’s the original version of Annie Whitman or Betsy Martin. And that’s the part that is repeatedly shown as getting Bruce’s goat, not that he thinks Pamela cheated on him with Bobby/Jake/whatever his fucking name is, but that he thinks she likes to sleep with a lot of dudes and (supposedly) isn’t a virgin. Even Pamela knows that’s not fair. Don’t worry, they’ll work it out in dramatic fashion. Bruce actually thinks for a hot second about how this might be something of a double standard – after a talk from the second most horrible person on Earth, Amy Sutton, of all people – then he runs into Pamela being dragged off to a car by some guy yelling about how she has to come with him because he knows she isn’t a virgin. Straight-up caveman shit. Bruce knocks dude out with one punch – are we replacing Todd punches with Bruce punches? – and then grabs Pamela to tell her he loves her or something and of course she forgives him.

RANT: I don’t like this good guy Bruce shit. Bruce is one of the few characters who is interesting in these fucking books! Don’t let him get all soft again! Keep Bruce assholish. And, “nice guy” or not, he deserves to be fucked over hard (and not the way he wants) by Pamela, so I hope she’ll break his heart in a thousand pieces for real one of these days, and then laugh about it. Yeah, right, like THAT will ever happen because that would mean Pamela isn’t a good girl, because she’s not a pushover who just waits for her man to come apologize to her for all the awful shit he said! I’m so tired of these horrible female characters!

Oh yeah, and Pamela is friends with Lila and Amy now. They see her at the Project Youth Center and realized she isn’t all bad and draw her into their dwindling circle of friendship hell, and then Amy takes the blame for repeating what she heard about Pamela to Bruce when it wasn’t true, so she tells Bruce it’s not true and THAT’S why he starts to change his mind. Let’s think about this for a minute. Bruce is in love with Pamela but when SHE explains the situation, he doesn’t believe her. Amy, horrible foul-breathed demon from the most fiery corner of Dante’s Inferno, says “Oh, tee hee, I am not sure that what I said about your girl was correct!” and Bruce is like, “Oh, gee.” FUUUUCKED UP

On to Steven … god, Steven is boring. He hangs out with his starry-eyed roommate Billie all the time, who’s the perfect demure female, and it’s obvious they are falling in love. He confides in her about the trouble at home, including that his mom seems kind of crazy. Then he runs into this dude Bart Lloyd that he doesn’t really like. Bart graduated from SVH a year ahead of him and is now in his poly sci class, and Bart is all, “Yo, I heard your mom is in the nuthouse dude!” or something like that and Steven flips out and decides Billie must have spilled the secret. He goes off on her at dinner, and she’s just like, “You’re wrong, but I’m sorry and I’ll move out.” DON’T APOLOGIZE TO THIS ASSHOLE, BILLIE! GOD! She moves out, and Steven later finds out that it was Jessica who spilled the shit about Alice cleaning too much or whatever, like anybody is going to do anything productive about Alice’s “problems,” anyway, so the fact that someone said something about it is the least of your worries, Steven. But Steven goes to Billie’s house and gives her some flowers and she forgives him instantly for his little outburst, because that’s what good ladies do. And there’s no smooching or anything, but I guess Billie will wind up being the next dull as dirt Steven girlfriend. Oh, Billie, pro tip … if you have any friends that look like Tricia Martin, give their names to Margo now.

Lila’s mother Grace is still in town, and thankfully there’s zero mention of her shitty heavily stereotyped French “lover” Pierre. Lila and Grace are getting along swimmingly now and they tend to hang out by the pool brunching a lot. Grace shares the story of how she met and married George Fowler when she was 19 and he was 27. Grace came from old money, and George was new money, and Grace’s family didn’t really approve .There were a lot of dumb fights because of this, what with George feeling like he needed to make more money to impress Grace and her family. Finally, Grace told George she was leaving and taking Lila with her. George told her if she did, he’d make sure he used his influence or something with all the powerful people in Sweet Valley to have Grace declared an unfit mother and win full custody of Lila in the divorce proceedings. Grace left anyway, George made good on his threat, and Grace fled for Paris after losing Lila. Daaaaaayaaaaam. George is cold! Despite this, Lila decides all is good between them now and she’s going to make them love one another again. I don’t know about that Li. If I were you, I’d blow this sickeningly sweet popsicle stand and head for Paris with mom. Fuck these douchenozzles.

Saving the best for last – Margo! She is on her way to LA! She earns money on the bus by lying to a little old man about her life story and the mother who abandoned her on Christmas Eve on some church steps but continued to send the church an anonymous donation each year at Christmas in Margo’s honor and bla bla bla and the man gives her a fiver in sympathy. At a rest stop, Margo earns herself some free snacks and a magazine from a teenage boy who feels bad for Margo for having recently lost her grandmother (another story, of course). What the fuck? I want to go into a store and go “*sniff* My grandma died” and have someone just shovel magazine and food into a bag and toss it at me! Seriously, what voodoo is this girl dealing in? From LA, Margo has a ticket for a train to Sweet Valley. She goes to eat in a diner and is enjoying having all the dudes stare at her, when suddenly she spies JOSH SMITH! That’s the older brother of little Georgie, the one whose picture Margo saw and thought he was hot in The Morning After. He’s on to Margo’s whole gig, and he is PISSED. He confronts her as she’s trying to eat, and Margo creates a huge scene, yelling that a strange man is bothering her. As the other guys in the diner leap to Margo’s defense and hold Josh back, Margo makes a run for it. She does the quickest train ticket exchange I’ve ever seen in my life, swapping her ticket for San Diego in order to throw Josh off the trail in case he saw her. She makes it to Sweet Valley from San Diego and rents a room in a boardinghouse with some money she earned pawning jewelry she stole from the Valley Mall. Also in the mall, she spies Pamela, Lila, and Amy coming out of Casey’s and follows them. She overhears them talking about how Liz has gone free. Remember Margo knows all about who Liz is and wants to be her or something, so she is all excited over this. Then she eyes the girls, thinks about how she could be their friend, but then thinks about how Amy might be too gorgeous to live. First of all, now I really do feel sorry for Margo because I didn’t realize she qualified as legally blind. Second of all, if I’m supposed to feel scared for Amy, I don’t. I feel excited and hope Margo can carry out her threat successfully. Might I suggest Margo avenge Regina’s death by forcing a verifiable fuckton of cocaine up Amy’s nose? Yeah, you heard me. I WANT JUSTICE.

Oh yeah, Margo also steals a blond wig from the mall which she tries on, laughing gleefully because she looks just like Elizabeth, and now she knows she’s ready to impersonate her. Margo always wanted a twin sister …

If this book taught me anything, it’s that I want to make a hit list for Margo.

WTF? I mentally calculated Lila’s mother’s probable age and if I’m doing it right, she’s only slighter older than me and I really, really shouldn’t have done these calculations.

Bruce makes a remark about how he already got what he wanted out of Pamela like everyone else did, so I guess we are supposed to think they already slept together.

Return of minor characters from the black hole: Wendy Jones from the Kristin Thompson tennis story plays tennis with Pamela. Chad Ticknor from the Penny Ayala Secret Admirer story plays tennis with Bruce.

Elizabeth taking the bus since her license is suspended: “It felt a little funny, taking public transportation, but these days, with her driver’s license suspended indefinitely, the bus was her only option.” Are you kidding me? Oh wah, the 16-year-old had to take the bus!

This book erroneously states that Roger Patman moved to Sweet Valley after his mother died. Uh no, he lived poor in Sweet Valley, worked as a janitor, was scorned by Lila but adored by Olivia, and then his mom died and it was revealed that he was Bruce’s cousin.

Amy talks to Bruce about how everyone thinks she’s an airhead but she really isn’t, right after she provides at least two glorious misuses of the word disfavor. I bet the ghostwriter did that on purpose.

Pamela sees lonely Liz picking up takeout from “the new takeout counter” at the Dairi Burger, and considers befriending her, but Liz walks away too fast. Even after she’s killed a dude via DUI, everyone still wants to be Liz’s best bud.

I don’t get how everyone just believes that there’s no way Liz could have been voluntarily drinking (except for the prosecutor). Liz just says “I don’t drink” and they’re all like, “Oh okay. Well do you remember anything about how the accident could have happened? No? God this is shocking. I know your blood alcohol level showed you were drunk, but it’s not like you had been drinking somehow.” Seriously, “Liz is a saint who can never do any wrong” is bonafide canon for this series.

I still can’t believe that NO ONE SAW Jessica spike those damn drinks! I have to believe mysterious Big Mesa boy is going to pop back up sometime later to expose her. Actually, what I really believe is that Jessica will have to save Liz from Margo or something, and then she’ll be moved to confess and cry, and Liz will forgive her in about two sentences, because that type of ending is too easy, so it’s perfect.

The judge in the book is actually a FEMALE judge! I would want to give Sweet Valley kudos for that if they didn’t set us back a century or so with most of the other female characters in this series (and don’t do justice to the rest).

In the back of the book: There’s an ad for the “I LUV BOOKS” hotline – 1-800 I LUV BKS. Please somebody tell me you called that hotline and tell me what it said. There’s also an excerpt from Sweet Valley University #2, Love, Lies and Jessica Wakefield! In this excerpt, we learn Todd has dumped Elizabeth for not wanting to sleep with him in his crusty old dormitory bunk bed. Elizabeth and Enid have also had some kind of fight recently, and Elizabeth has only made one friend on her hall, Nina Harper. Liz’s roommate is Celine Boudreaux, a Southern girl who drapes herself over people and drawls the most stereotypical Southern things you can think of, and wishes she could work witchcraft like her grandmother. What? For fuck’s sake. Celine parties a lot and she and Liz don’t get along for obvious reasons – 1) Celine parties and 2) Celine doesn’t worship the ground Liz walks on. A big dude named Steve Hawkins keeps trying to get Celine’s attention at one party, but Celine is more interested in his friend William White. She gives him a flower, and he takes it without a word and then abruptly vanishes. William is a creepy fuck who shows up at the library all night to stare at Elizabeth instead, each and every night, because you know Elizabeth is at the library each and every night. On the same night Celine gives him the flower, William pops up beside Liz, hands her the exact same flower, and vanishes. I think I read somewhere that William turns out to be a white supremacist (William WHITE get it? Oh, these clever names!) and then he kidnaps Liz later on in the series. I mean, somebody has to kidnap Liz at least a half dozen times, or it wouldn’t be a Sweet Valley series.

Coming up next: Lila attempts to pull a “Parent Trap” on her parents; some drama with Liz and Jess will surely also ensue.

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