A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some

Archive for May, 2019

#108 Left at the Altar!

I picked up this book and thought, “What the fuck? This title obviously spoils everything.” But whatever, let’s get going with the second (and last … I think?) book in the “Sweet Valley Scandal” mini-series!

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Hahaha, I can’t get over this cover. As you can see here, Sue the bride just crop-dusted everybody with the stinky fart of the century and is smiling on, obliviously thinking that nobody can pin it on her. Unfortunately for her, it was an emission of the silent but deadly variety. It was so deadly, in fact, that Jessica’s bouquet fucking wilted and now she wants to shove it down Sue’s throat while her sister tries to hold her back. Completing the line of people giving Sue the ultimate grossed-out side-eye is Sue’s own groom, Jeremy, who not only uses too much hair gel but knows damn well from whose ass the stench is emanating. The officiant even looks like he paused to choke a little bit.

I hate the bridesmaids’ dresses. Not crazy about the bride’s gown either. And heels in the sand? Wouldn’t that shit be hard to walk in?

When we left off in our last book, Jessica had finally succeeded in (at least temporarily) tearing away the heart of Jeremy Randall, a 23-year-old man she barely knows, from his fiancee, Sue Gibbons. Sue is the eighteen-year-old surviving daughter of Alice Wakefield’s dead college roommate who Alice believes is marrying Jeremy to help her get over her grief, and that’s supposed to be something everyone approves of. That last installment ended with Jessica and Jeremy frantically making out behind the bushes at the Wakefield house during Jeremy and Sue’s engagement party, as the guests try to find them so they can start the toasts. Gee, Jeremy and Jessica missing at the same time, not suspicious at all! When this installment opens, Liz finds them and is pissed, but Jess doesn’t care because her life’s goal is to make as big an ass out of herself as possible over the biggest lunkhead men she can find. Liz  stands there lecturing these two lust-birds, and I’m reminded of that scene in SVH #3, Playing with Fire, where Liz stomps into the woods to find Jessica and Bruce rolling around in the leaves and starts acting like Jessica’s mom. Now, as Liz stands there reaming the couple out for their behavior while fixing Jessica’s dress (which is falling off of her on one side because maybe Jeremy got a little boob action), Sue pops up and is like, “Oh! Golly gee whiz! What are you all doing in here?”. Gee, I don’t know why your fiance and the hot girl that keeps making doe eyes at him vanished at the same time and were found in some bushes, Sue! Sue needs help that no one is getting her to get over the death of her mom, and Liz certainly isn’t going to speak the fuck up and help Sue realize she’s being cheated on and deserves better than to settle for this bullSHIT at age 18. No, she’s just going to spend the rest of the book trying to control her dumb ass sister.

The twins march inside for the toasts, which Alice starts before saying that now her daughters will make a toast. Jessica says loudly, “Not this daughter”, then runs upstairs bawling while everyone else wonders what’s wrong with that bitch while simultaneously not really caring. Liz slogs through the toast herself with an excuse that Jessica is drunk on the champagne or something. Then she goes outside and bitches about the situation to Steven, who basically throws his hands up and is all, eh, nothing you can do about it. STEVEN WAKEFIELD doesn’t think she should do anything about it? Who wrote this and how much research did they do on these characters? And Enid is of the same opinion. Of course, the focus of Liz’s dilemma is Jessica’s welfare; nobody gives a shit about Sue and the horrid mistake she’s about to make – marrying this fool during a time of immense grief. I hate Liz for not being honest and exposing what she’s just seen while acting like she thinks it’s so wrong for Jessica to be carrying on this affair. And of course, I reallllly hate Jessica. I swear to god, each new mini-series is just an exercise in “Which twin should readers hate the most this time?”

That night, Jessica dreams that she’s the one marrying Jeremy. Then she wakes up to the sound of Jeremy tapping on her window. She gleefully tells him she was just dreaming about him, but leaves out that it was a marriage dream because that might be “pushing things a little too much”. Yeah okay, I guess that scene last book where she threw herself at Jeremy while wearing his fiancee’s wedding gown wasn’t “a little too much”. Jeremy happily tells her he’s going to take her out on a secret date to watch the sunrise at Secca Lake, and I want to puke. Just as they pull away from embracing each other, Sue also comes outside saying she couldn’t sleep. She is very excited to see Jeremy is in the driveway and assumes he must have come to see her. She’s not surprised at all to see Jessica out there with him, wearing a skimpy sundress, because she just assumes Jessica was “out all night” with her fake boyfriend, Bruce Patman. Sue then babbles on that the three of them should go watch the sunrise together so that Jeremy can get to know Jessica better. She even remarks that Jeremy and Jessica kind of look like brother and sister. I am way more squicked out by this than Jessica is, who seems to find it hot that Jeremy “could be her twin”. Of course, I believe Jessica was the one admiring her real brother’s physique in a previous book, so I guess that wouldn’t really disturb her that much.

The sunrise drive doesn’t go well. Jessica tries to provoke Jeremy into saying something about their affair to Sue, but it’s obvious he doesn’t want to. Sue keeps pissing Jessica off by smooching on Jeremy and chirping about how she can’t wait to marry him. When Sue suggests Jessica must not be feeling well because of the champagne she drank last night (assuming it’s Jessica’s first time drinking champagne and she can’t handle it), Jessica rolls with it and asks to go back home just as they arrive at the lake because she’s still hungover. Then she has to sit through a family breakfast at the house, during which the Wakefield parents chatter on about how Sue is like a sister to the twins now, and remarks are made about Sue and Jeremy sharing a bed in the future.

Jessica chats with Lila on the phone, who only furthers Jessica’s bad mood because she’s all happy she and Robby Goodman have gotten back together. (I keep having flashbacks to Robbie October from Perfect Summer.) Jessica tries to make trouble by implying that Robby only likes Lila for her money. Lila snaps back “I realized how lucky I am that my boyfriend is available and not about to marry someone else.” She then asks Jessica if she’s going to be Jeremy’s mistress, or will she be throwing Sue under a truck like she did her wedding dress? This is why I love Lila. Jessica swears she will do whatever it takes to ensure Jeremy never marries Sue. You know, one way she could do that would be to open her fucking mouth and say something, but I guess Jessica wants to let the man handle everything.

That night, Sue and Jeremy open their engagement presents at the Wakefield house. Jeremy’s parents sent them matching koala sweatshirts from Australia … how precious. They are busy traveling and can’t make the wedding. I feel like no one that this couple actually knows can make their wedding. From the Fowlers, there are pink satin sheets, which cause Jessica to think of Sue and Jeremy rolling around on them and feel sick again. I seriously wish Jessica a lifetime of nonstop vomiting at this point. Sue also opens a big serving platter, which Sue is disappointed is “only pewter” and not silver. Jeremy tries to reassure her that pewter is the better choice for the active lifestyle they will have tramping around rainforests and I’m really confused how a serving platter of any kind fits into that shit at all. Jessica storms off into the kitchen, where Jeremy creepily follows her and tells her that after he gets back from his movie date with Sue that night, he wants Jessica to come meet his car down the block so he can take her somewhere private and fuck her. Well, that’s not exactly what he says, but it might as well be. Liz, naturally, disapproves of this plan and tries to read to Jessica from her latest self-help book as Jessica gets ready for her clandestine fuck fest. Jessica points out that Liz has no room to talk because she was the one being dishonest in London by running around behind Todd’s back with a fake werewolf. Sick burn Jess. Liz still tries to keep Jessica from meeting Jeremy by locking her in her bedroom later. Of course, it takes Jessica maybe 5 minutes max to open the lock with a bobby pin and leave. I’m so confused how Jessica’s own bedroom doors lock from the outside but not the inside. I guess they’re Liz’s doors too since their rooms connect, but what the fuck? Anyway, Jessica escapes and dashes out of the house, leaving Sue to think Jessica is meeting Bruce. As Jessica climbs into Jeremy’s car, she insists they can’t keep up with this secret stuff and Jeremy tells her he has some kind of plan. Liz is left surprised her dumb plan to keep Jessica from leaving didn’t work, because she’s stupid. There’s also some shit about a letter for Sue that Sue doesn’t seem particularly thrilled to open and I guess that’s going to be relevant later.

Back to Jessica and Jeremy. They’re on their secret date, stargazing at Miller’s Point in an open convertible, which is hilarious because doesn’t everyone come out there? Wouldn’t Jeremy worry they’d be seen together? As Jessica hangs on his every word, Jeremy does some babbling about their place in the universe, then says he realizes he never loved Sue. He gave her an internship at his company because she was crying and he felt bad for her. And then, Sue fell in love with him and asked HIM to marry her (according to Jeremy), and he went with it because he thought he’d never love again. You see, when he was 17 he was in love with a girl named Justine, but it didn’t work out and they broke up, and Jeremy figured he would never love anyone like that again! OH I HAVE THE SADS NOW! Jeremy is a giant fucking man-baby, but Jessica is all about it because now he’s saying he realizes he’s madly in love with Jessica and can’t go through with marrying Sue. He claims he’s going to tell Sue the truth the following evening after his busy day of meetings is over. (He’s been working at the California branch of their company since he’s been in town for the wedding.) Jessica is deliriously happy because this sad sack sounds like the world’s greatest prize. They start making out with the fire of a thousand suns.

Back home on Calico Drive, Liz overhears Sue crying in Steven’s room (where she’s been staying). She assumes Sue knows about J and J, but then Sue tells her that the mysterious letter that arrived the other day confirmed Sue has this rare blood disease. The doctors don’t even know what it is, but they know it’s hereditary so they tested Sue for it, since it killed Sue’s mom. (I could’ve sworn that they said in the last book that Sue’s mom died of cancer. If this wasn’t Sweet Valley, I would think I’m imagining things.) Sue’s doctors have told her (apparently in a letter) that she only has 2-3 more years to live. Sue tells Liz she’s going to break her engagement to Jeremy tomorrow, so that he can be happy living the life of his dreams and not be bogged down by her impending doom. Liz tries to talk her out of it and assure Sue that she’s sure Jeremy loves her and will want to be with her in last days, even as Liz is fully aware that her twin is likely going down on Jeremy right this very minute. It’s clear that Jessica is the only one Liz blames for Jeremy’s indiscretion.

Jessica swoops home from her date, where Liz does a womp-womp on her mood by telling her about Sue. Jessica is initially upset and ashamed – she thinks to herself that maybe her “psychic powers” made Sue sick. Then Jessica starts wondering out loud if maybe Sue is lying so that she can keep Jeremy. Liz proclaims that Jessica is “about the most evil, selfish, unfeeling person in the world.” ACCURATE. Liz yells at Jessica that Sue is planning to call off the wedding and stomps out of the room slamming the door. Jessica thinks about how this situation probably won’t be too good for HER AND JEREMY because she’s, well, what Liz said a moment ago.

Jeremy comes over to break up with Sue, but she beats him to it by telling him all about her diagnosis and trying to end the engagement. As Jessica eavesdrops in horror, Jeremy pledges never to leave her and to make her dying days happy. That night at dinner, Jeremy and Sue hold hands and gross Jessica out. When J and J finally get to talk alone, Jeremy tells Jessica that Sue needs him now and he can’t leave her. He says he and Sue have a history and starts telling Jessica that he’s too old for her anyway. He also says that Sue’s wish is that the Wakefield parents not know about her disease yet, and he asks Jessica to honor that.

Liz works on planning Sue’s bridal shower with Enid and Olivia at the Dairi Burger. Liz has the bright idea to hold a book shower. Hahaha. That honestly sounds like a great party for someone to throw for me for no reason. Just shower my ass with all the damn books. Liz says a book shower will be more practical than “stuff the bride doesn’t need” like egg slicers and lemon zesters. Uh … I love to cook, and those exact items are two things I very literally received as Christmas presents this past December! Olivia and Enid tell Liz that she’s been reading way too much and her idea is boring, and then Liz tells them that their idea of doing a kitchen supplies shower is boring. Olivia and Enid order hot fudge sundaes, but Liz says she’s not getting one because she’s trying to practice self-control and she scared herself by eating a bunch of chocolate cake the other day. She then insults Olivia and Enid by telling them not to come crying to her when their lack of self-control gives them acne and weight gain. Enid pushes her half-eaten sundae away because Liz’s prattling made her lose her appetite. Finally, the three Stooges here decide they will give Sue a hot lingerie shower. Liz is weirded out because in her head she’s seeing “dying Sue in a red teddy” and I feel bad because I’m still cackling at that part. Liz doesn’t say that stuff out loud since most people aren’t supposed to know that Sue is dying, but she does some mild protesting, and Enid tells her not to be such a prude. Uh, is this book a portal into the Twilight Zone or what because I feel like no one in this scene acted like themselves. What the fuck is happening?

Sue and Jeremy go to Lytton & Brown department store at the mall to shop for a tent for their honeymoon. I don’t even know where the fuck they are supposed to be going but I guess it’s indeed camping in a rainforest. I hope Jeremy gets eaten by piranhas. Jessica shows up to interrupt their shopping reverie, and keeps suggesting they get tents that have separate sleeping compartments and shit like that. Sue just thinks Jessica is hilarious, as opposed to the dangerous stalker she actually is. Jessica makes up some lie that there is a giant rose-shaped soup bowl on another floor of the department store that would make a perfect thank-you gift for Alice, knowing that Sue will want to drop everything to go buy it. Sue sends Jeremy off to buy some jeans because getting the bowl is “a bride’s responsibility”. Jessica claims she can’t come with Sue to find the bowl, because she has to do some shopping of her own, then, as soon as the coast is clear, throws herself into the same elevator as Jeremy, pushes the elevator stop button, and literally backs him into the corner to make him kiss her. He protests like crazy, then finally kisses her just as the doors open on another floor in front of a crowd of amused shoppers. Sadly, Sue is not among them. Oh yeah, the soup bowl was totally fictional, so Sue couldn’t find it and is all sad.

That night, the twins and Sue hang out with Alice in the living room as she reminisces about her college days with Sue’s mom Nancy. We learn that when Alice and Nancy first started rooming together freshman year, they both had huge crushes on a guy named Peter Mallard. Peter started dating Alice, but she didn’t want to hurt Nancy’s feelings so she didn’t tell her. Unbeknownst to Alice, Peter was also dating Nancy, and Nancy was avoiding telling Alice so as not to hurt HER feelings. Everyone wants to know what ultimately happened, but they’re interrupted by Ned telling them dinner is ready. Yes, Ned actually made dinner for a change (due to the “family cookoff” they’re having, or whatever). But Sue takes off with Jeremy for a pizza and a movie date. Jessica the Stalker wastes no time finding out what movie they went to – a rainforest documentary, natch! all they do is talking about fucking rainforests – and then tears out of the house to go see the same movie. Liz tags along because she is afraid of what Jessica will do. I feel like if I was Liz, I would just let this train wreck go on and crash, but it’s Liz so that’s not happening. At the theater, Jessica sits right behind Sue and Jeremy. When they start to kiss, she spills popcorn all over them. I’m waiting for Sue to scream in terror, but instead she’s all like “Oh wow! Fancy seeing you here Jessica!” Jessica clambers over the seats and forces Sue to move over so Jessica can sit between her and Jeremy, and Sue thinks nothing of this. Liz just stays in her seat dying of embarrassment. After the movie is over, Jessica insists that everybody go to Casey’s for ice cream.

Sue goes shopping for bridal flowers with Alice and Liz, and chooses a “healthy and hopeful” bouquet which makes Liz want to bawl. At breakfast the next morning, Jessica acts like a rude ass once again by refusing to eat the special French toast Sue made, even though her family is all “But you love French toast.” Sue feels bad she made something Jessica hates. Then she brightly announces she and Jeremy are going on a hike up the coast to do trail clean-up, and Jessica invites herself along, and Sue doesn’t tell her to go fuck herself, so then Liz feels she also has to invite herself to keep Jessica out of trouble. Jessica puts on a ridiculous outfit with sandals and a silk blouse for this garbage pick-up. The hike turns out to be 6 miles long, and there are two separate trails, so Sue and Jeremy take one while the twins take the other. Jessica sulks and refuses to pick up any garbage, so Liz has to do all the work, so business as usual. By the last part of the hike, Jessica is mopey and bitchy and covered in dirt. Then she fakes injuring her ankle and cries so that Liz will believe she’s hurt and run to get Jeremy to carry Jessica to the end of trail. The plan works like clockwork because everyone in these books are morons and let Jessica run the show no matter what. As soon as Jeremy arrives, by himself, to rescue Jessica, she starts kissing him. I feel like, at this point Jeremy is realizing what a mistake he made and is just going along with Jessica’s dumb schemes because he’s terrified she’s going to expose him and probably get him in legal trouble for diddling a 16-year-old. As the full group leaves for home, Jessica’s foot is magically better and nobody’s suspicious because GOD THESE PEOPLE ARE STUPID AS FUCK. In my version, Sue would confront Jessica and a wild catfight would ensue that ends with both Jessica and Jeremy flying over a cliff. Then Liz would get bitten by a poisonous snake and drop dead. Then Sue would drive off laughing maniacally, hit a few choice other people with her car, then yell “I’m the dumb ass ghost of Margo” before driving off a cliff. But that’s not what we’re going to get so let me just keep on with this hot mess. Okay, so there’s a beach barbecue that night thrown by the “happy” engaged couple and Jessica’s ankle is magically fucking healed and all so she shows up in some gorgeous dress tossing her hair around in Jeremy’s general direction. Also, shocker, Sue and Jeremy do have grown-up friends of their own, and some of them have shown up from the East Coast for the wedding. There’s the “cool, sophisticated” Sally Haskins and a hippie-ish dude named Andy Green. Jeremy talks to Sally for a long time, and Jessica gets jealous. Sue introduces Sally and Andy to Jess with a remark that it’s “adorable” that Jessica’s still in high school. Then Bruce shows up to the barbecue with his real girlfriend Pam Robertson and Sue is sad for Jessica because she hasn’t figured out that whole fucking charade yet because she’s an idiot. Jessica pretends to be sad about Bruce and Pam so that she has an excuse to run off down the beach by herself, and Sue sends Jeremy after her because, like I said, she’s an IDIOT. Liz takes off after them and makes Enid go with her, and they interrupt J and J just as they’re about to make out again. Jess is pissed and yells at Liz, who says she’s just trying to protect Liz. Jessica snaps, “Protect me from what? A werewolf?” I am fucking dying. But if Liz didn’t learn her lesson in the last story arc, there’s no way she ever will.

By the Wakefield pool the next morning, Jessica suns herself because she’s given up on that whole “London pallor” bullshit. Liz lectures her about skin cancer and wrinkles, and Jessica says “Who are you? The surgeon general? You’re the one who’s going to end up with premature wrinkles from scrunching up your face and worrying about everybody else all the time.”  Jessica refuses to help Alice, Sue, and Liz write out place cards for the wedding, which is the next day, because she claims she hurt her hand hiking. Sue tells Jessica she thinks Andy has a crush on her, so even though “he’s a little old for you” she arranged to have them sit together at the wedding reception. Sue, you must not think very much of your old pal Andy. Next, everybody gets Alice to continue her story about her and Sue’s mom Nancy both dating the same dude at college. Alice says it ended when she and Nancy were out for dinner and saw the dude, Peter, at another table with another girl, Melody. Both got upset and revealed they’d both been secretly dating Peter to try and protect each other’s feelings. To get back at Peter, Alice and Nancy put on bright red lipstick, sat in his booth and smooched all over him in front of Melody, who left the restaurant with Alice and Nan and became their new friend. There’s definitely some foreshadowing here, I think, but Jessica is dumb and thinks Jeremy is “the victim of a terrible situation” and there’s no way he’s a “cad” like Peter was. Hah. At this point I wouldn’t be too shocked if Peter turned out to be Jeremy’s dad and the douchebagginess is hereditary.

Sue’s lingerie shower is that night. Jessica sits there “sick to her stomach” watching Sue open up her naughty things while everyone makes jokes. Sue gets to Jessica’s present last and it’s three big pairs of granny panties. You know I couldn’t make this shit up. Jessica claims she just wanted to get Sue something practical while everyone cracks the fuck up and makes jokes and Sue tries to make Jessica feel better. After the shower, the girls sit out by the pool where Liz starts harshing Sue’s pre-nuptial buzz by going on and on about how sexist she finds wedding traditions that Sue is taking part in. One of the things she names is the bride’s father giving her away. Sue responds that her stepfather is able to come to the wedding after all and he’s going to give her away and she’s glad. WOMP WOMP, fuck you Liz.

That night is also Jeremy’s bachelor’s party, and Jeremy, Robby, Andy, Steven, Bruce, and Todd are all over at the mansion that poor little Robby’s been housesitting for the summer. Why the fuck is Todd there? He just got back from his grandma’s house and barely even knows these cats. Plus, he’s only 16. You really want some underage kid at your bachelor party? As it turns out, it’s a lame-o party anyway. Robby decided to just host a dinner party with his special homemade food. The guys wanted to at least go out dancing or bowling or something so they’re bored as hell. Jeremy is being a sad ballsack over his general situation so Robby takes him into the kitchen for a heart-to-heart, but Robby doesn’t offer any advice so it is about as useless as Liz at an Anti-Busybodies’ Convention. When the guys come back out of the kitchen, Steven is asleep, Todd has pulled out a book, and Andy and Bruce are playing tic-tac-toe.

Meanwhile, the girls are sure the guys are having a strippers-and-coke blow-out, so Liz, Enid, Lila, Jessica, Olivia, and Amy dress up like London bobbies (for real) and “raid” the party. (Sue and Sally obviously think that sounds like kid stuff so they decline to join in.) The bobby chicks are stunned when they can’t find any evidence of anything fun happening. Liz is in disbelief because she was eager to find girls in bikinis at the house and give the guys a lecture about how looking at girls in bikinis is sexist. The guys are relieved to see the girls because they were passing out in their salmon mousse, and they start a dance party in the house. Robby encourages Jeremy to take advantage of the situation and run off with Jessica, which Jeremy does. Real nice, Robby. I hope your salmon mousse gives everyone the shits.

Liz gets home from the bachelor party and tells Sue it was lame. She also lies to Sue that Jessica isn’t home because she and Bruce made up and went out to the Dairi Burger; meanwhile, Jessica stays out all night with Jeremy. They watch the sun come up at Secca Lake at long last.

The next day is the wedding. Sue takes her bridesmaids for manis/pedis and Jessica tries to convince her that black nail polish would be a great choice. The nail tech accidentally pokes Sue’s hand or something and Sue yells at her, shocking the twins. Then they go to the mall where Sue tries on and apparently buys a $1,000 going-away dress suit and a $700 silk dress for the honeymoon. Can y’all just come out with it and tell us that Sue Gibbons is the new Suzanne Devlin or something?

At the ceremony, Liz has to kick Jessica’s shins to make her start walking down the aisle. Jessica stands there and gives Sue a shit face as the beaming bride follows. Meanwhile, Jeremy is standing there looking miserable and Sue thinks nothing of it. Sis, put the whole man in the trash. When the priest, Father Bishop, asks if anyone knows a reason why Jeremy and Sue should not be married and that whole jam, Jessica shouts that she does. She tells the whole crowd that Jeremy doesn’t love Sue, he loves her. Poor Father Bishop is about to have a coronary. He asks Jeremy if this is true and Jeremy admits that it is, so Father Bishop declares the wedding ceremony over. Sue faints and Robby catches her. Alice is furious and about to cry, and asks Jessica how she could do this. Father Bishop takes Jeremy off down the beach for a little chat. Liz is also furious and marches Jessica away from the wedding to their Jeep. Liz thinks this is the worst thing Jessica has ever done. I don’t even need to comment.

The sub-plots: On the day before Todd gets back in town from his family trip, Liz frets about whether to tell Todd about the affair she had with Luke in London. She talks to Sue about it over chocolate mousse cake and Sue insists that there’s no room for dishonesty in a relationship. When Todd comes back, he takes Liz to the beach where they walk and talk. Just as Liz is about to tell Todd about all the fake werewolf dick she got in London, Todd suddenly tells Liz that he has a confession to make: He also had an affair. He had a fling with someone he met while he was staying at his grandmother’s over the past couple of weeks. The other girl reminded him a lot of Liz and he spent loads of time with her, then realized she was faking her interest in books and shit so that Todd would like her. He pulls that whole “I only did it ’cause I missed you” bullshit. Liz gets upset and fails to tell Todd that she, too, “met someone.” In fact, she lies and claims she only thought about Todd while in London! She demands Todd tell her the other girl’s name, but he won’t because he thinks she should get over it already and do an insta-forgive. He goes, “Liz, please try to calm down and see how silly the whole thing is.” What a condescending piece of shit. I can see why Liz was attracted to him since she, too, is a condescending piece of shit. Anyway, Liz tells him their being together is what’s silly and runs away from him. She’s right. They’ve cheated on each other numerous times before – Todd with Jessica, then Liz with Bruce, then Liz with Luke and now Todd with this random chick. I’m tempted to say Todd cheating is Liz getting her just deserts and laugh, but at this point, there’s seriously a whole chain of just deserts and I can’t remember who started it anymore. (And yes, the correct phrase is “just deserts”, not “just desserts”!) I was gonna say it was Liz with Nicholas Morrow, but even in Double Love Todd couldn’t make his fucking mind up which twin he wanted half the time. It’s like they’re all sixteen years old or something.

Not to worry, everything is resolved at Jeremy’s fucking bachelor party. First Todd has a heart-to-heart with Steven who’s all like, “Oh don’t worry, I only ran around on Cara with girls who looked just like my dead ex-girlfriend a couple of times. Just help Liz deal.” Okay, that’s not exactly what he said but he may as well have. Then when the girls crash the party, Steven convinces Liz to dance with Todd. She does, and then confesses that she, too, cheated and Liz and Todd kiss and make up and agree it was normal for them to have these flings, or something. I don’t even give a fuck.

The other sub-plot is about Lila and Robby. After Jessica plants the seed in Lila’s mind that Robby only cares about her money, Lila starts worrying. The couple eats at La Maison Blanche, Lila’s treat, and Lila is taken aback when Robby orders not only a chef’s salad, but a filet mignon as well. (The filet mignon is described as being $20 which has gotta be pocket change for Lila.) Lila gets even more suspicious when Robby cheerfully admits he has no plans to try and sell his art and seems happy to be a starving artist forever. She decides to test him by tricking him into thinking she is also poor. She lies and tells him she is an orphan that the Fowlers took into their home as a young companion to their real daughter, Venice. She tells him a whole Cinderella-style sob story about how she was made to clean up after Venice starting at age 8, was always treated second best to Venice, and ended up taking the blame for a lot of Venice’s bad behavior. Now Venice is away at boarding school while Lila continues to live with Venice’s parents. She says she’s been paying for their dates with the few hundred dollars she managed to squirrel away. Haha! Robby buys her story and tells her what a strong and beautiful woman she is. Lila is disappointed that she may have just made all this shit up for no reason, and is now fearful that Robby likes her more because he thinks she’s such a strong woman for being lifelong servant to the fictional Venice. If this story line didn’t involve Lila, it would be totally boring. And you know, I’m pretty sure Lila dated some other dude who was broke before but I can’t put my finger on it. (Maybe I am thinking of Evan from Lila’s Story, who was always borrowing her money for his drag races.)

Lila keeps up her bullshit for no apparent reason and I’m annoyed they have Lila Fowler acting this way over a dude. She lies and tells Robby she loves poetry, and then she lies and tells him she loves to cook. He’s all excited and has her come over to cook brunch for him the day of the wedding. She tries to make waffles but they come out totally inedible. Robby tries to act like they’re good, but then winds up running off to spit them out in the trash. Instead of owning up to everything, which would be more than a good idea at this point, Lila claims she has no idea why the waffles came out so badly. Robby thinks it’s because she tried a new recipe because he’s a dumbass and says he can’t wait for them to have fun cooking together. This BS drags on for a bit, then finally, on the day of Sue and Jeremy’s wedding, Lila admits to him that she’s the richest girl in town, by showing him her massive closet. Robby couldn’t care less and tells her he loves her no matter what. He says he only ordered filet mignon at La Maison Blanche because he wanted to impress her with his good taste. What? They make out in the closet.

Oh, and Lila wears an ivory dress to the wedding. Hello, FAUX PAS!

Other stuff: Liz’s latest self-help books: First, we have Love: Addiction and Obsession and How to Overcome It. What is the “it” in the title referring to: addiction or obsession? Anyway, this book convinces Liz that Jessica has a “love addiction”. I don’t disagree but I think it’s more like Jessica is addicted to loving herself. After Liz dumps Todd for cheating on her, she reads Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ten Steps to Surviving Your Breakup. Finally, Liz reads Women as Seen Through the Eyes of Male Society and gets all fired up about the patriarchy. What’s especially weird to me is that Enid and Olivia act like she’s ridiculous for reading these books, but in the very last SVH book, they were ALL reading these types of books and gathering together to discuss them! Not only that, but Olivia at least is hardly the type of person to treat Liz like she’s weird for caring about sexism. It only makes sense to me when Liz is trying to piss all over somebody’s wedding joy, which by the way, further shows what a hypocrite Liz is. She won’t let Jess piss all over Sue’s wedding joy by telling the goddamn truth, but she sees nothing wrong with bitching about the evil of weddings to someone on the night of her freaking wedding!!!!

Jeremy is described as having “enormous coffee eyes.”

Jessica wants to learn about rain forests just because Jeremy cares about them (and conservation issues in general). She thinks to herself that maybe they’ll go on adventures to the Amazon “or wherever rain forests are.” Haha, maybe she can give Jeremy one of the “Save the Rain Forest” buttons she had made for the Jungle Prom Queen crown back in A Night to Remember. 

Throwback to earlier books: Jessica thinks about how she hates being called “cute” or “adorable”, yet one of the opening lines in the very first SVH book, Double Love, called her “adorable.” She also gets irked when Sue calls her by her nickname, Jessie, because Jessica doesn’t like for anyone but Liz to call her that. But “Jessie” was something she went by quite a bit in the earliest SVH books.

The Wakefield family does some kind of cook-off where each family member makes a favorite recipe each night of the week. This all started because Ned makes his “famous” blueberry waffles for breakfast. Here’s what each person makes: Liz – peach cobbler,  Sue – blueberry pie, Ned – his “famous chili” made with a secret recipe, Sue – French toast. Steven jokes he’s just going to nuke some frozen shit, and needless to say Jessica doesn’t make shit.

Jessica decides to wear less makeup because she thinks a guy like Jeremy likes the “natural look.”

One thing I recently found out is that Ingenue magazine, which the twins have been reading a looooong time, was a real magazine. Its last issue came out in the 1970s, so I guess Francine decided to just bring it back to life again. When I looked it up, I fell into a rabbit hole reading about some scandal with a sexually explicit article about heavy petting published at the end of its original run!

Coming up next: The book tells us that “Jeremy is back” (oh goody) in another “new” 3-part mini-series, which the book claims is also called “Sweet Valley Scandal” even though that’s also the name of the mini-series we just finished. I think even the publisher was getting bored at this point. Before those next books were released, however, Bantam put out the first of the two “Secret Diaries” books where we get to hear the innermost thoughts of the twins. I’ve been really excited to read those, so I guess that’s where we will head next!

#107 Jessica’s Secret Love

HEY EVERYONE! Jessica Wakefield is TOTALLY EFFING BATSHIT CRAZY!

Now that I have your attention by just all-caps repeating what we already knew, it’s time for the next great Sweet Valley mini-series … *drumroll* … Sweet Valley Scandal! As the back of this book tells us, “Sweet Valley has never been so shocked!” I very much doubt that! This mini-series is mercifully only 2 books long, which is good because I’m still feeling like nothing’s going to top that silly-ass werewolf bullshit.

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This is some Fatal Attraction-style bullshit!

Our story opens after the twins have flown home from London. It’s still summertime, and they’re on the beach babbling about their wolf-man adventures with Lila and Enid. Since Jessica doesn’t really want to hang out with freakin’ Enid, she convinces Lila to go jogging on the beach with her so they can gossip. The girls are talking about how they need some new guys because it’s been a whole two days since Jessica was dating anyone, when just then! An errant Frisbee hits Jess in the head and knocks her ass over. Two hot men run over to apologize. The one who threw the Frisbee at Jessica introduces himself as Robby Goodman and offers to buy her a soda, which Jessica turns down. So he goes off with Lila (more about that later), and the older one takes one look at Jess, and they fall head over heels in love at first sight. No, seriously, that’s what we’re supposed to believe happens. They barely said one word to each other. They kiss, but then he flips out and says they can’t be doing this and runs away. Jessica goes back to Liz and Enid and cries she’s met the first man she ever loved since Sam. For fuck’s sake, it was quite literally the last book in which she told Liz the same thing about Robert Pembroke! Now she’s all, “Oh, Robert and I knew it would never last.” Haha, okay, that’s not what you were thinking while imagining yourself becoming Lady Pembroke, Jessica!

Back at the Wakefield house, the days go by and Jessica continues to obsess over her stupid mystery man whose name she doesn’t even know. But Alice Wakefield has some news. You see, apparently Alice’s college roommate, Nancy Marest Gibbons, passed away 3 months ago, devastating Alice. Now Nancy’s daughter, Sue Gibbons, is engaged to be married and she’s contacted Alice about having a California beach wedding or something. So Alice wants to invite Sue to live with them for the next month or so and plan the perfect Sweet Valley wedding, because in this world all weddings take only about a month tops to plan (and if you’re in London, it’s only a couple of days!). The twins think that sounds great and are eager to play wedding planner (again!). Liz even remarks on how of course she can help because she helped plan Mona Whitman’s wedding. So, Sue flies in from New York and moves into Steven’s room, because Steven is away at school. I guess he’s doing summer school. Now that he’s got Billie, maybe he actually doesn’t want to come home every weekend.

We learn that Sue’s only eighteen and her fiance, Jeremy Randall, is 23. Apparently Sue is taking a gap year between high school and college to work an internship in NYC at a conservation group called Project Nature, and that’s how she and Jeremy met. They worked a lot together and got close, so now they’ve decided they may as well tie the knot. Gee, how romantic. When the twins wonder why someone would want to get married so young, Alice does some babbling about how Sue is grieving her mother’s death and so getting married and having kids of her own is probably going to help her get over it. WTF? Anybody ever hear of grief counseling in this damn series? (No, unless the counseling is provided by teenagers at Project Youth) When Sue talks about being engaged, she hints at the twins that they had to get married before they ended up getting “in trouble.” If you’ve seen Dirty Dancing, you know she means “knocked up.” Jessica is jealous that Sue is only 18 and already planning a wedding. I’m having such a hard time buying that Jessica would act like this normally. I guess we could say it’s because she’s still suffering over Sam, but she’s had plenty of flighty adventures since then.

Sue is obnoxiously sweet and, of course, loves everything about Sweet Valley and the twins. However, I feel like we’re supposed to pick up on some kind of hint that Sue isn’t what she seems. Several such “hints” are dropped when the twins show Sue the Sweet Valley Mall and start talking about shopping for the wedding. First of all, Sue is delighted that they can just drive everywhere, which is so un-environmentally friendly for someone working for a conservation org. Then the girls discuss where Sue should register for wedding gifts. As Jessica and Liz are arguing whether Sue will want practical gifts or expensive gifts like china, crystal, and silver – in front of Sue, like she’s not there! – Sue shocks both of them by saying she wants the expensive stuff and Jeremy can have the practical stuff and that she can’t wait to “make out like a bandit.” When they discuss where the couple should go for their honeymoon, Jessica says Paris would be romantic, and Sue agrees. Then Liz barks at Jess – again, in front of Sue, like Sue’s not there – that because Jeremy and Sue work for a conservation non-profit, she’s sure they would rather go somewhere that they can work, like Costa Rica, even though Sue LITERALLY JUST SAID she loves the idea of Paris! Sue meekly agrees that maybe Liz is right. You know, because people who work for non-profits are supposed to be complete martyrs and ignore self-care in favor of working every chance they get. Shut the fuck up, Liz! This is one of many hints that we receive that Sue has no real sense of self. Either that, or she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Since it’s Sweet Valley, I really have no idea which one it is. Or, you know, she could just be a typical 18-year-old. I know some people mature fast at 18, but I also know we’re not about to find any real-to-life examples of such folks in a Sweet Valley High book.

As the last stop on their mall sojourn, the twins head to the jewelry counter so Sue can look at engagement rings. It seems Jeremy didn’t have time to get her one yet, so Liz wants to see what Sue likes so she can make a mental note to tell Jeremy later. The three girls decide to have some fun by each picking out the engagement ring they would want and showing it to the others. Liz picks a pearl ring, Jessica picks a sapphire ring, and Sue picks a giant diamond solitaire. Of course, there’s a lot of talk about how ostentatious this ring is and more utter shock on the part of Liz at how Sue seems to have expensive tastes. Liz is just dying to find things to look down her nose at people for, without actually offering any real assistance, like talking about a budget. Later on, Sue tells Liz that her father was never able to give her mother a proper ring, so that’s why the ring is so important to her. Now Liz feels (mildly) ashamed.

Jeremy flies into town from New York and comes over to the Wakefield house to have dinner … and surprise, Jeremy Randall is the same guy that Jess kissed on the beach. Jessica is shocked out of her gourd as Sue screams with glee at the sight of him and throws herself into his arms. Jessica runs off to the bathroom to throw water on her face and have a minor breakdown. At the dinner table, she has to listen to them excitedly talk about wedding plans, of course, egged on by everyone else. It seems Sue wanted to get married at a big cathedral in town or something, but Jeremy wants to do a beach wedding so that’s what they’re doing. After dinner, the couple leave to go make out at the beach (that’s basically what they tell everyone they’re doing), and Jessica breaks down and tearfully tells Liz that Jeremy is the guy who kissed her. Liz says maybe Jeremy was just sowing one last wild oat and is moving on now and that Jess should too. She also blames Sue for the incident: “If Sue were really strong within herself, maybe Jeremy wouldn’t be attracted to other women.” She’s on some dumb kick about self-empowerment for women, and I guess self-empowerment for women means blaming yourself when your partner can’t stay faithful to you. Liz then starts preaching about Jessica being attracted to men who are already taken because Jessica is also not “strong within herself”. So Jessica throws Liz’s bullshit right back in her face by reminding her of how she went after Bruce Patman even though he was dating Pamela. Liz starts making stupid excuses about how that was DIFFERENT. Hahahaha, hypocrite Liz is not strong within herself. (Wait till we get to the sub-plot!)

Jessica can’t get over this dude to whom she’s barely spoken two whole sentences, so she launches a plan to steal him from Sue. The morning after the dinner, Jessica wakes up to find a note on the kitchen table from Liz, who says she’s taken Sue to the “Fern Street Bookshop” to buy a wedding planner, and she’ll be back later to pick her up and then go get Jeremy. But when Jeremy calls, Jessica lies and says that Liz is going to meet them at the mall so they can show him the ring Sue liked and tells him to come over so she can take him there. On the way to the mall, Jeremy tries to talk to her about their kiss on the beach, but Jessica plays dumb. When they get to the jewelry store, she has Jeremy guess which ring Sue wanted and he chooses the one Jessica liked. The saleslady, assuming Jessica is Jeremy’s fiancee, then has Jessica try it on. Awkward! I like the way there wasn’t a salesperson to be found when the three girls were in there earlier. Jessica shows Jeremy the ring Sue really chose and he buys it, with his “eyes widening at the price.”  Jessica then admits that she lied to Jeremy about Liz meeting them, because she wanted them to be alone together. Oh yeah, they also run into Bruce Patman and Jessica tells him to get lost.

Back at the Wakefield homestead, Sue mentions that she and Jeremy are going to eat dinner at the Carousel restaurant that night, so Jessica quickly starts calling up random guys to take her there so she can attempt to make Jeremy jealous. Aaron, A.J., and Winston all turn her down, but she manages to convince Bruce Patman of all people, even though he mentions he’s got to be careful because he nearly lost Pamela after he was running around with the other Wakefield. (And even though Jessica was just super rude to him in front of Jeremy at the mall.) Bruce tells Jessica she’ll have to pay for the dinner herself even though he’s filthy rich. For the date, Jessica borrows Liz’s aquamarine silk sheath with a matching bolero jacket with “white piping.” That’s a uh, interesting picture. At the restaurant, Bruce pisses Jessica off by ordering all sorts of expensive shit off the menu. They argue at the table while simultaneously trying to fake looking romantic because Sue and Jeremy are watching them (with great interest, since Jessica was just rude to Bruce at the mall earlier). It’s actually pretty funny. When Jessica realizes Jeremy is about to present Sue with the engagement ring over at their table, she runs over to interrupt them. Sue invites them to sit down and have dessert with them, and Jeremy starts getting pissy at Bruce and making dumb threats about how he’d better treat Jessica right. Jessica loves it, of course. Jeremy and Bruce act like they’re about to come to blows, so Jessica and Bruce leave without ordering dessert and it’s not even clear Jessica paid for their meal. Sue doesn’t seem super disturbed by the fact her fiance was about to punch out some guy he just met.

Jessica finishes the night off by giving Bruce a kiss on the mouth for no apparent reason. I guess she either forgot nosy Caroline Pearce lives in her neighborhood, or she thought it would be cool if Pamela had another Wakefield-twin related reason to dump Bruce again.

The next morning at breakfast, Sue gleefully shows off her engagement ring while Jessica searches for some cereal that “isn’t good for you” to get over her pain. Haha! A couple days previous, she was eating “medicinal ice cream”. Isn’t this the type of eating that Liz and Jess were always looking down their noses at Robin Wilson and Lois Waller for doing? Liz and Jess then take Sue out shopping for bridal gowns. They end up at a shop called Bridal Glory where Jess tries to push the ugliest dresses she can find on Sue, while Liz gives Jess the evil eye. Sue finally finds a great dress that looks good on her. She also exposes that Jessica was with Bruce at the restaurant last night by trying to gossip about it with the twins. Liz figures out what Jessica was up to and is pissed as hell that Jess was obviously trying to mess shit up – especially because Sue just asked both twins to be her bridesmaids, because of course she did!

Liz takes Sue to look at possible beaches for the wedding site, where Sue frets about what will happen if it rains on her wedding day, and mentions maybe the cathedral wedding she wanted with the country club reception would be better. Liz encourages Sue to do what she wants, but then Sue relents and reiterates that she wants whatever type of wedding Jeremy wants. OK, I’m confused.  So Sue voices that she wants more expensive options for the ring, the honeymoon, the registry, etc. and Liz looks down on her for that and pushes more economical options, but then when Sue starts talking about wanting a wedding that’s probably going to cost more, Liz is all about how Sue should do what she wants. What? I like how Liz is mad that Jess is trying to interfere with the wedding and can’t just mind her own business, while Liz herself has her own special brand of interference. Although, I gotta say, apparently Jeremy is paying for everything. What kind of non-profit does this man work at?

Meanwhile, Jessica gets a manicure and then comes home to take a swim, which is interrupted by Alice Wakefield and Jeremy. Alice is fretting because she was supposed to take Jeremy to the caterers to meet Sue and Liz for an appointment, but now she has to go do some other shit and needs Jessica to take him. Jess is only too happy. Jeremy drives, and she “accidentally” directs him to Miller’s Point instead. Jeremy is a moron and/or a total cad, so he, a full-grown man, starts wheedling at this 16-year-old girl about how he can’t stand the way she looks at him, then starts kissing her, while babbling about how he’s supposed to marry Sue. I guess we’re supposed to see Jessica as the femme fatale here, but Jeremy is no better. Jessica starts playing hard-to-get again and directs him to leave and gets them to the caterers, late of course. Liz gives Jessica the side-eye because she knows there’s no way Jessica was really “lost”. Liz and Jess listen to Sue and Jeremy argue about what to serve at the wedding. Sue wants lobster, but she also wants champagne, and Jeremy says their budget can’t cover both. He suggests they have chicken if champagne is important to Sue, even though she’s not of age to drink (as he points out, most guests won’t be). Haha, I don’t think anyone really monitors your age at a wedding. Sue finally agrees that chicken and champagne makes sense, and they seem happy.

After the catering meeting, the gang goes to the Dairi Burger where they sit with Robby and Lila, and Jeremy salivates over Jessica licking strawberry milkshake off of her mouth. Then everyone sees Bruce come in with Pamela which raises the ire of Jeremy and Sue since they still think Bruce is Jessica’s steady man. Jessica tries to keep Jeremy and Sue from calling Bruce over to their table, and claims Bruce and Pam are just friends, but then Bruce kisses Pammy. Sue and Jeremy are upset & Jeremy wants to go over and punch Bruce in the face or something because he has some kind of anger management problem. He makes a big deal out of how Jessica doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. Jessica snaps at him and makes a dramatic statement that she does in fact deserve to be loved by someone who loves her and her alone, but that Jeremy is hardly the person to teach Bruce that lesson. Sue looks on with bewilderment, totally confused but ultimately suspecting nothing. EARTH TO SUE. YOU ARE NOT “STRONG WITHIN YOURSELF.”

The next day, Sue takes Liz and Jess bridesmaids’ dress shopping. I should note that Sue does have girl friends flying in from NYC for the wedding, but she’d still rather have the twins stand up for her. She also wastes no time talking about how the twins’ coloring means they’ll end up looking good in anything. It wouldn’t be an SVH book without some kind of reminder that the twins look perfect. Sue picks peach bridesmaids’ dresses, which Jessica starts to insult, until Liz takes her aside and gives her a talking-to. She threatens Jessica by saying if she doesn’t start behaving, Liz will convince Sue that she and Jeremy should elope, and I guess it goes without saying that Sue will be convinced. Oh my god, there’s so much wrong with this fucking story. Run, Sue, run.

Liz’s threats scare Jessica, so she agrees to get the peach bridesmaid’s dress. The ladies then pick up Sue’s dress along with a heap of other accessories. As they walk back to the Jeep, Sue makes a remark about hoping Jeremy likes her bridal underthings, reminding Jessica that newlyweds do often have sex on the wedding night. Jessica flips the fuck out and reacts by deliberately TOSSING SUE’S WEDDING DRESS RIGHT IN THE PATH OF A PICK-UP TRUCK, AND WATCHING IT GET RUN OVER. Oh my GOD. Jessica needs HELP. Sue flips out screaming while Jessica pretends it was an accident, that her arms just magically sprung outward and flung a dress for no real reason. Back home, Alice determines the dress is actually not ruined, just really dirty. Yeah, okay. Alice makes Jessica pay to have the dress dry-cleaned herself, and Jessica pouts because she’s already broke from buying Bruce dinner. But if you think Jessica has hit rock bottom … oh wait, it gets worse!

Sue and Jeremy go to the mall to register for wedding gifts. Recounting this trip to the twins and Alice later, Sue later gets upset because Jeremy thought the china pattern she picked out was “tacky” and he didn’t want any crystal on the registry at all. She starts bawling over it, and Alice reassures her it’s “cold feet.” Alice, Sue, and Liz then leave the house to go run wedding errands while Jessica makes excuses to stay at home. Jeremy is supposed to call later when he’s able to meet up with the others, and Jessica promises to direct him to meet the others when he calls, and once again no one but Liz is suspicious of Jessica’s shit. So Jeremy calls and Jessica tells him to come on over because the others will be back soon. Jeremy is all like “Huh that’s not what Sue said earlier, but I’m sure this isn’t suspicious at all, either that or I just really want to hop in Jessica’s pants.” He shows up with his tux because he wanted to try it on and see how it looks with Sue’s dress – is that really necessary? Jess has him try it on, claiming that this way Sue can see it as soon as she gets back to the house. Jessica then runs upstairs and puts on Sue’s bridal outfit – headpiece, dress, everything – and comes downstairs in it! OH MY GOD THIS IS SOME STALKER BULLSHIT. She then throws herself at Jeremy telling him she knows he loves her and starts kissing him. When he seems less than enthusiastic, she starts bawling hysterically. They end up having a heartfelt talk on the couch and snuggling in Sue’s fucking wedding dress while Jeremy admits he does love Jessica but insists he’s got to marry Sue and begs Jessica to forget him. Jessica reluctantly goes upstairs and tries to get the dress off before the others come back, but the zipper is stuck because, get this, the dress is too small for her! Too small for a Wakefield? Never in a million years did I think these books would actually admit that someone is more petite than a Wakefield twin. Ultimately, Liz has to help Jessica out of the dress, and the zipper sticks and tears so now Liz has to mend it for her pathetic ass sister. It’s times like these that I can either totally see why I’m still doing this SVH series project, or don’t understand why I’m doing it at all!

To help Jessica get over Jeremy, Liz goes to the library, finds a research paper that Jeremy and Sue worked on together, photocopies it, then comes home and shoves the photocopied papers in her sister’s face. She tells Jessica that while Jeremy may not be that crazy about Sue, they obviously have a great deal in common! Yes, that’s a great reason to MARRY SOMEBODY. I HATE YOU LIZ. Somebody PLEASE tell Sue about her damn fiance already!

The Wakefields host an engagement party for Sue and Jeremy at their house, and Jessica puts on some dress that’s supposed to make her look super hot. It’s the one that’s on the cover … not impressed. At the party, Jessica dances with Bruce while Winston dances with Pam, and Jeremy gets jealous. Then Sue stupidly suggests that Jessica should dance with Jeremy. Sue, please make like Sherlock Holmes and get a clue. As they dance, Jeremy tells Jessica how jealous he is of Bruce, and Jessica finally admits they aren’t really dating. Jeremy then moans that he wants to be alone with Jess, so she takes him to some tall hedge on the Wakefield property that we’re just now hearing about. They make out while listening to the partygoers run around trying to find Jeremy for some toast they’re about to have for Sue and Jeremy. Nice!

The sub-plots: There are two. In the first one, Lila gets involved with Jeremy’s friend Robby Goodman (the one who threw the Frisbee at Jessica). He’s 20 and an artist, and supposedly super wealthy. He’s staying at his parents’ mansion for the summer and driving their Lambo … or so he says. Lila and Robby fall in love, but then Lila learns he’s not at all wealthy; in fact he’s really struggling financially as an artist, trying to put himself through school, and just house-sitting for some rich family, or something like that. Lila can’t stand the thought of dating someone who’s not rich, so she dumps Robby. I think she should be more concerned that he lied to her and only revealed the truth once she loved him. Not to worry, Jessica helps get them back together at the engagement party. How nice of her, I guess?

The second sub-plot is hysterical, and so appropriate for Liz. Due to Sweet Valley’s continuous efforts to show that people really do suffer following traumatic events, Liz is having difficulty getting over the fact that she cheated on Todd with a guy who turned out to be a serial killer. (Todd, by the way, is presently away for two weeks visiting his grandma.) Of course, they gloss over the whole “cheated on” part. To try to understand why she trusted a guy who believes in werewolves, Liz starts reading self-help books, and goes on a “self-realization” trip. She starts quoting the books at Jessica extensively, and encouraging her and Sue to get in touch with their “primal woman.” She invites Sue to a special gathering: “Some of my friends and I are going to get together for a girls-only evening to explore our relationships – not only with one another, but with our boyfriends, too.” When I first read that line I thought Liz was hosting an orgy, but the girls are actually just getting together to read from their self-empowerment books and encourage each other, or something. You know how Liz loves to lecture people, so this shit starts getting old real quick. Liz makes Jess so mad at one point that Jess snatches her book away and throws it down the staircase, accidentally (sure!) hitting Sue in the head.

The most hilarious scene occurs when, hoping to help Jessica get over Jeremy, Liz invites drags her to a “primal woman” session held at the local rec center, based off of the book Primal Woman, Woman of Strength. I think maybe they’re doing a parody of the Susan Powter book that was so popular around this time, but I’m really not sure. The Primal Woman session leader has everyone sit in a circle on the floor around a hibachi, which is supposed to represent an ancient fire circle, and everyone receives a fake animal fur to put on. The leader tells them they need to choose new names for themselves to take back their power from the patriarchy. The idea is that your last name, one way or the other, comes from a man’s last name, since last names are traditionally passed down from father to daughter, and never mother to daughter (or not in this group anyway). And so now you’re supposed to take back the power by picking your own name. The session leader calls on Jessica, who says she wants to be known as just “Jessica” a la Cher, Madonna, or Sade, and the session leader has some kind of problem with Jessica just dropping her last name, EVEN THOUGH THAT MATCHES THE WHOLE LINE OF THOUGHT THAT WAS JUST PRESENTED TO EVERYONE. OH MY GOD I’M SO CONFUSED. Liz, meanwhile, declares that her new name is Runs-with-the-Wind. Hahaha, I was about to Run-to-the-Toilet to pee myself laughing the first time I read that shit. Oh my lord, if Liz starts making people call her that in real life … please let this happen in the next book, or don’t, I don’t know if my wine budget (and bladder) are big enough to get me through this shit. The other ladies choose names like Shakara, Lion-Woman, Fire-Maker, Flower-in-the-Sun, and Kolanda and it feels like everyone is just doing some kind of weird pseudo-cultural appropriation. Finally, the session lady encourages everyone to stand up one by one, and unleash their best primal woman scream. When she calls on “Runs-with-the-Wind”, Liz ends up doing a super loud, long, ear piercing scream and I want to plug my ears just thinking about it. Seriously, she can run-to-the-garbage with that bullshit. Jessica renames her “Hurricane-Lungs”.

Sue later says she wishes she could have gone to the primal woman session, because it sounds “so interesting” and yeah, she’s definitely not sorry she couldn’t go. Later on, Enid and Liz lament that they might have to move one of their own “sessions” to accommodate hosting a surprise bridal shower for Sue, and I’m getting worried they might decide to combine the two and gift Sue with nothing but fake animal furs, primal woman books, and a hibachi.

So yeah, now we know what “female empowerment” Liz looks like and it’s utterly useless when it comes to truly helping women. Just stick my finger into an outlet and call me shocked. Oh yeah, and at one point Liz talks to Todd on the phone and tells him she’s been hanging out with her girlfriends and talking about female empowerment, and he gets THREATENED. He says she should be able to share all her problems with him alone, and not with her girlfriends, and tells her that if he wanted to talk to his guy friends about problems and not her, she’d call him sexist. Liz, just throw the whole man away.

On the cover: I had to read the book to understand who’s who. At first I thought that was Jessica plastering herself against the glass to glare at Sue and Jeremy making out, or maybe Sue glaring at Jessica and Jeremy. Nope! Based on the outfits and the hair, it’s Jessica and Jeremy kissing at the engagement party, while fuckin’ Liz is glaring at them through the glass and looks like she’s either plotting to strangle them with that string of lanterns, or maybe do a primal woman scream at them. But in the book itself, Liz doesn’t see them kissing (unless that’s going to be revealed in the next book) because they’re in a damn hedge, not out in the open on the patio!

Other stuff: The Beach Disco now seems to be called the Beach Cafe, or maybe those are two different things.

At the start of the book, Jessica is now big into using sunscreen because she likes the pale look she attained in London.

Lila calls Todd a “drip” and says that Liz’s problem is she’s been dating him for way too long. NAILED IT.

Bruce refers to Pamela as “the only sane girl I’ve ever dated.” Damn, he just slammed everyone on the planet, including his sweet dead girlfriend Regina, whom he totally fucked over. I’M STILL PISSED.

Books that Liz, Enid, Penny, and Cheryl consult to learn how to become empowered women include:

  • Real Women, Bad Men
  • Primal Woman, Woman of Strength
  • Attracting the Love You Want 
  • An unspecified book about African-American women’s issues.

The books with titles all seem to be fictional, which I wanted to check since the series  recently featured a real astrology book. The third book is probably based on the real-life book Getting the Love You Want.

When Jeremy and Sue argue at the caterer’s, the caterer tries to mediate by saying “Children, children.”

There’s a scene where Sue tells the Wakefields that Jeremy is helping Robby change the oil in a car, “or some manly thing like that.” I like how empowered woman Liz says nothing in return.

In one of the scenes where Jessica gets Jeremy to come to the Wakefield house while Jessica is there alone, she considers being out front soaping up the Jeep and dripping wet when he arrives.

We learn that the Carousel is Jessica’s favorite restaurant, despite the fact it’s so freakin’ expensive. I guess she never had to pay her own way there before.

In one of my favorite scenes in the whole book, Lila and Robby show up at the Carousel for dinner and unexpectedly run into Jessica and Bruce as they’re there trying to show off for Jeremy and Sue. Lila expresses shock at seeing the two of them together and remarks that if Bruce were there with Liz, she’d understand. OW, I felt the heat from that burn.

We also learn that Lila Fowler hates jogging which doesn’t surprise me at all.

Sue seems to have chosen Moon Beach as the wedding site. Moon Beach is the same one featured prominently in The New Elizabeth.

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: “Oh, shut up. You know I get plenty of exercise. I must have gone around the entire mall twice yesterday, looking for a new pair of sandals.”

Coming up next: We find out if this story ends with Jessica bringing a knife to Sue and Jeremy’s nuptials!

Fun fact: I marked my place in this book with a bookmark I’d saved from the copy of 1994 Hotscopes Leo I purchased at Waldenbooks 25 years ago, which would’ve been several months before this SVH book came out. Anyone remember the Hotscopes books? They had daily horoscopes for teens. I don’t have my copy anymore unless it’s hiding somewhere!

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