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

Archive for February, 2020

#113 The Pom-Pom Wars

Welcome to the second entry in the Sweet Valley Cheerleading Madness mini-series. So far, this storyline isn’t as bad as I was expecting, fun at times even, but make no mistake – it’s not great. After that stupid Jeremy/Sue finale I’ll take almost anything different. Also, there are a lot of typos and continuity errors in this one so you might wanna grab your popcorn before you read this post because you know I’m going to over-analyze each one.

Let’s get a quick glance at the cover. I’m going to talk about who I think all these cheerleaders are after we get through our story recap because otherwise, I’m going to spoil shit early (if anyone cares, lol).

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Let me start off the plot by saying, again, that the continuity is abysmal in this one. In a series that occasionally re-introduces characters who “moved away” eons ago, this should not be surprising, but lord have mercy, what the fuck is going on? A brief recap of the end of the last book: Jessica quit the cheerleading squad and stormed off the football field at the Saturday night game after new co-captain Heather Mallone and the other cheerleaders debuted a brand new cheer they must have been practicing behind J’s back, because she’d never seen it before and couldn’t join in. Ken later came by to take a despondent Jess out for ice cream and tried to convince her to come to Lila’s post-game party, but Jessica refused. Then Jessica took advantage of Liz’s absence (b/c Liz did go to the party, even though she’s always talking about how she doesn’t like Lila) to go home and read Liz’s diary about her and Ken gettin’ it on back in the day.

So in this book, the story starts out on that same night, only this time the party is an “impromptu” party at Winston’s, not a planned one at Lila’s, and Ken is at the party acting like he hasn’t seen Jessica and doesn’t know if she’s coming to the party or not. He comes up to Liz to ask her if she was able to convince Jessica to come over, even though in the last book Liz went straight to Lila’s party after the game. Liz is hanging around by the snack table bitching about Heather with everyone, and when Ken tries to talk to her she gets all flustered at the mere sight of him and has to hang on to her tortilla chips for dear life. The book just started and I’m already wishing she would drown herself in the salsa bowl.

Also on the “We Hate Heather” team at the party: Todd, Enid (she lives!), and former cheerleaders Maria Santelli and Sandy Bacon, who you’ll recall Heather recently kicked off the squad. Maria and Sandy are bitching about the horrible diet Heather made them do before they were let go, which doesn’t make any sense because Heather didn’t introduce that shit until AFTER she kicked them off the squad.

In other fun continuity news, Heather’s squad is now just 4 cheerleaders: herself, Annie Whitman, Amy Sutton, and Jean West. The ghostwriters realized Helen Bradley shouldn’t have just mysteriously reappeared in the first book in the mini-series when she moved away several dozen books ago, so for the second book, she’s re-disappeared without a word of explanation. My assumption is that Heather killed her off. Now we’re supposed to think a 4-person team can make it all the way to nationals and win. Like I said last post, I know very little about cheerleading, but I’m pretty sure you have to have more people than four to do the types of stunts and moves that will get you a championship. I will from time to time come across a major cheerleading competition on TV, and the squads usually have loads of people (men and women, actually) and are doing all kinds of crazy formations and jump combos that you can’t do with just four people. Whatever!

Ken suddenly gets a great idea and leaves Winston’s party to talk to Jess about it. He encourages her to form her own separate cheerleading squad so she can keep doing what she loves. (Jessica, by the way, doesn’t let on that she now knows all about his past relationship with Liz.) Jess decides that’s a great idea; when she shares it with the fam at breakfast the next morning (including big brother Steven – he’s finally home again for a weekend from college, unfortunately), her parents love the idea. Steven rags on her, and Liz acts like it’s the worst idea she’s ever heard because girls should be playing sports themselves instead of “sitting” and cheering on the men. Never mind that the SVH cheerleaders also cheer at the womens’ games, and they are doing all sorts of gymnastics stunts. Man, fuck you Liz, you haughty ass bitch. It’s a wonder Liz makes these comments while having the gall to call people like Lila Fowler snobby. God, I just can’t stand a fucking hypocrite. Anyway, Liz is super jealous about Jessica dating Ken still, so her bitchiness has extra spice. Jessica now knows what her problem is and she delights in rubbing it in. LOL. These twins are the worst to each other.

Jessica has spent some time thinking about how she can’t believe what a “cheater” her sister is for seeing Ken behind Todd’s back. I’ve said this shit before but 1) Liz wasn’t cheating on Todd unless we go back and revise the entire timeline. THEY BROKE UP. I know the whole Secret Diary editions thrive on retconning and all that but even those books are supposed to line up with the original books during which Liz and Todd had in fact broken up and Liz was single and trying to move on. Even Liz was going back and forth on whether she was single, or Todd’s girlfriend in the Diary edition. Now, we need some fresh drama so apparently, her seeing Ken was “cheating.” And 2) Jessica saying she’s surprised Liz would cheat is some serious retconning in itself. I mean, pretty much every damn mini-series post-Jungle Prom aftermath has included a storyline about Liz cheating! Hello, this girl gets around! Get some new plot ideas already!

Amy calls Jessica up to crow that an American Cheerleading Association scout was at the last game and wants Heather’s squad to enter regionals, and hints that Jessica could re-join the squad if she told Heather she was sorry. Jessica hangs up on her. She then goes to school and starts looking for gymnasts and dancers to recruit for her new squad. She gets Sandy, Maria, and Lila to agree to join her (although Lila needs a little more encouragement than the others because she thought cheerleading was boring the last time she did it). Next, they approach Patty Gilbert and Jade Wu, because they’re dancers. (Both girls were also featured on the cover of previous SVH books, but I don’t blame you if you don’t remember those.) Jessica also bugs Liz to join because she’s “athletic” and she thinks a cheerleading team with twins would be a big hit. Liz refuses to come down from her high horse and makes sure Jessica knows that she’s disgusted by the very idea. Then Lila bets Jessica that she can’t get Liz to join the cheerleading team; whichever girl turns out to be right about Liz has to purchase cheerleading uniforms for everyone. Word spreads like wildfire around the school that Jessica will be holding tryouts for a new team, and loads of girls show interest and sign up. Suddenly, a bunch of also-ran characters from dozens of books back reappear! (More about them later.)

Liz continues to sulk about Ken and Jessica and not deal with her feelings. She has stupid dreams about cheerleading and having to rate Todd’s and Ken’s kisses. It turns out Ken is the better kisser. Liz no longer feels any passion for Todd and thinks about Ken constantly. She almost tells Enid about her problem, but chickens out at the last second. Liz seethes with jealousy when she hears Ken and Jessica have gone on a date to a “secret beach” that Ken knows about. Liz is sure it’s the same one that Ken once took her to and I guess she was thinking it would remain their special beach for life. Go drink a glass of arsenic, Liz. (Jessica asks Ken if he’s ever brought anyone else to that beach, but he says he never did, not even his former long-term girlfriend Terri Adams. So is he lying or does he know of a second secret beach?) When Jessica gets home from this date, she rubs it in that she was making passionate PG-rated love to Ken on a beach blanket. She also lies and tells Liz that Ken said she was probably too bookwormy to try out for cheerleading. Liz is so stupid that she just believes he said that and gets super pissed off.

Finally, Jessica gleefully confronts Liz with the knowledge that she knows about Liz’s “affair” with Ken, and uses it to blackmail her into joining the new cheerleading squad. In this instance, I do like Jessica’s brand of bitchery, but mainly because I’m tired of reading about Liz moping about Ken after all this damned time just because he’s dating her sister. I mean, she sure didn’t mind when he moved on with Terri, but that’s because this retconned shit makes no real sense. With Liz now reluctantly on the team, Jessica has now won her bet with Lila and Lila has to buy the uniforms for everyone. Jessica makes Liz talk to Lila on the phone to deliver this news.

Oh yeah, after Ken and Jessica’s beach blanket make-out session, they run into Heather at the Dairi Burger. Jessica makes a big deal out of telling Heather good luck at regionals, catching her off guard.

Jessica starts a week of cheerleading tryouts at 6 AM on a Monday morning. Despite her previous disdain for any type of diet, Jessica is now all about it. Breakfast consists of homemade yogurt / banana / strawberry / orange juice / protein powder smoothies and buttermilk bran muffins with apples and raisins. Liz tries the smoothie and won’t admit that she likes it. Haha, choke on the bitter smoothie of your own jealousy and regret, Liz. Let the tryouts begin! The girls learn some moves from Jessica and then practice them with varying levels of aptitude. Liz finds she doesn’t hate cheerleading as much as she thought. But Jessica’s patience goes on a downward spiral because I guess she thought someone can just learn a backflip in an hour and she’s mad they aren’t getting all the moves right fast enough. She asks the prospective cheerleaders to practice their herkies and they all stare at her blankly because they don’t know what a herky is. (Me either, I had to Google that shit) Jessica is outraged no one bothered to study up on basic cheerleading moves before trying out for cheerleading; she throws her pom-poms down and storms off the field like a child. Everyone starts to gather their stuff and leave. Liz then saves the day (of course) by giving them a speech about how Jessica has a lot on her shoulders with this effort and it’s clearly just bothering her. Everyone agrees to come back and start anew the next day while Liz thinks about what Jessica owes her for this. I’ve definitely lost track of what the twins owe each other at this point. Once Liz sets things up so that Jessica gets wasted and accidentally kills one of Liz’s boy toys, I think they’ll be about even.

After throwing her little temper tantrum, Jessica runs into Ken who encourages her to try visualization techniques with her new squad hopefuls, like he does for football, and maybe that will get them to improve quickly. She agrees to give it a try and orders a visualization tape from a cheerleading supply company to make the prospects watch later that week.

At lunch later that day, Enid and Todd are in complete shock that Liz is actually trying out for the cheerleading squad, and she acts like it’s just something she wanted to do. Heather confronts Jessica in the lunch line about how her side-squad plan is guaranteed to fail since they aren’t even official or anything and SVH can only have one squad. Jessica and Ken flounce off.

On Tuesday, Jessica goes and sits with Amy, Jean, and Annie at lunch, but they say they can’t be seen talking to her or their cult-leader Heather will get mad, and they pack up their stuff and leave Jessica sitting by herself. Penny Ayala asks Liz to write an Oracle story on the cheerleading tryouts despite Liz’s obvious bias, so Liz does the world’s briefest and shittiest interview with Heather and no new insights are gained. YAWN, put away that fake reporter’s disguise already, Liz. On Tuesday night, Todd takes Liz parking at Miller’s Point; she makes out with him pretending he’s Ken the entire time. As they leave, they pass Jessica and Ken coming in and we get more of Liz’s stupid inner thoughts as she imagines them dry-humping.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jessica has the cheerleader hopefuls come to her house and watch that visualization tape. The tape features the current national high school championship team demonstrating various moves. The girls watch the tape twice and the idea is they will take in the detail and imagine themselves doing these moves and it will make them better. The next morning at tryouts, Lila notices it seems to have worked. The squad also does an afternoon practice and Heather’s squad is also practicing nearby and casting Jessica’s wannabe squad snarky looks. The visualization techniques didn’t really work on Liz, who is grouchy and slumping through her moves because she is upset Ken doesn’t care about her anymore. Then Ken shows up to watch tryouts and Liz is suddenly inspired to do a bunch of back handsprings and other shit that I guess just anyone can do. What? That’s right, she just up and does all these difficult moves across the field so Ken will look at her. God this shit is ridiculous. Ken and Jessica clap and praise Liz’s moves while Liz silently thinks “He was watching me, he was watching me …” Oh my god, Liz. GIRL. PLEASE get some help.

By Friday, Jessica has made her final cuts and the remaining girls are doing amazing. The final girls on Jessica’s squad are: The twins, Lila, Maria, Sandy, Jade, Patty, and Sara Eastbourne. (If you’re wondering who the hell that last one is, it’s the totally forgettable protagonist (antagonist really) from The Long-Lost Brother, but they are now spelling her last name differently.) Hooray for a squad that has some diversity for a change. (Patty is black and Jade is Chinese-American.) The new squad has a great first practice as a team, and later on, Ken comes up to congratulate Jessica on the field, but he mistakes Liz for Jess. Yeah, I call bullshit. He embraces Liz and she starts to get lost in the delightful sensation. He realizes his mistake right when he’s about to kiss Liz. Jessica witnesses this and is jealous for a little bit, wondering if Ken might still have feelings for Liz (when Liz obviously has feelings for Ken). She pushes that aside as she’s long since decided Ken truly cares for her and doesn’t have any lingering feelings for her sister.

Heather learns there is a rule that says only one squad from each school can compete for that school at regionals. I would’ve thought this was obvious, but I guess Jessica didn’t know that, because when Lila tells Jessica, she’s shocked. Jessica then decides to start harassing the American Cheerleading Association regional scout man who made the decision to invite the Sweet Valley squad, and she goes into stalker mode. She finds out where he lives (Bridgewater), calls information to get his number, then she calls him at his house to ask him if he would consider changing the rules. When he refuses, she gathers all the other cheerleaders and they pile into two cars in uniform and DRIVE TO HIS HOUSE. His wife says he went to the store, so they wait for him to roll up and then perform their latest and greatest cheerleading routine on  his lawn as he’s trying to get out of his car with his damn groceries. He admits their routine is one of the very best he’s seen, but insists that rules are rules and Heather’s squad is the one that’s going. Jessica has another one of her mini-tantrums. On the way back from his house, the girls hear on the radio that the Sweet Valley Gladiators are losing to El Carro High School. (Interesting school name … The Car High School) It’s almost halftime, so what do they do? They go to the high school and hide under the bleachers while Jessica runs up to the sound booth and gets the sound girl to switch out the tapes, because everyone does what Jessica says without much of a protest half the time. At half time, Heather’s team is preparing to go on, when Jessica’s team’s music comes on and they come running out to perform the cheer that wowed the ACA head man. The crowd goes apeshit for them while Heather stands there in disbelief that someone else is as big of a bitch as she is. Jessica’s squad manages to finish without being interrupted or getting in any trouble because nobody actually cares what she does. And, what do you know! The Gladiators are so inspired that they make a huge comeback to win the game!

Jessica’s squad triumphantly rolls into the Dairi Burger post-game where they are loudly clapped for and congratulated by everyone … well nearly everyone. But seriously most everybody is all, Your new squad is the best we’ve ever seen Jessica! We wish you were the official SVH cheerleaders! Yay! Bruce grabs Jessica and plants a kiss on her cheek right in front of Pamela (who has reappeared in this series) and I really think Pammy should watch out because she’s dating a sleazy cheating bastard, but she obviously knows that since she took Bruce back after he felt up Liz’s molars with his tongue in front of everybody, so ok. Amy is sitting in a booth sulking with Barry. She’s obviously hangry from Heather’s starvation diet because she comes over to Jessica crying and wanting to know how Jessica could do this to her and that she guesses they aren’t friends now. Oh fuck you Amy you raggedy bitch, I’ve always hated you. Regina killin’ BITCH

On Monday Jessica rolls into Principal “Chrome Dome” Cooper’s office and gives a “stirring speech” about how it’s not right that the students can’t choose which cheerleading squad gets to represent them. I mean, technically it is right, but whatever. Her speech isn’t that great, but Principal Cooper is profoundly affected and starts expounding on the merits of Jessica’s team since their little stunt magically improved the Gladiators’ performance, and sports is all that matters in this school, so he agrees with Jessica that there should be a vote. He just up and lets have her way immediately after her five sentence diatribe. This explains a lot about why Jessica gets away with everything. Chrome Dome decides the school will have a cheer-off after school the following day and then the students will vote on who gets to go to regionals. Chrome Dome makes the announcement over the loudspeaker and the school goes wild because I guess nothing else exciting is happening in this dumb town. Heather is pissed and confronts Jessica and they have a terse little discussion that lasts about five seconds.

Penny liked Liz’s article about the two cheerleading squads competing, which was called “The Pom-Pom Wars”, of course, and now she’s bugging Liz for a follow-up article and I really wish she would just shut the hell up. Then Mr. Collins asks Liz about that advice he gave her for “her friend” (in the last book) and how the friend is now doing. Liz gives him the latest, bla bla bla and he encourages her to get “her friend” to just come clean to her boyfriend about everything. Liz just never thought of that before because she’s used to being a fake ass bitch who presents herself as a candidate for sainthood while simultaneously thinking shit thoughts about everyone in her head. It never occurred to her to state how she feels openly instead of scrawling it on the page of her diary for someone to read later on. So, Liz has Enid over and tells her the truth and Enid is patting her hand probably trying to seduce her, uh I mean, she’s trying to help Liz get her courage up so she can tell Todd. She probably wants Todd to dump Liz so Enid can finally make her move because all she does in these books is wait around for Liz to remember she exists and spend time with her.

So Liz is about to tell Todd the truth at Guido’s when Ken and Jessica show up and pass by their table. Todd starts talking about what a great friend Ken is and that’s pretty much the end of Liz’s courage. Also, Todd does some babbling about how he doesn’t see what Ken sees in Jessica (of course he’s gotta say that after he cheated on Liz with Jessica. Why is Liz so worried about telling Todd about her and Ken again?!), but he knows Ken truly loves Jessica. He says Ken told him he’s only been in true love once before this. Liz automatically thinks that means her. They just had a stupid fling! What is Terri, chopped liver? God, I feel like I already know how this is gonna go down in the end and it makes me want to throw the book across the room.

The day of the cheer-off arrives! Amy tracks down Jessica to apologize for her outburst the other day and they make up. At lunch, Jessica has her cheerleaders get up on a table and do a flash mob cheer or some shit to get the crowd hyped up to vote for them later. The school just allows this. All the girls’ boyfriends are running around the crowd waving flags and hanging up banners to support the squad of their choice, and it’s got a very Power Play-element to it (when Robin was competing against Jessica for Miss Sweet Valley High and the boys were running through the crowd with banners).

The cheer-off gets underway in the gym. Following a coin toss, Jessica’s squad of 8 girls goes first. They do amazing and are sure they”ll beat Heather’s squad (which is still just 4 girls – although let me be clear, I’m the only one pointing this out. The book doesn’t give a fuck). Of course, Heather’s squad also does amazing. Principal Cooper and Coach Schultz ask everyone to vote by moving their asses to 1 of 2 sets of bleachers, each designated for a different squad. Everyone moves their asses and then they count the total asses at each bleacher set, and hey, there’s an equal number of people at each one. It’s a tie! But wait! Mr. Jenkins – that’s the ACA scout man Jessica was stalking – is there! He tells Cooper and Schultz the obvious – if the two teams merge to make one squad, then they can all enter regionals! Fuckin’ DUH. Everyone is delighted and hugging one another! They’re all going to regionals! Well, everyone except Heather and Jessica. Heather loudly proclaims she’d rather walk on hot coals than cheer with Jessica. OK great, looks like Jessica can just be the lone captain and go without Heather right? No, she turns into a baby and loudly yells that she’s not going to work with Heather either! So there! And she storms off again. Does anyone have a pacifier they can stuff down Jessica’s throat? Margo come back and fix this please.

Since Margo isn’t available to off anybody, the newly merged squad comes up with their own plan. They approach Jessica and Heather separately and tell each girl that the other has decided to go ahead and step down as co-captain, and let the remaining girl lead the way in order to get the whole squad to regionals. Are you following? The squad warns Jessica and Heather separately that the other “former captain” might be having some difficulty letting go of the role and urges each girl to just let the other girl think they can still have a say, for the sake of the whole squad. Jessica and Heather were each born yesterday so they buy it. Over the next few days, their practices for regionals are real fun as there’s lots of bitching and yelling at each other. One night, Ken shows up early for a date with Jessica, and Liz tells him how the girls fooled Heather and Jessica to get them to agree to work together and the two are not aware they are actually still co-captains. Ken agrees to keep the secret so now Liz probably is thinking about what other new secrets she can get him to keep. Yeah, you know she’s gonna try to worm her way back into that jockstrap.

The night before regionals, Jessica and Liz go to Casey’s with their respective dates to eat ice cream (again … that’s every other date lately). Liz has to watch Jess and Ken have a hot, dessert-covered make out session at their table from across the room and we get a few more pages of her being jealous. Gag yourself with an ice cream scoop, Liz. Jessica and Ken, on the other hand, are happily talking about how they came to care for each other. Jessica tries to prod Ken to see if he will admit to his fling with Liz, but all he will say is that he regrets he didn’t realize sooner that no other girl can hold a candle to Jessica.

So anyway, the new combined squad of 12 girls magically puts together the perfect routine last minute and heads for regionals, which are being held in Carver City. There’s lots of squabbling and the cheerleaders have to threaten to compete without their co-captains if H & J can’t stop acting five year olds. So, Heather and Jessica start working harder to agree to each other’s routine changes and work out their final routine while remaining oblivious.

Before everyone goes on, Ken shows up to watch Jessica, only he once again mistakes Elizabeth for Jess. He comes up behind her, wraps his arms around her and starts murmuring to her. We learn he has a musky deodorant scent. Liz loves the scent of sweat and male deo so she rolls with it and loses herself in the sensation of an Old Bay commercial. When Ken invites “Jessica” to go to their secret beach later that night, Liz keeps playing along and says okay. As Ken walks away, Heather walks up and yells at Liz to hurry and come join everyone else to watch the other teams compete. Liz doesn’t know how much Heather saw and is nervous, and I wish she’d just go ahead and piss her uniform in front of everyone.

Conveniently, SVH is the last to go on so they have the advantage of watching the other teams go first. By the time Sweet Valley is up, it’s apparent that Ramsbury High is the team to beat. The last thing I remember about Ramsbury is that they have some county fair every year that the Wakefields go to. SVH competes and wins regionals. The squad’s ruse is exposed when the announcers call both H&J up as co-captains. The girls start to argue about who’s going to go up there and once again the squad intervenes and says that either both girls stay on as co-captains and go to state, or none of them are going. The girls collect their trophy and great joy ensues. There’s nothing these twins can’t do!

Now for some Liz bitchery. When the twins get home, Liz starts to give Jessica Ken’s “message” for her – about the beach date – but instead she finds herself saying that Ken had to do something with his family and can’t hang with Jessica that night. So Jessica goes to a catered, poolside victory party at Lila’s house, complete with tasty-sounding Chinese food instead. Seriously, I haven’t had Chinese food in a while and I am ready to order some. Meanwhile, Liz goes in Jessica’s room and dresses in one of her outfits – loose slacks and a clingy top – and goes to the secret beach with Ken pretending to be Jessica. (This is the same shit Jessica pulled with Jeffrey in Jessica’s Secret Diary, only for some reason, this seems worse. I think it’s because we expect Jessica to be a sociopath, whereas Liz tries to act like she’s better than everybody when she can easily be just as conniving and selfish.)

Ken gets on the beach blanket with Liz and they start making out. It’s supposed to be a big deal for Liz because this is the first time she’s been with anyone but Todd in a long time. It wasn’t that many books ago that she cheated with Luke, and Bruce before that, but okay! This series has a selective memory and the rest of us just have to adapt (I fail). Liz is surprised she’s not into Ken’s smooches since she’s been touching herself to the thought of them for weeks, and she suddenly cares about Todd again. At the same time, Ken realizes the girl he’s kissing is Liz. He calls her on her bullshittery and they have a heartfelt talk. The grossest part of the conversation is that Ken says it took him a long time to get over Liz and that’s what attracted him to Jessica in the first place, that she looked like Liz and he could almost pretend she was Liz. EW. (So he was thinking about Liz the whole time he was with Terri, too?) But now, he truly loves Jessica – she’s the Wakefield for him. K & J have a good laugh and then they decide it’s finally time to tell Todd the truth about their past fling. They aren’t going to tell the truth about what happened tonight, of course! Man, I’ve never liked Liz a ton but I really dislike her as a man-stealer. She’s just insufferable lately in general.

Unfortunately for Liz, while she was getting some Ken Matthews tongue action, Heather was approaching Jessica to casually mention that she saw Liz and Ken together earlier. Jessica rushes off to call Liz, who’s not answering, and Todd, who says Liz told him she was tired and going to bed. Jessica drives home and finds Liz isn’t there, and her closet is open with an outfit missing. She realizes Liz lied to her and that she and Ken are together and starts crying.

Ken drives Liz to Todd’s so they can talk to him and they are greeted with the sight of the twins’ Jeep already there. Todd answers the door, with Jessica by his side, and she’s holding Liz’s diary. Ken tries to explain but neither Todd nor Jessica will let him finish. Liz reaches for Todd, but he slams his front door in disgust, and she runs off toward the Jeep bawling. Jessica points at Liz and tells Ken to go back to the girl he really loves. Ken tries to tell her that it’s her he loves, but she takes off into the woods or something by herself and thinks about how winning regionals has cost her the only boy she’s ever loved. (Way to shit on Sam’s memory.) She thinks Liz has gone after Ken to get back at Jessica for blackmailing her into joining the squad, because those two things are certainly equal to one another. But everyone is so irrational and extreme in these books, sure, why not.

P.S. Someone is always reading Liz’s fucking diary and causing problems … when is she going to learn to lock that shit up?

Who’s on the cover? A bit of a mystery since half of these girls seem to have the same face, but if you’re like me you’re all about figuring it out.

Obviously, the big squad of 8 girls in the background is Jessica’s squad. The two girls in the front of that group of 8 are Jess and Liz – Jess with her hair down leading the squad, Liz with her hair pulled back like she always has it, jumping into the air with glee, most likely because Ken is watching or maybe because she’s making fun of cheerleading.

For the other six girls, let’s start by admitting that we have no idea what Sara looks like or at least I sure as hell don’t remember what she looks like. (For the one book Sara starred in, Bantam put Liz on the cover instead of Sara, because of course they did.) We know what the other girls look like in general because they’ve all had at least one cover shot and have been described in detail. We know that Jade, Maria, and Sandy all have bangs. (Yeah, people could’ve changed their hair since then, so I’m just grasping at straws here.) Sandy is the only blonde besides the twins, unless Sara is also blonde, but I don’t care about Sara and I’m treating her like a wild card. Jade is Asian and has black hair, Lila is white with lighter brown hair, and Maria is white and has shorter brown hair and she is also described as being more petite (if I’m remembering correctly). Patty is black with longer dark brown hair.

So for the first group of three, on the back right (to the right of Liz): My guess is, from left to right, Lila, Sara, Maria. I’m wavering on saying the one in the middle is actually Lila because of the way she’s preening, but the face of the one on the left looks way more like Lila, especially the way they’ve been drawing her lately. That girl also has some slight highlights in her hair which Lila also has on the more recent covers, so that would make sense. The girl in the middle also has some highlights in her dark hair. Truthfully, she looks like Jean with the long, dark hair and the bangs, but Jean isn’t on this squad. But it can’t be Patty because Patty has a darker skin tone, and it can’t be Sandy or Jade because the hair color isn’t right. So I’m going with Sara.

For the second group of three on the left side, who are mostly hidden by Jess and Liz: This is especially difficult. The one on the far left, where we mostly see the arm and a tiny bit of leg, appears to have an arm with darker skin so we’ll say that’s Patty. Of course they covered her up almost completely. The other two in this group have dark hair and lighter skin. The one to the right of Patty has black hair with bangs, and since Jade has black hair with bangs let’s say that’s Jade. Man, someone took some lawn clippers to Jade’s bangs though. That leaves Sandy as the last one, but Sandy has blonde hair so I dunno. But we could argue that Sandy is partially covered by Liz so we can’t really see all of her hair, and that her hair is actually dirty blonde / darker blonde. That would make sense since her hair does look like a darker blonde on at least one of her covers. So my final line-up of the girls in the back is, left to right: Patty, Jade, Sandy, Lila, Sara, Maria.

In the front right corner of the cover, we have two girls doing an obvious spy on the twins’ squad with one of them fucking pointing for no one’s benefit. Heather and Amy are the only two blondes on Heather’s squad so that’s gotta be them. We’ll go with Heather at the top, since the hair looks more like Heather’s hair on the last cover, and say that’s Amy on the bottom and Amy grew out her hair. But that hair almost looks reddish so I’m tempted to say it’s the ghost of Helen Bradley whose body Heather buried under the bleachers after she tried to make Helen quit and she refused. Everyone else knew Helen was supposed to have moved away ages ago and thought it was just a weird time blip like Sweet Valley gets sometimes, so they aren’t missing her.

Other fun facts: Elizabeth eats a tomato, cheese and sprouts sandwich for lunch one day.

Liz’s Oracle newspaper column is back to being called “Personal Profiles” again.

In the last book Liz kept her diary under her bed. Now she keeps it in a drawer buried under a pile of old school notebooks. She should be keeping it in a locked safe.

Jessica can’t think of any words that rhyme with “beat” and Liz has to help her. FUCK

Scott Trost is referred to “Scottie Trost”

Jessica on the day of the cheer-off, in her head: Heather may be hot, but I’m volcanic. So like, explosive diarrhea?

Ken facts that Jessica has learned: His favorite ice cream flavor is mocha chip, he wants to study premed in college, he arranges his shirts by color in his dresser drawer, and he once went skinny-dipping in Secca Lake.

Here are the other high schools that made it to regionals: Whitehead Academy, Springbrook, Fort Carroll, Lawrence, Palisades, San Pedro, Ramsbury. I like that Big Mesa wasn’t good enough.

Lila’s parents had a banner made for the post-regionals party with a “congratulations” message on one side and a “sorry you blew it” message on the other side so they could display whichever side was more appropriate post-competition.

Something else that’s bothering me: What uniforms did the combined squad wear at regionals? Remember that Heather retired the original squad’s old uniforms. Then she introduced new outfits for the five cheerleaders remaining after she kicked Sandy and Maria out. (Five including the ghost of Helen Bradley) Then Jessica had Lila order new, different uniforms for their own brand new squad of eight. So we have three different types of uniforms (old squad / Heather squad / Jessica squad), and not one style has enough uniforms to go around for all 12 girls on the combined squad. And once they combined, they had two days to get new outfits and it wasn’t ever addressed how they did that or even that they needed to. So my assumption is they competed in mismatched outfits. EXPLAIN IT PLEASE GHOSTWRITER, I’m going too deep with this shit and I can’t just sit here and let it roll okay?!

Mr. Krezenski, Jessica’s dance teacher from Miss Teen Sweet Valley, gets a mention because Sara and her best friend Amanda take dance lessons from him now. It’s not mentioned that Jessica once did as well, and Lila tells Jessica “Supposedly, he’s pretty tough” like Jessica didn’t already know that.

And finally, as promised, let’s look at all the old very minor characters that were resurrected for cheerleading tryouts:

  • Jennifer Morris: A senior member of Pi Beta Alpha introduced in Outcast. May have had a few tiny mentions in later books whenever there was a PBA meeting. Not to be confused with Jon Pfeifer’s ex-girlfriend Jennifer Mitchell.
  • Stacie Cabot: A sophomore first seen in Taking Sides when she bid on Jeffrey French at a date auction. She pledged PBA in Rosa’s Lie and got in, then was seen pledging it again many books later in Stepsisters, in another glorious continuity error.
  • Lisa Walton: A sophomore who ran against Winston for student council in Forbidden Love. Later seen pledging PBA. Are you seeing a theme yet?
  • Alicia Benson: Another sophomore first seen being bitchy in Last Chance. I think she popped up one or two times later whenever they needed some random filler.
  • Aline Montgomery: Another redhead. She was introduced in Playing with Fire as the girl Jessica caught Bruce with at Guido’s in the infamous Jessica-Bruce breakup scene. Despite this, Aline later managed to pledge PBA even though Jessica was president.
  • Leslie Decker: Introduced in Jealous Lies as a, guess what, PBA pledge. Not sure we ever saw her again until now. I think she’s a gymnast.
  • Amanda Hayes: Introduced in The Long-Lost Brother as Sara Eastborne / Eastbourne / what-the-fuck ever’s pretty best friend who got involved with Sara’s brother.
  • Danielle Alexander: Introduced in Troublemaker when she dated Bruce Patman and competed against Jessica for a lead role in a play. Hasn’t been mentioned since then that I recall. Known for being a ballet dancer.
  • April Dawson: A dirt bike racer featured on the cover of The Girl They Both Loved. First introduced in That Fatal Night as part of Terri Adams’s group of friends. Last I checked, she was dating Maria Santelli’s ex-fiance, Michael Harris.
  • Mandy Farmer: A “shapely” girl introduced all the way back in Dangerous Love as a girl who rode on Todd’s motorcycle and made Liz jealous. She later dated Winston Egbert,  but they broke up when Mandy moved away from Sweet Valley. Oh my god, I’m going to have a scar on my face from all the face palms I’ve been doing.
  • Patsy Webber: A redhead that Todd dated in ninth grade, before “settling down” with Liz. She moved to France and then came back for her introduction in Heart Breaker, in which Liz was insanely jealous and convinced Todd and Patsy still had feelings for each other (because they were acting like they were).

In the back of the book: The same old stuff. There’s a channel listing for Sweet Valley High TV series on the inside back cover but I think we’ve seen that before too.

Coming up next: Drama at the state competition, probably paired with a glass of wine for me!

#112 Jessica Quits the Squad

Hey, I made it to #112! I wasn’t sure I was going to because after that last book, I was ready to just call it a good 12 years and quit … just like Jessica! (When this book was released, the series was approaching its 12th year.)

Before I say anything else – I wasn’t prepared for the title of this new mini-series: Sweet Valley CHEERLEADING MADNESS. Hahaha! Points for being willing to go over the top, I guess.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this cover. 

JQTS

Ken has finally received an updated 90s hair-do!

At left, we have Jessica fervently making out with Ken Matthews. At right, we have the cheerleading squad performing to a crowd of adoring fans. The girl on the lefthand side in that picture is Jessica’s latest rival, Heather Mallone, and as you can see, she’s shaking her pom-pom right in Jessica’s face … I guess. Maybe if Jessica was concentrating on her cheer instead of looking over at what Heather’s doing, that wouldn’t be happening. I don’t know who the cheerleader in the background is supposed to be, but she has a Courteney Cox-esque look, and as Courteney was the original model for Annie Whitman, I’m going with that. Apparently, Annie finally grew out her hair.

So yeah, there’s a new Queen B in town! The gang first spots her at the Dairi Burger after the latest home game. She sashays in like she owns the place and everyone stares at the hot new chick. All the guys start ogling her while she orders a Diet Coke with lemon “with a straw.” Oooh, how fancy. She then saunters back out with her drink and speeds off in a white Mazda Miata with plates that read CHEERLEADER (lol). Hilarious that she was the first person to want that vanity plate in the whole giant sunny state of California. Jessica is annoyed and jealous and hopes she won’t ever see the girl again.

That night, there’s a big post-game beach barbecue party. Ken gets Jessica to stop moping and come swimming with him in the sunset. After it gets dark, Bruce starts flashing his father’s new Jeep’s headlights to show off (weird) and Ken and Jessica are caught in the light making out. Everyone hoots and hollers except for Liz, who’s on a beach blanket with Todd, scowling her ass off. If you’ve already read Elizabeth’s Secret Diary, then you can guess what her damage is. Oh god, this bitch is gonna start some shit.

The next morning, Liz feels “pained” as Jessica drives them to school and rattles on about how she can’t wait to see Ken. We get a recap of how Liz and Ken had a brief affair while Todd was living in Vermont. I still don’t get why we’re supposed to think this is a huge deal. Liz and Todd broke up not long after Todd went to Vermont, and Todd was happily dating other people. Why can’t Liz? Oh well, we’ll just go with it and say Todd couldn’t handle it if he knew his best buddy was back home fingering his old girl on beach blankets.

Then, it’s Jessica’s turn to feel pained. Dairi Burger Girl is in the hallway surrounded by a bunch of people, including Ken. Lila comes up and explains her name is Heather Mallone, she just transferred here, she’s obviously quite wealthy, and she was an amazing cheerleader at her old school. Then Heather comes up to introduce herself, and comment on the 70s blouse Jessica put on to wow Ken. “That’s an adorable little blouse you’re wearing. It’s so, uh, retro.” Jessica storms off in a huff.

At the lunch table later that day, Jessica tries to convince Lila that Heather was trying to insult her, but Lila doesn’t agree. Then Annie comes up with Heather and they sit down. Heather promptly remarks on how childish Sweet Valley guys are and Lila agrees. (I’m waiting for Lila to mention her stupid older boyfriend Robby, whatever age he is in this book.) Next, Heather tells Jessica her pasta is loaded with fat and that it’s bad for her. She brags that she’s “completely eliminated” fat from her own diet, but then her lunch includes tuna (with no mayo). Heather needs to attend a nutrition class because tuna naturally has fat in it, which by the way your body freaking REQUIRES to work you effing dumbass. Jessica tries to lob her famous thinly veiled insults at Heather for laughs, but none of the other girls are laughing. They all think Heather is amazing because she’s super athletic, likes to ski at the same rich people resorts that Lila does, and was captain of a state championship-winning cheerleading squad in Nevada. Heather asks Jessica where she gets her cheers from, then insults her and says her methods are “dated” and that she should be watching “VTV” instead because “hip-hop’s the latest thing in cheerleading.” (What the fuck is VTV? Is that a play off MTV?) When Heather isn’t making snide remarks at Jessica, she’s putting on a too-sweet-to-be-true act. Ken finally rescues Jessica from the conversation by asking her to come sit with him, then asking her for a date all shyly. Okay. By the way, Heather thinks Ken is totally hot so there is bound to be some drama there at some point.

Todd hangs out in the Oracle newspaper office with Liz, where he tells her about how Ken and Jessica must be falling in love. Then he kisses Liz, and she thinks about Ken’s kisses instead. Then she thinks to herself that she is a terrible person, which is a good thing to see her finally admit to herself, though I don’t think she realizes the extent of the fact. She and Jessica are both past any chance of redemption at this point if you ask me.

Robin invites Heather to come try out at cheerleading practice that day, even though it’s not the regular try-out season. Jessica is opposed, but as co-captain to Robin, she doesn’t want the other girls to think she’s jealous even though that’s already clear. So, she finally relents and orders Heather to do some kind of extraordinary routine, in under 3 minutes. Heather does it with style and manages it all in just 2 minutes; Jessica tries to lie and says she didn’t make it, but the other girls all override her because they were timing her themselves. By the way, I know fuck-all about cheerleading so I have no idea how realistic the cheerleading stuff is in this book, but since it’s Sweet Valley, probably not very. Anyway, the girls are all for having Heather join the team to get them some new moves, but Jessica is opposed and demands a private vote, so Heather struts off while they talk. Robin is very irritated that Jessica wants to keep Heather off the squad and points out how Jessica once tried to keep Annie off the squad (and drove her to attempt suicide), and now she’s one of their best cheerleaders. Jessica totally deserved to have that thrown in her face. Jessica halfway relents, but says she’s going to come up with some tests to prove Heather’s character before she can join. Since she’s co-captain, the rest of the team agrees even though they think this is weird, and they have never done these tests before. I guess they are not worried about Heather pulling an Annie after Jessica is through with her.

In case you needed a refresher, the current cheerleading squad is made up of Jessica, Robin, Maria, Jean, Sandy, Annie, and Amy. Oh, and Helen Bradley. Dude, Helen Bradley moved away in book 28; that’s the whole reason why Amy Sutton is even on the squad! For reference, that was in 1986. This book was published in January 1995. This is what happens either when someone didn’t make the required updates to the ghostwriter bible, or the ghostwriter didn’t bother to actually go through the whole thing! Seriously, what an oversight. I thought it was just going to be a one-time typo the editor missed, but she’s present throughout the entire book. This type of shit keeps happening lately and it’s really bizarre.

Here come Jessica’s “character tests” (i.e. hazing)! First, she insists Heather spend two lunch hours in a row eating with the ultimate nerds, the Sweet Valley chess club! (Is this Saved by the Bell?) Heather insists she’s a friend to everyone, so she goes for it, even having one of the nerds help her with her homework. Next, Jessica loans Heather these green and purple striped overalls from her dad’s college drama days, plus a bright orange cowboy hat, and makes her wear them to school. Everyone crowds around and talks about Heather’s cutting edge grunge look and congratulates her for being daring. Finally, Jessica has Heather go to the front of homeroom class and sing the national anthem. As it turns out, Heather has “the voice of a professional singer.” She does a “funky” version of the anthem and everyone is enraptured. They beg her to sing something else and she whips out a damn guitar and starts singing and playing something soulful she wrote, then brags that there’s a record company that wants her to record an album, but her parents want her to finish high school first. Needless to say, Heather has passed all of her tests with flying colors. Jessica tries to convince the other girls that Heather is bad news; once again, they override her and happily let Heather on the team. Heather immediately sets about taking over the spotlight and teaching the girls some new dance steps.

Elizabeth goes to the beach to take a lonely walk and wallow in her Ken-less despair. She runs into Robin Wilson, who is sitting by herself upset. Robin says her father has just gotten a job transfer to Denver and they have to move immediately. She can’t bear to tell the other girls. Liz comforts her in her Liz way, then goes home and spills the beans to Jessica. Liz suggests that Jessica make Heather the new co-captain and you can imagine Jessica’s reaction. At lunch the next day, Robin tells the squad she’s leaving, and they cry and then promptly tell Heather she’s their new co-captain over Jessica’s protests.

Jessica and Ken have their first date that night (well – their first date in a while. I’m positive they’ve gone on dates to dances and such in the past, but nobody’s mentioning that). Liz is seething with jealousy as she watches Jess get ready. Jessica puts on a hot white mini sundress, and Liz tries to make her wear a pink granny sweater over it because she might get cold. Then Ken shows up with flowers for Jessica, and Liz flings open the front door when he knocks thinking it’s Todd, and it’s awkward. Ken and Liz spend a few minutes mumbling at each other. Todd and Liz go to a movie, only to see Ken and Jessica are seeing the same movie and are sitting several rows down. Liz has to watch them be affectionate with one another the whole time, staring down at them like a disapproving chaperone. Afterward, the four of them all go to Casey’s for ice cream where Heather Mallone shows up with a crowd of guys. She remarks on the fat content of Jessica’s banana split, then starts flirting with Ken. She seductively takes a tiny bite of Ken’s sundae, then invites him to call her so they can go jogging together sometime. Jessica and Liz are both really jealous, but Jessica mistakes Liz’s annoyance as being protective of her twin. As he drops Jessica off that night, Ken assures her he has no intentions of actually calling Heather and that he thinks she can’t hold a candle to Jessica, then they make out.

Amy is throwing a big going away party for Robin at her house, so Jessica goes shopping for a new dress to wear. Liz’s campaign to keep Jessica and Ken apart continues. She tries to dissuade Jessica by saying it’s extravagant to buy a new outfit for one party, although that just sounds like regular old Liz to me. Then she bluntly tells Jessica the dress she has tried on makes her look fat. Nasty B! The salesgirl completely disagrees, so Jessica buys the dress and goes to the party looking fab while Liz sulks. She can die mad about it.

Heather shows up to the party in a tiny miniskirt and says she had to buy it because everything else in the mall was ugly. She spends a bunch of time standing next to Amy’s pool chatting at Ken, so Jessica goes over and “accidentally” knocks Heather into the pool. Heather flounders to the surface with her eye makeup running while Jessica sweetly advises her to always wear waterproof mascara to a pool party. Haha! I’m amused. Ken later notes that Heather left the party looking very upset and Jessica is pleased. Ken and Jessica slow dance near Todd and Liz, and they look too happy so Liz can’t stand it. Liz abruptly suggests they switch partners, then when Ken goes to dance with her, she runs away.

Liz goes to talk to Mr. Collins in his office and has him close the door … creepy, lol. She tells him about her problem, only she does the classic “my friend has a problem …” Mr. Collins is just like, Well it sounds like this your friend has unresolved feelings for her ex-fling. No shit Mr. Collins. Then Liz goes over to Todd’s house to study; he tries to initiate a make-out session, but she’s not into it and bitches at him for trying to distract her, then leaves. I’m definitely tired of these story lines about the twins schemin’ on each other’s men.

With Heather as co-captain, cheerleading practice starts going downhill real fast. First, Heather starts practice half an hour earlier than usual. Jessica is the only one who didn’t know, so she shows up late. Heather shrugs it off and claims she thought she had asked Annie to tell her. Even though Jessica worked hard all weekend on a new cheer, the girls are more excited about the cheer Heather is already teaching them. It turns out to be a more complicated cheer with really funky dance moves. Heather yells at them for not doing it right. She particularly picks on Sandy and Maria, even telling Sandy she is moving like a “cow.” Ouch! Jessica is sure the girls will now hate Heather but instead, they’re more eager to please her. The next morning, Jessica finds out from Lila that Heather threw a dinner party the night before for Lila, Amy, Barry, Annie, Bruce, Rick – and Ken. Lila is sheepish about it. She says that Ken did sit next to Heather, but insists that Ken didn’t look too interested in her. Jessica is miffed because Lila likes Heather and wants to be friends with both her and Jessica. Lila also says she asked Heather why she didn’t invite Jessica, and Heather said it was because she knows Jessica doesn’t like her. Heather asked Lila to put in a good word with Jessica for her. Jessica knows Heather is a fake bitch. (By the way, I’m wondering when Ken was going to say something about this party to Jessica? Jessica has spent a lot of time confiding in Ken about how Heather is acting and how it makes her feel and he’s insisted he doesn’t think much of Heather. So after all that, he thought it was a good idea to go to a dinner party at Heather’s house without Jessica …. OK. Look, I’m not suggesting they should control each other’s whereabouts, it’s just weird and it’s never cleared up unless I spaced out while reading it, which is entirely possible at this point.)

There’s a Wednesday night football game for some reason. Jessica tries to lead the first cheer, but Heather jumps in front of her and takes control of everything. The crowd goes nuts for the cheers. Heather makes sure to take credit for all of it to a reporter that initially approached Jessica.

Jessica wakes up super sick on Thursday morning, so Alice makes her stay home from school and watch soap operas all day. (Her favorite is The Bold and the Beautiful.) Liz is sure to take advantage of Jessica’s absence, approaching Ken so she can ask him if he still has feelings for her (and she hopes he does!), but then she chickens out when he asks her what she wants. At the end of the school day, Maria calls Jessica crying. It seems Heather also took advantage of Jessica’s absence, and she has kicked Sandy and Maria off the squad. She told everyone that she thinks she can take the team to nationals, but that Sandy and Maria aren’t good enough and are holding them back. I mean, back when Annie Whitman was trying out, the series made sure to show us that Sandy was clumsy and only made the squad because they didn’t want Annie on there. I am surprised about Maria though, since Maria was one of the original members and was supposed to be legendary at backflips or something.

The next day, Jessica finds Heather at her locker and bitches her out. Heather calmly hands Jessica a copy of the cheerleading handbook, which Jessica has apparently never seen before, and shows her how it says a co-captain can make whatever decisions she needs to in the absence of the other co-captain. Jessica throws it at her feet and Heather just strolls off. With this latest  development, Liz and Lila have to admit that Jessica may be right that Heather can’t be trusted. The cheerleading team is still not convinced, even after Jessica confronts all of them and points out that Sandy is Jean’s best friend and Jean at least should be standing up for her. I’m just wondering where the adults are in this situation. There’s nobody supervising this team? Haha, I just sounded like my parents.

It’s time for Friday afternoon cheerleading practice. There’s ANOTHER big game the following night. Is this a normal high school football schedule, two games in a week, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday? I don’t remember this being the case. Anyway, Jessica has a chat with Lila beforehand, during which Jessica says she wishes Lila was on the squad with her so they could team up against Heather. Foreshadowing! It’s funny no one is mentioning that Lila once was on the team and was kicked off for playing pranks (super early in the series). Heather is late for practice that day, so Jessica starts to take control, only to be interrupted by Heather hauling up some big boxes full of stylish, skimpy new uniforms. She says they’re a gift from her and that they can’t keep practicing in their current “juvenile” uniforms (which Jessica helped pick out). Jessica thinks the new outfits are fug, but everyone else loves them. Then Heather makes everyone sit in a circle, because she wants to pass out their new diet and exercise program. (She asks Jessica if she can pass out the plans, but Jessica says no, she cannot.) Heather explains that everyone needs to be super fit if they’re going to be world class cheerleaders, and it seems starving yourself and depriving yourself of essential nutrients is a great way to do that. Jessica points out her plans are crazy, but the other girls all want to have bodies like Heather’s and agree to go along, so they start right away. Here’s my summary of Heather’s program:

Exercise:

  • Jog 3 miles every day
  • Lift weights for 1 hour every day (no rest days?!)
  • Start each cheerleading practice with:
    • 75 sit-ups
    • 30 push-ups
    • 50 jumping jacks

Diet:

  • “Fat is the enemy” – strict no-fat diet
    • Anyone caught eating fat will be kicked off the squad.
    • Can only drink skim milk, and pizza must be ordered without cheese
  • Sample of a day on this diet:
    • Breakfast: Glass of water and half a grapefruit (why can’t you have the whole damn grapefruit?)
    • Lunch: Any kind of vegetables you want (oh goody! any kind?!) with nothing on them, brown rice (if you want)
    • Afternoon snack: A piece of fruit OR a carrot stick (don’t get gluttonous and have both, ladies!)
    • Dinner: Plain salad with only lemon juice for dressing

Not mentioned are the heaps of coke Heather clearly does to function in this manner. I mean, holy shit, that’s like 300 calories for their entire day. How are they supposed to have enough energy to cheer, let alone do their bootcamp fitness routine? And where the fuck is the protein? If Robin was here, she’d be horrified to hear the squad was willingly undergoing this diet after they supported her through an eating disorder in the not-too-distant past. Or maybe she wouldn’t, because you never know in these books. I’m pretty sure Amy Sutton was on a variation of this diet in the past, and I’m positive Jessica was at various points (although at other points she’s sucking down milkshakes (and other less-calorie rich things no doubt, you get my drift?) without gaining a single pound). Now Jessica is lecturing everyone that cheerleading is supposed to be fun and acting like dieting is ridiculous. No one is listening.

Ken takes Jessica out on their second date that night and Liz is beside herself with jealousy, especially when Jessica finishes dressing for the date and comes downstairs looking like a dope-ass ho. Liz goes overboard trying to convince Jessica she’s moving too fast, then when that doesn’t work she tries to convince Jessica she’s still ill and should stay home. Then Liz even appeals to their mother to try to make her worry so that she will order Jess to stay home! FU with a bag of pom-poms Liz. It doesn’t work and Jessica merrily goes off on her date, where Ken prepares a special gourmet picnic dinner on the beach for them (complete with sparkling apple juice). Liz goes off to a favorite author’s book reading with Todd and acts like a space cadet from hell throughout the entire thing. She then peppers Todd with questions about how much Ken cares for Jessica and he doesn’t get what the hell she’s so worried about. Liz has Todd take her home early claiming she doesn’t feel well and must have caught whatever Jessica had. Once home, she goes upstairs to wait for Jessica’s return and mope about all the times she and Ken once spent together. It turns out she keeps a special box of mementos under her bed. It includes: the rose corsage from the first dance Todd took her to, a heart necklace Todd gave her in the sixth grade, five poems Liz wrote after she killed Sam Woodruff, and a framed set of photo booth shots of her and Ken kissing, which Liz has concealed in a handkerchief. Man, they are really laying this on thick. Liz clutches the photos and lies on the bed sadly.

Jessica doesn’t get home until after 12:30 AM, so she was obviously having a pretty good time. She comes into Liz’s bedroom to tell her all about her date, forcing Liz to quickly shove the photographs under her pillow. Liz is really nasty to Jessica about her date, telling her she doesn’t want to hear all the little details, that she’s selfish, and that Ken is probably seeing someone else on the side just like Jeremy was. Then Liz storms out of the room and Jessica finds the photos under the pillow and realizes Liz and Ken were together at some point. Ruh-roh!

At Saturday’s game, Heather leads the team in a cheer that Jessica has never learned and therefore cannot do with them; she just has to stand there while the crowd goes wild. When they finish, Jessica throws her pom-poms on the ground, quits the team and storms off the field. A sympathetic Ken takes her out for ice cream (again) that night and tells her the team isn’t as good as it was pre-Heather. Meanwhile, there is a party at Lila’s but Jessica refuses to show her face. Instead, after Ken takes her home Jessica goes straight to Elizabeth’s room, finds her diary under the bed, and reads about her sordid affair with Ken. Now she knows the truth, and she feels like her life is a total mess.

I guess this whole Liz-Ken thing was supposed to be scandalous for anyone who hadn’t already read Liz’s Secret Diary. At least they were consistent with that storyline rather than burying it in a Magna Edition and forgetting about it for life after that. But they are definitely not consistent with people’s character traits. Like I said, Jessica suddenly comes off as someone who couldn’t care less about a diet, which is hilarious. She goes out of her way to eat loads of fat-filled foods like hamburgers, fries, and ten tons of ice cream just to piss Heather off. And Liz is a grade A bitch who can’t stand to see her sister happy for one second. Ken is now a shy, sensitive intellectual who loves literature and poetry. What the fuck is going on?

Also, I guess I’m supposed to root for Jessica in this one, but she’s been such a horrible bucket o’ bitch to most of these characters for so long that I’m feeling like this is just her getting what she deserves. I’m sure Annie Whitman is laughing all the way to the bank (if she’s not collapsed on the ground from that dumb diet). We all know Jessica will come out on top in the end anyway. Liz on the other hand, pisses me off beyond belief lately, and she can go sit on a broken pom-pom handle. Just dump Todd already, take a tip from your sister, and just be honest about all the dudes you want to ride in your own weird PG way.

Other BS: Rick Hunter is in this book hanging out with Bruce Patman. This is a character who was originally introduced in Sweet Valley Twins and never showed up in SVH (unless I’m forgetting). That’s the second time recently that they’ve done this with an SVT character.

Someone yells “What a dish!” at Heather. Did 1950s slang come back into style in the 90s?

Speaking of the 50s, Jessica does some random “booth dancing” in her booth at the Dairi Burger and says it’s the latest thing. (Her friends are perplexed) This reminds me of my dad explaining to me that back in the day, some restaurants / diners banned kids from dancing in the aisles to the jukebox so they came up with dances they could do in their seat instead. Yeah, I definitely feel Francine’s touch on these opening chapters.

When Heather calls Jessica’s blouse “trendy” Jessica finds it insulting to be called trendy. What the fuck? Jessica has good reason not to like Heather, but she’s still a petty ass bitch.

As I mentioned before, Bruce’s dad bought a Jeep Cherokee which Bruce keeps showing off. I find it odd that he thinks it’s so special since the twins also have a Jeep.

Elizabeth thinks about how Ken has always been her good friend because “they had so much in common.” That is such COMPLETE bullshit. Nice ret-conning SV.

Jessica tells Liz not to worry about how fast she’s driving because “You know I’m an expert driver.” I feel like that was a dig at Liz for the whole Jungle Prom accident thing.

Fun fact: In the very earliest books, Sweet Valley High had another character named Heather, and her last name also started with an M (Heather Morgan).

New characters: Sean Lowry and Charles Stewart, both members of the Sweet Valley High chess team.

Heather always says “Toodles!” as a parting greeting. One time, Jessica angrily thinks “I’d like to “toodle” you”. Yeah, that doesn’t sound the way you think it sounds, Jess.

At Amy’s party, “exotic nonalcoholic drinks” are served.

Sweet Valley High plays Whitman High in this book while Annie Whitman cheers … haha.

Liz’s diary is usually described as a composition notebook or a basic notebook, but here it’s a red leather book.

I could have sworn Robin’s parents were divorced. I might be mixing her up with Enid Rollins, who also had divorced parents and an absentee, alcoholic dad.

Jessica keeps thinking about how lucky Robin is that she gets to move away from Heather and start all over. I mean, there’s a boarding school your parents wanted to send you to during the whole Jeremy Randall mess, Jess, so try telling them you’ve started having conjugal visits with Jeremy at the Sweet Valley jail.

Certain characters are missing with little to no mention. Enid is completely absent with no explanation. There’s a passive mention that she’s Liz’s best friend in the beginning, but that’s it. Bruce hangs around Heather and ogles her, but Pamela is nowhere in sight. Lila’s boyfriend Robby is also MIA and it’s like he never existed. Maybe Lila finally kicked him to the curb. We can dream.

I am 1000% over these stupid spoilery titles. Stop telling me how the book ends, dammit!

In the back of the book: There’s another ad for the new Love Stories book series and an excerpt for book #2, Sharing Sam. I read the excerpt and it was actually pretty good, whereas the last one was boring.

Up next: We’ll find out how Jessica and friends will take their revenge on Heather.

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