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

Archive for the ‘Super Stars’ Category

Super Star #5 Todd’s Story

In which Todd meets the male version of Suzanne Devlin!

Well kids, we have reached the last Super Star ever published. Since they all went downhill from Lila’s Story, I can’t say I’m too sad about this. And I’ll be honest with you: I considered doing a very general review, because I don’t know what else I can possibly say. But I think some of my faithful readers might virtually bop me over the head for that.

This wasn’t a fun one to read. We have hits and misses in this series, some that I bash but really love reading, and then we have books like this one, books I barely have the energy to bash because it dragged so badly. The book didn’t really start to get interesting until five sixths of the way in, and even then, it ultimately fell short. It’s the same old formula. I can see now why Bantam/Francine/both decided to switch it up and change directions after #94 with that whole A Night to Remember thing.

It’s summer, again, and Todd has been having problems with his dad lately. This book is written like they just moved back to Sweet Valley from Burlington, Vermont, like a month ago, by the way. I guess that would make sense in a normal timeframe sort of way, you know, the way normal people only have one junior year in high school and it only lasts about 9 or 10 months, and they only have one summer vacation, and they don’t stay 16 forever. But in the Sweet Valley timeline, Todd came back in book 59 and that was years ago. So kinda weird.

Todd’s issue with his father is that his dad is eager for him to take on an internship at Varitronics. Old Bert Wilkins figures he’ll just use his new President title at the company to get some good old nepotism going on! Todd would rather study sports management in college and go on to be a coach or something. Mr. Wilkins thinks that’s not a real job. Mrs. Wilkins, like most of the mother figures in these books, is all opinionless and servin’ up food in every appearance like a good wifey should.

Todd is also having problems with Elizabeth, which is the way it’s been since they started dating, so if they really want to spice things up, I think they should stop having problems for a change and see how exciting that is. Instead they decide the best way to feel closer is supervise 100 screaming brats at a Secca Lake day camp. What in hell? Cara is also present at this day camp! Jessica is also present at this day camp beacause it’s been a while since she got any and she wants to meet hot male counselors! What in hell?

The whole day camp idea doesn’t work as far as bringing Liz and Todd back together goes … gee, color me shocked. It turns out Todd has a big secret. Oh, jeez, here we go. HE NEVER TOLD ANYONE, BUT … when he still lived in Vermont, Todd came across a young dude beating up some poor old man. Todd was sure if he stopped the beating of the man, the perpetrator would just get away, so instead he raced to a pay phone to call the police while the perp continued beating the man. Then Todd waited for the cops to come so he could provide eyewitness account, while the perp still continued beating the man. Wait, so it’s better for the man to suffer more during the 2-3 minutes *or more* it could take for the cops to get there, because at least MAYBE the attacker will get caught? AND we’re really supposed to believe that punch-happy Todd wouldn’t just jump right in and kick that bitch ass? WHATEVER.

It turned out the attacker is Kevin Holmes, son of the powerful Holmes family! He was arrested and put on trial and his dad tried to bribe Todd not to testify! But Todd did anyway, and Kevin was sent to prison for a while! But now he’s out! And looking for revenge! And in Sweet Valley! And one of Liz and Todd’s fellow day camp counselors! Oh God!

Todd never bothered to tell Liz or anybody the story of how Kevin, who’s a year older than Todd, threatened him as he was being lead away in cuffs, swearing he would get Todd back for putting him away. And he still won’t tell. Then Kevin threatens Todd, saying if he ever lets anyone know the truth about him, he will hurt Liz. Todd believes it enough that he refuses to say anything throughout pretty much the entire book, until Kevin’s about to hurt Liz anyway. Oh, did I spoil it for you? Post’s over, everyone go home …

Gah, okay. So Todd and Liz start working at their stupid day camp and – gasp! – one of the counselors is Kevin Holmes! Todd kept thinking he’d seen him around Sweet Valley but was sure he was just going crazy. Now Kevin is back, and he’s charming, handsome, and laid-back. He’s also a killer basketball player … way better than Todd, who’s clearly too busy clenching his jaw to really make a good jump shot. He also rocks at volleyball, making kids love him, and flirting with Jessica.

The other counselors at the camp from Sweet Valley are Aaron, Winston, Enid, Jessica (who only came along to meet boys, of course), and Cara (yes, that Cara). We can’t have it be completely SV people, so they add in Jill Blake and Kyle O’Brien from Big Mesa and Ed Ambrose and Melissa Milliken from Fort Carroll. Isn’t Fort Carroll way out there? That’s that town from Hostage! that the crazy kidnapper man lived in, right? What the hell are they doing all the way out here?

Right away everyone starts cooing over how great Kevin is while Todd keeps biting his lips and not saying anything. Kevin soon starts making threats that get more and more specific about how he’ll hurt Liz if Todd says anything to anyone about his past. Todd even stays quiet when he finds his car windshield busted. And the more Todd holds back, the more upset Liz gets because she’s hurt he’s being distant. Meanwhile Todd starts snapping at Kevin and lashing out at him in front of people and they assume he just hates Kevin for no apparent reason and talk about what an ass he is. Todd even overhears Melissa, Ed, Jill, and Kyle discussing what a dick he is which only adds to his abject misery. Finally Todd grows a pair and tells his parents what’s been happening, but his dad is all, “Look son, people change” or some shit like that and bullies his son into befriending Kevin and helping him start over. WOW, nice, Dad.

Meanwhile, Kevin and Jessica have been hanging all over each other. Jessica is convinced Kevin is the (latest) guy for her. (Sam doesn’t exist yet, or something. Oh don’t worry, this will only get more confusing.) When Kevin asks Jess out, Kevin goes ahead and invites Liz and Todd along as a double date. They decide they’ll go eat at Tiberino’s and then go dancing, and then when Jessica hears that Kevin is interested in working for Varitronics (Mr. Wilkins’ company), she suggests they all meet at Todd’s house first so that Kevin can talk to Mr. Wilkins. This is going to go REAL well. Mr. Wilkins is just bowled over by how great Kevin is and goes ahead and offers this convicted violent criminal a job at his company, then scolds Todd for not being more interested, himself. Like, right in front of everybody. I feel like an embarrassed teenager all over again just reading this. The mortification is oozing out of the page.

It gets worse. Kevin threatens Todd again; this time he wants Todd to bring him over for dinner and act like they’re friends. Todd does, Kevin and Mr. Wilkins get on like Donkey Kong again, and then Todd delights in discovering Kevin going through Mr. Wilkins’ desk later that evening. He runs and tattles, and Mr. Wilkins is all, “Look, son, I told him to go get a report out of there.”

Oh don’t worry, we can’t hit rock bottom and reach a good resolution until everyone is utterly and thoroughly convinced that Todd is the worst human being on Earth. So we have a scene with Todd and Liz dancing at the Beach Disco and Kevin cutting in, and Todd angrily cutting back in after he’s sick of watching them together, and Liz bitching Todd out for being controlling and jealous. Then she starts bawling and dumps him because she thinks they’re just getting sick of each other and he doesn’t really want to be in a relationship anymore. What the fuck, didn’t they already have THAT breakup? Enid praises Liz for her wise decision and tells her it will all work out for the best one way or another, or something.

We’re back at day camp again for Todd’s next descent into madness. Kevin is now brazenly flirting with Liz rather than Jess to piss Todd off, which of course works well. Now that Liz is free, Kevin is going to pull out all the stops to get with her. But, just then! a boy! in the water! drowning! It’s one of Todd’s campers! Todd and Kevin both dash off in the water to save him, and of course Kevin gets to him first. Kevin demands to know why Todd wasn’t watching him and Todd makes a snarky remark about Kevin making it a competition, and everyone is like, “What is your fucking problem Todd? GOD” Todd stomps off and overhears Winston and Aaron talking about how much Todd has changed. I like the way they’re talking to Todd directly to find out how they can help … oh wait.

Meanwhile, stuff starts missing around camp. Cara loses her Lucite keychain that has a picture of Steven in it, Liz’s lavaliere vanishes, Ed can’t find his watch, and Winston pouts about losing his lucky ball cap. Gee, whoooooo do you think is taking it? (And why would he take Cara’s keys? Is he going to steal her car or break in her house, or does he just like Steven’s stern stick-up-the-ass face?) Then people start getting mugged around town, starting with poor old Mr. Caster of Caster’s Bakery … Todd could probably solve it, but HE STILL DOESN’T SAY A FUCKING WORD.

The whole gang minus Todd heads to Guido’s where everyone talks about what an ass he is. That Melissa girl really seems to hate him the most. The table is too crowded and Kevin maneuvers things so he can sit with Liz alone. Jessica is not at all pleased with how Kevin has shifted his attention from one twin to the other. Kevin asks Liz out for a meal sometime and she says that would be great.

Later, Jessica, Lila, Cara, Winston, Aaron, Kyle, and Melissa are at the Secca Lake beach on a lunch break from day camp. They ask Todd to join them but he walks away into the lodge, which leads into a discussion about how dodgy he is lately. Then Kevin comes over and starts telling them about his version of the real Todd and what an ass he was in Burlington. Even though these kids have known Todd forever, and just met Kevin, and their good buddy obviously had some kind of huge problem with Kevin the second they saw him, they all believe Kevin’s version of events. Kevin claims that Todd routinely beat up people on the basketball court in Burlington, even a member of his own team, and then implies he tried to rape a girl in his car later. Everyone is horrified and Jessica decides she’s got to do whatever it takes to keep her sister from getting back together with Todd. When Liz joins Cara and Jess for a game of racquetball, Jess lies and says Lila told her Todd has been trying to mess with some girl at her country club. Liz believes it because she never really remembers who her sister is. Then everyone claims Kyle has a crush on Liz and they should get together.

An old lady is hurt in another mugging. Todd freaks out but of course does nothing. I dislike him immensely. Kevin takes Liz on a date to the Box Tree Cafe. When he shows up to the house, Liz decides they are just being friends because she’s a fucking idiot, in case you didn’t already know that. Jessica sees who Liz is going out with and freaks out and calls her a boy stealer. Kevin acts weird and pushy all evening and Liz is really disturbed. Then he forces an uncomfortable kiss on her when he drops her off.

At the same time, Todd is yelling at his dad for not treating him like a son. He runs and heads off to the beach to think, where he runs into Melissa, the last person who probably wants to see him. Melissa doesn’t see him though, and before Todd can say hi to her, he sees someone attack her, show a knife, yank off her bag and knock her to the ground. Todd doesn’t even try to help, he just runs away! What a fucking dickhole! Instead, he goes home and cries about how he could’ve helped prevent the violence but didn’t. I feel like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer: “Again, things that COULD’VE BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION YESTERDAY!”

Melissa is really shaken up by what happened. Todd finally tells SOMEBODY what is going on. He talks to Aaron and Winston about it, who tell him they believe him, but don’t really act like they do. But then the police find Todd’s pen (with his initials) on the beach and conclude it must have been him. Todd realizes Kevin got it out of his car somehow and planted it there to frame him because he never left the grass that night he saw Melissa getting mugged. The police go ahead and question Todd in front of Melissa about what happened, which has got to be 137 kinds of not right, right? Melissa hates Todd’s guts anyway, but even she is like, “Um … I don’t know …” Todd is arrested because the police think on the basis of Melissa’s “It might have been” it was definitely Todd.

At day camp the next day, Jessica goes in Kevin’s car to get a Frisbee and finds Liz’s lavaliere in the backseat. She immediately thinks Kevin might’ve stolen it. Knowing my sister had gone on a date with this dude recently, that is not the first thought that would enter MY head. Jessica shows the necklace to everyone else who decides maybe Todd was telling the truth. I hate these kids.

Todd’s dad bails him out of jail and then takes him to Secca Lake to get his car. When Todd shows up, everyone is immediately a lot nicer to him and then they tell him that Kevin took Liz off in the woods for a walk. Yep, Kevin is out there trying to strangle Liz to death because, as he helpfully explains, he wants to take one more thing from Todd to get back at him for making him suffer through getting butt-raped in prison. Okay, so he didn’t say the butt-raped part. But he was in jail for what, one week in the Sweet Valley timeline? Stop crying, you’re like the male Lindsay Lohan.

Todd pulls Kevin off Liz and they all go to the police station and crowd into a room to hear Kevin confess to the cops. THIS IS SO NOT KOSHER. The judge is gonna throw this shit right out. Kevin admits he stole Liz’s necklace and even though Liz’s throat is probably still bruised from being choked half to death, she’s all, “YOU STOLE MY NECKLACE!!!” Who did you think stole it, Einstein?

Kevin says he only did what he did because his older brother Brent died … oh god. There’s a reason. THERE’S ALWAYS A REASON. When Kevin was 16, two years ago, Brent was 18 and was letting Kevin drive his car for him and Kevin wrecked it and killed Brent and destroyed the whole family. Todd and his dad learn a valuable lesson and make up. Todd comes to Liz’s house and they make up and make out and watch PBS and play Scrabble.

Welcome to Sweet Valley … where even the bad guys aren’t bad, they’re just … misguided.

WTF? The most fucked thing about this book is the insane timeline. Enid is back with Hugh, so this is after book 84 when they get back together. But then Jessica is not dating Sam, so we have to assume this is all the way before book 80, when Jessica met Sam. AND Cara’s still hanging around and still dating Steven, so this has to be before book 83 as well. BUT the twins are driving the Jeep, which sets this plot after book 85! ME. SO. CONFUSED. How do you explain this? Seriously? Somebody write to me and explain how giant errors like this (and the whole disappearing Annie Sue Sawyer sister bit) happened.

During a conversation between Ned and Steven, it’s helpfully explained that Ned is in corporate law while Steven is interested in environmental law. Corporate … until next book.

THE COVER: This is basically the same picture of Todd that was on the cover of Dangerous Love, repainted, but pretty much the same. It looks idiotic, especially because Todd is smiling, which I don’t think he does on a single page of this book. He’s even wearing the same shirt, and has the same windblown hair. See?

Dangerous Love Todd

Todd's Story Todd

People in the UK got this cover, with Todd looking more like he does on The Love Bet:

British Todd's Story

Which cover do you like better? Personally, I think we American readers got robbed with our cover portrait. And I don’t know why they would do an entirely different portrait for you lucky UK kids. That’s not fair. I DEMAND ANSWERS.

… just kidding, all I demand is a good night’s sleep because I’m totally wrecked. NEXT UP: Some matchmaking is going on with some characters no one cares about anymore because they haven’t been mentioned in forever. It’s got to be better than this one!

EDIT: In case anyone was wondering … Todd’s initials are TPW.

Super Star #4 Olivia’s Story

The first Super Star since SVH redid the covers on us ... Olivia is happy about it at least.

Alright, so we’re finally on to our fourth Super Star now that I’ve quit effing around and gotten back to writing for this thing. The weird thing about this book is it’s more like a regular old Sweet Valley High book with extra pages, as opposed to a book that supposedly gives us all Olivia, all the time. There’s even a whole sub-plot revolving around the twins. This pisses me off. I am SO glad they didn’t give this treatment to Lila’s Story.

It’s the Christmas season (yes, AGAIN) and Olivia’s taking special painting classes at prestigious Forester Art School. We hear all about how obsessed with painting Olivia is, how that’s all she’s ever wanted to do, and how … wait, what? I distinctly remember Teacher Crush insisting that Olivia barely knew anything about painting. She learned it all from that teacher she had the mad crush on. What the fuck ever, let’s just move on.

Olivia admires a painting at the school and gets into a discussion about it with a dude who then reveals himself to be the artist. Is that the oldest trick in the book or what? “What do you think of this painting/book/bla bla? … Thanks for your honest opinion, ’cause I DID IT.” You know, that would piss me off if someone played a dirty trick like that on me the first time they met me. I hope if anyone ever does that to me I tear their art apart. “Oh oops, you mean this is YOUR art? Oh, so SORRY I just ripped it a new one.” The artist’s name is James Yates and he lives in near poverty in a slummy apartment, which must mean it’s in Betsy Martin’s neck o’ the woods. James makes what little money he has off of selling his paintings and refuses to get a real job of any sort.

James and Olivia start going out for coffee and hanging out at his place. Olivia notices that James goes without eating sometimes, and his clothes all have holes. It’s not long before Olivia has it bad for him. James inspires Olivia so much that she winds up doing one of her best abstract paintings of all time, “Mother and Child”. It’s based on the emotions evoked by a mother cradling her baby, as opposed to a scene of a mother and child. No one else gets it even when she explains to them how abstract painting works. Only James seems to understand how she feels about abstract art. But when Olivia hints that she’d like to be more than friends, he lets her know that he’s too obsessed with his painting to have time for a girlfriend. Liv is disappointed, but she accepts it … for now.

Meanwhile, we get to see more of Olivia’s family and her interactions with them. It seems she’s an only child, which is typical. Her parents have “important” jobs which again, is typical of anyone who isn’t a Martin or Whitman parent. We are told that Olivia’s parents have always been very supportive of her out-there dress and artistic interests, even if they don’t understand her, but the rest of the book doesn’t really support that. When Olivia goes to school using a vinyl record as a ponytail holder (how does that work? I’m going to have to try that), they seem rather shaken. Then Mrs. Davidson REALLY gets nervous when Olivia’s Aunt June and cousin Emily come to visit from Connecticut so that Emily, who’s a recent high school grad, can check out some colleges in California. Emily literally walks around with a color-coded set of fucking folders about her damn schools, and talks about nothing else but that. Well, isn’t that special, Emily. She’s probably one of the most boring characters since Enid Rollins. Emily’s arrival makes Mrs. Davidson terribly concerned about her own daughter’s future, while Aunt June encourages her to do something about Olivia’s lack of direction. So Mrs. Davidson starts ragging on Liv to dress more conservatively, get a respectable job at Simpson’s department store (where Mrs. Davidson also works) and start thinking about college now. Now? The girl’s 16. Let her enjoy high school for a little bit longer, GOD MOM.

Mrs. Davidson and Aunt June think Emily should hang out with Olivia 24-7, even though they seriously have nothing in common. Olivia shows Emily her latest works of art and Emily doesn’t even attempt to act like it’s cool but is all “Buh? Wuh? … Oh cool, I like these random still-lifes you have stuffed in a closet better.” I’m not much of an artist, but I can see how that would be pretty damn annoying. She doesn’t even try to figure out what abstract art is about and you know, take a polite interest in Olivia’s art and learn more about it; instead she rudely just lets it show that she thinks it’s weird. I wish Miss Manners would show up and bop this chick over the head with an etiquette manual. Next Olivia takes Emily with her to meet James at the coffee shop. James and Olivia don’t talk about Emily or ask her questions about herself but launch into conversations about art while they pretty much ignore Emily and seem annoyed every time they have to stop and explain to her what in fuck they’re talking about.

Okay, so now I wish Miss Manners would walk in the coffee shop and drop an etiquette manual onto the lap of James’ hole-y jeans. I’m starting to really dislike him at this point. He’s so devoted to his art that he thinks of nothing else, except when he mentions how he hopes he sells a painting so he can make his rent. He has to split a sandwich with Olivia one time because he can’t afford to pay for the whole thing. I hope he doesn’t expect us to feel sorry for him because it’s his own damn choice to live like that. Then he has the gall to raise his eyebrows when Olivia decides to go get a job at Simpson’s to help make some Christmas money. This is supposed to be a bad thing that she wants to have some extra dough for the holidays. Shut up James, you want people to let you make your own choices about how you live so let Olivia make her own.

Of course, Olivia’s real fear is that being an artist automatically means being poor. Little by little, Olivia’s fear of the future and starving to death causes her to act out in rather irrational ways. She cuts off all her beautiful curly hair, starts buying more fashionable, preppy clothing, and exchanges painting the abstracts that she loves for the still-lifes that everyone else approves of. This makes me sad. Next, Olivia begins dating Robert Simpson, the son of the Simpsons mogul or whatever, which pisses Jessica Wakefield off because SHE had her eye on Robert and has been attempting to rub herself all over him in the men’s wallet department. Robert is nice enough, but he’s also all about a more professional Olivia who acts like everyone else. He helps Olivia shop for new clothes and snags her a deal to sell some of her new mainstream paintings through Simpson’s. Back at the Davidson household, Olivia’s mom seems to realize that she’s overstepped her bounds; now instead of sniping at Olivia to change, she wants to sit her down and ask her WHY she’s changing so much. God, can’t everyone just leave each other alone in these books?

While all this is going on, Emily starts secretly dressing in Olivia’s clothing and stealing away to see James. He’s a little weirded out by her unannounced visits and doesn’t really welcome her, but is at least cool enough not to ask her what her problem is. James learns through Emily that Olivia is kinda dating someone else now and is sad. Well, fuck off James, you’re the one who said you didn’t want to date anyone right now. Meanwhile, Robert takes Olivia to a posh Christmas party and it’s incredibly boring. It’s filled with kids from Robert’s private school which of course means they’re all horribly snooty and talk like 30-year-old D.C. socialites. You know, I knew a fair amount of private school kids growing up and they weren’t like this, Francine. Anyway, Olivia meets Robert’s friends – Chas, Laura, Chris, and two kids named Brandon – and then ends up stuck on a couch with three chicks named Diana, Beryl, and Margot who think a happening high school party involves discussion about how and when to apply to college and which careers are best to pursue if you aren’t going to marry a rich husband. Fuckin’ Beryl even goes on and on about the hassles of hiring a nanny these days like she has kids and has to worry about it now. Are you looking to audition for Teen Mom Beryl? Kill me. Olivia is so miserable listening to them prattle on that she just walks out on the conversation while Margot is trying to offer her some career advice. They think she’s uber rude but she’s too depressed about her situation to care. She’s become determined to be somebody she’s not because the fear of being poor like James is destroying her.

Liz comes to see Olivia and gets very sad when she realizes how much Olivia has changed and catches her painting her still-lifes. I’ll go off about THAT dumb bitch in a little bit. But let’s go on to James. He has been trying to get together with Olivia again since she’s been ignoring him for a while now. She heads over to his place with her Christmas present for him, a nice silver paperweight she picked out that’s in the shape of a J. But James is really disgusted with The New Olivia – he laughs at her and calls her new clothes “a joke” – and then he gets PISSED when he opens her present! He says: “I don’t want it. […] This is the emptiest, most meaningless present anyone ever gave me.”

HO. LY. SHIT.

Miss Manners, PLEASE walk in and tell this fucker off and tell him he can shove that paperweight right up his rigid little – wellllll, that wouldn’t be Miss Manners if she said that. But seriously? Olivia probably wasn’t using her brain when she picked that out, but she did think James would like it. And this is what he says? Fucking dickhole! I’m glad this fucker thinks he’s important enough to dictate what other people’s presents to him should be! Go give Olivia the address to your damn Amazon wishlist why don’t ya! I get it I get it, he is upset with The New Olivia because she’s not The Real Olivia, but still … she gave you a PRESENT dude. Is this how you act at Christmas when Mommy and Daddy give you the wrong type of oil paint James? Man, I would tell him to try and use the hooked end of the J to see if he can get that old moldy paintbrush pulled out of his tight ass! Jackass! Olivia is really upset and she takes the paperweight back and storms out of his apartment.

So here’s how this mess all ends. Emily goes to see James one last time and hints at him that she wants to date him after she moves to Cali for college. She’s awfully ballsy considering James has shown zero interest in her. James gently lets her down without saying it out loud and Emily realizes that he’s in love with Olivia. Wow, no shit Em? Meanwhile, Olivia’s mother shows her the big bad secret the back of the cover promised us: that she used to be an artist, too, but gave it up because everyone told her to and has regretted it ever since. Liv gets to see some of her mom’s old paintings which she has stashed away in the attic. Okay. You know, the cover said it was a “startling secret” but there were so many hints dropped about this bullshit that it was hardly startling. Next, Olivia goes to Robert’s house to exchange Christmas presents. Robert says “nice” about her still-life that she gives him, and then his present for her is … a Filofax. You heard me! This 17 or 18 year old senior in high school just gave his 16 year old girlfriend a PERSONAL DATEBOOK. The gift depresses the hell out of Olivia as she realizes that Robert thinks of her as the type of person who would in fact want a Filofax for Christmas (and you know, I kind of wouldn’t mind a Filofax myself, haha) and she flees his house and breaks Robert’s heart into a million Lacoste-logo’ed pieces. She heads home where she and Emily run into each other dressed as well, each other. They laugh at their silliness, agree that they will each stick to their strict cookie-cutter character molds so that this stays a Sweet Valley book, and then Olivia runs off to James’s house in her “real” clothes to give him a present he can approve of … the “Mother and Child” abstract painting that she did before, the one that nobody else liked. As she climbs the stairs to his apartment, she hears a child shriek with joy and realizes that poor people can be happy at Christmas, too. James loves the painting and apologizes to Olivia for being a shithead the other night. Then he takes her to see her present: two murals of Olivia he painted in an alley. One has her laughing and acting like herself and the other shows her all proper in her boring Simpson’s clothes. He asks her to choose which one she wants to be because she apparently can’t have both. She’s not allowed to experiment with who she is as a teenager, because that’s just unacceptable in the world of James Yates. She chooses the artist Olivia and James hugs her and they make out in the alley and admit they love each other or something. Olivia seems to figure out that sometimes, you can just give yourself a break and let some things work out on their own. But God forbid she decide to go to college or get a “real” job some day … methinks James won’t like that.

Oh yeah … that whole Wakefield sub-plot. Jessica convinces Elizabeth that they need Christmas jobs and Liz acts like that’s the dumbest thing she’s ever heard of. Of course, because it wasn’t your idea right Liz? I hate her. They have a joint interview at Simpson’s (because they’re twins, I’m sure! tee hee!) and Jess gets assigned to Infants & Children’s stockroom while Liz works at the paper wrapping station. Jess spends her time drooling over Robert Simpson, acting like it’s SOOOO amazing that his dad owns a department store, and vowing to hook up with him once “the real Olivia” reappears, but we never learn if she does in fact get the prized Simpson schlong.

I wonder if James will continue to be Olivia’s boyfriend in the main series. Guess we’ll find out. I kind of hope not. He seemed cool at first, but he started to get holier-than-thou and rather douchey near the end. I’m not impressed with him.

The really weird thing about this book? We already saw Olivia trying to change herself a little before when she was dating Roger and he went to live with the Patmans. So it’s kind of like a more intense rehash of the same old story! Who’d have thought, right …

WTF? Jessica just hooked up with Sam in the last book, but no mention of him here. I guess publication dates don’t always land in chronological story order (um, to say the least).

When Liz and Jess arrive at Simpson’s for their job interview, Jess shoots the receptionist her most dazzling smile, and this is how Liz reacts. “Elizabeth was tempted to remind her sister that the receptionist was not the person who would be hiring them. All that charm going to waste, she thought.” You know what, FU, Liz. Should she be rude to the receptionist? Guess who’s going to share her opinion with the boss about who couldn’t be bothered to treat her with the same respect she treated the big man? God, if this isn’t a prime example of Liz just looking for ways to be a patronizing little twat!

There’s no mention of Olivia’s last boyfriend Rod Sullivan or what happened with the two of them.

Weird Time Warp! Jessica mentions the twins’ internships at the Sweet Valley News, which took place over the Super Thriller series in the summer. Now it’s Christmastime again and they’re still juniors.

James orders Olivia a slice of pie on one of their “friends only dates” or whatever, and she doesn’t touch it. Then James suggests they leave if she’s finished! Um, hello? She hasn’t eaten any of it! And he even paid for it! Olivia, get a to-go box lady.

Emily is at least the third new kid from Connecticut. What? Francine must have family there.

Aunt June mentions how she and Emily specified the vegetarian meal ahead of their flight to Sweet Valley, so that they would be served first on the plane. I can’t tell you the pangs this gave me for the days when you could travel domestically and get a full meal. I think I haven’t had that on a domestic flight since I was a little girl. I even flew from the East Coast to the West non-stop recently and I had to pay 7 dollars for a little snack box so I could have something resembling a meal in flight! Are you kidding me!

In the very earliest books Olivia was passionate about different social causes; it would’ve been cool to see her crusading for something other than James’s wein here.

When Olivia comes to school with her new hair cut, everyone annoys her by acting all sad that she chopped her hair. Even though she did it for the wrong reason, I have to say, that’s not cool. Listen to fucking Elizabeth: “Olivia, what did you do? […] But I loved your hair long. It was so beautiful and exotic.” Oh, so it’s ugly now? Nice one, Liz.

There are a lot of DC-area/Virginia references in this book. The kids at Robert’s party mention schools like Georgetown U. and UVA, and Olivia thinks that the giant Simpson house looks like something from Virginia or Maryland.

FROM THE MOUTH OF LILA FOWLER: Jessica: “I have a job interview.” Lila: “A what?” Jessica: “You know, a job? As in working? That’s what those of us who didn’t inherit a whole bankful of money actually do.” Lila: (shuddering) “Gross.”

The COVER shows Olivia in all her artsy glory. She looks cute! But my scalp aches looking at the way she has her hair flipped over like that. I know that was the style, but it always hurt me to try and copy.

READER OF THE MONTH: Jill is 13 and looks at least two years older. And her bangs are so high they look like a wave Bill Chase could surf on. I remember my own sister styling her bangs like that and using so much hairspray that you couldn’t walk by her room without choking on it! It was a hit at the time, but now I’m forbidden to show anyone the school photos of her from that era! Anyway, Jill says she hopes that “the twins are always there for me.” That kinda makes it sound like you hope they show up at your 14th birthday party Jill. Anyway, you got your wish this year! Did you read SVC, Jill? (No seriously, did you? I’m always curious how many of these Readers of the Month went on to purchase SVC.)

FUN FACT! The novel Windchill Summer by Norris Mailer takes place in the fictional town of SWEET VALLEY … Arkansas!

Coming up next … Some new girl named Rosa moves to Sweet Valley, changes name, hides heritage. What’s up with all the new kids in Sweet Valley over the last several books?

Super Star #3 Enid’s Story

That is totally a Lifetouch school portrait

Wow, Enid sucks. And we know this because a book that’s supposed to be all about her is at least half about Liz. Hell, the second page of this book tells us all about how wonderful Enid thinks Liz is. Keep in mind that the book has told us almost nothing about Enid yet, other than that she’s Liz’s best friend. And let’s not forget the back cover: “People who meet pretty, quiet Enid Rollins find it hard to believe that she ever ran with a wild crowd. She’s popular…” (among whom? she only has one fucking friend!) “…a straight-A student, and is best friends with Elizabeth Wakefield. Finally, Enid seems to have her life together.” Could this series possibly be more of an Elizabeth Wakefield propaganda machine? I feel like it’s Orwell’s 1984 and there are signs flashing in the alley: “FRANCINE IS WATCHING YOU. WORSHIP LIZ.”

Well, since there’s plenty of Liz in this book, we get all the horribly corny bad jokes throughout while they wrap presents, and all Enid’s inner thoughts about how great Liz is … blarrrrgh. Then the last day of school before winter vacation arrives. The book announces none of the teachers expect anyone to do any real work, which seems to be the case most of the time anyway, and so they have in-class parties all day and then head over to the Dairi Burger. Liz is sad because Todd is going on a ski vacation with his rich family in Utah over the entire break. I guess that’s better than the LASt Christmas in her junior year, or one of the last, in which Todd essentially left her for Suzanne Devlin. Sweet Valley is an endless time-loop of holiday disappointments. But when Liz comes into the Dairi Burger, she winds up getting stuck under the mistletoe with none other than the boy she dumped in order to get back together with Todd – Jeffrey French. See, I told you he’s only useful when he’s got something to do with Liz. Jeffrey and Liz jokingly kiss at everyone’s insistence, but it gets Liz all hot and bothered and she has to gulp Enid’s soda to calm down. Then Jessica comes in and stands under the mistletoe asking for kisses and Bruce takes her up on it while everyone hoots and hollers. Next Jessica runs around rubbing herself all over every boy in the room and making stupid “Have you been bad or good?”-type come-ons at them. She realizes she’s dated every last one of them except for Jeffrey, so she runs over and holds the mistletoe over his head. Jeffrey is all excited until he realizes it’s Jess, not Liz, but he gives her a quick kiss anyway. Jessica starts thinking about how she can help Jeffrey get over Liz by seducing him, or something. For fuck’s sake!

Enid has a friendly conversation with Jeffrey at the Dairi Burger about what to buy his mom for Christmas. He winds up asking her to go to the Sweet Valley High ice skating party with him. It’s supposed to be a friendly date, but Enid feels guilty about it and hides it from Liz. Liz says she isn’t going to the skating party because she’s too busy moping around about Todd being gone. Cry me a fucking river! But then on the morning of, Jessica drags Liz out of bed and convinces her to go, and then of course Liz sees Enid and Jeffrey skating together, figures out that Enid hid their date from her, and gets jealous. Enid tells her it’s not a big deal and Liz seems okay, but then she avoids Enid and Jeffrey for the whole rest of the skating party. Enid realizes she is crushing hard on Jeffrey and feels even guiltier. Then Jessica sees a hot boy skating by that Lila knows, named Brian Saunders. He graduated from Big Mesa High and is now at the University of Colorado. Jessica is apparently the best skater around, but she pretends to stumble into Brian and that she needs help getting around the rink. They are flirting when Enid skates right into them. Brian knows who Enid is and tries to talk to her, but Enid recognizes Brian as a “bad” guy from her past, and hightails it out of there while Brian stares after her in dismay and forgets Jessica exists. Ha ha ha! Jessica is such a bitch most of the time that it serves her right. That doesn’t stop her from grilling Enid about him later, though, but Enid won’t tell her shit about him because it’s none of her effing business.

That night, Jeffrey takes Enid to see a horror movie and they have a great time, but Enid thinks he still loves Liz because he keeps talking about her. So what? At least 80 percent of anything Enid talks about at any given moment has to do with Liz, too. Enid decides the best way to test Jeffrey’s feelings for her is to buy him a Christmas present and see what his reaction is. So she goes to the Valley Mall and buys him … a postcard and a pint of ice cream. No, really. Okay, so the postcard is a vintage picture of the ice skater/actress Sonja Henie, whom Jeffrey compared Enid to at the skating party, but it’s still … a postcard! That’ll show him you care. You know, there are so many references to classic movies and movie stars in these books that it’s hard to believe they are about 1980s/1990s teenagers. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE classic movies and movie stars, but I’m also not the entire population of a Southern California high school.

Hehehe, so Enid goes over to Jeffrey’s and gives him his presents and he gives her a book of poetry. Then Jeffrey tells Enid that he needs to ask her a question … Enid is sure he’s going to ask her out … but instead, Jeffrey asks Enid if she thinks Liz might still be interested in him! Why? Because Liz brought some homemade cookies over to him earlier that day (presumably after many books of not even talking to his ass) that she said she made ‘specially for him. Enid is devastated but succeeds in hiding it. Jeffrey is majorly confused and it’s obvious he still has feelings for Liz and kind of wants to do something about it, but he can’t be sure what Liz is thinking, and it’s unethical for him to steal Todd’s chick anyway. Why not? Didn’t Todd steal her from you? Just pass her back and forth, that’s what everyone does with the other twin.

Enid is really upset that Liz didn’t tell her she was baking Jeffrey cookies earlier when she talked to her on the phone, and thinks Liz might’ve done it deliberately to sabotage Enid’s potential relationship with him. “Elizabeth and her Christmas cookies had ruined everything.” Do you guys have ANY idea how hard I laughed when I read that quote? Seriously, I fucking died. HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAA! Enid goes home and Jeffrey tries to call and ask her out to drive go-carts or some shit, but she turns him down because she felt like he lead her on and she’s upset about it. She’s also mad that Liz is essentially leading Jeffrey on, because she kind of is. I hate Liz. But again, Jeffrey hasn’t a clue that Enid is upset with him, because Enid doesn’t exactly come out and say anything to him. She’s all passive-aggressive like that. Then Brian Saunders calls to ask her out and claims he has changed for the better and that he always liked her. Enid agrees to go out with him and then she just … goes. These kids seriously have no supervision at all. You’d think Enid’s mom would at least remember all the assholes Enid used to hang around with and monitor her daughter’s friendships at least a teeny tiny bit.

Brian takes Enid out for Thai food at Bangkok Palace, where he orders a beer and asks Enid if she wants one. Enid declines but isn’t offended that Brian is drinking because she “knew that it was possible to drink beer sensibly. And beer was probably refreshing with spicy food.” Uh, if you’re 21, I guess? Because the drinking age in California has been 21 since before December 1990 (when this was published). I’m confused. He just ordered beer in a restaurant and nobody carded him. Maybe he looks old. Or maybe he’s actually 21. You know those older men love them some Enid jailbait. That didn’t explain how he seemed to think he could get a 16-year-old a beer successfully. This isn’t the Shady Lady!

After dinner, Brian asks Enid if she wants to go say hi to some college friends of his who are having a Christmas gathering. Enid reluctantly says yes, and Brian suddenly seems intent on getting there and not on talking to her. He was really polite earlier! When they get there, the party is full of loud music, smoke (cigarettes and pot), free Dixie cups of beer, couples making out, and laughing drunk people. Okay, so it’s like a typical college party. Enid doesn’t want to be there, especially not after Brian almost immediately vanishes after introducing her to some chick named Jackie. Enid finally finds him in the basement, playing a drinking game I never heard of. You put a paper towel over a Dixie cup and then a quarter over that. Then you make holes in the paper towel with a cigarette until the quarter falls through. If you’re the one who makes the quarter fall, you have to chug the cup. Anyone ever play that one? Anyway, Brian loses, so he chugs the cup while Enid tries to get his attention so they can go home. But he’s already wasted and doesn’t give a shit about what Enid wants anymore, so he goes back to ignoring her and she calls herself a cab home. That Brian is a real ass. God, you know, I went on a date like that once in college, with this boy who had been begging me to go out with him all semester. We went to a party together that was supposed to be awesome, but it was boring, and he ignored me all fucking night, then didn’t get why I didn’t want to go out with him again. That boy sucks. Another time, this other boy asked me out and then brought his friend along and they proceeded to spend the whole evening babbling about girls they had slept with while my date occasionally ordered me some potato skins. I went back home super early. God! What the fuck is wrong with people! Enid, how dare you remind me of these injustices!

Christmas Eve rolls around and Liz is still whining to herself about how her Christmas is useless without Todd, or something. God, I just want to puke! We learn that Liz basically DID make those cookies just to lead Jeffrey on! Liz makes herself feel better by talking on the phone all lovey-dovey to her main man. Gee, it must be nice for you to be reassured you still have Todd while the boy you dumped for him sits at home pining for your ass. Meanwhile, Enid is having family problems on top of everything else. Her father is in town on business and is supposed to meet her for lunch on Christmas Eve at the Sweet Valley Regency, but when she gets there, she finds him drunk off his ass in the hotel’s Oak Room bar. What really sucks about this is that Mrs. Rollins and Enid had been fighting about Enid ditching other family plans so that she could see her dad. Man, Enid’s Christmas sucks a dick. She gets home in despair and then Jeffrey calls to ask her to attend George Warren’s Christmas Eve party with him, and she says okay. Almost as soon as they get there, Jeffrey and Liz go into a den to have a private talk about Elizabeth and her Christmas cookies ruining everything. They agree the past is past or something, but that they’ll always be friends, which is bullshit I’m sure, and then when they come out of the den they’re under mistletoe again. They do another kiss for old times’ sake (right) and embrace. Enid sees them from across the room and is miserable, so she goes to sit on the patio and feel sorry for herself. Then there’s a funny scene where Jessica runs into Brian and tries to flirt with him, but he just asks her if she’s seen Enid. Then she runs into Jeffrey and tries to flirt with him, but he also just asks her if she’s seen Enid. HAHAHA! Then she runs into Liz but Liz just wants to know if she has seen Enid! Jessica is confused and pissed. Ha ha ha!

Brian Saunders finds Enid first, and he apologizes to her for the way he behaved on their date, and they wind up slow dancing together because Enid wants to show Liz she doesn’t give a fuck about her smoochin’ on Jeffrey. Both Liz and Jeffrey try to interrupt Enid and Brian, which really annoys me. They remind me of hovering parents. Then Brian and Enid leave the party together for Miller’s Point. They run into George on the way out, who gives Enid a “do you know what you’re doing?” look. Okay, first of all, what the fuck is Brian doing at George’s party anyway? We heard so much about how bad “the old crowd” that Enid and George used to hang with is, so why would George even let Brian in the door since Brian clearly hasn’t changed? I think old Georgie still likes hittin’ the bong every now and again.

On the way to Miller’s Point, Enid thinks about whether a relationship with Brian could work even though he’d be off at college in Colorado. Are you joking me? What the hell Enid? You just broke up with Hugh at the end of the very last book and here you are desperately trying to latch onto a new man already. I guess that’s the way it works when you have no real friends except for Elizabeth Wakefield and whatever boy you are dating at the time. When they get to the Point, Brian kisses Enid but she doesn’t feel excited by it or anything. Then Brian whips out a joint and convinces Enid to smoke it with him. They also pass around a bottle of bourbon. This scene is hilarious, with them attempting to sing the “12 Days of Christmas” and slurring shit, calling turtle doves “turldoves” and pear trees “bear trees”. Then Brian wants to know what a bear tree is. (Answer: According to Enid, it’s a tree with bears in it. Thanks for clearing that up, Enid.)

Meanwhile, Jessica has finally met an eligible bachelor at the party, Steve’s college buddy Michael. Within about 5 to 10 minutes of being introduced, they’re headed off to the Point. What the fuck is up with Jessica in this book? She’s seriously flirting with EVERY boy she comes across, even Winston, whom she can’t stand, and George, because she thinks it’s funny to get a boy with a girlfriend all hot and bothered. And she had the audacity to criticize Annie Whitman back in the day?

At the Point, Jess and Michael don’t get to make out because the car next to them starts blaring really loud music. Jessica storms over there and raps on the window, but the occupants don’t answer, so she throws open the car door to find … Enid and Brian, lost in a haze of smoke and with the bourbon bottle sitting between them. Jessica is stunned and asks Enid if she’s drunk, but Enid can’t really answer. Jessica rushes right back to the car and gets Michael to take her back to George’s party … not because she’s concerned, but because she can’t wait to spread the juicy gossip. Meanwhile, Liz has called Mrs. Rollins to say she’s worried about Enid because she left with Brian and no one knows where they went. Take a wild guess, woman. Mrs. Rollins freaks out because she knows Brian was a bad boy … so why did you let your daughter go out with him the other night? WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THIS DAMN TOWN! Then Mr. Rollins shows up, hungover yet sober, looking to apologize to Enid. When he hears she’s missing with Brian, he drives to Kelly’s to look for her, or maybe it was the Shady Lady. (Mrs. Rollins calls it “the Pink Lady, or something like that.”) When he gets there, he sees all the drunks at the bar and realizes that’s going to be him someday, so he throws out a bottle of gin that was in his glove compartment and swears, “No more.” Then he peels off for George’s party, where he asks all the kids if they’ve seen Enid. Jessica arrives with Michael at the same time, so she takes a moment to step forward and dramatically proclaim that she saw Enid wasted at the Point. Rather than praising her as she had hoped, everyone jumps all over her for not giving Enid a ride back to the party. What the fuck was Jessica supposed to do, drag her out of the car? How fucking stupid. Jeffrey, Liz, Lila, and Jessica all run around with Mr. Rollins looking for Brian and Enid. This is at least the second Christmas in which everyone is furious with Jessica and she gets driven around to look for some poor girl she wronged.

While Scooby and friends are sniffing out Enid’s whereabouts, Brian is driving all over town at high speeds, cackling like a maniac while Enid screams hysterically. This is so much like the Rick Andover car chase scene from Double Love. Enid is so embarrassed that Jessica saw them, because she knows Jessica will tell everyone. Enid wants to be taken home, but Brian thinks she lead him on and is refusing. He sideswipes two cars, yells about what a drag Enid is a couple of times, and finally speeds back up to the Point, where Brian tries to play chicken with Mr. Rollins’ car (which is coming back down after looking for Enid). Brian loses the game, so to speak. He smashes through a guardrail and flips the car. Mr. Rollins saves both Enid and Brian from the car, but it explodes and he and Brian are badly burned. How dramatic. Would you expect anything less?

The wrap-up, ’cause I’m starting to not care anymore: Enid wakes up to a Christmas in the hospital. Jeffrey, Lila, Liz, and Jess all come to her room to give her presents and whatnot. Jessica is only there because she feels guilty, I’m sure, and Lila is probably just there because she’s already spending Christmas with the Wakefields since Mr. Fowler is away on business again. Mrs. Rollins gives Enid an update on her father and Enid goes to see him and he says he’s checking into rehab right after he’s released from the hospital. Brian is going to do the same because now he realizes he needs help. How nice. Then Lila Fowler throws a big New Year’s party. She tries to flirt with Jeffrey (Lila, please give up on him already. He only likes boring chicks) but he’s intent on finding Enid. Jessica intends to get Michael to fall in love with her at the party. Enid and Jeffrey talk on the balcony about how the time isn’t right for a relationship, but they’ll take it slow and see what happens. That doesn’t stop them from sharing a New Year’s kiss. So are they going to be the next hot Sweet Valley item? I read several books after this one, but I don’t recall them ever being together.

What the fuck? For starters, I’m wondering if it’s even possible for a Sweet Valley Christmas book to be published without all the horribly cheesy jokes. You should hear all the ridiculous Christmasy shit Jessica says while trying to flirt with dudes at the Dairi Burger.

Enid gives Liz a satin, heart-shaped box that she bought for her at a specialty store for Christmas. It must have cost at least a decent amount of her allowance. And what does Liz give Enid? A picture of the two of them in a frame. Never before have presents so accurately represented each girl’s view of the friendship.

Neil Freemount is still an active part of the regular Sweet Valley gang, but Andy Jenkins is nowhere to be found or even mentioned! There are SO many things I could say about this that I just can’t even …

This book talks about how Jessica once spread a rumor that Bruce kisses like a jellyfish (but he really doesn’t), but that incident doesn’t happen until a book published AFTER this one. I double-checked!

Liz gives Jessica bright pink hoop earrings for Christmas. Jessica was going to give Liz a pair of bright green sunglasses with hot pink flamingoes on them. (She gives them to Enid in the hospital instead.) How typical of Jessica to give Liz something Liz would never wear, but Jessica could “borrow” for herself later.

We’re told that “as far as Jessica was concerned” her relationship with Bruce was a disaster because “Jessica didn’t like going out with anyone who demanded more attention than she did.” Gee, that’s a good way to sum up that Bruce was emotionally abusive and cheated on her all the time, and she put up with it until she saw for herself that he was cheating on her with that Aline girl.

Enid’s cousin is also named Brian. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, then you should know what this name repetition does to me. I was working on a new page that lists all of the characters so you can see how often basic names are repeated, but typing out “Tim” something like eight times was irritating the stick I have up my ass just a little too much. I don’t want to get hemorrhoids.

We learn that Enid was 14 when she ran with “the old crowd.”

The ghostwriter says that “just about the worst thing that had ever happened to Elizabeth” was Todd moving to Vermont. Are. you. fucking. joking.

At the New Year’s party, Liz and Jeffrey smile at each other knowing their time together is up and their confused feelings were just that, confusion, because Liz loves Todd and Jeffrey kind of likes Enid. Then Liz exchanges a look with Todd that shows her feelings and she knows he understands perfectly. What? So did Liz tell Todd everything that happened? Just try to tell me that Todd wouldn’t have punched Jeffrey in the jaw if he knew what went on while he was away!

Jess and Liz eat all the shitty candy and Christmas snacks they want and don’t gain a pound. I hate them.

The cover: Enid looks really pretty if you ask me. I like her hair better that way then I do on her other covers, that’s for sure!

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: “Humble is for other people. I have a reputation to maintain, you know.”
-and-
(in her underwear, preparing for the party) “Think anyone would notice if I went downstairs like this?”
-and-
(in response to Jessica saying she’s so mad she could just bite someone) “That sounds like fun. Did you have anyone particular in mind?”

Coming up next: Jessica vies for a shot at fame. Business as usual.

Super Star #2 Bruce’s Story

Bruce's Story? More like Bruce's BORE-Y! HAAAAAAAA

This book was such a huge letdown! I was hoping it would perk me back up after the horrible experience of suffering through Trouble at Home, but nope, even Bruce’s story was shockingly boring! And half the time it centered on Roger anyway! I’m almost looking forward to reading about Liz running away in Who’s to Blame? … now, please pretend I didn’t just admit that.

So I know everyone is wondering what happened to Roger Barrett Patman since he and Olivia broke up almost 20 books ago and he dropped off the face of the earth. Well, he’s STILL adjusting to life in the Patman mansion, even though he’s been there since book 16, but he and Bruce are getting along better since the days of Perfect Summer. He’s still smarting a bit from his painful breakup with Olivia and it looks like they don’t talk anymore. Instead, he hangs around with his “old friend” Ken Matthews (what? since when are they good friends at all let alone “old friends”. Remember when Olivia was his only friend?). He also has a new “just friends” chick, a sophomore girl named Lisa DePaul. Hey hey hey, it’s our fifth individual chick named Lisa in this series! I’m sorry, y’all know how I am about name redundancy.

Bruce is still convinced he is the best thing on planet Earth and Roger is in reluctant awe of him. Groan. The boys’ Grandfather Patman, Alexander, is coming to visit soon for his 70th birthday party. This is apparently the man who made the Patman fortune and he is supposed to be terrifying. Roger has never met Grandfather Patman, but Bruce is doing an excellent job getting him super nervous about it. When Grandfather Patman arrives – can I just call him Alexander? – he gets to work giving all kinds of lectures about working out, getting up early, making good grades, paying attention to business trends, and not taking all their riches for granted. Bruce catches hell for running into something and scratching the Porsche (while craning his neck to look at a girl he likes), breaking a glass, and hinting that he wants a new Windsurfer, and Roger catches hell for not knowing what’s going on in the Patmans’ business. Alexander tells Roger all about his late father Paul and how great he was, which makes Bruce mad because he thinks hearing about his dead uncle is boring and they should talk about him instead. This in turn sparks arguments and resentment between the cousins about who’s getting yelled at for what, or something. This part of the book isn’t terribly interesting, but at least it’s peppered with hysterical Bruce quotes like, For just a minute, he was reminded that there was nothing better in the world than being Bruce Patman, and “You’re wounding me, wounding me deeply. But if you have to put things in such crude terms, the truth is I wouldn’t mind asking you a tiny favor.” That last one comes about because Bruce has become obsessed with a girl in his class named Tracy Atkins. He’s been basically stalking her and when he figures out that Tracy is best friends with Lisa, he gets Roger to have Lisa invite Tracy to Alexander’s party. What the fuck, this 70 year old really wants all these young chicks he doesn’t know at his family birthday party? Is he Hugh Hefner?

The PTA asks Sweet Valley High to elect a representative from each class to help raise the money to save the Nicholson School for special needs kids. Wait, isn’t Bruce the student council president who works directly with the PTA? Why didn’t he know about this SAVE shit ahead of time? Maybe he was impeached. Anyway, I’ll give you one guess who is elected the junior class rep! That’s right, we’re going to be hearing more from Liz than we bargained for in this book. And Liz is, of course, completely shocked she’s been elected to do this job. Are you kidding me? First of all, who the hell else would want to do it and second of all, she’s an idiot if she really thought she wouldn’t get it. She’s like a beauty queen pretending to be surprised and bawling at winning the the pageant when her competition is hideous. Then the other SAVE reps elect Liz to lead their whole committee. Oh, Lisa is the sophomore rep and Tracy is the senior rep. Talk about your convenient plot devices.

Bruce starts trying to impress Tracy. She has no clue who he is and when he explains he’s Bruce Patman, she’s like, “Oh. Gotta run.” I’m delighted by this until it turns out that Tracy is secretly in awe that Bruce likes her. Oh, for fuck’s sake. Bruce and Roger start hanging out at all the SAVE meetings. Then Henry and Marie Patman announce they’re going to Japan for a month (or “the Far East” as they put it) and leaving the boys behind to be watched by Grandfather Patman. Poor Alexander, I am sure he doesn’t want to babysit two bratty spoiled teenage boys, but he goes for it. And, as a revenge tactic (or so I believe), he decides to set up a little competition between Roger and Bruce. Each boy has to turn in all their credit cards, checkbooks, and cash and they’ll get 2000 bucks from Alexander in return. The boys have a month to make the most of the cash and whoever has more at the end of the month is the winner – of the Patman Corporation, in Alexander’s will, which will go to the winner after his son Henry dies. WHOA WHOA, stop – isn’t it up to Henry then, to decide who gets the corporation after he dies? What the fuck? Can you dictate the will that far down the line? (I don’t know anything about wills – maybe it’s like a condition you can include in there – good to know I can dictate what happens to something for eons after I’m dead if I feel like it!) Each boy must swear to keep the competition a secret from everyone else until the night of the “big reveal” which just makes it all the easier for Bruce to manipulate it to his advantage.

The rest of the book is a total snoozefest! Bruce continues to stalk Tracy. He spends all his money taking Tracy out. At one point he buys some tickets for a band called “Starfest” for 50 bucks each – a bargain today if you ask me – only to find Tracy can’t go. Oh, and he has to fix his Porsche after he runs it into some lady’s Camaro. Yes, that means he wrecks his car twice in this book. He’s thinking about Tracy each time. Then he ends up pissing several hundred dollars away at his friend Judd Phipps’ poker game. Roger, meanwhile, decides the key to success is to invest 15 grand in the stock market. The stock broker is Lisa’s dad and so he does a couple of things for Roger he wouldn’t normally do for anyone else. Now, I know jack shit about stocks but I think both of these actions are illegal or at least highly unethical. First Mr. DePaul agrees to buy Roger’s stock for him since Roger isn’t 18. That’s right, the stockbroker bought the stock for his underage client. Then he gets information that the company in question is going to crash so he calls Roger to let him in on it … not any of his other clients, just Roger. Wow … Roger, the next Martha Stewart?

Both boys are hurting bad with all the money they lost until Harbor Days comes around. You see, Sweet Valley has a harbor! And the SAVE kids are going to set up booths with things to sell to raise money for the Nicholson School. Each booth gets to keep 50 percent of the profits with the other 50 percent going to the school. Tracy is very excited because it’s personal for her: her little brother Jeremy is a student at the school. Tracy actually thinks Bruce gives a shit and doesn’t get why everyone keeps warning her away from him. So Tracy is an idiot. Oh, and there’s a gag-inducing makeout scene with them at Miller’s Point. You know, at first I thought Tracy was cool for making Bruce wait to take her out for so long, but then it turns out she just had never had a boyfriend. Why is it that every chick who’s never dated before in these books is made out to be a complete naive idiot? Regina, Julie, Tracy … I could go on.

Roger decides to sell plain white baseball caps at his booth, which he will spray paint to your specifications. That sounds … hideous. Roger is keeping his plan of action a secret from everyone but Lisa. But Bruce gets Tracy to ask Lisa about Roger’s plan so that he can “help” him out, and Tracy asks and Lisa tells her and … bluuuuugh. These girls are complete morons. Bruce switches Roger’s waterproof paint with water-soluble paint, then pays some little kid from the country club to start a water balloon fight near the booth. Haha, stupid Ronnie “Smallfry” Edwards gets his hat ruined and paint drips all over him. All the other kids are then mad about their own caps and they all come back to the booth demanding their money back. Meanwhile, Bruce is selling his own book, The Bruce Patman Guide to Dating which is full of his totally arrogant dating tips and stories about chicks he’s been with. It’s a hit! Get this, Tracy helped him put it together after he initially thought he should sell the names and phone numbers of chicks he’s gone out with. And she still thinks he’s a nice guy.

The second day of Harbor Days is coming and the boys have a chance to make more money. Bruce gets a homemade ice cream recipe from Tracy’s grandma and makes tons of it, which he stores in the Patmans’ basement freezer. He’s so afraid Roger will ruin it in retaliation that he sleeps in the basement with it. Roger does sneak downstairs and Bruce sees him, but instead of hurting it Roger walks away because his mama always told him not to play dirty. Bruce is stunned that Roger didn’t do anything to the ice cream when he had the chance.

Tracy finally gets a clue about Bruce when Lisa tells her about Bruce fucking up Roger’s caps in order to win the competition. Tracy is pissed but still needs to verify that Bruce is an asshole for herself … um, well just do a survey of every other girl in the school. So the second day of Harbor Days is coming up and Tracy knows that Roger is working with Jim Roberts (Shelly Novak’s boyfriend) to sell some portraits of kids in school and shit like that. She told Bruce about it before she realized what a dick he is. She follows Bruce around and listens to him ask a clerk at the store about how photo paper works. Then she trails him onto the Patman estate – I guess they don’t have guard dogs or security systems – and spies as he goes into the gardener’s shed and prepares to rip open Roger’s stacks of photo paper, which would of course expose them to the light and ruin them. Instead of stopping Bruce, she runs off crying. She realizes Bruce was using her to get information out of Roger. Duh. Meanwhile, Bruce can’t bring himself to ruin the photo paper and so he walks out of the shed, but Tracy doesn’t see that part, if you still give a crap.

Okay, here’s the end because even though I have a giant mug of coffee right next to me, I feel like I need a nap. Bruce and Roger sell tons of photos and ice cream at the fair, but Bruce doesn’t turn in his 50 percent right away which further pisses Tracy off. Tracy avoids Bruce for days and finally tells him off. He explains the competition to her, and says that although he wanted to ruin Roger’s photos, he just couldn’t because he realized it was wrong (especially after Roger wouldn’t ruin his ice cream) and he’d just have to lose out on the will to Roger. Tracy accepts his explanation but says that her perception of him is still forever changed, and she just wants to be friends now. Bruce is sad but agrees. Then the SAVE committee find two envelopes full of cash anonymously donated at two different places. Each envelope has almost a thousand dollars in it and it’s enough to save the Nicholson School. Neither has any idea who it could be … gee, I wonder who donated that much money. Marie and Henry Patman return from Japan (or “the Orient” or “the Far East” hahaha … why do they keep calling Japan by these names in the Super Star books) and throw a big party to announce the winner of the inheritance. Bruce and Roger hand their envelopes over to Alexander on stage and they are both empty. They explain they donated all the money to the school, and at first Alexander is enraged but then Henry points out the wonderful lesson the boys have learned. Yes, I’m sure Bruce is forever changed by this. The Patman Corporation becomes the benefactor of the Nicholson School to ensure it will never close. Tracy is delighted that Bruce donated one of the envelopes of money but keeps on calling him “friend” because now she knows what type of guy Bruce is. Attagirl, Tracy. And Roger and Lisa do NOT get together which I think is noteworthy because the second Lisa showed up, I assumed that’s what would happen. Nope, they really are just friends. I kind of want to applaud the ghost writers for allowing people to stay single without inferring that something is wrong with them. Needless to say, Roger and Bruce are friends again. They even challenge each other to a friendly swimming race and the book ends on the corniest note possible with them fake-arguing about who’s better or some shit. Hurrrrrrrr

I do have to say one thing about this book. It doesn’t try to shy away from the fact that Bruce is an ass, like the first Super Star didn’t try to make us think that Lila was really a saint just suffering from Absent Daddy Syndrome. Bruce isn’t really redeemed in the end, he just gives his money over to the school in an “oh fuck it all” gesture. Or at least that’s what I got out of it. At this point I was racing to finish it as fast as I could because I was very very bored. Oh, and in the end I think Alexander tries to say that he hopes Bruce will share the inheritance with Roger or something. Yeah, okay, that’s going to happen.

I don’t get how a book about Bruce wound up being so unbearable. His thoughts still amuse me, especially since he’s every bit as egotistical as you would think; he’s genuinely surprised each time Tracy doesn’t seem impressed with him. But I think if we really got inside his head this would end up being an adult novel in the Black Lace line (UK erotica) rather than a YA series book. And I would’ve really liked to hear some of his thoughts about the girls he’s hurt in the past … Lila, Liz, Jess, Amy, REGINA anyone? But his meanness and seduction techniques are on mute really. I don’t know if we’re supposed to think he’s come a long way since he used his strong tennis wrists in an attempt to threaten Liz into giving it up to him … or if the ghostwriter just didn’t want to get into it. Either way, it doesn’t make for good reading.

Finally, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would LOVE to read the real Bruce Patman Guide to Dating!!!

This cover: Bruce is wearing eyeliner. I believe he’s also tweezed a uni-brow and perhaps gotten some mascara on his upper eyelids. He is apparently doing a modeling shoot for GQ. He is the spitting image of a young Patrick Muldoon, I swear! If you guys don’t remember who that is, just think of him as the older dude on Saved by the Bell who stole Kelly away from Zack!

What the fuck? This book wouldn’t be complete without some gag-inducing stuff about how perfect the Wakefield twins are! “Tracy had always admired the Wakefield twins. They were a legend at Sweet Valley High because of the contrast between their identical appearance and their vastly different personalities.” Yes, I know it’s such a shock that people actually have individual traits, get over it already! And then this: “Tracy had always wanted to get to know the twins better. She hoped that being a rep for the SAVE fund would make that possible.” SAVE fund, making dreams come true every day – not for special needs kids, but for your desire to befriend the goddesses of Sweet Valley High. Well Tracy, here is my guide to being permanent friends with a Wakefield: 1) Join Pi Beta Alpha, become a cheerleader, and turn into a complete catty bitch who will go along with any of Jessica Wakefield’s schemes. 2) Develop a problem that needs solving in the near future. It should be too complex for you to discuss with any adults or your friends, but simple enough for a 16-year-old to solve, ideally by telling your parents how to parent you. Walk around Liz Wakefield looking sad and/or run into the nearest bathroom crying whenever you see her looking in your general direction. Be prepared for her to forget you exist once your problem is solved.

Speaking of Wakefields … here’s the obligatory Liz holier-than-thou bullshit for us to rag on. On the first day of Harbor Days, Tracy runs into the twins and Jessica tries to tell her about what a fucker Bruce is. Liz is appalled and apologizes to Tracy for how blunt her sister is. I want to smack Liz over the head with a Bruce Patman Guide to Dating and remind her of all the bullshit Bruce has done to her, her sister, and pretty much all their friends. That’s Liz … refusing to meddle when it would actually help somebody.

There’s also some shit in here about how Tracy thinks of Liz and Todd as the perfect couple (or maybe it’s that the whole high school thinks of them as the perfect couple). Dude, WE ARE BEING LIED TO. WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE? WHERE’S THE ACCOUNTABILITY? WHERE’S THE … *thunk* (That’s the sound of my head hitting the table because I just fell asleep trying to give a shit)

In the last few books Jessica has been described as “an active member” of Pi Beta Alpha rather than “the president.” Did something change somewhere and I missed it? I’m confused.

Near the big reveal, Henry Patman’s name abruptly changes to “George.” In fact, Alexander calls him “George” – his own son! Did he get confused and think he was speaking to Mr. Fowler? You’re older than I thought, Alexander.

Amy is still smarting over her former relationship with Bruce. We’re told she feels bad because she was “part of” the reason that Bruce broke up with Regina – you mean all of? And you mean Regina dumped him when she found out by having you two make out pretty much in front of her, right? And also, fuck Amy’s feeling bad. She felt so bad, she kept banging Bruce for like 20 books past the time Regina died.

I’m really curious to know what SAVE stands for. And if it’s not an acronym, why is it in all-caps? Maybe the editor was trying to come up with a clever acronym but was ultimately just like, “Fuck it.”

Cara runs a booth at Harbor Days where you can pay to throw a pie in Steven Wakefield’s face. SIGN ME UP.

New character round-up: Dirk Pierce, the freshman rep for SAVE who somehow appears to be completely absent from the meetings. Judd’s friends at the poker game: Marshall, Rod, Arthur Marks, and Tony Dent (these kids are all from another high school, but it doesn’t say which one).

In the back of the book:COULD YOU BE THE NEXT SWEET VALLEY READER OF THE MONTH? […] Calling all Sweet Valley Fans! Here’s a chance to appear in a Sweet Valley book! We know how important Sweet Valley is to you. That’s why we’ve come up with a Sweet Valley celebration offering exciting opportunities to have YOUR thoughts printed in a Sweet Valley book!” Alright! It’s time to start that awesome new phase in Sweet Valley History, that of the Sweet Valley Reader of the Month! Every month for maybe a year, each new book in the Sweet Valley series (at this point, just High, Twins, and Kids) featured the photo of a Sweet Valley reader on the inside front cover, and a book-report-like essay about how much they love the series in the back. According to this ad, one grand prize winner would be chosen from all the published essayists for a five-day all expenses trip to L.A. Hey, that sounds pretty cool to me. I secretly wanted to enter the contest but wouldn’t have dared because my love of reading was very uncool at the time, and I would’ve been teased mercilessly. What a wimp I was! I wish I had worn my nerd colors loud and proud! (I still haven’t been to L.A., by the way.) Anyway, if you are reading this and you had your essay published or you WON that awesome trip, please contact me! I love hearing from people who won a contest or got to do something really cool like that. I would like to interview the essayists and the ultimate winner by email and publish them on the blog. And of course, if you won any of the other numerous Sweet Valley contests over the years please also contact me! I know I sound mean and possibly loony in this blog but I promise I’m a nice girl in real life so don’t be afraid! You can leave a comment or you can drop me a line at snark.valley AT gmail DOT com.

Coming up next: We find out what’s happened since Alice left the fam, since they had to drag out the suspense and all. I wonder how Liz held up at Harbor Days without bawling all over everyone. Maybe she kept a 40 or two behind her booth.

Super Star #1 Lila’s Story

Bitch please.

Welcome to one of my favorite Sweet Valley books ever! The Super Stars books give our favorite secondary characters their own Super Editions! And it’s only right that they should start off with Lila Fowler. I was so happy to read this and see that I still like it just as much as I did back in the day. The best part is that while not in first person, it’s still written entirely from Lila’s wonderfully lofty point of view. So we get to see more of what we already know about Lila: She’s used to the best in life and doesn’t take any crap from anybody, and she’s not the nicest person in the world. She’s a schemer and if she wants something of yours, she’ll have it. But she’s also fiercely loyal and protective of her home, her father, and her friends. Lila knows that revenge is a dish best served ice cold, and she’s one to serve it and never look back. We also get some awesome interaction between Lila and Bruce Patman, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Doesn’t Lila look pretty on this cover? The pearls are a nice touch and help remind us that she is rich in case anybody forgot. Her hair always weirded me out a little – the way it’s curled around looks odd, like there’s a big hairy foot draped over her shoulder. Her expression terrifies me. She has that deadly silent glare of a person who is about two seconds away from having you whacked by her Mafia don (if she won’t do the job herself).

So last I checked we were at the end of the fall football season once again, and now we’re being brought back to yet another summer. Repeat after me: I will not think about this too much. I will not think about this too much. Lila is grouchy because she thinks she’s going to have an awful summer hanging around with her father and his new girlfriend from L.A., Joan Borden, whom Lila detests. Joan is too over-the-top delighted about everything to be real, and Lila knows it. Even worse, Joan has a stupid daughter named Jacqueline who hides in her mother’s shadow and acts all meek and sweet. Lila is used to having her dad all to herself on those rare occasions that he is at home, but now all those moments seem to include Joan and Jacqueline. And you know what else? George seriously seems like he just quit working for the summer so that he can spend all his time parading the Bordens around the country club, or have Eva the housekeeper serve them a lunch of cold soup and salmon on the veranda by the lemon trees in the backyard. He couldn’t even pay that much attention to Lila after she was caught shoplifting for fuck’s sake. When the dumb Borden twats aren’t at Fowler Crest, George spends his time barking at Lila to be nicer to stupid, overly-sweet Jacqueline or warning her to stop spending so much on his charge every week, or making weak attempts to discipline her. (Lila thinks it’s too weird that George is trying to put any limits on her at all, because he usually doesn’t. MUST BE NICE.) Then Lila purchases a suede outfit for $600 at Lisette’s even though her father has ordered her to keep within her weekly charging limit. When George asks her about the charge, she claims the store is wrong and it wasn’t her. And he just takes her word for it even though she’s had a problem with keeping to her spending limit lately. Then when he talks to the store and finds out Lila lied, he gives a lecture that’s all of two sentences and doesn’t revoke her charge card privileges or anything. Gee, that’ll stop her. Man, the adults in these books are just paragons of good parenting!

Lila and Jessica go to a concert by “Karla Xavier” and “West End” at the Sweet Valley High stadium. Gee, where else would they host a concert by two hot rock acts? Lila accidentally bumps into a recent Palisades High graduate named Evan Armstrong, and makes him drop all his drinks. She thinks he’s the hottest guy she’s ever seen and goes crazy over him and his car. Jessica wisely says, “This isn’t like you, Lila. I’ve never seen you making such a fool of yourself over a guy before. Usually I’m the one who does that.” And then Jess has to break the bad news that Evan has been dating some chick from SVH named Sonia Bentley “forever”. Lila is depressed, and Jessica reminds her that’s hardly something that would stop Lila Fowler from getting to know a sexy older man. That’s right! And, it turns out that Sonia has always had the hots for Bruce Patman, and it’s a huge bone of contention between her and Evan. So Lila and Jessica meet Bruce at the country club and Lila makes a deal that Bruce will steal Sonia away from Evan so that she can go after him. There’s all kinds of delicious banter between Lila and Bruce about why she wants him to do this and what she’ll owe him in return. And Bruce does all his normal macho posturing and makes Lila want to barf! Ha ha! Bruce remembers how Sonia threw herself at him while still dating Evan, and the only reason Bruce didn’t close the deal was because he was too busy dating a Sweet Valley College (of course) co-ed named Marly Jackson at the time. So really, we can see that Evan is a total chump for dating a girl who will hop onto Bruce’s dick the first chance she gets. Wow, do you even need Bruce to help out with this? Couldn’t you just tell Sonia Bruce wants to date her and let nature take its course? But Lila chose this route, and Bruce can’t think of anything he wants from Lila in return, so they have to agree that Lila will just owe him one. Heh, heh, heh.

The kids go to the Beach Disco where Lila harasses Bruce all night to get in Sonia’s pants, already, and they bicker back and forth. Lila even gets Winston to dance with her near Sonia and Evan so she can listen to Bruce trying to cut in. Then Bruce sits at a table with Sonia and Evan and becomes that proverbial third-wheel cock-blocker, but Sonia is clearly enthralled, and finally agrees to dance with Bruce. Evan is PISSED and punches a table, and storms outside to seethe about what’s happening, and Lila goes out there and “accidentally” interrupts his melancholy. Evan recognizes her from the drink-spilling incident at the Karla Xavier concert and falls in love at first sight, or so he says. Not that Li isn’t beautiful, but he sounds like a total phony. He tells Lila he can’t believe this is happening to him (oh, come on) and then he gets her number and invites her to watch him in a drag race in “Los Palmos”. This deal’s closed as far as I’m concerned.

Lila introduces Jessica to Joan and Jacqueline, and Joan asks Jessica if she’s “Of the Boston Wakefields? Or the Philadelphia Wakefields?” Holy shit! Jessica is confused and it’s great Man, that Joan is a real whiner, prattling about how neither she nor Jackie can have their faces in the sun when George wants them all to eat outside at the country club. Then George starts getting after Lila for not hanging around Jacqueline and Joan every damn second while using “Joan word[s]” like “glorious” and implying he wants to make the Bordens a permanent part of his life. Silly George, don’t you know that there’s room for only one schemer in your household? Lila consoles herself by continuing her gradual seduction of Evan. Evan mentions that Sonia hates racing and has never seen him compete, a fact that is backed up by some other chicks at the track. That Sonia is a real prize of a girlfriend. Lila pretends to love racing, while thinking that she’ll buy some racing magazines to learn more about it as part of her seduction strategy. They go to eat dinner out and Evan goes on about what drag racing means to him, and Lila tells Evan a little bit about her anger about the Bordens and he seems to understand. They should have called this book The Fast and the Furious. Evan seems nervous, though, about people seeing him out with Lila when he and Sonia are still together. It pisses Lila off, so she amps up her game. They spend the next few days talking constantly and going out to eat at La Scala and to a concert, and then Evan finally breaks up with Sonia and takes Lila out to Miller’s Point and they make out and become an official couple.

But back to the Bordens. George is still being a dick about it. I’m sorry but he is. He claims he gave Lila some time to adjust, but that is bullshit. He’s spent every scene either praising Joan and calling Jacqueline “like a daughter to me” and/or glowering at Lila for not immediately wanting to change her whole life to fit some random bitches who just came out of nowhere and help themselves to Lila’s shit and take it upon themselves to redecorate Fowler Crest. (Joan keeps having shit like cheap-o carpets and sculptures sent to the house.) One night, Lila comes home from Evan’s race to find Joan and George having brandy and Jacqueline wearing one of her best silk bathrobes. George has insisted that Joan spend the night with him – oh, because her car’s making a weird noise, of course, that’s all. And since Joan and Jacqueline can’t ever be apart, little Jackie’s staying too. Jacqueline gushes about how “so fancy, so pretty” the guest suites are that George has put them up in, “like a luxury hotel”, and then gives Lila a cheap ass present of some ugly rhinestone combs. Uh, gee, it’s pretty obvious that these bitches aren’t all that loaded. Take your blinders off, Georgie boy.

George makes Lila take Jacqueline to the beach with her and introduce her to some of her friends. Of course, Jacqueline doesn’t have her own suit so she has to borrow Lila’s new maillot (and she gets mustard on it too). Lila complains about it to Evan, and he doesn’t get what her problem is. And then Lila’s friends say that they all love Jacqueline and Jessica even tells Li that she’s just jealous. Lila is more determined than ever to kick the Bordens’ asses out of Fowler Crest.

When Lila learns that Evan isn’t able to take part in a big race because his parents won’t front him the $500 necessary to buy in – they hate racing and think it’s dangerous – she figures out a good way to get rid of the Bordens. First she talks Evan into letting her lend him the money; he writes her an IOU. (haha … I used to have to write those to my dad when I was a kid and wanted something that went over my allowance) Then Lila takes the money from her father’s petty cash drawer and drops the key to the drawer in Jacqueline’s jacket pocket. And Jacqueline had been admiring a gold chain on Lila’s dresser, so she then winds that up and sticks it under the girl’s pillow. I’m thinking she should’ve put it somewhere less obvious where Jacqueline couldn’t find it so easily, but whatever.

The day after Lila hides the key and the necklace in Jacqueline’s room, a deliveryman comes to the door with a chair that Lila’s mom gave her father. Joan had it reupholstered as a surprise. Bitch did not just do that. Oh, but of course Joan doesn’t have the cash to pay the dude. Oops, she didn’t bring any cash with her from L.A. Riiiiight. So Mr. Fowler is stuck paying the bill which he doesn’t see as a problem. He notices the cash is missing from his petty cash drawer and that the key is lying out on the desk in plain sight. Lila takes that opportunity to proclaim that her chain is missing and that there must be a thief. Everyone plus Eva does a search of the house to see if anything else is missing. Lila finally insists that they search Jacqueline’s room just in case, and leads in there while everyone protests. She lifts up her pillow only to see, of course, that the necklace isn’t there. It’s right back on Lila’s dresser and everyone thinks Lila just forgot where it was and wanted to blame Jackie ’cause she’s jealous. They still think a real thief might’ve gotten in the petty cash drawer though … what the fuck, like he’d go out of his way to take 500 dollars but not any of the priceless paintings and shit hanging around. Mr. Fowler is enraged and lectures Lila probably more than she’s ever been lectured by him the whole rest of her life. This plan is a total and complete failure. Even worse, then Jessica calls Lila wanting to know why she didn’t come to meet her at a free West End concert that night; she’d left a message with Jacqueline. Jacqueline calmly swears that she left the note on Lila’s dresser, next to her gold necklace … burn.

George suddenly takes Joan off to Hawaii with him on a business trip, leaving Jacqueline with Lila and Eva the housekeeper for that time. George just goes ahead and tells Jacqueline to help herself to all of Lila’s things. That is so not cool, George. This girl isn’t supposed to be a charity case, she’s supposed to be rich too. Tell her to go buy her own damn clothes! Jacqueline turns into a complete bitch the moment they leave and gets in all her stuff. Lock your bedroom door, Li. They have an unpleasant encounter where Lila catches Jacqueline trying on her new suede outfit and her gold chain and yells at her. Jacqueline responds by telling Lila “I have to give you credit” for seeing through Jacqueline’s fake exterior and tells her to get used to it. Then she takes off in Lila’s Triumph to go meet Jessica without asking. Holy shit. I hate this chick so much. Lila is forced to take the bus, of all things, to meet Bruce at the Box Tree Cafe, where he will tell her what he wants her to do to make up for his stealing Sonia. Doesn’t her dad have another car she could drive, or a chauffeur or something? At the cafe, Bruce gives Lila a hard time for being late. He says he wants Lila to make sure Evan drops out of another big race that’s coming up. Bruce has money riding on a bet that his friend Toby Clement from Santa Barbara will win, and Evan is the only one who could possibly beat Toby. Lila goes home in a bad mood which only gets worse when she finds George and Joan back early from Hawaii … and engaged.

Lila throws Jacqueline off guard by pretending to be delighted about the engagement, and suggesting they combine Jacqueline’s birthday party with an engagement party … and throw it on Friday, the night of Evan’s big race. Ha ha ha. Then she goes for a walk on the beach with Evan, where she tells him she really needs him at the party that Friday to support her. She acts surprised when Evan says that is the night of his race. It takes almost nothing at all for him to agree to drop out of it to support her. In fact, she doesn’t even come out and ask him, she just puts on a sad face. Evan is totally whipped at this point.

That all seems to change at the night of the big party. Evan spends a lot of time talking to Jacqueline but is still very affectionate with Lila and claims she’s worrying over nothing. Then she overhears Joan and Jacqueline discussing how Joan is just a pennyless gold-digger who plans to divorce George and file for alimony as soon as she can. Lila confronts Jacqueline, implying she knows they are phonies, and Jacqueline is shaken up but just runs away with Lila’s pearl earrings, figuring that if Lila tries to tell George he won’t believe her after the whole gold chain mess. And Jacqueline is right. Lila is all “Listen all of y’all it’s a sabotage” – George doesn’t believe Lila and frankly talks to her like she’s a junior analyst at his microchip business who just spoke out of turn on a conference call, instead of, you know, his daughter.

Lila takes a new tack and throws herself into the planning for the wedding, which is happening in just three weeks, hoping that this will help her figure out a new way to expose the Bordens. Meanwhile, she and Evan aren’t getting along so well, and he gradually becomes more and more distant although he’s at the house an awful lot. It should come as no surprise that Lila eventually stumbles upon Jacqueline and Evan making out in J’s suite at Fowler Crest. Even worse, Evan is complaining to Jacqueline that he knows Lila doesn’t really like racing, she just tolerates it so she can support him … isn’t that what a good significant other should do? Support you in your endeavors even if they don’t particularly have an interest in them? I hate Evan. Jacqueline doesn’t want Evan to break up with Lila yet, because she already hates Jacqueline’s guts and would just make her life even more miserable. In other words, J knows L can kick her ass. Lila doesn’t let them know she’s there; she runs off crying.

The wedding day is finally here; the sprawling lawn of Fowler Crest is set up with 300 guests. Lila and Jacqueline are Joan’s attendants because I guess Joan has no other family, or friends of her own, not that George has ever questioned this even once. Lila finally sees her chance to expose the Whoredens with the little mics that will be used to ensure all 300 guests can hear the ceremony and music. Lila takes three of the mics and hides them among plants and furniture in the sunroom. As she and the Bordens wait there for the wedding march to begin in their ugly peach bridesmaids dresses, she loudly confronts Joan about what she knows and then tells her that Jacqueline told her all about it. Joan is irate and she and Jacqueline start yelling at each other with no further help from Lila. As soon as Lila and Jacqueline start going down the aisle, it’s clear that everyone outside has heard everything. The minister stammers all over himself while people get out of their seats hissing and whispering. George is crushed and he tells Joan he heard everything and she’s appalled. Lila loudly tells them all about how she hid the mics because she knew she had to keep Fowler Crest free of trifling bitches. Joan is reduced to disarray in front of everyone as the minister stammers and mumbles and the wedding planner tries to keep the crowd from going apeshit. George tells her and Jacqueline to get packing and they run inside bawling. I’m thinking someone should go with them to make sure they don’t pack up the fine china and the silver. George tells the audience how special his daughter is, and how the wedding is now going to be a party in honor of his awesome daughter. Man, he got over that quick. I wonder if Lila will also get to accompany him on the honeymoon trip to Japan he had planned for himself and Joan. Kick ass.

Oh, and as for the whole Evan thang? As soon as he hears the truth about Jacqueline, he loses interest, and obviously plans to stay with Lila and act like it never happened. He walks up to George acting all chummy, and then Lila cuts in to tell her dad that Jacqueline lent the missing money from the petty cash drawer to Evan and that she has an IOU for it, and that Evan is very eager to pay George back. Ha ha! Later on, Evan tries to make up with Lila even though it’s now obvious she knows about him and Jacqueline, and she tells him they’re over, and then she gets together with his rival Toby Clement right in front of him, and then for good measure thanks Evan for dropping out of the race when she asked him to so that Toby could win. See ya. And in case you care, Bruce and Sonia do date for a while, but he dumps her for an unnamed blonde chick.

So that’s that! Good-bye, Jacqueline. Good-bye, Joan. Now I ain’t sayin’ you a gold-digger … but you ain’t messin’ with Betsy Martin’s dad.

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: Here’s my favorite exchange:

Joan: “Lila, your father just said the most flattering thing to me at the bar. He said I don’t look old enough to have a daughter Jackie’s age. Isn’t that silly of him?”
Lila: “It certainly is.”
*awkward silence*

LOVE IT. Oh, and this one:

(Lila is taking Jacqueline to the beach with her to meet the twins and friends)

Jacqueline: “Oh! I can’t get over how much alike Elizabeth and Jessica look.”
Lila: “That tends to happen with identical twins.”

It’s so nice to have SOMEONE not give a shit about the twins being twins!

WTF? Lila’s hair was always described as “light brown” but here it’s become “dark brown.”

Typo: Joan’s name is misspelled as “Jean” in one place.

Aaron’s girlfriend Heather Sanford has dropped off the face of the earth. I can’t remember the last time I heard anything about her. Liz tries to figure out who to give all the Karla Xavier tickets to, and names off people and their significant others, but Aaron is mentioned like he’s a single guy. Maybe Heather’s baby-talk finally pushed Aaron all the way over the edge.

There’s one part where Lila sees Jacqueline writing in a blue notebook. Is it supposed to be a diary? I was hoping she’d go get it and see what dirty secrets Jacqueline has.

Do you remember that whole little bio about Lila that appeared in the back of one of the SVH books? I mentioned it here. It talked about how her mother had deserted the family but first revealed that George Fowler wasn’t Lila’s real father. Now not only have we not seen this come to light, but this book tells us that Lila’s mother divorced her father “a few years ago”. It was recent enough that Fowler Crest is still decorated with the original aspects of Lila’s mother’s touch, as Lila points out just to make Joan uncomfortable. Also, when Joan has the chair reupholstered, Lila thinks about how her mother gave it to her father ten years ago. So since this is supposed to be the summer after 11th grade, that means Mrs. Fowler left when Lila was seven, but I’m pretty sure she isn’t around in the Sweet Valley Kids series. (I’d really like to know what the original intent was with Lila’s bio. Was there a book planned to explain more of this that never came out?)

1989-tastic: Jessica is amazed by the white car phone in Lila’s lime green Triumph.

Random facts: Lila’s dad is 45 years old. Lila is 5 feet 7 inches tall. Lila wears a Rolex. Lila and Bruce’s bickering makes it sound like they want to jump each other in this book … wish they would.

Next up: Patty Gilbert is having Boy Trouble and Liz is going to help out … wow, the thought of going back to those kinds of plotlines after reading this book really bums me out!

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