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

#101 The Boyfriend War

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What the fuck is going on with Lila’s right leg

Woooo! So glad Margo’s evil reign of terror is over (for now!) so we can get back to some good old boy-chasin’ shit. It’s the first book in the “Sweet Valley Passion” three-book mini-series, and we’ve fast-forwarded from the disastrous Christmas of The Evil Twin to spring break. I guess this was necessary to make sure everyone had enough time to get over the fact that Jessica is a far worse sociopath than any of us thought. Oh yeah, and the whole thing where a serial killer who looked just like the twins tried to stab them to death and shit. Not to worry, this book tells us the twins are now “the best of friends” once again! I know y’all were really worried.

We open in the Sweet Valley High cafeteria, where Caroline Pearce is now welcome to sit with the popular bitches. She will pop up a few other times in this book hanging out with Amy, which still strikes me as bizarre. Jessica is eagerly telling everyone about how she and Lila are headed to Club Paradise, Lila’s uncle Jimmo’s fabulous Jamaican resort, which is apparently a Sandals-knock-off. And I’m already annoyed because it took me a few pages to learn the resort is in Jamaica, because Jess just keeps saying “the Caribbean”! You’re not visiting the whole region Jess! Or maybe she thinks her friends don’t know where Jamaica is … it wouldn’t surprise me, actually, since I’m not sure SVH actually teaches these kids shit.

Anyway, Jessica is busy thinking about how great her life is and babbling about it to anyone who’s breathing, which excludes the last two loves of her life, and thinking about “her own wonderful life.” Damn, she really did forget about Sam quick! She’s not the only one with spring break plans, though. Bruce’s girlfriend Pamela is going on a trip to the Grand Canyon, Amy’s boyfriend Barry is headed to Palm Springs, and Todd Wilkins is going camping in Yosemite. These are trips that Enid has declared make the junior class “old and boring.” And what is Enid up to for spring break? Oh, just hanging around Sweet Valley with Olivia and Liz. Who’s boring now, bitch?

Jessica spends another glorious day gloating at her family and borrowing half of Liz’s shit to pack. Liz wants to know which Club Paradise Jess is going to, exactly, and is shocked to hear it’s the Montego Bay one because Liz heard that’s the “Kiddie Club Paradise” aimed at families. Love how dorkus Liz, who was just bashing all-inclusive resorts a few pages ago, knows this shit and Jess doesn’t. Jess just laughs because there’s no way Lila would go someplace like that, although Lila has been acting awfully strange lately – not excited at all. Jessica just figures Lila has gotten too used to these kinds of trips. The girls fly first class into Montego Bay on Lila’s family’s dime, where they find Jess’ luggage is delayed and Lila’s Uncle Jimmo jovially tells her she won’t need all that stuff anyway. It turns out ol’ Jimmo had two Kiddie Club camp counselors quit and needed some last minute help, so Lila’s parents agreed to send her and a friend to work there for a week (how they actually made Lila do this, I have no idea), and then Lila tricked Jessica into coming with her so she wouldn’t have to endure it alone. Now Jessica is furious and so am I because I can see the bratty kid antics I’ll be subjected to coming a mile away. Lila tries to appeal to Jessica by saying she couldn’t bear to deal with this situation on her own, and she knows Jessica wouldn’t voluntarily sign up for this situation (Jessica agrees), but Jessica isn’t having it. She tells Lila their friendship is over. (Note – I actually doubt that Jessica wouldn’t have agreed to go if she knew. I think she’d just figure she could slack off and get out of watching the kids.)

With their friendship splintered, the girls mopily report to their bunk, then get up for orientation the next morning with the rest of the new counselors. I’m really confused how this works. Does the resort just bring in a new slew of counselors each week instead of bringing on full-time staff? (This means Jessica is getting paid, right? It’s never mentioned.) Where do they find this many qualified teenagers to babysit? I think we’re supposed to believe it’s a special Spring Break deal, but not every school has spring break the same week y’all. And what do they do with Kiddie Club Paradise when it’s not spring break, just leave it sitting there? Anyway, the head counselor is a overly perky lady named Trixie Nash, who is straight out of Disneyland or something. The other counselors are: Marcy, a repeat camp counselor and a tall “senior” (I assume they mean senior as in high school senior, not as in a Golden Girl) who reminds Jessica of Enid Rollins, Anne, a tall, black girl with short hair who’s “shy”, and Julia, a “heavyset” blonde who already hates Jessica’s guts because Jessica just went ahead and let her know that she thinks she’s fat. There are also three male counselors: a tall dweeby guy with big ears named Charles Grogan who crushes hard on Jessica (while Julia appears to be crushing on Charles), and two short, “anemic-looking” dudes named Harold and Howard. Hey, did I mention that Julia is overweight? Because this book does in every scene she’s in, and makes sure it’s basically her defining personality trait. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from an SVH book! And don’t worry, Jessica proves she’s still the same bitch she was waaaaay back in Power Play by treating Julia like dirt about her weight as much as possible.

The girls get assigned their groups of kids. Lila gets a super sweet and polite gang of kids who do her every bidding, while Jessica has the rowdiest, most abominable group of children ever who basically act rabid with no one even attempting to stop them other than Jessica. Jessica starts screaming at them as soon as she meets them (literally), so she probably deserves it.  (Actually that’s the least of what she deserves!) It’s implied that the kids stay at the Kiddie Club Paradise and never see their parents until the week is out. So these parents just entrust their kids with these random teenagers all week? Although if Jessica’s “kiddies” always act this way, I don’t blame them. Even worse, at the beginning of each day the counselors are required to put on special acts to amuse the kids. Jessica does a cheerleading routine that bores everyone, whereas Lila bribes the resort band into playing the newest Jamie Peters (!) song for her act. I was going to make a joke that maybe Lila can play her marimba for everyone, but then she actually whips out a marimba and plays it along with the band! The next day, Jessica tries a new act by doing a modern dance routine, but one of her bratty kids rolls a marble out onto the stage to make her fall, and she goes flying up into the air while everyone, including lead counselor Trixie, laughs hysterically. Seriously, discipline does not exist in this place. There’s a later scene where Jessica’s kiddos steal the swim lane rope out of the swimming pool and use it to tie up Lila’s kids, and Larry the lifeguard basically just stands there yelling at Jessica to do something about it while she just stands there yelling at her kids.

Jessica is determined to get back at Lila for this bullshit. One afternoon, Lila pays the resort’s formal clothing shop worker, Renata, to watch her kids for her while she takes off on a sightseeing tour with Mick Myers, the resort’s windsurfing instructor who all the kid’s moms salivate over. (There’s a funny part where one of Lila’s children explains to her that his mom said she likes to windsurf with a “fox” at the resort, and the kid is confused because he didn’t think foxes lived in the ocean.) Jessica decides the ultimate revenge would be to steal Mick from Lila. Meanwhile, Julia is trying to think of a way to get back at Jessica because Jessica told her she was too fat to attract any boys. Oh my god, somebody please drown Jessica. Julia is also jealous because Charles keeps panting after Jessica and Julia wishes she could get guys to look at her that way, but she’s just not as perfect-looking as Jessica and Lila. Yeah, this wouldn’t be an SVH book if they let us see Julia’s POV without some remarks about how perfect the nearest Wakefield is.

All the campers and counselors (except Lila, who’s still on her tour with Mick) are gathered in the “Kiddie Kabana” for a fingerpainting exercise when Mick suddenly pops up and hits on Jessica. I guess he just got back from taking Lila out? In the meantime, Julia has faked being sick so that Charles will watch her kids while she wanders off to think about how she can have a romance of her very own this spring break! It’s just so hard when the one guy who’s “in her league” (Charles, of course) is busy chasing Jessica.  Just then, Julia spies Mick and Jessica standing nearby talking, so she hides behind a bush to listen. Mick is explaining to Jessica that he only took Lila out because he had to, since she’s his boss’s niece, and that he’d rather be with Jessica. He wants to take Jessica windsurfing this afternoon, if she can manage to pawn her brats off on somebody else. After Jessica agrees and leaves, Julia pops out from the bush to chat with Mick herself and, I guess, try to steal him from Jessica. “Julia knew that her voice was her only asset, so she concentrated on putting as much sexiness into it as she could muster.” I just rolled my eyes so hard my contacts fell out.

Jessica gets Charles to watch her kids while she goes windsurfing with Mick, then out to an early dinner with him to some special bistro. He really lays it on thick, telling her how special she is and how he much prefers his “golden goddess” to a “mousy brunette” like Lila. After dropping Jessica off, he then takes Lila out dancing and tells her he prefers his “brown-eyed goddess” to a “dumb blonde” like Jessica. He claims he totally didn’t just have his tongue down Jessica’s throat or anything, he just had no choice but to hang out with her because she is so pushy and he didn’t want to upset a fellow co-worker, or something like that. OK. After finishing his dancing date with Lila, Mick then meets back up with Jessica to take her to his “secret lagoon”. He then takes Lila there the next day, as well as for a moonlight swim off the pier. The girls just vanish at any time they please while whomever watches their kids. I love how Trixie the Pixie (as they call her) seriously gives no fucks about which camp counselors are actually doing their jobs. Also, didn’t we already do a similar plot like this with these girls fighting over the same dude in Showdown?

Meanwhile, Mick loved Julia’s “voice” and he has started taking her out on lunch dates. He tells her he thinks she is “voluptuous” and that he doesn’t want to date Jessica and Lila anymore because they are “too thin.” Julia has decided that the perfect way to get back at Jessica for (repeatedly!) calling her fat is to show off her new relationship with Mick at the right time. This book is getting sad. In other news, Marcy, the supposedly sensible counselor, has already implied that she was involved with Mick previously and that he isn’t a good guy, but of course nobody wanted to listen to her. Did I mention Mick is a total egomaniac who constantly talks about how hot he thinks he is? He’s the Bruce Patman of the Caribbean. I guess it would make sense that Jessica would go for that.

On Thursday afternoon, Mick asks Jessica to come out with him again, but she can’t get away. Then Marcy and Charles suddenly agree to watch the kids, which is described as “unexpected.” Is it though? Since Jessica’s luggage has finally arrived, she puts on one of her hot new bikinis and then strolls the beach by herself hoping to run into Mick. Instead, Larry the lifeguard comes running up, all excited to see her. He tells her he’s basically been too wimpy to talk to her before because he’s scared of her kids. How is this guy a lifeguard again? They hang out on the beach where Larry rubs suntan lotion on her and then runs off to bring her a drink, where he sees Mick smooching on Lila. Since Larry had no idea Jessica and Mick were also seeing each other, he brings Mick and Lila over to hang with him and Jessica because he wants Mick to see how hot his girl is. Of course, this means everybody but Larry gets a big surprise. Jessica is still too dim to tell that she’s being two-timed. Jess thinks Lila must have found a way to make Mick hang out with her again and is eager to tell him it’s okay and to make sure Mick knows she’s not interested in Larry (even though she is, haha). Lila also has no idea what’s going on, of course, she just thinks Jessica’s still salty over the whole lying-to-her-face-about-babysitting thing. The scene ends with a stupid chickenfight in the ocean where Jessica and Lila pretty much try to beat each other up while atop Larry and Mick’s shoulders.

That night, Jessica heads to the pier to meet Mick only to find Lila there instead, waiting on him as well. It quickly becomes obvious what’s going on, but they still refuse to believe it. They start arguing and accusing each other of trying to ruin their respective dates with Mick. Lila laughs and tells Jessica Mick could never like her because he thinks she’s a dumb blonde. The truth hurts so Jessica slaps Lila in the face and knocks her into the water, and Lila pulls her in with her and their dim bulbs slowly understand they’ve both been had. They make up and agree to find a way to get back at Mick.

Since Mick still hasn’t shown up to meet either of them on this mixed-up date of his, they head back to the cabin to appeal to Marcy for help since they actually care about her opinion now. Julia pretends to be asleep in her bunk, so she overhears everything. She decides to interrupt them to explain that, well, Mick likes her “best”. Oh come the fuck on, Julia. It turns out Mick even took Julia to his special secret lagoon. Lila has to tell Julia that Mick has been calling her a “fat blob” behind her back. As the girls are suddenly realizing they’ve been triple-timed and Mick has been using the same lines on all of them, Anne the “shy” counselor waltzes in declaring she’s in love. It turns out Mick didn’t show up for Jessica and Lila because he was out with her. Later on, we learn he has also been dating Renata as well.

The five girls all team up to get back at Mick at the big closing talent show the next night, which is Friday and their final night at the resort (I think). Jessica charms Mick into agreeing to come to the talent show, while the girls work with Jessica’s bratty kids to learn how one of them puts on such shitty magic tricks. (On Thursday morning, Jessica’s kids put on a big magic show as their special talent act, which went horribly but made the audience delighted because their screw-ups were so hilarious.) Jessica’s kids then teach Lila’s kids how to be brats. Thank god for both me and Lila that it’s the end of the fucking week in this book. At the magic show, Jessica acts as the magician while Lila is her assistant. They pick Mick as their volunteer, then proceed to “borrow” his expensive watch and smash it as part of a magic trick while Mick watches. They then pretend to pull various items out of the back of his head while also lopping off a bunch of his beautiful long blond hair that we keep hearing so much about. Mick has by now realized that Jess and Lila are fully aware they’ve been two-timed (or really, quintuple-timed) and is begging them to stop but has too much pride to just stand up and run off the stage. The girls douse him in some purple dye powder that one of Jessica’s bratty children used to die the hair of another bratty child earlier in the week, then make him “disappear” under the stage for the next trick. Julia is waiting for him underneath the stage where she pretends to be sympathetic and acts like she’s washing the purple dye powder out of his hair when she’s really just finishing the job. She then helps him come back up for the final trick where Mick “reappears”, popping back up on the stage under a purple spotlight, which then changes to a “regular” spotlight to reveal Mick’s newly dyed purple hair to the audience’s great amusement and Mick’s great shame.

After the show, Mick confronts the girls and tries to lunge at Jessica and Lila to beat or strangle them or something. Oh, so he’s violent too. He’s stopped and chased off by the crowd of angry kids. Jessica and Lila make up and decide they are best friends for life. They actually deign to invite Julia to come get a lemonade with them so that we can see Julia has no hard feelings over Jessica acting like ass to her all week, but she turns them down because she has a date with Charles. I wish Julia had gone with them because I wanted her to poison Jessica’s lemonade.

The sub-plots: Bruce’s parents are separating, so he’s stomping around Sweet Valley doing his best Bruce Banner impression, raging at his friends at the Dairi Burger for going on spring break trips with their families, and flinging his lunch tray into a tree! PATMAN SMASH! Don’t worry, Liz is nearby to do some condescending glares, or this wouldn’t really be Sweet Valley. Then Bruce and Roger overhear Marie Patman angrily accuse Henry of having an affair. Bruce is outraged and determined to discover who the other woman is.

Meanwhile, Liz is spending her spring break working on an honors English paper for extra credit that she doesn’t even need, because she already has an A! And what is the paper about? It’s a research paper on her mom, Alice – and Liz needs a WHOLE WEEK for that shit! She’s the smart one, y’all! And OH MY GOD – it turns out Todd’s parents invited Liz to come to Yosemite with them and she said NO because she WANTED to do schoolwork instead. Todd tells her he wouldn’t do a paper unless he had no choice and she tells him he sounds like Jessica. Well duh, he was just hearing an awful lot of what Jess “sounds like” a few months ago, Lizzie dear.

Henry Patman has hired Alice Wakefield to do some interior design work on the Patman plant in Chicago, so he and Alice head to Chicago over spring break week. This leaves Liz unable to interview her mom for her paper, so she starts picking through her mom’s old trunks in the attic instead. Before Henry and Alice leave, Bruce overhears his dad on the phone with Alice, talking about some roses he sent her. Bruce decides that Alice is his dad’s affair partner and flies into an absolute rage. He confronts Liz about it in the Dairi Burger, who insists that’s ridiculous and starts looking through her mother’s trunks for proof that her mom has never loved anyone but Ned. I’m not sure how evidence from the past is supposed to prove what’s happening in the present, but Liz is the smartest of all in Sweet Valley so we should just go with it right? Instead, Liz gets a shocker when she opens a trunk that contains an old wedding gown, veil, shoes, and a framed photo of Alice dressed in these things and standing next to a smiling, tuxedo’ed Henry Patman in an obvious wedding day photo. I mean, if you’ve read Sweet Valley Saga #2 then you already knew about this shit. But Liz is floored, and Bruce is convinced this old evidence that Alice and Henry are indeed having an affair in the present. Liz doesn’t want to believe it, but you know nobody can just ask anybody shit around here, so they suffer in silence. To add to Liz’s agony, she’s been spending every week watching old love movies at the downtown Plaza theater, which is doing some kind of “beat the heat” special because Sweet Valley is in the middle of a horrible heat wave, and to hear this book tell it, the movie theater is the only damn place in town with air conditioning. (Amy and Caroline even show up for a couple of movies!) And if you happen to like watching old movies, well this book just goes ahead and spoils the plots of several for us as Liz over-analyzes what happens in each movie because somehow movie plots tie to the present day situation. What the fuck? She reluctantly decides that Bruce might be right because in the movies, the characters always go back to their first love, and Henry was obviously Alice’s first love. I repeat, ladies and gentlemen, Liz is supposed to be the smart one. Oh yeah, and Liz also keeps conveniently going out with Bruce so they can talk about their parents, while Bruce privately thinks about how hot she is. Gee, I wonder where they’re going with this one.

In other news, right before spring break begins, Amy Sutton learns her English grade sucks – wow, there’s a shocker – and that she HAS to do the same extra credit paper that Liz is doing by choice, or else it’s curtains for Amy’s grade. I’m surprised Amy isn’t pulling a Suzanne Devlin and throwing herself at Mr. Collins to take care of that lil’ problem. Amy asks Jess if she can borrow any of her interesting relatives’ history, so Jess offers to let her write about her ancestors, twins Jessamyn and Elisabeth, as though they were Amy’s, and tells her to get some info from Liz. Oh, I’m sure this is going to turn out fine. Amy isn’t so dumb as to think that Liz would actually voluntarily let her cheat, so after Jess leaves for Jamaica, Amy starts showing up at Liz’s house uninvited on the regular, supposedly to ask Liz for advice on how to research family history. Is this paper really that difficult? Amy spends most of the time asking Liz (and Ned) about what Liz’s her great-great-grandmother Jessamyn was like rather than talking about her own family history. Because Liz is stupid whenever the plot calls for it, which is all the time, she just finds it kind of odd but doesn’t wonder why Amy might be spending more time researching Liz’s family than her own. Amy’s little plan blows up at the end of the week when, thanks to all the time she’s spent asking about Jessamyn, Liz decides she’s going to expand her paper to include Jessamyn. Now Amy is back to square one and has to write about her own boring mom, who’s just a local sportscaster, you know, totally not interesting at all! *eye roll*

TLDR: These sub-plots are basically one big add for the first two Sweet Valley Saga books.

On the cover: We have the chicken fight scene, illustrated. Jessica and Lila look a lot happier here than they do in the book. Interestingly, we were told in the book that Jessica brought Liz’s green bathing suit on vacation with her while Lila brought a pink bikini, but here Lila is wearing green while Jess is in pink. Lila is on Mick’s shoulders – that’s Mick? He is so not all that. And why is he wearing boxer briefs? Larry looks like all the other dark-haired guys that have been on the covers lately. He may as well be Bruce or Todd. Jessica’s left leg and Lila’s right leg are weirding me the fuck out, but I think that’s just the angle …

Quotes: Jessica explaining to Liz why she is bringing so many bikinis to Jamaica: “I don’t want to commit myself to any particular tan line.”

Ned Wakefield lectures Jessica after she jovially shares the news of the Patmans’ pending divorce: “Jessica! That’s not a very sensitive attitude.” She responds, “So? The Patmans are not a very sensitive family.”

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: After Julia asks Lila how she makes her hair look so perfect: “I suppose I was just born with perfect hair.”

Lila explaining how she keeps getting Renata to watch her kids for her: “Where there’s a bill, there’s a way. Especially when it’s a ten or twenty.”

Other stuff: In the book’s opener, Amy wants to know how Caroline can stand eating hot roast chicken when Sweet Valley is going through a heat wave … but they’re eating indoors in the cafeteria! Do they not have A/C now in that damn school?

The old movies that this book spoils are Casablanca, Adam’s Rib, The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, and My Favorite Wife.

This book is notable for the number of past plots it recalls. I’m thinking the ghostwriter of this one paid careful attention to the Sweet Valley plot bible! It even mentions the time Elizabeth and Bruce had to work together as a pretend couple in the Sweet Valley Twins book The Middle School Gets Married.

Jessica pointedly makes a “fat chance” remark at Julia moments before Julia shows her up at the opening mini-talent show by showing off her wonderful singing voice.

Lila teaches her kids to sing “Row, row, row your yacht.” This is quite possibly the greatest scene in the entire story.

The new Jamie Peters song is called “I Just Want to Say Hello.”

Lila seems mildly revolted that Julia is from Wisconsin, and Julia thinks to herself that she’s “impressed with how Lila had conveyed her scorn in such a civilized manner.”

Bruce thinks about how he once tried to “take advantage” of Liz (see Dear Sister) but reasons any other guy would’ve done the same and is basically not at all sorry that you know, Liz wound up having to flee his house. Isn’t this supposed to be the dude that Pamela reformed, or some shit? I’m glad they keep making sure we know that stuff is only temporary.

When Bruce confronts Liz about their parents at the Dairi Burger, he yells that now everyone knows the Wakefields aren’t the moral family they claim to be. What the fuck is he talking about, NOW everyone knows? They didn’t realize this six books ago with the whole Jungle Prom fiasco?

There’s a hilarious scene where Liz and Bruce discuss Liz’s discovery that their parents must have been married before. Bruce starts panicking wondering if he and the twins are actually siblings. The book doesn’t mention that would mean he’s committed incest with both of them, but I think we know why he’s so fucking stunned. LOL!

In the back of the book: There’s an excerpt from Bridie of the Wild Rose Inn, the first book in the Wild Rose Inn historical romance series. Wow, I bought that book at Waldenbooks as a kid. (Let me pause while I pour one out to Waldenbooks.) The first copy came with a pull-out flap with a paper rose stencil on it. I never bothered to pick up any of the others.

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Coming up next: Bruce and Liz continue to dig into the truth about their parents, which also means I end up taking more naps than I was anticipating.

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I want to thank reader Jen L. for very kindly sending me these awesome images of Volume I of The Oracle newsletter, along with some other photo goodies! Of course, The Oracle was the name of the famous SVH school newspaper, where new staffers mysteriously appear whenever it’s convenient to the plot … and also became the name of the free newsletter that members of the Sweet Valley High Fan Club got back in the day. Let’s take a look at this first issue …

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The front page!

Okay, first of all, no surprise to see Elizabeth has written the welcome letter. She invites readers to submit their own writing for publication. Anyone ever gotten published in a future issue of The Oracle? Next, this newsletter directs readers to pick up Teacher Crush to see how Olivia D. handled crushing on her art teacher. Oh yeah, and Olivia handled it real well! Of course, if I were working at Bantam back in the day I would have suggested readers see how Suzanne Devlin “handled” it instead by picking up Too Good to Be True. Handled Mr. Collins, you know what I’m sayin’? LOL!

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Page 2 invites you to learn the twins’ secret language which involves sticking the letters “ithig” in the middle of each syllable of each word. You know something, I swear to god that Bantam promoted this funky language all over the place back in the day. It debuted in a Sweet Valley Twins book, Keeping Secrets, in the 1980s and then I think they talked about it again in the SVT Super Summer Book (which I have on a shelf in another room but am way too lazy to just go get up and pull out).

The “Personal Profiles” feature gives facts about Lila Fowler, with the pretty picture of her from her Super Star book. It doesn’t tell us anything about her that we don’t already know, including her favorite ice cream flavor, which we recently learned is Million Dollar Mocha, and that her answer to who her boyfriend is, is “I play the field!” (P.S. I just randomly googled Million Dollar Mocha. It is now the name of a CoverGirl lip shade.)

Next up, a recipe section called “Treats for the Sweet” (huh? random). This issue’s recipe is called “Crispy Dogs” and I’m betting that sounds kinda nasty to some of you! This is supposed to be a snack that Liz and Jess like to make for their friends. It’s basically cut-up hot dogs, coated in a mustard-water mixture and rolled in crushed tortilla chips and then baked in the oven. Is this how these girls keep their “perfect size 6 figures”? You know something, this recipe sounds fucking delicious and I am going to make it. I deserve Crispy Dogs. Don’t judge me.

Then we have this brilliant quote from Todd where he talks about what he likes in a girl, which is basically that the girl be herself. Oh, bullshit, Todd. He says that’s why he likes Liz so much. LOL. Only every time Liz stands up for herself, Todd gets mad! Makes sense!

This page closes with a little feature that looks to be Jessica W.’s monthly fashion column, Eye for Fashion. Jessica’s tip is for you to collect old earrings from your mom, big sister, etc. and use them to “jazz up” your boring clothes. She suggests that you put the clip-on earrings on the lapel of your jacket, wear the stud earrings as pins, and hang dangling earrings on the front of your jacket. Hmmmmm. This could be cute on a denim jacket if done carefully, or ya know, it could wind up looking like a horror show.

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On to page 3! It’s kicked off with a Sweet Valley pop quiz, which has questions from the SVT and Sweet Valley Kids series, too. If you get them all right, you’re voted “most intelligent.” If you only get one right, you’re a freshman who has “been spending too much time at the beach” and needs to “read as many Sweet Valley Books as you can.” Get out those wallets, kids!

Probably the longest article in the entire newsletter urges “Sweet Valley Fans Unite!” It tells you how to start your own SVH fan club and urges you to send in photos and details of your club. Get it going, y’all. I’ll bring the Jungle Prom Punch.

Finally, there’s the Super Silly Storyteller which is essentially SVH’s version of Mad Libs, only way more boring unless you want to make it Dirty Mad Libs and fill in filthy words like some of us may have when we were kids. 🙂

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The newsletter closes with an interview with Francine Pascal, of course. She promotes the upcoming TV show, and talks about other books she wrote that her kids inspired.

Oh yes, and we have a Sweet Valley High products order form where you can order goodies like a fan club T-shirt, club stationery, club secret treasure box, and club pencil. I think these were all things that came with the original fan club shipments. Speaking of which … here’s the stationery and the treasure box!

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OK, that stationery actually looks pretty rad. I wanna take that to a business meeting and just sit down and nonchalantly take notes on it.

Here are some more SVH items from Jen’s collection that you may recall …

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Dangerous Love jigsaw puzzle by Milton Bradley! You can pretend you’re reconstructing Liz’s brain!

 

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Promo tote from the short-lived SVH reboot

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Bookshelf of goodies – I so wish my collection looked this organized

Lastly, Jen sent these pictures of the SVH map with the SVH dolls prominently featured.

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Wow, so everything is literally just steps away from everything else, the ocean is in the twins’ backyard, and there’s a snowcapped mountain ski chalet overlooking the perfect little beach. Hmmmm … where’s the Shady Lady, and Betsy Martin’s trash-strewn neighborhood?

Notice that each area on the map has a corresponding set of doll outfits that are supposed to go with it … Born to Shop goes with the mall, etc.

Here are lots of close-ups of the map.

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I want to tell Jen thanks again for sending me all of these photos so I could post them for your enjoyment!

Update 2/2018: The release date is now March 2019! (if you believe one of the Amazon listings below … the other has disappeared.)

Guess what’s available for pre-order on Amazon.com? The new Sweet Valley High graphic novel! Remember when I told you guys about this a while back? I’ve found two different 2018 release dates for it: April 24 for the library binding, and October 30 for the paperback version. Hmmm. If I had to guess, those dates will continue to change. Looks like the book is going to be 120 pages long. And, here’s the synopsis I pulled off Amazon:

When Jessica falls in love with her Shakespeare teacher, she begins to act like her studious twin sister Elizabeth to impress him. Now it’s up to Elizabeth to make sure that all’s well that end well – but with Jessica playing her role, will anyone be able to tell which twin is which.

Sounds typical! But will the Shakespeare teacher be Mr. Collins, I take it?! Is Jessica going to pull a Suzanne Devlin?!

I note that for whatever reason, getting information on this series seems unusually difficult. Remember all the fan-fare around the 2008 reboot of the series, and then later around Sweet Valley Confidential and The Sweet Life? It makes me wonder how involved with this particular project Francine is. She is not credited as the creator or anything on the Amazon page, and she hasn’t promoted it at all on her public Facebook or Twitter posts. *shrug* Maybe it’s too early for all that.

Here are the links to the Amazon.com pages:

Paperback copy

Library binding

 

 

What in the heeeeeelllll

Well, I’ve been slow as molasses in wintertime (a favorite expression! Maybe I picked it up from everybody’s favorite anything-not-California-smearing SVH Super Edition Spring Fever) getting up my next review! I promise I’ve been reading that next book (#101, The Boyfriend War), and it is a DOOZY and I hope to have that review up within the next week. In the meantime, here is something short and sweet to tide you over. I managed to get my hands on the last Sweet Valley High doll booklet, Moonlight and Roses, which came with the Prom Perfect boxed set of Elizabeth and Jessica Barbie-like toys, dressed in all their drink spikin’, Jeep wreckin’, boyfriend killin’ finery, OH NO SHE DIDN’TTTTTT. (I am not saying I have had anything to drink this evening, but I am also not saying I have NOT had anything to drink.) My Saturday nights are so weird sometimes. Anyway! For real y’all, did you see that booklet image above? Click on it if you need to enlarge the detail, but I am pretty sure that this booklet is supposed to show the same outfits that Jessica and Elizabeth were wearing in A Night to Remember. Forget what was on the cover of that book – I remember thinking at the time that the outfits on the outside didn’t really look like what was described on the pages inside. Well, the outfits on this booklet’s cover, especially Elizabeth’s, sound much closer! So, that means back in the day, kids could get doll versions of Elizabeth wearing the dress she killed Sam in and Jess in the dress she also killed Sam in! Kinda fucked up, amirite. Oh well, at least the dolls didn’t come with accessories, like a bloodied Prom Queen sash or a big bottle of Everclear with two mini red solo cups.

So, now that I see Liz’s …. get-up … on the cover of this booklet, I think I’m not a fan. I guess Liz’s drank was spiked too heavily and she thought this was an audition for the Swan Lake ballet instead of prom. Jessica looks like a 1990s cruise ship singer with those sequins. Or Dynasty if Dynasty had lasted into the ’90s. There is some kind of ruffly ass bow/flower thing on Jessica’s right shoulder that I am not digging. The skirt is supposed to be full, knee-length and layered with more sequins which I think doesn’t match what was in A Night to Remember, but I am too lazy to go back and look. I think it just said that dress was tight and off-shoulder. Nice touch with the twins sporting matching earrings, although for some reason Liz’s have one extra pearl.

The story in this one is far less interesting than the funky, Pepto Bismol-pink cover. Jessica comes home late for dinner from a prom committee meeting, and the whole family is at the table eating, including Steven. What else would he be doing with himself? It’s not like he’d rather be at college. Steven rags on Jessica a bit and we hear about how Liz made dinner and Jessica and the prom committee have been disorganized and having a hard time picking the prom theme, so they ultimately settled on something “classic” (AKA boring), Moonlight and Roses, where the theme is … candles and shit. Haha, this is way more formal than Jungle Prom. Maybe this prom story really does take place after the Jungle Prom, and the kids learned their lessons to the point they’re just having the most boring-ass prom ever to be safe!

Jessica is hoping to be Prom Queen in this story, of course, but she’s slightly worried Liz might win, even though Liz has shown no interest in the title. LOL, that’s what you think, Jessica.

Jessica reminds Liz that they need to shop for prom dresses, and Liz surprises Jess by saying she already got one when she went shopping with Enid. Later, Liz shows Jess her dress, which is the “deep rose” dress we see on the cover. Jess loves the dress, but Liz says she doesn’t really feel like herself in it. Gee, I wonder where this is going. The next day, Jessica hurries to the mall and shops by herself. Unable to find a dress she likes, she settles on the blue one Liz is wearing on the cover. The night of prom arrives, and the girls are hurriedly getting dressed when they realize they’d each rather be wearing the other’s dress, and they switch! Wooooooooo. The girls get their dates and head off to prom. Of course Todd is Liz’s date, but who is Jessica’s? Oh, it can’t be Sam! We can’t go THERE. In this alternate universe, Jessica’s date is Aaron Dallas. Why do I feel like Aaron is always Jessica’s backup date for everything? (Maybe it’s just ’cause they put those two together in Sweet Valley Twins.) When they get to the prom, Liz proclaims the prom “magical” and says, “We’ll always remember this night.” OH YOU BETCHA YOU WILL, LIZZIE. Better put that Dixie cup down! I guess in this alternate universe, Sam doesn’t exist so this is the nicey-nice prom they should’ve had, in the world where Jessica isn’t a narcissist wreaking destruction everywhere she goes and Liz isn’t the doormat who will always forgive her eventually (even if takes a knife-wielding clone of herself to make her do it).

The book ends with another one of those cop-out questions for the reader: “Will Jessica be voted Prom Queen? Or will Elizabeth win? Maybe both of the twins will be elected … YOU DECIDE!” Oh, we know how this one really ended. I’m not going to decide a different ending than that one, because to be honest it would probably be even worse!

So yeah, that’s that! I gotta get going. Thank you for reading my bizarre musings, and I’ll see you guys in a few days for my review of the next story, which is a good one for summer. 🙂

I can’t remember if I shared this news with you guys or not, so here goes. In October 2016, Dynamite Entertainment announced the 2017 debut of a new Sweet Valley High graphic novel! It is being put together with the input of Francine Pascal. I for one am honestly pretty excited to have more SVH. I can only hope it’s going include gratuitous illustrations of Todd punches, crazy Dana Larson outfits, and Bruce and Jessica rolling around in the leaves making out like in Playing with Fire. You can read the official press release about that here. (In case you aren’t aware, the pictures at the bottom are from the 2008 Sweet Valley High re-launch, which only lasted for six books.) I haven’t heard anything about a release date, but if I do I will update everyone!

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Girl you know it’s true, oooh oooh oooh, you look like doo doo

I’m back with the second of the two Campus Cool booklets, released with the Sweet Valley High dolls sometime in 1993! This booklet came with Jessica’s doll (duh), and the ugly outfit on this cover is the same as what the doll wore. I’m just not feeling it. This cover is the same as that found on Elizabeth’s Story, only with the twins’ faces reversed, and it’s purple (like Jessica’s bedroom) rather than bright blue. Their outfits are still fugly as fuck. Something in me almost wants to like the purple and neon green of Jessica’s top, but something in me just can’t. I think it’s the color blocking.

This story starts in the summer, with Jessica and Liz shopping at Valley Mall. Liz is stunned when Jessica says she can’t wait for school to start soon. (They are still juniors.) Jessica spies a new outfit in the window of Lisette’s and flips out. It’s the same outfit on this cover. Liz is just like, “I like the hat.” I feel like that’s Liz’s way of saying, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that fool getup.” Not that Liz’s fashion sense is any better, as shown by this cover and every other cover she’s been on. Jessica tries on the outfit and falls in love. It’s the top and hat shown on the cover, plus a green mini skirt. Jess plans to wear it with a black vest she bought at a flea market, so that explains that part. Jessica is sure she’ll be hit of the school with this outfit. Yeah, maybe in 1989 you would have been. I swear to God this feels way too late for something like this to be a hit.

Anyway, Jessica sees the price tag on the outfit and realizes she can’t possibly afford it. She has three days to earn the money. She rushes home from the mall and sets the table super fancy-like to impress her parents, using their best china and crystal, complete with fanned napkins and fresh lemon slices in the water glasses. Alice sees it and thinks it must be Liz who set the table. The book notes that this is a “natural” reaction. Steven says Jessica must want something, which is another perfectly natural reaction but gets him scolded by his mother.

At dinner, Jessica wastes no time asking her parents for money. Ned actually gives a flat-out “no” and Jessica is sad because I guess she usually just gets whatever she wants. Then Liz asks Jess if she will help her wash sand out of the Jeep. Jessica immediately refuses for obvious reasons (nothing in it for her; she’s messy and doesn’t care about a bunch of beach sand). But the question gives her the bright idea to create a car wash business. She makes up business cards advertising the car wash at the Wakefield house and goes out to distribute them. She plans to charge $5 a wash, and to run the car wash just over the next two days. On day 3, which is the Sunday before the school year starts, she’ll stop and go to the mall. I sure hope she made this schedule clear on the cards. I don’t think we can trust her to have thought about it.

Jessica waits for her customers the next day while Liz takes off with Todd. They tell her she should probably change out of her outfit before washing cars, but Jess doesn’t see the problem. After the first car, she’s exhausted, dirty and messy and has wax and soap all over her clothes. Then Bruce Patman pulls up in his Porsche, saying he has a date with “a beautiful girl” that night and he wants his car to look extra nice. He mocks Jessica’s looks, throws his money on the hood and yells at Jessica that she better not scratch 1BRUCE1 or he’ll demand his money back. He rides off with his cousin Roger while Jess angrily does a half-assed job at washing the car. Bruce is her last customer of that day and she vows she’ll get back at him when she shows up at school in her hot outfit. She’s sure he’ll take one look at her and want to bang her, and she’ll just ignore him and laugh.

The next day, Jessica gets way more customers. She accidentally leaves the windows down in one car and gets water all in the inside; that customer yells at her and demands double his money back, so Jess loses $10. She eventually washes just enough cars to make all the money she needs for the outfit. Liz congratulates her and offers to take Jessica out to Casey’s Place for an ice cream sundae, but Jessica says she’s too exhausted, prompting Liz to pout she doesn’t get to see Jessica much lately. Calm down girl, you just went shopping with her two days ago!

Sunday morning arrives and Jessica rushes straight to the mall to buy the uglyass DayGlo nightmare outfit of her dreams. What do you know, the last one has been sold. Jessica rushes home upset and scoffs at her parents’ attempts to talk about what she learned washing all those cars. She quite literally CRIES herself to sleep. When she wakes up a little bit later, the outfit is lying next to her. It turns out Liz just went ahead and bought it for her the other day. Awwww, that Liz! This is Jessica’s reward for refusing to help wash the Jeep. Hehe, Jessica is such a spoiled little brat, and Liz is such an enabler, awwww, it’s sooooo cute. I wonder why she thought she could get away with spiking her sister’s drink and killing her boyfriend! Hmmmm. Jessica agrees to go get that sundae with her poor deprived sister after she tries on her new eye-burner of an outfit.

The booklet ends much like the other booklet, by saying “YOU DECIDE” whether or not Jessica was a hit with her outfit and got back at Bruce Patman. I decide Jessica looks hideous and is booed out of the school within seconds of entering. Liz too, with that ugly set of rags she’s wearing. Bye girl! Bruce is too busy carrying out Regina’s last wish of death to Amy Sutton (and then himself) and doesn’t even notice.

Yeah, this story was way more boring than Liz’s.

Coming up next: Jessica and Lila are headed on a fabulous vacation now that everyone can forget about Margo and Sam and James and death and mayhem, you know, all that pesky shit that doesn’t really matter!

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Bust out some Milli Vanilli songs in this bitch

What the hell is this?! Let me explain: Sometime around the time of A Night to Remember, Bandai toy company released a series of Sweet Valley High dolls, including “Campus Cool” versions of Elizabeth and Jessica (each sold separately!). Each doll was similar to Barbie, with interchangeable fashions you could purchase. Each doll also came with a special Sweet Valley High booklet featuring her own little story, in the style of the full-length novels. This is my review of the Elizabeth doll booklet; I also have the Jessica doll booklet.

Although the doll boxes are copyright 1992, the booklets are copyright 1993 (the same year as the infamous Jungle Prom “change” in the series). Each booklet is basically the same size as a “real” SVH book, but only 14 pages long with no chapters and (very slightly) toned down for younger kids. The booklets also kept the original classic SVH circle cover design, which SVH mostly retired (in the U.S., anyway) back in 1991.

(There was also a separate Prom Perfect gift set released with both dolls in full A Night to Remember prom night regalia – seems kinda fucked up! – and another booklet called Moonlight and Roses that came in that set. I sadly do not have that booklet in any form at this time.)

So let’s talk about this booklet’s cover, shall we? Look at those fucking outfits! I know that these are the same outfits that are on the dolls themselves, so I guess they’re wilder than usual to sell toys to Barbie fashion plate lovin’ kids, but seriously? Did these girls just leave the rejection line at the In Living Color Fly Girl auditions? And I wanna play some Candy Crush or Bejeweled or some shit on that hat Jessica’s wearing. And Liz? Honey, no. She looks fucking doofy and we all know she would never expose her midriff normally. I guess she raided her mom’s outfits from the last four decades and just threw some old bullshit together and Jess let her parade out of the house looking like that because we all know she secretly hates her anyway.

This story begins with Liz tiptoeing back into the house at midnight, wanting to dance and sing with joy, following a “special date” with Todd. She heads right to Jessica’s room because she has “something wonderful to show her.” Uh, to me this comes off like Liz and Todd finally did it and I don’t even want to say what I thought Liz was going to “show” her sister. What the fuck is wrong with me?! Back to this innocent story. It turns out Liz is talking about Todd’s letter jacket. Oh. Jessica proclaims it’s no big deal and then tries to talk Liz out of dating just one boy seriously (for the millionth time). Liz realizes Jessica is just jealous. She puts her Oracle pin on the jacket proudly while Jessica watches.

The next day after school, Jessica comes home from the Dairi Burger in a huff and stomps around bitching about how all anyone could talk about all day was Todd giving Liz his letter jacket. Well Jess, it sure beats everyone talking about how you killed your own boyfriend by spiking your sister’s drink, Miss Thing! OHHHHHHHHH no I did not!

The next morning, Jessica takes off for school in the Jeep for an early cheerleading meeting. Yeah fucking right! Jessica is the captain and she would never allow an “early” anything! Liz is too dumb to be suspicious, not even after she finds Todd’s jacket is missing. She rides to school with Enid who makes some smart ass remark about Liz not wearing the jacket Todd gave her. Liz tells her to shut up in a joking manner, and Enid salutes her and shuts up, and it kinda comes off like Peppermint Patty and Marcy from Peanuts.

Liz races into school two minutes before the final bell rings. Seriously, Jess getting up early and Liz running late? Liz runs into Julie Porter and Olivia Davidson, who say they just saw her 15 minutes ago. Liz is confused. Hurrrr, who could they have thought was her? Then when Liz gets to class in the nick of time, Mr. Collins says he thought she was going to be late because he just saw her run the other way past the classroom. Liz realizes Jessica took her jacket and is wearing it and everyone thinks Jess is her. Well, slap me silly and call me Chrome Dome Cooper! Never woulda thunk it.

Liz doesn’t see Jessica for the remainder of the day, and then Todd stands Liz up for their usual lunch date. Hmm, Jessica is impersonating Liz, and she and Todd have disappeared. If this story is supposed to take place after Jungle Prom, Liz should be flipping out!

After school, Liz sees Jess at home and demands she give back the jacket. Jessica first tries to say she doesn’t have it, then admits she borrowed it because she thought it would look cute with her new jeans. What the hell, she didn’t think that would make everyone think she was dating Todd? Or, you know, was Liz? This bitch doesn’t care about shit. Jessica goes on to admit that earlier, Todd walked up just as Aaron Dallas gave her a kiss. Todd freaked out and demanded the jacket back from “Liz” while Jessica tried to explain, in vain. As per usual, Todd is ready to believe the worst about his girl when there’s an obvious explanation to the contrary. Hypocrite from hell! Liz makes Jessica call Todd up and explain to him that it was Jessica wearing the jacket. Todd believes her over the phone, but not in person. What in the flying fuck? Todd then asks to speak to Liz, and he tells Liz that he’s sorry for the way he acted, but that Jessica didn’t even explain that morning – she just handed over the jacket without a word while Todd was in one of his Todd rages. Ohhh I see – I guess. Of course Liz hears this and thinks Jessica lied because she wanted Todd to be mad with Liz, but I’m honestly wondering if Todd might be the one who is lying. Whatever. After Liz hangs up, Jessica sweetly says she’s glad they got everything worked out and Liz can’t believe Jess is “acting so innocent.” Of course you can’t, you freakin’ dumbass. Liz decides she is going to come up with a way to get back at Jessica. Then the booklet pulls this on me:

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So, what do YOU DECIDE? I DECIDE that Elizabeth gets back at Jessica by giving her an extra stern glare, causing Jessica to burst into tears, at which point Elizabeth forgives her, apologizes, and makes it up to her by doing the dishes and making dinner for her for the next two weeks. Oh, and by offering to let Jessica borrow her flowery church hat, but Jessica is so nice she tells Liz that’s okay, she doesn’t have to take it THAT far. Yay! The End.

Actually, if I’m being honest the real ending is complete murder and mayhem with Liz pulling a reverse Jungle Prom and spiking Todd and Jessica’s drinks – with poison.

Also included with the Elizabeth Campus Cool doll was this little ad for SVH lavalier necklaces and a map poster:

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Yeah, those are not the SV lavalieres we know! I guess fake gold bar necklaces are a lot less exciting than a big gaudy SVH pendant, for the kids.

Anything else interesting? Yeah, the copyright page was obviously copied from the SVH books, because they had to partially cover up “Printed in the United States of America” with a little “Hong Kong” sticker. (The same is true of the Jessica booklet.)

Coming up next … It’s time for Jessica’s own little story, before we return to the main series.

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