We’re going straight back to October 1983 for this, our intro to Sweet Valley, the most perfect, Saved by the Bell-like town in the world!
Fair warning: Since this is the first book and is packed with sub-plots, this is going to be the longest entry ever!
The cover: I don’t know what it is about this particular cover, but every single copy I have ever come across has some kind of big scratch across either Jessica or Elizabeth’s face! Mine has a slight white dot on Liz’s mouth. The twins don’t look too bad in this pic. I love Jessica’s mischievous smile. She’s all ready for some good old fashioned boy stealin’. And they’re wearing those gold lavaliers. You know something, I have never heard of a “lavalier” outside of an SVH book.
Who are these girls? They’re Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, those famous size-six, sunstreaked blonde, blue-green-eyed 16-year-old twins with the matching dimples in their left cheeks. Don’t worry, if you didn’t memorize these details the first time, they will be mentioned again, like on every other page of this book.
Jessica is the outgoing, “dazzling” (read: bitchy) co-captain of the SVH cheerleaders (odd since she’s only a junior), and Elizabeth is a studious, sweethearted wuss who lets her sister walk all over her and get whatever she wants, then sits at home and cries about it all day. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Okay, so both girls are pledging the “best” SVH sorority, Pi Beta Alpha, but Jessica is the only one who really gives a shit about it. Liz is too busy with her secret writing gig as the “Eyes and Ears” gossip columnist for the SVH newspaper, The Oracle. It’s a tradition every year that when the identity of the Eyes and Ears columnist is discovered, that person gets tossed, fully-clothed, into the school swimming pool. Considering that Liz is supposed to be kindhearted and non-gossipy, it seems odd that she would be writing this column and not Jessica. But whatever …
The twins hang out with a bunch of big shot jocks (like Ken Matthews), snobby cliquish chicks (like Lila Fowler and Cara Walker), and a couple of nerds (like Winston Egbert and Enid Rollins) at places like the Dairi Burger restaurant and the school dances, which appear to be held every other week. SVH’s “hottest” rock band, The Droids, fronted by Dana Larson, always plays at each dance. I guess that makes The Droids the only SVH band.
The plot: Liz is crushing hard on Todd Wilkins, the star of the basketball team. He obviously likes her too, but when Jessica figures this out, she flips out! How DARE a cute boy prefer Liz to her! She starts hanging around Todd all the time, and Liz just steps back. She thinks she was wrong and that he does want Jess, and she doesn’t dare interfere. Yes, Liz, he’s following you around all over school, trying to talk to you, and looking less than thrilled whenever your sister interrupts, but yeah, he really wants her, not you! That makes so much sense. Liz is secretly devastated that she can’t have Todd, but she decides to be oh-so-noble and not say a word and instead sits at home crying miserably about her bad luck … on way too many pages.
Meanwhile, Jessica’s plan to snare Todd isn’t going as well as she’d hoped, so it’s even more hilarious that Liz is too much of a dumbass to see that Todd wants HER. Jessica is so irritated that Todd isn’t paying enough attention to her that she does this little hip-swaying walk home to attract men … yes, great idea Jess, attract strange men to make yourself feel better. She’s propositioned by Rick Andover, the classic trashy high school dropout, who comes screeching up next to her and demands that she go on a date with him. They wind up at Kelly’s, a total dive bar down at the beach. Jessica demurely sips her beer while having a panic attack over the atmosphere and the fact that Rick is pretty much trying to finger her under the table. Okay, he just slides his hand around on her knee but he’s definitely trying to get some. Jessica is properly horrified! Of course, she had NO IDEA that this crazy man who picked her up while she was swinging her ass around might want to hit it. She asks Rick to take her home, he says no way, and a fight breaks out when this big burly dude tries to help out Jessica’s crying, whiny, terrified ass. A cop shows up and takes Jessica home. As she’s blubbering out what happened, he asks for her name. Being an ace cop, the dude doesn’t ask for Jessica’s ID or anything. When she sobs “Wakefield” he just assumes she’s Elizabeth … this is getting better and better.
The cop drops Fake Liz off at her house and yells at “Elizabeth” that he doesn’t want to see her out with Rick Andover again. Nosy neighbor Caroline Pearce overhears and runs home to dial up everyone on her Princess phone (yes, that’s what it says!) and spread the word! Oh my! The next day, everyone at school is SHOCKED and APPALLED by this clearly unbelievable behavior. Everyone knows that anyone who goes to KELLY’S to drink BEER with RICK ANDOVER is obviously a complete slutface. Liz is branded Trollop of the Year and everyone starts treating her like shit. Filthy rich, whorish, asshole Bruce Patman cracks jokes about her “talents” (DOUBLE STANDARD ALERT!). Boring Enid Rollins assures Liz she’ll always be her best friend even though she’s completely ruined her reputation (without actually coming out and telling Liz what she’s talking about!). Todd W. is just in dismay and miserable at Liz’s behavior, that is such an affront to him personally. Because they’re dating and all! Because he’s not letting Jessica totally cock-block him or anything!
Liz is so wimpy that she goes a whole day without asking anyone what the fuck is going on, and once she does realize what happened she’s still too wimpy to come out and make it known that Jessica was the big offender, not her. Jessica cries and moans about what a terrible place Kelly’s is — there was DRINKING! and FIGHTING! no way! Not at A BAR! – and agrees to tell Todd the truth, but she does half-heartedly, and he thinks she’s just trying to protect Liz. So he makes out with her in front of the whole school (which earns all kinds of whistles — apparently kids making out at high school is unheard of), and agrees to take her to the fraternity-sorority dance, held by Pi Beta Alpha and Todd’s frat, Phi Epsilon. Jessica is delighted with herself, but Liz keeps crying alone in her room. See, she can’t just come out and tell everyone what really happened, because Jessica is just so “adorable” that she can’t bear to do this to her sister. Wow, they both suck.
Liz is stuck going to the dance with class clown Winston Egbert, who has been in love with Jessica for all of his life despite the fact she is a complete biotch to him (like she is to everyone). Todd and Liz spend the evening staring longingly across the gym floor at one another. Awwww, waaaah. This mopefest ends when Liz goes home early to cry some more and to imagine that Todd is out feeling up Jessica. In reality, Todd is actually on the porch with Jessica, privately mooning over Liz and giving Jess a chaste peck on the cheek. Jessica is so furious that he didn’t try to tongue her or anything that she runs upstairs and concocts a story for her sister that Todd tried to sexually assault her in his car. Liz is very angry and automatically believes this story because she is a complete idiot.
Now, this is not to say that Todd is a fantastic person. He calls Liz up and very condescendingly tells her he’s decided to grant her his forgiveness for going out with Rick Andover. Liz thinks he’s trying to apologize for groping her sister, and when she realizes what he’s really saying … oh blah. It’s supposed to be a hilarious mix-up scene but it actually just pissed me off! Todd is such a douchebag and Liz is such a doormat! These two deserve each other. But before we can finally end this charade, we have to read through some bullshit where Liz sees Todd with the Droids’ drummer Emily Mayer at the Dairi Burger and cries some more as she assumes he’s dating her now. LAME, LIZ. LAME.
The truth is FINALLY revealed when Rick Andover forces his way into the twins’ car as they drive home in their mom’s little red Fiat Spider. He takes them on a crazy joyride around the DB parking lot, where Todd picks up the chase at the sight of Liz’s terrified face! I’m surprised he didn’t think she deserved it. Todd corners Rick at Kelly’s and saves the day by knocking him out cold. Jessica runs to kiss Todd but Liz finally grows some ovaries and pushes Jessica out of the way and kisses Todd herself. Now, keep in mind that at this point, Liz still thinks Todd tried to assault Jessica! She’s already spent some time trying to rationalize it in her brain. Yes, let’s all rationalize attempted sexual assault so we can still feel okay about dating the assaulter, sounds great. They go home and Liz’s daydreams about Todd stroking her hair become reality as they smooch in the car after finding out that no, Todd did not try to force himself on Jessica and no, it wasn’t Liz at Kelly’s, it was Jess! Liz then storms upstairs and gets the truth out of her sister, who of course twists it all around for her benefit. Liz still manages to get her twin tossed in the SVH pool at a school party. She does this by tricking Jess into dressing as Liz, and then getting Dana Larson to announce that Liz is the Eyes and Ears chick … ha, ha, Jess. The end.
The sub-plots: The twins’ older brother Steven acts all weird and loony because he’s moping over his secret girlfriend, Tricia Martin, who comes from the trashiest family in town. Tricia is mad because he doesn’t want to be seen with her. At the same time, the twins are harassing him because they think he’s actually banging her slutty older sister, Betsy Martin, who has the worst reputation around. I guess she must hang out at Kelly’s a lot. Steve finally gets approval to date Tricia from his parents (who rightly note that at 18, he can date who he wants, for fuck’s sake). This is after he’s been crying in bed like a loser for a few weekends in a row over the girl HE TREATED LIKE CRAP BECAUSE HE’S TOO MUCH OF A MAMA’S BOY TO TELL HIS FAMILY ABOUT HER, then runs off and says “sorry” to Tricia and she instantly forgives him.
The “old rich” Patmans and the “nouveau riche” Fowlers have a big fight over who gets to do what with the SVH football field; each wants to develop it for some nefarious purpose. This whole thing is resolved with a court case that seems to take two seconds. The SVH field is SAVED!
The twins and Steve suspect their Cleaverized parents are splitting up because Mr. Wakefield is supposedly having an affair with Marianna West, a sexy “divorcee” who’s working on the football field case with him. Of course, once Mr. Wakefield reveals that Marianna is actually the newest partner at the law firm, it’s alright. Suddenly the fact that he touches her a lot and spends hours alone with her at her house is a-okay!
There’s some totally boring shit about Enid Rollins and her new boyfriend Ronnie Edwards and what a controlling dbag he is.
That’s a lot of subplots for one book!
WTF? The junior class seems to run the school at SVH. I don’t think I read about a single senior in this whole book, except Patman, who seems to hang out with only juniors.
Todd is a douche for assuming the rumor about Liz is true without asking her and for acting like it’s the worst thing he’s ever heard. Listen to this dickish shit: “Todd, a sad, faraway look in his brown eyes, said, ‘Maybe there’s just so much a person can take. I mean, how long can you go on trusting someone, believing in someone?'”
Todd is also a total douchebag for deciding that he can grant “forgiveness” to Elizabeth for her unspeakable behavior. *eye roll* (Todd speaking) “‘But I want you to know it’s all right. You made a mistake – it’s over. I’m willing to forget about it.'” (Again, he is NOT DATING LIZ YET)
Everyone is a douchebag for giving Liz hell for going out with Rick and supposedly acting like a strumpet when Bruce Patman bangs every chick alive and is still seen as an incredible dreamboat.
Fun fact: Lila sings soprano in the school choir.
That rally on the football field was totally Bayside High, with Jessica shaking her pom-poms and “Kenny” Matthews leading a dumb shout and some kind of crazy march to save the field. Where’s the Tigers mascot and Zack Morris?
Seriously, what is up with this school? Liz is just an unbelievable pariah for running around with Rick Andover and going to a bar at 16! If she went to my school all the kids would be like, Liz is a badass!
Bruce Patman makes this hilarious quote: “‘Hey, when it comes to having a disgrace in the family, Jessica Wakefield, just consider your dear sister, the pub crawler. And I do mean crawler!'”
Why does Jessica get off so easily for crying rape against Todd? That’s horrible shit! Of course, I guess we had to have something to kick off the perpetual rape theme that runs throughout this series.
Liz is a wimpy doormat and totally pisses me off. If you couldn’t tell.
Rick calls the twins “Heaven” and “Heavenly” WTF?
This book really cracks me up due to the Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller, The Christmas Ghost, which places a twelve-year-old Jessica in a A Christmas Carol-like story in the Scrooge role. Christmas Future shows Jessica she will be the most unpopular and disliked girl in school if she doesn’t change her evil ways. One of the evil things she is shown is how her future self tried to steal Todd from Elizabeth. As you can see in this book, Jessica really learned a lot from that terrifying night! (Of course, the SVT series debuted after this book was written, but whatever)
Ads in the back of the book: Nothing too cool in this copy; just some order forms for more SVH books, including the very first Super Thriller, and an offer to send away for Bantam’s shop-at-home catalog. I sent away for this when I was six or seven and perused it for hours. I never took them up on their “buy four books, get the fifth for 50 cents” offer though.
Next: Enid’s mysterious past is about to be revealed! We’ll find out why she was so much cooler before!