Jessica is watching a movie with Sam Woodruff in the Wakefield den one night (Love Story) when the characters’ marriage suddenly gives her the idea that Steven and Cara should marry so that Cara can stay in Sweet Valley. She runs upstairs to tell Steven and he immediately thinks that’s the best idea ever. He drives right over to Cara’s apartment, where she’s by herself packing and cleaning, and asks her. She is startled and asks him a couple of pages of questions before saying yes. One of the things she considers is how with her own apartment with Steven, she’ll be able to throw all the loud parties she wants. Hahaha. Steven and Cara set the date for the Saturday before Cara moves (three days ahead of time) and vow to keep it a secret until then. They won’t tell anyone else (other than Jess, since she already knows). Steven makes Jessica swear not to tell anyone, and “Definitely not Liz!” I’m glad to see Steven has some sense about that at least. But obviously, since it’s Jessica, it’s going to get out.
Steven and Cara get busy with details. They decide to look for apartments in San Fernando, which is “between Sweet Valley and the university.” I love how vague they are ever since they stopped saying that Steven goes to Sweet Valley College and put him at “the local state university” instead. Steven orders some rings while Jessica looks up the closest chapels in Nevada that they can escape to and the marriage requirements. Meanwhile, at school, Jessica does that whole thing people do where they know a huge secret and have promised they won’t tell, so instead they drop huge hints in front of other people to try and get them to either guess what it is, or to get the original secret-holder to just give up and spill it. I hate when people do that. Everyone gets suspicious about what’s going on with Cara and Jess, and Cara keeps yelling at Jess about it. Jessica being Jessica, she acts innocent, then goes and does it again. The beans finally get spilled to Lila and Amy when they eat at Guido’s with Cara and Jess and Jessica loudly whispers about the wedding behind a menu to Cara. Everyone acts excited, but then the other three girls start making remarks about how they can’t imagine being tied down “for the rest of my life” and Cara starts to feel weird.
In the kitchen at home, Liz tries to bully Jess into telling her what’s going on and Jessica refuses to tell, surprise surprise. But then North’s Jewelry Store at the Valley Mall calls the house about the engravings on the rings, because Steven is a moron and gave them his family’s house number rather than his dorm room number. Liz answers the phone and is left in complete shock. She drives to Steven’s school to ask him about it in person, and he gives her a rude brush-off, so she leaves without saying anything else.
Lila throws Cara a wedding shower at Fowler Crest. Of course, she runs her big mouth to some of their other friends, so Robin, Maria, Rose, Sandy, and Jean all show up. Where’s Annie? She’s seriously never around. The shower is catered by Palomar House. Cara thinks about how old and weird she feels having a wedding shower. She opens up her presents and is totally embarrassed when Lila gives her a negligee “for the wedding night.” We learn that Cara had never considered that she and Steven would be having sex as a married couple. Um, you didn’t? They haven’t slept together in the past because Cara doesn’t think they are ready and doesn’t want to. Now she’s going to be expected to. She feels almost nauseous over it. Let me add that I think this is the first Sweet Valley book I’ve read that came out and used the word “sex”. Even Playing with Fire and All Night Long didn’t come out and say that word. As Cara tries to hurriedly open other gifts and avoid thinking about the negligee, she finds that of course Amy’s shower gift is also some lingerie, a lacy black teddy. Cara’s face is flaming. Haha, leave it to Lila and Amy to give her gifts like those. Cara realizes she has major misgivings about getting married at age 16, but she doesn’t want to move to London either. You know, I’m surprised Maria Santelli didn’t have any advice for her, or that Cara didn’t think to ask for any, after her own disastrous engagement to Michael Harris. You’d think Maria would be all about telling Cara to think twice.
Back at home, Cara’s father calls from Chicago, where he lives with Cara’s younger brother Charlie. He and Charlie are coming to visit Cara and her mom before their London move, and Mr. Walker has a surprise for Cara. He and Cara’s mom both say that Cara’s mom has an idea what it is or something like that, so Cara’s imagination runs wild. She figures her father is planning to make up with her mother and that they can all live in Sweet Valley as one big happy family together, and then Cara won’t have to marry Steve to stay with him. Cara is so excited to get her life back to the way it was before, you know, when she was a normal teenager and all that. Meanwhile, Steve is also having second thoughts. He turns down a game of football on the quad with his roommate Bob and their friends Ted and Eve and they tell him he’s no fun. But he seems more determined to forge ahead with the wedding then Cara is.
When Cara’s dad shows up, he’s brought his new fiancee, Julia, with him. Cara is horrified and really rude to both her dad and Julia, and everyone else all through dinner. Then she locks herself in her room sulking for the rest of the weekend. She bitches her own mom out for “letting” her father re-marry. Nice girl, that Cara. Cara decides she will go ahead with the wedding and show her parents she doesn’t need them in her life, or some bullshit like that.
Meanwhile, Steven is busy checking out apartments and looking for part-time jobs. He winds up taking on a position as a waiter part-time. This is supposed to be enough to pay the rent and utilities on their crappy apartment all by itself, as Cara won’t be working. RIGHT. Then Steven finds out that he got into a pre-law program he’d been studying really hard for. He decides he’ll have to turn it down because he’ll be too busy working, studying, and spending time with Cara. He lies and tells his family and Cara that he didn’t get in the program and they’re all really understanding, except the twins, who suspect something is up. Well yeah, he’s a Wakefield. He always gets what he wants out of life. There’s no way in hell he WOULDN’T be accepted into the program unless it was run by someone corrupt and evil. Sure enough, Jessica later finds the acceptance letter lying on the floor of Steven’s room. It’s then she realizes what a mistake she made suggesting that they marry … not that she forced them to agree to it or anything. She launches a classic Jessica scheme to make Cara re-think the wedding rather than just, you know, tell their parents. I am really surprised Liz hasn’t stomped off to tell them by now.
Jessica gets Cara to take over a babysitting job with the Millers down the street (that was originally Liz’s job). She reasons that it will prepare Cara for the babies she and Steven will be sure to have because “You know the facts of life as well as I do. Even when you use birth control, accidents can happen.” Cara has a hard time with the kids, of course, which gets her thinking about the realities of her future with Steven. Next Jessica gives her a lecture about the harsh realities of marriage today, citing statistics about the percentages of housework and childcare that married women are stuck with. Of course Jess frames it all matter-of-factly like that’s just the way it is, la-di-da! Cara fails to realize the ulterior motive going on here. Next Jess takes Cara shopping for boring stuff: housewares and books on plumbing and cooking on a budget, and tries to encourage her to take up a hobby like knitting since she’ll be spending a lot of time at home waiting on Steven and won’t be close enough to Sweet Valley to hang out with her friends anymore. Gee, maybe Cara should just take up macrame a la Jean West.
Jessica’s plans kind of work: Many of the things Cara had been trying hard not to think about surface in her thoughts after all, but she still doesn’t have the guts to call things off with Steven. There is a sad scene the night before the elopement where Jessica comes to Cara’s apartment to give her some things for the wedding: a blue ribbon for her hair, and her lavaliere (strictly on loan) as a symbol of their new sisterhood. Jessica is on her way to a party at Ken Matthews’ and Cara is sad she now feels too old to attend things like that. Then Jessica drops the bombshell that Steven did in fact get into the law program and he has been lying about it for the sake of his marriage to Cara. Cara is shell-shocked. She goes and talks to her mom about her father’s own impending nuptials and shit, and Cara realizes that she can’t carry off her crazy plan, but she still doesn’t tell Steven, or ask her mother for help. I smell a huge shitstorm on the horizon.
The morning of the wedding arrives. Cara and Steven tell their parents they are going on a “ski trip” with some of Steven’s friends. There is no way in hell my parents would let me go off on a vacation with my 18-year-old boyfriend and friends at 16 unless a couple of parents were along to “chaperon.” Of course, Cara and Steven are really headed to Red Canyon, Nevada to marry at the town hall and have their one night “honeymoon” in a hotel there. Cara gets all dressed up for the wedding and Steven gives her flowers. If Cara doesn’t think she can go through with it, then why is she putting on her “wedding gown” (an off-white tea-length dress she’s had for some time)? This is bullshit. I know it’s hard, but just tell him the truth, woman!
Of course, Cara can’t bring herself to say a word until they get to the town hall. They have a whole two hour or so drive to talk about it and Cara says nothing. Steven makes a vague reference to “tonight…” in the car, implying they don’t have to get busy that night if she still isn’t ready. Cara is relieved and says nothing about the fact that she can’t marry him anyway. She still doesn’t say anything until it’s time for the “I Do”s. Steven says “yes” he will take Cara as his bride, but then when it’s Cara’s turn, she says “no” just as the whole Wakefield family busts in with Cara’s mom with Mr. Wakefield yelling to stop the wedding. Yes, the twins have finally told their parents just in time for everyone to catch up to them. Everyone is astonished that Cara said no, most of all, Steven, who actually thinks Cara set it up to humiliate him or something. He throws the rings on the floor and runs away. He returns to college where he holes himself up in his room and refuses to talk to anyone, let alone Cara.
Lila throws a big going-away bash for Cara. Liz doesn’t attend because she has a self-righteous stick up her ass about witnessing Cara say “no” to Steve at the wedding THAT LIZ WANTED TO STOP ANYWAY. Didn’t you want her to say “no” all along, anyway, you hose-beast? I hate her. Finally, Cara calls Liz up and asks her to meet her at the Dairi Burger so she can explain. Liz is all “I don’t think I can do that” and all stiff-necked and disapproving at first. She reminds me of that mean old history teacher in Lois Duncan’s A Gift of Magic. That’s what Liz is going to be like in a few decades, and I don’t give a shit what any future Sweet Valley series says. Finally Liz agrees to meet with Cara, who pleads her case. Basically Cara says she knew it would ruin Steven’s future if they married, they were too young, it wouldn’t work, he’d have to give up his law program, bla bla bla. Judge Elizabeth approves and grants her forgiveness. OF COURSE you approve, you old hag – those are the reasons that YOU didn’t want Steven and Cara to marry!
Don’t worry, Liz won’t let Cara move to London without Steven knowing the truth, although if he really thought about it he could figure out for himself why Cara said “no.” Liz drives all the way to Steven’s dorm room and tells him what Cara said. Then Steven races out to the airport just in time to intercept Cara getting on the plane and telling her he understands and he will always love her. Dude, you used to be able to just get through security like that to watch people board? I really don’t remember that ever being the case. Cara gives Steven back the wedding rings and then *poof!* she’s gone. Oh well, she was getting boring anyway, but I’m still going to miss her.
Now the real question is, What is Steven going to do with those wedding rings? He had them engraved. Let’s hope he can return them, because he also has a new apartment that’s going to need a subletter real soon. I guess we won’t be hearing about THAT part of the aftermath.
I liked this book. For once I really enjoyed reading an SVH and didn’t feel like I was forcing myself to finish. Sure it was silly, they all are, but it was fun!
The cover: Steven looks the same as every other cover. He isn’t capable of making more than one expression. I like the shade of lip gloss he is wearing. I believe he has also had an eye lift done for the occasion. Cara’s dress is not attractive to me. Those shoulder pads are crazy. I am also not sure that was still the style back in 1992. She isn’t wearing Jessica’s lavaliere, either. The two tiny tendrils hanging down the back of her neck are making my own neck itch. My neck also hurts seeing the way she has it titled like that. In fact I just tried to twist my own neck to the side like that and it’s annoying. I think Cara looks much prettier than her previous covers, however.
The sub-plot: Todd has his basketball shorts stuffed way far up his ass or something because he keeps getting huffy about how being tied down to one person is just horrible. Liz is worried he is sick of being with her. Wouldn’t anyone be by this point? Maybe Todd should go look up Courtney Kane and have a go at that again, or the other rich Courtney that he made out with at the campsite in Perfect Summer.
WTF? Amy says she was sad when her mom moved the family to California from Vermont, but they moved from Connecticut. Vermont was Todd’s domain.
Cara is really turned off by the fact that Steven lands a job at Pedro’s restaurant to help support them. She is so upset by it that she offers to work instead. Steven’s supposed to be a lawyer, not a waiter, she thinks. THE DUDE IS 18. Plenty of people work to support themselves prior to, you know, entering the real world and magically attaining instant success in their chosen high-powered field. Get over it, Cara. Someone in this marriage has to struggle to make the rent payment.
Speaking of making the rent payment – this book reminded me of One Tree Hill (horrible TV show I used to watch all the time on the CW) and how two of the main characters got married at the end of season 1 at age 16 or 17, and proceeded to become this 100 percent unrealistic portrait of teen marriage. The dude was emancipated from his parents and worked a night fast-food or janitor’s job or something and the girl worked as a high school tutor, yet even when they got pregnant they were still able to live in a fantastic spacious apartment with all kinds of nice decorations and have plenty of time for each other and going out with their friends and having crazy stripper post-wedding bachelorette/bachelor parties. RIGHT. And then when the girl wound up having a baby at their graduation they could still happily afford to live well and easy, no worries, and remained young-looking with oodles and oodles of time on their hands to do nothing, until of course the 5’9″ husband became an NBA superstar and they were fabulously rich for life.
How many of you have watched that Love Story movie that Jessica had on, or read the book? That always seemed like something I should watch, but I can’t stand movies that are too sad. I hate bawling at movies. I don’t want to sniffle over a book either.
Steven’s roommate is still Bob Rose from Jealous Lies. At least someone was paying attention to consistency. I wonder where Adam Maitland is.
Steven’s friend Eve is probably the same Eve that Steven took to a high school dance (yep) in an earlier book, after Jessica tried to break Steven and Cara up for good because she didn’t like how serious they were. MY, how times have changed. I guess it’s okay for other people to be in serious relationships as long as Jessica is in one herself.
Here are the other wedding shower gifts Cara receives, aside from the aforementioned lingerie. From Jessica: a Jane Fonda/Robert Redford movie called Barefoot in the Park about some newlyweds trying to get along amid funny situations. (I went and put it on my Netflix queue hahaha). From Sandy: some fluffy yellow bath towels. From Robin: some plastic tumblers and an ice bucket. (…An ice bucket? For entertaining?) It doesn’t say what the others are. I think it’s telling that I thought, “Hmmmm, that sounds useful” and “Man, we definitely need some new towels” while I was reading this part. HAHAHA. Of course, I also wouldn’t mind a negligee. Teddies look uncomfortable, not that they stay on for long.
This book gets mega points for using words like “birth control” and “sex”. Remember Rumors where the author couldn’t come out and say how babies were made? We’ve come a long way, baby.
This book underscores the oddness of this and so many other YA series, and the fact that we’re supposed to believe all of these things can take place in one nine-month school year. Cara’s parents just got divorced a few months ago (by the timeframe we’re supposed to follow) yet her dad is already remarrying. Tricia Martin’s death took “a long time” for Steven to get over. And Jessica considers her lavaliere “something old” even though it was a gift for her sixteen birthday, and she’s STILL sixteen.
The cheerleaders are getting new uniforms again. This is the third time since the series began they’ve needed new uniforms.
Reader of the Month: This one creeped me out. Alexandra says: “They also make me think about what it would be like if the things that happened in the books would happen to me when I am sixteen. For example, perhaps my best friend would be in a plane crash and I would help her get better.” WOW. Did you just WISH a horrible accident upon your best friend, Alexandra? Talk about your unfortunate wording there.
Coming up next … Liz and Todd break up. And this is unusual why?