Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Super Edition: Spring Break

It's Super Edition time! Which means deviating from the ongoing storylines and dropping the twins into situations that are never referred to again. This one actually comes after Lovestruck and before Alone In The Crowd, so Jeffrey French hasn't arrived on the scene yet, Liz is still a newly single gal and Regina Morrow hasn't died. Let's do this.

Super Edition: Spring Break

The Wakefield twins are on their way to Cannes for a ten day exchange programme organised by Ms Dalton, the French teacher at school and it takes a chapter and a half of them dicking around on their flight, not eating the plane food in disgust (WRONG, plane food is great and I love the tiny bread rolls and everything stashed in its own lil container) and almost being left behind in New York when the passengers are given half an hour to roam duty free while the plane refuels (that doesn't seem right, even for the 80s) before they get to France. They're staying with a family called the Glizes, consisting of Avery, a single mother, her son René and her daughter Ferney who is on her way to Sweet Valley to stay with Ned and Alice as part of the exchange. Jessica wants Liz to hook up with someone to help her get over Todd and teases her about hot René in the photo of the family that she's looking at.

His tightly-fitting jeans were unmistakably French.

Steady on, Liz.

We also learn that Lila is going to Paris for her exchange and Enid has to stay in Sweet Valley to babysit and earn pocket money. It always sucks to be Enid. The twins eventually land in France and are picked up at the airport by Avery and a surly René who end up arguing in the car in front of Liz and Jessica after he's really rude to them and slags off American tourists. Liz catches that he says "mon pere" a few times while they're arguing in French and she wonders what the deal is with his dad and why he's got a grudge against Americans. Hey I wonder if the two are related.

The following day, the twins are left to their own devices as Avery (who is had to go to work and René, who was supposed to show them around, legged it on his moped after his mother left. Jessica isn't too impressed as she wanted to see the local sights and hotspots and now feels like she's stuck in the house on their first full day, but Elizabeth convinces her to join her for a jog.

"Are you implying that I have to work to keep my perfect figure?" Jessica asked, trying to keep a straight face.

So Wakefield. So relatable.

Jessica gets fed up with jogging after a while though and turns to go back to the house, telling Liz she'll meet her back there. While she's walking back, she meets a boy called Marc who's getting out of a silver Porsche in front of a huge fancy mansion and strikes up a conversation with him, because even though he's "kind of funny looking" and short with frizzy hair, his family are clearly minted and that's good enough for Jessica. She manages to get him to offer to take her to the beach club that his family is a member of that afternoon and pops back to the house to put on her gold lamé string bikini (YES GAWD) and spend the day at the beach. Elizabeth potters around the house for a while, before Avery and René arrive back, arguing again because Avery is mad at him for bailing on the twins and tells him to take them on a tour of Cannes that afternoon. He brings Elizabeth around in the car but drives super fast and angrily and gets even grouchier with Liz when she asks if they're going to the beach and he tells her doesn't swim ...anymore. Then his eyes cloud over and he looks out to the horizon because this is a soap opera. He takes Liz to a cafe and introduces her to two of his friends and then just tries his best to ignore her and leave her out of their conversations and slags off her French accent when she tries to join in. When he goes to the bathroom his friends tell Liz that his father is American and left Avery when he and Ferney were young, also that they're not sure what's gotten into him, that he's usually a nice guy. René then continues to be horrible to Liz for the rest of the afternoon when they all go for lunch and makes a show of her in the restaurant. When they get back to the house, Liz goes for a walk to get away from him and his jerk face and ends up finding a German Shepherd puppy. She takes the puppy back to the address that's on his tag and what do you know, he belongs to a countess. Because of course French aristocrats live in houses that any asshole can just toddle on up to. The countess invites Liz in for a glass of wine, they get on like a house on fire and she tells her to come back the following day.

Back at the Glize's house, Jessica tells Elizabeth that she had an amazing time at the beach, even though in reality most of the people she met there were boring friends of Marc's parents. Also most of the women on the beach were sunbathing topless and Jessica even joined in eventually, although as soon as she took her top off, she dove for the lounger and laid on her stomach. Gasp, half naked Wakefield twin! Escandalo! At dinner, René makes mean remarks every time his mother's back is turned and even Elizabeth snaps at him which makes Jessica realise that he must have been particularly awful to her earlier that day and establishes himself firmly at the top of Jessica's list of enemies.

The next day, Elizabeth meets the countess at her house again and is introduced to her grandson Jean-Claude, a handsome piece of ass in tennis whites with a deep tan, sandy hair and almost no English. He takes her out around Cannes and they go to the observatory and play boules with some old dudes and Jean-Claude is super flirty and a total charmer but not really Elizabeth's type so she's happy to just be pals. When he takes her back to the the Glize's house that evening they arrange to go to the beach the following day and Jean-Claude fills Liz in on the reason René is all weird about swimming. A few years ago he was swimming in the sea with his best friend, but he swam ahead and the friend got a cramp and ended up drowning, so he hasn't gone near the sea since. Then Elizabeth is all conflicted with concern for René despite the fact that he's been an absolute asshole to her, and thinks maybe she should try to talk him around or whatever. Ugh, let sleeping dickheads lie, Liz.

Meanwhile, back in Sweet Valley, it turns out that Ferney is the image of Tricia Martin, Steve's girlfriend who died tragically of leukemia. Ned and Alice are worried because Steve is obsessed with her and even though he doesn't speak French and she doesn't speak English, he's been spending all his free time with Ferney, dodging his actual girlfriend Cara and not returning her calls. Apparently he's deciphered that Ferney likes science and he's all excited because Tricia liked science too and wanted to be a scientist so that means Ferney does too and Steve is an idiot. Ned and Alice have decided that the best course of action is to do sweet fuck all and see what happens. Nice one, lads.

Jessica is wildly jealous of Elizabeth's new hot friend and is annoyed that she's arranged to go to the beach again with Marc while Elizabeth will be hanging out with the handsome grandson of a countess. We also learn that Elizabeth has told Jean-Claude that she's here with her sister, but that she couldn't remember the French word for twin, so he doesn't know that Liz has an identical twin and we can all see what's going to happen here. Jessica heads off with Marc to the beach and then Avery rings the house looking for René, but he's not there, so when Elizabeth answers and it turns out Avery needed him to pick up a prescription for one of her patients, Elizabeth agrees to do it, figuring she'll be able to get the bus into town and get back in time to meet Jean-Claude. She leaves a note on the door of the house for Jean-Claude before leaving, explaining that she might be a few minutes late, but then everything takes ages and there's a car crash on the way back so the bus gets delayed and when she finally gets back to the house, over half an hour after the time she was supposed to meet Jean-Claude, there's no sign of anyone. And that's because Jessica came home early from the beach after faking a headache because Marc was doing her head in. She took the note from the door, figuring that she'd explain to Jean-Claude that Elizabeth was going to be late, but when he came knocking and mistook her for Elizabeth, Jessica just went along with it and pretended to be her twin. Apparently it's "love at first sight" for Jessica, so she decides that Elizabeth wouldn't stand in her way and just straight-up steals her date for the day.

LOOK at these demented bitches. Dressed like old ladies and as Anna, a Facebook pal pointed out, they both look like they're screaming. Just, walking around France, looking at the sights. Screaming.

Jean-Claude is a bit confused at first because Jessica's French isn't as good as Elizabeth's, but she manages to blag her way through their day at the beach and they go swimming, waterskiing and diving off Jean-Claude's friend's boat, followed by dinner in a place up in the mountains. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has a horrible day after all the faffing around doing that favour for Avery and then when she's back to the house, René gets on her case again for no reason and they have a big row. Jessica eventually comes home and feels guilty when she sees that Elizabeth had a terrible day, but still weasels out of coming clean because she knows that if she tells the truth, Elizabeth will make her confess to Jean-Claude and then he might not want to see her anymore if he knows she lied. So she lets Elizabeth think that Jean-Claude must be mad at her for not being in time for their date and that it's not a big deal because she didn't even fancy him, whereas Jessica really does, so all this snakey behaviour is totally justified. This is so mean and also, why aren't the twins hanging out together, like at all? I mean, if you're going away with your sister, isn't it a bit weird to immediately ditch each other and hang out with strangers, instead of both of them going to the beach with Marc that first day, or both of them going out and about with Jean-Claude showing them the sights?

The following day, Jessica plays tennis with Jean-Claude while Elizabeth gets the bus into town on her own and goes for walks around Cannes, writes postcards and sunbathes at the beach. On her way back to the Glize's house, she picks up the post for the family and sees an airmail envelope for René. She hands it to him when she gets inside and he just scowls and throws it in the bin, unopened. Which is Elizabeth's cue to get all up in his business, asking him why he's not going to read it. The letter is from his father, and apparently he writes to René every month and every month his letters go straight into the bin. Elizabeth tells him he's being unfair and that he has nothing to lose by opening the letter and seems to be getting through to him and past his obnoxious asshole exterior. René then says that if he doesn't open the letter he supposes Liz is going to do it for him.

"I know you think I'm like that, the kind of person to meddle in other people's business, but that's not true. I wish I could make you understand that."

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Sorry. What I meant to say was - AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Oh my GOD, here, have some self-awareness on me, Liz. GOOD GRIEF.

Anyway, at the precise moment when René actually reaches for the letter, Jessica breezes into the kitchen and ruins the moment, then makes a remark about René being afraid of water, which is pretty mean, considering he's traumatised from his friend's death so René storms out and Jessica's like, "fuck him, he had it coming".

Back in Sweet Valley, Cara is upset because she was supposed to meet Maria Santelli and a few others for pizza, but when she arrives at Guido's, who does she see all snug in a booth only Steven and Ferney. Steven has the decency to be at least look a bit ashamed and awkwardly asks her if she wants to join them, but Cara says it looks like there isn't room and runs back out to her car. Cara. For real.

D U M P  H I M.

Anyway, after all that, Steve invites his friend David to hang out with them, because David studies French and can translate for Ferney. However, Steve soon realises that while science is her favourite subject at school, Ferney doesn't actually want to be a scientist. Apparently she did an experiment and made a new lipstick colour, but Steve is disappointed that she doesn't have "noble aspirations" like noble dead Tricia and he doesn't want to hear about it (UGH, maybe I want to hear about it Steve, it actually sounds pretty impressive, what cool experiments have YOU done, hmm?) and thinks she's silly and frivolous because she likes fashion magazine and wants to hang out with the other French kids and eat crepes. She's more like Cara was before the major emotional upheaval she went through which made Steven deem her worthy of his time, i.e. "more into her own personal pleasures, less aware of people around her, less adult, I guess." You know, like A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL. Maybe it's time to stop dating high school students Steve, ya big creep. He realises his mistake and goes grovelling to Cara who then forgives him and takes him back. Boo.

Jessica is off sailing to an island with Jean-Claude for the day and Elizabeth is left in the house on her own again. This host family absolutely sucks. Anyway, Marc calls to the house and when Liz answers, he assumes it's Jessica and asks how she's feeling. Elizabeth explains that she's not Jessica and she thought Jessica was out with Marc for the day so she quickly realises that her sister has ditched him for some other dude. He wanted to take Jessica to an art exhibit, so Elizabeth offers to go with him instead as she wouldn't mind some company. They have a lovely afternoon and end up making friends with the artists' daughter Veronique, who hits it off with Marc so he forgets about being ghosted by Jessica. Elizabeth gets back to the house, expecting to find Jessica there as she said she'd be back by half three, but it's five o'clock now and there's no sign of her. By seven o'clock, Elizabeth is properly worried because she has no idea where Jessica is and now there's a storm outside. René arrives home and and when Elizabeth tells him how worried she is, he tells her his friends saw Jessica with Jean-Claude earlier that day and goes on about how they just steal each other's boyfriends. Elizabeth calls the countess at home and she's all confused because she thought Jean-Claude was with Liz but tells her that he said he was going out to Ile Sainte-Marguerite on his sailboat. Elizabeth panics and gets René to bring her to beach where they sailed from but balks when she sees that she'll have to go on his moped, because Wakefields are forbidden from traveling "by motorcycle" after their cousin Rexy died and that time Elizabeth was in a terrible accident. She has to make sure Jessica is alright though and also, it's a moped so it's more like a hair dryer than a motorbike Liz, chill out. She hops on and René drives through the rain and the wind and the stormy weather down to the beach only to see the little boat struggling through the waves. Jessica and Jean-Claude are trying to control the boat but a massive wave tips it over and Elizabeth sees the boom hit Jessica's head before she falls into the water. Elizabeth runs in and swims over, trying to tow Jessica to the shore but the choppy water makes it super difficult. Then René appears, having put his fears aside and helps Liz to bring Jean-Claude and Jessica back to safety.

Jessica comes to and when she sees Jean Claude, Elizabeth realises that the two of them are in looooove and is amazed at the look on Jessica's face and the light in her eyes is "new and rare". Jean-Claude does a double take when he sees Elizabeth and registers her face, but Elizabeth sees her sister "make a silent plea" and introduces herself as Jessica. Oh GOD, kick the pair of them back into the sea. Jessica then goes out for dinner that night with Jean-Claude after Avery checks her over and gives her the all-clear because almost drowning on holiday ain't nothing to a Wakefield twin. While she's out, René knocks on Elizabeth's door and she thanks him for helping her save Jessica and tells him how brave he is. He apologises for being such a douchebag and explains that he was extra hard on her because he actually really likes her and it all got tangled up in his anger over his father so the two of them become friends and he's going to take her out on a date the following day. Also, Jessica comes clean with Jean-Claude and he still loves her so that's all great and there's no way we're ever going to hear about this dude ever again.

Notable outfit:
Jessica came super close for this accolade with these humdingers:

"Liz, where's the purple shirt you brought with you?" asked Jessica. "It'll go great with these." She pulled on a pair of black stirrup pants that clung to her body.

and

She jumped to her feet, quickly pulling on a pair of velour jogging pants and a loose, man-tailored shirt.

DAMN GIRL. But this one has to go to what appears to be Prince George, who is a time-travelling baby, spotted in the airport:

Elizabeth caught sight of a little boy dressed in blue, knee-length shorts, complete with crisp white shirt, suspenders, ankle socks, and navy oxfords.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 216

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3 
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 9 (Heck yeah)
 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Outcast

Uh ohh...IT'S CONSEQUENCE TIME.

(Also, best to have read the book 40 recap before this one, as it follows on directly from that storyline. And hey, while we're clickin' links, come say hi on Facebook and Insta!)

Sweet Valley High #41: Outcast
 

We pick up immediately after the point where the last book finished up, so everyone is crying after the memorial service for Regina at school. Elizabeth finds Bruce and Amy (Amy is holding Bruce's hand "defiantly" at the funeral of the girl she schemed against because she has no class) and tells them about the letter she got from Regina from ~beyond the grave~ and how Regina had said that she didn't hold anything against the pair of them. Bleh. I hold it against them and I think they're assholes. Elizabeth and Jessica arrive home to find both of their parents and Steven home for a Serious Family Meeting About Drugs where Ned and Alice tell the twins that they can always talk to them about anything. Elizabeth laments that it was so unlike Regina to try drugs and Jessica cries out that it's all Molly Hecht's fault for having the party, but Ned insists that it was Regina's decision.

At school, everyone is jumping on the Blame Molly Bandwagon, including Justin Belson. Molly tries to talk to him at lunch but he literally turns and flees from her, because he's putting his old life behind him now. Molly is left entirely alone and feels completely terrible as she walks home. She can't help feeling like it's not fair that she's the one taking all the blame and quite rightly wonders "What about Bruce and Amy? What about Buzz and Justin and Jan? What about Regina herself?" and I'm with you Molly, Bruce and Amy should absolutely be taking some heat for this too. She's fifteen minutes late when she gets home because she spent all day at school being ostracised and waited until the hallways were clear before leaving as people had been physically moving away from her as she passed. Once she gets home though, she's berated by her furious parents for being late (her dad has come back from San Francisco to shout at her and tell her she's responsible for Regina's death) and she tearfully pleads with them to let her transfer to another school because everyone is treating her like a murderer, but they're not having it and tell her she has to take whatever the kids at school throw at her. Parenting!

Jessica calls an emergency Pi Beta Alpha meeting and announces that she wants to set up a college scholarship fund in Regina's memory, to be awarded to someone who has overcome "some kind of handicap or hardship" and that the sorority could fundraise to get it started. Everyone thinks it's an amazing idea and Elizabeth tells Jessica that she's proud of her. After school, Elizabeth is sitting on the steps outside the front entrance with Jeffrey talking about how much she misses Regina and shows him a poem about grief by the poet who Regina liked and the whole thing is printed in full, like the poem by the same author in the last book which was read at the memorial, and is the ghostwriter just filling up the word count here or trying to win a bet? Anyway, while all this is going on, Molly is on the other side of the door, psyching herself up to talk to Elizabeth.

For days now, she had a strong, compelling need to talk to Elizabeth, to try to apologize, explain what had happened.

It was well known that Elizabeth Wakefield could be counted on as sympathetic, honest and scrupulously fair.

Oh PLEASE.

When Jeffrey leaves, Molly emerges and asks Elizabeth if she can talk to her for a minute, but she backs away and says she can't. Molly begs Liz not to hate her and Liz says she's doesn't hate her but she loved Regina and then runs away from her too.

Now that Elizabeth and Justin had turned away, nothing seemed to matter anymore.

Ok, Justin at least is her ex and until recently was a close friend but as far as we know, her and Elizabeth had never even said as much as hello to each other, so REALLY? Now that Elizabeth, who you've never had anything to do with, has turned away, NOW everything is meaningless and over? How the hell is a judgemental pain in the hole like Elizabeth so central to the happiness of all these tertiary characters that she's never even interacted with? Even when it's not about the Wakefields, it's still somehow about the Wakefields. You can't buy that kind of personal brand reach. Anyway, now that Molly is completely alone without even a Wakefield shoulder to cry on, she decides that the one person who can't run away from her and who she can get everything off her chest to is Regina, so she ends up walking to the graveyard where Regina is buried. Unfortunately for Molly, Nicholas Morrow is there leaving roses on the grave and crying. He sees her and loses his shit, yelling at her that she's done enough damage already and how dare she come here.

"Get out of here!" he screamed, raising one hand as if to hit her.

NNNNNNNNOPE. For good measure, he also screams at her that she killed his sister and Molly runs away and collapses when she gets home to an empty house. The phone rings and it's Buzz, who's been on the run from the cops since the party. She tells him to leave her alone, but Buzz talks her round by being nice to her and saying he's on her side and that he understands what she's going through, and poor Molly is so starved of any kind of sympathy that she stays on the line and agrees to meet him at Kelly's that night. Now I know I used this line in the last recap, when talking about Regina, but this girl's name actually is Molly so I think the situation warrants a MOLLY YOU IN DANGER, GIRL! We also learn that Buzz is lying low in some shady empty apartment with "sagging clothes-lines" draped between the rundown brick buildings. Ah, the lesser-spotted poor part of Sweet Valley, generally populated by people that Elizabeth can benevolently take pity on.

Back at the Wakefields' split-level, Spanish-style, better-than-your house, Jessica is trying to figure out the logistics of managing the money that will be raised for the Regina scholarship and is worried she's taken on more than she can handle. Alice then arrives home with a Chinese takeaway and Jessica is thrilled out of her fucking mind.

A pungent, savory odor wafted out of the backseat as Jessica opened the door. "Mom!" she shrieked excitedly. "You ordered Chinese food!"

Everyone agrees it was a great idea and is happily stuffed after eating out on the patio and STALL THE BALL LADS, because back in Nowhere To Run, it is explicitly stated that Ned doesn't like Chinese food and yet here he is, popping chunks of water chestnut into his lying mouth with his chopsticks. I mean, it was like twenty books ago but STILL. After dinner, Jessica tells her parents about the Regina scholarship plan and Ned offers to take care of all the admin and investment-y side of things once they raise the money, as they deal with that type of stuff at the office anyway so it's grand. So that's that sorted. Jeffrey calls over to hang out with Elizabeth later that evening and while they're watching telly he can see that there's something on her mind, so she tells him that she feels bad for shunning Molly and admits that everyone is taking their anger and grief out on her which is pretty unfair. However, despite all this, Liz can't bring herself to actually talk to the girl because it's "too painful" and she hopes that Molly has someone to talk to or offer support to her, so she goes ringing Justin Belson to bother him about it. Unsurprisingly, Justin isn't too impressed at being told to go be friends with Molly by this self-righteous busybody who can't be bothered to go do the same thing herself.

Stung, Elizabeth stared at the mouthpiece of the phone. Why was he reacting this way?

Haaa, suck it Liz, not everyone is desperate for your approval. Anyway, Justin tells her he's trying to sort his own life out and won't go backwards and that's the end of it.

Oh hello SVH cover JACKPOT! Look at all this feathery hair! It's like being inside a fancy pillow full of birds! Also why do these three high school girls look like thirty year olds? Are they all wearing pyjamas? And am I crazy or does that girl on the left look like Whiny Scarlett from Nashville?

Meanwhile, Molly Hecht is sneaking out her bedroom window and making her way to the car park of Kelly's where she meets Buzz. They sit in his car and he hands her a joint and gives her a lot of "I've never felt this way about anyone" type talk because he needs her for his plan to leg it out of Sweet Valley. Molly is reeled in by his supposed sympathy for her situation and he manipulates her into agreeing to leave town with him and to bring the few thousand dollars she has in a savings account that was meant for college. Molly is so tired of everyone shutting her out and shitting on her that she ignores her instincts and goes along with the plan, thinking that'll show everyone, including "that goody-goody Elizabeth Wakefield". I have to say, I'm really enjoying the Elizabeth-slagging that's going on in this book.

The following day, Nicholas Morrow shows up at the Wakefield house super early in the morning, because he wants to talk to Elizabeth. Jessica lets him into the house and pours him a coffee, telling him about the scholarship she's organising while he waits for Liz to come downstairs. He loves the idea and takes her hand, saying that his parents will be touched and Jessica tries her best to flirt with him and you just have to admire this gal's hustle. Never let up, even when he's grieving his sister's death. Anyway, Elizabeth arrives into the kitchen, and Jessica is immediately forgotten about, as Nicholas asks if he can drive Liz to school. On the way, in his jeep, he tells Elizabeth about how he went off on Molly Hecht at the graveyard and asks if she could apologise to Molly on his behalf if she sees her at school. They come to the conclusion that Molly has just been an easy target for everyone and that it's not fair how she's been treated. Of course, Liz also came to these same conclusions with Jeffrey but didn't bother her hole doing anything about it then herself. So she ends up doing the exact same thing as before, and instead of approaching Molly herself at any of the many opportunities she had during the day, she seeks out Justin Belson again to badger him about it.

He's in the library working on a Hamlet paper and Liz tries to ease her way into her badgering by offering to help him with his assignment in return for him helping her with Molly. She pleads with him to help, and points out that wrecking Molly's life won't bring Regina back and just wears him down until he says he'll think about it. At lunch, Liz goes asking around after Molly in an effort to find her and someone tells her they heard Molly asking about which buses go past the Union Bank, so Elizabeth heads over there and runs into Molly as she's about to leave with stacks of fifties in her hand from the $2,300 she just emptied from her account. Elizabeth says she wants to talk, but Molly doesn't want to hear it, saying she's fed up with being everyone's scapegoat and, magnificently;

"You can take your talking and shove it."

GODDAMN I just love it when people tell Elizabeth to go fuck herself. It's so rare and even though it always ends up that Elizabeth was actually right and they should have listened to her, it's just so bloody satisfying.

Jessica and Elizabeth are in the Oracle office working on an article about the Regina scholarship, when Penny Ayala and Olivia Davidson come in. Elizabeth types out the story and then Jessica, Penny and Olivia read it and a hush descends over the office in reverence at Elizabeth's amazing writerly writing. No, really.

There was a silence as the four girls finished reading Elizabeth's article. For a moment none of them spoke.

Then Penny, the editor, is like, it's perfect, no changes, front page! Because you DO NOT EDIT ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD. Sexy ol' Roger Collins then comes in and also says it's great and then they all have a big conversation about how people on drugs need help and Jessica comes to the realisation that Molly shouldn't be treated like it's all her fault.

After school, Justin goes to Molly's house but her mother won't let him see Molly because she's grounded and when he's back at home, Elizabeth calls and says she has a feeling that something is wrong and tells him about seeing Molly with her wads of cash earlier. Justin immediately realises that Molly is planning on running away, so he picks Liz up from her house and they head over to the Hecht's just in time to see Molly getting into her mother's car alone with a big backpack and taking off up the road. They follow her and end up in the Kelly's car park, and see Buzz emerging from the shadows to meet her and put her bag in his car. Justin tells Liz to go to the payphone and call the cops to tell them to be out at old route seven, as that's an old deserted highway that Justin correctly reckons they'll be taking out of town. He follows the car as they leave Kelly's and once Buzz and Molly realise they're being followed, a car chase ensues on the old highway, ending with Justin overtaking Buzz's car and blocking off the road so they have to stop.

Buzz gets out of the car and starts shouting at Justin, Molly also gets out and tells him to go, that it's her decision to leave, but Justin talks her around and she runs to him. Buzz then tries to take her bag with the money in it and when Justin stops him, Buzz pulls out a knife and lunges for him. He misses and they fight, Justin manages to knock the knife out of Buzz's hand and they bate the heads off each other until the cops eventually arrive on the scene.

The following day, Molly pops into the Oracle office and thanks Elizabeth, who had arrived on the scene last night with Jeffrey once he picked her up from outside Kelly's and had comforted Molly while she was in shock from the whole ordeal. Molly says she's going to straighten her life out and that she wants to do well in school. Also, Mr Collins told her that if she really gets her act together, he'd nominate her for the Regina scholarship the following year and Elizabeth says that Regina's family would be delighted.

A moment of true friendship passed between the two girls, and Molly smiled gratefully.

True friendship my arse, I'd bet a tenner that these two never have another meaningful encounter for the rest of the hundred million books in this series.

Notable outfit:
Not a single one. Everyone was too depressed to wear anything fun.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2 (TWO? That's only one eye per twin, come on guys!)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5

 

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - On The Edge

Hi! I'm back! So Dubai was tremendous fun while also being kinda bananas and like a futuristic colony on Mars with the HOTTEST AND HUMIDIEST HEAT OF ALL TIME. Then when we got back there was a bit of that aimless newly unemployed dawdling where the days just sort of went in amongst endless Friends repeats and reading books and catching some Pokemon and getting into Grace & Frankie on Netflix. Anyway, here we are. Oh wait, HAVE YOU SEEN they're going to make Sweet Valley High graphic novels? SO MANY FEELINGS.

Okay. It's here. IT'S TIME.

Sweet Valley High #40: On The Edge
 

Jessica Wakefield is admiring her reflection in the locker room before cheerleading practice (because she's basically Alyssa Edwards when it comes to mirrors - and HOW GOOD is Drag Race Allstars this year you guys? KATYA FTW) when the rest of the squad come tumbling in, led by Amy Sutton. Amy's buzzing because she's convinced that Bruce Patman is crazy about her and even Jessica thinks she's particularly "boy crazy" lately, which is the pot calling the kettle a ho, but there you have it. Maria Santelli chimes in to say that it really did seem like Bruce was into Amy when they all ran into him in the hall on their way to the locker room just now, though. Jessica's not convinced that Bruce will dump Regina for Amy, but decides it's been a while since there was any proper drama so maybe someone shaking things up a bit won't be any harm.

Amy and Bruce have been doing a project together for their health class about DRUGS in Sweet Valley. Gasp! DRUGS? YES, DRUGS! Anyway, she's over at the Patman mansion to work on it with Bruce and purrs at him and touches his hand and acts all coy while telling him about a dream she had where they made out until Bruce gives in and kisses her. Dammit Bruce! He pretty much immediately reverts back to obnoxious would-be rapist Bruce, giving Amy a cocky smile and saying he'd forgotten how much fun it was to spread around "the old Bruce magic with more than one girl" and insists that he'll be able to convince Regina to let him do what he wants. Eugh and boo. Also, it's kinda gas that Amy is presented as a villain here for plotting to score with Bruce when stealing boyfriends is just a regular Tuesday afternoon for Jessica.

At school, Regina is feeling like there's something up with Bruce, since he's now cancelled on her for two Friday nights in a row to work on the longest project in the world with Amy and now he's stood her up for lunch in the cafeteria. A dude called Justin Belson asks Regina if he can sit with her when he sees that she's on her own and Regina says yes despite the fact that she doesn't know him at all, because she hates eating alone. Justin is cute and tall and chiselled but has an air of danger about him too because he was recently on academic probation and hangs out with Molly Hecht and Jan Brown, who are apparently Bad News. Justin and Regina chat over lunch and he reveals that he has three copies of the Ingenue magazine that she was on the cover of, which is totally normal and not alarming. Why three? Why could he possibly need that many? Regina. You in danger, girl. He asks her out to a game in LA that night, but Regina turns him down because she reckons Bruce wouldn't like it, but agrees to have lunch with him again the following week.

Jessica and Elizabeth are planning a barbeque for Saturday evening and Elizabeth is apprehensive about the fact that Regina, Bruce and Amy will all be there, now that she knows Amy and Bruce shifted, but Jessica is excited at the prospect of a bit of scandal. Elizabeth feels like she should give Regina a heads up, particularly since the whole cheer squad knows that something is going on too and it seems unfair to leave poor (not actually literally poor though), beautiful, formerly deaf Regina in the dark. Jessica is horrified and pleads with her not to, as it'll be obvious that Regina will have found out via Jessica and Amy will be mad at her. Elizabeth isn't convinced until she talks it over with her boyfriend Jeffrey, who advises her to stay out of it as it could easily come to nothing and just be a load of big talk from Amy. Shockingly, Elizabeth actually minds her own beeswax for once in her life, but during the barbeque Bruce and Amy sneak off to shift each other behind a tree and Elizabeth sends Jeffrey over to tell them to cop on while she distracts Regina who is sitting alone by the pool. However, Regina sees them emerging from the dark behind Jeffrey looking all sheepish and blows up at everyone for making a fool of her, including Elizabeth and then demands the keys to Bruce's Porsche so she can drive herself home and storms out, but not before telling Amy that she hates her. Ha, fuck you Amy! But seriously, the moral of the story here is that you better let Elizabeth Wakefield meddle in your life when she wants to unless you want everything to go to shit.

The following day, Regina thinks about her relationship with Bruce and decides that they had been drifting apart anyway and she could sense that he was getting bored now that everything was normal with them and there was no transatlantic romance like when she had to go to Switzerland for a series of treatments to regain her hearing and like when she came home to Sweet Valley only to be held hostage by armed and disgruntled former employees from her father's company. I love this series, you guys. She avoids Bruce's calls all day and decides to go out with Justin Belson to take her mind off things. He takes her out to notoriously shady spot Kelly's for some reason and tells her about how his father was stabbed to death when his liqour store was robbed two years ago and that his mother checked out has been on pills since then. Y'know, date-type chat. He also tells her about his ex-girlfriend Molly Hecht who got him through all these troubled times but who is now hanging out with people in the "real hardcore drug set" and how worried he is about her. Regina finds all his tragedy just ~fascinating~ and decides to do her best to be a good friend to him and fix him or whatever.

At school, Regina and Justin start to hang out together and even Jessica is mildly worried about the development, wondering why Regina is getting friendly with someone who she'd have so little in common with. Regina and Justin have lunch together, when Molly Hecht shows up and is alternately mean and insincere and then friendly and nice to Regina, telling them that she's having an "anything-goes sort of party" when her mother is out of town that weekend and that some dude called Buzz is meant to show up and there's no way someone called Buzz in this series is anything but Big T Trouble. Later that day, Elizabeth tries to talk to Regina, who defiantly mentions that Justin is taking her out on his motorbike after school, so we get another great lil backstory recap of how motorbikes = DANGER after Elizabeth came off one in a crash and ended up in a coma. Liz wants to apologise for what happened at the barbeque but also ends up warning Regina about Justin and his friends and how "some of those kids are heavily into drugs. And not just marijuana either." Elizabeth is such a mam. Anyway all she ends up doing is pissing Regina off, who tells her to butt out and leave her alone and then Elizabeth starts crying. She's just not used to people telling her to stay the fuck out of their business, guys!

Aw Regina! :( Also, this black and white headshot of Bruce is kinda gas. Did he give it to her? Has he got a stack of them lying around? What's going on with his GIANT LIPS? I need answers, people!

Bruce and Amy are still working on this never ending, foreshadowy project and are meeting Amy's cousin Mimi who works in a drug rehabilitation centre for the lowdown on the Sweet Valley drug scene. Mimi mentions that she's heard about Molly Hecht's upcoming party and tells them that this dude Buzz who's rumoured to show up is the biggest coke dealer at her college and that if they know anyone going to it to warn them, because he's a "smooth operator" known for getting good kids to try "something dangerous". Bruce immediately jumps up to call Regina because he knows she'll be going and Amy barely contains her jealousy. However, like Liz, all Bruce ends up doing is annoying Regina by telling her to be careful at the party and she hangs up on him. On Saturday, Elizabeth hears about Mimi's warning from Jessica and calls Regina too, who is by now thoroughly and justifiably fed up of people being on her case, because she's also had her brother Nicholas badgering her about staying away from Justin all week. She starts to feel bad about being cold with Elizabeth on the phone (just Elizabeth though, obvs) and writes a mysterious letter before going to meet Justin. They head to Casey's Place for a soda before the party and Regina tries to talk him out of going because she's starting to feel uneasy about the whole thing when it seems like there'll inevitably be trouble there. Justin is adamant about going though because he's still in love with Molly and wants to keep her out of danger.

Elizabeth and Jessica are getting ready to go over to Lila's house to watch movies on the Fowler's big screen with a bunch of the other kids from school and Elizabeth is fretting about Regina and trying to think of some way of stopping her from going to Molly's party. Jessica is trying out a spray-on hair colour and putting streaks of red in her glorious Aryan mane and suggests that Liz calls Nicholas and makes it his problem instead. Liz thinks it's a genius idea and gets him on the phone to tell him about this dodgy party and Nicholas says he's going over there to take her home. Unfortunately, Nicholas is in such a hurry to get there that he runs out of the house without his wallet and then gets pulled over for speeding, but his licence is at home in the wallet so the cop takes him down to the station, which seems a bit unnecessary. Meanwhile, Regina and Justin arrive at the party and this ain't no Wakefield barbeque or Lila Fowler shindig with decorations and boardgames and the Droids, oh no. The house is dark and the music is loud and the whole place smells like beer and cigarettes and NO GOOD CAN COME OF THIS PRETTY REGULAR-SOUNDING PARTY. Someone hands her a beer and then Justin goes off to dance with Molly, so Molly's weird friend Jan Brown comes over and is mean to Regina, making fun of her for never having tried drugs before and accusing her of stealing Justin away from Molly. Then the doorbell rings and Molly leads the famous Buzz into the room, telling everyone to be quiet as she announces his arrival like it's Downton Abbey, rather than a house party. The music gets turned down and everything, it's exceedingly lame and these kids have no chill.

Regina is having a terrible time, feels woozy from the beer and wants to leave, but when she tries to sneak away, Justin spots her and brings her over to sit with the group circled around Buzz like he's Drug Santa, who reveals a bag of cocaine with a flourish and a "would you all just take a look at this!" because he's the lamest dealer of all time. Justin leans in to tell Regina that he doesn't want to leave Molly while Buzz is around because Buzz has apparently been trying to convince Molly to try heroin. When Buzz starts cutting up the coke, Regina asks what he's doing and everyone overhears and laughs at her. Then lousy Jan Brown makes another comment accusing Regina of stealing Molly's boyfriend and Regina decides she's had enough of everyone's bullshit and wants to do something out of character to shut everyone up so she tries a line. Molly and Jan think she needs another so Jan and Buzz sort of force her to do another one while she's too dazed to protest and lads, I didn't expect to be so affected by this but it's really sad, particularly when you know how it's all going to shake out. :((( Regina thinks she can hear drums, but it's actually her heartbeat going bananas and when she looks like she's going to pass out, Justin gets her onto a couch and asks Molly to call 911 but Buzz is like "eh, nope". However, in the meantime Nicholas has told the cops at the station about how he's worried for his sister who is at a house party with drugs in it and at that exact moment, two cops, followed by Nicholas, burst in the front door.

Everyone is freaking out and Buzz makes a break for the back door, while a terrified Justin explains that Regina has had two lines of coke and one of the cops radios for an ambulance. Regina sees that Nicholas is beside her and fitfully Lifetime movies her way through telling him it isn't anyone's fault and that he's always been such a good brother and asks where Liz is (OH PLEASE) and Bruce too and that she wants to see them, mumbling "Nicholas, find them" before passing out. Of COURSE her dying words are her looking for Elizabeth Wakefield. Not just Bruce, who she was so recently in love with, not her parents, but A Fucking Wakefield Twin. Nicholas gets in touch with Elizabeth at Lila's house and Elizabeth, Jeffrey, Bruce and Enid all rush to the hospital, Bruce says it's all his fault for acting like such a jerk, Elizabeth tells him it "isn't a question of fault" and then decides that if anyone is to blame it's her, because it always has to be about her.  They get to the hospital, where Regina is in with the doctors and Nicholas tells the group that she had a heart attack from the cocaine. A few hours go by and then the doctor breaks the news that Regina has died and that she had an extremely rare reaction to the coke which caused an accelerated heartbeat which led to cardiac failure. And also that she may have had a heart murmur since birth, but like, which is it, Mister Doctor. And surely a heart murmur is something that would have come up over all her years of medical treatments and fancy doctors. Either way, imagine reading this as an 11 year old, my god it'd frighten the absolute shite out of you. No wonder so many women have told Francine Pascal that Regina Morrow is the reason they've never tried cocaine. Reading it now though, it's a bit like...this doesn't seem entirely legit, Ghostwriter. Her accelerated heartbeat stuff sounds more like a panic attack rather than DEATH, but there you go.

At school on Monday, there's an assembly so Mr. Cooper the headmaster can address the students about what happened. There's no sign of Justin or Molly and it's just as well, because Bruce keeps saying he wants to kill Justin and then Caroline Pearce, Winston Egbert and Lila Fowler each do a heavy-handed "well I'm never going to try cocaine now that it turns out you can die from it" bit. At the assembly, Cooper stresses that Regina's parents want them all to know that no one is responsible for Regina's death and that no one is to be treated as though it's their fault, so that'll definitely work and put an end to any bad feeling towards Molly or Justin. Done aaand done. That evening, Elizabeth gets the mystery letter that Regina wrote before the party and it's all super poignant and about how sorry Regina is and how she sees that Elizabeth had her best interests at heart and there's even a PS that mentions how she hopes their friendship will last forever. Elizabeth bawls crying but is also relieved "knowing that Regina had forgiven her before her death", because you can't get into heaven with a grudge against a Wakefield twin, duh.

There's a memorial at school on Friday for Regina and Nicholas has asked Elizabeth to make a speech and I'm sorry, but it's not as if Elizabeth and Regina were bffs or anything. Enid is Elizabeth's closest friend, and if anything, Elizabeth probably hung out with Lila Fowler more than Regina since she moved to Sweet Valley, but we're supposed to buy lines like "the loneliness she felt was so profound, she didn't think it would ever go away" as if Regina was someone Elizabeth spent all of her time with, rather than a nice girl she knew from school. Basically, if someone even vaguely adjacent to Elizabeth's life dies you'd better believe that it's all going to be about her. Anyway, she speaks at the thing and Nicholas reads a cheery poem called Dirge Without Music and everyone is sad and DON'T DO DRUGS KIDS BECAUSE YOU WILL HAVE A HEART ATTACK AND DIE.

Notable outfit:
This book is too preoccupied with evil drugs for any fun or frivolity in the way of outfits. Regina wears a "cardigan sweater" and "grey flannel pants" to the party and maybe the real tragedy here is that she died in such an ugly outfit. RIP Regina, you beautiful square.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2 (TWO? I mean I know this is Regina's book but this is an outrage.)

Appearances of the word 'drugs': 23

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Secret Admirer

Alright, here we are then! There was a bit of a gap in recaps there, as that previously mentioned real life job weirdness finally resolved itself in me not having a job anymore and then I ran off to Electric Picnic last weekend. So we're onto book 39 now and so tantalisingly close to the Big Regina Drama, HOWEVER, I'm going away to Dubai for ten days on Saturday so I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave you hanging for a bit on that count. But for now, let's do this thing!

(And come follow me on Insta and Facebook!)

Sweet Valley High #39: Leaving Home


Elizabeth Wakefield is writing her gossip column for the school paper in the office, chatting to editor Penny Ayala when Lynne Henry comes in laden down with an overstuffed envelope containing the personal ads for a new item the paper is going to start running. Elizabeth says she can't wait to see what's been submitted and Penny asks her if she's thinking of checking some of them out for herself, but it's a joke you see, because Elizabeth already has a totally amazing boyfriend in the "warm, caring, excitingly handsome" Jeffrey French. Liz asks Penny if she's going to check any of them out, but Penny blushes and says no and Elizabeth realises that Penny doesn't actually date anyone, even casually and had always thought it was because she was too busy, but now that Penny has blushed, Detective Inspector Wakefield has decided it's not by choice. Sexy ol' Mr. Collins then pops in and mentions that he's going to be chaperoning the upcoming Forties Night Swing Fling dance and before leaving, turns to the trio of underage girls and says "I expect to see you ladies there. I plan on jitterbugging with all three of you." GODDAMMIT ROGER.

Jessica and Lila are at the beach, complaining about how there are no decent guys around because they've already dated all the "acceptable" boys at school. There's a new guy at Sweet Valley High called Kirk Anderson and he's gorgeous but so obnoxious that even Jessica won't go near him, and she's dated all kinds of rapey, awful dudes, including Bruce Patman in his arrogant, pre-Regina days. They decide to use the new personal ads section in The Oracle to find themselves some older guys, with Jessica reasoning that her brother Steven gets copies of the high school paper (of course he does) so college guys in his dorm will definitely see the ads. Fantastic. Jessica thinks the right way of writing the ad is to describe the type of guys they want, but Lila thinks it's better to describe yourself, so they agree to have a wager and each try their own approach to it and see who lands the best catch. Do you want to see what they wrote? Of course you do.

Lila's ad:
Glamorous, sophisticated, mature high school girl looking for someone with the right stuff. I like fast cars, caviar and the Caribbean. Don't talk to me about commitment - I'm looking for excitement, not a bridge partner. If you can keep up with me, I want you. Kids need not reply.

Jessica's ad:
Are you devastatingly handsome? Are you romantic and wild? Do you like girls who aren't afraid of danger? Are you the type of guy who goes for what he wants? Are you in college? If you answered yes to all the above questions, drop me a line. I've been looking for you.

Elizabeth and Enid are also at the beach, with Jeffrey and some guy Enid is seeing. Penny comes along with an armful of books and asks if she can sit with the two girls, but as soon as the guys come back over, she makes an excuse about how much she has to do and goes off to sit by herself. Elizabeth then convinces Enid to help her talk Penny into taking out a personal ad for herself in the paper, so she could potentially get to know a guy through letters first and then this guy would see what a great personality she has. At this point I was just thinking Penny's probably gay just leave her alone Liz, but off they go and manage to talk Penny around because she's secretly super lonely. She writes a goofy anonymous ad about how she's a hook-nosed hunchback looking for a guy who's into Australian theology and speaks Urdu.

The ads are a sensation when the first round appears in The Oracle and Penny gets three responses to her one and reads them with Elizabeth. The first two are from dopes, but the third letter is funny and gets her weird sense of humour, addressing her as Quasimodo, yet managing to be sweet at the same time. It's signed "Jamie", but there's no guys called Jamie at school, so they figure it's an alias and Penny writes back. Meanwhile, Jessica has gotten a stack of replies and reads through them with Lila, mostly to rub it in her friend's face, deciding that the most promising one is from some dude called Paolo, who calls her "mi amore" and writes back to him to arrange a date, insisting to Lila that it's going to be the romance of the century.

Back at school, that jerk Kirk Anderson is hanging out with a bunch of lads, including Neil Freemount (who Jessica went out with a few times, but nothing major ever happened) and it transpires that they've been writing the Jamie letters to Penny as a joke. Neil has been doing the actual writing and after three letters to this mystery girl, he's starting to feel bad about it, because he thinks he likes her for real. However, he's also never been part of a group before, so when Kirk involves him, it makes him feel like he belongs and like he's one of the lads, even though he knows deep down that these particular lads are a shower of absolute dickheads. They get him to write back and ask her to meet "Jamie" at the bookshop in the mall on Friday (so the gang can "check her out" first - BOOO), and even though Neil wishes he could meet her alone, he can't bring himself to say it to Kirk and writes the letter. Friday rolls around and the guys all pile into the mall and head for the mezzanine level, where they'll have a good view of the bookshop entrance and even though Neil is the guy that's been elected to meet the girl, Kirk obnoxiously announces that if she's hot, he'll meet her himself instead. Penny arrives at the shop, wearing a red headscarf, as she was asked to wear something red so "Jamie" would recognise her. She shows up on time at four o'clock and nervously waits, but nobody shows up at ten past, twenty past, half past, and by the time it's quarter to five she leaves, humiliated and cries on the bus home. Aw Penny! :(

Man, Penny looks PISSED OFF here. This is not a girl who'll cry when she gets stood up, she's going to hex your ass and kick you in the balls. Also, LOVE those classic books behind her, who among us has not read Monkee Mania and Poems?

Also, quick sidenote - this storyline reminded me of a time when I was in school (like, first or second year) and one evening there was a message left on our home phone's answering machine, apparently from a guy in the year ahead of me, who was Good at Running and Probably Football i.e. popular and good-lookin', asking me to meet him outside the canteen in school at some time I can't remember now and I never went because I was scared that THIS EXACT THING WOULD HAPPEN. I never did find out what the deal was there but it most likely was some asshole messing with me. Rude.

Jessica's date with Paolo is Friday night, and she is EXCITED, having spent the week talking it up with everyone. The doorbell rings and Jessica answers, but freezes at the sight of "an undeniably overweight boy", and really, it only goes downhill from here for anyone who isn't a perfect size six bitch like Jess. She decides that her reputation will be ruined if anyone sees her with this dude and as soon as they sit down in the fancy Italian restaurant he booked for them, she basically makes it sound like she has some kind of terminal illness, going on about the dreadful headaches she gets and how she had just been for a CAT scan the day before. Stone cold, Jessica. She then acts like she's getting another headache, which at this stage frightens the life out of poor Paolo, who very kindly and worriedly rushes her home. She at least feels a tiny bit guilty for playing such a mean trick on a "polite, friendly and interesting boy", but that's immediately followed by "she couldn't help it if she simply couldn't stand to be around fat people". Now REALLY Jessica. That's the kind of attitude that makes me want you to get kicked into the ocean. And not the Pacific, one that won't match your dumb eyes. See how you like that. Anyway, when she gets home, there's a few more responses to her ad left on the table for her, one of which includes a photo with the letter. The guy says his name is John Karger and he's a total babe, so Jessica reckons she's onto a winner this time and gets back to writing letters.

In the canteen at school at lunchtime, Kirk and his gang of obedient idiots are crowing about what a narrow escape Neil had on Friday, when it turned out that the mystery girl was Penny Ayala, "Who'd want to date a girl who's always got her nose in her books?", "She'd probably be after you all the time to study" etc. These dudes suck so baaad. Neil at least has the decency to feel like a total shithead about the whole thing and makes an excuse to leave the table as he can't listen to them any longer. It turns out that Elizabeth and Enid are sitting at the next table and hear the whole thing. They're furious that the guys could be so cruel and blame Kirk as the ringleader, deciding to hatch a plan to take him down a peg or two. The following day, Elizabeth and Enid position themselves beside the table where Kirk is sitting again and once his minions drift off, they start talking about Elizabeth's pretend cousin from New York, the hot new teen model Erica Hall. Kirk immediately turns around when Liz casually mentions to Enid that Erica will be visiting them in Sweet Valley the weekend after next on her way to a screen test in LA. He looks at the photos of this girl Erica in the magazine that they've strategically placed on the table and declares that he wants to take her to the Forties Swing Fling dance. Elizabeth acts all unsure but he insists and tears a photo of himself from last week's Oracle, telling Liz to send it to Erica and that she'll definitely say yes once she sees a picture of him.

Jessica's date with John Karger goes off wonderfully, he's sexy and super interested in her, he's a sociology major and asks her questions about herself all evening. But then he cuts the date short and says he has a lot of studying to do and that he'll call her over the weekend. He doesn't kiss her goodnight, so Jessica figures he's just a gentleman and decides that she's in love and the contest with Lila is as good as won.

Neil decides to write another letter to Penny, alone this time, apologising for not showing up on Friday because there was an emergency and asking her for another chance, saying that he'll be at the Dairi Burger at four on Thursday. While he's waiting outside to see if she'll show up, he starts to worry that Penny will be disappointed that it's him and not some ace student (although he's got decent grades and is an excellent tennis player, and he must be a ride if Jessica dated him) and that she's too good for him. He sees her pull up in her car and walk to the door of the Dairi Burger, but at the same time, Kirk Anderson and one of his jerk friends show up and start chatting to Neil before spotting Penny at the entrance. Kirk turns and asks incredulously if he's meeting her and at this point Neil has had enough so he tells Kirk to jog on, in so many words, and walks off to meet Penny.

The interaction with Kirk made him late to meet her, so Penny is about to walk away, super upset at being stood up again, when she bumps right into Neil and he awkwardly and cutely explains that he's Jamie and mentions that he's probably not what she expected, but she's thrilled, because, y'know, he's a sound, tennis-playing ride. They go inside for sodas and in fairness to him, Neil comes clean immediately, confessing that he was there at the mall on Friday and that it all started as a joke among the tennis team. Penny is morto and goes to leave, but he's so sincere and apologetic that she ends up staying and he asks her to the Swing Fling Thing and they get the shift and it's lovely.

The day of the dance arrives, and earlier on that afternoon there's a beach party for some reason I can't remember and everyone is going along to that beforehand. In the run up to all this, Elizabeth has called Kirk, telling him that Erica is on for going to the dance with him and that she'll meet him there on the night. Lila and Jessica are each going to bring the guys they've met through their personal ads to the beach thing and Amy, Cara and Maria are going to be the judges of who snagged the better date. Jessica's afternoon gets off to a shaky start when her and Lila both turn up in the exact same leopard print bikini, but it only goes downhill from there when John Karger turns up and both girls run over to him, only to find him surrounded by a mob of confused teenage girls who all thought they were meeting him for a date too. He introduces the girl beside him as his sociology project partner and girlfriend and explains to the now pretty annoyed group of young wans that he met them all as research for his project, but just failed to mention that to any of them earlier and can't understand why they're not too impressed right now. His girlfriend Faye just laughs at him and tells him she said this would happen, and this guy's clearly too much of a dope to be an actual asshole, and really Faye, you can definitely do better. Lila, Jessica, Cara, Maria and Amy all end up having a big laugh about the whole thing anyway so that's all grand.

Everyone is at the dance that night, Penny and Neil are dancing together (until Mr. Collins comes along and jokes about how he wants to cut in, like a big creep) and Kirk is all cross after Elizabeth's "cousin" stood him up, so I guess that showed him? Jessica and Lila meet Regina Morrow in the bathroom and discover that she's there alone, as Bruce has decided to stay home and finish off a project he's working on. Jessica is immediately suspicious because Amy isn't there either and had mentioned to Jessica earlier on that she and Bruce were doing a school project together and that she was convinced there was something between them, suggesting that she was going to make a move. UH OH IS SOMETHING GOING TO UNRAVEL AT AN ALARMING RATE IN THE NEXT BOOK? BECAUSE THAT'S BOOK 40, KIDS! COMING SOOOOON! (ISH!)

Notable outfit:
Jessica's outfit for her date with Paolo takes it this time, and bear in mind that this one includes her wearing a fuckton of blue eyeliner:

She chose a skimpy white tank top in a nubbly silk knit, and a straight, figure-hugging blue linen skirt. She knotted Elizabeth's teal blue scarf around her throat, then stepped into a pair of thin-strapped white sandals.

Rockin' that Smurfette realness.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 7


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Leaving Home

HI. LET'S GO.

(And come follow me on Instagram and Facebook while you're at it.)

Sweet Valley High #38: Leaving Home
 

Elizabeth Wakefield is at the beach with her sister and Enid Rollins, soaking up that California sunshine and trying to have a conversation with her best friend, but Jessica keeps interrupting their boring chit-chat with her observations as she pervs on hot surfers through a pair of binoculars that an admirer named Randy has loaned her, because Jessica is a Gas Bitch. Anyway, all Elizabeth can talk about is Switzerland, because she's found a school there that offers scholarships to American students to complete their senior year there. Apparently, hearing Regina Morrow talk about how amazing it is over there after coming back from getting her hearing treatment has fired Elizabeth's imagination and all she can think about is how inspirational the lakes and mountains and fir trees and, I dunno, chocolate and St. Bernards will be for her writing. Also, Regina Morrow is described as being "startlingly beautiful", which is hilarious, like, do people get a fright when they see her? "Oh! Regina! It's just your beautiful face! I was so startled!"

Elizabeth continues to bang on about Switzerland and is annoyed that no one actually wants her to go and can't understand why they're not excited for her. She doesn't get it though, if she leaves Sweet Valley then who's going to overhear everyone's secrets and judgmentally insert themselves into their lives? Jeffrey points out how hard it was for her and Todd when he moved away, but Liz insists it's different for them and that he'll come around to the idea if she just talks about it even more and shoves brochures with pictures of the Alps in his face and then he'll see how much it means to her.

In the meantime, Winston Egbert has got a lottery ticket and for some reason it's a really big deal and he's invited a gang from school over to his house that evening to watch the numbers being drawn. Before the party, he and Maria are buying snacks and root beer and see an elderly man with his granddaughter and notice how poor he is, because his shoes are shabby and his clothes are threadbare. He's also carrying a jacket like the one Winston is wearing, only it's all poor-y too. While standing at the checkout, Winston gets too warm so he takes off his jacket and then runs off to get peanuts but UH OH the two jackets get mixed up and he ends up coming away with the wrong one. When Winston realises what happened, he goes back to the shop and leaves his phone number with the guy at the register. However, later that evening when everyone has arrived at his house, he can't find his lottery ticket and then remembers that he had it in the pocket of his jacket. But then he finds another ticket for the same draw in the old man's jacket and whaddya know, it's a winner. Winston can't believe it, the prize money is twenty five thousand dollars and he's the only one who knows that the ticket doesn't actually belong to him, so he's not sure what to do. However, when he showed the gang his ticket at school, Elizabeth noticed that the first three numbers were Jeffrey's birthday, so when the winning number is different, Elizabeth makes "a mental note to ask Winston about it later" because god forbid a plot line doesn't involve Liz sticking her beak in at some point.

Back at the Wakefield's perfect split-level ranch-style house, an envelope stuffed with information about the Interlochen School in Switzerland has arrived for Elizabeth. There's a cover letter from the principal, informing her of a scholarship for their creative writing programme that she could apply for. It's the Margaret Sterne Memorial Prize for creative writing and it's only open to girls aged between fifteen and seventeen from California, who are committed to academic excellence and involved in community affairs. Hey, I wonder if they also need to have sun-streaked blonde hair and sparkling blue green eyes the colour of the Pacific ocean? Anyway, Elizabeth is gearing up for the application process and deciding what writing to submit, who to ask for letters of recommendation and reading up on the interview process which involves a member of the Sterne family, while Jessica gloomily eats Oreos and tries to think of a way to stop her from leaving. Ned and Alice sit down to go through all the material with Elizabeth but they're not sold on the idea of her going just yet and want to think about it a little more before making any decisions.

At school, all anyone can talk about is the news of Winston's lottery win, while he's racked with guilt over the whole thing and figuring it's only a matter of time before the old man comes forward to clear up the mistake. Elizabeth asks him about the different numbers on his ticket and he quickly covers his ass with a lie about how he actually had two tickets but didn't want anyone to think he was trying to double his chances. Lying to Saint Elizabeth, aka MC Honesty Personified makes him feel even worse than before though, because who could DO such a thing? It makes him decide to come clean to the old man that afternoon, so he finds out where his house is from the shop where the mix-up happened, as the man had left his details and Winston's jacket with the guy on the till. The old dude's name is Jack Oliver and Winston finds his house in the "poorest part of Sweet Valley". It's rundown and in need of repair but also charming and has potted geraniums out the front and Jack answers the door in "a faded flannel shirt and a pair of trousers that looked too big for him" and OH MY GOD WE GET IT, HE'S POOR. He's so poor he doesn't even have a surname, just two first names. Jack invites Winston in, so we get a description of how basic all the furnishings are, how old the tv is and how positively fucking threadbare the sofa is because GUESS WHAT HE'S POOR, YOU GUYS. Winston sees some lottery tickets on a side table and brings the conversation around to the draw, discovering that Jack has no idea that he even lost a ticket, let alone a winning one. They talk about his granddaughter and Jack mentions how much he'd love to be able to send her to riding camp that summer because she loves horses. Anyway, Winston turns heel and decides that because Jack doesn't know about the lottery win, maybe it's fine if he just keeps the money after all. NO WINSTON, BAD WINSTON.

Okay, WHERE is Elizabeth off to with this lipstick and blusher combo? And she gives out about other people wearing too much makeup? RUDE. Also, lavalieres! Yay!

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is being a total pain in the hole and tries to get her parents and Jessica to rehearse what they'll say about her in the family interview with Mr. Sterne and then feels like they're not taking her application seriously enough and neither is Jeffrey because he made a joke while she was badgering him about what he'd say about her in an interview. She annoys Enid about it too and the pair of them end up having an argument at the Beach Disco where Liz calls Enid selfish for not wanting her to leave. Enid feels bad about their falling out and when she runs into Jeffrey the following day at the mall, it turns out he's had a row with Elizabeth too. They decide that they should support Elizabeth after all and plan to make a scrapbook of photos and souvenirs that she could take with her when she leaves and Jeffrey buys her a pearl pin she admired a few days ago because she's secretly an old lady. At school, Elizabeth wears her pin and thinks about how great her and Jeffrey's relationship is and how they'll totally be able to hack long distance.

Her reverie was shattered by the unwelcome sound of Lila Fowler's voice.

How dare you, Elizabeth.

Lila admires Liz's pearl pin "with eyes as sharp as an appraiser's" because Lila is goals and then informs Liz that she's just seen Jeffrey getting into his car with Enid when Liz says she's waiting for him. She also mentions that she saw them together in the student lounge being all secretive and that if it was her boyfriend she'd be "insanely jealous" and after all Elizabeth's talk about how strong her and Jeffrey's relationship is, she just buys Lila's suggestion that Jeffrey and Enid are hooking up. Literally two pages ago she was banging on about how they "supported each other so wholeheartedly". Over the next few days, Elizabeth keeps seeing Jeffrey and Enid together and then Jeffrey cancels a date, saying that he has to help Enid with a photography project, so she takes all that as irrefutable proof that they're riding each other or whatever and it's all so damn stupid.

It's the day before Mr. Sterne comes to interview Elizabeth and the family and Steven has unexpectedly arrived home from college, as he and Jessica have cooked up a plan to act like absolute dickheads in front of Sterne so he'll be totally put off Elizabeth. In the meantime, Elizabeth is wrecking everyone's head, telling Jessica what to wear and freaking out when Ned says he won't be home from work until six and Sterne is coming at four. "He'll think we have a broken family or something." Oh my god, clean up on aisle SHUSH. She goes for the one on one interview and Mr. Sterne is all frosty and hoity-toity, with a thin voice and steepled fingers, until Elizabeth's good manners and the levels of research she has clearly done win him over somewhat. There's another interview with some lady called Ms. Crawford and I can't remember who she is exactly, or be bothered to go back and check, because let's face it, this isn't exactly one of the more riveting Sweet Valley storylines. (I SWEAR we're getting close to the Regina Morrow cocaine fiasco but goddamn they're not making it easy.)

Anyway, Sterne and Elizabeth roll up to the Wakefield homestead to find a motorbike parked out the front, causing the monocle that I've decided Sterne is wearing to pop out. They go inside to find Steven unshaven (Gasp! Scandalous!) and acting all laissez-faire about missing college, saying that the family can't really function when they're not all together. Then Jessica shows up in a leather miniskirt with "enough makeup on for Halloween" and talks about how amazing Randy's friend's motorbike is, before Ned and Alice both show up late after being held up in work. Elizabeth is furious with everyone and spends the evening alone in her room all upset. The next day, Jessica sneakily ascertains what her sister is wearing for school that day and duplicates her outfit, down to the "plaid ribbon on her neat blond ponytail". She feels queasy checking her reflection, aghast that she has to spend the day dressed like she's "applying for a job as a junior executive". Haa! Get some aloe vera on that buuurn, Liz! Over the course of the day, Jessica follows Elizabeth and Mr Sterne around school and whenever Liz leaves for class, Jessica jumps out to run into Sterne with a different guy on her arm each time, pretending to be Elizabeth and telling him all about how she wants to meet a rich Swiss banker and spend her life in luxury (which is an amazing plan btw) and generally acting like a hobag in an effort to make her sister seem completely unhinged. By the time Elizabeth has her final interview with Sterne later that day, he's thoroughly unimpressed with what he's seen, topped off by Steven calling the school office under an assumed name and having the secretary interrupt their meeting with a message from yet another guy Elizabeth is supposedly seeing. Anyway it looks like the Swiss dream is over and then Liz catches a glimpse of Jessica through the window in her identical outfit, running to the car and suddenly realises what's been happening all day.

Elizabeth is desperately upset and Jessica and Steven feel suitably ashamed of themselves when she confronts them that evening and refuses to forgive either of them. Later on, she goes for a run and starts to think about how much she would have been giving up by leaving Sweet Valley and realises that she got caught up thinking about the Alps and chalets and what have you, without considering what day-to-day life would be like so far away from home and all her friends and family. When she gets back home, she starts shouting at Jessica and Steven again, but before they can get too deeply into it, Mr. Sterne and Ms. Crawford arrive, explaining that they'd had a visit from Jessica and Steven, who explained everything and confessed to sabotaging the whole process, so they've come to the house to offer her the scholarship after all. Before Elizabeth can even answer, the doorbell rings again and this time it's Enid and Jeffrey, with the present they've made for Elizabeth to wish her luck and she cops that that's what they'd been up to all this time so they're all good again. Then Elizabeth makes a big speech to the room, in which she politely declines the offer of the scholarship and says that Sweet Valley is where she belongs and that it's "even more magical" than Switzerland and that her inspiration has been there the whole time, with the people who love her most and THEN CRAWFORD STARTS CLAPPING AND THE FUCKING LIVING ROOM FILLS WITH APPLAUSE OH MY GOD I HATE EVERYONE. Fucking saps.

Anyway, back over at Winston's subplot, he bought a doll for Jack's granddaughter and sent it anonymously to the house, which is pretty creepy, and which he also realised was actually an empty gesture, seeing as he's STEALING MONEY FROM THIS POOR MAN. His conscience kicks in eventually though, and he calls over to the house and confesses everything to Jack, who's overwhelmed at the win and calls Winston a brave young man for coming forward and the story in the paper calls him a local hero. Everyone in school thinks he's great, except for Lila, who's annoyed that he didn't buy presents for everyone, (but mostly her) before handing the money back, because Lila too, is a Gas Bitch.

Notable outfit:
I don't know where she's getting them from, but every time Elizabeth busts out one of her Victorian lace blouses, this accolade pretty much goes straight to her. 

She was wearing a new velvet ribbon on her blond ponytail, a plaid jumper, and a Victorian lace blouse that looked old-fashioned and pretty.

The prettiest haunted Victorian doll you ever did see.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 7


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Rumors

Here we are then! I'm not sure how this got written at all to be honest, as I've been massively preoccupied with chasing Pokémon around the place for about ten days now and my obsession shows no sign of abating. (TEAM MYSTIC, btw) In any case, let's get cracking on to book 37, ever ever closer to the fateful book 40. There's actually two Super Editions that should have been covered by now, but I only got them for my birthday a few weeks ago and I'm as impatient as the rest of you to get to the Regina cocaine fiasco, so I'll go back to them after that point. In the meantime. Lezgo.

(Also, come follow me on Instagram!)

Sweet Valley High #37: Rumors


Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are in the kitchen with their mother Alice (who looks both young and hot enough to be their older sister, you know) each reading different sections of the newspaper, having breakfast and generally being the picture of perfect West Coast whiteness.

There was no way to miss the fact that the twins were California girls.

Gas.

Jessica is reading the comics while Elizabeth is reading an article about working mothers and admiring the journalist's writing style.

The story was clear, informative, and fair, she decided with a nod of her blonde head. Good reporting.

Oh my god, she needs to go down to that newspaper office and tell the writer IMMEDIATELY because surely praise from Elizabeth Wakefield is better than any award or accolades. Elizabeth reads aloud that more women are choosing not to have children in order to focus on their careers and Alice thinks it's a shame and says how important her family is to her, when Jessica makes a very valid point.

"It must be so much easier to be a man," she said. "You wouldn't have any of those really hard decisions we women have to make all the time."
"Yeah," Elizabeth said wryly. "I know what you mean. Like which blouse to wear with your new skirt. One of yours or one of mine."

Shut up, Liz.

All three then briefly chat about the upcoming Bridgewater Ball, a super fancy event that takes place in the nearby town of Bridgewater, which is full of wealthy people. I've previously called Palisades the Pawnee to Sweet Valley's Eagleton, but it sounds like Bridgewater is the real Eagleton in this game. Last year's ball had a Mississippi Riverboat theme, complete with a giant ice sculpture in the shape of a steamboat with jumbo shrimp all over it, which, to me, sounds like the stuff of actual nightmares, but I'm not a rich person in the Eighties so what do I know. This year's theme is "Tales from the Vienna Woods" and Jessica asks if that means they'll have "gondolas and things" at it. Aww! Before heading off for school, Elizabeth notices her mother wincing and putting her hand on her stomach. Alice says she's fine, she's just been feeling under the weather and has a doctor's appointment after work.

At school, Jessica and Lila are talking about the Bridgewater Ball and Lila insists that she's going but apparently no one has asked her yet. Jessica reckons that Susan Stewart will be going with her rich boyfriend Gordon, which riles Lila up, because she's jealous of Susan for being pretty and having fancy outfits, and partly because she dated Gordon a few times herself, but mostly for the air of mystery that surrounds her. You see, Susan lives with her guardian, a lady named Helen, and nobody knows who her real mother is, but apparently she sends loads of money because Susan always has the "most incredible clothes". And lots of people in school have gone out of their way to be friendly to Susan, in case it turns out that her mother is someone famous or important, because they're a bunch of shallow assholes.

Susan goes golfing at the Sweet Valley Country Club with Gordon and his parents, who are the kind of rich people that are named Farley and Binky and complain about how the membership of the club has gone downhill lately and that Sweet Valley used to only be populated by the right kind of people. Susan anxiously wonders whether she's the right kind of people, seeing as she has no idea who her mother is, and tells Gordon that she knows he'd still like her even she she wasn't.

For a moment he hesitated and dropped his eyes from hers while a slight flush showed through his tan. Then he laughed hollowly.

Hey Susan, I've got this MASSIVE RED FLAG for you, would you like it? Susan? TAKE THE DAMN FLAG, SUSAN.

Afterwards when Susan goes home, she tells "Aunt Helen" about her day and how Binky thinks she should wear a pale gold dress to the Bridgewater Ball. Helen works her ass off as a waitress and also works as a seamstress from home to make extra money, and she offers to make a dress for Susan, showing her a sketch she's drawn up. Susan loves it and thinks about how hard Helen works and wonders what life would be like if she was her mother. Also, we learn that Helen has agreed to tell Susan who her real mother is on her eighteenth birthday, but not a day sooner.

Meanwhile, Jessica's health class at school is covering fertility and she was shocked and appalled at the thought of women having babies in their forties, because that's how old her mother is. While she's at home doing homework for it, she reads about how some pregnant women get unusual cravings, when Alice suddenly announces that she really wants pistachio ice cream, gets mad at Ned when he says he's too tired to go out and buy some and storms off to go to the shop herself. After that and Alice mentioning how she liked the name Andrea earlier, along with the doctor's appointment, Jessica is now convinced that her mother is knocked up.

At school, while in the cafeteria queue, Liz gets talking to Allen Walters, who takes photos for The Oracle and used to date Robin Wilson, I think? Or at least, he was around and nice to her back when she was being mercilessly bullied for being fat. Anyway, Liz realises that Allen fancies Susan and encourages him to be friends with her. Susan comes over and chats to them for a bit and Elizabeth sees that while she's friendly and open, Susan clearly doesn't see Allen as anything other than a friend.

She doesn't know what she's missing, she told herself silently.

This is such classic judgmental nonsense from Liz. As far as she knows, Susan and Gordon are super fucking happy together, but Susan apparently "doesn't know what she's missing" because Elizabeth has decided that Allen deserves all her attention just because she gives him a boner and how she feels about him or the fact that she doesn't even know him that well obviously doesn't really matter because she doesn't know what's good for her. SHUT UP LIZ.

Anyway, Lila is sitting with Cara Walker and Caroline Pearce, sipping her Diet Coke and eyeballing Susan from a few tables away. For some reason, Lila has decided that Susan needs to be taught a lesson and makes up a rumour that her mother is in a "hospital for the criminally insane", knowing full well that telling Cara and Caroline means it'll be all over the school by the end of the day. Classic villainess scheming, Lila.

Back at the tastefully-decorated Wakefield house, Jessica has convinced Elizabeth that their mother is pregnant, and Jessica goes snooping in their parents bedroom looking for clues. She freaks out when she finds baby clothes in the back of their wardrobe and the twins decide to start casually mentioning babies and large families the whole time, to let their parents know they're ok with the idea of a new sibling. However, all this does is cause their mother to take them aside after dinner and very seriously ask "Which one of you is in trouble?" which I can't help finding hilarious. Sweet Valley is NOT READY for teen pregnancy. However, even after all that, they still don't just ask their mother outright if she's preggo so this dumb subplot lumbers on.

Meanwhile, poor Susan is having plans cancelled on her by her rich so-called friends and feels like everyone is looking at her weirdly in the corridors at school. Then Gordon shows up and says he can't take her to the ball after all, that his parents don't want him to bring her and when Susan doesn't understand why, he blows up at her, accusing her of lying to everyone and going around saying she was important (which she never actually did), and in the process reveals that the rumour doing the rounds is that her real mother killed someone and is locked away in an asylum. Susan runs off crying and bumps into Allen Walters, who comforts her and tells her he doesn't believe the rumour. Susan goes home and tearfully begs Helen to tell her who her mother is, but Helen won't, even though Susan is clearly extremely upset, so Susan figures the rumour must be true and ends up even more distressed. NICE ONE, HELEN.

Aww Susan :( Her blouse seems suitably fancy, all silky-lookin' with pearly buttons. Also, is it just me or is she the image of a young, red-haired Parker Posey?

The next day, everyone finds out that Jackson Croft, a big-time movie director guy is coming to Sweet Valley to hold an open casting for his next film. Jessica is immediately picturing herself starring in romantic comedies before moving on to hard-hitting drama roles and Elizabeth reads up on him in the paper, discovering that his son died the previous year when their car was hit by a drunk driver. She also reads that his earnings from this upcoming film are all going to some group called Students Against Drunk Driving and Elizabeth decides that she should interview him for the Oracle, because he has "a real message", so she's going to head along to the casting call too and try to spring an interview on him about his dead son, because he'll surely be down with that.

Lila calls up Jessica, telling her that she's heard that Gordon has broken up with Susan over the rumours about her mother so now he's going to need a date for the Bridgewater Ball and acts like she doesn't care if he asks her even though she's clearly dying to go. Jessica decides that she's going to try to bag him as a date herself so she'll get to go. Jessica borrows one of Elizabeth's dresses so she can look all classy and demure when she launches her charm assault on Gordon at school. Her attempt doesn't go over as well as it should have though, as he was sitting with Lila in the cafeteria, and all her lustrous eye action and tinkling laughs couldn't stop Lila from essentially marching a slightly bewildered Gordon out of there under the pretext of getting history notes for her.

Meanwhile in the library, Liz runs into a mournful Susan staring out the window and tries to assure her that not everyone believes the rumour and her real friends still believe in her.

A hollow, dry laugh, almost a sob, sounded in Susan's throat. "But they don't," she moaned.  "Everyone's treating me like I've got the plague."
"I'm not!"

#notallwakefields

Elizabeth doesn't succeed in cheering Susan up and when she's leaving the library, meets Allen Walters and sends him in to talk to Susan. So far all we really know about Allen is that he's a lanky and shy photographer who nevertheless seems to have a suspicious knack for picking up girls who are sad and vulnerable. Anyway, he goes in and apparently he really likes Susan so he's nervous, but ends up asking her out for coffee on Saturday. Susan hesitates because it's the night of the Bridgewater Ball, but then figures she's not going now and agrees to the date.

Helen Reister is at home, kicking it Sunset Beach style, i.e. talking to herself in the mirror and saying dramatic things like "Oh Susan! Susan, my baby!" and "Susan, will you ever understand?" because, in a twist that will shock absolutely no one, it turns out that SHE'S Susan's mother. We discover that Helen wasn't married to Susan's father, that he was at the start of a career that would "consume every ounce of his strength and commitment" and couldn't offer her marriage. Because being pregnant followed by raising a child alone and with no support is such a fucking doddle I suppose, but yes, this dude's fancy job was more important than having any involvement with his child. Helen writes a letter to Susan, explaining all of this and how she moved to Sweet Valley after Susan was born but called herself Susan's guardian because an unmarried woman with a baby would be "shunned or scorned". Well well, maybe Sweet Valley isn't so perfect after all. Also, (and I know this isn't exactly a good solution either, BUT) couldn't she have told people that Susan's dad died or something? At least that way she could still be Susan's mother, it's a somewhat smaller and less ridiculous web of lies to weave and Helen would have been well within her rights considering the bullshit that guy pulled. Anyway, she ends up tearing up the letter, before a knock comes on the door and who is it only big-time movie director Jackson Croft. WELL LOOK AT THIS ASSHOLE.

He and Helen haven't seen each other in seventeen years and we find out that Helen wrote to him when she moved to Sweet Valley with Susan, in the hope that he'd come for the two of them but then saw in the papers that he'd gotten married. This fucking guy. (I feel like I say that a lot about male characters in this series, but seriously, THIS FUCKING GUY) Jackson wants to see Susan, as he suddenly feels bad about abandoning her and her mother now that his son is dead.

"I'm sorry." He drew a deep breath. "Another woman might have come to be by now for help. I-I have a lot of money you, know." He looked sheepish, as though he were embarrassed to have been so successful at his work.

And what exactly was stopping you from sending some of that fucking money her way regardless of whether she came looking for it or not, WHICH SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN 100% ENTITLED TO DO. Hmm, Scrooge McDuck? You dick.

Helen explains to him that Susan doesn't know anything about him and that she'd prefer to be the one to tell her and then he can see her. However, Susan arrives home unexpectedly, sees that Helen is upset and asks what this fucking guy is doing here, Helen runs off crying and Jackson tells her he's her father. AGAIN. THIS FUCKING GUY. He also ends up telling her that Helen is actually her mother, but in fairness, he didn't realise that Susan didn't know that. Anyway, Susan is mad at everyone briefly, but then has a tearful reunion with Helen and everything is cool, although Jackson says he wants Susan to come live with him in LA, if she wants to, which is very fucking presumptuous of him.

It's the day of the open casting for Jackson's film, so the twins turn up, along with most of the kids from school. Jessica is mad at Lila, because she and Gordon are there together and he's taking Lila to the Bridgewater Ball. Elizabeth, Jessica and Enid see Jackson behind some vans and just walk right up to him because there's no security at this thing and Elizabeth asks him if she can interview him for the school paper. He's all interested in Sweet Valley High, because he knows it's where Susan goes to school and agrees to do an interview on the spot, because this is what Wakefield life is like. However, Susan suddenly arrives on the scene, saying she had to talk to him and that she can't come stay with him in LA right now, but maybe she'll visit him soon. Jackson is then called away and the whole story about him being her dad comes out, to an astonished Enid, Jessica and Elizabeth.

Back at the Wakefield house, Steven and the twins have decided that enough is enough and confront their parents about the suspected pregnancy. Ned and Alice are shocked and explain through laughs and gasps that the baby clothes in their wardrobe are for a baby shower next week and that a conversation the twins overheard, in which Ned and Alice were agreeing not to tell them something until it was definite was about them taking a month-long holiday and leaving the girls by themselves. So that was all a massive waste of time and energy, THANKS GHOSTWRITER.

Everyone is out at the Beach Disco, including Susan, who's just been dancing with Gordon. She joins the twins, Lila, Cara and Steve and announces that Gordon has said he made a terrible mistake and wants her to come with him to the ball after all, i.e. now that she's not white trash anymore and the daughter of a famous director. Lila is raging and Elizabeth reminds Susan that she's agreed to go out with Allen that night. Allen then turns up and tells Susan that he understands if she's too busy now to meet him, but she tells him shush, that she knows who her true friends are now and when Gordon joins them, she tells him to jump in the ocean. She and Allen head off to the dancefloor, leaving Gordon with a furious Lila, who dumps her soda over his head and all over his fancy cashmere sweater. IN YO FACE GORDON.

Notable outfit:
Susan's outfits are supposed to be totally amazing and enough to send Lila Fowler into a jealous frenzy, but the only outfit description of hers we get is...


At the moment she was wearing a simple, khaki-coloured skirt and a creamy silk blouse that set off her tanned skin and coppery hair beautifully.

...sooo beige librarian, then.

As such, this accolade goes to Dana Larson, who only makes the briefest of appearances, so Jesica can describe her pants in awe.

She was wearing skintight, leopard-spotted jeans.

YES DANA.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 168

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3


 
>