Monday, August 21, 2017

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Hard Choices

Oh boy, it's kinda been forever, hasn't it? I feel like I'm increasingly starting blog posts with some variation on that theme though. I recently (like, recently in May) started back working full time so I'm just TIRED ALL THE TIME and in bed by ten o'clock most nights and ALSO, in case you haven't seen me banging on about it on Twitter and Facebook and Insta, I've started co-hosting a Sweet Valley High podcast with the excellent Anna Carey! Our first episode is out and it would amazing if you guys would subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts, just search for Double Love and you'll find us lurking, waiting to deliver some affectionate Sweet Valley snark to your ears. And if you enjoy it, then please rate or leave us a review, as it'll help keep us in the charts and spread the Wakefield word! (You can also follow us on Twitter here and please do, because we love dem numbers.)


Sweet Valley High #43: Hard Choices

Elizabeth Wakefield is helping her non-event of a best friend Enid to move her stuff up into the attic room of the Rollins house. You see, Enid's grandmother is coming to live with her and her mother because Enid's grandfather died a few months ago so instead of getting to stay in her nice big house in Chicago where normal people and all her friends live, Mrs. Langevin is coming to Sweet Valley. Leave all logic at the door, Nana! You won't need it here! Enid is super excited about Nana's arrival, even though she has to give up her room and move into the attic and hang all her clothes from nails in the wall. She even spent all her allowance money on fancy lavender heart-shaped soap and a bouquet of fresh flowers for her grandmother's newly-decorated bedroom. However, when Nana arrives, she's no longer the energetic and independent old lady that Enid was expecting, but frail and tired and passive aggressive as fuck.

While down at The Dairi Burger, Liz spots an article in The Oracle about a showcase for student documentaries that Hollywood big shot Jackson Croft (and father of her classmate Susan Stewart) is sponsoring. Enid tells her that she should enter because she's so great at everything and a few days later, Liz is struck by inspiration while hanging out at the beach with a bunch of kids from school. She's going to make a documentary about Sweet Valley, of course! Jeffrey is going to film it and Jessica will be the on screen narrator, "a sort of tour guide of Sweet Valley," reading from Liz's script and showing off all the "different places" in town that Liz wants to film. Will any of these places have anything to do with the time Liz was kidnapped by a lovestruck orderly, or the time Enid was in a plane crash, or the time Crispy Bacon's speedboat exploded, or the time Liz was in a near-fatal motorbike accident and came out of a coma with a totally different personality, or the time the twins rescued Regina Morrow from being held hostage but then Regina DIED after trying cocaine at a party that one time? Spoiler alert: nope. All this sweet drama, but you know she's just going to film the fucking mall or the beach or some shit.

"How does 'This Is Sweet Valley' grab you?"

It doesn't. Stop it.

Richard Cernak, Enid's mother's boyfriend is over for dinner to meet Nana, who's really rude and mean to him for no good reason and then when Enid has the twins and Jeffrey over for a meeting to plan for the documentary, Nana isn't impressed and tells Enid that her friends aren't "the nicest young people" for her to be spending time with, "especially that Liz," who she thinks is too bossy. Haa, in yo' FACE Liz! However, the fact that Nana is talking shit about Elizabeth Wakefield just cements her position as the villain in this story, as it is a truth universally acknowledged that EVERYONE LOVES THE WAKEFIELDS and anyone who doesn't is CLEARLY up to no good and probably kicks puppies in the face and is basically a monster.

Enid initially put her grandmother's bitchiness down to having to adjust to her new life in Sweet Valley, but then she talks Enid's mother out of letting Enid go away on a school camping trip with her boyfriend Hugh and his Big Mesa friends and teachers. She also takes up all of Enid's free time and afternoons, complaining that she doesn't like to be on her own and making Enid drive her around to the library or wherever so Enid keeps having to bail on plans for the documentary.

Liz & co. film a segment in downtown Sweet Valley, where Jeffrey films Jessica walking along and giving the intro to the documentary. By coincidence, in the background, Winston comes out of a joke shop wearing a fake arrow through his head and follows Jessica when he sees they're filming, and apparently it's totally hilarious. They then film at the beach and Alice tells the twins to take their golden retriever, Prince Albert, with them so he can go for a swim and he's super excited when they get down to the water.

"He didn't often get to go to the beach, so when he did, he could hardly contain himself."

What the fuck, Wakefields? You assholes are always going to the beach and dicking around in your Fiat Spider, take your damn dog with you and bring the poor guy to the beach, he obviously loves it and you guys suck.

When Prince Albert comes running out of the water, he jumps up on Jessica in her on-camera sundress outfit so she squeals and tries to stop him, but he's so pumped up from being brought for a swim for once in his sad neglected doggy life that he thinks it's a game and it all goes on for enough time for Jeffrey to sneakily film the whole thing as some absolutely gas footage for the documentary.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Rollins is anxious because Richard has asked her to marry him and she needs to give him an answer, but she's all confused now that her mother seems to hate him and has managed to turn Enid against him too and they end up having a row, with her saying she can't get married while everything is so unsettled. Richard works at the local tv station, and Enid and the documentary gang run into him while they're there to interview a local talk show host, and he offers the use of the station's editing equipment when they finish filming. Nana continues to guilt-trip Enid into driving her around so she can't spend time with her friends and passive-aggressively saying she doesn't want to be a bother while going out of her way to be massive pain in the hole. Things between Enid and Hugh have been strained since before she had to cancel on the camping trip and are even more so now because he lives so far away.

Enid's bitchy resting side-eye here is probably the most interesting thing she's ever done, looking like she's about to straight-up murder someone with that bouquet.

Liz and Jeffrey head to the tv station to get stuck into the editing, Jessica had cheerleading practice and Enid had to stay home with Nana, so it's just the two of them there to meet Richard, who shows them to the editing room and they end up spending six hours in there condensing the footage into an hour long documentary. On their way out of the building, they overhear Adele Rollins and Richard arguing because Richard wants Adele to come with him to some important broadcasters awards dinner but Adele says she has to stay home with her mother.

"What should we do?" Elizabeth whispered.

YOU DO NOTHING ELIZABETH BECAUSE IT'S NONE YA BUSINESS. They hear Adele eventually agree to go to the dinner and because it's on Saturday night, they wonder if that means Enid will miss the viewing party they've planned to have at the Wakefield house to show everyone the documentary. Enid and her mam have a nice moment at home where they both eat from a jar of applesauce in the kitchen and no one is stressed out or anxious until fuckin' Nana shows up to ruin everyone's day. The senior centre is showing a film that she wants to see on Saturday night and when Adele explains that she's going to the awards dinner with Richard, and Enid has a party to go to, Nana juts out her chin, says she understands and martyrs her way to her bedroom so Enid feels terrible.

On Saturday morning, Nana is acting the bitch, pretending to be sick and doesn't get out of bed. Adele arranges for a friendly neighbour, Mrs Cutler, to come over and stay with Nana that evening. However, when Adele is about to head out the door to the dinner, Nana says she doesn't want "that woman" coming over because she doesn't like strangers, so when Adele calls the neighbour and tells her there's no need for her to call over, Nana demands that Adele stay in with her now. However, she's going to the dinner and apologetically lands Enid in it, saying it's the last time, and leaves. Enid is outraged and when Hugh arrives at the door only for her to cancel on him again at the last minute, so he storms off and Enid figures it's over between them. Nana overhears everything and tells Enid it's for the best and he's not worth it, so Enid finally loses patience with this bitch and flips, telling her she's ruined everything and that she hates her. Her grandmother tells her she's selfish and Enid yells at her some more, grabs the keys to her mother's car and runs out of the house.

People start to arrive at the Wakefield's house and when Elizabeth notices Enid slipping into the room late, Jessica announces that they're starting and everyone watches the documentary on a projector.

One by one, the faces of students of Sweet Valley High flashed onto the screen; Neil Freemount hitting a tennis ball; the cheerleaders forming a pyramid; Winston Egbert, Tom McKay, Ken Matthews and Aaron Dallas pressing their noses flat against the cafeteria window; Olivia Davidson, Penny Ayala and Mr. Collins in the newspaper office; Lila Fowler in her lime green Triumph.

It's basically the opening credits to the Sweet Valley High tv show that should have been. Everyone loves the documentary and thinks the two scenes of Jessica with Winston and Prince Albert are hilarious. Jessica is initially annoyed but takes it well because the documentary is such a smashing success. Afterwards, the party gets started and Elizabeth sees that Enid is upset so they up to her room to talk and Enid spills the whole story about what happened. Overcome by guilt, Enid rushes home and finds her grandmother in the kitchen, making ginger snaps. Nana tells her to sit down and says she's been doing a lot of thinking and tells Enid she was right, and that she was indeed being an absolute wagon (in so many words) and apologises and they both make up. Nana says she's decided to move back to Chicago as she was just running away from her old life. Then Hugh shows up and apologises too and and Adele comes home from the dinner and everyone makes up and is having a lovely time eating ginger snaps and everything's cool again.

Notable outfit:
Jessica first on-camera outfit for the documentary, borrowed from Elizabeth.

"Maybe I could wear your white linen suit, huh?"

CATEGORY IS: The Ho from Del Monte

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 1 (WHAT)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 1 (OUTRAGEOUS. SOMEONE CALL THE COPS. NO, NOT THE REGULAR COPS)

Amount of times Nana insists she doesn't want to be any trouble/a burden/a bother, while being the exact opposite: 8

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Caught In The Middle

Here we are then! Back to the regular Sweet Valley storyline, no more unnecessarily long Super Editions where the twins go somewhere and someone is mean to them but then there's a dramatic and contrived near-death experience and everyone makes up and it was actually The Best Holiday Ever. So onwards to book 42 and if it isn't the return of ol' Crispy Bacon.

(Also, come say hi on Facebook, Twitter or Insta! There's going to be some news soon about a top secret Sweet Valley project I'm cooking up with the wonderful Anna Carey, so go follow her too, because she's cool.)

Sweet Valley High #42: Caught In The Middle

Jessica Wakefield and Cara Walker are heading to cheerleading practice and Jessica is grumpy because Cara knew that Sandra Bacon and Manuel Lopez are the school's newest couple and never told her. They've just spotted the two of them canoodling in a school corridor and Jessica is not happy about being behind the curve on SVH gossip. Sandy is late for practice and Jessica wonders what the Bacon family think of their daughter's boyfriend as Manuel comes from "a completely different world" and the Bacons have a reputation for being strict and also for being massive racists. Although this book does an amazing job of dancing around the word itself, i.e. "reputed to be bigoted." But back to Manuel.

His family was from Mexico and still spoke Spanish at home. Manuel had always hung around with the Mexican kids at school.

Excuse me? What Mexican kids? After over forty books we have literally met two Latina students, Penny Ayala and her sister and other than one throwaway mention of a black senior called Patty, this school is white AF. Sandy arrives all flushed from rushing over and Jessica considers a comment that Cara made earlier, where she said that Sandy looked different and that she's "so radiant" now.

Jessica was surprised at how pretty she looked. Not that she wasn't cute, but being best friends with Jeanie, one of the acclaimed beauties of the school, she was always complaining about looking "just average." And Jessica had secretly been inclined to agree.

Jessica, you bitch. I can't even act surprised.

After practice, Sandy tells Jeanie all about how wonderful Manuel is and that she's going to meet his whole family at a party in his cousin's house on Friday. She also confesses that she hasn't told her parents about Manuel and isn't likely to anytime soon because of the way the racist assholes "feel about Mexicans." At home that evening, Sandy is hanging out in the kitchen with her mother and feels uneasy about keeping a secret as she usually tells her everything. But when she reads out a piece in the paper about an upcoming Mexican festival in Sweet Valley (seriously, where has this thriving Latinx community been all this time? I call shenanigans), Mrs. Bacon gets all frowny and says it should be cancelled because of the "trouble those people can cause". Yeah. Real nice lady. Sandy gets upset and her mother continues to be awful, apparently she grew up in "a town plagued by racial tension" and for some reason her reaction to that is to cause more where she lives now. Slow clap for Mammy Bacon.

Meanwhile, Jessica is scheming for Lila Fowler's upcoming birthday. Lila has been dropping hints about as subtle as a sledgehammer that it's soon and that she wants a surprise party (classic Lila) and Jessica has been studiously acting like she doesn't care and that birthdays aren't really a big deal. She's planning a party for the day after Lila's actual birthday so it'll be a real surprise and enlists the help of Amy Sutton and Cara to act like they don't care either and to change the subject every time Lila brings it up. Cara thinks it's mean until Jessica reminds her that Lila once told her she thought her spring wardrobe was two years out of date.

Sandy is over at Manuel's house with his five younger siblings where everything is raucous and colourful and cheerful and not like Sandy's house where things are ordered and quiet and xenophobic. Mrs Lopez insists that Sandy stays for dinner, so she goes into the living room and calls home, telling her mother that she's over at Jeanie's house for dinner, but Manuel hears her and is upset that she's keeping him a secret. Sandy is ashamed of her racist parents and tries to explain, but Manuel thinks he should still meet them and Sandy promises that she'll come clean soon but needs more time. In the meantime, her oblivious parents are trying to set her up with some (white) golf-playing (white) country club (whitey white) kid called Carl who sounds like he'd be absolutely unbearable. Sandy tries to broach the subject with her mother, asking what they'd think if she already met a nice boy but one from a different background, like, oh I don't know, a Mexican-American? Her mother's reaction is predictably terrible, complete with an exclamation of "good heavens" and a "they're different from us", so Sandy feels like she definitely can't tell them about Manuel now.

There's a picnic that weekend that the Wests and the Bacons have every year, so Sandy calls Jeanie and asks if she'll help to cover for her, as Mrs Bacon is definitely going to say something to Mrs West about all the time that Sandy has allegedly been spending over at their house. Jeanie agrees but she's doubtful about the whole business and also gives Sandy a heads up that Elizabeth Wakefield is going to include an item about Sandy and Manuel being a couple in her Eyes and Ears column for The Oracle. Sandy panics because her mother sometimes reads the school paper, so she finds Liz the following morning at school before class.

"Hi Sandy," she said. She looked at the girl with admiration, thinking how much prettier and more animated Sandra seemed since she and Manuel got together.

Someone shove her into a locker.

Sandy pulls Liz aside and pleads with her not to print the mention of her and Manuel. Elizabeth looks "thoughtful" is all "I don't like to make major changes at this point. Is it really that important that it come out?" Jesus Liz, it's not exactly The New York Times so just take the fucking line out, she's clearly upset about it. Liz eventually deigns to remove it and decides not to press Sandra to explain herself.

It was obvious from the girl's expression that this was a painful subject for her, and Elizabeth didn't want to interfere.

I WONDER WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. In yet another instance of "people who don't know Elizabeth Wakefield that well but confess everything to her anyway", Sandy blurts out the whole deal about how her parents will never accept their daughter having a Mexican-American boyfriend. Elizabeth thinks about how brilliant her parents are and that they'd never be prejudiced like the Bacons. She also tells Sandy that she has to come clean because sneaking around isn't fair on anyone and that if they get a chance to meet Manuel they might change their racist minds. Sandy knows Liz is right but she's also afraid that her parents will make her give Manuel up if they find out. Sandy manages to get through the weekend barbeque with Jeanie's family without incident, but Jeanie is getting tired of covering Sandy's tracks for her. Sandy tries talking to her mother again while she's out in the garden trimming her beloved azaleas and just tries the exact same tack as before, with the hypothetical Mexican boyfriend. Mrs Bacon says that she would just be making things hard for herself and that she and Sandy's father want her to meet nice people like the Aryan youth from the country club and that last night she was thinking about what Sandy had said before about falling in love with a Mexican boy and she got SO UPSET SHE COULDN'T SLEEP. I hope her azalea bushes die. Also, I'm no parenting expert but if your daughter has come to you twice with the same hypothetical situation about her potentially having a Mexican boyfriend, MAYBE SHE'S TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING.

Look at these forty-year-olds, waiting to hear back about their mortgage application.

Manuel is getting impatient about the whole thing and doesn't think it's right for him and Sandy to be dating when he still hasn't met her family and having to meet her in places instead of picking her up from her house makes him feel like she's ashamed of him. Sandy tries to make it up to him by saying that they can go out sailing on her boat the following week and lets him think that means she'll finally tell her parents about him as they won't let her go out on the lake alone.

In the meantime, Jessica's plan for Lila's surprise surprise party is in full swing, she's been insisting that birthday parties are for babies and Cara and Amy have been pretending that the three of them are going to see a "British rock group" the day of Lila's birthday. Over lunch in the canteen, Lila tentatively mentions that her father wants to take her to a fancy restaurant for her birthday but she wasn't sure what to tell him in case the gang are secretly planning something. Jessica keeps the ruse going and Lila storms off, upset that her friends are apparently going to a concert on her birthday and haven't even invited her. I know Lila's an absolute wagon, but I still love her and this is so mean.

Sandy asks Jeanie if she'd like to come out on the boat with her and Manuel, but Jeanie has plans with her boyfriend that afternoon and sees right through Sandy, because she's only invited her along to provide her with a cover so Sandy can tell her parents she was out with Jeanie on the lake. Sandy then runs into Elizabeth, who's just finishing up a project for sexy Mr Collins and invites her to come with her and Manuel on her boat, insisting that Manuel would love to have her there too. Elizabeth agrees to come as Sandy's story checks out because who wouldn't love to hang out with the illustrious Elizabeth Wakefield. Manuel isn't too impressed that Liz is coming (say whaaaaat!) and Sandy tells him that their boat trip plan just slipped out while she was talking to her and Sandy felt like she had to invite her. They head out on the boat, which was a birthday present from Sandy's parents last year and Manuel previously worked at the lake during the summer so he's good at boat stuff. They head out on the water and it's all going nicely, until the engine starts acting up. Elizabeth is worried about the weird noise it's making and Sandy gets the onboard toolkit and tries to fix it but next thing you know, THERE'S A HUGE EXPLOSION.

Elizabeth and Manuel are thrown into the water and they realise that Sandy has been knocked out and is on the bow of the boat, which is now in flames. There's gasoline under the seats and Elizabeth shouts that the whole thing could explode (again) any second. Manuel heroically swims back to the boat and gets Sandy into the water, and all three of them get to the shore, with Manuel towing an unconscious Sandy while the boat dramatically re-explodes behind them. Elizabeth sees a crowd of people over at the boathouse who've seen the whole thing and tells Manuel that help is coming. Sandy comes to and realises that Manuel saved her and Elizabeth almost cries twice over how pure and amazing their love for each other is. A moment which is then ruined by Sandy telling Manuel that her parents don't know he was out on the boat with her and to scram, basically. Liz can't believe it and Sandy pleads with her to pretend that she was the one who rescued her from the burning boat. Manuel is devastated by this absolute shitehawkery and leaves, crushed. Sandy is stretchered to the boathouse while they wait for an ambulance and tells the park service guy who has to file a report that it was just her and Elizabeth out on the boat. A boy who saw the whole things interrupts and says that there was a guy with them too, but Sandy denies it and is then taken away to the hospital. A reporter from the Sweet Valley News has turned up too and badgers Elizabeth for details of her alleged heroics. There's a photographer there too and Liz feels terrible for lying and taking credit for what Manuel did. She asks the reporter if they have to write this up and that she feels uncomfortable about it.

WELL WELL WELL. How's that medicine going down, Elizabeth? Does it taste like bitterness and blonde regret and tables turning? DOES IT?

The story is on the front of the following day's paper and everyone is falling over themselves to congratulate Liz for her bravery. Only her family, Enid and Jeffrey know the real story and Jessica thinks she should milk it for all it's worth. Elizabeth calls over to see Sandy, who isn't back in school yet and Mrs Bacon gives Elizabeth a fancy bracelet for saving her daughter. It's from Stowe's, so you know it's a fancy place when it doesn't have a typically Sweet Valley name like The Jewellery Shop (see also: Lisette's, where Lila shops). Elizabeth tells Sandy that she can't go on lying to everyone about what really happened, but Sandy insists that her parents will never forgive her if they find out about Manuel and asks Liz if she'll find him and tell him that she loves him and that she's sorry.

Back in Jessica's B-plot, Lila's actual birthday has come and gone and she's furious with her friends for ditching her. Cara and Amy then bring her to the Wakefield's house under the pretense of taking her there so she can confront Jessica. Once they drag her through the doorway, the lights snap on and everyone yells surprise ("in front of them all was Jessica, whose face was absolutely radiant") and Lila is thrilled about her surprise surprise party.

After a few days, Sandy comes back to school and when she finally gets a chance to talk to Manuel, he tells her he's had enough of sneaking around and though he still loves her, he's not putting up with it anymore and he pretty much breaks up with her. Later that day though, the cops show up and take Manuel in for questioning because witnesses saw him hanging around the boat at Secca Lake before the girls got in and they think someone may have tampered with the engine. Sandy and her parents are then brought to the station and told the cops have a suspect for the potential engine tampering and Sandy denies knowing anything about a Mexican guy that was there on the day of accident. Since Manuel has explained that he's a friend of Sandy's, the cops then bring him into the room and ask Sandy if she knows him and you won't believe the nerve of this bitch.

"No," she said in a clear, strong voice. "I've never seen him before in my life."

SANDY YOU ABSOLUTE WAGON. Manuel stares at her and asks "How could you?" and I too would like to know what the fuck she's playing at, goddammit Sandy. However she then immediately bursts into tears and confesses everything to her parents. For some reason Liz appears in the room halfway through the confession scene because of course she does, and confirms to Mr and Mrs Bacon that Sandy is telling the truth. Mr Bacon thanks Manuel for rescuing Sandy, shakes his hand and tells him that he's always welcome in his home, and Mrs Bacon manages to bring herself to thank him too, while staring at the floor. The cops all laugh about what a lovely resolution this is to a case of suspected foul play and cheerfully decide to call it a day. Never mind the fact that Sandy lied through her teeth to them about an investigation and almost got her boyfriend thrown in jail for an imaginary crime. Sandy and Manuel head up to Miller's Point afterwards and make up even though she was nothing but terrible to him and seriously Manuel, D U M P  H E R. So the moral of the story is that racists will only get over their prejudice if their daughter's life is saved by a minority, but other than that, stay the fuck out of their country clubs.

Notable outfit:
Not a god damn one. For SHAME, ghostwriter.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 138
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 1 (ONE. Outrageous.)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2 (Shoddy.)
Amount of times the word "racist" is used: 0
Amount of times Sandy's parents are racist: A fuckload. Like, so much.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Super Edition: Spring Fever

I'm here! I'm back! That was quite a bit of a lag between posts, but you see I was busy with a constant low-level panic about my job situation and what the hell I was going to do with my life for the last few months so I wasn't really in a Sweet Valley typa place. Until now! And guys, it's finally, FINALLY the last of these lame Super Editions which always seem to culminate in a contrived life-or-death situation and then we never hear from any of the peripheral characters or boys Jessica falls in love with ever again. So after this one it'll be back to the regular Sweet Valley timeline and the next lil series of breakaway books are the Super Thrillers, where we'll get some murder-mystery-stalker-shenanigans going on and I for one cannot wait. But for now, it's the swan song of this seasonal series, so farewell Super Editions and don't let the door hit you in the blonde vagina on the way out.

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Spring Fever

It's Spring Break! Again! And the Wakefield twins are taking their perfect size six asses to Kansas for eleven days to stay with Alice's uncle Herman and aunt Shirley for what appears to be no good reason. The gals are packing for their trip and Alice, who is described as "neat, pert and blue-eyed" (oh my) cautions them that their great-aunt and uncle are the same generation as their grandparents and not to alarm the old people basically, because they're not used to teenagers. She also reminds Jessica that they agreed that packing conservative things is the way to go for Walkersville when she sees a white jumpsuit studded with rhinestones in her daughter's case. Amazing. Elizabeth is excited because she's "always wanted to go to a little midwestern town" which is such a dumb lie Liz, knock it off.

Shirley and Herman collect the twins from the airport and Jessica admires the scenery on the way to the house. 

"I've never seen anything so flat before!" Jessica added, her eyes wide.

And if Elizabeth was any fun at all she's make a crack about Jessica's chest or something here. Come on, it's so obvious. The twins fill Herman and Shirley in on the goings-on back in Sweet Valley and what Steven is up to in college and how he has "a wonderful girlfriend, Cora Walker." Cora! Poor Cara Walker, I don't know why the ghostwriter has slighted you like this. They get to Walkersville and it's lovely and like a storybook, according to Elizabeth. Herman is the mayor and has an old fashioned five and ten cent store, which I can only assume is something closer to Main Street USA in Disneyland rather than a shop like Dealz or €uro2. It has a soda fountain inside, which is popular with the local teens, so Jessica pipes up and suggests that her and Liz could help out behind the counter while they're around. Shirley and Herman's house is all nice and Kansas-y with wicker chairs on the porch and copper pots and pans in the kitchen and patchwork quilts in the bedrooms. Once the twins get settled, Shirley barges into their room and tells them they're ready to head into town to show them around. Jessica isn't impressed, as she wanted just her and Liz to have a look around so she could scope out the local hot dudes, which will now be trickier to do with an elderly aunt and uncle in tow.

Shirley and Herman bring them around the town and Jessica feels like a movie star because everyone is openly gaping at the sight of her and Liz. Also, Jessica is thrilled that her outfit of "tight black stirrup pants, bright raspberry t-shirt, and black, man-tailored jacket" stands out so much, oh and she's wearing pointy black sunglasses that genuinely startled her aunt when she saw them. Jessica's fashion choices are not for the faint of heart so strap in, Shirley. Jessica manages to break away from the group under the pretense of checking out a craft shop across the road and once they've gone well ahead of her, she makes a beeline for a shop she saw a bunch of lads standing outside earlier. The poor simple country folk are transfixed by Jessica as she tosses her hair around and flashes flirtatious smiles, enjoying making them all turn red by asking for the time and the fact that they "couldn't believe she was really from California". However, two local gals then turn up and Jessica is totally flummoxed when they're all cold and unfriendly to this hot blonde stranger who's simultaneously chatting up everyone's boyfriend. One of the girls, Annie Sue (really), then starts pointedly talking about a party that everyone's going to that night and doesn't invite Jessica. Clearly she has no idea who she's talking to. Jessica catches up with Liz and the relatives and Shirley makes a big deal about what a sweet girl Annie Sue is, but all the girls they see in town look like they're ready to murder the twins when they see them. We're not in Sweet Valley anymore, bitches.
There's a carnival coming to Walkersville and the twins lose their fucking minds with excitement.

Jessica had grabbed Elizabeth by the hand and yanked her out of her chair. "Let's go figure out what we're going to wear!" she shrieked.

Jessica decides on her sparkly white Dolly Parton-as-fuck jumpsuit, Elizabeth tells her she looks like someone on a game show and Aunt Shirley nearly faints when she sees it. Jessica has also taken the liberty of adding an oversize pair of silver earrings and white leather boots, like the absolute champ that she is, and everyone heads out to the fair. Oh, but first Aunt Shirley warns the girls about the unspoken rule in the town about boys who work at the carnival, "known as 'carnies' in local slang" and the secret rule is not to hook up with them, basically. They take a look around and there's a Ferris Wheel and food and a bunch of tents and the twins manage to break away from their aunt and uncle for a go on the Ferris Wheel, from which Jessica spots a hot guy working at a corral for horse riding. The twins go over and Jessica pretends to be super into horses. The dude's name is Alex and his dad owns the carnival, so he's helping out during spring break. They talk about California for a bit and even Elizabeth thinks he's a ride as well.

He seemed smart, too. Not at all like a "carnie".

Real nice, Liz. Anyway, when Jessica mentions that Liz wants to be a writer, Alex tells them that his brother Brad does as well and guess what, they're identical twins too! However, Annie Sue then turns up with her boyfriend and interrupts the conversation. Her boyfriend Dennis asks Jessica if the rhinestones on her jumpsuit are real diamonds and Annie Sue tries to monopolise Alex's attention by yammering on about horses. She tries to pet a stallion called Midnight and Alex gives out to her, because he hasn't been broken yet and is really skittish around strangers. Great idea having him out at the carnival then, Alex. Annie Sue goes off in a huff, dragging Dennis with her and Jessica asks Alex if he'll give her a riding lesson. AYOOO. Alex says he could meet her after the carnival when it closes at ten and Jessica agrees, despite Elizabeth's warning that Shirley and Herman definitely won't let her go out alone at that hour.

They get back to the house and Aunt Shirley mentions that she saw the twins talking to Annie Sue and goes on about what a wonderful girl she is, until Jessica tells her that Annie Sue doesn't seem to like her and Liz all that much. Aunt Shirley won't hear of it and says she's been telling Annie Sue all about her amazing, smart, pretty nieces for months, so Liz reckons maybe she's just sick of hearing about the Wakefields and that's why she's been so frosty to them. Jessica then casually mentions that she's heading back into town to see a guy she met earlier and Shirley has a totally normal reaction.

"You met-" Aunt Shirley turned white. "Herman," she said weakly, clutching her heart. "My pills-"

Shirley's a messy bitch who lives for drama.

There's no way they're letting Jessica out, so she apologises for upsetting her aunt and feigns sleepiness, saying she's heading to bed except she's obviously sneaking out instead. Jessica has a wonderful evening with Alex who, upon learning that Jessica has never ridden a horse before decides that she's the perfect person to ride Midnight, as he's almost broken in and she won't have any bad habits. She also won't have a fucking clue what she's doing and this is a terrible idea. But apparently it's ok because it turns out that Jessica is a natural. At riding. Of course she is. She also arranges to meet Alex and his brother the following afternoon so they can introduce Brad and Liz and they can bond over books and being absolutely negative craic.

The next morning, Jessica and Elizabeth head to their uncle's shop to work at the soda fountain. Jessica had forgotten that they were supposed to be working so she tells Liz that she'll cover for her and that she should head off at three o'clock to meet Alex and Brad at the corral. Before all that though, they have to get through their shift behind the counter, scooping ice cream and flipping burgers in fetching striped aprons and paper hats. A lady called Mindy works behind the counter too and shows them the ropes, then decides they know what they're doing and just bails before the lunch rush to do some errands for the guy that runs the shop. What the fuck, Mindy. The twins get through the busy period and are eventually left with a gang of the local boys that Jessica met on the first day, including Annie Sue's boyfriend Dennis, who asks the twins if they're going to the square dance that weekend and if they have dates yet. However, then Annie Sue turns up with a gang of local girls and gets all snappy with Dennis for talking to those blonde hussies. We find out that Annie Sue (that name is so annoying to type out every time, goddamn you ghostwriter and your stereotypical hick name choices) has been telling the other girls that the twins were mocking their clothes and think they're stupid. When Jessica protests and says that Annie Sue is lying, she whirls around and accuses Jessica and Elizabeth of trying to steal their boyfriends, before storming off with her gang and the lads trailing along behind her all sheepish.

Elizabeth heads off to meet Alex and Brad at the corral while Jessica mans the counter, but is disappointed to see Alex alone when she arrives. She says hi and asks him where Brad is, but he laughs and says that he's Brad and that Alex couldn't make it as he's meeting a prospective buyer for Midnight. They go for a walk and get along wonderfully, as Brad is sensitive and writes poetry and is shyer than his brother and Elizabeth thinks she might actually fancy him, which is awkward because Jeffrey is waiting for her back in Sweet Valley, being blonde and handsome. They decide to meet up again, but Brad is only free in the afternoons as he has to look after his little sister while Alex and his father are at the carnival in the evenings.

Just look at these assholes.

A few days later, Aunt Shirley tells the twins that they've been invited out to Annie Sue's grandmother's farm for a welcome to Walkersville lunch with Annie Sue (f u ghostwriter) and her pals. She's already accepted on the twins' behalf so there's no getting out of it. Uncle Herman drives them out to the farm, where they are welcomed by Mrs. Sawyer, Annie's grandmother, who is kind and lovely and in the middle of making an apple tart for their lunch. Annie (no more Sue for you!) is due to arrive with her friends around noon, but her little sister Janie is there and instructed by her grandmother to give the girls a tour of the farm. However, Annie has prepped her little sister to torment the twins, so she tries to get Jessica to milk a temperamental cow called Brownie who kicks everyone other than Mrs. Sawyer, until Elizabeth stops her just in time. Over the course of the morning, she also tries to steer the twins into poison ivy, ditches them in the woods so they get lost and gets them to feed the pigs which results in Elizabeth nearly being trampled into the Kansas dirt by stampeding livestock. They get back to the house for noon, but there's no sign of Annie and her girl gang, so they drink lemonade with Mrs. Sawyer on the porch. After waiting for almost an hour, it becomes clear that Annie is standing them up and Mrs. Sawyer is visibly upset as they go ahead and have lunch with six empty places set at the table. Fuck Annie Sue for having her lovely nanny make a massive lunch and not turning up out of spite for the twins, the lil bitch.

Jessica continues to pretend to go to bed early so she can sneak out to see Alex and Elizabeth meets Brad again for another afternoon date. On her way to meet him, she notices that some of the local girls have started to dress like Jessica, as she sees one in a pink headband similar to one Jessica wore a few days before and another in a sweatshirt dress, again as previously seen on Jessica. One of the nights that Jessica is out with Alex at the corral and riding around on Midnight, she gets him to agree to take her to the square dance and to make it a double date with Brad and Elizabeth. However, as she's saying goodbye to Alex, she sees Annie Sue staring intently at her and realises that this means trouble as she's been caught out after eleven and with a carnie, no less. I mean, Annie Sue is also out at that hour with her boyfriend, but it doesn't stop her from threatening to tell Herman and Shirley and blackmailing Jessica into giving her her "rhinestone-studded headband" at the dime store counter the following day. Over the course of the week, she also makes Jessica give her other belongings, such as a rhinestone pin, a plastic sports watch (you just know it was that wonderful 80s shade of bright yellow that the SPORTS version of everything was) and - gasp, the indignity - Jessica's red cowboy boots.

Elizabeth meets Brad for one last date before the big square dance, and he has to go set up the corral that night as a favour for his brother. Brad ends up accidentally cutting his hand on a gate with a nail sticking out of it, so Liz patches him up with a first aid kit and is relieved to find that there's no romantic spark between them, they're just friends and she's still in love with Jeffrey back home. Over dinner, Shirley and Herman mention how much fun it will be for them and the girls to all go to the square dance together. Jessica is horrified and she and Liz explain that they have dates for the dance, but Shirley and Herman aren't having it and insist that because they've never met these boys or their families, they're not allowed to go with them. A distraught Jessica sneaks out again after dinner to find Alex so she can tell him that she'll never see him again as the twins are going home on Monday. Before she gets a chance to tell him that she can't go to the dance, he hurriedly explains that a guy called Sawyer is going to buy Midnight and he has to run off to meet him, so would Jessica mind watching the corral for a few minutes.

As soon as Alex leaves, Annie Sue turns up and starts crowing about how her father is buying Midnight for her. She makes Jessica give her the necklace of "big silver beads" she's wearing and then saunters into the corral and climbs up on Midnight, despite Jessica telling her not to, because he's not fully trained. Annie imperiously declares that she's been riding horses since she was three and yanks on the reins, making the horse all skittish and anxious. I mean, in real life, the girl who's been riding horses all her life is the one who knows how to handle a temperamental horse, even if she's mean to the twins, not some bird who's never even been near a stable since that week and is getting sporadic lessons from a guy she's dry-humping after hours at the town carnival, but real-world logic doesn't apply to Wakefield twins and I should really know that by now. Anyway, a metallic crash comes from the stables and spooks Midnight, sending him racing off around the corral with a terrified Annie Sue on board. Jessica climbs onto another horse and chases after Midnight, (how big is this corral lads, seriously) managing to get her horse in front of the stallion, slowing him down and then taking the reins from Annie Sue and patting Midnight so he calms down, because she's the fucking horse whisperer now on top of everything else. Alex has come back on the scene at this stage and races over, taking back control of Midnight and everything is grand again. Oh and a crowd had gathered in the meantime and now they're all cheering like a shower of absolute dopes because more loud noises are just what the giant nervous horse needs.

While all this was going on, Shirley came into the bedroom to speak to the twins about their decision, only to find Elizabeth there on her own, forcing her to explain that Jessica took off to see Alex one last time. Shirley and Herman freak out and head over to the carnival to find her with Liz in tow and arrive at the corral just as everything has calmed down. Annie Sue's dad Mr. Sawyer then tells them how Jessica bravely saved his daughter's life, so everyone is cool again. Annie Sue apologises to Jessica for being such a horrible bitch to her and Elizabeth and explains that she's always been the one in charge with the kids her age around Walkersville and that she's a bit spoiled and always got what she wanted, as an only child. An only child?


However, in this case, it seems like the ghostwriter has delivered a final fuck you by not reading her own book, as Janie is then mentioned not three pages later by Annie Sue herself, so let that be a lesson to us all about getting our ghost-hopes up. Annie decides to throw a party that night at her house so everyone can get to know each other properly before the square dance and she can give Jessica all her stuff back. Everyone goes to the impromptu party at the Sawyer's massive house and has a great time and the twins are getting along great with Annie Sue and her friends now, particularly after Annie makes a big speech in front of everyone apologising to the twins for her behaviour, because only public repentance will do when you've messed with the Wakefields. Later, when Jessica drags Alex over to Elizabeth to talk about the square dance that they're now allowed to attend, Elizabeth notices that Alex has a bandage on his hand in the exact spot where Brad was cut on the nail. Well whaddaya know. Elizabeth angrily confronts him when Jessica goes upstairs to borrow a gingham dress from Annie Sue for the dance and he confesses that his name really is Alex and yes, he made up the whole twin thing. Elizabeth is furious but tells him to come up with a reason why Brad won't be at the dance and she'll go along with it for Jessica's sake, because Jessica is in love with him.

They go to the dance and Elizabeth decides to fuck with Alex a bit by letting Annie Sue in on what he pulled and getting her to interrupt him when he's dancing with Jessica, telling him that Elizabeth wants to dance with him too and then doing the same thing for Jessica when he's dancing with Liz. After an evening of being dragged in two directions, Alex gets Liz alone and apologises properly, explaining that he liked them both and couldn't decide who he liked more so this way he could spend time with the two of them, but he's fallen for Jessica. Elizabeth forgives him as she sees that he "cares for Jessica a great deal" and promises not to reveal the truth to her sister, so I suppose that's fine then and they all have a great evening at the end of their "precious" trip to Walkersville, which sounded like it sucked really, what with all the unpaid labour and getting the cold shoulder from local girls and blackmailing. Not to mention that fact that Elizabeth should have immediately sold Alex out for being an absolute creep but whatever. THE END.

Notable outfit:

In fairness, Jessica's white rhinestone jumpsuit is tough to beat, but when the twins go to the square dance, they actually wear almost exactly what's on the ridiculous cover.

"I look exactly like those girls always do in the movies!" she exclaimed, delighted. The skirt of the gingham dress stood away from her body, held out by the crinoline petticoat. The bodice fit very close, accentuating her slim waist and torso and the neckline plunged just low enough to look good - but not so low as to raise an objection from their aunt and uncle.

"You look fantastic!" Elizabeth said. She had decided to wear something simpler that night, a slim-cut denim skirt and a red and white checked cotton blouse. A bright bandana tied around her neck completed the look.

Go on Jessica, putting the ho in hoe-down.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 233
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6

Monday, January 09, 2017

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Super Edition: Winter Carnival

I know Sweet Valley has had its share of ridiculous moments and creepy doctors and downright evil Jessica schemes, but honestly this is the first Sweet Valley High book in this big huge re-read I'm doing that I've actually gotten mad at. Like, exasperated CAPS LOCK exclamations, the like of which were usually reserved for that dark period of my life where I was recapping Fifty Shades of Grey. And it wasn't even because of someone acting particularly terribly in the book, it's because it was SO BORING and SO MISLEADING, because you would THINK and it would be reasonable to assume that a book called Winter Carnival featuring a cover that shows the twins in winter clothes, standing in front of a fucking mountain might actually take place, y'know, AT THE DAMN CARNIVAL. BUT YOU WOULD BE MISTAKEN. LET ME SHOW YOU WHY.

(And also come say hi on Insta and Facebook)

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Winter Carnival 

Elizabeth Wakefield is walking home from school, but it's the one day of the year where it actually rains in Sweet Valley, so she's soaking wet because she missed the bus and Jessica took the car without asking so she could go look for new pom-poms with Amy for the cheerleading squad. She cheers up a bit when she starts thinking about the upcoming Winter Carnival, a weekend where SVH juniors, seniors and alumni all go to a ski resort called Mont Blanc for the weekend. Steven Wakefield is even taking time off from college to go to it, because of course he is. I'd put money on him being the only alumnus there, the big creep. When Liz gets home, she's disappointed to see there's no post for her, as she and Enid entered a trivia competition a while ago and spent ages answering the questions on the entry form and expected to hear back from it by now. A two person team will be chosen from Sweet Valley High and pitted against another team from some other high school no one cares about and the winners will get to be on the televised version of the game show. However, then Jessica bursts in the front door and announces that her and Amy also entered, swiped some of Enid and Elizabeth's answers and were chosen for the first round.

The following day, as Elizabeth is moping to Enid about it, she finds out that the opening party of the weekend carnival is at seven on the Friday. This is a problem because Todd Wilkins is coming back to town to go to the carnival and is also attending a banquet because a kid he helped out on a Big Brother programme is getting a scholarship to a basketball camp. By the way, this book is full of overly complicated situations and still manages to be mostly uneventful, so get used to nonsense like this. Anyway, Todd is going to this dinner thing on the Friday evening and has invited Elizabeth to come with him but Jeffrey doesn't know about this and is already kind of annoyed that Todd will be at the carnival so he's probably not going to be too happy that Elizabeth will miss the first night of it for a thing with her ex. A series of things then happen that annoy Elizabeth, first Jessica and the cheer squad have been nominated for All-State, then Roger Collins tells Liz that a writing competition she entered gave her an honorable mention, but because she didn't win, she decides they may as well have told her that her essay sucked, then at dinner, Jessica gets a load of praise from her parents for making an amazing dinner, even though it was a dinner that Liz made and Jessica just reheated it. Then Jessica has to run off for a date with a guy called David, who she met that day as he's on the opposing team for the trivia thing, and she sticks Liz with the washing up even though it's her turn, so now Elizabeth is really starting to resent her twin. Two notable things happen during dinner though, one is the description of Alice Wakefield, which as usual confirms her outrageously youthful beauty and how she "doesn't look a day after thirty" and still manages to look gorgeous and well rested even after a busy day Having It All as a successful interior designer, but it also details her "smooth blond pageboy" haircut, YES Alice, serve that Princess Diana realness. The second is the next installment in Jessica's ongoing Elektra complex, while talking about David.

"He's a senior and he's got the most gorgeous brown eyes that get little wrinkles next to them when he smiles - sort of like yours, Daddy," she added, turning to her father."

I mean. Really.

A few days later, Elizabeth has a date with Jeffrey, but when she gets home from school, she finds that Jessica is over at Amy's house to study for the trivia competition even though it's her turn to make dinner, so now Elizabeth has to cancel on Jeffrey so her parents don't come home after work to no dinner. By the way dinner that night is a salad and apparently that takes all evening, even though salad is just leaves and vinegary dressing and terrible vegetables of some sort. I don't like salad, is what I'm saying. But also, just throw the damn thing together and then go for dinner with Jeffrey, ya big drama queen. Anyway, Alice arrives home with a new silver Lycra ski suit for Jessica (YES GAWD) and nothing for Liz, then Jessica turns up late for dinner wearing Elizabeth's mulberry jumper and when Liz snaps at Jessica, Ned gives out to her, saying that dinner conversation should be "pleasant and edifying". With allusions to how much you fancy your dad, obvs. Elizabeth later confronts Jessica about how often she's ducked out of making dinner lately and immediately forgives her when Jessica's eyes fill with tears and she says she feels terrible.

At school, Amy and Jessica are testing each other on their trivia knowledge over lunch in the cafeteria and then Winston Egbert comes along and fires a bunch of questions at them that they don't know the answer to. However, Jessica has a plan to make sure they win, which is to get David to just ...let them. While getting ready for her date with David that night, Liz comes in and asks Jessica if she'll take a message for her while she's out playing tennis with Jeffrey. It's yet another convoluted situation, this time involving Roger Collins being away and his son Teddy going to a birthday party and Roger's sister who can't drive, but basically there will be a call for Elizabeth at around six letting her know when to give Teddy a lift home from the party so Jessica needs to take the call and leave a message for Liz saying where he'll be. Ugh, even the shortened version seems stupidly complicated. Anyway, Liz leaves, the calls comes and Jessica writes the message for Liz but she's all flustered because David arrived early and she ends up taking the note with her by accident. (David shows up wearing a yellow sweater knotted around his shoulders, so I'm sorry Jessica, but this guy is quite clearly an absolute dickhead.) They go for sushi with David's patronising sister and her terrible boyfriend and at the end of their date, Jessica tries to talk David into letting her and Amy win, but he's not having any of it, so she thinks he's a jerk. Then Elizabeth is mad at her because she ended up waiting around for the phonecall when she didn't see any note and the host of the birthday party ended up driving Teddy home so Liz looked like an asshole for not showing up.

Jessica decides that there must be something more to Elizabeth's anger, and when Todd Wilkins phones, she decides that it must have something to do with his return, as it couldn't possibly be down to her constant thoughtlessness. Todd leaves a message for Liz, saying that if she can't make the banquet dinner he understands, as it clashes with the Friday of the Winter Carnival. When oh WHEN do we get to the goddamn carnival, guys? This cover promised snow and puffy 80s winter clothing and all we're getting is stupid sunny Sweet Valley and Jessica being bad at taking phone messages and not making dinner when she's supposed to. THIS WAS NOT THE DEAL. Anyway, there's a gang of students hanging out at the Dairi Burger, so Jessica, determined not to mess up this message for her sister, arrives and tells Elizabeth that Todd rang and dinner is still on for Friday and to let him know if she can go. Of course, this is the first that Jeffrey is hearing about this, so he stomps off, he and Elizabeth argue and then he drives away in a huff. There's a picnic the next day (GET TO THE DAMN CARNIVAL ALREADY) and after talking about Jeffrey's jealousy with Jessica, Elizabeth takes her sister's advice to play it cool and leave him at arm's length for a bit so he won't take her for granted. It is, of course, a terrible plan and when Elizabeth sees Jeffrey at the picnic and acts all weird and mysterious and even does a "Jessica-like pout", he accuses her of having something to hide and stomps off angrily again.

"I'm going to go get a sandwich," he added, storming up the bank towards Enid.

It sounds like he's about to kick Enid over for her pick-a-nick basket, like a violent Yogi Bear. Look out, Enid!

Back at school, they try to talk it out and Elizabeth reassures Jeffrey that there's nothing going on between her and Todd but he gets mad again when she says she's still going to the banquet thing on Friday. Later that day, Liz finds a note in her locker from Jeffrey, saying that he's going out to the canyon to think things through and will be there until six if she wants to talk and that if she doesn't turn up he'll "assume the worst". Jesus Jeff, dramatic much? Also, why a remote canyon? Are you planning on murdering her? Jessica is heading off to the tv station for the quiz show and promises Liz that she'll have the car back by half four. That's definitely going to work out, except oh wait, Jessica and Amy actually win the quiz and they all go out for pizza to celebrate and Jessica forgets all about her promise. Meanwhile Elizabeth is frantically trying to find a way out to the canyon, but Enid's mother is out with her car, the neighbours aren't home from work, and she doesn't have enough money for a taxi. Jessica arrives home eventually, to find Elizabeth sitting in the dark, staring at her like a serial killer (or Christian Grey). Liz stonily reminds her sister that she needed the car earlier and shows her the note from Jeffrey, telling her that their relationship is probably over now and goes up to her room.


Jessica decides that she can fix Elizabeth and Jeffrey's relationship and arranges to meet up with Todd and Winston when Todd comes back to town. The three go for burgers and "reminisce about old times" (like the time Jessica falsely accused Todd of sexually assaulting her? No? Huh.) and Jessica implies that Todd's visit to Sweet Valley and attendance at the Winter Carnival (WHENEVER THAT HAPPENS) is causing friction between Liz and Jeffrey and that the opening party is a huge deal, so Todd thinks maybe he should tell Elizabeth not to come to the banquet after all, if it's causing problems for her. Todd, thinking he's doing her a favour, meets up with Liz later in the week and suggests it to her, but Liz thinks he doesn't want her there so now she's doubly upset because she and Jeffrey haven't spoken since she missed Murder Canyon Night.

I hope you enjoy your CARNIVAL OF LIES

Jessica sees that her plan hasn't had the desired effect, so instead of just explaining anything to anyone, she forges Elizabeth's handwriting and leaves a note for Jeffrey in his locker, saying that "the carnival is a million times more important than any dumb banquet with Todd" and that they should meet at the ski lodge at half six. THANK GOD IT'S FINALLY CARNIVAL DAY. Jessica tells Cara that she's going to explain everything to Liz on the bus trip up to the ski resort, but she ends up missing the bus because of Amy's faffing around (she drags Jessica to The Ski Shop so she can get a ski suit like Jessica's one, but in gold. Amazing) so she and Amy have to drive up. The roads are terrible though and they get lost on the way, so it looks like they're only going to arrive around half six which won't give Jessica time to explain what's happening to Liz. Amy suggests that Jessica should just pretend to be Elizabeth and meet Jeffrey herself to smooth things over with them and then explain everything later. They eventually arrive (YAY SNOW SHENANIGANS) and Jessica rushes over to meet Jeffrey and, in character as Elizabeth, explains why she didn't make it out to the canyon and they make up. But some chick called Chrissy Nolan, who is apparently a huge gossip, spots them together so Jessica runs off to explain it all to Liz before any rumours start.

Elizabeth is in the room she's sharing with Enid, Olivia and not-yet-dead-Regina and everyone is running around from room to room as they all get ready for the party. Chrissy Nolan then pops in looking to borrow mascara and remarks that she thought Elizabeth was behind her on the way in after she saw her with Jeffrey outside and of course Liz has no idea what she's talking about.

Chrissy laughed. "I guess I made a mistake. You have a twin, right? I always get you two confused. Come to think of it, she was wearing different clothes. And she's the one who goes out with that guy isn't she?"

ExCUSE ME? Who is this student whose life doesn't revolve around the Wakefield twins and all the details of their lives? How did she get in here? GUARDS, ARREST THIS WOMAN.

Elizabeth immediately jumps to the conclusion that Jessica is moving in on Jeffrey, so she packs up her suitcase and you're not going to believe this, LEAVES THE DAMN SKI LODGE. She tells Ms Dalton that she feels sick and Ken Matthews drops her to the bus station. I actually can't believe we finally made it to the carnival and now this bitch is turning around and going home. The bus arrives and Steven and Cara hop out, confused as to why Liz is leaving. She tells them that everything's all messed up and that she has to go home and gets onto the bus.


She doesn't. We were so close, you guys. So close. Elizabeth arrives home to an empty house, because Ned and Alice are out at a party. Jessica rings, but Liz doesn't want to talk to her and doesn't believe her when she tries to explain what she was doing with Jeffrey. Elizabeth says she's had enough and that she wishes she never had a sister and hangs up on her. Then she goes to bed and cries herself to sleep. Like she couldn't have done that at the ski resort. Rude. The phone rings and when she gets up to answer, it's the cops telling her that Jessica is in the hospital after getting into a car accident on the roads from Mont Blanc. (REALLY, ghostwriter? If it's not a big storm it's yet another car accident with these Super Editions. Always with the near death experiences.) She runs out to ask the neighbours for a lift to the hospital, but Todd pulls up and when she tells him what happened he drives her there. She talks to a doctor who tells her she's going to have to be brave and then she faints. When she comes to, she discovers that Jessica is dead. Because SURPRISE motherfuckers, it's a dream sequence. They took away the long-awaited snowy winter shenanigans to pull a goddamn Bobby Ewing. This was the point where the Fifty Shades levels of exasperation kicked in, by the way. Dream Liz starts taking pills to calm herself down and thinks that her family blame her for Dream Jessica's dream death. A dream week has passed and everyone is going to Enid's for a get-together to mourn Jessica and then a fight breaks out between Todd and Jeffrey, preceded by this wonderful line:

Then he stormed outside, and Todd followed him, smashing his fist over and over again into his own palm.

Oh Dream Todd, you are so dream lame.

Eventually, Liz is woken up by the sounds of Jessica coming home and calling for her, accompanied by Cara, Steve and Jeffrey, who drove back from the resort to find her. Elizabeth is so delighted to see Jessica that she bursts into tears and hugs her and then all the stupid mix-ups get explained and Liz tells everyone about the dream she had after she had told Jessica she wished she didn't have a sister.

"We're studying dreams in psychology," Steven told his sister, "and yours sounds to me like a classic guilt dream."

Thanks for that groundbreaking insight, Dr. Obvious.

Anyway all of Jessica's broken promises and meddling are instantly forgiven because of a stupid dream so no need for her to change her behaviour or be more considerate or anything drastic like that. The following morning they all go back to Mont Blanc and the final chapter is basically a quick recap of all the snow fun for the whole weekend, wherein Todd and Jeffrey win the skiing relay and are best buds now, there's snowman-building, tobogganing and ice skating and then a big dance called the Snow Ball and everything is just fucking great and the entire Winter Carnival takes up all of eleven pages. ELEVEN PAGES. This book should have been called Super Edition: Jessica Is Inconsiderate And Elizabeth And Jeffrey Get Their Signals Crossed And There's A Tiny Bit Of Winter Carnival At The End, Barely. BUT I SUPPOSE THAT WOULDN'T FIT.

Notable outfit:
As bad as this book was, it at least delivered plenty on the outfit front. I'd even venture to say more so than any previous book. I've already mentioned Jessica's silver Lycra ski suit and Amy's matching gold one, but for one of her dates with David, Jessica treats us to:

"A bright pink long sleeved shirt" underneath a big baggy vest that "hung down loosely over the tight black stirrup pants Jessica was wearing."

Then Jeffrey turns up to the picnic at the lake wearing "faded madras pants". I had to Google madras pants, and hoo boy are they truly something.

Also, Jessica's outfit when she arrives at the ski lodge and pretends to be her twin, is not "particularly Elizabeth-like" because it includes "a hot pink sweater and white leather boots". Jessica, with these outfits you are spoiling us.

However, the one that has them all beat is Elizabeth's absolute JACKPOT of a dress that she wears to the Snow Ball at the end.


It was silver silk, with slightly puffy sleeves ending at the elbow, a round neck and a soft full skirt. The fabric shimmered like ice. With a small strand of pearls around her neck and tiny silver and pearl earrings, Elizabeth felt wonderfully glamorous.


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 214

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5
Amount of times boys are wearing pants described as "faded": 3 (Are they leaving their pants out in the sun for prolonged periods of time? What's going on with your pants, lads?)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Super Edition: Malibu Summer

It's time for another Super Edition and it's a woefully out-of-season one, but here we are. There's another two that I have to get to after having skipped them all to get to the Regina Morrow drama but I might come back to the regular storyline before that. Anyway, these Wakefield bints have some summertime shenanigans to get to, so let's crack on.

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Malibu Summer

It's summertime and the Wakefield twins are hanging out at the beach, being all sexy and tanned, with their blonde hair apparently giving them away as "California girls", because if you've got dark hair and claim to be a California girl you're clearly a goddamn liar. Looking at you, Katy Perry. Elizabeth is planning on applying for an internship with the Sweet Valley News for the holidays but Jessica wants to go to Malibu to work as a "mother's helper", which sounds positively Victorian but seems to just mean babysitter. It's what Lila is doing for the summer (apparently her dad thinks a summer job will be character-building), but Ned and Alice won't let Jessica go unless Elizabeth goes too. Needless to say, the smallest amount of pestering makes Liz roll over and decide to go to Malibu after all and do the internship next summer instead, on the condition that Jessica organises the jobs and interviews.

For some reason, the lady in charge of the nanny company is very excited to have twins working for her and tells Jessica that they have two placements left in Malibu. One is with a family called the Sargents, who have a baby and other is with a family called the Bennets who have a daughter that other nannies have complained about because she's a brat. Jessica finds out that the Sargents are cousins of rock star and teen actor sensation Tony Sargent and bagsies that position for herself, while reasoning that Elizabeth will enjoy a challenge and sticks her with the nightmare kid. However, the weekend of the interviews with the families clashes with Jessica's weekend away at cheerleading camp (and truly, this book should have been set at that very cheerleading camp, because that would have been way more fun) so she persuades Elizabeth to go on her own and pretend to be Jessica for the meeting with the Sargents after doing her own one. Elizabeth drives up to Malibu and it turns out that the Bennets are fabulously wealthy and live in a spectacular villa right on the beach with a tennis court, an indoor gym and a swimming pool, but the family setup is weird and the parents, Malcolm and Audrey, are never really around so she ends up being interviewed by a woman called Maria who works for them. Then she meets their daughter Taryn, who is sullen and withdrawn and is clearly going to be a lot of work. Elizabeth then heads over to meet Josh and Lucy Sargent, who live in a cramped little house, but are nice people. Jessica is going to have to sleep in the baby's tiny room as the guest room is full of boxes and stuff they don't have the space to unpack and Elizabeth thinks about how generous it was of Jessica to take the job in the tiny crammed house and let Elizabeth take the one that will have her staying in a private wing of a mansion, because she's clearly never actually met her sister who obviously had no idea this would be the case.

The twins get the jobs and head off to Malibu and Jessica's heart sinks when she sees where she has to stay, particularly when she meets the baby, Sam, who screams and wails the first time she holds him. Jessica and Lila hit the beach, later joined by Elizabeth with Taryn in tow. Lila's job is a walk in the park, as all she has to do is play with the little boy she's minding and his nurse does everything else, so her real concern for the summer ahead is finding herself a sexy older man, as she's decided that boys her and Jessica's age aren't sophisticated enough for her. Jessica eyes up a hot jogger on the beach and Elizabeth informs her that he's called Cliff Sherman and is a neighbour of the Bennets. He comes over to say hello and invites the three of them to a party he's throwing on Saturday for a friend of his who's in town to visit him. Jessica decides that she absolutely has to convince Elizabeth to switch jobs with her, so she can get to know Cliff better and get out of the cramped little Sargent house, particularly since finding out that Josh hasn't seen his cousin Tony in three years so he isn't likely to be dropping over anytime soon.

It turns out that Josh and Lucy are busy the night of Cliff's party and need Jessica to mind Sam, so she's devastated and tells Elizabeth about it, who volunteers to babysit instead so Jessica can go, as she doesn't mind missing it. Taryn continues to be grumpy and makes it pretty clear that she hates Elizabeth. Girl, I feel you. Liz thinks that she's just acting out because she's unhappy and lonely as her parents are cold and distant and don't seem to like each other very much. Or maybe she just doesn't like you, Liz. On one of their trips to the beach, Jessica gets annoyed with Taryn and tells her some silly stories about what happens to wicked little girls, namely getting eaten by a giant frog or turned into a dollar bill and spent. Taryn is fascinated and warms to Jessica, asking her to tell her more secrets and it's the first time Elizabeth has seen her being anything but a little brat. Meanwhile, Lila is windsurfing with a guy called Ben from San Francisco who she met at the mall and he seems all mature and cool and looks like he's about eighteen or nineteen and they're getting along wonderfully. On their next date, Lila asks him if he's in college in San Francisco and he gets all cagey and tries to change the subject, but Lila pushes the matter and he eventually tells her he's in high school and is only fifteen. Lila is upset at first, but only really because she knows that Jessica is going to give her a hard time after all her older man talk. She asks if he'll come to Cliff's party with her, but if he could pretend to be older in front of her friends. Unfortunately that's not going to fly as it turns out he's the friend that Cliff is having the party for so most of the people there will know him already.

It's the night of Cliff's shindig and Elizabeth is getting ready to head over to the Sargent's house to babysit Sam.

She slipped into her navy-blue cardigan. A quick glance in the mirror proved that she looked nice. 

Jesus, that was a close one. It's ok everyone, Elizabeth is STILL PRETTY. CRISIS AVERTED, STAND DOWN. She gets to the house and Lucy realises that she and Josh forgot to tell Liz that a friend of theirs called Jamie Galbraith will be arriving later on that evening to stay with them a day earlier than expected and just to let him in and tell him to make himself at home. Liz reads a book while Sam is asleep and then Jamie turns up. He's a cute 21 year old student at Yale who wears wire rimmed glasses and is majoring in English and the two of them get on like a house on fire. He puts on a Nina Simone album and asks Liz to dance with him in the sitting room which sounds entirely cringe, but Liz is into it and into him too but also thinks he's too old for her.

Sixteen must seem a little young to a junior in college.

It is. But try telling that to your brother.

Despite her reservations about the difference in their ages, Elizabeth agrees to meet him the following Monday on her day off at the Beach Café. At the party, Jessica is having a wonderful time, between dancing with Cliff and finding out that Lila's new mystery man is only fifteen. When she gets back to the house after the party, Elizabeth fills her in on the new houseguest, who has gone to bed at this stage, but leaves out that part about their upcoming date or that she fancies him. Monday rolls around and Liz meets Jamie at the cafe, and tells him that she's torn because she doesn't think her parents will approve and she'd feel terrible doing something they wouldn't agree with. She tells him that nothing can ever come of them seeing each other and that if they do it'd only be "for now" and also tells him not to let Jessica know about them.

Then we switch to Jamie's point of view and discover that - gasp! - he's actually seventeen year old Tony Sargent in disguise. He's in hiding after getting involved with some bird called Lisa who turned out to have a jealous ex-con boyfriend called Frankie who's now coming after Tony and managing to evade the cops while he's at it. Tony's agent, a dude called Jody, suggested a disguise and the plan to hide out in a nondescript part of Malibu.

Jody hired the best makeup men in Los Angeles to help Tony with his disguise. His hair was dyed brown and cut short. Dark-tinted contact lenses and wire-rim glasses toned down his eyes and made him look more intellectual. 

Yeah, hair dye and glasses, a feat that could only be performed by the BEST OF THE BEST. Tony is smitten with Elizabeth and thinks she's really special because she likes him for who he is and not because he's a super famous pop star and actor, so they continue to meet up in secret. Jessica thinks this Jamie guy is super annoying because he gets a kick out of winding her up, but particularly when he's pacing around the house and interrupting her makeout sessions with Cliff in the living room.

Jessica looks like she's on the prowl for a millionaire husband to murder and I have to say, I'm into it.
Taryn overhears her fancy parents having a blazing row, during which Malcolm tells Audrey that she never should have had a child (I suppose she made that happen all on her own then, eh pal?), Audrey accuses him of thinking that their marriage is a waste and then Malcolm storms out. That evening, Elizabeth and Maria think Taryn is coming down with a fever. She's also really upset and Elizabeth eventually gets it out of her that she thinks her parents hate each other and her, too. Liz tries to console her but Taryn secretly decides she's going to run away to her grandparents in Nebraska so she packs her little suitcase with some clothes and her doll and hides it under her bed for the following day.

Elizabeth is meeting Jamie/Tony at the Beach Cafe again and there's a weather warning for a storm that's about to hit Malibu, making this the second Super Edition out of four to involve a big thunderstorm as part of climactic events. Taryn sneaks out of the house while Maria is on the phone and as the storm gets worse, Jessica drops over to check on Elizabeth because her twin sense is tingling and she's worried because the house is right on the beach. When Maria answers the door and tells Jessica that Elizabeth is out with a friend, they decide that they should take Taryn and get out of the house to somewhere safer, only to discover that she's nowhere to be found. Maria realises she must have run away after hearing her parents fighting, so they call the police and take Jessica's car to go look for her. The cops have had a report of a little girl seen near some bridge so they head out to meet them there and find Taryn cowering on a broken footbridge that's about to be swept away or blown away or something equally dramatic. The cops are on the scene and trying to get her to come towards them as the remaining bit of platform is so flimsy, but she's too scared to move. The wind and rain snap some of the boards off the platform and it's about to give way, so Jessica leans out towards her, held by a cop, and tells her another wicked little girl story to coax her over. It works and Jessica manages to grab Taryn just as the bridge falls apart and they all rush to the hospital. Audrey and Malcolm turn up and the shock of what happened gets them to cop on to themselves and actually realise they should spend time with their daughter. The doctors are worried about Taryn's fever and tell the Bennets and Jessica that;

"She needs to want to make it. I don't know how else to put it, but we see it again and again in cases like this. If any of you can think of some way to help give her the will to come through..."

What is the deal with doctors in this series? That is not a diagnosis! "If you can't talk your daughter out of her illness, then her death is YOUR fault." It's Annie Whitman's suicide attempt all over again, where the only reason she came out of a coma was because Jessica deigned to let her be a cheerleader. That really happened, guys. Jessica looks out the window and sees that the sky is clearing up.

The storm outside was almost over, she thought bitterly. But the storm inside was only just beginning.

Yesss Jessica, now bite your fist and serve that soap opera realness.

Meanwhile, as the storm was raging, some dude calls to Josh and Lucy's house, claiming to be Tony's manager. Lucy assumes it's about the scary guy that's after Tony and tells the man that he's at the Beach Cafe. However, that guy was actually Frankie LaSalle, who found out about Josh and Lucy from Jody's secretary and is now on his way to murder Tony, or stab him a bit or something. Josh and Lucy only realise what's happened when the real Jody turns up to warn Tony that Frankie is in Malibu. They call the cops and rush out to the Beach Cafe, hoping to get there in time before anything terrible happens. While all this is going on, Liz and Secret Tony have been trapped in the Beach Cafe with two waiters and the manager as the storm was too bad to leave. Just when Secret Tony was about to reveal his identity to Elizabeth, Frankie bursts in with a knife and starts calling him Sargent and threatening him, and Elizabeth is like "wtf lads", but then Frankie lunges with the knife and the two guys tussle a bit until Liz wallops Frankie with a pewter vase and knocks him out. The cops turn up and take Frankie away and Tony's arm was cut by the knife so they go to hospital while Elizabeth comes to terms with Jamie's true identity. Tony apologises to her and tries to explain himself but Elizabeth is all upset because the guy she liked "didn't exist". Only Elizabeth would be upset that the dude she's dating was actually a celebrity. Negative craic.

They arrive at the hospital and run into Jessica, so she and Elizabeth each fill the other in on everything that happened. Jessica is astonished that Jamie has actually been Tony this whole time and can't believe she missed her chance with him. They go to see Taryn and Jessica tells Audrey about the wicked little girl stories she's been telling her all summer, so Audrey makes one up and tells it and Taryn comes around and is suddenly going to be just fine and also all of Malcolm and Audrey's marital problems have evaporated thanks to the ol' Wakefields-fixing-stuff magic.

Tony invites the twins and Lila and all their Malibu pals to a charity concert he's suddenly performing at and he tries to win Liz back but she doesn't see a future for them because their lives are so different. They all go to the concert and Tony sings a song about his "Summer Girl" (unfortunately the lyrics don't go like this) and Elizabeth is all sad but happy that they had their time together and that's it.

The next Super Edition better up it's game. Come on, people.

Notable outfit:
Jessica attended the interviews for the babysitting jobs in Elizabeth drag, which is always enjoyable and this time involved "a striped, button-down shirt and matching blue skirt", but it doesn't even come close to Lila Fowler's beachwear.

She slithered out of her sun dress, revealing a leather-look maillot that Elizabeth privately thought far too mature for her.

Oh WHATEVER, Elizabeth. God, she wouldn't know a good look if it slapped her in the head.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 199

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6

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.

Sweet Valley High 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."


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.


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)