Friday, December 14, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Dear Sister

Ok, so you know how every Sweet Valley High book is brilliant in its own way, but there are some that are just that bit more amazing and ridiculously fun than the others? Well, this is one of them. It might as well be called Dear Jackpot.

Sweet Valley High #7: Dear Sister


So, the book opens with Elizabeth still in hospital, in a coma and Jessica at her bedside pleading with her to wake up. In case we've forgotten, we're immediately reminded how goddamn hot the twins are, as page one informs us that they're "gloriously attractive". Thanks guys. By the time we've gotten halfway through page two (HALFWAY), one or the other has been described as "beautiful", "vibrant", "lively", "vivacious" and a "fresh, youthful beauty". It's actually sort of impressive how much they've crammed in there. Anyway, Jessica is startled by a hand on her shoulder, but it's ok! It's just the most inappropriate doctor IN THE WORLD.

"Miss Wakefield?"
"Yes."
"I could see the resemblance. You're both beautiful."

That's right, this doctor greets sixteen year olds by telling them how hot they are. He's Elizabeth's neurosurgeon and his conversation with Jessica is just solid fucking gold. They have a chat about Elizabeth's condition, Jessica gets a bit upset about the whole thing and over the course of their conversation he does the following hilariously overfamiliar things, considering he's JUST MET HER:

"The man stooped so his face was on a level with hers."

"She felt strong hands on her shoulders, shaking her gently but insistently."

"Suddenly Dr. Edwards's hands were cupping her face, forcing her to look up."

Fucking hell, put your pants back on, Doc. 

Anyway, Elizabeth wakes up from her coma and starts acting like a spoiled little bitch. She immediately demands a makeover, gets in a huff over her hospital gown not being sexy enough and flirts her arse off with the doctors, all while being really dismissive and mean to Todd. She basically turns into Jessica. When she gets out of hospital and returns home, Todd comes by to see her but she instructs Jessica to fob him off and tell him she's too tired for visitors. Jessica pulls Todd into the kitchen and lies to him, saying that Elizabeth can't have any visitors until she goes back to school and reassures him that once she's back in class everything will go back to normal. It's one of my favourite parts of this book.

"You know how much she likes school. She'll probably have all the work made up and a dozen stories written for The Oracle before I finish that one stupid book report on Moby Dick. I mean, Todd, who really cares about whales?" Jessica asked in annoyance.

Todd did, but he let the comment slide by.

Awwww! TODDDDD! He CARES about WHALES you guys. I love that line so goddamn much.

So, Elizabeth returns to school and Jessica drives them there, parking the car "with her usual flourish". I don't know how exactly parking with a flourish works (other than Ace Ventura barrell-rolling his safari jeep into the car park in When Nature Calls, obviously. LLLIKE A GLOVE), but clearly it's something else that the Wakefields are amazing at.

All week at school, people keep confusing Elizabeth for Jessica and when the twins are meant to get the house ready for a pool party they're throwing at the weekend, Elizabeth lands Jessica with all the work as she flits around the mall. While Jessica is sorting out the food for the party, she starts talking to herself in a slightly alarming manner.

"Listen, Jessica Wakefield," she lectured herself, "haven't you ever ducked out on work and left Elizabeth to do it?"

"Now, don't start creating a humungous, imaginary crisis over nothing," she cautioned herself aloud.

"Stop it," Jessica commanded herself. "If you don't make that dip, the kids will have to eat powdered soup mix." She giggled and kept working.

She's like one of those demented bitches off Sunset Beach.

The party is a hit and everyone has a great time, except for Jessica, because Elizabeth is hogging the limelight and for Todd, because Elizabeth is practically rubbing herself all over Ken Matthews like a cat in heat. When Jessica gets suckered into cleaning up after the party alone, it begins to dawn on her that Elizabeth has actually turned into Jessica, prompting an existential crisis of sorts. "If she's Jessica, she agonised, then who am I?"

Over the next week or so, Liz begins to do badly at school as she's too busy being on the phone to random boys to do any studying. Ned and Alice then announce at dinner that the Percys - whoever the fuck they are - are going to a computer conference in Europe (fancy!) and the Wakefields are looking after their twin twelve year old girls while they're away.

"The twins were fragile, dark-haired girls with large brown eyes set in small solemn faces. They were wearing identical gray jumpers, and long-sleeved white blouses, and they were clutching identical black flute cases."

Well don't they sound just a tad familiar.

Oh hai there.

As soon as the Percy twins arrive, Ned and Alice fuck off to "an evening of bridge", which I hope is code for something else, otherwise they're the most boring people IN THE WORLD. Jessica has a date with Danny Stauffer that night though, so while she's planning to skip out on babysitting and leave Liz looking after the twins, Liz beats her to it and is making her exit while Jessica is still on the phone to Danny, leaving Jessica with no option but to bring the girls on her date with him at the drive-in.

Back at school, Elizabeth keeps blowing Enid off and takes a sudden interest in the lame sorority the twins are in, prompting Jessica to talk to herself some more. Enid comes over, wondering who the hell Jessica is talking to, and asks her if Liz is mad at her.

"Not that I know of." Jessica wondered why she didn't tell Enid the truth. Elizabeth didn't want to have anything to do with her. Jessica would have enjoyed telling her to get lost a month ago. For some reason, she felt sympathy for Enid now.

I love how normal human emotions don't compute with Jessica.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is swanning around school failing everything, hitting on everyone's boyfriend, and sweet-talking Winston Egbert into doing her homework for her. Gasp! When she's late handing in her Eyes and Ears column, Mr. Collins asks how she is. Cue hilarity.

"Everybody asks me that," she snapped. "Elizabeth, I hope you know that I'm a friend, not only a teacher and an adviser. And friends don't dish out a lot of applesauce to each other."

Oh Mr. Collins. You crazy motherfucker. I actually had to look up the word applesauce online, as I've never in my life heard it used in any context other than sauce made of apples. Turns out it's slang from THE TWENTIES. THE TWENTIES, MR. COLLINS. He probably thinks journalists wear hats with a little card stuck in it that reads "PRESS" and that the talkies will never catch on.

We then find out that since Elizabeth has been giving Todd the brush off, he's lost his mad skillz on the basketball court and that his nickname is "Whizzer" Wilkins. Amazing. This book just DOES NOT let up. Anyway, Todd's coach then has a talk with him about Liz, because every staff member at this school is completely over-involved in their students lives.

Elizabeth proceeds to get fired from the school paper for writing a bitchy item to split Ken Matthews up from his girlfriend (Mr. Collins says "applesauce" again! I LOVE IT!) and then zips around town driving Max Dellon's motorbike, much to Jessica's horror. Ned and Alice, after agreeing to take care of someone else's kids for a while, appear to have decided to never be around when they actually need them and land Jessica with driving the girls to a flute audition at the weekend. Jessica has a date at the beach with Danny though, so she ends up being caught speeding on her way back from the audition and when she does get to the beach, she sees Danny with his arm around some tramp in a white bikini. Angry and frustrated - with the creepy twins in the back seat - she then backs into another car and cries her face off.

Jessica haz a sad. And terrible taste in picture frames.

A few days later, Lila Fowler is throwing a party at her house, but not just any old party, a combination of a costume party and a "pick-up party", which apparently means a license to whore your way through the night. "Everybody came single and picked up whomever they could." The Wakefields go to the party dressed as - wait for it - MATADORS. Excellent. Elizabeth ends up leaving the party with Bruce Patman, who can't believe his luck that he's getting to feel up the twin who usually hates him, and plies her with wine down at the beach. Jessica sends SuperTodd after them, he punches Bruce and takes drunk Liz home.

Ned and Alice eventually find out about Jessica's speeding ticket and the dent in the car, but the Percy twins come to the rescue and lie for Jessica, saving her ass. When Jessica apologises to the twins for shouting at them all the time, they say it's fine and that they've never had so much fun.

"Boy, going to a real drive-in! With making out and everything."

Jessica dry-humped Danny at the drive-in with two twelve year olds in the backseat. She's a class act. AND AN OLD TIMEY GANGSTER! Just like Bruce in Power Play!

"Listen, you two," Jessica said, "cool it, see? You weren't supposed to be there."

I'm beginning to wonder if there's a wormhole to 1920s Sweet Valley somewhere in the town.

Todd's surfer friend Bill Chase, who has apparently been "half in love" with Elizabeth for ages, asks her out to some beach club dance on Saturday night, which she agrees to while being all sexy-like and just stopping short of licking his face. Later that day though, she also arranges to go on a date with Bruce at his family's beach house.

When Bill turns up at Casa Wakefield, Liz is already gone. So Jessica decides that her newly-trampy sister shouldn't get to have all the fun, and in a return to her gloriously sociopathic old self, she pretends to be Liz and goes on the date with Bill, just to fuck with his head because he turned her down when she asked him some dance ages ago. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is at the beach house having her boobs groped by Bruce, who appears to be seconds away from date-raping her. He leaves her alone in a bedroom while he gets more wine from downstairs, but Liz slips and whacks her head off a table. Suddenly she has no idea where she is and can't remember anything after the hospital.

When Bruce comes back, Elizabeth tries to leave, but he blocks the doorway and pretty much says she's not going anywhere until he gets the ride. He grabs her and forces her to kiss him and suddenly he turns into old timey gangster Bruce again! Yesss!

Roughly he seized her wrists, and she was helpless. "I've got real strong hands Liz," he said. "From tennis, see?"

Anyway, Liz bites him when he kisses her again and runs out onto the beach, into the arms of Todd who just happened to be moping around outside. He quickly cops that Liz is back to her old boring self and she's all delighted to see him now. Then he shifts the face off her with "a deep, long kiss that she wished would last forever." Hooray!

Notable outfit:
There was so much other amazing stuff happening in this book, like applesauce, that there weren't really any particularly brilliant outfits being described. Apart from the matador costumes. Although when Jessica decided to trick Bill by dressing as Elizabeth, she did so in the following:

"She was wearing Elizabeth's flowered peasant skirt and ruffled blouse."

Nice.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 8
Amount of times the twins are called "beautiful": 12

12 comments :

  1. Aw, I had to order this one specially from the library. Because my babysitter (who was 15) told me not to read it because it had almost-sex in it, so OBVIOUSLY I had to order it.

    I love the part where a 16-year-old has had a serious car accident, been in a coma, and she's back at school in a week and all the teachers are cross with her for "failing". Like, you'd think they'd give her a bit more of a break.

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  2. Had forgotten all about this one. Brilliant!

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  3. this is one of the few SVH books I actually read
    Brilliant! :)

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  4. Nicola - So so SO much gold!

    Ms Bias - Haha, good for you!

    Claire - I don;t think I'd ever read it before, it's a DELIGHT.

    BK - Hooray! :)

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  5. Brilliant, as usual. Although in many ways, this book seemed a bit less ridiculous than the other ones...

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  6. i totally remember reading this one too! love it!

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  7. Lovin these! And love the reference to Sunset Beach....I miss the madness of that show.

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  8. It appears that giggling to yourself on the bus is the best way to keep people from sitting next to you. Thanks for that!

    I remember this book & I remember that the peasant skirt turns up again in the SVUniversity books when Elisabeth gets fat and doesn't fit into any of her other clothes. Jessica is of course concerned about her sister as she can no longer borrow her clothes!

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  9. Oh. my. god. this is a perfect, BRILLIANT summary.

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  10. When you finish all the books can you have a count of all the completely inappropriate adults who creep all over the girls and/or their friends? Also, the amount of times one of the actual teenagers get all rapey without ever being condemned for it?

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  11. When people say "see" at the end of their sentences I automatically read them in 1920's gangster voice. I mustn't have known what 1920s gangsters were when I was 11 because this never occurred to me before!
    Also, they are totally inappropriate for 11 year olds, what was my mother thinking letting me read these??? Although I vaguely remember telling her they were just like the babysitters club...

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