Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Jealous Lies

Hi! Barcelona is super fun and pretty! But perhaps more importantly, GET A LOAD OF THIS SHINY ASS BOMBER JACKET. I can actually feel those stretchy, striped cuffs on my wrists.

Sweet Valley High #30: Jealous Lies

The Wakefields are having breakfast in their lovely, tastefully decorated split-level home, and by the time we've gotten to page five Alice's eyes have been twinkling, Ned's have been crinkling and Elizabeth has been winking, so we're off to a great start already. Steven is coming home soon for a whole week and Alice wants to plan something "really special" for his visit, even though he's always coming home, but whatever. Also, the fancy Pi Beta Alpha sorority that the twins are members of is having some important meeting to discuss new pledges and I still don't understand why a high school has a sorority. The meeting is happening at Lila Fowler's house, as she's the pledge chairman. Man, I don't know, let's just go with this whole thing. At the meeting, Sandra Bacon is sitting towards the back, thinking about how average and unmemorable she is, compared to her bff Jean West, who is gorgeous, plays the flute, is a fabulous dancer, a great cheerleader, an A student, a great cook and never wears jeans. However, Jean isn't in PBA, and Sandy wants to keep it that way, as it's the one thing she has that Jean doesn't, but everyone expects her to nominate Jean when her turn comes so she can't back out. Sandy needs to chill the fuck out, she's a cheerleader and in this stupid posh sorority so she's obviously cute and skinny, considering the emotional torture that very group put Robin Wilson through when she wanted to join back when she was chubby.

A quick aside about how much these girls' names bother me. I love some nice crispy bacon, like any sane person, but Sandy Bacon sounds like there's all bits of gritty sand on my lovely rashers and now I can't eat them. Jean West just makes me think of John West, i.e. the tuna and I don't like fish, so these two dumb names just immediately make me think of ruined rashers and smelly cans of tuna and those two things are just upsetting. It's making me want to refer to Sandy as Crispy Bacon instead and I'm just not going to use Jean's full name ever.

So. Crispy nominates Jean as expected, and now has to be her sponsor, to get her through the pledge period. The following day, the two of them are chatting in the school swimming pool between practising water ballet routines, because OMG OF COURSE Sweet Valley High has a synchronised swimming class! Yes! Crispy reassures Jean that she'll ace whatever challenge the pledges have to do, which is a big lie because Crispy is already plotting against her friend. The pledges all have to bring an assigned dude to a party, and Crispy is trying to think of someone who'll turn Jean down, which is a tall order, considering how totally wonderful she is at everything. However, while at lunch with Elizabeth and Winston Egbert, Winston mentions that he ran into Tom McKay that morning and he was really glum because he tried to talk to Jean and was given the brush off. "He was good and mad, to tell you the truth." How dare Jean not give him her full and undivided attention when he starts up a conversation, uninvited! Like, fuck this guy. Maybe she was busy dude, put your pants back on. In any case, Crispy sees this as a perfect opportunity to throw an obstacle in Jean's way, and suggests to Lila that she be assigned to bring Tom as her date to a party at Cara's.

The last girl he'd gone with was Jessica Wakefield, and a few people joked that she had turned him off the female sex forever, having strung him along until someone better came along.

Ha! Although at the end of that particular book, Tom was hooking up with Sexy Patsy Webber, who seems to have disappeared from the face of Sweet Valley. Jessica probably murdered her.

Lila suggests to Jean that she should watch some tennis match that Tom is playing and then talk to him afterwards and tell him how brilliant he is. She then ruins Crispy's sabotage plan by wingwomaning Jean into inviting Tom as her date to Cara's party, and Jean tells Crispy that she's actually really starting to like Tom after properly talking to him.

Back over at the Wakefield house, Steven is home and the family are having dinner together. Once Jessica is done admiring her hot brother ("she couldn't help thinking how good Steven looked"), he announces that he's planning to leave college and go working on a cruise ship called the Bellefleur, owned by his roommate's father. Ned and Alice freak out and Steven storms off, so Elizabeth suggests that they try reverse psychology on him and act like they're all on board (I'm sorry) with the idea. They were going to throw a totally pointless surprise party for him while he was home so now they're going to make it a bon voyage party instead and Ned reckons that dropping out will lose its appeal if they don't put up any opposition. Okay, sure.

Meanwhile, Crispy is plotting again and drops into The Tennis Shop, where Tom works, under the pretence of buying tennis shoes for her mother. She then drops some not so subtle hints that he's been invited to the party that night as a task for Jean and then runs off crying guilty, salty tears. Tom had started to really like Jean, so he's pretty stung by it all and decides he's not going to let her make a fool of him. Jean is getting ready for the party and looking forward to seeing Tom, but over an hour after he was supposed to pick her up, he calls her and says he's not feeling well but he'll be over soon. Then at around ten, at which point the party is in full swing and poor Jean is still hanging around a home waiting, he calls again and says he's in hospital with food poisoning. So she heads off to the party alone and super late and is the only pledge who has failed in her task. Crispy then sells her out in front of the rest of the sorority and suggests that she should check Tom's story out and call the hospital. Of course, he's not there and then everyone knows that she's been stood up and made to look like an asshole. Jean tells the sorority girls that she's going to get revenge on him by acting like she believed his story, making him start to care about about her, getting him to come to the school dance on Friday as her date, and then, because it'll be the day of her and Dana's birthday, they'll start the dancing and she'll invite some other guy to dance, making HIM look like the asshole. Jessica loves the plan, obviously, and Lila and Cara agree that it'll be her substitute task, but then Crispy pipes up and says it's not fair to break the rules for Jean, so the two friends end up having a row.

♪ Look at meee/I'm Sandy B/dressed up like a Pink Ladyyy

While the row is going on, Steven is talking to Cara, who has been prepped by Jessica to be cool with his cruise ship decision. When he told her about it first she was really upset, and now that she's acting like she's fine with it and that they should go their separate ways because long distance relationships don't work, Steven gets all huffy and storms off. He does that a lot in this book. The next day, Jessica brings him a bunch of brochures about the Far East and goes on about all the great presents he'll be able to buy her on his travels. Ned and Alice have also been playing along, and Ned landed him with a heap of paperwork to sort out health insurance policies and stuff for when he leaves college. Steven tells Jessica that he and Cara are breaking up and Jessica quite rightly points out that he just dropped this bombshell on Cara and expected her to wait around for eight or nine months at a time before she'd see him, without even talking it through with her first. The ridiculous plan seems to be working though, as Steve is starting to question his decision to go.

Jean is feeling sad about her row with Crispy. She only wanted to join the sorority in the first place because she felt like the two of them were drifting apart and she wanted to spend more time with her friend. In the meantime, she gets started on her revenge plan for Tom and calls over to his house with a bag of get well soon presents, laying on the fake concern and generally being super nice to him. Tom is totally caught off guard and figures that she must really like him and they arrange to have lunch at school the next day. While at school, Crispy begs Jean for forgiveness, but instead of just coming clean about her weird jealousy, she says that she only did what she did because she's afraid the other girls will accuse her of favouritism and says that she's been put under loads of pressure from the other members since nominating Jean, and then they make up.

At lunch, Tom surprises Jean with a picnic and she acts like she loves it, even though she's kinda being a lil bitch about it. "This guy is off his rocker, Jean thought with disgust as she sat down." Even though she apparently hates picnics, she has a nice time talking to Tom about their respective brothers and even momentarily forgets that's she's supposed to be exacting revenge on him. That evening he wants to take her somewhere he thinks she'll love and surprises her with a trip to some amusement park at Clinton Falls, wherever that that is. He's really starting to care for Jean but he's slightly worried that they're too different and she's too sophisticated for him. However, Jean is afraid of heights and apparently hates this surprise even more than the picnic, but he takes her on the Ferris wheel and holds her hand and the view is so amazing at the top and she realises this is so special to him that they start shifting. Also, he pays an entrance fee to get into the park and then has to buy tickets for the Ferris wheel once they're in, and I have to say Tom, this special park of yours is a fucking rip-off.

Back at school, Elizabeth is at a lunch table with Cara, Jessica, Lila and Jean, and Lila goes through Jean's plan for Tom at the school dance, which is all news to Elizabeth.

She frowned at Jean, thinking that it hardly seemed fair to get back at Tom in front of the whole school. But she wouldn't have dreamed of saying anything in front of all the other girls. Besides, she didn't know Jean well enough to intrude.

As if that stopped her literally every other time she's stuck her oar into other people's business uninvited.

In any case, Jean is feeling bad about her plan for Tom and doesn't think she can go through with it because she really likes him now. They're hanging out in the back garden of his house and he confesses that he didn't really have food poisoning and she admits that she was bringing him to Cara's party as part of her pledge task and that she feels awful about it. When she asks why he stood her up, Tom tells her that Crispy had called into the shop and dropped a bunch of hints about the task and Jean realises that Crispy has been plotting against her all this time.

In school, Elizabeth is proofreading her Eyes and Ears column in the student lounge, when Crispy bursts in, looking upset because she thought the room would be empty. She sits down and Elizabeth mentions that Jean's revenge plan is a bit lousy, whereupon Crispy bursts into tears and says it's not Jean's fault and runs off. There's literally no point to this bit whatsoever, it's just an attempt to crowbar Elizabeth into a story line that doesn't involve her. Crispy ends up in Mr. Collins' classroom and confesses that she's done something terrible to someone she cares about, so he tells her that she either has to come clean and apologise or hope the other person doesn't find out.

Outside of class he was a great listener - and a wonderful shoulder to cry on.

Shoulder to cry on, lap to sit on, potayto potahto.

Steve tries to talk to Ned and Alice about whether he should take the cruise ship job or not and gets all huffy when they tell him it's his decision to make. So he's mad when they don't want him to go and he's mad when they're being supportive. He then calls Cara to talk it over with her and she's still pretending to be all breezy and also says it's up to him, so Steve gets all upset and decides to stay in college after all, thinking that none of them care about him anyway.

The night of the school dance rolls around and because it's on Friday the Thirteenth, it's got a spooky theme and everyone is wearing black.

Black crepe paper and forbidding-looking moons festooned the walls; papier-mâché black cats perched on the table where the punch was being served, and eerie music was playing. Students had to pass under a big ladder to enter the gym and the decoration theme of unlucky objects was carried out everywhere.

I have to say, I'm 100% into this theme and execution. Bravo, dance committee. 

Jean arrives with Tom and has decided that she's not going to go through with her plan after all, because she really likes him (despite the fact that she's hated every surprise he's organised for her thus far) so she's resigned herself to not getting into the sorority, sadly thinking that Crispy will get what she wanted after all. Dana and Jean are called forward to choose their dancing partners, Jean calls out Tom's name, and the sorority bitches are all really cross. They start giving out about Jean, saying she was leading them on and that she should be dropped from the pledge list for good. Crispy gets all upset and comes to her defence, saying that it was all her fault and that she was sabotaging Jean's efforts all along because she was jealous and to kick her out instead and let Jean join. While all this is going on, Jean's dance has ended and she's overheard the whole confession. The girls tearfully make up and the sorority decides to accept Jean and also to let Crispy stay because she's been punished enough. Also, Tom and Jean are in love now and everything is awesome. 

The following night is the surprise party for Steve at the Wakefield house. He comes into the room with Cara, everyone jumps out and there's a big bon voyage banner, so he announces that he's actually not going now. The twins are all excited and flip the banner over, so it says "Welcome Home, Steve!" instead and reveal that they'd all been yanking his chain the whole time, because it had to be his decision, YES WE KNOW, JESUS.

Notable outfit: 
Tragically, the amazing (and suuuper flammable-looking) sorority bomber jackets aren't actually mentioned in the book at all, otherwise it would obviously be all about them here. Instead, when Jean calls over to Tom's with the care package for his fake food poisoning, she dresses in an outfit that she thinks he'll like, i.e. cute, simple and outdoorsy. 

She had taken special pains getting dressed, finally selecting a pair of linen walking shorts and a Fair Isle cotton sweater.

I looked up Fair Isle jumpers and they're actually pretty nice, but boy do linen walking shorts sound terrible.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 135
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 1 (ONE? Not nearly good enough. I could have FORGOTTEN they were blonde, for GOD'S SAKE.) 

Amount of times Steve storms out of a room: 3


  1. Lovin the coordinating pearl set on the cover as well, I hope that got a mention!! Also why the fuck would a 16 year old have linen walking shorts???? I don't linen walking shorts and (allegedly) I'm a grown-up!!

    1. Jean wore pearls to the Friday the 13th dance too with a black dress, natch. Those Sweet Valley girls love a string of pearls!

  2. Crispy, as you call her, was not cute. Jean reminds me of a young Phoebe Cates.
    I had this book, too. When you recap the ones I had, I am instantly transported back to my awkward pre-teen years. Such a nightmare. Haha


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