The New Elizabeth
Elizabeth's ready for a change!
If one more person calls Elizabeth Wakefield responsible or predictable, she'll scream! In an effort to prove that she can be just as adventurous as Jessica, her daring identical twin, Elizabeth secretly decides to take up surfing. That will show her friends she knows how to take risks.
But from the start, Elizabeth's new hobby causes problems. She has a sneaking suspicion that her surfing instructor is falling in love with her. And even worse, she has to lie to her steady boyfriend, Todd, in order to keep her surfing a surprise. Todd's becoming suspicious and angry- and Elizabeth is beginning to wonder if a daredevil reputation is worth the trouble after all.
I liiiiiiiiiiiiiive! I mean, uh, hey. It's been awhile, huh? Well, let's not waste any precious time on explanations or anything and just jump right into the book, shall we? :p
The New Elizabeth has the misfortune to come on the heels of Jessica's over the top antics in Who's Who? which also happens to be one of those books that people who didn't even read SVH back in the day seem to know about. I guess when you call yourself Magenta Galaxy people tend to take notice.
With Jessica's antics still so fresh in anyone's memory (even if it's been decades, really), it's pretty much impossible for poor Elizabeth to live up to that. Really. So we're going to adjust the bar for her because it's not fair to expect her to Jessica it out of the park right away. I mean, she helps with almost all of Jessica's really insane plots and not once does anyone give her credit for that. Well, not in a good way, that is.
A quick glance at the American cover of the book will tell you how Elizabeth is gonna rebel. By getting a perm and surfing her heart out. Uh...kay. Sure. You do you, Liz. To be fair, she initially wants to try hang gliding or scuba diving or climbing Mt. Everest, or even learning to fly a plane, but mountain climbing is probably not too easy to do in Sweet Valley and that plane thing nearly killed Enid. Oh, and the other two are more do-able, but only if you have Fowler or Patman finances. Or, y'know, Steven Wakefield's finances apparently, according to the end of the book? I dunno. I'm skipping ahead.
Not wanting to spend the hundreds of bucks on equipment, not to mention lessons, Liz leaves the sporting goods shop defeated. Right up until she sees a sign offering surfing lessons down at Moon Beach for only seven bucks! Score!
Confession time. Despite the books mentioning Moon Beach more than a couple of times, I always associate it with the TV show. Dunno why since it's made fairly clear, in this book anyway, that Moon Beach is right there in Big Mesa. This is kind of a plot point because Liz doesn't want anyone to know that she's learning to surf so they'll all be surprised when she totally kicks ass at it. Because of course she will, right? Right.
Liz, you live in a beach town where if your friends aren't at the Dairi Burger or at the mall, they are at the beach. Why is surfing your big shocker? Sigh. I mean, wait, no, let's let the plot naturally unfold.
So, Liz gets to the Moon Beach Surf Club and walks right in on a bet, wherein Sean Blake is betting his friends he can turn the next sucker to walk through the door into an expert surfer since it's all about how great a teacher he is. Or something. Really, the bet is mentioned a fair bit and it's kind of useless right from the start given how good Liz turns out to be at this. Anyway, Sean offers her free lessons and is up front about the bet and Liz takes him up on his offer, breaking Laurie MacNeil's heart. Laurie, for those wondering, is Sean's childhood friend who has the hots for him. The previous Saturday they went out on their first date but Laurie can tell that just one look at Liz and she's been forgotten. Sigh.
Still, Laurie's not a complete idiot. She decides that if Liz can learn to surf than so can she. And she'll enter the big surfing competition, too! Yes, of course there's a big competition to cap off the bet. Duh. Are you new here or something? :P
From the very first lesson, Liz proves that she's a surfing natural, even if her first attempt ends in her wiping out. Her second attempt is amazing, of course, and this basically continues for the rest of her lessons. Unlike the BSC, Liz and Sean meet Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and I'm a little confused as to why Saturday since Liz wants to keep this secret. Even with her cover of doing extra credit at the Marine Biology Center, this still seems a bit... weird. Naturally it's never the Saturday lessons that trip Todd up, proving once more that Liz knows more than I do.
Throughout her lessons, Sean warns her about pearling and riptides, so naturally the weekend before the big competition, there's a storm that leaves the ocean pretty nasty. Liz, being Liz, is sure she can handle the waves, and of course her board flies out and conks her on the head and she's whisked away in a rid tide. Fear not because Sean saves her!
Which is when things get super weird for Liz. See, when she meets Laurie and the gang, Laurie gives Liz the idea that Sean is off the market, but Sean spends pretty much every moment he's not warning Liz about riptides and pearling flirting with Liz. Liz figures he's just a flirt, like Jessica, and thinks nothing of it... until he gives her a silver charm shaped like a surfboard. And then she realizes oh, duh. Laurie likes Sean and Sean's clueless. Liz finally mentions Todd even though this is like, six lessons in at this point and Sean is the kind of guy who doesn't really see a boyfriend as a deterrent. So really, he's a lot like Jessica. Score another point for Liz. Anyway, after the Near Death Experience, Liz lets Sean comfort her a little more than is strictly necessary and then lets him drive her home. Which is fine, btw. What isn't fine? When Liz sees Todd's car parked at her house, she panics and has Sean drop her off at a neighbor's while babbling about her vacation home in the mountains being the split level home. Really, you guys discuss what kind of house she lives in but not her boyfriend? Weird.
Naturally Todd sees this and decides, whelp, Liz must be cheating and he makes up a story about having to break their date and disappears for the rest of the weekend. Part of me wonders why the hell Liz didn't just have Sean drop her off at the house, but then I guess she figured Todd would mozie on her and introduce himself and then Sean would say "hey, your gf is amazing at this surfing thing. Also, I think she's hot." and the jig would be up. Still, this could easily be avoided with a quick, "hey, my boyfriend and friends don't know I've taken up surfing and I wanna surprise them at the competition. Just pretend you're my marine biology partner if Todd says anything, k?" Seriously, that would take the same amount of time as pretending you have a vacation home, Liz. Maybe less time, really. Sigh. This is why Jessica is the schemer, eh?
Liz gets around this by inviting everyone and their hamster to her 'presentation' down at Moon Beach and everyone reacts the same way you'd expect them to, aside from Enid. Enid would normally be portrayed as psyched about this but even she's like "umm... this sounds...great, yeah..." Luckily someone mentions the surfing competition taking place right before Liz's presentation and all is right with the world.
The day of the competition, Sean offers to let Liz use his super expensive, super important surfboard. Because, you know, he's still in love with her. Liz agrees until she overhears Laurie and a friend talking about how much Laurie likes Sean and how much winning might actually get his attention for once. Liz decides the only way for Laurie and Sean to get together is for her to refuse the board and also throw the match.
Liz is thrilled when all her friends freak out when they hear her name announced as the next competitor and figures yep, it's enough to know that she could do something unusual and that she doesn't need to win. So at the end of her ride, she belly flops into the ocean and everyone loses their minds. I don't get why they all act like just because the end wasn't perfect the rest wasn't, but it's enough for Liz. Laurie's the next person in the water and I swear, it takes Liz pointing it out to Sean for him to notice.
Laurie is, of course, amazing and she wins and I think I'd have preferred it had Liz not thrown the match and Laurie still beat her. But that would deprive me of one of my favorite moments in the book: Bill Chase, SVH's very own surfing god, asks why Liz sabotaged herself. Funny how Bill could tell, but Sean (who has been presented as the best surfer EVER) couldn't. I like to think that when people mention the belly flop later on in Bill's presence he corrects them.
Liz and Todd make up and Liz decides she's had enough of surfing for awhile. Weird how they have her obsess and then drop it so fast... I mean, that's always been Jessica's trait. *cough* I kid, I kid. I like it when we see how similar the two are and also, it's not like people don't fall in and out of love with hobbies all the time.
B-Plot time! If you weren't thrilled with Elizabeth's surfing lessons, well, fear not because we have a tale of Jessica Wakefield's revenge. Turns out that Caroline has been telling everyone about Jessica's stint as Magenta and Daniella and Jessica is pissed. When Caroline damages her parents' new car and has to pay for the repairs, Jessica decides that she will go harass Caroline at work. Since Jessica will be with someone actually spending money (Lila, usually), Caroline's boss won't say anything even as Jessica makes a mess of everything she comes across.
Jessica's lucky that Caroline's manager is a jerk because otherwise they'd have thrown her ass out since not once has Jessica spent a dime. Anyway, Caroline can't catch a break but continues to provoke Jessica by calling her Magenta. Honestly, I don't blame her... and her revenge is the single best thing about this book, hands down.
Jessica finally ventures to Unique Boutique on her own and Caroline greets her and is exceptionally helpful and pleasant. Jessica is confused but rolls with it, not even screeching when Caroline bustles into the changing room while Jessica's in her skivvies and gathers up all the clothes that Jessica's strewn about. All the clothes, guys. She takes Jessica's actual clothes as well. When Jessica realizes this, she overhears Caroline telling her manager that as of today (payday), she no longer needs this job and she promptly quits. The last we see of her, she's sailing out of the store still holding Jessica's clothes.
I cackled. Legitimately cackled.
And to set us up for the next book? Steve and Liz stop by the UB after Steve asks some questions at the Sports Shack about hang gliding. Both are shocked to meet the coworker Caroline vaguely told Liz about earlier. Why? Because it's another freakin' Tricia Martin doppelganger. The book ends with Steven breaking a date with Cara and asking Andrea (the clone) out.
- Liz picks up: Mountain Climber Magazine, Scuba Digest, Hang Gliding Monthly, and The Serious Adventurer when trying to plan her new adventurous self.
- She goes to the sporting goods store downtown and falls in love with, among other things, a pretty hang glider and a hot pink wet suit that costs $300. The clerk is very nice about letting Liz down gently about the prices and time commitment involved in all these activities.
- Btw, Liz didn't even stop to think about how expensive these hobbies would be until the clerk pointed out how long it would take to learn the basics and how much stuff would be involved, not just the shiny things.
- "Surfing Lessons. Only $7 an hour. Moon Beach Surf Club, Big Mesa. Rental Boards Available." - The sign in the window that sends Liz to her surfing destiny.
- Moon Beach is half an hour north of Sweet Valley.
- Sean Blake is a senior at Big Mesa high school who is a serious surfer. He's tall with a long and muscular body, longish sun-streaked blonde hair, and a dark tan. Frequently seen wearing lime-green zinc oxide that somehow brings out the green in his gold flecked green eyes, he's also cocky and self assured. His friends teasingly call him Mr. Surfing Encyclopedia. Works at the Moon Beach Surf Club.
- Sammy and Dave are Sean's friends and co-workers. Both are juniors at Big Mesa.
- Laurie MacNeil is a senior at Big Mesa and naturally athletic, though she never tried surfing until Liz appeared on the scene. She winds up doing most of her practicing at Crescent Beach where the Big Mesa crowd is less likely to appear. She works at the Moon Beach Ice Cream Parlor. During their junior trip, Laurie was the only person to not turn over in the rapids. Laurie is described as really pretty by Liz.
- In sixth grade, Laurie and Sean started their own neighborhood softball league and Laurie was the star.
- There's a cafe next to the surfing clubhouse where the Big Mesa kids hang out.
- The Moon Beach Ice Cream Parlor is a few doors down from the surf club.
- Other Big Mesa students: John Monroe and Phil Carter.
- In her excitement over her new hobby, Liz forgets that she has a tennis date with Todd on Tuesday.
- Liz's cover story is that she's doing an extra credit project down at the Marine Biology Center. Todd teases her about how safe this is.
- Caroline Pearce has apparently taken up gossiping again as she spreads word of the story of Magenta Galaxy and Daniella Fromage. I'm 99% sure that Caroline's been gossiping again for awhile but what do I know, book?
- Elizabeth's surf board is a purple board with a hot pink stripe, so the cover is accurate!
- The bet: Does it take raw talent or simply determination and a great teacher to become a great surfer? Obviously Sean is on the side of determination and a great teacher. Sammy and Dave seem to lean towards talent. If Sean wins, the boys buy him a new surf board of his choice. If Sean loses, he works weekends for the next three months.
- The bet ignores the fact that Liz seems to be naturally talented in the art of surfing.
- Liz is about to slather on some suntan oil when Sean stops her since oil and a surfboard? Not the best combo. She protests that she doesn't want to get burned, but I always think of suntan oil as something with like an spf of 4, meant to grab the sun's rays, not keep them away.
- Liz wipes out on her first wave because she forgets to turn left. She nearly repeats this on the second wave but Sean hollers at her to turn left.
- Her first successful ride lasted fifteen seconds and felt like fifteen minutes.
- Sean proceeds to hang ten when persuaded to show Liz "how it's really done."
- Tuesday night, Caroline borrows her parents' new car, the car she's not allowed to touch, and promptly puts a new dent in the fender and scratches the side. She has to pay for all the repairs and has to get a job down at the Unique Boutique, a new shop at the mall. How she managed to get a job less than 24 hours after the mess, I'll never know as Jessica is telling Lila all this Wednesday afternoon. Guess UB was desperate.
- Elizabeth's surfing lessons are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
- On her second lesson, she learns to stand on the board and on her first ride of the day the board smacks her on the ass when she wipes out.
- Her second lesson lasts two hours instead of the normal one.
- When asked who Sean thinks is the best surfer, he names Bob Simmons without hesitation. His reasons? Simmons lost the use of his left arm but surfed on and designed the kind of boards still used. Not entirely accurate but hey, you couldn't just Google this stuff back in '90 so...
- Liz is shocked that an original Simmons board is worth five thousand dollars. She'd lose her mind if she knew that one would later go for $18,500 at auction.
- Sean collects rare surfboards and keeps them in his garage at home. He has an original Simmons and a heavy red board made of redwood from the 1930's.
- After their two hour lesson, Liz goes back to Sean's house to see Sean's collection, still thinking that Sean and Laurie are a couple and that he's just flirty.
- Todd calls Liz at 3:30, 4:30, and 5:30. Dude, chill.
- I can't figure out if this is a continuity error or just a strangely placed bit, but in the same chapter with Liz's Thursday lesson, Jessica and Lila launch Jessica's revenge plan against Caroline. Only that was set for Friday after school. But the next chapter starts on Saturday so I'll leave it up to you to decide.
- Sean warns Liz about pearling, rip tides, and how dangerous the ocean can be after a storm even if the weather is nice. You know where this went.
- Sean invites Liz to Jackson's Bluff to 'check out the tides and waves' but leaves out the fact that it's a notorious makeout point for Big Mesa students.
- Ned Wakefield's newest case involves the family of a pro surfer killed in a rip tide whose family is suing because there were no warning signs on the beach. He says this might be of special interest to Liz but Liz is still operating under the whole marine biology project thing so...
- Jess offers Liz the use of her leopard print skirt.
- Liz and Todd blow off the new French film downtown and go to the beach to admire the full moon. And makeout. Only Liz seems to spend a lot of time making googly eyes at the water.
- We skip ten days after their date. In those ten dates, Liz has had three more lessons, so we basically just miss a week of her mastering the art of surfing.
- Sean gives Liz a small silver shaped surfboard charm and Liz is delighted for a second because she hasn't gotten a new charm in awhile. She quickly realizes that Sean and Laurie aren't a couple and Laurie overhears Sean scoffing at the idea of being interested in Laurie. Sadness.
- After Liz nearly dies, Sean drives her home but Liz panics when she sees Todd's car and has Sean drop her off at a neighbor's house. She claims that the split level home she's talked about is her family's vacation home up in the mountains.
- Sean treats Liz to a soda at the Moon Beach Cafe after she successfully completes her first lesson after her NDE.
- Caroline's revenge on Jessica, who has been the worst customer ever? She dotes on Jessica and when Jessica's changing clothes in the dressing room, Caroline gathers up all the merchandise in the room, including Jessica's clothes. Jessica notices too late and before she can demand Caroline return them before Jessica tells her boss, Caroline quits her job and sails out the store with Jessica's clothes and a parting shot at Magenta.
- Bill Chase knows Elizabeth chose to wipe out, he just doesn't get why.
- Liz tells him it was in the name of romance.
- Liz and Todd go to Mario's for their celebratory dinner.
- Steven read all of Elizabeth's sporty mags and decided he wanted to take up hang gliding while he's home for a month long independent study project.
- After meeting Andrea, the Tricia doppelganger at Unique Boutique, Steve begs off a date with Cara, saying he needs to get started on his Legal Ethics research. Instead, he promptly calls Andrea at work and asks her out.
Quotable Sweet Valley:
"Let's just say your sister has a weird way of being adventurous, Jess," Lila continued, munching on a potato chip. "I mean, some people drive race cars, climb mountains, or sail boats around the world, but Elizabeth gets her hair curled." - Lila Fowler, pg 1
"But if you don't tell me exactly who told you that story in exactly two and a half seconds, I'm going to perform some experimental theater on your face!" - Jessica is not thrilled about Magenta's exploits being made public. Better be careful, Winston. p23
Elizabeth felt she deserved a triple scoop with extra chocolate sprinkles, but she settled for a small cone, since she would be heading home for dinner soon. She didn't want to surprise everyone with how fat she could get! - screw you, ghosty. Also, save the fat for college, Liz. pg 35
This is a book I think I liked more as a kid. I remember being super excited when Skipper or Barbie came out with a swimsuit that looked like the one Liz is wearing on the cover of this, so the surfing thing probably got played out a fair amount. As an adult it's... meh? It's not a bad book, it's just hard to get worked up by Liz learning to surf. I'm not sure if it would have been better if the book didn't realize that surfing was also pretty tame compared to Jessica's antics and had just played it like this was the biggest, baddest thing ever or if that would have made things worse.
Mostly the book feels like filler between two more interesting sounding books: #62
where Jessica loses her damn mind and #64
where Steven falls for yet another Tricia lookalike. Kid!me ate up all the Tricia drama like you would not believe.
One of the things I really did
enjoy was how Laurie didn't instantly dislike Elizabeth simply because Sean was interested in her. Instead of blaming Liz and being exceptionally catty, Laurie is friendly towards Liz when their paths cross and doubles down on her own strategy for getting the guy. Too bad we'll never see them again so my interest taps out there. Seriously though, it's nice when the Valley doesn't pit innocent people against one another.
Unrelated, but Liz mentions how disappointed she is that Caroline's back to gossiping but I swear this isn't a new thing. Hadn't she fallen off the gossip wagon by the time Regina died at the very least? And that was 20 books ago!