Love Stinks

The Love Bet
September 1990

Look who's scheming now!
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Do opposites attract?

   Dana Larson is fed up with love! She tells Elizabeth Wakefield and Todd Wilkins that she prefers singing with her band, The Droids, to wasting her time on dates.
  Aaron Dallas is fed up, too. He insists that soccer is more important to him than girls.
   But Elizabeth has a plan to make Dana and Aaron fall in love- with each other! Todd reluctantly agrees to help, but he bets Elizabeth that she won't succeed. After all, Dana is a rock singer and Aaron is a jock. Everything Dana likes, Aaron hates-and vice versa! Elizabeth thinks she's creating the match of the decade, but Todd thinks she's headed for a matchmaking disaster!

   The Love Bet is one of those books I would classify as a classic kind of SVH story. The stakes aren't terribly high, as we don't have actual stardom on the line, there are no supernatural creatures lurking in the shadows, and the Wakefield twins are scheming. I'm not sure I'd consider the book itself a classic, but the kind of story it tells definitely is.

  After an informal party at Patty Gilbert's where both Dana Larson and Aaron Dallas declare just how much love stinks, Todd accidentally gives Elizabeth the idea to hook them up, even if it's just to keep them from going on (and on and on) about how much they're not interested in love. Liz thinks it's perfect but Todd isn't entirely sold on it, though he agrees to help with one condition: if Operation Pair-Up fails, Liz grants him three wishes and if it succeeds, he'll grant Liz three wishes.
   Liz wastes no time in setting up Phase One. She enlists Penny, Enid, and Olivia to help her get this match up and running. Olivia's a little skeptical due to just how different Aaron and Dana seem to be. He's sporty, she's punk rock, he's got a temper and a half (wait, we're supposed to forget that, right?) passionate and she's pretty laid back (if you say so)... It's funny that Liz is willing to call the whole thing off if Olivia of all people thinks it's just too out there. Is it because Liv is known for being out there and a little kooky or is it because Liz respects her opinion more than say, Todd's? Discuss amongst yourselves.
  Anyway, Liv agrees to help since it's not the worst idea ever, and Phase One kicks off with Penny wanting Dana to stop by The Oracle and make sure the lyrics to her song from Patty's party are accurate. The song was such a hit that Penny wants to put them in the next issue of the paper, you see. When Dana stops by, Liz just happens to be telling the others about how Aaron just could not stop asking questions about Dana after the party. She shuts up as soon as she 'sees' Dana and Dana is too polite to just flat out ask wtf is going on. Truthfully, I could see Dana just asking Liz what's up rather than being too polite not to, but to be fair, Dana's characterization has always been on the thin side, so I'll let it slide.
   The other part of Phase One is being carried out by Todd, Winston, and Neil Freemount in the boy's locker room before gym. Todd mentions, very loudly, that they'll never believe who Dana has a crush on, and then changes the subject as soon as Aaron turns the corner. Todd's sure Aaron will bust them because everything sounds so corny and fake but the ego boost of having Dana interested in him is enough to dull Aaron's senses.

   The next day, Liz sees Aaron and Dana blush at one another by the pay phones (I feel so old all of a sudden!) and is sure Phase One is a success! Enid confirms this by saying if they weren't at least a little interested, they wouldn't blush, they'd yawn. Phase Two involves Todd asking Aaron to go to the movies with him and Liz while Liz invites Dana. Both let their friend know the other will be bringing a friend. My favorite throwaway bit is that Aaron is so used to Enid being the friend in question that he hollers at Todd when he misses the turn for Enid's street. Aww. Sadly, it is almost immediately followed by the date where Dana and Aaron, who barely know each other at this point, share a soda at the movie theater. I've never been one of those people who readily shares a drink with someone, especially someone I don't know. Ick.
  Anyway, Dana and Aaron both really like the movie and proving he's more than a pretty face, Aaron's able to carry on a decent post-movie review with Dana about it. The two seem to really be hitting it off before Aaron compliments Dana on her "love sucks" song and suddenly the two are back to awkward silences.
  Wtf are you doing, Dallas? You seem interested in the girl and there's absolutely no reason to bring up your mutual "love sucks" policy right then. My only consolation is that he's just as baffled at his behavior as everyone else is. Woo.

   Now's as good a time as any to shift gears and discuss our B plot in which there's a Battle of the Bands happening at SVH in a few weeks. Hosted by a local radio station, three bands have challenged The Droids to the aforementioned BotB, with the winner going to LA for the weekend and being an opening act at a "hip music club."
  Ticked that Liz is trying to hook Dana up with her backup date Aaron, Jessica chooses not to sabotage Operation Pair-Up and instead decides to help one of the other bands beat The Droids so she can tag along to LA and meet some really hot rock guys. She tries to convince Amy and Lila that being roadies is the best way to do this, but for once, I gotta agree with Amy who says it's not worth the time and effort. Amy knows it's going to be actual work and wants no part of it. Lila's inclined to agree with us but Jessica points out that maybe they'll meet Jaime Peters, or some other equally hot musician and Lila reluctantly agrees.
   Jess immediately seeks out Andy Jenkins, whose new band Baja Beat sounds like it'll be the band most likely to beat the Droids. Andy's good on help but suggests she talk to Spy Lazarus of Spontaneous Combustion. Take a moment to fully let those names sink in. Jessica debates dropping her plan but then we'd be lacking a B plot, so she calls Spy and the following day, she and Lila brave Wentworth Avenue in the bad part of town. To the surprise of absolutely NO ONE, Spy is neither hot nor is he charming, and the rest of the band is equally disappointing.
  Part of what keeps this book from being an absolute classic is that there's no way I'd buy Jessica and Lila doing this for more than one afternoon for a non-hot band that simply wasn't any good. All it would take is one band member being decently attractive OR the band being good, even if it wasn't their kind of music. But Jessica's few mentions of the music itself aren't encouraging and none of the guys are anywhere near likable so why would Jessica think they had a chance in hell of beating The Droids? She wouldn't and this plot line fizzles because there's no incentive for her to keep playing roadie. It's not like Liz knows and will tease her for being a flake. Amy's not into the plan enough to ever been seen or mentioned again and Lila's not about to mock the idea of bowing out if it means she doesn't have to hang around a buncha guys she's not interested in while also expected to do manual labor. The only reason this plot line continues is we need Jessica to botch the setup of their instruments so that The Droids will win the Battle of the Bands later.

   Back to Dana and Aaron. Liz and Todd invite them to an outdoor jazz concert and while Aaron knows nothing about jazz, he does get to ask Dana what she likes about jazz and the two start bonding again. He mentions it sounds a bit similar to soccer and Dana listens as he explains and then the ghosty tries to convince us that Dana doesn't go to soccer or football games, ever. Soccer, I'll totally buy as true but I'd bet money we've seen Dana at a football game in the series thus far. Anyway, Aaron and Dana continue flirting and she promises to come to the next home soccer match while he promises to go to the Battle of the Bands to cheer her on. She clarifies -AS FRIENDS and things get awkward again. Oi.

  Still, at the game, Dana gets caught up in the frenzy and they make eyes at one another in time for Aaron to help lead the team to victory. After the game, at the DB, Aaron and Dana continue to make eyes at one another and Liz is pretty sure that soon they won't need any help in the love department. Still, she and Todd invite Dana and Aaron to a play at the Civic Center and then...
  Todd goes rogue and slips a card from Aaron into Dana's locker. Dana's initial impulse is to laugh at the cheesiness of it until she reads the card and decides she wants to go declare her love, or at least serious interest, to Aaron. Liz reads the card and immediately identifies Todd's handwriting and tries to get Dana to pump the brakes. Dana eventually agrees and things seem to be going well until Liz and Todd have to drop out of the double date when Mr. Collins has the stupidest emergency run to LA ever, leaving Liz to babysit his son, Teddy.
   Dana and Aaron have such a good time at the play that they prolong the night by stopping at the Box Tree Cafe for dessert... where Dana confesses how she feels and mentions the card. Which Aaron knows nothing about. When she shows him the card, he also immediately IDs Todd's handwriting. Dana puts two and two together and comes up with five. She concludes, to herself, that Liz and Todd were meddling but instead of assuming Aaron feels the same way, she's sure she's the only one looking like a jackass. Y'know, since she just started to open her heart and admit her feelings based on a card he didn't even send. Humiliated, Dana runs out on Aaron and takes a cab home where she promptly calls Liz and chews her out for meddling.
  Liz is shocked that someone was able to piece together her oh so clever plot (not really, but she is a bit taken aback by the verbal attack) and then realizes Dana must've mentioned the card to Aaron. So she yells at Todd who yells back at her that the whole thing was stupid and she gets it into her head he was sabotaging the whole thing so he'd win the bet.
   Oi with the poodles already, guys.

   So Dana's not talking to Aaron, Liz, or Todd. Todd's not talking to Liz. And Liz is desperately trying to patch things up with Dana who ignores her and then shoots her down when Liz does manage to catch up to her.
  I'm a bit confused as to why Liz things Todd should apologize to her when she attacked him first and also why Aaron doesn't confront Todd, especially since he freakin' identified Todd's handwriting on the card. But it takes a week for Todd to explain to Aaron, who has no idea why the girl he liked is suddenly not talking to him, what he and Liz were up to and why Dana's flipped her lid. As soon as Aaron finds out, he goes to make things right with Dana. Naturally this all happens at the Battle of the Bands.
  Dana and Aaron make up and then kiss and all is right with the world... almost. Dana and Aaron agree they have two more things to do before everything is settled. One, The Droids need to win the contest and two, they need to get Todd and Liz back together.

   B plot wrap-up time! Jessica is still working as the band's roadie even though Wheels has asked her out, they all keep calling her chick despite her mentioning how she doesn't like it, and then he pinches her ass during set-up... in front of the whole school. Really? You expect me to believe Jessica Fucking Wakefield wouldn't immediately kick his ass or at least intentionally set the amps to blow up? Really?
  More than that, you expect me to believe that Lila would go to the trouble of faking a sprained wrist to get out of having to set up for the Battle? Pfft. Lila just wouldn't show up til after the set up was complete, wave to Jess and smirk from the stands. Seriously.
  But no, Lila fakes a sprained wrist, leaving Jessica to set up by herself. Naturally Jessica messes up because she's ticked at Lila and also doesn't really care as she hurriedly plugs things in the wrong way. The amps blow out and while the crowd appreciates the fireworks, The Droids win by a landslide.
  If you're shocked by this, you must be new to Earth. Welcome to the hellscape.

   At school on Monday, Liz and Todd both find cards in their lockers instructing them to meet up after school under the clock. Each assumes the other has made the first move but when they realize neither sent the cards, Dana and Aaron drive by, waving and honking.
  Liz has won the bet and she wastes her wishes by asking for them to never have such a silly argument again (that won't last), for them to be as happy as they are right now always (ha), and for the biggest, best kiss NOW. So I guess maybe she got one out of three. Probably should've held out for the dozen roses, having him do her chores, and carry her books for a week.
  We end on the set-up for the next book with Charlie Cashman bullying Andy Jenkins for no obvious reason other than Charlie's an asshole. Probably a racist asshole.


  • Andy Jenkins formed a new band at SVH called Baja Beat.

  • Andy is dating Patty Gilbert's cousin, Tracy, and both of them are juniors at SVH. Also, Andy is black, which is gonna be a thing in the next book, I'm sure.

  • Patty throws an "informal" party to celebrate her boyfriend Jim coming back for the weekend. She's also described as one of the most popular students at SVH.

  • Jessica is not thrilled that Brent and Dana broke up, as she doesn't like it when her plans don't work out. I assume Brent is supposed to be Brett from Who's Who and he ended up with Suzanne Hanlon anyway.

  • Dana claims there are other bands at SVH besides The Droids and that there's always room for more but seriously, can you name another one off the top of your head? No? Me neither and I know at least one's been mentioned and I keep a stupid amount of SVH trivia in my head. Point is, bands are welcome to try and topple The Droids but it ain't gonna happen.

  • Dana's got brown eyes in case you wondered.

  • Heather Sanford, Aaron's girlfriend, moved away recently and apparently they did not attempt the long distance relationship. Aaron hasn't been the same since she left.

  • Patty's party ends at midnight, but Liz's curfew isn't til around 12:30, so she and Todd go to Miller's Point to makeout.

  • Todd agrees to help get Dana and Aaron together, but if they fail, Todd gets three wishes from Liz and if they succeed, Liz gets three wishes granted by Todd.

  • Todd jokes that one of his wishes will be Liz washing and waxing his car.

  • Operation Pair-Up is what Liz keeps calling the love bet.

  • Penny took the time to write down Dana's lyrics to her song, "Fed Up With Love" from Patty's party. Impressed because she did this on the spur of the moment and it had to be longhand because, y'know, a time before cellphones.

  • Liz enlists Penny, Enid, and Olivia to help her with her side of Operation Pair-Up.

  • Todd enlists Winston and Neil Freemount with his side of the bet.

  • Phase One involves Liz saying Aaron asked a million questions about Dana, while Todd lets Aaron overhear that Dana's got a new crush on someone but does not say who it is.

  • Phase Two has Todd and Liz invite Aaron and Dana to The Plaza Theatre to see Adam's Rib.

  • The boys have been playing hockey in gym lately.

  • Jessica overhears the Operation Pair-Up planning and is bewildered. She wonders why not bother trying to fix up Winston and Lila if you're going for weirdest couple. She's not thrilled that Liz is actively trying to pair up one of her backup dates with someone other than Jessica herself.

  • According a lime green poster, a local radio station is hosting a Battle of the Bands in three weeks at the SVH gym. Baja Beat, Spontaneous Combustion, and the Suede Men challenge The Droids. Winner gets an all expenses weekend to L.A. to be opening act at a "hip music club."

  • Jessica suggests being roadies for one of the BotB bands but Lila and Amy point out it's going to be an awful lot of work. Amy bows out entirely but Lila is convinced when Jessica points out that Lila's fond of long haired rocker types and maybe they'll meet Jaime Peters in L.A. when their band wins.

  • The Plaza Theatre is a beautiful art deco theater built in the 1920's that's been renovated and shows old classics.

  • Dana loves old movies and especially loves Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

  • Liz tells Dana that she's got a real gift, musically, and Dana mentally agrees. I like that Dana knows she's good at her music and doesn't try and play it off.

  • The Droids are writing all new music for the Battle, so they'll seem as new as all the other bands.

  • Alas, all of Dana's new songs are bitter, sad, and/or sarcastic and not the type to win the Battle. Guess it's a good thing Lynne also writes songs for the band, huh? No, we're just going to mention that like once and then never again in this book? We're going to pretend the whole of the band's songwriting rises and falls on Dana? Okay.

  • Fed Up With Love is a hit with SVH, but not the kind of song Dana wants to be known for. Kiddo, that's how all one hit wonders work. Be careful.

  • Dana considers sports types to be pretty uncultured and all but calls Aaron nothing but a pretty face. Which is totally not fair as he's also been known to have an anger management problem.

  • On their movie date, Aaron assumes Liz's friend will be Enid and fusses at Todd when he misses the turn for her street. Olivia is his second guess, btw.

  • Aaron and Dana share a popcorn and a soda at the movie. Ick.

  • After bonding over the movie, Aaron tells Dana that she's right and that falling in love is a waste of time.

  • Charlie Cashman is a tall, stocky bully who is obviously being set up for the next book. Jessica wonders if anyone at all at SVH likes him.

  • Spy Lazarus of Spontaneous Combustion is a senior at SVH. He spends most of his time hanging out with guys from other schools or those who aren't in school anymore. He's tall and scrawny, with very pale skin and long, dark greasy hair. He also smokes and lives at 256 Wentworth Avenue, which is in the bad part of town.

  • Spy is so out of touch with the SVH social circle that he doesn't recognize either Lila or Jessica.

  • Claire Middleton shows up as a new student who happens to be in Dana and Liz's history class. Liz tries to welcome her to Sweet Valley at the Dairi Burger, but Claire runs off, prompting Enid and Dana to assume she's shy. Later we learn she also runs out of history class at warp speed. She's mentioned to have long, straight dark hair.

  • Liz tells Dana that Aaron kept asking about her after the movie date.

  • Todd and Aaron study trigonometry at Todd's house and Todd says Dana called Liz after the movie, gushing about how much she liked Aaron. Aaron calls BS because if this is true, why does Dana keep acting like she's not interested? Todd eventually comes up with Dana wanting to save face after carrying on about being done with love, and besides, Aaron did bring up that song and killed the mood.

  • Phase Three involves an outdoor jazz concert at the park.

  • Dana invites DeeDee, Olivia, and Elizabeth over to her house (along with her cousin Sally) to figure out costumes for the band to wear at the competition.

  • There's a decent amount of build up for what turns out to be Dana saying that the music they've been doing lately is "funky and down to earth" so why not go with a jungle motif, like leopard and tiger print shirts. It took multiple people for Dana to throw that idea out there? No one offers any other ideas before or after, beyond Liv suggesting a curtain of long, green vines if they're allowed a backdrop.

  • When Aaron asks what she likes about jazz, Dana says the emotion and individuality, pointing out that even if a band is playing "golden oldies", they can infuse enough of their own personality and style into the solos to make the songs their own.

  • Dana wisely chooses not to immediately confess that she's never been to a soccer or football game, though later she will admit that she's definitely never attended one of the soccer games.

  • The soccer team is undefeated this year and Aaron rarely loses a face-off. The next home match is the Tuesday afternoon following the concert and SVH is playing Big Mesa. They win 6-2, with Aaron scoring half the goals. Jeffrey is never mentioned at all.

  • Dana likes the look of Aaron in shorts. As someone who grew up in a fairly warm climate, I am confused by the idea that she'd never seen him in shorts before.

  • Dana buys a pom-pom to wave at the soccer game.

  • There's a new play at the Civic Center and Liz invites Aaron and Dana to double date with her and Todd.

  • Lila likes long hair on rock guys, btw. I... don't know how I feel about that.

  • Spontaneous Combustion is made up of Hal, Wheels, Pete, Spy, and Motorhead, but you can call him Motor. Wheels is on drums, Pete sings, and Motor also works on cars in his spare time. They're all pasty, lanky dudes with long, greasy hair who smoke way too much.

  • By the time Jessica and Lila wind up as roadies, we're ten days away from The Battle of the Bands.

  • Max's voice is deeper and rougher than Dan's, in case you needed to know.

  • Liz ran to the Civic Center on her lunch break to pick up tickets to the play. Later we learn said play is about a girl named Abby who is probably, definitely, in love with her best friend Louis. Riveting, no?

  • Todd sends a cheesy romantic card to Dana, from Aaron, but leaves it unsigned. Todd's handwriting is unique enough that Aaron and Liz both ID it immediately.

  • At the jazz concert, btw, Dana notices that Aaron looks like he's on a date with Todd because he's sitting closer to Todd than even Elizabeth is. I had SVC flashbacks and they hurt.

  • Mr. Collins has to go to L.A. because his father is sick, and leaves Teddy with Liz and Todd. He shows up later that night, saying his father is fine, just a bad case of the flu. Uh, Roger? You know what the flu can do to someone, right? So here's hoping his mother or someone else is around because otherwise, Roger is a shitty son.

  • At the Box Tree Cafe after the play, Dana shows the card to Aaron and when he mentions it's Todd's writing, Dana concludes that Todd and Liz were toying with her and that while she fell in love with Aaron, he couldn't feel the same way. She runs off and catches a cab home, before calling the Wakefield house and yelling at Liz.

  • Liz yells at Todd after being bitched out by Dana, and later Jessica comes home and blames her bad night on Liz, refusing to speak to her til Sunday morning.

  • We get a Wakefield Sunday brunch mention, where Ned is making Belgian waffles and eggs anyway you want 'em. Alice is halving oranges and they all eat on the patio.

  • The only class Liz and Dana share is History.

  • Liz sees Todd in the hallway and thinks that if he can make the first move, she's ready to make-up. Um, Liz? You yelled at him first. You also accused him of sabotaging your bet just so he would win. You get to make the first move, love.

  • Wheels asks Jessica to be his chick.

  • Dana is confident that since she and the rest of The Droids have different social circles, they haven't heard about her humiliation with Aaron. Anyone else never really picture the band not hanging out together at school? Like, sure, I buy that Dana's more A list than the others, and that they all have other friends, but not hanging out at all? Does not compute.

  • The line-up at the Battle of the Bands is: the Suede Men, Baja Beat, The Droids, and Spontaneous Combustion.

  • Todd waits a week to admit to Aaron what he and Liz did.

  • Jessica's redecorated her locker with pictures of Jaime Peters.

  • Liz points out that they airbrush those photos, so he's probably got wrinkles and his hair's a wig. Jess wants to hear no part of this.

  • Liz's three wishes for winning the bet are not a dozen roses, Todd doing her chores, and carrying her books for a week.

  • Instead, she wants to never have a pointless argument like that again, always be together and as happy as they are right now, and the biggest, best kiss NOW.

  • Todd agrees to all, and then says one Todd Wilkins Deluxe Smooch coming up. I cringed hardcore then and I still do now.

Quote Me:
"I think you're wrong!" Elizabeth protested, and at the exact same time Jessica declared, "I know exactly what you mean!" - ladies and gents, our entry to the identical opposites portion of the book. pg 4

"Jaime Peters!" Amy exclaimed. "Forget it! He's totally over the hill. He's practically old enough to be your father."
"He is not," Jessica denied hotly.
"He's a man," Lila breathed, her eyes dreamy.

She stole a glance at him. It almost looked as if he were there as Todd's date. He was sitting closer to Todd than Elizabeth was! - Aaron, you can be friends and still sit next to a girl. p60

"I tell you what. I'll be an incredibly generous, unselfish friend and give you first dibs on him!"
"Thanks," Lila said loftily, "but if he has eyes, I won't need your help." - Jessica and I both love Lila's modesty. p83

"Well, don't blame me. I didn't force you to be a roadie." - Jess, honey, you kinda did. p107

Never again would she interfere in someone else's affairs, even if it was with the best of intentions. - brb, laughing forever at the thought of Liz actually keeping true to this. p119/120

"I still think falling in love is stupid," Dana remarked, a mischievous sparkle in her eyes. "But who says you have to be smart all the time?" p137

Fashion Club:
She was wearing a velvet miniskirt with a cropped jacket, black tights, and lace-up ankle boots, and she looked fantastic. - Dana's outfit while waiting on the pay phones, p18/19

She was wearing tight, shiny knee-length black bicycle shorts, and a big pink-and-black checked T-shirt. - Dana's outfit for the movies. p36/37

Jessica had worn a black mini and a cute cropped black top. - Jess is also wearing stockings but they already have a run in them because being a roadie is hard on cute clothes. p130

Music and lyrics by Dana Larson:
I'm fed up with love, don't know what I was thinking of, letting romance fog my mind and waste my precious time.

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   I like The Love Bet, but it's mostly because I like seeing Dana and Aaron fall in love (or like) inspite of themselves. We don't really see a ton of Todd and Liz scheming, though what we do see is cute, and the less said about the stupidity of Jessica's drawn-out scheme, the better. But it's a fun read that probably deserves a better cover. Why does Todd always look so old? I guess it could be worse- he could look as old as Bill and Ken usually do.
  But also, it's weird that Todd and Aaron are presented as such close friends, right? Because Aaron and Jeffrey were best friends and yet the sheer number of Aaron prefers Todd to Dana jokes I could make throughout this book is staggering, so the two are meant to be close. Which SVT will back up, I guess, but SVH has always presented Winston or Ken as Todd's best guy friend.

And we don't care about the old folks

The Parent Plot
August 1990

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Scheming Sisters...

   Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield's father is running for mayor of Sweet Valley. The twins are hard at work on his campaign-but they're taking opposite sides in an even bigger contest: a contest to bring romance into their parents' lives.
  Even though Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield separated only recently, Jessica thinks it's time for them to start dating other people-and she's going to make sure that's exactly what happens.
   But Elizabeth is just as determined to get her parents back together. She's thinking up some romantic schemes of her own. It's Jessica versus Elizabeth-may the best twin win!

   Alright, whose brilliant idea was it to do a three-parter and then wait two years between parts 2 and 3? Also, wow. Two years? Damn, I suck. In my defense, I'm not the only one to suck. I partially blame Photobucket for their massive suckitude that made me just not want to bother since half the fun of these, for me anyway, is the variant covers. But mostly it's me. I'm so very sorry to the like, three of you who read these. Please forgive me?

   The Parent Plot is part three of the Wakefield family drama trilogy. You know, the one where Ned and Alice sorta breakup, Ned moves out, and Jessica manages to look like a complete and utter sociopath when she decides that welp, her parents have broken up for good because everyone knows that's what a trial separation means, and now they should date other people because it's been like a month, guys. That's more than enough time to mourn a twenty-year marriage. Dragging the past around, that's what sick! That last part might be a direct quote. You'll never know.
  So Ned moved out last book and in this book the twins are helping out at his campaign office after school. We're about three weeks out from the election when we start the book, and Liz is still very much upset about the state of Ned and Alice's marriage. Steve's gone back to SVU and Jessica's accepted that her family is breaking up. Liz, as always, refuses to accept that she can't save this relationship. Alas, Jessica's decided that if her parents aren't getting back together, she'll just help them move on by finding better partners. She makes a comment about pretty Amanda Mason and Liz immediately figures out Jessica's scheme before Jess has finished hatching said scheme. She makes her twin promise not to meddle, and we get a cute promise from Jessica invoking some childhood secret promise gesture (cross your heart and snap twice) that I have no idea if it's a link to the Kids books or not but cute nonetheless.
   With that promise secured, Liz immediately begins to meddle when they get home, going on and on about what a wonderful mayor Ned will be. Alice leaves her daughters poolside and heads back inside because she doesn't want to talk about Ned. Jessica snarks a good job and Liz's takeaway from this is that she'll have to think more like Jessica to make this work.
  None of her matchmaking attempts work. She calls Ned and plays the "bad connection during an important conversation" card in an effort to get him to call back so Alice will answer, but when she does, they get into a fight in record time. She drags Alice to the mall to bump into Ned after a campaign speech, only there were technical difficulties so Alice hears a speech she kinda hates ("I want, I want, I want!") and they leave the mall without the gift they were supposed to be shopping for in the first place.

   Jessica, on the other hand, assumes that her father and Amanda Mason will totally work out because, I dunno, attorneys and agreeing on most, if not all, of his election promises? I dunno. But when she attempts to let Amanda know that Ned has noticed her, if you know what I mean (yes, let's open that potential harassment can of worms with a lawyer, Jessica), Amanda lets it slip that she's got a boyfriend, errr- fiancé , and there he is!
  She shifts her attention to Alice and debates eligible bachelors for her mother. Jeremy Frank? Nah, he's got a stunning fiancée. Mr. Fowler? She's delighted before realizing that this will mean living with Lila if things work out, and I cackle just a bit at this. She settles on Mr. Collins when she gets a D on an essay, and it sorta works? At the parent/teacher conference she wrangles everyone into, Collins asks Alice out, as a friend, and she accepts. As a friend.
   As these things always do, they wind up at the same restaurant that Ned has decided to take the twins to and... the family has a nice dinner together when Ned refuses to be weirded out by Alice and Mr. Collins dining together. Collins takes Alice to the movies afterward, but this is probably one of the nicer moments Ned and Alice have had in awhile and they (and Liz) have Jessica to thank for it. Seriously, Liz, you're out gunned here. Let it go.
  I do love that Jessica could've told Liz that she's acting so weird about Chez Sam (why is always Chez -Something- in the Valley?) because of the date but doesn't because, I dunno, she figures Liz will yell or maybe find a way to break up the date or something but it's still a failure as far as Jessica's concerned.
  Her final attempted match is Ramon Valdez who is handsome and single (she's learning) but also very into his cats and pardon me, but I need to time travel back to fictional 1990 SV, thanks.
   It kills me that Ramon and Collins both seem to initially doubt Jessica's assertations that Alice is thrilled her marriage is over and Jessica doesn't see anything wrong with assuring them that no, no, it's fine. Ramon happens to like being single so he shrugs it off, but Collins is still very much "suuuuuuuuuuuuure, if you say so" about the whole thing. Meanwhile, Jessica comes off looking worse than usual. Good job, Wakefield.

   Time to shift gears, I suppose. At the start of the book, Winston finds Liz and when she notices how down the class clown seems, he admits it's because Maria's still down. You know, because her father's still under a cloud of suspicion for possibly taking a $10,000 bribe and then having to drop out of the mayoral race because that's not Ned Wakefield's law specialty. When he mentions how much Maria enjoyed working on her father's election campaign, Liz brightens and asks if he thinks Maria would appreciate being asked to work on Ned's.
  The way she asks, and the way Winston responds, keeps this from being one of those Oh, Come On! moments because both acknowledge it could be weird and awkward, but it could also be something Maria would legitimately like to do. Eventually Liz works up the courage to ask Maria, who agrees, possibly because she feels like the student body is kinda shunning her due to the scandal. Possibly because in my headcanon, Maria winds up as mayor when she's older... and then the world!
   There's a refresher on how slimy James/Jim Knapp is (so slimy his own nephew can't stand being around him!) and how he's obviously pulling the strings for Ned, but Ned can't see that, and I'm going to cut numerous days worth of story and jump straight to Maria finds out that Knapp and Robertson (a real estate dealer who is supporting Ned) were somehow responsible for getting her father into trouble... and also have some oceanfront property deal coming up after the election that they expect Ned to vote their way because he'll feel beholden to them.
  Naturally she tells Winston and then they tell Terry Knapp and Liz and a plan is hatched to have Terry... and Maria break into Knapp's office and Liz will be the distraction. Why, exactly, couldn't Terry just say he left something in the office and needs to go get it? Knapp is his uncle, after all. But then we'd be denied the saga of Liz pretending to wait for her mother to pick her up after aerobics class and needing to be in out of the rain, and seriously, it sounds like she's there for an hour and I'm just wondering how bad the security guard is at his job because he doesn't notice two teenagers sneaking in or out of the building, even though you cannot tell me at least one of them didn't have squeaky sneakers due to the rain. I guess maybe there was carpet. Maybe. Still. Twice! And Liz goes to the bathroom and is gone long enough to get stuck in a closet with Terry and Maria while eavesdropping on Knapp who takes the time to make copies of his Sketchy Plans and talk on the phone, have the trio also make copies of the plan, and then sneak back downstairs. Dude.

   Anyway, Liz takes the evidence to her father's apartment and Ned feels like a world class idiot for not realizing how easily he's been played. He doesn't know who to trust, so Liz suggests Alice and the two head over to Casa Wakefield where Alice has a brief freakout when she sees a very solemn Ned and Liz and worries that something has happened to Jessica in the storm. Nah, Jess is fine as she plots to break up your marriage. Your husband, however, well... he's kinda in a jam.
  Alice listens and then assures Ned that he's still a good, honorable man, and if he lays everything out on the table, voters will realize the same thing about him. Liz excuses herself as she's convinced that this is the moment that will bring her parents back together. They'll work all night and in the morning they'll be good as new.
  Oh, Liz. Why not ask the universe what's the worst that could happen?
  When she comes back, Ned is letting himself out because what else can they do?

   The next day at Secca Lake, Ned outs Knapp (sorta, he doesn't name names) as a sleeze and Knapp tries to literally run away but the cops nab him with Liz on his tail, just to make sure he didn't get away. For someone who had a problem breaking into his office, she has no problem chasing through a crowd after him.
  Ned stuns everyone by dropping out of the race and endorsing Peter Santelli, someone who had the guts to figure out he was being played and stood up to the scum immediately.
   Santelli wins, Ned and Alice get back together, Todd appears for the first time all book, and everyone is happy... except Dana Larson who announces she doesn't believe in love, just in time for the teaser for the next book. Huzzah! See y'all in two years.


  • The Wakefield's morning paper boy is Tom.

  • Amanda Mason is a pretty, young attorney working on Ned's campaign. She went to law school in DC and wants to run for Congress or governor or "something" in the future. Boyfriend of six years recently proposed. He's tall and studious looking in a three-piece suit when he picks Amanda up at the office.

  • Ramon Valdez is described initially as another aide in the campaign who has held several appointed offices in city government. Later we learn he's good looking, single, and the liaison for the Hispanic community. He's also a cat lover, with two Siamese cats named Estrella and Maximillion. ♥

  • Terry Knapp originally thought his Uncle Jim was a great guy, but in the last couple of years has learned that his uncle is a jerk.

  • James Knapp is pushy, overbearing, tactless jerk who is pals with Hank Patman. He uses his experience in politics to convince Ned to do things his way, opening Ned up to feeling indebted to him after his expected win.

  • Jessica considers Jeremy Frank, George Fowler, Roger Collins, and Ramon Valdez as potential matches for her mother. Jeremy's shot down because of his fiancee, George comes packaged with Lila who is good as a friend but Jessica can't imagine living with her, Roger Collins has no spark with Alice on their non-date, and Ramon is too into his cats for Jessica to consider him a viable option.

  • Liz tells Jessica not to meddle and then turns around and meddles first.

  • Liz mentions that Ned is planning to sleep on the street to better understand the plight of the homeless and Alice says it sounds like a publicity stunt.

  • Liz's attempts to parent trap her parents involve talking up candidate Ned (particularly dumb since Alice didn't want Ned to run for mayor in the first place), having Ned call the house and having Alice answer, and taking Alice to the mall under the guise of gift shopping for Penny in the hopes of having her parents run into each other.

  • When Liz asks for her advice on Penny's gift, Alice initially suggests Enid and Jessica as better choices and I agree with Enid who probably knows Penny better than Alice does but Jessica? Jessica shopping for Penny? Really?

  • When running out for a drink while working at the campaign office, Maria remembers that root beer is Liz's drink of choice. Aww.

  • Roger Collins invites Alice to dinner Saturday night at Chez Sam... at the same time Ned has a reservation for dinner with the twins. Jessica tries to get out of it by saying reservations are impossible but Roger manages to do so the day before. Hrmm.

  • Jessica suggests The Leeward Isles on Pacific Avenue as an alternate restaurant.

  • At Chez Sam, Jessica initially wants lobster tail, caviar, and chocolate mousse for dessert but drops the caviar when Ned says something.

  • Ned orders the Caesar salad to go with his scallops in cream sauce and Liz halfheartedly orders the orange chicken.

  • Mr. Collins and Alice join the Wakefield trio for dinner but have a movie at 9pm. The dinner dates break up around 8:30, as it's 8:45 when the twins are in the car with Ned.

  • Maria has a history test Monday and needs her history book, so she and Winston stop at the campaign office Saturday evening. She runs in to get it and overhears James Knapp's phone conversation with Sy Robertson when she picks up the phone on autopilot.

  • Sy Robertson is a real estate dealer that Maria doesn't fully trust well before the conversation of doom.

  • James Knapp's office is 415 and he's usually gone by 7pm.

  • Knapp's office building has no ladies room on the ground floor apparently, as the guard directs Liz to the second floor. Lucky for her, huh, since she needs to use the stairs to warn Maria and Terry about James showing up unexpectedly after hours.

  • The oceanfront deal involves developing Sweet Valley's beach and a boardwalk with shops and arcades are pictured.

  • The Sweet Valley News is set to endorse Ned the same day Liz breaks the news about Knapp to her father.

  • When a press conference is suggested to expose Knapp's plans for both the oceanfront deal and what he did to Santelli, Ned shoots it down by saying it's an invitation to a slander lawsuit. Except, y'know, slander means what you're saying isn't true. But what do I know.

  • Sweet Valley's current mayor has been around for many years and is well liked, but he's retiring to run an orange grove.

  • The first precinct calls with 57% support for Peter Santelli. District 3 has 61% for him.

  • Todd doesn't show up til two pages from the end of the book and no explanation is offered.

Quote Me:

"Looks like we can't get rid of you!" Mr. Knapp said to her. "Well, now, we know you know how to lose; let's see if you can learn to win!" - Seriously, the fact that he says this to Maria in front of Ned and Ned doesn't immediately call him out on it makes me think infinitely less of Ned Wakefield. p11

Jessica glared at her twin sister. What did Elizabeth think she was doing, playing, "The Dating Game"? Ned, Bachelor Number One was handsome, politically active, concerned about the environment. It sounded like Elizabeth was trying to show him off. - yeah, how dare Liz talk up their father to their mother. p20

"Let's draw mustaches on my dad's posters. He'll love it." - this is the Liz I love. p48

Her mother raised her eyebrows slightly. "With all due respect to your teacher's understanding, it doesn't take a Sigmund Freud to see you don't care about your grades enough to make an effort." - Such sass, Alice. I love you sometimes. p61

"And listen, whatever she says tonight, just ignore her OK? She's acting like an alien took over her brain again."
"Again?" Mr. Wakefield teased. - More of this, please. p71

Bits from Ned's Campaign:
"I want a Sweet Valley with a strong economy," he was saying. "I want a Sweet Valley that knows how to do business. I want a Sweet Valley that can take care of itself, that attracts business and industry, not just from California, but from all over the country.I want a Sweet Valley that will prosper into the twenty-first century." p44/45

"It's what the voters want," Knapp said. "Foolish? Maybe they are. Limited, definitely. But all the surveys show that citizens vote through their wallets, Ned. You just don't understand that fact yet." - why do you keep this gasbag around, Ned? p53

"What are you saying? That I'll lose support if I talk about clean water and clean air?" Mr. Wakefield said in a surprised tone. - Ned, honey, baby doll... that's exactly what he's saying. Run, you fool. p54

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   In my defense, I always hated the set-up for this book because it makes no fucking sense. Liz wanting to get her parents back together and her plans failing spectacularly? That makes sense. Jessica deciding that her parents are never (ever, ever) getting back together and that they need her help moving on? Does not compute. And this book seems like it's going to split its time between Jessica scheming and Liz scheming, but instead it's Jessica scheming for half, and the other half of the book gets to split the time between Liz trying to scheme and Ned's mayoral race intrigue. In the history of ever, has anyone chosen this arc as their favorite, especially for the election angle? Anyone? Anyone?
  But this re-read, it was a little less annoying. Maybe it's because I had two years to completely forget everything that came before (probably not) and maybe it's because I found other, little things to enjoy this go round.
   There's genuine affection between the Wakefields and the teasing is easy, light, and just the right amount of snarky. Alice coming to Ned's defense, even after she'd made disparaging remarks about his campaign, is very sweet and something both of her daughters would do in a heartbeat for someone they loved. Lila's got some fantastic snark in the two seconds she appears, and Liz's love of root beer is well remembered throughout the book. It's the little things, and this book excels in those.
  The bigger arc isn't something I enjoy, and I do think it's weird that Todd's completely MIA for nearly the entire book even though we cover at least a week in Liz's life and not once does she mention Todd outside the "identical opposites" section at the start. But it's not as bad as I remembered.

The cover of the re-release, however, is god awful. Why is it so orange saturated? Why wasn't this corrected before they printed it, or hell, after the first run because it is ugly. For those playing along at home, the covers shown are the original, the re-release, the UK version, and the Kindle version.

Is the graphic novel actually happening?

Did we know that the graphic novel had a cover and a new release date now? Did someone forget to include me in that memo?
image host
via Amazon:
   When Jessica falls in love with her Shakespeare teacher, she begins to act like her studious twin sister Elizabeth to impress him. Now it's up to Elizabeth to make sure that all's well that end well - but with Jessica playing her role, will anyone be able to tell which twin is which?
  The treasured series that has entertained generations and sold over 60 million books returns! Fans of the over 600 classic novels and spinoffs and the TV show will adore this charming graphic novel from rising star writer Katy Rex (Charmed Magic School, Jade Street Protection Services) and artist Devaki Neogi (The Skeptics, Curb Stomp). Sweet Valley High is also in development as a major motion picture.
Release dates: Kindle version is set to drop 6/26/19 and paperback will be out in time for my birthday, 7/9/19.

Now, I'll believe the movie is actually happening only when I've actually managed to secure tickets and watched the blasted thing but the fact that there's a cover this time has me cautiously optimistic about the graphic novel being a reality. Now how I'll feel about that reality is an entirely different thing entirely because I've gotta be honest. I was never big on the hot for teacher storyline even when I was younger and now that I'm officially old it does even less for me. But it's also a pretty Jessica kind of thing so... meh? It's kind of a wash for me beyond the lure of new SV.

It's all my fault, I just know it!

Who's To Blame?
July 1990

Elizabeth is running away!
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   Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield's parents have separated. Mr. Wakefield has moved into an apartment of his own, and the house seems empty without him. Elizabeth has never been so miserable. She would do anything to bring her family together again.
  Then Jessica tells her twin that she thinks their parents' separation is all Elizabeth's fault! Distraught and guilt-ridden, Elizabeth decides to move away from home. If she really is the cause of her parents' unhappiness, perhaps they'll get back together once she is out of the way...

  Spoiler: Liz's harebrained plan kinda works. I mean, she runs away and Ned comes running back. But I shouldn't point that out because it's not exactly what she had in mind and it's not like he's home for good by the end of the book, eh?

   Anyway, we begin our book on the first day of an unnamed month. For a change of pace, Jessica is waking Liz up because Liz has overslept this particular Saturday. Turns out it's Ned's moving day, which is why Liz didn't want to get up. I'm not going to snark this because I totally get not wanting to get up and face reality, but I do have to wonder: why is Ned the one moving out considering Alice was the one who walked away from her family? I assume this is just because it's always the father to move out, especially when the book was written, but still. It doesn't make a ton of sense.
  Alice has already left by the time Liz is woken up and Jessica's ticked that her mother couldn't even be bothered to stick around for this, but Liz gets that it's probably too hard for Alice to watch/help her husband move out.
   It's weird that we're told that Ned has a lot of stuff to move and that moving all these boxes helps keep Liz's mind off what's happening but all his stuff can fit in his car? What about furniture? Is he renting a furnished apartment? That would make sense, I suppose, but we're never told.

  The kids ride over to the new place in Steven's VW and I'm left wondering why one of them doesn't go with Ned but perhaps he just really needed that last bit of room in his car. It's possible. When they get there, everyone is varying shades of off. Steve doesn't say much, Liz is trying not to cry at how depressing the building itself is, and Jessica's over there thrilled about the cool dimmer switch for the chandelier. Jess, your mother is an interior decorator. I'm pretty sure this isn't some new technology for you to be amazed by.
  Ned tells the kids that they're welcome any time and that he knows this is hard on all of them and Liz has to be dragged away by her siblings because her heart is breaking.

   The next day, our ghosty is most confused as to whether you can use the words brunch and breakfast interchangeably. You cannot, ghosty. You cannot. I do like the callback to Sunday brunches at the Wakefields, however so I'll let this one go. Brunch doesn't go well when Alice nopes on out of there without so much as a muffin on her way to work and the kids decide to go for one another's throats. Honestly, Alice, I get that this is hard for you, but the kids all ask you to stay and you run off. Again. This isn't an emergency at work, this is you avoiding your family/emotions.
  Jessica and Steven immediately take opposing sides, with Jessica squarely on team Ned and Steven on team Alice. Liz tries to point out that there should be no sides in this and she gets jumped on and the family is basically at war, with Liz convinced that this is all her fault. If you take a shot each time she mentions this, you will need a new liver. Or, like me, you'll quickly lose track and just say to hell with it.
  After the brunch from hell, Liz rides over to Enid's house and marvels at how different it is at Enid's. She's felt uncomfortable at Todd's lately because his family is still very happy family-esque while Enid's is just as happy, it isn't the perfect family either since Mr. Rollins isn't around. Things are easier for Liz at Enid's and I get the awww's because I will forever adore Enid and Elizabeth's friendship. FOREVER.
   Alas, despite acknowledging that Enid knows quite a bit about divorce, she still refuses to listen when Enid assures her that no matter what Elizabeth thinks, this is not her fault. This has to do with Ned and Alice and not anything Elizabeth (or Jessica or Steven) has done. Oh, Liz. You are so far down the rabbit hole of "no one understands my pain, my pain is so unique" that you might be the most realistic version of a teenager you've been in quite awhile. Alas, it's also annoying as shit because even as a kid I knew you were being extra dumb.

   Sunday evening, Jessica heads to Lila's for dinner and Steve's MIA so Liz and her mother are alone for dinner and this seems to depress them both. I dunno, I'm making tacos for one right now and that's not so bad, so what's wrong with tacos for two? Anyway, they discuss how Alice has been thinking about how she's made some mistakes. Like, I dunno, not taking that ultimatum seriously, I guess. Alice says her career is important, but not as important as her marriage and Liz takes this to mean that this is ALL HER FAULT.
  Oi, Liz. Just oi. (Also: I hope that Alice and Ned both realize that it's not just Alice who was spending too much time on other things because if not, the rage that will fill me in the next book might just be too much for the world to stand.)
   Remember Jessica's B plot last book involving Charlie, the guy she met on the teen party line? Well, that bill finally comes due and Alice flips her shit because the phone bill is $375. I feel your pain, Jess. A friend and I racked up a similar bill making calls to Australia and other places. And then I did it again solo years later and had to give up the best shoes ever... because unlike Jessica, I knew enough to know that I had to pay for my mistake. Nope, Jessica gets fussed at by Alice and has her allowance revoked (seriously, how does Jessica still have an allowance? She's always over-spent on something or gotten an advance.) and there's even talk of her getting a job to pay off the rest. Jessica will not stand for this taking of responsibility, so at first she tries to play it off as if she had to call the teen line because of the trouble at home. Alice ain't buying this BS and so Jessica gets the idea to sell her song of woe to her father. Ned falls for it and later calls Alice to suggest that perhaps she was too harsh on their youngest. Naturally this goes over spectacularly well... but it doesn't stop Jessica from exploiting Ned's guilt later on.

   Liz, meanwhile, is flaking out at school. We only see proof of this with English class and The Oracle. Seems she blew off a big interview for the paper and Penny stops by to ask what's up. Mr. Collins is also baffled by Liz half-assing a paper and I'm gonna have to call full BS on Collins and partial on Penny. Penny claims to be worried that Liz has finally tired of The Oracle and moved on to other things, while Collins seems to have absolutely no idea that Ned and Alice have broken up. Bull. Shit. Lila and Amy know about it, and you know damn well those two can't keep their mouths shut and also there's no flippin' way Caroline hasn't gotten wind of this, so this shit is all over the school. Also, Sweet Valley has always been portrayed as a small town kinda place so you know full well that adults talk and Collins would know, especially since he's the 'cool' teacher.
  Sigh. Anyway, Collins is all confused as to why Liz isn't doing her work up to her normal standards and why she's staring off into space when he's trying to teach Othello over here. Liz decides not to talk about it because it'll make it too real and I could quibble with this, but again, I get it.
  Todd, however, is going to somehow manage to make me aww and want to strangle him all in the same book. Such skill! You see, Todd knows about the Wakefield separation and he's doing his best to be there for Liz. He offers his shoulder repeatedly and tries to make sure that Liz takes time for herself instead of simply taking on all the problems at home by herself. In return, Liz is both amazed and freaked out. She's so sure that she caused her parents' split and that she's the reason Steven and Jessica are at each other's throats (I mean, it's not like they fight a lot anyway... oh, wait) that she's sure she doesn't deserve Todd, especially since he's being so nice and attentive to her. Plus, all love ends terribly and you should avoid pain at all costs.
   Come Friday, Todd has bought tickets to see one of Liz's favorite singers that we've never heard of at a club we've also never heard of, and Liz is not here for this. She wants to go home, chill with her mother and her family, and basically just unplug from the world. Todd tries to understand. I think. This is one of the argh moments. On the one hand, I get where he's coming from. Liz needs to get out and take her mind off the stuff at home. On the other, I get that Liz feels she should be at home with her mother for the first weekend of the split. Todd comes up with the idea that he could get a third ticket and Alice could go with them and Liz shoots this down real quick.
  Todd pushes things and Liz winds up dumping him mere minutes after thinking how lucky she is to have him in her life. Depression, folks. It's a helluva drug.
  Liz spends the evening with her mother and tells Todd she's not discussing things further until Monday. She admits her split to Jessica later and Jessica is thrilled because Liz on the loose! Remember this feeling, Clone 2, because you're gonna regret it really soon.
   Enid stops by over the weekend to ask WTF is going on with Liz and Todd and Liz continues to blame herself for things and says she's not ready for a relationship at the moment. Enid gives her the look of "bitch, you crazy" but it goes right over Elizabeth's head. I love that Enid has taken it upon herself to try and tether Liz to reality because no one else, other than Todd, is trying. Seriously, not a single other friend of Elizabeth's shows up unless you count Penny, and that was a work thing. I expected better of Olivia, honestly.
  Also, as an aside, how is Maria Santelli holding up? This book doesn't mention it but I wonder.

   Anyway, the next week Liz goes to school in a micro-mini skirt and accepts all the dates, so long as you aren't Todd Wilkins. Jessica gets fed up with this real fast, especially once her B plot goes south. You see, she's tired of Amy and Lila mocking her for having a boyfriend she's never actually met, so she corners Charlie and forces him to appear on an actual date. And he does and he's almost too good looking for words, but he's dull as dishwater and nothing like his phone personality. Jessica gives him a second chance and he's somehow even worse over dinner at a sushi place.
  With Charlie shuttled off to the side temporarily, Jess is on the prowl. Alas, her sister has lined up dates with all the guys we've never heard of before who are somehow real catches. Also: how many redheads go to SVH? There's some new Texan dude and Allison something or other is flitting around Todd and I swear anytime we split Todd and Liz up and he gets a random girl in his orbit, she's a redhead "with a great figure." Weird.

   Sigh. By Thursday, Jessica is pissed off and she goes OFF on Liz after her day from hell. Not only is Liz hogging all the eligible potential boyfriends, but she's also the reason Ned and Alice split up and Jessica is tired of no one talking about that. Steve, who had until that moment been feuding with Jessica, is aghast. Liz, did you really give out the number to the Inn and kill our parents' weekend getaway? I mean, uh, obviously that couldn't be the only reason they split but... the damage is done. Liz gets the idea to run away and the next day she meets Enid at the Box Tree Cafe and explains that she's running away to Dallas or Michigan.
  Enid, being awesome, tells her that no she's not. She's coming home with her so that when she snaps out of this insanity (she's nicer about it), she won't be miles away and that much poorer. Plus, Enid wants to keep her best friend close by and dude, I get this on a level I can't even begin to articulate. All the love, Enid. All the love.
  Enid's mother is fine with this so long as Liz tells her parents where she is. Liz fudges this in the letters Enid makes her type, but I think Enid lets her get away with it because anyone who hears that Liz is "staying with a friend" is going to assume that friend is Enid. Liz is one step ahead and after they deliver the letters to both Wakefield parents (well, the houses), she takes the phone of the hook and keeps it off all night long.
  While the remaining Wakefields freak out (they do try Enid's first, btw), Enid calms Liz down with rom-coms and talking and being awesome. I suspect cookies were also involved.
  The next morning Alice has tracked Liz down to Enid's (I assume someone eventually put the phone back on the hook) and takes her home where Ned and Alice explain that they handled the split badly and that it was never meant to be permanent, but that they needed space and it wasn't Elizabeth's fault because it wasn't anyone's fault... and things look up for the first time in forever.
  To make up for being a royal bitch, Jessica cooks up a scheme to get Todd and Liz back together. She ropes Steve in and of course the plan works because twin switches always do. Jess dresses like Liz, has Todd meet her at the fourth picnic table at Secca Lake and then confesses she was a dumbass to break up with him. Steve and Liz are within earshot of Todd confessing his love for Liz and before he can do anything like get smoochy, Jessica runs back to her car for something and on the way tags Liz in and the lovebirds live happily ever after.
   Just in time for the PBA costume party. Jessica has learned that the Charlie she met wasn't the real Charlie and was instead a cute but hopelessly dull friend of his named Brook. Jessica convinces the real Charlie to go on a double date with Brook, Amy, and Jessica to the costume party. Charlie agrees and when he shows up Jessica admits (in her head) that he's not conventionally handsome, but he's awfully taken with Amy and her 'satire of a cheerleader' costume. No, Charles, she is a cheerleader because she's too lazy to think of a better costume. I expected better of you. Brook, however, is excused because no one cares about him. Jessica the Intergalactic Space Princess swears off men forever and pledges her newfound free time to making sure Ned Wakefield is elected Mayor.

   I feel like lightning and thunder should crash as we fade to black.


  • Liz set her alarm on Ned's moving day for 9am but slept through it. Jessica finally woke her up at 10:30am.

  • Ned moves out on the first of the month (a Saturday) though we're never told which month this is.

  • Alice leaves the house around 9:30am, well before Ned moved out. Jessica is ticked but Liz gets it.

  • Ned's new building is plain sandstone, six stories tall, without much character.

  • Every time James Knapp is mentioned, it's always as "Henry Patman's friend."

  • Liz notes that Alice appears to have lost weight and that there are dark circles under her eyes, all of which cause her to look older. Yep, busy at work and failing home life will age you.

  • Enid says she ate a gallon of fudge ripple icecream when her father moved out.

  • Alice admits to Liz that she should never have left the Tahoe trip and that while work is important to her, it's not more important than her marriage and family.

  • It's been eons since we had a dance, so PBA is here to rectify it. Amy wants fun and casual and Lila wants formal. (Isn't this the same issue that will later kill Sam as it prompts the twins to duke it out over being queen of the jungle prom?) Ultimately, the sorority goes with a costume party.

  • The book takes place over the course of a little over two weeks, just in case you wondered. That's how long it takes for PBA to come up with the party and plan it. I'm impressed.

  • Jessica claims that "some weirdo was calling Japan and giving the Fowlers' phone card number" and ran up a $600 bill. Not sure if this actually happened or if it's something she's throwing out there to see if Alice will let her off the hook before having to tell the truth.

  • Of the $375 phone bill, Jessica racked up about $300 worth. Alice mutters about $11 on the 8th and $14 on the 9th... Honestly, given the way the last book portrayed Jessica's marathon phone sessions, I think they got off light.

  • I don't know about you guys, but it tickles me that everyone assumes when a 900 number is mentioned that it's a party line and not, y'know, a sex line.

  • Jessica favors Ned to such a degree that she asks if she can move in with him should Ned and Alice divorce.

  • Amy suggestions for costumes for Jessica and Charlie? Phantoms or the Invisible Man.

  • Apparently Sweet Valley has multiple skating rinks.

  • Amy has heard Charlie over the phone but still threatens to tell PBA that Jessica made the guy up if he doesn't materialize soon.

  • Todd suggests: Bonnie & Clyde, Batman and Catwoman, King and Queen of Hearts, book ends.

  • Liz snaps that they don't have to have matching costumes, but they wind up as Romeo and Juliet. Liz, I think Todd's ideas were better.

  • Jessica snarks that Steven is always around considering he's supposed to be at college.

  • The Wednesday after Ned moved out, Steve has still not called or talked to his father at all.

  • Jessica sets a date with Charlie for 3pm at the downtown Sweet Valley Roller Rink.

  • Liz gets a "see me about this" not a grade on her paper.

  • Liz forgets that she had a date with Todd to go shopping for his mother's birthday gift.

  • Jessica comes in with the mail, all excited over junk mail prizes. Can't decide whether to laugh at her or think this is adorable.

  • Penny complains that Liz has missed two Oracle meetings this month, but she makes this claim on Thursday and the month just started Saturday so either Penny doesn't mean calendar month or Liz is really just blowing everything off.

  • Liz also blew off her interview with Jason Fisherman, leader of the local chapter of the California Civic Rights group. No word on whether this was a double booking for her shopping date with Todd or if Thursday is just when Jason called Penny to complain.

  • Jessica only has $11 in her wallet but when she asks Lila for a loan, Lila turns her down and suggests that duh, try Ned. Guilt is an excellent motivator.

  • School gets out early Friday due to a teachers' meeting.

  • Liz says she loves Todd's maroon and blue plaid flannel shirt.

  • Sondra Gray is one of Liz's favorite singers, and she'll be performing that Friday night at the Palace.

  • Jessica comes home around 10pm on Friday night after dinner with her father. That seems kinda late, even if she was hitting him up for money.

  • Jessica uses Ned's guilt money to buy a suede vest and "western looking jeans." Man, I remember the brief Western craze...

  • Jessica tells Amy not to make a play for Todd because Liz would be mad and then Jessica would have to be mad at Amy. Aww.

  • "Charlie's" voice is higher, he's tall around 6'2, with fairly thick sandy blond hair. He's almost too handsome with chiseled features and very smooth skin. He has dark eyes and a perfect smile, and comes to the rink wearing jeans and a trendy sweater. Alas, Brook Atkins has the personality of cardboard.

  • Charlie and Jessica try again Wednesday night for sushi, which goes even worse.

  • Enid returns some books to Liz and tries to plead Todd's case the weekend of the breakup.

  • Paul Jeffries is a cute senior who has written a few articles for The Oracle. He's tall with dark, curly hair, a nice smile, and grey blue eyes. He recently broke up with his girlfriend and a lot of people think he's the most eligible guy at school. (What, I wonder, does Bruce Patman have to say about this?) Enid thinks he's a womanizer who has gone out with a dozen girls this month alone. Pretty impressive since the month just started.

  • Liz dates Paul on Monday, Steve Anderson, a quiet but attractive junior on Tuesday (tennis date), goes to the beach with John Campbell, a cute redheaded Texan with green eyes, on Wednesday and is set to go out with Paul again on Thursday for icecream.

  • Paul confuses Jessica and Liz and Jessica is not happy about it.

  • Jessica runs out of gas four blocks from home and has to walk to the gas station, convince someone to help her out, and then gets home only to find out that she's forgotten her keys and is locked out.

  • Steve learns the truth about the Tahoe trip during the Thursday blowout.

  • Ned and Alice have lunch that same Thursday and it's "nice."

  • Liz blanks on her English exam.

  • She decides to run away to Dallas to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Jenny, or if they won't have her, her grandparents in Michigan.

  • Steven's VW is yellow, in case you wondered.

  • "Dear Mom, Dad, Jessica, and Steven, I want you to know how sorry I am for what's happened. I know I'm to blame for everything. I don't feel right living at home now, as you can probably understand. But please don't worry about me- I'm staying with a friend, and I'm absolutely fine. I promise I'll call you as soon as I feel ready. I love you all- and again, I'm so, so sorry. Love, Elizabeth." - Liz's letter that Enid makes her write two copies of so Ned isn't left out.

  • Mrs. Rollins says that Elizabeth can stay with them as long as Liz lets her parents know where she is so they don't worry. You'll notice she doesn't do that.

  • Lila's date for the PBA dance is a guy she met at a dance class she's taking.

  • Amy plans to ask a guy out from her tennis class but that falls through.

  • Jessica calls the party line again and talks to Sara who tells her that Charlie sent his friend Brook Atkins in his place.

  • When Sara tries to warn Jessica that Charlie's really not handsome, Jessica is pretty jealous at the thought of Sara having met Charlie.

  • The real Charlie Ryan has a bumpy nose, is a little too thin, has brown eyes that are a little too close together, and comes to the PBA party dressed as a pirate.

  • The reason it takes all night for Alice to track Liz down at Enid's is because Todd's family seems to have gone out/is not answering the phone, and Elizabeth left the phone off the hook at Enid's.

  • Enid and Elizabeth stay up until 2am watching videos on the TV in Enid's room where Mrs. Rollins has set up a cot with a cozy quilt and two down pillows for Elizabeth to sleep on. They watch at least one rom-com and talk about the Todd situation.

  • Todd spends the week of his breakup with Liz alternating between being hounded by Amy, hanging out with cute sophomore Allison (who has short red hair and a great figure), and bugging Enid about his breakup.

  • For the twin switch at Secca Lake, Jessica wears blue jeans, a white cotton sweater, and does her hair in a french braid. She's less than thrilled at Elizabeth's sartorial choices, btw.

  • Jessica and Todd meet at the 4th picnic table at Secca Lake.

  • Jessica goes to the PBA party as an intergalactic princess with lots of foil in her hair and a silver cape on loan from Lila. Not gonna lie, her costume sounds awesome.

  • Amy shows up as a cheerleader and Brook is "the country club type." Oh, honey, that is not a costume.

  • Brook is meant to be Jessica's date but he and Charlie spend the night fawning over Amy.

Elizabeth stared at her twin. "You know that isn't true-" she began.
But that was the last thing to say to Jessica right then. "Quit sounding so preachy, Liz! How do you know what I know and what I don't?" - Jessica wants in on that realistic teenager action. pg 16

"Listen, you don't want to watch this junk," Todd said, switching off the video with the remote control. "Tell me what you're feeling instead." - Look, I know everyone and their sister calls Logan Bruno out for setting up unrealistic expectations, but this? Your move, Bruno. pg 11

"Hey, have you given any thought as to who we should dress up as for the party?" he asked Elizabeth. "How about Bonnie and Clyde? I could wear a fedora and try to look dangerous." - I don't know why, but Todd cracks me up each time I read this. pg 39

Todd was waiting for her outside of English class, his jacket slung over one shoulder. For just an instant Elizabeth felt butterflies in her stomach, the way she had when she and Todd first met.
"Hey," he said, leaning over and giving her a warm hug. "Remember me? I just thought I'd come charm you to death and see if I couldn't convince you to fall in love with me all over again." - These are your lead ups to Liz breaking up with Todd, btw. Sure, other stuff happens in the meantime, but this is how it begins. pg 64

"Playing the field is one thing. Going for all the players at one time is another," Jessica said hotly. - Liz, I think Jessica just called you a ho. pg 102

Maybe she shouldn't have accused her of causing the separation, she thought. It wasn't all Elizabeth's fault - like fifty or sixty percent or so. - How generous, Jessica. p110

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   WtB is actually a better book than Trouble at Home. Stuff actually happens and if you're like me and enjoy a good starting point for What If... stories, this one's got a fair amount. For instance, Jessica is forever harping on Liz being a one guy kinda gal, right? How it's dull and she should play the field like Jessica! But literally every single time she's done so thus far in the series, she out Jessicas- Jessica. Every. Single. Time. Liz and Todd break up and she spends the next week dating someone new pretty much every day. Even Jessica can't pull that off, but Liz does it like it's no big deal. Stop wishing for Liz to be more like you, Jess. You can never handle it.
  Or what about the idea of Todd/Amy? I can't actually picture it, at all, but I blame a big part of that on the fact that I can't really stand SVH!Amy so my brain tries not to think about her. Ever. Whatever the case, Amy does make a play for him off-screen.
   Mostly I enjoy Enid just being a really good friend to Liz, especially when she knows Liz is going overboard. She tries to talk Liz down from her woe is me mentality and when that doesn't work, she makes sure that she's around for when Liz needs her. Enid is good people. ♥

That's not how any of this works

Trouble At Home
May 1990

Is the Wakefield family coming apart?
 photo 65_troubleathome_zpsk2nx9vfj.png
Family problems...

   There's trouble in the usually happy Wakefield household, and Jessica, Elizabeth, and their brother, Steven, are caught in the middle.
  Mrs. Wakefield is so busy at work that she's hardly ever home. When she is home, all she and Mr. Wakefield seem to do is fight. Tensions increase when Mr. Wakefield decides to run for mayor of Sweet Valley and Mrs. Wakefield doesn't like the people backing him. They have a huge argument that just might end their marriage. Elizabeth, Jessica, and Steven can't do anything to help. Could this be the end of the perfect Wakefield family?

  Huh. That is not really what happens in this book at all. Spoilers for the next book(s), book blurb people! Onward.

   I... Uh... look. If you could see my notebook where I scribble (and lord, do I mean scribble) my notes for these books, you would see "WTF!!" repeated over and over, usually with an explanation as to why I'm WTF-ing that time. Not always. I threw this book down numerous times because while I am good at suspension of disbelief, there are lines, people. LINES. And this book sets those lines ablaze at every turn.
  Also, nothing is resolved by the end of the book. Nothing.

  Sigh. Let us begin.

   Trouble At Home is probably SVH's attempt to show that no family is perfect and that even the families we think are perfect still have their own struggles. In the Wakefield's case, it's that Ned and Alice have been body snatched by their teen counterparts and no one noticed or something because I don't even know how to begin to explain the levels of WTF going on here.
  But I guess I'll try. Alice Wakefield's design firm is in the running to design the new wing of the mall. Jessica's super excited because surely they'll name it the Alice Wakefield wing and she'll get discounts at all the new stores and totally, that will happen, Jessica. I live in a place with like, one and a half malls and for the longest time one of them was known as the mall to get shot at so we pretended it didn't exist so while I did my time as a mallrat, it was at a very, very simple/basic mall that stunts my ability to fathom malls having wings, really. Soooooo... I dunno. It's a big deal because over the course of the book, Alice is put in charge of the design team and if things are a success, she'll be the star of the show. If things fail, she's going to lose her head at work.
  I can never keep up with how Alice's design firm works. Sometimes I think she's a minion (though usually I think that's more in the Kids/Twins books) and sometimes I think it's her show, dammit (usually SVH). Anyway, Alice is very upfront about how this is a Big Deal for her career and that it's going to mean she's not going to be home as much. I feel like this should be mentioned considering how big a part it'll play in the WTF later.

   Ned Wakefield is thrilled that his friend Peter Santelli is running for mayor. Hell, the whole Wakefield clan is thrilled and all five of them turn out to support him at the start of the book at a fund raiser. The next morning, the paper's headlines scream Mayor Candidate Accepts Bribes! and shit goes sideways.
  Peter begs Ned to take the case despite the fact that Ned hasn't tried a criminal case in 15 years, a fact that I am sure will be retconned before long and is probably a retcon anyway. Ned initially tries to find a way to get Peter to find legal counsel more up to the task (y'know, a lawyer who specializes in this) but the kids are so excited for Ned and Alice is so against it (because, like you already said, Ned, it's not your area!) that he decides he's going to do it, gosh dangit!
  And this is where the book hits all the WTF buttons at the same time and my brain exploded just trying to keep up with them all.
  Ned officially takes the case Wednesday night, in that he goes over to the Santelli home to discuss taking the case. Thursday morning, he's all kinds of excited by the thought of being able to do something good (clear Peter's name). Thursday night he's ready to do the walk of doom and gloom.
  Alice is less than pleased when Ned has to back out of going boating with the senior partner at her design firm but Alice? Honey? I'm pretty sure your boss understands that hey, if your husband is going to be defending the mayoral candidate in a trial that starts the next day (WTF!), he's kinda gonna miss the boating thing. Seriously, later all of Ned's law buddies will trip all over themselves to congratulate Alice on heading the design team for the fucking mall, but Alice doesn't think her husband trying to save an honest man's reputation would be something worth backing? (We're ignoring the whole not his area of law angle at this point because if Ned managed to pull this trick off, it would be big news and that news would be good for Alice's firm way more than her designing the new wing of the mall would be for Ned's business but we're expected to just not think of this.)
  But also bullshit about that trial starting less than a week after the alleged bribes were found. Seriously. Bull. Shit. No way, no how.
  So Ned's working on Peter's case and Alice is working on trying to win the mall project and by Friday, Peter's case has been thrown out due to insufficient evidence (seriously, wtf did anyone expect to happen when they had less than a week to build a case against him) and Alice is now heading the mall project. Ned is less than jazzed for her, guys. Less than jazzed.

   At some point, Henry Patman comes a knockin' and tells Ned that he'd be an excellent mayor since Peter has dropped out of the race. Ned's not so sure since it would be an awfully big undertaking for his family and also, it's a lot of responsibility... so he asks for time to consider it and to talk to Alice about it.
  Jessica overhears this, btw, and is sure Daddy is about to become president. Oi. This is, naturally, going to bite everyone on the ass. But Liz makes her promise not to say anything because Ned should talk to Alice about it first and hey, maybe nothing will come of it.
  Ned then spends the next for-freaking-ever not talking to Alice about it. Part of this is because I swear to Christ, Alice never fucking calls home when she's going to be late for dinner and that shit is annoying to the point that I'm breaking my "keep profanity to a minimum" rule. You have a fucking car phone by the end of the book, call home and leave a message on the machine or something, goddammit! It's not that hard to be polite and considerate of others, especially when you've failed to do so numerous times in the recent past and it ALWAYS gets thrown in your face. Just pick up the phone, dammit. Not once is it mentioned that she's tried to call and that Jessica's hogging it due to the B plot (C plot?) and in fact she's forever apologizing after she rolls up late for not even thinking to call. NYARGH.
  Still. Ned should've said something before their big Tahoe weekend because he had plenty of time to do so. He just didn't. I feel like at the very least this should be something to have come up before bed. "Alice, you'll never believe who stopped by..." Sigh.

   Anyway, the Wakefields apparently go up to Lake Tahoe every year as a weekend getaway. There are no phones in the cabin and they basically spend three days just hanging out and being goobers together. The rule is no work, so we all know where this is going.
  Liz has spent the whole book worrying about her family falling apart. When she speaks to her mother's assistant, she tries to get Julia to convince Alice to take the weekend off because if she doesn't, bad things will happen. Julia isn't willing to do so until she has a way to reach Alice if an emergency comes up, so Liz reluctantly gives the main Inn's number to Julia and in return Julia and the rest of the firm make sure that Alice gets her weekend getaway.
  While at the cabin, Jessica lets the mayor thing drop and Alice thinks it's laughable so naturally Ned's like "fuck that, I'd make a fantastic mayor" but the two sort of meet in the middle. Ned points out that this would be a serious time commitment and he didn't want to be away from his family so much.
  Alas, the warm fuzzy moments of the weekend give way to the Inn's owner's son showing up saying that Alice has an emergency call and Ned's pissed that Alice gave out the number. Alice insists she didn't, but still goes to call work back. Liz admits to her mother later that she's the one to have given out the number but... doesn't tell her father? I don't get why she didn't tell both of them, honestly. Alice says it's okay, that Ned is just itching for a fight and Liz asks why and this part made me sad... Alice admits she doesn't know why.
  I waffle on how this book does my head in at different times. Alice chooses to hide her achievements and how work is going from Ned after he 'loses' the case because ... she doesn't want to rub her success in his face? I dunno. But that already happened when she burst home late the day it happened and shared the good news. The cat has escaped the bag and set it on fire, Alice. Maybe, especially when you recognize that it's not working, you should break the cycle of not telling your husband what's going on in your life. I think I get what they were going for but at the same time... no?
  And Ned, be happy for your wife, dammit. Just because you're starting a midlife crisis doesn't mean you can't be happy that Alice is doing good things.

   Sigh. Anyway, Sunday Alice gets another call from work and this time she says she has to leave early because Sal, that jackass, got the brilliant idea to do all the work on the computer and the computer glitched and this is 1990, so she's hosed. But Alice, you're so hosed that honestly, you could stay at the cabin the extra three or so hours and it wouldn't make any damn difference. If this had been the call from the day before, I'd argue it was an emergency and worth the call and she should go. But it's only a few hours and they could have waited to tell her and she could wait to go in to fix things. Seriously, wtf.

  Ned's pissed when Alice doesn't see it this way and tells her that if she leaves, she's not just leaving the family weekend, she's leaving her family.
  And she does.

  Damn, Alice.

  Btw, Ned, I'm pretty sure that part of your running appeal for mayor was your home life so this? This is a stupid fucking idea.

   Jessica's subplot (Liz's was basically keeping the house from falling apart while everyone else did their own thing and she probably kept them all from starving to death) is that she sees a teen party line shown on TV. Despite Liz pointing out how expensive they are and how skeevy it all is, Jessica calls and immediately finds a guy named Charlie. She spends the rest of the book falling for him because he sounds so sexy when he's giving her compliment after compliment. Charlie, however, keeps putting her off and Jessica can't understand why. She worries he thinks she won't be as awesome as she is, but Jess? It's far more likely that he's the one with the secret but what do I know, right? In any case, this is also not resolved by the time Alice ditches her family at Lake Tahoe.

  Ultimately I'm left wondering whether Prince Albert scammed every member of the family out of food every day by giving them big sad puppy eyes and that everyone assumed no one else was taking care of the dog... or did he really have to rely on Liz to have time in her schedule to do all the things?

Trivia Time:

  • When Liz gets home at 5pm Monday, she notes that it's not unusual for Jessica to still be at cheer practice.

  • Jess, btw, got home early so this point is kind of moot.

  • There are four messages on the answering machine and three of them are boys calling for Jessica. One is from Ben and one is from David and Jessica thinks, "I wonder what he wants?" before slipping the message Liz scribbled down into her pocket. We never find out who the third message is from.

  • The fourth message on the machine is from Alice an hour earlier who is running late and wants the family to pick her up on the way to the fund raiser. I'm left with so many questions, like where is her car?

  • The fund raiser is for Peter Santelli and it's a dinner and reception being held in the garden of a civic center downtown.

  • When Jess got home early, she immediately took Prince Albert for a walk outside and then proceeds to make a huge deal of it when she runs into Liz.

  • Jessica is convinced that Maria's dad (Peter) will become mayor and then take the cheerleaders to Washington DC to meet the President. Liz and I are less sure that this is how politics work.

  • Liz claims that Maria is more her friend than Jessica's outside of cheerleading. My initial thought was "really?" but the book then goes out of its way to make sure that I believe that Jessica, Lila, and Amy are awful people so...

  • There's a new guy at Ned's law office named Griffin Pierce. He's described as "really aggressive, money hungry young lawyer" who will take on any case if it's glamorous enough or going to bring in a ton of money. Also, when the twins meet him, he's "thirty going on fifty" and is wearing gray from head to toe. He's an insensitive ass and comments about it being a surprise that Ned would show up at a get together after he lost Peter's case.

  • Jessica suggests that her father ditch law and become an actor to avoid Griffin.

  • Jessica also thinks the new mall wing should be called the Alice Wakefield Wing.

  • Ned is initially very supportive of Alice's firm being in the running for the mall project.

  • The morning after Peter's fund raiser, the paper runs this headline: Mayor Candidate Charged With Accepting Bribes! and nary a peep is written about how odds are good that Jessica and Liz would know the writer or at least the editor of the paper. Wasted throwback potential.

  • Jessica kind of wants Peter to be crooked so he can be like a movie she saw recently.

  • In case you wondered, Jessica's best friends are listed as Lila and Amy with Cara only being mentioned as Steven's girlfriend.

  • Lila comments that there's no point in inviting Maria to dinner now since there's no way her father will be mayor now.

  • Amy and Jessica were extra nice to Maria at practice but there's no reason to keep that up either. I can't tell whether I'm supposed to laugh at how awful these three are or just note that they are, indeed, awful.

  • Lila's father bought her a video camera for her half birthday and Jessica seethes that it's bad enough that Lila has a car phone. Whoa, remember those?

  • Oh, 900 numbers and teens. What could go wrong?

  • Someone mysteriously deposited ten thousand dollars into Peter Santelli's bank account but despite the fact that this book takes place over at least a two week span, we end the book still not knowing who did it. This is just one of the many WTF notations.

  • Ned claims he hasn't taken a criminal case in 15 years.

  • When Jessica calls her teen party line, she meets Charlie, Sara, Micheal, Michelle, Nicola, and Bea. We later learn that Sara's got a thing for Charlie and Micheal takes turns flirting with Bea and Nicola.

  • Charlie is from Riverdale, a town near Sweet Valley. So many towns we've never heard of that only pop up when the plot calls for them. Also, I have so many Archie crossover things here that I'm gonna hush.

  • Liz's locket from Todd (the one he gave her when he moved away) makes a reappearance. ♥

  • Peter calls Ned Wednesday night and begs him to be his lawyer. Ned initially says no and then agrees and apparently goes over Wednesday night. Thursday morning, Ned is gung ho about the case but after spending one day, he's already beaten come Thursday night. Friday he's bitching because Alice will be working even longer hours at work after being appointed head of the project. Time has no meaning anymore.

  • Dough Phelps is the senior partner at Alice's design firm and the Wakefields are supposed to go boating with him Sunday and it's very important that the whole family go.

  • Ned promised the weekend to Peter Santelli since the trial starts Monday.

  • Ned also points out that the family doesn't have to cancel the boating trip, just Ned. Don't make me agree with you, Ned... but yeah, Doug should understand, Alice.

  • Jessica has a phone date with Charlie at 8:15... that she keeps by calling the party line. I never did get how that was supposed to work but my brother was the one who racked up our bill calling a 900 number repeatedly (wrestling, calm down).

  • Jess is flattered that Charlie likes her without ever having seen her, and she's pretty sure that most guys are 99% attracted to her looks whereas Charlie has no idea how fantastic she is.

  • Liz pays for the family's groceries by using their charge at the store.

  • Also, there are a lot of dates to the grocery store for Liz and Todd in this book and I have to admit they're pretty cute.

  • Ingenue magazine says playing the field is so passe.

  • Earl Wasserman is a new guy on the party line and asks if it really costs $1 a minute.

  • The judge suspects Peter's case due to insufficient evidence. This means that while he's not been found guilty, his name has also not been cleared. Peter drops out of the race shortly thereafter.

  • When the dinner Liz makes starts to fall apart as the family waits for Alice, Ned flips out and demands they just deal with frozen dinners. You know what Liz made? Spaghetti, salad, and bread. You know the only part of this equation currently borked? The noodles. It's even mentioned that the sauce is still just fine. Liz even comments that they just need to make more noodles... if they have any. Liz, my love, when you're trying to restock the pantry at home and make a meal such as this, you always buy extra noodles. Always. What if people wanted seconds? What if you dropped the first box on the floor? Seriously, it's not like she was budgeting.

  • Also: once more Alice does not bother to call her damn family when she's going to be late for dinner. It's like she called once, off screen before the book started, and that was supposed to hold her the rest of forever. Not how it works.

  • Jessica invites Charlie to a concert in Big Mesa where "some group from the East Coast" will be playing.

  • Charlie would love to but his brother is coming home from Stamford that weekend.

  • Charlie is a Jr., something Jessica finds out when she calls his house and gets Charlie's father (Charlie Sr.) first.

  • Ned belongs to Psi Epsilon, a legal fraternity I'm 99% sure we've never heard of before now.

  • Alice is super jazzed that the Psi Epsilon annual dinner will have a state supreme court justice and a leading criminal lawyer from San Francisco attending. They didn't go last year because they were out of town but Alice loves these kinds of things. The dinner will be held at Tosca's, a new Italian restaurant in Sweet Valley.

  • This is a bad idea for many reasons, not the least of which the fact that Ned is super down about the law at the moment and seeing people who are either doing far better than he is or just annoying money grubbing lawyer cliches is not going to help. But what do I know, I'm just the reader and Liz is agreeing.

  • Jessica wears a fuschia mini dress and matching tights to the Psi Epsilon dinner.

  • Alice got a car phone but tells Jessica not to touch because it's really expensive.

  • Alice also winds up in the paper when her firm wins the mall bid.

  • Sy Underwood, "a small beaming man" who met Ned at the last Psi Epsilon bash, is thrilled over Alice's good fortune and confesses to wanting to be an architect when he was an undergrad.

  • Sy is the first of many people who congratulate Alice on her achievements while pointedly ignoring Ned's recent set back.

  • After his run in with Griffin, Ned leaves but Alice makes the kids stay another half an hour before packing it in.

  • Henry Patman and James Knapp, a political analyst who was assisting Peter's campaign, stop by to convince Ned to run for mayor.

  • The Wakefields go to Lake Tahoe every year. They rent a "charming redwood cabin with three bedrooms, a small kitchen, and a tiny living room with a fireplace" and no phone and BBQ most of their meals. Various other traditions include putting on their PJs, having hot chocolate and playing charades, hiking, and going to the Inn for dinner Saturday night.

  • Alice's assistant is Julia.

  • Almost any time Alice is mentioned having to do something with someone at the office, it's Sal. And Sal is always having an emergency. Fire Sal, Alice. Sal is also the one who got the bright idea to use the 'interactive software' to design part of the wing and of course the computer went down.


Elizabeth gave her twin a wry smile. Trust Jessica to take the one household chore she'd done all month and make it seem like the labors of Hercules! - Don't mind me, I'll be over here snickering, p3

"Jessica, from your voice... your name... you are poetry," Charlie said.
This was too much. Here was this guy saying these incredible things to her-right in front of the others on the line!- and he hadn't even seen her yet. Jessica had always been convinced that her looks were about ninety-nine percent of the reason guys asked her out. But Charlie couldn't see her. So why did he like her and not the others? - Aww. I will forever be a sucker for the "pretty girl is found awesome by someone who can't see her beauty and it throws her" trope. p39

"I've decided- just from your voice- that you're blond. Am I right?"
Jessica giggled. "You're right," she confessed.
"I could tell," Charlie said triumphantly. "You have the blondest voice I've ever heard."
Jessica felt shivers of delight go through her. Imagine how thrilled Charlie was going to be when he found out just how blond she really was! - I... uh... phrasing? This is so weird. I'm at turns amused and befuddled, really. p 47

This was Jessica's favorite kind of conversation. She loved hearing a list of all her positive characteristics. - Oh, Jessica. p86

"You're a perfect candidate, Ned. You're young, strong, smart-with a wonderful background in law. You've got a beautiful family. You're honest. You're ethical. You're exactly what this community needs, and who this community will vote for." - James Knapp is good at fluffing egos, eh? p 99

The Wakefields' courtship was like something out of a fairy tale. They met, they fell in love, they got married, and they really did live happily ever after.
Until now. - Liz, don't make me sad. p121

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   My mental notes on this from however long it's been since I read this were basically: Mr. Wakefield goes to Washington, Ned and Alice set their marriage ablaze, Jessica doesn't care. Re-reading it didn't really change those thoughts, alas. It wasn't boring like I feared it would be, but it was painful because this book really should have had half these things peppered in previous books and then dealt with the trial vs. the mall time suck instead of trying to get us to believe all of this took place in under a month.
amy thinks


So I've begun work on #65, but the next book after that is Bruce's Story. Do I pick Bruce up after the trilogy of Wakefield pain or do I go in order?
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Will Tricia Martin's clones please stop finding Steven Wakefield?

The Ghost of Tricia Martin
April 1990

Has Tricia Martin come back to Steven?
 photo 64_GhostofTricia_zpswap75a1i.png</a>
Mirror image...

   Steven Wakefield is both stunned and elated when he meets Andrea, a girl who looks, sounds, and behaves just like Tricia Martin, his first love. Tricia died just after she and Steven fell in love, but now he can almost believe she has come back to him again.
  Until Andrea appeared, Steven was happily involved with Cara Walker. He still cares about her, but every time he's with Andrea, he's reminded of how much he loved Tricia. So Steven refuses to choose between the two girls- until his indecision leads to a dangerous accident that make take all his choices away!

   The Ghost of Tricia Martin isn't exactly what it says on the tin, but it's close. As we learned at the end of the last book, another Tricia doppelganger has appeared in the Valley and this one is Andrea. Apparently she looks freakishly like Tricia to the point that both Liz and Steve see the resemblance and Liz doesn't immediately decide it was just a trick of the light or something. Steve, being Steve, falls down the rabbit hole and absolutely must go out with Andrea.
  The book opens the day after Steve and Liz meet Andrea and all three Wakefield kids are getting ready for their evenings. Liz and Todd are going out, we'll come back to Jessica for our B-plot, and Steve is getting ready for a date that Jessica thinks is with Cara and Liz suspects is with Andrea.
  Naturally, Liz is right. Steve meets Andrea at La Paloma, a restaurant he used to frequent with Tricia and within the first five minutes he's already calling her by the wrong name. Andrea eventually calls him on it and Steve breaks down when asked just who Tricia was. Instead of running in the other direction once Steve admits that she's the spitting image of his ex-girlfriend, Andrea's both sympathetic and a little intrigued. She's got to be because there's no good reason to keep going out with someone who keeps calling you the wrong name, even if he is cute.
  Look. I'm going to be upfront here. Steve acts like a huge jackass for 99% of the book, and the only reason I'm not saying it's 100% of the book is because I'd imagine it's got to be weird as hell when people keep showing up looking like your ex. Just weird as hell. Honestly, after re-reading this, I remember why I stopped fully shipping Cara/Steve, but we'll get to that later.

   Anyway, on their date, Steve keeps pushing Andrea into situations where she could/most likely will act like Tricia. He tells her the salad is delicious and she orders it and he's thrilled. He asks if she likes walks along the beach and she does and he's all, "I knew you would." He thinks this or says it or some variation thereof so much that it's annoying as hell. I tried to keep track but my head exploded so I stopped.
  Prior to going out with Andrea, Steve tries to rationalize that he has to go out with her just once to prove to himself that she might look like Tricia but she's actually nothing like her. Liz points out that this is a bad idea and if he doesn't want word getting back to Cara, instead of asking Liz not to say something to Jess, maybe he should either not do the stupid thing or talk to Cara beforehand. I have to agree with Liz here. Cara has been ridiculously understanding of the ghost in her relationship with Steve to the point that while she wouldn't be thrilled with it, I can see her giving Steve the go ahead to take Andrea out. Then again, maybe if he had done that, this whole plotline would never have happened.
   Obviously, Steve ends the date convinced that Tricia has come back to him. I... what? Are you on crack, Wakefield?
  Still, in a rare moment of clarity (sorta?), the next day Steve realizes that maybe he should take Cara out and let his real relationship have a chance to chase away the crazy in his head. (Fun fact: every time someone brings up Andrea's obvious Tricia similarities, Steve's reaction is to ask sarcastically if whoever is talking thinks he's crazy. ) Instead of planning something actually romantic or sweet or I dunno, not hard labor, he comes up with a hike to Castle Rock at Secca Lake. Since he was mysterious about their surprise date, Cara has worn strappy sandals and has to stop numerous times during the hike because these boots were not meant for walking, dammit.
   Steve's annoyed and bitchy and really just awful as he compares Cara to the idealized version of Andrea he's already begun building in his mind. When he mentions wanting to take up hang gliding, Cara comments that it's awfully dangerous and Steve's ticked that she's not admiring his courage or some shit. He's sure that Andrea would be supportive. He's such an ass that Cara basically folds in on herself for the rest of the date and when he drops her off, she doesn't feel much better despite his weak reasoning that it's his school project that's making him so cranky.
  On Steve's next date with Andrea, he's thrilled that Andrea likes the aquarium and otters, just like Tricia! Steve, otters are adorable and awesome and everyone likes them. Just like everyone likes walks along the beach. This is about as amazing as finding out that Andrea also breathes and washes her hair. But there is a problem. Andrea has the gall to wear her hair up when Tricia wore hers down and that's how Steve prefers it. The part where he takes her hair down and kind of insists she keep it that way is pretty creepy. Andrea, honey... I know he's a Wakefield, but no.
   Things continue on this way, with Steve dating Andrea and not telling or even seeing Cara. Cara tries to get information from Liz and Jessica but Liz won't tell and Jessica doesn't know (or care). Eventually, while at the mall on a cheer up mission plotted by Lila of all people, Cara wanders into Unique Boutique when Andrea's working. Cara's completely gobsmacked by how much Andrea looks like Tricia and thinks she's seeing a ghost.

  True story. Prior to re-reading this, I didn't remember much about it beyond "Tricia lookalike that doesn't work out for reasons." And I was thinking about something a coworker of mine said once upon a time about how it was both funny and annoying that everyone kept confusing him with every other damn redhead they'd ever met because apparently all redheads look alike. Sweet Valley definitely seems to be subscribing to this theory, at least with the strawberry blonds all being Tricia clones. (Anyone else having an Orphan Black moment? Just me? Okay... Still, there's a crossover I bet you weren't expecting.)
  Anyway, Cara takes a closer look and realizes that Andrea isn't actually identical to Tricia, they just look a lot alike at first. Now this I'm a little iffy on. On the one hand, it backs up my theory that Steve thinks all strawberry blondes look alike. On the other hand, I think I like the story better if Andrea really does look really similar to Tricia beyond the first glance. Back to the story.

   Cara immediately figures out that Steve has probably seen this girl and just as she's pondering that, the phone rings and Andrea sets up a date with a guy whose parents are fighting, who is starting hang gliding, and oh, yeah, loves the aquarium as that's there they're going after Andrea gets off the phone. Just so you don't think she's jumping to conclusions, Andrea says Steve's name and Cara runs out of the store in tears.
  The next day, Cara decides she'll call Steve and let him know that she knows and that she understands because really, if anyone in the Valley gets his Tricia fixation, it's Cara freakin' Walker. Naturally the call doesn't go well and instead of whatever positive outcome Cara hoped for, she winds up getting dumped. Well. Awkward.
  Steve heads out for his hang gliding session and let's just cut to the chase: because he's so caught up in his thoughts about Tricia, Andrea, and Cara, he winds up crashing into a cliff. I kid you not.
  The Wakefields assemble at the hospital and Jessica calls Cara who wants to go to him but keeps repeating, brokenly, that he doesn't want her. And my heart breaks for her, honestly. When she does show up, Steve is starting to sort of come around and of course the second she steps through the door, he utters the name, "Tricia!" Cara runs off before hearing that he calls her name next. Still, the damage is done.

   I think we need some B-Plot hijinks before we finish off the A-plot. Remember way back at the start of this I said all three Wakefield kids had plans and that we'd get back to Jessica? Well, she and Lila head out to a beach party in Palisades where Jessica meets a guitar playing dude named Keith. Despite not thinking him all that good looking, Jessica makes it her mission to bend him to her will.
  Now, I want you to imagine later ghostwritten Dawn from the BSC. She's terribly into saving the environment and not eating meat and is generally written as a serious killjoy. Yeah, that's Keith. Only because he's a dude and older, he's meant to be 'deep' and passionate because he cares so much about all these causes. I'm not mocking his passion, really. I'm just about as interested in him as Lila is. Which is to say not at all. :P
  He keeps inviting Jessica out on sort of dates where they pass out flyers about recycling or go to City Hall to hear a debate about whether the city needs a new trash incinerator or... I dunno. I think this is one of those montages that would work better on TV or in a movie, really. It works okay as it happens in the book but as a recap, meh. Jessica tries to convince him she's really into all this but really she wants him to be her kind of guy and go to the beach and party and have fun.
  Eventually this leads to a movie date where Jessica flat out refuses to go see a documentary about the reindeer culture of the Lapps. While at the Valley Cinema, she sees Tricia Andrea on a date with a tall, dark haired boy who is most definitely not Steven considering Steve's in the hospital. Jessica notes this for future use and then, we assume, continues on her last date with Keith.
  At the hospital another day, Jessica signs Steve's cast and lets it slip that oh yeah, she saw Andrea and some guy at the movies. Steve reacts the way you'd expect ("must be her brother or something") and Jess is skeptical. When Steve angrily glares out the window, he sees Andrea being dropped off... by a guy in a convertible. Before he can tell himself the brother line again, Andrea kisses the guy.
   Liz witnesses the whole thing and shuffles Jessica out of the room and accuses Jessica of knowing full well what she was doing when she mentioned Andrea. Jess sort of denies it but not really, and this is probably the most consistent thing about Jessica. She's pretty much the only person who gets that Steven only really responds to tough love. It's just that Jess got lucky with Andrea showing up. When Liz mentions that, Jessica protests that she had no way of knowing and then the twins agree they need to call Cara in.

   Sigh. On the one hand, they're cute when they scheme together. On the other, what if Andrea wanted to date both Steve and car guy? It's not like Steve would have a leg to stand on about it. Luckily for the twins, and Cara, when Steve confronts Andrea about the guy, Andrea points out that she found a guy who likes her for who she is. Steve tries to argue that it's really rude of her to do this to him after all they've been through and she shoots him down straight away with, "all we've been through? What? We've gone on like, five dates and you've spent the whole damn time pretending I'm your dead girlfriend. That's not a relationship." Steve tries to protest but Andrea points out that nope, he knows nothing about her because he doesn't want to know anything about her. He just wants to look at her and pretend she's Tricia and that's not what she wants to do. Steven finally admits to himself (and Andrea) that he was an ass and he apologizes, but when he asks if this is the part where they say they can always be friends, Andrea shoots that down too. She knows that Steve will never see her as Andrea and she's smart enough to walk away.
  But it took you five dates and him winding up in the hospital before you could figure that out? I want to applaud this moment but the timing and the fact that she knew about the Tricia thing from date #1 is... enh.
  Andrea leaves and Steve realizes what a mess he's made with Cara. He decides that he can't possibly fix it because Cara deserves better than to be his second choice.
  So when Cara shows up, just to shut Jessica up, she's not sure what she's walking into but she wants to thank Steven for what time they did have and then she rips my heart out and my ability to ship this relationship dies right there in the hospital room. She tells Steve that she knows he never cared for her as much as he did Tricia and instead of denying it in any way, he focuses on the part where she says she loves him and they get back together because of course.
   Cara. Cara, no. At this point you've been dating him longer than Tricia did and you've been stupidly supportive of his dumbass moments, from the French lookalike to the weird letters he thought were from a ghost and not his actual girlfriend to being willing to overlook his cheating on you with Andrea until he dumped you. WALK AWAY. YOU DESERVE BETTER.

  Instead they make up and the twins are super proud of themselves and we move into the set-up for the next book.

   All book long, Ned and Alice Wakefield have been fighting over the stupidest things, from the electrician (Ned, you're gonna bitch about paying the man $200 and then fork out the cost of Steven's hang gliding like it's no big deal?) to whether or not Ned should want to run for public office. The kids have each felt super uneasy about it and things come to a head at Steve's welcome home party, with Ned wanting more out of life and Alice wanting him to stop being a jackass towards her at every turn. I believe Ned is having a bit of a midlife crisis, guys. Also, for someone bitching about how he never did anything politically minded, isn't that how he freakin' met Alice? Sigh.
  We're about to fall down the weird arc that involves the Wakefield parents possibly breaking up, a mayoral race, and some stuff I've long forgotten. Buckle up, buttercups, things are going to get Wakefield.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • Jessica takes Elizabeth's new eyeliner and Liz finds it easily in Jessica's makeup drawer. I call BS because you and I both know damn well that Jessica is messy as hell and that drawer would look like a bomb went off, especially if she'd just used it.

  • The Fiat died two days prior to this at school, leaving Jessica stranded after cheerleading practice. We never do find out what's wrong with it, btw.

  • Ned and Alice are fighting about a $200 bill from the electrician. Ned is blaming Alice for not calling one in sooner, so the little job became a big job and Alice is pissed because Ned's the one who told her it was no big deal.

  • Steven and Andrea go to La Paloma, a restaurant in Pacific Shores. (until my re-read, I did not realize how much Steven prefers to take his dates out of SV proper for their dates. There's an AU where he's a serial killer just waiting to happen.)

  • Within the first ten minutes, Steven is already calling Andrea "Tricia."

  • Andrea's grandfather died in a car crash.

  • Angie, Lila's friend from Palisades, invited Lila and Jessica to the beach party. Angie is described as a "cute, diminutive blonde with bouncy curls."

  • Keith, No Last Name Ever Given, is playing guitar at the beach party. He's got thick brown hair and an athletic build, and when he plays music, he's got an angry look on his face. When Jessica meets him, he's barefoot wearing a "No Nukes" t-shirt and old jeans. He goes to Palisades High and really seems to enjoy protests.

  • Steve keeps a picture of Tricia hidden behind his ID in his wallet.

  • Steve also has a picture of himself and Cara at the State Fair on his wall above his desk.

  • Steve refers to the events of the previous book the "Fearless Elizabeth Campaign" when flipping through a magazine she picked up then. This book also makes it sound like he just decided on going hang gliding at that moment but he was considering it at the end of The New Elizabeth so continuity be damned.

  • Ned and Alice were supposed to go to White Canyon for lunch Saturday, but Alice made plans to take fussy Ms. Petty (ha!) to furniture showrooms all day. Ned storms off to the office at the news.

  • Steve wonders to himself if Cara has always been so girly and silly but then scolds himself for being mean and says that she's merely bubbly. Later he wonders if she's too immature because she talks about parties and cheerleading. Steve, you ass.

  • He decides their secret date should be to hike to Castle Rock at Secca Lake. Cara is wearing white strappy sandals but doesn't change shoes before they begin.

  • We are denied the whole story behind Robin imitating Chrome Dome Cooper at cheerleading practice when Chrome Dome walks in and... we'll never know because Steve snaps and says that Jessica already told him the story at dinner. Dammit, Steve, this sounds way more interesting than your boring ass hike.

  • Every Sunday there's an orientation session for the hang gliding class.

  • Keith and Jessica meet at the Dairi Burger (he took the bus there and Jess borrowed Lila's car) all so they could go to Granada Estates to hand out flyers about recycling.

  • Cara suggests renting all the Bond movies from the video store and having a Bond-a-thon soon and Steve snaps her head off even though he loves James Bond.

  • Jessica throws Prince Albert's ball into the pool and he naturally dives in after it. I'm pretty sure your dog shouldn't be hanging out in the pool, Jess, but okay.

  • Steve and Andrea go to the aquarium on their next date.

  • Andrea wears her hair up and Tricia always wore hers down and Steve is creepy about this fact when he takes Andrea's hair down and then fusses when she goes to put it back up.

  • Andrea loves otters just like Tricia! (and me and like a billion other people on Earth.)

  • Andrea likes vanilla icecream but Tricia was all about chocolate.

  • Jessica meets Keith at City Hall for a public hearing about whether the city needs a trash incinerator which Keith is against, btw. He saves a spot for Jessica in the front row.

  • Keith suggests they go to Whole Earth Cafe after the public hearing.

  • Liz has math right before lunch.

  • Todd has to talk to Mr. Collins about his English paper so he just walks Liz to the cafeteria.

  • Jessica is a royal bitch about Cara and Steve obviously having problems and why it's so rude of them to be so public about it. And by public, I mean not being super enthused about going to the beach with her.

  • Lila convinces Cara to join them at the mall in an effort to cheer Cara up and this is actually really sweet. ♥

  • Alice's client that causes her to miss Friday dinner is Mrs. Rappaport.

  • Jessica thinks Andrea looks like Betty Garrett, an actress, but Lila immediately sees the Tricia connection. This means, however, that Betty is also another Tricia clone.

  • Cara overhears Andrea at the Unique Boutique making a date with Steve. They'll be going to the aquarium... again.

  • Steve's hang gliding teacher is Bart.

  • Cara's mother calls her cara mia and that's just super cute.

  • After his run in with the cliff, Steve broke his left arm, has many a cut, contusion, and possible head injuries but not a single fracture to his skull. His brain could still have been bruised, however. Brains, a mystery.

  • Steven's doctor is a woman named Dr. Nichols.

  • Given how often Jessica winds up at the hospital for something involving her siblings, you'd think she'd hate them but it's Elizabeth we hear complaining about being there yet again and wishing they'd never volunteered as candy stripers. (And nary a mention of the kidnapping.)

  • Jessica borrows Steve's car to take Keith to the movies.

  • Keith wants to see a documentary about the reindeer culture of the Lapps. Jessica wants to see a thriller about a detective who falls in love with the psycho killer. Yeah, I'd want to see that one, too.

  • At Valley Cinema, Jessica sees Andrea with a tall, dark haired boy who is most decidedly not Steven. Andrea, you've got a type, eh? Then again, maybe not since not!Steve drives a convertible.

  • When signing Steve's cast, Jessica draws a big loopy flower as she tells him about seeing Andrea on a date the night before.

  • Andrea says they've been out on like, five dates and they never made any promises or anything so she's free to date whomever she likes. Preferably someone who doesn't look at her and see a dead girl, probably. She also has no interest in trying to be friends since that obviously won't work.

  • Jessica's duffel bag for cheerleading practice is pink.

  • Peter Santelli, Maria's father, is the City Planning Commissioner and he's running for mayor.


"Why don't those Brazilian people just stop cutting the trees down?" she asked out loud. "It's simple- just make them stop." - Jessica saves the rainforests! pg 49

"Well, for starters, my parents are turning into total workaholics. They both work all the time, and I'm the one who gets stuck having to do everything at home. Cook dinner, do the laundry, wait around for the electrician, stuff like that. It's like I'm the only responsible one in this whole family." She closed her eyes in self-pity. "It's just not fair." - Saint Jessica, the put-upon. pg 51

"Ned, I just want him to know how I feel about it."
"No, what you want is to make him feel guilty about worrying you and not do it," Mr. Wakefield replied. - Ned aint wrong, Alice. pg 59

"Why would you want to take a good look anyway?" Lila said snottily. "She's just a sales clerk."
"Really," Jessica agreed. - Cara, why do you hang out with these girls? And also, so Lila. pg 85/86

Jessica was torn between boredom and interest. On one hand, Keith was so sincere and passionate about the issues that she couldn't help feeling attracted to him. But on the other hand, she only wished he could be passionate about something besides garbage- her for instance. - pg 65

"Do you think we could go somewhere afterwards? To get something to eat?"
"Sure, how about Whole Earth Cafe?"
Ugh, Jessica said to herself.
"What do they serve?" she asked, leaning close enough to whisper in his ear. She noticed the way his dark hair curled just behind his ear.
Keith turned to look at her. Their eyes met, and even though they were in a room full of people, Jessica thought it was very romantic. His lips parted. "They have natural vegetable juices and mineral water," he said huskily. - pg 65/66 I died at this part, btw. Just lost it. Well done, ghosty. Well done.

"If you want to talk about it, you know where to go." He grinned. "To Enid." - Todd, teasing Elizabeth and honestly this little exchange is one of my favorite bits. When T/L work, they really work. pg 69

"Steve- I just wanted to tell you something. I know you'll always love Tricia, and I know I never meant as much to you as she did," she said. "But I want you to know, our relationship was wonderful while it lasted and I'll always remember you. You'll always be special to me." - Cara breaks my heart, pg 137/138

"What if Steven's decided to swear off women for the rest of his life?" - Jessica takes a moment to glimpse the future of SVC, pg 140. I snorted at this most inelegantly, btw.

 photo ghostoftricia_eng_zpsf35qn2m9.png

Huh. I thought I was going to enjoy this book more than I did. I think part of it was just how awful Steven was the whole damn book. He was an ass to everyone, really. He wants Liz to keep his secret, he wants to cheat on Cara but flips out if someone calls it that, he's a dick to Cara when he does talk to her, he's a jerk to Andrea... really, Steve's a jackass. And I could have been more forgiving if we'd spent less time on "Tricia's come back to me!" and more on the emotion behind it. Seriously, even with this not being the first look alike to come Steven's way, it still would have been more interesting to get deeper than "she likes otters and beach walks, yay!"
He's so willing to throw Cara over for a Tricia lookalike that even in the hospital, he's thinking about Tricia Andrea and not about what a dumbass he was. And Cara forgives him, which sets a terrible precedent for anyone reading this book at a young age. Seriously, demand better.

The Jessica subplot is amusing enough as it happens, but only because not for a second do you see it working the way Jessica wants or even how it might've earlier in the series. It's funny because Jessica can't see how just far off the mark she is. However, she does demand better and I like how she's just not into it at all by the end. Keith Noname isn't worth the effort and she moves on.

Liz probably has my favorite moments because they're less wacky hijinks or stupidity based and more realistic. How do you react when your parents are fighting more and more? What do you do when you've agreed not to say anything about your cheating brother to his girlfriend but you still like her? What about when you realize your family has clocked way too much time in the local hospital?

Surf's Up

The New Elizabeth
March 1990

Elizabeth's ready for a change!
 photo 63_TheNewElizabeth_zpsegtubewa.png
Surf's up...

   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

 photo newelizabeth_eng2_zps9v3s3odc.png

   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!

Birth of a Galaxy

Who's Who?
February 1990

Will the real Jessica please stand up?
 photo 62_WhosWho_zpsfqh8a0wc.png
Scheming again...

   Jessica Wakefield has a fantastic idea! She's bored with all the guys at Sweet Valley High, so a computer dating service seems like the perfect way to spice up her love life- especially when she invents two new sparkling personalities to help her out!

  Jessica becomes sophisticated Daniella Fromage and also Magenta Galaxy, a wild corker with a passion for anything hot. The two guys she gets set up with seem to be exactly what she wanted. With the reluctant help of her twin sister, Elizabeth, Jessica must somehow manage to juggle them both. Who will finally meet her perfect match- Daniella, Magenta... or Jessica?

  I feel like this one doesn't really even need a recap, which probably explains why it took so long to happen.* I've come across people who remember Sweet Valley for a very small handful of things:
  The cover of Double Love, the Evil Twin (occasionally the Return Of as well), tragically dead Regina, and a weird mix of The New Jessica, Daniella Fromage and Magenta freakin' Galaxy.
  Depending on how well the person knew their Sweet Valley, they either realize TNJ is a completely different book or they think it's the one where Jessica creates her weird alter egos that you just know she'd use online later on. (What, you know damn well that Jessica went by Magenta Galaxy online. Don't even try to pretend otherwise.)

   Listen up, kiddies, for the story of the birth of Magenta Freakin' Galaxy.

   We begin with the Wakefield twins shopping at the mall. In a shocking twist of events, they are shopping for a dress for Elizabeth! Stop the presses, Liz is the cause of this shopping expedition? Gasp!

   Anyway, Liz has found the perfect dress for the Valentine's dance that's coming up. For someone who is going to spend the rest of this book and the next worrying about being too boring, she's made an unusual color choice for this particular dance: blue-green that seems to shimmer back and forth between the colors. Since this is my favorite nail polish color ever, I must approve but still. You're more of a rebel than you give yourself credit for, Wakefield Twin #1.
  The only problem with the dress is that it's way too pricey and Liz can't justify the expense, so she puts it back and fails to love anything else nearly as much. To perfectly illustrate the differences between our carbon copies, Jess suggests just getting the dress because it's PERFECTION and Liz clearly loves it. Mom will totally understand once she sees Liz in the dress.
  Liz is the responsible twin, guys, and Jess is the 'impulsive bankrupt your parents in the pursuit of your own happiness' twin. Huzzah! Now that that's sorted out, let's get this A plot rolling.

   There's a new store in the mall called Lovestruck Computer Dating. They advertise "Teens Our Specialty" which sounds a million kinds of creepy, honestly. I'm not sure if that's due to all the years of L&O:SVU or what, but yeah. Anyway, Jess is thrilled because she's SO BORED by all the guys she's dated and by Elizabeth's estimates, Jessica has dated everyone at SVH. Twice over by now, probably.
  Jess pulls her twin inside and gets the scoop on how the enterprise works. Jess grabs an application for herself and then declares that her twin needs one, too. Before Liz can blow it by declaring her undying love for Todd again, Jessica pulls her away and points out that duh, of course the second application is for Jessica. Just be cool, Liz. Jess has this all figured out. Her problem with her last matchmaking company is that she filled out all the answers honestly (I... don't think that was the problem, Jess) and this time she's going to fill out the application in order to snag the kind of guy she wants.
  Because she's Jessica, she has a backup plan already in motion.

   First we have Daniella Fromage, who is the beret wearing twin on the front of the book. Daniella, in a valiant effort to overcome her last name being French for cheese, has a deep love for foreign films, modern poetry, French cuisine, and world travel. She also happens to be based a bit on Suzanne Hanlon, only less insufferable.

   Magenta Galaxy is the wild rocker who likes everything new and anything hot, including fast cars, loud dance bands, and the latest fashions- the wilder the better. She's based on Dana Larson, although I'm going to need the story of Dana dancing on a coffee counter at 4am after scarfing down a burger since that's also part of Magenta's profile.

  Liz is completely baffled as to why Jessica would bother to base these two characters on people they know (you're going to be a fun writer, aren't you, Lizzie?) and why not just give the girls real names and have the company matchmake for them. Jess scoffs at this and then Liz points out that her last go round of being someone else didn't work out so well. Jess does not wish to discuss A.J. because it's still a sore subject, even if she does realize that she's not meant to be tied down to just one guy yet. Jessica then returns the applications to the pile and makes sure that they're not together so no one sees the same address but different last names.

  Right, because that's going to be the problem they have with the names... I suppose that since they specialize in teenagers they also specialize in knowing that false names are also going to be part of the deal. Enh, it gave us Magenta Galaxy so let's roll with it.

   Not too long afterward, the twins arrive home on a Friday and find a letter waiting for Daniella Fromage. They've found her a match in Pierre Du Lac who sounds positively dreamy to Jessica. She calls Lovestruck to give them permission to let Pierre have her phone number, only Prince Albert is having none of this. When Jessica tells her Prince, repeatedly, to leave her be, the woman on the other end of the call is confused as to why she'd need help dating if she has a prince already.
  I really cannot tell you if little me found this funny or if younger me also pulled the "are you serious? Really?" sarcastic face at the thought of someone being that Amelia Bedelia about anything as a freakin' adult. :P

   And then reality comes crashing down as Jessica realizes she says she wants a guy interested in things she knows very little about and now she has to learn enough to fake it. But how? Liz suggests a crash course and of course! So Jessica makes an appointment with Suzanne Hanlon and Elizabeth is left to wonder just how wrong this whole Fromage thing is going to wind up before the end.

   Turns out that Jessica is capable of being on time if it's important enough, as she rolls up to the Hanlon house at 10am on the dot. I think we're supposed to be impressed by the Hanlon estate but really, is it Fowler Crest or Bruce's mansion or even Regina's home? No? Then no one cares. Sorry, Suzanne.

  Then Magenta gets a hit in the form of Brett S. because last names just aren't cool. So Jess gets Dana to give her a crash course in being a new kind of awesome (all in the name of true love, which I suspect Dana agrees to because Jessica's schemes have got to be legendary at SVH) and then Jess spends the rest of her week cramming as much sophistication and punk rock music into her brain as is fictionally possible. When Liz tires of hearing the Psychedelic Overtones cranked up to 11, she asks Jessica to turn the crap down but, as always, Jess can't hear her. Oh the wackiness of that setup will never get old.

   This transitions to Liz still not understanding why Jessica would go to such lengths to get a guy who isn't even going to get to know the real Jessica (there are so many punchlines here that I literally cannot choose between them, so form your own) and that NONE of this is Jessica's style.
  Jessica shoots back that maybe it could be and she'll never know if she never tries and, as always, Jessica's logic works in the moment. Then she points out that just because Elizabeth is content to never push boundaries and to know her limitations, it doesn't mean that Jessica has to feel the same way. Liz worries that maybe she is boring and a coward and the set up for The New Elizabeth is born. It's also our C-plot since Magenta and Daniella are going to be A and B in alternating form.
  To be fair, I agree that especially at sixteen, Jessica should be allowed to push her boundaries at times and that Liz is also right in that this plan is doomed to failure. But it's not because it's Jessica's plan, it's because even after learning about all these things, she has absolutely no interest in them outside of landing a guy. Also, they're all fakers but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

   Because we needed more of Jessica's crash course, we switch to Jessica studying at Lila's. Lila's upset because Jessica went to Suzanne when she wanted to learn to be sophisticated and honestly, I don't blame her. It's particularly amusing since last time she did go to Lila but I digress. Jessica tells Lila that it's because Suzanne is so snobby and over the top and that Lila is decidedly more real but the reality is that Jessica suspects that Pierre is expecting Old Money like the Hanlons and not New Money like the Fowlers. We do have partial confirmation that Lila's father is the richest man in Sweet Valley and that's even with Lila spending money like crazy.
  We're treated to Lila quizzing Jessica on such things as who painted Starry Night and who is Abbie Hoffman, both questions Jessica missed that Lila knew. I could have done with more Lila time but it wasn't meant to be.

   Friday night, date night with Pierre. Jessica panics when she realizes she has no idea how to create the perfect sophisticated look for her date. I call BS because you know damn well that Jessica would have thought to ask Lila for help with that at least, but this gives us a chance to remember that Elizabeth is a classy broad. In a matter of moments she assembles a gorgeous ensemble and even manages to nail the accessories.

  At the restaurant (Chez Sam, really?), Jessica and Pierre are smitten by how gorgeous the other is but conversation never manages to flow easily. Pierre's mistakes are pretty obvious once you've picked up on his whole being a big faker, but Jessica assumes that he's making jokes throughout the night so she doesn't realize anything is amiss, although she is a little concerned when he doesn't order from the French menu in French.
  Realizing his mistake, Pierre explains that before Jessica arrived, he and the waiter were chatting but the waiter is French Canadian and their accents are just so totally different that it was easier to order in English. I really hope kid!me howled at that the way adult me because it's priceless, truly.

  Anyway, the rest of the date goes on in much the same way but a second date is set up because hello, gorgeous, and also Pierre is a great kisser?

   Saturday we learn that the Wakefield parents aren't completely clueless as Alice inquires as to where all the weird stuff in Jessica's room came from. Weird stuff? Paratrooper outfit, young lady. Crisis is averted when Jessica says she's borrowing things from friends and then Jessica asks Liz to help her get ready again since it went so well the previous night.

  I'll buy Liz being a natural at helping Jessica dress up as Daniella, but doing the Magenta look? Really? Elizabeth Wakefield? I'm torn on this because I adore the sisterly bonding and yet... Elizabeth is probably the last person in SV I'd ask for help with a rocker look. Maybe Todd would be last, but still.

   Anyway, Jessica decides Magenta needs a blue streak in her hair and has Liz pick out a section of hair for the spray on color. Liz does (bang and an inch wide chunk on the right side of Jessica's head, so the cover's not completely accurate) and Jessica debates a pink streak as well. Liz cannot say No! fast enough and Jessica agrees that maybe too much would just be too much in this case.

  Brett S. arrives in an old brown Oldsmobile that he says is his father's and Jessica, in an attempt to be cool, says she gets that he's making a real statement with the car. She's hip, you dig?
  The go to the Rock Spot and on the way there conversation is stilted at best until Brett throws on some heavy metal which is so not Jessica's scene at all. The headache only gets worse when she realizes that there's no chance for chatting in the club and that Brett is too cool for dancing.
  Still, he looks hot in his leather jacket and that covers a multitude of sins, I guess, since this sounds like an awful date to me. When the night ends, Jessica's left with ringing in her ears and hearts in her eyes.

   Wednesday night, Jessica and Pierre go see some weird French movie that Jessica asks Pierre to explain the French idioms and he panics and points out that there will be subtitles you know. The movie bores Jessica to tears and confuses her due to the language barrier and the fact that she's clearly not drinking enough Absinthe to get the full meaning behind everything. On their way out of the theater, Jessica thinks she sees Brett but that would be crazy since he's not into this scene and she chalks it up to going a little crazy due to all the switching back and forth.

  Back to Liz, the next phase in her Be More Daring campaign (after painting her toenails red) is to sit somewhere other than her usual lunch table with Enid. Enid points out that you can't plan spontaneity and Liz sulks a bit because she's just not good at this at all.

   Our ghostie remembers that this is the plot for the following book, so we switch back to Jessica who is getting ready to go to Jax, some club where people stage dive. Jessica hopes that Brett's aversion to dancing also extends to stage diving but not to heading out to Millers Point. We never do find out how that date plays out, alas.

  Friday #3, Alice intercepts a call for Magenta. Jessica decides to have Brett call Lila and leave messages there and I think we all know how well this is going to work.

   Saturday morning, Liz tries to convince the readers and her mother that Jessica would enjoy reading A Tale of Two Cities before deciding she's off to the mall to buy that dress she wanted. Jessica, in a rare moment of awesomeness and flush with cash somehow, offered to go halfsies on the dress with her twin. Awww. Liz invites Jess to the mall, but she's probably half deaf from the night before and is still sound asleep by the time Liz has showered and gotten ready and only truly awakens when Pierre calls to invite her to dinner that night.

  Liz heads off to the mall where she sees a sign for a two-week perm. After making sure it really lasts for only two weeks, Liz decides to go for it before hitting Lisette's to pick up her dress. While there she runs into Lila who has been trying all morning to get a hold of Jessica who is either on the phone the whole time or has accidentally left it off the hook. Lila's surprised by the hair and impressed by the dress and leaves Liz to deal with the fallout of Brett having made a date with Magenta for that night.

   Uh oh.

   Liz hightails it home and suggests that Jessica just cancel one of the dates. Jessica can't because the Hershey bar ate Brett's number and Pierre is going to be out all day. Ohnoes!
  Then Jessica gets a positively brilliant idea. Hey, Liz, remember when I said you'd owe me for the dress? Time to pay up! Todd'll totally understand you flaking out the weekend before Valentine's Day but neither of my true loves will, so it's time to Twin Up. Liz points out that she has no idea how to be Magenta or Daniella and that both boys have gone on dates with Jessica and Liz will just fuck things up.

   Fear not, Jessica has that covered as well. We'll take them to the Lotus House for Chinese and you'll sit in one dining room and I'll sit in the other and every 15 minutes we'll switch places. Luckily black works for sophisticated and edgy rocker. And Jessica will curl her hair and it'll be just like Liz's perm!

  What could possibly go wrong...

   Liz, as Daniella, finds that Pierre is full of shit, not knowing where Paris is (not on the Riviera, folks) and finds him a snob despite not knowing a damn thing about things he claims to know about. She orders ginger chicken before heading off to make a phone call.

  The twins switch and Liz voices her dislike of Pierre. Jessica points out that it's like, half of one date with the dude and by the time the night's over she'll have her date for the dance and just be cool, Liz, especially since you're being Magenta now.

  Liz as Magenta finds Brett to be just as big a faker as Pierre, if not more so since even Elizabeth knows that the Stones sing Sympathy for the Devil and not the Doors. She orders ginger chicken and doesn't really bother to make an excuse when her fifteen minutes are up even though Brett is trying to tell her something important as their dinner arrives.

   We follow Jessica back to Brett and she flips out when she realizes she's still wearing Daniella's watch. Honey, at this point I don't think Brett's gonna notice a watch. She takes a bite out of her dinner and nearly gags as apparently the twins do not agree on ginger. Still, she forces herself to shovel the food in because it's easier than making small talk, or something.
  When Brett works up the nerve to have his heart to heart with Magenta, Jessica runs off to the bathroom again. I kind of love her for not even thinking of being embarrassed about the fact that she's run to the bathroom three times in the last hour, leaving her date to probably think she's got some issue or another. Seriously, the thought does not cross her mind til much, much later.

   Back in the bathroom, Elizabeth has had enough of Pierre's bullshit and calls him on being a big faker. Considering she's pretending to be her twin who is pretending to be someone else, I'd say she's kind of lacking a leg to stand on but whatever. Jessica's ticked and heads off to make nice with Pierre, which leaves Liz to ruin things with Brett, too. The night with Pierre ends shortly after dinner and Jessica gets home before Elizabeth does.

  Liz somehow manages to be humiliated by all this which is something I sort of understand and sort of don't. These guys don't know she exists, so why would she care if they thought Magenta/Daniella was... I don't even follow the logic since she's the one calling people out on their lies. All she had to do was order a dinner she liked and pretend to care for fifteen minutes at a time. I get horribly bad secondhand embarrassment for people (real and fictional) and I've got some fantastic social anxiety going on but this? This sounds pretty simple, at least for the dinner portion.

   Anyway, the twins blow up at one another and Liz tells Jessica she's better off without the faking fakers and Jessica points out that this was not Elizabeth's decision to make. She's allowed to voice her opinion, but she doesn't get to decide who Jessica dates simply because she doesn't like them.
  The twins sleep it off and for once, Jessica is up and at 'em before Liz is in the morning. Jessica heads down to the tennis courts where she burns off her anger playing a set with Cara. While there she runs into a cute guy named Tony and realizes that when you have the choice between being Jessica Wakefield or being anyone else, duh, you choose Jessica Wakefield every time.

   Unfortunately back at home, Liz feels bad about ruining her sister's dates so she proves she's inept at plotting by calling both boys and having them come by the house at... the same time? She waits impatiently for Jess to come home but Jess doesn't make it home until just before Pierre arrives. Whoops. Liz disappears and Jess is ticked. They retire to the living room where Pierre confesses that his name is Pete and he's not at all like the guy he was pretending to be. Before Jessica can respond, the doorbell rings and Brett arrives.
  Turns out he's more like Pierre than rocker dude, and Jessica is once more interrupted by the doorbell. Suzanne and Dana have arrived together (but apart) because Jessica told them they could pick up their stuff that afternoon. Jessica storms upstairs to murder her twin but decides the homicide will have to wait after she realizes that maybe this madcap adventure was always doomed to failure. When she returns downstairs, she can't find anyone.

   The foursome is out on the patio by the pool and they've broken up into couples, with Dana chatting Pete up and Brett and Suzanne hitting it off. The newly minted couples drift off, leaving Jessica to get away with her lies mostly scott free.

   We end the book with Liz getting ready for the Valentine's Day Dance and people reacting to her permed hair with various shades of surprise and disbelief that the sensible twin wants to be more rebellious. Todd completely dismisses Elizabeth's feelings which is a bit unusual for old Todd, but Todd-with-money is a bit of an ass. I've always kind of felt that he went to Vermont and aliens took over his body. Anyway, Liz is determined to show everyone that Jessica isn't the only Wakefield with nerve.

Trivia Crack:

  • Lovestruck Computer Dating: Teens Our Specialty

  • As part of their opening promotion, Lovestruck is only charging $5 per application.

  • The receptionist at LS is a redhead.

  • Once a match is made, the girl gives LS permission to give her phone number to the guy, at least that's how it worked for Magenta and Daniella.

  • Daniella Fromage is an intellectual who loves foreign films, modern poetry, French cuisine, and world travel. Jessica gives her the barest hint of an accent and uses a throatier voice for her. "A meaningful conversation in front of a crackling fire, with an opera on the stereo" is her idea of the perfect evening.

  • Magenta Galaxy, on the other hand, is a wild rocker whose passions are everything new and anything hot. She likes fast cars, loud dance bands, and the latest fashions-the wilder, the better. Her perfect evening? Cruising the hippest music clubs in L.A. and ending the evening in a coffee shop at four in the morning, eating hamburgers and dancing on the counter top. She's got a royal blue streak in her bangs and an inch wide on the right side of her head. She also is prone to giant bangle bracelets.

  • Jessica still gets upset when forced to think about the breakup with A.J. This makes my little 'shipper heart absurdly happy.

  • The book takes place about a month before Valentine's Day since we cycle through at least three weekends.

  • Friday afternoon (two days after she signs up) Daniella has a match in Pierre Du Lac.

  • Pierre Du Lac was born in France and spent his childhood going back and forth between the Riviera and Paris, has traveled extensively "on the Continent and in Europe" (silly boy, it's the same thing), speaks four languages, plans to be a novelist or a museum curator, plays the piano, loves jogging and sailing, and his favorite foods are truffles and foie gras.

  • Pierre is tall and slim, with a "narrow and sensitive" face, light brown hair, dark lashes, bright blue eyes, is tanned, and has dimples when he smiles.

  • Prince Albert is so excited to see Jessica that he demands a hug before he'll leave her alone.

  • Jessica's appointment with Suzanne is at the Hanlon's home at 10am and she's on time.

  • Mason is the Hanlon's gloomy looking butler. I imagine living with Suzanne and her parents has probably sucked the joy from him.

  • Suzanne is in PBA with Jessica, something I forget.

  • The Hanlons have a solarium and have vacationed in Italy. They also have the albums, not scrapbooks, of photographs to prove it.

  • Suzanne lends Jessica a Neiman-Marcus shopping bag with several silk blouses, 2 Chanel purses, two designer scarves, a pair of Gucci shoes, and several accessories.

  • As of this book, Liz is still practicing her recorder.

  • Chez Sam is in Pacific Shores and their menus are all in French. No English for you.

  • Jessica knows that thon is French for tuna fish, so she orders thon aux herbes so she doesn't accidentally wind up eating calves' brains or something equally disgusting. Pierre follows suit.

  • Pierre claims he ordered in English because the waiter was French Canadian and their accents were just too different, so English was easier.

  • Brett S. wants to be a race car driver or a rock guitarist, or maybe both. He believes in "living life to the max." He says he's tall, dark, and wild and likes his girls to be tall, blond, and wild. He drives his father's old brown Oldsmobile. He's tall and lean with golden brown eyes, dark brown hair, a strong jaw, high cheekbones, and a black leather jacket he apparently wears the hell out of. He shows up to their first date wearing said jacket, a white t-shirt, skintight black jeans, and black motorcycle boots, as well as dark sunglasses. (Sunglasses at Night. I did not realize one could do duck lips while singing but hey, the 80's were a progressive time)

  • Since when is 5'6" for a girl considered tall?

  • Jess imagines that Brett will be tall and lanky with a leather jacket, swept back black hair, piercing dark eyes, and a "very kissable mouth."

  • Jessica admits that she admires Dana for her style and envies her ability to get up in front of crowds and sing with The Droids.

  • Brett calls Magenta at 4pm Sunday, has just the sort of voice Jessica imagined: cool, sulky, and sexy. Because... sulky is sexy?

  • Brett is taking Magenta to the Rock Spot (located outside of the Valley) at 8pm Saturday night. X-Press is playing.

  • Dana brings a tape deck to her crash course with Jessica in the cafeteria at SVH.

  • Dana agrees because Jessica claims it's True Love.

  • Various bands mentioned during the Magenta storyline: Blues Hogs (too derivitive according to Brett), Psychedelic Overtones, X-Press, the Beatles, the Doors, and the Rolling Stones.

  • Jumping Jimmy's showcases new talent every Thursday night.

  • Jessica has taped maps of Europe and pictures of French paintings all over her walls during this.

  • Jessica is also the one who inadvertently prompts The New Elizabeth when she points out that while she might fly too close to the sun, Elizabeth never even thinks of getting off the ground.

  • Elizabeth's first act of being less predictable? She writes DARE TO BE DIFFERENT in her journal.

  • Lila's housekeeper is still Eva.

  • Lila is upset that Jessica went to Suzanne Hanlon instead of coming her to her for her sophistication crash course.

  • Jessica claims it's because Lila is more real than Suzanne is, but it's really because Suzanne is Old Money and Lila is very much New Money.

  • Lila has a pink upholstered chair in her room, but both girls hang out on her canopy bed for their study session.

  • Quiz questions include: What is an aubergine? (eggplant), Who is the conductor of The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields? (it's chamber music and Sir Neville Marriner is), Who painted Starry Night (Jessica initially guesses Renoir), Who is Abbie Hoffman (Jessica guesses the lead guitarist for the Dead and then files him under "dead Hippie"), and Where's the best place to buy vintage records in Sweet Valley? (Tune Town on Fifth Street)

  • Lila asks about David Hockney but he's not on Jessica's list so she has no time. Lila points out that if she's asked, she can't say that but Jessica's not worried.

  • Liz comforts herself with the notion that she can always order ginger ale instead of root beer, but also admits this is pretty lame as far as being different goes. (It really, really is, Liz. Root beer is the superior choice in this case and dammit, now I want some.)

  • Jessica splits the cost of the dress Elizabeth wants from Lisette's. Aww.

  • Le Chou Farci is the most expensive restaurant in town and Suzanne claims her family eats there at least once a week.

  • When Daniella says she wants to "drown myself in the dance", Pierre asks which dance. Jessica is puzzled because The Dance is ballet.

  • Pierre also thinks Fellini is pasta, but Jessica is sure he's joking.

  • Pierre claims to love Verdet's poetry as well as Baroness Rolfenhausen, who is better known in Europe than in America. Or y'know, is fictional.

  • Their next date is set for the Odeon, Sweet Valley's revival movie theater, Wednesday evening.

  • Jessica wants Pierre to kiss her hand and both cheeks because "It would be so European." She still practically swoons when he just kisses her on the lips.

  • Liz and Todd bailed on their lame movie and after Todd leaves, Elizabeth decides to paint her toenails red as another step in the direction of Different.

  • Alice wonders where the strange things like the paratrooper outfit and the black rubber and clear plastic necklace in Jessica's room have come from.

  • Jessica hates heavy metal.

  • Brett claims he comes to the club to hear the music and that dancing ruins that.

  • On her way out the door to the movie from hell with Pierre, Jessica notices a strand of blue left in her hair, so she yanks it out.

  • Pierre confuses Ingrid Bergman with Ingmar Bergman.

  • Brett is at the movie from hell.

  • Liz and Enid always sit at a table in the middle of the lunchroom with a bunch of their friends.

  • Brett takes Magenta to Jax which is one of those places where people throw themselves off the stage.

  • Jessica trims her own split ends.

  • Liz finishes A Tale of Two Cities and thinks Jessica would like it. Alice and I remain skeptical.

  • Sheer Glamour is running a Two Week Perm for $20 special.

  • Pierre is set to pick Daniella up at 6pm and Brett is picking Magenta up at 6:15.

  • Brett calls Lila to set up a date for Magenta at 11:15am, and Lila spends the morning calling the Wakefields but can't get through because Jessica is on the line each time Lila calls.

  • Lila runs into Liz at Lisette's and tells her about the date.

  • Lotus House is a large Chinese restaurant with two dining rooms, thus enabling the switching back and forth. It's on Fremont Blvd, just past the Bank of California.

  • Pierre is on a San Fransisco kick, saying they have the best Chinese food outside the People's Republic, of course. He also waxes poetic about their theater, exhibits, "that sort of thing." Liz, as Daniella, is not impressed.

  • When pressed, Pierre says his last exhibit was on Greek pottery, but it wasn't as good as anything at the Louvre. Liz thinks he's just name dropping now.

  • Liz happens to be at the table during the ordering portion of both dates and she orders ginger chicken both times.

  • Jessica hates ginger and wishes Liz got something normal like moo shu pork.

  • Liz judges Brett for ordering sweet and sour pork since it's not all that exciting. She'd probably hate my orders then.

  • Brett stumbles and attributes Sympathy for the Devil to the Doors and not the Stones. Even Liz knows he's wrong, but give him another four/five years and he just might not have known it was a cover. Then again, I'm guessing he wouldn't know who Guns N' Roses are either.

  • Tony Mangino is 5'10" (he's described as four inches taller than Jess) with straight blond hair, blue eyes, a dimple in his chin, and is supposed to be really cute. He's also smart enough to not tell Jessica that she plays well for a girl but that she plays well for anyone. He's Jessica's date for the Valentine's Dance.

  • Jessica leaves Pete Lake (in his black jeans and black t-shirt) in the living room when she answers the door.

  • Brett gets left in the den and he shows up wearing a bright blue polo shirt, chinos, and brown boat shoes. He and Suzanne are both going to the Altschuler Gallery that afternoon.

"I'm telling you, Liz. The boys around here are so immature it makes me want to join a convent sometimes."
"The junior and senior boys would have to proclaim a national day of mourning if you did that." - Jess and Liz know how to open a story, page 1.

She tried not to ogle the fine antiques and lavishly decorated rooms as she followed Mason through the house. She knew it wasn't classy to ogle. - Oh, Jess. page 19

"Listen, Jess, don't you think it's kind of useless, all this studying you're doing? You're trying to turn yourself into something you're not."
"I'm not yet, but I could be," her twin insisted in a confident voice. "Why shouldn't I go for something I want? You never get anything if you don't take a chance." - For once Jessica makes sense, page 33

"For your information," Lila said, "Abbie Hoffman was that sixties radical hippie who died in 1989. Even I know that."
Jessica looked at the ceiling. "OK, OK. Abbie Hoffman, dead hippie." - page 42

She knew the French ate some pretty horrible things, but she wasn't willing to be that sophisticated. - Jessica draws the lines at calves' brains, page 52

For the time being, though, Magenta was going to going to listen to the music and enjoy it, even if Jessica had to go deaf doing it! - page 70

"You look awfully pretty, Jess," her father said as he passed her in the hall. "I hope I didn't have to pay for that outfit, though." page 73

"First of all," Enid began, "you can't plan to be more spontaneous. That's a contradiction in terms." - You tell her, Enid. page 78

Jessica and Lila were always involving each other in their crazy schemes. Their whole friendship seemed to be built on mutual plots and subterfuges. - Precisely. page 83

"Speaking of Jessica, where is she?" Mrs. Wakefield asked. "Sleeping?"
Elizabeth smiled. "Remember, she needs her beauty sleep, Mom."
"At this rate, she'll be the most beautiful girl in the world." - page 85

"It's her problem, not yours."
At that, Elizabeth let out a short, sarcastic laugh. "Lila, Jessica's problems always have a way of turning into my problems." - Liz knows what's what, page 92

Jessica crossed her arms. "I figured out what to do about tonight."
"That's good," Elizabeth replied. A little crease of uncertainty appeared in her forehead. "What are you going to do?"
"You mean, what are we going to do," Jessica corrected her.
Elizabeth whirled around to face her twin. "What are you talking about?" Her heart began pounding.
Jessica walked over and stood next to Elizabeth. Their identical images looked back at them from the mirror. "We've done it before," Jessica said softly. - This is the set up to an entirely different kind of story, I suspect. page 98

"What were you and Brett talking about, just so I know?"
"Oh, classic rock 'n' roll. The Beatles, you know. All those ancient bands." - Liz and Jessica making people feel old since forever. Page 110.

What's going on? she wondered. First Pierre thinks Paris on the Riviera, and now Brett mixes up classic songs even I know about! -Liz, page 113

Fashion File:
The strapless dress was made of a shimmery fabric that looked blue from one angle and green from another. - Liz's Valentine's dress from Lisette's.

Dana looked down at her wrists. She was wearing four thick black bangles on each arm. They went perfectly with her skintight black pants, black and white-checked shoes, and lime green T-shirt. In one ear she wore a guitar pick dangling from a silver wire. - The 80's-ness of this, it burns! page 30

Daniella wears a cream colored silk blouse, navy blue linen pants with a silk scarf in red, blue, and gold artfully tied over the shirt. She opts for Suzanne's little red bag and her own blue suede flats complete the look. Her hair is "pulled back neatly and clipped with a wide gold barrette." pages 44 and 50.
For her outfit, she had chosen tight black bicycle pants, a black tank top, and a red leather jacket she had borrowed from Lila. Almost anything from Dana's collection would look right with the ensemble.
"The guitar pick earring, definitely," Elizabeth said. "And those black bangles." - Magenta's first outfit, page 64

She glanced at her reflection in the hall mirror. The blue jacket and white linen skirt were two more items borrowed from Suzanne.
She turned her head from side to side to admire her borrowed pearl stud earrings. - page 73

On Thursday night Jessica had another blue streak in her hair. She wriggled into a blue strapless minidress and fastened a necklace of dice and tiddlywinks around her neck. In among the clicking pieces were Scrabble tiles that spelled out "Hard Rock." - Jessica completes this look with a side ponytail on the right side of her head, page 79

The French movie that probably haunted everyone who read this: "As far as Jessica could tell, all the characters believed they were in purgatory, though to her it looked just like a doctor's waiting room. Every once in a while a nurse would call someone's name, and that person would look shocked and begin talking morosely about his childhood. Then the scene would switch to someone's apartment, and the characters would begin to talk about opera and the family's cheese-making factory. It didn't make any sense at all!

To make matters worse, every once in awhile a little red ball would roll across whatever room the characters were in. No one in the film seemed to notice it. Jessica didn't have the slightest idea what it was supposed to symbolize, but she knew she had to have an opinion by the time the film was over."

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   Who's Who? is a fun read. I particularly love the bits of twin bonding between Liz and Jessica, like when Jessica gives Liz the money for the dress and how Liz helps Jessica get ready for her dates. It's sweet and it's why I love to read the SV books, honestly. I have sister envy something fierce and WW definitely feeds right into that.
  Magenta Galaxy is definitely worth remembering and was definitely ahead of her time. :p The B/C plot is a bit weird since it's all a set up for the next book but really, this book couldn't handle anything too heavy plot wise since there's a lot of crazy going on with the Daniella/Magenta antics. I do find it funny that only one person matched up for both personalities but hey, let's not pick too much at this book. It's what, 25 years old?

   And now you feel old, too, so my job here is done! And looking back on this, holy crap, this is long. It feels like it's longer than the book itself. Oops. Sorry about that. Maybe it'll make up for the three year absence? Cover wise, am I the only one getting Geena Davis vibes from Jess/Magenta?

Many thanks to luxken27 for the scan of the original book cover. Also, happy belated birthday!

*- Or, y'know, not. I moved twice in the last two years and there was the year of having to pack prior to the first move (you live somewhere for 15 years, you accumulate a lot of crap. Double that when someone finds all the crap you never unpacked from the previous house where your family lived for like, 30/40 years. A LOT of those things were books and for awhile there I couldn't stand to LOOK at another book, let alone do anything with them. Throw in a few waltzes with death and general fuckery and here we are. No evil twins, however. Not that I'm aware of anyway...

Sweet Valley High: Form of... eBook!

Oh, look. An update. Must be the end of the world.

Or else it's the first twelve books in the SVH series being released in e-book format. You decide.

All twelve will drop November 27, 2012 and these are the updated 'covers'. I'm unsure how I feel about them, but I'll be honest and say if they were re-releasing them in actual tangible form? I'd buy the hell out of them. My shame, I have none.

01. Double Love @ Amazon and Barnes & Noble, both for $2.99

02. Secrets @ Amazon and BN (behold the scratches scanned in!)

03. Playing With Fire @ Amazon and BN

04. Power Play @ Amazon and BN

05. All Night Long @ Amazon and BN

06. Dangerous Love @ Amazon and BN

07. Dear Sister @ Amazon and BN (am I the only one sad they covered Lizbeth's picture?)

08. Heartbreaker @ Amazon and BN

09. Racing Hearts @ Amazon and BN

10. Wrong Kind Of Girl @ Amazon and BN

11. Too Good To Be True @ Amazon and BN (my eyes are bleeding!)

12. When Love Dies @ Amazon and BN

Bonus, Amazon has a super zoom for those who are seriously into their SV artwork. *coughmecough*
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