Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Forbidden Love

Well hellooo there Valley fans! Let's get stuck into book thirty four. I can't believe I've written thirty four of these and that's not even close to halfway through this deliriously sprawling series. Tis but a drop in the pastel coloured Sweet Valley ocean. What am I doing with my life.

Sweet Valley High #34: Forbidden Love


It's Friday afternoon and Sweet Valley High is abuzz with the news that cheerleader Maria Santelli and her boyfriend Michael Harris have gotten engaged. Who? Exactly. But let's pretend we care. She's sixteen, he's seventeen, their parents hate each other and this is all clearly a huge mistake, so let's see what happens. Jessica Wakefield thinks it's the most romantic thing she's ever heard and Elizabeth has her frowny disapproving face on, but at least in this case she's more justified than usual. Elizabeth and Enid discuss it while walking home, along with the upcoming social studies project where the students will be paired up into husband and wife teams and have to figure out how to manage a budget and work through assorted problems that will be thrown at them. It's a little on the nose, as subplots go.

At cheerleading practice, everyone is crowding around Maria to bombard her with questions and get a look at her engagement ring. She explains that they have to keep the engagement a secret, because her and Michael's fathers used to be business partners but after some big deal fell through four years ago, the partnership split up and the two families haven't spoken to each other since. Maria has been telling her parents that she's seeing some guy called Josh and taking the ring off every evening when she gets home.

The following day, the social studies class project gets underway. Jessica gets paired up with Winston Egbert, Olivia Davidson gets Jeffrey French, Lila is paired with Bill Chase, Maria and Michael just happen to get randomly put together and Elizabeth gets Bruce Patman.

She couldn't help smiling at the prospect of pretending to be married to one of the richest boys in school. In the old days, Bruce would have been a pain to work with, she thought.

Hey Liz, speaking of the old days, remember that time he got you drunk and tried to rape you? No? Alright then.

The teams are all assigned their individual details, so we have Jessica annoyed with the fact that Winston is a bus driver, they have seven children like a Catholic family in the seventies (imagine what seven pregnancies would do to her perfect Wakefield figure! THE HORROR) and she works part time at a beauty salon, but it's nothing compared to Lila's outrage that she's a cook and her husband Bill is unemployed. Michael and Maria get designated as a vet and a housewife and Maria rolls her eyes, saying she must be the only "wife" who didn't get assigned a job, but it turns out that Michael actually wants his wife to stay at home and mind the kids, "like the good old days".

Hey Michael.

Michael.

Michael.

Go fuck yourself.

Jessica catches up with Lila and Cara after class and they decide to throw a surprise engagement party for Maria and Michael at Lila's mansion that weekend, so the two can have a chance to celebrate, seeing as they're having to keep the whole thing under wraps from their parents. And seeing as there's no dance coming up, you can be fucking sure that there'll be a Fowler mansion party at the very least.

Meanwhile, Winston is running for Student Council PTA representative and Maria has been helping him with his campaign. (Quick aside, literally every time I type Maria's name, I end up spelling it Maris and I'm starting to wonder if the character in Fraiser was a typo all this time. Seriously, every time you see the word Maria in this post, I've had to go back and change it from Maris. Every. Time.) She's been working on it with him on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last while and has been really enjoying his company and seeing a more serious side to him. However, Michael wants her to come with him to buy a present for his older sister on Tuesday so she has to cancel on Winston and he's all disappointed. And then while they're out shopping, Michael makes a big deal over a tennis match he's playing on Thursday and demands that Maria ditches Winston again and comes to support him. She ends up suggesting that maybe she could get someone to take over from her with the campaign stuff and Michael jumps on the idea, saying that he doesn't like the way Winston looks at her. He's getting all weird and possessive and I hate this guy. Maria breaks the news to Winston at school and makes up some lie about starting piano lessons rather than telling him that her fiancé is being a dick.

Later that week, Maria calls Elizabeth at home and explains that she can't help Winston with his campaign any more and would she consider taking her place. Elizabeth hops onto her nearby high horse and proclaims that Maria made an agreement with Winston and she should see it through. Maria gets upset and huffy and accuses Elizabeth of being jealous of her and Michael. HA! As if a Wakefield twin, with their superior genetics and peaches and cream complexions and flawless parallel parking skills would be jealous of Maria Santelli. Who even ARE you, Maria.

Afterwards, Maria feels bad about blowing up on Elizabeth and decides that she shouldn't quit on Winston and that Michael will just have to accept it. She's also getting fed up of keeping their engagement a secret. Part of the reason that they got engaged in the first place was to show their parents how serious they are about each other when they eventually come clean with them, but Michael keeps putting her off when she brings it up. Later, in the social studies class, the pair of them are given a problem to work through. Their fictional son has been acting out and shoplifting, Maria wants to take him to a psychologist but Michael thinks they can't afford it and wants to beat it out of him instead. Super. After class, she tells him that she's going to keep helping Winston and he sulks a bit but tells her to go ahead.

These kids look like they're forty.

It's the night of the big surprise party for Maria and Michael and the twins are getting ready at home. Elizabeth thinks the party is a bad idea, since the engagement is meant to be on the down low, and "unhappily" moans about how it's "wrong" but she's going anyway because she's a fucking hypocrite. Maria and Michael end up having a row in the car on their way to Lila's because Maria doesn't want to keep lying to her parents and Michael accuses her of wanting to break up with him. They arrive at the house in bad form with each other and are shocked to find the drawing room decked out with silver bells, white balloons and a wedding cake. Michael gets dragged away by his friends and Maria has to feign delight and sign the guest book that Lila brings her over to, and of course her parties feature leather-bound guest books, because LILA = MAGNIFICENCE.

Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Santelli are going to the cinema and run into Caroline Pearce's mother in the queue, who's waiting on her friend while she parks the car.

"The show should start soon. Did you come with a friend or are you alone?"
Mrs Pearce had been divorced for years.

OUCH, GHOSTWRITER. This is such an unnecessary burn and I can't help but love it. Also, it turns out that Caroline's mother is as much of a blabbermouth as her daughter as she congratulates the Santellis on Maria's big news, which they are understandably thunderstruck to discover. They call the Harrises and explain what's happened and all four of them head over to the Fowler mansion together, reunited by the idiocy of their children.

Back at the party, The Droids play a song written especially for the unhappy couple, there are photos taken in front of the cake, and Winston asks Maria to dance. When the song ends, Michael takes the microphone and thanks everyone for the party, says how much he loves Maria, and then announces that he's going to run for student representative thingy as well, and that Maria will be helping him, which makes her look like a massive asshole in front of Winston. Poor Winston gets upset and runs off outside because he's SENSITIVE, you guys. :( Maria goes to follow him, but:

She hadn't gone far when Michael stepped in front of her. "Let him go," he said roughly, grabbing her arm. "Let him go, you hear me?"

Seriously.

Fuck.

This.

Guy.

Unsurprisingly, Maria and Michael then have a blazing row in front of everyone, culminating in her handing the ring back, because everything has sucked balls since they got engaged. The Harris and Santelli parents get to the mansion, where Michael meets them and explains that he and Maria aren't engaged anymore. Maria is out the back, looking for Winston, so Michael has to do all the talking and the Santellis don't demand to see their daughter, which seems a bit odd. Anyway, the parents realise they were being stupid falling out over a business deal and forbidding Maria and Michael from seeing each other so everyone makes up and they just go home. Michael goes back to the party, where Elizabeth asks him if he's alright and he confides in her about how hard it's been and how sad he is but that it's probably for the best.

Meanwhile, Maria is in the garden looking for Winston and feeling relieved that she and Michael have broken their engagement. She finds Winston sitting near a fountain and sees that he's been crying (ah WINSTON! :(((( ) and explains that she had no idea Michael was going to announce his candidacy. She also tells him that it's all over between her and Michael and how much she cares about him and they end up smooching. They go back inside and Michael tells her that their parents arrived and he explained everything to them and they're all good again and she and Michael agree to be friends.

At school, they complete their social studies project and give a speech about how important compromise is and that a marriage will never work without love and trust and Mr Jaworski is all "yes, you're right, thank you, wise children". Michael tells Maria that he's not actually running for that position that I can't be bothered looking up the proper title of because who caaares and Winston wins the thing.

Notable outfit:
The ghostwriter didn't exactly break her heart on the outfit front in this one, unfortunately. Elizabeth wears a peach coloured dress to the party and Lila wears a silver dress and I'm like DETAILS PLEASE FFS. However, there is some notable hair to be mentioned.

Lila dressed the part of the daughter of one of the richest men in Sweet Valley, and that day she looked especially good. Her white skirt showed off her tan to perfection, and a new perm made her long light brown hair look fuller and prettier than usual.

A PERM. Lila, you're a beautiful, opulent mermaid, but there is just NO WAY that a perm in the Eighties is a good look on you. I still love you though.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 138

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4

Amount of fucks I give about Maria and Michael: 0 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Starting Over

Ok, this one isn't as particularly exciting as other Sweet Valley High books, but we're inching ever closer to the infamous Regina Morrow cocaine storyline in book 40 so just HANG IN THERE.

Sweet Valley High #33: Starting Over


Sweet Valley's hottest band, The Droids, are rocking out in guitarist Max Dellon's basement, but lead singer Dana Larson is spacing out because she's preoccupied with the fact that her cousin Sally is coming to live with the Larsons. Thirteen years ago, Sally's father walked out and when her mother remarried, she dumped Sally into a foster home and she's been bouncing around the system ever since.

The only problem was that Sally's situation was embarrassing. A father who was a bum, no real home, a year behind in school. Sure, it wasn't Sally's fault, but...

Excuse me? But what, Dana? Don't make me hate you goddammit, DON'T DO ME LIKE THAT DANA.

Meanwhile, and let's face it, more importantly, Elizabeth Wakefield is working on an article in her room, when Jessica comes barrelling in the front door and up the stairs to her sister, all excited and nervous becauuuse...she brought home a puppy! She was at some game and there was a guy with a box full of Labrador puppies giving them away, which sounds both unlikely and very sketchy. At least he didn't have them in the back of a van, so nobody's been kidnapped or anything. Well, nobody important at least. Anyway, Ned and Alice are away for the weekend, so Jessica reckons that if she can keep the puppy a secret in the house for a week, they'll see that he's no trouble at all and let her keep him. She's going to keep him in her room, because Alice has given up on going in there and trying to get Jessica to tidy up, so it's a great hiding place. It's actually a pretty adorable storyline for Jessica, as much as I enjoy her unfounded revenge escapades.

Mr and Mrs Larson arrive home after collecting Sally at the airport and I sorta have to wonder why they've only stepped in now after their niece had spent over a decade having a terrible time and going from one foster home to another. In any case, Sally is nervous and determined to make this newest development work, desperately telling herself that she'll do anything to make the Larsons glad that she's around. Dana is all enthusiastic and shows Sally to her new room, which has been recently vacated by Dana's brother Jeremy, whose room is now in the attic instead. Jeremy arrives home late and is a total dick to Sally, but Dana assures her that he's just a grouch and always like that. Jeremy's an asshole.

Dana and Sally go shopping at the Valley Mall the following day, but Sally is a bit intimidated by Dana's energy and confidence and outrageous haircut and just goes along with the clothes Dana foists on her. They run into the Wakefield twins, who've just bought a dog collar for their secret puppy and make a big pointless deal of hiding it behind their backs, because everyone is SOOoOOOo invested in every tiny thing the twins get up to. Except they actually are and Dana badgers Jessica into showing her what's in the bag, which Elizabeth explains away as an accessory for a punk outfit for a fancy dress party. Stop enabling them, Dana.

Back at home, Dana insists on giving Sally a makeover, but really just faffs with her hair for a bit and says really insensitive things like telling her to just forget about her past and pretend it never happened and also advising her to tell people she's sixteen so no one will know she had to stay back a year. Goddammit Dana. After Sally's first day at Sweet Valley High, she's feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the new teachers, classes and students and doesn't feel comfortable in her new clothes, which, in an act of aggressive rudeness, the ghostwriter doesn't even describe to us. Dana then drags her to band practice to meet the rest of The Droids and suggests that she could be their manager. Sally doesn't really like rock music but she wants to please Dana so she agrees and then feels happy to be part of something. At dinner back at the house, Jeremy continues to be an unmitigated assface to Sally and when she volunteers to clear the table despite it being Dana's turn, Mr and Mrs Larson later talk about how helpful Sally is and tell Dana that she could learn a thing or two from her cousin, which pisses Dana off no end.

Jeremy's friend Mark calls over to the house at some point and is friendly when he meets Sally, like a normal person, so Jeremy gets all HE'S *MY* FRIEND STOP TALKING TO HIM and continues to be an absolute fucking toerag, although Mark either can't read social cues or is just ignoring his terrible friend and happily chats to Sally and is pretty clearly interested in her. He calls her up a few days later and asks her out, but she fobs him off and says she can't, even though the truth is that she really wants to but she thinks Jeremy will "never forgive her" if they spend time together because he's such a dickbag. Also Dana has been spiky with her whenever she tries to do anything for her, so she's starting to feel pretty isolated and it's really sad. These kids are just. Awful.

I'm absolutely loving how completely full-speed turbo Eighties every inch of Dana is in this picture. Also is it just me, or does she look like Sandra Bullock with Roxette hair? And Sally is giving Lila Fowler a run for her (not inconsiderable amounts of) money in the haughty bitchface stakes.

Over at the tastefully decorated, split level, ranch style Wakefield house, Jessica has named the puppy Prince Albert and is keeping him in the basement during the day before walking him and putting him up in her bedroom before her parents get home. When she brings Lila over one afternoon to show him to her though, she finds a chewed-up black tube that he's pulled off the back of the washing machine, so she has to organise a plumber to come over and sort it before Ned and Alice find out. That evening over dinner, after Elizabeth contemplates her hot dad ("he was an attractive man to have for a father, Elizabeth always thought" relax Electra), and Jessica explains away the howling noise from her bedroom as her stereo being left on, Alice mentions that she's putting on a dark wash if the twins have anything to throw in the basket. Jessica panics and says that she'll do the laundry, and when Elizabeth brings Jeffrey downstairs to see the secret puppy, they find Jessica halfway out the basement window with the laundry basket as she's bringing the washing to their neighbours house to cover up the broken washing machine. Aww, cute shenanigans Jess!

Meanwhile, Dana's ma is getting on her case to clean her room and mentions how tidy Sally is, which makes Dana even madder at Sally and prompts an incredibly unfair bitching session about her between Dana and Jeremy.

"You know what I don't understand though," Dana continued, "is why Mom and Dad are acting so weird about it. It's not as if Sally was abused or anything."

DANA. STOP IT. You're meant to be the Jem to the Droids Holograms and you're being such a cunt for absolutely no good reason. COP ON. JERRICA BENTON WOULDN'T ACT LIKE THIS.

Sally happens upon the pair's nasty conversation and they tell her to take their mother's car for the evening in the most dickish way possible and Sally's just like "uh ok, thanks?" even though she has nowhere to go and no one to see. She ends up driving out to the school and decides to check out the Oracle offices because she really enjoys writing but feels like she doesn't have time to get involved with the paper while she's working with the Droids and she doesn't want to let Dana down. Elizabeth is in the office typing up her Eyes and Ears gossip column and Sally ends up chatting to her and telling her her whole life story and how she's afraid that if she pisses off Jeremy and Dana then she'll be sent away again. Because of course she does, Elizabeth being the Sweet Valley confessional box and all. Back at home, Sally mentions to Dana that she ran into Liz and talks about how nice she is and Dana gets all weird with her and says she can't stop her being friends with Elizabeth and reminds her that she's committed herself to the band and it's SO FUCKING MEAN and makes Sally feel like she can't hang out with anyone but Dana and I'm so mad at this storyline for making me hate Dana. Liz ends up calling Sally and asking her if she'd like to go to the mall the next day with her and Sally has to reject another person she likes because her cousins suck SO HARD. Elizabeth is confused by Sally's reaction and wonders what's going on with her.

"But why?" Elizabeth said aloud. "How could she think that would make the Larsons like her more?"

She's got a point, normally if someone dares to turn down an offer of friendship from a Wakefield twin, the town of Sweet Valley will descend on their house in a pitchfork-wielding mob and run them out of town for slighting one of their hottest and most valuable residents.

At dinner, Jessica broaches the subject of getting a dog with Ned and Alice, but they're not sure about it, so Elizabeth chimes in to help and they realise that Jessica is super serious about it so they say they'll think about it. On Saturday, both parents are working so the twins take Prince Albert for a walk but he wriggles out of the collar and runs off and they can't find after searching all day. OH NO PUPPAY!

On Monday morning, Mrs Larson tells Jeremy, Dana and Sally to come home right after school because Mr Larson is flying back from a meeting in San Francisco and will have some news for all of them. Sally is convinced that it means she's being sent away and she's super sad all day long and it even rains that day, such is the tragicness of the situation. I think that's the first time it's rained in Sweet Valley this whole series. She runs into Elizabeth at lunchtime and apologises for turning her down last week.  

She would probably never see Elizabeth again.

Which is truly the most tragic part of whole tale. After school, Jeremy is driving her and Dana home and decides to pick up two "rough looking hitchhikers" on the way because he's a fucking idiot.

One of them flicked his burning cigarette into the grass on the side of the road.

NO GOOD CAN COME OF THESE LADS. THESE ARE BAD LADS.

They hop in and proceed to creep all over Dana who's stuck between them in the backseat and demand to be taken to Kelly's, the shady bar that only shady people go to and are generally all menacing and scary. When they get to Kelly's they basically threaten to rape Dana unless Jeremy gives them his wallet and then demand that the girls come with them into the bar. Sally suddenly puts on a tough act and tells them not to bother with Dana because she's a "dead bore" and says she'll go in with them because she knows how to have a good time and tells Dana and Jeremy to get lost in an obvious attempt to save them from any unpleasantness. Jeremy and Dana drive away and fucking LEAVE HER THERE and Dana then realises that Sally was just taking one for the team and didn't actually want to go into the scary bar with the would-be rapists, shockingly enough. Once Jeremy realises this too and what an absolute wanker he was being in bailing on her, they drive to Mark's house which is nearby and it turns out that Ken Matthews and John Pfeiffer are there too, so they all head over to Kelly's and Dana and Jeremy then realise on the way what a pair of total fuckers they've been to Sally this whole time.

The gang descend on Kelly's and rescue Sally because grown men are afraid of a few sixteen year old young lads and Dana calls Sally her sister during the confrontation and afterwards apologises for being such a dickhead. When they get home, Mr and Mrs Larson gather everyone in the kitchen and keep getting interrupted with their big news by Dana and Jeremy saying they want Sally to stay, but it turns out that they've arranged to legally adopt Sally so everything is fiiiine. Because all it takes to be accepted by your blood relatives is to throw yourself into harm's way to save their ungrateful asses.

That same evening, Ned Wakefield comes home with a surprise for the twins. He and Alice had decided that the girls were ready for a dog and stopped by the animal shelter, only to bring home...Prince Albert! YAY PUPPAY!

Notable outfit:
Obviously it's one of Dana's.

She was wearing skin-tight, black stirrup pants and a gold lamé dinner jacket, sleeves pushed up, over a black and white checked shirt.

Stirrup pants! Gold lamé! Sleeves pushed up! There is literally nothing I don't like about this whole entire sentence!

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - The New Jessica

Right, so the physical copy I have of this book has a tie-in cover for the 90s TV show, featuring the Daniels twins which you can see here, (and hey, why not throw me an aul like on Facebook while you're there?) and which I think we can all agree is a total non-event. As such, I'm using an image of the original, and pretty clearly superior cover. And it's goood.

Sweet Valley High #32: The New Jessica


Elizabeth Wakefield is sitting in her room while gorgeous sunlight streams through the window and her gorgeous eyes are looking all thoughtful in her gorgeous face while she gorgeously pours her feelings about her new boyfriend Jeffrey into her diary. Did I mention that she's gorgeous? And blonde? And slender? Well, she is. Jessica then comes bursting into the room, complaining about how fat she looks, which is ridiculous, because she too is gorgeous, you see. Jessica wants to borrow Elizabeth's "peach-coloured knit dress" (niice) and then gets pissed off when she wears it to school and everyone mistakes her for Elizabeth. Prior to this, Jessica was already moping to Lila and Cara over an ice cream sundae about how she's having an identity crisis and is fed up of being an identical twin. She goes shopping with Lila in Lytton and Brown, the big department store in the mall and is struck by inspiration when she sees a sign advertising makeovers at the cosmetics counter. Can I just take a moment to applaud the ghostwriter for actually coming up with a shop name here? After The Ski Shop, The Boston Shop, The Tennis Shop, The Designer Shop and The Sports Shop, the temptation to just call it The Department Store Shop must have been huge. Proud of you.

Jessica stays at Lila's mansion for the weekend, dyes her hair black and Lila combs stuff through it to make it all sleek and straight, as it's usually wavy. Lila then shows her some makeup tricks she's learned and trowels on the eyeliner and "dull-red lipstick", so Jessica now looks "foreign, slightly Eastern", whatever that means and basically the opposite of a blonde and Californian Wakefield twin. She then borrows a heap of clothes from Lila that Mr. Fowler brought her back from Paris, and one of the more casual outfits is a purple jumpsuit with lizard boots, so you know this is going to be a good time. Oh and she starts talking in a faintly English accent to match her new look and this whole makeover is fast becoming my new favourite thing. Jessica triumphantly arrives home on Sunday evening and Elizabeth reacts like Jessica has just fucked Jeffrey in front of her.

"Jess?" she said fearfully, her fingers flying to her lips.

Elizabeth felt the colour drain from her face. She was so stunned, she could barely speak.

Elizabeth felt her lip begin to quiver. She wasn't exactly sure why, but she felt that Jessica had betrayed her. "You look like a stranger!" she cried, her eyes brimming with tears. Elizabeth couldn't bear to look at Jessica a second longer.

She actually runs to her room, bawls crying and furiously writes in her diary about how this must mean that Jessica hates her and it's just the dumbest thing ever. It's just hair dye Liz, chill out for fuck's sake.

At school on Monday morning, Jessica's new look is a total sensation. She's head to toe in Lila's new French clothes and has ditched the lavaliere for a chunky necklace and big gold earrings. People are practically following her around all day and acting like she's the first sixteen year old to ever dye her hair and and naturally, Jessica is loving it. While she's still talking in her new voice and pointedly pulling copies of Paris Match out of her bag, Elizabeth is moaning to a sympathetic Enid like a total sap about how sad she is that Jessica has changed her look. "I think she sounds really affected, Liz. Like Joan Collins on Dynasty, or something." Oh WHATEVER, Enid. Elizabeth then runs into Jeffrey and marvels at how soft his hair looks, until he mentions that he likes Jessica's makeover, so Elizabeth runs off all upset because she thinks he prefers Jessica to her now and Elizabeth is a massive dope in this book.

Elizabeth retires to The Oracle office to read the proofs for her Eyes and Ears column, but instead ends up whining into her diary about Jeffrey and Jessica. Penny Ayala then turns up to tidy the office and move a bunch of paperwork around, so Elizabeth puts her diary aside and reads the proofs like she was supposed to, while Penny faffs about around her. The bell rings for class, so Liz heads off to Mr. Collins' classroom for English and suddenly realises she left the diary in the office, but by the time the class is over and she runs back to the office, it's gone. OH NO. Who could POSSIBLY have taken it, perhaps with a bunch of papers that may have been around it so it got mistakenly scooped up and moved? WELP, WE'LL JUST NEVER KNOW.

Meanwhile, Jessica is spending her time hanging out at a fancy coffee bar with Lila, drinking espressos and deciding that she needs to lose five pounds. "Though neither she nor Elizabeth had ever had to diet to maintain their slender figures." Unlike fat Robin Wilson when she was fat, you see. She's also been making an effort to spend time away from home and not hanging out with Elizabeth as much as usual, as she wants to be more independent. And in fairness, "Elizabeth kept moping all over the place, giving Jessica pained looks whenever she saw her", so you can't really blame her for wanting to get away from that particular barrel of absolutely no craic.

Oh Jessica. Jessica Jessica Jessica. There is so much happening here. The Lucky Bag jewellery, the eyeshadow ALL THE WAY to the eyebrows, the belt, the jacket JUST THE EVERYTHING. I want to say that she looks sorta like a particularly unskilled drag queen, but that's wildly unfair as drag queens tend to be nothing short of fucking fab. And this is not that.

At lunchtime in school, while marveling at Jessica's latest ensemble, DeeDee Gordon suggests that she should try modelling and gives her the number for a fashion photographer that her talent scout father uses sometimes. Jessica's like FUCK YES, partly to get one up on Lila, who previously failed at being a model and was hilariously told her face was too flat. Jessica meets the photographer dude who is also an agent and impressed by her cool European look and thinks she'll be good for an upcoming job for an in-store fashion show at Lytton and Brown, but the photos she'll need to have taken will cost $125. To be honest, I can't help feeling like this lad seems sketchy and should tell her to come back with one of her parents or something before anything gets decided. Anyway, Jessica is totally swept up with this whole modelling thing and is already imagining herself being interviewed from her Beverly Hills mansion and thinking about changing her name to Jessa Fields, as Jessica Wakefield sounds "too wholesome". It's true, you can practically smell the blonde off her name. However, she has to convince Ned and Alice to give her a loan for the photos, but they're not super enamoured with the whole thing, as the Lytton and Brown job isn't guaranteed. ""This wouldn't happen to Brooke Shields," Jessica said, infuriated." They agree to lend her the money in the end and then bring up the Ramsbury Fair, which is some thing the family go to every year, but Jessica acts like she's too cool for it now.

Elizabeth is still acting all weird and mad at Jeffrey for no good reason and when he brings up the fair and that his cousin who'll be visiting from Oregon could come too, Liz says she doesn't want to go anymore because Jessica thinks it's lame now. He gets sarcastic with her and she gets all huffy again and is even more convinced for some reason that he likes Jessica now instead of her and SERIOUSLY this is such a non-story. At home, while Jessica is getting ready to go to the Beach Disco, (in black leather jeans and crimson lipstick, OOH YAAS) Elizabeth tells her that Jeffrey has been admiring her new look from afar and that he prefers Jessica to her now. Jessica tells her that Jeffrey is obviously into her and not to be such a dope, but Liz is convinced. Jessica's reaction to all this, amazingly, is to try it on with her sister's boyfriend. At school, she comes over to Jeffrey in the cafeteria and tries to flirt with him, but he just keeps asking her about her sister, so Jess quickly realises that he's pretty obviously still smitten with Elizabeth and backs away quickly before any damage is done.

After school, Jessica drags Liz to her meeting with the photographer and the art director for Lytton and Brown, although Liz won't go any further than the waiting room as she's busy moping about her sister's new hair, her missing diary and her Jeffrey. While she's doing all that in the reception area, Jessica comes out of the meeting in tears because they decided her image was wrong for the show after all. Mr. Mahler, the L&B guy, then spots Elizabeth and declares that she's perfect and exactly what he's looking for. Jessica insists that they're actually identical twins and that she can change her look back, but Mr. L&B Man and the photograpehr aren't having it and don't believe her, because they're fucking idiots. THEY HAVE THE EXACT SAME FACE YOU DOPES. Mahler offers Elizabeth six hundred dollars to do the show and tells her to get back to him tomorrow, even though she said she's not interested.

That night after dinner, Penny Ayala drops by with Elizabeth's diary, because - shocker - she moved it by accident that time we all figured that's what happened and Penny only just realised she knew where it was when Mr. Collins mentioned that Liz had lost it. Jessica answers the door and takes the diary from Penny, but because she feels like her and Liz have been drifting apart lately, she reads a bit of it and sees how upset the makeover has made Elizabeth. Later, the family watch some old home movies, because Ned and Alice are putting some together to send to the Wakefield grandparents and there's footage of the twins as little kids the first time they went to the Ramsbury Fair. It's all enough to make Jessica change her mind about the fair this year as well as fix everything by telling Elizabeth that Jeffrey is still crazy about her and shampooing the dye out of her hair, so she can pose as Liz and take the Lytton and Brown job.

Elizabeth makes up with Jeffrey, although he does call her "stupid girl" while forgiving her, but makes it sound "like an endearment", so I guess that's ok? He also explains that he only liked Jessica's makeover because he had been slightly unnerved by them being identical twins and this way it was like he had Elizabeth all to himself or something. Jessica bags the modelling gig by pretending to be Elizabeth at the next meeting with the two idiot grown men and the when the day of the show comes, Elizabeth attends in disguise, wearing a dark wig and sunglasess so as not to give the game away. Loads of kids from school are there too and then Winston starts joking about how he could be a model too and SNATCHES ELIZABETH'S WIG. LITERALLY.

And the next minute he had snatched off her wig, leaving her facing Mr. Mahler as her blond hair tumbled around her shoulders!

WINSTON YOU FUCKING REPROBATE THAT IS HOW YOU GET A SLAP.

ANYWAY.

It turns out Mahler copped that, duh, yes they are twins, because Ned and Alice came up to him saying how happy they were that Jessica worked out for the show, so he decides he wants Liz to take part in the show too, although he's not going to pay them any more money, they'll have to split the six hundred dollarybucks, which kinda seems like bullshit, but fine. So Elizabeth and Jessica get to don evening gowns and model together for the show and it's all great because they're so happy to be in it together. And the moral of the story is, Wakefields don't need makeovers, unlike fat Robin or plain ol' Lynne Henry because they're already SO GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL, OKAY?

Notable outfit: 
Or in this case, outfits, because there is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF as part of Jessica's fancy new Paris-inspired image.

Jessica was wearing an olive green leather skirt with a slit up the back. The skirt was so straight it was hard to walk. Matching hose with a lacy pattern and three-inch heels made Jessica's legs look longer and slimmer than usual. She felt very tall and elegant, and the silky, oversize blouse and green leather belt worn on her hips made her feel incredibly glamorous.

Jessica looked terrific in the black silk jump suit and red high-heeled boots Lila had loaned her. Her sleek black hair was pulled back in a bun that day, with just a few loose wisps around her face. A red silk scarf completed the elegant look, along with oversize earrings.

Jessica crossed her legs, admiring the silky new stockings she had found. They were just the right shade of blue to match the two-piece knit dress she had convinced Lila to lend her.

It was a white, really slim-cut skirt that was several inches longer than what she usually wore, with a white sweater with sequins on it. A white beret completed the look. With her new dark hair, the combination was fantastic. 

CAN. YOU. EVEN.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 136
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 11

References to Jessica's new, raven black hair: 13

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Taking Sides

Forget Batman V Superman, (because it's terrible) the big showdown this year (or in 1986, whatevs) is Elizabeth V Jessica! What could they possibly be squabbling over? Something ultimately pointless? Let's find out!

Sweet Valley High #31: Taking Sides


The Wakefield twins are sitting in the sunshine out on the lawn outside Sweet Valley High, with Lila Fowler and Enid Rollins, even though Jessica can't bear Enid and Elizabeth thinks Lila is a snobby wagon. In case anyone had forgotten, Jessica and Elizabeth are SPECTACULARLY beautiful, with their tumbling locks of spun-gold hair and sparkling, twinkling, glittering aquamarine eyes.

They had the kind of looks that make California girls famous around the world. 

And the kind of relatability that...nope, I got nothing.

There's a new dude in town, he's blonde and tall and handsome, his name is Jeffrey French and both Enid and Lila have the hots for his Oregon farm-boy ass. Jessica brings Lila across the lawn to introduce her to him and Enid is raging, even though she was getting all cosy with Lila's fancy cousin Christopher just two books ago, but he seems to have disappeared into the ether. Elizabeth is determined not to let Lila "walk all over poor Jeffrey" (hey, you don't know what he's into, Liz) and is going to do her damnedest to get him and Enid together.

Also, the twins have this annoying fifteen year old cousin called Jenny who's coming to stay with them for two weeks and she simply idolises Jessica. Unfortunately for Jenny, Jessica can't stand her.

Thick glasses, unkempt hair, at least ten pounds overweight, and dressed in the most unflattering fuschia sweats, Jenny was, as far as Jessica was concerned, a mess.

Oh Jessica. The most problematic of faves.

"I'm on a diet," Jenny announced cheerfully. "I've made up my mind, just looking at you two. I want to be thin, too!"

STAAHP.

Lila overheard Aaron Dallas mentioning that he and Jeffrey will be at Casey's ice cream parlour that evening, so she gets Jessica to come with her and they're crammed into a booth with Ken Matthews, Eddie Winters (Jessica's latest crush) and Jenny, who insisted on coming too and is currently horsing into a massive banana split, so Jessica is judging her internally, and generally being awful. Eddie and Ken seem to get along with her though, and ask her about the book she took along with her, like normal, sound lads. Jeffrey and Aaron show up and they all squash into the booth so Lila can coo and purr and murmur at Jeffrey and she decides then and there to throw a pool party for the following day as a ploy to get her hooks into him. On the way home, Jenny lets slip to Jessica that Elizabeth is scheming to get Enid and Jeffrey together, so Jessica tells Jenny not to mention the pool party to Elizabeth, pretending like Lila never invites Liz to stuff and it'd only hurt her feelings, which keeps Liz and Enid out of the way.

The pool party is a smash, there's a cabana and a grill filled with sizzling hamburgers but Lila is annoyed, because Jeffrey is being all friendly and chatty with everyone there and he's not paying enough attention to her. Jessica is also failing to command the attention of Eddie Winters, as he's busy playing water volleyball and giving piggybacks to Jenny, despite the fact that Jessica is wearing a tiny bikini and aiming her hotness right at him all afternoon. The next day, Jenny inadvertently mentions the party to Elizabeth, because pretty much her only purpose in this book is to mistakenly rat each twin out to the other. Elizabeth is furious and tells Enid that she should go to the volleyball match that's on the following night and she'll make sure that Jeffrey joins her there. Eddie drops over to the house and Jessica is delighted, until Jenny inserts herself between the two of them again and keeps talking to Eddie about books and foreign films and what have you and Jessica decides that he's just a really good guy because he's just being polite in putting up with Jenny.

The next day at school, Elizabeth is sitting in the Oracle office with editor Penny Ayala, talking about how it's PTA Food Drive Week and what a great initiative it is. Hang on, why is Jenny coming to stay for two weeks when she should surely be in school herself? What's she doing all day? I'm not sure the ghostwriter thought this through. But back to Liz and Penny.

"It's hard to believe there are people in our own town who don't have enough to eat!" "I know" Penny said soberly. 

That's because you don't know any poor people. Aside from Tricia Martin, and she's dead.

Sexy ol' Roger Collins pops in and asks if one of them would mind staying on for Jeffrey French, as he's a photographer, and going to help the paper out with the supplement they're putting together for the food drive but he needs to be shown around the office. Elizabeth says she'll stay and Penny asks if she's sure.

Elizabeth laughed, making little shooing motions with her hands. "Go on, both of you!" she said lightly.

I 100% read that as "little shooting motions" the first time around and had a truly wonderful image in my head of Elizabeth doing finger guns, going "pew pew pew!" at Penny and Mr. Collins. So disappointed. Anyway, Jeffrey comes along and Elizabeth finds the way he looks at her "unnerving", but in a good way I guess? They actually get along really well and chat for ages and it's half five before Elizabeth remembers that she's supposed to be trying to set him up with Enid, so she starts going on about how wonderful Enid is and how Jeffrey should get to know her, although he's pretty obviously into Elizabeth. She tells him that she was supposed to go to the volleyball game with Enid that night and he should take her place, because she promised her mother that she'd hang out with Jenny for the evening. Jeffrey sort of noncommittally says it's a good idea and then asks if Liz wants to get a Coke with him at Casey's, but she fobs him off and can't figure why he seems disappointed. HE'S INTO YOU, DUMMY. "The kind of looks that make California girls famous around the world", remember?

Elizabeth sorta looks like she's staring right past Jessica on this cover, like her eyeline doesn't quite match up with Jessica's. No wonder Jess looks so pissed off. That and the fact that she's been been caught in a boring ass polo shirt.

However, later that night, Enid rings Liz all upset because Jeffrey never showed up and Liz finds out from Jenny (of course) that Jeffrey was at the Beach Disco with her, Jessica, Lila, Eddie, Roger and Olivia and that Lila was dancing with Jeffrey all night. Also, Jessica and Jenny are meeting Eddie on Friday night, and while Jessica is doing some leg lifts in her room (while listening to her Walkman, obvs), Jenny suggests that they go to the Plaza to see Wuthering Heights and goes on about how cute Eddie is, oblivious to Jessica's annoyance at the whole situation.

Back in school, Jeffrey comes over all chatty to Elizabeth, who's pissed off with him for going to the Beach Disco instead of the volleyball game like he never actually said he would. He explains that Lila asked him to come to the disco, and told him that Jessica was taking Jenny there to show her around, so he assumed that meant Liz would be there too. Liz is bewildered, nay FLUMMOXED by this and in the meantime, Enid is flailing around trying to think of a way to get Jeffrey to notice her, because Lila is campaigning hard and already bought him a new camera and tripod, which he won't accept. There's a charity auction coming up at school as part of the food drive, where the students bid with cans of food, so Enid cooks up a plan to get Elizabeth to convince Jeffrey to offer a date with him as an auction item and then Enid will make sure to be the highest bidder. Elizabeth agrees to the plan and gets Jeffrey on board, but feels like a dope because she reckons he thinks she's doing all this as a roundabout way to go out with him herself.

The day of the auction, Enid asks if Jessica and Lila can help to pack the food cans to be taken to City Hall when the auction is over, and Lila's like "You mean actually putting them in boxes?", because bitch please, as if Lila has ever packed in her fabulous life. They quickly make up excuses why they can't help out, which keeps them out of the way for the auction and it's actually pretty impressively sneaky of Enid. When Jeffrey's date night comes up, Caroline Pearce and some other bird called Stacie are bidding back and forth until they get to twenty five cans, when Enid steps in and bids seventy five. Way to play it cool, E.

But whatever about that, the other items up for auction are the best part of this bit. Well, two of the other items. Namely, "a voucher for a homemade dinner cooked by none other than Mr. Collins", because that man genuinely doesn't know the meaning of the word APPROPRIATE and "a candid snapshot of Bruce Patman in a bathing suit" HOLY FUCK WHAAAT. Unfortunately we don't find out who won the bidding on either of those, so we'll never know who spent a cosy underage evening with sexy Roger Collins or who publicly bought Bruce Patman wank material.

On Friday night, Jessica is being driven up the wall by Jenny on their night out with Eddie and feeling like he's ignoring her and just talking about dumb mystery novels and dumb classical music with her dumb cousin. They end up at Dairi Burger, where Jessica just sits quietly "sipping angrily at her Diet Coke" while the other two chat, (I don't know how exactly you can sip angrily, but if anyone can do it, it's Jessica Wakefield) until she sees Enid and Jeffrey out together and discovers the whole auction plan. WHO CARES, ask about the Bruce photo and the sex-dinner! PRIORITIES, JESSICA. Anyway, Enid and Jeffrey's date is going reasonably well, in that he's polite and attentive, but they're not clicking and Enid accepts that there's nothing there between them.

On Sunday there's a big beach party as the final event for the Food Drive week, although I'm not sure how a bunch of fancy teenagers hanging out at the beach trying to fuck each other helps the poor of Sweet Valley, but what do I know. Enid tries to tell Elizabeth that it's not going to happen between her and Jeffrey and they should drop it, but for some reason Liz insists that she doesn't give up and arranges for Jeffrey to take a bunch of photos of Enid for a profile about her, as she's head of the student committee for the food drive. These kids, they're all on committees and president or chairman of this and that, just chill with the bureaucracy would ye. Anyway, Elizabeth drags Jeffrey away from the dancefloor and a fuming Lila Fowler and it's really awkward when she lumps him and Enid together and runs off. Jessica then confronts Elizabeth about her scheming against her and Lila and they have it out over all the shenanigans each of them pulled. Then Enid gives out to Elizabeth for trying to force her and Jeffrey together and then Jeffrey gives out to her too for playing games with him and trying to decide who he should go out with, so everyone is mad at poor, beautiful Liz.

While she's crying all alone further down the beach, Jessica comes over and patches things up, and also makes Elizabeth realise that she totally fancies Jeffrey. She also reveals that Eddie is currently slow dancing with Jenny and he's a lost cause. Jenny is fifteen and Eddie is a senior, so that makes him around seventeen, yeah? Hm. HMM. Elizabeth and Jessica rejoin the party and Jenny tells them that Eddie is coming to Dallas to visit her after she goes home. Jenny is eating a hot dog and Elizabeth makes a comment about how being in love is meant to make you lose your appetite, but Jenny says they're just friends.

"Love is too stupid," she added licking a bit of mustard off her hand.

I am HIGHLY suspicious of this seventeen year old dude arranging to go all the way to Texas see a clearly very immature fifteen year old girl that he's "just friends" with. I'M WATCHING YOU, EDDIE WINTERS.

Anyway, Elizabeth then finds Enid and apologises to her and they make up, and then she goes and does the same with Jeffrey, only their conversation ends with a heap of smooching on the dancefloor and Elizabeth Wakefield is now OFF THE MARKET, DUDES.

Notable outfit: 
This one is notable because it sounds fucking awesome.

Elizabeth couldn't believe the way Lila was acting. First of all, she was dressed inappropriately for a picnic on the beach. Her one-piece, white jumpsuit would have been more suitable on a Hollywood set. And those gold-spangled high heels were just too much.

SHUT UP LIZ, SHE OBVIOUSLY LOOKS AMAZING.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 134
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3

Amount of times people blush: 17
Amount of times Jenny's weight is brought up: 7 (Not gonna lie, it's pretty bleak.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Jealous Lies

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

Sweet Valley High #30: Jealous Lies


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amount of times Steve storms out of a room: 3

Friday, April 01, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Bitter Rivals

Hello hello hello! It all went a bit tumbleweedy there, as I've sorta got a bit of real life job uncertainty going on with the last while, so during my down time I'd really taken to doing a lot of sitting around feeling anxious, as well getting into Jane The Virgin on Netflix, because my god that show is adorable and funny and full of lovely sorbet colours and attractive people. So due to the overriding feeling recently being quite upside-down-smiley-face-emoji I wasn't really in the form for blogging. (Also, I'm legging it to Barcelona for a few days next week, so I most likely won't get a post up then either.)

However, some questions needs answering and WILL ELIZABETH BE FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN AMY AND ENID? is most definitely one of them. So let's find out.

Sweet Valley High #29: Bitter Rivals
 

The book begins, as so many of them do, with the Wakefield twins just hanging out by the pool and being devastatingly sexy. This time Enid Rollins is with them and the topic of conversation is the exciting news that Elizabeth's childhood friend Amy Sutton is moving back to Sweet Valley. Enid is worried that Amy mightn't like her and Jessica quietly wonders how it'll all pan out, because "when you're as big a wimp as Enid Rollins, why look forward to meeting someone vivacious and fun?" It's gas how much Jessica hates Enid, when she has been nothing but nice to her, even after Jessica completely screwed her over in the second book for absolutely no good reason.

At school, people are excited about Amy's arrival too, although Lila Fowler remembers her as being "clumsy and tomboyish" so she's not that pushed really. In any case, Lila's cousin Christopher is coming to town too and according to her he's "the world's most fabulous man" (slightly weird, but ok Lila) so she's throwing a big fancy dress party in his honour.

In the meantime, Jessica and Cara have started writing a dating advice column under the name of Miss Lovelorn for The Oracle. Once their first column is written and off to the printer, Jessica tells Cara that she's desperately in love with Jay McGuire, a six foot blonde dude with green eyes in her French class. The only problem is that Jay is going out with Denise Hadley, a redheaded knockout who's a year older than him, so Jessica decides to use their column to "get a message" to Jay, i.e. scheme to break up his relationship somehow. That's So Jessica.

On Saturday morning, Elizabeth is heading out to meet Enid at the beach when the telephone rings. It's Amy, and the Suttons have moved into their new house a day early so they're already in Sweet Valley. Elizabeth races over in the red Fiat Spider to see her right away and they reunite and hug and tell each other how beautiful they've each become. (For real.) Elizabeth invites Amy to stay the night at her house so they can catch up properly, and they're on the way back over when Elizabeth suddenly realises it's half eleven and she was supposed to meet Enid an hour ago. Thinking she might have just gone back home, Elizabeth calls Enid's house but there's no answer, so instead of just driving out to the beach and inviting her back to the house instead, she just does...fuck all.

She thought about getting in the car and running over to the beach to see if Enid was still there, but it seemed unfair to Amy. Enid will understand, she told herself, not feeling entirely sure she was right but not certain what else to do about it, either.

This is such a dick move, Elizabeth.

The twins and Amy have a blast talking and giggling all evening and Jessica and Amy get on even better than before, particularly when Amy tells them all about this guy called John Norton that she was seeing back in Connecticut. Elizabeth thinks that Amy is a little "boy-crazy", because all sixteen year olds should be in super serious long term relationships, I guess, but Jessica gets her and thinks she's the craic. The following day, Elizabeth decides that brunch at the Pancake House with Amy and Enid will be the perfect way to introduce the two girls, so she calls Enid to beg forgiveness for standing her up at the beach. Enid relents and agrees to meet them for pancakes. Amy wears a black jumpsuit to brunch, looks super glam and only orders a grapefruit and black coffee, declaring that she absolutely hates herself if she weighs "a single ounce over one-hundred and ten pounds" and kinda sounds like an absolute dose. Although to be fair, Enid isn't exactly setting the place on fire with her sparkling conversation skills and all she does at first is flatly say "sounds like you two had a lot of fun" while Amy and Liz reminisce. Enid thinks Amy is a total airhead but keeps it to herself and also reckons that Amy isn't exactly enamoured with her either. They're both tough going in their own way.

At school, Amy is a hit and is surrounded by people all day long, but she and Jessica are getting along so well, it's Jessica that's been showing her around and introducing her to people and Elizabeth is feeling a little bit jealous. She thinks Jessica is wasting Amy's time by going on about the sorority and cheerleading and gossip about boys, despite the fact that it's pretty clear that Amy is more interested in all of that than getting a tour of the Oracle offices. Liz thinks it's all "trivial" and she could really do with lightening up and being less judgy, I mean you're sixteen, trivial shit is where it's at. In the words of Eddie Murphy, have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up. Anyway, Elizabeth and Enid had been planning a weekend ski trip to Lake Tahoe with Enid's aunt Nancy who has a cabin there. They've already rescheduled it because it was originally going to be the weekend that Amy was moving back to town, so they settle on going the weekend of Lila's big party, because that works best for Nancy and Liz doesn't mind missing it. Enid asks Liz if she wants to invite Amy, but she only suggests it to be sound, as Liz hasn't copped that Amy and Enid haven't exactly hit it off and Liz is all excited and oblivious and this is surely all going to work out without any hitches whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the Miss Lovelorn column has printed two letters that week, one from a junior whose girlfriend is a senior and apparently really bossy and one from a senior with a younger boyfriend who's sick of her friends teasing her about it. How VERY convenient. Miss Lovelorn's advice to them both is to cut their losses and find someone their own age because she's definitely impartial and hasn't made the whole thing up in order to cause trouble between an actual couple who are happy together. Who does Jay McGuire even think he is, having a girlfriend when Jessica Wakefield wants to dry hump him in his car up at Miller's Point, as is her GOD GIVEN RIGHT. Get with the programme, Jay. Everyone at school assumes the letters are from Jay and Denise and Jessica even spots the two of them sitting together in the cafeteria looking miserable, so it's all going to plan.

Elizabeth catches up with Amy, who was supposed to meet her for lunch but forgot, and asks her if she wants to come skiing with her and Enid the following weekend, and Amy says yes but isn't the appropriate level of excited for Liz's liking and then dashes off when she sees Jessica and Cara, because they're taking her to check out cheer practice. Elizabeth is disappointed that Amy likes cheerleading and doesn't want to come with her to see the Oracle office (probably because that sounds REALLY FUCKING BORING, Liz. Just as well you're so much fun at parties. OH WAIT.) and wondering if she's doing something wrong.

She vowed then and there to improve her attitude, to be kinder and more generous with her friend. She was convinced if things were less than she'd expected, it must be her own fault.

Well clearly Amy is going to end up being a villain here, because Elizabeth Wakefield IS HONESTY PERSONIFIED AND ALL THAT IS GOOD AND SPARKLY AND STRAWBERRY-SCENTED IN THE WORLD HOW DARE YOU MAKE HER DOUBT HER KINDNESS AMY YOU MONSTER.

Girls. We need to talk about these pants. I mean, did teenagers ever actually wear them? They look like something your rich middle-aged neighbour wore on holidays to Florida in 1987.
The following week on the way into school in the car, Jessica reveals that Amy is trying out for the cheer squad. "Elizabeth tightened her grip on the wheel", as if she's just found out Amy is boning Mr. Collins but then decides to come along to watch the tryouts and support Amy and makes it sound like the most magnanimous decision anyone has ever made. Amy nails the tryout routine and is announced as the squad's newest member. Elizabeth congratulates her and tells her that she's going to the mall to get ski gloves with Enid and asks if she wants her to pick up an extra pair for her. Amy sort of glazes over (which is ridiculous because when Elizabeth Wakefield is talking to you, you better PAY ATTENTION) and says yes before dashing off again, leaving Elizabeth feeling sort of downhearted about the trip.

Elizabeth meets Enid at The Ski Shop (seriously, just TRY to come up with a shop name, guys. Any name. Also, is there really a market for a shop dedicated entirely to ski stuff in a town where it literally never rains?) and they pick up gloves after laughing at a middle-aged couple struggling with a bunch of packages. Dicks. Elizabeth is meeting Amy at the Dairi Burger later that day, Enid almost comes too, but bails when she hears that Amy will be there, because she has her sussed as a vain bitch who's only using Elizabeth. When Elizabeth pulls up outside the diner, Amy jumps into the car, complaining that she's been waiting ages and asks for a lift home instead. Back at Amy's, she insists on giving Liz a makeover and piles a heap of makeup all over her beautiful, flawless, peaches-and-cream complexion like some kind of fucking vandal and talks about that guy John Norton and cheerleading the whole time. When Liz gives her the ski gloves and Amy realises that the ski trip is the coming weekend and will mean missing Lila's party, she tries to get out of it and asks if they can move it to the next weekend instead. Liz gets mad at her and Amy starts crying, so Liz says she'll talk to Enid about it, even though she's already feeling like she'd prefer if it was just her and Enid going.

As expected, Enid is unhappy about it and suggests that the two of them just go, but Liz feels like that'll finish off all that's left of the relationship that she and Amy seem to have left, even though Amy pretty clearly couldn't give a fuck about the whole thing, so it ends up being a bit frosty between Liz and Enid as it's not fair on Enid's cool aunt Nancy to ask her to reschedule again.

Meanwhile, Jessica sees Jay having lunch alone, so she casually drops into the seat across from him and finds out that things aren't going well between him and Denise. Jessica spring into action and suggests that they go get a burger on Friday night, to which Jay agrees. They go for dinner and to the cinema, and Jessica suggests the Sweet Valley equivalent of Netflix and chill, i.e. that they head up to Miller's Point to talk. However, when they get up there, Jay doesn't actually want to make out, so like a totally rational person, Jessica tells him that Denise is seeing someone behind his back and boom, they get down to business.

While Jessica is out, deceiving her way into getting the shift, Elizabeth is sitting at home after being stood up by Amy again. They were supposed to go see an old film at the cinema and it was Amy's idea, in an effort to make up for her not showing up for their last two lunch dates. Elizabeth starts to realise that Amy's actually kind of a geebag when she suddenly turns up at the door, all apologies and with some story about how her mother roped her into helping out with a last-minute dinner party, and Elizabeth isn't sure what to think anymore. Allow me. She's a geebag and you're a judgmental asshole.

The night of Lila's awesome party arrives and Elizabeth is going dressed as a skier in the gear that she was supposed to wear that weekend at Lake Tahoe (lame), while Jessica is dressed as Cleopatra (excellent). Elizabeth and Enid were supposed to drive to the party together, but when Amy needs a lift too, Enid says she'll make her own way there. Amy is dressed as a ballerina and has decided that she's in love with Lila's cousin Christopher, even though she's never actually met him before and she's kind of being a pain in the hoop about the whole thing. Steven Wakefield is there too, with Cara Walker and they've come as Raggedy Ann and Andy, Winston Egbert is in a plaid swimming togs and flippers, and Lila, glorious, wonderful Lila, is in costume as Lady Diana because FUCKING YASS QUEEEN. LILA YOU MAGNIFICENT BITCH.

Privately Elizabeth thought Jessica's costume was the most outstanding. [...] Lila, who had come as the Princess of Wales didn't look half as good, Elizabeth decided. 

You shut your fucking mouth, Liz.

Enid turns up and she's come dressed in ski gear too, so her and Elizabeth are as unimaginative as each other, they're perfect together. Lila grabs a microphone and introduces the crowd to her cousin Christopher, who is smokin' hot, six foot two and blonde with dazzling blue eyes. Lila tries to drag him over to meet Amy, but he makes a beeline for boring ol' Enid, because it turns out that they went to some sailing camp together a few years ago and are getting along like a house on fire. Jessica's date for the party is Jay, but he storms off when he sees Denise turning up with another dude on her arm. Amy is furious at Enid for taking up all of Christopher's attention, when he was apparently "reserved" for her (Lila's words) and butts in asking him to dance while he's on the floor with Enid. He humours her and goes right back to Enid afterwards, so Amy corners Enid later on in the night and we find out that she's threatened Enid before. She tells her to back off and that she can't steal Christopher like she was trying to steal Liz from her, she tells her she makes her sick and generally acts like a Grade A cunt. Enid tells her she's not going to make a scene because she cares about Elizabeth and Amy stomps off. Christopher is supposed to be bringing Enid home, but Amy finagles her way into getting him to bring her instead and slags off Enid in front of Liz and everyone is upset and angry.

Elizabeth is feeling super miserable the next day and neither Enid or Amy are at home when she tries to call them, so she confides in her mother about what's been going on. Alice points out that Amy has been super manipulative, that maybe Enid was keeping her distance to spare Elizabeth's feelings and that Amy was most likely treating Enid quite differently when Liz wasn't around and that Enid wasn't saying anything out of loyalty to Liz. Alice isn't like a regular mom, she's a cool mom. People think she's Elizabeth and Jessica's older sister, you know. Elizabeth drives over to Enid's house and they talk it all out and make up and Amy can do one.

Back to Jessica's scheme, and things haven't quite panned out the way she'd hoped they would. You see, Jay and Denise both ended up writing to Miss Lovelorn, explaining that they'd each had a big fight and misunderstanding with their other halves and want to get back together. Jessica thought she'd swiped the offending letters from the office before the weekend, but she took the wrong ones home, and they ended up being printed after all, so Jay and Denise each saw how the other was feeling and have gotten back together. And Jessica's lie about Denise cheating on Jay doesn't seem to come up at all or have any repercussions for her, because consequences are for peasants.

Notable outfit:
This one goes out to Jessica's Cleopatra costume, mostly because we got absolutely no details whatsoever about Lila's Diana outfit.

She was going to wear a white sheet, wound around her to make a long skirt, and a gold bandeau top that revealed her tan midriff and shoulders. With dark eye makeup and some exotic jewelry, Jessica knew she would look absolutely stunning.

She had even put glitter on her shoulders so they gleamed!

I love that Jessica pulled off a Cleopatra costume without even bothering with doing the hair right. Blonde Cleopatra ftw.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 138
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 10
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4
Amount of times someone bites their lip: 16 (It's practically getting into Ana Steele territory there, take it easy, kids)

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Alone In The Crowd

Ok, I know that the last book was pretty much a snoozefest, but this one not only picks things up, it picks them up and has Jessica Wakefield emotionally torture them while she repeatedly tosses her glossy hair over her shoulder. What I'm saying is, it's much better craic.

Sweet Valley High #28: Alone In The Crowd


It's lunchtime in Sweet Valley High and the Wakefield twins, Lila Fowler, Cara Walker, Enid Rollins and Winston Egbert are all sitting together in the cafeteria, which seems unlikely really, seeing as Jessica can't bear Enid, Elizabeth thinks Lila is a snob and let's face it, Winston is probably an absolute dose to be around for any length of time. The cheerleaders need to fundraise for new uniforms and Jessica has been struck by inspiration, declaring to the table that they should have a rocking chair relay, where each squad member takes turns in a rocking chair and gets people to sponsor them for every half hour they rock while a big party goes on around them. It'll be called the Rock Around The Clock relay, Jessica's going to get the Droids to play and then she dashes off to check with the office about using the gym. Elizabeth sees her sister almost crashing into tall, quiet Lynne Henry on her way out.

Recently Elizabeth had been noticing the tall, reclusive junior and wondering what she was like.

So it's only a matter of time before Elizabeth overhears or discovers something she shouldn't have and dangles it over Lynne's head until she confides in her. Tricking people into telling her their secrets is kind of Elizabeth's thing.

Meanwhile, poor ol' Lynne is just trying to get through the day. She feels lonely and awkward and during class she daydreams about playing her guitar and writing songs. Lunchtime sucks in particular because she feels really self conscious eating alone, but no one ever talks to her and she feels like a nobody. :((((((

Then, just when I'm about to declare the students of Sweet Valley High to be Total Dicks, Guy Chesney, the keyboard player from The Droids strikes up a conversation with Lynne while she's walking home from the bus stop. She finds it really easy to talk to him and they chat about music and liking Linda Ronstadt and when Lynne reaches her house, Guy says that it was good talking to her, so Lynne is delighted. At home, it's just Lynne and her super glam mother, as her father died when she was three. Her mother Jade is a stone cold fox and runs a beauty spa called the Silver Door. She often urges Lynne to try contacts as her thick glasses hide her lovely eyes and when she suggests that Lynne comes to the spa with her on Saturday so some lady called Rhoda can do something with her hair, Lynne takes it the wrong way and says she knows she's "no beauty" and to leave her alone.

The next morning, she runs into Guy again while walking to school, they chat the whole way there and I get that Guy is supposed to come off like a super sound lad, but oh my god:

He was so forthright, so eager to talk about himself and his feelings.

Best of all he didn't press her or ask her questions.

She hated being put on the spot. But Guy didn't ask her anything, yet he listened carefully to everything she had to say.

WOWEE! A guy who just wants to talk about himself and doesn't ask her anything ever? Uh, jackpot? Anyway, next thing you know, Jessica Wakefield comes barreling into their conversation (which is either Guy talking or Lynne telling him how great he is) and beeps at them from the twins' red Fiat Spider. Her blonde hair is glinting in the sunlight and Lynne thinks she looks like a movie star and is in awe of her hotness and confidence. Jessica has been looking for Guy in her efforts to organise the band for the big dance and fundraising event and tells him to hop in, totally ignoring Lynne. RUDE, JESSICA. He asks Lynne if she minds and tells her they'll talk again after school. By the way, Jessica flips her hair twice between getting their attention and pulling away with a "silvery peal of laughter", while various bits of her are "shimmering" and "sparkling" in the sunlight, like some kind of demented mermaid.

On Friday afternoon, there's a juniors softball game at Secca Lake (sponsored by Mr. Collins and Mr. Jaworski, whatever that means), so everyone heads out to either play on the team or doss around in the sun by the water. Elizabeth notices Guy talking to Lynne ("Lynne appeared to be listening attentively") and realises that she hardly recognised her at first because Lynne was smiling.

With a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye, Lynne Henry was actually almost pretty!

ACTUALLY ALMOST PRETTY. My GOODNESS Elizabeth. Throw the girl a fucking bone, why don't you. At the lake, Guy hangs out with Lynne, who keeps internally beating herself up over almost everything she says and thinks he'll laugh at her if she tells him that she plays guitar and writes songs, as well as giving lessons at the Music Center. I like how we're continuing the Sweet Valley trend of giving places the most unimaginative names possible. (Previous excellent examples were The Designer Shop, The Sports Shop and The Tennis Shop.) Before the softball game gets underway, Dana Larson announces that The Droids are holding a song competition and the winner's song will be performed at their next gig. Lynne is super excited and decides to submit a song, but she's going to do it anonymously, what with her crushingly low self-esteem and all.

In the meantime, Lynne's mam is worried about her daughter and tries to get her to open up as it's painfully obvious how lonely and miserable Lynne is but she won't talk to her about how she's feeling and instead throws herself into working on her new song for the competition. It's called On the Outside Looking In, it's about Guy and it's emo as HELL.

Lynne is actually much cuter than Elizabeth on this cover. I mean, her glasses are veering slightly into Deirdre Barlow territory but that's a foxy hipster right there. The absolute bang of condescension off Liz though. Christ.

Jessica meets up with all the cheerleaders at Helen Bradley's house ("She's got a rocking chair, and we have to practice." What.) but arrives to find out that Helen's family are moving to LA and takes it personally that the cheer squad will be down by one member.

She was thinking that she was the one who had to suffer most when they had auditioned Annie Whitman, but she didn't dare mention it, not with Annie right in the room. The poor girl had tried to commit suicide when she hadn't made the squad. Everyone had gone almost crazy with fear and worry. Finally they expanded the squad and let her on. The last thing Jessica wanted was to go through something like that again.

Well maybe this time don't bully the girls who are trying out to the point that they TRY TO KILL THEMSELVES. JESSICA.

On Wednesday morning, Lynne tries to sneak into The Oracle office without being seen, so she can submit the cassette with her song on it, but Elizabeth is coming out when she opens the door. Lynne lies and says she got the wrong room and scurries off around the corner until Elizabeth is gone, so she can drop in the tape unseen. A few days later, The Droids play all the tapes for a crowd out on the lawn and everyone is stunned by Lynne's downer of a song. Hers is one of the "richest, throatiest, most gorgeous voices they had ever heard" and Guy is suddenly desperate to find the girl who wrote this amazing song. He and Lynne walk home from school again and he tells her all about the spectacular song they found and plays it for her on his Walkman. Guy gushes about how great this mystery girl is and says that playing backup for her would be like playing with Linda Ronstadt. Lynne decides that he expects the girl to be a knockout like Linda too and figures that he'd only be disappointed if he found out it was actually just plain ol' her. (Full disclosure, I had to look up Linda Ronstadt because they kept banging on about her in this book and HOLY SHIT that girl was beautiful. Like a Seventies Katy Perry and giving me serious fringe envy to boot.)

Everyone at school wants to know who the mystery singer-songwriter girl is and at the Beach Disco, Guy asks Elizabeth if she has any idea who she is, because she's such a good reporter. But Liz has no leads and feels terrible for Guy, as she reckons he's after falling in love. While everyone is at the disco, Lynne is at home with the place to herself and fed up with feeling shitty about her appearance, so she takes a bath, plucks her eyebrows and tries on a jumpsuit that her mother bought for her but was never worn. I actually remember reading this particular book as a young wan and my two prevailing memories of it are thinking, "Rhoda? What kind of name is that?" and being baffled by the idea of a jumpsuit. I asked my mam to explain what this exotic American piece of clothing was, but came away even more confused because my only frame of reference for an all-in-one trousers and top combo were the overalls that people wore for painting, or the flourescent yellow ones my parents wore on Civil Defence exercises and neither of those were particularly glamorous. Anyway, Mrs. Henry comes home unexpectedly and sees Lynne with her makeshift makeover and Lynne bursts into tears, thinking she looks stupid. Jade hugs her and tells her she looks wonderful. Lynne wants to go to the Silver Door after all because she's tired of being such a mess and her mam says of course but also reassures her that looks aren't everything. "What matters is feeling good about yourself - really good about yourself." Jade is sound.

On Saturday morning, Elizabeth heads to the Music Centre (I can't stick with the American spelling, it looks weird) to buy a Billie Holiday record. While she's dawdling around afterwards, what does she hear? Only the voice of the mystery girl, giving a lesson to a kid, so of course she barges in to see who it is and interrupts the class. Lynne pleads with her not to tell anyone and when Liz tells her that The Droids are freaking out and want the writer to perform the song with them, it only strengthens her resolve, because she's too scared to perform in public. Elizabeth figures out that Lynne is super into Guy Chesney and that the song is about him, and Lynne explains that he's expecting a hottie like Linda Ronstadt to be behind the song and that she'll only disappoint him. Elizabeth thinks Lynne isn't giving herself a chance but promises to keep her secret.

It's the night of the Rock Around The Clock relay and the event is a huge success. Most of the kids have come dressed in Fifties style outfits (Jessica is wearing a skirt with a poodle on it! Elizabeth has come dressed in black calf-length slacks and a sleeveless white blouse like a total fucking buzzkill), the Droids are playing and the place is hopping. The band end up playing Lynne's song and Elizabeth talks to Guy afterwards, who's going out of his mind wondering who wrote it. Elizabeth tells him he's got to stop looking for her and tells him the girl doesn't want to be found out, because she's really shy. Well done keeping that secret, Liz. Guy keeps asking questions and Elizabeth tells him that this girl thinks everyone's expecting Linda Ronstadt or something. Guy immediately realises who the girl is, but Elizabeth can't figure out how. While all this is going on, Lynne herself is in the next town at the Silver Door with her mother and ends up telling her all about the song and Guy and they end up bonding during her makeover and it's all quite lovely really.

On Monday morning, Guy meets Lynne on the way to school and tells her she looks terrific. (She's wearing contacts and "sleek black jeans, a white t-shirt and a crayon-bright cotton vest" instead of her usual ill-fitting jeans and baggy jumpers.) He tells her that The Droids are announcing the winner of the song competition, that Outside Looking In has won and that the mystery has been solved. Lynne's like "wuh?" and Guy explains that his father's friend is a police sketch artist, so he described the singer to him as he pictures her and the drawing is going to be on a flyer that'll be distributed all over school. This is all just so unnecessary. Lynne feels terrible that Guy is hung up on an imaginary girl, but then at lunchtime, everyone in the cafeteria is congratulating her and telling her she's deadly. Lynne is all confused until she sees the flyer with the song printed on it, along with a drawing of her face. Guy appears, begs her to sing for them and drags her in front of a microphone that's in the cafeteria for some reason. This is the New Lynne Henry now though, the one in eyeshadow and espadrilles, so she sings in front of everyone while Guy plays along on guitar and she gets a massive round of applause. Then Guy brings her out to the deserted patio and shifts the face off her. Everything is solved by a blowdry and new clothes, hooray!

Notable outfit:
It's got to be Lynne's jumpsuit, mostly because I have such strong memories of being bamboozled by the idea of it.

At last she chose a cotton jumpsuit in a bright royal blue print. 
She layered the jumpsuit over a t-shirt, tied a sash around her waist and and even found a pair of her mother's earrings that didn't look half bad. 

Outrageous. Truly truly truly outrageous.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 136
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3
Amount of times Linda Ronstadt's name is mentioned: 11

 
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