The one where we learn that Ms. Dalton has a double identity, or Super Special: Perfect Summer

Perfect summer indeed! Wow, these kids must be left back a lot. Because this is about their eighth summer after their junior year in high school. So they are going on a bike trip up the coast of California, and camping out and staying out in hostels along the way. Actually, that does seem pretty cool. We get all Saved By the Bell style, and out of the twelve students who are on the trip, most of them our the Scooby gang: Jessica, Elizabeth, Lila, Bruce, Charlie something, Annie Whitman (former slut), Todd, Olivia Davidson, Roger Patman, and Chome Dome’s nephew, Barry from Ohio….uh, I don’t even know who the others are. They don’t even mention them. You’d think they could throw in a couple more names. I am surprised they don’t throw in Ken Matthews, he’s always a good placeholder. And guess who is chaperoning…none other than our favorite inappropriate teacher, Roger Collins. Oh, and Ms. Dalton. But it’s awkward between them! More on that later. Enid has to stay home for the summer and work at Casey’s. Hahahaha, fuck the poor kids.

Ok, first things first. Why would Bruce and Lila go on the trip? Wouldn’t they be going to Europe or something? Do they really want to rough it?

Second things second. I have phantom camel toe looking at Jessica’s shorts. Are those comfy for bike riding? Also, is Liz wearing a onesy?

Actually, this totally felt like a Baby-Sitters Club book because most of the chapters started with a letter the twins wrote to Cara and Enid. Elizabeth’s letters are annoying and she analyzes everyone on the trip and thinks she knows all and also assumes that Enid gives a shit. There are so many stories intersecting, I hope you’ll be able to follow. Their first stop is to some movie star producer that is a family friend of the Patmans. But get this….they set up tents and stay outside on the lawn. The fuck? They don’t have a guest house or something? The guys daugher, Courtney Thomas is a total beotch to everyone and is always sneaking off with her boyf, Nolan Ruggers. He has tats! And drives a motorcycle! And is bad news bears. To get his daughter away from him, the prducer guy makes Courtney go on the trip with them. How is that logistically possible? She doesn’t go to svh, so is she allowed? Are their liability issues? Also, Jessica is so judegmental about Nolan. Didn’t she whore it up with Rick Andover not so long ago? And stay out all night with a college guy? And dry hump Bruce Patman? I could go on and on…

Meanwhile at one of the hostels, Lila meets some boys who tell her Ms. Dalton is a former teacher of theirs from Arizona, who was called Beth Curtis. Lila uses this to blackmail Ms. Dalton into doing her chores and picking up her shit. She has it out for her because Ms. Dalton is dating her father. My god, Lila has massive daddy issues.

Barry Cooper, Chrome Dome’s son is overweight…so you know what that means….he’s a disgusting, lazy, idiotic awkward person desperate for approval. And the kids make fun of him the whole time. And he has a crush on Jessica. Because she’s sooooo beautiful. She’s a perfect size six, you know. Because they never mention it.

Courtney does a 180 and acts totally nice and everyone loves her, except Elizabeth, mostly because Todd is friendly with her. Courtney’s plan is to steal Todd away from Liz and bring him home with her to give her Dad the illusion that she’s reformed so she can keep sneaking off with Nolan Ruggers. I don’t know how that will work exactly. She concocts this story that her dad is an alcoloholic and she’s had a terrible childhood, blah blah. Elizabeth doesn’t buy it and Todd basically calls her a heartless bitch. It’s kind of one of the best fights they’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot because they fight every five seconds. They actual break up and Liz mopes around. Todd is such a gullible prick. Finally he agrees to go home with Courtney for the rest of the summer.

Meanwhile, Jessica meets an older guy, Robbie October, at one of the hostels and is in love with him. He is totally not interested, and Jessica keeps trying. I loved seeing Jessica rejected and embarassed. Bruce cock blocks her a couple of times, and it’s awesome. Finally they meet up at a campsite and Jessica plans to sneak out of her tent at midnight to go into the woods with him. And we are supposed to believe that she has no intention of giving it up. Pshahhhh.

They get caught in a cave with a bear and her cubs and are on the brink of death. The crew starts a search party and Courtney says she wants to stop because she doesn’t feel well. Todd takes her back to the campsite, obviously not caring that Jessica could be dead. Frankly, I don’t blame him. Finally….duhn duhn duhn…Barry saves the day! Now everyone accepts him and is nice to him and he feels like a winner. Bar, these people were mean to you not so long ago. Fuck ’em! They are not your friends! But asw Francine has taught us, the best revenge is to be accepted by your tormentors.

Ms. Dalton comes clean and explains that she was married to a schizophrenic man who killed himself after she left him and his family blames her for his death, and were stalking her, so she had to create a new identity. Um, WHAT? That is heavy shit. This is a teen novel, people.

Other stuff:

Once in a while, there is maaayyyybe a funny line that is actually funny. When they were visiting the estate of a historical figure, Bruce and Lila were competing over who seemed the most unimpressed. Heeee!

Oh also, Charlie, who is Bruce’s friend, starts up with Annie Whitman, but Bruce keeps telling him about Annie’s slutty past (double standards much?) but love prevails. They also mention every line that Annie is “thin”, “slender” or some derivative. We get it. THIN IS IN! OK! STOP SHOVING IT DOWN OUR THROATS!

Every place they visit, they hang with some locals and tell them how awesome Sweet Valley is. Uh, really? A waspy town with one bar and judgemental residents?

Apparently Todd’s eyes crinkle when he smiles. Swoon!

They make a stop in Anaheim and Disneyland, and this ghostwriter actually stops to explain what Disneyland is. Wtf.

Robbie October was kicked out of a hostel for throwing a beer bottle out the window! The horror!

There’s a really cringe-worthy chapter that is written from Mr. Collin’s POV and then Ms. Dalton’s where they make up. He saves her from a jellyfish. It’s just bad, having these writers trying to take an adult perspective.

Todd and Liz make up, Jessica lives, Roger and Nora get back together, Courtney is exposed as a fake. Whatever, just another day in Sweet Valley world.

My grade: B

Next up: #27 Lovestruck, and then Francine’s attempt at diversity, #50 Out of Reach. I’m doing that one for you, Onnie.

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14 thoughts on “The one where we learn that Ms. Dalton has a double identity, or Super Special: Perfect Summer

  1. Merrie says:

    I remember this one! I kept thinking this vacation sounded like the coolest trip EVER! then I did RAGBRAI one summer. Tired legs. Sore butt. Not enough showers. Always sweaty. It ruined the fantasy for me. Come to think of it, actually being a camp counselor one summer also ruined all those teen fiction camp books, too.

    Damn you, reality!

    • Ioana says:

      Susan Cropp Johnson – The dentist would prbolbay love to have copies of these! My dentist has some interesting pictures in his office, but nothing like a first time patient September 25, 2011 8:47 pm

  2. Onnie says:

    it was actually quite pathetic that nora let that fucking selfish bitch lila blackmail her. if it were me, i would have told that ho off, AND dumped her dad in the process.

  3. Dwanollah says:

    I love that we never hear about Ms. Dalton’s super-secret life after this book. As the old song says, “why do you build me up… just to let me down”?

    There may be some of the worst names ever in here, between “Nolan Ruggers” and “Robbie October.” I heard Nolan Ruggers and Robbie October were starring in “Swimmer’s Meat” down at the TomCat theatre. Someone saw Tom McKay buying a ticket.

  4. Tiny Pants says:

    The craziest thing about this book — it was a New York Times bestseller when it came out, on the adult mass-market paperback list (this was back before they had a separate list for children’s/YA). Also the comment above mine is amazing.

  5. LimeGreenTriumph says:

    The FIRE! Remember the fire? Because Courtney was smoking ONE CIGARETTE and flipped it in the bushes! It must have been a super dry summer, because that set their whole campsite ablaze. Wasn’t that the catalyst for Courtney’s lies to be exposed?

  6. XOXO says:

    lol. there’s an awesome line in here where everyone’s trying to figure out who caused the fire and liz was all oh i was last out i did it..
    todd was like (to coutrney)”i saw you flip your butt (cigarrette butt) into the bushes.” that was so funny!

  7. girlwiththeradio says:

    there was another awesome line that actually made me laugh in hunour rather than the ususal laugh of outrage/todd’s gayness, when Jessica and Lila make freinds and share a tent together again, ho-bag jess says something like “I’m glad I don’t have to share with Olivia anymore, she kept waking up to write love poems – “oh Roger, you are like a drop of milk in my morning tea”
    classic

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