We hear a thousand tiny violins playing for Jessica’s problems, or #21, Runaway

I feel like this storyline is repeated about a thousand times. The best part of the book is the cover.

Jessica actually looks really pretty! And now I see where American Apparel gets its ideas from!




For a mere $78, you can have this ‘Runaway Jessica” ensemble.

Poooor Jessica. No one cares about her. Her parents love Liz more. Whenever Liz says something they take her seriously. Well, Jessica, maybe if you stopped acting like a psychopath slut and manipulating everyone around you for five minutes, maybe they would take you seriously too.

Ok, there is also some big case that Ned is working on involving Ricky Capoldo, and quite frankly, I barely paid attention. There is some custody battle going on. You would think Ned took an oath to keep the details private, but he blabs it to his family. Liz is all, oooooo!!! a chance to meddle in people’s lives. And somehow she is writing about it for the Sweet Valley News. It must be a slow news day. Also, wouldn’t Ricky NOT want this broadcast everywhere? Jess is all grumpy because Ned asked Liz to go and not Jess.

BUT this is amazing, groundbreaking. Ned shows some decent parenting and actually calls Jessica out on her bullshit and gets snippy with Liz when she asks her dad to go up and talk to Jessica. Essentially, telling her father how to parent.

“Look Liz”, Ned Wakefield interrupted. “I know you have Jessica’s best interests at heart, but I don’t think your mother and I should have to bend to her every whim. First of all, you two are very different, and I just don’t think this is the kind of thing Jessica would be interested in.”

“But Dad, maybe if you just talked to her-”

Her father cut her off again. “No, Liz. We’ve always tried to raise you as individuals. Jessica can make up her own mind, and you have to start realizing that. There are lots of times when we do things for Jessica that don’t suit you. If Jess wants to come along, fine, but I’m not going to beg her.”

Hallelujah! So basically the trial happens and it’a all about family values, blah blah blah. Liz talks to Ricky and gives him saintly advice about his family and all is solved blah. Sorry I kinda skimmed that part.

Meanwhile, Jessica is all poor me and distances herself with her friends. She notices Nicky Shepard, who we never heard of before this and of course he notices Jessica. Nicky has a shitty homelife and is planning on running away to San Francisco. I thought that in the eighties, you ran away to San Fran to come out. Jess plans on joining him. Boo fucking hoo.

Jessica write a letter to Elizabeth for the purpose of her finding it and coming to beg her to come home. It’s pretty dumb, but the p.s. is priceless: “p.s., you can have my jeans because they make me look fat”. Jess continues to take the bus and gets more and more upset that her family doesn’t come to stop her. Turns out the letter fell behind the dresser.

She actually gets on the bus to San Fran and no one chases after her HAHAHAHA! Plus she’s stuck talking to an elderly woman. Because no one ever grows old and gross in Sweet Valley. Finally the family finds out and they go apeshit looking for her. Steven and Liz find her at the next bus station and BEG her to come home. Why did they give in to her manipulation and continue to kiss her ass? if I were them I’d be pissed at what a brat she’s been.

After she gets home, the Wakefields have a long talk. That’s exactly what the book says. They don’t even tell us what the talk was about– which is kind of important. Did they apologize profusely to Jess? or did they tell her to stop acting like a brat?

Meanwhile she stops giving a shit about Nicky Shepard, and he is never mentioned, he is probably living on the streets of San Fran now. That would be an awesome spin off.

Grade: C+

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24 thoughts on “We hear a thousand tiny violins playing for Jessica’s problems, or #21, Runaway

  1. Jessa Fields says:

    >>For a mere $78, you can have this ‘Runaway Jessica” ensemble.

    Ha! I’ll spend my $78 at Lissette’s on a white sequined sweater and a skintight olive green skirt.

  2. Magenta Galaxy says:

    This one drove me nuts because of the Ricky Capaldo storyline. Those kinds of hearings aren’t open to the public. In fact, if the judge were to let in reporters or anyone not related to the case, HE could go to jail. But, of course, not in Sweet Valley, which was also the home of the world’s most inappropriate criminal trial as well (with Liz’s manslaughter trial when she was drunk driving). I know, I know, it’s silly to think it would be realistic, but even at age 12 when I read this, I knew there was something wrong with that.

    As for the Nicky Shepard thing, maybe her willingness to just run away with some strange dude should’ve been foreshadowing for the upcoming “Jess joins a cult” plot?

  3. Dwanollah says:

    The Jessica-and-Nicky kiss in the boathouse was so creepy. I can’t believe Lil’ Dwanollah thought he was a tragickal-romantyk figure… he’s so obviously a douchebag.

  4. Diane says:

    The first thing I thought of when I saw that cover was American Apparel! Maybe it’s because I walk past their tacky-ass window display six days a week on my way home.

  5. Melody_Grey says:

    I remember reading this one (and the one before it) feeling bad for Jessica. Until she meets Nicky, anyway. Even at 7, I knew that a normal person would have realized that their situation was nowhere near as dire as Ricky’s.

    ‘Course my own attempt at running away a few years later was semi-inspired by this book. Unlike Ned & Alice, though, my parents helped me pack.

  6. gretchen says:

    As for the Nicky Shepard thing, maybe her willingness to just run away with some strange dude should’ve been foreshadowing for the upcoming “Jess joins a cult” plot?

    SERIOUSLY?! Does Jessica join a cult? I missed the earlier ones because I was a little too young for them…

    Is it the same cult that Shawn joined on Boy Meets World? That is one of my favorite episodes EVAH.

  7. kiwimusume says:

    Oooooh, I remember this book! Poor widdle Jessica! *pats Jessica on head with faux sympathetic expression*

    Jessica’s hairstyle on the cover makes me think of the rich (but oh so down to earth) blonde chick in the Four Marys, one of the main stories in Bunty. See?

    You guys would have liked the Four Marys, or the 90s incarnation I read, anyway. These girls are like the Wakefield twins of their school. According to Wikipedia they originally had personalities, but by the mid-90s when I read them their personalities were pretty much identical and very Elizabeth Wakefield. I’d snark them if old Bunty comics were easier to get hold of.

    And once again Elizabeth fucking Ingalls saves the day. You know, it never once occurred to me that in real life she wouldn’t have been allowed in that courtroom. I can’t believe the bullshit I swallowed without question. Not to mention the fact that she is once again writing a news article about something that isn’t even remotely her business. *bashes head against hard surface* God, Elizabeth bugs me.

    Speaking of which, you have to do #35 if you get hold of it. Elizabeth is wrong about someone!!! That made my fucking day, that.

  8. danae1 says:

    Ha, I always did like Jessica’s pic on that cover. And it’s about time some took hold of the parenting reins in the Wakefield family. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last. Le sigh. And I remember feeling a bit of satisfaction when no one came looking for Jessica right away. Although, I did try that same move when I was a kid, but then again, I was kinda bratty at times, too

  9. Amy Slutton says:

    I had this Runaway Jessica look. I remember it took me ages to find a tank top in that exact shade of sky blue which I thought was so beautiful. Then I cut my old gray sweatshirt Flashdance-style like that. The only thing I never did find was that red bag. *sigh*

  10. Robyn says:

    it may not be AA or inspired by Jessica, but I also totally have that gray shirt. And from now on every time that I wear it, I will think of wonderfully manipulative Jessica!

  11. Buffy says:

    I’ve read through all the recaps of the Sweet Valley books you’ve done. As of yet, I don’t recall one plotline at all. I do however remember the covers….not sure what that says about me or if it implies the books weren’t worth a damn past the cover art.

  12. Amy Slutton says:

    I have only been in American Apparel one time, like 5 months ago, but I was fascinated by the rack of tank tops in every color imaginable. Even then I found myself thinking it was a Jessica goldmine. If only I had known about a place like that 10 years ago…

  13. Club X says:

    I loved this book! I thought Elizabeth was even more annoying than usual…especially with the whole Ricky Capaldo thing. I love the part where he basically tells her to mind her own fucking business!
    Also, a pretty good line from Jessica when they’re talking about how Jess was basically ignored at the dinner table…she says something to Elizabeth like “No one listens to a word I say. They’re all too afraid they’ll miss one of your pearls of wisdom” (sarcastically, of course) Ha!

  14. Enid Rollins says:

    I think they went out for icecream.

    I hated Liz’s “holier than thou” speech to Ricky @ the trial…all about how he was wrong and he was going to ruin the family, and OMG how dare he express negative human emotions.? And afterwards, Ned heaped praise on her head for reuniting Ricky’s family…haaaackk!

  15. Olla X says:

    OH i just finished reading this!!! Gawd, Liz was pissing me off everytime she had a thought or talked… “OH I FEEL SO BAD FOR…” was basically her whole thought process. Jeez.

  16. Palais says:

    OMG, this was my favorite SVH cover ever. I ended up chopping all my hair that summer to try and have Jessica’s hair.

    Needless to say, it didn’t work.

  17. Olivia says:

    Oh so this is the book that Nicky Shepard is in! He was randomly mentioned in SVC and I remember reading about him but couldn’t remember what book. I thought it was the cult book but I didn’t care enough to actually check because I’m trying to pretend that SVC never happened.

  18. Saorsa says:

    Just recently found your blog for the first time and I absoloutely love it! Just wanted to add that I discovered a much later book in the series called “Mystery Date” (it was a Super Romance) where (becuase the ghostwriter didn’t do their homework) Nicky Shepard makes an appearance at one of the endless school dances as one of the delinquent kids. Quote from the book reads: ‘ “We need some metal, man. Heavy metal rules!” called out Nicky Shepard from the other end of the top bleacher. He was blond and ruggedly handsome, but Jessica had decided long ago that he wasn’t her type. ‘ Long ago as in 1984 ghostwriter hmmm?! Personally I think Jess should have gone to San Fransisco for a book or so, Nicky sounded a bit more interesting than most of the twats she normally went out with and maybe something realistic would have actually happened.

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