Working Class: Only if they are hot, please

I can’t believe at only book #19 the ghostwriters went downhill so quickly. Also, I was kind of saving this one for a bit because I thought it would be one of the more fun ones. Why do I continue to have expectations?

What this book could have been:

  • Lila and Jessica both have an interest in the same guy.
  • The guy seems mysterious and too good to be true.
  • Lila and Jessica both try antics that result in hijinks to compete for the guy
  • They both realize the guy is not worth it and decide to remain friends (frenemies)
  • OR the guy realizes the girls are mean-spirited and dumps them both, both teaching them a lesson

What we get is:

  • Jack is a LOWLY construction worker that Lila meets, and everyone is all judgmental and disgusted by that. However, Lila’s digging it and declares him her new man. Everyone is convinced that Jack is really hiding some secret identity, like he’s the prince of some tiny nation, because no one can REALLY be just a construction worker. Ugh, the working class!
  • Jessica proves her insane sociopath personality and hits on Jack at Lila’s party while Lila is not looking and gives Jack her phone number. Really Jess? You are a disgusting, mentally ill manipulator.
  • Jack begins to date both the women, but only Jessica knows. Jack convinces Jessica that he went out with Lila because he felt bad for her. After one, date, Jack and Jessica are walking on the beach and Jessica declares she is in love. From what? He smells her hair and he talks about how hot she is. Furthermore, Jack, who is older and has his own apartment, doesn’t even try to tap that ass. yea right.
  • After one weekend together, Jack tells Lila he wants to marry her. Because…why? All we see is them making lovey talk over lunch. Francine, can you please show the normal steps of attraction? Even with teenagers?
  • Coincidentally, Nicholas Morrow sees Jack out with Jessica and recognizes him as someone he used to go to prep school with in Connecticut. What are the odds? Also, Francine, did you know that there are other states on the east coast besides Connecticut? Nicholas remembers that Jack had an evil side and held a girl at knifepoint at school and was kicked out. Also he had violent mood swings that made him like “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.” In other words, he was probably bipolar. But god forbid these books are medically correct.
  • Nicholas uses this an excuse to go impress Liz by being the hero and saving Jessica. Nicholas, Liz, and Nicholas’ unimportant friend go to Jack’s apartment to save Jessica. Well, good! They are just in time! Jessica, determined to find Jack’s real identity, rifles around in his bathroom and finds a shoebox of pills and marijuana. Oooooo nooo, teh drugs! If having a shoebox full of pills and a pinch of skunk is a crime, than put me away forever. When Jessica confronts Jack, he holds her at knife point. Good judgment on guys, Jess! Well, this wouldn’t have happened if Jack worked at, say,  his father’s company, but he was a construction worker, for god’s sake.
  • The Scooby squad bursts in and saves Jessica at the last minute! Boy was that lucky! They all laugh about Jessica’s shenanigans with boys and then go out for a triple bacon cheesburgers at the Dairi Burger. You know, normal reactions when your life is threatned by the man you thought you loved. Deb Morgan would agree.
  • There is never a g-damn SHOWDOWN between Lila and Jessica, so wtf? Liz calls Lila to find out Jack’s address, Liz tells her that Jess has been seeing Jack and now Jack is probably trying to kill Jessica, Lila responds with “thank Jess for saving me the trouble!”. Ok.
  • Oh? And the subplot? Penny Ayala has mono (what? I thought guys didn’t want to kiss her? ZING!) so Liz of course is taking over as editor and she’s a fucking martyr about it. Turns out there’s a fantastic photographer at SVH who leaves their photos under the Oracle door. Liz wants to find out who it is, and it turns out that it’s Tina Ayala, Penny’s sister, who doesn’t want Penny to know its her because Penny never takes her seriously. Liz, always happy to tell families what to do, and convinces Tina to tell Penny. Well, this happens “offscreen” and all is well. Way to build up tension and suspense, ghostwriters. NOT.

Wow, what. an. absolute. stinker. The plot made no sense, had no purposeful plot turns and devices, and none of the conflicts were ever resolved thoroughly. Why was Jack even manipulating the two girls/ just because he was crazy and on drugs? Well, the one thing we got was a great cover, loving Lila’s pearls and general hotness, where Jess looks like an anorexic soccer mom.

Jack has got some game! Here’s how we wooed the ladies:

The ocean wind blew softly as they strolled down to the water’s edge. “It’s so vast, so wild,” Jack reflected as he stared out at the seemingly boundless sea. “It makes you feel like nothing more than one of these tiny grains of sand. Know what I mean?”

and here’s the deal sealer:

“I think I’ll name a star after you.” He and Jessica looked upward. Every star in the sky sparkled like a cut diamond. “That one,” Jack proclaimed, reaching his finger out to point towards the star. “Because it shines more brightly than all the rest.” Jessica followed his outstretched arm with her eyes. “But, Jack, that’s the North Star!” “Not to me, it’s not. Not any longer.” Jack carewssed Jessica’s cheek with his fingertips. “From now on that star is called Jessica, and every time I look at it, I’ll tink of this wonderful evening.”

Wow, it was great seeing my lunch again.

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31 thoughts on “Working Class: Only if they are hot, please

  1. bazu says:

    “If having a shoebox full of pills and a pinch of skunk is a crime, than put me away forever.”

    ahahahahhahaha. I’ll be your cellmate.

    Weirdly, I don’t have any recollection of this book, let alone reading it. Duds McKenzie.

  2. Jenn says:

    I love how good old Nick kept seeing him EVERYWHERE and was like, “gee, he looks kind of familiar”. It took him the whole freaking book to remember that he held a girl up by knifepoint. Seems like something you might remember…lol

  3. Neek1981 says:

    I remember one random part of this one. Lila has a big party and Jack meets Jess and she’s wearing a skimpy suit. Liz walks past him a moment later and he’s like, “Weren’t you wearing a different (slutty) suit earlier?”

    Also, why did Jack hold Jessica at knife point? Was it ’cause he thought she’d have him busted for Mary Jane possession, or maybe he had some kinda sick fetish for knives and size 6 blondes? I think the latter woulda made for a more interesting story. I wish Jack coulda been a sado-masochist who liked to knife and be knifed.

    I hate how quickly and easily these characters fall in love. I wouldn’t want any man who falls in love this easily. I’d rather have a Mr. Darcy or a Mr. Rochester instead. The relationships in these books are too simple, and they never have real obstacles (unless you count pot-smoking, knife-holding contrivances) Alo, hate how these books make it seem as if being in a relationship is nothing more than talking about how attractive the other person is and then kissing them passionately. Sadly, many books and movies seem to support this fucked up idea,and so, I’ve learned nothing worthwhile about real relationships from Sweet Valley, romantic comedies, or YA TV shows.

    And how does a small town attract so many sickos? Sweet Valley could give that town from Murder She Wrote a run for its money as far as psychos per capita. Just to name a few:
    –Margo
    –Margo’s twin
    –Jack
    –Carl
    –that guy from Todd’s Story who liked to rob people and lie for no good reason
    –the evil girl who visited at Christmastime and acted like a total bitch, but was reformed in a later book, and therefore worthy of Todd’s precious love because she was so rich and thin and beautiful

    Great recap, Ihatewheat 🙂

  4. Ravenous World says:

    Aww damn, I was waiting for a bitch slapping cat fight. Given Lila and Jess’ frienemy friendship over the entire crap known as the world of sweet valley there would have been many “showdowns” that resulted in hair pulling and scratching. Oh why, why, did they deny us of this? Equally important question, why was Lila so easily forgiving in this book? So not teen girl world lol.

  5. Becca says:

    You are right on about Jessica looking like an anorexic soccer mom. That’s exactly it!

    This book really was a dud, and with a title like “Showdown” it should’ve been WAY better. Plus, I know I’ve read it a few times, and I had completely forgotten that lame subplot story.

  6. BartTempleton says:

    This is a nice classic slice of DairiBurger. SV classism, poor ghostwriting,Liz’s meddling, disposable sub-plot, juicy choice quotes helpfully highlighted for us, cover analysis–all wrapped up in a zesty yet concise package chock-full of memorable zingers.

    Some of my faves:

    –There is never a g-damn SHOWDOWN between Lila and Jessica, so wtf?
    –…where Jess looks like an anorexic soccer mom.
    –all of Jack’s quotes

  7. Laurel says:

    weird, but I remember the subplot and not the main one. Go figure.

    Everyone always laughs and counts how many dead boyfriends Jess has racked up, and her surprising lack of ptsd, but I think we need to begin monitoring how many boyfriends try to kill her.

    As always, Ihatewheat, your recaps make my day!

  8. Susie Madden says:

    I have a special fondness for this book, wretched as it is, because it’s the first SVH I ever read. I loved Jessica’s fantasies of marrying Jack and being introduced as “the Lady Jessica”.

    Isn’t this the one where Lila eats a butter and caviar sandwich?

  9. nikki says:

    Great recap, as always.
    Also: “If having a shoebox full of pills and a pinch of skunk is a crime, than put me away forever.” Yeah, I never would have made it out of college.

  10. Jen S. says:

    Aw, damn, and now I’ve got nowhere to put all my 9 West shoes, with the boxes full of pills and all! Love how the only people in Sweet Valley who do/deal drugs are the filthy, annoying poor, when they’re not busy building houses, cooking food, or arranging weekly parties for the idle rich. The only rich kid who ever did drugs was Regina and she died–Lightweight! In real life the drug business couldn’t stay afloat without the Lilas, Bruces, and Reginas of the world vacumning up the stuff like a combination Hoover/Great Dane.

  11. Rio says:

    A pot dealer who works in construction? Sounds like something any of my high-school classmates could be doing right now, and they wouldn’t really care if they got caught, much less break out the weaponry. But it’s Sweet Valley, so OMG TEH DRUGZ!!!

  12. Miss Moppet says:

    Another fabulous recap…I love it.

    Jess does indeed look like an anorexic soccer mom, who (a) is telling Lila that the noise level at her party last night was way too loud and (b) has just emerged from a passionate session with a tradesman – look how low her blouse is unbuttoned! Lila has noticed and is looking away trying not to laugh.

    If Jess did dream of being introduced as the Lady Jessica, not being the daughter of a duke, a marquess or an earl, she was doomed to disappointment. If Jack was really Lord Jack Posh, and she married him, she’d be known as Lady Jack Posh. I was impressed by her recognising the North Star, though.

    I don’t think I read this one, although that swimsuit thing rings a bell with me too. But if Lila really does eat a caviar sandwich, I have to re-read it just for that.

  13. Vanessa Saxton says:

    Lila looks great as always but I don’t think she would be caught dead in that shirt. Is it a sweatshirt? Jimmy, what were you thinking?

  14. gnatalby says:

    Jessica’s feathered hair and waxen sheen work together to make this cover very very special.

    Jack tells Lila he wants to marry her. Because…why?

    Since he’s a lowly construction worker, maybe because she’s rich? But if he’s such a commoner, why was he at a new england prep school? OMG, is he like Dick Solomon on Dexter? Does he work construction so that he has a place to hide the corpses????

  15. Magpie says:

    “Francine, can you please show the normal steps of attraction? Even with teenagers?”

    LOL, that pretty much sums up the entire series! SVH made me think that high school relationships were always TRUE LOVE. They lied to me.

    WTF is the whole thing about Jack and the drugs doing in there? Is it supposed to be some kind of anti-drugs message (even though they already did that with Regina)? I guess I can understand why a YA series might want to preach against them, but this is so OTT that any point gets lost in the crazy. Why do they have to be so extreme about everything? “Take drugs once and you’ll either die or go ape-shit with a knife!”

  16. Magpie says:

    One more thing: whatever happened to Nicholas Morrow? He seemed to be really prominent in the early books, and I thought they were lining him up to be Liz’s next victim once Todd moved to Vermont, but then that never happened. Did the writers finally realise that he’s really boring/creepy?

    • Jen S. says:

      My guess is they just forgot about him. It’s not like boring/creepy was ever considered unattractive before, as long as it’s a guy who’s boring/creepy. That just mean some lucky sixteen year old girl has her life’s work of making over a wierd stalker presented to her early! After all, that’s why God put women on this green earth.

      • Miss Moppet says:

        If she’s read Twilight she won’t even want to make the stalker over. Why spoil the perfect guy?

        The Nicholas Morrows of this world must have been dancing in the streets when Twilight came out. “I’m not creepy any more! Now I’m romantic!”

  17. noonelikeslois says:

    I remember borrowing this out from the library and anticipated some kind of catfight between lila and jess which i thought would be amusing. I finished the book and was left totally confused and wondering if i had missed something while i skipped through the subplot. (Those subplots usually annoyed me bcos they were always pointless and cheesy). I re read the book and concluded that maybe i had missed something bcos I was young (I was about 9 or 10) and figured i would understand it later. Francine you have a lot to answer for. I guess this proves my naivety in my expectations and that these books often arent worth the paper theyre written on).

    Great review ihatewheat!

  18. Mel says:

    I went to the used bookstore this weekend to find some SVH (and maybe a good BSC) and “Showdown” was there. Thanks to this blog, I knew not to waste my money on this alleged showdown that never happens. I went for some Christmas specials instead.

  19. MT says:

    I, too, thought this book was especially dumb. The best part had to be how the Wakefields sit in the police station following Jess’s near-death and act like “No big deal, just get over it already” hahahaha! And Lila definitely wasn’t herself in this book … boooo

  20. Whallie says:

    I was bummed out by this one too. I thought it was going to be awesome “showdown” with the two brats, but of course it was about some mentally challenged dude that is too hot to make chicks care about their bf’s and respect for themselves, Crap!

  21. Karla Keffer says:

    Does anyone else remember when Jack tells Jessica about going to The Police concert and how his favorite song is “Every Breath You Take”? Yeah, real original. Someone must have been reading the Billboard Top 10s for the two years that was on the chart. I am impressed

    It would have been so much cooler if Jack’s favorite song were “Be My Girl-Sally” where Andy Summers sings about bonking an inflatable doll…

  22. Golden Lavaliere says:

    Ihatewheat, you rock!!! LOL!! But how could you forget the best quote ever in this book? I remember it from waaaay back when I read it. I’ll try to conjure it up:

    “Taking careful aim, Jessia let loose her best cheerleading kick, catching Jack in the [shoulder?] The knife slipped out of his hands, and Liz (?) ran to retrieve it.

    All I remember for sure was the fact that when it came to needing to save her ass, Jessica was able to use a cheerleading skill. Thank goodness!

  23. Goldray says:

    “If having a shoebox full of pills and a pinch of skunk is a crime, than put me away forever.”

    When I read this in the blog I laughed my ass of and continued to do so everytime I reread it in people’s comments. And I’m still laughing about it.

    Too funny.

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