I get by with a little help from my memes.

I guess at some point someone at Bantam books suddenly read one of their own SVH books and thought “we still publish these? Really?”  and realized how horrible they are. Someone thought- “we need a new image!”  So they brought some “young hip” consultants  to revamp the SVH books. So, just like Robin Wilson, within a month, we get new fancy new look covers and more schmaltz and intrigue. the new era of SVH- the one that led to the eighteen-book-long miniseries including police, jail, arrests, fighting, tv dating shows, high school gang rivalry, and of course, everyone’s favorite child-murderess. There’s really no way to capture the absurdness of this one, except for having an imaginary conversation with this book and scream at it and also incorporate some of my favorite memes.

Liz and Jess are getting ready to go out one night with their bestest, nicest, genital-less boyfriends when somehow they both come to the conclusion that they haven’t had a school dance in a while.

REALLY? REALLY? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Then they come up with the idea that it should be a JUNGLE prom. And…..that they should get the local non-profit, Environmental Alert, to sponsor it.

For sers, Capt. Picard. HOW WOULD THIS HELP A NON PROFIT ORG? THE MEASLEY TEN BUCKS A TICKET WOULD BARELY COVER THE PRINTER CARTRIDGE COSTS FOR THE OFFICE OF THIS ORG. I’ve worked in non-profits, I know unless you are going to write a check with six zeroes, nothing truly can make that big an impact. AND IF YOU WANT TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT, DON’T HAVE A DANCE! NO CREPE PAPER AND LEFTOVER FOOD THAT IS WASTEFUL! NO CONSUMERISM FROM BUYING ALL THE CLOTHES!

Later the gang is at a beach party and they CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW AWESOME THEIR SCHOOL IS. And here is the description of how happenin’ this party is.

DeeDee Gordon and Bill Chase, the drama club president and top surfer, respectively, were doing the twist. Amy Sutton, whose knockout legs looked longer than ever thanks to a hot pink lycra mini-skirt shimmied up to her boyfriend Barry Rork. Tall, well-built Ken Matthews grasped his petite girlfriend, Terri Adams, by the waist; she squealed with delight as he lifted her high over his head. April Dawson and Michael Harris were hopping around, clapping their hands and singing along to the music.

IS THIS REAL LIFE???? REALLY FUCKING CURRENT AND HIP WAY TO DESCRIBE A HIGH SCHOOL PARTY. PEOPLE CLAPPING? NOOOOO!!!!!!!! MY MIND!!!! IT IS BLOWN!!!!

Meanwhile, kids from Big Mesa come by and raid the party, wearing Big Mesa gear. And by raid, I mean, steal the boombox and knock over the table of chips and dip. Big whoop. No big deal. of course Bruce Patman has a roid rage and THREATENS TO WEAR HIS CLUB X JACKET AT THEM. Apparently, it’s an all-out war of the schools…just like twenty books later? Really? DOES ANY EDITOR EVER FUCKING READ THESE THINGS? In the midst of the raid, Bruce spots a beautiful girl who saves him from being trampled, and his boner gets a boner. Don’t even worry about that, because it’s not resolved until the last book of the series and he ends up dumping her to get an over-the-pants hand job from Liz. But whatever.

Even better: at some point, Big Mesa’s newspaper publishes as issue that INSULTS THE ORACLE. OH NO THEY DI’INT!

Oh then something something, Jessica does something to piss of Liz but then makes Liz feels bad for feeling bad for Jessica, and Elizabeth declares she will never fall prey to Jessica’s selfishness again, it’s time to put Liz first! That will last five minutes.

Then someone decides that there should be a prom king and prom queen, BECAUSE THAT WILL HELP THE ENVIRONMENT. And the group likes the idea so much, they will send the prom queen (not the king, mind you) on a trip to Brazil to represent the org and give speeches.

HOW IN THE FUCK DOES THAT HELP? ThE JET FUEL ALONE COULD POWER A WHOLE THIRD WORLD VILLAGE.

Obviously, Jessica is thinking about bikinis and men she could hypnotize with her crusty blond bangs, and Elizabeth is thinking about helping poor Brazilllians start a gossip column in their village. This heat things up, and both girls want to be prom queen. Jessica is mad at Liz because obviously, Jessica is destined to be prom queen and Liz should be aware of that. Um, Jessica,

Liz and Jess fight, and Jessica goes into turbo-sociopath mode. They actually have daily prom committee meetings – because the school decided they would sponsor this- because it is the Wakefields after all-and Jessica never shows up and expects Liz to do all the work. liz knows this, but her nipples get hard when she makes to-do lists, so she can’t resist. Then the twins start campaigning for prom queen against each other, like it’s the only thing that matters. And blah blah blah, fight, fight, boyfriend snuggle, silent treatment, etc. Then Jessica decides to not allow people from Big Mesa because of the rivalry to win her favors. And then does a half-assed attempt at sticking to the theme by giving out “save the rainforest” and if A WHOLE RAINFOREST WAS PROBABLY KILLED TO MAKE THESE BUTTONS.

Liz mopes around because she’s fighting with Jessica, and thinks she should maybe drop out of the prom queen campaign. Her friends convince her she’s still worthy, she keeps protesting and OF COURSE they have to tell her a thousand times that she’s fabulous. Enid does a power point presentation for Liz on why she’s such an awesome friend. Except that liz remains a sad Keanu.

Time to get ready for the prom- the twins, although not speaking to each other, bith picked dresses that match their personality. Jessica chooses a pink, low cut number (to represent her vagina) and Liz picks a froffy blue off the shoulder number (to represent the cold glare of judgement). So how did they look? Let’s find out….

My thoughts:

How does Jessica get her hair so….crusty? And SOMEONE GET HER A FLAT IRON…STAT! And Liz….I just don’t even…

Elizabeth decides to make a prom mini-year book for the prom. Documenting all the pics of them prepping the prom and to…remember the three hours they spent in their high school gym? These kids are the most self-fellating bunch of kids ever.

And thus we have the part where Jessica turns into SOCIOPATH-OTRON 5000 ™. She starts seething at Elizabeth for taking what is RIGHTFULLY HERS. Todd wins prom king and she thinks Liz is a shoe-in. She then sees her dancing with Sam, and luckily, some kid wondered in from a another, more realistic YA novel where they drink, and Liz spikes Liz’s drink with vodka. Liz and Sam get drunk after a few sips and they do the tango and the Charleston (YES THAT HAPPENS). Suddenly Big Mesa raids the gym and everyone runs out to their cars, and Liz and Sam jump in the jeep, and apparently have an alcohol blood level of .98, they crash the van and Jessica and Todd run after them, only to see the jeep turned over and Sam and Liz presumably dead.

WHERE ARE ANY ADULTS/SCHOOL OFFICALS DURING THIS DANCE? GOOD FUCKING LORD.

Meanwhiles, during this time, Lila is seeing a counselor at Project Youth named Nathan because of her traumatic experience with J-Rape Pfeiffer. Who is also a counselor at SVH. Is that ethical? Real-life therapists, please shed some light. What is NOT appropriate is that he calls her “Li” and sees her on the beach and approaches her and wants to hang out with her.

WHAT? One of the first things i did with my new therapist was decide what we would do if we ever saw each other in public (we would not acknowledge each other- that’s how I roll). Lila starts having feelings for Nathan, because of course she’s a damaged, silly woman who will stupidly show misguided affection for the first man that pays attention to her. During the Big Mesa raid, Lila freaks and NATHAN THINKS IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO PULL HER INTO AN EMPTY CLASSROOM SHUT THE DOOR AND ATTEMPT TO EMBRACE HER.

You know what happens in the next few books. The judicial system changes to fit Liz’s needs and Margo drowns children. Double fried-chicken skin butter bacon burgers all around at the Dairi Burger!

Lila clutches her pearls, literally.

Cover courtesy of The Closet

Truthfully, I’ve been avoiding writing about this one. I am unsure if the purpose of having a sexual assault storyline is to:

(a) bring awareness to the issue

(b) use it to make an interesting storyline

(c) a cautionary tale for teenage girls

For any of these, it still is pretty damn frustrating. Not much else to do but give you the deets:

Lila and John Pfeiffer, sports reporter, are starting to hang out. Lila is into John because he is really interesting and genuine, not like the rich dolts she usually dates. Also, he actually listens to her and cares what she has to say. So, since it is actual a somewhat interesting and actual less shallow relationmship, it has to be too good to be true.

They finally go out on a date, Lila wears a black spandex dress, and they go to Miller’s point. They start making out, and Lila enjoys it, but then he gets aggressive, and then…well, you can guess, it’s pretty scary. John tells her “you know you want it” and even unbuckles his belt. Which is ironically the most specific reference to someone’s actual anatomy in any book.

Lila manages to get away and is (obvi) very upset. She shuts herself in, and…gasp!…doesn’t care about her looks or makeup. Of course, Mr. Fowler is out of town. Many of Lila’s friends get annoyed by her sulking and depression. Really, she’s being such a buzzkill. Surprisingly, Lila completely rebuffs her housekeeper, Eva’s offers of support. It is pretty sad that Eva is the only parent-like figure that Lila has, and she doesn’t seem to realize it.

John suddenly turns from an interesting guy to an aggressive sociopath. He taunts Lila in the hall and threatens her if she tells anyone. Meanwhile, Lila has another one of her famous parties and John has the audacity to show up, and after he taunts Lila more she breaks down and yells at him for what happened. It’s all over school and the students are divided between believing Lila and believing she made it up. I think Caroline Pierce had an aneurysm when she heard this gossip.

Here’s the other surprising thing: Jessica seems to be the only one who cares that Lila is acting different. She claims it is because she misses having someone to go shopping with, but at least she gives Lila some tough love and is pretty assertive in supporting her and getting her help. It is maybe the one time where I don’t totally hate Jessica. I know, right?

Elizabeth, despite being the savior of the needy, is doubtful of Lila. The fuck? Suddenly she is not going to feel empathy for Lila because she thinks Lila is a snob and god forbid anyone special enough to work at The Oracle should dare do something like that? Or maybe she is just mad the attention is on someone she isn’t able to help.

Another student, Susan Wyler,  emerges from the character bermuda triangle, and admits to Lila that she went out with John and the same thing happened. (I feel like this is similar to an episode of 90210. Or something.) They both confront John in the Dairi Burger, stating that he needs help. Suddenly John’s friends realize what happen and leaving him sitting all along, to ponder the error of his ways. Lila suddenly feels a bit better, but isn’t totally cured by the end of the book, which is a bit more realistic. Although she does end up getting involved with the world’s most inappropriate therapist, but I’ll write about that later.

In the completely ridiculous subplot, Sam and Jessica are going through…the opposite of sexual assault, I think? As in, they can’t keep their hands off each other and they are afraid that they will let things go to far. Just get over it and wear a condom. What’s the big deal? They both seem to want it badly, and the only reason they find they want to stop is because of some uptight morals and not because of their own choice. So they both decide to engage in activities that won’t allow them to have too much physical contact, and hilarity ensues. And then they resolve it by just agreeing to trust each other.

Why was the sexual assault plotline juxtaposed with the ridiculous subplot? Anyone who has taken Intro to Women’s Studies knows that sexual assault is not about sex specifically. Was that trying to lighten the tone?

Ok, now I shall step onto my soapbox. John seemed to be angry because he broke up with Jennifer Mitchell, who was being distant and wishy-washy with him. It got him annoyed and of the “you girls are all alike, you seem to want one thing, and then say another! No means yes!” mentality. So really, it’s not John’s fault that he tried to assault Lila? It’s because his girlfriend dumped him? THE FUCK??!?##

It seems that these teen stories of sexual assault seem to follow the same pattern: Girl likes guy, they go out, guy attacks, girl sinks into deep depression and blames herself, guy manipulates situation and terrorizes girl, only with the assistance of a savior helping them, confronts boy and shall overcome. Sure, it may help in giving some PSA about assault, but it doesn’t always happen this way. There are a HUGE array of emotions that happen after an assault, and all of them are valid. Some girls may not get upset, they may channel it in other ways or report it right away. Some girls often stay in a relationship with the guy. I just don’t remember seeing any deviation from the standard plot. And the “I Spit On Your Grave’s are few and far between. Even Thelma and Louise was a unique take on it.

I didn’t read this one the first time around (probably because it didn’t include a party, a makeover or a Slam Book) so I am not sure what I would have got from it the first time. Never trust guys? Be careful who you date, they might rape you? If it happens, it will ruin your life? If it happens, there is hope? I’m not sure.

Despite my annoyance for the expected story arc involving sexual assault, this recalls one of my favorite made for tv-movies, When He’s Not A Stranger, starring the always lovely Annabeth Gish. The assault scene is actually very hard to watch, but it’s very compelling, and she does triumph in the end, with the help of the less significant Dillon brother. Also, in a very odd way, this made me excited to go to college. NOT because of the assault, but it portrayed college not as a wild party with crazy shenanigans, but as a serene place where a gal can just spend her time quietly studying and befriending a nice, non-macho guy in her science class. (Dammit, it’s not on Netflix).

On a completely different note, I must insist that everyone drop what they are doing immediately and read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and the sequel, Catching Fire. It is an example of young adult fiction that is amazing and compelling, and appeals to adults as well. I read both books with a 72 hour period. As fellow book lovers I know you can relate to this experience; it was the kind of book that caused me to lay in bed awake and think about for hours. It haunted me as I went through my day. I loved the sci-fi element, the writing style, the premise, and the fact that the characters were set in a world where modern day standards of attractiveness and social norms did not exist. It had just enough of a love triangle to be enticing and not ridiculous and irritating.  I am counting the days until the third book is released in August. Grab a copy and clear your schedule.

Redundancy, Inc.

I am really running out of ways to express how awful these are, how ludicrous the plots are, and how despicable the twins are. So, this time, I will just explain the plot and then scream about how dumb it is.

Liz and Jess are both having money woes. Elizabeth wants to buy an expensive warm-up jacket for Todd, and Jessica wants to buy…probably some baby hooker outfit at Lisette’s so she can snag some town drug dealer/serial killer in disguise. Okay, for real, she wants a portable disc player, a birthday present for Sam, and to repaint her Hershey Bar room. They are bemoaning this while having party at their house, where conveniently the only people who are invited the main characters and characters that conveniently fit the plot du jour.

Abruptly, Lila and Amy have to leave because they both have to write letters to people that they have been putting off (on a Friday night).

YES, BECAUSE THAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ABSORBER OF TEENAGER’S TIME! KEEPING UP CORRESPONDENCE! WOW, THANKS FOR REALLY CAPTURING THE STRIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER!

This suddenly gives Jess an idea for how to make money. She will start a letter-writing business! Because so many people always have letters they want to write!

WOW, BRILLIANT IDEA YOU GUYS. BECAUSE THIS IS THE #1 COMPLAINT OF EVERYONE IN THE EARLY NINETIES. TOOOO MANY LETTERS TO WRITE! I MEAN, THE iPHONE WOULD HAVE BEEN INVENTED IN 1994 BUT STEVE JOBS WAS JUST TOOOO BUSY WRITING LETTERS TO WORK ON IT.

Elizabeth actually likes the idea, and they decide to start their own company called Letters R Us. They will take requests from people who need to have letters written, and charge $5 for each letter. Jessica will be in charge of setting up the PO Box for people to send their requests, will organize the requests, and drop off the finished letters at the post office. Elizabeth will write the content of the letters.

REALLY LIZ? REALLY? THAT’S EQUAL WORK? DO YOU REALIZE THAT ALL JESSICA NEEDS TO DO IS ORGANIZE LETTERS? THAT IS BASICALLY STACKING ONE LETTER ON TOP OF THE OTHER, BUT YOU NEED TO TYPE OUT EVERY SINGLE ONE? IF YOU ARE THAT DUMB, YOU DESERVE TO BE TRAMPLED ON MY JESSICA.

They put up ads all over town (ah, these pre-internet stories are so quaint) and they get several letters the first day they check the PO box. They go through some of the requests where people write to them explaining the background info about why they want to send a letter, and what they want the letter to say.

OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IF YOU TOOK THE TIME TO WRITE ALL THAT, THEN WRITE THE FUCKING LETTER YOURSELF! THIS MAKES NO SENSE!

Jessica looks through the letters, and sees one from a girl in high school who is feeling neglected by her boyfriend, and starts to develop feelings for someone who she is becoming friends with, the star of the boys’s basketball team. Omg! Jess realizes that shwe is talking about Todd “Wizzer” Wilkins and the person is Shelley Novak, annoying emo star of the women’s basketball team, who is feeling neglected by her boyfriend Jim, who is spending a lot of time putting the yearbook together. (Save your time, Jim. This school year lasts 15 years). Jessica sees this, and doesn’t want Liz to see it. She figures that Shelly will send the letter, and Todd won’t do anything but just be flattered. So, she wakes up extra early, takes the letter, retypes it and changes Shelley’s name, and puts it back in the pile so Liz won’t get upset.

AS OPPOSED TO JUST THROWING OUT THE LETTER? WOULDN’T THAT HAVE BEEN QUICKER AND EASIER, YOU FUCKING MORON?

Liz happily writes the letter and is clueless. Meanwhile, Liz is spending so much time on the letter writing business to get the jacket for Todd, that she starts neglecting Todd, even though he makes picnic lunches for them with strawberries and brie cheese that he plans on feeding her. Liz gets frustrated and wants to write a letter to Liz saying they want to break up. He requests Letters R Us to write it, and Jessica sees it first, and intercepts changing the name, and Liz ends up writing her own break up letter. OH THE IRONY! Jessica figures Liz will figure it out, and Todd will finally come to his senses. Actually, it’s more like she feels guilty for not telling Liz the truth the first time she figures she’ll just keep up the charade and avoid the outcome.

REALLY JESSICA? YOU DID IT AGAIN? INSTEAD OF JUST TELLING LIZ THE TRUTH, OR CONFRONTING TODD, YOU TAKE THE TIME TO REWRITE THE REQUEST??? AND ARE YOU REALLY THAT STUPID LIZ??!?!?!

Well, what do you know, Liz and Todd break up, and every time one of them times to explain the mishap, one storms out of the room, prolonging the fighting for at least five more chapters. Finally, Jessica, probably feeling bad, writes a letter to LETTERS R US, posing as Todd, asking for a letter to his girlfriend explaining he is sorry and how much he loves her. Aw, all is well, Todd and Liz make up, and Liz is able to give Todd the jacket. What does Todd do in response?

BUYS LIZ A FUCKING MATCHING JACKET!

Todd: “I wouldn’t think of wearing this unless you let me order a matching one for you. After all, I want everyone to know we’re meant for each other, now and for all time.”

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WILKINS, THEN HOW ABOUT YOU STOP GIVING HER KISSES THAT HAVE NAMES AND STOP FIGHTING AND BREAKING UP AND NOT MATCHING CLOTHES?

These books are not helping my anger management issues.

Stepsisters: A Dramatic Reading

Cover courtesy of The Closet

MRS. WHITMAN: Annie, I’m back from another modeling gig in New York! Nevermind a boozy, single mother in a small town in California works as a model in New York, but I have some wonderful news!

ANNIE: You’ve found me a new Daddy? Because being from a single-parent household caused me to become a slutty suicidal basket case.

MS. WHITMAN: That’s right! He’s a famous fashion photographer!

ANNIE: YAY! How sophisticated!

MS. WHITMAN: But there’s just one thing…..he and his daughter are…black.

ANNIE: OH NO! WHAT WILL EVERYONE SAY?

MS. WHITMAN: Don’t worry kitten. They are totally and intentionally not at all stereotypical! They live on the Upper West Side! Cheryl loves opera! Everyone will love them! Plus, I just bought a house next to the Wakefields! What can be more perfect than living next to that wonderful family?

ANNIE: Probably not having a black stepsister. What will I tell everyone! Wow, this is going to be so hard for ME!

—–
ELIZABETH: Hi Cheryl! Welcome to Sweet Valley! I’m Liz, I write for the school newspaper, wear sensible skirts, and I am so welcoming and inclusive of all races.

JESSICA: Hi Cheryl, I’m Jessica, I am a cheerleader, I like headbands and lip gloss, and I am not even noticing that you are black! Wakefields are so open and welcoming of all races.

CHERYL: Hey, hi guys. Wow, people in Sweet Valley are so nice. Sweet Valley is the most beautiful place ever, even though I grew up in New York City. I’m not at all bitter for my father dragging me out of NY to live in a small, all-white town. I look forward to getting to know more kids.

—-

CHERYL! OMG! I have to throw a party for Cheryl. Let me invite all our token students of colors Cheryl will feel better. Let’s pull Manuel Lopez and Jade Wu out of hiding. And, thank god Patty Gilbert was recently introduced in a previous book. And maybe some others that were never mentioned before.

ELIZABETH: Steven! You’ll be home that weekend! Why don’t you invite some college friends!

STEVEN: Good idea, I need to make some first. Plus, I’ll put an ad on the dorm bulletin board advertising for a black friend.

ANNIE: PERFECT! I am so glad we are neighbors. Nevermind that Jessica drove me to a suicide attempt once.

(At the party)

CHERYL: Why are there so many students of color here, Annie? And why do most of them say they don’t know you?

ANNIE: I, well, I just thought…it would make you feel more comfortable…I’m sorry…WAAAAHHHHHHHH (goes crying out of the room)

ELIZABETH: Oh Cheryl, you should not be so mad at Annie. I mean, this has been really hard for HER. She didn’t know how to make you comfortable, and was worried that other kids would be mean to you. Your move has been really stressful on HER. Come on, everyone, let’s go comfort Annie. Oh, but by the way, I am tolerant of all races. (They all leave)

CHERYL: Really? Really? Dad wanting a piece of ass from that model, and I have to live in crazy WASP town?

[At the football game]

STEVEN: So Cheryl, how are you liking your first football game??

CHERYL: I thought I’d miss New York City, but this is way better than all the museums, shows, culture, and shopping combined! I see why you all like it here! It’s the best place ever! It looks like things are going to be ok. Sweet Valley really seems to have a handle on this racism thing.

STEVEN: Well, get used to it, soon your days will be filled with football games, picnics at Secca Lake, and food binges at the Dairi Burger. And if your lucky, you may even be struck by a rare disease or attacked by a sociopath.

CHERYL: Gee, I hope so! Except that…I can’t drive!

STEVEN: What? You can’t drive? Let me withdraw from my college classes this semester so I can hang around here and teach you to drive.

CHERYL: Great! Our driving lessons will be a metaphor for the struggles we will have as Sweet Valley’s most famous interracial couple.

ANNIE: Cheryl, I’m really sorry. I just wanted to make things welcoming for you here. You don’t know how stressful you being black has been for ME.

CHERYL: That’s okay. I’m sorry I am black and this was stressful for you. Will you ever forgive me?

ANNIE: Sure. To show how much our friendship means to you, let’s go get our picture taken. I’ll wear stripes, you’ll wear polka-dots, and we’ll make ourselves look like a mid-40s lesbian couple.

CHERYL: It’s a deal! Then I’ll take you out for a double-scoop Sundae at Casey’s!

ANNIE: I hope it’s a vanilla AND chocolate sundae! Get it?

CHERYL: I think I do! It’s going to be all right after all.

A note: welcome to all new readers! I’m flattered that you all have been checking out the site. While you are at it, become a fan on facebook.

the plot, in a nutshell

Plans to create very Aryan offspring were thwarted when Wakefield and French broke up, authorities said on Tuesday.

Lila: Todd is moving back to Sweet Valley!

Liz: Oh no, I still love him. Wait, but I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz.

Liz: I love Todd!

Jeffrey: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Todd!

Jeffrey: Hi Liz.

Liz: I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz.

Liz: I love Todd!

One week later….

Jeffrey: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Jeffrey!

Todd: Hi Liz!

Liz: I love Todd! But wait, Todd doesn’t love me. I guess I love Jeffrey. By default.

Todd: Liz, I still love you.

Liz: I love you too! Jeffrey, despite risking our relationship, hatched a plan so you and I can get back together! He’s so unselfish! Let’s reward him by sending him into the SVH character Bermuda Triangle. Only to emerge as a funky fresh DJ in our alternate reality senior year.

Todd: Too much talking, not enough smooching, Liz.

Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman

In today’s installment, the part of DeeDee will be played by Amanda Bearse. The part of Bill will be played by Bill’s chest. I wish he looked a bit more Zabka-esque on this cover. (Also, this never gets old.)

DeeDee used to be interesting because she used to take drafting classes at theCivic Center. Hold on to that nugget because it will be conveneient later. After she got together with mega-hunk Bill Chase, she is all about him, and talks nothing of him, and gets all jealous and crazy about him. And can’t even wipe her own ass without checking with Bill first. Ew.Bill, even though he is a nice guy (he’s such a nice guy) he is getting sick of it. He dumps DeeDee (say that 10 times fast) and she practically throws herself off Miller’s point. By the way, I’m ready to push her. Hey ghostwriter, you should portray DeeDee as needy, not mentally challenged.

Liz to the rescue! Meanwhile, there’s a talent show coming up, and Mr. Collins has APPOINTED Liz as the coordinator. She wants DeeDee to design the sets (is Olivia Davidson busy?) but DeeDee can’t do it by herself because suddenly she is a three-year old and she can’t even wipe her ass by herself without freaking out. Liz hatches a plan with DeeDee’s best friend, Patty Gilbert (Patty’s black, by the way) where Liz will pretend to be sick for the week and make DeeDee take over to prove that she can take charge and handle herself on her own. Wow Liz, great plan! And you can get out of doing the work, AND be the hero in the end!!

Uh, do I need to tell you the end? DeeDee takes over, gains confidence, and Bill gets her back. But, they are going to take is slow because DeeDee needs to be her own person! She’s a modern, independent woman! And she’s fascinating because she takes drafting classes at the civic center!

Oh yea, that. Alice and Ned take a trip to Mexico for the week and leave the twins at home. Of course, Jessica throws a party. Lila has her college boyfriend put up a flyer in the frat house about it. Chyah, because frat guys are just looking for a suburban teeanger’s house to party at. Only if you are in a John Hughes movie, I guess. The last thing Alice says before she leaves is, “whatever you do, don’t ruin the sketches left on my drafting table, it’s the only copy”! Dun dun dun…..good use of foreshadowing there. Someone spills beer on it during the party, and DeeDee, since OH MY GOD SHE’S BEEN TAKING DRAFTING CLASSES AT THE CIVIC CENTER came and fixed it. Her sense of enabling the Wakefields…oh I mean taking charge gives her her confidence back!

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.

Sweet Caroline…stfu.

The wrath of the color-coordinated barettes

Caroline is a sad sack of shit. And by that I mean she’s a perfectly normal teenager except that she’s not in the super special Wakefield inner circle. She also is a gossip and that makes people hate her. You’d think she’d learn. Or….they would make her write the Eyes & Ears column. That would make sense, right? Anyhoo at some point, probably in the leadup to this book, she’s made up an imaginary boyfriend, Adam, and that makes people interested in her, mostly because they can’t believe a TOOL like Caroline could have a boyfriend. Adam lives far away and only can write her letters. Caroline uses Robert Browning’s poems in her letters, pretending Adam writes her love poems. Say it with me: GHEY.

Well, what a coinky-dink! There’s a play writing competition and guess which teacher’s pet aspiring writer is entering? AND GUESS WHO IS BASING HER PLAY ON ELZABETH AND ROBERT BROWING! Ruh roh! This can’t end well. Actually, Liz is annoyed by Caroline, suddenly when the person that needs help is not so subservient and pretty, she doesn’t want to help. Despite her constipated/interested look on the cover.

Carline wants nothing more than to hang out the with Jessica/Lila mean girl crowd. She’s kind of pathetic, even more so than Abbie Richards. She hears them mention the beach, so she gets all excited like she’s invited, and when she gets there, Jessica makes fun of her because she is wearing a ONE PIECE BATHING SUIT!

Carline’s sister Anita also suddenly respects her more that she has a boyfriend. They go to the mall for makeover madness. Lila calls bullshit on Caroline and decides to throw a party so Carline can bring Adam. You know, because Lila throwing a party is nothing, but let’s take a moment and feel bad for Lila’s maid who has to work an evening, taking people’s coats and making 400 cucumber finger sandwiches.

Exhibit A. Also, I hate Debra Messing.

Carline is torn, she should tell the truth but she’ll look like an idiot! Jessica ends up reading Elizabeth’s play (which wins the competition of course GAG) and makes the connection that Caroline plagiarized the poems from Robert Browning and was writing the letters to herself. Suddenly Liz sees a chance to parade her perfect (um?) relationship with Todd in front of Caroline and suddenly feels bad for her. so she talks her into telling the truth at the party. Only, Todd arranges for his friend Jerry to come and pose as Adam. Caroline however still comes clean, because that’s what typical teenagers would do! They would rather have integrity and honesty and give up their popularity. Actually, Jerry and Caroline get along well and he likes her because big sis Anita bro9ught her to the mall and bought her hairclips. So Carline gets a boyfriend after all! All is well! Except that it’s not, because Caroline is still a gossip in all the rest of the books.

Exhibit B "She was preapred for anything untill love stormed in." Apparently not prepared enought to wear pants.

And thus, several rom-com plots were born. (See Exhibits A and B). The neurotic unlucky-in-love female protagonist invents a fake boyfriend to prove something to someone, and then to no one’s surprise, falls in love with the fake boyfriend.

Nob Hill” An especially crime-ridden area of San Francisco

In the irritating subplot, Alice gets a job offer from a firm in San Francisco. It’s an amazing opportunity for her, but the twins never think that, ebcause they are too busy whining about how it will affect them. And they can’t believe that anyone would want to live anywhere other than Sweet Valley! So they embark on a campaign to convince their parents to stay, by bombarding them with borchures about Sweet Valley and always talking about how awesome everything is in Sweet Valley. In other words, once again bombarding the reader with how awesome Sweet Valley is and how everyone who doesn’t live there should feel like shit. They talk about how awful it is to live in San Francisco (yea, it’s AWFUL) and how lately there’s been a lot of crime. Actually, I think Liz would love it. She could “save” all the gay people.[At left: Nob Hill, a crime-ridden eye sore in San Francisco.]

Speaking of this whole obsession with always saying Sweet Valley is the best place to live- I am imagining that whenever Francine would get upset, she’d curl up in the fetal position and in her mind go to Sweet Valley- it’s her happy place. Shit could be going on in her real life, but in her mind, she’s just shopping at Lisette’s or binge eating at Casey’s.

A Sorta Fairy Tale; #91 In love with A Prince

Dana: Ugh! Everyone is fawning all over the Prince of Santa Dora that has come to Sweet Valley. I’m so disgusted. Because I’m an individual.

Prince Arthur: My oh my! Dana is such a spunky American woman! She’s getting my royal britches in a bunch.

Dana: I am a spunky individual! Therefore, I need to totally hate on aristocracy!

Mr. Collins: Great! I was too busy fondling a lock of Elizabeth’s hair last night to do lesson plans, so let’s host a debate! Prince Arthur, I’m not sure why you are even in class, since you are just visiting. But I guess I’ll go with it to advance the plot.

Dana: Oh, the Prince totally pwned me in the debate. But what is this I’m feeling?

Prince Arthur: Oh Dana, I am so glad that you now like me. And how flattering that you are wearing the flag of my home country as an outfit.

Dana: Oh this dress? I got it on sale at Dress Barn.

Prince Arthur: Oh never mind. Will you marry me?

Dana: Oh yes, of course! And everyone totally supports it! Nevermind that I’m sixteen, since you are rich it’s all good!

Lila: Since I was just almost raped in the last book, I have to act as a desperate, torn woman and creepily stalk Prince Arthur and force him to pay atrention to me. To get back at Dana, I will reveal the Prince’s secret: that he must announce his engagement before he turns seventeen! He was just settling on Dana!

Dana: No! I’ll never love again! I hate Prince Arthur!

Dana: Prince! I had to see you before you left! And because this book’s plot really had no focus, so we have to wrap things up in the last few pages!

Prince Arthur: Oh, Dana, your American spunkiness has taught me so much. I will stand up to my whole country and abolish this archaic tradition. Thank god for the people of Sweet Valley to tell me how to run my country!

Dana: Ok, one second I was ready to marry you, now I’m fine with you leaving! I guess I’ll have to count on getting a part in a Super Edition to see you again.

————

Seriously, I have to give them credit: Dana and Prince Arthur are one of the only couples in SVH that actually have interesting things to talk about- they actually talk about politics and even a bit about each other. Although, Prince Arthur talks like a 60-year-old butler. Of course, Todd gets all jealous because he’s Liz’ pen pal (seriously, they actually referenced something that happened in a Twins book. And there was a even a mention of the Unicorns!). Jessica is vile, and so convinced that the Prince will fall instantly in love with her and doesn’t give a fuck about hitting on the Prince right in front of Sam. Lila’s a mess, because she can no longer have a functional relationship because she was dumb enought to almost get herself raped. Sigh.

Lynne Henry makes an appearance! I thought she disappeared. She hangs out with The Droids and writes songs. She wrote one for the Prince called “Rule my World”. And Dana sings it to the Prince. Do they actually charge for gigs? Or do they just drop everything when Lila has a party?

Dana = still really boring. For a singer of a band, I couldn’t give less of a shit about her.

Family Secrets: a play in no acts

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Ned: Well family, gather ’round! I have an announcement. Your cousin is coming to live with us. Her parents are divorced, so you know that means she is on the fast track to whoresville. Her mother is getting remarried too, that trollup.

Alice: Oh Ned, that’s horrible.

Ned: I know! That’s why I’m having Kelly come stay with us for a while. It’s up to us to show her what a perfect family looks like. It’s the Charles Ingalls thing to do.

Jessica: Omg! The three of us look alike. We should go to school dressed as triplets. That would be sooooo rad.

Liz and Kelly: ‘kay!

—-

[Everyone crowds around the twins and Kelly and oohs and ahhhs for a good twenty minutes.]

Chrome Dome: [over the loudspeaker] Attention students! Classes are canceled this morning so you can all meet the new Wakefield.

At the Dairi Burger

Kelly: My Daddy is so wonderful! He is gonna by my a horsie! My Daddy! Goo goo ga ga!

Nicholas: You’re hot. I am going to take you to the Country Club Costume dance.

Kelly: Da da?

Kirk Anderson: Hey hottie! Let’s go dry hump somewhere.

Kelly: Ga ga?

—-

Miller’s point

Kirk: Hey baby, how are you doin’

Kelly: Did I tell you my Daddy gave me a ribbon for my hair?

Kirk: Mmmmm hmmmmm

Kelly: Wait, stop! I only let my Daddy touch me there!

—-

Alice: Kelly, your Mom’s on the phone!

Kelly: No! I hate her! She’s getting remarried! I want to live with my Dad in Sweet Valley!

Elizabeth: Now Kelly, parents are an important part of our lives. You should forgive your mother. Parents are our future. It would behoove you to converse with your matriarchal partner.

Epilogue, spoken by Greek Chorus:

Well, folks, that is the legend of the girl who has Daddy issues. Cousin Kelly finally remembered an incident in which her father threw plates around the house and that is why her father left her, which she was suppressing and secretly hating her mother for. And that’s why she was attracted to asshole Kirk, because he reminder her of her violent father. And so goes the fable of Sweet Valley, do not attempt to sleep with men who are like your father.

Ok seriously? Kelly sucks. And has some serious problems and talks about her father all the time. And I think she is kind of developmentally challenged.

Her father also cheated on her mother and Liz is all “that’s the WORST thing anyobe can ever do”….Um, have you READ your own diary?

Also, the three girls dress as the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil for the biig costume party. And Kelly goes as “See No Evil”?! Get it? She can’s see the evil that is right in front of her? Omg! Do you SEE the symbolism? SOOOO DEEEEP!