Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #9 – Sweet Valley High Books 19-21

As always, there are spoilers ahead – that is all I need to say. While this list isn’t the most consistent in terms of awesomeness (two hits and a miss) the hits are among the best Sweet Valley has to offer (so far) – definitely worth a read. 😉

“Showdown”
showdown
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place

Jessica Wakefield is dazzled by Jack when she meets him at Lila’s pool party. He is handsome, sexy, exciting and even more perfect than Lila described him. Jessica wastes no time making sure he notices her – so what if he is Lila’s boyfriend. Unknown to Lila, Jack dates Jessica during the week and Lila on the weekends. The sight of Lila’s happy face come Monday mornings, however, is more than Jessica can stand. Elizabeth, Jessica’s twin sister, warns Jessica to forget Jack before she really gets hurt, but Jessica would rather get Lila out of the picture. Then she can have Jack all to herself…

In terms of ‘early Sweet Valley High’ this could otherwise be called “How To Steal Someone Else’s Man”. While the main story revolves around Jessica trying to steal Lila’s boyfriend – that isn’t the only ‘man stealing’ that is going down. Lila and Jessica are hilarious in this book. Lila throws one of her lavish parties to introduce everyone to Jack. Jessica wastes no time (what a friend she is) sinking her claws into Jack who ends up dating both girls. At first, Jessica doesn’t realize it, until Lila gloats about her time with Jack and how in love they are. Jessica confronts Jack who gives her the runaround and somehow convinces her that he needs to keep seeing Lila (temporarily of course). So, much like divorced parents would do, he divides up his time between them: Jessica gets weekdays and Lila gets the weekends. But something is off about Jack. Elizabeth gets a bad feeling from him, which is really her default feeling for anyone Jessica is dating who doesn’t attend Sweet Valley High (hey, she has always been right before). Elizabeth also mentions Jack’s eyes, which are red, and Jack brushes her off with the excuse of too much chlorine in the pool. Nicholas Morrow swears he has seen Jack before (they meet at Lila’s party) but can’t recall where or how he might have known him. Jessica’s shenanigans with Jack show that A) she has no sense, self-esteem or loyalty (other than to herself) and B) running around with someone else’s boyfriend, may not be recommended, but is highly entertaining (at least when you are reading about it or watching a show on TV).

Meanwhile, there is a phantom photographer who keeps dropping off pictures to the Oracle office. The pictures are fantastic, prompting Elizabeth to find out who the mystery photographer is. They are already short staffed and could use the help, and in this book in particular, Penny the editor-in-chief, is sick at home with mono, so Elizabeth is in charge. When she finds out who the photographer is she is sworn to secrecy, because the photographer wants to be on the paper but doesn’t think certain people there would welcome him/her (hey at least I can keep that identity a secret). When Elizabeth tries to reassure the photographer that they would be a welcome addition, the person shows Elizabeth more pictures that they took. In one picture, it shows Robin Wilson (you know the former fat girl turned model from “Power Play”) and George Warren, Elizabeth’s best friend, Enid Rollins’ boyfriend, making out. Elizabeth is horrified and confronts George who admits he plans to break up with Enid after he takes her on a plane ride she has been looking forward to (George just got his pilot’s license).

Everything comes together when Jessica is alone with Jack at his dump of an apartment. She goes to the bathroom to freshen up, snoops and finds “all kinds of drugs”. That is the description the reader is supplied with. At the same time, Nicholas realizes that he remembers Jack from prep school. Jack had robbed a girl at knifepoint and been expelled. Nicholas tells Elizabeth who calls Lila, frantic and confesses that Jessica and Jack has been running around behind Lila’s back and gets Jack’s address from her (yes, she has actually been clueless this entire time, poor girl). Nicholas and Elizabeth rush to Jack’s without a moment to spare, since he is currently strangling Jessica (I am so serious, as in physically cutting off her air supply, hands around her throat) because she found his drugs. They rescue Jessica, apprehend Jack and end up in the police station. It looks like they have all narrowly diverted disaster until they hear on the police radio that George Warren’s plane (with Enid on board) has crashed. It is not known if there are any survivors… Dun, dun, dun!

I also need to bring up something that was mentioned (repeatedly) in the book. Lila has a powder blue princess phone. The author makes a point of this every time Lila answers the phone or makes a call. So, now I want one, but not in powder blue (not my color), but in a pale purple (lavender would do). If anyone can get on this, I would be extremely grateful. Since I’m deaf, I don’t need it to work. I just want to say that I have one and show it off. 😉 Back to this book, while it may not have been the most dramatic, aside from the last thirty pages (hey a strangling is pretty hardcore) it was entirely too entertaining. I laughed at so much in this book it reminded just why this series is a guilty pleasure, this time with the emphasis on the pleasure. If you are just picking and choosing your Sweet Valley High books, add this one to your list. I know the back cover doesn’t make it sound as exciting as many others, but it is absolutely delicious – you’ll eat it right up! 🙂

Blog 49 Phone

Princess Phone!

“Crash Landing”
crashlanding
Sweet Valley Scale: 5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place

George Warren has been anxious to take his longtime girlfriend, Enid Rollins, on his first flight as a licensed pilot. Afterward he plans to tell her something he’s known for awhile – he doesn’t love her anymore and their relationship is over. After that, he’ll be free to date Robin Wilson, the girl who has his heart now. As he and Enid are flying, however, George loses control of the plane and is forced to make a crash landing. While George comes out of the crash unharmed, Enid is seriously injured. George is so overcome with guilt he cannot possibly break up with Enid now. But how long can George pretend to love Enid and continue living a lie?

This book begins after the plane with George and Enid on it, has already crashed. (And no, the crash did not occur because George broke the news to Enid and she went crazy, but wouldn’t that be something?) George comes out more or less fine, but Enid is paralyzed. Enid’s paralysis is right up there with Elizabeth’s coma – a total ratings gimmick – that also totally works. George feels so guilty about the plane crash he breaks it off with Robin, because he can’t ‘do that to Enid’ right now. Forget about his cheating, which he feels zero guilt for. Jessica lets out a wail when she hears about Enid and says she will just die if anything happens to her (typical drama queen – she despises Enid Rollins). Then she and Lila see George leave Robin’s house and decide he must be cheating on Enid with Robin. To even the score, Jessica convinces all of their friends to give Robin the cold shoulder. Now that Robin has lost all of her friends and her boyfriends (she had broken up with her man the day George and Enid took that fateful flight) she starts to binge on ice cream and put on her old pounds. Enid has surgery on her spine, but still can’t walk. She senses George pulling away so she gets extra clingy and plays the victim (ugh). Elizabeth does not know how to help her friend, but believes Enid is physically fine now and is just using her injury to keep George from leaving her (good instincts Ace). So, Elizabeth borrows a kid she babysits and has him over to her house. She invites Enid over and goes into the house. Elizabeth and the kid (Teddy) fake the kid drowning. Of course, this prompts Enid to have a ‘breakthrough’ and come to his rescue. It’s a miracle! She can walk! Everyone hears about Elizabeth’s scheme and give her a standing ovation (literally) at the local diner.

This book was so dramatic and involved it still got a perfect rating, even with all the victim playing. I mean even I went through the damsel phase in high school, where I thought if I wanted a knight I should play the part of someone who needed to be rescued. The problem was all of my wannabe knights were completely inept at playing the hero as much I was at playing the victim. Let’s just say that phase didn’t last long. I think it is funny that this book centers around Enid and the injuries she sustained in the crash and she gets the least amount of face time in the book. The book is ridiculous, as are the characters (Robin gaining ten pounds in ten days, George dancing with Robin at the school dance when Enid tells him he should dance with someone – I mean talk about stupid). Jessica’s storyline in this book was also entertaining and for once she didn’t drive me up the wall. She and Lila took a cooking class, and Jessica is actually pretty good (and also in love with her French cooking instructor). She wants to show her family what she has learned and ends up poisoning everyone instead. (Oh yes, and they don’t let her forget it for books to come! Haha.)

In the end, Enid finds herself again and just wants George to be happy, so he rides off into the sunset with Robin Wilson. I have to give Enid props for that, because if it were me in high school… well, let’s just say Hell hath no fury like a redhead scorned’.  😉

You have to read this book, even if you are just dabbling into the world of Sweet Valley. I am not very easy in giving out perfect scores, and still this book was a no-brainer.

“Runaway”
runaway
Sweet Valley Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place

Jessica Wakefield is tired of taking second place to her twin sister, Elizabeth. Everyone loves Elizabeth; she is kind, generous and loving while Jessica can’t seem to do anything right. Then Jessica meets handsome and sensitive Nicky Shepard who feels the same way she does. Nicky is running away to San Francisco and wants Jessica to come with him. At first she doesn’t take him seriously, but when things reach a breaking point Jessica begins to think that it would be better if she left Sweet Valley – forever!

This is one of the longer Sweet Valley books, but I don’t understand why. To sum it up, Elizabeth is a saint and Jessica is a mistake. There is your summary; at least that is the point this book keeps trying to drill into the reader’s head. Jessica is tired of everyone thinking that Elizabeth is better than she is (I found this funny, because how she is written, it doesn’t take much), but both of their roles are exaggerated in this book. Their father (who is a lawyer) is handling a family case and not only asks for Elizabeth’s advice, but uses her suggestions on how to handle the case. Elizabeth is also writing an article for Sweet Valley’s newspaper (not the high school paper, the city paper) and Jessica is being constantly reminded of how brilliant and saintly her sister is. Then she is reminded that her opinions and thoughts don’t matter.

When Jessica meets Nicky, he is nothing more than a distraction. He hangs with a rough crowd, but is misunderstood and actually very sensitive and smart. He is running away because his parents act like he doesn’t exist since they are too busy with his little brother who has asthma. Maybe this was a much bigger deal in the eighties, but most of my family has asthma and inhalers pretty much take care of that, but whatever. Elizabeth keeps trying to tell her parents how depressed Jessica has been after Jessica rebuffs Elizabeth’s attempts to find out what is eating at Jessica and make it better. Her parents tell her that Jessica needs to suck it up and is being ridiculous (and she is, but this book is only about Jessica thinking this, so therefore the entire book is ridiculous).

Finally, Jessica tries to reach out to her family, but her brother Steven is going jogging, her mother is late for work, her father keeps interrupting her and Elizabeth is on the way to the newspaper office. That does it. She decides to leave for San Francisco, cleans her room and leaves a note for her family in her room, secretly hoping they stop her. A breeze blows the note away (of course), but when Elizabeth gets home she runs to her father to say something horrible is going on with Jessica. What gave it away? The clean room – go figure. Jessica’s family discovers her plans to run away, but are too late. Disappointed, Jessica boards the bus to San Francisco, thinking no one cares about her. Elizabeth and Steven chase the bus down in their car (yep) and Jessica realizes she is loved after all (oh my God, the stupid hurts) and gets off the bus and returns home. She has a long talk with everyone and all is well in the end. Even better, for all of Jessica’s troubles, she gets a new sweater!

Don’t leave this book out if you intend to read the entire series. It may not be one of the best, but it isn’t one of the worst either. Still, how many sixteen-year-olds write articles for real newspapers and give legal advice on how to handle a case to actual lawyers? How many parents would neglect a child so terribly because their other child has mild asthma? How many teenagers would get a new sweater from their parents after trying to run away and causing a whole mess, because of problems they imagined or created themselves? I guess the answer to all of these questions is: only in Sweet Valley.


If you have read any of my previous Sweet Valley posts, you’ll see I am trying something a little different. I have a lot to say about these books (each one could seriously be its own post) so I am giving myself a little more wiggle room in terms of rambling. But on the other side of that, I can’t have blogs that are so long no one ever finishes them. So each Sweet Valley post going forward will have 3-4 books on the list depending on how rambly I get. 😉  From now on I am also going to have the next list of books written, so I can tell you what is on next book’s list without any surprises cropping up.

Finally, later this week (Wednesday I’m thinking) I am doing a very special Sweet Valley post. I keep equating this series to a soap opera (and rightfully so), so I think it would be good to recap the crazy events and lives of the Sweet Valley crew but do so in TV terms. The post will be shorter than these book posts and include the highlights of ‘season 1’, three-sentence ‘episode’ recaps for each book and a funny (I hope) anecdotes about lessons learned about the world of Sweet Valley (so far). It can serve as an entertaining cheat sheet and offer even more. Again it will be short, light and a good time. Make sure to check it out! 😉

-DMW

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