Estimated Elapsed Time: 8 weeks, for whatever reason.
The day after the wedding, Jessica has escaped to live at Lila’s until the hubbub dies down. Elizabeth calls to warn Jess that her parents want to ship her off to boarding school in Washington state, but Jess isn’t worried. She meets Jeremy and he proposes to her using the sapphire ring she loved way back when. He tells her to keep their engagement a secret until at least after he returns from a trip out of the country. Jessica agrees, albeit reluctantly.
Back at the Wakefield house, Elizabeth tries to console Sue, who is acting heartbroken. Sue tells her that her dead mother never liked Jeremy, and now she knows why. Sue says her mother cut her out of the will, and that as a result, Sue has lost out on a TON of money that is news to literally everyone. Except, then it turns out that Sue’s mother’s will had “stipulations” and now that Sue didn’t marry Jeremy, she gets the inheritance after all. In a series of paragraphs that make absolutely no sense, we learn (through Elizabeth’s eavesdropping), that: Sue gets the money if Sue stays away from Jeremy for at least two months. If not, Alice gets the money (WTF) to do with what she sees fit.
Jessica drives Jeremy to the airport for his trip to Costa Rica, but he won’t let her stay until his plane lifts off. He also can’t give her the full address of where he’s staying. Probably because he’s not, you know, actually going to Costa Rica, but whatever. Jessica cries about how much she’ll miss him. Meanwhile, Sue attempts suicide by taking a bunch of pills and having her stomach pumped.
It takes nearly two weeks, but Jessica lets it slip to Lila that she’s engaged, and within seconds, the entire school knows. When Liz finds out, she cries a lot about how Jessica is going to leave her forever. Jessica says she won’t. Then she tells Liz she’s moving back home even though Sue is still living there. Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield tell Jessica they want her to stay away from Jeremy for about 6 months, and she tells them that will be hard to do since they’re engaged. Obviously Ma and Pa Wakefield freak out, but Jess remains calm.
Later, Liz tells Jess about the money situation, and Jess can’t believe when Liz suggests that Jeremy might be a gold digger. She continues to hold fast to the idea that it is True Love between her and Jeremy, despite the fact that she can never get ahold of him and he seems to only call in the middle of the night. Jeremy promises he’ll be back in time for the Project Nature Halloween party, which Jessica promptly invites the entire school to.
We get snippets of Sue talking on the phone to someone and generally acting like she doesn’t have a care in the world. She admits that her suicide attempt was faked. Okay. She also admits to Liz that she was lying about having the same rare blood disease that her mother had. OKAY.
When Principal Cooper announces a new initiative that places girls in single-sex math classes, Liz FREAKS OUT because it’s the most sexist thing she’s ever heard of, despite the fact that there’s research that supports that girls in co-ed classes fall behind their male peers by like 3rd grade or something. But then she starts taking the math class and is amazed that the research backs up the results: all the girls are doing way better in math, after like a day or something.
Project Nature throws a Halloween party and Jeremy is finally back in town for it. He’s distracted, though, and Jessica starts to worry. She goes outside to find him and discovers that he and Sue are totally making out. She breaks up with him and storms out.
The B-Plot involves Lila secretly enrolling Robby in a business class at the university so he can become rich or something. He gets mad and they break up. He comes to apologize and tells her he actually started taking the class, plus a life drawing class. When Lila realizes that means he’s looking at naked women, they break up again. Then they get back together.
Also, Todd grows a mustache and Liz is super, super turned off by it. They fight, they break up, he shaves, they get back together.
The book ends with Jeremy showing up at the Wakefields’ looking “ashen” to announce that Sue has disappeared.
- Both Todd and Winston get their hair cut at a place called Rigoberto’s
- Sue’s mother’s family invented a kind of frozen dinner and that’s why they’re Oprah-rich.
- Sue’s psychiatrist prescribes tranquilizers for Sue’s “difficult time.” Jesus Christ!
- Todd apparently has a part-time job? Doing what?
- Ned had a soul patch when he was younger.
- Apparently they’re back in school, despite there being no fanfare about this happening. The timeline is FUCKED.
- “It was going to absolutely kill her to keep this to herself until Jeremy returned. But she had promised him. And for the first time in her life, it seemed very important that she keep a promise.” (42)
- “‘We’re not just family, Liz. We’re twin. We’re two halves of the same person,’ Jessica said sincerely. ‘We always have to be together. I couldn’t be happy without you.'” (73)
- “‘That sounds like a lot of fun,’ Amy said, her face brightening. ‘We can start spreading the word. It’ll be the first party anyone’s had so far this year.'” (130) THAT IS A LIE.
A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:
The first thing I noticed about this one was that the tone was different than previous books and that the characters speak differently. My guess: we have a new group of ghost writers, but who knows, really?
The second thing has to do with how dumb the legal provisions are in Sue’s mother’s will. It doesn’t make sense for the funds to go to Alice, a woman she doesn’t seem to have had much contact with in the past twenty years or so. It makes even LESS sense for the will to stipulate that Sue can inherit the fortune if she stays away from Jeremy for 60 days. Like, what the hell? Why that period of time? WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?
Also, they’re back in school again but are still sixteen and still juniors. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does. Like, a lot.