Estimated Elapsed Time: N/A because this book recaps books 32-40.
Jessica is at a party at the Patman beach house when her boyfriend, Jack (whoever the fuck this is) tells her that he’s secretly been in love with her sister, Elizabeth. Understandably distraught, Jessica runs home crying and decides to run away. As she’s packing, she stumbles across a secret diary that no one knows she keeps and begins to revisit her own sordid past. Oh, good. More recapping.
We’re first treated to a recap of #32, in which Jessica dyes her hair black and tries to go faux-European. She also thinks about how cute she thinks Jeffrey French is. Then we get a recap of heroic Jessica’s impulse decision to bring home a lab puppy who becomes Prince Albert. Bizarrely, we get info-dumped about #34, even though it’s totally not about Jessica at all. Same thing with the book about Aaron Dallas’s anger issues (repressed homosexuality? RIGHT?) and his girlfriend Heather’s baby voice. UGH GOD WHY DO THEY HAVE TO DO THE BOOKS CHRONOLOGICALLY WITHOUT SKIPPING ANY.
Then Jessica reads about how she tried to break up Steve and Cara. That was sweet. Remember when Jessica thought Alice was pregnant again? Because she likes pistachio ice cream and shit? Me neither, but it happened. Jessica reminisces about how she and Steven schemed to keep Elizabeth from going away to boarding school and then actually admits to being pretty into Jeffrey, thinking at one point that she’d send Liz to Switzerland so she could steal Jeffrey away from her. What a nice sister. There’s an adorable and not at all tedious recap of the time she and Lila posted personal ads and got set up with the same dude. FINALLY we hit #40, where Jessica reminisces about poor Regina and how she died from that cocaine thing with her heart. It’s here that she admits that she once went on a date with him, posing as Liz, and when they made out, Jeffrey figured it out but then made out with her some more. Um, creepy?
Back in the present moment, Jessica cries about her and Jack, her and Jeffrey, Elizabeth too, she guesses, and then for Regina. She unpacks her clothes and decides to stay. I’m ready to self-immolate to get away from this book, so let’s call it a day.
- In the present day part of the novel, Ma and Pa Wakefield are out of town in Los Angeles
- Jessica and “Jack” have been dating for one whole month
- “But for most of the years I’ve known you, Jessica, you fall madly in love about twice a month. How am I supposed to know when you really mean it?” (4)
- “Jeffrey pulled me roughly toward him again and kissed me even more passionately. I responded with a moan, feeling as if my heart would explode with a million tiny, twinkling stars of light.” (307)
A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:
So what’s weird about this one is not the present-tense voice, which still bothers me but feels like a more natural fit than the one inflicted on Elizabeth in the previous diary book, but that once again I’m unsure what the lesson is to be learned in this. As per usual, the message is muddled.
Part of the problem is that so many of the books being recapped in this one weren’t about Jessica at all. This is only going to get worse with subsequent volumes of the diaries (ugh I can’t believe there are two more for EACH TWIN), but it still makes the lack of plot pretty glaring here. Also, boring. Like, really really boring.
The biggest issue here though is that I think the reader is supposed to realize (alongside Jessica) that the girls love each other and value one another so deeply that they can’t be apart. But everything that happens in these books only goes to further illustrate what an asshole Jessica is. So, I guess I don’t get it?