Estimated Elapsed Time: N/A, as this is a recap of books #55-70
The book starts off with Liz on a date with Todd Wilkins, who is distracted. When she presses him for what’s going on, he tells her that his friend from Vermont, Michelle Thomas, is coming to visit him. Liz freaks out about this, because Michelle is the girl who called Todd “cute buns” in a letter to him that one time, and she runs away from their date. When he shows up at her house with Michelle a few days later, Liz is a raging bitch to them both and then cries to Enid about how sad she is while they eat cookie dough. She goes to reconcile with Todd and sees him kissing Michelle. She freaks out, runs home, and cries a lot. Then she picks up one of her journals and starts reading and reminiscing…
These are painful to recap, but not as painful as it is to read them. Liz quickly recaps books 55-57, mentioning Olivia’s crush on their teacher from the mini-courses before getting to her real interest: herself. She angsts over Todd moving back to Sweet Valley and her waffling over her feelings for him and her current boyfriend Jeffrey French. When she decides to ditch Jeffrey and hook back up with Todd, we’re treated to a recap of that gloat-fest, too. But the diary presents this as Liz actually second-guessing her decision to get back together with Todd and being shocked when Jeffrey rebuffs her attempts to reconcile. It seems we’re supposed to believe that Liz really misses Jeffrey, which this reader doesn’t buy for a second.
We continue on with inane recaps of books 61-70, which are largely focused on other people’s problems, so I’m not sure why the team behind these books thought this was the section of books to focus on. Readers are treated to reminders about Patty Gilbert’s problems, Jessica’s adventures in computer dating (this is still one of my favorites because it’s so balls-to-the-wall insane), Elizabeth’s adventures in surfing, a Tricia Martin doppelganger, and Wakefield Parent Drama for several painful books. Very little insight is provided to readers that they didn’t already know. There is one “scandalous” scene that is supposed to take place around The Parent Plot, where Jeffrey climbs up a trellis near Liz’s room (is this a thing that existed before this diary?) and they make out. But conveniently, Todd shows up that same night for some smooches, so Liz literally shoves Jeffrey into the closet so she can make out with Todd before sending him on his way. Jeffrey is super mad about having to listen to the smooth make out noises of Liz and her actual boyfriend, and he storms off.
But wait, there’s more. Liz and Todd break up again, and then Sweet Valley deals with both racism (and actual hate crimes but whatever, right?) and sexism. This might be the most pointless of the secret diary series yet, and I HATED the first round. There’s no point to these whatsoever.
At any rate, the book ends with Liz seeing Jeffrey out on a date with some rando and Liz realizes that he never looked at her the way he’s looking at this girl, so she thinks they weren’t right for each other after all. She realizes that she still loves Todd and that they’ve both made kissing mistakes with other people. She calls him and they make up.
- I don’t have any trivia to provide this time. The twins do love to wear blue-green items to match their eyes, though! This is a recurring theme that is starting to really grate on me.
- “Ooh,” Jeffrey joked. “You get me all excited when you say things like ‘male-female ratio!'” (29)
- “Sometime during the week (who cares what day it is?)” (56) [If this doesn’t sum up the way time lapses in this entire series, I don’t know what does.]
- “Don’t punch things?” I asked. “Or don’t hold it in?” (211) [Too bad this was directed at Jeffrey and not Todd]
A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:
“I’ve been such a hypocrite,” I whispered. I’d judged Todd for kissing Michelle in his backyard. But how many times had I kissed Jeffrey behind Todd’s back? I had no right to criticize him. And it was time to make it up to him. (325)
I’m including this quote because it’s what I’d like to focus on for this analysis. What’s striking about this quote is not only how clunky it is, shoe-horned in at the last minute, in the literal last couple of pages of a 300+ page book, but also how hilariously tone-deaf it is when considered with the series as a whole. Throughout these recaps, I’ve harped on and on about the fact that both twins cheat on dudes they are dating REPEATEDLY, despite the fact that Jessica is supposed to be considered the twin who can’t commit. Liz tends to be the worst offender when it comes to this, because she’s the one who is in a “monogamous” relationship throughout the majority of the series.
But this is supposed to be a huge revelation for Liz at the end of this book, after doing a great deal of self-reflection while reading through old journal entries. It never ceases to astound me how quickly she flies off the handle about Todd’s behavior when she literally cheats on him any time she goes out of town (or he goes out of town). It is weird to suddenly have this be the standard for which she can forgive him his trespasses.
I don’t know. I’m thinking about this too much. Liz is the worst because she’s self-righteous AND boring AND oblivious about how boring she is. At least Jessica is practically sociopathic in her denial about her behavior.