SVH #56: Lost at Sea

3 Jul

Estimated Elapsed Time: One week?


Mr. Russo is taking some students on a field trip to Anacapa Island as part of an extra credit assignment.  Over the course of the Sunday afternoon, students study the plant and wildlife on the island.  It must be super-extra credit, because last I remember, Mr. Russo taught chemistry, not biology.  Anyway, the kids all pile onto a boat and sail out to the island.  Once they’re there, they get split into teams and start studying tide pools.  Jessica’s pissed because she gets put into a group with Lois Waller, Winston Egbert, and Randy Mason.  She wanted to work with Ken Matthews because apparently she’s interested in him again.

A storm suddenly appears, so they cut the field trip short.  On the way back, though, the waves are so big that the boat almost capsizes.  The captain orders an evacuation into the life rafts, and Jessica and Winston get placed in one together.  When Winston tries to give Liz and Aaron an extra oar, their raft capsizes for real and they’re washed away from the group.  The storm ends and the rest of the group is saved, but Jessica and Winston are nowhere to be found.  Liz cries a lot.

Jessica and Winston both wash up on an island some time later.  Jessica sleeps through the night on the beach and then wakes up furious, blaming Winston for their predicament.  He manages to temper some of her fury by offering her a breakfast of freshly caught fish and fruit.  The two of them eat and then start building a shelter on the island.  Later, the two of them explore further up the island, where they run into a bear.  TERROR!  Winston freezes up, and Jessica saves the day by throwing blueberries at it.  This actually happens.

Meanwhile, Liz and Steven can’t just sit at home while the coast guard looks for Jessica and Winston.  They ask Nicholas Morrow to take them out in his boat.  They don’t get very far before it starts to rain again, though, so they head home.  Alice gets upset because she thought she was going to lose her other two children to the sea as well.  Much melodrama ensues.

Jessica and Winston wait out the second storm in their shelter.  Then they are rescued by the coast guard in the most anticlimactic way possible.  When they arrive home, Jessica is interviewed by reporters.  She takes credit for all of Winston’s ideas and basks in the spotlight.  The world makes sense again!

Memorable Quotes:

  • “But talk about romantic!  She and Ken Matthews, soaking wet and clinging to each other in a tiny lifeboat in the middle of a raging sea…” (34)
  • “There’s no such thing as an uncharted isle, no matter what they say.” (112)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Jessica and Ken went to Homecoming together their sophomore year.
  • The name of the boat the field trip group rides on is Maverick.  The name of Nicholas Morrow’s boat is Nighthawk.  I wish I were joking.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

We’re talking about a book where Jessica and Winston go on a field trip only to get stranded on a deserted island.  They build shelter and cook fish and Jessica entertains ideas of wearing a palm frond skirt.  The entire plot of the book is far-fetched at best, but I couldn’t help but get tripped up on one detail: the weird response of the Wakefield family in general.

Elizabeth is understandably distraught at the idea of losing Jessica in the middle of the ocean.  It’s fair to say that the entire family is pretty upset, actually, but what’s weird is how their actions don’t seem to match up to their emotions.  The night Jessica goes missing, Alice has Jeffrey, Steven, Cara, and Liz sitting in her kitchen, waiting for word from the coast guard.  She serves them coffee and lemon bars.  It just feels…oddly formal.  Then she allows Steven and Liz to go off and search for Jessica in Nicholas Morrow’s boat.  This doesn’t really make sense, either.

Of course, one could make the argument that you shouldn’t judge another’s actions until you’ve been in their situation, but since I don’t foresee that happening, we’re going to have to assume that sending your remaining children to school the day after their sister is lost at sea is a little strange.


6 Responses to “SVH #56: Lost at Sea”

  1. Jenn July 11, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    I have such a clear memory of this book that as soon as I picked it up, I remembered everything up until the end. It was one of the books my grandma bought me, back when my mom was wary about letting me read SVH 🙂

  2. snarkvalley July 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I loved this book as a kid; when I re-read it as an adult I was SO disappointed 😦 I thought it was really cheesy. And I agree with you, everyone’s reactions were just weird all around, from the families to the friends!

  3. snarkvalley December 18, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Are you still out there? 🙂 miss your analyses!

    • Clementine Bojangles December 19, 2011 at 8:18 am #

      I am! I’ve just been so, so busy. After I move in January, I promise to get back to this. All the books are packed right now!


  1. SVH #63: The New Elizabeth | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - February 19, 2014

    […] In an attempt at continuity, there’s a joke made about Anacapa Island, where Jessica got shipwrecked that one time. […]

  2. SVH Magna Edition: Jessica’s Secret Diary, Vol. II | A Critical Analysis of Sweet Valley's Most Famous Twins - August 21, 2015

    […] final recap we’re treated to is the equally bizarre Lost at Sea, where Jessica gets stranded on a deserted island with Winston Egbert after their field trip boat […]

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