Tag Archives: drug use (serious)

SVH #109: Double-Crossed

25 Jul

doublecrossed

Estimated Elapsed Time:  8 weeks, for whatever reason.

Summary/Overview:

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.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • 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.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “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.

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SVH: Jessica’s Secret Diary, Vol. I

18 Jul

jessica's secret diary

Estimated Elapsed Time: N/A because this book recaps books 32-40.

Summary/Overview:

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.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • 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

Memorable Quotes:

  • “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?

Super Thriller #5: Murder on the Line

12 May

murder on the line

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks?

Summary/Overview:

Jessica and Elizabeth are working as interns at the Valley News for what appears to be the second time, because they are driving the Jeep and the back of the book mentions the word “again” as if this is the second time, but it’s really, really hard to tell.  At any rate, it is their second week on the job, Jessica is already bored, and Elizabeth is totally kissing the ass of the newest hire, Bill Anderson.  Because of construction going on near the newspaper’s building (construction being done to create the tallest building in downtown Sweet Valley, courtesy of George Fowler), the paper’s phone lines are a total mess.  People keep intercepting other calls, and this is probably the thing that Jessica finds most interesting about her days at the paper.  She eavesdrops on a ton of calls until she hears a man identifying as “Greenback” threaten to kill someone else.  When she tells Liz about it, Liz brushes it off.  Jessica leaves work early to meet Lila at the beach, and the two are sunbathing when someone screams because a body has just washed up on shore.  Totally out of character, Jessica actually faints.

The next day, Jessica goes straight to the police.  She talks to a Detective Jason, who wants her to keep listening in on the phone and report back to him everything she hears.  She also finally, finally makes contact with Mr. Gorgeous, a young guy who works the next building over whose attentions she’s been trying to attract for days.  He introduces himself as Ben Donovan, and he tells her he’s an accountant.  Her interest in him dwindles as he tells her he’s also really into reading and classical music.

When Bill Anderson tells the twins that Rose, the receptionist quit, he assigns Jessica the job of manning the switchboard.  She can’t listen in on the phones while she does this job, but she figures out a way to call her own extension and listen that way.  It isn’t long before she overhears another call by Greenback, and this time, she records his conversation with a Dictaphone.  She plans to show it to Detective Jason later.  But as the conversations continue, she hears Greenback mention a friend in the police station, and undercover cop, and makes a comment about how a “spy” can’t be listening in at the office.  Jessica is worried, but not enough.

Meanwhile, Seth Miller and Elizabeth Wakefield are trying to solve the murder of Tracy Fox, the girl who washed up dead on the beach.  She was found with cocaine on her, and that’s why she ran away from home, according to her mother.  Liz and Seth go all over the place trying to figure out who knew her and why someone wanted to shut her up permanently.  But this is complicated by the fact that Jessica becomes convinced that Seth is Greenback–because he seems to be flush with cash and because the Telex in his office makes a similar noise to something she heard in the background of one of Greenback’s phone calls.

Elizabeth brushes off Jessica’s theory until she remembers that she actually saw Tracy Fox at the Western building shortly before she died.  When they check the visitor’s log, they find out that Tracy was there to see Seth! HOW CONVENIENT!  Elizabeth still isn’t convinced that Seth is Greenback OR a drug dealer, so she asks Jessica to give her some to figure it out.  Jessica agrees to wait until the following Monday.

While Elizabeth talks to Seth about his possible involvement (he mentions that he never met with Tracy but did receive a phone call from a scared-sounding girl), Jessica confides her suspicions in Bill, who tells her they’ll meet back at the office that night and go to the police together.  Jessica doesn’t think this is weird at all and agrees to it.  Liz and Seth meet at the Box Tree Cafe while Jessica goes ALONE to meet with Bill.  Liz and Seth piece together that Bill has moved all over, and every place he’s lived has had a drug-related death.  When they call the police to send help for Jessica, Detective Jason blows them off, so of course they race to save her.

Meanwhile, Jessica meets up with Bill, who is totally high on cocaine (she sees it on his desk) and chases her up onto the roof, where he tells her to jump off the roof with the conveniently-planted coke he wants to place on her.  He’s going to make her death look like a drug-fueled suicide and then frame Seth for the murder.  Wait, what?

LUCKILY Ben Donovan is the real undercover cop, and he arrives on the scene with Elizabeth and Seth.  He manages to save Jessica as Bill dives at her, sending Bill off the roof to his death.  Whatever, this is ridiculous.  Anyway, everything works out okay.  Detective Jason is “detained” for questioning, Ben asks Jessica out, and the twins are treated as heroes.  And we are treated to more didactic rambling about how drugs are bad.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Adam Maitland is still? living with the Wakefields
  • Todd is vacationing elsewhere with his family
  • I had to Google what a Telex is, and it’s basically like a fax machine?  I think?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Not metallic silver,’ Jessica murmured. ‘No matter how you’re shaped, it’s bound to make you look like a station wagon!'” (19)
  • “A violent murder had taken place, right there in the Sweet Valley area.  This kind of story was rare.” (59)
  • “‘If I had my way, you’d be shark bait by now, Jessica Wakefield,’ he rasped. ‘From now on, you’d better keep your mouth, eyes, and ears shut, or I’ll shut ’em for you.'” (116)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I’m not sure why the timeline of this one bothers me so much.  I mean, it’s not like a completely wonky timeline is so out of the norm for this series.  Maybe it’s the flagrant disregard for continuity?  Like, the publishers didn’t care enough to give the readers a story that makes sense within the bounds of physics?  How do the twins have the Jeep in this one?  How are they still 16 even though it appears to be the summer following junior year?  Why is Todd around but not Sam?  Why is Adam Maitland making an appearance after disappearing for like, 25 books?  WHY?

Also, how dumb are the twins in this one?  The jumping to conclusions, and the complete logic fails make me crazy.  All of it is so contrived and so obviously a way to move the plot pieces around I can hardly stand it.  I’m thinking about this too much.  I should go lie down.

SVH #77: Cheating to Win

31 Mar

cheatingtowin

Estimated Elapsed Time: 8 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Tony Esteban is a track star determined to win the upcoming All-County race, but he also has his sights set on the Olympics one day.  The drive to win isn’t entirely internal, though: he gets an immense amount of pressure from his former-football player dad, who wants nothing more than to see Tony win big.  At a track meet, Tony falls and tears a tendon in his knee.  It’s very painful, but the doctor says that he should be back to normal if he stays off his feet for a full week and doesn’t push himself too hard.  His new girlfriend, Annie Whitman, worries that he won’t be able to follow doctor’s orders.

Tony FREAKS OUT about not being able to work out like he normally does.  He manages to stay off his leg for the week, and when the doctor gives the all-clear, he starts working out immediately.  But he’s not as fast as he was before his injury, and this is unacceptable to him, despite the fact that it’s literally the day he gets the okay to start running again.  When a dude at his gym offers him some “magic vitamins,” promising him that they’ll improve his speed and make him stronger, Tony accepts without asking what’s in them.  And lo and behold, he’s stronger than ever before.  But he’s also more of a douche than he was before, if it’s possible.

Obviously a bit ‘roided out, Tony starts lashing out at Annie and his friends.  When Annie finds the pills in his locker, she sneaks one to her biochemist cousin to run some tests on.  Then she enlists the help of Liz to switch out the pills for placebos, arguing that it might all be psychological.  Meanwhile, Tony finally feels guilty enough to come clean with his coach and his dad after blowing up at troubled 13-year-old Mitch Ferguson.  Mitch has been staying with Roger Barrett Patman while suspended from school, and Mitch takes a liking to Tony.  Whatever.

Tony gets in some trouble but everyone is really pleased that he came clean.  Annie also tells him that she swapped out the pills, and because of this, he’s still able to run in the All-County race–and win! Duh.  Winners never quit.

The B-Plot involves Liz and Todd feeling like they can never get quality alone time.  After both get frustrated with the other one blowing them off or agreeing to group outings, they both hatch a plan to “kidnap” the other one and bring them to a romantic getaway.  For some reason, they plan this for the same day at the exact same location, and they think this is hilarious and not at all creepy.  Whatever.  They’re boring.  NEXT.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • For some reason, Roger Barrett Patman’s name is hyphenated in this book.
  • Tony drives a used Mazda.
  • Annie has a cousin named Beth.
  • This book is the worst.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Liz and Todd,’ he drawled. ‘I guess you’ve come for our “rescue a hoodlum” barbecue.’ He laughed. ‘Roger’s out back with the little fiend. But I warn you, don’t expect too much. You know what those people are like.'” (16)
  • It isn’t too late, a voice inside him protested.  Just walk away from this place and don’t come back.” (95)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

You can tell how much I don’t care about a book by how short my summary is.  But it’s also that this one is just so stupid–why do I care about this character who is a total douche bag BEFORE he starts taking steroids?  I won’t ever really have to read about him again, so why does it matter?

Also, this one is so PSA-heavy it’s a joke.  The didactic walls of text about the dangers of steroids read like the script of an episode of Saved By the Bell.  There’s so much info-dumping about steroids and the research on them it’s clear that someone was doing some reading while they were writing this book.  Blech.

And yet, no mention of testicle shrinkage, which makes sense, since every dude in Sweet Valley High appears to be castrated at birth, considering how low the sex drive of teens is around town.

SVH #40: On the Edge

11 Oct

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Bruce Patman and Amy Sutton are totally hooking up, and pretty much everyone at Sweet Valley knows it except Bruce’s girlfriend, Regina Morrow.  Elizabeth worries over whether or not to say something to Regina, but Jessica convinces her that it might only make things worse.  The twins throw a barbeque, and Bruce and Amy hook up behind a tree.  Elizabeth tries to distract Regina while Jeffrey intercedes, but Regina’s not completely stupid and sees what’s going on.  She freaks out and yells at Elizabeth, Bruce, and Amy.  She storms out and goes home.

Both Bruce and Elizabeth try to talk to her in the days that follow, but Regina shuts them down.  She starts hanging out with pseud-bad boy Justin Belson, who’s on academic probation because of cutting class.  He’s friends with a lot of the shadier kids at SVH, including some druggies.  People try to warn Regina about Justin and his friends, but she’s not very receptive and thinks that she knows him better, he’s complicated and misunderstood, etc.

Regina and Justin go to a wild party at Molly Hecht’s house.  Everyone who’s there is excited about the possibility of a drug dealer named Buzz showing up.  Even though Nicholas Morrow, Elizabeth, and Bruce all warned Regina that the party was bad news, she goes anyway, despite being completely uncomfortable with the situation.  At the party, people are drinking beer and smoking the marijuana.  Regina coughs because the air is thick with smoke, and Molly Hecht and Jan Brown make fun of her.  Buzz shows up and everyone crowds around him to look at his little baggie of cocaine.

Elizabeth has been angsting over what to do about Regina being at this party.  I don’t know how it’s her business, but apparently it is, because she calls Nicholas, who thanks her and races out to his car to go to the party.  He gets pulled over for speeding, and when he can’t produce his driver’s license, the police take him to the station.  I don’t know about you guys, but here in the U.S., drivers have 24 hours to produce their license.  He finally gets the police to listen to him about the party, and they head out towards Molly Hecht’s house.

Justin can tell that Regina’s uncomfortable and promises that they’ll leave soon, but he’s worried that Buzz is trying to get Molly hooked on heroin, and so he wants to be there–to stop her, I guess?  Regina sits at the table with the cocaine and watches it get cut into lines.  She’s teased for being naive, and then she decides that it looks harmless, so she does two lines of it.  Her heart starts beating super fast and it’s clear that something’s wrong.  Justin tries to get someone to call an ambulance but Buzz is like, “ARE YOU CRAZY THERE ARE DRUGS HERE!” and Regina’s gotten pale and weak.  The cops and Nicholas burst in and Regina’s rushed to the hospital.

Bruce and Liz are called to the hospital and wait with the Morrows.  The doctors come out and tell them that Regina suffered a heart attack due to the cocaine and she’s dead.  Everyone cries.  A memorial service is held a week later, and everyone cries some more.

The almost nonexistent B-Plot involves Amy and Bruce in their attempts to gather information about drugs in Sweet Valley for a school project.  They meet up with Amy’s cousin Mimi, who tells them all about Buzz, the drug dealer who will be at Molly’s party.  Apparently he’s the biggest pusher at Sweet Valley College and the police have been trying to catch him for a while.  This seems mostly like exposition to further the plot along.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Regina knew her parents would die if they knew where she was.  As it was, they hadn’t been thrilled when Justin had shown up wearing  a leather jacket.  Even with his chiseled features, he looked slightly tough–a little older than guys she knew at school and definitely more streetwise.” (59-60) [Blogger’s note: Her parents have a problem with a leather jacket but not an attempted date rapist?]
  • “According to Justin, authority, no matter what kind, was bad.  If someone told you not to do something, chances were you should go ahead and do it–if only to show them how stupid rules were in the first place.” (90)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Amy Sutton’s cousin Mimi, who is helping provide information for the project she’s doing with Bruce, is only 19 but is apparently a junior in college.
  • Justin Belson’s life is messed up because his dad was murdered during a robbery at the liquor store he owned.
  • The ghostwriter spells Secca Lake wrong, and then, only a page later, claims that Bruce’s vanity license plates on his car read Bruce 1.  This is a falsity and very close to blasphemy, as we know that his license plate reads 1Bruce1.
  • Molly Hecht’s party starts really early.  Like, 7pm early.  I wasn’t invited to a lot of parties in high school, but I do know that a 7pm start time would make Molly’s party the place to not be.
  • Nicholas reads “Dirge without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay at Regina’s memorial service.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

“We don’t know exactly what happened yet,’ the internist said wearily.  ‘All we can say for sure right now is that Regina took a lethal amount of cocaine tonight and experienced an extremely rare reaction–rapid acceleration of the heartbeat, which brought on sudden cardiac failure.  It’s possible that a heart murmur she’s had since birth may have contributed to this…” (131)

It’s hard to snark on a novel that is actually pretty sad.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to, but it’s harder to do when the premise isn’t so flat-out ridiculous.  That being said, there are a few things worth mentioning in this analysis.

The first is that I’m uncomfortable with how ignorant everyone seems to be about cocaine.  Now, granted, I was born after the characters of this world (although we graduated high school around the same time in terms of publishing dates.  Haha), so I went through the DARE program in the early 90s.  I lived in a world where drug awareness and scare tactics were used from an early age.  We were warned of the dangers of ALL drugs and were told to STAY AWAY.

I’m not going to debate the effectiveness of such programs, because it’s sort of irrelevant.  At any rate, we were made aware that drugs could be dangerous.  What is surprising to me is that the teens of Sweet Valley seem to be ignorant of this.  None of the people at the party seem to think that cocaine could be dangerous.  They laugh off Regina’s questions and Buzz even says something about how he can’t believe that people are telling lies about cocaine being dangerous or addictive (I realize this is part of his business strategy, but bear with me).  At the hospital, after finding out about Regina, Bruce asks if the cocaine had been poisoned.  This leads me to believe that he can’t imagine the drug alone could hurt her.  Pssh.  Whatever.

The last thing I want to talk about is how Regina’s death is actually explained.  The doctor said that she took a “lethal” dose of cocaine and this exacerbated a potentially pre-existing condition caused by a heart murmur.  But if the dose was lethal, couldn’t that just have been it?  People can overdose on the drug.  The word “lethal” was in his description of what she took.  Doesn’t lethal mean death?  Why did they have to over-complicate her death with the discussion of a heart problem?  Moreover, how is it possible that they never caught this hypothetical heart murmur over the course of her extensive medical treatments?  I know that the treatments focused on her hearing, but you’re telling me she never had a physical?  Really?

At any rate, someone’s gonna be blamed for the loss of an innocent, and that person is gonna be Molly Hecht.

SVH#19: Showdown

20 Apr

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Lila’s dating a new guy, a construction worker named Jack (no last name), and she throws a pool party at her mansion to show him off to her friends.  Jessica catches sight of him and decides he super-cute and worth pursuing relentlessly, so she flirts with him outrageously at the party, going so far as to write her phone number in a matchbook with the charred end of a match.  Classy.

Jack is pretty classy too, because he starts dating both girls–Jessica during the week and Lila on the weekends–and keeps dropping little information nuggets that make him seem like he comes from a lot of money but is trying to make it on his own.  Both girls eat this shit up and it isn’t long before Sweet Valley High is buzzing with gossip about who Jack is, ranging from a millionaire’s son to a secret prince.  During this time, Jack manages to also convince both girls that they’re the only one for him, and does a bunch of cheesy stuff like naming stars after them.  He also proposes to Lila but tells her they must keep their engagement a secret.

Elizabeth is weirded out by Jack and is worried about Jessica dating him while he’s also dating Lila, but her attempts to convey this worry to Jessica aren’t very successful.  She keeps trying to brush off her doubts about Jack, which worsen when she runs into him and he acts erratically and seems to have red-rimmed, bloodshot eyes.  When Jessica tells her that he’s breaking it off with Lila, some of her fears are quelled, but not totally.

Things come to a head one night when Jessica goes out with Jack and they run into Nicholas Morrow and a friend of his visiting from Boston.  Both boys seem to recognize Jack but can’t place him, and when Jack pulls Jessica out of the restaurant in a hurry, Nicholas focuses on where he knows him from.  The boys figure out that Jack is the same boy who was expelled from their prep school a few years back.  Apparently he had robbed a girl at knife-point (his own girlfriend), and although she chose not to press charges (WHAT?), he got really heavy into drugs and was totally dangerous.  He had never been the same since his entire family was killed in a tragic boating accident.

The boys race over to the Wakefield’s house in hopes of catching Jessica before it’s too late, but she’s not there!  Elizabeth is, and when they fill her in on the situation, she races along with them as they try to find Jessica.  Lila supplies Jack’s address when she finds out he’s been two-timing her, and the three of them go over to his apartment, bursting in as Jack holds a knife to Jessica’s throat after she discovers his drug stash in his bathroom.  They tackle Jack and Jessica is rescued.

The Wakefield family goes to the police station to file a report and press charges.  While they’re there, they hear a distress call come over the radio about a small plane over Secca Lake.  Elizabeth screams because it’s Enid and George’s plane!

The B-Plot involves a mystery photographer submitting photos to the school newspaper.  The photos are great: they’re funny, smart, and sneaky, and Liz is determined to figure out who the mystery photographer is.  She catches Tina Ayala, sister to Penny Ayala (the SVH newspaper editor out sick with “mononucleosis”), dropping pictures off late one night.  One of the pictures she has is of Robin Wilson and George Warren at the air field, locked in a passionate embrace.  Liz promises to help Tina get on the paper and begs her to keep quiet about the information about Robin and George.

She worries about what to do about Robin and George, and when she confronts them, they admit they’re in love.  George tells Liz that he was planning on telling Enid but promised her the first ride in a plane with him after he gets his pilot’s license.  This will end well.

Trivia/Pop Culture:

  • Jack tends to favor neutral clothing: khaki walking shorts, green La Coste shirt, top-siders; a brown crew-neck sweater, and wheat-tone button down shirt.
  • Jessica wears a slinky blue dress with buttons down the back that falls just below her knees with slits up both sides.  Scandalous!
  • Lila has a pale-blue princess phone, a detail that I find awesome.  She also brings a butter-and-caviar sandwich and shrimp salad to lunch at school.
  • Pop culture references include: The Twilight Zone, Never-Never Land, Fantasy Island, The Maltese Falcon, and The Police

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

The entire book is so ridiculous that I have a hard time even trying to critique it in a serious manner.  The fact that both girls would be interested in dating a construction worker is laughable; the fact that we are supposed to believe that sixteen-year-old princess Lila Fowler would enter into a secret engagement with one after dating for a week is absolutely ludicrous.

The character of Jack is also pretty ridiculous.  He is never given a last name, and the fact that Jessica’s parents are okay with her going out with some older guy they know nothing about is further testament to their terrible parenting.  Jack is supposed to be a character the reader both fears and feels sympathy for, and yet it is difficult to do either because we know so little about him (aside from the fact that he likes to wear top-siders). Lazy writing and sloppy plotting alert.