Penny is taking off for a few weeks for a special assignment in Washington DC. Apparently, the government picked just one high school newspaper editor, and they naturally picked someone from Sweet Valley! Everyone wonders who she will pick to be the replacement editor. Olivia thinks that she might get picked because she runs the lit magazine herself. But of course, Penny actually picks Elizabeth.
Elizabeth instantly imagines herself as the greatest thing that ever hit town. She fantasizes about Penny staying in DC so she can be the full-time editor. Instead, she discovers that everyone comes down with the flu at the same time. Mr. Collins gets sick too, so she is short on writers and has no adviser.
At the same time, Olivia isn't happy with her boyfriend Rod. Every time they go out or see each other, he wants to talk about Liz. He keeps suggesting they go on a double date and cozies up to her. When they go on a double date, he spends the whole time talking to Liz and ignoring Olivia. He even tells her that Liz has the same dress as her, after she spend four hours getting ready.
When more people get sick, Liz doesn't have enough articles to fill the paper. Rod tells Olivia that he wants to her Liz, and Olivia points out that he has no experience and hates writing. He does an article that lands on the front page and everyone loves it. When Liz needs help with her English assignment, he offers to help her with that too. She doesn't have time to check it, but she sends it in anyway.
Mr. Collins calls Liz to his office and shows her the paper with a big F on it. He tells her that she plagiarized large sections of it. She gets an automatic failure, which drops her grade and puts her on probation. She also loses her spot on the Oracle. Liz confronts Rod who tells her that it isn't his fault she didn't check her facts. He refuses to take any responsibility and blows her off. She mopes and whines for a few days, wondering what to do.
Jessica gets in trouble for lying, yet again. Lila puts purple streaks in her hair and Jess tells her it looks great. When she finds other people making fun of her, she blows up on Jessica. She later gives Jess a magazine article about the importance of being honest, and Jess decides to be honest from now on.
She tells her mom that her dress is ugly, tells her dad that she hates a new sculpture he bought and tells Liz that a poem she wrote is boring. She also tells a lot of people at school what she thinks about them. When Liz refuses to tell Olivia what Rod did, Jessica goes to see her. She tells her the whole story and Olivia doesn't know what to do.
Olivia finally confronts Rod, and he says that he didn't do anything wrong. She goes over his article, and she discovers that he stole sections from Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. She tells Penny, and they go to see Mr. Collins. He immediately recognizes the stolen work and calls a meeting with Rod and Liz.
Now that he knows what happened, he lets Liz rewrite her paper. He warns Rod that he will check all of his work carefully from now on. Olivia talks to Rod who tells her that he never really meant to hurt Liz, he just wanted to help her. And then she apologizes to Liz for being jealous of her and not trusting her. Jessica gets her comeuppance too. Lila convinces everyone to only tell the truth to Jessica. She gets annoyed and they all call a truce.
*Did anyone's high school have a lit magazine or weekly newspaper? I went to a kind of small high school, which size wise seems similar to SVH. We had a newspaper that came out every few weeks, and no one was interested in a lit mag.
*I actually think Lila's hair sounds cool! She just gets some purple highlights, which I had when I was a teenager. People keep thinking she's an alien, and one little kid cries. Sounds like this one was written by a conservative person...LOL
*Yeah, so Liz goes on the double date in an old sweatshirt, shorts and her hair in a ponytail with no makeup because she spent the day at the beach. Yet, she is SO gorgeous that people (men and women, according to Olivia) stop and watch her walking by.
*I feel bad for Olivia in this one. She actually spots Rod and Liz holding hands, but Liz plays it off like it was no big deal, even though she knew he had feelings for her! Then, he keeps lying to her and she just keeps putting up with it.
*Is Rod in any of the later books? There really isn't an ending between them. He never admits that he had a crush on Liz. He tells Olivia that he liked her as a friend, and they don't break up.
*I'm so glad that in Sweet Valley, plagiarism just results in a bad grade. At my high school, it was an immediate suspension. It's also nice that she gets the chance to write her paper again. Even if she didn't cheat intentionally, she still cheated. Somehow, it wasn't okay to steal the thoughts of a professional, but when they learn she just wrote what Rod told her was his thoughts, she got off the hook.
*Everyone gets pissed at Rod, and they claim that he needs to take responsibility. Um, why should he? He didn't really do anything wrong. If I tell you that I came up with the theory of relativity and you write my words in your paper, that's your own damn fault. I didn't tell you to steal my words!