Monday, August 27, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins: Elizabeth Next Stop Junior High



This is one of the two books that supposedly bridge the gap between The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley Junior High, but I totally don’t believe that. This book barely mentions the rezoning of the school district before Elizabeth takes off for Costa Rica. I also want to point out that I paid 50 cents for the paperback Jessica book at a book sale. A local thrift store charged me a ridiculous $1.99 for a hardback version of this book. I did complain because it’s clearly a kids’ book and they told me that all hardback books are $1.99. Really? You think someone will pay $1.99 for those battered Sesame Street encyclopedias? Oh well, this is the same thrift store that had $300 on a newish dirty couch.

Anyway, Elizabeth read that a charity group needed volunteers to help rebuild homes in Costa Rica. She hoped that Maria would go with her, but she has a role in a film shooting that summer, so Elizabeth is off with a bunch of strangers. Jessica gives her a bag of CDs and fashion magazines, telling her to have fun. Liz kind of smiles, but because the group specifically told them to leave that stuff at home, she decides to throw it away. After hearing that a group of Canadian girls don’t have enough money to buy magazines for the plane ride home, she leaves the bag in the bathroom with a note for them.

At the airport, she meets this guy Andy who is your typical dork. He keeps talking about the science club and sci-fi movies, but it’s okay because she also meets JP. He’s Jessica in a male body, but she loves his smile and how much fun he is to be around. Liz also meets Tanya, who goes to JP’s school. Tanya won the trip for writing an essay on Costa Rica, which she claims taught her everything anyone should ever know about the area.

After getting to Costa Rica, they get broke into two teams. Liz winds up on a team with JP and Kate who she really likes. She sits with JP on the bus to their town and they keep literally getting thrown together. Liz keeps thinking about how hot and perfect he is, and then he opens his mouth and she hates him.

Liz and Kate get assigned the same host family and their daughter Veronica loves American television. She uses slang terms and Tanya totally mocks her, almost making her cry. The leader of the program Marion picks Liz as her group’s foreman because she worked on a house for a Habitat for Humanity type group, and Tanya leads the other group.

Liz almost wets herself because she doesn’t want to lead anyone. She’s too afraid that JP will see her true side and hate her. One of the locals, Jorge, takes them into the jungle and pretends that a venomous snake attacked him. Since Liz read like three books, she knows everything about local animals and realizes that it’s a harmless snake. She tosses it back into the jungle and everyone loves her.

When the truck carrying their supplies is late, Liz decides to let everyone run wild and do whatever they want, while she stays with Andy. Andy hears a rumor that Tanya stole the lid from the gas tank, which is why the truck was late. Liz sneaks into the jungle, finds a snake, and puts it in Tanya’s tent. Tanya flips out and when she runs off, Liz sneaks inside and finds the gas cap. She also finds the bag with CDs and magazines. She puts the cap back on the gas tank and doesn’t tell anyone.

JP realizes that it was Liz and they totally make out a little. Then, he helps her plan a jungle rave for everyone involved. Liz also learns that he once dated Tanya, which is why he can’t be around her anymore. They thought about getting back together, but then she tried to destroy a model he spent weeks building. He can’t handle anyone that obsessed with school…which is why he went for Liz.

Liz decides that she absolutely cannot be herself around him. She starts slacking off and letting her group run off to have fun instead of build the community center. She even goes with them a few times to the local market and other places, instead of working like she should. Liz brought along some tips from a website devoted to low-cost building and they use those tips to finish the building.

Since they got done before anyone else, Liz gets the big volunteer of the century award or something like that. Tanya pouts and whines when they hand over the award because she wanted it. When they go to christen the center and hang up a poster, the wall literally crumbles. After investigating the building, they discover a ton of leftover materials and supplies.

Liz rushes back to her host home in tears, but JP comes to check on her. She tells him all about how much she wanted to impress him and he decides that he likes her too much to care about almost killing people with a shoddy house. The group organizes come over and tell Liz that they should send her home, but instead, they’ll just have someone else help them finish up the building. So Liz gets off once again.

*The words that Veronica uses? Awesome, totally, and stuff like that. Tanya teases her relentlessly, but I use those words almost every day.

*Why the hell would the truck not move for over a day because it was missing a gas cap? I once forgot to put my cap back on and drove over 100 miles before I realized what I did. Guess what? I *gasp* actually got there!

*I’m curious why Tanya sleeps in a tent on the other side of the city, while the kids in Liz’s group have host homes. That doesn’t seem fair.

*What kind of crappy group would let a teenage girl act as foreman for a job like this? She is literally the head of the group and no one ever checks on her.

*JP lives close to Sweet Valley, but they don’t talk about exchanging letters let alone meeting up after the trip.

*Um, why is it okay for Elizabeth to rush off to Costa Rica? In the Jessica book, her parents have to think long and hard about letting her go to Hawaii with a much smaller group and live with an adult chaperone.

*I think it’s weird that a group would advertise for volunteers “12 and up” like this one did. I would guess real groups want teenagers or adults.

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