Friday, April 10, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #9: Against the Rules

Elizabeth has a brand new best friend in the form of Sophia Rizzo. Unfortunately, Sophia's older brother Tony is a thug. He got in big trouble a few years ago and now everyone thinks that she's just like him. Liz thinks she's fun, sweet, etc. and would make a good friend.

The school just announced that the sixth graders would have the chance to write the big play of the year, and she suggests that Sophia take part in it. This leads to Liz heading over to her house after school and finding out that she wrote plays and stories for years. Liz then convinces all her friends to be nice to Sophia too. They plan a big picnic at school and get to know her.

Since Jessica hates poor people, she naturally hates Sophia and her whole family. She gets a new excuse to hate her when Steven shows up with a black eye that Tony gave him. Steven was with some guys who accused Tony of stealing from the school and made a rude comment. Jess cares not for that though. Tony hit her brother so he's evil. Once the news breaks that Sophia wrote the school play, she and the Unicorns convince most of the school not to audition.

The kids working on the play cast it themselves and then perform it in front of their English classes. Lila grabs a copy from Sophia, reads it in the hallway, and laughs about how bad the play is, which turns people off even more. Ned and Alice finally sit Liz down and tell her that they don't want her hanging out with Sophia outside of school anymore. Sadly, Liz just found out that Sophia has never really celebrated her birthday and made plans to throw a surprise party for her.

While all this is going on, Ned finds out that one of his clients asked the twins to come with them to LA for a few days to keep their daughter happy. After getting them all excited, he finds out that the invitation was only good for one twin. Jess is obsessed with some new musical and really wants to go. Liz offers to give up on the trip, but their parents decide that it's more fair if they guess the number Steven wrote on a piece of paper.

Liz wins, and Jessica throws a major bitch fit. She bursts into tears, screams about how Liz always gets everything she wants, and shouts that Liz is their favorite before running and slamming her door shut. Liz keeps offering to let Jessica go, and their parents keep telling her no. She gets Jess to agree to a twin switch, which will let her stay home and throw the party.

The play goes off perfectly. Everyone loves it, and people start to love Sophia too. Since the Wakefields had plans with their friends for the next day, Liz throws the surprise party there. Ned and Alice come home early and arrive seconds before Sophia does. Ned offers to go pick up her mom and brother and bring them back, which Liz realizes will give him the chance to check out their home and draw his own conclusions about the family.

Turns out that Ned and Alice actually love them. Alice agrees to buy the blankets and stuff her mom makes and sell them to her clients. They make a public apology to Sophia, and even Lila brings her a nice birthday present. Jessica comes home and still doesn't like Sophia but also doesn't really care because the mini Olympics are coming up.

*Ned literally says that he doesn't understand the term "drawing straws" when deciding who can go to LA. Why do people hire him for legal work??

*So, Sophia's mom once had a good job and supported her kids. She then had a knee injury that left her without work. Somehow, she still manages to have a house in what seems like a good area.

*Lila comes over and sees Sophia there, so Jessica says she stopped by to pick up old clothes. Sophia cries and tells Liz that her mom would never accept charity. WTF? How can she afford a house, pay bills, and feed and cloth two kids without working or accepting any type of charity.

*Ned and Alice never say a word to Steven in regards to him being an asshat to Tony. Plus, he kind of deserved his punch.

*Julie makes a fancy cake for the birthday party with an elaborate stage on the top made from frosting. Oh yeah, I can totally see an 11-year-old kid doing that.

*Jessica is such a bitch in this one. She tells their parents that she's worried about her sister hanging out with criminals, which is why they tell Liz she can't be friends with Sophia any more. Then again, it's shitty that they never bother to get to know Sophia at all.

*After the play ends, some random guy in the back stands up and shouts for the author to come out on stage. A bunch of other people do the same thing until Sophia comes out and takes a bow. I'm sure that happens all the time.

*BTW, the play is super lame. It's all about a typical family and the fights they have, which ends with them deciding to just talk things through from now on. The typical family consists of a mother, father, son, and two daughters. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've never known one of these "typical" families before.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sweet Valley High #76: Miss Teen Sweet Valley

While lounging around the house, Jessica comes across an ad for the Miss Teen Sweet Valley competition. The city council or something wants to use it to raise money for a new community swimming pool. Steven has some new friend named Frazer he keeps bringing around. Since Jess ran out of high school boys, she wants Frazer and she assumes winning the pageant can make that happen.

It doesn't take long for Liz to jump in and decide that pageants are tots wrong. She and Enid get a bunch of other people, including Olivia and Dana, to help them picket. I'm dead serious. They actually make a bunch of signs and picket.

Since Jessica doesn't want to tell anyone she's entering, she keeps it a big secret. Amy decides to enter, but Lila thinks the whole thing is ridiculous. Jess buys a brand new dance outfit and hits some new store to pick out an evening gown. She somehow convinces the shop that it would be good publicity to let her wear the dress for free. She finally tells her parents that she entered at the same time that Liz announces her campaign.

Jessica sits down with Alice and asks for help paying for dance lessons. She wants to beat these two other girls who are her biggest competition. One is a classically trained actress and the other is a skilled pianist with a hearing impairment. Alice agrees to pay for the lessons as long as Jess pays her back. She keeps hearing about all the prizes, including a shopping spree and $10,000, which will let her pay back her parents and buy a new car.

Elizabeth is so upset over the pageant that she writes an editorial. Since California newspapers have little too do, an editor calls her and asks if she can run the article in the Sweet Valley Times. The news station sees Jessica's name on the entry list and asks them both to appear on television. Liz comes out great, while Jessica comes off shallow and immature. No!

Frazer comes over to swim and completely ignores Jess. Things get worse when Liz tries to talk to her about how winning isn't everything. Jess flips out, and they fight some more. They spend most of the book either not talking or just being bitchy to each other. Jess also has problems in her dance classes, with her teacher constantly yelling at her. He finally tells her that he pushed her because she's so talented but lacks discipline.

Liz then announces that she can stop the pageant once and for all. Apparently, the founders need permission from the school superintendent, but he's been in the Soviet Union since before the plans started. Jessica storms away, and when Liz tries to talk to her, she finally tells her about her dance lessons and how hard she worked. Liz goes to the principal and changes her mind about stopping it but decides that someone else will need to tell her twin.

The pageant finally arrives. Jessica does well in the interview section, but during her dance routine, she trips and falls. Though she gets up and finishes, she runs off in tears. Liz didn't plan on going but changed her mind, so she runs after her. Jess refuses to go back out, so Liz puts on her bathing suit and does the swimsuit portion. That gives Jessica the confidence to go back out on stage.

It comes down to Jessica and two other girls. She gets a question about the most important person in her life, which gives her a chance to talk about Liz. The other two girls didn't stand a chance. Even though Jessica wins, Frazer, who came along with Steven, still doesn't give a shit. He even has a date lined up and can't wait to leave.

Ned and Alice take the girls out to celebrate, and everyone oohs and ahhs over how great Jessica looks in her sash and tiara. Then, Ned reads off the list of prizes she won. It's all lame stuff like a free hair cut, 10 movie rentals, a $100 cash prize, and stuff like that. Liz later confronts her about why she wanted to win, and Jess finally confesses about Frazer. No worries though. He shows up at the end and asks her out.

*Amy is all shocked when Jessica signs up for the pageant. Did she really think Jess would miss out on a chance to be the center of attention?

*Isn't it funny that Jessica is such a talented dancer that both her middle school and high school teachers were incredibly rude to her just to push her more?

*Amy wears a little sequined tuxedo outfit and does a baton routine, which I thought sounded way cuter than the white dance outfit Jess wore.

*Jessica worries that she only won because of her looks. I thought there would be some type of resolution, but nope. She pretty much won because she's pretty.

*Liz flips out about how Jessica listens to how she thinks but doesn't actually "hear" her, and yet, she doesn't really listen to her twin either. While collecting signatures to protest, some lady says she likes watching pageants and Liz kind of railroads her into signing. Way to listen and hear other people!

*Enid is the only one who points out that it's some rinky dink local competition and not Miss America. If Liz really cares, why isn't she out protesting national or even state pageants?

*Why can't Liz just let people do what they want to do? If you don't like it, don't watch. It really doesn't get more simpler than that.

*Liz is all surprised when Jessica tells her about her dance lessons. Jess says something along the lines of, "what? Did you think I would just show up and look pretty?" Isn't that what she usually does?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sweet Valley High #94: Are We In Love?

Steven is once again back in town to help Cheryl Thomas. Since she's from NYC, she has no clue how to drive. It doesn't take long before people start thinking they're a couple. Steven denies it and then wonders why he never made a move on her and if it's because she's black. After Annie confronts Cheryl, she wonders if she doesn't think of him in that way because he's white. Though she apparently had a lot of white friends back in NYC, she never dated a white boy.

That all changes when they head out to eat after a driving lesson. The waitress in the restaurant acts really snarky, and there's conveniently a group of skin heads at another table. They keep staring at them and making snide comments before Steven and Cheryl get up to leave. One of the guys makes a comment about how a California sun tan must not be dark enough for him. The two drive to the beach and wind up kissing.

Since this is Sweet Valley, kissing means that you are instantly in a relationship. Steven tells the twins, and Cheryl tells Annie. It quickly spreads around school that the two are dating, and reaction is mixed. Surprisingly, Lila is one of the ones against an interracial relationship. There's a big moment where all their friends go to sit with Cheryl and talk about her new boyfriend.

Steven realizes that he doesn't feel comfortable when he's alone with Cheryl. Since the twins both have plans, he invites down a bunch of people from SVU, including his one black friend Martin. They all go out dancing and put on a good front. Cheryl realizes that she feels more comfortable with Martin and that they have a spark that she doesn't have with Steven. She just kind of brushes it off.

This sums up the whole book. Every time he touches her, she thinks that she doesn't want him touching her. Steven has to force himself to be affectionate around her. Both of them assume that if they don't like each other, they must be racist. Liz is the only one who seems to pick up on things, but when she calls him out on it, Steven kind of assumes that she's racist too.

Cheryl also has to write a speech for the upcoming wedding and asks for his help. It always comes out more angry and less happy. She tosses in a bunch of stuff about how people are so racist and her dad and Mona show that they can overcome racism. Even though it feels off to her, Steven convinces her that it's perfect.

Jessica wants to do something special for the wedding and says that the twins will make the wedding cake. They run into Bruce, who makes a rude comment about how the cake should be half chocolate. While making the cake, Jessica imagines marrying Sam with a big party on the beach. Liz kind of confesses that she imagines marrying Todd and that she can picture him being a big part of her life. Yeah, as your brother in law.

Cheryl has a long talk with Mona and mentions how she is proud of them for overcoming adversity. Mona tells her that it has nothing to with that and how it's all about love. She also tells her that if that's why she's with Steven, she's doing it for the wrong reason. This all makes Cheryl sit and think. Meanwhile, Steven drives down to break up with her and chickens out at the last minute.

Cut to the wedding and reception. Annie gives a glowing speech about love. Cheryl gets up, drops her notes, and gives a new speech all about how much love means and all that jazz. Steven realizes that she was talking about them. When she comes back, they decide that they just aren't suited for a relationship and tell everyone that they're just friends.

Jessica tells Lila that they had the most amicable break up in history and that they're no longer together. Cheryl gets her license and drives up to SVU. They decide to be best friends before she leaves. Martin sees her on campus, she lets it slip that she and Steven are no longer together, and he says nothing. Right before she leaves, he comes up to ask for her number and she gets all giddy.

*Liz must be taking lessons from Dawn Shafer's book of vegetarianism. She's making kabobs and asks if scallops and shrimp are okay or if vegetarian Cheryl needs kabobs with all veggies.

*I told the plot of this book to a friend who comes from California, and she completely rolled her eyes at how ridiculous the plot was with people being so racist in southern California in the 1990s.

*This book is so cray cray. Anytime anyone points out that they don't seem happy, Steven immediately pulls the racism card.

*What is up with them being trail blazers? Annie is white-white, Tony is Hispanic, and no one cares. Plus, Sandy dated Manuel in the past and no one said crap.

*There's a scene where Steven looks at Cheryl and her face blends into Cara. Ignoring the skin color thing, these two girls looked nothing at all alike.

*The twins test recipes. Both of Jessica's cakes come out flat and taste nasty. Turns out she added too much flour to one and used orange peel in the other. Why would anyone let her make a wedding cake?

*They also go out and buy a bunch of equipment to make the cake, including decorating tools and cake pans. I'm sure Ned loved seeing that credit card bill.