Friday, August 28, 2015

Sweet Valley High #92: She's Not What She Seems

Some super famous play director named Mr. Goodman chooses one high school every year to stage a new play and shocker of shockers, he chose Sweet Valley High this year. Jessica wants the female lead in MacBeth. She and Lila duke it out because this is one of those books where Lila randomly wants to be a famous actress. Jessica spends all of her free time preparing for the troy outs and ignores all her friends and Sam.

She also can't help noticing this random girl staring at her all the time. After asking around, she finds out that it's a new sophomore name Paula. Paula finally works up the nerve to talk to Jessica and raves about her so much that Jess decides that she's probably okay. Jessica winds up landing the big role and Lila gets cast as a witch. She refuses to do the part until they butter her up about how she's got such a great range that the role would be perfect for her.

While helping Jessica rehearse for the play, Liz overhears Paula giving one of the speeches from the play while Jess takes a phone call. She tells her that she's really good and asks why she didn't try out for the play. Paula tells Liz all about how her mom died and her dad is super abusive. After her brother ran away, he turned his abuse towards her. Since she didn't have any other family, she moved in with some friends of her mom. Liz then tells Jess, who obviously wonders why Paula opened up to someone she hardly knows rather than her.

Paula then goes after Jessica's friends. She asks Lila for a tennis lesson, which turns into doubles with them, Amy, and Annie. They start going shopping together and spending all their free time together. Paula gives Annie a headband that her grandmother gave her, and when someone points out that she said she had no family, she says that it's her dad's mom to explain why she isn't living with her.

Jessica gets so wrapped up in the play that she doesn't have time for anyone, but Paula keeps popping up to "help" her. Jess starts to feel a little left out, especially when her friends start talking about all the fun they had without her. After giving Paula a makeover, she notices that the other girl suddenly has all this extra confidence and even starts hitting on a college student helping with the show. When she tries to talk to her twin, Liz just rolls her eyes and thinks her sister is jealous that someone else is getting attention.

Liz runs into Paula in the hallway at school, and Paula lets it slip that she knew Liz was coming from study hall even though she says she didn't know, which is a little odd. Liz asks her to pass along a message to Jessica that some big deal LA paper is sending a reviewer to the show. While she says she will, Jessica actually finds out from someone else a few days later. Paula also says she's too scared to try out for the play, but after Jessica convinces her to audition for one of the smaller roles, it turns out that she already met the director before. She also works with him to change on of Jessica's scenes so Paula takes center stage and seems to know everything about the play.

Steven finally convinces Jess to take a night off and hang out with her friends at the Dairi Burger. She gets there just in time to see Paula basically stroking Sam's arm and flirting with her. Though she sits down with her friends, she ends up running out of the restaurant after seeing Sam and Paula again. Sam follows her outside, they have a huge fight, and he storms off. They make up, but she thinks he doesn't take her seriously.

Everyone else just loves Paula. When she starts making snide comments about Jessica, they assume that she finally grew a back bone. Every time Jess snaps at her or does something even slightly Jessica like, everyone gasps and/or snaps at her and Paula plays the woe is me card. This eventually leads to the two girls fighting and Jessica pulling away from her.

Cut to the night of the show. Paula calls Jessica in tears a few hours before the curtain and says her dad convinced her to drive to a nearby town and help him. When she got there, he told her that she had to live with him now. Jessica decides to go and help her even though she has the show. On the way out the door, she forgets to leave a note.

Liz gets home and realizes that Jessica is missing. The only person she can think to call is Paula. Paula's not at all dead mother answers the phone and reveals that Paula's dad died years ago leaving just Paula, her mom, and her not at all runaway brother. That same brother just took her out to buy a dress for the cast party because they're so excited about seeing her in her first lead role.

Jessica gets incredibly lost and finally finds a map. Turns out that Paula sent her on a wild goose chase. She calls the director to tell him that she'll be late, and he tells her he can't hold the curtain for her and that it's a good thing her understudy Paula is there and already in costume. Jessica gets to the auditorium just in time to see Paula in the play.

We then get to the after party. Paula shows up in a brand new dress with the hot college guy, and no one can get enough of her. The reviewer gushes about how great she was, and Paula says her mother is super happy for her. A few people look confused but get distracted and forget what she said. Jessica then stands up and gives a big speech about how Paula lied about her family and tricked Jessica into giving up her spot in the play. Paula turns on her before flouncing away with some others in tow, but most people stand with Jessica.

The next day, they have a big pool party at the Wakefield house. Everyone reads the reviews, and while Paula did get good reviews, most focus on Bill and how great he was in the lead role. Paula shows up looking super hot and babbles on and on about how great she is and how the director agreed to help her get an agent in New York. After far too long, she realizes that no one gives a damn and fakes crying, saying that they should be happy for her. Jessica then tells her that they were her friends until she pulled her crap. She gets pissed and tries to storm off, but trips over Prince Albert and falls in the pool. Jessica tries to help her, but Paula gets out and storms off. Lila then gets annoyed at Winston, pushes him in the pool, and falls in after him, so everyone else jumps in too.

Jessica finally gets to do her part on stage. They put Liz in a dark wig to play her hand servant. Paula was supposed to play the part but didn't show up. Liz then tells Jessica that the director was so mad about her not calling or showing up that he decided to not help her get an agent after all. Jessica actually feels a little sad, which I guess shows growth.

*There really isn't a B-plot, but there is a lead up to the next book. The people next door to the twins moved out suddenly and put their house up for sale. Annie's mom is in NYC working on some big campaign and can't stop gushing over the phone. Annie wonders what big news she has when she gets home. Given that the next book is called Stepsisters, it's not that big of a surprise.

*Lila tells Paula to just charge some super expensive dress to her account since Mr. Fowler never looks anyway. Jessica is a little hurt because Lila never buys her clothes. I would be too. Lila is a raging bitch sometimes when it comes to her friends asking for money but agrees to help some girl she barely knows.

*Lila hates playing a witch so much that spends the first night hiding in the background and the shadows. They tease her a bunch, so she goes all out the second night. She stands in front of the other witches and overacts her heart out, which is actually pretty funny.

*So Paula is Jessica's understudy and takes over her role in the play on Friday night but when she doesn't show up on Saturday night, they need someone to play her smaller original part. Um, then who the heck did it the night before?

*There's a big contest to see who can create the best poster for the play. Jessica wants a poster with her on the front, but the winning poster actually features the witches with Lila front and center. She moans and whines when they hang the posters all over town. In the end, Winston gets one, has the whole cast sign it, and frames it before giving it to Lila as a gift.

*Steven is in two scenes: one where he tells Jessica to hang out with her friends instead of him since he's still down about Cara leaving and one where he pops up long enough to talk about the play's curse. It's really unnecessary. Jessica basically says once that the play must be cursed because all her friends hate her and there are no other mentions of a curse. It's also an annoying scene because, of course, Ned, Alice, and Liz all nod knowingly like they already knew it was cursed while Jessica is all wide eyed and can't believe it's cursed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #46: Mademoiselle Jessica

Jessica is so sick and tired of Lila constantly bragging about how great she is and how she's super rich. Trust me, if I had to put up with her all the time, I would be too. Her dad recently took her on a trip to Hawaii, so she starts out bragging about that. Her dad then buys a box for the upcoming Dynamo show for her and his clients. Jessica can't stop seething because she thinks the lead singer Nick Englund is super hot and because her family never gets anything.

Later that night, she comes across a contest advertisement in Teenager Magazine, which somehow sounds even more ridiculous than Teen Bop. It's for an all expenses paid family vacation to Paris. The only catch is that the winning entry must be from a French oriented family. Jessica daydreams and fills out the form with her dream family. Her mom is an interior decorator who is also a ballerina and cooks French food. Her dad is a lawyer and a famous artist, and her brother is in a jazz band. She doesn't lie about her and Liz except to say that they speak French at home and do crossword puzzles in French.

Though she doesn't plan to send it, she does leave it sitting out when she runs to the mall with Lila. Liz comes home, sees it on the counter, and decides to mail it for her. Jessica spends a day or so flipping out and running around the house in circles wondering what to do. She eventually gives up and figures the contest probably got so many entries that hers won't matter.

While all this is going on, Lila somehow got it in her mind that Brooke Dennis would be the perfect Unicorn. She tells Janet that Brooke really wants to join, even though Brooke keeps blowing them off. Brooke skips hanging out with Lila multiple times to spend time with Liz and Amy. Janet decides to invite her to join and tasks Mary, Ellen, and Jessica with coming up with her pledge task.

Caroline finds out and spreads the news all over school. Elizabeth is a little hurt because Jessica didn't tell her. Even Todd knows the Unicorns are going to ask Brooke before Liz does. Brooke doesn't believe it until she attends a party in her honor. She asks for a little more time to think about it before making a decision. In the middle of the party, Jessica gets a special delivery that she made the finals of the Paris contest.

Brooke immediately tells Liz, who then goes to Jess. Jess tries to point out that it was technically Elizabeth's fault since she was the one who mailed in the contest form. After some back and forth, Jessica finally approaches her family. Alice is totally on board with them lying after they find out that a woman from the magazine is coming to the house to meet with them. Alice later reveals that she wants them to go all out to teach Jessica a lesson.

Jessica then convinces the Unicorns to make Brooke dress up as a French maid Brookette, help Alice cook dinner, and then serve their dinner as a pledge task. Even more unbelievably, Brooke agrees to it. She then comes over and helps them choose some horrendous outfits to wear, which she claims is totally French. Steven gets black jeans, a black turtleneck, and a black vest with silver metal pieces. Liz gets little black boots, purple jeans with rhinestones, and a black tee. Jessica gets a magenta and green long skirt, magenta shirt, Alice's green plastic jewelry set, and wears her ballet slippers.

Brooke shows up in a French maid uniform and heads into the kitchen. Mrs. Harris, the woman from the magazine, arrives and finds that Steven demolished the house. Jessica spent a few days cleaning, but Alice had him go wild and wreck the house. Alice and Elizabeth make a special dinner with a French name, which turns out to be macaroni and cheese.

Alice then shows up in a leotard, denim skirt, and leg warmers. Everyone works overtime to go all out. Steven grunts, barely talks, and wears his hair in a mohawk style. He then goes upstairs and plays a jazz CD before busting out his own trombone, which sounds awful. Ned also takes them outside and shows them a horrible painting he made. Everyone finally starts laughing. Alice reveals it was all a joke, and Mrs. Harris tells her that since she's not in a French class, she couldn't win the contest anyway. They then have a big laugh at her expense.

It turns out that Mr. Dennis arranged for Alice to redecorate a house that Nick Englund just bought for his parents and gave her four front row tickets. Jess, Liz, Steven, and Brooke all go together. Nick stops in the middle of the concert to pull Jessica on stage and dance with her. That makes up for the magazine sending her a consolation prize of French language tapes.

Jessica calls Lila, who reluctantly admits that she saw Jess on stage. She reveals that the in-box video feed didn't work so she barely saw the stage and there was no food, so she had to go to the concession stand. Lila asks if maybe Jessica could get her a front row ticket next time, and Jessica giggles because she finally won. Oh, and Brooke turned down their invitation to join the Unicorns.

*The place they stayed at in Hawaii was a condo. Given the type of luxury four star hotels and resorts there, I kind of expected more out of Richard.

*Really, he reserves a sky box for his clients, really? Richard doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would do business with clients who would get super excited about seeing a boy band.

*Amy claims she hates the Unicorns because they took advantage of her after her house fire. Yeah, I read that book and that's not what happened. She actually blew off her friends to spend time with them because they made her the center of attention.

*Jessica whines because the shirt and skirt Brooke gives her clashes, and Brooke says it is the height of fashion. I'm not sure how it clashes though because the shirt is literally the same color as one of the colors in the skirt.

*Apparently Alice called and let Mrs. Harris in on the trick/joke. I'm not sure why she would even bother coming, but I also don't think it was that cool of a joke to play on your own kid either.

*Brooke went with Lila to pick out a brand new stereo for her room and hung out with her a few other times. She then acts all shocked that Lila thinks they're friends and she would want to join the club.

*Elizabeth is all upset that Jessica didn't tell her that the Unicorns wanted Brooke as a member, but then she finds out that Alice is decorating a famous person's house who her twin loves and never says a word. Nice double standard.

*It seems really weird to me that these girls go to the mall together all the time and go clothes shopping. Elizabeth even goes with her friends to get new tennis shoes. I'm pretty sure I was a few years older before I went clothes shopping with friends. My mom wouldn't give me $50-100 and send me off on my own.

*Jessica thinks the jeans Liz wears are horrendous. It's purple jeans with a double row of rhinestones down each leg. That sounds like something she would love and something I would have loved at that age.