Friday, February 25, 2011
SVT #1 - Best Friends
Today's undisclosed bookstore purchases included -much to my happiness- the first SVT book. I have very fond memories of this book (it wasn't the first SV book I ever read, I started my SV reading at the young age of 7 when I picked up my sister's copy of Bruce's Story) and I read it several times. I remember that Jessica joins the Unicorn Club and starts dressing differently, and Liz is not happy about it. And I remember that everybody was REALLY mean to Lois Waller (I always liked her, and I felt so bad for her), plus the twins took ballet and got their own bedrooms.
This was written by Jamie Suzanne (why does FP get SO much credit for writing these books? It's kind of odd, considering that even BOOK NUMBER ONE was written by a ghost writer...) and was published in August of 1986. That means that yours truly was EIGHT MONTHS OLD when this book first graced the shelves of your local bookstore. I never realized that before, but in retrospect some of these books are so...dated!!! I'm kind of sad that I grew up in a world lacking lime green Triumphs...
The cover features Jessica and Elizabeth. I assume Liz is the one with the arm stretched across the other girl's shoulders. I wonder if this is the origin of Liz's trademark shoulder-pat, and I am now even more excited to start reading.
The story begins at the end of a school day. Jessica is telling Elizabeth to wait for her so they can walk home together like they always do. We learn that they are twins, and that they live in Sweet Valley (hence, Sweet Valley Twins). Liz is mad at Jess for stealing her barrettes, making her late to science class, and getting peanut butter in her hairbrush (I don't want to know). Jessica mentions how ill-fitting Lois Waller's leotard was in gym class and Liz (THE NICE TWIN) says, "She can't help it it she's fat." (My mouth dropped open, NOT EVERYONE IN SWEET VALLEY IS PERFECT?!?!) Jessica talks about how much she loves the dancing they're doing in gym class -it's ballet, and we learn that she wants to be a star ballerina someday (wow, foreshadowing book #2 on PAGE THREE of book #1).
Elizabeth is starting a newspaper and she asks Jess to write for it. (Liz, you do her homework, you of all people should know that Jess hates to write.) Jessica denies her, and Elizabeth thinks about how she -Elizabeth- is "the (twin) in charge. She had to remind Jessica to do practically everything, and help her with her math homework, and pick up after her." I have a hard time believing that Liz is "in charge", sounds more like she's Jessica's BITCH, IMO.
They go home, we learn that they live in a big Spanish-style split level (no mention of them having a pool). The book also says that BOTH of their parents work- Mom part time at Sweet Valley Design, Dad is hear of a successful law firm, so you know they're like a million times better than your parents!!!! They have an after school snack with Steven (Oreos for the girls, cake for Steve), and I start counting how many meals they eat in this book. Steven makes fun of them for being so identical and we learn what the twins are wearing, and I imagine that it looks something like this, with ponytails for both of them:
Lila calls, Jess talks to her and "sounded like she'd been talking to a member of the royal family" (correct, Jamie Suzanne, Lila IS royalty). We learn a few things about Lila. I made a list:
*She has the biggest wardrobe in Sweet Valley (I wonder if it leads to Narnia)
*Her dad is rich and he buys her whatever she wants to compensate for not being around (in other words, Lila has Daddy Issues)
*She's a member of the Unicorn Club
Since it's only book #1, Liz has no idea what the Unicorn Club is, so she asks, "Did Lila's dad buy her a unicorn?" I laughed at this, I admit, because Liz is supposed to be the SMART twin as well. Jessica takes this more seriously than I do, and she educates us on the Unicorn Club. Then she starts talking about Janet Howell, so I made another list:
*Janet is Lila's cousin (Is she rich too?)
*She is the prettiest and most important girl in the 8th grade
*She is President of the Unicorn Club
Jessica goes to practice ballet, Elizabeth does homework alone, thinks about how her bedroom is sort of "babyish", and she so kindly describes it so I can make yet another list:
*White wallpaper, with pink flowers on it
*White bedspreads, pink pillows
Jessica decorated it, Elizabeth hates pink. Jessica's side is a mess, Liz is a super neat freak.
Because the Oreos and cake weren't satisfying enough, the Wakefields are having a nice family dinner. Elizabeth makes salad, Jessica says ballet is "more important than food" (and SarahLynn says "Jamie Suzanne must be a closet anorexic or have a food fetish, she's mentioned weight twice, and there's already been a meal AND a snack in chapter one alone..."). Parents suggest the twins go to REAL dance class at the so-creatively named Dance Studio. We also learn that Liz has friends other than Jess- Amy and Julie- and that Jessica doesn't like them. Amy Sutton does HOMEWORK during RECESS and wears boring clothes, so Jess and I aren't her biggest fans. But Liz hasn't turned into a superbitch yet (it's the first book, remember), and she still actually likes her friends. She and Jess fight at dinner, and smart readers observe that the twins are developing into two separate people and they seem to be growing apart.
The next day, we accompany the twins to SVMS, and we learn that it's a sprawling building that sits on acres of land. Bruce Patman makes his first appearance of the series!!!! (On page 11, in case you want to go back and witness this great moment firsthand!!!) Here's what we learn about Bruce:
*Elizabeth thinks he acts like a bully and a jerk
*Elizabeth also thinks that Bruce considers himself to be the most important person in the world (I personally agree with Bruce on this!!!! Love.)
*Bruce cannot tell them apart, he calls them "Blondie"
*He is RICH
*He's a really cute 7th grader
Jessica falls in LOVE (11 pages in!!!!) and "star(es) dreamily after Bruce as though he were a rock star or something" (Wow, Jamie Suzanne, that was some great writing there!!!! "Or something", WOW, I bet that took you ALL NIGHT!!!!). Liz wonders when Jess became interested in boys. Liz hasn't met Todd yet, so she still isn't into boys.
Liz and Jess split up, going with their separate friends. At lunch, they sit at separate tables for the first time in their lives. (Meal/snack #3 of this book, in only 2 chapters.) We get to meet the Unicorns at last!!! Representing the 6th grade we have Lila and Ellen. Kimberly, Betsey, and Mary are from the 7th grade, and Janet is the lone 8th grader in the group. We get to hear how pretty and special and lusted-after the Unicorns are, and we get to hear about Jessica's looks (again, blonde, blue-green, dimples, identical twin) and how well she fits in with them. Jessica wants to be in the club, naturally. They have meetings at THE DAIRI BURGER (where the HIGH SCHOOL BOYS hang out!!!! WITH NO PARENTS!!!!) and eat pizza at Guido's (it's LUNCH time, and they've already mentioned TWO restaurants...again, explain this food obsession!!!!). There are 12 members in the club (but we only meet these 6, so I think Janet's lying) and they've very EXCLUSIVE!!!! Jessica expresses her desire to join, and gets a "maybe". Jamie Suzanne feels the need to tell us that: "When Jessica Wakefield wanted something, there was no 'maybe'. There was only 'yes'." (That's an odd way to put it...Jessica doesn't know the word 'no', this could be trouble in the future.)
The next day Jess goes through the closet and suggests more purple clothing (because stores in Sweet Valley stock unreal amounts of purple clothing these days), but Liz is like a bad Rainbow Brite villain and she hates all the fun colors so she vetoes the idea. Jess picks out their outfit- jeans, white turtleneck (possibly to hide a hickey, since the answer is always 'YES'), lavender sweater. She wants to borrow Liz's sneakers, Liz says no and suggests she wear her "docksiders" (*Googling* Those are hideous, and I would not pay $100 for a pair of those, ewww) but Jess says those are like, so 1983!!!! So Liz lets her borrow her brand new sneakers as long as she's careful with them. Liz suggests that they clean their room after school (screw that, Jess and I are going to this Dairi Burger place after school, 'k, Liz?) and Jess agrees. Liz says "Bruce Patman could be under that mess and you wouldn't know it!" Jess says "I wish!" (I wish too, Jess!!! I bet Liz actually DOES have Bruce hidden under there *see my Freshman Year story*) Damn, Jamie Suzanne is giving me weight issues AND making Jess into a Whore of the Future and we're only in chapter #3.
After school, Liz waits for Jess and looks forward to cleaning their bedroom. Nerdy as it sounds, she's mostly looking forward to hanging out with Jess, even if she does have to help clean up a mess that isn't hers. It's kind of sweet, actually. But Jessica doesn't feel the same way, she blew Liz off to go to the Dairi Burger with Lila. She gets invited to be a Unicorn, but she has to do three pledge tasks first. So I have to make what I hope will be THE LAST list:
*Steal a teacher's lesson plan book and replace it before the end of class
*Trick three girls into using the boys' restroom
*GO TO SCHOOL NOT LOOKING LIKE LIZ!!!!!
Jessica is up for it, and she thinks that they're going to ask Liz to join as well, but they are asking Tamara Chase to join instead. I guess Janet finally realized that she was the only 8th grader in the group because Tamara is also an 8th grader.
Jess does her first two tasks with ease. She tricks poor Lois Waller into using the boys' room, but she can't bear to trick Liz, so she tricks some 8th grade girls instead and that disappoints the Unicorns slightly. Her third task is the hardest. Liz wakes up the next morning, lays out some yellow sweatsuits for them before going down to breakfast (it's PANCAKES). Jess gets out of bed and curls her hair with hot rollers. She brushes out the curls (NO, that is SO '80's!!!! Just break them apart!!!!) and puts on makeup and an entirely different outfit (which Jamie Suzanne does NOT describe, BITCH!!!!!). Elizabeth likes it and wants to copy, but she doesn't have time. She's sad that Jess doesn't look like her anymore. Jess sees Bruce on the way to school and he whistles at her. Lila and Ellen think she looks gorgeous, and Liz is even more sad.
Liz cries in the bathroom and hears girls come in and talk about how hot Jess is. She has a Moment- and suddenly, history is made!!!! Liz takes out her ponytail, parts her hair down the middle, pulls the front back, and clips it into the style that she will probably wear every day for the rest of her life. Lois comes in as she's leaving (second time these two have used the restroom at the same time, they both must be very regular...I take it as proof that they have the same diet). Lois LOVES Liz's hair and so does everybody else. Classes are canceled at SVMS for the day so all of the students can stand around and tell the twins how beautiful and special and different-but-still-BFFs they are. Their parents share similar statements at dinner (because they hadn't eaten yet in this chapter, so far we have concluded 4 chapters and 4 meals, plus a snack).
The next day is the first day of ballet class!!!! Liz wears a black leotard and tights, Jess puts on one of the series' most infamous outfits- THE PURPLE LEOTARD!!!!
Lila let her borrow her purple leg warmers, and Jess wants to dye her shoes to match. They talk for two paragraphs about Bruce!!!! Jess LOVES him, Liz hates him because he calls Lois "The Pig", and tells everybody in the lunchroom what she's eating for lunch. Jessica remarks that Lois "eats enough to feed an army" (Because Jess has gone an entire 6 paragraphs without a meal or snack, she is suited to judge...way to go, Jamie Suzanne!!!!) I hope Judy Blume's "Blubber" is on their 6th grade reading list, but I know it isn't because it's WAY too advance for their level of education.
They get to class. The receptionist at the Dance School is named Mrs. Hanley, but I mis-read it as "Mr. Hanky" (South Park!!!), so I am now picturing a large piece of poo wearing a Christmas hat and saying "Hidey-ho!!!", greeting the twins. Sarah Thomas (the one with the cute rich dad that slums it with Sophia's mom) is also there. Jessica comes out, all dressed for ballet, in her legwarmers (with pink hearts and yellow stripes on them) with a filmy purple scarf around her waist. Her hair is loose and wavy with glittery barrettes that have streamers attached. She has blue shadow to her eyebrows (I guees the Unicorns taught her about makeup at the next meeting), and the teacher is a real bitch about it. Jess changes and cries after class.
In the next chapter, Liz hears that Jessica is about to be named a Unicorn!!!! (I wish they said EXACTLY what the date was, so I can request the day off of work to celebrate this as a religious holiday.) Liz is sad (she's been sad a lot in this book, maybe she should see a psychiatrist) because that means Jess won't have time to hang out with her. She tells poor Lois Waller to tell Jessica talk she has to walk to ballet class by herself, and Lois "looked thrilled at the chance to do the favor". Jamie Suzanne, you are a BITCH for making Lois's character not only FAT (in no uncertain terms you have reminded of this on several occasions), but desperate for attention as well. Could JS have made the poor girl any more pathetic? I doubt it.
Later, Liz cries some more about Jess (after ballet class, as she walks home alone). She's super upset that Jess is going to be a Unicorn, and I add "separation anxiety" to my list of Liz's psychiatric problems. Liz has a heart-to-heart with her mother (and Alice seems to agree with Jessica wanting to do her own stuff, Alice probably thinks Liz's little newspaper is a lame idea, and I'm sure she knows how awesome Lila is!!!!) and there's some stuff about the twins having separate interests and how it's part of growing up. Basically, being twins = special, built-in BFF...blah, blah, blah. Liz talks to Jess, but continues to be sad, not that Alice notices this or anything.
Finally, it's Unicorn Voting Day (but this is a DICTATORSHIP, so why do they have pretend elections?) and Jessica promises Liz that she will get her into the club so they can spend time together. Jess mainly agrees to this because "(she) had a load of math homework that night and she wanted Elizabeth in a good mood"...haha!!!! Jess goes to her first meeting at Janet's house. Janet has a white canopy bed, and I'm jealous because I always wanted one of those... Jess has a fabulous time. While she's gone Liz invites Amy over and they talk about their paper. They name it the Sixers, and Liz has a good time in the process. Long chapter short, Liz likes being friends with Amy.
Flash forward to Jess's third Unicorn meeting (so, like two weeks later?). Topics of conversation: hairstyles, talking about clothes and boys. (Bruce?!?! Are they talking about BRUCE???). Jess begs them to let Liz join, despite Janet saying Liz wasn't "Unicorn Material". (Somebody should make a quiz for that.) The Unicorns finally agree to it- but, Liz has to do a terrible, super hard pledge task!!!! Liz is thrilled, until she learns her assigned task:
*Invite Lois to Dairi Burger
*Replace whipped cream on Lois's sundae with shaving cream
It's super lame, and a horrible crime against perfectly innocent ice cream. Plus, why does it have to be LOIS? (If I were Jamie Suzanne, Liz would be doing that to AMY instead of poor abused Lois.) Liz agrees with me, and she's all self-righteous about it. She refuses, and Jessica is humiliated because she BEGGED to get Liz into the club. She calls Liz a "first class priss", and I laughed out loud because I have never heard that word used before. Luckily, Jess remembers that she and Liz are identical, and the Unicorns won't know the difference if she assumes Liz's identity for one day.
The following day, Jess dresses Liz in the out fit that they're wearing on the cover and they pose for the covershot (or so I imagine). The previous evening, Jess called Lois, pretending to be Liz. She invited her to the DB after school, and Jess is pulling a twin switch. Lois was "thrilled" to be invited, she even thanks Liz for calling. (Seriously, JS, FUCK YOU!!!!)
Jamie Suzanne just won't let her hatred of Lois die. (I wonder why she even bothered to include her in the story if she hates her SO much...maybe JS sees some resemblance to herself in Lois and hates her for it.) Lois is referred to as "the school hippopotamus", "her pal, the blimp", and apparently Lois's DB sundae order is so gross that Jess "nearly gagged". (OMG, Lois asked for A CHERRY and COCONUT, what a pig!!!! SarahLynn says, "Mmmmmm, sundaes!!!!") Jess pulls the whipped cream switch (even though I'm Team Jessica all the way, I must admit that I sort of hate her for this), Lois eats it. Then she cries (awww) and runs away.
With her daily evil deed out of the way, Jess goes to ballet class. The teacher still hates Jess and Jess wants to quit. But that would ruin the entire plot of book #2, so the teacher announces that they will be doing a recital in two months on the Sweet Valley High auditorium stage. I lose all respect for their teacher, but laugh my ass off in the process, as teach goes on to say that she "has danced on the stage many times", and the way she talks about it is like she is literally referring to the SVH stage (and I wonder exactly how qualified she is to teach the class, being that she's bragging about dancing on a high school stage many times!!! Real professional, that lady.), and I'm STILL laughing about this, even as I recap. Aside from that, Jessica is suddenly determined not to quit (because she wants to have her moment in the spotlight in the next book), and she vows to be the STAR OF THE RECITAL!!!!!
Next thing we know, Liz is a Unicorn!!! Her first meeting is in Ellen's room (which is full of rainbows!!!! I want a rainbow room!!!!), but Liz is not impressed. Unicorns = Shallow, got it, Liz. Some boy is referred to as "dreamy", and Ellen says she "would do anything to go out with him". (I suddenly have a scary vision of Ellen's future. I imagine she got pregnant early into her high school career and was probably sent away to a special school...*Freshman Year #3, perhaps?*) The Unicorns talk about slutty girls at school, and I make a list of them for Bruce:
*Sandra Ferris (red bra under WHITE shirt to Dairi Burger)
*Jennifer Morris (Sandra isn't as bad as her)
*Roberta Manning (former Unicorn, dated a high school boy until her parents caught her and grounded her, kicked out of club... we'll talk more about that later.)
We also learn that some girl named Leslie Carlisle wears a 36E bra size...I do not, so I Google it just to see what it looks like...
OMG, OMG!!!!! How old is this Leslie girl?!?!?! She is going to have back pain like crazy when she gets to SVU!!!! I bet she's REALLY popular and probably stalked by Bruce Patman on a regular basis.
Genius that she is, Ellen brings up Liz's pledge task at the end of the meeting, and Liz finds out that Jess did it despite Liz REFUSING TO DO IT!!!!! Uh, oh, Lizzie's mad!!!! She storms out and Jess goes with the Unicorns to the DB. Liz goes home and helps her mom make dinner. They talk again, Liz hates being a unicorn, but being a twin is still special even if Jess is a Unicorn. It works just the same as their last convo, and Liz is still upset.
Liz calls Lois immediately after this. She tells Lois that it was Jessica, and Lois forgives her, but Lois hates Jess still. Lois is switching to private school (because of a PRANK...) and she decides not to after Liz tells her not to, and offers to let her eat lunch with her and Amy. It was just that easy, I guess!!!
Liz yells at Jess -A LOT- and blackmails Jess. Liz will quit the Unicorns if -and ONLY IF- Jess apologizes to Lois (in PUBLIC, OMG)...
One week later, Liz's newspaper is a success. Even LILA and the UNICORNS enjoyed it (being that Jess, Lila, and Ellen are the ONLY 6th graders, am I to believe that 9 7th and 8th grade girls went to the effort of obtaining AND reading this? I guess it's like the LAW in Sweet Valley that EVERYBODY must read Liz's writing- Secret Diaries included!!!!) Lila then suggests -somewhat bitchily- that Lois write a diet advice column, and she calls her "Miss. Piggy". (And I now want to call information and get JS's phone number. I think she's gone TOO FAR, seriously, and it's just the FIRST BOOK!!!!!) Liz thinks to herself about how bitchy the Unicorns are (despite the fact that LIZ called LOIS the F-word -FAT- on page one...pretty bitchy of her, no?) Liz thinks to herself that somebody needs to give the Unicorns a taste of their own medicine!!!! Jess comes up and apologizes to Lois, Lois is thrilled that a Wakefield spoke to her (JS doesn't point this out, but I just know Lois is thrilled). Liz says that she's NEVER doing Jess's homework ever again and the chapter ends.
Later, Liz decides that she hates sharing a room with Jess and her mess (haha), so the whole family spends an entire weekend working on giving Liz her own room (how many rooms does this house have? At least 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, study, den...damn, it is big!!!!). Liz's room:
*Navy blue curtains w/ yellow trim
*Plain, off-white walls
So now the Roberta Manning subplot comes into play... The girls and Steven talk. Steve reveals that HE was the high school boy that dated Roberta Manning at the beginning of the book. The Unicorns were jealous, and that's why Janet kicked Roberta out of the club. (Janet then asked Steven to a party and they also dated, but Janet was "too immature" for Steven.) Roberta dumped Steven because HE WAS TOO IMMATURE FOR HER (okay, 13 years old that dates HIGH SCHOOL BOYS and is on my SVSluts list!!!!) and because she has a crush on (wait for it, this is FUCKED UP!!!!) A COLLEGE GUY!!!! (Thankfully, Steven says that this guy isn't interested in her, and I certainly hope he ISN'T, or I WILL JUMP INTO A SVU BOOK AND FIND HIS ASS!!!!) So now Steven likes Mandy (not Mandy Miller, thank god!!!! This Mandy is in 10th grade so she's OLDER than him!!!!!), and I'm happy that Steve has given up on THIRTEEN YEAR OLDS!!!!! Liz again thinks about how bitchy the Unicorns are (so that was why they included this!!!! We're supposed to think: Janet = Bitch.) and vows agains that SHE WILL TEACH THEM A LESSON!!!!!!
To accomplish this, Liz again runs to the phone to call Lois. She has a secret plan to trick the Unicorns, and Lois is in love with Liz these days, so Lois listens intently and says, "Neato! If it works I'll be so happy I'll-I'll go on a diet!" (And SarahLynn says, "I really hate you, Jamie Suzanne. Lois is my girl, stop hatin'!!!!")
So they put their plan into action (at the DB, because this is SUCH an original plan!!!!). This time, the whipped cream on Lila's sundae is replaced and Liz and Amy photograph it for the Sixers. It was really predictable, and I wish Liz was capable of independent though, but obviously she isn't. Lois "gaily" calls out a goodbye as the Unicorns leave the DB (no mention of them PAYING, uh oh!!!! I'm also mad that they wasted YET ANOTHER sundae...I could have eaten it!!!) Lois is happy their plan worked. She is so happy that she decideds now would be a good time for some shameless self-promotion (see, that's why she and I are such good friends!!!) and gives a shoutout to her book (#38, it's awesome, even if Bruce is painted in an unflattering light)- "LOIS WALLER STRIKES BACK!" (They must have thought that was too long, because the book is actually "Lois Strikes Back".)
Two weeks later, Liz's room is finished!!!! (Where did she sleep in the interim?) She has "the biggest desk in Sweet Valley" (take that, George Fowler!!!!), and she loves her room even though it sounds boring and ugly to me.
Jess and Liz decide to setup book #2 AND #3 for us as they walk past the Mercandy house (they mentioned it at the beginning of the book, but now we learn it's HAUNTED, and Nora doesn't live there yet) on the way to ballet. Bruce bikes by (yay!!!! I love when he pops up.) and says hi to Jess -BY NAME!!!!. Liz and Jess have a weird convo where they basically recap the book in far less sentences than I did (and I hate them for it, had I known this was here, I would have just recapped that verbatim for you!!!!) and we see that they're still BFFs despite being so different.
Jessica still wants to be the star of the dance recital, no matter what. Adding to the setup for #2, Amy has enrolled in dance classes. The book ends with Jess again thinking about her starring role...
In Case You're Keeping Track...
*Elizabeth's Cry Count- 2
*Meal/Snack/Dairi Burger Trip Count- 7
*Jessica's dance outfit. I wanted this outfit SO badly as a child, and I still wish I owned it.
*The Unicorns!!!! I always wanted to be a Unicorn. As a child, I thought middle school would be full of super-exclusive clubs made up of the prettiest and most popular girls...and they did exist, only they were CLIQUES!!!!! OMG, It was TERRIBLE!!!! Nobody wore purple or went to any Dairi Burgers, but some of the slutty girls DID date HIGH SCHOOL BOYS.
*Jessica is in love with Bruce. I do not blame her.
*Liz hates Bruce. Good, less competition for me!!!!
*Ellen's rainbow bedroom.
*The food/weight obsession. I never realized just how bad it was. I can see why there's an argument for these books promoting eating disorders...
*Poor, pathetic Lois!!!! I just want to White-Out some of this story and write a happier one for Lois!!!!