Monday, February 28, 2011

SVT Magna Edition- A Christmas Without Elizabeth

I read this book MANY times as a kid. It was one of my favorites for many years (before I knew that it was -of course- totally just a recycled plot...) and this is one of the few that I felt was important enough to keep (although now I regret what I did get rid of...). Reading the inside title page, I see that this book was intended for readers age 8 to 12...that's just the RECOMMENDED age, right? I hope I don't get arrested for reading this!! The tagline of the book is actually my most favorite part- "What if Elizabeth had never been born?" My mind rejoices at the thought even now. When I first read this I imagined Christmas Without Elizabeth = more presents for Jessica. But I was WRONG, dead wrong, in fact!!!! (Excuse my little joke, I had to.)
My most vivid memory of this book was Elizabeth's guardian angel. She was a hippy chick named Laura and she was hungry like 24/7 (I like Kevin Smith movies, and I know that angels don't need to eat, but Jamie Suzanne wrote this book so that explains it). Basically, Liz steals some money from her school and gives it to (if memory serves) some cute homeless girls, everyone gets mad at her and her life is all messed up, so she wishes she had never been born. The angel shows up, shows her life without her. It's not as cool as I imagined it would be, sadly. Oh, and there's a party (Christmas party #3, so far).
Moving on to the cover, we see Elizabeth as an angel (at least I think it's Liz) and it's one of those super cool fold-outs. Inside, we see a sad, short-haired, purple-less Jessica on Christmas. There are only three stockings (No Liz and NO NED...I wonder what happened to him). This book is from December of 1993, and Jess's outfit confirms that. High-waisted pants (or possibly a skirt), red sweater (cheap-looking), white collared shirt under it. No sun-kissed Cali glow or devious gleam in her eyes. So...Christmas Without Elizabeth = Jessica sad...this won't be good.

It's Christmas in Sweet Valley (for the 2nd time in the twins' 6th grade year!!!!). We begin with Jess hosting a meeting of her party-planning committee (wow- 3 double letters in that word!!!)- in Elizabeth's bedroom. They're planning a Christmas party at SVMS, and Jess is head of the committee (her name was picked out of a hat for the job, seriously legit). Liz observes that Jess has enlisted all Unicorns to help her (because they're party experts). Then we get a description of the Unicorn Club, and it leads to one of the twins. Proving Liz is the responsible one, we learn that she is treasurer of the school's party money. ($386!!!! Quick, somebody book Johnny Buck!!!!) Then Lila speaks, and we get a description of Lila:

*She lives in a mansion
*She has a housekeeper named Mrs. Pervis (haha, Pervis)
*She is rich
*She has more clothes that the rest of the Unicorns COMBINED (so if there's 11 of them in the club -not including Lila-...she has a shitload of clothes)

Liz is a bitch, and she hates Lila because Lila is way cooler than her (or she's mad about the Unicorns being in HER room), so she kicks the Unicorns out of her room and whines about her bad day to Jessica. Elizabeth's version of a bad day is a B- on an English test and a huge pimple on her chin. (My version of a bad day: Having to read an entire book where NOBODY tries to kill Elizabeth...) Jess helps her cover up her zit, and tells Liz some of her ideas for the theme of the Christmas party. (I'll list these all at the end in case you care to read them.) Jess pats Liz on the shoulder ("Bitch, that's MY thing!!!!") and leaves her to wallow in her misery. To make herself feel better about her own life, Liz goes to do some volunteer work at the Sweet Valley Homeless Shelter.
The shelter has its own daycare center, and Liz stops to buy some crepe paper so the kids can decorate for the holidays. Liz thinks about how disadvantaged the kids at the shelter are, and she pities them.
At the daycare center, Liz meets her two favorite kids. 4 year-old Al (she's a girl, it's short for Alexandra), and 11 year old Suzannah Glass. (Suzannah is ELEVEN, what is she doing at daycare? Oh well, I like her and Al, so I'll shut about.) Al is adorable. She calls Liz "Lizbeth", and my heart melts a little. Suzannah is a total sweetie, she asks Liz about her day and Liz BITCHES TO A HOMELESS CHILD ABOUT HER DAMN PIMPLE!!!!! (Dude, Suzannah should slap Liz for whining.) Liz regrets bitching after a few minutes, when she realizes that Suz (I'm getting sick of typing her full name, so I'm just going to go with "Suz" for the rest of this) is POOR, so Liz automatically thinks Suz had an even worse day. Liz -condescendingly- thinks about how all the kids at the shelter go to school in one tiny classroom with a tutor hired by the county. (I don't know if this is realistic or not. I would think that these kids would be allowed to attend normal school, but this IS Sweet Valley, after all...) Surprisingly, Suz is HAPPY. Her mom is getting a job and they're moving into an apartment.
Later 9at dinner, of course) Jess shares her newest theme suggestions with her family. Steven agrees with me that they are all pretty lame and he makes fun of Jess. She calls him a "dweeb", and I laugh because that was before my time!!! (Side note: Jess thinks that Santa has reindeer named "Blister, Goner, and Cuba".) Mr. Wakefield suggests they have a sock hop (FUN!!!! I went to one once, but it was at an all-girls school so it probably would have been more fun with BOYS), and tells Jess how he and Alice once won an all-night twist contest. Ned and Alice demonstrate their moves as Liz watches and thinks about her happy life. She wishes Al and Suz could have just some of what she does. (And SarahLynn wishes Crazy Margo would show up and eliminate her so I don't have to listen to another one of her self-righteous, stuck-up, prissy thoughts...)
Chapter 2 begins with (what else!!!) LUNCH. The Unicorns are at the Unicorner (I always loved the fact that they named their lunch table) and Belinda Layton (From "Standing Out" I LOVED HER!!!!!) is there, just thought I'd mention that. Jessica is lording over her party-planning, and we hear more party ideas. Nothing really interesting happens, except Denny Jacobson appears and we're reminded of the time Janet saved him from a runaway tooth (yes, a TOOTH...Long story, see 'Elizabeth the Hero") as he suggests another lame party idea.
Meanwhile, Liz and Amy are at the shelter again. Al and Suz have more good news (read that out loud, LOL)- their dad also got a job (he's been gone for TWO MONTHS, he left to find work up north after Al got sick and Mrs. Glass got fired for missing work TO CARE FOR HER SICK CHILD *Ummm, FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT, call Ned Wakefield and SUE THEM!!!!!*) and he's asking for an advance (on his FIRST DAY, bold move there) on his pay so he can send them money for the apartment. Al is super excited and she wants "Lizbeth" to see the "'partment" and -most importantly- THE SWING SET!!!! (*Thinks back to the sweet custom swing set I had as a child*...swings, trapeze, teeter-totter, tire swing, slide, monkey bars.) The lady in charge of the shelter lets Liz and Amy leave with Al and Suz to see their new home.
Their apartment is "small", but they love it because they're HOMELESS and it's a HOME, plus they're not ungrateful spoiled brats like a certain set of blonde, blue-green-eyed twins... The sheer size of the place (it's a 3 bedroom, so it can't be THAT small) makes Liz think about her BIG bedroom at home, and her shelves of Amanda Howard mysteries. Liz likes her stuff a lot (and I don't like Liz). Suz is just happy that the place is quiet and it has privacy, Al is excited that it has a 'bafroom' (awwww).
Back at school, Jess is still taking suggestions for her party. Nothing significant about this scene, but we do get to see Sarah Thomas and Sophia Rizzo. Their parents just got back from their honeymoon (and Jamie Suzanne just pimped ANOTHER book!!!!). I start writing a congratulatory card for Sophia's Mom and Sarah's Dad..
Sadly, Mrs. Glass shows up at the shelter that evening with bad news. Mr. Glass (from 'Unbreakable'? Uh oh, they've got bigger problems...) did not get his advance (because the boss couldn't afford it...what company HIRES NEW EMPLOYEES when they cannot afford to spend $$$?), so there will be no apartment. Al is sad, and Suz is really quiet. Mrs. Glass tells Al that there will be other apartments. Al's (adorable) response: "But this one had a swing set!" It's truly heart-wrenching. The Glasses will be spending the holidays at the shelter.
That night, Liz has a dream... she's swinging on a swing set and she sees her family standing on the street. They're -OMG- homeless!!!! (I wonder if Alice decorated the cardboard boxes that they live in? Spanish-style, I'm sure!!!!) Liz is saddened by this, but luckily she wakes up safe and sound in her own bed. She gets up and has breakfast, thinking about how sad and pathetic the Glasses are the entire time.
At school, Todd comes up to her and practically demands that she help him pick out a gift for his mother. Because he doesn't know how to shop for girls, and ended up buying himself a catcher's mitt instead of the intended gift. Liz is having a crisis of morals (she remembered that she has the school's party money, and is thinking about the can see where this is going, I'm sure) and she asks Todd if it's ever OK to do the wrong thing for the right reason. Todd is a typical 12 year-old boy, so he has no idea how to answer. He avoids giving her and answer and leaves her to figure it out for herself.
The next morning, Liz has made up her mind. She adds some of her own savings to the school's money and stuffs it into her jacket pockets (it's mostly ones, so she has to divide it up between the two chest pockets)... If I had $386 in ONES, I would SO go to the strip club and blow through that stack, but Liz is 12, and I don't think Sweet Valley has a strip club. Jess accuses Liz of bra-stuffing (she calls her "boobular", and I find that hilarious) and Steven accuses her of stealing...Liz thinks he knows what she's about to do, but he was just pissed that she stole his last clean socks (stealing socks from a 14 year-old boy = GROSS). So off Liz goes, prepared to save the day.
Like any sensible adult, Mrs. Glass refuses to take the money from Liz. She is a proud lady, and seeing a spoiled 12 year-old with a fist full of dollars probably just pisses her off. But then Liz brings up Al and Suz, and of course Mrs. G caves when Liz plays that card. She takes the money, promising to repay it as soon as her husband comes home.
When Liz gets home, the Unicorns ambush her and demand their money. Liz bullshits her way out of giving it to them, and Lila ends up paying for everything because she just got her weekly allowance. (LUCKY!!!! I wonder if George wants to adopt me?!?) Maybe Liz should introduce Lila to the Glasses...Lila does like to work on one charity case every year, after all. Liz can't remember ever liking Lila so much in her life. (Yeah, because she saved Liz's ASS!!!! Appreciate it, bitch, it will probably never happen again.)
Liz goes to a Christmas tree lot later that day. She has borrowed $6 from Steven so she can buy the Glasses a tree (haha, even in 1993 trees cost more than THAT!!!!). The tree she wants is $38. She tells the sales man how much she has and adds that she keeps an emergency quarter in her shoe (quick, rob her ass!!!!) in case she needs to make a phone call from a payphone (25 CENTS?!?! Wow, 1993 was cheap!!!!), and the guy thinks it's cute (I sort of do too, no lies, I like when Liz acts her age). and when he hears about her newest charity cases -I mean, friends- he gives her a small potted tree for them. (Because these homeless people NEED a tree, I guess...I would have gotten them FOOD or toilet paper or something useful.) Liz brings her tree over. The Glasses LOVE it, but Al loves her swing set more than anything on the planet. Suz shows Liz her small bedroom, and she thanks Liz for helping them. (Mrs. Glass TOLD her 11 year-old that a 12 year-old lent them money?!?! Wow, I would probably keep that to myself.) It's actually a very touching scene, and I cry because I'm happy that Suz is happy. That girl really deserves it.
Liz heads home, praising herself for being such a saint. Jess still wants the money for the party, Liz keeps stalling. Jess still doesn't have a party theme, but people are getting pissed about the lack of funding from Liz. The Christmas party is on Wednesday and it's already Monday (That's what happens when you put JESSICA in charge of stuff...2 days before the party and NOTHING is done), so Liz needs the money like yesterday!!!! Liz has been so wrapped up in her money situation that she forgot all about helping Todd shop for his mom. He's upset (but not mad enough to make any threats or throw any punches...) and he's NOT going to the party with her. He thinks Liz is unreliable, I think she's just STUPID. Anyways, Liz manages to manipulate Jess into giving her more time. Jess mentions that Suz called and invited her to a welcome home party for her dad, so Liz is sure she'll have her money back soon. But Liz still feels bad as she looks in the mirror and thinks about what a manipulative bitch she's become. She accuses herself of being conniving and a liar, and thinks that she's becoming JESSICA!!!! (I hate her even more for that bitchy thought...)
The next morning, Liz has a new pimple. Todd is still mad and he makes fun of her for having such an ugly face/gross cystic acne. Then Lila comes up, furious. She threatens to sue (Her dad has SEVENTEEN lawyers, oooooh). She wants to know the difference between slander and libel. (so do I!!!!)
Lila: "Which is the one where you write something awful about somebody and cause them to be publically humiliated right before the holidays on the eve of a very important Christmas party and make them so upset they cry and their mascara runs?"
Liz says it's LIBEL, and she's still confused. (I actually LOVE that Lila quote, a bit of a run-on, but still pretty funny and totally something a 12 year-old would say.) Lila's upset because the Sixers' gossip column had a typo. Instead of talking about Lila's bedroom makeover (lots of purple and her own TV and VCR...damn, that must be sweet!!!!), it reads "Lila Fowler has recently redecorated her BROOM...Luckily, Lila's WICH enough to afford it". Liz points out that "WITCH" is misspelled, so it must be a typo and therefore not her fault. Lila is doubtful, but she has already ordered all the remaining papers destroyed. She also makes fun of Liz's zit, hahaha.
Anyways, Jess wants her money, but obviously Liz doesn't have it. This doesn't makes Jess's day any easier. She still needs to find a date for the party, and can't choose between Denny, Janet, or Bruce (I'll settle this- BRUCE = MINE!!!! He's going with me). She's leaning towards taking Janet, because Janet scares her!!! I love Janet. Liz says the money's at the bank for safekeeping, Jess believes her lies. Jess goes back to work on her planning- she is now trying to combine party themes so everybody's happy.
The next chapter opens with the beginning of Christmas vacation. (I think "BIG For Christmas" begins at the start of vacation...totally doesn't fit with this book AT ALL!!!!) Liz runs out of school, avoiding everyone, and goes to the Glass House (AWESOME MOVIE!!!! NetFlix it if you haven't seen it) to collect her money. Mr. Glass is still M.I.A., but somehow the ladies can afford to bake cookies (I'd be PISSED if someone owed me money, didn't pay it back, and was BAKING COOKIES when I came looking for my funds...), but then Mrs. Glass explains that they could only afford one batch (and I feel that!!!! Being broke sucks, but sometimes you just have to spoil yourself and bake some cookies or some Rice Krispie Treats). Liz thinks about all the times she and Jess baked cookies by the dozens without even thinking twice. (Good for you, bitch!!!! These poor children probably haven't tasted anything but free government food in months, and you're just bragging at this point!!!! I hate you, and the Glasses probably do too!!!!) Jamie Suzanne must weigh 637 pounds, because food is mentioned at least once in every chapter. It starts to rain (and that means everyone is Sweet Valley is FUCKED!!!! You know it) and Mr. G is still not home. It's snowing where he is, so everybody worries. Not helping matters at all, the landlord shows up and demands the rest of the rent. He insults the Glasses for being poor and homeless and ghetto, and then tells them to get out of his building ASAP.
Liz goes home feeling like total shit. She almost caves and tells her parents what she did, but then she overhears them discussing how tight money is, so she keeps her mouth shut. Jess still wants her money (anyone else see a theme?!?!), but Liz again talks her out of it.
The next morning, Liz wakes up to another rainy day. She fantasizes about going to the Glasses, meeting Mr. G, having breakfast with the family (waffles, Liz is specific on that detail), and getting paid back. She also adds in a little praise for herself and is probably still imagining a halo above her golden-haired head when she arrives at the Glass House. There's a heartbreaking scene where the Glasses move back to the shelter (Al makes me cry when she says "Bye, 'partment. Bye, swing.") and Liz talks to Suz in her room. Suz can fit everything she owns into one small box, and she's leaving her books behind because she know she'll have to move again soon. Liz is sad about this, and she cries with Suz.
Once again, the Unicorns are demanding money when Liz gets home. Liz finally breaks down and admits she doesn't have it. She gets accused of ruining Christmas, and Jess wishes she never had a twin (Note to Wakefields- STOP MAKING CHRISTMAS WISHES!!!! They always come true and then I have to read about them...). Liz runs out of the house in tears.
She ends up at the Sweet Valley Mall. It's all decorated for Christmas. She sees the kids telling Santa their wishes, and she wishes that she had never been born as she cries some more. Suddenly, an angel decoration falls from the ceiling, comes to life, and tells Liz that she her name is Laura- and she's her GUARDIAN ANGEL.
Laura is hungry and wants a corn dog. She says words like "groovy", and she looks like a total hippie. (DIE HIPPIE!!!!! *Cartman Voice*) Liz tries to run, thinking Laura is one of Sweet Valley's many Christmas Crazies, but Laura freezes everything and Liz is stuck right where she is. Laura forces her to listen. She's here to help Liz's ungrateful ass, and Liz is going to go along with it since she wished she had never been born.
Liz is STILL doubting Laura. Laura is still hungry, so they go to a frozen yogurt place and Liz tries to order. Nobody hears her, because she wished herself out of existence. She's nothing- just a "possibility". I like where this is going. Liz has a headache from all of this new age metaphorical parallel universe bullshit, and I like it even more because of that.
Laura reveals to Liz that she is actually in training, and she's trying to earn her angel wings (just ring a bell, Laura!!!!). Her mission: Show Elizabeth what life would be like if she had never been born. Liz is forced to go along with this. Laura grabs Liz and they fly. (Is it just me, or does somebody ALWAYS fly in these Christmas stories?)
Laura and Liz end their flight in front of a movie theater. A Sophia Loren movie is playing, but Laura had actually meant to show Liz Sophia RIZZO (because she's just a trainee, and she pretty much sucks at being an angel). Liz wants to know why, and Laura basically explains the plot of 'The Butterfly Effect' to Liz. (Change one thing and everything else changes.) Only Laura calls it "the sweater effect" (like pulling a thread from a sweater and unraveling it all...reminds me of the movie 'Zoolander') and it's not as cool because Ashton Kutcher isn't in this story. I wish he was.
They locate Sophia and she's walking down the street with her hot mom (well, she WAS hot at one point...not so much in this parallel universe), on their way to visit Sophia's brother Tony. I immediately thought he was in jail (possibly because of that one time he beat up Steven), but he's only in reform school. (I picture Tony as Toby Cavanaugh from 'Pretty Little Liars' for some reason...) Sophia and her mom are wearing tattered used clothes and they look like shit. They give Tony his Christmas gift (it's got wrinkled wrapping paper and the bow has been used before, so you know it probably sucks) and he hates it. He's a real dick about it, and I remember why I hate the Rizzo family (except for Mama, she's hot!!!!). Liz asks why Sophia's mom isn't married to Sarah's dad (because Liz was never born, so she wasn't around to meddle in their lives...Liz just doesn't seem to get it) and we learn that -much to my disappointment- Sarah Thomas is DEAD!!!!! (I HATE HATE HATE YOU, Jamie Suzanne!!! Who's next?!?! Bruce?!?!? You murdering bitch!!!!)
Sarah died because Liz saved her life once when her father left her home alone and she fell down the stairs. ("Left Behind" #21, one of my favorites!!!!) Because everything revolves around Liz. They go to the cemetery and visit Sarah's grave. The book then makes me super sad because they mention that Sarah LOVED rainbows (I do too!!!! Sarah and I are totally BFFS!!!!)...then the book proceeds to crush my little heart when we learn that Sarah's middle name is Lynn. (Sarah Lynn...I bet they named her after ME!!!!) Liz cries at Sarah's grave and, for once, I cry with her. Liz also learns that Denny Jacobson is dead. Laura reminds Liz that she saved him from drowning in book #74, appropriately titled "Elizabeth the Hero". (Real nice, JS, using dead kids to plug your other SV books!!!! Anything for $$$, I guess.) His whole family was so sad about his death that it caused Denny's mom to have a nervous breakdown. Their whole family left the Valley. (They sound like some smart people to me...)
Because Liz is a dumbass, she makes Laura take her back in time (shocking, I know, TIME TRAVEL + Sweet Valley happens like 4 times a year) and they witness Denny's death (kind of an odd choice for a SV book, something I would expect to see in SVH though). We also learn more about this Laura character. She's from L.A., she lived in the '60's, and she was a troubled kid who didn't have many friends. I imagine Liz would have been all over this girl if the circumstances were different...
Our heroes time travel again - this time they end up at the SVMS Christmas party. Laura lands in a cake in the school kitchen. She eats some of it. Lila and Ellen come in (wearing leather jackets, so you know they're badasses!!!! AND...NO PURPLE. None. This is truly a parallel universe!!!!) They blame Brooke Dennis for eating the cake. They're really bitchy to Brooke (where's her Rock Star Mom?!?!), and it's because Liz was never around to show everybody that Brooke is awesome. We also learn that the Unicorns are now the Sharks, and some other people that I don't care about have had bad things happen to them because of the lack of Liz. Most important to our story is the fact that Patrick Morris is now a runaway, and Laura gets sad as she tells Liz this. Basically, Sweet Valley is screwed!!!!
The party continues. We see Amy, Maria, and some girl named Billy (is she supposed to be Billie Layton?!? I would think JS would know how to spell her name). They worship Lila -EVERYBODY DOES!!!!!-. Janet Howell is a real badass in this universe. The Sharks hang out with Charlie Cashman and Jerry McAllister (aka- CRUNCH, the future drunk driver/guy who put Liz into a coma that one time) and THEY SMOKE CIGARETTES!!!!! Ellen is still their bitch, some things never change. The Sharks are going to play a trick on Jess, so Liz goes home to try to warn her. (Liz is an idiot. She MUST know by now that she DOESN'T EXIST!!!! I just want to smack her.)
On the way to Calico Drive, Liz sees her dad sitting in a shady bar in the ghetto part of Sweet Valley (probably where the Barretts and the Martins live). He's not wearing his wedding ring, and he's drunk. I wish I was drunk. That would make reading this crap somewhat tolerable. She also stops by the homeless shelter (see, she really IS in the ghetto) and sees the Glasses having a horribly sad Christmas.
Apparently, Sweet Valley has turned into one giant ghetto without Liz around to be the center of it's universe. Her own house has weeds on the overgrown lawn, hanging shutters, busted out windows, and peeling paint. I imagine a red Fiat Spider is up on some blocks in the oil-stained driveway, surrounded by 40 ounce bottles. Worst of all- there's no Christmas decorations!!! (Fun Fact: the Wakefield's address is 1214 Calico Drive...I am SO writing them a letter!!!)
The inside of the house is all messed-up too. There's dirty clothes and trash everywhere (parallel universe Wakefields = HOARDERS!!!!), but Liz's heart breaks when she sees that their Christmas tree is all small and beat-up looking. (I guess $6 fabulous mini-trees have also ceased to exist.) Plus, there's only three stockings by the chimney.
Liz sees her mom. She looks super old and dumpy (Alice, that is) and she's super depressed because Ned left her. JS even goes so far as to say that, since Liz wasn't around when everyone thought her mom was having an affair, her father went "Jumping To Conclusions", which is actually the title of the book where it happened. I'm guessing a certain someone with the initials of JS wrote that as well... Steven has become a badass. He has a tattoo (at age 14), long hair, and an earring. Laura tries to raid the fridge but there's NO FOOD (OMG, Jess must also be dead...that girl eats dinner like 4 times a day...). Alice cries because Ned left her, and Liz cries for the fourth time in this book.
Liz floats upstairs and looks into her bedroom. It's just a dusty storage room now. She cries some more and suddenly remember that she came home to see Jess. Jess is doing even worse than Alice!!!! Her dark blonde hair is "mousy" (that just SOUNDS gross), and she is all pale like a regular person. Liz thinks that Jess hasn't seen sunshine in a really long time (I guess even celestial objects are influenced by Liz's presence). Worst of all - Jess's closet is HALF EMPTY (I would say HALF FULL, but that's because I'm not a bitch like Liz, and I know that clothes are expensive!!!) because she doesn't have Liz to borrow from. Plus, all of her clothes are old and used-looking and NOTHING is purple. Liz looks at Jess some more, JS mentions Jess's hair being short and greasy, and her sallow skin and THICK GLASSES. Jess is wearing a plaid jumper that doesn't fit her and she is super sad. Suddenly, the Sharks knock on the front door and Jess runs downstairs to see them. She wants to be a Shark MORE THAN ANYTHING!!!! Poor Jess has become as pathetic as Lois Waller.
The Sharks lie to Alice and say they want Jess to go caroling with them. Alice is desperate for Jess to be accepted, even if it means she'll be spending Christmas alone (awww...she can come over to my house!!!! I always spend the holidays alone with a bottle of Moet...). Janet tells Jess that this will be "A night to remember" (damn, how many books is JS going to pimp out here?!?! This hasd to be at least six or seven by now) and tells her they want to make her an associate club member (like Logan from the BSC!!!! Logan is awesome). Jess gets to go to Lila's house for a makeover before she gets initiated, and she's all OMG!!!! about it, because she's NEVER been to Lila's before.
The Sharks give Jess a fakeover, and they make Ellen give up her club jacket (who are these girls?!? Hell's Angels???). Liz and Laura lurk about downstairs (Laura is raiding the fridge, and this time she has hit the motherload!!!!!), and they overhear Charlie and Jerry/Crunch talking about Jess's initation task and how crazy it is. The Sharks are taking Jess to City Hall, so Laura and Liz teleport themselves there.
Jess's task is to climb to the roof and steal the city's Christmas Star. It's just a tacky decoration, but CH has a high roof, so Jess could be seriously hurt!!!! While waiting for the Sharks to show up, Laura tells Liz more about herself and why she's helping Liz. Apparently, Laura's parents got divorced and she lived in a homeless shelter before she died. It wasn't as nice as Sweet Valley's shelter, so she ran away to an empty house. She had a few random roommates there, and a black cat lived with them. One night, the house caught on fire!!!! Everybody survived, even Laura. But, as the house was burning, she realized that the damn cat was still inside, and she died trying to save it. As she finishes telling her story, the Sharks show up.
Jess is worried about getting hurt. To reach the roof, she has to climb a the city's Christmas tree (a big pine tree all fancied up for Christmas) and transfer from there to the roof. Liz watches in horror as Jess ignores her fears and begins to climb. She begs Jess not to, but she doesn't exist (remember?) so Jess just keeps going. she reaches the top of the tree and reaches for the roof. The SVPD shows up and the Sharks run away, leaving Jess behind. She tries to grab the edge of the roof, but she slips and clings to the edge of the roof with one hand. Liz is freaking out, naturally. Jess loses her grip and starts to fall...
Luckily, Liz is spared having to witness Jess's death. A white mist surrounds her and Laura and the entire world spins like a giant carousel. (That happened to me last night, but it was probably because I was super drunk in honor of Justin Bieber's birthday!!!!) Liz starts to feel sick, so she closes her eyes as Laura says goodbye to her...
Liz is magically transported to the SVMS auditorium. She finds herself surrounded by friends, and everybody is thrilled to see her. Sarah and Sophia are there (stepsisters once again), and so is Patrick Morris. Liz wonders how Jess managed to make the party happen, and her questions are answered when she sees the Glasses. Mr. G. came home earlier that day, unharmed and -best of all- with a pocket full of cash!!!! Suzannah called Liz as soon as he arrived, but Liz didn't exist at that time so she spoke to Jess instead. The two of them figured out what Liz had done with the money (yes, Jessica figured something out for herself!!!!), and that gave Jess a perfect idea for a party theme. The whole party is for Liz!!!! They're even taking donations for the homeless shelter in her honor (Lila's dad threw in a check for $1000, he must have needed the tax write-off), and Al donated a nickel (awww, really, she's freakin ADORABLE!!!!!). Ned and Alice are there, together, and so is Todd. He's decided to forgive Liz for being so spacey lately (how big of him...I'm not her biggest fan, but even I approve of her helping the Glasses because that Al is just so damn cute), so everything's good with the world again. There's even a banner that says: "MERRY CHRISTMAS, ELIZABETH! SWEET VALLEY LOVES YOU!" Liz is touched (haha, Touched BY AN ANGEL!!!!) and she cries happy tears. Jess proposes a toast in her honor (awww...I have an older sister myself, so I have a soft spot in my heart for stuff like this. Jess is actually a really good sister, and she loves Liz SOOOO much that it -almost- makes me love Liz too!!!!).
Adding to my happiness, we learn that the Glasses have gotten a new apartment -WITH A BIGGER SWING SET!!!! Conveniently, Ned just happened to know a guy who had a 3 bedroom apartment he wanted to rent out. I just love how everything in SV always works itself out in the last chapter. I do feel happy for them, unbelievable luck aside. I guess that's the whole point of all these Christmas stories...
On a final note, Liz looks at the cake (yeah, that bitch got a CAKE and a PARTY!!!! Jealous!!!!) and sees that somebody has stuck their finger in it. (Seriously, gross. I'm going to guess that Jamie Suzanne snuck into the book and helped herself to a sample...) Liz thinks of Laura, and I guess that this proves that Laura was there observing all of this... Liz suddenly really wants a corn dog, and I kind of do as well.

Christmas Party Theme Suggestions
*Jazz theme
*Cookie Party (I bet JS never turns down an invite to one of those...)
*Christmas of the Future
*Mistletoe Party
*Come-as your-favorite-Christmas-ornament
*Santa's Reindeer
*Santa's Elves
*Soccer game (WTF?!?!)
*Christmas Through Literature (I won't tell you whose brilliant idea this was, because I'm sure you know)

In Case You're Keeping Track...
*Elizabeth's Cry Count: 5 (may have been more, she cried for a good 3 pages at one point, but they didn't say if she stopped for a snack or anything, so I just counted it as one. Five cries seems to be about average for a Magna Edition...)
*Snack/Meal Count: 4 (With NUMEROUS mentions of food in every chapter...I think I gained about 10 pounds just reading this book!!!!)
*Party Count: 2 (One in reality, one in the parallel universe...good to know that some things are NOT affected by Elizabeth.)

*Al is ADORABLE!!!!! Really, she was my favorite part of the story.
*The mere idea that Elizabeth does not exist!!!!! Of course, it's WAY cooler inside my own head than it actually is in the book. But, if Jessica had been doing alright, I really could have cared less about any of those other people whose lives were shattered... (except for Sarah Thomas, I don't want to live in a world without her!!!!)
*Jessica throwing an entire party for Liz. Had I been invited, I would have had to find something better to do that night because I still think Liz is a bitch, but I really do like when Jess shows us how much she loves Liz. If you have a sister like I do, I know you probably understand this dynamic!!!! I want to throw a party for my sister after reading this!!!!
*Janet and Lila as badasses!!!! (However, the Lila I know and love would NEVER be caught dead with the stink of cigarettes on her designer fashions from Paris!!!!) And Ellen as their bitch. They should have made them that cool in the first place!!!


*Laura's food obsession...I'm surprised JS didn't make her FAT!!!! But I guess the skinny girls in SV have been able to eat like pigs for decades, while the poor fat Lois Wallers of the world have to suffer and go on diets...
*NO BRUCE!!!!! He's only mentioned ONCE!!!! Damn you, JS!!!!
*There were NO OUTFITS in this book. JS only bothered to describe the bad, ugly ones. I would have liked to know what fabulous '60's apparel Laura was rocking.
*This book took FOREVER to recap!!!! There were just TOO MANY chapters.
*Liz is responsible for EVERYTHING positive in SV...If JS keeps this up, Liz is gonna get a ego, just sayin...

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