Saturday, March 5, 2011

SVH Magna Edition - A Night To Remember

I'm skipping forward a bit with this one (although, technically I'm NOT because this book was published in June of 1993 -BEFORE the book I previously recapped *The Christmas Ghost*...weird, I know) and getting right to the good stuff!!!! This was my absolute FAVORITE SVH moment because that tragic Jungle Prom led to the MARGO -and later NORA- stories, and I actually remember reading these books. (Back in 7th grade, FYI. I even did a series of book reports of these, but sadly I lost them many year ago, so we may never know 12 year-old SarahLynn's perspective...) I was HOOKED on this miniseries, I practically read it straight through (my mom actually has a photo of me reading this one at a junior high basketball game...I was on the Dance Squad, so I had some downtime before halftime), and I remember all of these very vividly.
The cover is another fold-out. It shows a corsage, and the twins in their prom photos. They look like they do on every other day, but they're in prom dresses, so I assume this is said Night To Remember. Jess has her hair in a FINGERWAVE. (I went to Cosmetology school, and I had to do SO many of these to graduate...even though NOBODY gets these anymore!!!!) The cover opens up and reveals pictures of Liz/Todd and Sam/Jess. The boys look all extra fancy, so I'm assuming that I was correct earlier when I said it was prom night. There's also a photo of Liz and Jess, but it's ripped in half. I've read this before, so I know that doesn't happen in the's just foreshadowing the future. The caption also foreshadows- "One night...Changed Sweet Valley forever." OMG, I can't wait to re-read this, especially once I look at the back cover and see BRUCE's name!!!! (And also LILA, I like her as well.)
Unfortunately, Kate William (haha, William + Kate) wrote this book. My good friend Jamie Suzanne must have been in food rehab or anorexia counseling at the time. I don't remember any other KW books off the top of my head, but I hope she writes as well as JS!!!!
I don't want to spoil anything in the intro, so let's travel back in time to two weeks before the madness that was The Jungle Prom...

Jessica bursts into Liz's room and announces that she has successfully completed her life's mission- achieving the PERFECT TAN!!!! And just in time for the SVH beach party (PARTY ON PAGE ONE!!!!! This is going to be FABULOUS, I can already tell). This launched KW into a description of the twins. Separate interests, BFFs, ect. Jess goes to shower before the party, Liz applies body lotion (this scene kind of disturbs me, especially after Jess re-enters wearing a towel). After Jess's shower, they discuss their fabulous boyfriends/escorts for the evening. They each think that they have the perfect boyfriend, and Jess mentions that Lila (who fits into this convo because she is currently single due to John Pfeifer being a complete asshole) is going to the party as well. We then get a description of Lila, and we learn that Liz finds her to be a spoiled snob, but she "tactfully" keeps that opinion to herself. (No, Elizabeth, you actually tell us that EVERY TIME Lila is introduced to us...) Lila had tried to get out of going to the party by saying she wanted to watch a Tarzan movie on TV (Lila doesn't have a DVR?!?!), but Jess thinks that, since the whole 'Don't Go Home With John' book happened, Lila is all scary and withdrawn and depressing, so she needs to go out.
Jess blowdrys her hair (it takes her FIVE minutes...I'm jealous because it usually takes me 1/2 an hour) and Liz thinks about how long it's been since Sweet Valley had a "big, really fun dance" (damn, it HAS been awhile!!!!), and comes up with a Great Idea. No, she's NOT starting a baby-sitting club or anything, she was just thinking about Lila watching the Tarzan movie and inadvertently comes up with a theme for SVH's upcoming prom...JUNGLE PROM!!!!! (I scream, "NOOOOO", and the BF looks at me and says, "Jungle Prom?" He knows exactly how I feel about this damn Jungle Prom.) I wish this book had a blank page right there, so I could quick write myself in and stop Liz from ever having this idea. Jess hasn't read this book yet, so she thinks that the Jungle Prom sounds like a fabulous idea, and she suggests that Liz involve one of her many environmental charities as a sponsor. Liz loves the idea- she even has a charity in mind, Environmental Alert (creative, I wonder if KW had JS help her with that gem), then the twins argue about how people should dress. Liz wants formal, Jess wants it jungle-style (I bet she does...), they realize that it doesn't need to be decided yet, so the argument ends quickly, and it's onto -my favorite part- OUTFIT DESCRIPTIONS!!!!!

Liz: Black cotton jersey shorts, jade-green tanktop; Jess: very short denim cut-offs, brightly colored T-shirt. Nothing too outrageous, but still outfits nonetheless!!!!

They go to the beach party. It's a school event, so all of our SV-BFFs are there, and most have dates. They're dancing to boombox music and going wild (well, Sweet Valley-style wild), but Liz and Todd are stupid -so they're off somewhere slow-dancing. I'm lazy, so I'll just list the couples:
*Jess and Sam Woodruff (from Bridgewater, Jess is IN LOVE, *and I also love Sam!!!!)
*Winston and Maria Santelli (the white one, or the black one? I never know.)
*DeeDee Gordon and Bill Chase
*Amy Sutton (her "knockout legs" are looking wonderfully skanky in a hot pink Lycra micromini, in case you care to know) and Barry Rork (Who the hell is he?)
*"Stuffed-shirt" Bruce Patman (Jess calls him that, not me -I say "SEXY ASS 18 YEAR OLD BRUCE!!!!!!") and Andrea Slade (the Rock Star's daughter, no relation to Brooke Dennis and her Rock Star Mom)
*Lila and Tony Alimenti (who is he? His name sounds like he's a Sopranos character...)

Jess and Same are making out. Everybody is (AT A SCHOOL EVENT...Mr. Collins must be chaperoning), except for Lila and Tony. Lila is still not over the John-thing (I don't blame her one bit, I have to say, date rape -even if it's ATTEMPTED- is NEVER acceptable, and it is TRAUMATIC, plus it's kind of nice to see somebody act like a normal -non-Wakefield- human being for once...), and we learn that she is currently in counseling at Project Youth. I feel horrible for Lila right now. The poor girl is OBVIOUSLY experiencing PTSD, and she's SO sad in this book. I again want to write myself in, because this is really hard to read.
Bruce tells everybody that Big Mesa is planning on crashing and raiding their party, so the boys brace themselves for a confrontation. The rivalry between the two schools is at an all-time high lately, it seems. (I'm thinking of great fictional school rivalries...Degrassi/Lakehurst, Bayside/Valley, ect.)
Since Big Mesa (who I despise, and will now refer to as "BM" for the remainder of this...because it's FUNNY) is not currently attacking, Bruce needs some cheap amusement to distract himself from this rage that he has towards BM. He dares Jess to swim out to the buoy in the middle of the lake (it's NIGHT, so it's DARK and scary). She takes off her shorts "striptease-style" (reason #2 why I think Mr. Collins is chaperoning this festivity), and Liz is scared for her. She thinks there's sharks in the water ("Baby, there's a shark in the water..."), and begs Jess not to. Jess is undeterred, and she swims 100 laps a day in the pool at home, so she does this dare with ease. Liz worries the entire time, and thinks that Jess is an "ungrateful idiot" for not taking her advice (for whatever reason, it's not like anything BAD happened, so let it go...) and she vows that she's done with Jess's shit. She's going to only look out for herself FROM NOW ON. Like, maybe even FOREVER.
Lila is unamused by all of this. She's NOT having a good time, even though Tony is a perfectly nice guy and he isn't ugly or poor or anything, and she wishes BM would hurry up and raid the party so she has an excuse to leave. She thinks about how lonely she is, and how her father is always gone. The only person she has to talk to these days is a guy named Nathan Pritchard, her counselor at Project Youth. She doesn't like being alone with Tony, so she agrees to dance with him. She actually lightens up a bit as she dances, she even smiles a little. But then a slow song comes on and she fakes an excuse so she doesn't have to dance with Tony. She watches her happy friends dancing. She -disturbingly- observes that that Barry Rork guy has "biceps like Popeye", at least on his right arm (hey now, he's a TENNIS PLAYER, so don't go thinking dirty thoughts!!!!), and he could pin Amy to the ground with one arm if he wanted to. (Amy would probably be into that, actually...) I feel really bad for Lila because her world has obviously turned into a dark, scark abyss since I last saw her. (OK, so the last time I saw her, she was in 6th grade at Jess's Elizabeth-themed Christmas party, but still.)
A short distances away, Bruce is dancing with Andrea. He's feeling all sorts of angry lately, and he just can't figure out why (or else he's just not admitting to it). He's still hoping BM raids so he can kick some ass. In the meantime, he busies himself by taking Andrea off to a quiet part of the beach where he's laid out a blanket. (Save you premeditated date-rape comments, because I refuse to believe them!!!! NOT LISTENING!!!!) He kisses her deeply (and mentally rates the kiss as "good, but not great", I'll show him "GREAT"!!!!!), Andrea is into him so she starts trying to unbutton his polo shirt. Bruce thinks about how he considers her merely a "way to pass the time" (obviously, because I was only SEVEN when this was written). Bruce is seriously bored by her, even if she is a rich hottie with a Rock Star Dad, and he thinks that she's shallow and she makes it too easy. This girl is pathetic, she keeps after Bruce despite the fact that he's told her repeatedly that he's not into commitment. Luckily, Bruce gets his wish and BM raids the party!!!! They're REALLY badass (not!!!), all dressed in their school colors -red and black-, and some students are wearing bull masks -their mascot is a bull. The BM assholes spray shaving cream all over the place, tip over some food tables, grab a few girls and drag them a couple feet (scary, especially for poor Lila), AND they throw the CASSETTES IN THE WATER!!!!! O. M. F. G. NOT THE CASSETTES!!!!! SOMEBODY SAVE THEM!!!!!
Then it's over, and the BM kids leave. Bruce is PISSED (because, you know, he's been kind of a rage-a-holic these days...) and he wants REVENGE!!!! He also blames Enid's BF Hugh for having a part in all of that (because he's FROM BIG MESA, that damn traitor!!!!). The party relocates to the Dairi Burger, but Bruce doesn't go in for milkshakes... Instead, he sits outside in 1BRUCE1 after ditching Andrea and gathers his closet confidants (the book calls the "cronies", but that word reminds me of the best show ever to air on Comedy Central -LIL BUSH!!!!, and I am still not over the fact that it was canceled, so I'll call them whatever I prefer) for a secret strategy meeting. Bruce's inner circle consists of former Club X members (minus Jess, he thinks she ruined everything back when Club X was up and running), and Winston and Roger (yes, Poor Roger Barrett-turned-Barrett-Patman). Bruce is focused on one thing above all else, (sadly, it's NOT me) REVENGE!!!! (This is a theme with Bruce in this book, I can already tell.) Roger and Winston aren't up for it, so they leave Bruce and his cohorts from Club X to exact it on their own.
Inside, everyone else is also talking about how much they hate BM. Even Liz is dropping the angel facade and bitching (*sarcasm* how out of character for her!!!!! *sarcasm*) about how those damn BM assholes trashed the ORACLE (Oh, no, not the Oracle!!!!) in their paper, The Bull's Eye. Luckily, SVH has "another bunch of athletic matches against Big Mesa coming up". I don't know why I just did a direct-quote of that, I guess I thought it was a funny way of saying, "SVH is gonna play some more sports, and there doesn't seem to be any other high schools in California, so they're gonna play those dicks from Big Mesa like 837 times during this extended school year". The SVH students (well, most of them) will get their revenge on the field!!!! Or the court, or the track, or the pool, ect.
Lila doesn't even bother to go to the DB with her friends. Tony, being the gentleman that he is, drives her to her expansive Georgian (for this book, at least)-style mansion on Country Club Drive. Tony walks her to the door and leans closer to her as she panics and slams the door in his face. Lila locks the door, and thinks about how afraid she is. She sits on the floor and cries. Her father calls (he's away on business), and Lila thinks about how little he actually knows about her. He has NO IDEA what she's going through. She didn't tell him she was seeing Nathan at Project Youth, because he doesn't even know about JOHN!!!!! (I think it's REALLY sad that Lila has NOBODY to talk to about ANYTHING, and I feel bad for Lila.) Lila hangs up the phone and is sadder than ever. Nobody loves her!!!! Everybody is out to hurt her, it seems. She thinks about her mother and how she abandoned her when she was just an infant. Her mother has never visited her, EVER, and that breaks my heart. Lila and I cry some more.
At school on Monday, Liz announces that Environmental Alert has agreed to sponsor the Jungle Prom (DAMN THEM FOR THAT!!!!). Everybody is SUPER Thrilled, and they shower Liz with praise and adoration. She gives Jess her due credit for coming up with the charity idea, but her little circle of followers is too busy kissing her ass to care about Jessica. Everyone thinks Liz should be Prom Queen, and it seems Liz has started to think that way herself.
I'm feeling sick after having to read like 30 pages of people telling Liz how awesome and perfect she is, so I'm quite thrilled when the book switches to Lila (it abruptly switches from one character to another ALL THE TIME, it's kind of hard to follow). Lila is in her lime green Triumph, arriving at Project Youth for a session with Nathan. We learn that Nate is also her guidance counselor at school (umm, OK...I think that would be considered a conflict of interest, but whatever) and his office has throw pillows on the chairs and sofa. I wonder if he's met Tom McKay yet, but Alice Wakefield probably decorated his office so I'm going to say the fruity decor is not of his choosing. (Note: I occasionally make unintentional gay jokes, and references that could be considered homophobic, but I am by NO MEANS anti-gay. In fact, I have TWO MOMMIES!!!!) Nate calls Lila by her nickname ("Li", I don't remember anyone calling her that before this book...) and she doesn't totally hate him, but she doesn't feel fully comfortable discussing every detail of her life with him. He asks about her dad, she explains that he's busy because he's important (making excuses for him abandoning you again, Li?). The topic switches quickly to Lila's date with Tony. Lila cries and says that Tony came on too strong (I was there, Li, he really didn't!!!!). Nate asks if he tried to have -wait for it- "SEX" with her (yes, SEX is actually written right there on -of all the pages in this book- page 137!!!!!), and Lila admits that he wasn't that forceful. Nathan says that Lila needs to feel in control of her situation, and that talking about these things will help her accomplish that. Nathan asks her some questions (and I myself question his methods because I watch Law and Order and it sounds to me like he's one of those parents coaching their children through falsified accounts of horrible acts... *cough* MichaelJacksonTrial *cough*. It really does sound like he's putting ideas in her head, but it guess it's like supposed to be reverse psychology.) Nate uses his questionable methods to suggest that Tony might not have been so bad, and Lila agrees. Lila is scared, I get it, and I miss the Lila I used to know.
Meanwhile, Liz and "tall, strong, wonderful" Todd are eating at Casey's. SVH's basketball team is playing BM the night before the Jungle Prom!!!! Lia and Todd are psyched for the game, and the prom. Todd is imagine Liz and himself as King and Queen, and Liz is really starting to get into the idea. On the other side of town, at Guido's, Jess and her crew (Lila, Amy, former-fat-girl Robin Wilson) are also discussing the prom. Jess skipped the Prom Committee (from her on, the "PC") meeting that day, so she thinks that Liz is probably pissed at her, but she doesn't care that deeply. Jess has a brilliant idea- She wants to ban Big Mesa students from their prom!!!! Amy points out that Hugh, Enid's BF, goes to Big Mesa (I just couldn't in good conscious write "goes to BM", I kept cracking up!!!!), but Jess "frankly (doesn't) give a darn what drippy Enid and her drippy boyfriend were going to do". ( 1- what is a "DRIP"?!?! and 2- I don't much care what Enid and Hugh do either...) Jess is also thinking about something else- how badly she wants to be Prom Queen. And, since she's Jess, NOBODY will stand in her way!!!!
Jess (and Liz's) desire to be Prom Queen grows even more when Liz announces that Enivronmental Alret is going to give whoever wins the crown a free trip to Brazil, plus a job as a student staffer who gets to do speeches and PR stuff for them. Jess doesn't hear anything after "free trip to Brazil", so she spends the entire day picturing herself surrounded by South American "hunks" and wearing an "impossibly brief bikini" on the beach. I Googled the last quote, and I saw some scary stuff!!!! I would like to see how SV boys would react if Jess was wearing some of the things I have just seen... Lila tells Jess that Brazil is over-rated, and California beaches are better. (Sorry, Lila, I'm going to have to settle this and declare Brazilian beaches to be superior to California beaches.) Lila points out all the work Jess will have to do for Environmental Alert, and tells Jess that she'll probably be too busy saving the rainforests to go to the beach. Jess is shocked to learn that BRAZIL HAS RAINFORESTS!!!! (She really didn't know this?!?! Even I'm embarrassed for her. At least she's pretty.) Jess decided to tell them she's allergic to jungles. I imagine that will work about as well as the time I told my boss I was allergic to snow...
Alice comes home, and Lila observes how "smashing" and young she looks, with a jealous feeling in her stomach. Alice asks them about their days (Jess got an A on a French quiz...interesting), and says she's making Chinese food (Jess's favorite) and cold rice and salad (Liz's favorite) for dinner. Lila wishes she had a mother to ask her about her day and cook her favorite foods, and I can see the foreshadowing of future books taking shape. After Alice goes to start cooking, Jess just keeps rolling with the brilliance and says, "Moms are great, aren't they, Lila?" Lila wants to punch her in the face (oh wait, BRUCE wants to punch people, Lila just feels sad), and she says that she wouldn't know. Even I thought this was a thoughtless statement on Jess's part...what is up with her in this chapter?!?! Did all those pool chemicals kill her brain cells, or did she get into the Jungle Juice a few chapters too early?
A few days pass. Liz goes to her PC meetings, Jess skips the meetings. The entire committee is voting for Liz to be Prom Queen (Jess still doesn't know any of this is going on...uh oh!!!!). Liz brings up the dress code issue. She mentions that she wants it to be formal, but some students think a jungle dress code would be more fun. Despite Jess's absence, Liz holds a vote on the subject, and formal wins out. Liz also suggests that they make a miniyearbook to give away as a prom souvenior. Everybody loves her idea, of course, and Liz thinks that she is sure to win the Prom Queen's crown after that brilliant display of chairmanship...
There's A LOT of wasted pages in this book. I swear, both Liz and Jess spend like half the book talking about how they're going to be Queen. And neither one has any idea that the other wants to be Queen, but everyone else seems to know. I'm getting really sick of having to add this into EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH!!!!! I get it- Liz wants to be Prom Queen, Jess wants to be Prom Queen, ONLY ONE WILL WIN!!!!! Frankly, I'm sick of discussing this issue, so I will trust you to remember that this is the case.
Finally, the twins shut up about being Prom Queen (for like half a page!!!!). We switch to Bruce. Andrea wants to make a date with him that weekend (the weekend before the Jungle Prom, in case you're keeping track), but Bruce is sick of her. He is trying to trick her into breaking up with him so he doesn't have to do it himself. He thinks she's pathetic, but at the same time he's having fun using her and seeing how far he can push her. (USE ME, BRUCE!!!!!!) He responds to her offer with the most annoying thing he can think of to say, "Maybe...if nothing better comes up". (ie. Me!!!!!) Suddenly, there's a commotion in the parking lot. Those BM assholes (LOL, I just realized that I have called them that several times without realizing the obvious inuendo...) have rolled through and trashed vehicles!!!! I would laugh, but they've VIOLATED 1BRUCE1, so now I'm joining Bruce in his quest for REVENGE!!!!! My favorite Porsche now has "SVH WIMP" written on the hood in shaving cream.
Several other vehicles have also been vandalized (all with shaving cream, LAME!!!! Not ONE slashed tire or busted-out tail light...) The book only tells us what happened to the IMPORTANT ones:
*Twins' Jeep: shaving cream all over the windows
*Lila's Triumph: "SVH BIMBO"

Bruce is "nearly blind with impotent anger" (whatever THAT is supposed to mean, I do not like the use of 'Bruce' and 'impotent' in the same sentence...) and he wants REVENGE!!!! But the BM students are long gone, so he merely lets the anger simmer beneath the surface for awhile longer. Much to my happiness, he removes his shirt (!!!!!) and begins to clean 1BRUCE1...awwwww, he LOVES that car soooo much, he LITERALLY gave it the shirt off his back!!!! I like this very much, and I wish the book had pictures like in the SVKids books...
Sadly, I do not get to hear about Bruce wiping the shaving cream off as his rippling biceps throb with the effort, but that doesn't stop me from imagining it in my head!!!! Sadly, the book switches to Liz at the Oracle office with Mr. Collins. He's telling her how great she is (seriously, it seems like all I've been hearing so far is how she should be Prom Queen...) and she's loving it because she's a praise-whore!!! Big Mesa has mailed Liz a copy of their newspaper. (SVH's team is called the Gladiators, have they ever mentioned that before? I do not recall ever hearing it...) They have a front page article that trashes the SVH athletics ONE BY ONE (WTF, who is in charge at BM?!?! This would NEVER be acceptable, EVER!!!! I wish they had trashed Lila, because she learned what libel is in 'A Christmas Without Elizabeth', and her dad has 17 lawyers, so she would totally sue everyone in Big Mesa.) They even trash Todd!!! They say that they should change his nickname from 'Whizzer' (WTF?!?!) to 'Whimper' because they're gonna kick some SVH ass at the Big Game and thus he will cry. No, I think 'Whizzer' is a WAY worse nickname, there's just SO much you could do with that one. They also trash the SVH cheerleaders (again, BY NAME, and they're REALLY hard on Jess), but Liz still refuses to sink to their level. She decided to turn the other cheek and not dignify it with a response. Me, I would have personally delivered a copy of the paper to the superintendent of the Big Mesa School District, and BM probably would have had to forfeit the Big Game and some teachers -and possibly the Principal- would surely have been fired...
This book keeps switching characters on me (the next one does too, so I may have to style my next recap differently), so now I get to read about Lila. Good, I like her better anyways!!! She's at therapy with Nathan again. He really wants her to open up to him and tell him what's bothering her. He wants her to trust him so badly, but poor Lila just can't allow herself to do that. It really breaks my heart to see Lila like this. She has everything, but yet she has nothing and she's just so lost.
My sadness for Lila is soon forgotten as I turn the pages and find Bruce practicing his tennis playing in his backyard. He's all psyched up for his upcoming match against BM. Roger is also in the competitive spirit. He's on the track team, and they are also playing BM soon!!! Bruce and Roger take a break, and Bruce strips down to his shorts because he's all sweaty. (!!!!!) Bruce goes for a quick swim, and Roger asks him about Andrea. Roger asks Bruce why he's so mean and uncaring towards her. (And by the way he says it, I think Roger sort of LIKES Andrea...) Bruce doesn't answer, he's not in a talking mood and he hates when Roger tries to have brotherly conversations with him. ("Broments", I like to call them.) Bruce is again feeling the rage rising up inside him, so he leaves before he can punch Roger in the face (lucky for me, I don't know who I would side with in that fight). As soon as he's alone, Bruce thinks about his anger and how it's been overtaking his life lately. He feels like he's a ticking time-bomb, and he wonders when he will finally explode...
Back to Passive Liz in the Oracle office. She's reading the new edition of the Oracle, and she notices that Caroline Pearce's article on the Jungle Prom has been changed. Instead of the boring short article that Liz has dictated, Caroline has a full interview with...JESSICA!!!! Every sentence begins with "Jessica"!!!! (Hey Liz, she's just giving the people what they want!!!) Liz is MAD because she feels that Jess is trying to take all the credit without doing the work, so she confronts Jess. Jess says that Caroline asked her about the article, and Jess merely helped her make it more interesting. Liz decides that it's just a case of Jessica being Jessica, so she lets it go. But then (finally, on page 137...that's where all the important stuff happens!!!) they both realize that they want to be Prom Queen!!! Jess laughs when she finds out Liz wants to be Queen, because it's more of a Jessica Thing than an Elizabeth Thing. This pissed Liz off -again- and she yells at Jess. SHE wants to be in the spotlight for once!!!! SHE wants all the attention!!!! (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!!!!!) After she finishes her ranting, the twins stare coldly at one another and both refuse to back down.
The staredown lasts through the entire dinner, and afterwards Jess goes to see Sam because there's just too much crazy tension in her house. (She obviously has NO IDEA what happens in the following book, it's like amplified by one million...) She makes out with Sam and they discuss his big dirt bike race that's coming up in a couple weeks. Sam's happy that she's going to spend an afternoon at the dirty bike track with him, and he tells her how much he loves her. (I always LOVED their relationship. Sam was the best thing to ever happen to Jess, IMO.) He also breaks my heart when he says, "I could stay with you forever, Jess". (I'm wiping away tears, imagining their wedding and future...) Jess thinks about how happy she is, and she wonders how long the feeling will actually last. She wishes it could last forever. They talk some more, and it's implied that they will be spending the ENTIRE PROM NIGHT TOGETHER!!!!!
The following day, there's a PEP RALLY at SVH!!!!! They need to up the school spirit factor for all the upcoming athletic matches against that damn Big Mesa, I guess. Liz is in the bleachers, watching Jess cheer. ("She wears high heels, I wear sneakers, she's cheer captain, and I'm on the bleachers..." Sorry, I had to.) Liz thinks about how Jess truly does have more school spirit than anyone else, and Jess goes onto prove this to us. She's written a SPECTACULAR CHEER for all the SVH athletes. Each one is mentioned by name (let's, tennis, AND track teams -girls AND boys...that's like a 30 minute cheer!!!!) and there's "dazzling jumps" after each name!!!! Jess finishes off the routine with a spectacular tumbling pass (hmmm, lots of flips and handsprings...where's her fulls?!?! You HAD to be able to do a full twist to be on Varsity at my school, and yet she's the CAPTAIN...) that ends with a Chinese split. (I was a cheerleader/dancer for five years, but before that I was a gymnast, so I know that a Chinese split is where the legs go out on the sides, but "Chinese split" is more of a martial arts term...interesting.) Jess also makes a speech to the entire student body, and tells them to elect the person with the most school spirit as their Prom Queen. (She never actually mentions herself, but Liz knows exactly what she's doing.) Liz is again angered by this. (This book has lots of anger issues...I think it needs to go the therapy like Lila because she seems to be the only one who isn't running around about to turn into the Incredible Hulk...)
After the pep rally, Jess drags Lila to Lisette's for some prom dress shopping. (TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE PROM!!!! I'm actually going to prom this year *for the FIRST time ever!!!!* and I bought my dress back in November!!!!) Lila thinks about how she doesn't really want to go to prom, and how she just doesn't give a shit about anything that she used to care about. It's almost like she's become an entirely different person, and I wonder if perhaps SHE had an evil doppleganger who has taken her place... Nathan thinks Lila should go to prom because she hasn't been out if months, and Lila is considering going just because he thinks she should. Jess is babbling about being Prom Queen, and Lila tells her not to just assume that she will win. Lila says that Liz has gotten pretty popular these days and she seems determined to win. Jess forgets about all of that when she sees the perfect dress!!! (Midnight blue taffeta with a low-cut neck and back, because nothing says sexy like some taffeta!!!!) And it's -of course- A SIZE 6!!!! (I have to comment on their dress size at this point. I suppose a size 6 was considered perfect back then, but now it seems like a size 6 is a little on the...full-figured side. I have nothing against curvy girls -if you got it, rock it!!!!- and I think all bodies are beautiful, but most of the girls I know don't wear above a size 3/4...)
Unfortunately, Liz is also at the Mall with Enid. Liz suggests Lisette's, and she soon finds her own perfect dress. She goes to try it on, and of course she runs into Jess in the dressing room. They both picked the same dress!!!! (And my mind immediately flashes to Paige and Manny on Degrassi...)

Is it just me, or could this scene right here be used as an illustration in a future SV book? I could swear that I'm looking right into the future...

Liz and Jess have yet another staredown in the dressing room. It ends with neither one wanting the dress. Seeing the other wearing it totally ruined it for them. It was probably an ugly dress anyways. Both are now more determined than ever to be Prom Queen. (And I am now more determined than ever to finish this recap so I never have to write about someone wanting to be Prom Queen EVER AGAIN!!!!!)
I get a break from all that Prom Queen BS when the book does what it does best- switches characters!!!! Luckily, Jess and Liz were both in that last chapter, so I get to read about Bruce now!!!! He's at the marina (uh-oh!!! Look out for crazy bitches who want to be Wakefields!!!) and he's about to go sail his daddy's yacht when he runs into Nicholas Morrow. (He's Regina's brother, in case you forgot.) Bruce isn't thrilled that his dead girlfriend's brother is there. Nicholas is a nice guy, so he tries to conversate with Bruce. He mentions that he hasn't seen Bruce since Regina died (and Bruce wonders how Nicholas can say her name without crying or cursing...awww), and he asks Bruce about Andrea. Because Sweet Valley is such a small town, Andrea just happens to be Nicholas's ex. Nicholas is cool with Bruce dating her though, but Bruce is over all of it so he gets really quiet and retreats into his own mind as Nicholas talks to him. Bruce looks at Nicholas and thinks about how sad his eyes look. Bruce can't bear to look at him after he notices that, so he forgets about sailing and runs away. It's pretty sad, actually. I think maybe Bruce and Lila need to sit down and talk, maybe they could help each other in some way. Bruce goes home and walks around his bedroom. He doesn't even bother to turn the lights on because he's just that upset about everything. He looks at a picture of Regina that he's hidden in his dresser drawer and he cries "anguished, bitter tears".
Meanwhile, Jess and the rest of the SVH cheerleaders have gotten their revenge on the BM cheerleaders at the SVH/BM track meet (Roger won!!!! Yay!!!!) by giving them trick gum that turned their teeth green. It's so juvenile and lame that I will not even dignify it by commenting on how juvenile and lame it is!!! Jess is still gloating about it HOURS later as she and Lila take a walk on the beach. They run into Nathan and his dog, and Jess is amazed that he's so hot, and she wonders why Lila never mentioned his hotness before. Nathan asks them to join him, but Lila suddenly doesn't feel like walking anymore, so they get in her Triumph and drive away. Jess complains about Liz taking the Jeep that day, and she suddenly realizes that she forgot to pick up Sam after the meet!!! Oh no, Sam's gonna be PISSED!!!
Luckily, Liz is stalking Sam. (Okay, not really, but it would be kind of interesting if she did...) She has been at school all afternoon working on the prom and she's super stressed about it. She wishes Jess would help, but her thoughts are interrupted by poor forgotten Sam standing on the side of the road. Since Jess neglected to pick him up, he was walking to the Wakefields' house, hoping somebody would be there to drive him back to Bridgewater. Liz offers to drive him home, and he accepts. On the way, they discuss the prom, and Sam says he wishes that all of this Prom Queen BS would end so Liz and Jess can be friends again. Sam misses all the fun they used to have together (NOT in a dirty way, this isn't "The Basketball Diaries", sorry!!!) and thinks that all of this is silly. I agree, I knew there was a reason I liked Sam so much!!! Liz thinks about what he said, and she also marvels at how good he and Jess are as a couple. She loves the fact that Sam and Jess are in love and that Jess finally has a boyfriend as wonderful as her precious Todd.
The day after the track meet, those dicks from BM print yet another article in their paper trashing our precious SVH. They accuse students of cheating (again, naming names!!!) and SVH administration of hiring biased, untrained referees. They also accuse the SV cheerleaders of trying to POISON the BM squad (LOL, I laughed SO hard when I read that part, because I'm just that immature). Obviously, they're exaggerating and just trying to start some shit, and I again wonder who is in charge over there at BM... The article also calls for REVENGE ON SWEET VALLEY HIGH. Uh oh, there's bout to be some serious shit going down!!!!! Liz is infuriated (yet AGAIN), and she wants to retaliate. This time TODD (seriously, of all people!!!) tells her to let it go and turn the other cheek. When TODD suggests NOT kicking ass, you know things are ass-backwards in Sweet Valley!!!! Is this a parallel universe or something?!?! Liz agrees to let it go for the time being, because she has other things to worry about- like the fact that Jess is currently at lunch passing out Save-The-Rainforest buttons to get more votes for Prom Queen. Liz is pissed by this as well, and again Todd suggests that she ignore it. (I swear, they totally just wrote the same thing twice and replaced "Big Mesa" with "Jessica") Liz has finally had enough!!! She's SO sick of Jess taking all the credit and stealing her spotlight!!!!
Jess goes to dinner with Sam that night. She goes on and on about being Prom Queen, for like the billionth time. (I'm about to run for Prom Queen myself just to shut them up!!!! I have long blonde hair and aqua eyes, I could totally win!!!!) Sam still thinks the whole issue is stupid, so he tries to talk her into making up with Liz so they both shut up about it. I like the way he thinks. This time, it's Jess's turn to get angry. She finds out Liz drove Sam home and she thinks Liz did it to make her look bad. She decides that Liz is a shady bitch and she no longer trusts her.
Meanwhile, poor sad Lila is at home, alone again. She's looking through her massive walk-in closet and thinking about the prom. She has an entire wall full of gowns, and she knows that she's the prettiest girl in Sweet Valley, plus Nathan is chaperoning the prom. She thinks about how cute he is and realizes that he's actually helping her get through her life. She also thinks that he's probably her best friend in the entire world right now (how sad, I'll be her best friend!!!!) and she's kind of falling in love with him. (Uh oh!!!!) She hopes to run into him at the prom when she's wearing a pretty dress and looking gorgeous... I would have something to say about all of this, but Lila seems happy for the first time in this miserable excuse for a book, so I'll just let her have that much.
The following day, Jess decides to FINALLY grace one of Liz's boring-ass PC meetings with her presence. She brings her friends, so Liz won't be able to manipulate the PC into doing things her way. Jess suggests that SVH ban Big Mesa from their prom entirely. Liz is, of course, against it (and here I thought she too HATED BM...), so she suggests that NO students from other schools (ie. SAM) be allowed to attend. Jess is horrified, and the PC takes a vote on the issue. It's a tie, so the whole school votes on the issue the next day. Liz wins, and the prom is open to everyone with a ticket.
In the midst of all this, Sweet Sixteen Magazine wants to do a story on the Jungle Prom because it's such a unique concept. They're going to interview Liz and Jess, and photograph them in organically-produced fashions!!! Liz shows up to meet the writer and photographer the following day, but Jess is running late as usual. The photographer is a real creeper, and he wants to shoot his pics outside to get that "sexy, healthy glow" from the afternoon lighting. (SEXY??? Dude, maybe you shouldn't be working for a magazine aimed at 16 year-olds...) Creepy photo guy meets Liz, TOUCHES her hair, and declares her to be absolutely gorgeous. He really wants to see how hot Jess is as well, but she's STILL not there, so Liz is forced to do everything solo. When Jess shows up (45 minutes late, she wanted to look PERFECT), Lois Waller (!!!! Sadly, most of Lois's lines consist of her babbling about food...) tells her that Liz already left. Jess is pissed and wants to shoot Liz (seriously, she says that!!!!), but there's nothing she can do about it now.
Jess waits to Liz to get home from the shoot in her darkened house. Liz finally arrives, and Jess immediately jumps on her for lying. Liz isn't hearing it, she tells Jess that it was HER fault, and this leads to another standoff.
Liz channels her anger into an article for the Oracle. She totally trashes BM in the harshest words that she knows. Todd calls her article "hostile" and tries to talk her out of printing it, but Liz resolved to be a different person in chapter 1, so she goes on with printing it.
The next day -Friday- is the Big Game vs. BM!!!! Jess is cheering, and Liz is also there to support Todd. We get a nice full-paragraph description of Todd running plays (!!!!Like I said, I'm a basketball girl!!!!) and he makes the game-winning shot!!!! Liz sits in the stands, being a real bitch. She hates BM, and Enid and Hugh because Hugh goes to Big Mesa. Enid calls her on her bitchy attitude, but Liz just snaps back at her and nobody enjoys the game. Suddenly, the BM bench is bombarded by water balloons!!!! Bruce and his crew (in their Club X jackets!!!!) are responsible... No fights break out or anything, but it's very clear that SVH and BM will be going to WAR very soon!!!!
After the game, everyone celebrates at the Dairi Burger. Liz and Todd are surrounded by admirers, and Jess watches bitterly from her and Sam's table. Everyone LOVES Liz and Todd, and Jess is stuck with a "nobody boyfriend" who rides dirt bikes and lives in Bridgewater, so they aren't a power couple like Liz and Todd. Jess is kind of jealous when she realizes that Todd's game-winner makes him the obvious choice for Prom King. Jess also begins to prepare for battle (but her opponent is LIZ, not Big Mesa). Also preparing for battle is Bruce. he and his boys are in the back of the DB, wearing their cool jackets, and plotting out their secret revenge. Tensions are rising all over the place...
The night of the Jungle Prom has arrived (NO!!!!!! I wish I had the Butterfly Effect so I could go back in time and stop what happens after this!!!!). Liz is decorating the gym and thinking about Jess. They still aren't speaking, and their last fight was the worst fight they've ever had. All of the stress finally gets to Liz, and -on page 261, a new record!!!!- she breaks down and cries. Jess shows up for her decorating shift hours later. She purposely picked the last shift so all of the work would be done before she arrived, and so she has nothing to do but admire how nice and jungle-y the gym looks. (One might call it a "Jungle-gym"!!!!! LOL, I'm so funny sometimes.) She climbs up on the stage and imagines herself as Prom Queen. In the midst of her fantasies, she notices that Liz has left her day planner behind. Liz's ENTIRE life is planned out in that thing!!!! Jess reads it and realizes that Liz has worked SUPER hard on the entire prom, and she thinks to herself that maybe Liz does deserve to be Prom Queen.
At the same time, Lila is at home by herself. She's getting ready for prom and seriously crushing on Nathan. Her dad calls, and she tells him that it's Prom Night. He hasn't read this book, so he tells her to go and enjoy herself. Lila wishes he was around more, but she doesn't want to be sad anymore, so she goes back to thinking about Nathan.
Liz gets dressed for prom (a flowy ice-blue silk dress), and so does Jess (a ruby-red strapless dress that's VERY clingy), but neither speaks to the other. They run into each other in the bathroom, but neither wants to apologize, so it's super tense. Not helping matters any, Sam and Todd arrive together and the twins are forced into group pictures. They put on fake smiles, but everyone leaves the house pissed off and tense.
At the Jungle Prom, everybody praises Liz for creating such a perfect jungle atmosphere. She gets lots of attention, and she appears to be a shoo-in for Queen. This upsets Jess and she tries to gain some sympathy from Sam. He's totally over the whole thing (as am I, Sam!!!! Wanna go hit up the Dairi Burger or Miller's Point instead?!?! Oh wait, I've been drinking, so maybe I shouldn't drive...) so he just tries to talk some sense into her. She isn't having that, so she storms off and tries to have fun by herself.
While she's wandering around admiring her friends' hideously-bright 1990's prom fashions, BM kids show up and demand to be let in. Nobody stops them, but Bruce witnesses this and he is PISSED. Jessica is as well, but for some reason TODD stops them from kicking some BM ass. Seriously, what's up with Todd? He should give Bruce some of those meds that they got him on...
Lila doesn't care about any of this. She's hovering near the wall and trying to hide behind a jungle plant. Nathan appears and they talk for a few minutes. Their convo is light, friendly, and he even calls her "Li" like her friends do. (since when?!?!) But then Nathan has to go deal with the BM bunch and all their bullshit, so he leaves Lila by herself. He does promise to dance with her though.
The Jungle Prom continues on, much to my sadness and dismay. I really wish I could just write myself into the book so I could fix everything for everyone... Seriously. reading this book is worse than watching "Vanilla Sky". My heart breaks even more as Todd is crowned Prom King (I voted for BRUCE...) and there's now ONE HOUR remaining until the Queen is crowned (I am slightly happy about this, because I simply cannot stomach any more "I'M going to be Queen" bullshit!!!!). Liz cries as Todd gets his crown and everyone gives him a rousing round of applause. Todd now has to do his Kingly duties (counting ballots and drawing raffle prizes), so Liz is alone. She runs into Sam and they decide to dance since Jess is still off somewhere trippin'. Jess sees them dancing and thinks about how Liz is out to steal EVERYTHING from her. She decides that Liz is an evil, boyfriend-stealing bitch, and SHE MUST BE STOPPED!!! Jess finds a guy from BM who is obviously drunk and coerces him into giving her some alcohol. The guy is so drunk that he's trying to guess what her name is. He guesses Elizabeth and Jess nearly snaps, but instead she just says "I'm JESSICA!!!!" and leaves him to his drunkenness. Jess pours some alcohol into Liz's drink (it's MAGIC clear alcohol, so it can't be smelled or tasted...I think I'll order a bottle of that next time I go to the club), because Liz was DUMB ENOUGH TO LEAVE HER DRINK UNATTENDED!!!! Seriously, she almost deserves what happens next for being so stupid. (Just ask Darcy from Degrassi about the dangers of leaving your drink abandoned!!!!) Liz unknowingly drinks half of her spiked punch and then pours the rest into Sam's cup because it was nearly empty. (Gross, that's how H1N1 spreads, Liz...) Sam also consumes his Magic Jungle Juice, and he and Liz return to their dancing.
Lila is also dancing. With NATHAN. I don't know if that's considered appropriate, but I'll let it go because Lila is still happy. She wonders if Nathan likes her like she likes him, and she never gets the chance to ask because their dance is suddenly interrupted. Everyone's watching Liz and Sam, and people are whispering that they're DRUNK!!!! Liz and Sam are doing a little of the ol' bump-and-grind. Nathan shows how good of a chaperone he is by saying that he isn't going to interrupt the Liz and Sam Sex Show because Liz is -well, she's ELIZABETH. Liz would NEVER get drunk, and Lila confirms that Liz is not a drinker. Everyone thinks SO highly of Liz and it makes me sick!!!! The girl is OBVIOUSLY wasted, and I worry that she's going to get alcohol poisoning (because if you can DIE from one line of cocaine, then surely half a glass of Magic Jungle Juice can give you alcohol poisoning), but everyone thinks Liz and Sam are just having a REALLY good time, so the Jungle Prom continues. In the midst of all this, more of those dicks from BM arrive. They don't have tickets, but they have money and some brought dates, so Nathan lets them in. (I'm overlooking his questionable counseling methods, but this is getting ridiculous.)
Liz is still off enjoying herself when she sees Enid. She runs to her BFF and apologizes for being such a bitch at the Big Game. Liz is drunk to the point of no return, so she finally realizes that her argument with Jess is insanely stupid and that Jess was BORN TO BE PROM QUEEN. Sam agrees with her, and he tells Liz how much he loves Jess. (Again, I cry as I imagine their wedding...) Liz withdraws from the Prom Queen race, and Jess wins by default. She thinks she won legitimately, but some bitchy girls tell her as she's being crowned that Liz dropped out, so her victory is bittersweet. Jess gets her crown, and she feels hollow and empty. She wonders if being Prom Queen was really worth losing her sister over. As she stands in Liz's rightful place beside Todd, they witness Sam and Liz embracing on the dance floor. Neither one of them is paying attention to any of this, and they look more than friendly. (Are there any fan-fics of this secret moment between Sam and Liz? I can't help but wonder what they said and how they came to be embracing...I like to imagine that Sam had an engagement ring for Jess in his pocket, and he was preparing to propose after prom...) Todd finally acts like himself (for the first time in this book) and says that he wants to run into the crowd and rip Liz and Sam apart. Jess just stands there, feeling nothing. (I wish she had gone all Carrie White on their asses!!!! That would have made the 2 hours I've spent reading this worth it.)
As all of this unfolds, Bruce is over in the shadows brooding. He is disappointed that he didn't win King. He voted for himself, of course, and Lila comes over and gives him shit for it. She also makes fun of his lack of a prom date, asking if his inflatable doll popped as he was pinning on her corsage. (Inflatable doll...hmmm, does THAT really have a place in a book meant to young adults?!?! SarahLynn thinks NO.) Bruce tells her that she better watch her ass because the BM guys (yes, my Bruce is still on THAT) are WORSE THAN JOHN PFEIFER. (Even I think that was a very mean thing to say, especially since it's obvious that Lila was severely traumatized by whatever this John guy did.) Luckily for Bruce, Lila doesn't have time to respond because all of a sudden a FIGHT breaks out!!!! BM guys run through the gym and start punching random people and knocking shit over as they tear down the jungle decorations. The fight is MASSIVE, and it spills outside. Bruce leads the way to the football field and all hell breaks loose. Some of the BM guys even have weapons, but Bruce doesn't care. His rage has finally exploded and he's out for REVENGE!!!! In all of the chaos, Liz and Sam decide to leave. Jess and Todd try to go after them, but the surging crowd is too much and Todd is swept up in it (possibly punching people as he goes). Jess runs outside just in time to see Liz and Sam leaving in the Jeep.
Lila tries to run to the exit as soon as the fight breaks out, but there's people everywhere and she's still terrified of being touched, so she runs to the wall. She gets caught between two groups of girls in a massive catfight, but Nathan (awesome chaperone that he is) SAVES HER (doesn't do anything about the catfight) and leads her into an empty classroom for safety. Once inside, he closes the door and says that it's nice and quiet. He takes a step toward her (W.T.F., this guy is beyond STRANGE) and she panics. Lila sees John's face in her mind and she screams as loud as she can. The cops show up and raid the prom, and they hear Lila. She's hysterical, and she tells them that Nathan tried to attack her. Nathan denies it, but the cops arrest him. (But they neglect to Mirandize him...)
Bruce is still fighting on the field. He's going HARD, and he's finally working through his anger. It's almost therapeutic for him, but then a guy from BM pops up and hits him with a baseball bat. The guy is seriously about to KILL BRUCE (oh hell no!!!! Book, don't make me come in there!!!!!), but some random girl stops him before he has the chance. (Remind me to send her a thank-you card.) Bruce looks up at her and thinks he's seeing an angel. He falls in love with her in less than a second, but then somebody kicks him in the head and he blacks out as the cops arrive.
Jess and Todd avoid the cops and get into Todd's BMW. They chase after Liz and Sam. Todd still can't make sense of anything, so Jess screams at him that Liz is drunk and she has no idea how it happened. He finally gets it as they turn a corner and see the Jeep crashed and smashed. Blood and broken glass are everywhere, and the book abruptly ends with that cheerful image, so now I have to read the next book to see who survived... I hope THIS version is different and LIZ died...

In Case You're Keeping Track...

Elizabeth's Cry Count: 3
Party Count: 2
Snack/Meal/Dairi Burger Count: 12 (a NEW RECORD!!!!!)

*The cliffhanger ending. I like the possibility of Liz's untimely death, even though I know it doesn't happen.
*Lots of BRUCE!!!!! Even if he was a bit of a rage-a-holic, and he wasn't very nice to Lila, he's still my favorite!!!! And ROGER was in this book too!!!!
*The descriptive Big Game scene. As a basketball girl, I was able to appreciate this.
*Seeing Lila going through all of her emotions. It's nice to see her life from another angle, even if it IS depressingly tragic.
*Sam. I LOVE SAM!!!!! I really wanted him to marry Jess...

*Todd winning Prom King. You already know who I voted for...
*Nathan. I don't understand his methods AT ALL!!!!
*1BRUCE1 was senselessly vandalized. Like, put shaving cream on ENID'S car next time!!!! Don't hurt the Porsche!!!! It's INNOCENT, damnit!!!!
*My memories of SVH books are hazy at best, so all these random characters that they mentioned were super confusing and made it hard to follow at times.
*The way the book randomly switches characters. It made recapping this one a total bitch!!!! 'The Morning After' is even worse in this sense, so my next one will be slightly different in an effort to save my last lingering threads of sanity.
*Lila was just SO sad and lost in this book. I felt really bad for her.

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