Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential: SarahLynn Style

Well, here it is at long last! Better late than never, I suppose. After re-reading this book, I decided that recapping in page-by-page would be just too time-consuming, so I spent HOURS laboring over this and arranging all of the sordid events into a chronological order of phases. The book begins in 2011, but it flashes back to 2000, 2005, and 2010 at random points in the story. All of the flashbacks had my head spinning and it was almost impossible to get a clear conclusion on the flashbacks as they were told through multiple perspectives (including BRUCE!!!), so I decided to fully dissect it and break it down into time frames and perspectives. I hope it's slightly less confusing this way!

It's very...red. And the circles have returned! I assume that is Liz on the front and Jess on the back, but it bears a striking resemblance to ME as I switch back and forth from super straight to sexy curly hair. I am assuming that FP so thoughtlessly did not include me in the book, so my first assumption is probably correct. Either way, that side-bang on the front looks a little over flat ironed to me, but I like the lavalier on the back cover. I always wondered what a "lavalier" was as a child. I imagined that it had something to do with LAVA, but I know now that I was pretty far off on that one. The inside of the cover is pretty cool as well. It has the throwback SVH Liz and Jess, and I have a hard time accepting that image of them since they were supposedly high school juniors in the year 2000. It just doesn't fit.

FP decided to begin the novel with a list of helpful people. She gives credit to like a million people, basically her entire family, and even a few celebrities. I consider the latter to be little more than name-dropping. She mentions Justin Timberlake, TI, and Beyonce. I wonder if she actually knows them, or if she just had to acknowledge them because she mentioned their songs? I wish I knew TI and Justin Timberlake and Beyonce (not so much a fan of her, but she IS married to Jay-Z, so I wouldn't pass up the chance to meet her). I basically skimmed this part, but a few people did jump out at me. Somebody is credited for helping FP with their knowledge of "technospeak" (let's review- Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube...hardly new technologies, but I guess FP is getting old and maybe has no idea what a Twitter is). Another person is credited for "knowing everything there is to know about Sweet Valley", and I begin to wonder exactly what Francine was on when she wrote this, because the continuity errors alone prove that this person actually knows NOTHING about our beloved SV. But we'll get more into that later...


Phase 1: Junior Year of High School, Year: 2000 (or rather, someone's twisted perspective of SVH #1)
Let's take a second and do some math here. If Liz and Jess were juniors in high school in the year 2000, they would have graduated with the class of either 2001 or 2002. I myself graduated in 2003 (an entire year early! I was supposed to be c/o 2004), so I realized now that, if my parents had let me move to Sweet Valley like I BEGGED them to as a child, I would have gone to high school at the same time as they did! And then I would have met Bruce and probably married him by now! Thanks, parental units, for ruining my chance to be Mrs. Patman...

Todd calls to wish Jessica luck with pledging Phi Beta Alpha, and Liz is upset about it because she's crazy madly in love with Todd. She tells us how, even though Todd is a jock and totally not her type, she's loved him ever since she first saw him. FP gets a couple continuity points for telling us that Liz and Todd first met in kindergarten. Todd was holding a ragged, ripped old baby blanket and crying for his mommy. Liz gave him a tissue (she would do that, even at the age of 5) and he threw it on the floor and continued to cry until snot ran down to his mouth. Lovely. Anyways, this was enough to make Liz fall head over heels for him, and he never noticed. (I guess that "sort-of-boyfriend" shit back in the 6th grade doesn't count, because it's NEVER mentioned.) Now he's calling for Jess and Liz is JEALOUS, but she's LIZ, so she just lets it go and thinks about how Jessica and Todd make sense because Jess is a cheerleader. Okay then. Also, Jess has lost her driving privileges and has to ride to school with Liz after all that awkwardness. Of course, Liz picks up Enid. Enid blabs about how hott Ronnie Edwards is for several blocks, and Jess quickly gets bored. She jumps out of the car at a stoplight and gets in 1BRUCE1 with Bruce!!!! I can't say that I blame her for that.

Later, we learn that Todd was actually calling for Liz, but Liz was in the shower. Todd is a dork, so he got a flustery when Jess told him that. He wanted to ask Liz to the PBA/PBE dance, but he obviously has no idea how to talk to girls, so Jess "helps" him along and tells him that she has to hang up now because she's pledging PBA. He wishes he luck and hangs up, which she somehow takes to mean that he's going to take her to the dance. Liz drives Jess to school, and she ditches her for Bruce. Jess hopes Bruce asks her to the dance, but all he wants to know is who Liz is going to bring. Jess lies and says that Liz is a whore and going with a bunch of college guys. Jessica gets out of Bruce's car and walks the rest of the way. She thinks about how Liz has EVERYTHING and it all comes so easily to her. Jess has to work for what she wants, and she shows us that she's a very insecure person. I'm now wondering why Jess is so interested in Todd (and more than a little upset that SVH #1 did NOT go down like this...), but then we learn that she is only using him as a cover for a date with Rick Andover. Rick is a BAD BOY, and her parents wouldn't approve, so she lies and says Todd is her date. She goes out with Rick and he gets into trouble that results in Jess being brought home in a cop car. The cops think she's LIZ. Caroline Pearce sees this, and the rumors fly...

Phase 2: Senior Year at SVU, 5 Years Later (2005)
Here's where things start to get complicated. Obviously, Liz and Jess have made amends since we witnessed that boring SVH drama. I like how the flashback ended without telling us how it all ended, but I guess that would have been too much effort on FP's part, and I read that book, so whatever. Moving forward 5 years, our favorite twins are now college seniors. They share an apartment (or rather, they rent two bedrooms on the top floor of some random lady's house) and Liz and Todd are madly in love. Todd and Winston are roommates, just an FYI. That will be important later...

Poor Liz is too sick to go to some frat party with Todd. She promised she would go, since it's basically a party in Todd's honor. Our beloved T-Wilk has recently snatched the state title away from UCLA (probably because Kevin Love was still in high school at this time, so UCLA had a disadvantage...I bet anything that UCLA beat SVU a million times when Kevin Love was on their team) and now Todd's the reigning king of campus. (All of that talk reminds me of a certain JUNGLE PROM, but nobody ever brings that up at any point in the book.) Anyways, Liz begs Jess to do it, and Jess reluctantly agrees after Liz lets her raid her closet.

Todd picks Jess up in his black Audi convertible (what happened to the BMW?) and their conversation is awkward. They aren't exactly friends (maybe because of that time Jess accused Todd of trying to rape her, but again nobody mentions that) and their evening is starting off awkwardly. They have little to talk about, so they separate at the party. Jess soon realizes that everybody at said party is lame, short, and ugly, and Todd is probably the cutest guy there (yes, she HAS been drinking). Jess goes back to Todd and they work the room together. Everybody thinks Jess is Liz, and -get this shit- JESS AND TODD GO ALONG WITH IT!!! That's just FUCKED, seriously!!! It's like the Jungle Prom shit all over again, Todd pretending Jess is Liz. It's quite disturbing.
Jessica tells us why she went along with this- she hadn't had a real relationship since the beginning of senior year, and she was married to some guy named Mike McAllery (who?), but they got annulled. I've never heard about any of this, but obviously Jess is now lonely, so she enjoys pretending that she's in a real relationship. *SMH, what is this girl thinking?!?!* Nobody catches on, and Jess and Todd enjoy their evening, maybe a little too much... Once they leave, the start making out in Todd's car (SERIOUSLY, WTF?!?!) and Todd invites Jess back to his place. Winston is out of town, so they fuck like a couple of stoned test bunnies (and it's SUPER awkward to read, I think I threw up in my mouth a little) and it's powerful and passionate. So powerful and passionate, in fact, that they fail to notice that Winston has come home and accidentally walked in on them.
Jess and Todd's fuck-fest leads to them having a month-long affair. They meet everyday at some ghetto diner, but they don't have sex or anything. Just being together is enough for them, I guess. Liz has no idea any of this is happening,because she has found someone else's life in which to meddle... Which brings us to...

Yes, BRUCE!!!! I love Bruce SOOOO much, but apparently he's become BFFs with the enemy. You see, Bruce's parents were in a car accident and his mother dies instantly. His father spent six days in a coma before Bruce had to take him off life support. It was the hardest decision of this life, and it changed everything about him. He got through all of this with the help of LIZ. She showed up randomly at the hospital every day while Bruce sat, waiting for his father to die. Through this, they bonded and she became his best friend. At the end of all of the sadness, Bruce realized that he was totally in love with her, but he didn't tell her because he didn't want to ruin their friendship. Awwww. Also, Bruce happened to catch Jess and Todd together one afternoon, but he kept it a secret from Liz because he didn't want to be the one to destroy their relationship. See, Bruce has CHANGED!!!! And yes, he is STILL gorgeous!!!!

*Todd and Jessica*
Through all of this, Todd is falling hard for Jess. He rushes to see her everyday and he's always surprised when she shows up. They both feel super guilty (and even I, anti-Liz and shit, think they SHOULD feel guilty for it), but neither one wants to stop. Todd never sees Liz when he looks at Jess, and Jess likes that somebody FINALLY is able to see her and her twin as separate people. Eventually, the guilt and fear of being caught gets to both of them and they break it off, both wishing that it didn't have to end, but both pretending that everything's cool.
The whole thing is almost brought to light shortly after it ends. Liz and Jess run into Win and Todd at the campus bookstore. Win's being immature, and Liz is cleaning up after him, and he casually mentions to Todd that he needs the apartment to himself that evening. Todd protests (he has some paper due), and Win shoots back with some comment about how he left Todd and Liz alone that night of the party. You know, that night when they had the crazy fuck-fest... Yes, Win also thought Jess was Liz that evening. Jess and Todd are all OMG!!!, but Liz is too busy cleaning up after Winston to notice how shocked they are. Win takes one look at Jess and Todd's faces, and he gets it instantly. He drops the subject and Liz doesn't find out, but Todd and Winston's relationship is destroyed. Todd even goes so far as to move all the way across town to get away from Win's hate.

Phase 3: 5 Years Later, 2010
At some point between Phases 2 and 3, Bruce and Winston embark on some sort of dot-com venture. They don't tell us exactly what it is, so I'm assuming it's PORN-related. Winston becomes a major asshole and forgets who his true friends are. Bruce maintains his friendship with Liz, but he never tells her about Jess and Todd. Todd and Liz are still together, but Jessica is off on an adventure in France.

Six months ago, Jessica met and married a very wealthy man. His name is Regan Wollman and he is 42 years old. Since she's spent a whole half of a year being Mrs. Regan, Jess has now grown bored with the commitment. Plus, Regan is a dick! He's perfect on the outside, but behind closed doors he's a very jealous, possessive, and suffocating man. Jess has gotten herself in trouble with him for merely flirting with other guys, and she's had enough of Regan's BS. She decides to leave him. She calls Liz from France and tells her she's going Back To Cali. Truthfully, Jess only married Regan to prove that she was totally over Todd, and now Todd and Liz are getting married (for much the same reason on Todd's part). Jess is going to live with them when she gets home. (I'm sure that will end well...)
In a very long and drawn-out chapter, Jess sneaks away from Regan and arrives at the airport. Her plane leaves in 25 minutes, and she somehow manages to get on the plane in time even though she had to buy her ticket and go through security. She walks fast, and feels like people think she's a terrorist, but then she decides that people can obviously tell that she's not the type to waste $200 jeans on a bomb. Okay then, somebody please remind me next time I go on vacation- True Religion Jeans = fast security checkpoints. Somehow, she makes it from Paris to California in a matter of hours and runs right into her sister's waiting arms.

Liz is currently working as a crime reporter for the local paper. Her career is taking off, so she's allowed to leave work early and pick Jess up from LAX. Before doing that, she stops at home and sees that Todd has made a really ugly banner for Jess's homecoming. (Like that's NOT an obvious sign of things to come or anything... Todd's so excited to see his side chick that he made a freakin' banner!!!) Liz is overjoyed with happiness at the thought of having her two favorite people -Jess and Todd- under the same roof.

Liz blabs the entire way home from the airport. She's super excited about her fabulous job and fabulous life with Todd. She tells Jess right away that they've finally set a wedding date, and she asks Jess to be her Maid of Honor. They get home and Todd is waiting for them. He hugs Jess and they share an electric moment between the two of them while Liz stands there smiling from ear to ear and being totally oblivious to the fact that Jess and Todd wish she would disappear so they can have a Welcome Home fuck-fest. (OK, not really, but I like saying "fuck-fest"...and you just KNOW that's what they're really thinking.) Liz spend the entire evening "clucking around" them like a mother hen, making sure both chicks are comfortable. (Yes, it actually says that. I LOL'ed at that mental image, I must admit.) Through all her clucking, Liz is too self-absorbed to notice that Jess and Todd cannot stand to look at each other. (Because of that whole fuck-fest thing, I assume. Okay, I'll stop now!!!!) Stupidly, Liz goes back to work the next day and leaves Jess and Todd home alone together. (Todd is now a sports writer for the newspaper, so he works from home.)

Actually, Liz secretly DID notice how tense things were between Jess and Todd. She just assumed that it was because both of them wanted HER attention, and they were both jealous of each other because each though she loved the other more. At this point, I jump up and scream "GET OVER YOURSELF!!!! NOBODY WANTS YOU, LIZ!!!! THEY JUST WANT YOU TO LEAVE SO THEY CAN FUCK!!!!" But of course, she is too self-absorbed to listen to me.

Through all of this, Todd decides to enlighten us with things from his perspective. On one hand, he HATED when Jess married Regan. For reasons he can't explain, Regan just made him super angry. Todd is NOT a fan of Regan, he makes that very clear. On the other hand, having Jess around is super awkward, and Todd wishes that she had stayed in France. He's having trouble doing his work with Jess around all the time. She avoids him, but she's just so...there. You can obviously tell that Todd is so NOT over her. He mopes around the house all week, thinking that he should go into his study and write...or maybe watch an old game on YouTube (SVH vs. Big Mesa, you just KNOW that what he's thinking about)...or else watch some porn. Yes, Todd tells us that he occasionally watches porn. (Probably some sick twincest shit...I don't want to know what's on THAT hard drive.) How creepy is it that he's just thinking about Jess and then he's all like "I should go watch some porn..."?!?! See, you just KNOW this is going to end badly. The tension gets to both of them, and they both try to act like they're not hot for each other, when all they want to do is go upstairs and...(I will NOT say it again!!!)

Jess is super on edge. She knows it's only a matter of time before Regan come to collect her, and things with Todd aren't helping her mood. She goes for a walk on the beach to clear her head and relax her nerves. While walking, she runs into Steven (yes, her brother, he's got himself a pretty intriguing subplot in this book, but I'll get into that later) and accidentally discovers a secret that he's been keeping from his wife. He swears her to secrecy, but Jess decides that it's her duty to clue his wife in on this, because she -Jess- would want to know if she were in that situation and she actually thinks it will HELP Steven somehow. Her logic is lost on me, but it makes the story more interesting, and I can totally see Jess thinking that this is the right way to help. Classic Jess, to say the least. As she walks away from Steven, he wishes with all his heart that it had been Liz who found out, because he already knows that Jess is about to ruin his life.

Also unhappy about Jess's return is the one and only BRUCE!!!! He's still Liz's BFF, and he's still upset about the whole Jess-Todd fiasco of five years prior. It drives him crazy, seeing Liz and Todd together. He knows that Todd is undeserving of his precious Liz, but he is the new and improved Bruce, so he cannot bring himself to break them up. Liz calls him when the tension in the house becomes too much for her. He picks her up in his one remaining aspect of The Old Bruce. 1BRUCE1!!!! Yes, it LIVES!!!! We all knew it would, since it's Bruce's prized posession. With modernization, Bruce's beloved Porsche would now be model year 2001, so it looks something like this:

Even now (in 2011), that car goes for over $15,000. Pretty badass, I must say. I am going to look SO hot in that!!!
So Bruce takes Liz out for pizza at some place called "Napkin". He can't get over how in love he is, and it's like the whole Jungle Prom-Pamela thing again. Makes me sick!!! Bruce orders a Bud (hell yeah! Drink of champions right there!!!) and Liz has a martini. Liz automatically picks up on the fact that Bruce is acting weird. She meddles a little, and prods him for info, and she eventually deduces that he's having some sort of girl troubles. He wants to tell her how he feels about her, and he opens up his mouth to reveal everything. Suddenly, Ken Matthews busts into Napkin and robs the place at gunpoint! (Okay, I lied! He's a successful NFL quarterback, so he didn't rob anyone, but it would have been a startling twist...) Ken screams that Winston is DEAD!!! O.M.F.G!!!!

While Liz is out with Bruce, Jess is still sulking around Liz and Todd's place. Steven busts in and starts screaming at her for spilling his secret and thus ruining his life. Todd steps in so Steven doesn't kill Jess, but Steven does manage to tell her to get out of his life and never bother him with her BS ever again. Of course, Jess thought she was helping him, so she's totally shocked by his anger. He leaves and she starts to cry. Of course, Todd sees his chance and swoops in to comfort her. They end up kissing, and Liz comes home with Bruce while they're doing it. They think they've been busted, but Liz is crying about Winston and she thinks that's what Jess and Todd were hugging about. Bruce, however, is not an idiot. He knows what's up, so he makes a quick exit as Liz goes to Jess and Todd and they share a group hug.

Liz takes us through Winston's funeral. Apparently, poor Win was drunk and took a nasty spill from the 20 foot balcony of his massive McMansion in Sweet Valley Heights. Over 250 people attended the ceremony, and nobody gave any eulogies. Winston was just THAT much of an asshole in the last few years of his life. Everybody loved the boy he had been, but not the man he had become. It's all very sad, and even I cried a little. Since Winston didn't have any friends left when he died, Liz goes to his house the following day and helps his father pack up Winston's stuff.

While Liz is busy at Winston's, Jess again finds herself at home with Todd. Regan chooses this moment to show up. He really IS an asshole, and he says some not-so-nice things to Jess right in front of Todd. Of course, Regan is able to pick up on the fact that something is going on between her and Todd, and Todd is still the angry dude we know and love (or not). They get to fighting, and it's the most exciting part of the book so far. Liz comes in and breaks up the fight (Jess just watches, possibly enjoying having two grown men fight over her) and Regan screams at her about Jess and Todd. SHE FINALLY GETS IT!!!! Regan leaves, and Liz is left alone with the cheaters. She has to have the last word, so she screams at them to go to hell. Liz, out!!!! She throws up the deuces and takes off for a new life in New York. (We also get to read Liz's perspective on all of this, but it's almost exactly like Jess's, only it ends with her deciding that she never wants to see either of them ever again.)

**SarahLynn's Note: THAT WAS IT?!?! This whole big fight that is destroying the twins' entire lives boiled down to THIS?!?! I was REALLY hoping Liz would at least catch them in bed together or something, but this just kind of built up and then fizzled out. I think I blame Regan for that. Damn him!!!!**

Phase 4: Present Day (2011)

This is when the book ACTUALLY begins. Like, this is literally the first page right here. All of that stuff you just read was told through flashbacks and multiple viewpoints throughout the following phase. I think it was much easier to tell the story this way...

*New York (Elizabeth)*
We begin our story in Liz's rented NYC apartment. It's old and ghetto-looking, and Liz has lots of locks on the door. She returns home from dinner with a male visitor- HER BOSS! His name is David and they work for some blog/newsletter that covers Off-Broadway plays (sounds FASCINATING...NOT!) and he's a hottie. But Liz isn't really feeling it. She's been in New York for 8 months now and has only hooked up with one guy. And he must have been pretty terrible in the bedroom, because (yes, it's TRUE) she cried after every orgasm. She doesn't specify whether they were her's or his... Still, I could have gone without knowing that. Jessica calls and leaves a message on her answering machine, begging Liz to answer. David wants to know who's calling, and why she sounds like Liz. Liz doesn't want to talk about it (because that would ruin all of the random flashbacks...), so she considers sleeping with David just to shut him up. For some reason, he takes that as his cue to leave and the evening ends without any sex.

*Sweet Valley (Jessica)*
Jessica and Todd are still living together. Jessica is whining to Todd about Liz ignoring her calls, texts, emails, AND Facebook Friend Requests. Todd says that Liz also never responded to the letter he sent her, so obviously she's still mad and hates them both. And Liz is not alone in this. We learn that Jess and Todd have become social outcasts and the subject of Caroline Pearce's gossip blog. Still, they stay in Sweet Valley because Jess doesn't want to leave. She and Todd go to a party at Lila's, and it's obviously just a cheap ploy to re-introduce everyone to their favorite characters. Jess and Todd walk around and feel like freaks in a sideshow. Caroline is all up in Jess's face, bugging her for gossip, and Jess tells her off. She also yells at Lila for inviting Caroline and makes a huge scene. On the way out, she asks Todd if he thinks everybody will still come to their wedding. Yes, a WEDDING! Because the best thing to do 8 months after stealing your twin sister's boyfriend of like FOREVER is to MARRY HIM! Sounds like a GREAT plan to me...

*New York (Elizabeth)*
Liz continues to ignore Jess, and she goes to interview some up and coming (haha) theater writer named Will for her crappy blog-thing. The play he wrote sounds really stupid, so I won't bother to write about it. Dude is kind of a dick. He's crabby and Liz watches him reject like, 137 hopeful actors. (That's kind of...his JOB, Liz...) After the auditions are over, he turns around so Liz can interview him and Liz gets the shock of her life... WILL IS A "DOPPELGANGER" FOR TODD!!!! Yes, one of THOSE! I laughed at the choice of words, and part of me hoped beyond hope that he would turn out to be crazy...
After a great many pages of Liz hating Jess and Todd while going to some more boring play rehearsals, Will gets in a fight with the director and storms out. Liz runs into him at her favorite Irish bar, but she ignores him (because he looks like Todd, I guess) and talks to the hottie bartender. Hottie bartender = Liam. He's Irish with dark hair and pretty eyes and Liz automatically thinks that he's totally Jess's type. He's also an actor, which may be important later.
After a few Stoli martinis, Liz goes and tells Will what an ass he is, and that strikes up a conversation. Will is from Chicago, and he was going to school to be a lawyer. But then, just randomly, he decided to write plays. He dropped out of school (his dad is still pissed about that) and moved to New York. He also randomly broke up with his fiancee. Her name is Wendy, which strikes me as funny since she's also from Chicago, which is the WINDY City. Liz realizes that she likes Will, even if he does have a "slightly crooked fucking front tooth" just like Todd's. (Yes, Liz gives us the first of several "Fuck-words" right there on page 82. I was SO shocked by this. I even called the BF at work to tell him about this, but he wasn't as impressed as I was.) Whatever the case, Liz opens up to him and tells him all about Jess and Todd before she goes home with him. Then it gets kinda creepy. Once they're alone, she tells him that she was avoiding him all week because he looks like Todd. It kills the mood, obviously, and Liz goes home without doing him (I see a pattern here), but they're friends now so it wasn't a total loss. While Liz is sitting at home, her mother calls. Alice begs Liz to come to her grandmother's 80th birthday party. Of course, Jess and Todd will be there, so Liz tries to back out of it, but then she realizes that it would be the perfect way to get revenge on Jess and Todd by showing up with a hottie writer from New York. Because there's nothing pathetic about dating a guy who looks exactly like your ex, I guess. Alice hasn't told Jess that Liz is coming, and I see this ending quite badly. Liz immediately asks Will to be her date. Of course, he rejects her ass SO fast. (Hmmm, I wonder why...) Will suggests that she bring Liam, because Jess would love him and Todd wouldn't be able to deal with it. Or something. Whatever, he's just joking. But Liz is PSYCHO, so she starts developing this whole seduction/breakup plan...
Still a little drunk, Liz goes back to the var and talks to Liam. They go for a drink and he spills his life story to her. (What is up with that?!?! TWO people spill complete life stories to Liz in one day? Just a typical day in the life of Liz, I guess.) Liam was born in Ireland, but he's been in the US for six years. His parents live in California (how convenient) and they're both doctors. Because every struggling actor/writer/bartender/waiter has RICH PARENTS, at least in FP's world. Liam has an English Lit. degree from UCLA (oooh, does he know Kevin Love?!?!) and he owes his parents a visit. Conveniently, it just works out that he HAS to visit right after meeting another West Coast transplant... Liz asks him to be her date, because she's PSYCHO and this is all part of her master plan. He agrees. Will, however, is not amused by this. He is the only sane one here, and he lets Liz know how psycho she truly is. For the first time in her life, Liz tells somebody (Will) to fuck off!!!!

*Sweet Valley (Jessica)*
Jessica has finally grown into her own person! She has a very successful job at MYFACEISGREEN. It's a cosmetic company that specializes in making environmentally-friendly makeup for companies like Revlon, Almay, and L'Oreal. So basically, she develops gimmick products that these low-end cosmetic companies (that probably test on animals) jack up the price on and sell to unsuspecting consumers. Of course, Lila's dad owns the company. He's changed his name to Richard since we last saw him, or maybe Lila has TWO dads now... Either way, Jess loves her job, and everyone loves her. The best part is that nobody compares her to Liz and she gets recognized for being her own person.
To celebrate their respective success, Jess's boss invites her out for a drink. She goes, and she lies to Todd about it. Her boss is gorgeous and totally her type (rich, enough said!(, and she considers cheating on Todd. We get more of her fabulous logic: Cheat on Todd with boss = Breakup = Get Liz back. But, in the end, Jess just LOVES Todd, and she can't bear to cheat on him. Their relationship -however messed-up- is actually pretty deep, and they're obviously very in love. Instead, Jess goes home to Todd, blissfully unaware that Liz and Liam are making their way to Sweet Valley.

Which brings us to...

*Grandmommy's 80th Birthday Party*
Yes, "Grandmommy". I kid you not. Her party is a fairly small ordeal at the SV Country Club. Jess is wearing a pink Betsey Johnson dress and her entire family is there. Ned, Alice, Steven, and Grandmommy. Plus Todd, Bruce, and Aaron Dallas (trust me, this will all make sense at the end). Liz comes in with Liam and she's dressed in all black. (Must be the "Empire State of Mind"...All Black Everything!) Strangely enough, she and Jess have gotten the exact same haircut. Bruce is still in love with Liz, and he hates Liam right away, until he realizes that they're just friends. When Liam meets Jess, he falls instantly in love. Liz is surprised by this because Liam wasn't attracted to her, and she assumed that there was no way he would be into Jess, since they're -you know- identical twins and shit. But Jess only has eyes for Todd, and Liz relaxes a little. They sit down to dinner without incident, but then a fireworks display from the Sweet 16 party in the next room interrupts. Everyone goes outside to watch the show.
Liam and Jess walk away from the party and Liz watches along with Todd. Todd is pissed, of course, even though Jess is NOT interested in Liam at all. Todd's anger leads him to fight with Jess in front of everyone. Tempers explode and everybody just lets their anger go. Except for poor Grandmommy, she just sits there are wishes she had spent her birthday at Club Med, far away from these freaks. Alice tries to shut everyone up, but it just keeps getting louder and louder. It's like a bad episode of the Maury show, or maybe Springer would be more accurate. Finally, Alice screams at Ned to bring out the fucking cake (yes, Alice says "fucking"!) and everybody shuts up. Poor Grandmommy! I almost want to jump in and invite her out for drinks and maybe some bingo, since her own family is so fucked-up that they cannot even give the poor old lady a 2 hour birthday dinner without incident. At least nobody got punched or pushed into any pools, I guess.
Liz and Liam leave as soon as they can. They fly back to New York that evening and Liz is pissed at Liam for falling in love with Jess and causing all of this. Ummm, pretty sure YOU are also to blame, Lizzie...You did kind of set the whole thing up!
Jess and Todd are left alone, still arguing about how everybody hates them. Todd won't let the whole Liam thing go, even though Jess obviously loves Todd. Todd is starting to act just like Regan, Jess realizes. They go home and ignore each other as they pout about the birthday party. Jess decides that she's had enough of this drama, so she leaves as soon as Todd falls asleep.

*New York*
Life goes on and weeks pass. Liz is busy working on her article again. She finally interviews Will. He apologizes for calling her psycho and she agrees that she was, and that leads to them having a little fuck-fest (hey now, I was good for most of this recap, so I earned that!). It's awesome, earth-moving, and not at all tearful. But it gets kind of creepy when Liz compares Will to Todd again (mentally this time, thank god!). I was more than a little grossed out by that, but it helps Liz realize that she is actually over Todd. So, I guess she needed that. The make no promises of a future (and I have totally figured out how this ends) and Liz goes home.
Jess is asleep in the hallway outside of Liz's apartment. She has a sequined backpack and a Prada bag, and I'm surprised she wasn't robbed...or worse. Liz considers stepping over her and locking the door, but Jess wakes up before she can be a petty bitch. Liz lets Jess inside, and Jess is shocked by how ghetto the place is. Jess tells Liz that she left Todd and she can't stand to not have Liz in her life. I admit, this scene choked me up more than once! Jess cries and Liz tells her to leave. Jess asks for just one more hug, and Liz gives in. She realizes mid-hug that she also needs Jess in her life. They make up very quickly and Liz helps Jess see that she really is in love with Todd, and Liz wants them both to be happy together at last. Jess agrees to go back to Todd and they make up before going to bed.
In the morning, Jess goes outside and Todd is standing there. He tells her that he loves her and wants to be with her. They go back to Sweet Valley, and Liz even lets Jess borrow her new jacket for the trip.
Liz stays in New York for a while. She writes her article and it gets rave reviews from everyone. Of course, she gets offered a high-paying freelance job. She gets to pick when she works, so it doesn't interfere with her blog-thing and she's happy about that. Will's play opens, and Liz goes to opening night to support her newfound fuck-buddy. The play is pretty good, and Will's parents even came to see it. His ex-fiancee comes too, and LIz sees them together. That storyline wraps up nicely when Will and Windy Wendy reconcile. Liz is happy for them, of course.

*August 24th, Sweet Valley*

Liz returns home to be Jess's Maid of Honor. Her wedding is the following day, so Bruce picks Liz up from LAX and invites her to spend the evening with him, because he has something he wants to tell her. (BITCH!) She agrees, but first she has to do something important. She goes home (to the Spanish-tiled, split-level rambler with the in-ground swimming pool on Calico Drive) and gives Jess and Todd her blessing. It's awkward, of course, but she knows she'll get over it eventually. And Jess really loves Todd, so Liz is happy that Jess finally found someone she loves. Liz gives Jess her lavaliere to wear during the wedding, and Jess trades hers. It's the most touching scene in the book, and my copy will be forever tear-stained right there!
Liz goes over to Bruce's that evening. His house is massive, and very tasteful. Bruce is richer than ever, and Liz learns from Steven that Bruce has recently made a lot of money by selling his house. She wonders why he sold his place, and also where he is moving. She decides that he is in love with somebody (yeah, her name is SarahLynn...BITCH!) and it breaks her heart to think of losing him. She can hardly stand the thought for some reason, and she's nearly in tears when he opens the door.
He pours her some wine (possibly in a paper cup, but FP didn't feel a need to be specific) and she can hardly concertrate on what he's saying. She finally just asks him where he's moving. New York, of course, he's in love with a girl who lives there! Liz is devastated when she thinks that she'll have to meet his new girlfriend and be her friend, because she is obvioulsy an idiot. She. Just. Doesn't. Get. It! I want to scream at this point, she is just SO dense!
She finally gets it when Bruce draws closer and kisses her. This book is kind of an asshole, it says "That had never happened before. Not while she was conscious anyway, but that's a long story." Thanks, book, for bringing THAT up and ruining what might have been a sweet moment. Oh wait, LIZ is kissing Bruce...I don't think I like this book anymore.
The book redeems itself (slightly) as Liz thinks back to her past relationships (really, Liz? Do we have to go over this again? I swear, every time this girl hooks up with somebody she goes and compares them to Todd.) Liz thinks about how she could have been with Bruce, but she was always in relationships and "the possibility of Elizabeth Wakefield cheating on anyone or anything was near impossible". I laughed SO hard reading that line. I guess FP skipped every Sweet Valley High book after the Jungle Prom. I believe Liz cheated on Todd at least 137 times in her junior year of high school alone. Where was the SV expert on that one?!?!
The kiss is super hot, and SarahLynn is more than a little jealous. They go upstairs to his bedroom and he unbuttons her blouse (what is with these SV girls and BLOUSES?) to reveal her "taut nipples". Ummm, ewww, thanks for that mental image. She waits for him to slip her skirt and thong (skank!) off of her body. Luckily, we're spared any further description of THAT. The best part is when Liz slips off Bruce's pants and reveals "his smooth, almost sculpted body, and his desire for her". HOTT!!!! Even if it is a Liz-Bruce fuck-fest, Naked Bruce is always appreciated :) They fuck, and the book ends there.

Oh wait, lucky for us there's a epilogue! It describes Jess and Todd's wedding. It's at the Country Club (yes, they actually let the Wakefields come back!) and everybody shows up for it. Jess's bridesmaids wear cream-colored dresses, but Liz wears a "deep blush" color (whatever that is...Google is showing me a coral pink color) and Bruce walks her down the aisle. He was added as an usher that morning, and I'm confused. Doesn't the Best Man walk the MOH down the aisle? I wonder who Todd's Best Man was...probably Ken Matthews, since that's the only character he seems to interact with in this phase. Jess wears a sequined, strapless gown and walks down the aisle to a song from Phantom Of The Opera because she's heard enough "Here Comes The Bride" in her first two weddings. (My walk-down-the-aisle song: "Butterfly" by Crazytown. Strange choice, I know, but that song is an all-time favorite. My first dance song: "Secret Garden" by Bruce Springsteen.) The story ends with a paragraph about the wedding being fun, and much like any SVH dance. Apparently, SVH dances are not much different from real life. Yeah, I just drank some Jungle Juice from a paper cup and am now driving my lime green Triumph over to Big Mesa to stop my evil doppelganger from pushing somebody into a pool. Yep, just another day in the life of SarahLynn!!!
The book ends with a little French lesson for us: "Plus ca change, plus ca change pas", which Google tells me means "The more things change, the more they stay the same". Well, okay then! I'm sure that was intended to wrap everything up nicely for us, but there's STILL more to read, so I won't focus on that too much.

***SVH: Where Are They Now?***
Throughout the book, we got many, many updates on some of our favorite characters. I have made notes and complied them into their own section of this recap. They weren't really essential to the story, but it was nice to know how everybody ended up.
*Aaron Dallas: Went to Stanford and became a successful architect. He moved back to Sweet Valley (he had been living in San Francisco) to work for his uncle. The book mentions that he is a year younger than Steven Wakefield, but I seems to remember him being in 7th grade when Steven was in 9th and the twins were in 6th...but I'll let that slide.
*Steven Wakefield: Married Cara Walker and became a successful lawyer. He is about to be a partner at his law firm. He is the subject of much of Caroline Pearce's gossip these days because he has a reputation for being a cheating husband. Cara is oblivious to everything and spends hours baking. Steven's Big Secret is that he is GAY! Aaron is his lover (they chronical them re-meeting and falling in love, and there's some disturbing stuff about Steven repressing his sexuality in his teenage years...I believe it was something about him getting aroused in the showers back in high school. TMI!) and Jessica tells Cara everything. Steven leaves her and moves in with Aaron. They were both ushers in the wedding and are very much in love and hoping to get married, California laws pending.
*Cara Walker: Moved on after Steven. She went back to school (after giving up MIT for Steven) and still looks like she did in high school. She now has a successful boyfriend, and was able to forgive Steven. She is even speaking to Jessica again.
*Ken Matthews: I was right, Ken was Todd's Best Man. He is now a successful NFL quarterback, but he hasn't played this year because of an injury. Still, he's a very nice and very popular local celebrity. Two years ago, he married Lila Fowler. Six months ago, they separated. Ken still hangs out at their house all of the time.
*Lila Fowler: Lila dropped out of college after three years to become a model. After three months of trying, Lila got frustrated and quit modeling. She currently does not work (because she's RICH!) and has slightly augmented breasts (don't we all?!). Despite rumors that Ken has proposed to her again, she brought Jeffrey French to the wedding as her date.
*Jeffrey French: Lila only brought him to the wedding as a date because she lost him to Liz back in high school. She also wanted to make Ken jealous. Jeffrey is a successful dentist, but he bored Lila and she ditched him. He spent the evening dancing with DeeDee Gordon.
*DeeDee Gordon: DeeDee is an artist and is engaged, even though she STILL likes Bill Chase.
*Bill Chase: Looks amazing and gorgeous as always, despite losing his leg in a shark attack (I wish they had included a flashback to THAT). He now teaches handicapped kids how to surf in the Special Olympics. He is happily married to somebody named Lianne, who is a former WNBA player. She has a thing for Todd, and Bill got a little jealous so they had to leave early.
*Enid Rollins: Lucky for us, there's not a lot of Enid in this book! She is busy being a gynecologist after struggling with a drinking problem during her teenage years. She is extremely arrogant and right-wing, and she is running for city council. Because of this, she keeps her relationship with A.J. Morgan as much of a secret as possible.
*A.J. Morgan: A.J. dropped out of college after one week. He now sells Nikes at the shoe store in the Mall. That sounds like an AWESOME job to me, but Enid is a stuck-up bitch, so she can't be seen in public with him. She ignored him at the wedding, but everyone knows they had their own fuck-fest afterwards.
*Caroline Pearce: Caroline is now SV's most successful real estate broker. She has keys to everybody's houses, and they tolerate her because she is a cancer survivor. She has gained a few pounds since high school, and she has gone 21st-century with her gossip. She is referred to as the "Perez Hilton of Sweet Valley" (which I recall saying in a previous entry) and her website gets over 500 hits a day. Tomorrow's blog might be more interesting than the wedding.
*Bruce Patman: Bruce stayed by Liz's side for the entire wedding. His life is now complete, and nobody has ever seen him happier.
*Roger Barrett Patman: Roger looks the same as well. FP makes it a point to mention that Roger used to be so poor that he couldn't afford to take the bus to school, so he ran everywhere and became a track star. He inherited a shitload of money from Bruce's family when he turned 21. He became a Hollywood producer and has had a few minor hits, but it doesn't matter because he's still rich as hell and down-to-earth. He is married to a rock singer named Zoe Jones. She is just starting her career, but it promises to be a successful one. She performed at the wedding and was the second celebrity (Ken being the first), because all important weddings need at least one celebrity, and this one had two.
*Annie Whitman: Annie married some guy named Charlie Markus, and he saved her from being a slut somehow. I never read that book, so I have no idea what's up with that. She wore a dress that was too close to white to the wedding, and Jess was a little upset about it but she let it go. She brought her 2 year-old boy to the wedding, but Jessica did not let that pass. Annie is now a lawyer and she talks a lot. Charlie is a writer for an auto magazine, but he is in the process of writing a book about Annie.
*Betsey Martin: Betsey stopped doing drugs, but she is now a drinker and a major slut. She spent much of the wedding in the coatroom, but she cannot remember who she was with.
*Nickey Shepard: Nickey is another character that I don't remember. Apparently, he's now an AA recovery center teacher. He and his wedding date -another recovering alcoholic- spent the entire wedding lecturing guests who were drinking.
*Robin Wilson: Robin is now a successful caterer and food critic. She gained back a little of her weight, but she's successful now so it doesn't matter. She caterer Jess's wedding and the food was fabulous. She is married to a lawyer from Steven's office.
*George Warren: Represents a Silicon Valley company in England.

And, of course, THIS guy has to show up...
*Roger Collins: He quit teaching because of Suzanne Devlin (whoever that is)and now writes non-fiction books. His latest book has been on the bestseller list for 14 weeks. He has lived with the same woman for 8 years. They met when she was senior at SVH, but not in his class. (What is FP trying to say here, anyone?) His son is now named Sam. Sam is 19 and a junior at UCLA. (I could have sworn his name was Teddy, and he was younger than 8 years old in the SVH books...)

***Those Who Couldn't Attend:***
*Winston Egbert: Asshole extraordinaire, died on page 175.
*Regina Morrow: Heroically deaf, died from a heart murmur and "a party drug".
*Tricia Martin: The girl who made Steven not gay, died "bravely" of leukemia.
*Suzanne Devlin: Somebody I don't remember, accused Mr. Collins of molesting her, left, came back 6 years later as a changed person with MS. Died in a car crash after mixing champagne and medicine.

(No mention of Olivia Davidson or Crazy Margo or Sam Woodruff...Is it possible that they did NOT die? Basically, anyone who had any part in the Jungle Prom arc has been excluded... Conspiracy?!?! Cover-up?!?!)

***And, Last But Certainly Not Least: The Wakefields!!!***
*Ned and Alice: Ned is a senior partner in the biggest and most successful law firm in Sweet Valley. He is friends with the mayor, and the mayor was a guest at the wedding (of course he was!). Alice still looks like the twins' older sister. She has her own interior design firm, and she is also successful. She even paid for part of the elaborate wedding. Alice struggled with breast cancer, but she went through radiation and is still going strong. She and Ned are proud of all their children, but they still worry about Jessica. They approved of this marriage.
*Steven: Of course, Steven is happily in love with Aaron. He is hoping that this marriage works out for Jessica and that she has finally found true love. He hopes that someday his parents will have three sons-in-law.
*Elizabeth: Liz is crazy about Bruce. They may end up getting married soon...
and, most importantly,
Jessica made a luminous bride. She was happy and thrilled because she was slightly more radiant than Liz on her wedding day. She has finally found true love and is literally shining with happiness. (*cough* For now *cough*) In true Jessica fashion, she was 15 minutes late for her own wedding and her entire party had to wait. But, it was well worth it.

The End.

(Note: My wrap-up of this story will be posted later. Blogger is failing to autosave, so I need to publish this ASAP, lest I lose the last three hours of my life!!!)

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