We crunched the numbers, hired numerous consultants, held endless study groups, and now the results are in. Based on the title of this post, you have correctly surmised that we’re doing Sweet Valley High: Double Love.
Sweet Valley High: Double Love
Meet Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, who are immediately distinguished in the first chapter by Jessica’s intense, unending displays of narcissism and deceit and Elizabeth’s bland niceness. It’s best summed up by a line that appears in the first chapter, “A wicked gleam of mischief lurked in the aquamarine depths of Jessica’s eyes, while Elizabeth’s reflected only sincerity.” [Matthew says: No need to worry that this was one stray detail that Ariel picked out of the opening paragraphs. It’s basically the rest of the sentences in those paragraphs too.]
Anyway, we open with some good old body dismorphia:
“Oh, Lizzie, do you believe how absolutely horrendous I look today!” Jessica Wakefield groaned as she stepped in front of her sister, Elizabeth, and stared at herself in the bedroom mirror. “I’m so gross! Just look at me. Everything is totally wrong. To begin with, I’m disgustingly fat. . . .” With that, she spun around to show off a stunning figure without an extra ounce visible anywhere.
She moaned again, this time holding out one perfectly shaped bronze leg. “Isn’t that the grossest? I swear I must have the skinniest legs in America. And the bumpiest knees. What am I going to do? How can I possibly go to school looking like this today? Today of all days!”
We must have all met a Jessica in our lives, someone who in one breath can complain how fat they are and then in the next complain how skinny parts of their body are. To be fair, though, it sounds like Jessica really does have a point. If people at school notice her bumpy knees, she’s going to be a social pariah! My number one reason for snubbing another person is a bumpy knee. Yuck!
The narrator of this book begins to confuse me, because he/she/it seems to be fangirling over Jessica:
Jessica stared at herself in the full-length mirror and saw a picture of utter heartbreak and despair. But what was actually reflected in the glass was about the most adorable, most dazzling sixteen-year-old girl imaginable. Yet there was no stopping Jessica Wakefield when she was in this mood.
Way to lay it on thick – most adorable and most dazzling? And they say you can’t have it all.
The book proceeds to use Jessica’s complaints about her body as a way to refute them and point out how she’s actually perfect. Jessica’s upset about her eye color being dull? Not to worry, it’s actually a gorgeous, rare-breed of eye. Jessica worried her hair is dull and limp? Not to worry, it’s actually lush locks that were individually woven by the hands of God.
As Jessica complains, Elizabeth finally points out that they’re twins, so Jessica should shut the fuck up already.
Both wore exactly the same size clothes, but they refused to dress alike, except for the exquisite
identical lavalieres they wore on gold chains around their necks. The lavalieres had been presents from their parents on their sixteenth birthday.
The only way you could tell them apart was by the tiny beauty mark on Elizabeth’s right shoulder. Their friends might notice that Elizabeth wore a watch and that Jessica did not. Time was never a problem for Jessica.
Because Jessica is actually a badass time-travlin’ teenager who has to save the world on a regular basis…and still get her homework done!
She always felt that things didn’t really start until she got there. And if she was late, let ’em wait.
Just kidding, she’s actually a stuck-up bitch.
The phone rings, and it’s THE Todd Wilkins, a super sexy basketball player that Jessica’s had her eye on…but he’s calling for Elizabeth?!??!? How someone who has the choice between identical twins could choose the nicer of the two is beyond me.
Between Jessica’s eyes “narrowing dangerously” when he asks to speak to Elizabeth and “The idea that he would prefer Elizabeth to her infuriated Jessica” we can pretty much surmise that Jessica is not going to pass this phone over. She flirts with Todd and “purrs” at him (I’m not kidding, this sixteen year old girl basically sounds like she’s practicing to become a phone-sex operator) and finally tells him Elizabeth can’t come to the phone because she’s in the shower and then they have to leave for school. Which leads me to wonder why he’s calling her so early in the morning! Just ask her out in the cafeteria or something, dude.
Jessica has the decency to feel kind of bad about what happened, but comforts herself in the knowledge that Todd isn’t Elizabeth’s boyfriend and that maybe her sister doesn’t even know about him. Except the narrator immediately reveals that this is bullshit and Elizabeth and Todd have exchanged longing looks in the cafeteria and questions about Chemistry class after school. See? He can just ask her out in like an hour.
Hiding her disappointment that he was calling to talk to Jessica, Elizabeth changes the conversation to something very important – highschool sororities, which is apparently a thing? [Matthew says: I had no idea that this was a thing either, so I Googled it and it turns out that, yes, there ARE high school sororities and fraternities… and they were banned in public schools in California in 1906. So…]
At noon the Wakefield twins would find out if they had made Pi Beta Alpha, “the positively best sorority at Sweet Valley High,” according to Jessica. That meant “the snobbiest” in Elizabeth’s book.
I think in highschool, sororities are just called “cliques.”
Elizabeth tells us about all the wacky pranks they had to pull like getting a pizza delivered to their classroom! The security at this school must have been abysmal if the pizza delivery guy could just show up at the classroom door without so much as a visitor’s pass! [Matthew says: This is already the most confusing part of the book for me.]
Other fun pranks included dyeing the school’s mashed potatoes purple and delivering a singing telegram to the stuffy school principal! Man, I can really understand now how all the most important students are a part of this prestigious organization.
Elizabeth mopes a bit more about Todd seemingly choosing Jessica over her because her sister is soooo much more dazzling.
Jessica continues to be a bitch about anything and everything unless she’s getting what she wants which apparently is too infrequent for her liking. What is Jessica mad about this chapter?
- Their lawyer father has been working late nights with a female lawyer who apparently sounded “seductive” when Jessica called the office one night.
- The girls’ mother lets them take the family’s super awesome Fiat for the day, but Jessica can’t be the one driving because of her recent car accident. HOW COULD YOU BE SO HEARTLESS, MOM?
- Jessica wants the family to have more money like people who live on the top of a hill in Sweet Valley.
- Elizabeth won’t go against their mother’s wishes and let Jessica drive even though Jessica is emotionally manipulating her as hard as possible. The nerve, Elizabeth!
- Elizabeth’s best friend Enid is nerdy, and if Elizabeth is seen talking to her, people might mistake her for Jessica. Given this girl is Elizabeth’s best friend, it seems really strange that NOW is the time Jessica is worrying about this.
I just want a character to come over and punch Jessica in the face, basically.
Elizabeth goes to talk to Enid who has a big secret to tell her (it’s just that some guy invited her to the Phi Epsilon dance, whatever the fuck that may be [Matthew says: I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to be like 80% of what’s driving the plot.]). We also find out during this conversation that Elizabeth writes the “Eyes and Ears” column for the school’s newspaper, which sounds like it might be either a gossip column or a serial killer’s think piece. The only problem is, Elizabeth has to keep this a secret from everyone for a reason that I want to make fun of, but actually kind of understand.
It was a tradition at Sweet Valley that if the identity of the writer of the “Eyes and Ears” column was discovered before the end of the term, the students threw that person fully clothed into the swimming pool. Elizabeth Wakefield had no intention of being unmasked.
I wish superheroes has reasons like this for keeping their identities hidden. Like Clark Kent knows that if people find out he’s Superman he’ll get pied in the face. Honestly, if I knew I was going to be thrown in a pool by a bunch of my classmates in highschool, I would have been hell bent on keeping my identity secret too. Well played, Elizabeth.
Anyway, Elizabeth sees Jessica driving by in their car… to park in a different parking spot (calm down, Jessica, you’re out of control, young lady). Before she can angrily confront her sister, Todd shows up and asks Elizabeth to meet him after school. [Matthew says: He unsuccessfully called her in the morning to try to ask her out, so he asked her to meet up later to try to ask her out? This boy needs to get his shit together.]
During the big Phi Beta ceremony, though, Jessica tells Elizabeth that she’s sure Todd is going to be asking Jessica to the dance. Then they both get accepted into their Cliquerority, and Elizabeth has to pretend she’s crying tears of joy and not Tears of Highschool Sorrow.
Elizabeth and Jessica ran up to the front of the room. Even though her tears had dried, Elizabeth felt as if she were still sobbing on the inside.
Jessica was ecstatic. “There’s so much I want to learn about Pi Beta Alpha,” she was gushing to one of the senior girls. “For instance, just how many votes do you need to become president?”
Subtlety is Jessica’s biggest strength, clearly.
At the end of the day, Elizabeth goes to meet Todd, but sees him driving off with Jessica. I know we should be mad at Jessica for running off with Todd, but I’m more concerned that she’s left Elizabeth without a ride home. What an inconsiderate bitch.
Elizabeth is surprised when her brother Steve shows up at home – he should be off at college living it up! Steve and Elizabeth have a very weird shtick where they keep calling each other ugly and thinking it’s hilarious.
The two had started their “ugly” routine ages ago after spending a totally boring afternoon listening to a distant relative drone on and on about “how too, too adorable you children are. Just too, too!” They had invited Jessica to join in their game, but she was never bored when people discussed her beauty.
I can’t imagine a way they could have invited Jessica to play this game that would have been enticing in any way. “Hey, we have this really dumb inside joke that started because of this situation where someone told us we were cute, but now instead we’re gonna say we’re ugly! LAWL! Do you also want to be involved in this joke?” Because if you have to explain/invite someone to be part of a joke like that, it’s destined to be a huge success.
Jessica comes home, and the girls both try to pester Steve about why he keeps coming home on the weekends – what lucky lady is he seeing? Steve leaves when he notices tension between his sisters because Elizabeth is pretty pissed she had to walk home from school.
“Jess, I didn’t really appreciate having to walk home today.”
Quick as lightning, Jessica wailed, “You didn’t! I saw you get into a car with a bunch of the kids and zoom off without me! You should have told me you were going to do that. What would have happened if Mom saw me driving the car? Do you want to get me into trouble? I think it was sneaky and rotten of you to leave me like that when it was your responsibility to bring me home in the car!”
“Jess, I didn’t leave without you—I got held up in The Oracle and didn’t get out until late.”
“Oh. In that case, I forgive you. And I’m sorry I suspected you of trying to get me into trouble. I must have been mistaken about you getting into that other car.”
So we’re all in agreement that Jessica is a complete sociopath, right? This girl needs a wake up call. She then explains she was just giving Todd a ride to the store to pick up decorations for the dance. Gosh, Elizabeth.
Anyway, Jessica goes upstairs to pester Steve, and Elizabeth basically has a meltdown in the kitchen. Her mother tries to comfort her, but ug, parents.
I end this post with a gift for you all. Jensen Ackles from Supernatural in an episode of Sweet Valley. So even if, unlike me, you haven’t adored Ackles for like 10 years as Dean Wincehster, you can still appreciate the absolute shit that is the Sweet Valley television series.