A Dark Past Revealed: Sweet Valley High, Secrets Chapter 1

Today marks our return to the wonderful world of Sweet Valley High and the Wakefield twins, Jessica and Elizabeth. Jessica is a gorgeous sociopath who thrives off causing problems ranging from light mischief to outright criminal activity. Elizabeth is super nice and thus often bears the brunt of Jessica’s manipulative behaviour. Like the time Jessica got caught for underage drinking and was like, “I’M ACTUALLY ELIZABETH,” and then slandered Elizabeth’s name across the halls of Sweet Valley High! And the time when Jessica stole Elizabeth’s crush! Fear not, though, Jessica got thrown in a pool at the end of the last book due to mistaken twin identity coming to bite her in the ass. RELIVE THE MAGIC OF SWEET VALLEY HIGH 1 HERE.

Sweet Valley High, Secrets: Chapter 1

Jessica is still furious about getting thrown into the pool even though she presumably has bigger fish to fry given she’s getting ready to go on a hot date with some dude named Tom. I can’t remember if he was in the first book or not, which should come as a surprise to no one who has read more than one post on this blog.

Her best friend, Cara Walker, zipped her up, then stepped back and sighed. Jessica was, as usual, too gorgeous for words. Her sun-colored hair shimmered about tanned shoulders left bare by the silky Hawaiian print sun dress that perfectly complemented her blue-green eyes. A bewitching smile on her lovely oval face usually completed the picture of perfection. The only trouble was, she wasn’t smiling right now.

  1. Who is Cara?
  2. Is “Cara” supposed to be the one thinking about how gorgeous Jessica is or is the narrator? This narrator makes me super uncomfortable sometimes, BTW. He really slathers on the praise for the twins, especially Jessica. Maybe just play it cool, narrator.

Jessica complains about how horrible she looks, which is classic Jessica. She also complains about getting thrown in the pool, which is the perfect way for us to be reminded of some of the intricate Sweet Valley mythology.

She tossed her head in disgust, even though every golden strand seemed to be in place. “Can you imagine—being dunked with every stitch on? How positively humiliating!”

She shuddered at the memory. She’d been tricked— and by her very own twin sister, Elizabeth, who practically always shielded Jessica above and beyond the call of sisterly duty. It was almost too much to be believed. Jessica had been tossed, fully clothed, into the Sweet Valley High pool, the students’ annual playful punishment for the author of the “Eyes and Ears” gossip column of the school paper. However, it was Elizabeth who was the columnist, but she’d engineered a mix-up in identity, a trick she’d picked up, no doubt, from Jessica herself.

If you play with fire, Jessica, you can’t be angry when you get burned/thrown into a pool. Engineering twin mix-ups is not for the faint of heart.

Cara, proving to be more than just a Jessica fangirl, lovingly tells Jessica she still looked gorgeous getting thrown in the pool and that she had it coming after what she did to her sister. Cara, welcome to the series, happy to have you.

Jessica cut her dead with a glare. “You’re lucky we’re at your house instead of mine, or I’d really let you have it.” Deep down, though, she knew she’d deserved it, too.

Jessica Wakefield has engaged in more self-reflection in these two lines than Zoey Redbird has had in almost three House of Night turd-nuggets.  Jessica Wakefield!

Cara and Jessica continue to discuss how great Jessica looked while getting thrown in the pool, when suddenly Jessica has an absolutely awful thought. What if Bruce Patman saw her! She totally loves him (WHAT ABOUT TOM, DUDE???) and is going to win his heart. I guess Tom is just a way to pass the time. Bruce is hot and rich and drives a Porsche, so that settles that.

How is Jessica going to win his heart, though? Well, first she’s got to become queen of the fall dance, which is some Game of Thrones level storytelling. Once she and Bruce are ruling school together, and Tom is presumably watching from afar with a lone tear running down his cheek, Bruce will have no choice but to notice her and submit to her will. Based on this testimony, I am forced to assume Jessica’s storyline this book will focus on her campaign trail. I am officially more excited for this than the 2016 elections.

Now that we’ve established Jessica’s focus, what’s good old Elizabeth up to?

She’s baking cookies with her BFF Enid. I do remember Enid on account of the fact her name is Enid, and that’s not something you forget easily.

Elizabeth knows something has got Enid down in the dumps, but it’s not until Enid breaks a cup and starts crying that she can pry the truth out of her friend.

Enid covered her face with her hands. Elizabeth noticed that they were trembling. “Oh, Liz, I’m so afraid!”

“Of what?”

“Of losing Ronnie. If he knew the truth about me, he’d hate me. Absolutely despise me!”

I feel like some of this was mentioned in the last book? I keep having these flashes of Enid being really worried she would lose Ronnie and me giving zero shits. That feels like a thing that happened.

“How could he possibly hate you?” Elizabeth asked.

“The only truth is that you’re a fantastic person.”

Enid shook her head. “You don’t know, Liz. I’ve even been afraid to tell you. I didn’t want you to hate me, either.”

“I could never hate you, Enid.”

“Maybe not, but I just know Ronnie would if he found out.”

“OK, what’s this terrible secret?”

Ug, yeah, spit it out Enid. She probably had like a sip of vodka once.

Enid took a deep, shaky breath, then blurted, “Try a police record, then.”

TWO SIPS OF VODKA?

Enid haltingly poured out to her best friend the story that had burdened her for so long. Two years earlier, when her parents were getting divorced, she’d gone a little crazy. She was angry, hurt, upset. She’d drifted in with a bad crowd and gotten involved with a boy named George Warren. They’d gone from drinking to drugs— trying just about everything that came their way.

The situation came to a nightmarish climax the afternoon Enid and George went joyriding in George’s GTO— stoned out of their minds—and struck a little boy who was playing near the road. For Enid the whole world stopped moving at that moment. She climbed out of the car as if in slow motion, her knees rubbery. Forever frozen in her memory was the sight of that tiny figure crumpled on the pavement, the horrifying sound of the scream of his mother as she came racing out of her house. Enid stood there as if paralyzed. A voice that didn’t seem to be coming from her kept saying, over and over, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

WOAH. Damn, Enid, I had you all wrong. We’re only on the first chapter of this book, and Sweet Valley High is not holding back! Who knew a name like Enid has been hiding such a dark past?

Luckily, the boy wasn’t seriously injured. He’d suffered a broken arm and a mild concussion.

Oh, that’s a relief. I thought it would be a little dark to start this book off with the revelation that one character had been involved in the death of a child.

Enid and George were arrested, but placed on six months’ probation and signed into a drug counseling program at Juvenile Hall. Enid emerged from the experience a different person. She’d been shocked into seeing the rollercoaster ride of self-destruction she’d been on, and she’d set about putting her feet on solid ground. She was straight now, with grades to match. She hadn’t seen George in two years, since his parents had sent him away to a strict private boarding school.

So that means George is definitely like two chapters away from showing up.

Normally I would complain about how this massive backstory was just packed into the space of about three paragraphs with no dialogue to help break it up, but I think it was perfectly executed. I did not need to hear Enid pausing to cry and worry about losing Ronnie.

After finishing her story, Enid/the narrator take a moment to remind us that Elizabeth might not be as flashy as Jessica, but she is still super gorgeous, and her kindness makes her even more beautiful. Know this.

Elizabeth accepts Enid as she is, past and all, and Enid openly weeps (really).

We return to worrying about Ronnie, who honestly sounds like a total douche canoe, and I hope George returns reformed and ready for love so we can forget about Ronnie.

“Ronnie’s not like Todd,” Enid explained. “He expects one hundred percent of my attention. If he knew about George . . .”

She stopped, biting her lip. “What about George? You said yourself you haven’t seen him in a couple of years.” “It’s true I haven’t actually seen him. But”—she released a deep sigh—“we write to each other. It’s not what you think. I mean, there’s nothing going on between us. We’re just friends. I started writing to George because he was so mixed-up and unhappy. I wanted him to know it didn’t have to be that way forever.”

“I think it’s nice that you’re helping George,” Elizabeth said. “There’s no reason Ronnie should be jealous over a few friendly letters.”

Enid groaned. “You’re talking about someone who turns green if I look sideways at another guy by accident. Last week he caught me going over a homework assignment with a guy in my history class. I thought he was going to blow a fuse!”

Jealous boyfriend gif, Danny and Sandy from Grease.
How I imagine Enid and Ronnie.

We have a Christian Grey/Gideon Cross situation on our hands, people. THIS IS A CODE GREY/CROSSFIRE, WHICH IS NO JOKE. Ronnie better get a better lock on his girl or she might starting discussing math assignments with some other guy.

A tiny alarm went off inside Elizabeth. “But if you explained it just the way you did to me . . .”

The alarm Elizabeth heard was my special Code Grey/Crossfire alert. It wasn’t meant to be tiny, though, so I’ll need to call my technician ASAP.

Elizabeth confirms that she and Enid are the only ones who know about the letters, but then Enid drops another bombshell – George is coming to Sweet Valley in less than two weeks! I don’t have a good handle on how time passes in these books, but that could be two chapters, just like I predicted!

For some inane reason, Enid has brought one of George’s letters with her. The letter from George is full of remorse and tales of academic triumphs. Unlike Ronnie, he seems like a mature young man who has had time to self-reflect and change his outlook on life. He also seems to be very kind and respectful of Enid. Unlike douche canoe, Ronnie.

“I don’t know what to do,” Enid said when Elizabeth had put the letter down. “I don’t want to stop being George’s friend, but I can’t see him. Ronnie would take it all wrong.”

“I should think Ronnie would be glad to know how loyal you are to people you care about.”

Truth.

Enid shook her head with stubborn insistence. “It would be the ultimate end. He’d be furious. I’d lose him.” She clutched at Elizabeth’s arm. “Liz, you’ve got to promise me you won’t tell anyone about the letters. Swear you won’t!”

[…]

Elizabeth recently had been on the receiving end of such a rumor herself, when her eternally two-faced twin was nearly arrested and let the police think she was Elizabeth. The cruel gossip had disturbed Elizabeth greatly, so she was in a better position than most to appreciate Enid’s dilemma.

“I swear that if I ever tell about the letters, you can, uh—” Elizabeth grinned as inspiration struck. “You can bury me alive in chocolate-chip cookie batter!”

But all might not be well despite Elizabeth’s applaudable handling of the situation. Read on:

In all the commotion, neither girl noticed as one of George’s letters fell to the carpet.

Oh no. You don’t think…No. There’s no way this letter is going to fall into the wrong hands. Jessica’s hands, even! Thus causing Enid’s secret to get out. This story might really drive Enid to go into a cookie-dough frenzy, which is the most delicious kind of frenzy there is. THAT’S WHY YOU DON’T BRING ALL THE LETTERS, ENID!

The chapter ends with Elizabeth trying to distract Enid by telling her ghost stories, which I guess is one approach.

Enid settled back with a sigh of defeat, secretly glad to get her mind off the real-life fear that was pressing down on her. The thought of losing Ronnie was the worst nightmare she could imagine.

That is so, so sad.

I didn’t mention this at the time because I was really caught up in the drama, but in the middle of Enid’s big confession, Elizabeth makes a really awkward joke:

“Easy for you to say. You don’t have any skeletons in your closet.”

“If I did, Jessica would’ve borrowed them.” Elizabeth couldn’t suppress a tiny smile, thinking of her twin’s charming little habit of foraging in her closet whenever she ran out of her own things to wear.

Ha…ha?

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9 comments

  1. notlaurie

    The prose is actually not that horrendous, once it moves away from Jessica. I’m actually getting nostalgic for bad books of my youth. And it’s light years away from the stool sample that is Beautiful Disaster.

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    • 22aer22

      It’s just the best. Like Matt said, it’s so much campy fun, and the plots are ridiculous. Better prose than House of Night, in my opinion. AND BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, my favourite stool sample of all.

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  2. Kate Hellman

    “The thought of losing Ronnie was the worst nightmare she could imagine.” Right. Waaaaay worse than that time she nearly smeared a toddler down the street with her car.

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    • 22aer22

      Yeah, you’d think after living that nightmare, not much else would quite compare, least of all losing local douche canoe, Ronnie.

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  3. E.H.Taylor

    I completely missed the first book posts, but I feel like I should go back and read them since it sounds like I missed out on a lot of good times.

    I’m kind of glad that I didn’t read these when I was younger. I always get more invested when a character has the same name as I do and it sounds like I may have become traumatized by the drama surrounding this Elizabeth.

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    • 22aer22

      I would highly recommend reading the first Sweet Valley High book posts. Though I’m completely biased, they were definitely a blast. They’re just so much freaking fun to read and write about!

      Elizabeth may have to deal with a lot of drama caused by Jessica, but at least it seems like she comes out on top because she’s really nice.

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  4. Kristin

    So glad to be doing SVH again!!! I think I was about 12 when I read these. But even my 12 year old mind never understood why Enid wanted to keep Ronnie so badly (BTW, in my head he looked like Kenicki from the Grease movie). He seemed like such a jerk and Enid was such a nerd so I never understood how they even met?

    As for Bruce Patman- ah so dreamy- have they mentioned his license plate yet?? 1Bruce1 lol. Such a douchebag.

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    • Madeline

      Ha I’m surprised he doesn’t call it the “Patman Mobile”.

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      • 22aer22

        I’m so glad I’m not alone in thinking of Ronnie and Enid as characters from Grease. It just feels right!

        Patman Mobile is officially canon.

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