Emphasis on “sort of”.
Sweet Valley High: Secrets, Chapter 11 (continued)
Amongst the other crazy events happening at the dance, Elizabeth is shocked to see Enid has shown up at the dance… with a handsome young man. But first, Elizabeth has to quickly, painlessly make amends with Enid:
“Liz?” Enid placed a tentative hand on her arm. “[…] I just want you to know how sorry I am for the way I’ve been acting.”
“You’re sorry?” Elizabeth was stunned.
“I never really believed you were responsible for Ronnie finding out about the letters. Not deep down in my heart.”
And yet a good portion of this book would not have happened if that were the case. Anyway. Speaking of deep down in Enid’s heart, Enid fills Elizabeth in on George and how wonderful he is:
A week ago she would have wanted to strangle whoever had been responsible for ruining her relationship with Ronnie. Now she didn’t really care.
Let’s have a huge round of applause for Enid, who has maybe become our first female character to ever recognize that she’s with a douchebag manbaby and realize she’s better off without him.
“I should really thank whoever did that to me. She really did me a favor in the end.”
“Enid,” Elizabeth admonished, “there is a point at which you can be too forgiving.”
“No, I really mean it. If I hadn’t broken up with Ronnie, I never would have realized how narrow-minded he was.”
Hahaha, this is awesome. Let’s keep rubbing this in Ronnie’s face!
As George and Enid whirled off onto the dance floor, Elizabeth noticed a number of people staring. […] George made her the envy of every girl in the room. Even Jessica had pried her eyes away from Bruce long enough to take a good long look. Ronnie was the only one who appeared unhappy
Hahaaaaa fuck you, Ronnie.
Ok, now before we get too happy over how this plot turned out, let’s remember the prose hasn’t exceeded our expectations.
“Actually,” George said, trying to keep a straight face, “I’m nuts about her handwriting. Even if she is a little strange, she writes terrific letters.”
Enid pretended to be hurt. “Is that all I am to you? Just a pen pal?”
“What do you think?” George turned to Elizabeth with a mischievous look. “Should I trade in my pen and paper for the real thing?”
“I give it my stamp of approval.” She giggled.
“But, Matthew,” you might say. “That’s cheesy, but it’s hardly bad. They’re just laughing about an inside joke.” Yeah, ok, except their inside joke is that… they talk to each other? On a specific medium? I mean… let’s pretend this book was written today…
“Actually,” George said, trying to keep a straight face, “I’m nuts about her social media. Even if she is a little strange, she writes terrific tweets.”
Enid pretended to be hurt. “Is that all I am to you? Just a Twitter follower?”
“What do you think?” George turned to Elizabeth with a mischievous look. “Should we make it Facebook official?”
“I’d Like that on Facebook.” She giggled.
Blech. I’m done here. Let’s go back to making fun of Elizabeth and Enid making up.
“I was so afraid we’d never be friends again!”
“We’re joined at the ear, remember?” Enid laughed. She was referring to their marathon sessions over the phone.
Thank goodness the book clarified it was referring to marathon phone calls that never took place in this book.
So now that we’ve firmly established that Enid is with her super super always forever love (until a dozen books from now, presumably), the story can get back to what we really care about:
“By a landslide,” [Ronnie] boomed into the microphone, “the winner [for homecoming queen] is… […] Jessica Wakefield!”
“I don’t believe it!” Jessica shrieked
That was, like, the one thing in this book that anyone could have known would happen.
As you might recall, becoming homecoming queen was only part of Jessica’s plan to land a guy by breaking up another completely unrelated couple, which I can’t state enough times was the actual premise of this book. Next, Bruce has to become homecoming king.
Ronnie leaned into the microphone to announce the king’s name. It had to be Bruce, she told herself. Everyone knew he was the cutest guy in school.
This is why democracy doesn’t work.
Jessica listened in stunned disbelief. It wasn’t possible! This wasn’t happening to her. Her heart went into a sudden tailspin as the meaning of it sank in.
She would be stuck with Winston for the rest of the semester for any big school events.
Oh man! What a comeuppance for Jessica! Elizabeth really outdid herself coming up with a clever way to turn Jessica’s only manipulations against her this time!
Or so you might think… but we shall soon discover that Elizabeth won’t stop there.
She would refuse the crown. Let someone else be stuck with Winston. This whole mess was the fault of Enid and her dumb letters.
Everybody forgets the awful things that Jessica does by the end of every Sweet Valley High book. Including Jessica, apparently.
Jessica vents to her friend Cara about her misfortune, but Cara is confused, because she had heard that Jessica wanted to be with Winston. WHAT A(NOTHER) TWIST!
“I’d like to murder whoever started that rumor,” Jessica muttered darkly.
Who could hate her enough to do such an awful thing to her?
Suddenly Jessica remembered about the funny way Elizabeth had been acting earlier that evening.
Just saying: Jessica solved this mystery like 1000 times faster than Elizabeth solved hers. Maybe she should be a detective when all this high school drama is said and done. It’ll be like the ending of Walking Disaster, except it’ll actually make sense.
She’d always known Elizabeth was jealous. And why not? Jessica was a thousand times more popular, she told herself.
Okay, so she just works on that whole “motive” thing before becoming a detective. Or doesn’t! I’d 100% read a detective series where the detective solves every mystery, but only by misunderstanding the culprit’s motive as jealousy of her good looks and popularity.
Anyway, queue up some good confrontation music, because Jessica and Elizabeth?
“I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about,” Elizabeth answered, smiling sweetly. “Would yu like some punch, Jessica?”
“I’d like to punch you in the face!”
Elizabeth reveals that she started a rumor that Jessica was secretly crazy in love with Winston.
“How could you, Liz? You’ve practically ruined my life!”
“You mean the way you tried to ruin Enid’s?”
Some of Jessica’s anger fizzled. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Elizabeth calls Jessica out on telling Ronnie about Enid and George’s letters, and begins to reveal phase two of her plan for revenge: blackmail so that Jessica can’t resign from being queen and/or contractual romance-cum-public service, which are apparently all the same thing in this high school. Jessica reacts rationally.
Jessica was so furious she thought she just might strangle her sister on the spot. Only the thought of spending the rest of her life in jail – away from Bruce – kept her from going through with it.
Just so we’re on the same page here, the one and only thing standing in the way of murdering her sister with her bare hands is her unrequited infatuation with a boy who has had a total of maybe four lines in this book. Just… just so we’re clear on that.
Suddenly shit gets a bit weirder.
“Have it your way then!” She flung back. (Apparently “flung” was the best synonym for “said” that they could think of here.) “But if you think I’m going to do anything really gross like kissing that nerd, you’d better think again!”
A devilish grin spread across Elizabeth’s face. “Gee, Jess, I hadn’t thought about it, but that’s not a bad idea.”
“I’m sure that would make Win very happy.”
“Oh, no…” Jessica began backing away.
Elizabeth advanced on her, step for step. “Oh, yes.”
So, uh, now Elizabeth’s revenge involves forcing her sister into an unwanted romantic relationship with a certain degree of physical intimacy? Is… this is kind of fucked up, right? I mean, it’s “just” a kiss, but that doesn’t feel remotely funny? Are we supposed to see this as Jessica’s requisite wacky comeuppance?
“Think of my reputation. I’ll be absolutely ruined!”
“I don’t think so, Jess. Who knows? Your reputation might even improve.”
Oh dear god, we are.
She caught sight of Winston, a huge grin plastered across his face, bobbing toward her.
So… I get that Elizabeth is trying to get her sister to fall for a “nice” boy for a change, but I don’t think this ending is totally thinking through how Winston might feel when he learns that Jessica doesn’t actually like him. And that what Elizabeth is indirectly doing to Winston is as bad, if not worse, than what Jessica did to Enid. But by all means, let’s continue enjoying Jessica’s hilaaaaaaarious punishment, which is being tricked into getting with a boy who oozes goofy dorkiness.
Winston appeared from the opposite end, looking like a scarecrow in a tuxedo jacket that was a little too short. His knobby wrists stuck out as he reached to take her hand. […]
“Congratulations, Jessica,” Ronnie murmured. […]
“I’ll second the motion,” Winston chortled, looping a bony arm about her shoulders.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth continues to make sure this ending is super, super unsettling when you realize that, as punishment for ruining her best friend’s reputation, Elizabeth is kind of pimping her sister out.
[Jessica] was smiling so hard the muscles in her cheeks ached […] under Elizabeth’s watchful eye. […] She noticed that her sister was whispering something in the photographer’s ear. Suddenly he called, “How about a kiss for the camera, you lovebirds?”
Jessica steeled herself for the inevitable
And if you think that ending is weird, just wait for the cliffhanger:
Smiling through her tears, Jessica allowed herself to be tugged onto the dance floor […] Just then, Bruce sailed past, nearly colliding with her as she stumbled backward in an attempt to escape Winston’s murderous feet. He swept her with a long look that sent an electric shock tingling up her spine. There was a hint of invitation in his smile, and more than a spark of interest in his sexy blue eyes. Some of her misery faded. Could it be?…
I have questions about this.
- So is Bruce interested in her now?
- Now that she’s in a democratically-elected, contractually-binding high school relationship?
- Despite his own date to this dance, who’s just kind of… hanging out somewhere right now I guess?
- Like, I really don’t understand the timing of this?
- Or does he literally have electric shock vision?
- Are Bruce’s blue eyes not just sexy, but full of lightning powers?
- Seriously, why are we supposed to think it’s funny that Elizabeth is blackmailing her sister into faking a romantic relationship with a boy that she doesn’t want to kiss but now has to?
I think there’s really only one way to end this post after that happened. The TV show’s cheerful theme song!
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