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Evil twins snarkily recap Sweet Valley Twins, High, University, Confidential & Sweet Life

Sweet Valley Twins #25: Standing Out

28
Aug 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 25: Standing Out by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 25: Standing Out by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Standing Out

Tagline: Can a girl really be one of the guys? [Dove: Of course not. Gender roles and stereotyping are so important. Girls must bake and wear makeup and boys must lift heavy things and be macho.]

Summary: Billie Layton is a real tomboy. She’s the only girl on the Little League softball team and the most respected athlete at Sweet Valley Middle School. But suddenly her whole world is turning upside down.

First, Billie’s parents are expecting a new baby and don’t seem to have any time for her. Then there’s her longtime friend, Jim Sturbridge, who’s always been Billie’s best friend, but now he seems interested only in Sally Holcomb – and Billie is jealous! Could it be that Billie likes Jim as a boyfriend and not just a buddy? Something is happening to Billie and it’s very confusing! How can Elizabeth and Jessica convince Billie that she can have everything she wants?

Initial Thoughts:

I actually really like this book. It’s one of the early books that I re-read often as a kid. However, the message of this book is breathtakingly offensive. So it’s yin and yang for me.

[Wing: WHY IS THIS BOOK SO TERRIBLE? It has some really great moments, AND THEN IT IS TERRIBLE.]

Recap:

Hey! Remember when Billie Layton joined SVMS in Playing Hooky? Well, this book is all about her. She and Jessica are in the locker room after gym class, and Jessica is gushing over how awesome Billie is at all things athletic. This is the first, but absolutely not the last, time that Jessica is way out of character. In this book, she’s way nicer than Elizabeth. Jessica thinks Billie is just swell, but Billie’s all attention-seeky and responds, “It’s nice to know that somebody appreciates me.”

With that level of self-pity, it makes me wish Lila Fowler or #RealJess was here to shut down that shit. For clarification: #RealJess is a self-absorbed sociopath. #BestJess is a self-absorbed sociopath who uses her powers for good instead of evil and provides the lulz, as evidenced in Jumping to Conclusions.

Billie has the blues, because her mom is having a baby, and she’s inconsiderately scheduled the birth right in the middle of Little League season. Also, Jessica reacts to this news as if it’s brand new and a Very Good Thing. Billie wants to talk to Jessica, who reflects that it’s just awesome having a twin to listen to her all the time (and do all her chores, lend her money, give her brand new clothes, take the blame when she pulls shit, etc). Billie then says at least she’s got Jim Sturbridge, who is the best pal a gal could ask for.

Jim Sturbridge. The raging genius who bought into sexism in about two seconds, and contributed the stupid play about apes to the Sixth Grade Follies. That guy. [Raven: I had no idea that Jim was that guy when I read this book. Jim is a spaff-gannet.[Wing: I did not realise this was the same guy, either. Great. Now I like this book even less.]

Lucky Billie. And she concedes that she can’t talk to him about feeling angst about the new baby because he’ll think she’s a crybaby. Not entirely convinced Jim is the person you want as a BFF, to be honest, Billie.

It gets better: Jessica then excuses herself as she’s got a Unicorn meeting to attend. When Jessica is your “I have angst friend”, you know your life sucks. She has a “pang of guilt” about leaving Billie hanging – who are you, and what have you done with my beloved sociopath? [Raven: Why the hell do the Unicorns have so many bloody meetings? How often do they need to come up with new and exciting ways to pick on the New Girl? Or discuss “what’s new in the purple scene”…?[Wing: Money and/or how to be even more obnoxious about their popularity would be my guess.]

Billie sees Jim walking down the hall with Sally Holcomb. She calls out to him, but he doesn’t respond, because Sally is a big old slut. She has the audacity to have boobs already, and she flirts. Whore.

Side note: After this book, we never see or hear from Sally again. I suspect someone – probably a Unicorn, very likely Janet or Jessica – murdered her and buried her in the Mercandy’s backyard. [Raven: I guess planning and executing multiple murders would explain the constant meetings.[Wing: Nah, too many people at those meetings. Murder meetings are much more selective.]

At the Unicorn meeting, Janet raises a very serious issue. It appears that after all their years of bullying, elitism, fat- and slut-shaming (and potentially murdering people like Roberta Manning), people generally regard them as a pack of harpies, and suddenly this is a Bad Thing, as she wants the Unicorns to win a community service award.

“The one that’s to be given next month to the organization that contributes the most to the community,” Janet went on. “There’s a prize that goes with the award.” She paused, making sure that she had everyone’s undivided attention. “The prize is an all-expense-paid, one-day trip for the whole organization – to the place of their choice within a fifty-mile radius.”

As he was reading this particularly paragraph, Raven’s head popped up. “I reckon I could game the system,” he said. “And basically bankrupt the idiot who offered prize with such vague limitations.”

[Raven: DEFINITELY. First of all there’s no size limitation to the “organisation,” so what’s stopping the winners declaring their group contains everyone in the Sixth Grade, or even the whole school? The phrase “one-day trip” is also hideously vague… on a day trip to York, I’d expect to go to Betty’s Tea Rooms, the Yorvik Viking Centre, and York Minster, possibly rounding out with a Ghost Walk. All of these cost money. Or if it’s a one-day trip to one specific thing, hell, why not spend an “all-expense-paid, one-day trip” at York Races? “I’ll bet the entire yearly Music Department budget on ‘Nydick’s Folly’, running in the fourth, please.” Seriously, the only saving grace is the fact it specifies one day, as if it didn’t I could see the next super-edition being called “The Unicorns Drop Acid And See Actual Unicorns At Coachella”.]

Janet gives the Unicorns instructions to be helpful and kind, but not to tell anyone why, because it wouldn’t be good if people heard the Unicorns were worried about their image. Janet, let it get out. If you don’t warn people that you’re being nice for a reason, the alternative is Lois Waller beating Lila Fowler to death with a hockey stick after Lila says something kind to her in gym, prompting Lois to assume that Lila has been taken over by an alien and needs to be killed… uh, would anyone be willing to write that book for me, please? “Lois Saves Sweet Valley”; front tagline, “Is Lois the only one who can save us?”; back tagline, “Things are getting strange…” and summary is:

Fat, shy Lois Waller has always been overlooked and underestimated – except for when people want to be cruel. They have never bothered to get to know her, only to make fat jokes and shame her.

So when Lila Fowler lends Lois her notebook, and Jessica starts walking to class, arms linked with Lois, she senses a dark Unicorn plot. But there appears to be no payoff. And it’s not just the Unicorns, Bruce Patman starts carrying her books for her, and Jerry McAllister gives up his seat for her. The final sign comes when Janet Howell says Lois looks “very pretty”.

Lois suddenly realises that what’s going on goes beyond any spiteful Unicorn prank and, in fact, the safety of the entire world rests upon her shoulders. Can Lois save us all?

(B-plot is that Ned Wakefield has lost his favourite bow-tie.)

And the front cover would be in the style of this:

Lois Saves Sweet Valley

Lois Saves Sweet Valley (Raven owns this shirt)

I’m not going to lie. I’m considering writing this now. [Raven: DO IT! *squee*[Wing: Considering the short length of these books (legit just read this one in less than 20 minutes), you have it half written already. Might as well go for it.]

Ok, back to this book. After school, Jessica goes to Elizabeth to tell her that Billie’s feeling down in the dumps, and they both squee at how exciting it is that she’s going to have a baby brother. Also, the twins are idiots. Billie’s mum works in the school library and – spoilers – gives birth by the end of this book, so they are really slow on the uptake if this is brand new information to them. [Raven: To be fair, if Sweet Valley Humans are anything like Sweet Valley Horses, Billie’s mum wouldn’t have been pregnant at the end of the previous book.] Elizabeth realises that Billie spends a lot of time with her dad, and once they have a boy that will have to stop because boys = dad time; girls = mum time. Jessica counters that the problem is that slutbag-Sally is taking up all of Jim’s time. And no plan is made, other than not to tell people about Billie’s issues. Once again, #WhereIsRealJess?

The next morning, Billie walks to school with Jim, who gushes over how awesome she is at softball. Billie’s also happy because she spoke to her dad and they’re going fishing after the big game. They haven’t been able to for ages, because Mrs Layton has needed help around the house because she’s pregnant. (I guess otherwise all chores fall to the female adult, and she only gets a reprieve when she’s incubating new spawn?)

During home ec, Jessica talks to Lila about the Billie-Jim-Sally love triangle. Lila has her own take on the situation.

“And while we’re on the topic of Sally Holcomb, did you see that sweater she had on this morning? What gives her the right to wear a purple sweater? She’s not a Unicorn!”

Never change, Lila.

Elizabeth comes up and Lila leaves the twins doing the dishes, and once again they talk about the exact same thing: Billie-Jim-Sally; and once again, they don’t come to any resolve other than to not tell people.

Billie and Jessica meet up before gym, and Billie has to pee, and what do you know, her first period has arrived. After a few moments of silent panic, Jessica knocks on the door and says she’s been in there awhile. (Again, un-Jessica-like, first of all, concern; second of all the Wakefields probably don’t pee or poo, so they probably view humans with disgust about this.) Billie asks Jessica to get her some sanitary towels from the machine on the wall. It’s empty, but Jessica has a backup plan (ok, that’s #RealJess), Lila keeps the stuff in her locker in preparation, so Jessica nicks some of that.

In a jiffy, Jessica was back with a small box. “Here you are,” she said, thrusting it through the door. “Do you need any help?”

What kind of help are you offering, Jessica? It’s kind of a one-person task. Also, why so helpful? [Raven: She requires a small flask of Billie’s effluvia in order to complete her Blood Magik ritual that will enslave Johnny Buck.[Wing: Was this the time of the pads that attached to belts, or were we up to stick-on pads? I’m having an Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret flashback, I think.]

At lunch, Billie stares at Sally and her boobs and starts wondering what effect boobs will have on her life, will she have to give up pitching because they get in the way? I think the All American Girls’ Professional Baseball League would prove otherwise, Billie. I honestly can’t tell the difference between baseball and softball. They’re both just really complicated rounders[Wing: This is a really valid fear for her at the time. Not a lot of focus on women’s sports at all, and the school teams wouldn’t have a baseball team for girls.]

One of Billie’s classes gets replaced by study hall in the library, and Billie’s delighted, because she can talk to her mum during this time. Unfortunately, Mrs Layton has to do the whole work thing, answering actual queries from students she’s not related to, so Billie feels worse than ever. And Julie Porter reminds Billie and her mum of Julie’s birthday party after the big game on Saturday, and Mrs Layton says Billie will go.

I’m confused, is every game a “big game”? If not, Billie’s going both fishing and to a birthday party after the “big game”.

The scene ends with Mrs Layton saying that they’ll talk after school, and then the narrative skips several days ahead, so we have no idea if that happened or not. [Wing: I’m going with not, because we see her tell Mrs Layton about her first period much later in the book.]

On Tuesday after school, Elizabeth and Jessica are about to walk to Billie’s when Jessica has to flake out, because of a Unicorn meeting. This leaves Elizabeth and Billie to talk, and I want to slap the pair of them. Billie uses every opportunity to say something morose and attention-seeking, and Elizabeth is Elizabeth. Billie tells Elizabeth she got her period, and Elizabeth says that’s just swell. [Raven: “I’ll note it in my Classmate Flow Diary, and let you know your Period Pal once everyone’s results are in!!”[Wing: It’s weird how taboo talking about periods still is, and yet how excited everyone was to get them. Also, I’m really sympathetic to Billie, who is feeling rejected on all sides, is going through stressful body changes on her own with little guidance, and is relying on the Wakefield twins. Good lord, kid, run now.]

I’m sure these coming of age books are just propaganda written by the sanitary pad companies. Oh, you’re becoming a woman. It’s so special and magical. And it absolutely doesn’t make you angry, irrational, and give you the worst cramps in the world. And it doesn’t cost a fortune. You can totally buy cheap pads. I mean, you’ll deal with leaking and chafing, but isn’t it MAGICAL? You’ll buy light-coloured trousers or skirts, and then only wear them for one week a month, because you don’t trust your body not to rebel. But isn’t it WONDERFUL?

And you, America, you can’t control your periods with birth control. Only people having sex (good, married people) need birth control – and really, they should be making babies. Or sluts, because only sluts have sex before marriage, and you’re not a slut, are you? And if you must use birth control, you must pay. America, I feel for you, I really do.

[Wing: I like how you think birth control would have ever been intentionally mentioned to kids this age back then. Or, in some places, now, though it more widely shows up in pop culture now.]

They get to Billie’s room, which is yellow-and-white, with a fishing rod, football, posters of sporting heroes. Billie comments that she thinks her dad was disappointed that she wasn’t a boy, but still taught her everything he would have taught a boy. Wow. Girls are just the worst, aren’t they? Unable to fish or play sports. Thank god Dad forced his girl to act like a boy, just to tide him over until a real boy got here.

Over at Unicorn HQ, Lila is being fabulous again.

“If you ask me,” Lila commented tartly, as the Unicorns were settled into the den at Janet Howell’s house, “this whole thing is a lot of nonsense.”

“I don’t see how you can say that, Lila,” Janet replied, raising her chin. “You can’t deny that the Unicorns have an image problem.”

“It all depends,” she said, fingering the unicorn charm that hung on a gold chain around her neck, “on your definition of an image problem.” She smiled at the others. “Personally, I like our image just the way it is.”

Yes, she’s a dick, but she likes being a dick. She has no illusions that people like her. And that’s why Lila rocks. [Wing: #teamlila] Mary suggests they expand the club, and they all take a moment to laugh at the idea of Lois being a unicorn. (#ApocalypseLois will outlast you all, and you know it.) Mary suggests they do tutoring and running errands for the sick.

Lila flat-out refuses to do any of these things, and changes the subject back to clothes. [Wing: Lila is being so fucking true to herself and to the club. #teamlila]

Back with Elizabeth and Billie, they agree to go shopping for clothes for Julie Porter’s birthday party on Thursday. I’ve just noticed, there’s been a lot of talk about Julie Porter’s birthday party, but there’s been fuck all talk about getting the poor girl a gift.

After Elizabeth leaves, Billie hears her parents talking about the baby, and for all that I’ve wanted to slap Billie over her angst, this is the point where I start to take her issues seriously.

“I think you’re right, David. We ought to name the baby William Arthur, after your father.”

Outside the door, Billie leaned against the jamb and sucked in her breath sharply. William? They were going to name the baby William?

“Are you sure, Margaret?” her father asked. “It’s bound to cause Belinda difficulties. After all, we’ve been calling her Billie–” He paused and corrected himself. “–I’ve been calling her Billie for almost twelve years now. She might feel like we’re taking something away from her – something that belongs to her.”

“I know,” her mother said. “She may be a little upset when we tell her, but I think she’s mature enough to understand why it’s so important that we name her brother after her grandfather.”

“Right,” her father agreed. His voice dropped a little, and Billie could almost hear her heart pounding. “Now we’ve got a boy to carry it on. My father would be so proud.”

Billie swallowed. Her name. They were taking her name away from her. And then, shoulders sagging, tears blurring her eyes, Billie turned and ran upstairs.

Sorry to quote so much all in one go, but honestly, you had to read it in its entirety. And sure, maybe Billie’s been a bit emo of late, but my takeaway from this conversation is: Gosh, isn’t it wonderful now we’ve got a real boy. We can give him the name that’s so important – of course, we’ll have to rip it off that girl-child of ours, but she’ll understand that she doesn’t matter. After all, she was only filling in until we got a boy.

Mr and Mrs Layton: you are asshats. You parent so badly that Alice and Ned look like outstanding parents by comparison. [Raven: Agreed. This is so much bullshit. The line “now we’ve got a boy to carry it on, my father would be so proud” can just get to fuck.]

[Wing: I’m actually more forgiving of the name thing, because carrying on names can be important in families. They definitely could have done better than Belinda if they wanted to have a kid carry on a similar name, but carrying on the family name can be such a big deal. I say, having been named for both parents. (I am curious as to whether he’ll be a II or a III or whatever or not.) The whole taking Billie as a name away from her is such supreme bullshit. First of all, IT IS HER FUCKING NAME. Second, there are a ton of other nicknames for William. Third, IT IS HER FUCKING NAME WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?]

Back at the Wakefield compound, Jessica continues to act out of character, this time by tidying her room. Elizabeth does actually point out how not-Jessica this act is. [Wing: Since they are supposed to be improving their image by helping other people, what the fuck is Jessica even doing right now? #bringbackjess] Jessica then suggests that they write an anonymous letter to Billie, telling her that Jim and Sally are… friends, I guess? Or maybe put something in the gossip column of the Sixers. Elizabeth vetoes both plans and says the best way to be Billie’s friend is to be Billie’s friend. Which, come to think of it, is very un-meddling of her. The twins are not themselves, fetch me #ApocalypseLois and her hockey stick to deal with them.

Jessica backs down on her idea, because she’s just happened upon the greatest idea of them all, as evidenced by She’s All That, Drive Me Crazy, Miss Congeniality, The Princess Diaries, and Grease. MAKEOVER. She’ll pretty Billie up and Jim will drop that slutty Sally in a heartbeat. Because that’s what you want. A guy who only notices you when you’re pretty, and drops his existing girlfriend when he finds someone more attractive. Especially when he’s got a history of sexism. And authoring terrible plays about apes.

Wait. Is this the same thing as John Cena’s heel turn? Where it’s so insidious that you don’t notice. Is Jessica actually in character, and trying to set Billie up with an absolute shitbag of a guy, simply because she likes being the best athlete in the school? [Raven: Oooooh, good theory! Shame it doesn’t pay off.[Wing: NOPE. Also … also … holy shit, that is a good point about Cena’s heel turn, oh my god. I will try not to lead us into a 30 minute wrestling aside during the podcast, but I make no promises. Dove will probably edit it out even if I do, because she is a hater.]

After school, Billie has softball practice, and completely flubs it, because she notices that she’s the only girl on the team, and can’t help but think they all know she’s got her period. Her coach suggests she take up weight lifting, and adds she should get her dad to show her how. Then Jim bails on walking her home because Sally shows up.

Then we skip to a shopping scene with Elizabeth, Jessica and Billie. It’s all very girly, and naturally Billie finds a perfect dress that makes her wonder for half a second whether Jim would like her in it. In a post-shop daze, Jessica invites Billie over after the game so they can get ready for the party together. Billie says no initially, because her father might take her for an ice cream after (I thought they were going fishing?), but caves under Wakefield pressure. [Wing: I really love how Billie feels awkward and uncomfortable in the fancier dress and really wants to try on the other one instead — and then she lets herself get talked into the one that makes her uncomfortable. BILLIE. NO! Don’t give in.]

Also, she sees Jim and Sally laughing together outside Casey’s place. Jim is awkward about them meeting, and Sally does that classic “I’m a mean girl” thing of being sweet to the Wakefields, but cold to Billie, and then hurries Jim along.

Billie has a bit of a cry about this, once Jim and Sally have gone. And then she has another cry when she gets home. Her mum gives her a hug, reassures her that she doesn’t have to talk if there’s “too much to tell”.

Saturday, the day of the “big game”. Billie’s arm feels stiff and she’s not throwing well in practice. She sees Sally in the stands, and no sign of her dad, which depresses her. Then she spots Jessica, Elizabeth and their friends cheering her on and waving pom-poms and feels better. [Raven: Porn-Porns!]

It doesn’t go particularly well, she flubs a lot of throws, manages to pull it back a little (which sends the Wakefields + friends into yells of delight), then flubs again, and then it starts to rain. And then she’s pulled from the game.

In the stands, Lila decides softball is a stupid game and flounces off before the rain can ruin her hair (Lila, I love you). Some Unicorns follow, but Elizabeth, Jessica and Amy stick around, huddled under an umbrella. Then the game is postponed until tomorrow because of the weather, so this is a bit of a reprieve for Billie.

She says she’s not in a party mood, so once they get back to the Wakefields, Billie is sent to the shower, Elizabeth irons Billie’s dress, then Jessica curls Billie’s hair and does her makeup and now she’s a beautiful swan.

When the girls arrived, they gave Julie their presents and were led to a large game room at the back of the house. One of the boys was playing DJ with Julie’s stereo and some kids were dancing. A group was gathered around a Ping Pong table, and toward the back of the room there was a table piled high with sandwiches, chips, cookies, and soda.

This could be an American/English thing, but I have never been to a party where people danced. [Wing: Oh, you sad, sad panda, you.]

Oh, wait. I did once. I went to a housewarming party when I was about 8, and a grown-up made me dance with her. She was the only one dancing. I thought she was marvellous and insisted mum buy me a pair of calf-length leggings with black lace at the bottom hems, just like hers. That’s literally the only party where there was dancing. Although that was in 1988, so probably around the same time as Julie Porter’s party. Never mind, I stand corrected.

Billie is the centre of attention, every boy wants to dance with her and talk to her. [Wing: She also kicks everyone’s ass at ping pong, which was a detail I’m glad they included. She can still be herself! She can be both dressed up and sporty! AND THEN THE BOOK GOES BACK TO BEING TERRIBLE.] Across the room, Jessica preens over her transformation, and Mary pitches the idea that Billie should be invited to join the Unicorns, after all, she’s pretty and being a great athlete is special, so that’s the two main criteria covered. Lila says not so fast, Billie might fuck up tomorrow – Lila, stay bitchy, you marvellous thing. [Raven: Lila is the best thing in this book.]

Billie sees Jim and waves, but he doesn’t wave back. He’s standing with Sally, who is wearing a peasant-style dress that bares her shoulders, and she looks “at least fourteen”, which makes Billie feel like a baby. She starts crying and makes her excuses and makes her way out of the house, at which point her dad arrives and announces he’s come to collect her because Baby Bro is nearly here.

They go to the hospital where Mrs Layton is in “the Stork Club”, which seems like a silly way to say “I’m frightfully rich and I need two rooms to have a baby in”. [Wing: And yet is pretty much exactly what it would be called here, because ridiculous.] Mum thinks Billie looks so pretty. While dad is away, Billie tells her mum about getting her period, and then dad comes back and she tells them both about how much she sucked in the game. Billie then goes to wait in the other room and falls asleep. When she wakes up, the baby is here, and she gets to hold it. And then dad announces that the baby is called William Arthur Layton.

So… not going to discuss that with your first child then? Just gonna yank off her name and stick it on your favourite, eh? Stay classy, Laytons.

But it doesn’t matter, because Billie is swept away by the sheer magic of holding a baby, and every bit of jealousy evaporates without having to be brought up, discussed or dealt with. Because baby-holding. (I hate holding babies. I regard it as a punishment.) [Raven: I hate this trope, the whole “babies are the only thing in the world, you don’t know until you’ve had one” rubbish. It insinuates that people who are child-free or childless can be discounted because they’ve not “been there.” Childbirth is not Vietnam.]

[Wing: This is a super good point RE babies turning people who don’t want kids into people who do wants kids, and babies are pretty terrible. (I also do not like to hold babies because, like Billie, I worry about breaking them. Also, I don’t like them.) HOWEVER. This rang so fucking true for me as a big sister. The joy I felt when my parents adopted my baby brother was un-fucking-believable. I used to fight people over whether he was my baby brother or theirs. (That is a long, complicated story, and I know it doesn’t make much sense without the backstory. The takeaway is: from the very first second, I loved my baby brother so much I wanted to fight the world for him.) At that moment, I had no jealousy, no fighting with him, nothing. Obviously, that did not last, but that underlying adoration and love certainly fucking did (even if I am terrible at showing it). So of all the things in the book, this is the one thing that I could not rage at because it was focused on Billie as a big sister, not Billie as someone who now wants babies.]

Then dad notices that Billie is a girl.

As Billie held the baby, her father bent over and hugged and kissed her. She realized that this was the very first time she’d ever gotten his attention as a girl. He’d always complimented her on her athletic abilities, but none of those compliments had ever been as sweet as the one he paid her just now.

If Billie was trans, and her gruff father had just acknowledged her gender and correct pronoun, then that would be just lovely. But since she’s not, the implication is that all of Billie’s achievements to date have been largely irrelevant because she wasn’t girlishly pretty. Billie then announces that she wants to be called Belinda, which is her real name and there’s a real Billy now. [Wing: GROSS GROSS SO FUCKING GROSS I HATE EVERYTHING FROM THIS POINT ON SO FUCKING GROSS.]

At the “big game v2.0”, Belinda informs everyone of her name.

Belinda looked up at him. “Would you mind,” she said sweetly, “calling me Belinda? That’s my real name, after all. And I’ve got a new brother – we’re calling him Billy.”

Not sure why she’s got to be so smug about it. Then Jim says that he was going to talk to her at the party, but he didn’t recognise her, and by the time he’d figured out who she was, she’d left.

This cheers her immensely, although she was already perfectly content, what with having a baby brother and all. Then she kicks ass on the field. And her dad’s there to cheer her on.

The next day at school, Jessica asks Belinda to join the Unicorns, and she delightedly accepts. Then they talk about some fun concert at Secca Lake (will it start at 3pm?), and Patrick Morris (remember him? No. Never mind. You’ll meet him next book) gloomily comments that he can’t go because his parents are super over-protective.

Final Thoughts:

My final thoughts are: I love this book, but I also want to rip it up and break the spine. For some reason I enjoy it, but it has a truly awful message. And the message is: your name isn’t important, and your identity is your gender. If you’re a tomboy, you will only find true happiness in being a girl. A real boy deserves your name more than you, even if you’ve been using it daily for twelve years straight.

It’s just awful.

And the twins are out of character. Jessica is nice, and Elizabeth doesn’t meddle. Steven barely gets a single line so can’t be obnoxious and the parents are absent for the most part. Everything that annoys me wasn’t present, and Lila was on top form for this book. However, I miss #RealJess.

So, a mixed bag.

[Raven: This wasn’t terrible, but it did suffer from a twin personality switch, as Dove suggests. I quite liked Billie, and sympathised with her issues, but the whole ending seemed massively insulting and clichéd. The makeover worked. The baby solved everything. The big game was won. Bonding ensued. Bleargh.

And having Billie join the Unicorns are ridiculous, as it literally came out of nowhere. I was really hoping she’d just turn down those purple flapgasms with a sharp “get fucked, laterz bitches.” We all know that Lila will kick her out as soon as her team lose a game.

So yeah. Not bad. But not good either.]

[Wing: I was waiting so hard for her to turn them down, and Lila to be all #toldyousolosers. BUT NOPE. And most of this book makes me rage, but I am just so tired of raging at Sweet Valley. Why so terrible, book? WHY SO TERRIBLE? That sibling part was great, though. It got me in the heart feels.]

I am Dove. I am: Team Jessica (Sweet Valley); Team Bad Guy (Point Horror);  Team Geiger (Making Out); Team Nina/Lucas (Making Out); and I am the voice of a claymation cow named Daisy, and I was in an advert for Fairy Liquid in the 80s.

 Category: Sweet Valley Twins

 Elizabeth’s book-long soulmate: 

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5 Comments

  1. Mimi
    Posted 4 September 2017 at 9:55 am Permalink

    I’m just sitting here stunned that she gave up her name without a whimper. My daughter read the description of this book and was so enraged at the idea that someone would be asked to give up her name that she couldn’t even read the recap because she was afraid she’d put her head through the computer or something. There’s no way a real teenage girl would just shrug and say “Oh, it’s cool. We have a real Billy now.”

    I’ve always been Team Lila. Like I said on your Facebook status, girls like Elizabeth are insidious and scary because they pretend to be your friend and you never see the knife coming. Girls like Lila stab you in the front and I respect that.

    • Posted 4 September 2017 at 6:41 pm Permalink

      Well, I don’t want your daughter putting her head through a screen to prove it, but she’s not wrong. There is so much that is infuriating about this book, but the name thing is just ridiculous. It shows a massive amount of disrespect for Billie/Belinda as a person, and the entire female gender. It’s not Billie’s fault her unimaginative mooks of parents can only come up with one name ever. Also, what’s wrong with refering to boy-child as Will, or Liam? Sure, it would sound similar to Billie, but again, that’s her parents’ fault. Or they could even call him William Arthur to honour the grandparent, and use his middle name. There were so many other options, instead of “Yo, ovaries, hand over your name and stop pretending you matter.”

  2. abstractconcept
    Posted 16 September 2017 at 4:39 am Permalink

    I think it explains a lot that I owned three Sweet Valley books–Standing Out, Out of Place, and The Haunted House. Seeing your other recaps sometimes makes me feel like you read some other series! I don’t think I read a whole lot of the series after these three, and I think you could understand why. The other two books were bad enough–BURN THE NEW GIRL–wait, the new girl is useful for something? I guess she can stay, as long as she’s grateful enough. So gross. But this one–THIS ONE took the whole fucking cake. Like Billie, my mother had a second child when I was older than most to be getting a brother or sister, though I was only eight. However, unlike Wing, I found the entire experience traumatic. I had expected my mother to present me with an immediate lifelong chum, ready-made to play with me and be amazed by all the things I could do that she couldn’t. What I got was a wailing puke machine that failed to admire my obvious superiority. My expectations were clearly set too high, but like Jessica and Elisabeth, my sister and I are also incredibly different people. (I loved to read and was shy to speak to people and always followed the rules. She once brought home a guy for a one night stand after she’d met him at a bar the night after he’d been released from prison for attempted murder.) But I digress–THE NAME THING OMG WHO DOES THAT WHO DOES THAT WHO DOOOOOOOOOOES THAT!? Here, what can we possibly do to make our daughter’s difficult transition through puberty easier? I know! WE’LL DISMANTLE HER VERY IDENTITY AND GIVE IT TO SOMEONE MORE WORTHY, PERHAPS SOMEONE WITH A BALL SACK! There are a number of books that make me seethe (Scott Smith’s “The Ruins,” anything by Bill O’Reilly, that horrible overwrought tripe called, “The Shack,”) but this one will always have a special place in my guts for the sheer horror it produced. Stephen King has nothing on the Jamie Suzannes. Just. Yuck. >:(

    • abstractconcept
      Posted 16 September 2017 at 4:47 am Permalink

      Also, I hope you people know that you’ve put a virus in my head relating to comparing the twins. Whenever I’m bored at work, I start toying with introductions: Elizabeth liked writing. Jessica preferred gossiping. Jessica loved unicorns. Elizabeth thought they were silly. Jessica disembowels babies with her teeth, ripping chunks of flesh asunder as she feeds. Elizabeth uses her knife and fork and cuts her babies into bite-sized pieces, like a respectable lady.

      Send help.

      • Posted 16 September 2017 at 9:48 am Permalink

        Wow, if you only read three books in this series, that’s not a good sampling. Admittedly, The Haunted House was what got me hooked on this series, but if you read that right next to Out of Place, you’re going to notice the intense bully culture of Sweet Valley. Think of it this way: we’re reading these books so you don’t have to!

        Jessica sacrifices animals to her dark lord. Elizabeth really enjoys vacuuming the stairs.

        Jessica will one day go on a spree killing. Elizabeth’s can’t beat that rush of joy when she finds the exact right sized Tupperware for the leftovers.

        Jessica’s murder victims are splattered all over the house. Elizabeth keeps her victim’s tokens in neatly labelled baggies in her designated “murder trunk”.

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