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Sweet Valley Twins #40: Danny Means Trouble

5
Feb 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 40: Danny Means Trouble by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 40: Danny Means Trouble by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Danny Means Trouble

Tagline: How do you help a friend who doesn’t want to be helped? [Dove: I dunno, Elizabeth, maybe don’t? He’s not your friend and he doesn’t want your help, so how about you back the fuck off?]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield can’t wait to get to school to see what Danny Jackson will do next. He’s only been at Sweet Valley Middle School for a couple of months but he’s already well known as the best runner on the athletics team and as a major troublemaker. While Jessica is enjoying the effect Danny’s bad behavior is having on her classes, her sister Elizabeth is worried. Doesn’t Danny realize that his pranks are going to get him thrown off the team for good?

When Elizabeth writes a story on Danny and the team for the school paper, she discovers the real reason he’s been getting into trouble. It’s something he’s been hiding from everyone. Can Elizabeth help Danny without betraying him? [Raven: Is it drugs? It’s drugs. It’s drugs, isn’t it. Or, he’s actually a cauliflower!]

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t like this book. It’s not so much that I think Danny should wallow in his issues without help, I just want to stab Elizabeth for butting in. She’s such a busy-body I want to staple her to a wall and have people walk past, muttering about their issues, leaving her impotently unable to act. I think the stress of being incapable of interfering might be the only true way to kill her.

Also, Danny Jackson is not Denny Jacobson. Denny Jacobson is Pamela’s brother and Janet Howell’s love interest. This kid? No fucking clue. And this comes from someone who’s read almost every book in the Twins series. [Raven: Oh, I thought the book title was actually his name. “Hello, nice to meet you. the name’s Trouble. Danny Means Trouble.”]

[Wing: The only initial thought I had was that of course the girl on the cover is Elizabeth. Look at that outfit. JESSICA WOULD NEVER.]

The cover

Two things:

At work, someone once said to me, “Go see, $person. You know who she is, she’s the one with the proper twattable face.” And the thing was, even though I’d only been there for three weeks, I knew exactly who she meant. Elizabeth too has a “proper twattable face”.

Love the white socks/ankle-swinger trousers/brown loafers combo, Elizabeth. Could you look like more of a bell?

[Wing: I see I should have saved my comment for here.]

[Wing: NOTE: This recap contains vague references to abuse, including child abuse (within the text and in real world) as well as scientific violence to animals.]

Recap:

We open with Elizabeth and Amy at lunch, wondering where Julie Porter is. To be honest, I’ve been wondering that since she threw that party in Standing Out. Clearly I care more than Elizabeth does about her friends.

Jessica rocks up with the answer. It turns out that Danny Jackson sits behind Julie in science, and he was fooling around with a pair of scissors and cut “a huge hunk” of her hair off. Julie ran out of the room and probably left school, Jessica concludes. That’s what she’d do if she was ugly. And, bonus, she could watch All the World every day.

The three of them discuss how Danny’s been getting into a lot of trouble, despite the fact he’s only been at the school for a few months – why are there so many new joiners mid-year in this school? And Amy makes yet another stupid statement (she says a lot of stupid things throughout the years):

“I wonder how many detentions he’ll get this time,” Amy said. “The teachers around here can be pretty strict.”

No, Amy, they can’t. Very rarely does anyone get punished for anything. And – as Wing pointed out – Ms Langberg could have caused a riot with her last prank. And we all know Raven’s feelings on the teaching staff. [Raven: I hope they all get syphilis.]

Caroline Pearce then swans up and adds that he’s not going to be allowed to run track if he keeps misbehaving. Elizabeth can’t believe this, they’ll never beat Pinecrest without him, he’s their star! Because that’s what’s important, you moron. That your school does well in athletics. [Wing: Ah, to not have grown up drowning in USA sportsball obsession. That is clearly what is important.]

(Also, it turns out that Danny did not hack off all of Julie’s hair, just a chunk, so she got it neatened up at the salon.) [Wing: How in the world would he have cut off all her hair with one snip of the scissors, accidental or not?!]

The next day, Danny is moved to the twins’ homeroom class, because the principal, Mr Clark, thinks it will give him a fresh start.

In social studies, Ms Arnette has to step out for a moment and when she does, Danny draws a caricature of her, and labels it “The Hairnet”.

I just want to point out this moment, because as soon as his secret is revealed, Danny is constantly referred to as being unable to read, which would likely knock out his ability to write, wouldn’t it? I’m not saying Danny can’t read and write, I’m just saying that the characters assume he can’t read, despite seeing him write.

When Ms Arnette gets back, she tells Danny that it’s not art class, and that’s all. I mean, this kid is a known trouble-maker to the point where he’s swapped classes, and she’s just like “Yep, feel free to undermine me, I’ll just wag my finger at you and that’s that.”

In science class, Danny is also there. Ellen and Jessica team up to make lab reports for dissecting worms – dissection was a secondary school thing over here – and utterly optional, but you do you, ‘Merica. [Wing: To my everlasting sorry, I’ve never had the chance to dissect something for school. The year I took biology, they were trying a new curriculum that didn’t contain it, and all my other science classes were chemistry based. Ostrich, on the other hand, has dissected many things, including a fetal pig. Some people get to do everything.] On the other side of class, Danny tears up the report he and Ken Matthews are working on. After a few more yells, the boys start wrestling over it. This teacher, Mr Siegel, actually takes action on this one and frog-marches both boys to Mr Clark’s office.

While I don’t like this book, there’s a cute little exchange between Jessica and Ellen afterwards, wondering what the boys were fighting about, and Ellen () [Wing: Ellen + Amy 4eva.] teases that maybe they were fighting over Jessica. There are some conversations that are just to fluff out characters and show friendships, and ordinarily I’d be all over that, but I hate the main story.

Next up, Jessica joins Team Boring (Elizabeth, Amy, Julie) for lunch, first and foremost to get a good look at Julie’s new haircut (it’s fine – “Lila did say she liked my hair—even if my ears were a little big” – never change, Lila), and then to spill the latest about Danny, since Elizabeth wasn’t present for science class.

Amy says that boys are immature, so maybe that’s why they were fighting. (Way to stand by your man, Amy, because Ken was fighting too.)

“You have to admit, most of the boys in the sixth grade are pretty immature. Look at them.” Amy pointed across the lunchroom to a tableful of sixth-graders. Tom McKay was balancing a cube of lime gelatin on his tongue, and Pete Stone had two straws sticking out of his ears. He was pretending to be deaf.

… because deaf people are easily spotted by the straws sticking out of their ears? Pete, you’re a twat. And to be honest, there are already two Peters in the middle school and I can’t tell them apart, so I hope you join the “missing, presumed dead” list right after this scene.

[Raven: Boys in the canteen…

]

Again the kids discuss how doomed they are if Danny loses his spot on the track team by playing up or if he gets suspended, but then Danny walks in and sits with Ken for lunch, so we can assume he hasn’t been suspended. Yet.

That afternoon, there’s a track meet against Pinecrest. Elizabeth is covering it for the Sixers, and the Boosters are out front twirling and cheering. We even get to see Belinda Layton sitting with Elizabeth – I don’t think we’ve seen her since Standing Out. [Wing: She briefly turns up to beat Jessica in gym class in Jessica and the Money Mix-Up. ALSO, Elizabeth is so glad that she’s on time because she’s supposed to be covering the meet for the paper. EXCEPT THAT SHE MISSES THE FIRST TWO FUCKING RACES. MAKING IT IN TIME FOR DANNY’S RACE IS NOT ACTUALLY SHOWING UP ON TIME YOU FUCKING SLACKER.]

Danny wins his race easily, and Elizabeth leaves Belinda to go interview Danny. He tells her that he just broke the school record by 2.6 seconds. Elizabeth asks didn’t he already hold the record, and the answer is yes, he did. He says that he kept getting crushed on the football field, so turned his attention to running.

“Well, nobody can catch you now! Your parents must be really proud of you,” Elizabeth said.

Danny’s smile faded. “I doubt it,” he said quietly.

“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked, surprised. “Of course they are.”

“It’s none of your business!”

“I’m sor—” Elizabeth began. But before she could finish Danny turned and walked off toward Coach Stern.

Elizabeth watched him go. Why did Danny get so angry all of a sudden? she wondered. She turned to walk back toward the bleachers. She was so busy thinking about Danny that she didn’t notice Jim Sturbridge sitting on a bench by the side of the track. Jim was on the track team, too. Elizabeth knew Jim pretty well because they were in the same homeroom.

Why did Danny get so angry, Elizabeth? Because you pushed your nose in, as usual. You made an assumption about his family based on fuck all, as usual. You were pushy and condescending, as usual.

Elizabeth doesn’t learn anything from Danny’s abrupt exit, and immediately asks Jim whether Danny and his parents don’t get along. Jim says they get on just fine, and Elizabeth heaves a sigh of relief, because she’s already dealt with a boy who didn’t get along with his family, and she has a checklist to work through:

ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD WILL FUCKING SAVE YOU, OK?

ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD WILL FUCKING SAVE YOU, OK?

[Raven: Okay, that’s awesome. Nice work!]

[Wing: Mary could also go under step-parent issues! They save Mary A LOT. And this is DELIGHTFUL.]

Jim says Danny’s parents are scientists and don’t come to his meets because they don’t like sports, they want him to focus on school. Elizabeth immediately decides that if the parents saw him run, they’d understand everything.

Then she walks away wondering why Danny was so mad that she pried into his family life. Die, Elizabeth, die.

After the meet – where Sweet Valley wins, natch – the Unicorns head to Some Crumb for cookies. Excuse me? Why is it not called Sweet Valley Cookies? [Wing: And yet Some Crumb is kind of an adorable name.] Lila says she wants to look at the earrings because she’s getting her ears pierced soon, and why doesn’t Jessica ask her parents if she can get her ears pierced at the same time.

Maybe because in book 5 Jessica was wearing her mother’s earrings?

The next day, in Social Studies, Danny answers some questions verbally with no problem, and then Ms Arnette starts explaining the US Judicial System. (Insert satirical comment about how everyone at Sweet Valley doesn’t really need to know because they are white and wealthy.) While everyone else’s eyes glaze over, Danny puts up his hand and suggests they watch a TV show that explains it really well. It shows real cases with real people – it’s probably Judge Judy, only with a man and no sassy comments. I loves me some Judge Judy.

Ms Arnette says that watching TV is no way to learn and tries to move on, but Danny asks why not, he’s learned a lot, and then a few other kids start chipping in with their favourite moments. Ms Arnette shuts that down too, and Danny asks her if she’s ever seen it. She says she has better things to do with her time. When Danny makes a sassy comment, she gives him detention.

And I’m like FUCK THAT. First of all, if the show is actually giving good information, there’s no harm in everyone watching it – and to be honest, Ms Arnette should be open to that, and at least watch it once to ascertain whether or not it’s giving accurate information, so she can warn her class off it. For example, if you want a law degree, it’s probably better to go to class than watch Judge Judy. Also, detention now? Not after the openly mocking cartoon, but after the kid asks a few questions about a TV show that might actually be beneficial to the whole class? GET FUCKED, YOU HAIRNETTY BELLEND.

[Raven: Agreed on all counts. Also:

]

After school, while Jessica is waiting for Elizabeth, she overhears Bruce Patman and Jake Hamilton talking to a girl from the track team. Jessica acknowledges that the girl is in great shape and decides to start working out, and maybe the boys will pay attention to her. She asks Elizabeth whether she wants to work out with her, and Elizabeth says no, she’s happy being perfect without any effort, thanks. Jessica warns her they won’t be identical any more once she’s in great shape and Elizabeth isn’t.

The next day, Mr Bowman is off sick [Raven: Probably took one look at his wardrobe and immediately started vomitting] and a substitute teacher, Mrs Winderhoven, takes over. She hands out a short story for them to read aloud. It’s only two pages long, but she starts with Nora Mercandy, but then asks Danny to take over. Danny claims to have seen a mouse, which causes Mrs Winderhoven to swoon in fear, before running out of the room to fetch the custodian. There’s a bit of pounding around searching for the mouse, and eventually everything settles down and Mrs Winderhoven tells Danny off for pranking her, and then asks Nora to finish reading the story.

After school, Jessica reports to Elizabeth that she heard that Mr Clark heard about the mouse prank and has told Danny that if he plays up at all he’ll be off the team FOREVER. Also, Parents’ Night is next Tuesday, so he’s probably not looking forward to it.

Next we have Jessica back from the mall, having bought “new purple aerobic tights and the matching white T-shirt with swirls of purple, pink, and blue.” She’s also got some fitness magazines and takes a quiz on how fit she is. She gets points for ballet and walking to and from school, but the magazine reports she is “half fit, half fat”. One the one hand, that’s kind of a shamey phrasing from the magazine; on the other, bwahahahahahahaha! It’s nice to see someone acknowledge that these skinny kids aren’t doing anything special to be skinny, they’re just born that way.

I know at some point Elizabeth has a sundae with a fat girl – either Lois Waller in this series, or Robin Wilson in Sweet Valley High – and internally congratulates herself on being slender because of her healthy diet and exercise, and it just stuck with me since that first bitter read, because aside from the ballet book, Elizabeth does fuck all. She goes for sundaes, pizzas, burgers, donuts and cookies, and doesn’t do any exercise – unlike Jessica – but somehow she feels it’s appropriate to judge a fatty for eating too much and not exercising.

Jessica joins in with an exercise TV show called “Jumping for Joy with June”. By Monday she can barely move because she’s overdone it.

Before school, Jessica asks the parents if she can get her ears pierced. Again, I point to book 5 where she stole the earrings that were a gift for her mother. The parents say they’ll discuss it and get back to her.

That was Monday morning, now we jump to Tuesday night for Parents’ Night. The only thing of interest that happens is that Mrs Wakefield finally makes Steven do a girly chore – clearing the table. When the twins and their parents get to the school, the twins take them to teachers purely at random. Which is not how it went at my school. We all signed up for 10 minute slots. If you missed it, you missed it and that was that. None of my teachers ever told my mother I didn’t do their homework. And I didn’t. Ever. I only did the homework for English Literature, and that was only if it wasn’t Shakespeare. Raven finds this odd, as he would have been in big trouble if he’d literally never done homework for the entirety of his secondary school experience. Also, I went to one of the Top 20 schools in the county I grew up in.

[Wing: I find it odd, too, but only because I would never have not done my home work during high school. However, Brother Raptor certainly got in trouble for not doing his homework and the school often (though maybe not always) told our parents about it. Brother Raptor is so goddamn smart he was bored by homework and the jumping through hoops that standard public education requires here in the USA. He tested well. And yet he was still penalized for not doing his homework or showing the work he did in the approved way. Educational systems: too often a mess.]

Elizabeth goes and earwigs on Danny’s consultation with Ms Wyler, the maths teacher, and overhears that Danny is doing quite well except he can’t grasp word problems, and his parents are disappointed that he’s only getting a B average. Elizabeth pities him, because that’s how she rolls.

Then she listens in on his meeting with Mr Bowman, the English teacher (and Elizabeth’s secret shameful crush that she will never speak of). [Wing: I told you her crush later wasn’t her first!] Danny contributes in class, but his homework isn’t great, so the parents decide he ought to give up running so he can dedicate more time to his studies. Mr Bowman, to be fair, says that probably won’t achieve anything other than making Danny unhappy. The parents seem quite firm in their decision, and Elizabeth judges them hard because the Jacksons are talking as if Danny’s not even in the room.

Presh, you’re eavesdropping on a private conversation, for the second time today. So maybe enjoy your glass house and stop lobbing bricks, eh? (But yes, they should include Danny in the conversation – I just resent Elizabeth’s holier than thou attitude.) [Wing: We talk about this more in-depth in the podcast episode to come, but I’m not sure I see these as super private conversations. It’s all open, people are wandering around without schedules or plans — there’s no expectation of privacy.]

Over in Danny’s head, he’s worrying that his parents will run into Mr Clark, as the principal sent a note home to his parents and Danny forged his dad’s signature. Thankfully they don’t. And that’s that.

Good god this book is filled with dozens of scenes that go nowhere.

On Wednesday lunchtime, Jessica tells the Unicorns she can’t make the meeting tonight as she has to work out. They can’t figure it out, she doesn’t look fat, so why exercise? They Unicorns say they’re going to the Dairi Burger, and Jessica is a bit jealous as she’d love fries and a milkshake, and she notes that all the exercise is making her hungrier. Talk again turns to the ear piercing and Janet and Lila say that Jessica’s parents will most likely say no because they’re so old-fashioned. Exactly when have the Wakefields ever said no to Jess? Nobody ever says no to Jess.

Except when she gets home, Alice says she and Ned have given it a lot of thought and they think the girls will be delighted with the outcome: the twins can get their ears pierced at fourteen. Yeah, no, Alice, when Jessica said she wanted her ears pierced, she meant now, not when she was in High School. Jessica has a bit of a moan, but Elizabeth shrugs it off, because she didn’t even want her ears pierced. Alice says they’re too young at this point, although even Elizabeth says that Nora Mercandy has her ears pierced. [Raven: I don’t understand the whole “no ears pierced until you are X age” thing. I mean, I know it’s actually a thing that’s apparently important… I just don’t see why it’s important. It’s not like a tattoo, that’s practically irreversible. Take them out, the holes heal up. Seriously, what’s the issue?] [Wing: Another spoiler from the podcast: patriarchy. It’s not quite that simple, but that’s a huge part of the cultural morass that exists around decisions of what girls are too young to do, including pierced ears. There’s also some religious beliefs tied up in it. On the other side, there’s also a ton of discussion around whether it’s good or bad to pierce babies’ ears. And a couple quick notes about piercings healing: I think for most people, they do easily heal if you leave them out. I know some people whose holes never close. My holes closed, but I have terrible scarring from the two piercings in the lobe (minor scarring from the cartilage). My nose piercing, though, mostly stays open; it might hurt a little to push it all the way open again, but I’ve never not been able to get a stud through when I tried. Bodies: Weird, y’all.]

On Friday, Elizabeth goes looking for Danny and finds him in the AV room of the library, watching a movie. The AV room. In a middle school. In the 80s. God these kids had money – and I say that as someone who grew up in a very wealthy area. When she finds him, he pauses the video and they go into the main room to go through her article. He skims it and says it’s ok. Elizabeth asks about the quotes, are they ok too.

As Elizabeth watched Danny, she noticed that he was straining to make out some of the words. It seemed to be taking him a long time to read the short quote.

God, Elizabeth would find me completely illiterate – I can never read and approve something while someone’s waiting. I go to pieces and read the same sentence over and over.

Of course, once she’s had this realisation, she notices that every time Danny’s played up it was to avoid having to read. Saint Elizabeth then thinks he needs someone to confide in, so asks him if he has trouble reading. Because if I had an undiagnosed learning disability, I would totally confide in a pushy girl who I don’t know in the slightest. Danny reacts badly and rips off the cover of a nearby magazine, in plain view of the librarian and the principal, and is escorted to the principal’s office, despite Saint Elizabeth trying to take the blame like the Jesus-figure that she is.

She goes to see Mr Clark and says that she said something that upset Danny, and that she can’t say what it was, but that his reaction was her fault. Mr Clark says that no matter what she said, Danny shouldn’t have reacted so dramatically, and there may be a good reason for all the acting out – there usually is – but unless he knows what it is, he can’t help. Danny will be suspended from the team indefinitely.

At home, Elizabeth worries about Danny’s situation and finally confides in Jessica, after obtaining a promise that Jessica will not spill to anyone no matter what. Elizabeth even makes Jessica write her promise down and sign it. Is that a hint of spine, I see there, Elizabeth? [Wing: And yet in reality, she should never tell Jessica a secret again after every other time.]

Jessica’s reaction is basically: Wow, I can’t believe he can’t read. I hope they don’t kick him out because he livens up class. Also, forget about it, that boy will smack you around if you try to fix him.

“Cheer up, Lizzie,” Jessica said. “It’s not your problem, you know.”

After Jessica left the room, Elizabeth lay back down on her bed and stared at the ceiling. It isn’t my problem, and that’s what makes it so hard! she thought. I can’t do anything to fix it.

No, Elizabeth, it’s not. If you were anyone but you, it’d be really nice you want to help, but I really can’t do anything other than picture you with a clipboard, ticking off all the issues you manage to fix in Sweet Valley.

Eventually she goes down to pick Ned’s brain about what to do, after making sure he’ll keep it confidential too – but Ned is more trustworthy than Jessica, she doesn’t request a signed legal document from him. He suggests that Danny has a learning disability, and this line is so Sweet Valley it needs quoting (emphasis mine):

“That’s understandable,” Mr. Wakefield said. “If he really does have a problem, he’d probably be pretty defensive about it. Maybe he has some sort of learning disability.”

Elizabeth hadn’t thought of that. She’d just assumed that Danny’s last school hadn’t been a very good one. “Do you think so, Dad?”

Ned says she can’t go to a teacher because she’s betraying a friend’s confidence, and that’s not actually true. He’s not her friend. He’s some boy that she’s been stalking for the duration of this book and that’s it. His name hasn’t even come up before. It’s not like he’s Aaron Dallas or Ken Matthews, who we’ve met and there is evidence of them at least socialising once or twice. Fuck his confidence! Tell someone. Elizabeth worries Danny might never seek help by himself, and Ned’s all “Nah, it’ll sort itself out, chill, bitches.”

On Saturday morning, Jessica finds herself tasked with cleaning her room before she’s allowed to go to the mall. Naturally she wheedles and pleads until Elizabeth agrees to do it for her, but for the first time ever, this is actually a plot point, not a flaw. While Elizabeth is cleaning, Jessica reads her old magazines and finds an article about Greg Voynow, an Olympic hurdler who set the world record, who has learning disabilities – he couldn’t read until he was 19. Jessica has a very low-key plan, which is to stuff the magazine in Danny’s locker. Elizabeth, naturally, thinks that Olympic Greg will come visit Danny in person.

Elizabeth swans off to pen a letter to Olympic Greg, where she explicitly says that Danny can’t read. This is so Elizabeth, she has now been made aware of learning disabilities, but still sums it up as “illiterate”. She asks Olympic Greg to come to the school and meet Danny and talk to him about reading. [Raven: I wonder, will he respond? OF COURSE HE WILL.]

At the mall, Lila gloats about getting her ears pierced, so Jessica fibs and says her parents haven’t given her an answer yet, but they’ll probably say yes, and starts looking for earrings for her to buy, just to make Lila shut up, and it works.

When she gets home, she and Elizabeth work on their homework together and talk turns to Olympic Greg. They’re both excited at the idea he might call, and Jessica works out that Elizabeth has a crush on him – Lizzie’s first crush, how exciting.

Jessica goes out running, and spots Bruce and Jake. She thinks they’ll be really impressed that she is so athlete, much fitness, very sport, but instead they make fun of how slow she’s running and how red her face is. She nearly gives up, then she thinks of Olympic Greg and how if he visits their school, he’ll be really impressed at how fit she is and they’ll laugh at Bruce Patman and Jake Hamilton. That’s… not really the reason you should exercise, but it’s very in character for Jessica.

After school, Olympic Greg calls Elizabeth, and they arrange for him to randomly show up at school and hope Danny’s problem comes out organically. He’ll swing by school around three tomorrow.

She and Jessica go to her room to discuss this. Jessica asks where she should meet up with Elizabeth and Olympic Greg, but Elizabeth is like BACK OFF, HE’S MINE. Not joking. She’s not even pretending it’s about Danny, she actually thinks she doesn’t want to share Olympic Greg with her sister. It’s a rare case of me actually siding with Jessica when she’s trying to push in on Elizabeth’s thing – she did find the article and she’s kept the secret. For once, the twins actually are acting like a team.

Now, if this was normal Jessica, rather than a nicer version of herself, she would tie her twin up and lock her in a cupboard somewhere, and then pretend to be Elizabeth to meet Olympic Greg. But this is oddly nice Jessica, who just sighs and goes on with her life.

But, panic! Just when Elizabeth is due to meet Olympic Greg, every copy of the Sixers goes missing, so Mr Bowman insists she reprint it all right now. Elizabeth asks Jess to do it for her, but Jessica reasonably points out that she doesn’t work for the Sixers (although she did run a paper, so she would know how to do it), so why doesn’t she meet Olympic Greg while Elizabeth does the copies.

And since these copies reappear right after that window of opportunity closes, I’m pretty sure Jessica stole them. The text never even hints at it, but we know Jessica. [Raven: Yes, this is practically canon.]

Jessica meets Olympic Greg, and tries to stall for time with him, but doesn’t get far. She points out Danny and off he goes.

Olympic Greg sits down next to Danny and they strike up a conversation. Olympic Greg says he saw Danny in the newspaper (creeper alert), and they talk about how much they love being athletic. Danny claims he’s not running because he’s injured. Olympic Greg then invites him to get ice cream. Olympic Greg will drive. STRANGER DANGER, PEOPLE! Just because they’re famous, doesn’t mean they’re safe!

Literally as I looked up Mark Salling, Wiki updated to say he had committed suicide. I felt very odd about that. Like me googling caused it. Also, that’s the tip of the fucking iceberg. I only linked people who had wiki entries about their abusive ways, not all the people who have been named as being investigated and/or waiting for trial.

So, Danny gets in the car, and comes back two hours later, not talking about what happened, shaken and upset. And it breaks off into a very different kind of Very Special Episode. No, it doesn’t. But I’m really alarmed at the whole “minor gets into a car with a celeb because celeb = safe” message of this book. [Raven: Would he be any safer with Mr Nydick?]

So, Danny and Olympic Greg have ice cream and Danny eventually admits to having problems with reading – after a bit of a defensive moment where he worries that Elizabeth has spilled his secret.

After this, Elizabeth sees Danny go into Mr Clark’s office, while the whole school is ablaze with gossip about Olympic Greg being there.

I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore. I’m hitting the bullet points.

  • The next day, Danny is pulled out of class, and after this happens several times, Mr Bowman explains that Danny has asked him to tell the class why. Danny has dyslexia and these sessions are tutoring sessions to help him. He’s not stupid or illiterate, and if people make fun of him for this, Mr Bowman will cut them down. (But feel free to keep mocking Fatty McFat-Fat Lois Waller, because that kind of bullying is ok.)
  • Jessica gives up working out because after all this effort, she’s gained three pounds. Guess she didn’t realise that exercise will make you lose inches, but not necessarily pounds.
  • Olympic Greg comes to the school to talk about learning disabilities. And also gives Elizabeth a kiss on the cheek in front of everyone because SAINT ELIZABETH FIXED EVERYTHING!
  • Danny wins all the races and his parents love him, yay!

Setup for the next book: The twins’ grandparents are coming to visit. Woo.

Final Thoughts:

tl;dr If you have a learning disability, don’t worry, a pushy Aryan kid will rock up with a celebrity to fix you.

Also: celebrities aren’t strangers and they will never hurt you. You can trust them. Especially if you’re a kid and nobody knows where you are, who you were with or when you were last seen.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, BOOK?

Also, this had a major case of the First Place – everything seemed to happen off screen. Team Grapplegate can be far more engaging than this, believe me, I love their work, but I hate this book. Super hate. I put four levels in Hating this Book, and I’m wearing boots that give me +5 to loathing, and a hat that gives me +15 to despising.

I don’t know why. It’s not as bad as the German Gymnast book, or Ithig, but for some reason, I just want to rip this book to shreds.

That said, I liked the Jessica sub-plot about working out, and the earrings thing. However, for these books, it felt like too much was going on at the same time, but all the while nothing happened.

[Raven: I thought this was okay. Like, not actually good, but decent enough. If I’m honest, I’m a bit baffled by Dove’s massive hatred here, even after reading this recap. Does Dove really hate this book, or does she just hate Elizabeth? Tune into the podcast to find out!]

[Wing: In a surprise twist, I did not hate this book. The podcast will blow your mind. Ha.]

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

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