Title: Sweet Valley Twins #76: Yours for a Day
Tagline: What if he says no?
Summary: A matchmaking disaster…
The members of the Unicorn Club are donating themselves to charity! For a price, they’ll obey a classmate’s wishes for an entire day. But with the big Valentine’s Day dance coming up, Jessica Wakefield can’t resist turning the fund-raiser into a matchmaking plan.
Jessica knows that Mandy Miller has a huge crush on Peter Jeffries. She orders Mandy, as her servant for a day, to ask Peter to the dance.
But Peter turns Mandy down! And then Jessica ends up as Mandy’s servant for the day. Can Jessica repair her matchmaking fiasco before Mandy takes her revenge?
That’s some adorable purple going on there. Also, Mandy’s facial expression is a delight. Damn it, why is Peter (one of them at least) back? I find it nearly impossible to tell them all apart, which makes for boring reading.
[Dove: Don’t hate yourself over all the Peters, Wing. I can’t tell them apart either. I wonder why Mandy’s hair is suddenly black? It could be a wig, but I was sure they bought one that matched her original hair colour (brown) when she lost her hair to chemo?]
[Raven: “I find it nearly impossible to tell them all apart, which makes for boring reading.” … Way to go, Wing. You’ve just given the ghosties explicit justification for their repeated “the twins look identical, but are so very different” schtick.]
Our fun dramatic opening is Mandy Miller stating there is no possible way she could ever ask Peter Jeffries to the dance, even though Jessica Wakefield argues that’s the only way to find out if he has a date already and the dance is only a week away, so if Mandy doesn’t ask him, someone else will. If someone else will, wouldn’t they have already done so more likely than not? And you know Mandy could just ask him if he has a date already.
Lila Fowler is more or less on Mandy’s side, at least in that she believes the guy should ask the girl, that’s just how it works. Oh, Lila, so old fashioned. I also have a hard time believing you wouldn’t just take whatever you wanted, including asking someone to a dance. [Dove: I go back and forth on Lila too. I guess she does whatever she wants to at any given moment.]
Mary Wallace continues to earn her place in my list of favourites when she says there’s no law a boy has to ask a girl and if Mandy wants ask Peter to the dance, she should ask him. Thing is, Mandy literally can’t ask him, because her mind goes blank when she’s near him, she mumbles, and she babbles. She’s not shy most of the time, but she’s had this crush for so long that all her confidence vanishes around him, even though they went out a few months ago. Nothing came of it. I’d take that as a sign to move on, myself, but I’m pretty impatient when it comes to casual dating. [Dove: That’s continuity! We don’t often see that. I just went back and checked, she went to the last Valentine’s Dance with him in The Great Boyfriend Switch. Which was 20 books ago. There was one Christmas between the two Valentine’s Days, but no Halloweens. What’s up with that? When we get to the end of this series, I’m going to make a calendar that explains what order months go in if you live in Sweet Valley. And then I’m going to watch it fall apart when we get to the next series.]
Mandy wants them to get to work making the signs for the Unicorn Club’s fundraiser. Which still doesn’t have a damn name. Ellen Riteman suggests Yours for a Day, and (a) I love that Ellen got the book title and (b) I’m surprised ghostie went with that as the first suggestion. [Raven: They should have gone with “Purchase a Peter”. I’m pretty sure there’s enough for everyone.]
Janet pokes holes in that because it’s probably going to last two days, but Yours for Two Days sounds stupid, says Ellen, and Wing laughs.
Mary suggests Buy a Unicorn, Support a Children’s Hospital, and Lila’s response made me clap with glee: “Please,” Lila said. “I am not going to be bought by anybody.” I love the hell out of you, Lila. LOVE YOU.
This prompts Jessica to suggest they advertise it by saying: Feel Rich for a Day–Get Your Own Personal Servant. I AM DYING. Okay, this is some good teasing each other, and now that talk has turned to whether a girl can or can’t invite a boy to a dance, I’m charmed by it all.
Lila brags about already having five servants (do we know who they all are? Driver, maid? Butler? Weren’t there a couple of landscaping people? Is she counting them or is that just one category? Why am I caring so much about this?) [Dove: We know of Ms Pervis (the housekeeper), No-Longer-Homeless David’s Dad is their driver, and then they definitely have at least one gardener… so who are the other two? Should there be more? There’s usually a team working on the garden, or is that just for special events? … Well, at least Wing’s not alone in over-thinking this one.] so she doesn’t need another one. Mandy teases her that it’s not about her getting another one, it’s about her being one.
No, seriously, I am hardcore loving the Unicorns right now.
Mandy came up with this fundraiser last week and is excited about it; she based it on a SVH auction where seniors were auctioned off as servants to the highest bidders. Doesn’t that mean you didn’t come up with it at all, Mandy? Damn it, you’re better than that. Though she is mostly excited to raise funds for the cancer ward at the Children’s Hospital, a place she knows intimately because of her own cancer experience. [Raven: That’s all very Sandra Ferris, if you ask me.]
Lila suggests they ask the whole school to participate so they could have more people; Mandy expands this to say that instead of highest bidders (hello Lila and Bruce), they could do a lottery, one list of masters and one of servants, and then match people through random drawing. I kind of love this.
Jessica is, of course, worried about getting stuck with someone bad (though she’s just saying what the others are thinking, I’m sure), and we finish with a little more teasing Mandy about Peter.
Over at lunch, Todd Wilkins is teasing Elizabeth Wakefield and Amy Sutton about how badly they lost to Todd and Ken Matthews while playing tennis the day before. Elizabeth is getting pretty sick of this teasing, and I’m sympathetic to her here, the boys sound like real dicks and not fun teasing between competitors.
The boys are distracted by Charlie and Jerry arm wrestling and run off to watch, leaving Amy and Elizabeth to complain about how the boys aren’t being romantic at all, only focusing on arm wrestling and beating them at tennis.
What the fuck kind of romance do you expect in sixth grade?! I honestly don’t remember expecting any sort of romance at all back then, and really not even well into high school. (Shit, I don’t have many expectations for romance now, either. Ostrich is great at wooing in his own way, and other than him, I do better as the pursuer, because I don’t recognise subtle things like, oh, telling me you like me. *insert shrug emoji*)
Elizabeth starts to put mayonnaise on her BLT, but then stops because it looks exactly like vanilla pudding. Since when?! But the girls use this as a way to get back at the boys by making the mayonnaise look like the bowls of pudding on their trays and switching them out.
Conveniently, the boys take big bites of it at the same time and are totally grossed out by it. They are angry at the girls and vow to get even. So the B plot is going to be pranks is it? Greaaaaaaaaat. This always goes so well in SVT books. [Raven: And what’s so hideous about mayonnaise? It’s still a bloody food.]
Friday afternoon, Mandy and her little brother Archie fight over the phone because they both need to make very important calls. Archie: asking Dylan if he has Archie’s Don Mattingly card. Mandy: asking out Peter Jeffries! Get you some, Mandy.
She hates that she’s having such a hard time with this, because she’s never had a hard time talking to anyone before and she doesn’t think that she’s shy, but she feels like it now, in part because she thinks Peter’s pretty close to perfect: he’s a good football player, good at math, good at being funny, and super cute.
In a trite but understandable Lesson, Mandy learned not to waste time while she was sick and not to wait around for something to happen when you could do it yourself. Mary and Jess are right, there’s nothing wrong with a girl asking a boy out. Aww, friendship is encouragement. I love it.
Mary gets flustered the second Peter answers the phone and hangs up on him. *headdesk*
Over with the potential pranksters, Elizabeth feels much better now that she and Amy have apologised to Ken and Todd, the boys apologised to her and Amy, and they all four called a truce. So … not a pranking b plot?
Winston Egbert stops them in the hallway, bows to them, and dramatically presents them with an envelope, which has a secret surprise from “two young gentlemen you are perhaps acquainted with, yes?” Oh, Winston, you so weird. (And kind of weirdly fun here.) Inside is a map that directs them to “Follow me and you will see who your Valentines will be.” Amy thinks that’s cute. I am wincing from those terrible rhymes.
They start at the lunchroom and then go upstairs past their classrooms, down to the library, and over to the gym. They’re finally in the right place when they reach their math classroom; there’s another envelope on the blackboard and in it a note tells them to “You’re almost there, just close the door, and you’ll find what you’re looking for on the floor.”
WHY ARE WE GETTING WHIMSICAL NOTES? That’s a Devil’s Elbow thing. [Dove: I have always loved the whimsical notes. Though I prefer them when they’re threatening.]
AHAHAHAHAHA, YES, THE GIRLS GET DOUSED WITH COLD WATER. PRANKING B PLOT IS ON. And actually, this is convoluted and silly and delightful, so I’m all for a pranking b plot now.
AND THEN, there’s a final note that says “Don’t be a wet blanket-come to the dance with us.” WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RHYMES, BOYS? [Raven: “Don’t be a wet blanket, just unzip it, fluff it and wa-” … moving on!] Also, that’s fucking brave, asking them to the dance after drenching them. (I also have some questions about how they were able to set this up in school, but I’m just telling myself that the SVMS teachers are incompetent at best and letting it go.)
This, of course, makes Elizabeth declare war on the boys.
Jessica laughs over the story that night when Elizabeth tells her as they’re getting ready to watch a horror movie they rented. I love moments like this, when the twins watch something fun (yay horror!) and gossip and are just easy friends. Showing us and not telling us that they’re supposed to be BFFs.
Jessica is super judgmental over Todd and Ken being immature, especially when Aaron would never do something like that, and then we get the twins are alike but different spiel. Wait. Wait. Wait. Are we really only in chapter one?
Holy shit we are and this thing has already hit 1000 words. WING, LEARN TO SHUT UP ALREADY.
Jessica explains the Unicorns’ lottery, Rich for a Day, and how they got permission from Mr Clark. They’re signing people up at lunch on Monday and then people are servants or masters on Thursday and Friday. Elizabeth is actually really impressed by this and her shock at the Unicorns doing something good offends Jessica, as well it should. They may be shallow and self-centered, but they’ve also done good things.
Jessica’s going to be master and servant and is only worried about drawing Lila’s name as her master, because Lila’s going to make her servant miserable. Oh god, I hope not. Be better than that, Lila.
On Monday, Jessica tries to get Bruce Patman and friends to sign up; when she tells him it’s called Feel Rich for a Day, he snarks that he already know how that feels, which, for all I hate him, is a good point. He and his friends mock the hell out of it, and we learn a little more about the rules: No money lets you volunteer to be someone’s servant for one day. Five dollars makes you the master (though Jessica is calling it a boss now, which should have been happening from the start, really) for one day and ten for two days.
Janet Howell gets the boys in line because apparently half the boys in school have a crush on her.
Lloyd Benson arrives and asks Jessica if she’s predicting a hurricane this time or maybe a tornado. Nice callback to the earthquake story, and Jessica doesn’t like to be reminded of that time, so she’s extra exasperated that he is still coming around.
Even moreso when he questions whether the money will actually go to the hospital, because it’s not like she’s trustworthy. Aww, Lloyd, I like you in this moment.
Mandy convinces him to sign up anyway, and he does as a boss, even though “the mathematical chances that [he’ll] end up with a servant [he] can actually work with are quite slim.” That’s pretty great.
At lunch, Julie is shocked that Elizabeth and Amy are no longer going to the dance with Ken and Todd, because it was just a joke. Elizabeth points out they’ve been jerks for a week now and haven’t actually asked the girls to go with them (except for that soaked piece of paper, which, um, yeah that’s totally asking you, though in a poorly thought out way, and also, oh my god ghostie predicted promposals).
Elizabeth and Amy mock how terrible Todd and Ken will be as bosses, since they’re signing up for the fundraiser. Neither girl will talk to the boys when they join them at their lunch table, until Todd gives them grief about why they’re holding a grudge over a little joke. I’m actually with the girls, here, that was no little joke. [Dove: The boys are so irritating. But then I seem to remember that they were that irritating when I was that age.]
The boys apologise and Elizabeth and Amy claim to forgive them. DOUBTFUL. Turns out Ken and Todd signed up to be servants because there were so few people signed up (shocking). This, of course, gives Amy and Elizabeth IDEAS. (No, not those kinds of ideas, you naughty reader you.)
Peter comes to talk to Mandy while she’s signing people up for the fundraiser. She gets completely flustered, mixes up details, and can barely talk. I thought I would hate it, but it’s actually kind of adorable (or maybe that’s just how much I love Mandy). He signs up to be a servant, which makes Mandy feel even more warm and fuzzy toward him.
Jessica immediately gives her grief about not asking him to the dance when he’s out of earshot, and Mandy is a complete wreck over how badly she falls apart when he’s near. She then teases Mandy that maybe she’ll get to be Peter’s boss for a day and then order him to go to the dance with her.
Meanwhile, Amy and Elizabeth are in the Sixers’ office. They’re supposed to be working on the paper, but mostly Amy is trying to goad Elizabeth into continuing the war with the boys because Elizabeth is, as always, falling back on her spineless nature.
Amy wants Elizabeth to ask Jessica to match them up with Ken and Todd. I like this (slightly) more devious Amy. Elizabeth isn’t the cheating type, she swears, but she decides to go along with it anyway because she also isn’t the type to have a spine.
Jessica, of course, immediately goes along with the plan because she wants to see the boys do embarrassing things, but she does tease Elizabeth about wanting to cheat.
Jessica draws the names in front of people; she gets away with this by marking the two cards with blue dot stickers so she can feel them different from the others. That’s pretty clever, though the second people start asking if it’s rigged, I was surprised no one wants to see the cards. Instead they demand someone else draw names and Jessica passes it on to Mandy who immediately pulls her own name out, making her Jessica’s servant.
Jessica is Lloyd’s servant (or assistant, as he calls it).
Elizabeth is Belinda’s servant (I’m curious to see how that goes).
(I suddenly wish Amy had signed up as a servant, too, and Ellen drew her name. Or vice versa, really.) [Dove: Damn, I want that fic. *eyes Wing hopefully*]
Peter is Lila’s servant (and even Janet is sympathetic to Mandy about that, which made me grin; I love when the Unicorns have these little moments of being good to her — and Lila then tells Mandy she wishes Mandy had gotten Peter and maybe they can switch, which is adorable).
Jim Sturbridge is Mandy’s servant (Mandy thinks he’s a pretty nice guy and she doesn’t mind hanging out with him). [Dove: We know otherwise. We remember that stupid ape play he did.] [Raven: Fuck Jim Sturbridge.]
JANET IS WINSTON’S SERVANT. THIS IS GLORIOUS. He immediately asks her for references and a copy of her resume so he can determine if she’s qualified to be his servant.
Ken and Todd are delighted (or at least acting delighted) that they were paired with Elizabeth and Amy, and the girls tease them about what they’re going to have them do and how they don’t want to take advantage of the boys, etc. When the boys leave them alone for a minute, they start brainstorming a task list, starting with severe discomfort and going on to public humiliation. This has certainly taken a turn.
At lunch, Jessica and Janet are freaking out over their bosses, but this is interrupted when Peter shows up to ask Mandy a question — not that question, even though all the Unicorns are expecting it. He wants to know when does this all kick off, and they decide when they get to school.
Mandy’s so sad after this conversation, because if he was going to ask her he would since he’s had so many opportunities (and so have you!), that Jessica is determined to figure out how to get the two of them together.
That night, Jessica can’t sleep for thinking up things to have Mandy do for her. (Dirty.) (Steven has some ideas, I’m sure.) Things like following her around, opening doors for her, carrying her books, buying her a purple sweatshirt — oh, wait, probably not that one. She also wishes she had Lila as her servant so she could torture her (no, really, this whole plot is built on naughty layers); Mandy is too cool and nice for Jessica to do that to her. [Dove: I found it really weird to read this thinking of all the ways fandom would turn it porny (if there was a fandom for SVT rather than SVH), and knowing the characters were twelve. It actually made me grateful that fandom is basically a few recap sites and some lovely readers.] [Raven: This was one of my beefs with the book, to be honest. Not that it didn’t get porny, obviously… more that it didn’t get very creative in the boss / servant thing. It was all pretty timid and low-level.]
And it comes to Jessica then that she should order Mandy to ask Peter to the dance. This pleases her to no end. I’m sure it will go perfectly well with no backlash at all.
The next morning, Lloyd calls while Jessica is eating breakfast and tells her to stop to pick up doughnuts for him on the way to school. She argues it doesn’t start until they get to school, but he says that wasn’t written down anywhere. She then argues it was implied, but he stands firm. I’m on Lloyd’s side here, though I don’t think any of them should be making someone else buy them stuff. [Dove: Agreed. If even Jessica drew the line about asking her servant to buy her things, you’d hope someone with better morals (literally anyone else in Sweet Valley) would also have the same realisation.] [Raven: I thought he was only asking her to pick them up? I assumed he’d pay her for them once she got to school.]
Elizabeth, meanwhile, is taking two ugly neckties with her for Todd and Ken. I guess that’s embarrassing? Maybe? Sort of? Oh, fuck it, Elizabeth, you are fucking this up already, damn.
Meanwhile, Mandy is waiting for Jim and Jessica to show up (her servant and her boss, remember); she’s dressed extra nice (barrette with silk daisies in her hair, pale pink sweater around her waist) in case she sees Peter before school.
She immediately gives Jim the morning off because she hasn’t come up with anything for him to do, but tells him to check in with her at lunch. They joke around a little, and when he leaves, she mourns the fact that it’s so easy to talk to him and so hard to talk to Peter.
Jessica grumpily drops off doughnuts with Lloyd (I still think they shouldn’t be able to order each other to buy things) and comes to tell Mandy that she has only one task for her. Mandy’s guesses: Jessica wants to borrow her purple-embroidered jean jacket, Mandy has to sneak into the principal’s office to change Jessica’s grades, and that’s it, but they are hilarious. (I do think there needs to be a third one, though. Things balance better in threes. Just ask Nina over in the Making Out series.) [Dove: Mandy and Nina would be great friends.]
Things aren’t so fun when Jessica springs the truth on her: Mandy has to ask Peter to the dance before lunch. Mandy freaks. the fuck. out. Understandably! She begs Jessica to ask her to do anything else, but Jessica holds firm, and Mandy is terrified. Ugh, poor kid.
We jump over to Elizabeth and Amy giving Ken and Todd their ties; Ken’s is a loud pink, orange, lime-green, and black geometric pattern, and Todd’s is bright yellow and orange with tiny parrots on it. I actually kind of like that one.
Mr Bowman calls them up to the board at the beginning of class because they need to show off their fashionable ties. And it’s pretty clear he’s not, you know, just teasing them because they’re terrible, he actually likes them because of that terrible sense of fashion he has.
Apparently Ned has a bunch of ugly ties, because Elizabeth tells Todd she has an even uglier one for him to wear the next day and that one is made of Velcro. Good god, Ned, what are you wearing?! [Dove: Well, he does get ties for Christmas. Perhaps velcro was (very briefly) in when someone bought it for him.]
Mandy primps a little before her last morning class, adding dark blue eyeliner and making sure her clothes are just perfect. Julie Porter’s in the bathroom, too (and not hanging around with Elizabeth and Amy this book), and she tells Mandy how good she looks. Aww, girls supporting each other is great.
She tries to casually walk past Peter’s locker even though it’s out of the way from everything else and almost chickens out before making herself stop. They make some small talk about Lila being his boss (she hasn’t had him do anything yet, and he thinks it’s because she has so many servants already she doesn’t actually need anything) [Raven: Such a let down. Lila, you should be rocking this.]. Mandy’s impressed with herself to talk to him without stammering all over herself.
She blurts out her question, stammering over it a lot (so much for that calm), and he tells her it’s really nice for her to ask him, but he already has a date.
She books it down the hall, not wanting him to know how upset and embarrassed she is, and swears she’ll never be able to look him in the face again. And now she’s furious with Jessica for making her make a fool of herself. Oh, honey, you didn’t, you did good, you’re fine, poor kid.
At lunch, Lloyd makes Jessica get his lunch; she’s still in line when Mandy storms up and demands an apology for making her ask Peter to the dance. Jessica swears that she didn’t know he had a date, but that doesn’t help and Mandy storms off again, still furious. Jessica knows she has to make things up to her fast. Oh, girls. FRIENDSHIP. I love it.
Elizabeth and Amy are making Todd and Ken walk on their hands across the lunchroom, which is actually fucking dangerous. Elizabeth is, of course, an ace at it, because perfect fucking Wakefields.
In the lunchroom, not enough people notice, so Elizabeth makes a loud announcement about the lunchroom acrobats. This goes on until Todd crashes into Mr Clark, the principal, and Ken falls over a chair. All the students stand up and start applauding. Mr Clark doesn’t, you know, do anything about two kids knocking things (and him) over, he just asks Elizabeth and Amy if they know what’s going on. They, of course, lie, and I hate everything. WTF, Mr Clark, DO SOMETHING. [Dove: I think it’s moments like this that led to be me to believe that if anyone was principal, it was probably Janet Howell. At least she exudes authority.] [Raven: This whole thing is presented as though the teachers know nothing about it, and that’s so fucking weird. I assumed there’d be posters for the fundraiser plastered around the school.]
Back over at the Unicorner, Ellen suggests that Mandy ask someone else, but there’s no one else she wants to go with, and also, they’re two days away from the dance so there’s no time to make it happen. Uh huh.
Belinda points out that she doesn’t have a date, either, but she figures she or Jim will get around to asking one another eventually. Dude, it’s completely different when it’s someone you regularly date. She also wants to know what Mandy has made Jim do as her servant, and Mandy grumbles because she’s sick of the whole thing.
Apparently Janet is off rehearsing Romeo and Juliet with Winston and he’s making her play Juliet. I mean, duh. And Lloyd had Jessica eat meatloaf surprise for lunch so he could measure how sick it made a human feel, which is hilarious but also damn, he’s really all over this giving her orders thing. He’s done more than pretty much anyone else we’ve seen. [Raven: The nerds are the only ones on point with this premise. Also, I’m calling that Jessica marries Lloyd down the line. No spoilers in the comments please!]
That afternoon, Aaron Dallas asks Elizabeth if he can switch with Lloyd so he can have Jessica as his servant. He likes Grace Oliver just fine, but he’s worried about how miserable Jessica is having to answer to Lloyd. Aww, kid, that’s sweet. Elizabeth agrees with me, but doesn’t think Lloyd will agree to it because he seems to be out for revenge for the earthquake thing. Oh, Lloyd.
That afternoon, Mandy and Lila walk together to Lila’s house to go swimming. I guess Mandy’s already forgotten that Peter is supposed to come over to Lila’s house that afternoon to check if she has any tasks for him. Lila offers to order Peter to take Mandy to the dance, which is fucking adorable in a very Lila way, as is this: What good is having power if you can’t use it to get what you want?
Never change, Lila.
Lila then pushes for Mandy to get some revenge on Jessica, and Mandy can tell she’s having a lot of fun encouraging her because Lila and Jessica usual compete or feud with each other even though they’re best friends. Frenemies to lovers, what what. Lila suggests that Mandy switch with Lloyd so she is Jessica’s boss instead, but Mandy says Lloyd will never agree (Lila thinks he’ll be thrilled she’s even talking to him and will do anything she asks because he’s a nerd and she’s a Unicorn) because he caught her imitating him in the lunchroom a few months ago. Goddamn, Mandy, I like you, don’t be a snobby dick.
Lila is determined to figure out a way to make Jessica be Mandy’s servant. I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes down.
Jessica spent the entire afternoon writing down the results of Lloyd’s experiments and is grumpy as hell over it at dinner. It’s about then that she thinks about how this only happened because she did that favour for Elizabeth and calls in the favour Elizabeth owes her: Elizabeth needs to be Lloyd’s servant on Friday and not Elizabeth.
That night, Jessica and Lila talk about how Jessica’s saved herself from Lloyd and then Lila tells her that she talked to Peter earlier, pretending to give him jobs as her servant but really she wanted to talk about the dance. Apparently he’s going to the dance with Grace Oliver, which surprises Jessica, because surely Grace would have told them if he’d asked her. Is Grace a Unicorn? I can never remember, and if she is, wouldn’t this make things super fucking awkward with Mandy? [Dove: Yes, she is. She’s the one who tamed Dennis Cookman as a pledge task in that book where we all wondered, “What are the cave’s dimensions?“]
Oh, look, she is a Unicorn, I learn a paragraph later, and Jessica thinks it’s weird that she hasn’t said anything about it. Me too, and I am skeptical.
Jessica ends the conversation pretty abruptly and is even more determined to make things better for Mandy. She decides the only way to make it up to Mandy is if she gets Mandy and Peter together (though not at the dance, because she doesn’t want Grace’s feelings to be hurt), and she’ll figure it out somehow.
Lila calls Mandy next (and interrupts her moping) to tell her the good news, which is that Elizabeth and Jessica switched bosses, so now Belinda is Jessica’s boss. And Belinda is way more likely to switch because she and Jim like each other, so now Mandy gets to be Jessica’s boss. Everything is coming up Lila!
The next morning, Jessica keeps pushing Belinda to give her something to do, talking over her until Belinda finally breaks the news that Mandy is Jessica’s new boss. And Jessica knows that she’s done it just to get back at her, but she also admits that at least part of it is her own fault, which is amazing.
Lila rubs this into Jessica’s face, too, really piling on the charm that she helped Mandy pull it off because she knew how unhappy Jessica was with Lloyd as her boss.
AND THEN AARON FINDS HER AND SAYS HE SWITCHED SERVANTS WITH LLOYD AND NOW JESSICA’S HIS NEW SERVANT. BUT SHE’S NOT. Okay, I can get behind this sort of romantic comedy style switching.
Aaron is super disappointed by it, and so is Jessica, and I am just delighted all over the place.
Amy and Elizabeth wonder why Todd and Ken didn’t try switching things up, too, since everyone else is doing it (and actually, seems like it should have been a rule that there was no switching, but okay, whatever, no need to stop abusive popularity contests or anything SVMS). Now Amy wants them to dial it back with the boys and Elizabeth is pushing for more.
The boys show up and they are being such good sports about it. Still, Elizabeth refuses to be taken in by romance, so she orders them to answer every single question Ms Blake asks with a wrong answer.
Todd and Ken keep nudging each other and exchanging looks, and Elizabeth and Amy better watch out for them going Brokeback up in here (which would be great. Queering Sweet Valley since 2007). [Dove: Ken/Todd’s a pretty solid pairing at FourMinutesOlder.com.]
Jessica keeps offering things to Mandy: carrying her books, cleaning out her lock, making valentines for her to hand out, etc., but Mandy shoots everything down. She’s having a great time watching Jessica squirm (…do I even need to say it?) but hasn’t given her anything to do yet. Mandy finally tells her that she will ask Jessica to do one thing and she’ll let her know what it is at lunch. Waiting bothers Jessica almost more than telling her will, I think, and it is great.
At lunch, Aaron gives Elizabeth two envelopes which he says are invitations for her and Amy from Todd and Ken to go to the dance the next day. Cutting it a little close, are you boys? Aaron swears they didn’t ask him to do anything terrible, and Elizabeth has some hope that maybe Aaron is rubbing off on them and making them give up their practical jokes.
Aaron orders (well, asks, he’s pretty chill) Elizabeth to put a large red envelope in Jessica’s locker. He wants it to be anonymous, and he’s being kind of sweet about it all. Awww, this is adorable.
Elizabeth takes the invitations over to Amy and they find red cards with white lace around the edges and loopy, dramatic writing, which is very overboard for them. Amy immediately buys into the romance of the whole entire poem inside, but Elizabeth is skeptical. Be skeptical, girl. Keep that spine.
Jessica rushes into lunch late because she was talking to Mr Bowman about a book report she has to do the next week, and Mandy finally tells her what she wants to do: She has to go out in the middle of the floor, get down on one knee, and sing as loudly as she can for at least three minutes.
Jessica is immediately embarrassed at just the thought, which is ridiculous because she loves performing, wtf.
Mandy takes suggestions from the Unicorns as to what she should sing: Ellen, national anthem (too boring, per Mandy); Mary, Happy Birthday (too easy, per Lila); and then Lila with that cheesy old romantic song, Feelings. I have no idea what she’s talking about, but Jessica is horrified at the choice, especially when Mandy tells her to make up the words she doesn’t know.
(Oh, Mandy says she has a great singing voice, so I guess this is a Twins Can Sing book.)
Lila wishes she had her camera, which shocks me that she doesn’t have it and the video camera and people to work them at the very least. Not to worry, though, Mandy has her camera (for the yearbook? That’s at least implied).
When Jessica starts singing, I realise it’s probably this song: [Dove: OMG, I never thought this would exist. All of their pop culture is usually made up. I am delighted about this. Also, I love Jessica’s made-up lyrics for it.]
Bruce makes fun of her, of course, and people start howling around her and other people beg her to stop. So is this really a Twins Can’t Sing book or are they just teasing her?
The whole room starts applauding when she’s done — except for Grace. (Oh, Jessica says her singing isn’t good, so I guess it is a Twins Can’t Sing book. Get it together, ghostie.) Grace is crying because she was already upset before the song and the song just made it worse. Why is she upset? Because Feelings is Winston’s favourite song and she likes him a lot but they had a big fight last week and they haven’t made up yet. The fight was big enough that they’re no longer going to the dance together, so she asked Peter instead, but she doesn’t want to go with Peter, she wants to go with Winston.
Geeeeeeeeeeee, something has fallen directly into Jessica’s lap. (Okay, okay, I’ll admit I’m still finding this pretty charming.) She tells Grace this is wonderful, which, of course, upsets Grace, but then Jessica explains what’s going on. Grace is fine with Jessica trying to fix things between her and Winston, but she’s not sure it’s going to work. Aww, sweetie, it’s okay.
Amy is still trying to talk Elizabeth out of her putting the boys through terrible things, because for this book, Amy has no spine and Elizabeth is Jessica levels of bullheaded. I’m loving this, too, really.
Finally Amy decides to go along with the next step of Operation Embarrassment, but Elizabeth won’t tell her what it is. It’ll be a surprise for everyone. [Raven: In this book, the role of Elizabeth is played by Jessica Wakefield.]
At the Unicorner, the girls are telling Mandy that Peter keeps looking over and staring at Mandy. Real damn subtle there, Peter. Mandy’s not feeling any better about getting back at Jessica or about the situation with Peter; she can’t stop liking him no matter how she tries.
Oh, damn, Grace isn’t sitting with the Unicorns, so she and Jessica are talking all the way across the room. How the hell is that even possible? I thought Lila’d cut a ‘Corn for going off on their own. [Dove: Yeah. There is no way they’d let a subset go off and chat. They might miss gossip.]
Janet’s missing, too, but she’s off with Winston eating a picnic lunch he made her bring. Lila finds this hilarious, and we learn that she ordered Peter to clean out her locker. He did such a good job she’s considering hiring him permanently. I love you, Lila.
Jessica goes to Lloyd for a favour, which is rich, but she gets him to go along with it by reminding him that he told Aaron he believed in the romance of Valentine’s Day and that’s why he switched last time. She wants him to switch again and when he agrees (and now she owes him a favour), she runs off to find Winston, who still thinks Lloyd is her boss, for some reason. That, of course, works in her favour, and she begs him to switch servants with Lloyd. He finally agrees, and as soon as he does, she breaks the news that Grace is his servant. Slick, Wakefield.
He immediately wants to take it back, but Jessica brings him around to it by saying that Grace is sorry and wants to apologise and go to the dance with him. She talks him up and gets him over to Grace and they reconcile immediately. That was way easier than it should have been, but this recap feels like it’s taking forever, so I guess I should be happy about that.
Winston calls Jessica Sweet Valley’s Cupid and okay that’s also kind of adorable what has happened to me.
[Dove: I’m shocked that Jessica being cupid isn’t as terrifying as Cartman doing the same:
In Mrs Arnette’s class, Elizabeth and Amy have Todd and Ken sitting on the floor while Mrs A talks about the Great Depression (in the 1930s in the USA, and my parents were born during that which had a direct impact not only on their childhoods but on their adult lives and on my adult life (and my siblings, too) when it comes to my relationship with things I own and what I’m willing to spend money on. It’s been interesting to untangle that over the years.
Next up, Todd and Ken start pretending to fall asleep, complete with snoring and Todd calling Mrs Arnette Mom when she “wakes up.”
Elizabeth suddenly realises she easily could have gotten them in trouble and really, this is pretty late in the game for Miss Perfect figure out that shit. [Dove: She didn’t figure that out yesterday with all the crashing/handwalking in the lunchroom?] [Raven: Again, presented as if the teachers know nothing about this fundraiser boss/servant thing at all. This fucking school.]
Jessica asks Lila to help her with her next plan. First, she wants Lila to help her pick out clothes for the dance and she wants her help with a surprise — but Janet interrupts them, furious that thanks to Jessica, she’s Lloyd’s servant now. Oh, right, I actually forgot about that in the ridiculous cuteness of Jessica’s plan. Jessica, it seems, forgot about it, too.
Janet swears vengeance on Jessica. Jessica’s pretty worried about it and upset she’s been trying to play matchmaker since it keeps blowing up in her face, but dude, why are you worried? Is the Mercandy backyard full?
The Boring Foursome walk home together and the boys admit that they had a blast and Elizabeth and Amy asked them to do things they’ve always wanted to do and they couldn’t get in trouble for it because they were just following orders. Um, by that logic, Elizabeth and Amy should be in detention right about now.
The girls offer to buy the boys ice creams at Casey’s because they were such good sports, but they’re too busy because they have to get a bunch of stuff for the dance. Elizabeth loses a lot of her suspicions here, because she’s always got to grab the idiot ball, and the girls go off to the sports store to find something nice for the boys.
Jessica’s plan is that Lila should order Peter to take Mandy to the dance now that Grace is going with someone else, but Lila hesitates, because Mandy doesn’t want it and she’s not sure she should help Jessica like this because Jessica already humiliated Mandy.
Dudes. I know you’re young and popular, but him turning her down because someone else already asked him is not nearly as humiliating as you think it is!
Jessica talks her around without too much effort, though, but Lila gives her three conditions: Jessica has to do her math homework for a week, she has to clean her room next week (despite Jessica pointing out she has like three maids for that), and she has to give Lila a complete manicure before the dance.
Jessica shoots this down and calls Peter herself. [Dove: I loved this moment! When she just went: “Fuck all this scheming. I’ll just be direct.”] She asks if he already has a date to the dance, and he says he had a big change of plans but yes, he does. Jessica’s devastated, because it’s only been a couple hours how the hell does he have a date.
But it’s Mandy!
Pretty much the second Jessica gets off the phone with him, Mandy calls to tell her that Peter asked her to the dance. He waited for her after school and told her what happened and that he wanted to go with her in the first place but Grace asked him first and he was embarrassed by it so he said yes. No, seriously, how do I find this so freaking adorable? Because I do.
What has happened? I think I’m falling under a spell. SAVE ME.
Mandy is now grateful that Jessica had her talk to Peter because he’s liked her for a long time but he was afraid she didn’t like him so he didn’t say anything and when she asked him to the dance he figured out she liked him too isn’t this amazing oh my god definitely read this all in one breathless rush of words.
After that call, Mandy goes looking for something to wear to the dance (and doesn’t find anything in her closet) when her mom comes in with a Valentine’s card for her from Peter, which has a picture of a bulldog and a kitten dancing together. Okay, that’s crossed the line, way too cheesily romantic, it is to gag.
Her mom agrees to get her a new dress for the dance, and that part is super charming.
Saturday morning, Todd calls Elizabeth to ask what colour she’s wearing so the corsage he’s getting her will match. She’s wearing blue, so she suggests pink or white; he decides pink is better and wishes her a happy Valentine’s Day. He tells her how much he’s looking forward to her date, and when they get off the call, she’s feeling mushy and overwhelmed — so she calls Amy to talk herself out of it. Are you fucking kidding me? You know she’s already been this mushy for awhile now.
Elizabeth tries to talk about how surely there’s something wrong with this picture, but Amy will have none of it.
Several of the Unicorns get ready at the Wakefield house, and I am utterly delighted by this. Getting ready for things together is a great bonding experience. (Neither Dove nor I do a ton of make-up or hair things (well, Dove does more hair things than I do), but even we had a blast getting all done up for her wedding. Also, I got to call Ostrich and demand he bring me several hundred dollars in cash to a hotel room in Vegas, which was a life experience I never knew how much I needed until it was gifted to me. [Dove: Going for a cigarette in PJs and professional hair/makeup kind of makes you feel like a god. I don’t know why. It just does.]
The boys were having their own adventure at the time, but it wasn’t nearly as fun. [Dove: They frolicked half-naked in the bathroom. Don’t undersell their adventure.] [Raven: Ostrich and I couldn’t frolick if our lives depended on it.])
Jessica and Ellen are getting ready (Jessica is ironing her purple dress, which “somehow” got trampled before she had a chance to hang it up and that’s your first mistake, because you know damn well you were never hanging that up); Mandy shows up with her hair in a French braid and wearing a pink strapless dress that sounds adorable. She found it at The Attic, her favourite thrift shop, and this is a detail I love about Mandy, her quirky sense of style and how she shops thrift stores. She’s so great.
Tamara Chase (fuck you) and Mary are there, too, and Mandy tells them that they raised about $800 for the hospital, which is nice.
Amy and Elizabeth get ready together in her room (because the Unicorns basically took over the shared bathroom, of course), and they’re both super nervous about it all. And then we get a needlessly dramatic cliffhanger scene ending when the boys show up.
Back to the Unicorns, Jessica is delighted by the red rose Aaron gave her, and Lila teasingly one ups her with the silver necklace Tim gave her. Mandy and Peter have been dancing the entire night, and Belinda thinks they’re in love. She also shows off the decorations she was in charge of, which include red heart-shaped balloons and pink construction paper Cupids. Not very creative.
(I did some formal dances in high school, but never the Valentine’s Day one, because I find it a cheesy, made-up holiday with way too much pink and forced romance. Cheap candy the day after is great, though.)
Oh, Lila adds some info that the $800 included the money some of the parents added to what they raised, and that her father would have given more but he already donated an entire wing to the hospital (no relation) and didn’t want to overdo it. Who would, really? [Dove: No lie. I believe it’s called Fowler Memorial Hospital in Sweet Valley High.]
Jessica and Belinda judge her for her bragging, which is also great.
Janet shows up and isn’t mean to Jessica, which shocks her, but Janet says she didn’t have a terrible time with Lloyd, he didn’t make her do much at all. She heads back to Denny without saying anything mean to Jessica at all. Belinda calls it the Valentine Effect, where weird people act normal and normal people act weird. Hell, Jim gave her a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Truly a weird weird thing.
Elizabeth and Amy are thrilled with their corsages (Elizabeth’s is made of tiny pink roses and baby’s breath [Dove: I always read that phrase as “baby’s teeth”, and I get creeped out.]); Todd loves his gift from Elizabeth, a Dodgers baseball cap; and Amy keeps sneezing. Ken gives her a tiny pair of heart-shaped earrings that she loves, but she’s still sneezing as she tries to thank him. Todd gives Elizabeth a heart-shaped box of chocolates, too, and she says she loves the ones with the pink goo inside. Those are the worst, what is wrong with you. [Dove: Agreed. But honestly, Liz is a lost cause. She’s not our people.]
Todd asks her to dance and then she starts sneezing, too.
Gee, I wonder if there is sneezing powder in their corsages or something.
Mandy and Peter are having a great time. She’s not nervous around him anymore and they’ve been talking and dancing all night. She talks about growing up without a dad, he tells her he doesn’t always get along with his stepmother, they make up silly dances together, and this is freaking adorable. I love them.
Halfway through the dance, Elizabeth and Amy are off in the bathroom to fix their hair and complain about all the sneezing. Elizabeth sniffs her corsage because it’s so beautiful and immediately starts sneezing hardcore.
GEE. I WONDER.
They finally get to that same place. I told you not to lose your spine, Elizabeth.
Jessica and Aaron also have a great time at the dance and are super sweet together (god, no, what is wrong with me, why do I find this book so terribly charming?), and then Lloyd comes up to tell Jessica that he has a certificate for one more afternoon of servant duty from her (or the “Unicorn of Your Choice” but obviously Jessica) that Janet authorized. AHAHAHAHAHAHA OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU JANET. [Dove: Outstanding.]
Elizabeth and Amy get back at Todd and Ken by having the DJ call them up as two aspiring rock and rollers and have them sing Feelings. Oh. My. God. Okay, this is pretty great, too.
Janet and Lila tease Jessica about the Lloyd thing, and Lila says the rest of them are going to see The Bogeyman Part Twelve at the mall while she’s doing science with Lloyd. Okay, hilarious and I love this whole Unicorns + Horror Movie thing. Ghostie, whoever you are, you get me.
Mandy and Peter make a date for the next week, the Unicorns take the money to the hospital, and Jessica passes the last fifteen minutes of Lloyd’s servant time to Mandy as the person who came up with the entire idea.
Elizabeth teases Todd about his singing and he asks her out to Casey’s; they call a truce. Then we get the setup for the next book (I assume) which is a creative writing class that Mr Bowman is organizing, taught by a real writer, meeting twice a week for four weeks, and by invite only. Oh god, here we go.
Elizabeth wants to be picked and hopes Todd is, too, but he is afraid of what his dad will say if something gets in the way of basketball. Since the next book is called Todd Runs Away, I’m guessing this goes badly.
[Dove: Yet another self-answering question ends the book:
What will happen when Todd discovers he has other interests besides basketball? Find out in Sweet Valley Twins and Friends No. 77, Todd Runs Away.]
I’m also recapping it, since we’re getting back to our regular order, so I’ll see y’all again next week. Lucky me.
Somehow, I was utterly charmed by this book. What’s happened to me? Why am I like this now? I even ended up enjoying the prank war between the Boring Foursome, all the romantic shenanigans were great, and the boss-servant thing ended up having a lot of fun pairings. It’s light-hearted and one I doubt I’ll ever read again, but it was a nice way to spend some time in between the Big Family Events of the past few weeks. (Everyone is still alive. That’s not something we were sure would be true, so there’s that.)
[Dove: I honestly think we’ve broken Wing. We’re going to need to buy her a whole bunch of shirts. I can’t believe she is so often enjoying these books now. It’s kind of beautiful to see all of her walls come down and just drink that purple kool-aid. As for the book, it was a light-hearted romp, and since the next book is called “Todd Runs Away” we probably needed that. I wasn’t hugely invested in the romance, but that’s because there are eight billion Peters, and I can’t keep them straight. We just read about Mary falling in love with a Peter, to having another M-name unicorn fall for a Peter was a bit too close. I kept getting events jumbled up from this and The Love Potion. It could be that I never read this (or Love Potion) back in the day, and reading them so close together has just mushed them up.]
[Raven: Well, it falls to me to be the Negative Nelly when surrounded by (too many) Positive Peters. I wasn’t thrilled with this one, it seemed to have little substance. I actually enjoyed the Mandy bits, and the nerds doing great work in the boss-servant conceit, but other than that it felt too jumbled. The premise was great, but so many of the boss-servant pairings were glossed over or tossed off. They missed an opportunity, if you ask me. I love Groundhog Day becuase when I first watched it, I thought of about eight or nine things I’d do with Bill Murray’s “power,” and the film nailed them all, one by one. That was very satisfying. This premise had me think of loads of things the ghostie could have done, but they literally did nothing in so many cases. Ah well. It’d be dull if we all loved the same things, right?]
Characters: Amy Sutton, Belinda "Billie" Layton, Elizabeth Wakefield, Ellen Riteman, Grace Oliver, Janet Howell, Jessica Wakefield, Julie Porter, Ken Matthews, Lila Fowler, Lloyd Benson, Mandy Miller, Mary Giaccio-Robinson-Wallace, Peter Jeffries, Todd Wilkins, Winston Egbert