Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Mother-Daughter Switch

Tagline: Jessica and Elizabeth trade places—with their mother!

Summary: Which is easier—to be a mother… or a daughter?

After a big fight with their mother, identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield come up with a brilliant way to show her that being a kid is no piece of cake: they decide that she should give it a try. To their shock and delight, their mother agrees! The twins will get to be their own mother, while Mrs. Wakefield will be a kid.

But the twins soon discover that parenthood is exhausting—who would have guessed Mrs. Wakefield would be such a messy, mischievous kid? Jessica and Elizabeth decide to trade places again—but their mother says no! Are the twins stuck being their mother’s mother forever?

Initial Thoughts:

The Mother Daughter Switch (cover by Dove)

Okay, so this is a role-swap rather than a body-swap. Gotcha. [Dove: After BIG for Christmas, it would’ve been too soon, surely?]

Sounds interesting, from the blurb. The twins get to be Alice, while Alice gets to be the twins. And it sounds like Alice is a right scamp while she’s doing it! Should be a fun romp.

Promising. So, undoubtedly, it’ll be atrocious.

Also, great cover by Dove!

Recap:

This book starts with Jessica racing a car. On Rollerblades.

Jess, I admire your shoot-for-the-sky attitude, but you’re not winning that one.

Apparently, the Boosters are planning a Rollerblade-athon for charity that coming Sunday. As it’s Thursday afternoon, Jessica is looking for all the practice she can get.

Of course, she doesn’t beat the car, which makes a lie of the Wakefield Always Wins adage. But all is not lost, Wakefield fans, as the car fights dirty. It caroms into the path of a dashing Jessica, on the pretext of “turning into a drive” or somesuch.

Jessica flings herself to the grass, wiping out in front of the glaring, stern driver: the Wakefield’s neighbour, Mrs Wolsky.

Mrs Wolsky ticks her off for being irresponsible, in a pleasingly written way, before adding “by the way, are you alright?” as an afterthought. Nice!

Jessica heads home gingerly, only to encounter a sneering Steven back at the Wakefield Compound. For this book, Steven has a new video camera, thus regurgitating similar plotlines from Robbery At The Mall and The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley. Apparently, he’s planning on becoming the next Hitchcock, or a simultaneous Spielberg, or even a prequel Tarantino. Yeah, whatevs Trevs.

In actuality, he’s aiming to be the next Steven Starholtz, which is FOR SURE their own-brand Spielberg knockoff.

[Wing: I did like the sound of his movies, though: the dangerous lion stalking the parks of Los Angeles, the cute cuddly cave creature who befriended a little girl.]

After some banter on the porch, Liz comes out and mentions her media class project: select, watch and review three TV shows. Man, I wish I had homework like that. Elizabeth tells everyone she’s choosing very Elizabeth-type shows, starting with something called Mrs Mary Butterworth.

Aside:

The nearest thing IMDB has for Mrs Mary Butterworth is the Mary Butterworth Group, who supplied a song for the soundtrack of Lost in Translation. From an album in 1969.

Here’s a YouTube link to some songs.

Learning is fun!

End aside.

[Wing: When I hear Mrs Butterworth in the US, I think of her syrup.]

Naturally, Jessica suggests Liz just watch Days of Turmoil, and there follows some rather sassy dialogue between the siblings that culminates in Jessica regaling Liz about her run-in with Mrs Wolsky’s car.

“Good thing I was wearing a helmet,” she finished. “I think maybe I’ll go lie down for a little while, though.”

“What, and miss the party?” Steven said.

“The party?” both girls exclaimed together.

Steven shrugged. “Aren’t you having a party tonight? That mother-daughter thing?”

Jessica and Elizabeth stared at each other in horror. “The Mother’s Day picnic,” Jessica said slowly. “I forgot all about it.”

“Me, too,” Elizabeth whispered. “Mom is going to kill us.”

And so here we have the plot hook… Jessica and Elizabeth had apparently promised to throw their mother a Mother’s Day Picnic / BBBQ that afternoon, and invited their friends (and their friends’ mothers) along too. But they’d plum forgot all about it.

First up, cute idea! But second, having Liz forget something like that?! That’s not how Liz works, people!

Aside:

By the way, this isn’t the last time that Elizabeth behaves wholly out of character in this book. Nothing massively jarring, but just enough to pull me out of the story.

[Dove: Good rule of thumb? If a plot requires the lead to be out of character in order to get going, it’s not worth doing. Unless them being out of character is the plot.]

End aside.

The party starts in twenty minutes. Go Go Gadget Last-Minute-Shenanigans!

They throw themselves into the party prep by listlessly setting up some lawn chairs. Allegedly, they had been tasked with getting napkins, ketchup and potato chips. The only thing they’d actually done flawlessly, of course, was to send the invitations.

The girls bicker as they continue their prep, with Jessica concluding that there’s a very reasonable explanation for their lacklustre efforts: the girls both have very busy lives and schedules, what with the Booster Rollerblade-athon and Elizabeth’s media project.

“Where were we supposed to get the time to do those errands? Mom is just going to have to take care of it. That’s what moms are for, right?”

Elizabeth isn’t convinced, as Alice herself has been busy as a bee with a decorating project for Mrs Wolsky. And, of course, gin doesn’t drink itself.

Alice arrives for the party, to big plastered smiles from her female progeny. We hear that Mrs Wolsky is giving her grief, so much grief that Alice has also forgotten the party. Cue some odd discussion of who was responsible for fetching what, with nobody taking responsibility for not buying the charcoal. Eventually, the girls confess to having forgotten the whole thing.

Alice isn’t happy. In fact, for once Alice is a little more characterful, rather than being a distant voice.

“Listen, girls, I really don’t need this after the kind of week I’ve had,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “I thought you were old enough to handle this.”

Jess asks her mother to quickly drive to the store, to which her mother replies that the lines at the gas station and supermarket are likely to be so long that she’d never get back for the party in time.

Lines at the supermarket? Pfft, bitch, please.

Empty Shelves
Muh-muh-muh-muh My Corona!

[Dove: Too. Fucking. Soon.] [Raven: Gotta be topical.] [Wing: Still doesn’t actually show lines at the grocery store, though.]

As they argue over their car crash of a party, the guests start arriving.

Predictably, the party is a shambles. For some reason, the ghostie chooses to show this by having Ellen make pissy comments about piss-weak lemonade. Jessica had diluted the Lemonade mix (what the fuck is Lemonade Mix?!) [Wing: Powdered mix.] with three pitchers of waters rather than one.

Nothing wrong with weak lemon drink.

Ghostie, why you gotta use Ellen like this? Such comments are prime Lila, or Tamara (FUCK YOU TAMARA CHASE), not sweet-when-not-talking-about-horses Ellen.

Jessica raids the kitchen, looking to vamp up a party toot-sweet. The only thing available is six pickles and a metric fuckton of tomatoes. Jessica manages to rustle up tomato and bologna sandwiches, plastered with mustard. To be honest, that sounds amazeballs. [Wing: I love the hell out of fried bologna sandwiches in particular, but it is a very cheap food to serve to the Unicorns. It being cheap is why I grew up with it enough to love it.]

While making the “feast”, Jess and Liz discuss their predicament. Jessica posits that it’s all Alice’s fault, as had she done her shopping they’d be eating burgers rather than stale pretzels. [Dove: I was under the impression they had burgers but no charcoal — which could be my misunderstanding — so I wondered why they didn’t just bung ’em under the grill?] [Wing: They had patties in the freezer, so they really could have cooked them on the stovetop using a frying pan, but I’m not sure what you mean by under the grill. As to why they didn’t cook them, ghostie is trying real damn hard to wrestle this plot into place.]

Elizabeth attempts to feed the Bologna / Tomato / Mustard sandwiches to the gathered Unicorns, but they are disdainful en masse. When Mandy tells her she doesn’t really like bologna, Liz offers her a tomato sandwich. Personally, I LOVE a tomato sandwich. Little bit of mayo, some salt and pepper… lovely. [Dove: Nope. Hard nope. I can’t eat tomatoes raw. They have to be as part of something else, e.g. sauce or soup.] [Wing: I’ve never had just a tomato sandwich, but I do love fresh tomatoes on hamburgers and sandwiches.]

Eventually, the party fizzles to a halt as everyone leaves due to the lack of a decent barbecue. I don’t blame them, to be fair. Jessica in particular takes it very badly, because OMG the Unicorns hate her she’ll never live it down it’s the worst thing EVER.

The Unicorns are decently sassy in their scorn. From Janet Howell:

“[B]y the way, you have to tell me the name of the store where you got that wonderful lemonade. Or should I call it ‘waterade’?”

Waterade! Get it? Because the Lemonade had water in it! Oh my fucking sides.

Once everyone has gone, and the three Wakefield Women are all thoroughly embarrassed, the three of them discuss blame. Obviously, Jessica blames her mother, but puts no blame on herself. Her social life is ruined.

Alice pretty much loses it.

“I thought I could count on a little help from my two sixth-grade daughters. I didn’t think I’d have to plan every last detail of this party myself. I have far too much work for that!” With each sentence, her voice grew louder and angrier. “I can’t tell you how upset and disappointed I am. Jessica, I’m sorry if you’ve ruined your social life for good, but, young lady, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.”

[Dove: Fair for any working woman, but dude, you do twelve hours a week, and have a nap after every shift. You don’t have any health concerns. Other women do more with less. (But I’m not disagreeing that her two twelve year olds could have helped. Especially for a mother’s day bash.)]

Jessica then turns to blame Elizabeth…

“I mean, all you’ve got to do is your stupid media project. You could’ve just borrowed my Days of Turmoil tape. It takes about five minutes to review the whole thing. Then you would have had plenty of time to go to the store and pick up all the things I couldn’t because I didn’t have time!”

Eventually, Mama Wakey pulls the Parent Card, and forces a grudging apology from her bickering daughters. But, for the benefit of the plot, Alice just can’t leave it there.

“There’s one more thing I’d like to say. I hear you two talking about how busy you are, but I don’t think you really know what ‘busy’ means. Homework and Rollerblading are a breeze compared to what I go through every day.”

The twins exchanged looks.

Yeah, shit’s about to get real, yo.

Naturally, it’s Jessica who fires back with the counterpoint. Hard to be an adult? It’s SO MUCH HARDER to be a kid.

Mrs. Wakefield gave a bitter laugh. “Don’t be silly, Jessica.”

“I’m serious!” Jessica insisted. “You never listen to me, do you? I always have to listen to you, but you never listen to me. That’s one reason why it’s so tough to be a kid.”

“Jessica—” Mrs. Wakefield began.

“Jessica’s right, Mom,” Elizabeth cut in. “Think about it. You can always turn down Mrs. Wolsky’s decorating job if you want to, but I can’t just skip my homework.”

Wait, what?

Elizabeth agrees with Jessica’s statement, and offers none of her usual moralistic hand-waving? What the hell?

Sorry, I think I prefer the Elizabeth that has to be cajoled into agreeing with her sister’s fuckery.

The bullshit plot continues. Not content with equating Alice’s admittedly part-time job with the horrors of middle school, they also call her a relic of a distant past.

“And think of all the new stuff that’s been discovered since you were twelve. Microwave ovens and personal computers—” Jessica emphasized each word by leaning forward and ticking it off on her fingers.

“VCRs,” Elizabeth put in, using the same tone of voice.

This book was written, when? Early nineties? And it’s set, when? Mid-late Eighties? Both the video recorder and the microwave were mass released for home use in the mid to late Seventies, so if Alice isn’t able to master these things in ten fucking years of possible use then she needs a dry slap to the tits.

If this book has Alice unable to use the VCR or microwave, I’m not going to be a happy camper. [Wing: On the one hand, I was going to argue that we didn’t have a VCR until the early 90s (or maybe a little later) and my parents couldn’t work one very well for awhile after that even. Then I remembered that the Wakefields are at the very least solidly middle class and would have had those things much earlier. I don’t think it’s an incredible stretch that she can’t work the VCR in order to record one channel and watch another, but I do think ghostie, as usual, pulls it too far to try to make the plot work.]

Aside:

This is me…

NOT A HAPPY CAMPER
NOT A HAPPY CAMPER

 

End aside.

Alice pshaws their complaints, and throws out the old chestnut of “you’ll understand it when you’re older,” when Jessica comes up with the brainwave that gives the book a direction.

“Why don’t we trade places? I mean, right now? You be the kid, Mom, and Elizabeth and I will be the grown-ups.”

Long story short, they agree to the role reversal for the weekend, with the following caveats:

  • Jessica and Elizabeth are in charge of: the decorating job for Mrs Wolsky, planning the meals, doing the chores, bossing Steven around.
  • Alice is in charge of: the Boosters’ Rollerblade-athon, Elizabeth’s media studies project.
  • After one weekend, both parties should be able to agree on who has it worse, the adults or the children.

And we have a book, ladies and gents!

To be fair, it’s a nice premise, and should allow for some fun set pieces.

[Wing: NO. NO NO NO NO NO. This is a fun setup EXCEPT FOR THE WHOLE HOMEWORK AND WORK PART. NO NO NO NO NO. A parent should not be doing their child’s homework, and there is no fucking way Alice should be willing to risk client work like that, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING HOW IT ENDS UP.]

We step right into it, with Alice investigating just what she’s gotten herself into. She laughs off Elizabeth’s media studies project with a typical Boomer “in my day, we did real homework” comment. She decides to toss if off until Sunday evening, in stereotypical moody preteen fashion, which concerns Elizabeth gravely.

Hang on, so Liz is fine with her mum doing her homework, is she? Again, that’s not like the little bookworm we all know and love. I’d also say that Sweet Valley Middle School wouldn’t look too kindly on such subterfuge, but we all know what a fucking tyre fire that place is. [Dove: One year in my primary school, everyone was asked to make a “lantern” (no real light or fire allowed) for some school play, and a prize would be given for the best. Every parent got involved, you could just tell. And my dad, genius that he was with stuff like this, built the most incredible looking lantern, looked like real metal, but was made from paper mache, had artistically painted flames, with a bit of tin foil in strategic places to reflect the implied light. It should’ve been a slam dunk against an admittedly tough competition. The kid that won? Spent 5 minutes with a stapler and some scissors making these. He used newspaper. The teachers were really not impressed with the parents getting involved.] [Raven: Yep, agree with the teachers here.]

Still downplaying the twins’ responsibilities, Alice learns about the Rollerblade-athon. It’s for charity (a local cancer ward at a children’s hospital, which I’d like to imagine that Mandy suggested), it’s a three-mile loop, it’s on Sunday, and it required getting donation pledges (Jess already has $75, which is pretty decent). We also learn that Alice has never rollerbladed before, which is standard.

In return, the twins learn about their decorating task: they must decorate Mrs Wolsky’s sunporch. They then ask for some pointers, only to be slapped down by the new childish Alice as she claims that Adult Jobs Are Easy, Remember? Finally, she clarifies that the twins can boss Steven around, but they can’t put him in danger, so no making him drink bleach or kick total strangers in the nuts.

Alice sets about being a kid straight away, by deciding to go for a walk in the park with the soon-home-from-work Ned, rather than help her daughters with the party cleanup. She disappears with a cheeky wink as Jessica declaims that it isn’t fair, and then we discover that Steven has been filming the delightful scene the whole time, like the tawdry little voyeur we know he truly is.

Jess tries one final thing before Alice disappears into the metaphorical sunset…

“Mo-om!” Jessica shouted. “Make him stop!”

“Mom?” Mrs. Wakefield asked innocently. “Mom who?”

Nice end to a chapter there! Yay!

The girls set about producing a list of CHORES FOR STEVEN WAKEFIELD, which includes window washing and grocery shopping. Standard. They both scoff at the challenge ahead, feeling uber confident. Again, this is a Jessica trait, and not really an Elizabeth trait.

The phone rings. It’s Mrs Wolsky, looking to discuss her sunporch project with the Sainted Alice. As before, she’s a bit of a nightmare.

“This is Mrs. Wolsky, down the street,” Mrs. Wolsky said loudly, “and I want to know why Mrs. Wakefield isn’t doing anything about my sunporch.”

Jessica, who took the call, vamps with gusto and tries to style out their conversation. She fails. Wolsky asks if she’s the girl who almost destroyed her flowers earlier, but Jess claims to be Elizabeth (TWIN MAGIC).

After a snippet about responsibility, which seems to be the keyword for this romp, Wolsky suggests she drops off her key before she goes away for the weekend. She trusts Alice, against her better judgment. I’d usually say this was mean-spirited, but let’s face it, she’s bob-on with her assessment this time as the gin-addled harridan has outsourced the job to child labour.

Next, the Elder Wakefields return from their walk. Ned suggests one of the twins take over his work the next day, to much merriment. I wouldn’t put it past them to actually do this in a future book.

Alice is LOVING being a responsibility-free kid. She suggests a permanent switch. Apparently, the couple had such fun at the playground, on the jungle gym and the seesaw. Bit weird, to be fair, as we’ve read almost 100 books and I don’t remember either of the twins hitting the playground in any of them. [Dove: You think Alice has anything beyond the faintest idea what her kids do? There’s a reason Steven gets a basketball every Christmas.] [Wing: On the other hand, playgrounds are so much fun as an adult, and I can’t fault them for doing that even if the girls wouldn’t.]

Alice then decrees she’s off to bed, rather than pitch in with the remaining party cleanup. I don’t blame her. I suppose she’s milking it for all she’s worth. Jessica harrumphs, so Alice makes a token effort to clean the picnic table before declaring that she and Ned would be playing at the beach the following evening.

Jessica thinks that’s a great idea, but her mother cuts her dead with the following line

“I beg your pardon?” Mrs. Wakefield said. She set the rag down and put on a huffy voice. “I was having a private conversation with Ned. You’re not invited. Some of my friends might be there, and what would they think?”

Nice work, Alice. I bet you thought of that gem on the walk with Ned, and couldn’t wait to try it out on Jessica when you got home.

Elizabeth, getting irritated by her mother’s lacklustre attempts to clean, harries Alice along to no avail. As she brushes more crumbs onto the floor, Jessica snaps and sends her mother to bed.

We skip to an ungodly hour that night… 10:45pm. Elizabeth and Jessica are both being kept awake by their mother’s music blaring. It’s loud, it’s obnoxious, and it’s SEVENTIES ROCK. The Eagles, to be precise.

The girls trek to their parents’ room and bang their annoyance on the door. As they open it, they see their parents dancing like wacky inflatable tube people, dressed in their pyjamas.

As the girls voice their displeasure, the song moves onto a bit of Elton.

[Dove: I can’t believe they’re using actual music. The Sweet Valley approach to real brands/celebrities is so bizarre. Gone With the Wind? Fine. The Goonies? Hard nope. Johnny Buck? Yes. Elton John? Also yes. What the fuck were they smoking when they came up with these rules?]

The girls get more and more angry, while the parents pile it on like squirty cream on jelly. Eventually, they snap.

“TURN DOWN THAT TAPE PLAYER THIS INSTANT!”

Papa Wakefield complies, and we fade to black.

Aside:

Okay, so it’s a bit fun so far. But Alice, I thought the arrangement was for you to become a child, not a total bellend?

End aside.

[Wing: Look at her children. The words mean one and the same.]

Friday morning, and we skip to the twins on Mrs Wolsky’s undecorated sunporch. It’s completely bare. And Elizabeth has no idea how go about decorating it.

Jessica suggests they check out the rest of the house for ideas, which makes sense.

Back with Alice, we find her sleeping until 10:15am and eating sugared donuts for breakfast. She then plans out her day. Bizarrely, she begins by listing the things she doesn’t have to do, such as laundry and bill-paying. She adds “Mrs Wolsky” to the list, and suffers a bout of conscience when she thinks through the ramifications of the role swap on her job.

Happily for all involved, Alice has a Plan B in mind. It’s not shared with us, but I’m sure it’s spiffing. [Wing: NO IT IS NOT.]

After completing her list – by adding “do Elizabeth’s project” – she flops down on the couch and channel-surfs. Eventually she decides to tape a program about people who love their pets more than their kids [Dove: THE SUBTEXT. Especially when you realise they have no pets. Alice is deeply disturbed.] on the VCR while she goes about her business.

Uh oh, I smell a “how do you kids work this newfangled thing?” montage coming on…

She then fetches the Rollerblade-athon Pledge sheet from its home underneath Jessica’s bed (hah!) before heading out to collect pledges door-to-door.

It doesn’t go well.

Everyone is either out, or snarky. The third neighbour is particularly sassy, laughing at Alice’s request and claiming she definitely doesn’t look like a twelve-year-old before slamming the door in her face.

Mrs. Wakefield sighed wearily. She was beginning to feel embarrassed about asking for pledges. She was also beginning to realize that Jessica was a lot better at it than she was.

Maybe this won’t be as easy as she thinks… nice!

The rest of Alice’s pledge-gathering task is seen through the eyes of a young boy with a video camera. Steven Wakefield-Spielberg is surreptitiously videoing his mother as she goes around the neighbourhood and failing to obtain pledges. He even captures the moment she admits defeat and comes up with another as-yet-undisclosed Plan B…

Mrs. Wakefield slowly walked toward the sidewalk. Then, as Steven filmed away, an idea seemed to come to her. She stopped at the mailbox, leaned the pledge sheet against it, and copied something down. With a grin, she went on to the next house. This time she didn’t even bother to ring the doorbell. She just checked the mailbox and wrote on the pledge form. Around the block she went, stopping at every few houses.

Oooh, so she’s making up pledges! That’s fraud. And she’s married to a lawyer. I sense prison time in her future. [Wing: As someone who hated doing this kind of fundraiser, I kind of love this fail and its response.]

After a brief interlude in which the twins gush over Mrs Wolsky’s house (steady…), the girls head home to the carnage of a messy kitchen at the Wakefield Compound. They vow to talk to their mother about her slovenliness.

They also check in on the living room, and notice that Alice has been accidentally recording Channel 73 – static – rather than her pet programme. They laugh, and vow to let her discover and fix her own mistakes.

Aside:

I HATE THIS TROPE.

Why are adults often portrayed as clueless with technology? These things are largely designed to be consumer-friendly and easy to use.

And it’s even weirder in this book, because Alice is, what, mid-forties at most? Usually it’s Grandma that requires help to stream Vera Lynn tunes from iTunes. Why the hell can’t Alice use the video recorder, other than for shit-spackled plot reasons?

[Dove: For context, my mother could always programme the VCR. She could do it both based on the time or the code in the TV Times, and she was in her fifties when we got a new VCR.] [Wing: For alternative context, I never learned to program the VCR.]

Lazy writing.

End aside.

Back to a self-satisfied Alice, returning to the Compound after “obtaining” pledges for the Rollerblade-athon worth another $75. Neighbourhood names added without consent, the donations for which Alice would supply herself. Pretty sure that’s cheating, and although Liz might donate something similar because Cancer is Bad Mmkay, this is NOT What Jessica Would Do. [Wing: …lying about what she’s done via putting down names sounds exactly like something Jessica would do. She’d get the money from somewhere else, though.]

Jessica and Elizabeth ask Alice to leave them a note when she goes out in future…

Mrs. Wakefield’s face fell. “Oh. Sorry I’ll try to remember.”

“Please,” Jessica said, smiling again. “It isn’t because we don’t trust you—”

“It’s because we love you!” Elizabeth’s voice came from inside the bedroom. Laughing hysterically, Jessica darted inside the room and pulled the door shut.

Alice then tries to watch her “recorded” show. She rewinds the tape, and discovers her Epic Cliché /  Fail. As the (rather entertaining) final minutes of the show play out to an enraptured audience, Alice rewinds and plays and rewinds and plays. Nothing. She even tries the volume buttons, just to be sure. Which is stupid on a number of levels.

Mama Wakefield then spends a few glorious paragraphs tinkering with the video settings. During this time, the picture stretches and wobbles and turns bright blue. Eventually, just before she kicks a new asshole into the screen, Steven enters and calms her down.

As Jessica attempts to summon her brother for a slew of demeaning chores. Steven goes through exactly what went wrong and how not to make similar mistakes in the future.

Seriously, the fuck am I reading? It’s literally a dramatization of a VCR manual.

Alice, completely at sea with her son’s explanations, breezes through it all an assures him she’ll be fine going forward. Such a terrible lie, and completely at odds with how I’d expect Alice to behave. Maybe she’s catching Elizabeth’s bug?

She shepherds Steven away just as Liz arrives to fetch him for chores. Once Liz has been dispatched, Alice tries once again to programme the VCR. Again, she screws it up.

Mrs. Wakefield racked her brain. There was something about the TV/VCR button, wasn’t there? She looked at it. It was set at “UHF.” That couldn’t be right, could it? She flipped the switch to “CABLE.” That sounded better. After all, they had a cable system. Cheering up, Mrs. Wakefield found the “Display” key on the remote. A green “12” lit up the corner of the screen.

Great, more Electronic Manual Fanfic.

After failing, she reverts to clicking buttons.

Outside, the twins eavesdrop on their mother’s abject failings, giggling their way through every misstep. They vow to speak to Steven, to ensure he doesn’t give Alice any more instructional help.

They turn to the pile of interior design magazines on the bed, looking for tips for the Wolsky Sunporch. They spot some exciting designs, then balk at the cost… ten thousand dollars.

The girls looked at each other in dismay.

“Ten thousand dollars?” Elizabeth gasped.

“How can Mom afford it?” Jessica scowled. “I sure hope she doesn’t have to pay it out of her own pocket!”

“Well, we certainly can’t,” Elizabeth said decisively.

Wait… Alice hasn’t given them a budget for this? She’s expecting them to decorate a sunporch with no funding?

WHAT THE FUCK? That’s not playing fair. How the hell does Alice expect the twins to source furniture other than through theft?

So bad. [Dove: This is where I got pissed off. I assumed that the twins would have a budget from the interior design company. I mean Alice isn’t paying out of her own pocket (one would assume), so why should the twins? How on earth can they win at this task? I can’t believe this book has forced me to say, “the deck is stacked against the twins, and that is wrong.”] [Wing: Though the risk and reward is lower, Alice can’t even rollerblade, so if you treat these tasks as of equal importance that require specific knowledge/items, the deck’s stacked against her, too. Also: NO ADULT WOULD GIVE THIS JOB TO A KID WTF GHOSTIE WHAT. THE. FUCK.]

They keep looking, but the cheapest designs they can find would still stand them eight thousand dollars… and that’s for a design they actively dislike.

We skip to the beach, with the twins looking for Steven in order to stop him helping Alice by teaching her how to programme the VCR. Jessica offers to hand over her list of Steven’s Chores if he agrees not to teach her his mystical ways, and promises not to programme the VCR on her behalf.

Steven takes the list, but demands some extras. Yeah, I bet he does, the dirty fecker.

Elizabeth put her hand on Jessica’s arm. “Actually, Steven, I was thinking—have you ever done anything for us before? For free, that is?”

“Not on your life,” Steven said proudly, kicking a little sand on the twins.

“And have you ever done anything nice for Mom? Just because, I mean?” Elizabeth went on.

Steven shrugged. “Yeah. I guess so.”

“So with us and Mom switching places,” Elizabeth explained, “it’s like Mom’s now your sister and we’re your mother. So we’re the ones you should be helping.” She grinned at Steven hopefully.

Nice work, Liz! This is pretty good logic.

It doesn’t work, of course.

Steven agrees to their terms as long as they help him with a movie project.

He wants help with a  “movie project”…?!

Your honour, I refer you to my previous comment: Yeah, I bet he does, the dirty fecker.

Jessica agrees, answering for the pair of them. But she crosses her fingers just in case.

Back at the Compound, Steven and the twins check out the carnage of Alice’s attempts to programme the VCR. Frankly, they are ludicrous.

The VCR was glowing. It seemed to be set on both rewind and record. The time display, blinking furiously, said it was exactly 15:72 P.M. “Boy, did she mess this up,” Jessica said.

Unfurled tape from a rental cassette sans the room, and it seems as though she’s recorded over Ned’s copy of The Private Life Of The Rabbit, and if that’s not a veiled porno reference (Wendy Does Warrens) then I’m in the wrong business.

It transpires that Alice has taped over EVRYTHING IN THE HOUSE apart from Jessica’s Days of Turmoil tape secreted under her bed. She’s even recorded over one of Steven’s early moviemaker films. [Dove: Also, this pings with me. I know I have issues. Everyone’s sick of my issues. But it used to really annoy me when I’d have something like Prince of Darkness carefully recorded, pausing during the ad breaks, labelled neatly using the typewriter, and the write-protection tab removed. And I’d come home to find it had been sellotaped back into writeable and had an episode of Coronation Street recorded over the first half hour. These things are mine. They’re not yours. Don’t ruin them. Also, why does she need all of the tapes? The tape is not the problem, you fucking muppet, you are. Also, my story shows you just how VCR savvy my mother was.] [Wing: You could make it writeable again by taping it?! I had no idea.]

How the hell is Alice this much of a fuckwit? Absolutely ridiculous.

Next, Steven collects on his part of the bargain. Randomly, it involves him putting a pyramid of tomatoes in a microwave and filming them explode. Y’know, for art. [Dove: I remember watching Jeremy Clarkson create a potato rocket from a spud, some hairspray and a pasta jar on his TV show (sadly I couldn’t find a clip). He was paid to do that. And there’s a whole slew of YouTube videos exploding eggs in a microwave. This is one of the most human things Steven has already done.] [Raven: I actually like Steven in this book.]

He does it. Alice walks in halfway through. She considers stopping it, but simply exits the room instead.

Bit weird, but whatever.

It’s now five pm, and Alice snarkily asks the twins what’s for dinner. She makes sure that both girls realise they are the sole providers for the evening meal that night (sans Ned as he’s working late at the office), before heading downstairs for a VCR lesson from Steven.

The girls are concerned about their task, and also concerned that Steven won’t stick to his side of the bargain. They needn’t have worried.

The twins tiptoed to the top of the stairs and listened.

“You see, Mom, it’s really very simple,” Steven was saying. “All you have to do is put your new tape in without changing any of the channels or altering the display—assuming that the channel tuner is tuned to any channel besides five, seven, or thirty-eight, that is, because if it’s tuned to any of those channels you’ll only get static as long as the TV/VCR button stays in the off position.”

“Oh,” their mother replied doubtfully. “I guess I understand.”

“No, no, no, Mom,” Steven continued. “if you put the tape in like that, you could destroy the coaxial cable, which erases all the magnetism on the recording heads. You need to flick your wrist, like so.”

Ha! Nice work, Steven. I guess this is a payoff for the overblown Electronic Manual Fanfic. Actually funny.

After hours of trying to learn from Steven’s nonsense – “See, the display mode has to be an even number to record a comedy” [Dove: I hate to admit it, but that was gold.] – Alice tries a different tack. She attempts to trick Steven into taping something for her by claiming there’s an important basketball game on TV that night, one that he can’t afford to miss.

Naturally, she fucks up the details. Steven asks who’s playing, and she blurts crap like “Erm, it’s the Giraffes versus the Marmosets,” so it’s such a simple rust to see through. She even tries to throw the TV Guide in the bin, but Elizabeth and Jessica find it. Alice is caught red-handed. It appears that Jess and Liz are winning this contest hands down.

Not so fast! It’s time for the Family Dinner, courtesy of the Wakefield Twins!

They serve a burnt pizza that’s little more than a culinary travesty. It’s basically tomatoes on burnt bread, with some cheese… on some of it.

Elizabeth decided it wasn’t a good time to explain that she had accidentally put all the cheese on one side of the pizza.

HOW IN THE BLUE FUCK do you make that mistake?! I guess I could take it from Jessica, but even THEN I’d probably call shenanigans. Complete bullshit.

I mean, it’s not as though the twins haven’t made meals for the family before. They even had to make a meal in school for their metaphorical significant other in The Middle School Gets Married. The twins are NOT completely clueless in the kitchen. Just awful. [Dove: Yeah, remember the hilarity over Alice’s favourite dish being broiled flounder? Yeah, the twins successfully cooked that for her. Also in that book, they gave her four no-cooking Monday coupons (for her birthday). So they should not be this rubbish. Especially since Elizabeth has shown she can follow a recipe to the point where her soufflé was perfect.]

It also turn out that the twins are having to buy all the food to feed their family themselves, which is, again, such a shitty skewing of the game. Alice has a job. Ned has a job. Their combined income plus savings forms the household budget. The twins have, what, their allowance? [Wing: I kept expecting the twins to get household money for it. They never even thought about it. Elizabeth would have, at least. God, ghostie, you are twisting them so hard just to make this plot work.]

This book is beginning to piss me off. It’s not fair. The whole switch isn’t actualised well at all.

Saturday morning! And the sink is blocked. Four slices of shitty pizza that haven’t been through the disposal.

Aside:

A grindy sink-style garbage disposal unit… that’s one of the things I was really jealous of America for when I was a kid. They were there, across the pond, laughing and grinding things up, while I was stood in the rain of England putting things in the bin like a motherfucking peasant.

As an adult, with more horror films under my belt, I realise that those things chew off hands nine times out of ten, and I’m all about the jealousy over massive fridges instead.

End aside.

[Wing: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. They have broken that goddamn thing. You cannot put entire slices of pizza down it. NO.]

Alice is in bed (kids today…), Ned is surprised by the pizza-in-the-garbage, and Steven pokes fun about the whole situation. Steven leaves for more amateur moviemaking, and the twins begin cleanup while bickering over who is to blame. They both conclude they are equally to blame, and declare that running a household is trickier than expected.

An hour later, they are cycling to Sweet Valley Furniture, Inc. in search of sweet and cheap furniture for the Wolsky Sunporch.

Sweet Valley Furniture, Inc. Yeah, figures.

At the store, everything is too expensive, Which is to be expected, because THEY’VE GOT FUCK ALL TO SPEND ON THE FURNITURE. The game is rigged, the house always wins.

The owner of the furniture store offers them short shrift until he learns they are the progeny of Alice Wakefield, Interior Designer to the Stars. He then tries to steer the twins toward items that could work, but even the cheapest pieces are way over their supposed budget.

I’m shocked that Alice doesn’t have a trade account with this place, or that Jessica hasn’t thought of asking about credit or somesuch. Everyone is acting like a complete spanner in this increasingly irritating yet satisfyingly sassy book. [Wing: YES. That is exactly what I expected to happen, that Jessica would try to access a credit account here.]

Eventually, the girls give it up as a bad job and fuck off.

Back at the Compound, while the girls shop for furniture, Alice fixes herself another sugared donut for breakfast, and waxes lyrical with her husband about the precious gift of time this whole role-swap has granted her. After they discuss her plans for the day, she asks her husband to help her programme the VCR.

Ned can’t do it either, naturally. In fact, he actually breaks it by putting the tape into it upside down. [Dove: How is that even possible? You’d have to use brute force to get it in. Any idiot would notice that the VCR wasn’t accepting it. For fuck’s sake. Though, as we’ve all worked for lawyers on this site, we’ve all met lawyers that really are this thick. And determined.]

Facepalm
So close…

Mr. Wakefield pushed every button on the VCR he could find. Nothing worked. At last he gave the eject button three more pushes, just in case, and sat back on the couch. “I’m afraid it’s broken,” he said apologetically. “I’m really sorry. I guess I’ll try to get it fixed.”

Alice, now genuinely concerned about completing Elizabeth’s homework, demands that the VCR is fixed immediately at a rush-job-VCR-chophouse. I mean, it’s not like she couldn’t watch three live programmes on the telly and review those. That’d be a ridiculous notion. [Wing: I don’t even understand why they have to be recorded in the first place. Maybe because the teacher doesn’t think the students will be able to write an analysis on a first viewing?]

In the end, she has a brainwave, and decides to base Elizabeth’s report on Days of Turmoil, having watched a lot of it with Jessica in the past and possessing an almost supernatural power of recall and retention regarding soap operas and their plots. [Wing: … and the other two shows?]

The girls, on their way home from Casey’s Place after their visit to Sweet Valley Furniture Inc., continue to bemoan their plight. Elizabeth thinks it’s time to cancel their role-swap. All bets are off.

Jessica is more feisty, believing it’d be the ultimate embarrassment to admit to their mother that they couldn’t cope with her lifestyle for a single weekend.

Elizabeth goes the extra mile to convince her twin that Alice would also be ready to pack things in. Jessica is slowly brought round to Elizabeth’s way of thinking.

“All right,” Jessica agreed at last, coasting to a stop in the driveway. “But you do the talking this time, OK?”

“OK,” Elizabeth said as she got off her bicycle. “Ready?” She swallowed hard.

“Ready,” Jessica said without much enthusiasm. “I guess.”

Hang on a sec… Elizabeth is playing Jessica, and Jessica is playing Elizabeth. This Ghostie doesn’t know these girls at all. I know this book is all about role-reversal, but that’s not an excuse for shoddy work.

They enter the Compound, and seek out their mother, ready to call a halt to proceedings and hoping Alice was on the same page… but they find a rejuvenated Mama Bear all ready to keep fighting.

They offer to call it quits, but Alice won’t bite. She tells the girls that

  1. She’s mastered the art of the VCR. (She hasn’t. She’s lying.)
  2. She’s doing well with Elizabeth’s book report, which will get an A for sure. (It won’t.)

Pleasantly, she asks how the Wolsky Sunporch is coming along.

Jessica decided not to answer the question. She also decided this was no time for pride. She hated to see her mother have such an easy time as a kid, and she wanted to put an end to it once and for all. “Could we switch back?” she asked in her best begging voice.

“Please?” Elizabeth put in.

Mrs. Wakefield looked back to the keyboard. Jessica could see her smile reflected in the screen as she shook her head.

“Sorry, girls,” she said. She began clicking away again. “When you’re an adult, you can’t expect that people will bail you out every time something goes wrong. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a media class project to finish.”

Fucking hell, Alice! You’ve made your point! This is just cruelty now!

Later that afternoon, the girls are STILL moaning about their weekend from hell. They have no idea on how to resolve the Wolsky Sunporch conundrum, and they are tasked with feeding the family that evening.

In a cute exchange, Jessica asks if she thinks they’ll go to jail if they don’t deliver a Sunporch. Elizabeth actually considers the notion, which is fucking ludicrous.

Suddenly, Elizabeth has a grand idea about feeding the fam that night. Yeah, you read that right… Elizabeth has an idea. Not Jessica, the consistently creative one in this series.

Ghostie, you’re a mess. [Dove: Yes. This. Ellen was a misstep that many make. Very few fuck up the twins’ personalities so badly.]

Instead of cooking a meal, Elizabeth suggests they simply source some burgers from Dairi Burger. At first Jessica isn’t convinced her parents would appreciate fast food, but she refines the idea with a slant this it, admittedly, pure Jess:

“I’ve got it!” [Jessica] announced. “We’ll get the burgers, but we won’t tell them.”

“Huh?” Elizabeth asked.

“We get the burgers,” Jessica went on, as the plan began to take shape. “Then we go into the kitchen and keep everybody out. We’ll throw away the wrappers, and we’ll cut the burgers in half so they won’t look like they came from a store.”

Nice work, Jess. It’s a Hail Mary plan, but it may just work!

Half an hour later, the plan is afoot. Jess has fetched the burgers – two each – and Elizabeth has made distracting faux-cooking noises in the kitchen. They add tomatoes to the burgers as a disguise, and because this book has apparently been sponsored by Big fucking Tomato. Bon Appetit! [Dove: Attack of // the killer to-mah-toes!]

At first, the ruse works. Steven nearly sees through their ruse (“They’re like Dairi Burgers. Not as good, though”). Alice asks for the recipe so she can replicate it once this shitstorm has reverted to normal, but Jessica hand-waves her away.

They are finally discovered when Steven, popping to the kitchen to scrape off the mustard from his final burger, discovers the Dairi Burger wrappers and outs his sisters as cheaters to the collective diners. What a prick.

Fucking hell, girls. It’s not rocket science. “Hide the Evidence” is Rule fucking Zero.

Later, with the girls back on the Wolsky Sunporch dilemma, they concede that even though they were rumbled, their plan meant that at least they didn’t have to do any bloody cooking. Yeah, I hear ya, ladies.

On the back of her Dairi Burger Idea Addendum, Jessica finally has the idea that advances the plot and “solves” the Wolsky Sunporch dilemma. They can decorate the Wolsky Sunporch with… the furniture from the Wakefield Sunporch!

It’s a neat solution, in the short term.

  • The furniture involved is wicker, and therefore it’s light enough to move by themselves.
  • The Wolsky House is only a few houses down the street.
  • Mrs Wolsky can’t complain, as the Wakefield Sunporch was designed by Alice Wakefield.

Nice work all round. Just the pesky aftermath to consider, I guess, but that can be swept away in the book’s cleanup. [Dove: I approve of this plan. And the undercurrent of malicious compliance it contains.]

Elizabeth is initially hesitant to agree to the plan, which can only mean the Ghostie finally read a few memos about the characters in this series.

“Hmm,” Elizabeth said thoughtfully. “There’s got to be a catch somewhere.”

“What kind of a catch could there be?” Jessica asked.

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth told her. “But it seems that there’s always a catch when you come up with wild ideas like this.”

She eventually capitulates, which I’d usually put down to being spineless but in this case I’m happy to attribute to plot advancement.

So! We finally hit Sunday, the final day of the role-reversal agreement. Current scores are tied, with both the Twins and Alice suffering in the shoes of each other. Today promises the denouement of the Rollerblade-athon and the Wolsky Sunporch, which I guess are the Heavy Hitting tasks of the wager.

First, another scene of conflict.

Alice is mother fucking sick of sugared donuts for breakfast, She tells Jessica she’s going to make herself an omelette instead, but Jess shuts that shit down as “kids can’t be trusted to do that.” Apparently, Jess had been told the same some three months earlier, when she’d tried to make an omelette and nearly burnt the house down.

  • This family are fucking IDIOTS.
  • OmeletteGate could be the real reason that Amy’s house burnt down in Amy Moves In.

[Wing: Now hold the fuck on, making an omelette is a perfectly reasonable way to set the house on fire. Says the person who once melted a pan trying to boil water.]

Alice then asks Steven for a loan of his rollerblades, out of earshot of her daughters. It transpires that she’s never rollerbladed before, and Steven offers to teach her the basics… as long as he can film her lessons.

ALICE!

You had A WEEKEND to learn how to do this. I know that’s an improbably ask, but it’s better than learning on the MORNING OF A THREE-MILE ROLLERBLADE-ATHON.

Seriously, you suck so many donkey balls.

After a full half-hour of spasms and pratfalls, Steven suggests that his mother gives it up as a bad job. She might be able to master rollerblading after a few weeks of lessons, but it’s unlikely to help her with today’s assignment. She decides it’s time to call off the role-reversal arrangement, and approaches her daughters to request their compliance.

Happily, both Jessica and Elizabeth tell her to metaphorically get fucked. Serves you right, Alice, for being so heartless earlier.

Mrs. Wakefield looked searchingly from one twin to the other. “I’m giving up,” she said impatiently, swallowing hard. “Don’t you understand? You two were right. Being a kid is harder than I thought.” At least, Rollerblading is harder than I thought, she added to herself. “Since you’ve been having trouble being adults, I thought we could just switch back.”

“Trouble?” Jessica said innocently. “Are we having trouble, Lizzie?”

“I don’t think so,” Elizabeth answered. “It’s easy being an adult. You just have to think about things, that’s all.”

Way to go, girls.

They are high on the joys of life, having set up Operation Move The Wakefield Sunporch To The Wolsky Sunporch for later that afternoon, while their mother hits the Rollerblade-athon.

As Alice heads to her Rollerblading Hell, Jessica and Elizabeth start transferring the furniture. They can lift the sofa fine, but have trouble extracting it from the Wakefield Sunporch.

Unfortunately, Steven stumbles across the girls as they manhandle the wicker. Once the girls explain their predicament, he promises to keep it quiet, on one condition…

“I want to film this,” Steven said, rubbing his hands together. “We’ll make it look like a robbery in progress. You guys will need costumes—something dark and mysterious like a cape, maybe, or a cardboard mask.”

The twins reluctantly agree. I dunno, that sounds like fun! Although if Maria Slater were helping them, I’d suggest against dressing her up as a thief, in case she gets shot by a passing police officer. [Wing: W O W.]

So, we then have a fun scene in which Elizabeth and Jess, dressed as comedy burglars, transport the furniture from the Wakefield Sunporch to the Wolsky Sunporch, with Steven filming all the while. Another fun, sassy scene, which unfortunately hangs upon a rickety bamboo plot frame that could collapse at any second. [Dove: And it seems the ghostie finally got a clue, because Jessica got into character and had fun pretending to be a burglar, while Elizabeth… didn’t.]

With the job done, the girls return home to remove their disguises. They nearly get rumbled by an worried Ned, who has heard reports about thieves and burglars skulking around the neighbourhood, but they manage to throw him off the scent by offering to help search the house for anything strange (and steer him clear from the empty porch).

However, it’s while they search the house that Ned finds the artefact that will draw the role-reversal agreement to a conclusion.

“[I found] this on top of the refrigerator. I think it’s supposed to be for you.”

Elizabeth took the framed collage he held out to them. Across the top, “Why I’m the luckiest mother in the world” was written in beautiful calligraphy.

“It’s from Mom,” Elizabeth said slowly, recognizing the handwriting. Her eyes flicked across the collage. It was covered with pictures of Mrs. Wakefield and the twins. The girls as babies, smiling up at the camera. The girls as toddlers, exploring the playground. The girls dressed for their first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Wakefield proudly holding each one by the hand. Elizabeth recognized more recent pictures, too—even an occasional picture of Steven.

The twins are suitably emotional, and immediately vow to save their be-wheeled mother from the horrors of the Rollerblade-athon, if it is not too late already.

We head out to the Rollerblade-athon course, where the shindig is in drawing to a close, and we have the Boosters and other Team Peripheral characters zipping past the finish line.

Janet Howell was in front. She was surrounded by kids on bicycles, urging her on. Just behind her, Amy Sutton’s blades churned frantically. Janet and Amy flashed past. One by one the other contestants did the same. Except one.

“Where’s Mom?” Jessica said, looking down at the empty course.

I thought Amy was a bit of a duffer when it came to things like this? I guess she is a member of the Boosters, which shows some athleticism.

The twins locate their mother, two miles back and trying her best.

The girls pulled their bikes to a stop and stared. It was their mother, all right—but it was hard to tell. She was puffing and looked drenched with sweat. Her Rollerblades were sliding all over the road—Jessica guessed she was going just as far side to side as forward. Her pants were ripped at the knee.

[Wing: I call bullshit that she managed that much, but maybe she was an amazing on roller skates or ice skates and can just barely pull this off. Maybe.]

The girls decide they’ve been selfish, and that their mother was a hero for doing everything that she does, yadda yadda same old bullshit. They decide to do something nice for her, so leave her to finish the course in her own sweet time as they know she won’t let them down.

Bit weird, that. Why wouldn’t they put her out of her misery? Not by killing her! By helping her finish the race, or letting her call it quits at that point.

When Alice finally finishes the three mile course in the twilight hours, she finds Amy Sutton there to congratulate her and surreptitiously guide her back to the Wakefield Compound for the oh so obvious surprise party. Why bother leaving Amy there at all? I mean, it’s not as if Alice is going to finish the Rollerblade-athon and then spontaneously decide to fly off to fucking Yemen rather than head home.

Alice gets home, and stumbles into a surprise Mother’s Day party. The girls have pulled out all the stops, and there is much rejoicing. It’s a complete re-run of the Mother-Daughter party at the beginning of the book, so the when has indeed turned full circle.

So, all that’s left is the denouement to the Wolsky Sunporch Debacle. During the party, Mrs Wolsky phones for Alice Wakefield… and tells her she’s very pleased with the design work. “Alice’s” vision for the Wolsky Sunporch is a hit!

Rounding out the action on Monday, we learn the following:

  • Jess and Liz think Alice’s pledge fraud is hilarious. Steven has a video of the whole thing.
  • Alice’s Plan B for the Wolsky Sunporch was to order some back-up furniture hidden in the garage, which they decide to keep in the Wakefield Sunporch,. Also, EWW, I reckon Alice and Ned have definitely shagged on the wicker furniture in the Wolsky residence. Squick.

Then we end with Steven flashing his snake to Jessica. Not even kidding.

Final Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this book. It’s undeniably sassy, and the dialogue is genuinely funny on more than one occasion. But the actual main plot has so many holes, and feels so under-considered, that I was close to throwing it into the fucking sea. I suppose it proves that a boatload of sass can’t paper over more substantial cracks in the framework.

I was disappointed that the Unicorns didn’t really show. Hell, I even missed Team Boring. But on the other hand, I quite liked Steven in this, as he felt more substantial somehow.

Finally, Alice was a proper fucking nightmare. I hope there aren’t many more books where she’s front and centre.

[Dove: I found Alice to be too stupid. I don’t mine sweet but dim characters — I’m thinking of Ellen, or Tawny from one of the Point Horrors — but when they’re dim and almost seem to revel in how stupid they are, I just want to punch them in the face and tell them to pay attention. (It’s even worse when I meet these people in real life.) Alice’s hopelessness with the VCR wasn’t funny, it was tedious. And we’re supposed to believe she could boot up a PC without, I dunno, jamming the power cable in the shower head or something equally “hilarious”? The twins had no hope of winning, given that they did not have the same resources as Alice. And even though Mrs Wolsky’s a bit of a tit, did she really deserve second hand, sun-faded furniture when she’s paying for a professional design? But yeah, I did like the sass.]

[Wing: I hate this book so much and I’m angry about it. I wanted to enjoy it! The premise is cheesy but fun. The snark and some of the dialog are great. Steven manages to be decent. I quite like some of the ways Alice went about being a kid and teasing the twins.

AND YET.

The swapping of homework and job work was a HARD FUCKING NO for me. NO. And the way the ghostie kept fucking up personalities and, you know, logic, to make the plot “work.” And one little detail that for some reason enraged me, which is that ghostie had the characters say “pop” AND NO, THAT’S WRONG, WHERE THEY ARE LOCATED THEY WOULD SAY SODA WTF. WHAT. THE FUCK.

Also, it took me twice as long to comment on this recap as it did for me to read the damn book because Monster Dog has asked to go outside a billion times this evening. Something nearby has a lot of dogs barking and she keeps going to check it out, but damn it, dog, I’m trying to comment here!]

Looking back at things I've enjoyed, and smashing them to pieces with the Snark-Hammer. Lover of games of every stripe and hue. NOT A REAL BIRD.

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