Title:Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret Jessica’s Secret
Tagline: Something has come between the twins!
Summary: Jessica Wakefield has always prided herself on being the more sophisticated twin, but suddenly it’s her sister, Elizabeth, who is blossoming. Overnight, something wonderful has happened to turn Elizabeth into a young woman. And now Jessica’s sure that if anyone—especially her sister—finds out that it hasn’t happened to her, she’ll die of humiliation.
Then the twins get permission to travel to San Diego by themselves to visit their cousin Robin. It’s the perfect opportunity for Jessica to prove just how grown-up she really is. But will acting older than her age get Jessica into more trouble than she can handle?
This, for me, is where the series kicks into gear. The fact that Team Grapplegate are at the helm and have probably just shrugged off the editors’ rulings? Not a coincidence. There are so many fun books coming our way, and I’m so glad we’re finally getting to that point.
And yes, I am aware that Wing is going to kick me so hard if she doesn’t enjoy this slew of books as much as I do. [Wing: You promised me Sweet Valley werewolf fic if I don’t like this book. I won’t kick you, I’ll hold you to that.]
Tagline: This year Jessica is in for a very scary Christmas
Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are looking forward to the most glorious Christmas ever. The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped, and movie star Beau Dillon is coming to town! The actor, who’ll be in Sweet Valley to publicize his new movie, has agreed to help Elizabeth raise money for the children’s wing of the local hospital. But when the teen star arrives at the Wakefields’ house, it’s Jessica, not Elizabeth, he meets.
What’s the harm in pretending to be your twin? No harm, Jessica thinks – until strange things start happening and three ghostly visitors appear. Is Jessica’s imagination working overtime or have the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future come to teach Jessica the lesson of a lifetime?
Ok, first of all, I think if you’ve listened to the podcast you may know this, but I don’t assume that everyone does: I LOVE THE SUPER CHILLERS. Actual ghosts are here.
Before I was confident enough to ask Wing to take on this gigantic recapping project, I used the “mentionitus” method of testing the waters. While we sat on PointHorror.com, griping about how rarely the bad guy (known on that site as the “Muffin Man”) was supernatural, I would say lightly-casually-oh-I’m-not-hinting, “It’s funny, Sweet Valley Twins has a much younger audience, but they always had real ghosts in their ghost stories.” Wing would raise a scathing eyebrow and say that she’d never read Sweet Valley. Ever. And she was sort of proud of that.
Then curiosity would overcome her. “Really? Because in Babysitters’ Club, it was always the Scooby Doo villain – a human pretending to be a ghost. So you have actual ghosts?”
“Actual ghosts,” I would say. “And it’s odd, they seem to act up the most over Christmas.”
And that is the groundwork of how you get someone who clearly is going to hate something, to do it anyway. [Raven: I have such an inappropriate comment here.] Mention that one thing they like. (Also, there will be werewolves in Sweet Valley High.) [Wing: I feel like I should be more upset that my BFF so blatantly exploits my weaknesses, and yet.] [Dove: I do realise that the above is basically “how to brainwash your friends”. But I had an agenda. And here we are.]
Second of all, I adore A Christmas Carol. I know most people do, but I feel like I might go the extra mile. I feel like I’ve seen every fandom-variation of this story – heck, I’ve even written one. I adore this story.
I’ll admit The Carnival Ghost is a better story on its own merits, because it’s not fanfic of an iconic tale, but this one holds a special place in my heart.
The Cover: Why is the ghost awkwardly pointing to the left? Jessica looks great, but the ghost looks like it wasn’t happy to be modelling for the cover.
[Wing: Tis truly the season for Christmas Carol retellings. We did a few over at the Devil’s Elbow (Fright Christmas and The Fright Before Christmas), and yet somehow this has the best versions of the ghosts. I mean, come on: an angry flying unicorn? Clearly this was going to win.]
Tagline: Has someone taken Jessica’s place as “most popular girl”?
Summary: Everyone has always made fun of Sandra Ferris. She’s gawky and shy, and people whisper about her everywhere she goes. But the Wakefield twins step in and change Sandra’s life by giving her a new look – hair, clothes, make-up, the works!
Suddenly, the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan, and that means trouble for Jessica. Now Sandra is getting all the attention. And even worse, Jessica discovers that Sandra is running against her for Sweet Valley’s sixth-grade Citizen of the Year… and it looks as if she just might win. Jessica has to find some way to tame the monster she has created – and her time is running short!
For reasons I can’t quite explain to myself, I sort-of enjoy this book. I also could barely explain them to Wing, but she did swap with me. I don’t know why I like this book, I don’t like the makeover trope at all and I want to punch Sandra for most of the book. But at least I feel strongly about it. When it comes to Jessica on Stage, the book I swapped with Wing, my feelings are a shrug and the word “meh”. [Wing: Whereas I wanted to punch everyone for most of the book, so status quo.]
The cover: Sorry, Jessica, but that is a horrible top. Sandra looks great though.
ALSO ALSO: If anyone can figure out why this cover hurts my soul, I will send them a free copy of Lila’s Music Video. The book. If I had Lila’s actual music video… I’d need to find someone to convert it to mp4, so I could put it on YouTube. Hint: I like my covers to be uniform. This one is not uniform.
Jessica Wakefield can’t wait for the school fair – until she gets stuck being in charge of the water-balloon booth. Who wants to be drenched by every kid at Sweet Valley Middle School? So when her twin sister, Elizabeth, is offered a baby-sitting job that day, Jessica sees the perfect opportunity to steal the job away and stick her sister with the water-balloon booth.
But Jessica’s plan backfires. The kids she baby-sits turn out to be real monsters. The minute their parents leave, they begin tearing up the house – and her! Jessica needs help fast. But will Elizabeth feel too betrayed and too wet to come to her sister’s aid?
Tagline: Jessica meets her match when she takes up baby-sitting!
Wait, so we just finished a book that was all about them pretending to switch places because they switch places so often, and now we have non-consensual switching places? I am already tired of this Twin Magic Gone Wrong thing and all I’ve done is read the summary.
Tagline:Is Elizabeth pretending to be Jessica – or is Elizabeth really Elizabeth?
Summary: It’s April Fools’ Day and the Wakefield twins are about to play their biggest and best trick ever. Usually Elizabeth and Jessica pretend to be each other. But this year they won’t switch identities, everybody will just think they did.
When April 1 comes, the twins’ trick works perfectly – too perfectly for Elizabeth. Everyone believes she is Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth. And being Jessica always means getting into trouble. By the end of the day, Elizabeth is beginning to wonder whether she is the biggest April Fool of all for agreeing to be part of this charade.
[Raven: Or are WE the fools for recapping this ridiculous series? You decide!]
[Wing: We are certainly the fools for having to read this book. I raced through it as fast as I could and still wish I could get that 15 minutes back. In order to get through this recap, I’ve embraced my inner Jessica and put on a face mask (mint and charcoal). It will be dried in 10 minutes. I will devote that much more time to this book, and then that’s it, straight to the final thoughts section, even though I normally love Raven’s recaps. This book is just that boring.]
Ah, a rare thing… a book title containing an exclamation mark / point. Although scouring the SVT series, it seems it has another eight such books to keep it company.
I quite like April Fools’ Day, but I appreciate that the mileage of others may vary on this issue. The day generally consists of half the people partaking and recounting hilarious pranks, while the other half sneer and condescend at the pranksters and pray for a swift resolution to the enforced jollity. Any form of awkward interaction gets the thumbs up from me.
Tagline: How far will Elizabeth go to save her sister? [Raven: Not as far as Jessica, I’m sure.]
[Wing: Not sure Jessica would go any sort of distance to save anyone else but herself.]
Summary: Kent Kellerman, soap opera star, is coming to town. One whole episode of his show is being filmed downtown and Jessica and Lila have passes to get on the set. There’s one small problem. The filming is to take place during school hours. They’d only have to skip one little class…
Now both girls must face up to their punishment. For Jessica, that means no extracurricular activities, no Booster club, and worst of all, no playing in the basketball championship playoffs. Without Jessica, the team is sure to lose and she’ll become Sweet Valley’s most unpopular girl. That is, unless her twin sister, Elizabeth, agrees to save the day – and the game!
The cover is nothing more than a Circle of Predatory Grooming. Seriously, I thought the Adult Torso was actually handing the nameless twin a condom.
[Dove: To be fair, that’s what it looks like in the thumbnail.]
It’s actually a slip of paper or some sort. Perhaps our American Correspondent can shed some light on this arcane school tradition.
[Wing: American schools are truly bastions of safe sex education. Or really, he’s giving her a detention slip or something similar.]
Jessica Wakefield just can’t stop her wild imagination. Her mother is very ill, and Jessica thinks it’s much worse – she might even be dying! Soon, the news spreads all over Sweet Valley Middle School. Elizabeth, Jessica’s twin sister, is furious, but Jessica loves being the center of all that attention.
Even the teachers feel sorry for Jessica, and they let her skip her homework and be excused from tests. And now, Jessica has a chance to get the lead in the school musical – if she can manage to take advantage of everyone’s sympathy just one more time.
Tagline: Has Jessica finally gone too far? [Wing: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, FINALLY?!]
Oh my god, I am going to hate everything about this. Not only does that premise sound terrible on its own, but I spent more than a decade watching my mother die a slow, painful death, so I am particularly touchy about sick mother/dead mother stories.
(At least I’ll probably be back to my hatred of all things Sweet Valley, which I understand a lot better than my unexpected moments of love for it.)
[Wing: Note from the future: It gets real in here, from the text and the recappers, especially about parental death, heart ache, and abusive childhoods.]
Tagline: Jessica has the biggest secret of her life! [Dove: Until book 42: Jessica’s Secret.] [Wing: From stealing money to fucking dating older boys, Jess is on a roll.]
Summary: The most exciting thing has just happened to Jessica Wakefield! Josh Angler, the cutest junior at Sweet Valley High has asked her out on a date. She’s had to lie a little about her age – well, a lot – and pretend she’s in high school. She’ll even have Josh pick her up at her friend Lila’s house so her family won’t discover her little charade – but it will all be worth it, won’t it?
Jessica’s plan backfires when she and Josh wind up on a double date with none other than her own brother, Steven Wakefield! Will Steven keep Jessica’s secret or will he decide to pay her back for all the things she’s ever done to him?
Wow. That’s a short summary. Might as well go with “Jessica creates an incestuous paedophile.”
The cover? Pretty decent, to be fair. The boy certainly does look older. And they are stood outside something that looks very American. Is it a mall? Or a motel? Or maybe a twinkie? Who knows! [Wing: Perhaps it is meant to be the roller rink. Also, as I mention in the podcast episode, at least Josh looks youngish. In the similar book and cover, Dawn and the Older Boy, the older boy is probably the same age as Josh, but looks to be in his 30s.]
Tagline: Has Jessica’s good luck run out? [Wing: I can only hope.]
Summary: Jessica Wakefield and her friend Ellen Riteman keep it a secret when they find some money in an old metal box buried in Ellen’s backyard. But then some money disappears from school and suspicion falls on Jessica and Ellen. Can they prove their innocence?
So, on the surface, this could be an entertaining story. Secrets, buried treasure, Jessica finally getting accused of something … and yet, this is Sweet Valley, and I know a book that sounds interesting isn’t actually going to live up to its potential. Also, it will probably make me go boom.
Tagline: Is Jessica really as perfect as she thinks she is? (No. Jessica is a barely functioning sociopath – used in the literal sense, not the salacious.)
Summary: Jessica Wakefield has always been the center of everything at school. And Pamela Jacobson has always spent her time on the sidelines, especially in gym. When Jessica hurts her ankle, she starts to feel left out, too. Suddenly, the two girls have something in common.
Jessica, who is chairman of the Mini Olympics, can hardly get to and from class, let alone run the committee meetings. And bossy Lila Fowler begins to take advantage of Jessica’s injury to gain more power so she can run the Olympics her way! That’s when Jessica comes up with a plan. With Pamela’s help, it might just put both of them in the winner’s circle!
I actually asked for this one. I was due to do Buried Treasure next week, but we have agreed between the three of us that at any point you can request or suggest books that you’re not assigned, based on your experiences or interest. For example, if it hadn’t turned it out that way naturally, I was quite determined Wing should get the books with the adoption storylines, because she is very outspoken on adoption. Raven will be recapping A Christmas Without Elizabeth, because It’s a Wonderful Life is one of his favourite movies of all time [Raven: Every time a fatty is mocked, an angel gets its wings.].
And I wanted this because it deals with physical disability in school. Something I have oodles and oodles of experience with. And now’s probably a good place to explain everything, so you don’t have to wonder which disability I have. (more…)