Sweet Valley High #20: Crash Landing!

Sweet Valley High #20: Crash Landing! by Francine Pascal

Title: Crash Landing!

Tagline: Will Elizabeth lose her best friend?

Summary: George Warren has been looking forward to taking his girlfriend, Enid Rollins, as a passenger on his first licensed flight. Afterward he’s going to tell her something he’s known for a long time—he doesn’t love her anymore, and their relationship is over. Then he’ll be free to date Robin Wilson, the girl he does love.

But as he and Enid are flying, George loses control of the plane and is forced to make a crash landing. Enid is seriously injured, and George is overcome with guilt. He can’t possibly break up with Enid now. But how long can he pretend to be in love with her and continue living a lie?

Initial Thoughts:

Ooh, exciting! The title has an exclamation mark / point, which is the universal signal for “shit is going down”. I for one am all manner of intrigued.

We’ve been told that this series descends into wacky hijinks pretty quickly, and I’m hoping this book, with its titular plane crash, is the start of that descent into oddity. Because I’m beginning to tire of shit that makes sense.

I’m hoping this is some sort of crash-on-a-desert-island thing. I’m not expecting Lost, but something in the ballpark would be peachy.

[Dove: Well, you can’t have what you want. You have to wait for Lost at Sea for that kind of shenanigans.]

[Wing: Spoilers! The titles and cover blurbs lie so often I wouldn’t be surprised if Lost at Sea contained absolutely no sea at all.]

The Cover:

Light purple background, with cyan lettering. Usual porthole topped with the series title in a vivid red. The porthole picture is rather bleak: two girls, the first obviously unconscious or injured being held and cradled by the second. The injured girl is presumably Enid, while the anxious girl is presumably Elizabeth.

Enid is lying on her back (and on Elizabeth). Her eyes are closed, and her head is resting on Liz’s chest. She’s wearing white trousers (jeans?) and a light blue short-sleeved top. She’s not outwardly injured: she could be sleeping.

Elizabeth is wearing a purple polo shirt with black horizontal pinstripes (Jessica, is that you?). She has staring off-screen at something unknown, with a pensive look of apprehension plastered across her vacuous and insipid face.

Also, spoilers? This cover scene does not appear in the book in any way, shape or form. It’s basically a deleted scene that somehow snuck its way into the fucking trailer.  WEAK.


Let’s get one thing straight from the outset.

This book is a fucking shitshow.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, to anyone who has read it at least. Even if you haven’t, our recapping thoughts are now clearly labelled in the tags under each post on the site’s front page, so I doubt you’ve missed the “Kill It With Fire” moniker next to my mahogany R.

I was massively disappointed with virtually every aspect of this story, the details of which I will do my best to explain to you now. I hope my commentary will be fun, and enlightening, but I guarantee it’ll be full of piss and vinegar.

Basically, it’s Caveat Emptor. Here be monsters, enter at your peril.

It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this: *hug*

[Dove: That’s a really good deal, peeps. Raven gives very reassuring hugs. And he usually has food. Ask him for some tiffin. Also, he’s not wrong. Strap in.]

[Wing: He does give good hugs! Dove as well, for that matter. I did not enjoy this book but without having yet read this recap, I have the inkling of an idea that I enjoyed it more than Raven did.]

We kick off the action in the damn sky. George is flying Enid, as per his promise in the previous book’s foreshadowing. It’s his first solo flight, and Enid is very excited.

Unfortunately for George, he has other things on his mind. He’s fallen in love with his Flying Class colleague Robin (she who realised that being fat was a terrible weakness, after everyone in her damn book explicitly told her so, and thus decided to simply not be fat, because it’s that fucking easy). And so, once he’s discharged this final duty of care to his unsuspecting partner, he’s free to go stick his cock in the less-boring more-thin super-fly pilot Robin Wilson.

Enid, bless her boring little heart, is simply loving her boyfriend’s generosity of spirit. He could have taken anyone up for his first flight, but he chose her. She thanks him warmly for the privilege, and he responds with a churlish “a promise is a promise”. [Dove: I couldn’t help but read this line in a beligerant, “I said I would, didn’t I?” growl.] [Wing: I assume we all did.]

For fuck’s sake, George. Stop being so bloody transparent. You claim to have loved this girl, there’s no need to be so self-absorbed at this point. Show her a good time, you asshole.

George then retreats into historic exposition. For a few irritating paragraphs, he chronicles his Origin Story from his recent reappearance to his desire to be balls-deep in the damaged Robin, which allows those of us in the cheapo seats to catch up on all the gossip. We also learn that Robin has completed her particular quest and ditched her own boyfriend, the wholly unimportant Allen, in readiness for her and George’s congress on a plinth atop 55 Central Park West, in preparation for the coming of Gozer the Gozarian.

George returns his mind to the cockpit with the promise that, after this flight, it’s his turn to be a horrible prick to his significantly better other half.

Enid makes happy chatter in the passenger seat, and George snaps at her like a bellend. He then decides to take the plane higher. Is it uncommonly high? Who knows? Maybe? Either way, it appears to trigger something bad in the plane’s engine, which cuts out.

Enid quizzes George on what’s wrong, as he barks the issue to Air Traffic Control. They ascertain that the plane is falling above Secca Lake, and that the best course of action is for George to turn the plane into the wind and “glide” her down into the lake.

First up, let’s see if that advice is at all serious. To Google!

After a brief fact-checking sojourn, I have the following six steps of best practice in the case of aircraft engine failure:

  1. Fly the airplane as you immediately apply full carb heat (if carburetor equipped) and/or check fuel on both or switch fuel tanks, hit fuel boost or pump, and mixture full rich.
  2. Point it toward a landing site.
  3. Establish best-glide airspeed.
  4. Next, if you’ve got enough altitude, which equals time, confirm the failure.
  5. Follow appropriate restart procedures for your aircraft.
  6. Finally, if the restart fails, then you’ll land the aircraft without power.

Of the two above, the pertinent advice to this fictional predicament are:

  1. Point it toward a landing site, and
  2. Establish best-glide airspeed.

Without wanting to drown you in science, nowhere in number 2 does it suggest ditching in a lake (instead, it lists a number of best-advice places to try, like a road or a flat field), and nowhere in number 3 does it mention heading the plane into the wind (instead, it’s all about charts and equipment settings and so on). [Dove: *points* The LA Drainage Canals are right there. They’re just waiting to save the day again. USE THEM. Also, in the movies, they’re never actually filled with water, so less chance of drowning. (I am obsessed with these buggers. Become obsessed too and watch them save the day over and over and over again in movies. No. Seriously. Go. I’ve given you homework. Get on it.]

[Wing: Give them a list of things to watch!]

So this Ghostie? Talking out of their arse. “So the protagonists are in a stalled plane above Sweet Valley. How can this be resolved? I won’t bother researching, I’ll just have them point it toward the wind and splash into Secca Lake. Bosh! Job done. I do hope Johnny Buck isn’t having one of his 3:30 concerts! Or at least, I would hope that if I’d any grasp at all of the continuity of this series, but as this fictional vignette has proved, I definitely do not. Then again, High was written before Twins, so I’m giving myself a pass. Yay me!” *sips wine*

Go visit this dandy website for more information on emergency procedures in a stalled plane.

The Ghostie then goes to great lengths to tell us how everyone involved is just excrementally frightened. They are shook. SHOOK, I say! And they are full of shitty lines, like “I say, dearest George, may I interject to admit that I am completely shitting my pantaloons right now? We’re talking literal torrents of cloaca festooning down my shapely thighs. Will this nightmare ever end?! Also, are you knobbin’ Robin?”

Everyone is doomed, apparently, but the Ghostie has imbued literally NO tension or pacing to the description. It’s workaday, and pedestrian. The whole shebang feels like the minutes of the AGM of a cardboard box factory.

“Oh look, it appears we are doomed.”

“Yes, I concur.”

“What shall be do?”

“Let’s think… perhaps we should scream?”

“Yes, that seems to be the order of the day. On three?”


Eventually, they crash. Plane hits water, and flips. And it’s Chapter One.

Enid is conscious, unlike George, who has hit his face on the windshield. Maybe he’ll start loving Lila Fowler, as they both have flat fucking faces now. [Dove: Or maybe he’ll turn super slutty like Liz did when she got a concussion? He could be holding hands with lots of girls, not just Robin.]

Thankfully for Enid, she’d opened her door before the crash (at George’s insistence). [Wing: Is this actually a good recommendation? *quick bout of research* Most advice focuses on what you should do after you hit the water on the assumption you probably won’t have time to do anything between the car losing control and hitting the water.] She’s shaken, but largely unhurt. George is suspended upside-down by his harness, bleeding from the widened head.

Enid tries, without success, to free George from his straps. She realises that she can only do this from the other side, outside the plane. Without thought to the consequences, she climbs out, into the cool water of the lake.

After what the DVD cover would describe as “scenes of mild peril”, Enid finds herself in position and frees her insensitive pilot boyfriend, whose dead weight falls atop her and causes her to jar the small of her back on a metal strut.





End aside.

Even if Enid’s legs no longer work, she’s achieved her objective and freed George from danger. The plane dutifully sinks into Secca Lake, its part in the plot finally realised. Well done, you plucky winged hero. Enjoy your blissful watery grave.

[Dove: Initially I was scathing that Enid had become paralysed by a bump on her back. But then I remembered that Vince McMahon, a man who is in pinnacle health (he heals so well, he took an F5 the day after a hip replacement. The day after mine, I was allowed to pee by myself, just for context on the average healing rate), blew out his quads entering the ring.]

The cold water also serves as a restorative to Philanderous George (Curious George’s sexually-motivated cousin [Dove: Oh, I take it back, maybe he’ll become super conservative after his concussion.]), and the pair tread water in despair as they wait for the approaching rescue team. At least, George treads water. Enid just impotently floats, and informs all who are listening that she’s lost all feeling in her legs.


This is, I think, the best section of the book. And honestly? It’s bollocks.

As I’ve mentioned above, there’s no real urgency in the crash, and no sense of finality in Enid’s predicament. It’s tough, I suppose, getting the reader all frothed up from a standing start in the space of three or four pages. Maybe that’s why you don’t spaff away the Big Damn Scenes on page diddly squat?

So the crash is now over, and the rest of the book? Constant repetition of hand wringing and miscommunication and inner monologues and shit. Absolutely standard for the series this far, and absolutely stultifying.

I guess I was hoping for something a little more exciting, and longer lasting, from the title and the cover and the premise of this book? I know… what the hell was I thinking?

[Dove: You were thinking back to the halcyon days of SVT, where a boat jacking took place over a whole book, and the resolve took place (admittedly badly) in the following book.] [Wing: There are ways that the first chapter or two could have been dedicated to the crash and then the rest to fear that Enid won’t recover and gut wrenching emotions over falling out of love with someone who meant so much to you for so long. And then there is this book.]

End aside.

Scene skips to Todd Wilkins, witnessing the plane’s descent into Secca Lake. He dashes to Secca Lodge, and calls the authorities. Thankfully, Air Traffic Control have also called the authorities, despite being “the authorities” themselves, and there’s a host of rescue shit on its way.

Back lakeside, the SVH crew (which for some reason does not include Elizabeth at this time: just Todd, Olivia, Roger and Ken) [Dove: That’s because this happens at the same time as the end of the previous book, so Liz and Jess are at the police station after Jack’s arrest.] all discuss the crash. Ken informs everyone that It’s not just random plebs in the plane… according Robin Wilson, it’s Enid and George.

Robin joins them, tearful, as the motorboat approaches the shore. The paramedics unload the stretchers containing George and Enid. It’s clear to all watching that George is injured, and Enid looks in a bad way herself. For some reason, neither kid acknowledges anything when they are stretchered ashore, and the Ghostie hasn’t mentioned that they fell unconscious or anything like that. Maybe the braying throng of highschoolers is too far away, or behind a bush or something?

Anyway, Robin faints and we move on.

The second chapter launches at the Sweet Valley Police Station, where the Wakefields are (presumably) dealing with the aftermath of the previous book’s adventures. Remember, when Jack What’s-his-Face was dating both Jessica and Lila, and turned out to be a drug-addled sociopath (but not in a good way, like Sherlock or House)? The news of the plane crash came over the radio, and Elizabeth immediately realises it’s her close friends that are on board.

Jessica, for some bizarre reason, offers the following:

“I’ll die if anything happens to Enid!” Jessica exclaimed, putting her arms around her twin.

Would you? Really? [Dove: Do you promise? Because I’m willing to off Enid for the greater good.]

This is Enid, right? The girl you’ve been bad-mouthing at every opportunity for the past twenty damn books?

While I don’t expect Jessica to come out with something crass like “serves Enid right for being dull”, I’d have expected a less visceral reaction to this turn of events.

[Wing: This wouldn’t even have worked at the end of the last book where Jessica was understandably and slightly more believably shaken by what happened. We don’t have any of that tension (what there was of it) in this book for her, so this reads as a straight line of what Jessica actually feels, not a girl swept up by fear and emotions, and it’s completely unbelievable and out of character. Even Jessica in SVT wouldn’t have reacted like this about Elizabeth’s other best friends.]

Once the Family Wakefield wring their hands over the news, the radio informs the precinct that the two passengers in the crashed plane are both alive. Elizabeth is relieved, but wonders if her friend is hurt. Ned promised to ferry them all to the Fowler Memorial Hospital to check things out.

Jessica, again, is unfathomable.

“Come on!” Jessica wailed, tugging at her mother’s hand. “We’ve got to go see what’s happened to George and Enid!”

I mean, has this Ghostie read any of the previous books? This just rings so damn false.


I have THOUGHTS on Jessica’s treatment in this book.

I will wax lyrical on them later in the recap. They are not the usual fare.

End aside.

“Mrs. Rollins?” Dr. MacGregor asked, stepping into the waiting room and looking at the attractive woman who was pacing outside his door. “Could you come into my office for a few minutes, please?”

When discussing this book with Dove, she made the salient point that literally everyone in the story is introduced with some sort of positive physical quantifier.


From the titular Wakefields down to the nurse at the hospital or the cashier at the store. It’s “the attractive woman” and “the shapely student” and “the bronzed surfer” and “the handsome doctor” and “the sexually attractive abattoir worker” and “the fuckable nun” and so on. The law of averages states that there have to be an equal amount of ugly folk too… for every knockout, there should be a munter. It’s a bell curve, people!

[Wing: Not in soap operas! And this is the weak version of that.]

Through Enid’s mum’s backstory, we learn that Enid’s dad isn’t in the picture (divorced). Although if my daughter was in a plane crash and apparently paralysed, I’d make the fucking effort to put aside any beef with their mother and get myself to the damn hospital. Seems like Daddy Enid is a deadbeat too. Or, more likely, someone that the Ghostie doesn’t give two shits about.

The doctor, Dr MacGregor, gives Mama Enid the bad news: Enid is paralysed. From a bang on her lower spine. There’s a hopeful operation to relieve the pressure, but that decision has to wait for swelling to subside.

Oh, and George is fine. Bang on the noggin, no great shakes. Enid saved his life.


Ah, so THAT’S where this is going. George is indebted to his saviour.

The claaaaaaaaw!


This will end well.

End aside.

Next, we’re with George, in the hospital. He’s a furtive little creeper, gaining access to Enid’s room instead of going home as the doctor suggested.

As she sleeps, he tales her hand and tells her that she saved his life. Then we get an internal monologue, in which he blames himself for Enid’s injuries, and suggests his inexperience is to blame for the plane’s engine failure. He vows to make it up to Enid, and decides he can not tell her about Robin now.

The issue is that Elizabeth knows all. Will she tell? Or will she keep schtum? Or… will George be forced to kill her to maintain the silence?

Sadly for the book’s excitement level, it’s not the latter.

George convinces himself that Elizabeth will never tell, and that he will never tell, and that no one must tell.

The scene ends with George in fits of tears over the whole shebang. And honestly? I just don’t give a fuck.

[Wing: Ghostie should have focused more on his guilt over whether the accident was his fault and how Enid got hurt rescuing him. Sure, toss in a bit of the guilt over falling in love with someone else, but it would have been far more interesting to have Enid lingering between life and death and then worry over whether the surgery will work all tied to George’s guilt over failing his first solo flight, hurting Enid, losing his license, etc. We get a little of this, but far too much of the focus is elsewhere.]

Next up, we get the skinny from Elizabeth’s perspective. Because that’s what we’ve all be lacking. Go Elizabeth.

First, she reiterates that George is fine and that Enid is paralysed. It’s also confirmed (heh, repeated) that there’s a hopeful operative cure once the swelling subsides. And then, in a wholly un-Elizabeth move, she internally monologues about George and his part in Enid’s plight. While we’d usually expect her to be sympathetic, because heaven forfend that she have any vitriol or vigour in her rice-pudding opinions, this time she’s actively taking a stand against his shittiness.

Enid is her closest friend. But George? George can go piss up a fucking rope, the prick. He’s to blame for everything. As Elizabeth wallows in her misery, she decides that George needs to forget all this Robin bullshit and devote himself to Enid’s recovery. And while I’m sure that’s exactly what he’ll do, for the short term, I’m equally convinced that this will not bode well in the long run. [Dove: Yes, because what Enid needs right now, now she’s vulnerable, is someone forcing themselves to endure being around her.] [Wing: Fucking hell, Liz is an idiot.]

For Chapter Three, we’re at… Jessica’s gourmet cooking class? I mean, da fuck?

Apparently, Lila had this marvellous idea that she and Jessica should learn to cook in the grand gourmet style, three times a week, in the Sweet Valley Civic Centre. When Lila and Jessica had been friends, it may have been a grand wheeze… but now they are at loggerheads over the nonsense in the previous book, it’s excruciating.

Still, it’s the first class, and Lila and Jessica are making mustard. Seeds, mortar, pestle, the whole nine yards. Jessica is seething that mustard is hardly the elegant recipe she had envisioned when daydreaming about the course. And of course, Lila is just playing the angry pouting role in this scenario.

It’s fun, I suppose, but it’s tangential to the narrative. It’s so left field that it’s almost at a right angle. [Wing: If we knew about this class before this book, I 100% wiped it from my memory because it was so unimportant, and it feels no more important here.]

The girls bicker and quarrel before reaching a formal truce. Then the class turns more interesting, as the dowdy presenter introduces their tutor for the remainder of the course… the unfathomably delectable Jean-Pierre Baptiste.

In his early twenties, Jean-Pierre was well over six feet tall, his broad shoulders tapering down to a slender waist. He had jet black hair worn a bit longer than that of most of the guys Jessica knew at school, and chiseled features that looked like those of one of the statues she’d seen in slides in her art class. And his eyes—Jessica had never seen such intense blue eyes before.


Everybody is so fucking gorgeous in this bloody series. I do find it hard to relate to this. Most of the people I know look like moon-faced weirdos, not perfectly symmetrical Adonii.

Ah well. That’s the UK, I suppose.

End aside.

So, he’s French, he’s gorgeous, and he’s Jessica’s Project For This Book. Okay then. Why the hell not?

After thanking Lila for suggesting such a wonderful class, Jessica spends the next few paragraphs mashing up her mustard seeds and daydreaming about snogs with sext chefs under the Eiffel Tower. And, more pertinently, the upcoming High School Dance, and her plan to invite Jean-Pierre as her date. The plan involves her learning every aspect of JP’s course in order to blow his sexy French socks clean off his feet. [Dove: I love the way she thinks someone in their twenties would love to go to a high school dance, and wouldn’t feel awkward about it at all. When I was in my twenties, hanging around one teenager was a hectic nightmare, never mind a whole assembly hall full of them.]

Okay, so I have to ask… is this what Jessica does for every book in this series? Spot the new “sexiest guy evar” and spend page after page conniving ways to get her four-minutes-younger freak on? I’m so over it if that’s the case. Bring on the fucking shenanigans, say I.

After the class, Lila gives Jessica a lift home. On the way, Jessica asks Lila to deliver her to Robin’s house, ostensibly to cement some cheerleading practice details, but in reality in order to move the plot to the next waypoint. They also discuss Robin’s recent breakup with Allen, and muse on the identity of the “other guy” cited as a reason for doing so.

Once there, the girls spy George’s light blue car in Robin’s driveway. That’s not a euphemism, although if it were it’d be a damn good one. And there’s George to accompany his car, walking from the house to his whip with an assumed post-coital jauntiness. Because yes, although neither head of the Lilessica Assumption Hydra saw anything explicitly untoward, they both decide that George is cheating on Enid with Robin.

I mean, they’re right, but, y’know. Stopped clocks and all that.

We then pop into George’s head on his ride home from Robin’s it turns out he was visiting her to let her know their tawdry sojourns were now history, as he couldn’t touch her boobs in good conscience while Enid was in such a perilous state.

Kudos, I guess? He does waver and consider just sticking with the drab until she’s all better, but deduces that’d be a poor way to repay her for saving his goddamn life. Nope, he is lumbered with Enid forever. The beans are on the toast, and it’s time to choke them down.

And alas, when visiting Robin, it appears she was not home so these tasks are still to be completed. Oh, and he spotted Lila’s green Triumph, and assumes the gossipmongers will soon be out in their droves. That’d be fine, usually, but he is particularly worried about Elizabeth’s reaction to his shoddy treatment (thus far) of his now sedentary girlfriend. Because Elizabeth knows everything, and could easily tell Enid what’s really going on.

Elizabeth Wakefield, meddling in the lives of others? Surely not!

So, in summary? George loves Robin. George is sticking with Enid. Robin left Allen. Robin waiting for George. Liz knows everything. Jess has jumped to conclusions.


Back at the Wakefield Compound, Jess tells her sister what she saw at Robin’s house earlier that day. Elizabeth is astonished, because if she believes Jessica’s interpretation of George’s visit, then it makes a mockery of how she would expect things to progress. Having spoke to George and Robin at the airfield in the previous book, she does believe they are in love… but she also knows that George does care deeply for Enid, and wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. Well, aside from cheating on her then dumping her, but that was before the accident.

[Wing: For once, I am completely behind Elizabeth believing gossip Jessica brings her. It’s in line with what she already saw of George and Robin, and of course judgey-mc-judgerson wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt.]

She’s surprised, and angry, that George could even consider continuation with Robin now that Enid is in such a perilous state. Why, news like this could physically kill her!

She asks her twin to keep the whole thing under her hat, to which Jessica actually agrees. Jessica wonders how on earth she’ll be able to look Robin in the face.

Elizabeth sighed. “I know what you mean,” she agreed reluctantly. “To tell you the truth, Jess, the whole thing makes me so angry I could just—”

“Spit?” Jessica volunteered helpfully.

Elizabeth shook her head and burst out laughing. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind,” she told her twin.

Spitting as a declaration of anger. The Wakefields go Punk.

So, what did Liz actually have in mind? Sound off in the comments! [Dove: I’m so angry I could just throw this hair scrunchie on the floor. And leave it there for at least six minutes!] [Raven: Well it beats my “I’m so angry I could just shit in a plant pot” idea, that’s for sure.]

We end the chapter with Elizabeth believing the Jessica version of the story, that George isn’t concerned with Enid and just wants to spend more time swapping fluids with Robin. And this news does nothing to placate Liz’s growing Red Fist of Rage. I’m looking forward to some prime Wakefield Smash moments later in the book. Or I would be, if I could muster up anything but apathy at this point… the crash is done and dusted, and I’ve ten more chapters of this woeful tale of miscommunication and infidelity to drag myself through, like Andy DuFresne in the Shawshank sewer pipe.

Chapter Four begins with Jessica filling in Cara with the current gossip. So much for keeping it under your hat, Jess.

We do, however, get some explanation of Jessica’s sudden interest in the wellbeing of Enid Rollins…

Jessica’s sympathy for Enid Rollins was a recent development. Before the plane crash Jessica had had several conversations with her sister about her choice of friends, and Enid got most of the criticism. In Jessica’s opinion Enid Rollins was just plain boring.

But the accident had changed Enid in Jessica’s eyes. Now Sweet Valley High was buzzing with talk about Enid—everyone wondered how she was feeling, if there was any progress, any hope. It was all terribly exciting, and naturally Jessica, as the twin sister of Enid’s very best friend, was right at the center of all the speculation.

Moreover, Jessica really did feel sorry for Enid. She had never thought much of George Warren one way or another, but now she was prepared to see him as a villain.

And Robin Wilson, whom Jessica had become rather fond of over the past few months, suddenly seemed like an evil temptress.

Okay, so I can actually buy that explanation. At least, I can as a crutch for the current care being conferred… but it still rings hollow for her initial declaration when news of the crash was coming through. Maybe I’m just being churlish. [Dove: If this was the Jessica we’d had throughout, I’d still be on Team Jessica. This is the grown-up version of Twins Jess, who made BFFs with Amy after her house burned down, because she was the hot topic of SVMS. But, if we can shut down the nonsense and keep this Jessica, then I might be able to get back on Team Jessica where I belong.]

We then get a brief recap of Robin’s Fatty-to-Hottie origin tale, which comes over as every bit as tin-eared as the shitty little book itself. (Spoilers? This continues throughout, and is a large factor behind by distaste for this story.)

Cara and Jessica decide that the best way to punish Robin for her wantonness is to wage “cold war” on her when she tries to interact with them. Cold War? My, that’s drastic. I know it’s only a metaphor, but I for one shudder to think of the consequences of arming Jessica Wakefield with the nuclear codes. Big Mesa would become one of many gaping and irradiated craters by the end of the first week.

Also, no “cold war” for George? Double standards, predictably. It’s always the girls who get it in the neck.

As luck would have it, Robin immediately approaches the pair. Cold War is duly (and dully (but not dullly, or dulllly)) enacted. In this book, Cold War is defined as “giving someone the evils before pointedly stomping off with a pithy comment”.

Robin is hurt and confused. Cara thinks that maybe they went too far. But Jessica is adamant. Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy.

Next up, some internal monologuing from Robin. She decides that she’s being paranoid about Cara and Jessica’s hostility toward her, and reveals that because she’s Newly Thin, and that because of her storied porker past she’s now going to wallow in a plate of ice cream and despair.


I get it, I suppose. Eat Your Feelings, and all that. As a certified member of the Big Fat Man brigade, I feel it too. I eat my feelings, or have, historically.

Thing is, I’m happy with my life, and I’m still eating, and eating. I don’t know whose feelings these are, but they’re delicious.

The issue I have is that it’s always framed as “the Thin Person is upset, and because of this they will self-destruct and become… a FAT PERSON. Isn’t this absolutely horrific?! How could they do such a terrible thing to themselves?”

Do I want to be thinner? Yeah. Doctor says it’s a good idea, what with my medical history. It’s tough, though, for sure. I realise it’s largely maths, and will power, but there’s more going on. Chocolate is great, and moving is wretched.

But personal issues aside, being Fat is NOT life’s Big Bad Wolf. I hate that this book, this series (and this society?) use weight as The Endboss, as the thing that needs to be conquered before success can be achieved. Nobody is fat here, and if they ARE, then their entire existence is framed with their fatness at their very core. They’re not people, they are simply Fat, with arms and legs.

Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but as I’ve skin in this particular game I feel involved. Robin’s weight is an aside that serves nothing but to alienate. Fat people read too, Ghostie. And we see you.

So yeah. I hate this book, for this and for much more. But for this, mostly.

*Unwraps a Crème Egg* [Dove: I think you’ll find they’re 50201600s. And also, everything Raven said here.

End aside.

Robin is eating unhealthily. She’s also upset about the plane crash, and she realises that George cannot possibly end things with Enid as things stand. And while George’s recent visit (witnessed by Lila and Jessica) did not result in a meeting, his phone call the previous evening had left little room for ambiguity and manoeuvre for everyone involved.

So Robin is full of pain because George, and guilt because Enid, and ice cream because Inwardly Fat.

Elizabeth and Todd walk by. Robin asks Liz if there’s any news about Enid. Elizabeth gives her the most cursory of negatory responses before fucking off with Todd in tow.

Robin is further upset, and we get this:

Afraid that she was going to burst into tears any second, Robin took a deep breath, got up from her table, and headed back through the cafeteria to the food counter. “A piece of chocolate cake,” she mumbled to the woman near the desserts. “Oh, and put some ice cream on top,” she added miserably, digging in her pockets for some money.

It wouldn’t matter if she did get fat again, she thought glumly, taking her dessert back to the table. It didn’t look as though she had any friends left to notice.

And there it is, folks. This Ghostie can fuck off into space. That last section is a fucking shitter.

“It wouldn’t matter if she did get fat again, she thought glumly.”

Correct. It WOULDN’T matter if she did get fat again. Because being fat is NOT A FUCKING CURSE. And this frames her fatness as something that her friends would notice, and comment upon, and denigrate, as if waistline is a measure of the soul. [Dove: And note how the only reason to be thin is because of other people. It’s not for your health, it’s for other people’s eyeballs.] [Wing: Which is 100% true in Sweet Valley and far too often true in our real world, but all complete bullshit.]

I’ve spent far too long dawdling on this section, because like a kettle in a cut price hotel, it really boils my piss. [Wing: … wut.]

The next section sees Elizabeth visit Enid in hospital. It’s pre-operation, so no news or change. Enid is in decent spirits, and has just received her first visit from George. He soon joins them, after fetching his current-enforced-girlfriend a cup of water.

The girls gossip about Jessica and her cooking class, which is cute, until talk turns to the upcoming dance. At this, Enid becomes wistful, as if her current wheelchair use will mean she’ll not be allowed to attend. [Dove: They see me Rollin. They hatin’. *takes bow*] [Raven: *applauds*] I’m pretty sure that kind of rampant ableism wasn’t acceptable, even in the Eighties. She’s more like “my legs don’t work, so I must remain very still at all times, and dancing makes me think impure thoughts thanks to the Devil’s Pelvis”. [Wing: In Sweet Valley, that sort of ableism is absolutely acceptable, especially in SVH. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is still pressure put on students who use wheelchairs not to attend certain school functions, to be honest.]

George, who has offered little to the conversation other that a melancholy sigh and a cup of fucking water, makes his excuses and leaves. Again, George, grow a pair. If you’ve made the decision to martyr yourself, then commit to the piece. Shiny eyes, from the chest. Mean it, mean it, mean it. Don’t make the call and then emo-mope through every waking moment. You cleft. [Dove: So much this. Enid – if she is experiencing normal human feelings, which we cannot know for sure because we don’t get an Enid POV until much later – may be feeling like a burden right now. She will be contemplating what she can and cannot do post-accident, how making a cup of tea or putting on socks is now a thoroughly different process. The last thing she needs is some asshole grunting and sighing and staring at the floor as if Enid really is a burden.]

Once he’s gone, Enid confirms that she feels as if something is amiss with her beau. She’s worried about him, and thanks the heavens that she didn’t lose him in the accident. Elizabeth, who knows Enid lost him much earlier that their dip in Secca Lake, coos in sympathy but reveals nothing. [Wing: This is all such bullshit and, someone, one of the worst parts of the book to me. First of all, Liz always interferes, what the fuck is she doing here? Second, she should tell Enid what’s going on. This is a bullshit way to treat your friend.]

Then we’re back with George, at home. The Aviation Authority call to inform him that the plane has been recovered, and they will be examining the engine to ascertain the cause of the issue.

George still thinks it might be something he caused himself. He’s also sad about his recent visit with Enid, which was much harder than he’d anticipated. Just looking at her fills him with dishonesty and makes him feel cheap. We end the chapter with him crying.


The first chapter, while completely dull and lifeless, is actually becoming a thrilling dervish of delight. Comparatively.

Because every fucking other chapter in this book is packed with self-pitying inner monologues. And I’m over it.

“Oh noes, I crashed a plane! I’m a bad boyfriend.”

“Oh noes, my best friend is being cheated on! I can’t tell her. I’m a bad BFF.”

“Oh noes, I’m helping my new love cheat on his wheelchair-bound girlfriend. I’m a bad mistress.” *eats whole stick of butter*

“Oh noes, my mustard seeds are not grinding properly! I’m a bad cordon bleu chef.”


And I’m only on Chapter Five. Fuck my hat!

End aside.

This chapter starts with George and Elizabeth in the hospital waiting room. Enid is about to be wheeled in for her operation, and her friend / boyfriend are here for her.

They chat shit, and Elizabeth is actually quite feisty. She’s dismissive of George’s attempts at a frank discourse, and pretty much hand-waves him away when he whines that he and Robin are no longer an item.

Before they break out the daggers, they are ushered into Enid’s room to wish her well. She’s nervous and scared. They do their best to make her feel brave, but Elizabeth is secretly nervous and scared too. George is probably hoping Enid dies under anaesthetic, because that would solve all his fucking problems, but as we’re not party to his thoughts at this time then this is mere conjecture.

Enid mentions Elizabeth’s recent brush with death on the back of Todd’s short-lived motorcycle, before her friends promise that they’ll both be here when she wakes up after her operation. George looks at his watch when he makes his promise, or at least he does in my head, so that’s the canon I’m adopting. [Dove: I assume they have Jessica on standby, just in case it goes wrong. She can talk Enid back to life.]

And then we wait.

There’s a quick skip to Jessica’s cooking class here, for some light relief in the B Plot.


In pretty much every SVH book this far, Jessica has been a toxic nightmare. She’s gone from being our sweet sociopathic angel in Twins to a nightmare mega-mega beeyatch in High.

But in THIS book? She’s pretty much the one redeeming feature.

Don’t get me wrong. The book isn’t actually redeemed in any meaningful sense. But nevertheless, she’s the only tolerable character from beginning to end. And her complaints in here? All hugely justified. But we’ll get to them in time.

So, count me as #TeamJess again, for one story at least.

End aside.

Today, class in making puff pastry. In my recent baking odyssey (I’ve been learning how to bake for the past year, making delicious cakes and pastries one or two times a week), I’ve made puff pastry. It’s a tricky one, for sure, but it’s delicious when it works.

Predictably, Jessica is daydreaming about the lovely Jean-Pierre as she bakes, waxing lyrical to Lila about her fabulous future with the French chef on the romantic streets of Paris. Lila, happily, is more than willing to burst her friend’s delusional bubble by pointing out he’s far too old for Jessica, using language describing mental health and acumen that cannot really be condoned in a twenty-first century recap.

As Jean-Pierre commends Jessica’s pastry (sending Lila into apoplectic spasms of impotent rage), Jessica has a brilliant idea.

The Elder Wakefields are celebrating an anniversary soon. When? It doesn’t matter. Sometime within the scope of this book. And Jessica, forever forgetting this important milestone in the past, decides that she’ll plan a fine three-course romantic meal for the appropriate Friday.

The benefits of this plan are threefold. One: She’ll do something special for her parents, for which they will love her all the more. Two: She’ll do something better than Elizabeth, who’s always Super-Special-Twin#1 in the Wakefield House. And Three: She’ll involve Jean-Pierre, who’ll naturally fall in love with here in the process.

Win-win-win, baby!

[Wing: This is honesty cute as fuck. And the crush on an older man thing is very in character for all versions of Jess we’ve seen. I’m more surprised that Lila thinks he’s too old for her.]

Next, it’s post-operation. The doctor brings the news to Mama Rollins, George and Elizabeth…

Enid has died.

Mama Rollins collapses in a heap. Elizabeth stands, frozen in shock. And George punches the air while heading to his car to fetch Robin. [Dove: And everyone is very attractive.]


No, the operation is a qualified success. All went as well as can be expected, and hopefully, with a few weeks of rest and post-op care, Enid will be up and about again. Time to head to the dance, if that’s true!

Everyone is suitably pleased.

Mrs Rollins gets to visit her recovering child, leaving George and Elizabeth to have yet another conversation in the waiting room. This time, George is quick to leap on Elizabeth’s coldness of response to his conversational gambits. He tells her they can’t go on sniping at each other, especially as he’s ditched the whole Robin thing and is strictly a one-Enid man.

Elizabeth, however, doesn’t believe him when he says he’d never do anything to hurt her friend. She rounds on him in anger, vowing never to say anything to Enid about him and Robin, but telling him she doesn’t have to treat him nicely as she keeps quiet.

I think I actually like this Elizabeth. Huh. That’s a surprise. Who’d have thought that, going in?

George outlines all the people he’s hurt with this. Basically, it’s Enid, Robin, and her fella Allen Not-Appearing-In-This-Book. Elizabeth actually begins to feel sorry for him, as he does seem upset by everything. Unfortunately, this does make me feel naught but contempt for this usual weak-willed Elizabeth… so much for our fiery heroine.

Mrs Rollins emerges, and cuts off the dialogue. She’s happy, as her daughter is cured. Elizabeth is happy too, but that happiness is tempered by the whole George debacle. How will things progress now Enid is on the road to recovery?

*insert Eastenders drumbeat here*

Chapter Six starts with Robin, a full ten days after the crash. She’s alone, and inner monologuing, and has gained enough weight in ten days to have outgrown everything in her wardrobe. In fact, it’s more than that… she’s now big enough to fit into her pre-weight-loss clothes, some wraparound thing from her “fat” days.

So, in the ten days since the crash, she’s gained an apparent ten pounds.

No more food for a while, Robin had promised herself when she stepped off the scale. She’d gained ten pounds, and she hated the way she looked. It took too long to get myself thin. I’m not going to let my figure go because my whole life is falling apart.


She’s gained ten pounds, in ten fucking days?! Actually, in less than ten days, because a few of those (we learn) would have been happy as Enid’s return from hospital and prospective recovery were front and centre in the SVH news-scape.

Ten pounds in ten days… give your head a wobble. Weight loss is hard, and weight gain is similar. I eat like a fucking horse at times, and while my weight ebbs and flows I certainly can’t pile on ten POUNDS in a fucking week. That’s just ridiculous.

Oh, and “it took too long to get [your]self thin”, did it? I believe it took you a couple of weeks and a fucking tuna salad, you bellend. We were there, remember? [Wing: And some running! Because the sorority hazing did her a favor.]

Her monologue whitters on about her loneliness since the accident. No Allen or George visits. Allen was understandable, and George sticking to his guns and keeping his distance was also correct. Even so, sadface for Robin and her ten-pound ballooning. Poor little zeppelin. She’s also missing her close female companions, as everyone appeared to be avoiding her.

Elizabeth enters the Student Lounge in which Robin is being a lonely pony. Right on cue. Robin accosts her and begs for an audience. Elizabeth does her best to deflect, but eventually agrees to a sundae in Caseys later. Great, more opportunity to show Robin as a gelatinous blob, devouring all.

And lo, at their meet later that day, Robin reluctantly orders a hot fudge sundae, while Elizabeth opts for an iced tea.

Robin flushed. “I shouldn’t have a sundae, really. I’ve started to put some weight back on.”

“You look fine to me,” Elizabeth fibbed. As a matter of fact, Robin did look as if she’d gained some weight. But Elizabeth hadn’t come there to make small talk.

THERE. AGAIN. CASUAL ANTI-FAT BULLSHIT. And this time from the nice character you’re supposed to admire.



I’m beginning to let this absolute shithousery cloud me from the mission. I’m here to entertain with my witty and sometime acerbic commentary on a funny old book. This week, I’m definitely bringing the acid, but I’m finding it difficult to unearth the entertainment.

My commentary on the rest of this awful tripe will proceed at a pace. I can’t fully dwell on everything, and I’m red with rage and full of anti-SVH sentiment. And I’ve not even got to the horrendous anti-disability stuff that peppers the latter half of this book. I’ll crack on with what we have, but I’ll be sure to leave space for Dove to explode too.

I’m at seven thousand words for the first half of this awful, awful book. And only what, three thousand of them are about Fat Robin? Bollocks if I’m penning another seven thousand for the rest.

I’ll batter through the walls for our loyal readers, of course, but fucked if I’ll be sifting through the rubble for nuggets of gold.

This book is FUCKING SHIT.

End aside.

Robin asks why Liz (and others) have been avoiding her. When questioned directly, Liz tries to leave, but eventually admits that it’s all because of her and George’s shoddy respect for Enid from before the accident. And that now the accident has occurred…

Robin confirms that she and George are no longer an item. She also says that she hopes that maybe, once Enid is better, they can resume their philanderings with a clearer conscience.

[Wing: Robin is treated horribly by the Ghostie and this anti-fat bullshit. She is also being awful here, and willfully ignoring what should be right in front of her face. It’s clear that people know about you and George, honey. That’s why people are being shitty to you, Liz especially. You know Liz knows, even if you’ve managed to avoid learning that you’re again a gossip subject. And telling Enid’s BFF that you can’t wait to go back to romantic shenanigans as soon as Enid’s body gets itself back together is a really shitty way to approach this situation. Fucking hell.]

This annoys Elizabeth to no end. She storms off in disgust, as Robin does her best to communicate her feelings on the matter with some much-needed level-headed clarity. Fuck George, and fuck Robin, thinks Elizabeth. Enid is the only one worth considering now.

With Liz gone, Robin eats the fudge sundae. Because she might as well make it eleven pounds, right?

[Dove: Robin is such an unhealthy character. And it goes way beyond her weight. When we first met her, she was an anxious people-pleaser who was desperate to be loved. When humiliated in front of the whole school not once, not twice, not three times, but four, she finally snaps and starves her feelings. That was not a healthy diet. Instead of using chocolate cake to make herself feel better, she took power from starving her body. And then a boy liked her. And who knows if she even liked him back romantically. All we know is that Allen was the first person – of any gender – to be kind to her without an agenda. No, Liz, get back in your box. You were nice to her because it pissed off your sister. Now she’s met a boy she actually likes, and thanks to literally nobody caring about anything but her measurements, her world is thrown into complete despair because, even though he likes her back, she can’t have him.

Will someone notice this poor girl and take her to a therapist, because honestly, until she loves herself, she shouldn’t be throwing all her love at a boy. Particularly one that cheats. If he’ll cheat with you, he’ll cheat on you, Robin. That’s just how it goes. You need help. You need love and support. You need a healthy relationship with food. And other humans. You need so much, and you’ll never get it in Sweet Valley. And I say that knowing full-well what’s coming in book 74.] [Raven: NO SPOILERS!]

At the Wakefield Compound, at dinner, Jessica asks when she can cook for the tribe. Mama Wakefield asks if she’s up for it. Your daughter is on a fucking CORDON BLEU COOKING COURSE, you gin-addled twat. And she’s cooked for you countless times in Twins. Have some perspicacity.

With some alarming continuity, we learn that the twins have both been selected to be tour guides in the summer. Looks like Liz’s exam gymnastics from earlier in the series has earned dividends. To facilitate, the twins are given full-time shared access to the Red Fiat Spider. Result!

To celebrate, Elizabeth asks if she can have a dinner party at the Compound on Friday night. Just her, Todd, Enid and George. The Elders agree, as they will be out that Friday. And Jessica? She’ll be practicing her cordon bleu cooking elsewhere, so all is good.

Elizabeth then heads to call Todd. In the back of her mind, she has a nagging suspicion that Enid’s recovery isn’t going as well as can be expected. While the doctors are saying that she should be up and on her feet in no time, it seems that Enid is not exactly being proactive in the whole recovery department. Something is bothering little miss Rollins… is there something extra going on here?

Of course there is. It’s Sweet Fucking Valley.

[Dove: Just putting this out there: While I did say earlier the day after I had my hip replaced I was allowed to pee alone, there was another thing I had to do before I went home: the stairs. I had to go up and down the stairs three times before I could go home. And while it doesn’t surprise me that the medical staff in SV are just as hopeless as the teachers, it infuriates me that the ghostie didn’t do any research at all. With a big operation like that, they want to make sure you can function. They don’t just shrug helplessly and give you a wheelchair in case things went wrong.]

Suddenly, it’s Friday, and Elizabeth’s dinner party. The gang are eating spaghetti. However, all is not fine in Casa Wakefield. Why? Because, shock horror, Enid has the audacity to arrive in her wheelchair. Surely she should be river-dancing by now?!

As Elizabeth puts it…

“I can’t bear it,” Elizabeth said. “I can’t stand the thought of Enid living like an invalid!”

“Just give her time,” Todd had said soothingly, putting his arms around her and kissing the top of her head. But Elizabeth could tell that Todd was worried, too.


[Dove: Fuck off, Liz. Just fuck off forever and a day. And when you’re old and withered and you don’t have the energy to go on, just fuck off a bit further.]

This book has officially ground my gears, boiled my piss, and frazzled my brain. What the hell was this Ghostie thinking?!


Fair readers… is this a particularly loved or hated book? Am I making too much of it’s terrible nature? Do most readers shrug and say, “meh, it’s Sweet Valley”, or is this one of the most hated in the series? Because, for me, it’s been the worst so far, and that includes the books with Bruce Patman and his diabolical actions. Actually, that probably reflects badly on me. Best not print this bit.

Oops, too late.

End aside.

Dove, care to comment on this bollocks from an informed perspective?

[Dove: My informed perspective is on you. Basically the reason that you’re angry is because you live with a mobility impaired woman and you’re pissed off that Liz and her snooty fucking judgment is looking down on you (and me), but you’re also so fucking nice that you view disability as “my thing” because it’s my disability and you feel like you can’t weigh in on it – dude, you can. Also, I’ll weigh in later, I’m assuming you’ve quoted the bit that stuck in my craw. tl;dr: Raven is awesome. Feel free to swoon at him. I’m not threatened. He is swoonworthy.] [Raven: Oh, behave yourself. *blushes*]

The dining experience proves to be predictable. Enid sounds too forced and jolly throughout, while George is largely sullen and unforthcoming. Todd and Elizabeth simply ride the waves with wide eyes and quivering bottom lips. How can things have descended to this?

The only thing of import that we learn is that Enid’s post-op recovery programme is punishing, and she finds it exhausting. Is she overstating this to remain weak and in need of George’s care? I’ll leave that question to the philosophers. [Dove: I will concede that the post-op workouts are ridiculously hard for something so easy. I had to rest a hand on the kitchen counter and lift my leg ten times, up then sideways, etc. And I would be sweating bullets by the end of it. The pain and the new stiffness is so hard to battle through. That said, since it later shows that Enid can’t move at all, I’m wondering how she’s finding it so hard, since allegedly she can’t do any of it.]

Eventually, once the small talk has dried, George makes his feeble excuses and leaves. This upsets Enid, and the atmosphere becomes bleak once he has gone. She asks that, instead of staying to watch a video, she be taken home to rest. Elizabeth and Todd agree to that proposal, as the party is pretty dead at this point. They take Enid home, leaving the unwashed dishes in the sink for the purposes of the B Plot.

The B Plot is expanded in the following section, in which Jessica lounges in her room and concocts her planned romantic meal for the Elder Wakefield Anniversary two weeks hence. She’s  just returned from Cara’s, and her sister is nowhere to be seen (she’s taken Enid home with Todd). The Elders are still out.

While planning a delicious-sounding meal, she also daydreams about the hunky chef. Standard.

This section? On the face of it, it’s pretty rote stuff. But I think it has an undercurrent of sadness, almost heartbreak.

Jessica was excited about the surprise dinner for her parents. For once, she told herself triumphantly, she was going to be the good daughter. Lying back on her bed and closing her eyes, she imagined the expressions of love and joy on her parents’ faces as she led them into the dining room. “Dinner is served,” she would say, clapping her hands—and instantly the table would be spread with exotic dishes—chicken cordon bleu, filet mignon, veal piccatta…

And Elizabeth, Jessica daydreamed happily, would have been so wrapped up in Enid that she’d have forgotten all about their anniversary. She wouldn’t have bought them a single thing. And no matter what they said she’d feel absolutely terrible. Jessica would have to pretend Elizabeth helped her make something really easy, like the rice. But they’d know she had really done it all. And Elizabeth would feel like a jerk—

Poor, overlooked Jessica! It’s actually quite nice to see her acknowledge her position in the family hierarchy. It’s all a little too real and near the knuckle. [Dove: This is the kind of Jessica we saw on occasion in Twins, and I fully support that Jessica is overlooked, I just wish she hadn’t been so awful for the first run of these books.] [Wing: I buy it less here that she is both overlooked and cared that she is overlooked than I did when we saw it in Twins. It’s here in this book, but I don’t think it really flowed all that clearly through earlier books. However, I like Jessica’s b plot in this, even if it is also mostly boring, so I’m trying to roll with it. It’s certainly a better bit of story for her than everything else she’s done in SVH so far.]

Peace is shattered (actually, peace is sharted) by The Sainted Alice, bellowing for her younger daughter. Her parents storm into her brown-painted and cluttered bedroom, where she is blamed for the ungodly pile of dishes in the sink. Both Mama and Papa wade in with their unwarranted approbation, barely giving her a second to respond.

When Jessica does manage to proclaim her innocence, her parents offer a shitty little apology and ask if Elizabeth is about too. When the answer is no, Alice says “ah well, I’m sure Liz had a reason to leave the dishes”, while Ned takes a dig at his daughter’s bedroom decoration.

[Wing: Here’s a prime example! If I take this scene outside of the rest of the series, it’s absolutely terrible that they jump all over Jess and always give Liz the benefit of the doubt, don’t even see the way they’re treating their daughters so very differently. It just feels out of nowhere for me. Like an RKO.]

Jess is absolutely fuming… leading to this:

Jessica didn’t answer. I’ll show them, she thought bitterly, turning back to her recipes. I’ll make them the best dinner they’ve ever eaten, and they’ll be so sorry they insulted me they’ll just beg me to forgive them.

I mean, what in the actual fuck? That’s such an odd response. “I’ll make them pay by cooking them a lovely meal. Then they’ll be sorry!”

That’s not the Jessica we know, not by a long chalk. I expected a machete attack at the very least. [Dove: That’s what I wanted. Because Jessica and Elizabeth didn’t just happen. They were enabled every step of the way by their awful parents. Just off Alice and Ned. They’re terrible.]

Next chapter, We’re at Chez Rollins. Enid is waiting, in her wheelchair, for George. She muses about the cracks in their relationship. No kisses all week, reluctance to meet up, all that jazz. It’s going badly, and Enid knows it.

While we’re in her head, we get confirmation that Enid’s focus on rehabilitation hasn’t been exactly stellar. She can’t do the exercises, she’s always tired, and she doesn’t believe she’ll ever get better. While I understand this is leading to her “non-recovery” being blamed on her desire to keep George in her thrall, there could be countless other reasons for her rehabilitation to be progressing slowly. Shock, perhaps, or Depression. Or maybe the doctors have missed some nerve damage? But does the book touch on these, even if just to make them disappear with the Plot Wand? Does it fuck.

[Dove: Raven and I went back to see my specialist after the hip replacement because I was in a lot of pain. They did x-rays and confirmed that mine was almost picture perfect, they showed me how to measure success on a replacement and mine was bang on the money. They explained that I was tired and overwhelmed, but eventually my body would get used to it (and to keep up those exercises because they have a purpose… and yeah, I’d dropped off that routine after awhile). And they were right. Why isn’t Team Rollins looking into this?]

George arrives, and, again, he’s hardly a ray of fucking sunshine. It’s clear he’d rather be anywhere else. Or, at least, it’s clear he’d rather be with Robin.

Enid asks George to the dance that coming Friday. George asks if she thinks she’ll be up to it, and then agrees to take her “if that’s what she wants”. I actually feel sad for Enid here, as it’s tough to watch a relationship break down. And this one is clearly done and dusted, plane crashes and infidelity aside. I guess the Ghostie should be commended here?

No. Fuck ‘em. The book’s a tyre fire.

Enid then cold-asks George if there’s anything wrong. George, emotional, tells her that there is not. Undeterred, Enid ploughs on, declaring that she misses George when he doesn’t call to visit, and that she’d be completely screwed without him. He’s her whole world.

This massively upsets George, and he begs her not to say such things. They end the scene crying, in an embrace, but it’s clear that neither of them are particularly happy.

[Wing: I’ll probably touch on this later, but I think this is why I don’t hate the book the way my delightful fellow recappers do. Enid makes George her entire life, and the story treats it as a bad thing. Which it is! And it’s something that has deeply impacted my relationships (used broadly to cover not just romantic relationships) because I refuse to be the sole piece of someone’s life. Yes, Enid has other people, but she is putting a lot of emotional weight on George in a way that already feels very manipulative, and the book recognizes it is bad. I’m shocked that it does and find the book slightly less hateful because of it.]

Next up, a pleasant scene in the B Plot. Lila and Jessica are learning about Entrees in the Cordon Bleu cooking class. Lila is about to quit, and Jessica is about to ask Jean-Pierre to accompany her to the upcoming High School Dance. The chat between Jessica and Lila is sparkling, and the scene is one of the more engaging passages.

Eventually, Jessica manufactures a reason to stay after class to pop her question. But, before she can, the door opens and in barges a cute redhead that turns out to be… Jean-Pierre’s wife.

Okay, so I lolled.

Jessica thanks her lucky stars that she didn’t embarrass herself by asking him to the High School Dance, and moves on with her life without so much as a dent in her pride. Gotta admit, I wish I had her self-confidence.

So no more mooning over the married chef. Just more effort in the surprise anniversary meal. Bosh, job done. [Dove: I even gave her kudos here. Earlier-books Jess would have burned down the place, accused him of rape and felt “triggered” every time she looked at a menu. This one keeps on with her new hobby and moves on.] [Wing: She’s fucking adorable throughout this b plot. I love when Jess embraces a new hobby and is more like SVT or SVJH Jess and less like lying about rape Jess.]

Then it’s Wednesday afternoon, in school, and Elizabeth is planning to visit Enid. Elizabeth thinks Enid might be depressed, and tells Todd so. Well done, Liz. Top marks for spotting the bleeding obvious.

She also posits her depression is likely to do with George. In order to help her snap out of it, Elizabeth has promised to help Enid pick out a nice dress from her closet for that Friday’s dance.

At Enid’s, she picks out one dress from a choice of two, as Enid shows her a brand new motorised wheelchair. Now Enid can be self-sufficient in the motability department, unless she wants to go upstairs. Verily, she’s the epitome of a Ditch-Water-Dull Californian Dalek. [Dove: The privilege right here is amazing. I know Enid’s depressed – it would be over more than her boyfriend, if the ghostie had any depth – but the fact that nobody is checking her spine and just accepting that she’ll never walk again, and they can just get a brand new motorised wheelchair… my gears are grinding right now.] [Wing: The cost of a fucking motorized wheelchair, too. Fucking hell. Even used.]

Liz tells Enid that she hopefully won’t need the new wheelchair for long, and that she expects to see Enid dancing at the dance on Friday. This shits on Enid’s turnips, and the mood shifts.

Enid, upset, asks her friend if she thinks there’s an issue with George. Does George hate her? Elizabeth, continuing in her belief that she shouldn’t interfere, still refuses to tell her BEST FUCKING FRIEND about the shit that’s been happening, because “it’s not her place to tell Enid anything”.

Look, I’m sorry, but enough’s enough. She’s your BEST FUCKING FRIEND. You’ve given George every fucking opportunity to get his shit together and get off the fucking fence. It’s time to look after your BEST FRIEND’S MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELLBEING and help everyone move on with their fucking lives.

Especially me. Because I’m sick of all this bullshit.

[Wing: Elizabeth is the fucking worst.]

Chapter Nine! It’s time for the High School Dance. The gymnasium looks wonderful. In a move that’d make Amy Sutton seethe with envy, Jessica is accompanied to the dance by the sweet-but-dull Ken Matthews. Also there? Mr Collins, and his new beau: the French teacher Nora Dalton (an ex of George Fowler, apparently). [Wing: I zero percent believe Sweet Valley High has dances in gyms.]

Robin Wilson is also there, with some kid from LA called Stan. Jessica also notes that Robin has gained weight. SIGH.

Lila is also there, with someone called Louis Scott. He’s a boring sophomore from Sweet Valley College, and Lila wants to ditch him immediately.

Eventually, Enid and George arrive, double-dating with Elizabeth and Todd. Enid is in her motorized wheelchair. George is in his… shoes?

Robin and George lock eyes. Both are obviously in love, and in pain. Jessica notes that there’s definitely trouble ahead.

In Enid’s head, we see her nervous demeanour as the foursome enter the gymnasium. She calls herself a cripple, to which Elizabeth tells her she’s not a cripple, and as I know that Dove has a particular issue with this phrase I’ll cede the floor to her.

[Dove: Once again, I’m trying to be fair to Enid’s depression, and in a better book, I wouldn’t have to give myself a talking-to about anything. A better book would realise that this is Enid’s story, and not Liz’s and show her struggle. But we have this one. And I’m trying to be fair, but damn when I saw that word, my stomach curled up. You can fuck off, Enid. That’s not your word. You are a week out of hospital, you’ve made no fucking effort in your recovery, and now you’re just slinging words like that around so that people will feel sorry for you. Well FUCK YOU. Just fuck you. Fuck the ghostie, fuck Enid’s feeble non-attempts at recovery, and fuck this book. Once again, I am aware she has depression (not that it’s ever officially diagnosed, and she gets over it in a page, so actually, fuck that too), but that word just hit too hard to let it completely go.]

When Todd and Elizabeth go to dance, it’s clear to Enid that she and George have simply nothing to say to each other. The atmosphere between them is dead. George eventually leaves to fetch drinks, to allow a cast of female student also-rans like Caroline Pearce and Olivia Davidson to gather and coo about her dress, her wheelchair, her plight. During the melee, she scans the crowd, looking for her boyfriend and his promised drinks.

Then she spots him, gesturing earnestly to a dark-haired girl in a purple dress. It’s Robin Wilson.

Enid puts two and two together. Robin has recently split with Allen Not-In-This-Book, due to another unknown man in her life. Robin and George were learners at Pilot School together. QE fucking D, folks.

Bravely, she tells herself she’s paranoid. But, later that evening, she tells George that he should go and dance with someone. She couldn’t dance with him, after all. No need for him to be all Ron Weasley about the evening.

[Wing: Even ignoring everything else, you absolutely fucking can dance with someone in a wheelchair. Be more fucking creative. (Yes, she’s depressed, I feel for her, but that’s not how ghostie is treating this and so I won’t either.)]

So, off goes George to dance. Enid hopes he’ll choose someone unthreatening, like Elizabeth. I hoped he’d choose someone very threatening, like Bruce Patman, or someone frankly bizarre and unfathomable, like Scrat from Ice Age.

But of course, he chooses Robin. And it’s obvious that they are in love.

Elizabeth returns to clock her friends stricken face. And in the next section, she tells Todd all about it. Apparently, Enid asked George on his return if he were in love with Robin. He admitted it, relieved it was all out in the open, but of course she was devastated. She asked to be taken home, which he did. And she cried as she left.

Todd suggests that perhaps Enid would like the company and counsel of her best friend, but Elizabeth isn’t convinced. She thinks Enid probably needs her space. Erm, really? Okay, so I’m not a girl, but I for one would definitely require my BFF to come comfort me in such a troubling time. Or am I being obtuse here? [Dove: I would also need a BFF. Even if it was too raw to talk about, I’d want the comfort of someone having a cup of tea with me and supporting my devastation.] [Wing: It could go either way for me. I might want someone to just be silent with me, I might want to be completely alone.]

Elizabeth promises to drop in on Enid the following day.

The remainder of the chapter deals with the B Plot, in which Elizabeth remembers her parents’ anniversary that coming Friday, and at Todd’s suggestion decides to buy them tickets to dinner-theatre at the Bayside on that night to celebrate.

So that would scupper Jessica’s planned anniversary meal. Poor Jess! Although I suspect if she wasn’t so hellbent on making Elizabeth look bad and just told her of the plan, Elizabeth would likely be right behind it.

Elizabeth catches up with Enid on Sunday (not Saturday, as Enid was at Physical Therapy when she called). When asked about how she felt after the dance, Enid no-ma’ams the whole debacle. George doesn’t love Robin. It was all a misunderstanding. There is nothing to see here, move along please. And all the time, she keeps up an iron-faced and stony resolve.

With some prying, Liz gets a more nuanced picture. Enid “doesn’t know” how George feels, but whatever he’s feeling, Liz can’t expect George to drop Enid for anyone else while she’s in a wheelchair, now can she? George is all that Enid has, so as far as the world is concerned it’s business as usual.

My my, how very healthy. This is some Jessica-level manipulation here. [Dove: I’m sorry, Enid, did literally everyone in your life die? Are you penniless and desperate? Or are you just a wealthy, well-loved girl with friends and family, who has the best wheelchair that money can buy? If it’s the latter, then George is not “all that I’ve got”. Fuck off. I hope you die. Or everyone else dies. And you’re left penniless and homeless. Then George can be the only thing in your life.]

Appalled, Elizabeth enquires about Enid’s progress at Physical Therapy. Enid delivers the power blow at this point:

“Let’s face it,” Enid added, powering her wheelchair to the door. “No matter what anyone says, Liz, I’m never going to walk again. I’m going to be a cripple for the rest of my life. And the sooner you and everyone else gets used to the idea, the easier it’ll be!”

Rightio then. [Dove: I’d love to see some of these PT sessions. Because mine were brutal. Some 12 year old (ok, that’s hyperbole, but they’re so young!), full of perk and enthusiasm asked me to do the simplest of movements while I swore I couldn’t and after lots of sweating and complaining, I could do it. And then I’d be showered in praise – which felt great. And then the devious schemer would say, “But Dove, you say you can’t do it, but remember last week when you said the same thing, and then you did?” Monster. And from what I’ve heard, all PTs are the same. They’re just smiling girls with ponytails who you don’t want to disappoint. Manipulative AF. I dare Enid to disappoint these girls. (Never had a male PT, so can’t comment on them. Suspect they’ve got smiles so big they should be on college prospectuses.)] [Wing: I’ve not had one myself, but I’ve accompanied people to them, and yes, male PTs are also perky and enthusiastic and obnoxious with their logic.]

Back in the Wakefield Compound, Elizabeth tells Jessica all about it, as Jessica is cooking up a large seafood platter for the family dinner that evening. Jessica isn’t playing any attention to her sister, as the recipe (mussels, clams, crabmeat, lobster) is tricky. She’s right, of course. I’ve played Dreamlight Valley, and you also need to add a lemon.

I will highlight this section, because it made me laugh. Elizabeth is enquiring about the dish being prepared:

“Does it have a name?”

“No,” Jessica admitted. “It’s too good for a name. Don’t worry, Liz. You’re going to love it.”

While cooking, Jessica gives some sage advice to Elizabeth regarding Enid. The poor girl has nothing to gain by walking, as such a recovery would only drive George into Robin’s arms. Elizabeth wonders if Enid could stoop so low as to fake her non-recovery, to which Jessica shrugs. Nice to know it’d not be beneath Jessica if such a fate befell her.

Anyway, even though Jean-Pierre was very pleased with Jessica’s work in the beginner’s cookery course, and even suggested she take the intermediate level. Jessica proceeds to give her whole family food poisoning by incorrectly cooking the mussels. So this book as an off-screen shitting-and-vomiting scene alongside all the other crap. Nice!

Alice, Ned and Elizabeth all fall foul of Jessica’s fail, while Jessica remains unaffected as she didn’t eat much after doing so much hard work in prep. She’s understandably upset, but vows it won’t affect her resolve to serve the wonderful meal for the Elder Wakefields’ anniversary the following Friday.

[Dove: I love the way that despite all the sickness, they all find time to shout at her and threaten her for the lolz. Maybe I’m just precious, but when my innards are gushing out of every orifice I only have the energy to pathetically whimper “Don’t come in” to anyone stupid enough to venture near the bathroom. And that’s not anger, that’s me telling them to save themselves.]

[Wing: I know she just poisoned them all accidentally. I know she did, and they feel awful, and they’re understandably frustrated. But fucking hell, they are shit to Jess. She fucked up! It happens! Cut her some fucking slack! Perhaps if you ever taught her a goddamn thing, this might not have happened. And even if it did, she didn’t intentionally poison you. Believe me, she’d have done a better job at it than this if she actually tried.]

Whether her parents would accept such a gift after that evening’s debacle remains to be seen.

Later that evening, while speaking to Todd and discussing the adventures over dinner, she tells her beau that she’s come up with a plan to get Enid out of her wheelchair. Because she’s decided that her best friend’s paralysis is all in her head. The doctors, who could never be wrong or miss anything, tell her that Enid should be walking, so GODDAMN IT Liz will do whatever it fucking takes to get Enid on her feet.

The absolute gall of this bitch.

First up, Elizabeth discusses Enid’s condition with Mrs Rollins. Her friend’s mother confirms that the doctors think there is nothing wrong with Enid’s physical ability. They believe the only thing keeping her in the wheelchair is a mental block against recovery, which is apparently more common than people realise.

Elizabeth feels it’s not her place to mention Enid’s situation with George, but she does learn that G-Dawg has gone camping for a few days to clear his head. [Dove: I can’t discuss my friend’s boyfriend with her mother. But I can definitely ask her mother about my friend’s physical and mental health. There are lines you just can’t cross.]

Nice one, dickhead. Cheat on your girl, crash a plane with her in it, watch her get paralysed while saving her life, say you’ll stay with her out of gratitude but then do fuck all but moan and mope when you “have to” be with her, flaunt your new love directly in her face at the first fucking opportunity, then fuck off into the mountains to “find yourself” as soon as you dickishness is revealed? You’re a damn disgrace, son.

For the second phase of her plan, Elizabeth visits Mr Collins. There, she sees him at home with Nora Dalton, before asking him if she could borrow his six-year-old son.


At this point of the recap, I can’t remember the son’s name.

So I’m going to guess.

While I’d love to suggest Edwin or Justin for lols, I’m gonna say… Rupert?

Nope, it’s Teddy. Of course it is.

End aside.

As Elizabeth has often babysat Teddy in the past, and because it’s all part of Elizabeth’s plan to “help” Enid out of her funk, Mr Collins agrees. The game is afoot.


I know that this aside is quick on the heels of the previous one, but I’ve had an idea for a future book.

So, Elizabeth pops over to see Mr Collins, and asks once more to borrow the six-year-old Teddy. This time it’s to, I dunno, help a new girl overcome her fear of snakes or something. Mr Collins is only too happy to oblige. After all, it’s Elizabeth.

Only it’s not. It’s Jessica. And she’s kidnapping Teddy.

Why? Because she’s fallen in love with a man she met at the library. A man with high cheekbones and an intense stare, who (it turns out) is just the cutest young Satanic Cultist that she’s ever seen. And he needs a sacrifice for that evening’s rite, so Jessica is so happy to oblige in exchange for him being her date to the Spring Formal. Lila will be so jealous! [Dove: Here was me thinking she was going for another older man, and this one really goes for single mothers, because they’re vulnerable/they demonstrably put out. And she’s like, “Damn, I need an illegitimate son.”] [Wing: I love the hell out of both these ideas.]

Teddy gets rescued, of course. Elizabeth and Enid crack the case and expose the cult before any serious damage is done. Maybe he loses a finger, maybe an eye, something like that, nothing too harrowing.

Jessica gets tried for kidnap, but she’s acquitted when both Elizabeth and Mr Collins give her a character reference. She’s just high spirited, is all. No harm, no foul. Teddy has another eye, and more fingers. He’ll be fine.

Everyone then goes to Casey’s Place for ice cream. Except the cute Cultist, of course. He’s revealed to be yet another fucking Patman, and thus the wheel keeps revolving.

I’d recap the SHIT out of that book.

End aside.

It’s then Monday, before dinner. The day after Food-Poison-Gate. Jessica returns from her cooking class, still smarting at the treatment she received at the hands of her ungrateful vomiting family the previous evening.

She plans a revised meal for the anniversary on Friday. It sounds quite nice, too. veal piccata, string beans, wild rice, and raspberry torte for dessert. But when she asks if her mother would like help with that evening’s meal, Alice makes a pithy little joke about the Large Seafood Platter, and then accuses Jess of being too sensitive when she reacts badly.

Jess departs, musing that it’s fine when Elizabeth is sensitive, but not when she is. And if I’m honest, I’m totally with her on this. Jess does get treated very badly in this book. It’s fine setup for the next – Runaway – but it’s a shame that the rest of this book is so downright offensive. [Dove: Yep. Jessica is the one thing I wanted more of in this book.]

Next chapter, Wednesday evening. Mexican restaurant. The Wakefields, sans Steven.

Liz mopes about Enid. Jessica blames George for fooling around with Robin. The Elders admonish Jessica for being indiscrete in the restaurant. Ned tells Jess that she could be sued for slander. Way to over-react, you ithig-spouting jebenf.

The conversation proceeds until Elizabeth finally admits that she’s now feeling sorry for George. Enid is being manipulative, and refusing to hear what George has to say.

Ned congratulates Elizabeth for her objectivity, futher riling his more volcanic daughter.

Elizabeth then tells her parents about the booking for dinner theatre on Friday, for their anniversary. They are both thrilled. Alice especially. When Jessica tells them she had plans to cook them a lovely dinner that evening, Ned grins and thanks her, but says he probably won’t be fully recovered from the previous night’s mussel-shits.

While this is perfectly acceptable family-style discourse, I can’t help but feel sorry for Jessica at this time. She’s supremely pissed off, and upset. Alice suggests they do it on Saturday, once she realises that Jess is legitimately bummed, but the damage is done. Food arrives, we move on.

Poor, poor Jess. This book is diabolical, but the Jessica side plot is the one piece of prose that I don’t actively abhor.

Next section? Elizabeth apologises to Robin for her conduct in their sundae meeting at Casey’s Place. She also tells Robin that she’s not unsympathetic to her and George’s plight. Robin forgives her, of course, and probably loses ten pounds when doing so. I’ve heard of getting a weight off your mind, but this is ridiculous.

Finally, we hit the Big Plan for Enid’s Recovery. Elizabeth calls her friend and demands she visit the Wakefield Compound the following day, on the pretext that they need to discuss something important. Once Enid is on board with the idea, she calls Mr Collins to invite Teddy over to the Compound the following afternoon too. She checks that the boy is a fine swimmer (and he is “the best,” according to Teddy himself), and tells him she’ll tell him the mysterious plan when he arrives.

The next day arrives, and Teddy is poolside at the Compound. Elizabeth is waiting for Enid, who duly (not dully (or dullly (or dulllly (or dullllly)))) arrives. Once the wheelchair is ensconced by the pool, Elizabeth enacts Phase 2 by making a feeble excuse and disappearing indoors.

Once she’s out of the picture, Teddy springs into action. He makes a play of falling into the pool, then pretends he’s drowning, clearly distressed, in front of a horrified Enid.

At first, Enid screams for Elizabeth’s help, but of course there’s no help forthcoming. So Enid, operating on instinct, leaps from her wheelchair and dives into the pool to save the drowning boy.

Hooray! Enid can walk! Let joy be unconfuckingfined.

Elizabeth returns and tries keeping the ruse going, but Jessica arrives and announces that Teddy is a fine swimmer. This causes Enid’s confusion, before Elizabeth confesses about her part in the ruse.

Rather than feel tricked and manipulated, Enid is actually thrilled. Her mental block has dissolved, and alongside her feeling fresh and fighting fit, she also now realises that she must finish things with George so he can be free to stick his dick in Robin. As long as Robin’s still sexy and thin, of course, which no doubt she will be once she loses twelve pounds overnight.

They also decide that, instead of returning the motorised wheelchair, or donating it to someone who needs it, they should simply drown it in an act of supreme entitlement and privilege. The pair of absolute cunts. [Dove: Yep. Now she’s no longer a “cripple”, let’s destroy something that would literally change someone’s life. I hate this so much. And even if they don’t want to donate it, that’s about $2,000 of the Rollins’ money (in today’s rates) they want to throw in the pool. lol! isn’t that FUNNY! Aren’t we just ROLLIN in the AISLES!]

The chapter ends with Elizabeth going to the Dairi Burger and getting a standing ovation from all her friends, for her excellent ruse that got Enid walking. Her parents also toast to her fine achievement, praising her for being a most excellent daughter.

I’m now positive that this Ghostie is just taking the piss. ALL HAIL ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD, SAVIOUR OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY. I think if I’d not bugged out of this so early, the final section would have actually made me vomit up my fucking liver and fast-bowl it over a motorway bypass in absolute soul-burning fury. [Dove: This had exactly the same energy as when Mr McCormick was reunited with his long-lost kids. And he was so moved to be back with his family that he wrote a song… about Elizabeth.]

Last chapter, brief notes. On the beach, Saturday, Elizabeth and Enid. All is well. George and Robin are now together, off-screen. No bad blood, anywhere. Also, George has received news that he’s in no way responsible for the plane crash. It was engine failure, pure and simple.

Finally, there’s more foreshadowy teasing of Jessica by the Elder Wakefields, which prompts her internal monologue that announces she’s prime and ready to… run away from home.

Join us next week for our recap of Runaway. Which, we hope, will be better that this crock of shit book.

Final Thoughts:

I’m thinking that, perhaps, my final thoughts on this book are rather moot. I’ve been nothing if not clear on my feelings.

First, there’s the constant denigration of fat and fat people. But I’ve shouted from that particular rooftop for long enough.

Then there’s the anti-disabled screed that permeates the entire story. It’s insidious and upsetting and wholly unacceptable.

Continuing, there’s the totally uninteresting and over-wrought initial chapter, chronicling the crash and its immediate aftermath. That could, and should, have been thrilling and suspenseful. Instead? Ditch water.

And then there’s the internal monologues. The interminable, infernal, internal monologues. They’re all the fucking same.

There are many, many reasons why I hate this book, why I place it at the bottom of the totem pole of the series thus far. And all of them are valid, and worthy, and correct.

But the real reason I hate this book?

The fucking cover.

The picture has nothing to do with the story! At no point does Elizabeth cradle Enid in her arms and pensively stare out of frame. She’s nowhere near the damn crash scene. Which was in a fucking lake, so even if she were, she’d have almost drowned.

Kill it with fire, then salt the ashes.

[Dove: I’m with Raven. Except. Except at least I could react to this book. Showdown was breathtakingly dull. I was bored. Wing was bored. Raven was bored. The readers were bored (yeah, I see you guys not commenting). And that was because nothing happened and nothing was offensive. It was just beige paint. And you can’t really feel anything beyond “uhn” about beige paint. This is boring and offensive, and feeling offended generates anecdotes and asides. So this is no way a good book, but I feel that it’s actually better than the meh of Showdown, because while this is awful, it’s got enough happening that causes engagement. And that’s more interesting than all the inoffensive beige paint in the world.]

[Wing: I found this book low meh to bad, except for the Jessica b plot. I said this earlier and I’ll say it again: I realized in reading this recap that one of the main things that kept it from being KILL IT WITH FIRE for me is that Enid’s determination to make George the center of her world and the emotional responsibility that places on him is treated as a bad thing. It’s not often treated like that! It’s not often even acknowledged! It’s far too frequently shown as romantic and #relationshipgoals! I’m shocked to see it handled this way in a SVH book, and that went a long way to bring me back from the rage at the ableism and fat hate, both of which are rampant in this series and this book.]