Title: Too Much In Love
Tagline: Will DeeDee’s dependence chase Bill away?
Summary: Hanging on for love…
Bill Chase and DeeDee Gordon have been happy together for a long time. But lately DeeDee has become too dependent on Bill. She wants to do everything and go everywhere with him. Bill feels that he doesn’t have any room to breathe and decides it’s over between them.
Elizabeth doesn’t know why DeeDee is acting the way she is, but she knows DeeDee’s strange behavior is killing her relationship. Can Elizabeth help DeeDee regain her strength and independence before it’s too late?
If I’m honest, my initial though is “jees, is it my turn to recap a book already?!”
Oh, and I also get a vibe of The Specials from the book’s clunky title.
Otherwise, the premise of the story does little to tweak my nethers. It’s a book that centres on Bill Chase and DeeDee Gordon, a pair of peripherals about which I give zero fucks. I guess I should be thankful that the demon that currently possesses Jessica Wakefield isn’t front and centre for once, which should dial down the horrible by a factor. Although that’s like ordering Spam, Egg, Baked Beans and Spam from the menu when you hate Spam, because the dish doesn’t have much Spam in it.
Here’s hoping the balance is good on this one. I’m Baby Bear, so it has to be just right.
[Dove: Well, I know it’s going to be better than The Perfect Summer, but honestly, that’s not saying much. Also, I have zero interest in Bill or DeeDee. But this is Raven’s problem. All I have to do is read it and comment.]
[Wing: My brain is still all kerfuffled over reading the wrong book last week and not knowing how these books fit together and then not even knowing for certain whether it was my turn to recap or not. Not only has Sweet Valley Time infected the books but my life is now atremble from it.]
The cover is pale Cyan, the text is Eighties Magenta, and the background fill of the gaping picture chasm is piss-yellow. Truly, this is the most jarring and incongruent colour-mix of the series thus far. It’s at once sinister, outdated and vomitous in one unhappy spread.
The characters in the gaping picture chasm are, presumably, Bill Chase and DeeDee Gordon. Bill Chase is blonde and bored-looking, wearing some sort of white hoodie. He looks like a cult member at worst, or a cult leader at best. His chin almost rests on DeeDee Gordon’s head, which is leant on his chest, along with her hand (positioned over his presumably taut surfer’s pectoral). DeeDee looks about thirty, with a tousled brown single-mom mop of hair. Her eyes are open, suggesting peace alongside a tiny smile. She’s wearing an amorphous blue Oodie of some description, proving that she’s ahead of the fashion curve by a factor of thirty years. Or a time traveller.
Overall, it’s a bloody creepy cover that does not look like a pair of loving teenagers, going through a tough time or otherwise.
Apparently, we recappers will be obsoleted soon.
It’s ChatGPT’s fault. If you’re unfamiliar with ChatGPT, I’ll let ChatGPT itself explain the details….
“ChatGPT is a large language model that has been trained using a deep learning algorithm called GPT-3.5, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3.5. Essentially, ChatGPT is a machine learning program that is designed to understand natural language and respond to questions and statements in a way that mimics human conversation. It has been trained on vast amounts of text data from the internet and can use that knowledge to provide intelligent and informative responses to a wide range of queries. ChatGPT has the potential to be a valuable tool for research, education, and communication, and is already being used in various industries to automate tasks and provide personalized customer support.”
Basically, you ask ChatGPT to write something. Anything. And it gives it the good ol’ college try, to a scarily good level of competence. It can do everything we can do, in a fraction of the time that we can do it. It doesn’t get distracted by cooking dinner, or sparring cats, or Ted Lasso. It simply takes a prompt, and flies.
I for one embrace our new Robot Overlords.
Today, I’ll be handing off vast swathes of the recap to the hamsters in the engine room of ChatGPT. Starting with the big one…
ChatGPT, write a recap of Sweet Valley High Book 22, Too Much In Love.
In Sweet Valley High Book 22, “Too Much In Love,” the Wakefield twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, find themselves in the midst of a love triangle. Jessica is dating Aaron Dallas, a new guy in town who seems perfect in every way. However, she is still drawn to her former boyfriend, Bruce Patman, who is now dating someone else. Meanwhile, Elizabeth starts to develop feelings for Aaron, which causes tension between her and Jessica.
As the story progresses, Jessica’s relationship with Aaron becomes strained as he seems more interested in spending time with Elizabeth. She becomes increasingly jealous and paranoid, even going so far as to sabotage Elizabeth’s chances with Aaron. Meanwhile, Bruce realizes that he still has feelings for Jessica and tries to win her back.
In the end, Jessica and Elizabeth both realize that they have been too focused on their own romantic interests and have neglected their friendship. They make amends and agree to support each other in their respective relationships. Aaron chooses to be with Elizabeth, and Bruce accepts that he and Jessica are not meant to be together.
“Too Much In Love” is a classic Sweet Valley High book that explores the complexities of teenage relationships and the importance of communication and loyalty in friendships.
Our new robot overlords are idiots.
I’ve just finished reading this book, and it’s definitely NOT about any of the bullshit above. Jessica is dating the “New Guy in Town” Aaron Dallas, is she? Aaron Dallas, her on-off boyfriend from Twins who’s been mentioned in multiple High books thus far? Aaron Dallas, who’s apparently also smitten with Elizabeth, who’s oddly Todd-free in this Bizarro-world, and ready to get down and dirty on Dallas’s Dealey Plaza?!
Man, I was hoping for an easy life ahead, or at least an easy week. Looks like I’ll be putting in the hard yards after all.
Jokes aside, I’m wondering where ChatGPT got the above nonsense from. Is this the plot of another book in the series, a few miles down the line? Or is it a franken-plot, conjured up from the aether, robot-fuelled SVH fanfic?
I don’t want spoilers, if you know. I’m here for the ride.
[Wing: I am very determinedly not going off on a ChatGPT rant in part because it will take over the recap and in part because it is tied closely to some work I’m currently doing and I don’t want to go into that sort of detail. I’ll leave you with this: I recently watched a presentation where one instance of ChatGPT interviewed another instance of ChatGPT and the people running the presentation and teaching the instances then put AI-generated people on top of them to do the actual interviewing and answering.
It sure was something.]
We start, as usual, with the Wakefields. It’s dinner time at the Compound, and for some reason Jessica is calling Ned “Daddy” in this book. I feel this is wholly inappropriate, as would Phoebe Buffay. We then have the usual twinny bullshit, followed by a little recap of Jessica’s runaway past, and away we go!
The table-talk is of an upcoming school Talent Show, a show which Elizabeth has been asked to coordinate. This is an apparent slight to Jessica, who was not asked to coordinate a Talent Show and is therefore likely to stab someone before the end of Chapter Three.
After some bollocky banter, the Elder Wakefields throw their grenade for this book. Ned needs a trip to Mexico City for some lawyer shit, and Alice has decided to tag along for a coke-and-gin bender, just like the old days. Can the twins be trusted to be alone in the house while their parents are gone? [Dove: I like the fact that Ned outright states that the reason he’s going is because drugs are being smuggled over the border. Then covers it by saying he needs some “paperwork”. Dude, I know it’s the 80s, but both faxes and couriers exist. I stand by our 2018 theory that he and Alice are drug smuggling.]
Alice is unsure. Should the girls be baby-sat for this?
OF COURSE NOT. They’re sixteen. As they eloquently say, they’ve been babysitting other kids for a while now. And of course, there’s scant mention of the times they ran this exact plot before, in the Twins series (The Big Party Weekend). [Dove: And also in the Junior High series too.]
Ned is supportive of their advancing maturity. So the girls have the house to themselves for this book. I foresee a call to some French Polishers in the coming pages.
Next up, we’re in Elizabeth’s bedroom, the Pristine Palace of Solitude and Stuffed Koala Frottage. Liz is on the phone to DeeDee Gordon, ready to harangue her into producing the sets for the school Talent Show. Mr Collins thinks DeeDee’s artistic flair will be perfect for the job.
DeeDee seems excited at first, but immediately demurs and suggests that she needs to run the idea past Bill before accepting. Is Bill a controlling douchebag, looking to keep his woman under his thumb? Maybe. Their conversation is ended before we gain any real insight, but I’m assuming at this point the reticence is all in DeeDee’s head. That’s what the book’s strapline would have us believe, at any rate.
Elizabeth is, of course, now worried about DeeDee, and she shares her concerns with Jessica. Jess, to her credit, doesn’t give a pimply shit about DeeDee and Bill, despite her (literal) storied past with the eligible Mr Chase, so in the end Elizabeth resorts to internally monologuing her concerns as an aide to the readership’s comprehension.
She fills us in on the whole DeeDee / Bill / Jessica love triangle from yesterbook, and tells us that this new timid DeeDee is nothing like the vibrant and confident DeeDee of old. It’s a concern, that’s for sure, but that concern is for Future Elizabeth to emote over.
The final section of the chapter brings a little more insight into DeeDee and her current issue. She’s visiting Bill Chase’s abode, unannounced, and is anxious when she discovers that he’s at the Library. Sure, he wasn’t expecting her to call, but as she’d not seen him all day her separation issues are red and inflamed.
Mrs Chase invites her in, to wait, but DeeDee declines. Internally, she spirals about the lack of meaningful contact between herself and her beau. Why, you may ask? Apparently, he’s spending less and less time with DeeDee, and more time with her friends. Also, he barely even talked to DeeDee on their journeys to and from school. What a complete bastard!
But the reality of her plight is that she remembers what her mother said when discussing her divorce from Daddy Gordon. She said they simply drifted apart, and that they should have made more time being alone together.
Tears stinging her eyes, she recalls the day her father walked away, forever. And she vows that she’ll never let that happen with Bill and her. She and Bill need to spend more time together, and Bill needs to realise that she loves, needs and depends upon him.
I guess we can’t complain that the Ghostie is beating around the boosh here. They are detailing the depths of DeeDee’s despair right from the start. And it’s obvious that at the very core of things, this isn’t about Bill at all. It’s about her parents and their divorce. If she’s not careful, she’ll drive Bill away with the intensity of her “devotion” to him.
ChatGPT, write a sad love poem from DeeDee to Bill, describing how she thinks he’s drifting away from her, and how she cannot let him go.
Bill, my love, my heart is breaking,
As I watch you drift away.
I can feel our bond unwinding,
And I cannot make you stay.
We once shared every moment,
Every laugh and every tear.
But now it seems that distance
Has replaced the love we held so dear.
I see the way you look at me,
And I can feel the emptiness.
I know you’re slipping further,
Into a world without my tenderness.
It’s hard to accept that we’re losing,
What we thought would never fade.
But the reality of your indifference,
Is a painful truth that cannot be swayed.
Yet I cannot let you go,
For you’re still the one I adore.
Even as I feel our love fading,
My heart still longs for more.
So I’ll hold onto our memories,
And pray that you’ll return.
But until that day comes, my love,
My heart will always yearn.
(Decent enough, if a little pat. Very Sweet Valley, in that it definitely fails to stick the landing.)
Chapter Two begins in the school Cafeteria. DeeDee is distracted by her deepening worries about the state of her relationship with Bill. So much so that her friend Patty Gilbert is being ignored as she quizzes DeeDee about her design courses. DeeDee loved her design courses, but quitthem several weeks ago when she “realised” the time could be better spent on being with Bill.
(For the record, Patty Gilbert is a popular senior, almost a year older than DeeDee. They’re fast friends, like sisters. Patty is outgoing and friendly and ebullient, but lately DeeDee has felt useless around her. So now we know.) [Dove: *crosses arms* Or, Patty Gilbert was the very talented ballet dancer that was diagnosed with scoliosis back in Twins, and had never had a friend in her life until this point, because she’d been too focused on dance and being the best. But apparently now she’s not. She’s still a dancer, but she doesn’t have scoliosis, and has always been besties with Dee since they were small.] [Raven: So THAT’S Patty Gilbert. She had her own book and everything!] [Wing: Completely forgot about her. Dove, how do you manage this?]
DeeDee mumbles through a weak explanation of her recent course abandonment, which Patty takes with a pinch of salt. Patty adroitly points out that DeeDee is currently lacking confidence, before asking is she’ll be helping Elizabeth with the sets for the Talent Show. Again, DeeDee demurs. That would impinge on the all important Bill Time, so she’s on the fence at best about her ongoing involvement, should it occur.
If Bill were in the Talent Show, then sure, she’d make time for it, as it’s be a backdoor entrance to Bill Time. But if not, then why bother? Bill’s is always busy with something, like his surfing or acting or his recent interest in history at school, and this mirrors her father’s extended (and extending) schedule in the months before her parent’s divorce.
We also learn that Patty’s boyfriend Jim Hollis lives a few miles away, and the four have a double date at a Chinese restaurant this coming Friday. A date that DeeDee hopes will help straighten things out between Bill and her. [Dove: I love the way these sixteen year olds with no income are always going to restaurants or taking trips or planning excursions. Even at eighteen with a full-time income, I didn’t have the funds to go to a restaurant.]
[Wing: Parents. Even the poor ones in Sweet Valley apparently have money so their children can date.]
Poor DeeDee! She’s obviously spiralling because of her parental situation, and she’s taking all the wrong notes from the lectures writ large in her life. Patty, it seems, is perspicacious in her analysis of her friend’s plight.
Chatty Patty tells DeeDee that she will be dancing in the Talent Show, and she’d enjoy it all the more if her friend was also involved, but DeeDee isn’t listening. Bill has just entered the luncheon arena, and now she only has eyes (and mind) for him.
Next, it’s after school, and DeeDee is anxiously waiting for Bill. He’s late exiting from swimming practice, because he’s also a swimmer now. Was he always a swimmer? I don’t know.
He eventually arrives, gushing about qualifying for a Regional-level swim meet with the team. Go Bill!
DeeDee is proud, and internally gushes that Bill is so good at everything. Then she questions whether she’s good enough for him, which is heartbreaking.
Of course, there’s a pube in the pudding. The Regional swim meet is Friday night, which clashes with the arranged double date / Chinese restaurant visit with Patty and Jim. DeeDee is upset, and says so. Bill, not unthinkingly or unkindly, first suggests that he should call Patty and apologise / rearrange. Then, when he notices DeeDee’s mood darken, he suggests that she go to the restaurant with Patty and Jim, and the four of them could meet up and do something after.
Honestly? Bill seems level headed and sensible in this interaction, which I’m sure is the Ghostie’s intention. Sometimes, shit happens, and you adapt.
When DeeDee announces that she couldn’t go alone on the Double Date, Bill is surprised.
“Come on, Dee,” Bill admonished. “Where’s the independent girl I fell in love with? Besides it’s only for a couple of hours,” he pointed out. “It seems like the most sensible way to handle things.”
“Maybe Jim and Patty will come with me to the meet,” DeeDee said lamely. “I think that’s a much better idea. And then the four of us can go out together later, just like we’d planned.”
Bill shrugged. “I don’t know,” he demurred. “It sounds kind of dumb to me, to be perfectly honest. Why should Jim and Patty want to spend a Friday night at a high-school swim meet, when they could be out somewhere nice? Just go out with them, Dee, and don’t turn it into such a big thing.”
I’m definitely Team Bill in this interaction, although he’s maybe a touch harsh at the end of the above quote. And I do feel apprehensive about DeeDee, as her issues are actually well actualised and documented in the story we have had so far, so it’s believable.
[Wing: I do think Bill is being a little weird about the swim meet thing. Either it’s super important and he’s thrilled to have made it or it’s just another swim meet, no big deal. It’s a normal thing to go watch your friends or partners when they start winning things and qualifying for events that are a big deal. That part of his reaction feels forced by the ghostie.]
Anyway, DeeDee and Bill’s discussion descends into her complaining about never spending (enough) time with him, and him reassuring her that she’s the apple of his eye and the oil in his engine. Standard stuff, with a shimmer-sheen of desperation on her part. Again, understandable given what we’ve been told about her mindset.
I fear for everyone here. Especially me, as it seems I’m actually invested.
Eventually, Bill asks her about the Talent Show and her set design role, and she tells him that sure, she’d be involved in that capacity, before pushing down her feelings on inadequacy in this arena with a half-hearted shrug. Bill has promised to do a dramatic reading, so her involvement wouldn’t impinge on Bill Time too.
Next, it’s Team Wakefield, where the Twins are breathlessly discussing their parents’ upcoming ten-day vacation, where the Compound would be devoid of adult influence.
Jessica is incredulous that Elizabeth seems unable to comprehend the scope of what can now occur. Apparently, Elizabeth is all for doing nothing to take advantage of the situation, while Jessica is ripe to milk all that life can offer in this amazing parent-free utopia.
Translation? Jessica’s planning a party. She and Lila have Plans, bitches!
Liz offers a half-hearted pearl-clutchy “but we can’t do that without parental approval”, glossing over the time they did exactly this in Twins as I mentioned earlier. Jess basically says “pfft, whatever, it’ll be low-key and fine”, and Elizabeth capitulates to the position of “Do what you like, you demonic harridan, but leave me and Prince Toddington out of your nefarious schemes”.
To recap (in the recap): Jessica and Lila plan a party, Elizabeth says “go ahead, but I won’t be here to witness it.”
ChatGPT, write a sassy Eighties party invitation from the Jessica Wakefield and Lila Fowler, to a kegger at the Wakefield Compound in Sweet Valley.
Get ready to put on your best neon and tease your hair high, because Jessica Wakefield and Lila Fowler are throwing the ultimate kegger bash at the Wakefield Compound in Sweet Valley!
If you’re ready to party like it’s 1989, then grab your leg warmers and get ready to dance the night away. We’ve got the best tunes, the tastiest snacks, and enough booze to make the ’80s proud.
But let’s be real, this party is only for the coolest cats in town. If you don’t know how to do the cabbage patch or rock a side ponytail, then you might want to stay home and watch some reruns of Saved by the Bell.
So, mark your calendar, March 31st, 8 PM sharp, and don’t forget to RSVP, because this is going to be a night to remember. And if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of Jessica and Lila breaking it down on the dance floor.
Can’t wait to see you there, babes!
XOXO, Jessica and Lila
(This one made me laugh a lot. I tried a few variations of the prompt, and all of them were gold. ChatGPT is so much fun!) [Dove: OMG, that’s perfect. Except for the booze. But I kind of want to crimp my hair, put it in a side ponytail and buy some new pixie boots and boogie down with them.]
[Wing: I did not expect this to be such a pro ChatGPT recap! There are so many downsides and things to worry about. I can’t unsee them. I feel very much like a lone wolf ostracized from her pack. Woe, woe is me.]
Chapter Three starts at a Talent Show production meeting, with Elizabeth coming over all Twilight Sparkle in her attempt to thrash out the Gladmin involved behind the scenes. Patty is going to dance. Ken Matthews and Winston Egbert are doing a Magic routine (sawing Jessica in half, naturally), and Todd Wilkins is going to try… Stand-Up Comedy.
I mean… WHAT THE ACTUAL BLUE FUCK?!
The boy is simply not funny. At all.
Like, there’s literally nothing I’ve read in the two-hundred-odd books so far that would suggest that Todd could even recognise a joke, let alone tell one.
I’m predicting that Todd Wilkins will take to Stand-Up as well as a wombat would take to unicycling.
[Dove: Here, I took a stab at it:
Todd: Anyone here from out of town?
Todd: *punches them in the face because they’re probably from Big Mesa and/or they talked to Elizabeth*
Winston: Watch me eat 14 Big Macs. No, seriously, that’s my act. You WILL laugh. Francine Pascal says I’m HILARIOUS. Oh, ok, I’ll wear deely boppers while I do it, because I’m just that wacky!
Bruce: A fat girl walks into Sweet Valley–
-2 mins of hysterical laughter from the audience-
Bruce: and then she died.
-show ends, who can top that? A fat girl. Walked. Then died. OMG, soooo funny.-]
[Raven: Infinitely better than anything Todd would come up with.]
Oh, and you’ve definitely guessed what I’ll be prompting ChatGPT to do at the end of this chapter!
The Talent Show is running ninety-minutes over twelve five-minute acts. And DeeDee hasn’t yet confirmed her involvement as the Set Wrangler, which is causing consternation.
Patty offers to chase up her friend after the meeting. She also confesses to Liz that she’s pretty furious with DeeDee because she suspects that her friend is vacillating because Bill has pulled out of the show. Elizabeth goes on to confirm Bill’s non-involvement, and Patty suggests that DeeDee is in a pickled tizzy because of the Bill thing.
Over two paragraphs, Patty explains to the reader that DeeDee has always been fiercely independent, with her own plans and ideas. Now, however, she’s changed, and not for the better. For DeeDee, it’s all Bill, all the time. She’s not interested in anything or anyone that isn’t Bill fucking Chase.
The crowd (well, Todd and Elizabeth) nod in aghast agreement, and Patty resolves to help her friend out of the funk she’s mired in. Starting by insisting that DeeDee get involved with the sets in the Talent Show, toot sweet. DeeDee needs something that’s not centred on Bill.
Elizabeth agrees, but silently ponders if DeeDee is up for the challenge, and the responsibility.
Ah, get fucked, Liz. You’re supposed to be the People’s Champion, how dare you think that DeeDee’s a lost fucking cause.
We skip across the school campus to the exterior of the boy’s locker room, where DeeDee is idly lounging while she waits for Bill to emerge. When he does, he’s surprised to see her. This is an impromptu ambush and a request for an immediate Dairi Burger visit, it seems.
Bill has other plans. It’s his mother’s birthday, and he’s got some project research to do for history, and so on. Another time, perhaps?
DeeDee is upset, and it transparent about it. She wants time with him that evening, and time to discuss Friday’s almost-scuppered plans with Patty and Jim. Her lips tremble, and tears flow.
Here, we pop into Bill’s head. He’d been in such a good mood, with his fine swim times and fun project research, but DeeDee had put a dampener on everything. This isn’t a new thing, either…. It seems that Bill feels that nothing he does is good enough any more. He can’t spend enough time with DeeDee to make her happy, and the time he does spend with DeeDee is spent with her complaining about how busy he is, or is going to be.
We’re then treated to a recap of their meet-cute and relationship status. And it’s clear from this that Bill definitely still loves the girl… or at least, loves the girl she was before this sudden change in personality. Until recently, DeeDee was fun, engaging, and full of plans, ideas and projects of her own. Her energies matched Bill’s, and their relationship was wonderful. She’d never demanded his time, nor he hers, and the times they did spend together were great.
Bill wasn’t sure when things had started to change, but over the past month or two DeeDee had become increasingly withdrawn. She had actually stopped going to the civic center design classes she’d been so enthusiastic about, and that wasn’t like her at all. But when Bill asked her about it, she got defensive.
And when they were together now, it seemed all she wanted to talk about was him. In the old days DeeDee loved to argue, and she’d never let him get away with a silly statement. Now, she hung on his every word. It was beginning to make him nervous.
Bill had never felt so confused. He was still in love with DeeDee, but he couldn’t bear the pressure she was putting on him. He wanted to see her happy again, involved in things that mattered to her. Things, he thought uneasily, other than me.
Bill goes on to internalise some more plot. Dana Larson, lead singer of The Droids, had recently asked him to take in an old movie with her, in a purely platonic capacity. They are both fans of classic cinema, and so Bill accepted. In the past, he’d have had no problems telling DeeDee of this engagement, but now? He really couldn’t, as she would be sure to react badly.
Back in The Now, Bill decides that his planned trip to see Mr Fellows for the project research was a lost cause, and he offers to give DeeDee a ride home. She’s pathetically grateful for this, which further irritates him.
It was pathetic, he thought to himself later, how grateful DeeDee looked after he suggested that. Like a puppy dog or something, certainly not like the outgoing, vivacious girl he’d fallen in love with a few months earlier.
She was a different person! It’s as if she got body-snatched, Bill thought. Somebody came down from outer space and zapped her. They took my DeeDee away and left this strange, sad girl down here in her place.
And Bill wanted his old DeeDee back. Right away.
It’s odd, this plot.
I’m liking it so far. DeeDee seems wounded, and her friends are rallying around her as best they can. And Bill isn’t portrayed as a malevolent force in this. He’s also a victim of circumstance, as he doesn’t want his relationship to change, and he CERTAINLY doesn’t want his girlfriend to be going through the pain she clearly is.
I feel for everyone here, which is nice. The Ghostie has a tightrope to walk.,
And yet, there’s still something amiss. I feel that DeeDee’s situation isn’t really being interrogated from a self-care angle. Her mental health is obviously compromised, and she needs some counsel to help address that. But I guess this is a 21st century focus that was perhaps not front and centre in the Eighties. It gets a pass, but with a proviso that care should be taken in the sensitivity department.
[Dove: I bounced between wanting to slap DeeDee for being such a wet dishrag and wanting to slap her because, well, I have anxiety, and it’s awful seeing someone dither as much as I internally dither. It’s a relief when a friend explains that it took them 5 minutes to leave the house because they weren’t certain they’d locked the door, even though they knew they did, because, wow, I’m not alone. But to read as someone dithers endlessly? It was annoyingly close to the bone. And I’m not really sure it works. But I’ll come to that as we approach the wrap-up.]
[Wing: I think it works to an extent, but it’s taken — not too far, necessarily, but maybe in an odd way? Overwritten? I’m not sure what word I’m looking for here. It’s believable, the inexact trigger, the discomfort, the way she’s internalizing things and no one really knows how to help her, but it’s also something else I don’t have the right word for. Maybe ghostie is trying too hard in their writing?]
But overall? It’s dece.
Anyway, with no further ado, here with a tight five-minute observational set, please welcome to the mic… Todd Wilkins!
ChatGPT, write a stand-up comedy routine from Todd Wilkins of Sweet Valley High, referencing his friends and experiences.
Hey, what’s up, Sweet Valley High? It’s your boy Todd Wilkins, and let me tell you, high school is a trip.
First off, can we talk about Jessica Wakefield? That girl could charm the pants off a nun. And believe me, she’s tried. But seriously, Jess is always causing drama. It’s like she’s allergic to a normal day.
And then there’s my boy, Winston Egbert. I swear that kid is from another planet. He’s always got some wacky scheme or invention that’s supposed to make him millions. But let’s be real, the only thing that’s gonna make him millions is if he invents a time machine and goes back to the 80s when mullets were cool.
And don’t even get me started on Bruce Patman. That dude is so rich he probably uses hundred-dollar bills as napkins. But you know what they say, money can’t buy you class.
And as for me, well, let’s just say I’m the average Joe of Sweet Valley High. But hey, I’ve got my girl, Liz Wakefield, by my side. And let me tell you, dating a Wakefield twin is like playing a game of “which one am I talking to?”
But seriously, high school is a wild ride. One day you’re cramming for a math test, the next you’re dealing with a full-blown love triangle. But you know what they say, these are the best years of our lives. And if that’s true, then we’re all in for a wild ride.
Thanks for listening, Sweet Valley High. I’ll be here all week.
*taptaptap* … Is this thing on?
Thanks, Todd… guess you had to be there, buddy. [Dove: That is precisely the kind of stand-up he would deliver. Except the narrator would add that people were rolling the aisles with laughter.]
Chapter Four! Friday! Swim Meet! DeeDee, Patty, Jim, in the bleachers. Bill? Swimming.
Jim is affable and humorous, so I’m pleased for Patty. He lightly mocks their plans for the night (“Friday night at a school swim meet?”) before engaging DeeDee in some talk of her current interests. However, as we know, DeeDee’s current interests are Bill fucking Chase.
Patty and Jim exchange knowing glances when DeeDee gushes about Bill.
In DeeDee’s internal monologue, we hear that she usually enjoys Jim’s company, but tonight she thinks things are different. Patty has been “acting strangely” too, harping on about the Talent Show sets and basically forcing her to tell Elizabeth that she’d do it… but only if she got help. Perhaps Bill could help out…? He’s super-great at everything, omg!
Elizabeth was stoic in the face of such bullshit.
We also learn a little more about DeeDee’s reasonings for ditching the art classes at the civic centre. Apparently, this was due to the arc of the super teacher Ms Jackson, who at first singled DeeDee out for praise but then unloaded on her “star pupil” with her personal baggage about a recent divorce.
So, Mr Jackson and then-Mrs Jackson divorced the previous year, ostensibly due to now-Ms Jackson’s focus on her career. Mr Jackson had remarried a mousy, inconsequential career-free woman. Ms Jackson, the career-driven teacher, has been lonely ever since. DeeDee, naturally, drew comparisons with her mother and her recent divorce, concluding that having hobbies and focus and goals was anathema to a modern relationship. So she quit the art classes and set her gimlet eye on Bill and Bill alone.
What matters, she told herself now, is that he knows I need him. That’s what keeps two people together. Before—the way I used to be—I must have made him feel useless, like just another casual friend. But now he knows I depend on him for everything. Nothing else matters but him.
If Mom had acted like this, DeeDee thought, tears shining in her brown eyes, maybe Dad wouldn’t have left. Maybe—
I mean… Jesus fucking Christ. This is pretty heart-breaking stuff. Poor DeeDee. Taking two, and two, and coming away with eighty. How can you not feel for her? [Dove: I wanted to shake this teacher for laying all this on her student. Only last recap we were saying it was fucking weird that students and teachers were such good friends that they care about each other’s breakups, and even if this isn’t school, DeeDee is school age. She’s a minor (in some states, at least). Do not heap your pathetic heartbreak on her. Get a therapist.] [Raven: ALL OF THIS.]
[Wing: It is weird! Slightly less weird than high school teachers gossiping with their students, since there’s a different dynamic in that sort of environment, but it is still weird, this grown ass adult pouring her her heart out to this teenager she barely knows.]
Is this section a little heavy-handed? For sure. It’s trowel thick in places. But it serves to drive the point home hard.
Suddenly, it’s Bill’s race. 100m Butterfly. Bill wins a squeaker, and everyone is pleased. DeeDee, of course, takes it a little far, jumping for joy and squealing in delight, before doing an inverted Pat Cash and dashing to embrace Bill at poolside.
(For anyone who doesn’t know what an inverted Pat Cash is, check out this video. Don’t work! It’s SFW. And yes, apparently he was the first. #ChampionsClimb)
Bill, however, wasn’t impressed by this overblown display of emotion. At first he thought she was approaching with terrible news, and then he stiffened when she hugged him and purred her pride in his achievements. No, not like that, you pervs. Although I bet she could still feel it through his banana hammock.
DeeDee clocked his reaction, and vowed to try harder next time. Doubling down, the sign of true stability.
Next up, we’re party planning with Lila and Jessica. Lila is being her usual spectacular self, disparaging the Wakefield Compound as it would barely fill half of one wing at Fowler Crest. Anyway, the important chat is the party guest list.
Lila posits that parties and made or broken on the strength of the guest list. In particular, she believes that in order to make the party more than a humdrum drab-fest, Jessica would have to invite a bunch of college boys to spice up the night. Has this anything to do with Lila’s current boyfriend, the ineffable Drake Howard? Perhaps.
Lila eventually convinces Jess to let her call Drake and invite “five to ten” college sophomore boys to the upcoming shindig the following Saturday. Jessica doesn’t like it, but she has to go along with it.
And finally, the chapter ends with a small sub-plot foreshadowing for the next book, in which Todd and Liz spend some time together. This time is marred by the fact that Todd is being unusually quiet and withdrawn, as well as being somewhat cryptically clingy and sweet.
When pressed on the matter, Todd says there’s nothing wrong. But we all know there is, because if there was nothing wrong then this section would be a total waste of fucking space.
Eventually, he admits there IS something bothering him, but that it’s not serious, and the pair go on their merry way. [Dove: And there must be something wrong, because I haven’t seen Liz talk to a boy who isn’t Todd so far. He can’t be in TODDSMASH mode, he made no peevish comments about other boys.]
ChatGPT, write an apologetic note from DeeDee Gordon to Ms Jackson, explain why DeeDee has chosen to abandon her art classes at the civic center. DeeDee’s reason for leaving is her gushing love for Bill Chase.
Dear Ms. Jackson,
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to reach out and apologize for my sudden absence from art classes at the civic center. I know that my decision must have inconvenienced you and disrupted the class, and for that, I am truly sorry.
The truth is, I have been struggling with a personal matter that has been consuming much of my time and attention. I have recently fallen head over heels in love with Bill Chase, and my feelings for him have completely taken over my life.
As much as I enjoyed attending your classes and learning from you, my love for Bill has become all-consuming, and I feel that I cannot devote enough time or energy to my art studies at this time. I understand that my actions may seem foolish and irresponsible, but please know that I am not taking this decision lightly.
Again, I apologize for any inconvenience or disappointment that my departure may have caused. I hope that you can understand and forgive me for my actions. Thank you for your understanding and support.
Sincerely, DeeDee Gordon
Can’t say fairer than that!
Chapter Five begins on Saturday morning, with Bill in bed, ruminating on DeeDee’s odd attitude from the previous night.
First, we confirm he found her inverted Pat Cash from the bleachers was a little OTT, as if he’d won the Nobel Prize for Swimming or something. We then discover the night went from bad to worse, as the foursome of DeeDee, Bill, Patty and Jim decamped to a Chinese restaurant. At some point in the fun evening, DeeDee disappeared to the ladies’ room looking upset. She was gone for some time, and eventually Patty went to rouse her.
In the car on the way home, after leaving PattyJim in the restaurant, DeeDee had confessed that she’d observed the other three laughing and joking, and she felt really left out and had to excuse herself from the table.
Poor, depressed DeeDee! She needs someone to really listen to her worries, and help her work through them.
Unhappily, Bill isn’t (and wasn’t) it.
Bill, seeing the rest of his evening being bookmarked in the role of an Emotional Support Saint Bernard, responded unkindly, and the whole scene remained unresolved.
Bill is due to hook up with DeeDee again that evening, which he’s low-key dreading. What he is looking forward to is meeting up for a Classic Film viewing with Dana Larson that afternoon. The film? WC Fields’s My Little Chickadee.
Will Dana be seeing Bill’s little chickadee in the dark recesses of the movie theatre? Only time will tell!
Bill begins guiltily comparing Dana to DeeDee. Long story short? DeeDee does not come out the winner. Although to be fair, there’s no real sense of impropriety and “cheatiness” in Bill’s ponderings. It’s all well within the boundary of the text, if you will. The comparisons are plusses and brickbats that are clear concerns with the plot at hand.
We are then treated to a recap of the Bill backstory, a tragic backstory we learned back in Heartbreaker. I’ve already recapped that once, no need to do it again here. The precis version? Bill loved Julianne. Julianne loved Bill. Julianne died in a car crash. Bill was sad. Bill fancied Jessica. Bill confused over Julianne. Bill noticed DeeDee. Bill loves DeeDee.
But DeeDee is becoming… what? A lesser DeeDee? Maybe. Poor DeeDee. And poor Bill too… it’s sad to see someone diminish and feel powerless to pick them up and help.
Maybe he should be more proactive in helping his girlfriend? I don’t know. It feels sad, and I feel powerless to analyse it (for some reason). It’s weird, being invested and feeling for all sides.
Anyway, we soon skip to the movie theatre, with Dana and Bill discussing classic cinema. It’s actually pretty cute. While it could be the prefix to something more charged and romantic, it could equally be little more than two friends sharing a mutual interest.
We skip the actual film viewing, which is understandable. I doubt the narrative would be imbued with much gravitas if it was underwritten with scenes from a black and white comedy western from 1940. Action resumes as the pair emerge, blinking, into the light.
Bill offers lunch, but Dana says her boyfriend is coming to town. Dana does suggest they get together for a concert next week, to which Bill replies in the positive. It’s all nice, platonic friendliness, I think.
Then, the deluge. The pair are spotted by a passing Jessica Wakefield and Cara Walker.
In the awkward conversation that follows, Bill is acutely aware that Jessica and Cara will definitely spill the beans about this sketchy-looking “date” between he and Dana, even though there’s precisely nothing untoward to tell. But DeeDee is sure to hear, and DeeDee is sure to over-react. Dara, to her credit, is blithely naïve to the “dangers”. I think I like her.
ChatGPT, write a review of the film My Little Chicadee, in the style of a Californian teenager from 1985.
Yo, what’s up my fellow dudes and dudettes? I just caught this totally rad flick called My Little Chickadee and I gotta say, it was totally gnarly!
This film is a classic comedy-western that stars the legendary duo of Mae West and W.C. Fields. The chemistry between these two is off the hook, and their one-liners and witty banter had me rolling on the floor with laughter.
The story follows Flower Belle Lee (Mae West), a notorious lady of the night who gets kicked out of her town and heads to the Wild West. Along the way, she meets Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C. Fields), a con man who is also heading west. The two end up in the same town and get involved in all sorts of shenanigans.
I loved the humor in this film, it was totally fresh and had me LOLing the whole time. Mae West’s character is a total babe and her sass and wit are totally badass. And W.C. Fields’ character is a total goofball who had me in stitches with his hilarious antics.
Overall, My Little Chickadee is a total winner. If you’re looking for a film that’s hilarious and full of classic Hollywood stars, this is the one for you. So grab your popcorn, your favorite soda, and get ready to have a totally tubular time!
Gotta admit, that’s a doozy! Although according to Google, the first recorded use of LOL was 1989, so no soup for the AI today! [Wing: That early? I’m surprised.]
Also, it sounds as if the SVH drama department could perform a play of this, with Winston Egbert playing the WC Fields role. In fact…
ChatGPT, write a sassy press release, recasting My Little Chickadee with the characters from Sweet Valley High.
Attention all Sweet Valley High fans! We’ve got some totally juicy news for you! The classic comedy-western, My Little Chickadee, is getting a sassy reboot, and it’s being recast with the iconic characters from Sweet Valley High!
That’s right, the notorious lady of the night, Flower Belle Lee, will now be played by none other than the glamorous and sassy Jessica Wakefield. Her sharp tongue and quick wit will have you in stitches as she navigates the wild west with her partner in crime, the lovable con man Cuthbert J. Twillie, played by the dashing and charming Todd Wilkins.
This new take on the classic film promises to bring all the laughs, sass, and drama that Sweet Valley High fans know and love. With the feisty Lila Fowler taking on the role of the sassy saloon girl, Tontine, and the nerdy but lovable Elizabeth Wakefield playing the part of the uptight townsfolk, this film is sure to be a hit with fans old and new.
So get ready to saddle up and ride into the sunset with Sweet Valley High’s most iconic characters as they take on the Wild West in My Little Chickadee. It’s gonna be a hoot and a half, y’all!
“… the nerdy but lovable Elizabeth Wakefield playing the part of the uptight townsfolk…”
I AM DED. [Dove: Actual tears in my eyes here. I’m sorry, but your recap has peaked.] [Raven: Still laughing here.]
Chapter Six, and it’s Sunday! The Elder Wakefields have departed for Mexico for their drug-and-gin lollapalooza. The Twins have the Compound to themselves!
Jessica’s first task. The laundry. Because, allegedly, she’s never done it before.
Dove, is this correct? A count of the times that Jessica has done the laundry in the SVT series is right up your metaphorical alley. [Dove: I don’t have a count, but there have been multiple times, and off the top of my head, I remember in Big Brother’s In Love, she offers to do Steven’s laundry because they need money for the next step in their scheme, and the Wakefields have a finders-keepers policy, and Steven has tucked his life savings into a sock so instead of getting a lousy $2 for the grim task, she ends up with about $60.]
So Jessica overfills the washer, because the plot dictates that Things Go Wrong at this juncture. While she’s doing so, she monologues on the scene she and Cara witnessed the day before. DeeDee is due at the Compound that evening, for a Talent Show production meeting, and Jessica is ready to embrace her inner Chaos Goblin and “unwittingly” spill all about Bill and Dana.
As she waits for the laundry to finish (or explode), Jessica makes some miniature pizzas, as a practice fort the following Saturday morning. Elizabeth saunters in and asks what her sister is doing.
I was ready for the “but you can’t cook, Jessica” comment from Liz, but the Ghostie never went there. So I guess the continuity check for whether Jess can cook or not is a wash today.
Suddenly! Clanking in the basement. The washing machine has both exploded and imploded simultaneously, which leads to water flooding the utility basement. And, of course, as the twins battle this development, the miniature pizzas set the kitchen on fire, which also needs immediate attention.
Oh, Jessica! You are a scamp!
Adding insult to an already significant injury, as the twins battle the dual elements of fire and water in the various realms of the compound, the phone rings…
It’s the Elder Wakefields, inquiring as to how things are going since their departure that morning / the previous evening.
Because OF COURSE IT IS.
The twins tag-team the phone responses to the Sainted Alice, achieving a low level of trolling in their worded replies. [Dove: To be fair, even though this is a very basic comedy routine, it was saved by the sassy phone call.] Alice also mentions a subsequent Plot Maguffin: a set of important Interior Design Plans that are currently on the floor (?!) of her study. These plans must not be tampered with in any way.
Will they, in fact, be tampered with during the course of this book?
I COULDN’T POSSIBLE COMMENT AT THIS STAGE.
We leave the scene with Jessica wondering about getting a handyman to fix the basement flood issue. Which she subsequently does, off-screen, as we suddenly skip to the Talent Show production meeting later that afternoon, at which point the Compound is neither flooded or chargrilled.
Jessica, wasting no time, manages to take DeeDee aside. And, in her best passive-aggressive and obnoxious manner, manages to obsequiously infer that Bill Chase and Dana Larson have been engaging in improper conduct around the classic cinemas of Sweet Valley.
The color had been slowly draining from DeeDee’s face. “You—you saw Bill yesterday at the movies?” she managed to get out. “Are you sure?”
Jessica could barely contain her joy. DeeDee hadn’t known!
Fuck off, Jessica, you absolute cleft. I was beginning to warm to you, and was hoping this book would be $HijinksJess rather than $HarpyJess, but you’ve definitely shat the bed here.
Poor, poor DeeDee. How dare you revel in her distress, you malevolent polyp.
In her devilishly-infused fugue state, DeeDee makes her excuses and leaves the meeting. Jessica is satisfied with this outcome, happy that Bioll would likely get it in the neck in the next few hours.
But after all, it isn’t my fault, Jessica reassured herself as she hurried back into the meeting. If Bill Chase had been more honest with his girlfriend, this little incident would never have happened!
Jessica truly is a fucking witch. I wish she’d either drowned or been burned alive in the Great Compound Fire-Flood of 1985.
ChatGPT, write a humorous police incident report in which Ned and Alice Wakefield are arrested for a totally ridiculous and incredible crime on the streets on Mexico City.
Police Incident Report
Date: March 26, 2023 Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Reporting Officer: Detective John Smith
At approximately 9:30 PM, I received a call from a concerned citizen reporting a strange and suspicious activity on the streets of Mexico City. The caller reported seeing two individuals, later identified as Ned and Alice Wakefield, acting in a bizarre manner.
Upon arriving at the scene, I observed the Wakefields engaged in an activity that can only be described as utterly ridiculous and incredible. They were using a pair of oversized tongs to pick up unsuspecting pedestrians and place them in a giant blender. The blender was powered by a bicycle, which they took turns pedaling.
When I approached the Wakefields, they were laughing hysterically and shouting, “It’s just a prank, bro!” Despite their claims of innocence, I immediately arrested them for endangering the public and engaging in ludicrous behavior.
During the arrest, I noticed that both individuals were wearing matching “Team Wakefield” t-shirts and appeared to be under the influence of some kind of mind-altering substance.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that the Wakefields had been inspired by a popular TikTok trend, and had traveled all the way from their home in Sweet Valley, California, to Mexico City to film their own version of the prank.
In the interest of public safety, I have recommended that the Wakefields be charged with multiple counts of reckless endangerment and disturbing the peace. It is my hope that this incident serves as a warning to others who may be tempted to engage in such foolish and dangerous activities.
End of report.
AMAZING. I would read the SHIT out of that spinoff. [Dove: Very responsible of them to use tongs.]
Chapter Seven already?! Where does the time go?
We start with DeeDee, on the hunt for Bill. It’s Monday morning, and the aftermath of Jessica’s irresponsible hand grenade. DeeDee is in classes, having not slept a wing the previous night and apparently “looking awful” because of it.
To sum up her mood?
I have nothing left, DeeDee thought woefully. Nothing.
After class, she lurches into the corridor… where she meets Bill, waiting, with an unsuspecting smile. He’s apologetic for not getting back to her when she called his house the previous evening.
Of course, DeeDee is in no mood to play. She snaps back, bitter and biting. Bill is immediately defensive, and DeeDee wastes no time in blurting out she knows about him and Dana Larson.
Bill lumbers into the trap, feet first.
“Oh, God,” Bill groaned, pulling DeeDee to him and putting his arms around her. “I was afraid this might happen! But you see, it was only because I thought you’d make such a big deal out of nothing that I didn’t tell you!”
“You mean it’s true?” DeeDee gasped, tears spilling down her pale cheeks. “Bill, how could you? Why would you do something like that to me?”
Again, I’m feeling for both parties here. Bill really should be more mindful of his girlfriend’s feelings, and general demeanour, but he’s done nothing wrong (largely). And DeeDee? DeeDee’s still in a dark place, and she needs help. Help which, it seems, is not coming from Bill.
[Wing: Help that really shouldn’t come from Bill, or from any of her friends and family. She needs support from them, but they can’t give her the actual help she needs. It’s really a sad situation for them both.]
The conversation soon deteriorates further, ending in ultimatums, tears, an end to their relationship and a storming off by Bill that leaves nothing resolved and everything shattered on the floor.
DeeDee feels terrible at this point. But she soon realises that there’s no situation that can’t be made infinitely worse by the entrance of Elizabeth fucking Wakefield.
So yeah, Liz rocks up and immediately pulls up her Saviour Knickers. She asks what’s wrong. DeeDee tells her what’s happened, happy of a shoulder to cry on. She doesn’t let on that it was Jessica who informed her of Bill’s betrayal, which of course means that the witch will come out of this unscathed, as fucking usual.
Elizabeth suggests that the whole thing “doesn’t sound like Bill”, and that perhaps the answer is to communicate with cooler heads and ordered minds. This is, on the face of it, sounds advice, but it’s hardly empathetic to her friend’s feelings. It’s also a little hand-wavey, dismissing DeeDee’s true feelings with a “Bill’s not like that” adjunct. Way to go, Liz. I thought you were meant to be good at this shit? [Dove: To be fair to Liz, her only experience in romance is the constant snits that she and Todd get into with each other every time the other one talks to a girl/boy. All they ever do is throw tantrums and break up, and then get back together when they’ve cooled down. And if a Wakefield does it, it must be right. This is the only advice she can possibly give, since she has no actual experience of life or interest in anyone else’s lived experience.]
DeeDee feels a glimmer of hope. If Elizabeth is correct, maybe she can convince Bill that they have a fresh start. She thanks Liz and heads out to find her One True Love.
Skipping to the school cafeteria, we find Bill inspecting a mystery meatloaf on his lunch tray, with Winston and Ken. Winston posits the idea that he and Ken utilise it in their magic act at the Talent Show, because he’s just so goddamned wacky, before the scene shifts tone as DeeDee appears.
Bill ushers DeeDee outside for some appropriate privacy, and they get back into their discussion.
To her credit, DeeDee is pretty self-aware at this point. Yes, she needs to speak to a true friend, or a professional, but at least she is saying the right words for her own mental health journey. And Bill, too, is somewhat mature, stepping up to his own part in the pantomime that’s playing out before us.
“Look,” DeeDee said, obviously struggling to make the words come out, “I know I’ve been acting strangely lately. And I’m not entirely sure myself what the reasons are. I think somehow I’ve just gotten really terrified of losing you, so I’ve been hanging on too hard. And at the same time I’ve felt you withdrawing, acting colder and more distant.”
“Maybe that’s true,” Bill admitted. “It’s been a hard time for me. I guess I’ve had more demands on my time than usual, and maybe I’m not experienced enough to be able to balance all the things I’m doing. I’m sorry, Dee. I never meant to hurt you.”
In another book, this reconciliation of minds and ideas would be enough to bring the protagonists back together… but not today, and not this book. We’re only seven chapters in, of fourteen, so there’s drama ahead for sure.
So when DeeDee asks if they still have a chance, Bill responds with a wholly appropriate request for time and distance.
DeeDee begins spiralling again, determined to get things back to a cossetting even keel. But Bill is firm. He needs space, and time, and so does she. It’s no dice for the BillDee shippers today.
“I’m sorry, Dee,” he said gently. “I just need some more time.” Kneeling down, he kissed her gently on the top of her head, trying not to notice the tears running down her cheeks.
He had a feeling he would never forget the look on DeeDee’s face as he turned to walk away. But I’ve got to do it, he told himself, taking a long, quavering breath as he walked away from her across the lawn. DeeDee’s got to learn to stand on her own two feet again. And I’m afraid as long as she’s got me to lean on, that just isn’t going to happen.
Gotta say, I’m actually liking this from Bill. While it may seem self-serving, he’s demonstrating that he actually does have DeeDee’s best interests at heart. Sure, the better option might be to guide her to some professional counselling, but this tough love fire sale approach does have merit.
[Wing: Even if professional counselling was something that would have been top to mind when this was published (though I suppose it might have been more common in Los Angeles), him pushing it, even mentioning it, could easily backfire on him. He can’t give her the time and attention he needs, and she won’t compromise or talk to anyone who could actually help her. There’s no right choice here for either of them.]
Well, unless DeeDee is consumed by it, of course. There’s always that.
In fact, I’m surprised that Bill’s own Tragic Backstory doesn’t guide him down a different path here. One that’s more clingy and cloying. He must have his own separation anxiety from that time too.
As usual, there’s a mantra for this book. It’s Poor DeeDee, and it’s Poor Bill.
ChatGPT, write a melancholy cowboy song about lovers Bill and DeeDee, destined to be apart because their love is so fiery it will burn them alive inside. [Wing: Oh. my. god.]
Bill and DeeDee, a love so true,
But their hearts are torn in two,
Their passion burns so bright,
They know they can’t hold on tight.
Their love’s a wildfire, burning inside,
They’re destined to be apart, they can’t hide,
It’s a melancholy tale of a cowboy and his sweet DeeDee,
Their love’s so fiery, it’ll burn them alive, can’t you see?
They met in a dusty old town,
Both were searching, but now they’d found,
The love they’d been longing for,
But fate has closed the door.
Their love’s a wildfire, burning inside,
They’re destined to be apart, they can’t hide,
It’s a melancholy tale of a cowboy and his sweet DeeDee,
Their love’s so fiery, it’ll burn them alive, can’t you see?
They know they can’t be together,
Their love’s too hot to last forever,
But they’ll cherish the moments they’ve shared,
And keep the memories close, no matter where.
Their love’s a wildfire, burning inside,
They’re destined to be apart, they can’t hide,
It’s a melancholy tale of a cowboy and his sweet DeeDee,
Their love’s so fiery, it’ll burn them alive, can’t you see?
Bill and DeeDee, they’ll ride off into the sunset,
Their hearts may be broken, but they’ll never forget,
The love they had, so pure and true,
But destiny had other plans, what else could they do?
Yeah, so I’m not sure about that one. Ah well, they can’t all be zingers.
Chapter Eight! Another Talent Show preparation session. This time, it’s all hands to the pumps, as various Sweet Valleyians are girding their loins with a series of edifying tasks, tasks designed to embiggen the soul of the Talent Show collective.
While most folks are a suck-it-and-see bunch, keen to power through their to-do list in a vacuum, it appears that DeeDee is second guessing her involvement and her contributions at every turn. It’s a confidence thing, as we’ve established, but instead of it being addressed directly, all her constant need for guidance and reassurance is doing is getting right on Elizabeth’s cock.
After yet another plea for guidance from a floundering DeeDee, Elizabeth takes to vent her spleen in front of the comedically constipated Todd. Apparently, DeeDee has called Elizabeth four times since yesterday, searching for assurances that Elizabeth simply cannot provide.
As Elizabeth sympathises with Bill and his plight to a raptured Wilkins, DeeDee looms into view with yet more demands of Liz’s time and focus. She feels out of her depth in the set design department, and says so. Elizabeth, however is in no mood to brook any foolishness.
“DeeDee,” Elizabeth said firmly, “you know more than anyone in this whole room does about it, including me. Don’t you realize that you’re a very talented girl?”
DeeDee looked blankly at Elizabeth.
She doesn’t understand, Elizabeth thought. God knows why, but she just has no idea how capable she is.
Or maybe, Elizabeth thought with a flash of insight, she did know, but she wanted to be helpless and dependent on people. But why in the world would she want that?
DeeDee anxiously shares her designs for Patty’s dance (to West Side Story). Of course, they prove to be wonderful. But throughout, DeeDee still searches for Liz’s approval, as if it’s a big fucking Crufts rosette for Best Lapdog In Show. [Dove: Why is it called “insight” when Liz thinks that DeeDee’s faking all of this anxiety. There is no merit to anxiety. It seems like a rather spiteful thing to decide is “insight”.]
Eventually, DeeDee asks if Liz will be free that evening for yet more discussion and debate over her contribution to the Talent Show. Thankfully for Elizabeth, Todd Wilkins summons her away to tackle a problem with the lighting rig. Is it a boyfriend saving his girl by dragging her out of a sticky situation? Or is it simply that the colossal nobhead has burnt his tongue again by licking a lit spotlight? I’ll leave that question to the philosophers.
The next section, in DeeDee’s head, is one of my favourites, I think.
In it, she pines over Bill (standard) and questions her suitability and prowess at set design (also standard). And in doing so, she’s reduced to the cavalcade of tears that’s become a leitmotif throughout this book.
But she also begins her road to redemption, through a painful process of self-reflection that does open her eyes to her own behaviour.
This is nice to see. While, I suppose, it does minimise the need for professional help in regards to mental health, it does show that there are paths out of the gloom and that self-knowledge and self-care are more important and dependable than, say, over-relying on some outside influence to get you through the fucking day. So, well done DeeDee. I hope your journey to happiness is mercifully brief. (By that I mean I hope you get to happiness quickly, not that you’ll die or anything… man, that sentence does sound sinister.)
To sum up her thoughts: She sees her bright and capable friends, exceling at life. This feels overwhelming. But alongside this, she realises that she herself was once one of these bright and capable people. Where and when had the change set in?
She deduces that while she used to view herself as an entity with independent agency, she now could only see herself in comparison to other people. In doing this, she always felt she was falling short, and always felt she was letting everyone down.
As for Bill… Bill was the poster boy for these bright and capable people. And she loved him for it, and for all his accomplishments. But as she shared his achievements and successes, she found herself become lost in them, as if all her energies were focussed on him, and what he was doing. At first, Bill had loved this attention, but lately it was making him nervous and irritable, leading to him telling her to find solo projects to undertake without him.
Amazingly, a weight is lifted off her shoulders as she realises that she’s not entirely to blame for her current anxiety. Bill must also take a part of this, as he’d revelled in the attention, at the outset.
Concluding that these changes came about around the time of her parents’ divorce, and that children of divorce can often experience and entirely normal and predictable emotional unbalance, she ends the section musing about her lack of confidence, and wondering how she could extricate herself from this addled state and drag herself back towards the light.
Lovely stuff. Not the usual wackiness or hilarity that I generally vibe with in this universe, but worthy and well written nonetheless.
The final section of the chapter is the start of the denouement of the main story, and if I’m honest it does take the gild off the lily somewhat. Elizabeth speaks to Patty about what I’ll christen The DeeDee Problem.
On a ride in the little red Fiat, they brainstorm the issues. They too conclude that DeeDee’s confidence began ebbing away when her parents divorced, and they also conclude that Something Must Be Done. They realise that DeeDee needs to realise that she is bright and capable, and that her worth is not tied to Bill, or to anyone, and that she has a metric fuckton to contribute to any damn project she pleases. They also need to get her off Elizabeth’s back, so Liz can plan the Talent Show without repeated paying the Let’s Placate DeeDee Tax.
So they come up with a super-secret plan, which they do not mention here. And it’s that plan which taints my overall picture of this book. I’ll get to that in good time.
ChatGPT, write a funny flyer for the upcoming Sweet Valley High Talent Show, in which the cast of Sweet Valley High are performing a selection of surreal acts.
Get ready for the most hilarious and surreal event of the year – the Sweet Valley High Talent Show! This year, our beloved Sweet Valley High characters are stepping out of their comfort zones and showcasing their hidden talents. You won’t believe your eyes!
First up, we have Elizabeth Wakefield with her interpretive dance of “The Life Cycle of a Goldfish.” You’ll be mesmerized by her graceful moves as she transforms into a fish right before your very eyes!
Next, brace yourself for Jessica Wakefield’s daring act of juggling live chickens while singing “I Will Survive.” Who knew our resident diva had such a talent for poultry acrobatics?
Don’t miss out on Lila Fowler’s magical disappearing act. She’ll amaze you as she disappears and reappears in different outfits, all while reciting famous Shakespearean soliloquies.
And that’s not all! Bruce Patman will be performing his stand-up comedy routine, “Jokes Only Rich People Will Understand.” Be prepared for some witty and sarcastic jokes about his wealthy lifestyle.
Last but not least, Todd Wilkins will be performing his unique talent – making balloon animals while reciting the periodic table of elements. It’s a strange combination, but somehow it works!
So come and join us for an unforgettable night of laughter and surrealism at the Sweet Valley High Talent Show. Who knows what kind of surprises our characters will have in store for you!
Jessica Wakefield. Juggling Live Chickens. While singing Gloria Gaynor.
At first I was afraid. Now I’m petrified.
Chapter Nine, and we’re back with the Party Planning People. As this is the sub-plot, it does not pay to dwell on things too much. We have Jessica musing over the guest list, spending particular attention to the names Bill Chase (presumably now eligible since her shit explosion) and Cara Walker.
It seems that Cara has recently become withdrawn. Things are afoot at Chez Walker, and Jessica is interested. In passing. Not directly. It’s something that needs attention, but not immediate attention. More pressing is the fact that Cara has been a bit of a dud at parties lately, but she gets an invite to this one nonetheless.
I’m sensing that Big Story Things will be happening for Cara soon? She’s had the square root of diddley squat to do thus far… maybe she’s due for a Best Friend Renaissance soon?
Again, no spoilers.
When hearing that she will be on the guest list with Todd, Elizabeth joins the game. She and Jessica spar back and forth, with Liz convinced that Jessica won’t put on the party that coming Saturday, and with Jess reassuring her sister that there’s nothing to worry about.
Elizabeth even mentions the party that Steven threw when the Elder Wakefields were away, describing the clown-shoe-shitshow that had been. No mention of the party the three of them threw, at which they bamboozled and endangered a babysitter, and at which Jessica went in for her third first kiss and got a slice of pizza to the face for her troubles.
After this verbal sparring back and forth, Elizabeth eventually relents and decides she and Todd will go to the ball after all. Jessica 1, Elizabeth 0.
The rest of this section does not concern Elizabeth, or Cara. Instead, it tackles Jessica’s increasing loss of control regarding the upcoming party. She constantly harangues Lila for more details of the college crowd promised by Drake Howard’s involvement, while Lila deflects with talk about cucumber slices on the eyelids and exercise equipment for your thighs. Eventually, Lila reveals that Drake has put up a party notice in his frat house, an open call for guests to show up to the Compound and wreak havoc.
Drake sounds like a twat, to be fair.
Lila reassures her friend that only three or four people will turn up. Jessica isn’t convinced. As a reader, I’m not convinced of that either. That’s not how this storyline works.
Next up, we have the plan to solve The DeeDee Problem being put into effect. DeeDee telephones Elizabeth on the pretext of getting more advice and reassurance about her set designs. Elizabeth, however, has something important to impart…
“DeeDee,” Elizabeth said, trying to make her voice sound gravelly, “the reason I called is that I’m sick. I’ve got a fever,” she said pointedly. “I just called my doctor, and he says I can go to school tomorrow but I have to come straight home afterward. So I was wondering if you could take charge of the meeting for me tomorrow afternoon.”
So that’s the plan, is it? Trial by fucking fire?
“Let’s throw DeeDee into the deep end. If she swims, we’re heroes. If she dies, she dies.”
The galling thing is that this plan, that lacks basic compassion and is playing a dangerous little game, is bound to work. It’ll snap DeeDee out of her torpor as she rises to the fucking occasion. And at the end of the book, Patty and Elizabeth will slap each other on the backs and claim all the fucking credit. And DeeDee with thanks them for it. [Dove: But in the real world, you could end up weeping on the office floor, unable to breathe because everything’s too damned difficult and somehow you added the numbers up to 236%, which ISN’T A REAL PERCENTAGE. Um. Sorry. Flashback. (The ones in the know call it two-three-six-gate at work). Anyway, just wanted to put it out there that in the real world, this is a hell of a gamble, and you might end up damaging the person in question so badly they’re off work/school for two months.] [Raven: *hugs*]
The book has been setting DeeDee up as the architect of her own survival. She’s pulled herself on the right track, and she’s actualising a better future and a healthier mental state. It’s bold statement from a Sweet Valley High book, a statement that I was definitely here for. But once again, it looks like they’re going to botch the damn landing and have the dull Wakefield be the catalyst of DeeDee’s Damascene conversion.
I’m hoping this was an edict from on high, decreeing that the outlined story Needs Moar Aryan Cowbell. Because if it was the decision of the Ghostie to scupper this intriguing ship? Shame, shame, shame. Have some fucking backbone, you bellend.
Predictably, DeeDee says she simply couldn’t step in here. And more predictably, Elizabeth convinces her otherwise. Eventually, DeeDee accepts… for one day, at least.
After that call, it’s Patty’s turn to dial in. She quizzes Liz on the success of “Operation A-Independence”, which is a shitty name in the shittiest part of the book. Patty also tells us that this scheme has had the teacher signoff from Mr Collins, which makes me feel that even the Ghostie doubts its suitability in the story. Best give it a backwash of legitimacy by saying A Teacher Said it Was Okay.
Finally, the chapter peters out with more guff about Todd’s increasingly broody-yet-sentimental personality change. Something is definitely worrying him… but what can it be? While the last section of foreshadowing had Elizabeth end with a lightness of mood, this time her concern is writ large on her forehead. So presumably the next (and likely final) section of foreshadowing will have her, I dunno, shitting blood or something.
ChatGPT, write an explosive Rap Battle between Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, with reference to an upcoming party that Jessica wants to throw but Elizabeth doesn’t.
[Intro music starts playing]
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, gather around, it’s time for an epic rap battle between two iconic sisters. On one side, we have the feisty and sassy Jessica Wakefield, and on the other side, we have the responsible and sensible Elizabeth Wakefield. Let’s see who comes out on top in this explosive showdown!
[Jessica and Elizabeth walk onto the stage, glaring at each other]
Jessica: Yo, yo, yo, it’s Jessica Wakefield in the house
About to spit some fire and burn my sis like a mouse
I got a party coming up, gonna be off the chain
But my sis is acting all boring, trying to restrain
Elizabeth: Hold up, hold up, Jessica, slow your roll
You know I love a good party, but we have some goals
We need to save up some money, be responsible and wise
We can’t blow it all on a party, that’s just unwise
Jessica: Aw, come on, Lizzie, live a little, let loose
You always play it safe, never taking any huge moves
This party’s gonna be epic, everyone’s gonna be there
But I guess you’d rather stay home, reading books in your chair
Elizabeth: Don’t get it twisted, sis, I like to have some fun
But throwing a party right now just can’t be done
We need to focus on our studies and our future plans
We can’t let a party ruin our goals, that’s not in our hands
Jessica: Whatever, Lizzie, you’re just trying to bring me down
I’ll throw my party anyway, watch me run this town
You can stay home, be a bore, and miss out on the fun
But I’m gonna party all night, until the morning sun
Elizabeth: I’m not trying to bring you down, I’m just being wise
We need to think about the future, not just this one night’s highs
But if you insist on throwing this party, then go ahead
Just remember, consequences come with every action, it’s not just all red
[The crowd cheers as the sisters walk off stage, both still glaring at each other]
Announcer: Well, there you have it, folks. Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield going head to head in an explosive rap battle over a party. Who do you think won this showdown? Let us know in the comments below!
For me? I’d say Jessica won this round. Mostly because Elizabeth chose to rhyme “wise” with “unwise”, which is a bit crap.
(Also? I ran this three times – twice with Explosive and once with Epic in the prompt – and got wildly different responses. I’ll post the others in the comments. One of them was pretty scary. Fun!)
Chapter Ten, of Fourteen! Yowser, this is a hefty meatball of a recap! Right, Wing? Happily, we’re largely onto the final mouthfuls now, so a doggie bag may be in order. [Dove: Just want to point out that this joke is nearly ten years old. No wonder she’s bored of it. Nearly as bored as we are of eating that goddamned meatball.] [Raven: Zing!] [Wing: I hate you both and will never eat anything near you ever again. <3]
We start with DeeDee, finishing a backdrop for Patty’s West Side Story dance. It’s wonderful, naturally, because DeeDee is competent. While she beavers away in the family basement, her mother calls down. There’s a phone call for DeeDee, from Bill.
Caught up in the act of creation, she instinctively tells her mother that she’ll call Bill back when he’s free.
PROGRESS and GROWTH right there! Way to go, DeeDee!
Mama Gordon does the deed, then pops down to see her child. She gushes about her daughter’s talents, and in a non-dutiful way. She also opines on DeeDee’s concentration and focus, which she pins to her father’s gene set. DeeDee scoffs and claims she doesn’t have any focus or talent, but immediately admits to herself that this isn’t true at all.
Her mother admonishes her, lovingly, advising her to never sell herself short. This neatly brings the conversation into the familial sphere, in particular to the topic of the divorce, and the feeling surrounding it.
In a tender and surprisingly effective scene, Mama Gordon touches on the causes of her marriage breakdown. She actually focusses on those areas that DeeDee assumed were the issue – parental overwork leading to a couple drifting apart – and sets her straight by disabusing those notions. It was merely a consequence of people changing over time. She also hints on what helped her through it: the courses she took on social work, giving her a plan and a purpose and a project.
DeeDee’s return to the land of the living is now complete.
DeeDee’s eyes stung with tears. I never understood, she thought numbly. It was probably the same with Susan Jackson, too. Her work probably didn’t break up her marriage at all! She may have believed it did. But if so, she was wrong.
I’ve been such a jerk, she thought. Such an absolute jerk.
DeeDee hugs her mother, in gratitude and love, happy to be in a somewhat brighter place for the first time in this entire book.
[Wing: If only we didn’t have that whole stupid Elizabeth Saves the Day plot still happening. DeeDee deserves better and is doing good work with her introspection and talking to her mom and thinking things through.]
Quick skip to the Talent Show Committee, gathered in the school auditorium for the Meeting Without Elizabeth. DeeDee is in charge, but there are problems aplenty.
First? The sound system is borked.
Second? The lighting system is fucked too.
Third? The costumes are behind schedule due to sewing machine breakdown. [Dove: Why aren’t they already using the school sewing machines instead of making Olivia do this on her personal machine at home?]
Fourth? The school has double booked the auditorium for Sunday, with the Talent Show and a PTA meeting. [Wing: Why the fuck are they having the PTA meeting in an auditorium big enough to host a talent show?]
Fifth? No one has organised who’s selling the tickets.
Sixth, unwritten? They’re putting on a Talent Show, and nobody has any fucking talent.
While the Early-Book DeeDee would have crumbled to dust under the weight of such burdens, the Shiny-New DeeDee isn’t quite so fragile. She’s daunted, yes – who wouldn’t be? – but she realises she has Stuff To Do. She also “knows” that Elizabeth will be back in fighting shape the following day, so this is merely a temporary arrangement.
She barks out orders to fix the issues, and ploughs on.
The final section of this chapter deals with DeeDee’s attempt to speak with Elizabeth, to keep her abreast of the issues the committee is currently facing. She dashed to the Compound, fresh from the meeting, with vim in her gait and vigour in her belly.
Thankfully for Elizabeth, she is forewarned of the approaching Hurricane DeeDee. As her “convalescence” is entirely spurious, she concocts a plan with the willing accomplice Jessica. The plan is Operation A-Independence’s second phase.
So, when DeeDee arrives, Elizabeth keeps herself well out of the way. And Jessica, perfectly suited to the role of Big Fat Liar Pants On Fire at this juncture, spins the yarn that her sister’s illness is a little more series than first imagined. It’s not actually a day-long bug. It is, in fact…
DeeDee is immediately distraught. What on earth will become of the Talent Show?
Of course, DeeDee is tasked with taking over the Elizabeth role. And of course, she’s initially recalcitrant, but eventually on board. And of course, she smashes it, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
DeeDee heads back to the school auditorium in a daze. Once there, she starts thinking of creative solutions to the problems posed by what’s seemingly an institutional problem with the school facilities and framework.
While doing so, she stumbles upon… Bill Chase. At the lockers. Talking to Dana Larson.
DeeDee’s first reaction? “Lolzorz, I forgot to call Bill back. Oopsies!”
This is refreshing, as there’s no hint of impropriety or jealousy regarding his proximity to a supposed love rival. Nope, she merely thinks “I should have called him” before moving on to notice that he still looks as hot as oily balls. [Dove: I seriously cannot believe that a SVH book is sidestepping the very obvious temptation of handbags at dawn/I want my man back fisticuffs.]
Bill and DeeDee converse pleasantly about Elizabeth’s illness and DeeDee’s newfound role as Talent Show Ombudsman. It’s becoming clear that the spark is still there. Additionally, Dana Larson hears about the Talent Show first hand at this moment (looks like the marketing budget for this show has been non-existent), and offers the services of the inestimable Droids in a one-off talent-based performance. Result!
The chapter ends with DeeDee awash with delight in the adoring gaze of Bill Chase, while simultaneously realising that she doesn’t have time for something as fripperous and frivolry as “love”.
DEEDEE IS BACK, BABY!
ChatGPT, write a poem about Laryngitis in the style of Dr Seuss.
Oh laryngitis, how it stings!
No voice to speak, no songs to sing.
It starts with a tickle, a scratch in your throat,
Then before you know it, you can’t even croak.
Your voice disappears, like a mouse in the night,
And you’re left with a whisper, try as you might.
No more yelling or shouting, no more making a fuss,
Just a soft little sound, like a mouse in the dust.
Your friends all ask, “what’s wrong with your voice?”
And you reply with a whisper, “I don’t have a choice.”
You can’t sing, you can’t talk, you can’t even laugh,
It’s enough to make you want to cry and take a bath.
But fear not my friend, for laryngitis will pass,
Just give it some time and raise up your glass.
Drink some tea, soothe your throat,
And before you know it, you’ll be hitting that high note.
So take care of your voice, and use it with care,
For laryngitis is lurking, and it’s not quite fair.
But if it does strike, don’t worry or fret,
Just whisper some Seuss, and you’ll be all set!
(Some of these are clear home runs. This one pointed to the damn bleachers too.)
Chapter Eleven! It’s Friday again, and Liz is skiving school. If she’s Laryngitic, she can hardly swan up to class and continue unabashed. Operation A-Independence relies upon total immersion in the narrative.
Jessica goes to school, leaving Liz to lounge at her leisure. She takes a trip to the mall after lunch, only to return to the Wakefield Compound to find…
A naked Mr Nydick! [Wing: Oh the nostalgia.]
Only joking! She actually finds Jessica, being “arrested” for apparently trying to break into her own house.
Of course, everything is soon smoothed away. Sergeant Malone sees the funny side once the misunderstanding is cleared. Apparently, Alice had called the Fuzz before heading to Mexico City and asked if they could keep an eye on the house until they return.
One: I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something so excrementally privileged as this bullshit. I’m pretty sure this isn’t how the police operate.
Two: Jessica being caught breaking into the Wakefield Home? It’s a good job this series doesn’t include Maria Slater, that’s all I’m saying.
Three: Such a blatant disregard for announcing your current location / holiday plans can only lead to one thing… a visit from the Wet Bandits.
Back in school, DeeDee is being a Boss-Ass Bitch.
She’s ruling the roost on the Talent Show committee with an iron fist. She manages to persuade the PTA to reschedule their meeting so the Talent Show can continue in their planned Sunday evening slot.
She’s secured the loan of an extra sewing machine, to help the costume backlog.
She’s corralled Ken and Winston into rounding up ticket sellers from their friend group.
She’s arranged the repair of the sound system, and she’s about to meet an electrician to sort the lighting problem.
Who needs Elizabeth fucking Wakefield? Let her succumb to her illness, say I!
As she heads to the auditorium with a spring in her step, she bumps into Bill Chase once more. This gives us an insight into their strengthening relationship.
Bill invites her for a bite at the Dairi Burger, but she declines as she’s too goddamn busy. He tags along with her as she heads to her meeting, asking questions, genuinely interested in her day and her affairs. And when he questions her about the sets and the designs, DeeDee comes across with so much confidence that she even surprises herself.
She’s loving her newfound attitude, and it shows.
Shyly, she invites her old beau to come watch the Talent Show that Sunday. He grabs the opportunity with both hands. They are on the road to redemption and realignment, and I’m here for it.
The final section of the chapter is perhaps the most satisfying. It covers DeeDee’s reconciliation with her good friend Patty.
Things are initialized when Patty manages to drag DeeDee away from her set-building tasks, in order to check on things. They head to the Box Tree Café for some iced tea and to frankly exchange their views.
Patty is super-thrilled that her friend is back to her old self. She’s also stoked by the fine work DeeDee has done on the set designs, and in particular the set for her Patty’s own West Side Story dance routine. DeeDee is warmed by such kind words and sentiments.
Happily, the girls declare their love and admiration for each other, before clearing the air and talking through their feelings over the past two weeks or so. And finally, Patty enquires about her friend’s thoughts on Bill.
On that subject, DeeDee is surprisingly insightful. She realises that she and Bill need to have a long talk, about their place in each other’s lives. In the words of Mr Myagi, DeeDee needs to find a sense of balance before making any decision. She has her own life, and passions, and projects, and she must remain focussed on herself as an individual rather than as part of a couple.
The whole exchange is handled with maturity and wisdom. The girls are obviously in a fine place at the end, and it’s nice to see.
ChatGPT, write a story about Jessica Wakefield trying to break into her own home, but she runs a gauntlet of Home Alone style defences set by Kevin McAllister.
Jessica Wakefield had a long day at school, and all she wanted to do was to get home, take a hot shower, and curl up in bed with a good book. But when she arrived at her home, she realized she had left her keys inside. She knocked on the door, hoping her parents would be home, but there was no answer.
As she tried to think of a solution, she noticed something strange. Her house looked like it had been booby-trapped. There were buckets of paint and water perched on the top of the door, a bunch of marbles on the ground, and strings running from the door to various parts of the house.
Jessica was perplexed. What was going on? She looked around and spotted a figure in the window. It was Kevin McAllister, the infamous kid who had once defended his own home from burglars using a series of clever traps.
“What are you doing here?” Jessica asked, as Kevin emerged from the house.
“I’m protecting this house,” Kevin replied with a grin. “Your parents hired me to set up a Home Alone style defense system to protect the house while they’re away.”
Jessica was stunned. “But I live here! How am I supposed to get in?”
Kevin shrugged. “Sorry, kid. If I let you in, I’d be compromising the security of the house.”
Jessica was annoyed. She couldn’t believe her parents had hired Kevin without telling her. She looked at the house and tried to figure out how to get in. She saw a rope hanging down from the roof and decided to climb up it.
As she climbed up, she heard a series of clicks and beeps. Suddenly, a net flew out from the roof, wrapping her up like a spider’s prey. She struggled to free herself, but the net was too strong. Kevin appeared beside her, laughing.
“I told you this house was protected,” he said. “Now, how about we watch a movie and wait for your parents to get back?”
Jessica sighed. She knew there was no way she could break in. She settled in to watch a movie with Kevin, knowing that her parents would have some explaining to do when they got back.
I dunno… Kevin McAllister seems a little more mature than I remember from the movie. And frankly, it’s rather irresponsible of Ned and Alice to hire a child in this way. There are laws about that sort of thing… maybe we’ve found a discipline that Ned Wakefield doesn’t practice?! [Dove: *shrugs* Seems like the kind of shit they’d pull.]
Chapter Twelve deals solely with the Wakefield Party, and as such we’ll be brief about it. If you want more details, go check out The Big Party Weekend from the Twins series, but throw in some beers for some extra gravitas.
Short story short? Although it starts well, the party is an unmitigated disaster. While quiet at first, it’s soon crashed by a horde of visigioth-cum-fratbois, Drake Howard at their helm. They’re loud, obnoxious, and actually smelly.
And once they arrive, the rest of Pi Beta Alpha (Jessica’s sorority) arrive too. So the Wakefield Compound throbs and hums with the hormonal charge that only occurs in the presence of college boys and high school girls.
By eleven thirty, things are out of hand. Beer has made its way into the proceedings, all the food is gone, the music is blaring far too loud, and there’s a plethora of snoggers and snoggees as far as the eye can see (Lila and Drake among them).
The neighbour Mrs Beckwith is threatening to call the police if the music isn’t turned down to a normal level, and snogging has now morphed into fighting and arguing. Lila and Drake are at loggerheads, and Lila storms off without a care or concern for her party-hosting friend.
As Lila attempts to leave, another person enters… it’s Sergeant Malone, the policeman from the previous day. This time, things aren’t quite so amusing. He asks the whereabouts of the Elder Wakefields, before demanding to speak to someone over eighteen once he’s ascertained that the folks are AWOL.
Luckily for all involved, Steven fucking Wakefield swoops down from The Gods like a brunette and blue eyed Deus Ex Machina. Apparently, the Elders had asked him to check in on the house in their absence, something he appears to have neglected until the day before they return.
Steve’s here, everybody! What seems to be the problem, officers?
The police are mollified, and Steven begins the task of both reaming out his sisters (steady…) and dispersing the party. The Wakefields manage to clear the decks by 1am, but only after Winston smashes a crystal vase. Also, Lila and Drake are back together by the conclusion of the chapter, and they sashay away without so much as a “sorry folks” or a by-your-leave.
Finally, the Wakefields sweep the Compound to check for damage… only to discover that someone has trampled beer into the plans on the floor of the Study. Alice’s special plans, which you might remember from earlier in the recap. [Dove: I. am. shocked. My flabber is well and truly ghasted.]
However you slice it, the Wakefield Twins are FUCKED.
ChatGPT, outline the process of restoring a blueprint that’s been drenched in beer.
Restoring a blueprint that has been drenched in beer can be a delicate process that requires attention to detail and care to avoid further damage to the document. Here is an outline of the general steps involved in the process:
- Assess the damage: Carefully examine the blueprint to determine the extent of the damage. Look for any areas that are completely soaked through, as well as any areas that are discolored or wrinkled.
- Remove excess moisture: Use a blotting paper or a soft, absorbent cloth to gently blot away any excess moisture on the blueprint. Be careful not to rub or scrub the paper, as this can cause further damage.
- Dry the blueprint: Place the blueprint on a flat surface in a well-ventilated area to dry. Avoid exposing the blueprint to direct sunlight, as this can cause fading. Use a fan or air conditioner to speed up the drying process, but avoid using heat sources like a hair dryer or heater, as this can cause the paper to warp.
- Flatten the blueprint: Once the blueprint is dry, it may be wrinkled or curled. To flatten it, place the blueprint between two sheets of blotting paper or parchment paper, and then place it under a heavy object like a book or a weight. Leave it for a few days to allow the paper to flatten out.
- Restore the blueprint: If the blueprint is still discolored or damaged after drying and flattening, you may need to consider restoration techniques. This can involve using specialized chemicals or processes to remove stains or repair tears. However, restoration should only be attempted by a professional conservator, as improper techniques can cause further damage to the document.
By following these steps, you can restore a blueprint that has been drenched in beer and preserve it for future use.
Wow, informative and enlightening. Thanks, ChatGPT!
Chapter Thirteen starts with a frantic plea from Jessica Wakefield to DeeDee Gordon. It’s Sunday morning, in the afterglow of the destruction in the Wakefield Compound. Neither Bill nor DeeDee were in attendance at the Compound Party the previous night… but DeeDee could be the saviour of the day nonetheless.
Jessica’s idea? Have DeeDee utilise her art-and-design prowess to repair Alice’s mutilated plans.
I mean, sure? I guess?
Although, if DeeDee does manage to pull this off, and pull it off to the extent that Alice Wakefield doesn’t notice the switcheroo / botch fix, then either Alice’s interior design firm are wholly and irredeemably incompetent, or Alice’s faculties are still compromised because her Mexican drug binge has yet to worm its way out of her system.
At first, DeeDee thinks the task is impossible. Jessica does not take no for an answer, and realises that the task would be made easier is she were to confess to DeeDee about her part in the Dana / Bill news cycle. That’s quite a leap of logic there, but whatever floats your boat, girl.
So Jess confesses, and DeeDee forgives, and wouldn’t you know it, the plans can be salvaged after all. Who’d have thought it?
So Jess and DeeDee head back to the Compound, ready to fix those plans up a storm. Unfortunately, Jess had not clued Elizabeth into her mission, so when Liz opens the front door to loudly announce that the Elders would be home in an hour, her laryngitic cover is well and truly blown.
DeeDee remains inscrutable in the face of such a betrayal, but thins her lips and gets to work on the plans. Does she fix them in time?
Too fucking right, she does. She’s such a good fixer, they should call her Mr Wolf.
Jess and DeeDee hug. All is forgiven, everything is peachy. And Elizabeth apologises for the subterfuge too, but DeeDee doesn’t give a shit. She’s happy with the current state of play, and she goes as far as to almost thank Liz for helping her out of her funk.
This leaves a faint distaste in my mouth, and DeeDee was shaping up to dragging herself out of her hole. That would have been more satisfying. And while asking for and receiving help is brilliant, and laudable, I do take exception to this tricksy and underhand denouement to the main plot. And to the fact that it’s Elizabeth, again, who’s proving to be the saviour without doing anything that’s especially worthy of praise or attention. [Dove: It wasn’t even her plan. It was Patty’s.]
The chapter ends with the parents arriving home, and Jessica is forced to confess about the part and the smashed vase. She also mentions the broken washing machine and the smaller sundry excitements that plagued the B Plot of this book like gnats on a summer day.
At first, the parents are angry. But they quickly mellow, and eventually pull out the old “we think your worry was punishment enough” bullshit that’s the trademark of all lazy parents since time immemorial. Well done, Elder Wakefields. Well done.
There’s no confession of the ruined-and-rebuilt plans, of course. I do hope we have a later book in which Alice’s firm is blackballed after releasing shoddy plans and haemorrhaging clients like someone with weapons-grade food poisoning shits out their innards.
So it seems that Jessica has gotten away with everything… or has she?
ChatGPT, write a funny confession from Jessica Wakefield in which she confesses to three acts, each more serious than the last, culminating in an act so serious that she is ostracised from her community for life.
“Okay, guys, I have a confession to make. Three actually. The first one is that I accidentally spilled orange juice all over Lila’s designer dress last week at her party. I swear it was an accident, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her.
The second confession is that I snuck into Mr. Collins’ office and changed his desktop background to a picture of a donut. I couldn’t help myself, it was just too hilarious.
And finally, the third and most serious confession… I may have accidentally started a small fire in the school science lab while trying to create a love potion. I know, I know, it sounds bad, but hear me out. It was just a tiny flame and I put it out right away, but apparently the school takes fire safety pretty seriously. I’m now officially banned from all school science labs for life. And, um, possibly also banned from the entire town for life. Oops?”
Jessica shrugs and grins sheepishly, waiting for her friends’ reactions.
Never change, Jessica Wakefield. Never fucking change.
Chapter Fourteen wraps up proceedings in a neat little bow, before moving on to the foreshadowing for Book twenty three.
Let’s fucking goooooo!
First up? There’s the Talent Show, It’s a gangbusting success, as is to be expected. Elizabeth gives the opening speech, which she dedicates to DeeDee and her tireless work in setting everything up. As the crowd chat for DeeDee, she gives her own speech in which she thanks Elizabeth and Patty for their trust and guidance. Standard.
Patty and DeeDee also have a mutually appreciative love-fest while waiting in the wings. Also standard.
[Dove: I think the thing that bugged me about this was that it read very much like anxiety and/or depression that DeeDee was struggling with, and the idea that one big jolt has fixed her, doesn’t quite sit with me, although I appreciate that DeeDee did make a lot of progress on her own, which would certainly help manage her impulses and worries. But, that said, it’s Sweet Valley. If Enid’s never going back for checkups after being paralysed, why on earth would a girl who “had a bad week” need more than just a Wakefield push?]
While DeeDee watches the acts from the wings, she’s met by a husky Bill Chase, who initiates a kiss and requests that they recommence their relationship. DeeDee is happy go for it, as long as they tale it slowly. Standard squared.
Winston and Ken’s magic act, with Jessica as their bemused assistant, goes down a storm. As one would expect.
Finally, Todd Wilkins takes to the stage. But if you’re hoping for some comedy stylings from everyone’s least favourite Sweet Valleyian, you’re about to be disappointed. Instead oh is promised comedy, he delivers a maudlin poem about loss and departure. Once delivered, he bursts into tears and exits (not pursued by a bear).
Elizabeth is upset, and quizzes him on the nature of his concern…
It appears that Todd and his family are set to move away from Sweet Valley. Shock horror
When, I hear you ask? In one week.
One fucking week.
But that’s another story, and it will be told another time.
From all at Sweet Valley Online… goodnight!
Count us out, ChatGPT…
(ChatGPT, write a “goodbye and thanks for coming” song from the cast of Sweet Valley High in the style of the Muppt Show theme tune. Include individual character names and farewells.)
Verse 1: It’s time to say goodbye, to all our Sweet Valley friends
We hope you had a blast, from beginning to the end
From Elizabeth and Jessica, and all the Wakefield clan
We’ll miss you all so much, we hope you understand
Chorus: So thank you for coming, to our Sweet Valley High
We’re sad to see you go, but we had a real good time
From Bruce Patman to Lila, we’ll never forget
The laughs we shared together, and all the fun we met
Verse 2: From Todd and Ken to Enid, and all the gang at school
We had some rocky times, but we always kept it cool
From Winston and his jokes, to Maria’s sweet voice
We loved every moment, it was always our first choice
Chorus: So thank you for coming, to our Sweet Valley High
We’re sad to see you go, but we had a real good time
From Mr. Collins to Ms. Dalton, we’ll never forget
The lessons that we learned, and all the friends we met
Bridge: We’ll miss the California sun, and the beach we loved to go
We’ll miss the Dairi Burger, and the Valley Mall, you know
But most of all we’ll miss, the people that we knew
We hope you won’t forget us, and we won’t forget you too
Chorus: So thank you for coming, to our Sweet Valley High
We’re sad to see you go, but we had a real good time
From Jessica and Elizabeth, we’ll never forget
The memories we shared together, and the fun we met
Outro: It’s time to say goodbye, but we’ll never say farewell
We’ll see you all again, we’ll have more stories to tell
So until we meet again, just remember our goodbye
Thanks for coming to Sweet Valley High!
I definitely enjoyed this book. More than I’d readily care to admit.
I think it worked well from a number of angles. It was a fine Peripheral Character book, and had just the right amount of both Jessica and Elizabeth to keep things fresh. I liked and empathised with both DeeDee and Bill, and I thought it was rather respectful of the torment that plagued them both.
From a Mental Health perspective, it was remarkably light of touch. While there were some issues I had with the message at times, it felt considered and thoughtful regardless. The dialogue was tight, the action well paced, and the conclusions it came to were wholly believable.
On the obverse? Jessica’s meanness of spirit was ugly, and Elizabeth’s save-the-day scheme was unnecessary. Also, the fact that we didn’t get any actual Todd Wilkins Comedy was another disappointment. But overall? It was good!
And finally, I had a blast with ChatGPT. Writing this recap was an absolute joy, and I hope you all had fun reading it.
This is Raven, signing off. Till next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.
ChatGPT, write a final thought on the antics of the Wakefield Twins in the Sweet Valley High series, in the style of the Jerry Springer Show…
“Let’s face it, Sweet Valley High fans, the Wakefield twins are a hot mess! With their constant swapping of boyfriends, sneaky schemes, and outrageous stunts, it’s no wonder they’re always at the center of the drama. But amidst all the chaos, one thing remains clear: these two will always have each other’s backs. So whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny that the Wakefield twins are the ultimate dynamic duo of Sweet Valley High. And with that, we’ll leave you with this final thought: keep your friends close, and your frenemies closer, because you never know what antics the Wakefield twins will get up to next!”
[Dove: Overall, it was fine. I wasn’t deeply in love with this book, but I also didn’t hate it. Like I said, reading someone’s anxiety was exhuasting and not really my cup of tea. That said, it did handle mental health better than any ghostie has managed thus far in the High run, though there were some fuckups, and I agree with Raven that it feels like the ghostie wasn’t delighted with Liz getting the credit for it, nor were they on board with the “Liz is fake ill” plot, with that half-hearted sign-off that they got from Mr Collins, and that I do like. I’ll give it a “meh”, because I really still don’t particularly care for the characters after reading this one, and probably won’t re-read it again.]
[Wing: I liked this better than a lot of the books we’ve read so far in SVH, but I am deeply, deeply frustrated by Elizabeth and Patty manipulating DeeDee to
fix her help her. Luckily, the ghostie built up the rest of the friendship and DeeDee’s own work pretty well and buried the manipulative part as much as possible.
SVH was never going to deal well with mental illness, especially coming out of the 80s, and I was pleasantly surprised by how little this leaned into damaging stereotypes. Sure, DeeDee’s story wouldn’t so easily be resolved like this, but what we get to see is good.
Unfortunately, it had too much Wakefield time, and I don’t give a fuck about Liz and Todd’s coming story. Still, it’s a high meh from me or … maybe … oh god, it might actually be a low good.]