Title: Jessica’s No Angel
Tagline: How much trouble can one little lie cause?
Summary: Janet Howell is driving Jessica Wakefield crazy! Janet is one of the most popular and important girls at Sweet Valley Middle School, but when she’s mean, she’s really mean. And ever since she and her sort-of boyfriend, Denny, got into a huge fight, Janet has been utterly impossible. So Jessica decides to get Janet and Denny back together. And if it takes a little fib to do it, well, all’s fair in love, right?
Not quite. Jessica’s twin sister, Elizabeth, overhears her scheme and gives her a lecture on lying that hurts Jessica’s feelings. So Jessica makes a wish that Elizabeth would have to tell nothing but the truth. But when her wish comes true, Jessica is anything but happy! Not only can’t Elizabeth stop telling the truth, she can’t seem to keep her mouth shut about Jessica! Can Jessica reverse the wish in time to save herself from Elizabeth’s obnoxious honesty?
We’re now in the final swing of this series, and I think no matter how good a book is, we’re probably a bit too tired to give it a completely fair trial. And since all I know about this is the title, my thoughts are, “Um… yeah. We know.”
Also, this is the longest book ever. Raven and I were scanning the bastard in for weeks.
So if it’s bad, it’ll be bad for a long time.
So I’m really hoping this will be a fun romp. I am looking forward to Elizabeth idiotically blurting her truth at anyone who happens to mosey past. Please be as good as I want that to be. (“Sophia, you’re poor and Italian, A+ for my diversity quota!” and “Amy, the only reason I’m friends with you is that you’re so boring you make me look positively vivacious by comparison!” and “Todd, you kiss like a dead fish” and, obviously, “Jessica, you are a murderer, and I kind of like it for the same reason I like Amy being boring. It makes me look good. Keep it up.”)
[Raven: Also, what’s going on with Jessica’s neck in the American cover? She’s twelve, not a giraffe.]
[Wing: That USA cover is cheesy as hell and makes me laugh every time I see it.]
Let’s do this thing.
We open with Janet decreeing that Denny Jacobson, her mostly sort-of boyfriend, is an asshole. When the Unicorns point out all the romantic and prosey things Janet said about him only yesterday, she cuts them dead. Denny is over. He’s a liar. Just like all men.
They were supposed to go to Some Crumb Bakery [Wing: Calling someone or something a crumb was an insult. I get the joke here, but I think it’s not working for the bakery the way they hope. Or maybe this far into the series, Ghostie is just as jaded and exhausted as we are.] to try out the new crumb cake, but Denny had to cancel to study for a big science test. And then she saw him playing basketball with his friends after school.
It’s the principle of the thing, Janet explains. If he hadn’t lied, it would have been fine.
Jessica privately thinks that’s not the case at all, and Janet would have been furious either way. And honestly, she couldn’t really blame him for lying.
Janet, Mandy and Mary announce they are sick of liars. Jessica hastily agrees, although she thinks that sometimes lying is necessary and she’d have been in real trouble if she hadn’t lied.
Like WHERE IS SANDRA FERRIS, JESSICA? IS SHE BURIED IN THE MERCANDY BACKYARD?
(Good girl. She sucked.) [Raven: I think you need to let your Sandra Ferris Hatred go.] [Wing: At this point I don’t even remember why Dove hates her.] [Dove: BECAUSE SHE SUCKS!]
Janet has started a petition that anyone who tells a lie will be kicked out of school. Mandy and Mary point out that such a thing is probably illegal, but how about wearing an ugly coloured t-shirt that says “I’m a Liar” until they are forgiven? (Probably in that ugly green/brown colour cigarette packets have to be now. Because that’ll stop people from doing a thing they’re addicted to. The colour of the box.)
This actually generates genuine enthusiasm, since the Unicorns reason that wearing the same outfit as someone else is death anyway (bless you, Ellen), wearing the same ugly outfit is uber-death. Nobody will ever lie again.
Lila, Mandy, Mary and Ellen all sign with great enthusiasm, then the petition comes to Jessica. I’ll let her thought process speak for itself:
Jessica studied the sheet of paper. She tried to imagine what her life would be like if she could never, ever lie again. What if she got into a tight spot and lying was the only way out? Then what was she supposed to do? Come clean and hope for the best? But that only worked in the movies—and sometimes not even then.
Right off the top of her head, she could think of a dozen times she’d absolutely needed to lie. What about the time she’d told her science teacher that her puppy had eaten her lab report? She didn’t have a puppy, but Mr. Seigel didn’t know that.
And then there was the time she’d told everyone she was going to Paris for spring break. When her parents finally decided she couldn’t go, Jessica had lied and said the trip was fantastic—and she’d worn a black beret and brought in a bunch of imported French cheeses to prove she’d gone. She couldn’t exist without lies sometimes! Her reputation would self-destruct. And not only that, but if she signed the petition, she might have to wear one of those liar T-shirts. She looked terrible in bright colors. She wouldn’t be caught dead in some ugly, cut-rate-T-shirt!
She all but admits that she likes to lie. I’m not actually kidding when I say that Jessica has a problem. But we did already know that. Quakefield Wakefield. The Older Boy. The Unicorns Go Hawaiian. And all the other books in the series.
When Janet snaps at her, Jessica is forced to sign, but she crosses her fingers behind her back. [Raven: Who invented that getout clause, I wonder? It’s so random. “Well, my fingers were crossed, Your Honour.” … “In that case, the murders don’t count, and you’re free to go with out most sincere apologies.” Also, I know I could Google it.]
Then Janet adds that if anyone lies, they’ll be thrown out of the Unicorn club. [Wing: That’ll empty the Unicorn Club immediately.]
By the time Jessica gets to homeroom, she’s pissed off. Janet demanded that Jessica carry her books and Lila open all the doors for her. You work it, Janet. Does anyone else think that Janet’s just realised she’ll be in high school very shortly and she’s running out of time to be a big fish in a small pond?
Mr Davis announces that there is going to be a picnic to celebrate the end of the school year – ok, let’s ignore the picnic they had a few books ago for the honour roll students or whatever it was – but wow, even the ghosties are admitting that we’re nearly done with this series.
“Finally, something worth celebrating!” Mandy added. “No more pencils, no more books—” She glanced at Mr. Davis and flashed her brightest smile. “No more teacher’s incredibly handsome looks.”
My world is collapsing in on itself. This ghostie just referenced Alice Cooper. THE WORLD HAS DIVIDED BY ZERO. [Raven: School’s Out was released in 1972, so I guess this counts as a dated reference?]
Lila is not impressed by a picnic. She was assuming a full-fledged graduation with formal wear and presents. Lila is about twenty years ahead of her time. [Wing: How so? I mean, she’s not graduating this year anyway, but middle school graduations existed throughout the USA.] [Dove: I mean the way that now (well, pre-COVID), every event gets a big party/to-do, not just the actual milestones – like she wants a party for graduating sixth grade, not middle school, that’s kind of where we were up to – and that’s not a dig at the USA, I mean here too. Everything gets a celebration now. Or did.] She is moderately mollified when Mr Davis informs her that it will be a catered event.
Jessica immediately imagines herself wearing a pretty dress, while everyone admires how amazing she and Aaron look together, and then she gets an award for Best Personality, which is a weird award for her to want. Isn’t this the era where you are pretty or funny, but not both? Wouldn’t she want pretty? [Raven: I presume she’d have to share the Prettiest Award with her twin, which isn’t Jessica’s bag at all.]
We cut to Elizabeth tearing her hair out in frustration because she just deleted her whole essay and she didn’t save it. Elizabeth, despite her cleverness, does not know that CTRL Z will save your ass on pretty much anything except when you accidentally ran a macro. Also, what moron does an entire essay without saving? Doesn’t everyone CTRL S every few paragraphs as part of their process? (Or F12 if you’re on a cloud system or just like making multiple backups?)
Elizabeth just shrugs off this minor problem, and decides to get lunch with Amy instead. It wasn’t homework, it was just a national essay contest entry. Elizabeth is just that important that not only do teachers ask her to enter stuff like that, but also that she can casually delete it and fuck off and get food instead.
On their way out of the library, they bump into Todd who wants to talk to Elizabeth. Amy feigns a cough (TOO SOON, AMY! WE DON’T FIND COUGHING GOOD IN A COVID WORLD) and says she’s going to get a drink to let them talk alone.
The ever-charismatic Todd turns red and then asks Elizabeth to be his date for the picnic.
And then Amy returns, so I’m guessing she heard everything.
Over at the Unicorner, Mandy has just been asked to the picnic by Colin Harmon, isn’t that great? Um… isn’t Colin Brooke’s sort-of boyfriend? And isn’t one of the many Peters yours, Mandy? Not slut-shaming, just pointing out the continuity has gone screwy again. [Raven: I legit don’t remember anyone in this fucking series.]
Winston asked Grace by passing her a note in class with a poem on it.
Peter Burns asked Mary at the water fountain. Janet makes a crack about that, and has apparently forgotten that in the last book she became BFFs with Donald Zwerdling.
Jim Sturbridge asked Ellen, which I’m sure won’t be awkward, since he’s going out with Belinda Layton, a fellow Unicorn. Thank god the ghostie doesn’t know that. [Raven: I know Jim! Result.] [Dove: Well done!]
Adding to the list of things the ghostie doesn’t know, she’s charmingly unaware that Lila and Bruce hate each other and always have so far in the series. Completely and unflinchingly. Because the ghostie thinks that Lila is waiting for a date from Bruce, when she’s only ever liked Jake Hamilton at this school, and that cute boy from a private school in another super edition.
At least the ghostie is dimly aware that Jessica/Aaron is a thing, and Jessica has her sights on being asked to the picnic by him.
Ellen cluelessly asks whether Janet would like to go to the picnic with Denny, which causes Janet to snap at her and stab her milk carton. Ellen, apparently unaware that this is not a great topic for Janet, persists and asks would she like to go with anyone else. Quickly they suggest: Rick Hunter (apparently boring, only talks about tennis – this is a lie, Rick Hunter is the only boy in this school with an ounce of character, and he works best with Jessica); Peter Jeffries (I bet Janet doesn’t know which Peter this is either, nobody does – and I’m sure he was dating Mandy); and then Lila suggests Jake Hamilton. You know. Her sort-of boyfriend in every other book we’ve read. [Raven: Actually, I know Jake too. Also, I’ve decided that I can hand-wave the constant relationship whackamole as typical pre-teen partner-swapping bullshit. It’s the best way to save my sanity, let I blow a head gasket through my frothing demands that “Patrick Harris is going steady with Sophia Rizzo, damnit, and this Ghostie should die in a grease fire!!!!1!!!one!!1!“] [Dove: To be honest, they’re twelve, it would be weird if they were all perfectly settled down into couples. But Doves gotta Dove when it comes to continuity here.] [Wing: Even if they are all just dating different people over time, there’s almost never an acknowledgement of those prior relationships or how they might make things (even more) awkward.] [Dove: Yep, that’s what I meant, but somehow failed to say. It’s perfectly normal that a twelve year old might go on a date with different people, but failing to acknowledge you went on a date with their best friend, or they went on a date with yours makes the characters look a little daffy.]
Janet tells everyone that she would only go to the picnic with Denny (even Johnny Buck can fuck off, his voice is all scratchy), but Denny is an asshole, so everyone needs to shush about the whole thing.
Mandy realises that a furious Janet will make for a terrible leader, so tries to calm her down, saying maybe Denny didn’t lie or – then she stops when she sees the hairy eyeball Janet is throwing her way. She agrees that Denny is a liar.
Janet informs Jessica and Lila that they will keep her company at the picnic, since they don’t have dates. Jessica says she plans to have a date, and Janet comes down brutally hard on them, saying that Aaron could have anyone he wants, is he really going to ask Jessica? (“Well, yeah,” is Jessica’s response – bless our fearless girl!) and that Bruce won’t ask Lila, and if he does, he’ll just back out at the last minute.
Jessica has fleeting insight into why one might lie to avoid spending time with Janet.
After lunch, Jessica and Lila convene to share war wounds of Janet’s biting new personality. They both agree that she’s evil, and they don’t want her as their date to the picnic. She will be toxic if they don’t and toxic if they do, so they’re screwed either way.
“On the other hand, my life’s already pretty miserable. I mean, the day that Mary Wallace has a date and I don’t—well, something is horribly wrong in the universe.”
I always knew Lila looked down on other Unicorns! Now we have proof!
They agree that they don’t want to baby-sit Janet, and Jessica tries to offload Janet on Lila, which gets her absolutely nowhere. Jessica counters with another offer, the first of them to get a date to the picnic is off the hook.
This invokes their competitive streak, they shake on it, both certain that they’ll be the first to be asked to the picnic.
That evening, Jessica is staring at the phone and willing it to ring, while her family talks about the picnic. Steven, it transpires, went to the picnic with Bridget Barnes, who immediately moved to New York after that. Either she was running super fast, or her family sent her to one of those homes for unwed mothers.
Jessica has much the same thoughts as me, although the unwed mothers thing doesn’t occur to her because she lives in Sweet Valley, and nobody knows how babies are made. They probably do get them from the stork there. [Raven: From the stork, or from Sweet Valley Baby Store.]
Alice attempts to parent by talking about their math test. Elizabeth proves she has no life by wanting to talk about it. Jessica changes the subject to a plea for money because she has nothing to wear to the picnic.
(I love maths, I do. But talking about tests is boring.) [Wing: Whereas I am not great at maths and therefore don’t enjoy most of it but I love taking tests and solving puzzles.]
Jessica actually gets her way, thanks to Steven pointing out that Jessica constantly asks for new clothes, and Jessica responding that she bets Steven got new clothes for the picnic. The Wakefield parents realise this is true and a good parent does not favour one child over the others. Especially the most stupid one. But they decide to caveat, and say the twins will only get the money if they got a B or higher in their maths test.
Well that fucking sucks. There is no word on whether Steven got his new outfit based on a test. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t, because this is the boy who repeatedly ran a lawn mower into everything that didn’t get out of the way fast enough for four tedious books. He is not a smart boy.
Jessica is not worried, she is certain she aced the test. I am very worried. I am certain she did not.
Also, a week or two before school finishes is not the time to suddenly act as if you give a shit about your kid’s grades. You’ve had about a hundred and thirty-seven months this year to push Jessica in the right direction. Also, she ran her own paper, she’s an athlete, she got into SOAR, and she occasionally writes articles for the Sixers. She’s also shown a great ability to market anything, be it a lie she wants everyone to believe, or a school project selling clothes. She also passes all of her tests (more or less) with absolutely no effort at all. If you think Elizabeth is the smart one, you’re a fucking idiot. Jessica is going to be the millionaire here, no question about it.
After dinner, the twins are washing up when the doorbell rings. Jessica skips out to answer it, certain that it’s Aaron, asking her in person. It’s not. It’s Lila with terrible hair.
She’s had a tight spiral perm and it looks awful. I wonder how much chemicals they used, because Lila’s hair is always described and drawn as very straight, not wavy like the twins’. She looks like a poodle. But Jessica decides to cash in, telling Lila she looks terrific and it really shows off her features, and it will really get Bruce’s attention.
Lila initially thinks Jessica is just trying to make her feel better – and god bless Lila for thinking her “friend” would be that kind – but Jessica keeps it up until Lila starts to believe her.
The next day at school, everyone is making fun of her behind her back. Elizabeth overhears some snark (Lila’s new nickname is “Octopus head”), and tells Jessica that she is a saint and thinks everyone else is very very mean. She asks Jessica if she’s going to stand up for Lila, which Jessica no-sirs. Well, will she tell Lila what people are saying behind her back? Jessica says no, because that would hurt Lila’s feelings.
Jessica then goes on to explain that Lila’s hair looks ridiculous, and as long as it looks ridiculous, she won’t get a date, and that is good for Jessica, therefore, she told Lila that her hair looks fantabulous.
Elizabeth is scandalised.
Elizabeth is a fucking idiot who has never met her twin. Why she thinks this is new and shocking behaviour from Jessica is unfathomable. Usually I’d link a load of evidence to the contrary, but this time around I’m too busy, so, you’re on this site. Pick a recap at random. There. Evidence that Jessica is a monstrous friend. [Raven: Jessica is a legit asshat here, but I guess it’s not out of scope for her character. I much prefer them when the banter is harmless and not mean, though.]
That afternoon Jessica gets her math test back from the previously unheard of Mr Glennon – I guess this ghostie also has no idea that Ms Wyler teaches math? – and what do you know, it’s a C.
No new outfit for Jessica.
We pointlessly come back to exactly where we left off because this ghostie might well be R. L. Stine. Jessica rages to Mr Glennon that he must change her grade. She also wonders why Ms Wyler left. OH, SO YOU KNOW ABOUT MS WYLER, DO YOU? YES, WHY DID SHE LEAVE A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE SCHOOL YEAR ENDED? WHAT THE FUCK GOES ON IN THIS SCHOOL? DID JESSICA KILL HER?
It transpires that Jessica failed the metric portion of the test. She makes an impassioned plea to change the grade, and weirdly it works. She gets a B, on the proviso that she walks Mr Glennon’s dog and measures various distances and converts them to and from one measure to another. I feel that Raven wants to make a dick joke here, so I’m taking that opportunity away from him. And Wing probably wants to point out that the last time Jessica was in charge of a dog, it could have died. And then I’ll want to point out all the other times Jessica has looked after a dog and liked it. [Raven: *blinks* Do you want us to comment on this recap?] [Dove: Just pointing out that I could comment as you guys if either of you called in sick.] [Wing: I should stop here and go lie down under warm covers for awhile then. I’m tired and cold enough I’m starting to nod off while writing comments.]
Of course, Jessica has to meet Aaron at Casey’s at 4pm, and I’ve no idea what time Sweet Valley Middle School ends, but I’m pretty sure that Jessica will half-ass the dog walking in order to meet her boyfriend, so maybe Wing was right to remind us that Jessica kills dogs.
Jessica rushes over to take Sparky, the dog, for a walk. Since we’ve already had a reference to Alice Cooper, I’m going to assume that Sparky is named after this Sparky:
She bumps into Denny who is coming out of Some Crumb Bakery. Denny gives some cake to Sparky and Jessica cautions him that if the dog gets sick, her grade will probably go down. They get chatting and she explains why she’s walking a dog.
Denny offers to walk her to the park, since he’s going that way anyway. He’s also got really bad allergies, and after Jessica hands him a Kleenex, talk turns to the Janet situation.
The reality of the situation is that he was supposed to have tutoring with Mr Seigel, but that was cancelled due to a family emergency. Denny looked for Janet to see if she still wanted to go to the bakery, but when he couldn’t find her, he decided to play basketball with his friends. [Raven: I feel I should stress that it was a Seigel family emergency, and not a Jacobson one. Denny playing basketball while his Grandma died would be all kinds of wrong.]
Jessica decides the truth of the matter is too boring to be a lie. She suggests that Denny explain himself now that Janet’s cooled down, thinking that if Denny and Janet get back together, she won’t have to babysit a furious Janet at the picnic.
Instead Denny says no way. He already tried, and he can’t believe she thinks so little of him. In fact, she owes him an apology.
Jessica walks the dog without a problem, and runs home to get money for her B on her math test, then back to Valley Fashions to get a new outfit which she is now wearing, and then heads towards Casey’s to meet Aaron. Jeez, how early does school let out that she managed to do all that?
She spots Bruce and tries to overtake him because what if Lila’s at Casey’s and he asks her first?! As she slides past, Bruce stops her and their conversation basically goes:
Bruce: Yo, Jess. Nice dress. Btw, have you seen how fugly Lila looks?
Bruce: So, since my number one choice looks like a poodle, will you be my date to the stupid picnic?
Jessica runs through multiple emotions – she’s irritated and offended that Bruce is so shallow, but she’s grateful that her plan worked, she’s disappointed because the wrong boy asked her (as his second choice), but she’s elated that any boy asked her, because now she’s won.
And of course she says yes, because she’s an asshole. Bruce, because he’s an asshole, tells her to make sure she looks pretty.
Also, I guess this ghostie (along with many others, to be fair) has forgotten that Bruce and Jessica have dated, and Jessica dumped him for Aaron, because Bruce was an insufferable little shit. [Raven: I give the Ghostie a pass here, as I can believe Jess would put her previous date behind her to win the bet against Lila.] [Dove: Fair, but I also think it would go through her mind that he’s an asshole and she knows this before saying yes to win a bet.] [Wing: To be fair to Ghostie, I forgot she dated Bruce, too.]
She says goodbye to Bruce, then continues walking to Casey’s, where she bumps into Aaron, who promptly asks her to go to the picnic with him. And despite the little voice inside telling her that she can’t have two dates, she says yes.
Oh god, if this is going to be one of those fucking insufferable “hilarious” stories where the lead has to be in two places at once, I will scream. I fucking hate that story.
The one and only time it was acceptable was on Boy Meets World, where Cory had to be at Topanga’s Sweet Sixteen and at the WWE to help Frankie connect with his father, by giving wrestling advice to Frankie that he could pass on to his dad as his own insight (because Frankie prefers poetry to wrestling). And do you know what that story had?
IT’S VADER TIME!
BIG VAN VADER. LEON WHITE. One of my favourite wrestlers of all time. He is deeply missed. [Wing: Deeply missed. He was a joy to listen to when he was telling stories, too.]
It also had Ethan Suplee, Ben Savage, Rider Strong and Danielle Fischer.
This story will not have these things. And I promise you, if it comes to pass, I will bullet-point it because that kind of story does not deserve my words.
Everyone cross your fingers that the constant honesty from Elizabeth will torpedo this story before it can happen. If it does happen, I’m blaming… *thinks* LIZ AND ROSEY for not crossing enough digits.
She finally gets to Casey’s at around 4:30, where she is told off by Janet for being late. Janet is so cross that Jessica does not think it wise to point out she hadn’t made any plans to meet her there, 4pm or otherwise. She asks if Lila is around, and Janet says yes and points. Lila is with Mike McCluskey.
Does that name ring a bell? THIS IS WHY WE TAG, PEOPLE! (No, I’m not raging, I’m delighted. I knew even I would collapse under the weight of new characters introduced for a single book. The system works.) [Raven: Yep, no fucking clue who Mike McCluskey is.]
Mike McCluskey is the dude that Jessica was so in love with in The Year Without Christmas, where the recappers’ only fun came from writing deleted scenes. Well, he’s just asked Lila to the picnic.
“Oh?” Jessica said, her voice cracking. Lila and Mike! But Jessica was the one who’d liked Mike—before Lila even knew what his stupid name was.
Then again, I do have two dates already, Jessica reminded herself. I’m not sure I could handle three.
Jeez, kiddo. Keep it in your pants.
Janet decides to leave because Denny might show up. Mike leaves not long after, so Lila and Jessica can go head to head over who won the bet. Jessica is perfectly smug until Lila reveals that Mike asked her as they walked out of class, and Mandy and Ellen were there to witness it.
Jessica realises that she’s been beaten. Currently. So now she needs to change the rules. [Raven: Love Jess. She’s Rowdy Roddy Piper. “Just when then think they got the answers, I change the questions!”] She sees Denny walk into Casey’s and decides that she needs to get Janet and Denny back together pronto, because she has two dates and she’s not breaking either of them.
Jessica goes over to Denny and tells him that she just had a really nice talk with Janet, and actually, Janet’s really shy and she’s hoping to run into Denny one of these days and doubly hoping he’ll ask her to the picnic.
Denny snorts with incredulity. He’s not asking her until he hears an apology.
Jessica says that Janet probably doesn’t know where to begin – and reasons that’s probably true. Jessica has never heard Janet apologise to anyone for anything.
Jessica lays it on thick saying wouldn’t Denny have so much fun if he was there with Janet? All the while his allergies continue to plague him, and he dabs his eyes and blows his nose with multiple napkins, which I’m pretty sure will look like crying to a viewer who isn’t listening to the words.
She manages to get Denny to agree that he can forgive and forget if Janet can.
Jessica goes to Janet’s house, and Janet is fantastically rude to her. I’m kind of loving this brutal Janet. Maybe not directed at Ellen, but at Jessica, it’s a delight.
Jessica briefly wonders why she’s trying to make someone this toxic happy, but then remembers she’s not, she’s making herself happy and everything makes sense again.
Jessica tells Janet that she spoke to Denny – and Janet looks happy for half a second before calling him a jerk. Jessica says that Denny approached her and asked her if she thought Janet would go to the picnic with him. Big no from Janet. SHE WANTS AN APOLOGY.
Jessica decides to mess with the truth a little more, reporting that Denny was dabbing at his eyes through the whole conversation. I’m not sure why she goes all Letter of the Law about this lie, when everything that preceded it was complete bullshit, but I guess Jessica’s gotta Jessica.
As Janet processes that other people could see him crying, it must be a really big deal and she decides that if he asks her himself, she will say yes.
At home that night, Elizabeth wants to know why Jessica’s so happy. Jessica, also being completely unaware of her twin’s personality traits, decides to tell her everything, from the negotiated B to the new dress to the two date – and fuck me, Jessica definately definitely plans to be in two places at once. [Raven: Mother of God…]
Elizabeth objects to this plan just as vigorously as I do, but for moral reasons, rather than because it’s a shitty plot. Which, I suppose, one could argue is also a moral reason. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
Jessica, still not reading the room, then tells her that the Denny/Janet ship may not be as sunk as we thought.
“So you lied to them?” Elizabeth cried. “I can’t believe you, Jessica. You spent the whole day lying! Is that what you call a perfect day?”
“Well, yeah,” Jessica admitted with a shrug.
Welp. *sniggers* [Wing: I adore her.]
This may well be the same ghostie as The Year Without Christmas (the Mike McCluskey thing was a tip-off), which was a bit hit and miss, but the Jamie always knows that Jessica is a complete monster and has no qualms with showing it.
Jessica excuses her actions with, Dr House’s favourite observation that “everybody lies”.
Elizabeth clutches her pearls and cries that she does not lie. Jessica says she’s heard Elizabeth lie.
“No, I don’t lie,” Elizabeth protested. “I don’t believe in lying!”
Oh fuck off, Elizabeth. Jessica says that she knows Elizabeth has lied, she was there at the time. Elizabeth is visibly embarrassed by this and says she’s sure she only ever lied to get Jessica out of trouble and she’s never doing it again. Elizabeth storms out in a huff.
Jessica is agitated after their fight and storms around the room justifying her constant need to lie, scheme and swindle. She looks out of her window and sees a shooting star.
At just that moment a meteor streaked across the sky. People say that if you wish on a falling star, your wish will come true, Jessica remembered. Well, I wish Elizabeth would see why you can’t tell the truth all the time. I wish she could see that being a hundred percent honest isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Ok, so magic and wishes are real. Ok, fine. I don’t care how. Sweet Valley means never having to explain why, just BRING ON THE CHAOS. [Raven: BRING ON THE TRUMPETS!]
The next morning Elizabeth has a meeting with Mr Bowman, and she can’t help but point out the bags under his eyes, something that she ordinarily would politely not mention. When asked how her essay is going, she tells him that she doesn’t feel like writing. And also it’s on a really boring topic.
Mr Bowman leaves and Elizabeth wonders why.
Cut to Jessica, who is still telling Lila that her hair is fabulous and the only reason nobody is saying anything about it is because they’re jealous. Shouldn’t this be the moment where Jessica gloats that it actually looks rubbish and she’s been pulling Lila’s leg the whole time? No, ok. Maybe she really is addicted to lying.
Lila decides she wants a second opinion and randomly picks Elizabeth. Jessica tries to talk her out of it, but Lila says she wants to know “what the average person thinks”. Never change, Lila.
“What did you want a second opinion about?” Elizabeth asked. “And since when am I average? If anything, I think I’m above average. In fact, if you look at the charts—”
“Chill out! I didn’t mean anything bad by it,” Lila said. “It’s just that you don’t know me as well as Jessica, so your opinion could be more ob… ob…”
“Objective,” Elizabeth said. “I think that’s the word you’re looking for. I’ll try anyway. What’s this about?”
“I don’t know how to say this, Lila. But your perm really looks terrible,” Elizabeth finally told her. “It’s just awful.”
Jessica’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor. What did Elizabeth think she was doing?
“Wh-What?” Lila asked.
“It’s atrocious. Your hair looked much better before you got that perm,” Elizabeth said. Then she chewed her thumbnail, looking uneasy. “I’m sorry. Was that too blunt? I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”
Ok, I love Honest Elizabeth just as much as Sassy Elizabeth. She isn’t just honest, she’s absolutely oversharing and damn, I am here for it. [Raven: Elizabeth is incredible in this book.]
Oh god, there’s more. I’m sorry for quoting so much, but I’m also not sorry. This is the best Elizabeth we’ve seen since BIG for Christmas.
Elizabeth nodded. “Well, the truth is important. And since you asked, I’d recommend getting your hair fixed—immediately. In fact, maybe you should take today off and head straight for the beauty salon,” she suggested.
Jessica gasped. “Cut it out, Elizabeth! Are you trying to be mean on purpose?”
“No, I’m not trying to be mean,” Elizabeth said. “And I’m really sorry, Lila. But there’s no point lying now. Not when you’ve got a disaster on your hands—I mean, head.”
She then tells Lila that everyone’s calling her Octopus Head behind her back. Jessica tries to plead ignorance here, but Elizabeth outs her, saying that Jessica knew and refused to tell Lila.
And here’s where it gets sad. Lila actually cries. They’re angry tears, but damn, our Poor Little Rich Girl is actually hurt that her best friend has lied to her and made her a laughingstock, proving that Lila deserves a much better friend – and she thought she had one. [Raven: Hard agree. Poor Lila, Jessica is a massive bellend here.]
Lila runs off, vowing to never speak to Jessica again.
In the school library Jessica overhears Bruce bragging to Aaron that he has two dates for the picnic. He gives no names, but says he asked one girl, then another cute girl asked him. Aaron points out the decent thing to do would be break one of the dates, but Bruce says no, he wants both.
Aaron says he would hate that, it’s so rude. Bruce swaggers off. I mean, it doesn’t say swagger, but you know he is totally swaggering.
Aaron sees Elizabeth and asks if she heard that. He says it’s awful, only Bruce Patman would pull that shit. Elizabeth clears that up right away. Specifying that one of the dates is Jessica. And she’s totally going to do the same date-switching thing as Bruce with Aaron. And because she’s not above kicking a guy when he’s down, she thoughtfully adds that Jessica absolutely loathes the shirt he’s wearing. She’s mentioned it several times.
Elizabeth wonders why she added the nasty bit at the end.
Elizabeth, have you listened to yourself? I wonder how much shit you say that people put up with that the bit about Aaron’s shirt is the only thing you have qualms with saying. I bet you’ve been saying unpleasant shit to everyone you’ve met today.
Jessica is brushing her hair and admiring herself in the mirror hanging in her locker when Aaron arrives. He breaks up with her, calling her a liar and saying he wouldn’t take her to the picnic if she was the last girl on earth.
Also! He’s glad she hates this shirt. He’ll wear it every day to piss her off. Then he storms off.
Jessica headtilts at the last bit. She’s only ever mentioned that shirt to Elizabeth. [Raven: I’m sure one of the bitchier Unicorns would have mentioned it, if Jessica’s fashion radar is on point.]
Over with Elizabeth, she’s found Lila, who is wearing a baseball cap to hide her hair, and Elizabeth spills the beans about Jessica’s lies to reunite Janet and Denny. I’m not sure why Elizabeth feels the need to break these two up, I’m sure nature would’ve taken care of that by the next book, but ok, you get down with your overpowering honesty, I guess. [Raven: SHOOTING STAR. Also, Lila should dig out her bald-head-wig that she pranked Steven with in The Carnival Ghost. Either that or just rock the fucking perm, Regina George style.]
“Are you kidding?” Lila asked, her eyes growing wide. “Or are you insane? You must know what Janet can be like—but now you want to go and upset her by telling her that? You can’t tell Janet the truth. She’ll break up with Denny again and—”
This. She may have lied, but it was a benefit to everyone, not just Jessica. Elizabeth, your honesty is hurting Lila. AND LILA HAS BEEN HURT ENOUGH TODAY.
Lila chases after her, trying to explain that everyone will be miserable if they break up, but Elizabeth is having none of it. They are both stopped by the bell ringing. Lila hopes that Elizabeth will come down from this crusade during class. Elizabeth says no, she won’t.
After social studies, Jessica and Elizabeth have a chat, where Jessica updates Elizabeth on the Bruce/Jessica/Aaron triangle and wonders how it all came out.
Elizabeth says she’s the one who told Aaron. Then she adds that she has a very pressing need to tell the truth. Jessica tells her to stop, and then asks if this is revenge, is Elizabeth trying to teach her a lesson after their fight last night.
“Revenge? No, that’s the last thing on my mind,” Elizabeth said.
“I’m kind of scared to ask this, but what’s the first thing on your mind?” Jessica demanded.
“I’ve got to find Denny and Janet. I’ve got to tell them that their getting back together is a total farce,” Elizabeth declared.
Ok, the ghostie may be awash in a sea of confusion about canon, but damn is the dialogue good. This is a book written by someone filled with sass and wit. [Raven: It’s well paced too. Excellent stuff. Also, canon is for other people.]
Jessica begs her to stop, but Elizabeth says she can’t. She must tell the truth. [Wing: Weaponised honesty is a choice this story made. Not sure it was the right choice.]
At this moment, Janet and Denny are walking down the hall in their direction. So Jessica hip-checks her sister into the nearest classroom. Fucking gold!
The eighth-graders in the classroom give them the side-eye and Elizabeth tries to style it out with a wave and a greeting while Jessica blocks the door. This is amazing. I’m really enjoying this. Thank you, ghostie for proving me wrong about this book.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s need for honesty overpowers Jessica, and she shoves her out of the way. Jessica goes with it and drags her sister into the library on the other side of the hallway (just go with it, geography of this school was never laid out, so the library can be anywhere, even though we’re all picturing this taking place in our own high school and this shouldn’t work).
She manages to distract her sister by looking up the amount of potato farms in Maine (“a ton”), which keeps them occupied until Janet and Denny have left.
Later, Elizabeth tells Bruce that Jessica is double-dating him at the picnic. Or is half-dating? I think it’s half. Maths is my thing. I should know this. [Raven: No, I think she is double-dating him. He is half-dating her. Although he is also double-dating her, so maybe they’re actually both just dating?] [Dove: But he’s only getting half of her, so half dating? If you ask for a double helping of ice cream, you get more, not less. That’s my logic, anyway.]
At lunch, Jessica stays close to Janet and Denny, ready to smash her sister’s brains in with a lunch tray if she gets close to them. She spots Elizabeth, and rushes over to the lovey-dovey twosome, who can’t decide on lunch because they both want what each other is having. Urgh. Just get the fucking tacos.
Unfortunately, Jessica’s existence prompts their breakup. Denny is sneezing again, and mentions that he was a mess at Casey’s yesterday when Jessica told him how upset Janet was. You can see where this is going. The argument rages again, they’re broken up, no dates for the picnic. Also, Jessica is the worst friend in the world.
As they storm off in different directions, Elizabeth arrives, delighted that the truth is out there, isn’t that marvellous? Jessica tells her in no uncertain terms to fuck off. Elizabeth is ruining her life, and that’s Jessica’s truth.
And things aren’t over yet. Bruce calls her over before she can leave. He’s dumping her – that’s how he phrases it – because of the double-booking. Jessica wonders if Elizabeth skipped all of her classes just to tell the truth.
At home, Jessica is furious and Elizabeth is serene as fuck. It makes Jessica want to stab her.
I like to imagine that this is Elizabeth right now:
(That probably doesn’t make sense without context, so here’s the full episode.) [Raven: We need to rewatch this. And Spaced.]
Elizabeth observes that the lasagne is rather dry and the dishwater is leaving water spots on the glasses. Before she can get told off about it, she adds that Mr Glennon called to ask Jessica if she would walk his dog. (Hey, remember when the WB decided that was the only acceptable euphemism for masturbation?) This leads to the Wakefields wondering why her teacher has her home number and when she walked his dog. Oh, so now they parent.
As Elizabeth is sitting right there, like she merged with the Little Book of Honesty, Jessica is forced to tell the truth.
The Wakefields ignore the actual extra credit work Jessica did and the fact that she can negotiate her grades like Cher in Clueless, and instead ground her for a month for being a lying liar who lies.
Which, all things considered, is a bit unfair. She did the makeup work. She got the metric conversions wrong on the first test, but re-did them and got them right, showing she does know the answers and how to work them out. Also, give the kid a bit of credit for her negotiation skills. That’s going to keep her out of jail. [Raven: I totally agree. Maybe it’s a UK thing, as we don’t really do the Extra Credit thing here (or at least we didn’t in my day, bah humbug). I’d totally see this as Jessica getting the B grade, as she did the extra credit and did enough for the teacher to raise the grade. It’s results-oriented, but that’s fine. Do the work, however it manifests, and get the grade. I do think it’s as sketchy as hell for Glennon to tack “walk my dog” onto the assignement, however.] [Dove: I would not be giving Jessica Wakefield my house keys. Did he not hear about the Mr Clark is a murderer thing a few weeks ago? Even if Mr Glennon just joined, I feel like that gossip would still be fairly fresh in the staff room of SVMS.]
(If this was released now, I’d put money on Jessica being a massive YouTuber. Probably a story-time/beauty channel. And oh god, the drama. It would be fantastic. I don’t watch the drama, I just watch the drama recaps by clever people several months later when all the info is to hand.)
That night, Jessica looks out of the window and sees another shooting star. Are we in Animal Crossing or something? I’ve never seen a shooting star in real life, but Jessica sees them back-to-back each night? [Raven: It’s likely just space debris in a diminishing orbit finally burning up on re-enrty. #factsarefacts.] This time she wishes Elizabeth would stop telling the truth.
This better be as funny as the truth, ghostie, because I was enjoying that.
The next morning Jessica is exhausted and grumpy. Elizabeth is sunshine and roses. Elizabeth immediately apologises for the shenanigans yesterday, but doesn’t remember the compulsion to tell the truth. She says she doesn’t really know what she was doing yesterday, but she knows she made life hard for Jessica and today she’s going to fix things.
Elizabeth calls her “sis”, which has never happened before – and on this, the ghostie is absolutely correct – and says that Jessica is her bestest friend. Jessica notes that her smile looks fake as hell. She asks Elizabeth whether she thinks the toast tastes a little dry (it does), and Elizabeth claims it’s delicious and tastes freshly baked.
Jessica worries a lot.
At school, Jessica sees her sister approach Aaron and thinks it’s unfair that her sister gets to talk to him and Jessica doesn’t. Typical Jessica. Followed by un-typical Elizabeth. Elizabeth says she needs to clarify what she said yesterday, because she got it all wrong. Jessica didn’t make two dates, she got asked out by Bruce but said no, only he’s so arrogant he ignored her no (sounds legit, says I and anyone else who’s read Sweet Valley High) and told everyone she was going with him.
Aaron, on the other hand, being not privy to Bruce’s paper cups of wine coolers and boob grazing ways six years hence, is doubtful. [Raven: I sense terribly depressing spoilers.]
But Elizabeth persists and Aaron agrees that actually, that kinda sounds like Bruce. [Wing: So glad multiple people are at the bare minimum noticing how terrible he is and yet do nothing. Rich white boys will be boys, amirite?]
Jessica should be delighted, but she finds Elizabeth’s complete disregard for the truth completely chilling. OMG, is this going to be like those disturbing MLP fics where Pinkie Pie is a serial killer when she reverses her element? Is Elizabeth about to carve up her schoolmates during lunch and eat their faces?
(If you want the link to that fic I mentioned, here, but it’s incredibly NSFW and disturbing. Read the warnings.)
But she was also kind of afraid of what would happen next. Would Elizabeth publish a new Sixers edition full of made-up stories? Would she tell the principal, Mr. Clark, that his bald head looked beautiful? Even worse, would she keep calling Jessica “sis”?
Comic tautology. Executed beautifully. Nina Geiger would approve.
Elizabeth then visits Mr Bowman to say that she totally did her homework, except their puppy ate it. The puppy they got for their birthday. Yes, their birthday is in the summer, but this is last birthday, but a late present. She piles lie upon lie until the whole story is ridiculous.
Mr. Bowman frowned. “If you didn’t get the essay done, Elizabeth, you can just say so.”
She tells him she loves his outfit and gives him a double thumbs-up.
I think I prefer the honesty, because this is just Jessica bullshit, and we see that all the time. [Raven: I adored this exchange. The double thumbs took it over the top.]
At lunch, Janet makes it clear that Jessica is pure evil and everyone agrees with her. And if anyone disagrees… well, they agree with her. So that’s cool.
Then Elizabeth arrives. And she’s here to fix things with Janet. She says that Jessica is actually Janet’s best friend and she just doesn’t know it. Jessica would absolutely love to spend the picnic with Janet and nobody else, but the more time she spent with Janet, the more she realised that Janet wanted to go with Denny. Elizabeth hams it up and Janet seems to buy it. The atmosphere lightens, and as Elizabeth leaves, Janet says she’s starting to enjoy Elizabeth’s company recently.
Me too, Janet. Weird Elizabeth is just as great as Sassy Elizabeth. [Raven: Agreed. #AltUElizabeth is #BestElizabeth.]
Just as Jessica is idly wondering whether Elizabeth is lying to the cook about how their macaroni and cheese is the greatest on earth, Aaron shows up. He says he realises that he made a decision based on wrong information, and he’d really like to go with Jessica, and it’s utterly sweet and romantic, and if you haven’t guessed what happens next, then be prepared to chuckle.
Janet pulls a complete Sisters Before Misters move. She’s utterly charmed by Jessica trying to be her BFF and putting Janet’s happiness before her own, that she’s going to pay it back. She and Jessica are going together, because best friends are more important than boyfriends.
THIS IS FUCKING GOLD. GHOSTIE, WHO ARE YOU? I WANT TO BUY YOU A COOKIE. [Raven: Make that a pack.]
After school, Elizabeth finds Lila alone and thoughtful. Apparently they have already talked about her hair, and Elizabeth has explained that Jessica was jealous of how Lila was rocking the look.
Lila is forlorn because she has a plan but she can’t quite put it together. Elizabeth would be of no help because she doesn’t do complicated plans. Elizabeth counters that she’s been scheming all day and tells Lila about the dog eating her homework lie.
“So, are you going to let me help you or not? I’d really love to. You know how bad I feel about criticizing your hair yesterday. And I know we haven’t always been close, Lila. But I love you like a sister. I really do.”
“You do?” Lila asked. “Since when?”
“Since you became Jessica’s best friend,” Elizabeth said. She put her arm around Lila’s shoulder. “Come on. Tell me what I can do.”
Lying Elizabeth is so much better than earnest Elizabeth. But super-honest Elizabeth is best of all. [Raven: On balance, I prefer Lying Liz.]
Lila says that her plan involves Jessica, but she knows she’s grounded, and she wonders if Elizabeth could help with that. Elizabeth says that today she’s fucking unstoppable.
I feel this may be some kind of hair revenge. BRING IT.
Jessica leaves school with the intention of standing in her room, gazing at the sky, and not moving until she sees another shooting star she can wish on. A storm has rolled in, so she’s dubious about her luck tonight though, and wonders if she can wish on the sun, that’s a star, right? It is, hon, but if it falls, we’re basically fucked, so maybe wish elsewhere.
A limo pulls up and Lila offers her a ride home, teasing her that if she stayed out there much longer she’d melt. Loving the sly bitchiness there. Lila, stay fabulous.
Jessica says that she thought Lila was mad at her, and Lila says that Elizabeth explained everything, and actually Jessica should be mad at Lila. She gets it now, and she has a surprise to make things better between them.
Jessica realises that this will be a luxury surprise. Lila gives excellent gifts. She asks for a hint.
“What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t afford?” Lila asked.
Jessica bit her lip. “Could you narrow down the category a little?”
Same, Jessica. Same.
Lila says they’re going to Glam!, the new hair and makeup place that caters to supermodels. Jessica has always wanted to go but cannot afford it. Lila has them booked in for a two-hour-long appointment each for complete makeovers.
Jessica sobers as she realises that her parents will kill her, but Lila says Elizabeth has taken care of that. She’ll say that Jessica’s working on a project.
We cut to just before the big reveal. Sergio, the obviously camp stylist, has not allowed Jessica to get a look at herself for the whole process so she can experience the whole new look. He tells her to imagine being born.
“Your hair will be so glossy, so shiny,” Sergio said. “Like a horse’s.”
Jessica looked up at him. “A horse’s?”
“Not a regular farm horse. A beautiful horse. A champion horse. A star horse,” Sergio said.
Yep, this feels like revenge. For anyone who’s not brushed a horse’s mane or tail, it’s very much not silky. It’s like the love child of human hair and cable ties. [Raven: Sergio is wonderful. Also, Jess should pray she looks nothing like a horse, because if she does then her twin will attempt to ride her. #StevenFapDream]
The big reveal is that Jessica now has a tight spiral perm just like Lila’s. Actually, not like Lila’s. Lila’s had her hair straightened. And Lila gleefully explains that Elizabeth told her everything, that Jessica was jealous of the perm, but she couldn’t afford it, and well, now she has exactly what she wants!
Lila gives no hint to Jessica that she’s trolling. She is playing this beautifully.
At home that night, Jessica is staring out of the window again into the night sky. Coming home with a perm had been troublesome until Saint Elizabeth piped up that it was a science experiment, and half the class had perms now.
Lightning lights up the road and she spots Sparky running terrified down the road.
Amazingly, Jessica leaps to her feet, pulls on her rain coat and charges out to save him.
We have a reality-warping moment where Jessica wonders to herself why Mr Glennon let Sparky out when he’s clearly terrified of storms. Who are you and what have you done with the dog-hating Jessica that we all know?
She takes off after him, realising that Mr Glennon probably didn’t let him out, the dog had probably fled after hearing the thunder.
She hears someone calling her name, and comes to a halt. It’s Elizabeth, who tries to get her back inside, because Elizabeth is doing her best to get her ungrounded. When Jessica explains about the dog, Elizabeth does not care.
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH THESE TWINS? YOU GODS SWITCH THEM BACK RIGHT NOW! I’M GETTING FREAKED OUT.
Jessica says that she doesn’t want to hear anything from Elizabeth. One day she’s painfully honest, the next day she’s lying like a trooper. Jessica can’t trust her. Elizabeth is scheming too much. Elizabeth says she’s not scheming, she’s just saying whatever comes into her head.
Elizabeth apologises and starts crying. Jessica wonders if she could wish on lightning and yells that she wishes for things to go back to normal.
She spots Sparky run into a garage, and what do you know, it’s the Jacobsons’ garage.
She goes into the garage and keeps her voice low and soothing, trying to talk Sparky out from under the car, but she knocks over some boxes. This alerts the household and Denny turns the light on and asks why she’s there, is she stealing his brother’s car.
Jessica awkwardly says that she doesn’t know how to drive (we know). Denny says he knows that. Explain yourself.
And she does, and he remembers the dog from the other day outside the bakery. And he’s impressed that she’s run all the way from her house to his in the rain, that’s about two miles. (“Otherwise known as three point two kilometers,” Jessica joked. – epic, good going ghostie.)
Sparky won’t come out, so they try calling Mr Glennon, but no answer and they assume he’s out looking for his dog. Urgh, nothing more terrifying than a lost pet. I feel for you, dude. I even posted my lost pet on twitter, and all of my followers are not in Leeds. (Don’t worry, we found him.) [Raven: Such a fraught afternoon. Loved that bundle of floof.]
Denny says he wishes he had a dog biscuit or something they could lure Sparky out. I guess all of Woolly Booger’s stuff went with him to the pound. Yeah, Denny, I remember you being a shoddy pet owner.
Jessica says what about crumb cake from the bakery? Sparky loved that.
So they bike over to buy some… wait, what time is all this happening? It’s nearly summer so the nights should be shorter… wait, Elizabeth said it was 8pm when she tried to get Jessica to come back indoors. I don’t know any bakery that is open at 8pm. American thing? *shrug* [Raven: I recall everything being open, all the time.] [Wing: A lot of bakeries are not, they close in early afternoon, but there are some places that are open late hours, if not 24 hours.]
When they get to the bakery, Janet is there and looks quite tearful. Jessica worries that Janet thinks that she and Denny are on a date.
Janet leaves and it is revealed that the bakery has no more crumb cakes, they sold the last to Janet.
Denny says he’ll ask her. He goes over and tells her that he’ll pay double for the cake because it’s to help a frightened dog, but actually he’s really sorry about everything, and he knows he blew it, but he’d really appreciate it if she’ll sell him the cake.
She shoves the cake at him and says he can have it. On the box Janet has written “To Denny. I’m sorry I didn’t listen. Janet.” And I actually find that kind of adorable.
Denny hands Jessica the cake and runs after Janet.
We cut to Jessica and Denny biking home and Denny gives us the update. Janet was going to make up with him, but thought that maybe he was on a date with Jessica, since he’d offered to take Janet there and maybe that was his dating spot. But everything’s all sorted, and they’ll be going to the picnic together.
And I’m good with that. It’s kind of adorable.
Jessica wonders if Janet will forgive her, and Denny says maybe, she was only trying to help. And Jessica gets her heel realisation. She said those words to Elizabeth, and now she can see that when she pulls this bullshit, it makes it hard to trust her.
They coax Sparky out from under the car and then Denny says he’ll ask his mom to give them both a ride home. [Raven: I felt legit anxious about Sparky. I’m glad he was okay.] [Dove: Same. And even weirder, so did Jessica.] [Wing: I’m too weirded out by this look at Jessica to have worried as much as normal about Sparky, but I’m glad he’s safe now.]
She gets home at nearly 9:30, which is the latest she’s ever been out on a school night. Lies. You bury the bodies at midnight, we all know that.
As always, Ned and Alice are terrible parents, who ignore pretty much all of Jessica’s explanation, and only focus on the bakery and the boy, and decide she snuck out to get cookies with a boy. Might’ve been nice if Mr Glennon or even Mrs Jacobson came in with Jessica to explain where she’s been.
You assholes. I know that Jessica is a monster most of the time, but damned if you’re not the fucking problem. You clearly favour Elizabeth, you let Steven do whatever he wants, and you expect the worst from Jessica, to the point where you can’t believe she’ll ever do anything good. Fuck you both.
Jessica goes to bed, pausing at the window before deciding she’s not going to make any more wishes.
She wakes up the next morning and her hair is no longer permed. She suddenly remembers Sergio’s advice not to wash her hair for three days or it will lose the curls. I don’t know why she didn’t just get in the shower as soon as she got home, but maybe she had to earn her good hair.
At breakfast, she checks in with Elizabeth. Her omlet is nice. It’s not the greatest and most wonderfullest omlet in the universe, neither is it dry or having too much or too little cheese. It’s just fine. Her questions irritate the hell out of Elizabeth, who’s still pissed off from yesterday.
As Jessica walks into school, she overhears Bruce trying to ask Lila out. Lila icily shoots him down, pointing out that being his third choice isn’t all that flattering, and he can get fucked. She’s going with the boy who asked her, Mike McCluskey, and Bruce will just have to go solo.
Aaron hears her laughing at Bruce and asks her what’s up. She comes clean to him, saying that Elizabeth lied – she didn’t directly ask her to lie for her, but she did, and Jessica let it happen. So, here’s the truth of the matter, what do you think. Aaron considers everything, then forgives her. Also, he’s just seen Denny and it looks like he and Janet are back together, so would Jessica like to go to the picnic with him?
She’d love to, but she’s grounded. She explains that to him, and he is understandably surprised that her parents are stopping her from attending the end-of-year-picnic. Me too, since it was pitched as a replacement for the school day. What, Jessica’s just going to miss that day, is she? Assholes.
The Unicorns are back on form. Janet is deliriously in love. Not all men suck, just the assholes like Bruce Patman. I agree, Janet. That boy is a colossal tool. With a very small tool that he doesn’t know how to use, I bet.
After school, the Wakefield parents call Jessica for a family meeting. They’ve just spoken to Mr Glennon and as it turns out they now believe everything their daughter said last night. Well, fuck you both. Also, Jessica actually did get a B on the original test, he’d graded incorrectly.
I see no mention of her getting an A with all that extra credit work.
Again, fuck you all. [Raven: At first I thought “typical Sweet Valley Middle School teacher, fucking things up at the most basic of levels.” Then I felt more generous, and put this “oversight” down to Glennon being so grateful about Sparky’s rescue, and knowing that Jessica really wanted a B on her original test, that he inflated her grade as a reward. On balance, both are shitty approaches, although the second is more human.]
There is talk that her average is a high B and she might get an A by the end of the year. Therefore, she is ungrounded. This means she can go to the picnic.
Again, it was pitched as a replacement for the school day. Fuck you all.
Jessica has no idea she’s being raised by terrible people, so is grateful and bounds off to call Aaron to take him up on his invitation.
She then apologises to Elizabeth for being so snappy last night, she had been caught up in her own problems and was rude. It’s all fine, Elizabeth forgives instantly. And also, she’s come up with a topic for her essay for Mr Bowman, she’s calling it “Truth or Consequences”.
Cut to the picnic and everyone’s having a lovely time. Then Mr Clark shows up in a hideous “I’m a Liar” t-shirt. The Unicorns ask him why on earth he’s wearing that, and he says that the local print shop is selling them cheap as a large order was made but never picked up. He’s having fun with the slogan. He tells them they’re bad students and that he’s off to tell Mr Bowman he’s fired. [Raven: Bit weird, but funny, and a nice callback either way.]
Wow, and that really is everything wrapped up. Thank god. I was kind of feeling the ending fatigue there.
Overall, this book was fucking awesome. It was ridiculous but I just love seeing out of character Elizabeth. If she’s honest, sassy or lying, she’s the best character on the page. And this was very well-written. Don’t get me wrong, the ghostie is pretty clueless about cannon relationships, but who cares. I actually laughed out loud. More than once.
I had fun reading this book. Do you know how long it’s been since I had fun reading a Sweet Valley Twins book? And I’m even less likely to have fun if I’m recapping as I read, but that’s exactly what I did with this one.
This was a breath of fresh fucking air in a series that positively reeks of nothing new.
Had fun. Will read again. Honest Elizabeth is the greatest.
[Raven: Excellent book, one of the best in the series. I guess it helps, at this stage, to go balls-out weird with the premise and plot as only a super edition can.
Jessica was wonderfully Jessica throughout, and the Unicorns were on fine form. I actually felt for both Janet and (especially) Lila at the appropriate moments. Even the boys were fine, acting to type and playing their parts. Throw in a cute dog in mild-yet-resolvable peril and you’ve the makings of a winner.
And then there’s Elizabeth, who elevated this from merely good to outright amazing.
Earnest Elizabeth was fine. Honest Elizabeth was fantastic. But for me, Lying Liz was an absolute riot. Put them together, and you have a perfect foil for Jessica’s journey and the catalyst for some genuine laugh-aloud scenes.
This was the perfect example of a late-series barnstormer. I doubt we’ll read better in the few books we have remaining.] [Dove: Agreed. This was surprisingly good. I would even go so far as to say this was Grapplegate good. And that is not a compliment I’ve ever given out before. I really hope that the last few books end on a high like this, but if not, we have this late gem to carry us through the vinegar strokes of the series.]
[Wing: I’m shocked that this was as fun as it was. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have, I think, due to the exhaustion and generally being in a bad mental place (unfortunate example of how much we bring to our reading and writing, but the extreme honesty and then extreme lying from Liz was funny and there were some delightful friendship moments between several different characters. And I am ever so grateful we didn’t have the actual shenanigans of Jessica trying to have two dates at the same time and rushing back and forth between them.]