Sweet Valley Twins #11: Buried Treasure
Title: Buried Treasure
Tagline: Has Jessica’s good luck run out? [Wing: I can only hope.]
Summary: Jessica Wakefield and her friend Ellen Riteman keep it a secret when they find some money in an old metal box buried in Ellen’s backyard. But then some money disappears from school and suspicion falls on Jessica and Ellen. Can they prove their innocence?
So, on the surface, this could be an entertaining story. Secrets, buried treasure, Jessica finally getting accused of something … and yet, this is Sweet Valley, and I know a book that sounds interesting isn’t actually going to live up to its potential. Also, it will probably make me go boom.
The book starts by recapping the end of the previous book, when Jessica Wakefield and Ellen Riteman were hanging out at Ellen’s house, helped Ellen’s little brother, Mark, bury his pet parakeet, and they found a metal box buried in the backyard. They manipulate Mark by pretending like he hurt Jessica’s bad ankle again, because Unicorns = Giant Bags of Dicks, force him to go get Jessica’s crutches, and open the box while he’s gone.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Wakefield is hanging out at home with her BFF (at least currently, because there’s not a new girl to distract her), Amy Sutton. Insert spiel about how much the twins look alike but how different they really are underneath the surface. Actually, I think they’re probably the same inside, blood, guts, and bones. I volunteer to cut them open to prove it.
Elizabeth is working on her student council treasurer campaign. Suggests include:
- Your money’s in good hands with Elizabeth. Vote E. W. for student council treasurer.
- Wake up with Wakefield.
- Handjobs for everyone (oh wait I’m not Jessica). [Raven: Shame Stephen can’t vote.]
Her only competition is Peter DeHaven, and his tagline is Don’t Despair with Peter. I suggest, Anything But a Wakefield, personally. Amy makes fun of him for being a stereotypical nerd (highwater pants, obsession with grades), even though (a) Amy and Elizabeth are supposed to be significantly nicer than the Unicorns and (b) they are also goddamn nerds.
[Dove: I like to believe Peter’s room looks like this:
Mark shows up for the crutches. When Elizabeth goes to help him find them, she finds a box filled with chocolate bars in Jessica’s closet. As briefly mentioned in the last book, the sixth grade has been selling them to earn money for a class trip to Disneyland. I zero percent believe typical Sweet Valley parents are okay with this and aren’t just going to pay for the tickets outright. The money is due next week, and Jessica hasn’t sold a single one.
Mark finds the crutches under her bed and runs off with them, but not before Elizabeth tells him to have Jessica call her. Or you could just call Ellen’s house rather than send messages with a kid.
Back at Ellen’s house, Jessica and Ellen take the metal box up to Ellen’s bedroom and lock the door. Ellen has a hacksaw from the garage, and is super comfortable using it to saw something. I’m impressed, Ellen. How many bodies have you taken apart just like that? [Dove: Ellen’s one of my favourite Unicorns because my headcannon is that her stupidity is all an act so she’s not held accountable for her actions. She’s basically an evil genius who’s just getting ready to go on a killing spree, is what I’m saying. I mean, there’s got to be a reason she’s not in Sweet Valley High.]
[Wing: That does make her even more interesting. I’m adopting it too.]
Once they get the box open, they find a large pile of yellowed twenty dollar bills still in their wrappers, two old photographs, and some faded letters. Jessica takes awhile to count the $200, which is sad, because that’s only 10 bills. Surely you can count faster than that, Wakefield! Jessica also thinks this makes them rich. Now, $200 is a lot of money for a preteen, especially back when this was published, except that the Wakefields and pretty much everyone else in town, except for the few Special Episode side characters, are rich enough it seems like they are throwing $100 bills at their kids all the time. I don’t necessarily buy that Jessica would be this excited over $200. [Dove: I completely agree with you on this. However, in “The Wakefields Strike it Rich”, each Wakefield kid gets $100 each (not a spoiler, that’s the plot), and check the cover, they’re makin’ it rain with all those bills (assume Jess asked for hers in $1 bills for this very reason). I think the writers fixate on $100 as a big number, forgetting how affluent everyone is.] [Raven: Jessica is definitely hitting a strip club with that fat stack.]
They dance and shriek about being rich for awhile, and then take a look at the rest of the contents. The photos are of a beautiful woman (dark hair and eyes, sitting in a carved wood chair, wearing a flowered shawl and a graceful dress) and a man (coveralls, holding a garden rake, standing beside a tractor).
The first letter is dated March 13, 1928. All the letters are to Jane, from William the gardener’s son, and he is trying to convince her to run away with him because they’re in love, but her father doesn’t approve of him, and has picked out a more suitable husband. He saved up the $200 so they could run away together. He asks her to meet him “at six o’clock under the grape arbor.” There are no more letters after that one, but Ellen decides that if they’d actually managed to meet, run away, and marry, they would have spent the money. [Raven: Surely $200 in the Twenties would be worth THOUSANDS in the Eighties? And wouldn’t the notes themselves be antiques, and probably worth a great deal to a collector? Way to see the bigger picture, Jess and Ellen.]
Their talk, of course, turns back to the money. If they tell anyone, they’ll have to share it with Mark, or Ellen’s mom might want her to find the previous owners to see if it is theirs. Jessica is the first to suggest that they only tell Mark about the photos and love letters, and keep the money for themselves, because Jessica is a total bag of dicks. Don’t worry, Ellen is just as bad, and they swear not to tell anyone. They each take their share of the money, then return the box to the backyard.
They do so just in time, because Mark returns with the crutches. Ellen pretends she’s only just gotten the box open, and though Mark is skeptical, he eventually accepts that they didn’t find treasure, only old letters and photos.
Though Mark gives Jessica the message to call Elizabeth, she doesn’t, and when she gets home, Elizabeth has worked herself into a frenzy over all the things that might have gone wrong with Jessica. While this is in the time before cell phones, I repeat: Elizabeth, you could have fucking called Ellen’s house yourself if you were so damn worried about your sister. Or, hell, gone over there to look after her.
Ellen and Jessica went to the mall, [Raven: Let’s go to the mall…] which is why Jessica forgot to call (no, really it is because Jessica is a bag of dicks who only cares about herself), and when Elizabeth teases her about not having any money but coming home with a pile of packages [Raven: A “pile of packages” is a GREAT euphamism for a bag of dicks.], Jessica tries to cover by saying they all belong to Ellen, and Jessica is just carrying them for her. Elizabeth points out that makes no sense because Jessica brought them home.
Jessica changes the subject by showing Elizabeth a Walkman that she “found” at the mall. UMM. Even if you did find it, why in the world would Elizabeth be okay with you keeping it? She’s supposed to be the twin who is all about rules and doing the right thing (except, clearly, when she, too, is being a giant bag of dicks). A few weeks ago, Jessica left her own Walkman outside in the rain, and it was ruined. Her parents refused to buy her a new one, but now she has conveniently “found” one. And Elizabeth doesn’t really question anything about the situation! [Raven: Ludicrous.]
On Monday, Julie Porter and Elizabeth are talking about student council elections while making mini-pizzas in their weekly cooking class. They both plan to vote for Olivia Davidson as president, and Elizabeth doesn’t even known who is running against her for the position. This is clearly not at all a popularity contest. Not one bit.
We learn that Amy is Elizabeth’s campaign manager, and wants to help her write her speech. Julie says she’d be nervous to give a speech in front of the whole school. Eh, it’s not too bad, actually.
Elsewhere in the class, Peter and his partner, Charlie Cashman, have an issue; Charlie insists that Peter is putting dead flies in their pizza. Julie says she feels sorry for Peter, because everyone picks on him. Elizabeth feels a little guilty over making fun of him with Amy the other day, but not guilty enough to, you know, actually apologise or say anything to stop other people from doing so. Fuck out of here with your damn guilt. [Dove: This is why Elizabeth is horrible at being the “good” twin. She never follows through. At least you know where you stand with Jessica. She’ll hate anyone for any reason and not pretend otherwise.]
Amy stops them between classes with another slogan: Elizabeth Makes Cents. That’s not terrible, actually; I enjoy puns.
Julie thinks it is cute, and she’s not wrong. Elizabeth ruins the pun by spouting off about it making “sense.” Yes, Elizabeth, we all already got it. Way to ruin everything.
Before Ms Wyler starts class, she asks if anyone has any candy money, and Jessica raises her hand. This surprises Elizabeth, and she keeps a close eye on Jessica, who is sitting with Lila Fowler and Ellen. We also get another little recap about the Unicorns and how special they think they are, which is pretty unnecessary, Elizabeth, since we’ve already had this from Jessica’s point of view once this book.
Jessica and Ellen each turn in $5, and Elizabeth is concerned, because she hasn’t seen Jessica going out to sell candy. While Jessica is a lazy sot, it’s only $5, Elizabeth, and you don’t seem to be missing any money yourself (this time). I wouldn’t worry about it too much. And, shockingly, she doesn’t; she puts it out of her head and focuses instead on her campaign. I am shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, that Elizabeth is going to put herself first before Jessica for once.
I’m sure it won’t last.
After school, Amy and Elizabeth work on posters at the Wakefield house. Amy puts red glitter across Elizabeth’s name on them, and Elizabeth thinks that is too flashy. Back in my day, pretty much every word would be filled with glitter, so I wouldn’t stress about that, either. (Shit, I’ll still glitter everything at the drop of a hat.) (Amy also suggests that Ken Matthews help hang the posters the next day, and Elizabeth tells us he’s Amy’s “sort-of” boyfriend, which is kind of adorable, actually. And at least there wasn’t a mention of how short he is.) [Raven: To be fair, Ken hung the posters just above the skirting boards.]
Amy stays for dinner, which is frozen pizza, and Elizabeth is sad because they made pizza in cooking class that day. Steven had pizza for lunch, he says, as if that means he can’t eat pizza for dinner, too, but I have my doubts that human food vacuum Steven would ever turn down pizza.
(Random Wing aside: I have a strange nostalgic fondness for school pizza, and a few weeks ago, Mr Wing, who works at a school, brought me home leftover pizza. It was terrible, by which I mean, absolutely delicious.) [Dove: And additionally, she was so excited about it she told me about it. And then Mr Wing came in and asked if she’d told me about it. Clearly this was a BIG DEAL at the Wing House. It was adorable.]
Mrs Wakefield suggests they go to the Dairi Burger instead, because god forbid her children eat what she’s already cooking. Amy goes to dinner with them, because why not. As soon as they get there, Steven sees people he knows, and is embarrassed to be seen with his mom, so he offers to get the food so they can eat in the car. Awkward. Also, if people regularly eat in the car there, why aren’t there carhops? Jessica backs Steven, but Mrs Wakefield refuses to give in, and insists they eat inside. For once you’re standing up to your kids … sort of. So half a point there, Wakefield.
They end up sitting in a booth near the front. Steven inhales two burgers and two orders of fries in less than five minutes, and then tries to steal fries from his sisters. And yet you don’t see Jessica and Elizabeth going on and on about him being a pig and a fatty. Fucking hell.
A group of people come in, and one of them is Peter. Amy and Elizabeth mock his clothes, because he’s wearing a brightly colored pair of surfer shorts with his brown socks and brown shoes; there’s still a price tag on them. He notices them laughing at him, and is, understandably, uncomfortable, and then a high school boy tugs on the price tag as he walks past. Peter is even more embarrassed, especially when Steven bursts into loud laughter, and runs outside.
Elizabeth actually has the nerve to call Steven on being a little shit. ELIZABETH. WHO IS THE ONE WHO STARTED THE FUCKING LAUGHTER IN THE FIRST PLACE. ELIZABETH THE HYPOCRITICAL FUCKING SAINT.
And then Mrs Wakefield looks at Jessica and Steven with disapproval, but of fucking course doesn’t actually punish her children for being bullies. Nor does she seem to care that Elizabeth and Amy were being little shits too. I hate everything in this family, take back all the points they’ve earned, and want to set the world on fire.
The next morning, Elizabeth needs Jessica’s help to carry her posters to school, and is annoyed that Jessica is running late. Jessica is ALWAYS running late. This is not news, Elizabeth. Jessica finally comes down where a baggy purple sweatshirt that Elizabeth doesn’t recognize; turns out, Jessica traded a lion sweatshirt to Lila for it. It is, of course Elizabeth’s sweatshirt. She does, of course, forgive Jessica for giving it away. (I am, of course, unconvinced that Lila would want a bright sweatshirt with a lion on it.)
At school, Elizabeth finds that many other people have already put up their posters. Olivia Davidson’s are the most beautiful, because she’s an excellent artist. We don’t really know anything about her, so I’m sure she’s super important to this plot.
Elizabeth runs into Peter putting up his posters. She thinks they look boring, and like he scribbled his campaign motto with a pencil. She’s suddenly glad Amy talked her into using a little glitter. I am rolling my eyes. Then Elizabeth realizes he’s wearing sneakers instead of his normal brown shoes (but still the brown socks). She flees before he can ask her what she thinks of his shoes. Why in the world does he even care what she thinks? She’s a total little shit to him.
At lunch, all the sixth graders are talking about Peter’s new shoes, because clearly that is the most important thing that has happened all day. My mind, it boggles. The Unicorns mock him, but of course, and Jessica tells them all about what happened at the Dairi Burger. Then Janet comes up with some great idea that we don’t get to hear about yet, but I am certain involves bullying Peter, and I am also certain they will not actually get into any trouble, because of course not. Why would they? They are popular and beautiful and rich.
I need way more alcohol to get through this. Also, I wonder if anyone’s done a study on how many bullies learned to bully from these damn books.
In class, Ms Wyler takes Amy aside to ask about the money, which Amy completely forgot to put into Ms Wyler’s locker after class. Why … why does a teacher have a locker? Why doesn’t the teacher just put the money in a lockbox in her classroom, or, god forbid, her own purse? I am so confused. Amy says it is still in her desk, and Ms Wyler tells her that the money for the class trip has disappeared.
From Amy’s desk? From the locker? I am so confused as to why the money was where someone could get to it in the first place, especially a student. (Whether or not a student took it, they assume a student had access to it.) And apparently, Ms Wyler keeps the money in a cigar box in her locker. I … I am flabbergasted. [Raven: Are you? Are you really? The school is a shambles. I’m so looking forward to Sweet Valley Twins 125: The Ofsted Crackdown.]
Ms Wyler breaks the news to the class that unless they can recover the money, there will be no trip to Disneyland. I would say that I zero percent believe they sold enough candy to go to Disneyland, but (a) mommy and daddy would certainly kick in, and (b) I went on class trips that had small little fundraisers attached to them too.
Kids lash out, including Ken, Pamela Jacobson, and Jerry McAllister. Elizabeth focuses on Jessica, who looks just as upset as the rest of the class, and whispers with Ellen after the bell rings. She’s snappy when Elizabeth comes up to them, and Elizabeth is concerned over her secretiveness.
While they’re talking, Lila compliments Ellen’s new earrings. Ellen covers that her aunt gave them to her, and Lila talks about how lucky she is, because when she saw them at the mall, they cost a fortune. As if daddy wouldn’t buy the for you, Lila. He bought you a fucking horse. That you then sold. Because of course. [Raven: He bought her a horse, of course, of course / And sold it as par for the course, of course / Because, the horse was JUST a horse / With no horn on its head.]
Elizabeth starts to have a horrible thought about Ellen and Jessica showing up with expensive new things right around the time the class money disappeared. Oh, Elizabeth, even if Jessica did steal it, you would cover for her and take the fucking blame, because that is all you do because bully people and be a hypocrite.
Amy and Ken distract her from her thoughts, and oh, look, there’s a joke about Ken’s height. Though he makes it himself in a really self-deprecating way, and it’s actually kind of charming.
They talk about the candy money while they hang posters, and Elizabeth feels really bad for Ken, who sold more than anyone else. Well, look at you go, Ken. He starts to put together a timeline for when the money disappeared. Have I stumbled into a Nancy Drew book? [Raven: Maybe an Inch High Private Eye episode?] As Ken talks, Amy looks uncomfortable. AMY! Tell me you didn’t do it! I will be so unhappy. You’re one of the few characters I sometimes like in this damn series.
We hop to Mark’s head, because he’s feeling weird over the box he, Ellen, and Jessica found, mostly because the girls haven’t told anyone yet, and Ellen won’t even let him tell their parents about it. The cover story is that Ellen and Jessica don’t want to return the letters to their original owner, but he doesn’t understand why not.
Since Ellen won’t be home from school for a few more minutes, Mark decides to run inside and search her room. He skims through the letters again, but doesn’t really care about the mushy romance of it. Then he reaches the letter that talks about the money. He’s shocked, because there was no $200 in the box. Except … was there? Just then, Ellen comes home, and he hides in her closet to avoid getting in trouble. Jessica is with her, and they talk about the expensive earrings ($55, which is a pretty expensive pair of earrings back then), and Ellen talks about needing to hide them before her mom asks where she got them. Then Jessica actually asks whether they should have told Mark about the money; Ellen brushes this off because he’s a little kid. He hates being called a little kid.
Ellen goes to change and Mark tries to hide deeper in the closet. She finds him, though, and the girls freak out because he heard what they were talking about. He snaps that if they don’t give him his share, he’ll tell their mom. Ellen tries to threaten him out of it, but he runs off down the hall screaming for help. Siblings, y’all. Nothing but trouble.
Even though Mark locks himself in his room, Ellen tells Jessica not to worry, because she has a plan.
Skip to Elizabeth, who has finished putting up the posters with Amy’s and Ken’s help. Now that she’s alone, she knows she needs to work on her campaign speech, because their speeches are scheduled for the next week, and she still has no idea what to say. Odds of her speech ending up focused on Jessica are high, right? Right.
This is as far as she gets before she’s distracted with whether Jessica got her sweatshirt back from Lila: My name is Elizabeth Wakefield, and I’m running for student council treasurer. I think you should vote for me … because I’ll do a good job.
Elizabeth thinks that is too stuck up. I don’t know about stuck up, but it’s certainly boring as fuck. Also, what do you mean, you’re actually trying to follow through with getting something back from Jessica? You’ve never done that any other time she’s taken your things. But the one time you need to find something incriminating in Jessica’s room, suddenly you are going to look for your things? How very convenient, ghost writer.
Sure enough, Elizabeth goes through Jessica’s room and finds one thing after another: a full box of candy bars even though she turned in the money, all those bags of clothes Jessica claimed that really belonged to Ellen but Ellen hasn’t picked them up, and a receipt for the Walkman Jessica claimed she found.
Elizabeth tells herself to stay calm, and tries to come up with an easy solution. Maybe she misheard Jessica. Maybe she misunderstood things. Maybe you are a fucking doormat.
And, of course, she finds her sweatshirt in a pile of clothes, because Lila certainly didn’t want that shit.
Back to Mark’s point of view. Ellen finally stops trying to break into his room. She and Jessica whisper for awhile, and then Jessica leaves. When Mark and Ellen’s mother gets home, he runs down to tell her all about the treasure and the missing money. But, SURPRISE, when they go upstairs, Ellen pretends she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and the treasure box is gone. While this is all really gross lying bullshit, it also feels realistic. However, because they are all such shits all the time, I can’t even enjoy realistic preteen bullshittery.
Back at the Wakefield house, Elizabeth finally finishes a speech draft, but she doesn’t think it is very great, and decides to show Amy the next day to get her input. This is also super realistic, despite Elizabeth allegedly being one of the best writers in their grade.
When Jessica gets home, she starts trying on the clothes that she told Elizabeth were actually Ellen’s. When Elizabeth calls her on that, she tries to cover by saying that Ellen told her to borrow them whenever she wanted.
Elizabeth then awkwardly brings up the Walkman. Jessica tries to brush it off, but Elizabeth pushes, and eventually wants an answer about the candy bar money, too. Jessica claims that she and Ellen have been working together to sell them, and they sold Ellen’s first, and next they will sell hers. But Ellen turned money in too, didn’t she? How much money is wrapped up in each box of candy bars? [Dove: I can totally see Jessica charging over the odds and pocketing the profit.]
She also says that she found the whole package of the Walkman on the bench, bag, receipt and all. Elizabeth can’t tell if she’s lying. AGAIN, even if she really did find the Walkman, just flat keeping it is a really shitty thing to do, and Elizabeth should tell their parents. [Raven: Or even take it back to the store? I presume the store name was on the bag, or the receipt?]
Jessica keeps talking, and digs herself into a ditch, because last time she said she found it outside Sweet Valley Fashions and this time she said Casey’s Place. This is a really great example of how you can let people get themselves in trouble if you just get them talking and then let them keep talking. Most people hate silence and have to fill it, even if they end up giving something away.
Elizabeth goes back to her room, because she’s never been more disappointed in Jessica in all their twelve years. UMM. Pretty sure you’ve been at least this disappointed in ¾ of the books we’ve read so far! [Dove: Also, lying is as natural as breathing to Jessica, she does it all the time. I’d be more disappointed in her for all the times she’s ruined the new girl’s life.]
The next day, the Unicorns pull their prank on Peter, which involves wearing brown socks with their white shoes. Amy tells them it’s not very nice, which is rich since she was one of the people who started all the mocking at the Dairi Burger the other day. [Raven: At this point, I’m rooting for Peter and hoping his speech reveals that he bought shares in the Brown Sock Trading Company before setting the trend, conclusively proving he’s the right person for Student Treasurer.] Janet gives her grief about the missing money, and insinuates that Amy is the one who stole it. Because of course they do. And, sure enough, people nearby are whispering, and now she’s certain they’ve heard and are talking about her.
Showing some really awesome timing, Ken shows up and asks if it is possible that she accidentally took the cigar box out of Ms Wyler’s locker and left it on the floor or something. She starts to cry and runs off to the bathroom for privacy. If you didn’t take the money, Amy, why were you acting so weird the other day?
Caroline Pearce, the biggest gossip in Sweet Valley I’m sure you remember, burst into class where Elizabeth is sitting with Julie, and spreads the gossip about the Unicorns wearing brown socks and white sneakers. Peter is pretending he hasn’t noticed, but Caroline says she can tell his feelings are hurt. Elizabeth is super judgmental over this, because the tricks they play are part of why she doesn’t like them. Except you can be just as bad as them when it comes to Peter in this book, Wakefield.
Mr Bowman, newspaper sponsor and he of the terrible dress sense, asks about the election issue of the paper. They’re going to print the speeches and pass out the paper the day before the election. It’s amazing how each issue of the paper is so perfectly aligned with what is happening in the book.
When class starts, Mr Bowman has them start to do a little free association writing. Elizabeth is the only person who is happy. Everyone else hates it. She starts by writing: Is Jessica a thief? And then she wonders if she should talk to someone about it, but doesn’t know whom. Your parents. Your teachers. Any adult in your life.
Instead, she writes a fake letter to Dear Abby. *headdesk*
When they’re done, she crumples her paper into a little ball, and feels a little better. I’m sure there’s no way this letter is going to come back and bite her in the ass.
At lunch, Elizabeth wants to show Amy her speech, but Amy is being quieter than normal. She admits that everyone thinks she stole the money, and she’s really upset about it. Elizabeth promises her that isn’t true, but then asks a “hypothetical” about someone you know being really broke and then turning up with brand new things and no good explanation. When Amy sees Jessica and Ellen huddled together, she puts everything together and gets furious.
Elizabeth then freaks out, because she’s not actually sure if Jessica and Ellen are guilty. This is why you talk to your parents, Wakefield.
Elizabeth can’t stop Amy from telling Caroline what she just learned. This is going well.
After school, Jessica is listening to a Johnny Buck song on her new Walkman and waiting for Ellen when she sees people start staring at her and whispering: Charlie Cashman and Jerry McAllister, and then Sophia Rizzo and Nora Mercandy (Sophia! Nora! Come back, you are so much better than the actual characters!). [Dove: See! I told you that all of Liz’s temporary best friends pair up, so that she can go back to Amy.] [Wing: I ship Sophia/Nora so hard now. Grow up to be girlfriends who take over the world, please.] [Raven: Nah, fuck Sophia. “Jessica, what is that magic singy-box?! Am I dreaming? I’m so poor I’ve eaten my own shoes.”]
When Ellen turns up, she gives Jessica her earrings to hide, and Jessica asks her if she knows why everyone is staring at her. They walk to the mall because school is being very weird. On the way, they talk about how they’re both almost out of money, and are going to try and save the rest. Ellen then admits that Mark is really mad at her, and Jessica may have to keep the chest and all of Ellen’s things at her house forever. So much for getting to enjoy the fruits of your theft, huh, Ellen? Jessica actually wonders if they should have told him, but Ellen says it’s too late now. Oh, Ellen. Jessica then wants to know what happens if the real owner of the chest comes looking for it. Ellen doesn’t know, but then tries to reassure them that no one will claim it because it’s been so long.
That night, Jessica has troubled dreams about an old woman (the girl in the picture all grown up) accusing her of stealing her money and grabbing her with long, bony fingers. When Jessica wakes up, she is super shaken over it and the idea that something like that might actually happen. Maybe don’t be such a little shit.
THEN she has the terrifying thought that maybe the woman was actually buried in Ellen’s backyard next to the chest, and now they are grave robbers. This is AMAZING, and I wish this was the actual story, Jessica and Ellen being haunted by an angry ghost. That would be the greatest. [Dove: The supernatural stories are only in the Super Chillers, except for the Freddy Krueger-esque mini-series near the end. But don’t worry, Jessica will definitely lose sleep over a haunting at some point.] [Wing: I am still so shocked that Sweet Valley has ACTUAL GHOSTS when 90% of POINT HORROR does not.]
The next day, everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School is talking about Jessica and Ellen. Caroline has not only been spreading the gossip but also doing some sleuthing of her own, because she talked to the jeweler who said the earrings were one of a kind and she sold them to a young girl for cash. Damn, Caroline. I certainly hope you’re included in any future mysteries, because you learned more in 24 hours than we saw them learn in the last “mystery” book. (Even though it wasn’t one of the special edition mysteries.) Everyone thinks Elizabeth should say something, which is true, but any of you could say something, too!
Elizabeth confronts Amy about spreading rumors. Amy wants her to stop defending Jessica. Ken walks Elizabeth to her next class, which just upsets Amy even more. This is all going well.
Jessica and Ellen are having a rough day too, the poor innocent things. Even Lila won’t talk to them, which is pretty extreme considering the Unicorns are supposed to support each other through everything. They then get in trouble because Jessica draws a mean picture of their teacher and they get caught. Nothing actually happens to them, though.
Amy and Ken talk about why Ken walked Elizabeth to class, and he says that she’s supposed to be Amy’s best friend and he doesn’t think she treated Elizabeth very nicely. This is probably not a fight you want to get in the middle of, kid. But of course Amy decides this means he likes Elizabeth, and she rushes away and obsesses over it all during booster club practice. (I wonder if Lila is finding a way not to talk to Jessica and Ellen during booster club.) She gets herself so worked up that she quits Elizabeth’s campaign as soon as practice is done, and flat out says that she doesn’t think the student council treasurer should have a thief for a sister. GET IT, AMY.
I’m sure this is going to be presented as her being wrong and apologizing to Elizabeth, but Jessica is a fucking thief, even if she didn’t steal what they think she stole! Even if she didn’t have any money at all, she stole the damn Walkman per her very own story!
Amy then goes to find Peter, who is listening to Johnny Buck. My god, that singer is popular around the school. [Dove: To be fair, until Coco appears on the scene, Johnny Buck is the only singer that exists. I suspect every single one of the top 40 is one of his songs.] [Raven: Ed Sheeran broke the UK charts by doing just that a few weeks ago…] She volunteers to be his campaign manager, and this is actually pretty great. She doesn’t believe the treasurer should have a thief for a sister (which is shitty, actually, except that Elizabeth always props up whatever Jessica does, so she is kind of at blame, too), so she’s actively doing things to change local politics. Get down with your bad self, Amy, and let’s all take a lesson from that part and make the changes in politics that we want to see.
Elizabeth sulks over everything until Jessica gets home to tell her about the art class fiasco, and then they talk about Amy quitting as campaign manager. Jessica blows this off as unimportant, even though it is important enough to Elizabeth for her to be crying. Jessica is a shit. Elizabeth gets mad at her and accuses her of being a thief. Jessica swears they didn’t, admits she’s lying about something, but won’t tell her what. Then she runs off in tears.
Elizabeth decides this means she’s guilty, because if she was innocent, she would have defended herself. Except she did defend herself, so…?
The girls aren’t speaking at dinner, and Mr Wakefield teases them that he has a secret to share with them. Probably not that kind of secret, Raven. He doesn’t end up telling them, though. This whole scene is pointless. [Raven: It’s foreshadowing for the next book. Here’s some forehadowing for my recap of said book: TOTAL BULLSHIT.]
Jessica walks to school alone and waits for Ellen. More Unicorns snub her, and Ellen, too, is feeling down at everything.
Elizabeth is the first person to turn up to work on the newspaper. She has all the student council speeches ready to include in the next issue except for Peter’s. Mr Bowman reads Elizabeth’s and suggests she put something in there about why she’s qualified. She thinks that makes her sound stuck-up. Are you — are you serious, Elizabeth? Talking about why you are actually qualified is stuck-up? Oh god, I’m so glad someone is around to tell you how ridiculous that is. Speak up for yourself.
Julie turns up and shows Elizabeth Peter’s new posters. They’re twice as large as Elizabeth’s poster, and say “Rockin’ Peter He’s Your Man” in neon-orange letters with lots of glitter. Elizabeth sees Amy talking to a cute boy in blue jeans — whoops, it’s Peter. Oh shit, he got rid of his glasses and let down his hair and now he’s gorgeous. It’s like a high school movie already! He’s also wearing a rumpled blue t-shirt with a picture of the ocean on it, and it says Maui in big black letters. GEE, IS THERE A BOOK ABOUT HAWAI’I COMING UP SOON? [Dove: Super Edition #4: The Unicorns Go Hawaiian.] [Wing: I love how you just ignored my deep sarcasm.] Amy is also handing out little handmade stickers with his name on them. Okay, that is adorable.
Ms Wyler calls Jessica and Ellen up to talk to her after class, because, of course, she’s heard something about them and the class money. Ellen immediately swears on a stack of bibles that it wasn’t them. Of course, since Ms Wyler hasn’t actually told them what she’s heard, now she thinks they’re guilty. Ms Wyler has all sorts of details about the Walkman and the earrings, but the girls stick to their stories. Ms Wyler says that as long as they say they’re innocent, she has to believe them. UM. NO. Ellen just rambled on with all sorts of details about her aunt giving her the earrings. You could check with her parents.
Later, Elizabeth sees that at least one of her campaign posters has been vandalized from Elizabeth Makes Cents to read Jessica Takes Cents. Okay, that is kind of hilarious. A+ vandalism.
Ken comforts her, but when they see Amy with the newly hot Peter, Ken gets a little down. Oh, god, you children. Get your shit together.
That night, Jessica wants to ask Elizabeth for help with her homework, but doesn’t think Elizabeth will actually help her. So, of course, she then decides the best idea is to steal Elizabeth’s homework, copy it, and return it in the morning before Elizabeth notices it is missing. She says “borrow” but, you know, this is actually theft. Because that’s certainly going to make your sister believe you, Jessica. Why are you so terrible?
Jessica, of course, over sleeps in the morning, and only just barely manages to switch Elizabeth’s math notebook again. HMM, since speeches are this morning, I wonder if something is going to go terribly wrong with this switch. GEE. I WILL BE SHOCKED AT THIS SUBTLE WRITING.
Sure enough, Elizabeth put her speech in the notebook in the morning, but that was before Jessica switched them back, and now Elizabeth doesn’t have anything to say. Peter turns up to rock music and his speech begins like this: I’m Rockin’ Peter, and I’m here to say, if you vote for me, you’ll do OK.” It just keeps going, too. He rhymes, he does Booster Club dance moves, it’s all kind of amazingly ridiculous, but the kids (and some of the teachers) eat it up.
Oh. My. God.
This could be such a great, nuanced story about flashiness and showboating in politics, which is, of course, even more pertinent now in the USA than it was before, but too much of it is buried under the bullshit theft story which I am certain is not going to be wrapped up in a satisfying way. [Raven: Peter gives the best speeches. Incredible. Nobody has given better speeches than these. Also, he’s promised to erect a new climbing frame in the schoolyard, and make Mexico pay for it.]
Elizabeth is even more freaked out having to follow that. She struggles through her speech, most of which she remembers from practicing at home, but she is hesitant and it doesn’t sound the same. This really sucks, and for a moment, I felt for Elizabeth. Public speaking can be hard enough when you have what you need, but to have done work and then be stuck without it, that can be even more terrifying and difficult.
Jessica tries to comfort her, but Elizabeth figures out that Jessica has the speech in her notebook. Jessica even has to admit that she “borrowed” Elizabeth’s notebook to copy her math homework. [Raven: Serves
Hillary Elizabeth right for storing sensitive secrets her speech in an unsecure email server easily-found notebook.] Gee, I am shocked this is blowing up in Jessica’s face. Elizabeth loudly says that she lied about the class money and now she stole Elizabeth’s speech. Lots of people are hearing this, too, and no one, including Elizabeth, cares when Jessica tries to defend herself.
This is the last straw, and Jessica decides they have to tell the truth about the treasure. Even though they’ll have to pay it back (and Jessica swears she’ll walk Mrs Bramble’s dog again. You stay the hell away from that dog, Jessica Wakefield! You lost her last time!), Jessica pushes for them to tell the truth. Ellen wants them to think of something else.
Janet invites Peter to perform with the Boosters at their next game. Huh. That was unexpected. Amy points out that she’s being pretty hypocritical, because only a few days ago, she was making fun of him. UMM. AMY. Only a few days ago, you were making fun of him, too.
Peter then talks about how he’s always wanted a best friend, and how Elizabeth must be hurt that Amy switched sides. She starts to feel a little guilty over that, and over how she’s being hypocritical toward Peter herself. Holy shit, is that some self-awareness I see in Sweet Valley? Careful, Amy, the townspeople will show up with pitchforks and torches soon to stamp that right out.
Later, Elizabeth and Amy are sent to get some mimeograph paper (OH MY GOD, SO OLD), and Mr Nydick “accidentally” locks them in the dark in the supply closet. I’m leaving the joke to Raven for this one. [Raven: Standard Nydick. 1) Lock them in the closet. 2) Take a breathmint. 3) Wash nuts in the staffroom sink. 4) Profit!]
Of course they use their time locked up in the closet to talk about Amy’s jealousy and Elizabeth’s heartbreak. Sure enough, Amy is being presented as super selfish and the reason she’s about to lose her two best friends. UGH. Elizabeth even says that Amy took advantage of Elizabeth, Ken, Peter, and Jessica. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. YOU ARE. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME.
They go looking for something to help them break out of the room, and Elizabeth finds the missing cigar box still filled with all the money. Apparently, Ms Wyler accidentally put it in there when she was putting away old posters, and it got buried behind art smocks. This makes Elizabeth thrilled, because Jessica wasn’t guilty.
Mr Bowman releases them from the supply closet, and they rush off to talk to Ms Wyler. After they give the money to Ms Wyler, they learn Mrs Wakefield and Ellen’s mother were called in, and are now on their way to talk to Ellen and Jessica. Elizabeth is determined to find them, though, because they’re innocent.
Except they’re not. Even if there is no other money involved, JESSICA STOLE THAT GODDAMN WALKMAN.
Ellen and Jessica are at Ellen’s waiting for her mother to come home so they can tell her the truth — except they keep coming up with other lies to try, because no one actually learns shit in this world.
AND THEN THEY SEE A YOUNG WOMAN WALKING UP THE STREET WHO LOOKS LIKE THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE. [Raven: Get fucked, you twinny bellend. Literally.]
Of course they do. Everything must be tied up neatly with a bow in Sweet Valley.
Jessica cracks me up because she’s certain it is the girl’s ghost coming to get her things. They start begging the “ghost” to leave them alone and offer her the chest and promise to pay back the money. The “ghost” lets them babble on for awhile, until she says that she’s Laura Wright and her grandmother used to live in that house. Because “ghost” is way more believable than “granddaughter.” OH JESSICA WHAT.
They tell Laura all about finding the chest, and then their mothers show up. Their mothers, of course, want to talk to them about stealing, but they start talking about the love letters in the chest, and then about the money. They didn’t take the class money, but everyone blamed them because they took someone else’s money and bought expensive things. Ellen’s mother is dismayed that Ellen stole something that didn’t belong to her. A+ response, Ellen’s mother.
MRS WAKEFIELD SAYS SHE’S RELIEVED IT ISN’T THE FUCKING CLASS MONEY. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW YOU FUCKING PARENT.
She does go on to say that Jessica took money that wasn’t hers, but no one is calling them thieves anymore, WHICH THEY ARE.
We also learn that Laura’s grandmother didn’t end up marrying the man who wrote the letters, and though her grandfather was nice, there was always something missing between them, and now she knows why, because her grandmother made the wrong choice and let the one she really loved got away. But Laura has the same choice to make, between the man she loves even though her family and friends don’t like him, but she’s going to go with her heart, and she thinks her grandmother would approve. [Dove: Just from personal experience, having been proposed to twice, and only married once, you fucking know whether or not you want to marry someone. Laura is an idiot.] [Wing: I don’t know that she’s an idiot. I would say potentially weak and letting herself being pushed in one direction by her family. Especially since we shortly learn that the boy everyone wants her to marry is her childhood sweetheart and a close friend to the family, I can see that kind of pressure being put on her, and it seems it is difficult for her to ignore. That happens to people fairly often, going along with what seems to be the weight of the world on what should happen. Also, you can definitely love more than one person at a time, and in very different ways.] [Raven: It’s all very Downton Abbey.]
Jessica sighs over how romantic this is. Oy.
Laura then goes on to tell them to keep the money as a reward. Ellen’s mother makes her share it with Mark, though, because she is out parenting every single other parent in Sweet Valley in just a few short pages. She makes them apologize to Mark and give him the remaining $50.
Elizabeth and Amy rock up then to say they found the class money and it wasn’t Jessica and Ellen’s fault, and Elizabeth begs for Jessica’s forgiveness. Amy then asks for their forgiveness, too.
Then they tell the story about the chest, and Jessica actually admits that she needs to apologize to everyone for lying. AND FOR STEALING MONEY, WHICH EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE SWEEPING UNDER THE RUG NOW.
Quick wrap up: Peter asks Julie to go to the Dairi Burger with him, Ken and Amy make up, and Elizabeth wins as treasurer. Of fucking course she does. Everyone, including Peter, goes to Julie’s house to celebrate. Laura and her boyfriend and Ellen’s family all come to dinner at the Wakefield’s. Mr Wakefield teases them about his secret again, but doesn’t tell them, and Jessica decides he must be taking them to some “far-off exotic place”. Oh, god, that book is going to make Wing Go Boom, I can already tell.
While there were some really good points of the story, and some realistic actions, this was overall both frustrating and boring. Mostly boring. Only the fact that people really fell down on the fact that Jessica and Ellen really are goddamn thieves was enough to make me come close to going boom, except I was too bored overall. Awesome.
[Raven: This was okay, I guess. I hated the neat-as-a-bow finale, but the Rockin’ Peter stuff was goofy and fun.]
[Dove: I actually liked this book too. Possibly it’s because I’ve read the next book (poor Raven), and everything else is significantly better by comparison. Elizabeth was very doormatty this book. Bonus points for her apologising to Jessica for thinking she’s a thief when Jessica did actually steal money.]
[Wing: Oh god, something else to dread. I was already dreading the next one I have to recap, and now I get to look forward to Raven’s, too? Fuck. Need a liquor store run.]
Imagine how Elizabeth and Jessica might have turned out if they’d had Ellen’s mother.
My guess? Matricide. 🙂