Title: Jessica’s Bad Idea
Tagline: Has someone taken Jessica’s place as “most popular girl”?
Summary: Everyone has always made fun of Sandra Ferris. She’s gawky and shy, and people whisper about her everywhere she goes. But the Wakefield twins step in and change Sandra’s life by giving her a new look – hair, clothes, make-up, the works!
Suddenly, the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan, and that means trouble for Jessica. Now Sandra is getting all the attention. And even worse, Jessica discovers that Sandra is running against her for Sweet Valley’s sixth-grade Citizen of the Year… and it looks as if she just might win. Jessica has to find some way to tame the monster she has created – and her time is running short!
For reasons I can’t quite explain to myself, I sort-of enjoy this book. I also could barely explain them to Wing, but she did swap with me. I don’t know why I like this book, I don’t like the makeover trope at all and I want to punch Sandra for most of the book. But at least I feel strongly about it. When it comes to Jessica on Stage, the book I swapped with Wing, my feelings are a shrug and the word “meh”. [Wing: Whereas I wanted to punch everyone for most of the book, so status quo.]
The cover: Sorry, Jessica, but that is a horrible top. Sandra looks great though.
ALSO ALSO: If anyone can figure out why this cover hurts my soul, I will send them a free copy of Lila’s Music Video. The book. If I had Lila’s actual music video… I’d need to find someone to convert it to mp4, so I could put it on YouTube. Hint: I like my covers to be uniform. This one is not uniform.
We open with Elizabeth “passing the volleyball in a perfect arc” to Jessica. Literally the first sentence contains the word “perfect”. Jessica does something sporty in response, and TEAM WAKEFIELD WIN. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS BLARES OUT OVER THE SPEAKERS. HANS STEPS FORWARD AND SAYS. “I’M PROUD OF YOU.” AND THEN CONNIE AND GUY MAKE OUT. AND THEN GORDON KISSES CASEY. AND IT’S ALL SO FUCKING MAGICAL.
What? It’s Sweet Valley. I bet every victory gets celebrated like it’s the end of a moderately successful sports movie by Disney. [Raven: Well, if every sporting event commences with the National Anthem, then I guess this is not out of place.]
As the twins head back to the locker rooms, Jessica points out that her PE clothes are really boring, and she wants to sew little spangles on them. Because during this book, Jessica is into fashion. I mean, I know she has been since book 1, and this is actually a wild form of continuity, but in this book, she’s also into the creating and making of clothes, as well as buying them.
Kerry Glenn comes over and invites them to her birthday party. You do know Kerry Glenn. She’s the go-to name to pull out of thin air when you want a non-Unicorn to speak. If she’s not available, you need Cammi Adams. If you need a non-characterised Unicorn for the same reason, you use Kimberley Haver. Are we all clear on this?
Kerry says that everyone from ballet class is invited to her party [Raven: If she invites Madame André I’m gonna puke up my fucking spleen.]… oh, and Sandra Ferris, whose mum is friends with her mum, so she has to be invited. Jessica hates Sandra, because she’s clumsy. Saint Elizabeth chimes in that just because she’s clumsy, doesn’t mean she’s nasty. Kerry’s like, “So, you’re friends with her?” and Elizabeth hastily explains that she used to be in elementary school, but they drifted apart, and then Sandra went to a different school for a few years – no word on why, and we never get told. I guess the plot needed her to go away and fug up, so that when she came back and upgraded to hot girl, she could be a hot mysterious girl too.
After school, they race home – Jessica naturally gets a head start before suggesting the race. For half a second, Elizabeth complains, but Jessica quells this with a small glare and Elizabeth meekly hands over her spine.
Steven, naturally, is in the kitchen eating everything in sight, including “home-baked chocolate chip cookies”. Do the Wakefields have a maid I don’t know about, because Alice seems to shirk every kitchen-related chore, and we know the males of the house aren’t going to do such feminine tasks for fear of spontaneously sprouting a vagina. [Raven: “Sprouting a vagina” sounds like a cross between a sex act and a Christmas prank.] [Wing: Alice cooks dinner and desserts all the damn time. It’s a huge deal in the books when she doesn’t.]
Lila calls to ask if Jessica has been invited to Kerry’s party. I have no idea why Lila is acting like this is a big deal. For one thing, Lila doesn’t do ballet, so she wasn’t invited because of that; for another, Kerry’s usually regarded as a bit of a nerd. Maybe this Jamie Suzanne didn’t get the memo. While on the phone, Jessica suggests they all buy Kerry ballet-related gifts. When she later tells Elizabeth about this, Elizabeth offers to help call round everyone who’s going to the party to let them know, but Jessica wants credit for this genius idea, so says she’ll do it herself. Elizabeth pointedly reminds Jessica not to forget Sandra Ferris.
Naturally, Jessica gets bored with the task about halfway through, and decides to tell anyone she’s not called yet about it in person at school.
We then hop over to Sandra’s point of view at Kerry’s party. Sandra is miserable, and feeling like an outcast because nobody is talking to her.
Sandra was sure she knew why. She wasn’t pretty, popular, and talented like the other girls. She was tall, awkward, and shy.
You know what? I hate how many books send this message. Maybe not now, but certainly when I was a teen. They sell the idea that popularity is this status you can attain by being the right weight, having clear skin and cool clothes. [Wing: Well, in many ways, this is not wrong, though confidence also has a lot to do with it.]
Because, I’ve got to be honest, Sandra, the reason nobody’s talking to you (aside from the fact this is Sweet Valley, you’re a new girl, and therefore they’re calculating the amount of “pranks” it will take for you to attempt suicide) is because you’re sitting there with a face like a slapped arse, internally bitching that nobody likes you because you’re not pretty. If you went up to people and engaged with them, it would be a different story.
(Well, that’s how it works in the real world. In Sweet Valley, she needs to go talk to Saint Elizabeth.)
Just then, Elizabeth saves Sandra from taking action, by trying to engage her in conversation. Elizabeth keeps it light, but Sandra immediately says that she doesn’t belong because she’s fugly. Way to try there Sandra.
Kerry starts opening gifts, and everyone has bought ballet themed presents, except Sandra, who bought “a pair of soft brown leather gloves, perfect for those few winter days when the weather in Sweet Valley was rainy and chilly.” Oh! So you mean the weather that only shows up in the Super Chiller books? Yeah, Sandra, that was a stupid gift. Don’t you know it never rains in Sweet Valley unless there’s a ghost or a car accident? Duh. [Raven: Jessica would LOVE being gifted gloves, because she likely wears them every hour of the day to avoid leaving fingerprints at the scene of the crime.] [Wing: People in southern California are often like me and think 60s and 50s are cold, so gloves would not at all be ridiculous. They’re fashionable, even.]
Kimberley and Jessica whisper about how stupid Sandra is for not adhering to a theme that nobody told her about. And I think this might be a brand new Jamie Suzanne, because Lila is not present – Lila would be perfect for bitchy whispering. Also, Kimberley Haver’s a seventh grader, who does not take ballet, so why is she here? Because this Jamie hasn’t read previous books.
Sandra gets embarrassed and runs to the bathroom to hide. Naturally, Saint Elizabeth follows her, and tries to cheer her up, but Sandra is resolutely clinging to the idea that she’s ugly, gangly and unpopular. Because it’s much easier to blame your looks than your sucky personality. Elizabeth presses on and invites Sandra to go bike riding with her.
Sandra could hardly believe her ears. Elizabeth Wakefield wanted to go bike riding with her! But then her face fell. “You’re just being nice because you feel sorry for me,” she said glumly.
Remember when Raven hated Sophia because she thought everything good that happened to her was like a dream? I fucking loathe Sandra, because she’s absolutely determined to be miserable. She is working really hard at it. Raven and I had a series of texts about how Sandra grows up to be that girl, the one that cries in the loos every time you go out, because something (or, actually, nothing) happened, that “triggered” her and made her feel ugly, just like when she was in school. And then she cries all night, while everyone who was looking forward to a fun night out, has to sit around the girls’ loos, reassuring her that she’s pretty and popular, and wow, isn’t it fun to spend an entire evening consoling a pretty girl about that one time ages ago when she wasn’t so pretty?
(Being triggered is a thing. Not disputing that. The type of person who pulls this shit? Not triggered. Actively looking for something to be “triggered” by, because having everyone spend the evening saying “You’re pretty” is much more fun than having to share the attention.)
Elizabeth smiles through Sandra’s bullshit, and doesn’t take no for an answer. They are going to be BFFs for the book, damnit. Elizabeth is on a roll. Then she takes Sandra’s hand and drags her back to the party where they watch The Red Shoes. Which I’ve always thought was a made-up movie, but no, it’s a movie from 1948. Why are all the movies that these kids watch so ancient? I don’t mean that a classic movie can’t be enjoyed, I just mean is there nothing recent in Sweet Valley? See Raven’s rant about the same thing in The Big Camp Secret. [Wing: Didn’t I reference this story in the not too distance past? … I did, but not in a Sweet Valley recap, it was over on Devil’s Elbow, when commenting on the Halloween Party recap. I also referenced The Red Shoe Diaries, which is basically porn. It’s a good time, over there. Also, I have some concerns about going to the same references as the ghostwriter here.]
Well, I had a bit of a moan on Twitter about that, and guess what? Michael Grant tweeted me. #BestJamieSuzanne
It's a problem inherent in YA writing. There are few historical or cultural touch-points that will resonate with the teen reader.
— Michael Grant (@MichaelGrantBks) October 25, 2017
The packagers never thought it through and the ghostwriters were stuck with it.It's one reason in my own books I use real bands, movies etc.
— Michael Grant (@MichaelGrantBks) October 25, 2017
So that answers that: bad planning on the publishers’ behalf.
After the party, we hop back into Elizabeth’s head, and she gives Jessica what-for over not telling Sandra about the theme. Jessica points out that she didn’t manage to tell everyone, but other people found out from their friends, and she can’t help it if Sandra doesn’t have any. [Wing: Way to not parent, Wakefields. So we’re back to you letting your kids get away with being little shits all the time. Great.] Elizabeth snaps back that Sandra has a friend now, because Elizabeth has activated her Single Book BFF Power and they are Book-Long Soulmates. (Yeah, we were long overdue a new tag on this.)
Jessica heard the sound of laughter. It was Elizabeth and Sandra Ferris doing their homework together in Elizabeth’s room. Jessica frowned. Ever since Kerry Glenn’s birthday party, Elizabeth and Sandra had been spending time together. On Sunday they went bike riding, and on Monday they ate lunch together with Elizabeth’s friends, Amy Sutton and Julie Porter. Now it was Tuesday, and Elizabeth had brought Sandra home from school with her.
Sandra barges into Jessica’s room, and Jessica gives her a telling off for not knocking. Sandra invites Jessica to the mall, but Jessica is too cool to be seen hanging out with Sandra. Sandra then spots that Jessica is trying to sew antique lace cuffs on her sweater (sounds awful, but eighties, I guess), and praises her for being so creative. [Raven: As long as the collar matches the cuffs, it’s all good.] Jessica agrees that she’s a fashion genius, and will probably be a fashion designer when she grows up (spoilers: she doesn’t), Sandra asks to see her designs and is suitably impressed with Jessica’s style, prettiness, and ability to put an outfit and hairstyle together.
Sandra then tries to list all her failings for sympathy, but Jessica is already aware of how awful Sandra is to look at, so cuts her off, and suggests she push her hair out of her face. Sandra asks for a makeover, and Jessica is thrilled at the challenge. Elizabeth thinks that’s much more fun than going to the mall, so makeovers are go!
With Jessica giving the orders, the twins set to work. First they washed Sandra’s hair and used a crème rinse to make it soft and full. Then they styled it in a French braid with wispy bangs. Finally, Jessica rubbed a soft blusher into Sandra’s cheeks and gave her lips a light coat of pink lip gloss.
Next came the clothes. Sandra was wearing faded jeans and a baggy green T-shirt. Jessica made her change into one of Elizabeth’s blouses – a white sleeveless one with a scooped neck. Jessica donated her braided purple belt for Sandra to wear. And Elizabeth lent her a slender silver horse pendant.
Check the front cover for this very moment. And naturally, Sandra is blown away by how gorgeous she is. Jessica then launches into Makeover Part II: Body Language. She teaches Sandra how to walk gracefully, how to smile and move with confidence – and I have to be honest, this is far more in depth than I would have thought Jessica would bother with. Jessica then insists they go for a walk to show off the makeover. [Raven: At least it’s a little more in-depth than the tired “bookish girl takes off her glasses and becomes a hottie” trope, or the equally clichéd “Goth / Metal girl washes her hair and puts on a pleated skirt and WOWZA” bollocks.]
So, out they walk and they bump into Ricky Capaldo, Aaron Dallas and Tom McKay, who allegedly have a history of teasing Sandra. Instead, they say she looks much better.
This reminds me of a letter I saw in the problem pages of Just 17 back in the day. A girl had lost a lot of weight and had her braces removed over the summer holidays, and suddenly boys were queuing up to ask her out. She wanted to know if it was because she was attractive now, and should she be wary of boys like that.
Just 17 lied, and said, “Nah, kid. It’s because they got to know you.” This was clearly a lie. Most boys I knew at that time were assholes. One once commented to me, “I’d really love to ask out Jenny, but she’s so fucking fat, I’d die of embarrassment if my mates saw us together.” He later asked if I would negotiate a secret relationship between him and Jenny. Nope. [Raven: What a prick!]
When they get back to the Wakefield Compound, Steven is creepily interested in Sandra. He doesn’t initially recognise her as the girl that’s been over to the house several times this week (to be fair, he must have a really hard time keeping track of Elizabeth’s ever-changing BFFs), and then drops hints that she should go to the beach on Saturday to play volleyball with him.
And we’re supposed to see this as a good thing? I’m not sure who on earth would want Steven on the best of days (but I do know who he ends up with… and it’s fucking hilarious), but this is a new low. This literally proves that he doesn’t care one whit about Sandra the person, just the tall hot girl he could hang out with.
The next day, Jessica wears her sweater with the lace cuffs – which aren’t sewn on well at all – and they head to school, where Sweet Valley Middle is abuzz with the hotness of Sandra.
Amy wonders how Sandra gets her hair “so soft and full” – and despite the fact that Jessica and Elizabeth know the answer, and are standing right there, they don’t tell her. Because Amy is a full time BFF, and therefore can’t be as pretty as them. I see you, Elizabeth. I see you. Sandra then joins them, and still nobody tells Amy how to sort out her “stringy” hair. (Amy, it’s not fucking rocket science, try a different shampoo and conditioner, keep trying until you find one that works. FFS, you’re supposed to be smart.)
Jessica notices that nobody is giving her credit for the fabulous makeover, and they are instead praising Sandra for becoming a beautiful swan. So she flounces over to the Unicorns, in the hope they notice her lace cuffs, but instead they are talking about Sandra too, and then they run off before Jessica can get credit for the amazing makeover.
This goes on all day, and Sandra’s even invited to sit with the Unicorns at lunch, where the endless praising of beauty goes on and on. [Raven: The “sitting with the Unicorns” stuff is totally Jessica’s fault. She gave Sandra a PURPLE BELT, people!] Jessica is so bored of it that she calls over Caroline Pearce, who has the hot gossip that a gymnast team from East Germany will be coming to Sweet Valley soon. This momentarily changes the subject, until Bruce Patman walks up and says to Sandra, “And who’s this? Christie Brinkley?” This Jamie Suzanne got the memo about only referencing classic movies, but didn’t think the rule extended to contemporary models. He then says she looks like Cybill Shepherd. He then steals her brownie, despite her protests, eats half of it, and gives it back with the words “Sweets for the sweet.”
(Anyone who’s seen Candyman is remembering when someone wrote something very similar in excrement along a bathroom wall, right? It’s not just me.)
The Unicorns then tell Sandra that Bruce only teases girls he likes. Given his date-rape future, sure, let’s go with that. Let’s make this book really damaging. He’s stealing your things because he likes you. He’s eating your food because you matter. He’s not hearing you say no, because you’re too damned pretty. [Raven: Wait, what?!] [Wing: Rape culture 101 in this book, and still they’re trying to present it as a good thing.]
Jessica, feeling jealous of the attention Sandra’s getting, says that Bruce was making fun of Sandra. Then everyone laughs at her, as Lila points out that her cuffs fell off into her macaroni cheese. And Sandra smugly points out Jessica should have used tighter stitches.
Jessica could feel her face turning red. She’d never felt so humiliated in her whole life. She glared at Sandra as she yanked the lace cuff out of the macaroni and cheese. “I don’t think Bruce Patman likes you, Sandra,” she said angrily. “And I know I don’t!” Then she jumped up from the table and ran out of the cafeteria.
First of all, humiliation. What about the time you told everyone you were BFFs with Johnny Buck, and actually a billion tween girls had the same hat as you and you’re actually nobody? Surely that was worse. Second of all, I don’t like Sandra either, but for very different reasons.
The next day is even better for Sandra – even teachers are complimenting her. Yeah, that’s probably not a good thing. Step away from the underage girl, Mr Nydick.
People volunteer to pair up with her in class, and she spikes a volleyball and WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS BLARES FROM THE SPEAKERS AND HANS IS PROUD OF YOU… you guys are familiar with this by now, right?
Over in Jessica’s head, things aren’t so great, when she hears from Caroline that Janet’s going to ask Sandra to join the Unicorns. Jessica is fuming. Sandra would still be a skinny fug with frizzy hair, if it wasn’t for her, so why aren’t people fawning over Jessica? Jessica, seriously, your attention seeking is just as bad as Sandra’s. I just like you more, because one day you will snap and kill everyone.
During class, they talk about when Sweet Valley was founded. And I’m going to put this in, because I’m sure it will be contradicted at a later date. The Spanish settlers arrived in 1788, but Sweet Valley wasn’t established as a town until 1857. There is some kind of event called Sweet Valley Days, the mayor will come to school and speak at an assembly. A student will introduce him, the student must be a good citizen and a good public speaker. Mrs Arnette wants nominations for this role tomorrow.
Also, there’s a parade, and one student from each grade will ride on the float as “Citizen of the Year”. This student needs to be “an outstanding citizen, dedicated to making Sweet Valley a better place to live.” [Raven: Fucking hell, this parade is going to be the dullest thing since the invention of the 3-watt bulb.]
Jessica wants to win both and asks Elizabeth to nominate her. Jessica is a sociopath who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She’s a poor student. She’s never made anyone’s life better (well, except for Sandra’s…), and last time she had a chance to speak publicly, she suggested the sixth grade have a party and… had nothing else to add. #InTheBag [Raven: San Dimas High School Football Rules!]
After school, Elizabeth is hanging out with Sandra, and compliments her outfit. Sandra immediately asks whether she really means it or if she’s just being nice. And this is why I hate you Sandra. Your constant need for affirmation is grating at best.
Steven comes in and flirts with her and invites her to play volleyball again. She says she isn’t sure if she can make it, so he looks disappointed and walks off. Elizabeth encourages the pre-teen to date her fourteen year old brother, but Sandra finally brings up the fact that he completely ignored her when she had bad hair and clothes. She feels that all her “friends” have only appeared since she was pretty, so can she really trust them to be there in the future if she somehow does something to fall down the social hierarchy. This is actually a genuine worry to have in this situation, but I feel that every word she speaks is loaded with emotional blackmail.
Elizabeth trots out the same line as Just 17, that people have gotten to know her and really like her. And sure, that’s probably true from Elizabeth and her angelic friends, but for everyone else – Unicorns, Bruce Patman, Steven Wakefield, actually, any boy who isn’t Winston Egbert (who is absent from this book) – Sandra’s right on the nose. Elizabeth asks how to reassure her, and Sandra asks to be nominated to introduce the mayor.
Elizabeth says no, sorry, she’s already nominating Jessica, but Sandra whines and pleads until Elizabeth’s glorious lack of backbone shows itself.
And this is why I really hate Sandra. She reads as manipulative as fuck.
Oh, I’m so sad, look at me cry. I’m so beautifully delicate, don’t you just want to protect me and tell me how pretty I am? Now validate me. You can’t do what I want? Look how hard you made me cry! You promised someone else? But I feeeeeel ugly! How can you just stand there and let me feel this way? I feel so ugly! Tell me I’m pretty! Do what I say! VALIDATE ME, YOU SELFISH WAZZOCK.
[Wing: I realise you said this just a bit ago, but I do not understand how you can hate Sandra for acting exactly like Jessica in this book. They’re both annoying as hell.]
Jessica shows her mother her fashion designs and asks whether Alice likes them and if she thinks Jessica could be a fashion designer. Alice is – for once – sober and helpful. She says yes, Jessica has talent, but it’s a very competitive industry, Jessica would have to work hard, practice drawing and learn to sew. That is… oddly helpful. Who are you what have you done with gin-soaked Alice?
Alice offers to give Jessica some sewing lessons, starting with hems, and maybe work up to a skirt or apron. Jessica is like, fuck that, I wanna make a dress so I can wear it on the float for Valley Days. Before Alice can protest, she skips off.
Then Elizabeth breaks it to her that she’s no longer nominating Jessica, she’s nominating Sandra. Jessica is rightfully indignant, and Elizabeth tries to point out that Sandra needs it more than Jessica, because she’s a fragile little angel with gossamer wings.
Jessica threw down the colored pencil she was holding and got up from her desk. “If you ask me,” she said unhappily, “Sandra is just pretending to be shy to get what she wants.”
“But if you ask me, she’s a schemer,” Jessica said. “She wants all the attention for herself, and she’ll do anything to get it.”
I’m so with you, Jess. [Wing: So Jess, and you, hate her for being exactly as needy and manipulative and horrible as Jess. Right.]
The next day, Sandra gets nominated and wins the chance to introduce the mayor. She dances around smugly and says that she finally believes in herself. Then she asks the twins what they think of her running for Citizen of the Year. Elizabeth tactfully says that Jessica is probably the wrong person to ask, since she’s running too.
When Sandra bounces off to go be smug at other people, Elizabeth points out that Jessica can’t be angry, because she wanted to win both honours too. Jessica internally agrees, but still hates Sandra. And to be honest, I’m with her. Jessica is a ruthless, self-serving psychopath who demands attention from everyone and isn’t above using emotional blackmail to get it. And I’m good with that. That’s Jessica. I don’t want another Jessica running around being twice as annoying in the same pursuit for attention. [Wing: Jessica is even more obnoxious than ever in this book, and it’s taken me back to hating her. She’s whiny and needy and annoying as hell. And a huge fucking hypocrite, which is what has tipped her over the edge into hate again for me.]
On Saturday Jessica meets the Unicorns. She brings up the rumour that Janet will ask Sandra to join the Unicorns, and the Unicorns have a good old laugh at that. Sandra is not Unicorn material. (Really? Is she not? She’s pretty, vapid, annoying as fuck, and brutal in her quest for validation.) Jessica then says she wants to run for Citizen of the Year, and the Unicorns are all for that. Kimberly and Janet decide to run for Citizens of the Year for Seventh and Eighth grade respectively.
On Monday, Jessica publicly donates a dollar to charity, so Sandra donates two dollars.
The nominations for Citizen of the Year for sixth grade (in this class at least, possibly there are other nominations going on in other classes?) are: Sandra, nominated by Olivia Davidson (THE FRIDGE IS COMING, YOU ARSE PIMPLE) [Raven: I have no idea what this means.]; Jessica, nominated by Elizabeth; Jim Sturbridge (he of the sexism and shitty ape play), nominated by himself; and Ken Matthews, nominated by Amy. [Raven: Bless Amy, nominating her boyfriend!]
Jessica tries to prove she’s Citizen of the Year but Sandra beats her solidly.
“You know what I’m talking about. If I donate one dollar to the literacy program, she donates two. If I erase the blackboard, she offers to wash it. She’s trying to show me up!”
Elizabeth thinks it’s funny that Jessica is being beaten at her own game. And yes, this is exactly what it is. This is a villain vs villain story, and I’m always going to side with Jessica.
Jessica sees a sign announcing a car wash, the funds of which are going to the public library. Jessica realises that if she raises money for that, she’ll be Citizen of the Year for sure.
After school, she works on the design for her pioneer dress, and her brain turns over how to make money. She shows the design to Alice, who thinks it’s really pretty, but hard to make. Alice agrees to help her find a pattern to use as a base, buy the material and help her make it – by Saturday!
That night, she can’t sleep because she’s so preoccupied with how to raise money. Eventually, she gets up in the middle of the night for some herbal tea. She finds Steven in the kitchen, eating, just like always. I’m fairly certain that Steven will always be found by the fridge, no matter what time of day. In much the same way that Alice has been uncharacteristically helpful, so is Steven.
He suggests that they put together a commemorative booklet and sell ad space in it. Apparently the seniors at Sweet Valley High did something similar to fund prom. Clearly their money worries are sorted within the next four years, because by the twins get to High, the school can afford to throw a prom every book.
Jessica is so delighted with this suggestion that she kisses Steven. He claims she gave him cooties, but we all know that moment is going straight in the spank bank.
We then join Sandra for the next morning. She’s due to meet Elizabeth by the fountain to go over the maths homework, but when she sees that Jessica is with her, she pauses. She knows Jessica doesn’t like her, and feels like Jessica owes her friendship, because Jessica was always popular, whereas Sandra is new to it. Also, she deserves to win the Citizen of the Year election for the same reason.
Again, go fuck yourself Sandra. Nobody owes you anything. School can be brutal – just be thankful you’re not Nora Mercandy, Sophia Rizzo or Ginny-Lu Culpepper. [Wing: But she started out exactly like them. I don’t understand your hate on for her when you keep comparing her to people and situations that she’s been in too or is acting exactly the same as.]
Sandra hides behind a tree and overhears their conversation. She hears Jessica mention the library, and moves closer to hear better.
“… and sell ads to raise the money,” Jessica was saying.
Sell ads. Suddenly, Sandra remembered something her older sister, Heather, had told her. To raise money for last year’s prom, the seniors at the high school had put out a booklet filled with pictures of the prom. Heather had written an article for the booklet about good places to eat breakfast after the prom. And the seniors had financed the booklet by selling ads to local stores.
At this point, Sandra gallops off to share her brilliant idea with Mrs Arnette, ignoring Elizabeth who calls after her.
Sandra is a fucking waste of humanity.
I will admit, she didn’t outright steal the idea, Jessica didn’t give it to her in exact words, and since the SVH did it first, it’s hardly a singularly unique idea, however, I fucking hate Sandra, so I can’t be kind. #TeamJessica [Raven: Disagree. She outright stole the idea. No question. I don’t buy the whole Older-Sister-Heather thing. Jessica said something about selling ads, and Sandra ran off to pitch an idea about selling ads. End of discussion, she’s a pyar cleft.] [Wing: She did exactly what Jessica did, which was be inspired by basically the same fucking story and get all excited about it and have to tell someone immediately. Would Jessica give one bit of credit to Steven or to SVH? Nope.]
Back to Jessica’s point of view, they notice Sandra, and Elizabeth calls after her, but Sandra ignores them. Then Jessica heads over to tell Mrs Arnette her genius plan. Except, of course, that Sandra has already done that, and Mrs Arnette is gushing over how awesome Sandra is.
I swear, even as a kid, I was begging Jessica to kill her.
Mrs Arnette asks what Jessica wanted, and, very flustered, she asks about the homework assignment. Mrs Arnette tells her she’ll never make Citizen of the Year with that kind of attitude.
Jessica rushes over to Elizabeth in floods of tears and explains what happened. Elizabeth says that surely Sandra didn’t steal the idea, she’s nice. Jessica calls Sandra a schemer, and Elizabeth says they’ll give her a chance to explain herself.
They confront Sandra about the idea, who says that she wasn’t eavesdropping earlier, she was waiting for Jessica to leave. So they ask why she didn’t hang around, she says she ran off in a rush to tell Mrs Arnette about her idea. So, yeah, Sandra, your story has holes. She then says that she never meant to win Citizen of the Year, but now that Jessica is a named enemy, she’s going to win. Then she flounces off.
The twins discuss the situation, but without proof, Jessica is just going to look petty and jealous.
Later that afternoon as she gets ready to introduce the mayor, Sandra still can’t work out why Jessica hates her, as she’s certain that – even though she heard some of the conversation – she didn’t steal the idea. But then she introduces the mayor and gets to announce her idea to the whole school and, high on a wave of support, she’s like “Fuck those twinny bellends, I can’t fucking lose!”
After school, Steven asks where Sandra is, and the twins quickly catch him up on Sandra’s Idea Theft. He is gutted that the underage hot girl is no longer an option. Then Alice breezes in, and so they tell her too. She tries to console Jessica, first with words, and then she gently pushes Jessica into continuing with her dress – even if she’s not going to wear it on a float, it’ll still be a good start to her fashion career. Seriously, Alice, it clearly works if you work it. A+ and not in a sarcastic way.
The next day, Sandra waits to vote for Citizen of the Year. Olivia Davidson says that she voted for Sandra (THE FRIDGE…), as does Brooke Dennis, Pamela Jacobson and several others. Sandra sees the twins, and hates Jessica, but is sad about Elizabeth. When it’s her turn, she votes for herself.
After school, she finds she won by a landslide and Jessica came in second. Sandra decides that she’s going to bury the hatchet and go to the Wakefield Compound to talk to the twins.
Steven is outside and he tries to be curt with her, but he’s too smitten. She says she didn’t steal the idea, and Steven says prove it, when did you come up with the idea? When she says yesterday morning, Steven is disappointed in her, because Jessica came up with it the night before, then he walks inside. [Wing: First of all, this makes no sense. This isn’t a patent case, it’s not about who came up with it first, it’s about whether she took the idea from Jessica. Second, I still say no, that she did exactly what Jessica did, which was hear something that inspired her to draw from the same damn story Jessica drew inspiration from.]
At this point, Sandra starts to really think about things, and realises that she did in fact hear enough to generate the idea, and now she has angst. Ordinarily I’d be cross that it took a boy to get through to this vapid idiot, but to be fair, Elizabeth and Jessica were too emotional to go line by line to figure out how all this happened.
The next day is the day of the parade – which makes you wonder how quickly the booklets were produced, how did they get the ads sold so quickly, etc? – and the twins are very grumpy, to the point where Alice chides them for wishing pneumonia on Sandra. [Raven: it’s all Sweet Valley Time. Things that should take a month take a day.]
Sandra rocks up and explains herself. She didn’t realise that she stole the idea. Jessica gets in a well-earned “I told you so,” but Elizabeth tells her to shut up, and sees that the idea theft was an accident. Jessica asks why she didn’t believe them when they confronted her, and Sandra goes the pity route again. Oh, I’m so ugly, I’m so insecure, all the attention went to my head. Then she says that she’s calling in sick, so Jessica will take her place on the float.
Alice and Steven turn up and are relieved that everything’s back to normal, so Steven can go on perving on the twelve year old.
Sandra then says she’ll give credit for the booklet to Jessica too. At first Jessica is ok with that, but then realises she was so angry she did bugger all on the project, so says no, Sandra can keep ownership of that idea.
So, Jessica gets to ride on the float. Everything is awesome. Her dress is wrecked by the time the day is over, and at this point she’s like, fuck that, I need a new hobby.
Thankfully, a new one presents itself. She and Elizabeth watch Gone With the Wind (originally typed that as Gone With the Wing by default) – and see above rant about classic movies jarring against the kids’ interest in contemporary movie and rock stars. Jessica now thinks that she should be an actress.
And spoilers: the next book is called Jessica on Stage, so we can safely assume she succeeds.
Sandra is a manipulative cow, who rocks the “poor me” angle. You know how there are “nice guys” who believe that they’re entitled to things because other, probably sexier, men have them, and they’re so “nice”? Sandra is exactly the same thing for girls. All the way through she’s like, “I deserve this, Jessica is always popular, I’m owed her popularity.” And if people don’t see it her way, she turns on the waterworks and makes Elizabeth feel guilty.
I take great satisfaction in announcing: SANDRA FERRIS HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN AGAIN.
[Raven: This one irritated me magnificently. Sandra can simply fuck off and die. I loathe makeover stories. I even hated Jessica in this one, solely for the “why is no one complimenting me for having the idea of giving Sandra a makeover?” bullshit. I know she’s self-centred, but that’s just ludicrous. I’d like the hour of my life wasted on this tosh credited back to my lifespan immediately please, with an extra ten minutes of compensatory time to make up for my pain and distress.]
[Wing: I hate everything about this book, including Dove’s hate on for Sandra for being exactly the same as Jessica in this book. And considering that Jessica’s new acting bug was apparently inspired by Gone by the Fucking Wind, I am confident I will hate a lot of the next book, too. Since I’m recapping that, I’m sure we’ll all have a rollicking good time.]
I am Dove (she/her). I am: Team Jessica (Sweet Valley); Team Bad Guy (Point Horror); Team Geiger (Making Out); Team Nina/Lucas (Making Out); and I am the voice of a claymation cow named Daisy, and I was in an advert for Fairy Liquid in the 80s.