Title: The Twins Get Caught
Summary: Against their better judgment…
Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield can’t wait until Saturday night. Their friend Aaron Dallas is throwing “the party of the year” at a new teen club called the Hangout. Everyone from their class will be there—including Jessica’s latest crush, dreamy Todd Wilkins. But when Steven, the twins’ older brother, gets into trouble at the Hangout, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield decide that the club is off-limits. That’s the last straw for Jessica. First, her parents wouldn’t let her get her ears pierced, and now they’re going to make her miss a great [Wing: Looking?] party! Even Elizabeth thinks they’re being unfair. Then Jessica comes up with the perfect plan to get them to the Hangout. But can she convince Elizabeth to go along with it? [Wing: Of course she can. There’s very little that she can’t talk Elizabeth into doing, including giving Jessica the shoes off her damn feet.]
Tagline: Jessica’s scheming gets both the twins in trouble! [Raven: That’s literally the tagline for whole series.]
When doesn’t Jessica’s scheming get them into trouble? It also sometimes gets them out of trouble. I’m more concerned about what’s going on with those expressions. Also: that great looking purple sweater.
[Dove: I never really remember this book because the plot seems like it could only cover a day or so – much like Jessica and the Money Mix Up.]
We kick off with Jessica pinning a life-size Johnny Buck poster to the wall across from Elizabeth’s bed. Elizabeth is annoyed by this because the poster is now covering Elizabeth’s favourite picture of Man-of-War. [Wing: It’s Man O’ War, but sure.]
Now, it is possible, of course, for Elizabeth to love all types of horse riding and horses and things, but she’s always come across much more on the English riding side of things (dressage, fancy riding wear, posting during a trot, etc.), and I find it strange that she allegedly has a favourite race horse. Horse racing is not really something I would expect her to be much aware of at her age and her socioeconomic space and her other interests. It seems like a weird choice to make.
[Dove: Seconded. I was totally a pony girl from birth to about the age of fourteen, and I never once had a favourite race horse. In the UK, everyone could name one – Red Rum – but nobody I knew had a favourite race horse or eventer – horse or rider. We liked horses in general. And we mostly just had posters from Horse & Pony on our walls. Not of a famous horse, but just any pretty horse/pony in general, not to mention photos of our own and friends’ horses. Why hasn’t she got a picture of Thunder on her wall?] [Raven: Or at least a cover from Horse Cock Monthly.]
Can you tell that I’m already not feeling this book? Jessica gets them into trouble, Elizabeth saves the day, the twins look alike but are very different on the inside I DON’T CARE I DON’T CARE I DON’T CARE. It’s not really fair for me to take on this book when I’m already so deeply set against it for reasons that have very little to do with it (I’m struggling with bipolar right now, and though it is always a part of my life, it is currently a very difficult, painful part, and right now, I feel like I hate even things that I love, much less this), but it’s time for me to recap this book and so here we are.
Okay, so Jessica is basically redecorating Elizabeth’s room because she’s spending 10 nights in there while their grandparents are visiting. (Grandma and Grandpa Robertson, Alice’s parents.) The last time they came to visit, a few years ago, they took the Wakefield kids to all sorts of places, including the circus and the aquarium (look, if you didn’t make the drive up to Monterey Bay, it wasn’t enough anyway [Dove: I WANT TO GO THERE AGAIN!]), but now Elizabeth is worried that because they’re older, they won’t be able to do as many things.
It’s — it’s only been a few years. How old do you think they’ve become, exactly? And yes, people’s health can change drastically in a short amount of time, this reads less like a nuanced look at that and more like Elizabeth is merely assuming OLD PEOPLE OH MY GOD. We’ll see how this goes.
Jessica’s excited to see their grandparents, but also worried about missing the “vitally important” things the Unicorns have planned that week. You sure do skip meetings for band practices and new workouts, but suddenly it is too much to ask to spend time with your family? Oh, who am I kidding, of course it is.
OH MY GOD AND THEN THIS HAPPENS.
“Do you think,” Elizabeth asked, “we’ll need to do anything special for Grandma and Grandpa?”
“I hope not,” Jessica said. “I’m going to be so busy, I just don’t think I’ll have the time to—”
“Jessica Wakefield,” Elizabeth interrupted, “which is more important to you, Grandma and Grandpa Robertson, or the Unicorns?”
“Well, I certainly hope I’m not going to have to choose,” Jessica replied. “Grandma and Grandpa will understand that I have other important commitments. I can’t hang around and wait on them hand and foot.”
I CERTAINLY HOPE I’M NOT GOING TO HAVE TO CHOOSE.
I. AM. DYING.
You’d better hope she doesn’t have to choose, Elizabeth, or Grandma and Grandpa will end up buried in Nora’s backyard with all the other bodies. #bestjess
The vitally important Unicorn things: shopping with Lila and Ellen on Saturday, party planning at Janet’s on Sunday, and on Tuesday — WE WILL NEVER KNOW BECAUSE ELIZABETH MUST INTERRUPT.
OH OH OH. So this is why Elizabeth is having these family concerns (including telling Jessica that they may never be able to visit from Florida again after this point); she and Jessica watched a movie awhile back about two old people who lived alone and had a hard time taking care of themselves. Jessica argues that the people in the movie were ancient, at least sixty-five. That is a perfect Jessica response, and also makes me roll my eyes real hard. [Dove: Sobering thought, when we finish recapping The Sweet Life, Wing and I will be 49 and Raven will be 56.] [Raven: And when Dove finishes listing the books she’s looking forward to this year, we’ll all be in our eighties.] [Wing: And we’ll only stop being bags of dicks to each other when we’re dead. Maybe.]
Of course, Grandparents Robertson are in their sixties.
The twins go on to talk about how old people sometimes have to each special food and have trouble walking and can’t see so good. It sounds like you’re getting ready to take your grandparents off to the farm with old Spot, Wakefields.
Ugh, I can’t with this endless discussion anymore. Moving on.
Jessica is feeling better the next day because she’s going to decorate Elizabeth’s room so she won’t be bored staring at plain old walls for ten days. Jessica tells this new plan to Mary Wallace, one of the few Unicorns who is friends with both Jessica and Elizabeth, and so of course Mary leaps to Elizabeth’s defense. Jessica blythely goes on with her plans, though, because of course Elizabeth will like whatever Jessica does. This is why you can’t keep tearing out your spine for your sister, Elizabeth. All you do is encourage this shit.
Lila comes waltzing into the story wearing dangling earrings in the shape of unicorns, the “most outrageous earrings” they’ve ever seen, per Ellen. (They do sound pretty great.) Lila deviously teases Jessica about when she’ll be able to get her ears pierced, too, and Ellen reminds Lila that the Wakefields said no earrings for Jessica and Elizabeth for two more years. Lila is, of course, tormenting her best friend. Ellen is, of course, playing things absolutely straight. I love how Lila twists everyone to her will. [Dove: And I love how Ellen is oblivious to 90% of what goes on. In everything.]
Ellen says that now she’s going to get her ears pierced, too, so she can get unicorn earrings, too, and in fact the whole club will want earrings like Lila. Lila sweetly rubs this in Jessica’s face, and Jessica’s blood boils over the thought that soon all the Unicorns but her will have unicorn earrings.
Thank god Caroline Pearce, gossip extraordinaire, comes rushing up to share some news with them so that Jessica doesn’t have to respond to Lila’s digs. Aaron Dallas is having a party! It will be a huge party a week from Saturday, and so big that he won’t be able to have it at his house. Caroline doesn’t yet know where he’s having it or whom he will invite, but she’s working on those details. By which she means, working on getting the gossip of those details. Oh, Caroline.
Ellen ruins this for Jessica, though, when she says that she’ll get her ears pierced the next day so that she’ll be sure to have them all done for the party.
Is this going to be a second book all about ear piercing? I don’t think I can take it.
Steven doesn’t have to go to the airport to pick up the grandparents because he’s off to a big party at the Hangout. Which is the new teen club in Sweet Valley. THE. HANGOUT. THE NEW TEEN HANGOUT IS CALLED THE HANGOUT.
And here I didn’t think the naming conventions in this series could get any worse. I suppose at least it’s not the Sweet Valley Hangout.
But oh! Not even Steven gets off without changing his plans a little. It’d be nice if he’d try to be home by ten, even though his curfew isn’t until eleven. IF HE’D TRY. Not, be home by ten. Not, come to the airport because it’s important to spend time with your grandparents. Not, we’ll treat our kids equally here.
Jessica then tries to get out of helping Alice with the dishes, but Elizabeth runs off to finish cleaning their shared bathroom, because their grandparents will be using it, too. All those times Jessica got out of chores and all you can do is replace one chore with another, Elizabeth? NO.
God, I am not going to make it through this recap.
Jessica, being Jessica, realises that it is the perfect time to ask Alice about getting her ears pierced, because Alice is in a great mood. Jessica works hard to help clean up, because a manipulative mess, and then tries to trick Alice into giving her permission to buy some unicorn earrings, but Alice is having none of it. Sure, Jessica can buy the earrings if she can afford them, so long as she buys them as clip-ons or waits to wear them until she’s old enough to get her ears pierced. Awww, Alice, I like it when you see right through your kids.
The first thing we see of Grandma is her complaining that her ankles are swelling, which pretty much just cements Elizabeth’s fears that her grandparents are thisclose to dying. Elizabeth immediately offers to get her warm water so she can soak her feet, but all Grandma wanted was to get out of her shoes and into her slippers. (Grandpa is sore from the airplane seat, but she doesn’t offer to draw him a hot bath.). [Raven: Fists with your toes, Grandma. Fists with your toes.]
Though Alice talks about how good they look, Elizabeth thinks they look way, way much older and is freaking out. CALM YOURSELF, WAKEFIELD.
The grandparents redeem themselves, at least in Jessica’s eyes, by bringing them gifts: a silver heart-shaped locket for Jessica and the latest Amanda Howard mystery novel for Elizabeth. Are the Amanda Howard mystery novels published as often as the SVT books? Wait, what am I asking. Of course they are. They’re basically Nancy Drew books, right? [Dove: They do seem to come out often, but in a later book it’s mentioned that they’re released first in hardback, which doesn’t sound likely for a tween/teen serial.]
As soon as the girls are alone in the kitchen getting ice cream for everyone, though, they immediately return to talk about how old and run down their grandparents are and how they’ll surely not be up for anything fun.
AND THEN GRANDMA IS ASLEEP IN HER CHAIR WHEN THEY GET BACK OUT OH MY GOD.
I think part of what is annoying me is that I’ve been through this with my mom and am going through it with my dad, where their bodies actually did take away the things they loved to do, and I just can’t deal with this light-hearted take on it. Fuck off, Wakefields.
Even though Grandma wakes up only a few seconds later, and it is after midnight where they live, Elizabeth still thinks that they’re old and decrepit and can’t do anything. I refuse to do this book. I refuse.
Bullet points it is. This must be a new record for how early I’ve resorted to this in a recap.
- Steven comes home with a torn shirt, a scratch on his face, and his left eye turning purple. Cool. Apparently, some guys from Big Mesa started trouble at the Hangout because they were angry over losing the big game the last week, because let’s just pile cliche on top of cliche. Steven didn’t get involved at first, but then the guys started picking on Eric Myer who is apparently a smaller guy not big enough to fight them and so Steven got involved standing up for him.
- Elizabeth makes a surprise breakfast the next day — of oatmeal and soft-boiled eggs. Steven mocks her for that, as he should (though I don’t hate either oatmeal or soft-boiled eggs, she’s doing it because she thinks it is old people food, and deserves to be mocked). He takes off for basketball practice anyway. Jessica then runs off to Lila’s in hope of getting a better breakfast. Grandpa reminisces about having oatmeal on the farm and how they’d get into some sort of trouble if they didn’t eat it, though Grandma won’t let him finish that story. [Dove: Why does everyone hate oatmeal? I like it.] [Raven: Ah, oatmeal. It tastes like museli that’s been dumped by its girlfriend.] [Wing: Weird. And I like oatmeal too, Dove. Though I like it a little lumpy.]
- They surprise Elizabeth later by asking if she wants to go for a run with them. For their last anniversary, they bought bright red matching jogging suits. I’m going to be sick at the adorableness. Grandpa nearly beats Elizabeth on their run, too, but I bet this still won’t stop her from being ridiculous. [Raven: If Grandpa didn’t let her win, he’s not Grandpa-ing correctly. Also, if you think Grandpas can’t be badass, Heihachi Mishima wants a quiet word.] [Wing: Psh, if you just let someone win, how will they ever improve?]
- Over at Lila’s house, she commiserates with Jessica over her grandparents visiting, because when her grandmother visited once, it was boring and terrible. I can’t shake Raven’s interpretation that Lila lashes out because she’s lonely, and what she really wants is affection and company from her dad, so to have her grandmother there (probably her dad’s mother, and probably just as distant and money = love as her dad) was a terrible tease, and then, of course, she has to listen to Jessica complain about all the ways her family cares about her and puts boundaries on her to show their love and spends time with her, etc.
- Lila, Ellen, and Jessica go to the mall so Ellen can get her ears pierced, but Jessica heads off to another store because she doesn’t want to have to sit there and watch Ellen get her ears pierced. Lila snarks about how much Elizabeth’s room needs redecorating and how Elizabeth will love Jessica’s style, and I think I understand why Dove loves this run of books so much. Lila snarking on Elizabeth? Bound to be a joy for Dove forever. (Jessica’s plan: to make a wall collage from interesting pictures and funny captions cut from magazines and purple ribbon.) And then, because for the first time in her life she’s early for something, while she’s waiting to meet Lila and Ellen, she ends up talking to —
- WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WAIT.
- THERE SEEMS TO BE A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE.
- I SEE THE WORDS TODD. WILKINS.
- WE HAVE ARRIVED AT TODD WILKINS.
- Even I know this means something. [Dove: Also, see The Christmas Ghost to meet his older self before meeting his current self. Because these books are bloody confusing.] [Wing: That, at least, was supposed to be high school time. I had no idea he was actually in middle school with them!]
- TODD. WILKINS. comes up to say hello and ask if she’s shopping with Elizabeth. Jessica thinks he’s adorable, but he doesn’t seem very interested in girls. Or is it that he’s just not interested in you, Jessica? Because the second he learns she’s there with Lila and Ellen instead, he takes off. Not before Lila notices him, though. Ellen wants Jessica to admire her newly pierced ears, but even Lila tells her to be quiet about them for a second because she wants to talk about Todd instead. Jessica, of course, twists this all up to show off, because she’s a delightful manipulator.
- Oh, god, back to more GRANDMA AND GRANDPA ARE OLD OH NO THEY’RE NOT OH YES THEY ARE. Jessica stays home from the next run, which is a family run, so she can decorate Elizabeth’s bedroom, but first wants to know how well Elizabeth knows Todd, because of course she does. Elizabeth eventually agrees that he’s cute and says that she knows him well enough. She’s not as fun to gossip about boys with as Lila, though, and Jessica gets bored enough to stop the conversation there.
- Instead, she spends two hours on the collage, which has that picture of the Unicorns with Donny Diamond that was taken at a school dance a few weeks before. CONTINUITY. Before she shows it off to Elizabeth (… she knows she’s done wrong here, and she doesn’t want Elizabeth to see it until Jessica can get out of the house for awhile), she gets into a conversation with Grandpa about music, and they bond over Darcy Campman, a folksinger who OH SO CONVENIENTLY is giving a benefit concert in Sweet Valley soon. This keeps Jessica around long enough for Elizabeth to see what she’s done to Elizabeth’s room, and Elizabeth is NOT PLEASED. Understandably. She calls it junk, which offends Jessica, because of course it does (maybe don’t do your art in someone else’s room if you don’t want criticism). Of course, Elizabeth will never actually come out and admit she’s mad, even though Jessica left scraps of paper everywhere and there will be holes in the wall when Elizabeth takes it down later. Good lord, Elizabeth, BE ANGRY. YOU CAN BE ANGRY.
- Monday, all the gossip is about Aaron Dallas’s upcoming party (so much so that no one cares about Ellen’s pierced ears, and she’s hurt because everyone is ignoring her. I bet if you’d kept up that adoration of Amy, she would have noticed and complimented you [Dove: True story. Damn Team Grapplegate for sinking our toy ship.]), which is, of course, going to be held at the Hangout, AND he’s inviting the whole sixth grade and a ton of the seventh grade, so Bruce Patman will be there. AND OH MY GOD, THE DAVE CARLQUIST WILL PLAY RECORDS SWOOOOOOOON.
- Todd asks Jessica if she and Elizabeth will be at the party, and Jessica assures him that she wouldn’t miss it for anything. He’s glad they’ll both be there, and literally everyone can see this setup coming from a mile away. As soon as he walks away, Lila and Ellen come to get some gossip. Lila and Ellen sure are hanging out a lot, lately. Did you leave Amy for Lila, Ellen? Is that what’s going on here? Lila and Ellen both think that Todd was basically asking Jessica for a date, and this is so awkward and cringeworthy and realistic. I love it, even as I’m bracing myself for the fallout.
- Oh, god, meanwhile, Amy and Elizabeth are also gossiping about boys (even though only the Unicorns are the boy crazy gossips who are shallow as fuck, right Elizabeth?), because Amy is certain that Dave Carlquist will remember Elizabeth since Elizabeth came up with the winning name for his radio show. Elizabeth is looking forward to seeing him again. Oh, god, so many little crushes in this book. This part of it, away from that whole OLD PEOPLE GONNA DIE thing, is kind of fun and adorable (and cheesy as hell).
- Jessica finally figures out that maybe they shouldn’t talk about the party being at the Hangout because after Steven’s problem there, they won’t be too happy. Elizabeth actually waves off these worries, though, because that fight was all about Big Mesa and not Steven or the twins or the Hangout itself. Sure, sure, I bet that’s exactly how your parents will see it. (Jessica agrees with me.) [Dove: Elizabeth is a moron.]
- They manage to mention where it’s being held until that night at dinner, but they do finally have to come clean that it will be at the Hangout. (GOD THAT NAME.) And, of course, the Wakefield adults refuse to let them go to the Hangout after what happened to Steven.
- Jessica whines to Elizabeth about how their parents don’t trust them and treat them like babies, Elizabeth says it’s not about their parents not trusting them, it’s about their parents not trusting anyone else at the Hangout, which is probably true but also seems like splitting hairs at this point. Jessica stomps and paces and glares, and decides that Alice and Ned aren’t her bosses, she’s twelve and they can’t tell her what to do (oh, and you either, Elizabeth, this also applies to you, she adds as an afterthought). Except that they 100% are your bosses and can tell you what to do, but you be that little rebel you are, kid. Jessica then tries to pin the blame on Steven for fighting, but Elizabeth defends him, too, because he didn’t start it, he was just trying to help someone, and no one possibly could have guessed that the guys from Big Mesa would cause trouble, because violence over sportsball has never happened in the history of ever. [Raven: Where is Big Mesa? In fact, WHAT is Big Mesa? I get it’s a school, but is it also a town too?] [Wing: That’s a good point. Though, it could just be another school, and it would still make sense to say the guys are from Big Mesa. Those interschool rivalries can trump actual location, so it doesn’t matter where the guys live, it matters that they go to school in Big Mesa, hence they are from Big Mesa.]
- Steven joins them, and admits he’s worried that Alice and Ned won’t ever let him go to the Hangout again either. Which, if they’re that worried about the potential for violence, they shouldn’t let him go there either. He’s not that much older than the twins and he’s already gotten into a damn fight there. (I actually think they should let all three kids go, but if they’re going to be protective, it should apply across the board.) Elizabeth says that Alice and Ned rarely tell them no, but Jessica whines that they say no all the time. (There’s a little bit of an aside about how Steven thinks it is stupid for anyone to get their ears pierced, which is a fine opinion for him to have, but not cool for him to be telling other people they’re idiots for wanting to get it done. Especially when he gets really angry that Jessica says boys are dense and never understand anything, so of course she must be calling him stupid. HYPOCRITES.)
- Later that week, Jessica learns that Grandma got her ears pierced around Jessica’s age, and she was the first of all her friends to get it done. She liked to be ahead of the crowd and back then, where she lived, getting her ears pierced was a daring thing to do. Based on the last book about pierced ears and this book, it’s still a pretty damn daring thing to do. Jessica, of course, spins this conversation into getting Grandma to tell her that she doesn’t see why someone shouldn’t get their ears pierced if they are twelve. This is going to be good.
- Jessica admits to Ellen and Lila that she can’t go to Aaron’s party, and Lila immediately blames her grandparents’ influence, but Jessica defends them from that and points out that there was a fight at the Hangout and now Alice and Ned don’t think the Hangout is safe. Lila doubles down and says that Alice and Ned are treating her like a baby and that she’s practically a teenager, she doesn’t have to take any of this. Oh, Lila. What little you know about good families and good parenting. OH DAMN. And Jessica actually has a similar thought, though of course hers comes more from envy that Lila’s dad is never home and Lila can twist him around her finger when he is, and therefore she doesn’t know anything about living with real parents, the kind who don’t spoil you rotten. You mean the kind who actually care about your safety and making sure you grow up well (at least theoretically, it’s obvious that doesn’t always show in their actions in this series). Ellen teams up with Lila on this, though, and says that the Wakefields should be treating Jessica like a grown-up and not a child; since they won’t, she shouldn’t just sit around and take it. This is going to be good, too.
- Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Amy are having a similar conversation, because this ghostwriter (ahem) is doing a great job of showing how Elizabeth and Jessica and their friends actually reflect each other, no matter how dissimilar they claim to be. Amy tries to make Elizabeth feel better about it, though, because these people are different, even while they are the same, too. It’s a good balance. Amy says that the party’s been talked up so much that there’s no way it can live up to the hype, so everyone will end up disappointed.
- Later, Todd comes up to Jessica to confirm that she and Elizabeth won’t be going to the party. He heard it from Caroline Pearce (god, I love when her gossip thing is used to actually benefit the story rather than just an informed trait) [Raven: The writer totally missed a trick in this book by not describing anyone listening to Caroline’s gossip as “having their ears Pearced.”]. [Wing: NOPE.] Jessica says that Caroline can’t always tell them apart, and it’s just Elizabeth who can’t go, because she didn’t do something she was supposed to do … You know, I’m landing on Jessica’s side on this. He keeps talking to her instead of to Elizabeth, no wonder she thinks that he likes her. You’re doing this to yourself, Todd.
- Elizabeth tries to talk Alice into letting them go to the party and about how the Hangout is really safe. This does not go well at all, even though Alice is sympathetic, because she had to tell her mother not to treat her like a child when she was twelve, too. (Really? Cool Grandma? I’m shocked. SHOCKED.) [Dove: Cool Grandma has a lot to answer for, Alice is a gin-soaked lazy-bones who only parents when she’s not too tired. Although I will concede that she’s doing better in the hands of Team Grapplegate.]
- On Wednesday, Jessica feels like Lila and Ellen are going out of their way to torment her with party talk. Probably they are, though their own excitement is there too. Also, I ship them more and more. Jessica’s also been grumpy over how much time Elizabeth is spending with their grandparents. Jessica doesn’t understand how she can be excited to listen to more stories about farms and cows. Except, Elizabeth points out, the last story Grandma told them was about sneaking out of her dorm after curfew to go for a walk with Grandpa, and Alice and Ned found it hilarious. Jessica finds this boring, too, because it was for a walk, and is grumpy that they want to spend time with her because she has nothing in common with them. Really? Despite that whole earring conversation? Despite this SNEAKING OUT FORESHADOWING? Nothing in common? God, you self-centered dick.
- On Thursday, Jessica decides to skip their family trip to the aquarium because she doesn’t dare let the Unicorns see her with her grandparents, not even to go out for pizza after. AND SHE REFUSES TO TELL THEM HERSELF. She wants Elizabeth to tell them that she’s at Janet’s for a vitally important meeting and she’s terribly sorry. AND. OF COURSE. ELIZABETH IS TIRED OF MAKING EXCUSES FOR HER BUT DECIDES IT WON’T DO ANY GOOD TO ARGUE ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW ELIZABETH.
- OH DAMN AND THEN JANET CALLS THE HOUSE TO TALK TO JESSICA. The grandparents are hurt, but then they decide to have fun anyway. Except the aquarium is closed for repairs. Elizabeth is miserable over this, even though they then go to a local history museum. She’s disappointed over this and the party and all the fun things she’s missing out on doing. I’m feeling pretty sympathetic at this point. [Raven: Agreed. Missing out on fishes is pretty devastating.]
- On Friday, Lila comes up with a theory about why Alice is being so strict: she’s trying to prove to her mother that she’s a good mother. Jessica likes this theory, but it also makes her angrier than ever that they are visiting. Jessica has had enough. She’s going to get her ears pierced, because what can they do to her? They’ve already taken away Aaron’s party. No punishment will be worse than that. [Dove: I side with Jess on this. Then again, I have mother issues. But I was amazed she didn’t do this two books ago, before anyone even thought ear piercing was cool.] [Raven: My thougts on ear piercing
- That night, Elizabeth takes another run at Alice about the party. She chooses to do this while Alice is doing some work at home. This goes even worse than before, until Grandma comes in. She tries to comfort Elizabeth, and even goes to bat for her, telling Alice that she and Ned are being too strict. I’M SURE THIS IS GOING TO GO WELL. Sure enough, Alice flat out tells Grandma not to treat her like a child any more, and Elizabeth is surprised by how much she sounds like Jessica.
- After this fun time, Jessica comes home with pierced ears and a bad attitude. Your timing is excellent, darling. Jessica pops off with the same confidence from before — right up until they ground her for two months. Up until Grandma admits to their conversation and how she practically gave her permission to do so. And then of course Jessica is not grounded at all EVEN THOUGH SHE FUCKING KNEW BETTER. Jesus fucking christ, what the fuck is wrong with you people.
- Jessica apologises to Alice the next morning, and when Alice says she’s worried about being able to trust Jessica after she deliberately disobeyed them (UMMM, NOT THE FIRST TIME), Jessica promises she can be trusted and that she never would have done it but for that conversation with Grandma. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THIS CHILD?! Jessica then shouts at Alice without getting in trouble, and then picks a fight with Lila over the phone. They snap at each other, and then Lila says that she would sneak out if someone tried to forbid her from doing what she wants.
- She tells Elizabeth her plan: Alice and Ned are going to dinner with some of Ned’s clients; the grandparents will go to bed early; and then the girls can just walk out the front door. Jessica has just about talked Elizabeth into it when they realise the grandparents have been listening to every word.
- They have a talk about how sneaking out is a big deal and potentially dangerous. Jessica first starts to blame Lila for the idea, but then stands up and says she wants to take full responsibility and face all the consequences. Elizabeth is impressed by the act that she’s putting on for their grandparents. At first, Elizabeth thinks they’re buying it, but then they all go down to talk to Alice and Ned right away. The grandparents flat out tell Alice and Ned they are being too strict, and they should let the girls go to the party.
- And, of course, they decide to let the girls go to the party. Because of fucking course they do. All of this build up for no fucking point. I’m really done with this now.
- Party, girls are beautiful, the grandparents have been listening to Dave Carlquist’s radio show and love it, Elizabeth talks to Dave at the party which distracts the Unicorns from Jessica’s story about how she saved the day by threatening to sneak out, Jessica gets grumpy until Elizabeth dedicates a Johnny Buck song (“Taking the Cake”) to Jessica, who really does take the cake, and then Todd asks Jessica to dance.
- Wait, what.
- They dance, the Unicorns gossip about it, Caroline wants to quote Mary who says that she thinks Todd has a crush on Jessica, Jessica won’t admit to how she feels about him, but all the while she’s delighted that she has the chance to be the first of her friends to have a boyfriend (… wait, are Amy and Ken officially dating? Did Amy beat the Unicorns at something they consider so major? [Dove: Amy’s a tomboy with stringy hair and Ken is short. They don’t count. Also this series steers clear from the term “dating”, they use the phrase “sort-of boy/girlfriend”.] [Wing: To be fair, that was pretty much what we called it at that age, too, and even well into high school. There wasn’t really “dating” so much as “going out with” and being “boyfriend/girlfriend” or “boyfriend/boyfriend” or “girlfriend/girlfriend” or whatever. (Not that there were a ton of out queer kids in small town Missouri in the 90s.) I’m the one who has called it dating in this recap.]), and I am very confused over this whole Todd thing based on my previous cultural osmosis, Caroline goes around getting reactions for her next gossip column, which will be about the new couple, Jessica and Todd, Elizabeth asks Jessica if she likes Todd, but she won’t give Jessica an answer any more than she would Caroline, the grandparents leave to visit Alice’s sister’s family in San Diego, there’s a little foreshadowing about a trip to see cousin Robin, the grandparents tease Jessica and Elizabeth with some tickets and take the kids to the Darcy Campman benefit concert, and everything is great fun.
- The grandparents are flying to San Diego, which is a super short flight from the L.A. area and an easy enough drive, so I am confused as to why they’re flying, but okay, sure. Whatever.
- Oh, yes, look at that, apparently we will learn if the twins go to San Diego to see cousin Robin in the very next book. Yay. So excite.
UGH NO. There was a brief, shining moment where I was enjoying this book a little and then it nosedived straight back into terrible. I’m done.
[Dove: I’m sorry you didn’t like it. It gets better, I promise. If you do not enjoy the next book you have to recap, I personally promise at least 5,000 words of Sweet Valley Twins werewolf fic (somehow????) and any other specifications you need to wash the bad taste away.
This wasn’t a great book, but it’s not the worst – I still hold the East German gymnasts book as the worst. There was a lot of blah for very little plot. At least Jessica got her ears pierced. So that’s done.]
[Raven: I quite liked this book. I thought the grandparents were sweet, and that Alice was a believable jeb-end, and even the stuff that bugged Wing wasn’t too horrific to me (it felt like an immature assumption and over-reaction by a twelve-year-old, which I guess it actually was). I also think we should rename some part of our site “The Hangout”, for the sole purpose of annoying Wing, but that’s just how I roll.
AND SOMEONE PUNCHED STEVEN IN THE FUCKING FACE. Bonus points for that, surely?]
[Wing: WELL WHY WOULD I ADMIT TO ENJOYING IT NOW?! I didn’t hate this the way I’ve hated some, I was just bored. Except for the old grandparents gotta be fragile and dying thing, obviously. Do we go through the ear piercing thing again with Elizabeth?]