Title: Amy Moves In
Tagline: Has Elizabeth’s best friend become her worst enemy?
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield is shocked and upset when she hears that her best friend, Amy Sutton’s, house has burned down But she’s happy to learn that Amy will be staying with the Wakefields while Amy’s parents look for a new home It will be just like having another sister around!
But living with Amy isn’t as much fun as Elizabeth thought Amy treats Elizabeth like her personal maid And every time Amy talks about the fire, she stretches the truth a bit more Even worse, Amy is spending all her time with Elizabeth’s twin sister, Jessica, and the snobby Unicorn Club. Elizabeth is puzzled and hurt When Amy tells her new friends one of Elizabeth’s biggest secrets, it’s the last straw Now the whole school is laughing at Elizabeth’ Can she ever trust Amy again?
This book is in a tricky spot.
The previous book in the series, The Carnival Ghost, was a legitimate all-star, a true Hall of Famer. These words have some clown shoes to fill. How can you follow Hendrix?
Truth is, you can’t.
This book is boring.
[Dove: Agreed. Also, I loathe Amy, so there’s little hope for me enjoying this book.]
We kick off at Chez Sutton, where Elizabeth and her when-no-one-new-is-around Best Friend Amy Sutton are beavering away. Nope, that’s not an innuendo.
They are working on a science project, which does sound pretty cool. It’s all about endangered species. Elephants, Rhinos, the lot. I’d love to cut to Jessica and Lila about now, putting their glittery finishing touches to their “Unicorns – Mythical or Endangered?” report.
It’s cold in the house. Amy lights a fire.
A coal fire? In a Californian suburban house, in the Eighties?
Would that actually be a thing?
Like, we had open fires in our house when I was a child, in the early Eighties. But I live in Britain, where it’s fucking cold. And we didn’t have much money.
I’m not saying it wouldn’t happen, of course… I just think it’s odd.
[Wing: Was it coal? I took it as a wood fire, which was possible; fireplaces were kind of a prestige thing. (And still are, though they’d more likely be gas now.]
The girls finish the report, and Amy witters on about how great it must be to have a sister. Poor only-child Amy [Dove: Oh, Amy, just you wait…]. Elizabeth has a sister of course. A TWIN sister! They are similar, but they are also different.
The next few paragraphs detail the differences between the Wakefield Twins. This time, however, it’s a little more spontaneous than usual. The ghosties partially frame it in the conversation between Amy and Liz, and we finally have what I believe to be the first (and probably only) utterance of the words “The Snob Squad.”
Amy suggests Elizabeth stay the night, probably for a little more beavering. Sadly, Alice no-ma’ams that straight away, as Elizabeth was needed at home to spoon-feed Alice her gin.
Amy tells Elizabeth to leave the Endangered Species report with her. It is due to be submitted the following day. Liz agrees.
Back at the Wakefield Compound, Jessica is cross. Her friends are out of town, or ill, and Jess is feeling abandoned by her twin. When Liz gets home, Jessica flat-out calls her out.
“It’s Amy, Amy, Amy all the time. You don’t ever want to talk to me,” [Jessica said.]
“But Amy and I are best friends,” Elizabeth protested.
Forty-three regular books and a handful of specials in which Jessica does her level best to distance herself from her boring and sometime clingy twin, but we his book forty-four and Jessica wants her sister for a play-pal? [Dove: I love it that it only occurs to Jess to hang out with Liz when literally every other person she likes is unavailable.]
Elizabeth, the sainted spineless starfish that she is, blames herself immediately. She promises that once she and Amy have handed in their project and aced the accompanying oral report (not a problem after all that beavering, I’m sure), it’d be all twinny bullshit, all the time.
Jessica is placated. She won’t use her special purple stabbing dagger (the Uni-horn) tonight. Elizabeth will see another sunrise.
Next day, in school Elizabeth looks for Amy and the project. Amy doesn’t show. She distractedly seeks out her best friend, while well-meaning (and other) students try to talk to her, obviously about the reason why Amy isn’t around. Elizabeth, as the narrative dictates, has no time for their incessant mewling in the search for her missing pal.
Finally, Caroline Pearce – of course it’s Caroline Pearce – pins down the saintly twin and imports the truth of the situation:
Caroline stared at her, open-mouthed. “You mean, you haven’t heard what happened to Amy Sutton? Elizabeth, where have you been all morning?”
Elizabeth felt her mouth go dry. “Something’s happened to Amy?” she cried anxiously. “What? What happened?”
Caroline paused dramatically before answering. “Amy’s house burned down last night.”
According to Sweet Valley Middle School’s Resident Gossipmonger, Amy’s house had been devoured by a fireball that required a battalion of firemen, and the entire Sutton clan could only be identified by their dental records. Exaggerated bullshit, naturally, but the gist of the tale is true. And the kicker, ironically?
Amy broke her leg.
At this point, the facts of the matter are blurred. Caroline claims that Amy broke her led after leaping from a third-floor window of a two-story house, into an invisible net brandished by firemen, only to be taken away in a roaring ambulance to the hospital in which she perished. By that’s just Caroline.
Despite knowing that she shouldn’t trust Caroline’s account, Elizabeth doesn’t know what to believe. Her classes pass in a blur of rumour and exaggeration. Ms Caxton, the science teacher, gives Elizabeth an extension on her missing-presumed-char-grilled project, with Amy likely receiving the same in absentia (unless she actually is dead, in which case the course will be marked DNF.) [Dove: Why doesn’t she just call home? You know nothing happens in this town without the Wakefield say-so. Alice and Ned probably know all about the fire. Hell, Alice and Ned probably started the fire.]
After school, Elizabeth’s curiosity gets the better of her. She press-gangs Sophia Rizzo into accompanying her to the scene of the fire. Sophia agrees solemnly, partly because she’s probably never seen fucking fire before, and partly because she might find something valuable to steal in the ashes. Maybe Papa Sutton had a few gold teeth or something.
The girls check it out. Sure enough, the plot of land upon which Chez Sutton once so proudly stood was now blackened and barren, littered with blasted rubble and little else. But still, Elizabeth has no clue on the fate of her best friend.
“You haven’t heard what happened to Amy?” Tim Davis asked as he approached them, carrying a basketball.
“We’ve heard a lot of things,” Sophia said.
“What we need is the truth,” Elizabeth added.
“Well, the truth is that Amy broke both legs and both arms,”
If that’s the case, Amy’s a shoo-in for the lead role in next term’s Sweet Valley Middle School production of Boxing Helena.
Liz dashes home, to find Alice in her bedroom. Thankfully, Ned isn’t there too, making jiggy with his wife on Elizabeth’s pristine bed. Instead, the Light Side of the Wakefield Force finds her bed occupied with the girl of the hour: Amy!
Amy is sad. She has lost her house, her clothes, her stuffed animals, even her baton. And she’s broken one arm, and no legs.
Over an explanatory conversation, Amy spills the beans and reveals the truth of the situation…
“There’s not much to tell,” Amy said with a shrug. “The fire started in the family room. The smoke alarm went off and woke everybody up. By the time I got my sneakers on, I could smell smoke. When I got downstairs, Dad was phoning the fire department.” She shook her head. “The fire must have spread awfully fast after that. By the time the fire trucks got to the house, it was just too late to do anything. I’m afraid our science project is all burned up, Elizabeth. Our wonderful chart, our typed report, everything.”
When questioned as to how the fire started, Amy is uncomfortable. No one knows the casue, she claims. THIS IS PROBABLY IMPORTANT. [Dove: Holy shit how well-timed was that fire. Plenty of time to get dressed, call the emergency services, but the minute the Suttons vacate FUCKING FIREBALL OF DEATH, BITCHES!]
Amy does reveal one glorious nugget: she didn’t break her arm by leaping from her non-existent third-story window. She broke her arm by tripping over her untied laces in her frenzied dash from the burning building. For someone so deft at baton twirling, Amy can be a proper klutz at times.
The Sutton Family plan to stay with relatives, but Amy herself has different plans… she’s staying with Elizabeth at the Wakefield Compound for the foreseeable, rooming with her best friend!
“That’s great!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “You can have the bed, and I’ll sleep on a cot. And you can wear my clothes and I’ll help you to do things. It won’t be easy for you the first few days, getting used to that cast.”
Amy looked at her gratefully. “Elizabeth, has anyone ever told you that you are absolutely the most terrific friend in the whole world?”
Elizabeth smiled beatifically. “Literally everyone, Amy,” she said, patting her friend’s unbroken arm. “Literally everyone.”]
Yeah, I’m sure Elizabeth will LOVE this. She has her very own captive charity case to smother with her ill-judged good intentions. I’m pretty sure Amy will die of compassion in a matter of days.
Liz then signs Amy’s cast. Weirdly, she doesn’t draw a cock and balls.
We skip to Jessica and the Unicorns, enjoying milkshakes at Casey’s Place. Predictably, all talk is of Amy, and the fire. Lila in particular is intrigued by the whole affair.
Jessica shook her head. “I still don’t understand why you’re suddenly so interested in Amy,” she said. Lila had never liked Amy.
Lila shrugged. “I’m interested in anything that goes on in Sweet Valley. Unfortunately, nothing very exciting has happened in the last few weeks—except for the Suttons’ fire.”
Personally, I think this interest is entirely in the Unicorn wheelhouse. They always just seem, well, interested in whatever is front and centre of the Sweet Valley Universe. When the school ran a Bike-a-thon, they climbed aboard (at first). When a New Girl joins their class, they make their presence known. When a famous pop star holds a concert at Secca Lake at 3pm, they obtain front row seats. I’m sure their interest in Amy isn’t malicious in any way, at first at least. They’re simply following the excitement where it leads, roaring after the strongest winds like purple hurricane hunters.
Ellen looked cross. Jessica knew that Ellen didn’t like to be reminded that Amy was a member of the Boosters. For a little while, she’d been grateful to Amy for rescuing her from a kidnapper in an old run-down house where she, Lila, and Jessica thought Mary was being held captive. But after a time Ellen had forgotten all about being grateful and had gone back to being hostile.
Aw, such a shame. Pop goes Dove’s Amy-Ellen romance balloon. [Dove: Fuck you. Fuck this book. Fuck anyone who had a hand in sinking my toy ship.]
The Wallaces collect the Unicorns from Caseys, and drive them past the remnants of the Sutton homestead. Black, charred brickwork, ashes everywhere. Eyes wide, cars rolling past at turtle speeds. All very sensationalist, like rubberneckers crawling past a traffic accident.
The Unicorns empathise with Amy’s plight. How horrible, they posit, to lose all your clothes!
At home, Jessica hears TV sounds in the den, and interrupts Steven’s daily fondle to watch Amy’s Story broadcast on the news. There’s some nice continuity too:
“The fire that started around five o’clock this morning, completely destroyed the home of our very own reporter, Dyan Sutton,” the announcer said. “Three trucks rushed to the blaze, but the firemen were unable to put it out.”
Amy’s mother is a reporter! I’d forgotten all about that! Nice work, Jamie Suzanne.
However: Dyan? DYAN? Well, that name can get proper fucked.
While the news report rolls, Steven attempts to clue Jessica in on the developments in the Wakefield Compound regarding the Amy situation, but of course Jessica doesn’t have time to entertain the prattling of her fourteen-year-old brother. She eventually learns the truth when she drops by Elizabeth’s room to see her sister.
Immediately, Jessica begins probing her booster teammate for the true skinny behind the blaze. But, however good Amy’s intentions may be, she just can’t convince the Evil Wakefield of the truth of the matter. Whenever she tries to supply a rational explanation for the details of the blaze, Jessica cuts her off with a pithy comment or further question. And in all honesty, Amy loves the attention.
Elizabeth then rocks up with a big tray of food, so the girls can have a picnic in their room. Jessica rushes off to summon more Unicorns, so they can hear Amy’s ‘amazing’ story first hand. Elizabeth doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but Amy is DTF (Down To Fraternise).
I can see how this book is going.
- Amy moves in.
- Elizabeth does EVERYTHING for her.
- Jessica steals Amy.
- Elizabeth kills everybody.
I’m 95% sure on points one to three, and about 60% sure on point four.
As Elizabeth prepares to do the dishes – she doesn’t need a sponge for this job, because SHE IS ONE – Mary Wallace arrives with a present for Amy: a stuffed bear named Max.
Other Unicorns troop in, including everyone’s favourite bitch, Lila Fowler. Lila is scathing about Mary’s gift, as a stuffed bear is so immature. Yeah, whatevs, bellend. Stuffed toys are ace. Lila’s brought chocolates, which to be fair are pretty sweet too.
Lila piles on the concern, eager to hear the whole tale of fiery oblivion from Amy’s own lips. Jessica loves being a conduit to the Most Interesting Thing This Week, and holds court spectacularly.
Amy, bless her heart, starts off small. She actually wants to tell the truth, it seems.
Amy cleared her throat. “There’s not very much to tell, really.”
“Yes, there is!” Jessica exclaimed. “Amy’s just being modest. Before dinner, she told me how scared she was to jump out of her window. But the smoke was so heavy that she was afraid she would choke. It took a lot of courage to jump, if you ask me. Amy’s a real hero.”
Predictably, the Unicorns act like Jessica: they cut Amy off and put words into her mouth… but as things progress, Amy begins to revel in the attention.
Amy looked cautiously at Lila. For the first time, Lila Fowler and Ellen Riteman were actually listening to what she had to say without making a sarcastic remark. It was a new experience, and, Amy had to admit, very flattering.
Soon, Amy begins embellishing her ordeal for dramatic effect. The smoke becomes more choking, the flames climb a little higher, the ambulance drives faster and faster. And the Unicorns lap it up. [Wing: Well, the Amy side of the Amy/Ellen ships appears to still be on, as concerned as she is that Ellen Riteman is actually listening to her. Lila, sure, Lila basically controls the sixth grade, but Ellen.]
Erm… didn’t Amy just go through an ENTIRE BOOK where she was at the receiving end of an exaggerating asshat?
Does the name Samantha Williams mean nothing to you, Amy?
You’re pulling the exact same shit she pulled on YOU, girl!
[Dove: I hate Amy. I’ve always hated Amy. I feel smug right now.]
As Amy’s revised story takes shape, Jessica delivers a great line:
“I wish I could ride in an ambulance with the siren going, running all the red lights,” Jessica said enviously. She glanced at Amy’s cast. “Of course, I wouldn’t want to break my arm. Even if it did mean getting my picture on TV.”
Never change, you magnificent wrongun. [Dove: There’s a solid chance she will do this. And the news report will say, “Infamous serial killer, Jessica Wakefield, was rushed to hospital this evening, after she was shot down by Sweet Valley Police Department, following one of the most prolific rash of murders California has ever seen…”] [Wing: Doubt she’d be shot. She’s a pretty blonde white girl.]
The Unicorns then take it in turn to sign Amy’s cast. The pen is, naturally, purple. And the signatures include, obviously, unicorns.
Still no cock and balls? Someone let Steven sign the fucking thing.
Elizabeth enters, the Unicorns leave. But not before inviting themselves to help Amy shop for clothes. Lila even offers to lend Amy some clothes (purloined, I assume, from any of her waitstaff that have a similar frame).
That evening, Amy and the twins play Scrabble and eat chocolates. Sounds like my kinda night. Eventually, Alice declares they have one more waking hour, and that Amy can attend school the following day. Liz suggests she and Amy work on their replacement science report, but Jessica feels left out and demands they do something that includes her too. So they play more games.
Finally, Elizabeth and Amy retire for the night. Liz helps her friend button her pyjama shirt, and gives up her bed for best friend too. Even so, Amy cries herself to sleep.
Fair. It actually must suck to lose everything.
The next chapter begins with Jessica contemplating the events of the previous evening. Jumping to all manner of ill-judged conclusions, she decides that Amy and Elizabeth need a third spoke in their wheel, and fuck it all, she was gonna be that bastard spoke.
Putting Operation Steal Amy into full effect, she interrupts Elizabeth while braiding her best friend’s hair. Subtly, she takes control of the braiding – using a PURPLE ribbon – while simultaneously suggesting Liz go fetch them, croissants and jam. Liz, obviously, complies without complaint. FUCKING spineless twat.
Still, croissants and jam is top drawer scran. Nice work, Jess!
Phase two of Operation Steal Amy? Jessica arranges a ride to school in Mr Fowler’s new car. Elizabeth and Amy offer a token resistance, but Jessica’s force of will is strong. When the car arrives, it’s packed with Unicorns, meaning there’s only room for two more passengers.
Elizabeth, OBVIOUSLY, offers to walk.
Fucking HELL, Elizabeth! Stop being such a bloody scented towelette.
When Elizabeth arrives at school, she discovers Amy holding court for a gaggle of sixth graders. Everyone, it seems, wants the skinny on the terrible fire.
Elizabeth watches as Amy spins lie upon lie, exaggerating the whole affair as her classmates listen spellbound. What was originally the smell of smoke becomes a full-on coughing fit, and the infamous shoelace-trip becomes a fall from an upper-floor window.
Elizabeth is uncomfortable. A lie is a lie.
Fuck’s sake, Liz. Let Amy have a little swagger. She’s as boring as dirt, usually.
We skip, momentarily, into Amy’s head. Apparently, having everyone listen to her bullshit is helping her take her mind off the fact that she’s lost everything. And she does intend to straighten things out. But – shock horror – we discover a new wrinkle: Amy believes the blame for the fire sits squarely on her shoulders. Apparently, she was less than attentive in disposing of the fire’s hot ashes after Elizabeth had left.
She’d shovelled the hot ashes into a paper bag.
DON’T PUT FLAMEY-HOT THING INTO PAPERY-BURNY THING!
What the HELL are they teaching these kids at Sweet Valley Middle School?!
At lunch, Elizabeth is carrying Amy’s tray to a seat when the Unicorns pounce. They invite Amy to join them at the Unicorner. Meanwhile, to avoid any scenes, Elizabeth is summoned to Mr Bowman, who apparently has some super ideas for the next issue of the Sweet Valley Sixers.
As Liz dashes off, the Unicorns ask Amy to recount the fire story once more. But before our charred little Pinocchio can begin, Ellen Riteman arrives and tries to steal her thunder with talk of Brooke Dennis’s upcoming possible party.
It doesn’t work. Lila makes light of the whole thing, before returning the focus to Amy. Go Lila! Get fucked, Ellen!
After school, Elizabeth helps Amy with her locker combination before they head to a Sixers meeting. She also suggests the two of them co-author a two-page article on the fire for the front page of the Sweet Valley Sixers. She also claims it’s her idea, which is a bit rich since she met with an idea-filled Mr Bowman earlier that day. Pulling a Sandra Ferris, are we Liz?
Amy hoofs the idea of an interview into a nearby metaphorical wheeliebin, and offers to write the piece herself. Anything to avoid the obvious question “So why in the big blue CLUSTERFUCK did you think an adequate storage place for hot ashes was a PAPER FUCKING BAG, you FUCKING jelly doughnut?”
“But don’t you think an interview format would be more exciting? And it would be less work for you because we’d be writing it together. In fact, we could do it tonight, after dinner. We could have a lot of fun.”
Amy straightened her shoulders. “We’re already doing our science project together, Elizabeth,” she said sharply. “Do we have to do everything together?”
Ouch! Right in the feels there, Amy. I think an extra two inches higher would mean Liz couldn’t quite reach this knife in the back.
Back home, Liz stews about the whole affair. Not the actual “I don’t want to do an interview” thing, but more about the way in which Amy made it plain that Liz shouldn’t be involved. Because god forbid that Elizabeth miss out on meddling in this, or anything.
Alice offers to make Amy’s favourite cake, with Liz’s unenthusiastic help. The cake? Chocolate.
Mrs Wakefield frowned. “Chocolate? Are you sure?”
Amy nodded. “Chocolate is my favourite.”
“You wouldn’t prefer something different?” asked Mrs Wakefield. “Like… gin?”
“Gin?” said Amy. “A gin cake?”
“Just gin.” Mrs Wakefield’s eyes shone. “Lovely, lovely gin.”
Jessica enters, with great news. The Unicorns have supplied a slew of new outfits for Amy to borrow! She and Amy dash off to wade through the purple cloth mountain.
After dinner Elizabeth discovers her room has been hit by the Amy / Jessica Clothing Hurricane. Although angered by the mess, she buries her rage down deep in the cold place and suggests Amy help her with their Science Project Mk 2: Project Harder. Instead, Jessica spends the evening giving Amy a makeover.
Poor Jessica. She’s lonely.
Hang on… poor LILA. SHE’S the lonely one, especially if her BEST FRIEND is off galavanting with this insipid charcoal brickette.
Amy is dressed in purple, of course.
New besties Amy and Jess order Liz to fetch them snacks, exchanging this task for the promise to clean Elizabeth’s room immediately. Of course, they do no such thing.
Elizabeth, throw the tray of snacks at them. They are ARSEHOLES.
In fact, while Liz was rustling up cake and drinks, Amy and Jess had set up a two-player game of Monopoly. Their excuse? Elizabeth had homework to do.
But when she settled down to her work, Elizabeth found it very hard to concentrate with Jessica and Amy squealing and laughing over the game. Finally, Elizabeth picked up a magazine and sat on her cot to read.
I’m a tolerant and open-minded guy.
I can suspend my disbelief pretty high.
But SQUEALING AND LAUGHING OVER A TWO-PLAYER GAME OF FUCKING MONOPOLY?!
Monopoly has been the friendship and family killer since its invention.
The gamer girls grow tired of Monopoly (DAMN STRAIGHT THEY DO), and start blathering on about boys. Jessica likes Aaron, Amy likes Ken. Elizabeth is incredulous. Amy is acting just like a Unicorn.
Elizabeth wasn’t having any fun at all. Amy was behaving exactly like a Unicorn. And Elizabeth could not help but feel resentful. How long was she going to have to put up with this strange new situation? Her room was a horrible mess, her privacy had been invaded, and her best friend’s personality was rapidly changing—for the worse. For a moment, Elizabeth wasn’t even sure that she had a best friend any longer.
Poor Elizabeth. Amy is being a proper bitch.
Liz helps Amy get ready for bed. Amy is ungrateful.
After Elizabeth gave Amy a glass of water, she did something she hadn’t done for a very long time. She took her old stuffed koala bear from the shelf, the one she used to sleep with when she was a child, and set it down on the pillow of the uncomfortable cot. Perhaps it was childish, but snuggling her friendly old bear made her feel a little less lonely and a little less hurt.
This is SO BLESS. I really do feel for Liz here. Amy, why weren’t you trapped in the fire, you hideous spaff-cabbage?
For the next two days, things just get worse.
- Amy keeps bossing Elizabeth around.
- Amy and Jess spend each evening gossiping.
- Amy refuses to do any of the Science Project.
- Amy eats lunch at the Unicorner.
- Worst of all, Amy was doing her best to ignore Elizabeth.
We make a great deal of Jessica’s murderous side. Of how she’d kill a bitch for looking at her skwirly.
But this section makes me believe there’s such a thin line that Elizabeth skirts too.
Seriously, I sense she’s at the end of her tether here. She could snap at any moment.
For more details on how Elizabeth reacts when she snaps, check out Dove’s Sweet Valley / Hunger Games crossover. It’s great.
As Elizabeth and her friends – what’s the opposite of a Snob Squad? A Chav Crew? – watch Amy’s schmoosing with a mixture of pity, bemusement and disgust, they recount Amy’s story and litany of lies. Elizabeth is, again, incredulous.
Suddenly, Elizabeth understood why Amy had refused to do the interview with her, and why she was going out of her way not to talk to her. She had exaggerated the story about the fire and she didn’t want to admit it.
And if Amy was exaggerating the facts and embellishing the details when she talked to people, what would she write in her Sixers story? Would she tell the truth, or would she expect the Sixers to print a bunch of lies?
Elizabeth vows to talk to Amy about all the bullshit that’s going down. Attagirl, Lizzie.
Amy sashays over and demands Liz help her clear out her locker. Liz, eating lunch, asks her to wait. Amy puts her foot down. Seriously, Amy is a fucking prick.
Sophia and Julie – y’know, Elizabeth’s other friends – stick up for Liz, so Liz caves instantly and rushes to help Amy so to avoid a scene. Again, Elizabeth, STOP BEING SUCH A SPONGE. [Dove: Urgh! I really wanted Elizabeth to tell Amy to get fucked here.]
At the lockers, Amy and Liz continue to bicker. Eventually, Liz declares that… they need to talk.
SERIOUS BUSINESS, Y’ALL.
Jessica interrupts before it gets too awkward. They take a rain-check on the heart-to-heart.
Things don’t improve back at the Wakefield Compound. Amy accuses Elizabeth of wanting rid of her – like, where the fuck did that come from, you cleft? – while Elizabeth resorts to denying this obvious crap and declaring she only wants Amy to be happy.
Alice interrupts to ask them to clean the bathroom. Amy tells her she can’t, as she has a broken arm and an article for the Sixers to write about the fire. Elizabeth OFFERS TO DO EVERYTHING OH MY FUCKING GOD.
I’m pretty sick of Elizabeth’s weakness, to be honest. With all her constant caving, she may as well be k.d. fucking lang.
In Amy’s head, the following was occurring:
- Amy was guilty about the lying.
- Amy was guilty about her treatment of Elizabeth.
- Amy was guilty about “starting” the fire.
Her only bright spot? Talking to the Unicorns.
Well, BOO FUCKING HOO Amy. Pull yourself together.
In school next day, the Unicorns compliment Amy on her borrowed clothes and new look. They also take the piss out of Elizabeth. To be fair to Amy, she hates the Unicorns bagging on Liz this way. Not enough to do anything about it, of course.
Today, the Unigibbons rag on Elizabeth’s “immature dress sense.”
Suddenly Ellen turned to Amy. “Don’t you think that Elizabeth dresses like a baby?” Amy knew that the question was meant as a challenge.
Amy hesitated. “I… guess.” She hesitated, giggled nervously. “Sometimes, maybe.”
“She acts like a baby too,” Ellen said scornfully. “I’ll bet she even sleeps with a doll.”
“Actually, it’s a stuffed koala bear.” The second the words had passed her lips, Amy regretted them. What had she done?
FUCKING HELL, AMY.
Elizabeth, PLEASE just ditch this mewling quim and pick yourself a new Best Friend. You’ve books and books of New Girls to choose from. May I suggest Brooke Dennis?
The Unicorns lap this factoid up like cats on milk. And soon, the whole school knows about Elizabeth’s Secret Bear. Now THAT’S a SVT book I’d like to read.
Elizabeth Wakefield has a secret… a secret BEAR! This 400-lb grizzly bear is cuddly to some, but deadly to others. Jessica gets a pass, of course, because even bears can’t stay mad at her for long.
But Lila Fowler? Dead.
Winston Egbert? Dead.
Mr Nydick? Dead.
Who’ll be next in line on the Secret Bear’s rampage? And can it be stopped before it kills someone Elizabeth actually loves? Read on to find out!
As Sophie Rizzo tries to clue Liz in on the gossip – bless her little pauper heart! – Bruce Patman rocks up, and calls Elizabeth Baby Bear.
Elizabeth is mortified.
Bruce and crew continue the mockery before sauntering off.
“That was what I wanted to tell you about,” Sophia said unhappily, as the boys went off down the hall. “The Unicorns are saying that you sleep with a stuffed bear. They’re calling you a baby.”
Elizabeth felt miserable. Did Jessica know that she sometimes slept with her old koala bear? Could she have told? No, Elizabeth told herself. Even if Jessica did know, she would never have betrayed Elizabeth that way.
But somebody else did know about the bear. Someone else had told the Unicorns.
That someone else had to be Amy.
SHIT’S GETTING REAL.
I hope Elizabeth keeps a knife in her meticulous locker. Some blabbermouth bitch is getting shivved tonight.
The teasing continues all afternoon. Elizabeth runs the gamut from upset to angry. When the opportunity arises to confront Amy, she grasps it with both hands. When Mr Bowman leaves them alone to run an errand, Elizabeth fires off both barrels.
- She accuses Amy of sucking up to the Unicorns.
- She accuses Amy of telling everyone about the Secret Bear.
- She accuses Amy of lying about the fire.
- She accuses Amy of ignoring her.
- She accuses Amy of… *gasp*… being a SLOB.
[Dove: This is my favourite thing. After saying that particular four-letter word, Liz gets herself a hair shirt, and agonises over her foul language. You’d have thought she’d dropped the c-bomb.]
Mr Bowman interrupts the fight before it involves fists. Amy storms off, after thrusting her article on the fire into his mismatched hands.
He and Elizabeth read the bullshit fire story, full of lies and deceit. It was packed with the exaggerations from Amy’s verbal account to the Unicorns.
Mr Bowman loves it. BECAUSE HE DOESN’T KNOW THE TRUTH. Elizabeth hates it. BECAUSE SHE DOES KNOW THE TRUTH.
At the Wakefield Compound, things go from bad to worse. There’s some brief table talk about the upcoming Brooke Dennis Party, before the beef of the scene sees Amy move her things into Jessica’s room.
Operation Steal Amy is finally complete! Way to go, Jess!
Elizabeth tries to play Devils Elbow. She points out the lies in Amy’s story, to which Amy replies that her word is just as good as Elizabeth’s. Changing tack, Liz gingerly enquires about Amy’s plans for the Science Project Mk 2. Amy says she’ll do her own.
Erm… can she just decide that? I presume they were paired by the teacher?
With no progress made, Liz retires sadly to her room… and Jessica flounces in with a dramatic flourish.
“I’ve been humiliated, Elizabeth,” Jessica cried dramatically. “And it’s all your fault.”
“My fault?” Elizabeth asked in surprise. “What are you talking about, Jess?”
Jessica folded her arms across her chest. “I’m talking about ‘Baby Bear,’ that’s what.”
Never change, Jess.
Elizabeth declares that Amy is no longer her friend, and Jessica goes nuclear.
“Well, she told me that she didn’t actually mean to tell about the bear. It just sort of slipped out. But you’re right about her not being your friend anymore. She’d rather stay with me than with you. I don’t call her names.” And with that, Jessica marched out and slammed the door behind her.
For the first time since Amy had moved in, Elizabeth broke down and cried. It had been the most awful day of her life. She had been teased and tormented by the boys at school. She had gotten into a terrible fight with Amy and their friendship was destroyed—maybe forever. And now Jessica was mad at her over something that wasn’t even her fault. Elizabeth had never felt so alone.
That was actually a pretty nice section. It built well, and I truly felt for Elizabeth when I first read it. Nice work, Jamie Suzanne!
In Jessica’s room, Amy is growing tired of Jessica’s dramatic flouncing. Jessica, Amy concludes, is making a whole lot of fuss over nothing. Eventually, as Jess blames the whole thing on her sister, Amy begins to realise that she is in some way to blame for the whole affair. Her face turn begins, and the tears start to fall.
Jessica prattles on as Amy sobs, and eventually the charbroiled houseguest concludes that she hadn’t meant any of it.
- She hadn’t meant to tell lies.
- She hadn’t meant to hurt Elizabeth.
- She hadn’t meant to start the fire.
Before we tackle Amy’s inevitable return to grace, Mama Wakefield has a scene in which she cheers up her eldest daughter with wise words, maternal love, and the promise of fudge. It’s decent, but it’s not where we want to be. So, back to the action!
The next day starts, and the healing begins. Elizabeth vows to be extra cheerful and helpful. She compliments Amy on her choice of (borrowed) outfit, and makes nice when Jessica declares that the Unicorns are taking Amy shopping for a whole new wardrobe. Liz even makes small talk regarding her plans for the Science Project Mk 2.
Elizabeth, being the bigger person. Nice.
The Unicorn / Amy shopping trip to the mall is a disaster, naturally.
- Ellen tries to derail things by forcing the shopping trip to focus on buying supplies for Brooke’s party.
- Lila gets the hump when she realises Amy isn’t down to buy clothes from the most fashionable stores.
- Amy stands up for herself when she realises that the Unicorns are vapid asshats.
- Amy grows bored while shopping for party supplies.
- Jessica starts ignoring Amy and concentrating her attention on Brooke, the Next Big Thing.
Eventually, Amy decides that she wants to call it quits and abandon this new Unicorn-led lifestyle she inexplicably chose. She tells Jess she wants to leave. Jessica, however, won’t stand for that, and convinces her to stay by preying on her stubbornness. Amy doesn’t want to let Ellen – the Unicorn who has most consistently disliked Amy (sorry Dove) – think she’s won, does she?
So Amy spent what to her was a totally boring and often painful Saturday and Sunday with the Unicorns. By Sunday evening, she was sick of trying to ignore Ellen and being friendly to a group of people who treated her like an outsider. But as much as she hated to admit it, now that she no longer had Elizabeth to turn to, she was afraid to lose the only friends she had left.
Serves you right, Amy. You’ve been a proper See You Next Tuesday. [Dove: This just infuriates me. Amy is meant to be fairly intelligent. So she should be able to figure out that Ellen has won. She gets to hang out with the Unicorns whether her house is charcoal or not. Amy’s moment is over. Fuck the fuck off.]
At school on Monday, the whole Baby Bear thing has blown over. Talk has moved onto Brooke Dennis’s party. Elizabeth’s friends – minus Amy, of course – also know of Liz and Amy’s big spat. And all conclude that Amy is only hanging with Unicorns because of her stubbornness.
In the Unicorner, this theory is confirmed. The Unicorns, now tired of the fire (and Amy), have moved onto the Next Big Thing. Even Jess is ignoring Amy at this stage. Amy only hangs around until Ellen leaves, to prove to them all she’s not being driven off by Ellen’s bile.
In science class, it gets worse. Ms Caxton asks if the Elizabeth / Amy Science Project Mk 2 will be ready for class the following day, only to learn that Liz and Amy are now treading separate scientific roads. Elizabeth is prepared, naturally. Amy’s done fuck all.
After class, Amy pleads for another extension. Ms Caxton, however, lays the hammer down.
At first, Amy blames Jessica for encouraging her slacking. She soon realises, however, that she only has herself to blame.
That afternoon, Amy attends the doctor for an arm examination. Her arm is healing well. Sadly, her situation is not improving. First, her parents tell her the insurance company are issuing a report into the cause of the fire the following day. And second, the family bump into Mr Bowman, and their conversation leads Bowman to deduce Amy’s front-page story for the upcoming Sixers issue is naught but a bushel of bullshit. He spares her blushes in from of the fam, but requests to see her in his office the following day.
And to cap it all off…
“You didn’t tell me that you’d written a story for the newspaper, Amy,” Mrs. Sutton said, as she buckled her seatbelt. “When will it come out?”
“In a couple of days,” Amy said, almost in a whisper.
“You’ll have to show it to me. I’d love to read it, and I know your father would, too. We could send a copy to Grandma Sutton.”
Yeah, Amy’s boned.
Back at the Wakefield Compound, once the non-Elizabeth Wakefields have disappeared, Amy finally, FINALLY, breaks down an confesses the depths of her problem to her one-time Bestie.
- Amy confesses that she liked the attentions of the Unicorns, at first.
- Her lies were fun, at first.
- The article is a problem, now that Mr Bowman suspected the truth and her parents were showing an interest.
- The science project is also a problem, as she’s done fuck all and it’s due the following day.
- The report from the insurance company will surely point the finger at her, for starting the fire by trying to store burny-hot thing in paper-thing.
After Amy apologises for the Secret Bear Confession, Elizabeth Solves (Almost) Everything.
- Elizabeth agrees to hand in the Science Project as a joint effort.
- Elizabeth agrees to help reword the article into something less salacious.
- Elizabeth soothes Amy’s fears about the cause of the fire, convincing Amy she may not actually be to blame.
Yay for fucking Saint Elizabeth. She’s got an answer for everything.
So, the denoument.
Both girls ace the science class with their now-joint effort Science Project Mk 2.
They submit a revised article, and Amy apologises to Mr Bowman for her deceit.
The insurance report comes out, and reveals… Amy didn’t start the fire!
Wiring, apparently. Huh.
Everyone smiles. Fade to black.
And that’s that.
This book was… forgettable. Even as I’m wrapping up this recap, the details are fading, ephemeral and translucent, like a carnival ghost.
Like, it was okay. Some parts were nice. But Amy both pissed me off and made me feel sorry for her. As did Elizabeth. This was probably because I wasn’t fully engaged at any time.
The narrative suffered from the lack of a well-defined B Plot. And the entire ensemble cast did their stuff, and moved on.
It’s in a tough spot, after such a good book, as I mentioned earlier. I don’t know if we could have expected anything more. Maybe it’s someone’s favourite, but it’s definitely not mine. If anything, it’s the nipple on the bell curve, right in the middle.
This one will not be revisited, or remembered. It was a book. I read it. Then I closed the cover, and picked up the next.
[Dove: It was boring. I hate Liz, I hate Amy, I sure as hell wasn’t going to enjoy a book about their friendship, especially when that book killed my toy ship Amy/Ellen in the first chapter. Bitter Dove is bitter.]