Title: Sneaking Out
Tagline: Will Elizabeth tell her parents if Jessica sneaks out to the rock concert? (No, of course she won’t. Elizabeth would tell anyone if Jess stabbed her in the face.)
Summary: All the kids at Sweet Valley Middle School are talking about the big Johnny Buck concert.
For the second year in a row, the twins’ parents say they are too young to go.
Elizabeth is disappointed, but will do what her parents say. But nothing and no one in the world can stop Jessica from seeing her rock idol – even if it means sneaking out.
Soon Jessica comes up with a plan that she knows will fool her parents – but it means neglecting her responsibilities. Will Elizabeth, once again, step in and take over for her sister – or will she tell her parents the truth?
This is one of my least favourite books. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just there’s nothing really right with it either.
Jess: I’m just sneaking off, Dog. Don’t tell anyone I’m wearing double denim.
[Wing: There is so, so much wrong with it. SO MUCH. Note: It may be useful to know that I am a dog person through and through.] [Dove: Sorry, I should clarify so I don’t sound as ruthless and cold as Jessibeth: when I say there’s nothing really “wrong” with it, I mean that when you compare it against the other four books we’ve done so far, which contain spite, bullying, body-shaming, and property damage towards “different” people, Jess being ruthless is just business as usual, and this particular book is no more wrong than the ones before it. However, Wing’s right, if you are decent, everyone is Sweet Valley is wrong.] [Wing: I don’t even consider myself decent and yet I hate them all for being terrible. But not Dove. No, Dove I hate for a much different reason. Gee, I wonder what it could be.]
We open with Liz reprimanding Jess for waiting at the back of school instead of the front. Kids, you’ve been going to middle school for at least two months (assuming school starts in September in Sweet Valley, and October happens before Halloween, which happened in book 3 – but I am willing to concede that in Sweet Valley time works differently, and there may be extra months we mere mortals have never heard of), and most afternoons you walk home together. Why on earth would you meet in different places each afternoon?
Anyway, Jess is all excited because tickets to the Johnny Buck concert at Secca Lake went on sale this morning, and it’s ZOMG SO EXCITING. Bruce Patman already has front row tickets and he keeps offering them to Caroline Pearce and her friend Elise (who is probably fat or ugly, because she doesn’t ever get a surname), and then snatching them back before they can touch them.
Elizabeth frowned. “Bruce Patman would be first,” she said. “And you can be sure he didn’t have to stand in line to get those tickets, either.”
Liz, what the fuck is your problem? If Bruce had stood in line to get them, he’d have probably missed school, and you’d have plenty to say about that. My question is, if they only went on sale this morning and Bruce didn’t get them himself, how does he have them now? Did the Patman butler stand in line, buy the tickets, then come to school to give them to Bruce? You know what, actually, that sounds completely plausible. Remember, Bruce is the dickhead who went on to own a Porsche with the number plate of 1BRUCE1 in High School.
[Wing: I think it means no one stood in line for his tickets, and he got them because of his father’s connections, but it’s really not clear.] [Dove: I’m sticking with the Patman butler — who in my head is called Alfred, thanks to Raven’s comments in the Halloween book.] [Raven: Who stands in like for tickets anyway?] [Dove: People. Before the internet.][Wing: Blasphemy.]
Bruce Patman was the only son of the richest family in Sweet Valley and never had to work for anything he wanted.
You mean how Liz just had to mention a sixth grade newspaper and was made editor in chief? Or Liz got to be Swanilda just by being teacher’s pet? Or how Jessica and the Unicorns bullied poor Nora Mercandy and nobody ever told them off about it? How about the Unicorns being allowed to run the auditions for the Boosters, despite them being the biggest bullies on the planet? You mean like that, Liz? Where nobody’s ever held accountable for their actions and never has to prove their goodness after being a piece of shit?
Oh boy, I’m on the fourteenth paragraph and already I’m ripping it to shreds.
Jess is excited, because this year they’ll get to see him perform, instead of just waiting outside the hotel – called Valley View Hotel, and given the exciting names in this series, I was honestly expecting it to be called Sweet Valley Hotel. Last year, Johnny Buck had been sighted, but the crowd surged, and Liz and Jess were pushed back. He only signed three autographs before his manager pulled him away. The crowd screamed for more, so Johnny threw his cap into the audience.
And this is exactly what I thought of:
And Raven will attest that I hunted for clips online, found them lacking, googled some more, bothered him, then ordered a DVD from Amazon, just to rip that clip. I AM FUCKING DEDICATED TO MAKING A GODDAMNED POINT. [Raven: Welcome to my life, gentle reader.]
What is my point? Instead of letting Liz grab the cap, a sensible parent activity would be to shield your child from the crowd of surging, hormonal, adrenaline-fueled teens, questing for a small object awfully close to your daughters.
[Wing: I don’t think the parents were there. My impression was the girls went without them; of course, the last time this concert was mentioned, the first time it said they attended, and the second time it said they didn’t, so what’s a little continuity in Sweet Valley?]
[Raven: Yeah, I think they were attending sans Elder Wakefields.]
(Also, I love MJ. I saw Bad, Dangerous and HIStory. The surging crowd was burned into my brain every time I went and I made sure I was nowhere near where he would throw the hat. I loved him. I wouldn’t die for his hat.)
[Wing: While I now avoid the pit because I can’t get busted for fighting without the risk of losing a very important license, I have in the past thrown myself into the dangerous crowd with all sorts of gusto, because punching and elbowing and slapping people in the face with my hair when they get too close is fun.] [Raven: Nowt wrong with a moshpit.]
Anyway, Liz catches the hat, and because this is Sweet Valley, nobody immediately snatches it from her or knocks her down (I’ve heard a story of a grown man knocking a small girl down as he snatched signed CM Punk merchandise from her – and, entertainingly, Punk being so pissed off he ran after that guy to make him give it back, and because Punk’s a big star, three security guards took off after him to protect him, so there was like a conga line of massive men chasing this merch-stealing dickhead.) Jess is all like, “Thank god you caught my hat, Johnny wanted me to have it.” And because Liz is a fucking doormat, she lets Jess have it, even though she really wants it for herself.
Back to now, Liz says that Jess is acting like they already have tickets. And Jess is “Yeah, totes, I’ve written a letter to Johnny Buck to tell him I’ll be at his show. He’ll know it’s me because I’ve got his hat. Also, I’ve totally invited him to join the Unicorns.” [Raven: “I’ve drank a fifth of vodka, dare me to drive?”]
When they get home, Steven tells them he’s taking a date to the Johnny Buck concert, and that he stopped by dad’s office on the way home, so he could ask on behalf of the twins, and pick up the family tickets at the same time he bought his. Parents say no. Dad will be out of town on a “big case” and mum has a client meeting that conflicts with the show.
Since I’ve read the book, I’ll tell you now, this “rock concert” starts at 3pm. THREE PM? Michael Jackson never started until at least EIGHT PM! Axl Rose can’t get on stage until at least two hours after the noise curfew will be violated, and JOHNNY FUCKING BUCK IS GOING ON IN TIME TO HAVE DINNER WITH HIS NANA AFTER IT.
[Wing: Guns N’ Roses still put on a damn good show, too, late and long and powerful. Yes, I know this really has nothing to do with anything here, but the Not in This Lifetime tour was fucking unbelievable. They’re coming back my way this summer, and I am considering going a second time, it was so good.]
Good old Alice gets home and we’re treated to this description:
Tall and blond like her daughters, Mrs. Wakefield served as a grade mother for the twins’ class and as a member of the high school PTA.
Alice is barely a mother to her own three kids, let alone the rest of the bloody class.
[Wing: I don’t even know what the fuck a grade mother is, especially at their age.] [Dove: I just assumed it meant she parents so well that kids all over the neighbourhood come clamouring for attention because their parents aren’t as awesome as Alice. Which is a truly sad state of affairs.][Wing: Legitimately just laughed so hard I teared up.]
Ned shows up too and the twins try reason, begging, bargaining, crying, all to no avail. Jess even tries to be mature, saying that she can’t expect the parents to chaperone them, so they’ll go with Steve and his girlfriend. Steve and the parents NOPE the hell out of that idea. My friends’ siblings would always agree to chaperone us, and once we got wherever we were going, we were told “If you ever talk to me during this entire event, I will leave you here to die,” and we would sheepishly regroup at the end of the night. I guess we’re all smarter than the Sweet Valley crowd.
Ned and Alice are worried that the crowd is “too old and too fast”. I’m thinking that’s not really likely. I went to a Spice Girls concert at the height of their popularity (don’t judge me), and by the end of the show, most of the crowd were asleep because they were out past their bedtime. Probably because even the Spice Girls don’t do a concert at THREE FUCKING PM.
After dinner, they go to their rooms, and because Elizabeth is a fucking saint, she gets over the disappointment when she sees how pretty her cream and blue room is. Jess, on the other hand, is scheming.
Elizabeth wasn’t surprised. After all, Jessica almost never took no for an answer.
This. Is a pattern.
[Wing: Somebody, anybody, TEACH THAT GIRL THAT NO MEANS FUCKING NO.]
Moving on. Jess is planning to buy her own ticket and sneaking off. Liz points out that Jess has no money because she saved up three weeks’ allowance to buy a blouse that she now thinks is ugly. (Just for context, my allowance at their age bought me one of these books a week. It would have taken a lot longer than three weeks to buy clothing.)
On the walk to school the next day, Jess says the blouse looks awful on her, but would look much better on Liz, since purple is much more Liz’s colour, and since Liz has been hoarding her allowance, she can afford to buy it. And I’m frankly astounded that Liz turns this down, given that she’s such a doormat to Jess’ other whims. Liz has been hoarding her allowance to buy some massive gold hoop earrings for their mother for her birthday. Apparently Alice loves oversize earrings. Which doesn’t quite tie in with how boring and middle class housewife she is (I know she’s not a housewife, but the text doesn’t, since she’s always home, making dinner and shit). See? Doormat! It’s Alice’s birthday and Liz is buying the present from the twins.
[Wing: I like to think Alice has a secret life partying, which is why she makes dinner for the kids and then she and Ned go out.] [Dove: Raven and I have a head-canon that Princess Celestia from MLP is a high-functioning alcoholic, so I can see this.][Wing: … I need to hear more about this theory.]
At school, Jess pretends to be BFFs with Amy Sutton, and after school near bullies her into buying the blouse from her, despite the fact that it’s huge on her (HOW? THESE KIDS ARE ALL THE SAME SIZE, EXCEPT FOR LOIS – AND EVEN SHE’S THE SAME SIZE ON THE COVER OF HER BOOK). [Raven: Ken Matthews would like a word.] Liz arrives just at the right moment, and stops her. However, Amy’s so into the blouse, she’s going to go to the mall and buy one that actually fits. Ha! Take that, Jess!
Liz gives her a telling off, and Jess apologises and they go to Casey’s for milkshakes – they take the entire family, because that’s how twee these horrible people are. (Isn’t 12-14 around the same time that you get that mortified feeling being around parents in public?) Jessica spies the answer to all of her prayers. It’s an ad looking for a dog-sitter and it pays $25 – thank god, just the right amount for the tickets.
Liz points out that Jess hates dogs – is terrified of them, even (which is probably why they have a dog called Prince Albert in SVH, that Jess isn’t scared of at all [Raven: Prince Albert, a sausage dog with a piercing bark.][Wing: That was just terrible.]) – but Jess won’t be dissuaded – she’s got an interview with Mrs Bramble tomorrow. Although she does ask Liz to pull a twin switch or at least go with her to the interview tomorrow, but Liz refuses to doormat in this scene. Odd. She also points out that they have ballet after school, and Jess used to be Madame André’s favourite until she chucked ballet for cheerleading. So, Jess wanted to be a world-class ballerina for all of two books? That’s quite a commitment for her.
The next day Liz notes that Jess is so worried about the interview that “she didn’t even joke about how many meatballs plump Lois Waller had put on her spaghetti.” God I want you nasty twins to die horribly. How awful, Jess is too nervous to meet her usual bullying quota. Also, surely it’s not down to Lois how much she gets of anything? At my school, the hot food was ladled out, and you didn’t get a say in how much or little you got.
[Wing: FUCK OFF WITH THAT BODY SHAME, WAKEFIELD. Also, meatballs are delicious and now I want some. Come hang out with me, Lois, we don’t food shame in our house. And maybe grow up to be an adult first, so this isn’t creepy.] [Raven: I think we still have a couple of meatballs left from Vegas, if you’d like them…?] [Dove: Long story short: Wing ordered too many meatballs when we were in Vegas. Three years ago. We still find this funny.][Wing: See if I ever order you meatballs ever again.] [Raven: We’re good for meatballs. Thanks anyway.]
The interview goes brilliantly. Initially, the dog, a fat spaniel called Sally, is not present, and Jess is able to charm Mrs Bramble with fabulous lies about how much she and her entire family adores dogs, and how if it was up to them, they’d want her to stay with them. Mrs Bramble’s relieved about this, because she wasn’t keen on leaving Sally alone, and certainly not just under the care of a kid, so it’s settled, Sally will live with the Wakefields while she’s away.
[Jessica] remembered only too well the time their neighbor’s poodle ate the begonias out of all the planters around their pool. Mrs. Wakefield hadn’t sounded like a dog lover at all when she sent the culprit howling back to his own backyard!
What the fuck did Alice do to make a poodle howl? Dogs don’t generally howl when you tell them off. They howl when you hit them. Fuck you, Alice. Fuck you. (Also, my mother bred poodles, they never once ate flowers. Unattended people food, yes, but plant life, no.)
[Wing: I’m not defending Alice, because fuck the Wakefields, but some dogs howl at everything and anything, including being shouted at. Or, you know, the giant dogs that are buses driving down the street. For example.]
Mrs Bramble then introduces Sally, who’s been asleep under the sofa. Jess freaks the hell out when she realises that she’s been in the presence of a dog all along. And I’ll give her this, it does sound like a real phobia, not a hatred of dogs. She forces herself to pet Sally and tolerate Sally licking her face – I don’t hate or fear dogs, but I will not be licked on the face, it just squicks me. [Wing: I love my dog with the heat of a thousand suns, and I don’t like it when she tries to lick my face. Not okay, doggy.] Mrs Bramble is delighted that Sally’s taken to Jess, because she’s had Sally ever since she was a puppy.
So, everything’s agreed, and Jess asks to be paid up front, because her mother’s birthday is coming up, and she needs to buy her something before Mrs Bramble gets back. Mrs Bramble agrees to this – good lord, people in Sweet Valley are trusting. I’m trying to imagine a world where Wing lets a twelve year old she only just met dog-sit for her, and pays her up front. That world does not exist. [Raven: Mrs Bramble is lovely. Go Team Peripheral Character!][Wing: I’m with Raven in general here. #teamperipheralcharacter is the best. Dove broke my heart when she told me we wouldn’t see Nora again.]
The next day, Jessica meets up with the Unicorns before school and Janet is proudly telling them all about her brother’s roommate who will be going to the concert with them. Apparently he’s a junior who lives in San Francisco and he’s never missed a Johnny Buck concert.
Janet, that is a lie. Your brother is Joe Howell, and he’s Steven’s best friend, so he’s actually a freshman at Sweet Valley High. Goddamn these ghost writers.
Also, Johnny Buck is seventeen – so it’s not very likely that a male is going to follow the career of a pop star of the same gender who is a couple of years younger. Not impossible, but unlikely.
[Wing: Depends on whether the Buck is his type, I guess. Or, you know, continuity and logic don’t exist in Sweet Valley.]
Jess then tells them that she’s meeting Johnny after the show and he’s going to be an honorary Unicorn. The girls lose their shit. It never occurs to them that in reality, no rock star (well, maybe… DON’T SAY IT, DOVE, DON’T MAKE THOSE REFERENCES) wants to join a club populated by cooing underage girls.
Jess says that her parents don’t want her to see Johnny, and she’s surprised when pretty much everyone but Lila and Janet freely admit that their parents have said they’re too young to go to the concert, so they’re not going. Janet says she won’t have room in the car to give Jess a ride, but Lila says they can go together. Lila gets to go because her dad is rich and never around, so he either doesn’t know or care what she’s up to. Jess tells Lila she’d better bring all of her albums because Jess will get Johnny to sign them. [Raven: Johnny Buck‘s latest album is called The Buck Stops Here. Other Johnny Buck albums include Couldn’t Give A Buck, his Prince-tribute album You Sexy Mother-Bucker, and his ill-advised foray into gangster rap called Let’s Get Fuck-Naked And Buck.]
Jess’ next problem is to convince the family that they want to baby-sit the dog. And she gets it done by crying and saying that she’s so upset that Mrs Bramble will be separated from Sally, and Mrs B doesn’t want to use a kennel. Me personally? I’d much rather my pets go to a cattery than have some kid who I’ve only met once take care of them.
[Wing: I stress out when I let family take care of my girl, including Mr Wing, so I’m clearly not letting some random kid watch her.]
By the time Mrs Bramble drops Sally off, the whole family’s happy to have her there. There’s a bit of a fracas when Sally pulls on the leash and Jess freaks out, and Liz covers for her, telling everyone that Jess dropped the pet bed on her toe – while I’m not ok with Liz in any way, shape or form, I will concede this was a nice cover.
After Mrs Bramble leaves, everyone runs off to do pet chores, except Jess, who avoids her at all costs, she won’t go near her, won’t feed her (because the food smells), etc. She does the same thing the next morning.
At school, Janet offers Lila and Jess a ride to the concert, because someone has dropped out, and she thinks it’s only right to meet Johnny Buck when he joins the Unicorns, since she’s president.
After school and ballet practice, Sally needs a walk, and Jess feigns a pain in her side. Instead of calling Jess on her bullshit, Liz decides it’s easier to just doormat for Jess and walk the dog. And then she does Jess’ maths homework. Because DOORMAT.
The next day is Saturday, the day of the concert – wow, Johnny Buck’s people don’t do much planning in advance, do they? The tickets only went on sale on… Tuesday? Any event I go to, I usually have the tickets for months in advance, counting down the days.
Jess is woken up by Sally, and there are no Wakefields around, so she can’t shirk her duties. Thankfully, Liz comes home, but I guess Liz is all doormatted out, because she says no, she can’t take Sally for a walk, they’re going to Casey’s, and dogs aren’t allowed.
“Not according to Bruce Patman,” insisted Julie, following close behind. “He says they’ve got lots of them working behind the counter!”
The three friends broke out into giggles, then started out the door, leaving Jessica alone again with Sally.
Isn’t it nice to see young people coming together, closing the gap between middle class and upper-middle class, to destroy the self-image of others? It warms the cockles of your heart.
[Wing: If the Unicorns said something like that, Liz would spend the next page whining about how shallow they act.]
[Raven: Bunch of asshats.]
Jess realises that nobody is going to do her job for her, so takes Sally for a walk. She gets quite used to all the people who stop to fuss Sally, so it comes as a shock to her when a girl her own age says nothing. Apparently Sally doesn’t like this, so barks at her. Jess introduces herself, and the girl is Brooke Dennis, and in the same breath, she says that Sally needs a bath. Up until this point, Jess had been thinking how sensible Brooke was for not falling all over Sally, but now she’s offended. Sally licks Brooke’s ankles and she pushes Sally away with her foot and calls her a “mangy mutt”. Jess tells her off for kicking and having bad manners. Jess. Tells someone off. For having bad manners.
With that done, Sally then chases a cat called Tabbatha up a tree, so Jess has to get the cat down.
When she gets home, there’s no sign of Mrs Bramble, who should be home soon. It gets later and Jess calls Mrs B’s home, but no answer.
Lila calls to say that she has a fabulous outfit, and Jess realises that she doesn’t. So she steals Liz’s brand new, never worn, dress that Liz bought specially for the sixth grade dance. The dress is pale beige with a raspberry jacket. While she’s at it, she steal Liz’s new shoes which she bought to go with it. And since she’s in a thieving mood, she also takes the earrings (“huge gold hoops” – sounds tacky) that Liz bought for Alice’s birthday. It nowhere says that these are clip on earrings, so I will assume they are for pierced ears. Remember that Jessica’s ears are pierced, because this will come back in about forty books’ time. She justifies all this theft with the knowledge that her mother and sister love her and would want her to look her best for Johnny Buck. Jessica’s ruthless selfishness scares me.
[Wing: I hate her. I’m pretty sure she’s a sociopath, and I mean that in the literal way, in that I expect her to calmly and coldly kill Sally at any minute.]
[Raven: In this book, Jessica is really good at justifying her behaviour. It’s all logically persuasive, but built from such a shaky foundation. She’s literally ready for anything, and willing to go to very dark places if she can. And Elizabeth’s enabling nature is the catalyst that allows Jessica’s evil out of the bottle. The Wakefield Twins are entirely codependent; individually impotent, but potentially devastating together. They’d make awesome spree killers.] [Dove: Raven, please write some fanfic for me and Wing.][Wing: Please. I’ll buy more meatballs!]
Mrs Bramble calls to say the bus has broken down and there won’t be another bus to Sweet Valley until two-thirty.
But Jessica Wakefield wasn’t the kind to give up easily. She had worked too hard for this day to let a change in plans destroy everything. Soon she stopped crying and started plotting. Nothing was going to stop her from seeing Johnny Buck.
You, Jess, are the reason that there are songs about stalkers/groupies. Jess also reasons that she’s done the job Mrs Bramble paid her for, it’s not her fault that Mrs B is late returning. So she’s going to Lila’s.
She packs her bag, and gives Sally water. Sally drinks three bowls full, and Jess realises that there will be an accident if Sally is left inside. So she ties her to the tree where Liz’s “thinking seat” is, using clothesline. After Jess leaves, Sally spots Tabbatha, and takes off after her, easily pulling free of Jess’ knots.
Liz gets home and sees a note from Jess asking her to look after Sally until Mrs Bramble gets back. She does a search and can’t find her. She walks to Lila’s to tell Jess that Sally’s missing, but Lila and Jess have already left. She calls Amy.
When Amy arrived on her ten-speed, Elizabeth could have kissed her. She knew she could count on her friend’s help, no matter what the problem. And, at a time like this, it made Elizabeth feel better just to know Amy was there.
[Wing: If only. It would add the only tolerable thing to this book.]
They search the neighbourhood, ring doorbells, etc, and still don’t find her. Everyone has been really helpful, except Brooke, who remarks that the dog should stay lost. They call time on it, and guess what? Good old Alice is home.
At the concert, Jess and Lila can’t see a thing because they’re so far back and the people on the stage look “like ants”. After the first song, the microphone dies.
Jessica looked around her. People were hunched forward as if they could hear better by leaning toward the distant stage. Some fans were yelling and stamping their feet, while others were demanding their money back. One woman, seated right behind Lila and Jessica, shouted a string of swearwords that stunned everyone around her into silence for several seconds.
I would like to try to recreate those swearwords:
Gosh darn it to heck! I paid good money for this fudging concert and I don’t expect the sound system to be a pile of sugersnaps! I want my monsterflipping money back.
Because I’m fairly certain nobody has actually used a swear word in Sweet Valley.
[Wing: So what you’re saying is that I could show up and talk like normal, and the entire town would burst into flame in shock.]
Jess suggests they move to the front – if they start now, they’ll be at the front by intermission. Lila’s like, fuck that noise, I’m staying right here. Jess starts her journey to the front and bumps into Bruce Patman. Usually she’d be stuck to him like glue, but JOHNNY is here, and Jess keeps fighting her way forward. And as she gets closer, she realises that there are a tonne of girls, all holding a hat, just like Jessica’s. She feels foolish, and then decides Johnny Buck is a big phony. Still, she tries to get an autograph, but Johnny’s immediately whisked away by two burly bodyguards.
[Raven: Johnny gave his hat to lots of girls, and they thought it was his only hat. They no longer feel special. (This isn’t really about hats, is it…?)]
Some marketing dude starts handing out “autographed” (printed signature) photos with the line “Keep on rocking – from your friend, Johnny Buck.”.
Janet’s brother finds Jess sitting on the floor, all doleful, looking at her crap picture and not feeling special at all. Janet’s brother is pissed off because she wasn’t at the meeting spot and they’ve had to look for her.
Janet’s a bit snooty and asks if Johnny had time to speak to her, and then promptly squashes her flat when Jess tries to say that her picture was signed specially for her – Janet bought exactly the same picture at the refreshment stand.
She wishes she’d never gone to the concert, because she’d be home, happy, not humiliated, and still have twenty-five dollars to spend.
Back in the Wakefield house, Liz is just breaking the news to Alice that they’ve lost the dog. Wow, either Johnny Buck did the shortest concert ever, or time moves differently on Secca Lake than it does on Calico Drive. Yes, I do know their address. Shut up.
- Liz searches for Sally, can’t find her, goes to Lila’s house.
- Lila and Jess have already left for the concert.
- Liz and Amy search for another half hour, and when they’re done, Alice is home.
- Lila and Jess watch the entire concert including intermission, plus all the time searching for Jess because she wasn’t where she was supposed to be.
- Alice walks through the door, is about to get a coffee and Liz tells her the dog is missing. (Bonus points for Alice arriving home before and after them.)
Liz tells Alice what happened, leaving out the part about the concert, just saying that Jess probably promised to get there to have dinner with the Fowlers. Who presumably have dinner before THREE PM.
Then Mrs Bramble rocks up. Alice has to break it to her, and this makes Mrs Bramble cry. And I don’t blame her. If someone lost one of my cats, I would cry. Then I would start thumping people.
“You must forgive me, please.” Mrs. Bramble was crying freely now, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Ever since my husband died, Sally’s been all the family I have.” She reached into her purse for a handkerchief and dabbed her eyes. “I know it seems silly to make such a fuss over a dog, but my little girl and I have taken care of each other for such a long time.”
No, Mrs Bramble, NO-ONE needs to forgive you. You love your pet and some selfish little brat lost her. You owe apologies to NOBODY.
[Wing: MRS BRAMBLE YOU NEED TO START SLAPPING EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THIS. IN FACT, LET ME DO IT. YOU CUDDLE YOUR DOG, I WILL PUNCH EVERYONE REPEATEDLY IN THE FACE. HARD. I USED TO BOX, I CAN HIT HARD AND FAST AND FOR A LONG TIME. (Right after I cuddle my dog, because I hate this storyline.)]
[Raven: If the dog dies, I am going to FUCK. SHIT. UP.]
They go out searching again and don’t find her. Finally Alice suggests they call Lila’s house and gets Jessica back here. If it was me, that would be the first thing I did. But I suppose I’m not a great parent like Alice. Liz argues that if they wait to get Jess, it will be too dark. Doesn’t Lila live around the corner? Walking distance? Haven’t you already walked there once today, Liz? This is a bullshit reason.
Liz manages to stall for another few minutes by calling the police, but they don’t have any report of anyone finding Sally. She tries stalling again: calling the Fowlers before going over there and then she needs the bathroom, and Alice says she’s done waiting, they’re going over there.
[Raven: I hate the fact that Elizabeth is still stalling to cover for Jessica. Give it up, Liz. It’s over. ]
Then Liz has a brainwave. Sally will be at Mrs Bramble’s house. So they go there, and she is. Yay. They have tea and biscuits, and talk for a long time, and eventually Alice remembers that her youngest daughter is a selfish moron and she really needs to parent that shit.
“I’m so glad we got our happy ending,” she told Mrs. Bramble. “But I’m afraid there’s still one loose end left to tie up. With your permission, I intend to bring Jessica back here tonight to apologize to you for her carelessness.”
“Good heavens,” protested Mrs. Bramble. “I certainly don’t need any apologies. I have everything I want now that my girl is safe.”
Yes, you do. They lost your pet. You were crying over this. An apology would be first on my list of demands if someone put me through this.
[Wing: I went apoplectic when someone left the back door open and my girl might have gotten out, though she didn’t. If someone actually lost her, I’m pretty sure you could see Wing Goes Boom from another galaxy.]
Alice then drives to the Fowlers and tells Liz to tell Jess that she needs to apologise and pay back Mrs Bramble, because she didn’t do the job she was paid to do. Way to parent there, Alice, getting Liz to do it for you.
Finally, Liz loses her rag, when she sees Jess wearing her brand new outfit and only one of the two earrings Liz bought for Mother of the Year. Yes, Jess has lost one of the earrings. Apparently she did this without it ripping her lobe, which is good, because Wakefield’s shouldn’t have scars, they’re too perfect.
[Wing: Eh, earrings can fall out without ripping the lobe. And the lobe can grow over the earrings. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.]
Liz gets over it almost immediately though, because Jess asks her to help look for the missing earring and she does, then she helps Jess pack her overnight bag, saying if she thinks this is bad, wait until Alice gets hold of her. You mean, Alice is planning something far worse than a single glare followed by absolute forgiveness? OMG, HOW SCARY.
OMG, then Jess asks if she can borrow $25 from Liz to pay back Mrs Bramble. And the only reason Liz says no is because she doesn’t have it. Not because her sister is a selfish shit who lost a dog, stole her dress and nicked the birthday present for their mother. Because. she. doesn’t. have. it. [Raven: So much hatred for Jessibeth here.]
Alice actually does parent, she says three whole sentences about how disappointed she is in Jessica. This is more parenting than Alice has ever done in her life.
Jessica then goes to see Mrs Bramble alone and tells her the full un-edited story. Mrs Bramble forgives her and even gives her a bracelet as a thank you gift. However, she does make Jessica agree to walking Sally twice a day for a month, but the next ghost writer isn’t aware of that, so she manages to get away with doing fuck all.
At home, Jessica gives the Johnny Buck hat back to Liz and says it should live in her room. What, the hat that’s no longer special because every girl has one, Jess? How generous. Then she gives Liz the bracelet that Mrs Bramble gave her and says Liz should give it to Alice for her birthday, just from Liz. And she’s going to promise to be a much better person from now on. “I’m going to be so responsible and caring and good, no one will recognize me.”
Liz will never get over her doormat issues, and says the bracelet should be from both of them. Oh, and she’ll want her dress washed and ironed. Seriously? I’d demand a new dress.
Then they foreshadow the next book by talking about what a nasty piece of work Brooke Dennis is, and how Jessica has given her a nickname, “Disgusting Dennis”.
Then we prove that Jessica can’t keep a promise to be good for even a whole conversation, because the last line is that Jess is going to make Brooke feel like shit at school.
Who the fuck throws a rock concert at three pm?
[Wing: I HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT FOR MRS BRAMBLE AND SALLY. FUCKING DOG ABUSERS, FUCK UPS, THIEVES, ASSHOLES, LIARS — I HATE THIS WORLD AND THIS TOWN AND THESE CHARACTERS SO, SO, SO MUCH.]
[Raven: Fuck Jessica, fuck Elizabeth, and fuck
Justin Beiber Johnny Buck.]
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.