Title: Sarah’s Dad and Sophia’s Mum
Tagline: Will worst enemies become sisters?
Summary: Hate at first sight…
Sarah Thomas and Sophia Rizzo can’t stand each other. Without doubt, no two girls in their year at Sweet Valley Middle School are more different. [Wing: Not even the Wakefield twins who look alike but are really very different?] When Elizabeth Wakefield starts working on an art project with Sarah and Sophia, she hopes the two girls will become friends. But soon even patient Elizabeth is fed up with their constant bickering.
Sarah and Sophia’s fighting finally leads to a visit to the principal. The girls know they’re in big trouble, but they don’t know just how big. When Sarah’s father and Sophia’s mother meet in the principal’s office, it’s love at first sight. And Sarah and Sophia are united at last—to try to break up their parents!
The Rizzos are back! What is up with the dark-haired girl’s hair? Why do we have to have a Wakefield on the cover? Some people pay a lot of money for abstract art like that. I think they’ve touched on how the Rizzos will earn money now.
Otherwise, I’ve got nothing.
[Dove: I hadn’t noticed until you mentioned it, but you’re right, Sophia has curly hair on her previous front cover. This kid has lego hair.]
Jessica is super nervous because Mr Sweeney, the art teacher they only see once a week, is critiquing everyone’s art project, which they tack to the front wall and he critiques in front of everyone else. Frankly, that sounds like a terrible idea, but we know how (in)competent the SVMS teaching staff is. (And if we don’t, Raven will tell us.) [Raven: I hated Mr Sweeney in this book. The guy wouldn’t know art if it shredded itself right in front of him.]
Purple and black abstract painting: interesting use of shapes. (I assume one of the Unicorns, because if not, whoever it is will end up in the Mercandy backyard for using purple.) [Dove: I’m still waiting for Lois Waller and Caroline Pearce to team up for a “Take Back The Purple” rally.]
Collage from cut-up magazine photos: very nice, very nice indeed, excellent treatment of theme and variation (it’s Ken’s).
Jessica’s piece, which is not described, but was made in the last 10 minutes of class because she was gossiping with her friends instead of working: a wonderful example of something he’s been trying to teach them, which is that great art doesn’t happen in a hurry. (a) Not always true. (b) Wow, shaming as teaching, you know how much I love that tactic. [Dove: I can’t find a link, but I remember a big hoo-har in the 80s/90s when a couple who didn’t get the trend of modern art got their toddler to scribble a bit, and then they sent it in to a nationwide contest and it won. Raven, Rosey, fellow Brits? Does this ring any bells?] [Raven: Nope, sorry.]
Painting of a mare and foal: lovely, very sensitive, very thoughtful. Elizabeth’s piece, of course, and I’m supposed to believe that she did something that good in one class period? Riiiiight.
Dennis snarks on Elizabeth’s picture to Ken, claiming that Mr Sweeney made a big deal of it only because Elizabeth’s teacher’s pet, which I’m sure she is. Jessica snaps at him to shut up, even though she’s also annoyed at Elizabeth getting that attention, because god forbid anyone but Jessica criticise St. Elizabeth. He goes on to insult the rest of the family, and Jessica claims that every member of the Wakefield family is extremely talented. Oh god, here we go again with Jessica exaggerating her family.
… oh, wait, never mind, she actually can’t come up with a single Wakefield that Dennis might have heard of before. Love it. She wishes her mom could be a famous rock star like Brooke’s mom or a tv newscaster like Amy’s mom. Wow, you’re really desperate, wanting to be like Amy in any way. [Dove: Which is funny, because I think if Amy could get away with it, she’d kill Jessica and wear her skin, just so she could be close to Elizabeth.]
Then she is hit by a flash of inspiration: Quakefield Wakefield, who is apparently the star hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. She claims him as a distant cousin, which he’s maybe not, but she’s still glad she’s stretching the facts. [Raven: Quakefield Wakefield? Quakefield… Wakefield? … … … … Quakefield… … … WAKEFIELD?!]
Mr Sweeney interrupts them to talk about their next project, which is to spruce up the library and they’ve been tasked with coming up with some piece of art to cover the walls. Dennis suggests 10 or 12 buckets of white paint, which does make me smile. But, of course, there’s no budget to paint it yet, not until the summer. Which actually, I’ll give them, because generally school districts’ budgets roll over at the end of June, so this year’s money has already been allocated for awhile.
Anyway, he wants the class to do a series of murals in the meantime. Lila suggests fashions of the future, Ken baseball, other people food, pets, and outer space — Elizabeth suggests ecology and recycling, and this idea goes over so well that several other students applaud her.
Oh, god, it’s going to be one of those books. [Dove: Stay clenched. The next book has homeless people in.]
Mr Sweeney assigns them into groups to come up with murals that fit the “recycle now” theme: Jessica ends up with Ken and Lloyd Benson. Who? Apparently SVMS’s official computer nerd. Does official computer nerd pay? She’s done with nerds after SOAR! with Ken and Lloyd — wait, was Lloyd mentioned? I’ve already forgotten him, if so. Also, if you’re going to reference that book, you should also reference the fact that Jessica ended up loving SOAR! and standing up for herself with the Unicorns.
Ken and Lloyd, of course, want to get Quakefield Wakefield involved in the project, maybe by having him pose while they paint a picture of him recycling a soda can, because people drink tons of soda at baseball games. Which is true, but I don’t think they actually get cans, do they? It’s all fountain drinks in cups because that’s cheaper for the stadium.
Elizabeth interrupts them to ask if the Unicorns are meeting at the Wakefield house after school. Are they having official meetings there now? Does Janet still have that crush on Steven? Why would they meet there and not at Janet’s house or at least at Lila’s? Anyway, Elizabeth wants to have her group, Sarah and Sophia, over to start working. Jessica thinks that’s a terrible group, too, because Sarah is a big baby and Sophia is a troublemaker. I thought that rumour was busted many books ago. [Raven: Yeah, all I recall of Sophia at the end of the book was that she’d look at something like a telly and then start crying.] Elizabeth tells her not to be so mean about people; Jessica argues that she’s just honest. People who use “brutal honesty” as an excuse to be shitty to people are such horrible people. Just own the fact that you’re a bag of dicks.
Lila comes up to complain that she got stuck with Melissa McCormick (…again, am I supposed to know who that is? The ghost writers throw out these names and I have no idea) [Dove: Melissa was the star of Elizabeth and the
Orphans Kids with no Dad] and Dennis Cookman (the bully, right?). Lila’s convinced Melissa into doing that fashions-of-the-future idea of clothes made out of recycled materials. Lila mocks Melissa’s lack of fashion sense. Even Jessica realises she’s being snobby. She also notes that Mr Fowler makes up for being gone so much by buying Lila everything she wants, which is pretty astute for a Wakefield.
Lila’s come up with a solution, because Dennis wants to switch groups with Jessica; he doesn’t care about fashion at all. But Ken and Lloyd refuse to let her switch, because she’s Quakefield Wakefield’s cousin and the only one who can help them do their plan.
This is, of course, news to Lila, but Elizabeth more or less plays along. Jessica drags Elizabeth off and explains what happened, and Elizabeth is highly entertained by it and the awkwardness Jessica’s got herself into, which is a great sibling moment, especially when Jessica argues that it could be true and Elizabeth pops off other things that could be true: life on Mars, loch ness monster in Sweet Valley Lake (…uh, wait, are you saying there is a loch ness monster but the lie is that it lives in SVL?) [Dove: Also, isn’t it Secca Lake?][Raven: Yes, and the Secca Lake Monster is awoken at 3pm on the third Saturday of every month by the caterwauling of Johnny Buck’s latest concert.], earth is flat (oh, god, bite your tongue, Elizabeth, people today still believe that). [Dove: Yes they do, but they proudly claim they have supporters all around the globe. (If that’s been debunked, never tell me. If they can stick their head in the sand, so can I.)]
Elizabeth thinks about Sophia and Sarah, giving us the rundown: Tony the thief, Sophia acting tough at school to cover the fact she’s nice and smart, Sarah shy and timid since her mother’s death but really outgoing and outspoken and artistic.
When the girls show up, they’re a play in opposites: Sarah with pink mohair jumper and feathery curls, Sophia in black jeans and turtleneck. Elizabeth thinks they’re squaring off for a fight. I think it’d be far more interesting if all of this is chemistry and they’re about to start going steady.
Elizabeth tries to tell the girls about each other to make them like each other more, but that backfires spectacularly, down to Sophia sneering that Sarah should join the Unicorns since she’s so into fashion. Sarah’s response: I am not into unicorns. I collect rainbows.
That — that response is not nearly as smart as you seem to think it is. Elizabeth wants to know how she could possibly collect rainbows. UMM. The same way you could collect horse things to stand in for horses, really, but okay. Sarah collects all sorts of things with rainbows on them and every time her dad travels, he brings her something else, a rainbow mug from Europe, rainbow jewelry from New York, etc. So Lila’s snobby when she brags about stuff her dad brings her, but on Sarah, it’s fine, of course, because she’s Elizabeth’s friend.
Sophia calls rainbows baby-ish, they argue over what kind of cookies they want to make, and Elizabeth thinks they’re acting like little kids. They finally get to work, but the girls keep arguing over how to make a statement about the importance of recycling without depressing people because they need to cheer up the library at the same time.
I am already bored with this arguing.
Elizabeth suggests they take a break and they agree to meet at Sophia’s house on Thursday, even though Sarah is worried about going over to the “wrong side of town.” Well, I officially hate Sarah.
When Jessica gets home, she immediately rushes to read through the Wakefield family genealogy Aunt Harriet had bound for them last Christmas, because she’s frantic to find a famous Wakefield.
Thursday, Sarah and Elizabeth walk together over to Sophia’s house, and Sarah cements herself as a less interesting Lila by being snobby about how it’s not safe to walk around the neighbourhood and how she should call her father to drive them the rest of the way what the ever loving fuck Sarah. If I’m supposed to be sympathetic to her, that is gone. [Dove: I have never felt sympathetic to Sarah in this scene, so I’m not sure what they were driving at.]
Sarah refuses to go inside Sophia’s house, because she is a complete shit. Of course, by the time she finally does go inside, she loves how beautiful it is inside, which is “like being inside a jewelry box.” TOO LATE SARAH YOU FUCK.
Elizabeth’s come up with an idea for the mural: a series of caricatures of the people in their class representing a special club or interest of theirs, with everyone helping to hold up a big banner that says “Recycle Now.”
Sarah and Sophia both think it is a good idea, but Sophia doesn’t know of anyone who can draw well enough to do the caricatures. Conveniently, Elizabeth points out that Sarah is a great artist. She proves it by drawing a quick caricature of Elizabeth wearing an old-fashioned pressman’s hat, with the exaggerated features that belong in a caricature: her blond ponytail sticks out from beneath her hat like a horse’s tail, her eyes are the size of dinner plates, and her expression is serious but comic.
Sophia is convinced by this, and they start brainstorming ideas for the people. Of course, Sarah and Sophia immediately start arguing about who to draw in the center. Sarah wants Rick Hunter because he’s into weight lifting and is strong enough to hold up the banner. (Because banners are so heavy. [Raven: Bruce Banner is quite heavy.]) Sophia thinks he’s gross, all muscle and no brains, and wants Patrick Morris, who is smart and nice and cares about ecology. Sarah thinks he should worry about getting himself into shape instead of the planet. Goddamn, Sarah, you are just determined to make people hate you.
Sarah starts working on a caricature while Elizabeth and Sophia put together a list of classmates and their interests. Sarah doesn’t want to show them what she’s working on but does let them take the pad away — because she’s a bag of dicks and has drawn a terrible caricature of Sophia: she’s wearing a leather jacket covered in zippers and has brass knuckles on her fingers, her jeans are dirty, and little wiggly lines indicate she smells bad. Sarah doubles down and says she draws them as she sees them. I hate this book.
Sophia draws a quick one in response, even though her sketching isn’t as good: the caricature looks like a baby doll with tears rolling down its cheeks. I mean, fair enough, and Sarah started this.
Elizabeth is angry at both of them, though, and thinks they bring out the worst in each other: Sarah starts acting like the baby people think she is and Sophia like the bully her reputation makes her out to be.
The Quakefield Wakefield news has spread all over SVMS. Even Janet Howell, Unicorn president, wants to talk to Jessica about it and why Jessica hasn’t told them about it before now, because of course the Unicorns need to know all the important things like famous relatives. Jessica spins it as the Wakefields have a family feud. This — this sort of feels like she’s setting the stage of the Sagas, actually. Imma quote, because I’m really bored with this book.
“You see, his great-great-great-grandfather, who was my great-great-great-grandfather’s brother, fell in love with the woman who was supposed to marry his brother, my great-great-great-grandfather. They married secretly and didn’t invite anyone in the family to the wedding.” Jessica smiled. She was really cooking now. “Then they ran away—on a ship I think—and nobody saw them again for thirty years. My great-great-great-grandfather was so heartbroken that he locked himself up in a tower and eventually died of a broken heart. He never forgave them, and after his death, he was buried on a lonely prairie beside the body of his first wife, who was my great-great-great-grandmother. As far as my family is concerned, Quakefield’s great-great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-grandmother murdered my great-great-great-grandfather. Ever since then, we haven’t spoken to anyone on that side of the family.”
Jessica is exhausted by the time she finishes coming up with this story, which makes me laugh. It’d be way less tiring if you just told the truth, but you do you. It’s actually worked, too, because Janet is sympathetic and decides that Quakefield doesn’t deserve any more publicity.
Ken and Lloyd keep pushing for her to call Quakefield, but she finally spins a bit of the story for them about the family feud, though with far less detail. Probably good, because she’s not going to be able to keep things straight, but also, clearly anyone outside the Unicorns doesn’t deserve as good a story as the Unicorns get.
Oh, god, of course Ken pulls an Elizabeth and thinks that families should stick together and he wants to fix things. [Dove: This theme makes my skin crawl. Without fail.]
Mr Sweeney is very pleased that Elizabeth, Sarah, and Sophia have come up with a great idea and are ready to start painting. He sets them up in the empty studio next to the art room so they can spread out and paint their mural paper. Sophia and Sarah start arguing over how to draw Mr Bowman, their favourite teacher, and Elizabeth, again, eases the way between them. They immediately start arguing over whether to include a rainbow in the very next second, though. They physically disagree over this, enough that Sophia gets coated in blue paint, so she throws red and white paint onto Sarah.
Red, white, and blue paint, huh? So we have to be all AMERICA RAH RAH RAH even in this, huh? [Raven: Or the UK. Or France. Or Croatia. Or New Zealand. And… hell, here’s a quiz.] Elizabeth hides under a table as they throw more paint: black, then orange, and then Sophia and Sarah chase each other around the room armed with fresh buckets. Totally an enemies to lovers trope going on here.
The fight ends with them covering Mr Sweeney from head to toe with red and green paint [Raven: CHRISTMAS SWEENEY!]. He drags all three girls to the principal’s office, and to give them some credit, Sophia and Sarah both immediately defend her as not being a part of it, because of course she would never be a part of anything like that.
Sophia and Sarah have to bring their parents in for a meeting (oh, finally, we’re going to get to the whole parent part of this story); Mr Clark is also a little sharp with Elizabeth, telling her that whether or not she’s innocent or guilty, he doesn’t want to see her in the office again. UMM. I’m rarely on Elizabeth’s side, but that seems excessive.
Later that day, Sophia and Tony joke a little about how she got into trouble, right up until they both realise how serious things are, because she has to get their mom out of work to go into the school with her. Tony teases her into a better mood, though, with talk of how this could get her sent to reform school for at least three years and how she’ll need defensive moves, etc. He even offers to smuggle candy bars to her, which makes her wail about being fat. Sophia, I’ve been on your side, but you’re pushing it.
Mrs Rizzo is upset when she gets home that night. Things are finally getting better for their family, including Mrs Rizzo getting a good job at a company that imports leather handbags from Italy, which allows her to use her Italian and is also forcing her to improve her English so she speaks it at home now. [Dove: Hey… remember what that Italian exchange student visited and had a hard time with the language. Sure would have been nice if anyone (including me) remembered that we have an Italian family who speak the language right here in town.]
Mrs Rizzo warns Sophia not to act like her father, who was always angry, always picking fights and getting fired, so angry he eventually ran away. Sophia’s better than that, and knows better, and should not react out of anger.
Sophia gets grounded and, of course, blames everything on mean, snobby Sarah.
Over at the Thomas house, Sarah’s worried about what Mr Thomas will think, and also gives us a recap of that whole thing with the woman Annie who was dating Mr Thomas and left Sarah alone, etc. Mr Thomas broke up with her when he found out, of course, and hired Mrs Donaldson shortly after, to take care of the house and keep Sarah company while he traveled. Sarah and Mr Thomas spend every weekend together, which is just how Sarah likes it; he’s the most important person in her life and she’s the same for him.
Mr Thomas gets upset with Sarah, even though he’s on her side always, he says. Sarah tries to cry to get her way, but he goes off to dinner without her and grounds her. She’s certain that he doesn’t love her anymore and it’s all Sophia’s fault, of course. Dear lord, kid, you are really fucking over dramatic.
Friday comes around and the Rizzos and Thomases turn up for the meeting. Mr Clark speaks too quickly for Mrs Rizzo to follow and gets grumpy when she asks him to slow down and repeat himself, because he’s terrible. Mr Thomas translates it all into flawless Italian for Mrs Rizzo, which is sweet [Dove: Oh hey, didn’t I make this point in Ciao, Sweet Valley! as to why Giovanna probably wasn’t finding classes easy. Thank you new Jamie for my validation. Also, this is super cute, especially when he put his own editorial slant on it, to take the sting out of the tale.]. Mr Clark wants the girls to wash and sand the walls and surfaces in the studio as a part of their punishment, and then work on their mural together, with Elizabeth, until it is finished.
As soon as they’re all out of the office, Mr Thomas and Mrs Rizzo start laughing together over the story. They talk to their kids but keep looking at each other, and they all go out for pizza. Well this is escalating quickly. [Raven: What did you expect? This ain’t no Super Edition.] It gets even faster over dinner, when Mr Thomas wants to take all of them to a baseball game after the girls finish their work the next morning. This gets the girls ungrounded, but then the adults talk to each other in Italian, ignoring the kids. Well, that’s one way to do things.
Sarah and Sophia are both grumpy and silent while they work Saturday morning. Sarah’s nearly in tears because she told her dad all about the Rizzo house and Tony the night before, but Mr Thomas was adamant that she can’t judge people just by their house or how they look, etc. Well, Mr Thomas is awesome and Sarah is a bag of dicks, so.
Sarah watches Sophia clean for a moment and thinks that she’s actually kind of pretty and would be prettier if she changed her clothes and started caring about fashion. (a) She doesn’t need to do jack shit. (b) Enemies to lovers!
At the baseball game, Sarah’s pouting and grumpy, and Sophia’s determined to have the best time possible just to annoy her. Everyone but Sarah cheers a great run, Mr Thomas hugs Sophia and then her mother, and Sophia thinks that everyone must think they’re a loving family.
This time, Sophia sets up the date for them all to go to Secca Lake for a fried chicken picnic. Sarah and Sophia refuse at the same time, which makes Mr Thomas laugh, because at least Sarah is finally talking.
Sarah and Sophia pinch and poke at each other to make each other shriek, which, again, enemies to lovers, dudes.
At home that night, Mrs Rizzo calls Sophia on pinching and kick Sarah. She blames Sarah’s quietness on Sophia, which on the one hand, yes, that’s good parenting. On the other hand, you probably should have put a stop to it at the fucking game, but okay whatever.
Sophia has a terrible dream based around Cinderella and how Sarah is Tony’s new favourite little sister. It’s actually quite sad, though again, overly dramatic.
Sarah has her own sad fantasy, about how Tony keeps taking money from Mr Thomas and stealing things to sell and oh, god, Sophia’s dream is sad, but your fantasy is just bullshit, Sarah. God, you’re working hard to make me hate you, aren’t you. [Dove: But the high point of this terrible fantasy is when Sarah and her dad want to lock the door to keep the thugs out but Tony sold the locks. It’s just fucking ridiculous and made me chuckle about what a drama queen Sarah is.] [Raven: Yeah, I laughed a lot at that one.]
Sarah begs Elizabeth to come on the picnic with them as her bodyguard. Elizabeth’s reluctant, but decides to go because everyone keeps calling the house to beg Jessica for baseball tickets and Elizabeth needs a break from acting as Jessica’s secretary. I mean, you could just, you know, stop answering the phone. [Dove: Does nobody have an answerphone? We had one in the late 80s. Admittedly, mum trimmed dogs for a living, so it was probably an expense that paid for itself, but still, we weren’t as comfortable as the Wakefields by a long shot.]
Elizabeth is annoyed with both Sarah and Sophia for how they’re acting, like spoiled toddlers. At one point, Sarah whines something about Sophia getting dirt and sand on her, and Mr Thomas gets Tony, Mrs Rizzo, and Elizabeth to toss her into the lake. That — uh — okay, that is some kind of parenting, I guess. They toss Sophia in, next, because both girls have been asking for it. Again with the parenting.
The girls accuse each other and fight in the water and end up laughing at each other over how ridiculous they look covered in seaweed (in a freshwater lake?) and how silly they’re acting. Well, that has also escalated quickly.
Which, of course, goes away as soon as they see their parents holding each other, and they decide to team up to get their parents away from each other. We’re only ¾ of the way through the book before that finally happens. The pacing in this book is weird. Also, I’m both annoyed and bored.
Their first plan: guilting their parents into what they want (Sarah’s favourite way to get things). Sarah tries to scare herself to keep herself awake so she’ll look terrible in the morning and blame it on terrible nightmares about stepfamilies, but she can’t manage to stay awake.
After school, Sophia’s grumpy because Sarah fell down on the job of sabotaging their parents, so now it’s all on her to stop their date. She wrinkles the silk blouse that Mrs Rizzo always wears on special occasions and ruins her makeup by breaking it and throwing it away, and tosses the shampoo, too.
Then Mrs Rizzo calls and says she’s working late and will just go straight to meet Mr Thomas for dinner, so all of that work is for nothing. [Dove: I always feel bad for Mrs Rizzo here, because it’s clear they’re on a budget, and I feel like she’d make her makeup last as long as possible, because it’s both a necessity (to be seen as a neat woman who can take care of her appearance, and therefore is capapble of doing her job – that’s the world judging, not me) and a luxury. And now she has to replace it, when destroying it didn’t even achieve Sophia’s selfish and petty goals.]
Sophia and Sarah argue over who is failing worst at keeping their parents apart and Elizabeth tries to get them to focus on the mural. They can’t work in the art studio, though, because it’s still being redone, so Sarah volunteers space in her basement.
Mrs Donaldson is so glad to see Sarah with friends that she makes them a huge snack: three kinds of sandwiches, dips and potato chips, piles of cookies, cheese straws, chocolates, cold milk, and sodas. Goddamn, Mrs Donaldson, want to come cook for me, too?
Elizabeth realises how lonely Sarah must be in her life, and how much Mrs Donaldson wants her to have friends. While they work, they talk a little about how Sarah spends weekends with her dad, and from Sophia’s reaction, Elizabeth realises she’s lonely, too. It is taking you a long, long time to catch up, Wakefield. Where’s your normal meddlesome nature?
They all have a great time working on the mural and talking about everything under the sun, including boys, because it’s fine when they talk about boys, but it’s terrible shallow gossip when the Unicorns do it.
Mr Thomas comes home and loves their work; Mrs Rizzo shows up to walk Sophia home because it is getting dark. Mr Thomas shows her around the workshop where he makes beautiful kites. Mrs Rizzo talks about a kite she had as a kid and Mr Thomas asks tons of questions about it, making it very clear that he’s going to make one for her. Of course he is, and it’s very sweet, but also trite. [Raven: Trite rhymes with Kite!]
Sarah brings Sophia old photos of her dad and Annie, which pisses Sophia off because Mr Thomas sure gets around, but Sarah explains the truth. Sarah doesn’t want to make Mrs Rizzo sad, though, she’s starting to like her. Both Sophia and Sarah start wavering over their plan, but eventually they talk themselves into doing it, because they can’t just be honest with each other. [Raven: I was quite surprised here. Photos of the ex… It seemed a rather nuclear option.]
Mrs Rizzo is upset at dinner that night, then calls Mr Thomas and yells at him in Italian, though she switches to English for the end, I guess so the kids and the readers can understand? Because why else would she switch, he certainly knows what she’s saying. [Dove: A smart move here would be just to have Sophia understand a bit more Italian, or recognise they’re the same words she used to throw at Mr Rizzo, rather than eye-pokingly swap to a language everyone understands.]
Sophia feels awful, but tries to hold onto the reminder that everything is working out exactly like she wanted.
Sophia and Sarah are both unhappy at lunch the next day. They even manage to argue over this, because they are idiots.
The weekend is terrible for both families, until Sarah finally calls to talk to Sophia about whether they’ve done the right thing. They have a good, long conversation that leaves them laughing and enjoying themselves, and Sarah realises they’re starting to feel like they’re friends.
Everyone gets together to work on the mural Sunday afternoon, and Sarah and Sophia finally tell Elizabeth about their plan. Of course, when Sophia goes looking for some supplies, she finds an amazing dragon kite halfway finished. This convinces the girls that they’ve made a mistake, and they work with Elizabeth to figure out how to fix it. Of course, we don’t know what that is, because we skip ahead to Tuesday, when they present their mural to the art class.
Ken and Lloyd are still pushing for Jessica to call Quakefield and have come up with their own plan. Oh, god, this b plot has become even more badly paced than the a plot and is going to be resolved in the background. [Raven: At one point, when Jessica says they should just draw Quakefield from a magazine photo, Ken or Lloyd claim that it’s simpler to get a good likeness from a live model. Yeah, fuck off. it’s SO MUCH EASIER to take it from a photo. You just want to meet Quakefield.]
Sophia and Sarah have brought Tony in to help them fix what they’ve done, the girls continue to bond, Elizabeth thinks they sound like sisters. Sarah tells her dad to finish the kite, Sophia tells her mom the truth about the pictures but Mrs Rizzo still refuses to call Mr Thomas after the mean things she said, Sophia and Tony convince Mrs Rizzo to go to the park with them for a picnic. So that plot is on the way to being wrapped up.
Meanwhile, there b plot is coming to an end when Mr Wakefield finds an open letter in the newspaper from Quakefield Wakefield. Students at SVMS sent him a petition to stop an ancient family feud. He admits that his name is not really Wakefield, it is Frankenhuysen, a fine name he is proud of but hard to pronounce and spell, so Quakefield Wakefield is his stage name.
Jessica, of course, is terribly embarrassed by this.
Alice puts a stop to the teasing, because her great-grandmother’s maiden name was Frankenhuysen, so there probably is a relation between them. Of course there fucking is, because why wouldn’t there be. Sure enough, they are cousins, related by Clara Frankenhuysen. [Dove: Nope. Hard nope. It was Johnson. I was saving this for The Magic Christmas, but @Roseyonaboat sent me the below image, which is Alice’s family tree (ignore the circle, that relates to Magic Christmas). And I mildly edited it to create Robin and Stacey.]
Steven is grumpy because the twins get away with everything. Steven, I don’t much like you, but do you want to come recap with us? Because I agree wholeheartedly. [Raven: I actually quite enjoyed the story, up until this point. FUCKING RIDICULOUS BULLSHIT.]
At the park, Mrs Rizzo is wooed by the beautiful dragon kite, the adults make up, Sarah and Sophia hug it out, then argue over how to celebrate, so they end up throwing themselves into the duck pond.
Quakefield Wakefield is super kind to the twins, Ken, and Lloyd, who manage a pretty good likeness of him.
Everyone decides to celebrate by going to get ice cream, but Lila doesn’t have any cash on her, because her dad is traveling and normally leaves her allowance in the front hall but didn’t this time. Jessica offers to lend her money, because somehow Jessica has money? And Lila very casually drops that she’s not sure when her dad is coming back, which is a last sentence of the book, literally, setup for Poor Lila! I know Dove is looking forward to that one. [Dove: SO MUCH! It has my favourite Lila line of the whole series in it.]
I remain both bored and annoyed by this story. It’s trite and the fighting is toddler-level obnoxious (I don’t much like little kids, give me teenagers any day, though not the teenagers in Sweet Valley), and where an easy story like this could feel familiar and sweet, mostly I was left bored and — well, annoyed. Also, the pacing was really, really weird, especially with the b plot.
[Dove: I quite liked the main plot, although Wing is right, the fighting gets tedious really quick, but, as Wing also points out, the pacing is really weird, so it seems like you can zoom right though the silliness to get to them getting along. I hate the b plot. It’s stupid, pointless, contradicted in dozens of other books, and I hate that it givese us a Wakefields-always-win ending to it. I’d like, just once, for Jessica to have to own up to her silly shit, and to even have everyone say, “Yeah, we know, but we give you points for owning up for once,” would make a bit of change to bullshit-made-real-by-Wakefield-luck.]
[Raven: The main plot was fine. I quite enjoyed both Sarah and Sophia, although I didn’t like them as much as I did in their origianl books. Their squabbling was childish, sure, but it was funny. And I liked their single parents. Even Tony made me laugh. Hell, I also enjoyed the B Plot, and the weird pacing didn’t affect me half as much as it did Dove or Wing. But then the Ghostie burned away all of my goodwill by making Quakefield Wakefield an actual goddamn relative of the Wakefields, and I instantly leapt to despising this book. Why the hell couldn’t the open letter have been the end? With Jessica taking her lumps and moving on? Or if she’s got to win, why not have Quakefield charmed by the whole thing, and happy to visit the school for the good PR? Oh yeah, and the name Quakefield Wakefield SUCKS ASS.]