About the Book

Title: Taking Sides (Sweet Valley High #31)
The New Jessica (Sweet Valley High #32)
Starting Over (Sweet Valley High #33)
Forbidden Love (Sweet Valley High #34)
Out of Control (Sweet Valley High #35)
Spring Fever (SVH Super Edition #06)
Published: 1986

Hello! Bonjour! Does everyone have their snarking pants on?

Scratch that. Does everyone have their pants on, in general? I mean, let’s try to be respectable here, people. We’re in Sweet Valley! Do you know what they do to people who don’t wear pants? They slut-shame them for 180 pages until the no-pantster realizes the error of his/her ways and repents in front of the Wakefields! Do you want that to happen to you?

Before we begin, I’d like to direct you all to the St Martin’s Press website –Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later! (thanks for the heads up, talya!) (no thanks to YOU, St Martin’s! I thought we were friends!)

What you can find at Sweet Valley Confidential:

•  the first chapter of the new Sweet Valley High book!

•  a picture of Francine Pascal!

•  links to websites that review Sweet Valley High books (in case you’re bored of me)!

What you won’t find at Sweet Valley Confidential:

•  Detectives Benson and Stabler taking! it! personally!

•  any references to alcohol (actually there is in the first chapter of the new book, cause FP keeps it real)

•  a link to this website, because I guess for SOME reason they’ve decided that my derisive mocking isn’t good enough for them! Whatever! I didn’t want to sit with you guys anyway!

Anyway, check it out, and let me know what you think of the first chapter! My favorite part is Elizabeth’s poor impulse control! And the crying after orgasms part. (Also, Francine Pascal, I wish they hadn’t put your picture up there. Now that you have a face, you sort of look like my mom’s friend who buys all her clothes from Chico’s and updates her Facebook status with “Let go and let God,” a phrase which has always annoyed me because JESUS HATES DANGLING VERBS, but who also can hold her tequila and likes to tell me that I’m “pretty enough to get married, so why don’t {I} get to it?” Despite what this description of her may imply, she’s nice and I like her. Now I feel bad about making fun of your books so much, Francine Pascal. Maybe I could make up for it by taking you to Chico’s?)

Right. Apologies to Francine Pascal out of the way, it’s time to review some SVH!

The Official Sweet Valley High Drinking Game:

Take 1 drink anytime: 

• the words “blonde,” “sun-streaked,” “blue-green eyes” or “perfect figure” are mentioned in relation to the Wakefield twins’ looks
•  anyone goes to the beach, or talks about going to the beach
•  Liz and Jess get to drive the Fiat
•  Jess mentions the number “37” (you guys, seriously, she does this a lot)
•  they mention Steve, the eldest Wakefield child
•  Bruce Patman shows up
•  Jessica flakes on chores, Elizabeth talks to herself, or Todd or Enid are lame
•  “Eyes and Ears,” the gossip column that Elizabeth writes for The Oracle, the student newspaper, is mentioned
•  the fucking matching lavaliers are mentioned

Sweet Valley High 31: Taking Sides

In which Jeffrey French comes to town

Number Of Drinks Taken: 36

First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 3

Main Plot: Jeffrey French has come to town, finally!! Who is Jeffrey French, you may ask? (you may ask; I have given you permission to do so.) Well, that is Todd’s replacement in Sweet Valley, both in Elizabeth’s heart/pants and in my annoyance! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

J French, the name by which he will now be referred, is from Oregon, and has just transferred to Sweet Valley. He is the bestie of Aaron Dallas. Have you ever noticed how tons of kids get transferred in to Sweet Valley and are already existing BFF with an SVH student? Are these parents transferring to these towns specifically for that reason? “Gosh, Cindy, I don’t want to work at my high-paying executive job anymore. Let’s move across the country so little Jimmy can live next door to that kid he met from soccer camp two summers ago!” Or maybe it’s like a Stepford Wives thing and Sweet Valley is just luring people into town in order to turn them into robots.

Anyway! And so! J French is totes hot, of course, because this is Sweet Valley, and ugly people aren’t allowed in town, only fat people who can lose 20 pounds in a week and then suddenly be desirable. Both Lila and Enid would like to claim J French for their own, possibly in some sort of tribal mating ceremony. Elizabeth and Jessica swear to help their respective besties get the guy! They try all sorts of dastardly, underhand tricks! But it’s just not working! J French doesn’t seem at all interested in either Lila or Enid!

I know what you’re thinking: “How can he not be interested in Lila? I mean, Enid, sure, I get that. Enid’s lame. Her hair is bloody stupid and her last boyfriend wanted to dump her so bad that he crashed a plane. But Lila? Lila’s perfect! She has a lime green Triumph and a trust fund and an absentee parent, so she’ll probably want to have sex with me in order to increase her self-esteem! Team Lila!”

Normally I would agree with your inner monologue – particularly since I just drafted it for you – but you forget! Elizabeth Wakefield is available! So CLEARLY J French must instantly fall in love with her, because Elizabeth Wakefield is like the black tar heroin of Sweet Valley romantic entanglements. You think you can resist her charms, but one hit and you are GONE, sucker. You start selling all your shit and waking up in weird places with no memory of having been there before and then before long you’re trying to prostitute yourself out to pay for your addiction but physical congress has lost all meaning for you, as you slip ever deeper into a spiraling pit of despair. That’s what dating Liz Wakefield is like! Only legal, and not so often blamed on Chinese immigrants or rock stars.

Eventually, Elizabeth wises up to the fact that J French wants to whisper huskily in her ear, and after several apologies to Enid, they finally get together. Wow! Way to really spend some time between boyfriends, Liz! And poor Enid, YET AGAIN, gets the shaft. Except for how she doesn’t, actually, get the shaft. ifyouknowwhati’msayin’.

Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: The Wakefields’ cousin Jenny has come to visit! Jenny is a CHUBSTER who likes BOOKS because fat people aren’t allowed to be social or have friends.(Also because people who like books are losers, even though people who like books PAY YOUR SALARY, Francine Pascal!) Pay attention! Fat people only exist as an object lesson for the non-fatties!

So Fatso Jenny, who is ten pounds overweight but continues to eat food anyway, because she can’t even starve herself correctly, is a really big fan of Jessica’s, and wants to follow her around everywhere. (I love that even Jenny, who is RELATED to the Wakefields and thus is sort of obligated to like them, realizes that Liz is lame, and wants nothing to do with her.)

Jenny follows Jessica to the beach (drink), to Casey’s Diner, to the mall, to a pool party that Lila has to “welcome” J French into her vulva town, and on every “non-date” that Jessica has with Eddie, her flavor of the week. But it turns out Eddie and Jenny have a lot in common! And Eddie totally likes Jenny! WHAT! Someone is displaying romantic interest insomeone who is ten pounds overweight or a minority? THIS WILL NOT STAND. Clearly, we will never hear from Eddie and Jenny again, and they will disappear into that black hole under Sweet Valley where the Master with his fruit punch mouth lives.

Improbable High School Moment: Again, I really do not understand why parents are uprooting their families and moving to a town SOLELY because their high school junior knows A kid in town. Parents! This is not a good idea! Particularly if the kid your kid knows is Aaron Dallas, who we will soon learn has ANGER ISSUES and will turn into a misogynist asshole serial killer within a week. Maybe he should team up with John Pfiefer, the rapist. John Pfiefer! I can not wait for your crimes to come to light!

Most Offensive Portion: Seriously, ELIZABETH OVER LILA? You listen to me, J French. Do you realize what you’re giving up, here? Lila is rich and gorgeous and only really needs someone to love her. She’s like . . . she’s like Cher from Clueless and/or Emma from Emma! And you chose Elizabeth Mothereffin’ Wakefield over Lila? That’s like wanting to marry MRS ELTON or something. Ugh, you idiot.

Sweet Valley High 32: The New Jessica

In which Jessica goes all What Not to Wear on herself, and Elizabeth is predictably butthurt

Number Of Drinks Taken: 28

First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 4

Main Plot: Jessica somehow gets tired of being blonde-haired, blue-eyed, a perfect size six with All-American good looks. I know!! CLEARLY SHE IS MENTALLY DERANGED. Actually, it’s more honest to say that Jessica is tired of being mistaken for Elizabeth, which is completely understandable. Good God! Imagine going about your day to day life, just trying to win over Bruce Patman’s heart or coerce Bill the Surfer into liking you, and then someone comes up to you in the hallways and is all, “Dear sanctimonious, stuck-up bitchface, I hate you and your stupid fucking lavaleire!” Wouldn’t that upset you? And yes, okay, that’s not what people were saying to Jessica – they were saying, “Hey, Liz!” – but I imagine that’s what it translates to in regular people language.

With the help of Lila, Jessica dyes her hair black and starts dieting (to be a size four. A size four is the new size six!) and wearing expensive European clothes. She even speaks with a faint British accent. Basically, Jessica is pulling a Madonna, circa 2001 or so. Hooray? Maybe Jessica will rerelease Ray of Light?

Elizabeth, of course, is totally devestated that Jessica doesn’t look exactly like her anymore. She cries all the time. Way to make it ALL ABOUT YOU, AS PER YOOZ, Elizabeth. Why can’t you just be happy for your sister and her new look? WHY MUST IT ALWAYS BE ABOUT YOU???

Anyway, then there’s this whole thing about a modelling competition, but, ho!, to Jessica’s surprise the casting director would prefer the squeaky-clean, All-American look of blonde-haired, blue-eyed, size six Elizabeth Wakefield (drink! drink! drink! drink!), rather than Jess’s European waif look. And then Jess washes that man dye right out of her hair, and takes part in the fashion show, and everyone is happy again.

Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: Okay, don’t yell at me, but the sub-plot and main plot ARE sort of related. I KNOW. Why, Francine Pascal, why? This review standard that I made up while drunk off my ass and snowed into my hotel room in a tiny island off of Siberia must remain valid!!! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO THWART ME, BOOKS.

So, anyhoo, Elizabeth somehow gets it into her head that J French, her boyfriend of one fucking week, is actually in love with Jessica. So she dumps him (never of course discussing her fears with him or even flat-out asking him). In case you’re wondering, this is pretty much essentially the plot of Sweet Valley High 5, only substituting Todd for J French and date rape for hair dye.

Improbable High School Moment: When kids came to my high school looking completely different, they were always hauled into the main office and interrogated as to whether they were Satanists. Then, after being released from the exorcism, they would wander the halls, and the kids in school would make fun of their new look. Then they’d end up looking just like themselves the next day. Modeling shows were never involved.

Most Offensive Portion: Hey, I have an idea for a new rule for the drinking game!! When you, gentle reader, are perusing the “Most Offensive Portion” section, I want you to finish your entire drink if I don’t talk about Elizabeth Wakefield. Okay? Sound good?

Put that drink down! Did you think you were going to get drunk so quickly? Nay! We here at FYA care about your liver almost as much as we hate Elizabeth Wakefield, THAT HORRIBLY SELFISH WHORE MONGER. Hey, Elizabeth Wakefield! Here’s a suggestion! Maybe, when your twin sister dramatically changes her look, you ask her if there’s anything you can do to help! Not cry for 41 effin’ pages and then dump your stupid boyfriend on the flimsiest grounds ever!!! I AM JUST SAYIN’.

Sweet Valley High 33: Starting Over

In which Dana Larson’s cousin comes to stay and we learn that all Sweet Valley residents are horrible fuckwits, not just the Wakefields

Number Of Drinks Taken: 15

First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: you guys. Are you sitting down? Have you grabbed your drink with both hands? Get this . . . PAGE THIRTY TWO. Yes! That’s right! 32! WHAT THE H?

Main Plot: Dana Larson is the lead singer of popular rock band The Droids, who have to rely on shy losers to write their songs for them. Anyway, Dana’s cousin, Sally, comes to live with the Larsons. Get this! Sally’s mom (or dad, I can’t remember) died when Sally was young. And then her dad (or mom, I can’t remember) totally ditched her shortly afterwards. So Sally has been living in orphanages and foster homes for TEN YEARS. And then the Larsons just decide, FINALLY, to foster her, when she turns seventeen. Um, thanks a lot, Larsons? You couldn’t manage, in TEN YEARS, to maybe start up the fostering or adoption process for your own flesh and blood, who your brother (or sister, I can’t remember) abandoned? And then, just as she’s about to be released as an adult, you decide to uproot her and bring her across country to live with you? Well, LA DEE FUCKING DAH, you get a gold star! Shitbags.

Dana and her equally – if not more – obnoxious brother Jeremy aren’t so sure about letting their cousin WHO HAS NO HOME come live with them. Jeremy is flat-out rude, while Dana tries to mold Sally into a little servant girl. Sally, eager to please, offers to do all the chores, clean Dana’s room, etc etc. YOU CAN IMAGINE.

Anyway, all of this still does not endear the poor, orphaned, defenseless Sally to her fuckhearted cousins, and while the three are driving somewhere, stupidhead Jeremy pulls over to pick up some hitchhikers. The hitchhikers, of course, then rob them, kidnap Sally, and drive the car over to The One Bar In Town (where Dead Tricia Martin’s sister used to hang out).

Eventually, Dana and Jeremy realize that their cousin is in danger and enlist the help of Elizabeth Wakefield (OF COURSE), J French, and Jeremy’s friend who has a Sally-inspired hard-on, and they rescue Sally from the eternal hell that is stale beer and peanut shells. And Sally gets to stay in Sweet Valley after all!! Lucky her?

Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related to Main Plot: Sigh. The twins decide to get a puppy, which they probably bought from some puppy mill somewhere. Only the Wakefields don’t want them to have a puppy. So they get the bright idea to hide the puppy, which goes about as well as you’d expect.

Then they lose the puppy during a walk, and are sad, but then Mr Wakefield MIRACULOUSLY finds the SAME PUPPY at the pound, decides to adopt him, and brings him home to the delighted surprise of the twins.

ALSO. They name this puppy Prince Albert. That is . . . . not an appropriate name for a dog.

Improbable High School Moment: I find it improbable that this is a book series about HIGH SCHOOLERS, meant to be read by HIGH SCHOOLERS, and there is plot where two kids mischeviously try to hide a puppy from their parents. This isn’t the BOXCAR CHILDREN, for fuck’s sake. Mostly because the Boxcar Children didn’t have any parents to hide a dog from, and also because the Boxcar Children fucking rocked. And cause Watch wouldn’t put up with being named after genital piercings.

Most Offensive Portion: SERIOUSLY, you let your niece sit in foster care for TEN YEARS before letting her move in? TEN YEARS? For real, a similar sort of situation happened in my family, and we were collectively on those children like white on rice by the end of the week (until their mother decided, hey, she wanted them after all, but let’s not get into that). YOU. DO. NOT. LET. YOUR. FAMILY. SUFFER. I so rarely get to say this in these recaps, so I relish this opportunity: FUCK YOU, LARSONS.

Sweet Valley High 34: Forbidden Love

In which Maria and Michael are Romeo and Juliet, only sadly nobody dies

Number Of Drinks Taken: 15

First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 2. Back to basics.

Main Plot: So Maria Santelli, which is about as close to brown-skinned as anyone in Sweet Valley gets, has been secretly dating Michael Harris for a super-long time (which probably amounts to about five months in Sweet Valley High’s timeless vortex). They have been secretly dating because their fathers, former business partners, hate each other. Oh my god! This is such an original plotline! Tell me, paragraph after this one; do they enter into some sort of binding love agreement and fight to keep it a secret and hilarity ensues?

Why yes, former paragraph, they do! Of course, beyond the problem with keeping their secret engagement secret, there’s also a minor inconvenience stemming from the fact that Michael is a jealous, controlling dickweed. Maria is helping Winston out in his campaign to run as Student-PTA liason (I actually typed “Stupid-PETA liason” at first) and Michael gets really jealous. Of course, he sort of has good reason to, since Maria would like to touch Winston in his bathing suit area.

Eventually, Lila throws a party (of course) to celebrate Maria and Michael’s secret engagement, Maria and Michael’s families show up and learn about the engagement, their families make up, and then Maria and Michael decide they’re not quite ready to be married and break up. And then Maria decides to date Winston, I guess. Elizabeth Wakefield meddles in most of that.

Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related to Main Plot: Yet again, the plots are related! I KNOW! Why? Is this to become a habit? Francine Pascal Cabal, are you actually fleshing out stories together? THIS WILL NOT DO.

In this sub-plot, the kids in school have to take one of those “marriage seminars” – you know, where everyone has a heteronormative “spouse” and they have to decide how they’re going to take care of their 5.8 children on only a bus driver’s salary, or whatever. Do any schools actually do this? I’ve only seen it on tv and read it in books. Our school didn’t do anything like this, or like the sack of flour baby thing, or whathaveyou. I guess my school figured that 60% of the graduating class would be married by the age 19, and that they shouldn’t spend money teaching them what they were about to learn anyway.

Anyway, blah blah, people are “married” and Jess gets Winston (of course) and Elizabeth gets Bruce (of course) and Maria and Michael get each other and learn they aren’t suited at all.

Improbable High School Moment: So, you guys remember Ricky Calpado? He was the guy who dated slutty Annie Whitman before they broke up and then his mom tried to keep his grandparents from seeing him and Elizabeth meddled like the jackass she is? And he’s also the cheerleading manager? Well, in this v. special Sweet Valley High, he calls the cheerleaders to a special practice to perfect their pyramid or something. And he, like, actually coaches them. HUH? Cheerleader managers don’t coach people! They carry all the bags and make sure the megaphones are set up on the sidelines! Wha??

This reminds me of my very favorite high school moment, which happened after I graduated from high school (clearly). I was back in town visiting my parents during my sophomore year in college and I decided to go to a high school football game. (I was on drill team – which is like a competitive dance team, for those of you not from Texas – in high school, so I saw quite enough football games while I was there.) At the game, I decided to go over to where the drill team sat in the stands, so I could see the few friends that hadn’t since graduated. As I approached the team, the drill team manager – some douchelord in a varsity jacket and the meagre beginnings of a pornstache – was all, “Excuse me, you can’t go past this line.” And then this girl – WHO I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW – said to him, “That’s Erin {last name redacted} – yes she fucking can.” HA! In your FACE, drill team manager! People I don’t even know remember me! I’m a goddamn legacy at that school! SO THERE.

Most Offensive Portion: THIS BOOK OFFENDS MY IDEA OF LOVE. Okay, so, granted they’re young, but just because Maria and Michael decide they aren’t ready to get married YET, they have to break up?! What, is there no phase between being married and being single? OH WAIT, YES THERE IS. It’s called DATING. What’s wrong with dating, Maria and Michael?? You were doing it successfully for quite a while/five months! You can always go back to that! You don’t need to break up and then start seducing Winston Egbert just because you’re not ready to stroll down the aisle. NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO GET MARRIED OKAY??

Ahem. Let’s move on.

Sweet Valley High 35: Out Of Control

In which Aaron Dallas looks a bit like a cross between Jason Street and Bailey from Party of Five, non?

Number Of Drinks Taken: 15

First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: Guys. GUYS. Remember how I told you that you should sit down and hold your drink last time, when the first page that the twins were described was page 32? Okay. Now I want you to sit down, hold your drink with both hands, and bring it slowly to your mouth. Now swallow. Okay. Keep doing that for a while, until it’s finished. All done? Okay. Brace yourself . . . . the first page on which the twins are described as “blonde, blue-eyed, all-american good looks,” etc is . . . . NEVER. That’s right. I know. I KNOW. Never! I mean, sure, Jessica still flips her blonde hair over her shoulder, and Elizabeth’s blue-green eyes still twinkle with delight while she’s sticking her nose in someone’s business, but at no point are the attributes of the twins listed in paragraph form for all of the rest of us to read and feel oppressed by. NEVER! Readers, I’m here to tell you, I read this entire book just waiting for the other shoe to drop. BUT IT NEVER DID. This book GAVE ME AN ULCER FROM ANXIETY.

Main Plot: I don’t want to give anything away here, but Aaron Dallas is, in fact, OUT OF CONTROL. You might think that this means he wears tiny gold spandex shorts which show his balls to school and tells people that he can see their aura, but in fact it just means that occassionally he might somewhat threaten to hit someone.

Liz, of course, feels that this is all her business, because Aaron Dallas is her boyfriend J French’s bestie. She sticks her bits all over the situation, while patronizing her boyfriend and being a snobby bitchface to Aaron Dallas’s sort of awesome girlfriend, who Elizabeth things is too flighty.

It turns out that Aaron’s mom has walked out on his dad and him, which leaves Aaron with an emotionally abusive dad and probably a ton of issues which he will internalize and later use as justification for being an asshole boyfriend to all of his future girlfriends. I mean,I’m just spitballin’ here.

Right. And so. Aaron Dallas punches J French and this is when we learn that Aaron Dallas NEEDS HELP. So then he, uh, gets some. Story over.

Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: So, Jessica wants to earn some extra money to pay whatever large store credit she’s racked up this week. She gets a job as a Tofu-Glo girl, which basically means she’s shilling some sort of “all-natural” beauty supplies, like a Mary Kay lady without the pink car. Hilariously, because this is the 80s, everyone is all “Natural ingredients? I DON’T LIKE THE SOUND OF THIS!” Oh, 80s people. How sad you are without some Lush to bathe with.

Jessica, being naturally awesome, sells all of it like hotcakes. But then she forgets to tell everyone to refrigerate the product – which quite clearly says that it doesn’t have any types of preservatives – so everything goes all moldy and shit. And then she has to give all the money back. And that is literally as exciting as this sub-plot is. I can’t even make jokes about moldy dark places. It’s that boring.

Improbable High School Moment: In what world do parents let their child shill out 150 dollars – which is like 800 real person dollars- on a pyramid scheme-type business? How is that a sensible busines investment? Shit, can’t teenagers just get jobs as underpaid manual labor like the rest of us?

Well, to be fair, my first “real” job at age 16 was in the basement of the UT med school, where we kept the corpses and the test animals. Other people sold shoes that summer. I dealt with runaway mice. Then, a couple of years later, our baesment flooded and all the corpses floated to the top of the water, like some even more horrifying version of Coccoon, which is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.

Most Offensive Portion: OH MY GOD! Elizabeth Wakefield! Is such a sanctimonious twatbox! She starts hanging out with Aaron and his girlfriend more – mostly for the purpose of plot advancement – and she is such a cow to Aaron’s perfectly nice girlfriend! She gossips about her to other kids andshe’s flat-out rude to the girl in question. It’s not until she learns that the girl makes her own clothes- god forbid she be interested in clothes just as a hobby and not a career – that she even makes an effort to not be an absolute shitheel to the poor girl. I HATE YOU ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD. I WANT TO SLOWLY PRESS YOU TO DEATH LIKE THEY DID IN THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS. ONLY I WILL USE MY LARGE CAT INSTEAD OF A STONE. Actually, no I won’t. Elizabeth Wakefield, you are not good enough to earn death by Schrodinger suffocation. There will only be stones for you!

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Spring Fever

In which the twins go to KANSAS (not the band)

Number Of Drinks Taken: 12 (how sad is that?!)

First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 3

Main Plot: It’s Spring Break!! And the Wakefield twins are so super-duper excited to spend their vacation with their great aunt and uncle in Kansas! Wait, what?

Yes, you heard me correctly. Two 16 year olds from Cali are totes mcgoats excited to be spending 11 days in a small town in Kansas. Sure, that happens!

Jessica and Elizabeth land in Kansas and exclaim over how “quaint” and “flat” and “charming” everything is. Presumably they have not stumbled upon a protest by Westboro Baptist Church yet during their travels.

Soon, the twins meet a guy named Alex, who has a twin brother of his own named Brad. Except, Alex and Brad are CARNIES, which the twins’ totally old great-aunt and uncle won’t allow them to date. So Jessica sneaks out every night to hang out with Alex, while Elizabeth spends her afternoons getting to know Brad. Can you see where this is going?

Eventually, Elizabeth decides that she’s not all that into Brad, which is probably pretty good, considering she has a long-term boyfriend of four books, J French.

Anyway, eventually Elizabeth figures out that Alex and Brad are the same dude, but like a moron, she doesn’t want to hurt AlexBrad’s feelings, so doesn’t tell Jessica. JESUS. Elizabeth, let me explain to you something that I like to call The Hierarchy of Needs. No, I’m not talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where we need water and food and shelter and love and boning. This is the Erin E Hierarchy of Needs, which lists the hierarchy in which the people who know you (or don’t) require your support/devotion/backing up/fifty dollars. Here we go!

1.  Yourself

2.  Your children

3.  Your parents and siblings

4.  Your partner

5.  Your best friend

6.  Your extended family

7.  Your partner’s extended family

8.  Haiti

9.  All other countries like Haiti

10.  The poor and downtrodden of your own country

11.  Your friends

12.  The oil-slicked plants and wildlife of the Gulf

13.  Your close coworkers

14.  Your neighbors

15.  Those coworkers who you aren’t so close with, but see every day and maybe go to lunch with on occassion

16.  The cousin/friend/neighbor/coworker of your relative/friend who just got diagnosed with cancer

17.  Pretty much anyone else who just got diagnosed with cancer

18.  The people that cut your hair, fix your car, deliver your mail, pick up your trash or do one of any of the million things that you are too busy/unskilled/lazy/privileged to do for yourself

19.  That one guy you dated for six months a few years ago and parted as friends

20.  Any teacher you ever had


Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: So, there’s this girl called Annie Sue (of course) who lives in Kansas and hates the twins for no reason. Like, I hate the twins for very specific, well-established reasons, but Annie Sue just sort of hates them just because.

Anyway, she’s really cold and mean to the twins, but eventually she apologizes, after Jessica heroically saves her from being thrown and trampled by a wild horse. I think maybe Annie Sue’s problem is that she’s got some sort of amnesia. Because on page 197 of the book, while making her big apology, she says that she is an only child and therefore never had to share with others. Except that just 90 pages earlier, Annie Sue hired her younger sister, Janie, to torment the twins with a day on the farm. Which means that whoever ghost-wrote this piece of crap can’t even remember for NINETY PAGES that one of the characters has a sister. I mean, it’s not that hard! I remembered and I was vaguely tipsy!

Improbable High School Moment: In my high school, people usually went to South Padre for Spring Break. Some of them went to Cancun. They’d get very drunk, bare their bosoms for the popular amateur porn series Girls With Low Self-Esteem, usually have sex with at least two – but no more than five – waiters and/or possibly end up being accidentally loaded onto a cruise ship in a wheelchair, not to mention any specific names.

THEY DO NOT GO TO KANSAS. (No offense, Kansans!)

Most Offensive Portion: You guys, I’m pretty sure they don’t still square dance in Kansas. Although, this WAS written in the 80s, and I remember square dancing a lot in the 80s. Square Dancing was very popular. Remember when Bayside High School had a square dance? Screech was the caller and Jessie and Slater got stuck in that boiler room, and then they kissed and the Live Studio Audience went “Oooooooooh?”

So, I guess on second thought, the square dance isn’t that offensive. But the fact that I could be watching Saved by the Bell right now and I’m not is.

That’s it for this month, but guess what’s coming up! Guess! Guess! REGINA’S ABOUT TO TRY COCAINE JUST ONCE AND DIE!!! So join us next month for a Very Special Sweet Valley High drinking game, in which we learn that DRUGS KILL.

Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.