About the Book
- Francine Pascal
HAPPY FREAKIN’ CHRISTMAS YOU GUYS!!
It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! I AM SO EXCITED! Tonight I get to go to church and sing Christmas carols and try not to light anyone’s hair on fire (a real concern at any candlelight ceremony in any Texan town . . . we use lots of Aqua Net on our big Texas hair. The bigger the hair, the quicker to Heaven! IT’S BABY JESUS APPROVED!) and THEN I get to go to my parents’ house and EAT TAMALES and then I get to go to bed and then tomorrow it’s CHRISTMAS and SANTA COMES and THERE ARE GRITS AND PRESENTS AND CHAMPERS AND MORE GRITS! I AM SO EXCITED, I LOVE CHRISTMAS YOU GUYS!!
Ahem. Sorry. When Christmas comes around, I’m like Buddy the Elf. SOMEONE GIMME SOME SYRUP!
And, holla, cause it’s Christmas, my True Love gave me 12 days of presents! Unfortunately, they were all Sweet Valley-related presents, cause my True Love is kind of an asshole*. ALSO said True Love clearly doesn’t understand that the 12 days of Christmas starts on Christmas day and runs through to Epiphany Day, but WHATEVER, no way am I going to write about SVH everyday for the next two weeks. There isn’t enough spiked eggnog in the world for that. So, instead, we’re going to have six days of presents today, and six days next Friday. If nothing else, it’ll ensure you stay perfectly intoxicated for both Christmas and New Year’s!
SO LET’S GET IT ON, SVH-STYLE!
It’s Christmas! You may think that, because it’s Christmas, I’m only reviewing Christmas-themed SVH books! But nay! You would be wrong in thinking that! Mostly because I don’t want to sort through the cardboard box and pick out the books that have Elizabeth and Jessica dressed in ornamental sweaters or exclaiming over brightly-wrapped boxes. Nay! Instead, today, we’ve got SIX MOTHER-EFFIN SWEET VALLEY TWINS BOOKS, comin’ at ya!
Yes! I hope I get to read that one where the twins get their period!! (Spoiler alert: I don’t. Sadface.)
For Sweet Valley Twins, I’ve added a few new rules to the Drinking Game: Drink everytime anyone mentions the words “Unicorn/s”, the “Sweet Valley Sixers,” or the title of the book is mentioned in the text. I KNOW. Who knew tweens could cause such alcoholism?
The Official Sweet Valley
High Twins 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
• anyone mentions the words “Unicorn/s”, the “Sweet Valley Sixers”
• the title of the book is mentioned in the text
Alright. Sweet Valley! Let’s get it!
ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME . . .
A THINKING SPOT IN A PINE TREE!
Sweet Valley Twins 1: Best Friends
In which we are introduced to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Hoo-fuckin-ray.
Number Of Drinks Taken: 35
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 5! How’s that for progress?
Explanation of Gift: Liz has a “thinking spot,” and it’s not her medulla oblangata. It’s the knotted roots of a pine tree in the backyard. This is a dumb place to think. I hope she sits on a pine cone.
Main Plot: Guys, I don’t know if you know this, but Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are twins. They look exactly alike! And they dress exactly alike! And they do all of the same things! But then Jessica wants to start taking ballet class! And join the Unicorns!
The Unicorns are a super group of girls who, like unicorns, are special and beautiful and can cure syphillis with their tears. Unlike unicorns, these girls do not thrust their sharpened horns into the anuses of innocent passers by. One would assume.
But Liz isn’t all that interested in joining the Unicorns, partly because she doesn’t look good in purple (the Unicorns’ favorite color. AND MINE!), but mostly because she thinks girls like Lila Fowler are snobs, and Elizabeth is much too good to hang out with people who think they’re better than everyone else.
Then Liz and her new pal Amy Sutton start a school newspaper for sixth-graders, The Sweet Valley Sixers. Then Jessica and Liz decide to start dressing differently! Is Elizabeth losing her best friend???
Answer: no. Because otherwise, all future books would not be able to include the line, “The girls were best friends and identical twins, but couldn’t be more different.”
Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: The Sweet Valley Twins books don’t have sub-plots, because clearly sub-plots are something that only teenagers have the gravitas to handle. So instead we’ll be spending this section talking about our Christmas wishes! I’ll start, okay?!
This Christmas, I wish that my fourth toe on my right foot did not curve inwards towards my third toe. Ever since I broke my toes during a freak rafting incident on the Guadalupe River, that one has been curved. I hate it. It makes me think my fourth toe is needy, the way it’s curving into the other one. It’s so clingy! GET YOUR OWN SPACE, TOE! WHY YOU ALWAYS GOTTA GET UP IN THE THIRD TOE’S GRILL? TOES NEED THEIR PRIVACY TOO!
Improbable Junior High School Moment: The twins are, frankly, kind of babies. Is this what 12 year olds were like in 1988? Somehow I doubt it, because I know that when I was twelve, only four short years after this, we were poring over photos of blown-out septums (from too much coke use) and gossiping about who in our grade had already done It. Occassionally we paused in our recitation of cuss words to talk about how awesome our hypercolor shirts were, but then one of the boys would snap our training bras and we’d start talking about what his “thingy” might look like. We sure as shit didn’t join any groups based on mythical creatures, unless you count that time that several of us decided we should practice being witches, and spent our lunch hour prancing around outside with incense sticks in our hands.
Most Offensive Portion: Christ**, Elizabeth, cowgirl up, you whiny baby. So your sister wants to dress differently than you. Not EVERYONE wants to wear khakis and ponytails every damn day. AND WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE COLOR PURPLE? Racist.
ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME:
TWO BALLERINAS! AND A THINKING SPOT IN A PINE TREE!
Sweet Valley Twins 2: Teacher’s Pet
In which this book would be so much better if it were Black Swan.
Number Of Drinks Taken: 59. Holla! This book singularly ensured that I got through gift shopping with a minimum amount of homicidal thoughts.
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 2
Explanation of Gift: Look at the cover of the book, dummy!
Main Plot: RIGHT. SO. Jessica and Elizabeth both sign up to take ballet class, even though Liz isn’t all that interested. Jess makes a bad first impression on the Stereotypical French Ballet Madame, while Liz, of course, could have a sway back and underextend on her pirouette and sound like an elephant during her battement frappe and everyone would rush to throw flowers at her feet and suggest for her the role of Giselle! And that’s basically exactly what happens, because even though Jessica is the far superior dancer, Liz wins the role of Coppelia and Jess is stuck in the corps.
Jess is convinced that Liz was only picked because she’s teacher’s pet (drink!), which IS TRUE, but is of course scolded and told to be happy for her sister. And Liz is totes a brat about it until she finally realizes that, yes, her sister is actually a great dancer that has worked really hard, and then fake-sprains her ankle so that Jess can go on in the role. Then, of course, Liz gets all the credit for being a wonderful sister. Ugh.
Oh, also, there’s something about Amy Sutton and stage fright, but who cares?
Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: Christmas Wishes: Now that Ryan Reynolds and ScarJo have broken up, I very much hope that Ryan and I can put aside our petty differences, like how he doesn’t know I exist, and finally come together as God and nature intended.
Improbable Junior High School Moment: I’m sorry, but in what universe does a small ballet class of BEGINNERS end up going en pointe and then performing an ACTUAL BALLET within two months? Even Center Stage would find this ludicrous and that movie thought Peter Gallagher could play a ballet director. No.
Most Offensive Portion: That this book did not turn out more like Black Swan. Do you know how disappointing it was to go home from seeing Black Swan and, in an effort not to fall asleep and have horrible nightmares about Winona Ryder shuffling after me with broken limbs while demanding I feed her sugar plums (which did eventually happen after I went to sleep), read this book about ballet? Where the premise could have been SO SIMILAR to Black Swan‘s but then wasn’t?!! I just wanted someone to fuck a guy in a swan costume, is that so much to ask??
ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME . . .
Three extra-cirriculars! Two ballerinas! And a thinking spot in a pine tree!
Sweet Valley Twins 4: Choosing Sides
In which Amy Sutton wants to be a cheerleader and Ken Matthews is ickle.
Number Of Drinks Taken: 71. WHERE IS ALL THE EGGNOG? I’VE FINISHED THIS GALLON!
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: pg 2
Explanation of Gift: Right! So! Now there are THREE activities that one or all of the twins are involved in: stupid newspaper The Sweet Valley Sixers, the Unicorns, and the Boosters, which is not, as one might suspect, a club promoting the efficacy of vaccines.
Main Plot: In the last book that I didn’t read because I don’t have it, Jessica, Lila and some of the other Unicorns decided to start a cheerleading group at school. And I guess the faculty were like, sure! Have at it! Whatever you want, kids! Where does this school get its funding??
Amy Sutton, Loser Bestie to the Stars, wants to join the cheerleading group (the Boosters, natch), even though JUST TWO BOOKS AGO she lacked coordination and was afraid of dancing in public. What? My fucking cat could write better continuity than this, and his main delight in life is to sit on my chest and then bite me on the chin.
ANYWAY. So Amy is going to try out but Jessica doesn’t want her to, because she wants the Boosters to be full of members of the Unicorns. Well, in that case, why don’t the Unicorns just form their own private cheerleading group and be done with it? Why go through this whole audition BS?
MEANWHILE, Ken Matthews is trying out for the basketball team! Even though everyone knows that Ken Matthews is the star quarterback of the football team! But not for another four years, I guess. Ken Matthews is super tiny and gets made fun of a lot by Bruce Patman. He’ll show you, Bruce Patman! Eventually!
Liz helps both Ken and Amy with their try-outs, because she is a meddler who can’t leave anything alone. And even though Jessica and Lila have a big plan to embarass Amy (which amounts to making Amy try out on her own instead of in a group – quelle horror!), both Amy and Ken make their respective gender-appropriate teams and then Ken goes home to hunt and Amy bakes a cake, or whatever else they need to do to complete their gender profile.
Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: Christmas Wishes: I want a pony for Christmas!!!
Improbable Junior High School Moment: Again, why is this cheerleading group just springing up randomly, and with no sort of faculty oversight? Then again, in seventh grade I was in pep squad (shut up), and I could count the number of times we met or did anything pep-related on one hand. Then again, I’m actually fairly sure that the pep squad held regular meetings/bake sales/prepubescent bikini-clad car washes and I wasn’t told about them because I was weird and no one liked me. I tried to get them to like me! But I was super ugly and a little too loud and I think I was a mouth breather back then, so no one wanted to hang out with me and chant to the deeply offensive and frankly improbable “Rumble Gators Rumble” cheer.
Most Offensive Portion: Damnit, I can’t believe Sweet Valley High has not only made me remember pep squad but also feel bad about it!! Great! Now I’m going to get a complex about that on top of my natural post-Christmas sadness because no one wants to sing carols and eat homemade marshmallows anymore. Ugh. I might as well just start the many repeated viewings of that one scene in Love Actually when Alan Rickman gives Emma Thompson a Joni Mitchell cd now so that I can get the sobbing out of the way now.
Oh! ALSO! Jessica at one point says about fellow classmate Lois Walker (the precursor to Former Fattie Robin Wilson), “She’s so fat she’s really two people,” which is bad enough but THE WORST PART is that absolutely no one in her family says a damn thing about that, but then Alice jumps down Jess’s throat for calling Amy Sutton a “tomboy.” What kind of fucked up value system is this? It’s okay to make fun of someone’s weight, but GOD FORBID you question their tender feminine delicacies? The fuck?
ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME
Four concert tickets! Three extra-cirriculars! Two ballerinas! And a thinking spot in a pine tree!
Sweet Valley Twins 5: Sneaking Out
In which Jessica wants to go to the Johnny Buck concert.
Number Of Drinks Taken: 35
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: They aren’t!! You know what this means! Someone’s going to Learn A Valuable Lesson!
Explanation of Gift: Duh, there’s a concert! Which Jess has to sneak out for!
Main Plot: So, there’s this singer, Johnny Buck, and he’s the hottest thing since Justin Bieber’s blowdryer settings. All of the girls in sixth grade have totally had panty-moistening dreams about this swoonster and would like to enter into a pre-arranged child bride-type marriage with him.
Johnny is in town to promote his latest album, The Buck Stops Here, and the – oh, hold on. Sorry. I’m just going to have to take a minute to stop laughing at that album title.
Okay. Okay. I’m good. Let’s keep going.
Anyway! The girls would like to go to the JB concert, but Ned and Alice say they’re too young to go alone, and they both have to work. Granted, Stephen/Steven is going to the concert, but the girls can’t go with him, because he’s bringing a date.
Lila tells Jess that they can go together (Bruce Patman is somehow involved in this scenario, though I don’t really remember the details of that since I had to take a drink each time he showed up), so Jess decides to dog-sit for a neighbor to earn the money for the concert. Even though JESSICA HATES DOGS.
Although I don’t know how you could hate sweet little Sally (that’s the dog)! She’s such a good girl! Such a good girl! Aren’t you, doggy??
Jessica mostly passes the work off to other members of her family, making her not unlike my brother when it comes to household chores, and then Sally escapes and the concert wasn’t great but Liz saves the day or whatever.
The Buck Stops Here. Snorf.
Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: Christmas Wishes: I wish my office looked more favorably towards In-Office Drinking. I could go for a holiday mimosa right about now. Oh, wait! By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be off for Christmas! In that case, it’s best just to assume I have partaken in about 12 Holiday Mimosas, and am thinking about having a nap.
Improbable Junior High School Moment: Eh, there really wasn’t one. I could totally see the Wakefields telling their kids they couldn’t go to the concert, just like I can totally see a 12 year old being all, “Bish, plz. I’m going!” Damnit, I hate when Sweet Valley seems sensible and realistic.
Most Offensive Portion: I’m offended by the ludicrousness of The Buck Stops Here. It makes me want to gag.
ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME:
Fiiiiiiiiiiive Fre-ne-miieeeeeeeeeeeees! Four Concert Tickets, Three Extra-cirriculars, Two Ballerinas. And a thinking spot in a pine tree!
Sweet Valley Twins 6: The New Girl
In which Brooke Dennis moves to town and we’re all horrified by the idea of a Wakefield triplet.
Number Of Drinks Taken: 32
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 1
Explanation of Gift: Everyone in Sweet Valley Junior High is united by a common hatred for Brooke Dennis, making unlikely frenemies out of Jess, Liz, Lila, Amy Sutton and Bruce Patman.
Main Plot: Brooke Dennis has just moved to town and she is, to put it kindly, a raging bitchface. Everyone hates her, especially after she ruins Jessica’s book report poster (about Nancy Drew! Jess, was there ever any doubt I loved you best?). So the twins trick her into believing that there are actually three of them, and take turns playing “Jennifer,” who dresses in Steve’s old sweaters and is even more of a drip than Liz.
Soon, the whole school is in on the act (except for the faculty, of course), and they decide to play “a really mean, nasty trick” on Brooke by rigging a chair that will collapse when she sits in it.
That’s it. That’s all. This is their idea of a nasty trick. I mean, I guess it’s sweet that no one actually bullies anyone in this school, but in my school, our idea of a nasty trick was a prostitute with a raging yeast infection. These kids need to live in the real world for a while.
Of course, Liz eventually finds out that Brooke’s only a bitch because her dad doesn’t love her and she’s constantly being uprooted and she’s shy, but since she MADE A PROMISE that she wouldn’t tell Brooke about the trick chair, she goes ahead and lets her new friend sit in the chair anyway. To keep a promise.
Do you see? Do you see what I mean about her?? I HATE YOU ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD.
Whatever, shit gets sorted out and the twins throw a birthday party for Brooke and there’s cake. Mmm, cake!
Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: Christmas Wishes: Your turn! Tell me a Christmas wish in the comments! Make it a good one; Baby Jesus totally reads this blog.
Improbable Junior High School Moment: Seriously? A collapsing chair? That’s all you kids have got?
Most Offensive Portion: Just . . . imagine . . . in the darkest corners of your own imagination . . . three Wakefield sisters.
ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME:
Six chores a-doing! Fiiiiiive Free-ne-mieeeeeeeeeees! Four concert tickets, Three extra-cirriculars, Two ballerinas and a thinking spot in a pine tree!
Sweet Valley Twins 7: Three’s a Crowd
In which Mary goes all SWF on Alice Wakefield.
Number Of Drinks Taken: 53
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 1
Explanation of Gift: Mary is so enamored with Alice Wakefield that she offers to do all the chores. Fuck, I wish someone would be that enamored of me. Shit needs to get vaccuumed.
Main Plot: Mary is a member of the Unicorns and is working with Jessica on a special cookbook idea (in which the members of the Unicorns write their favorite stars and ask for a family recipe), so she’s over at the Wakefields’ home a lot. Mary is friendly with all the Wakefields, but she seems to like Alice most of all. She starts following her around, asking to help with the dishes or to cook dinner.
The twins find this behavior odd. This is because the twins don’t currently have a sink of dirty dishes in their house. The twins think that Mary should be perfectly happy doing the chores for her own foster mother.
Anyway, after Mary Jennifer Jason Leighs Alice for a while, it comes out that Mary is convinced her biological mother is still out looking for her. See, Mom o’Mary left toddler Mary in the care of some random person and went to Florida to bury her dead mom, or something. Some Random Person then told Toddler Mary that her mom was dead, and they started moving around. Then Random Person drops Child Mary off at an orphanage.
Of course, it turns out that Mary was KIDNAPPED. And her mom has been looking for her THIS WHOLE TIME.
Then Mary’s mom shows up and they are reunited and I guess now Alice doesn’t have anyone to dust her furniture anymore.
Sub-Plot Not In Least Bit Related To Main Plot: Christmas Wishes: My last one! I wish that everyone who reads FYA has a wonderful year next year, filled with swoonworthy boys and girls, lots of funtime beverages, and some quality YA novels! (Oh, and like, internal peace or joy or whatever.)
Improbable Junior High School Moment: I don’t care how much you miss your mommy. What 12 year old volunteers to do the dishes?
Most Offensive Portion: That this book didn’t have Benson, Stabler, Fin and Munch involved. I hate it when there’s an SVU-type plot of any book that doesn’t actually involve the cast of SVU. Someone should really start writing SVU spin-off novels. Someone . . . LIKE ME. (James Frey, call me!)
That’s it for this week, guys! Tune in next Friday for the last half of our Sweet Valley gifts! And have a very safe, very happy Christmas, with minimum alcohol poisoning!
*not really! My True Love is lovely and I adore him!
** Happy Birthday, Jesus!