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Friday, August 23, 2013

Sweet Valley Saga: The Fowlers of Sweet Valley

I don't have book #24 Memories( yet) so this is the perfect excuse to recap another Sweet Valley Saga!! This is the best SVS, in my opinion (and as a Sweet valley expert, you should trust my opinion). How could it not be the best? It's all about Lila! Well, the ancestors of Lila.

I used to love this cover so much when I was a kid. Okay, I still love it. It's so dramatic and pretty! The women on the panel appear to be (in order from top to bottom) Lili, Rose, Isabelle (or Grace? I never was sure who that was supposed to be) annnnnd LILA! When you open the cover, you see Celeste and Marc kissing, and later welcoming a baby into the world. There's Lili about to have her head cut off by angry peasants, and something else is happening in the upper left corner, but that stupid bar code blocks it. I will always resent that damn bar code.

This SVS starts off the way a Fowler Saga should-with a snobby, rich girl ordering her maid around.
 The snobby girl is none other than Lili de Beautemps, the french 1789 version of Lila. Lili's maid, Marie Oiseleur is helping her get ready for her debutante ball (I've always wanted to have a debutante ball! Is it too late to have one at 25?).

Marie doubles as Lili's childhood best friend, and her family has been working for the Beautemps for generations. Like our lovely Lila, Lili's mother is not in her life. She died when Lili was a child, and now it's just Lili and her brothers. Lili is, of course, the most beautiful girl at her ball, and she even gets to dance with the prince! Sigh, Lili is living my dream.

But not for long! History fans already know that 1789 was the start of a little thing called the French Revolution. Marie and her brother, Georges both attempt to warn Lili and tell her to leave before it's too late. Lili shrugs off their warnings and is caught by surprise when a group of angry peasants storms her home and imprisons her family. The mob than takes them to the guillotine and beheads Lili's brother and father. Before they can chop off Lili's head, Georges arrives on horseback and saves her. Romantic! Why can't a cute french guy show up on a horse and save me from the guillotine? Some girls get all the luck.

Lili's luck doesn't last long. Georges drops her off in near a small town and tells her that he can't stay with her, They gaze into one another's eyes and realize that they're in love. But alas, Georges needs to get back to revolting, and Lili has to begin a new life.

Fast forward to 1792, and Lili is a dressmaker living in a rented basement. Lili runs into an old family friend, Madame Fouchette, and is invited to a fancy rich people party. One problem...Lili's not rich anymore! But thanks to Lili's lies (she tells everyone that she's living with a well-off Aunt and Uncle) no one has to know that. At the party, Lili meets the dashing Count Matthieu Bizac.

After a few months of dating (and Lili borrowing tons of money from her BFF Babette) the charming Count proposes. They honeymoon in Italy and it's all tres romantique. But, once again Lili's luck runs out. The Count abandons her, leaving her at a hotel! Lili searches high and low, but Matthieu is gone for good. She finally goes to Madame Fouchette, who tells her that Matthieu is already married, and whatever ceremony he had with Lili was a fraud. Apparently he's done this to other women, and will probably do it again.

 So, no one decided to let Lili in on this before they got "married"? That's pretty effed up.
Even though they were never married, they "lived as man and wife" and Lili is now pregnant.

Embarrassed, Lili  refuses to go back to her old friends (Did she ever pay Babette back? I've always wanted to know, for some reason) or old job. Pregnant and alone, poor Lili struggles just to eat everyday, until the friendly Marie Chardin begins bringing her food. Marie and her husband own the boulangerie, which according to Google, is a French bakery. Things seem to be looking up for Lili, until she dies in childbirth. Before she dies, Lili names the baby Celeste and asks Marie to raise her. Lili's life was pretty damn depressing! I need a Prozac after reading that.

Hey, whatever happened to Georges, you ask?  If you're like me, you forgot all about him.
Well, Georges has been busy thriving while Lili was struggling, and is now a rich landowner. He has the property deed for Lili's old family estate and has made it his life's mission to return the estate to Lili, and marry her. In his searches, Georges finds out about Lili's fake marriage, resulting pregnancy, and death. Distraught, he vows to find Lili's child and give them their rightful inheritance.

1809. It's Celeste's 16th birthday, and she celebrates with her adoptive family, the Chardins. The book makes it clear that Celeste is incredibly beautiful "Physically, she was like a swan among more humble fowl". Nice.

Celeste won't be hanging around the "humble fowl" for much longer. She's off to work as a maid for the snotty Lafitte family and their even snottier daughter, Emilie. Emilie is a royal bitch, and just reading about her annoyed me. She even has a bell that she rings whenever she wants Celeste's help. And I thought kids today were spoiled! Her mom and dad aren't a whole lot better.

But guess who's friends with the Lafittes? Georges, of course! What a total coincidence! Even more coincidental, Georges spots Celeste and senses that there's something special about her. He begins anonymously giving her gifts and paying Emilie's tutor, Solange, to educate her. Celeste can't believe her luck, and wonders who her benefactor is.

It's been about 20 pages without any mention of romance, and that is unacceptable in a Sweet Valley book! Time for a love story! Emilie's brother Marc has been away at school, and when he returns he falls in love with none other than Celeste. They makeout a whole lot, and fall in luv. But their love can never be. The Lafittes would disown Marc if he married a servant girl! Marc doesn't care, and asks Celeste to marry him anyway. He wants to give up his inheritance and run away with her! SO ROMANTIC. It's clear that I need to move to 1800's era France. All I need is a plane and a time machine. Let's make it happen!

Celeste spoils the romantic-ness by refusing to marry Marc. She won't let him give up his fortune for her. Marc is not dissuaded, and tells his parents that he wants to marry Celeste. His parents are scandalized, and throw Celeste out of the house.

As Celeste does the 1800's version of  walk of shame, she comes across Georges, who offers her a ride home. On the way, Georges asks her about her family history and Celeste tells him about her mother's death. Things get super crazy when she shows Georges the picture in her locket, and the pic is of Lili! Celeste is the person Georges has been looking for this whole time! (Why am I so excited? I knew that.)

Celeste is now richer than the Lafitte family, and is cleared to marry Marc. If I were her, I'd want to move far, far away from Marc's awful family!

Skip to 1865. Celeste is a grandma! Her only child Claude and his wife have had a baby and named her Rose. The book reminds us that Celeste is still a great beauty in her old age (We couldn't have an ugly grandma in a Sweet Valley book, now could we?!). Even baby Rose is beautiful, with purple eyes and "flaming red hair" (Do people actually have purple eyes? I only knew one person with purple eyes, and hers were contacts).

It's now 1880 (time flies in Sweet Valley Saga world) and Rose is 15. She's also incredibly annoying. The ghostwriter tries to paint her as spirited and fun, but she's just really annoying.
Did I mention that Rose was my least favorite character in this Saga?

Rose hangs out with her BFF Pierre Oiseleur and I can't see why he'd want to be friends with her. She pushes him into doing mischievous things and throws a tantrum when he tells her that he is leaving for boarding school. Does his last name sound familiar? That's because he's the grandson of Georges, who married Celeste's tutor Solange right around the time Celeste married Marc. Pierre must have really low self-esteem (and terrible taste in women) because he's in love with Rose, who claims to not be interested in marriage (or him) at all.

Everyone from grandma Celeste to Rose's friends to me think that she is secretly in love with Pierre, but Rose refuses to admit it. The ghostwriter tells us over and over again how Rose is different than other girls. She's into politics and books! She's so intellectual and independent!
Barf. We get it.

Time flies again to 1885, and Rose is now 20. She's living on her own and attending college in Paris.
She wear pants (because she's different, remember?) and hangs around with a bunch of artists and "radicals". Pierre warns her about one of these friends, a gentleman named Leo who's known for breaking hearts. Rose declares "If he breaks my heart, so what?"
On the very next page, Rose is at Pierre's doorstep crying over Leo. He was seeing two women behind her back! "So what?" (Can't you feel all of the sympathy I have for Rose? I can't wait until her part of the book is over.)

Poor, deluded Pierre hopes that maybe Rose will see what a good guy he is, and return his love. Rose crushes his dreams and announces that she is swearing off men entirely. Time to move on Pierre, she really isn't that great of a catch.
Pierre finallllllly gets it when he proclaims his love for Rose, and she rejects him. She has doubts about it after, but pushes them out her mind. She's going to show the world what a woman can do without a man!

Jump to 1888, and Rose is heading home to see her parents, who are having a big party for the Oiseleur family. The Oiseleurs have something big to announce!
Rose spends extra time getting ready for the party, because Pierre will be there. Yes folks, Rose has at last admitted to herself that she's in love with Pierre!
Fortunately for Pierre (He seems too nice to get stuck with Rose) Rose's timing stinks. The big announcement is that Pierre is getting married!

Rose is heartbroken, and holds back tears throughout the engagement dinner and wedding. Once again, I have zero sympathy for her. Thankfully we're almost done with Rose, so I'll stop complaining soon. Rose goes on to marry an unfortunate man named Robert Eastman, and they have a child together named Isabelle.

Isabelle (Thank God) is pretty much the opposite of Rose. We don't have to hear about how "independent" and "different" she is every two seconds, and I couldn't be happier. However, the ghostwriter just couldn't resist reminding us that "at almost fifty, Rose was still a strikingly beautiful woman". Sweet Valley characters only get more gorgeous as they age! Where do I get that super power?

16 year old Isabelle goes to her first dance and meets a nice young man named Charles Doret...but the guy she really wants is (You're never gonna believe this!) Jacques Oiseleur. Yup, he's the second cousin (or something) of Pierre! These Sagas really love to pair the same families together generation after generation, don't they?

Charles and Jacques are both in the French Army, and they're best friends. Charles is such a good friend, that he doesn't mind when Isabelle and Jacques become a couple.
But 'sigh', it's 1914 and France is about to go to war with Germany! Isabelle and Jacques get married before he leaves for war, without telling her parents. Romantic!
Even more romantic, Isabelle starts volunteering at a army hospital in Paris everyday after school. Okay, so maybe that's not so romantic.

Even less romantic, Charles soon delivers the news that Jacques has died in battle. Hey, wasn't there another Jacques that died in a war? Poor Isabelle faints when she hears the news, and is utterly devastated. I actually feel bad for her, because she's not totally irritating like her mother.
After a few years, Charles asks Isabelle to marry him, even though he knows that she will always love Jacques. Charles reasons, "I'll love you enough for the both of us".

Oh Charles. That is not a good thing to base a relationship on.
It works out okay, until SURPRISE! Jacques isn't really dead! Turns out he was just a prisoner of war. When the war ends he comes home to find his wife married to his best friend. Awkward. Jacques is so mad that he gets on the next boat to America.
Charles and Isabelle are shocked, but eventually decide that they need to start over, and they move to America as well. Guess where they move? I'll give you one guess (I bet you'll never get it).

Sweet Valley!

And guess who else is in Sweet Valley? That's right- Jacques. Only now he goes by the name Jack Fowler. So you can see where this is going.
Charles is mayor of Sweet Valley, and he and Isabelle live comfortably until she sees Jack walking down the street. She nearly faints, and the town gossip, Evelyn Pierce (So being a gossip is genetic?) is right there to catch her.

According to the ever-helpful Evelyn, Jack is a "vagabond" and "poor and rough as could be". Sounds kind of sexy, amirite ladies?!? How the hell did they all end up living in Sweet Valley? Seriously, one town out of how many towns in the U.S.A? Really?

Charles has known about this insane coincidence for months, and tried to make peace with Jack, but Jack wasn't having it. Isabelle sneaks over to Jack's ranch to make amends, and he forgives her, but still hates Charles. He tells her that he doesn't love her anymore, and to go home to her husband.  So....guess things aren't going to work out between Jack and Isabelle?

We're teleported to 1952, and Charles and Isabelle have a grandchild (they had two daughters and two sons) named Grace. Charles is still mayor of Sweet Valley, and has become rich from his manufacturing company. Isabelle is "still the most strikingly beautiful woman in Sweet Valley", in case you were worried. Charles is still bitter about Isabelle's love for Jack, and is doing some kind of mayor-zoning-law-thing to block Jack from selling his ranch and making a fortune.

Jack is married to some chick named Anita and has three kids and one grandson, George. Jack is broke because of Charles' zoning-law-thing and vows "the bad blood between us will never die".

Almost 20 years later, George Fowler is an adult and starting his own computer company. He runs into-guess who!-Grace Doret on the beach, and sparks fly. He doesn't realize that she's the granddaughter of his family enemies until they go out for dinner at a clam bar (yuck). They both decide it's no big deal (And you know it's definitely going to be a huge deal). OMG it's like Romeo and Juliet!

Another minor issue: Grace is engaged to Everett Garrison the Third. Oops.
Even after she tells George this, they continue to date and fall in love. Things come to a halt when Grace's parents catch them making out. Uh oh! Her parents threaten to disown her, and spineless Grace dumps George and agrees to go forward with her wedding to Everett. At their wedding party, Grace gets some good advice from Grandma Isabelle "Marry the one you love."
I guess Isabelle should know....

Grace leaves the party to sob hysterically outside, when George appears and proposes to her!
George and Grace elope to Paris, but before they leave George's company buys out Charles' company's stock, or something like that. Charles is pissed, and he's even more pissed when he finds out that Grace has run away with George.

A number of years later, Grace gives birth to Lila (yay!) and even though her parents still aren't speaking to her, grandma Isabelle shows up to meet her great-grandchild. Jack Fowler arrives, and he and Isabelle share a sad but kinda romantic moment. They're still in love after all of these years, and Isabelle's marriage to Charles has been "a bitter disappointment". Ouch. They find comfort in the fact that now, the Dorets and Oiseleurs-I mean, Fowlers-are together again.
And most importantly, this union produced Lila Fowler, the best character Sweet Valley has EVER HAD EVER.

If you've read the SVH books (or any of my amazing, fabulous recaps) than you know that Grace and George don't stay together for much longer. George works too much, and Grace feels abandoned. George is livid when Grace takes Lila to see her parents, who have finally decided realized that seeing their grandchild is more important than a decades-old family feud. Grace is fed up and goes to stay with her parents, taking Lila with her.

In a seriously screwed up move, George sues her for custody, and as you know, he wins. Grace runs off to France, and Lila ends up with some pretty serious mommy issues.
The Saga ends with 16 year old Lila dealing with the fallout from John Pfeifer sexually assaulting her. George knows that Lila needs her mother, and asks Grace to come back and help. Grace comes back and she and George reunite! The reunion story is covered in more detail in the Evil Twin miniseries, which I cannot wait to recap because SERIOUSLY that miniseries is CRAZY.

And so, like all the Sagas, this has a happy ending. Awww, I think I feel my ice-cold heart melting. Just a little.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

#23 Say Goodbye

This cover isn't too bad. Granted, Todd and Elizabeth both have majorly poufy hair, but hey it was the 80's!

It's happening. The tragic, the inevitable, the absolute worse thing that has ever happened to Sweet Valley!

Todd is moving to Vermont 'sobs'.

Okay, you got me. I don't really care. Actually, I'm pretty thrilled because it means there will be no Liz and Todd drama in the upcoming books! Woohoo! This book should have been annoying, (A whole book about Elizabeth missing Todd? Barf.) It wasn't, thanks to Jessica's disastrous matchmaking efforts.

Now, Jessica is often attempting to play matchmaker, (or couple breaker-upper), but this time, she's a professional. Yes, dear readers, our selfish Jessica got a job! Jess ran up a $100 bill at Lisette's, and amazingly the Wakefield parents make her to get a job to pay for it. Hell has officially frozen over! Jess gets a job at a matchmaking company, answering phones...but we know that's not all she's going to do! (Where can I get a job like this? )

So Todd leaves, and Liz is a total mess. She writes to him every day and spends all of her free time pining over him and waiting for him to call. Everyone from Enid to her parents discourage her from having a long distance relationship with Todd, but she refuses to listen. It's almost enough to actually make me feel bad for Liz....almost. The important part is, Todd is gone! If I had more than one friend, I'd throw a party to celebrate.

Jessica is having her own problems though. And by problems, I mean that Jessica has a problem with Steve not dating anyone, and Liz moping over Todd. How dare they not go on dates with different people every weekend? The absolute nerve!

Jessica sets out to solve these troubling issues in the only way Jessica can, by scheming and sneaking around. When her boss steps out, Jess sneaks into her private office and starts going through all of the dating profiles to find the perfect woman for Steve, until her boss catches her. Does the boss fire her? Reprimand her? Oh no, of course not. The incredibly understanding boss actually gives Jess the keys to the office and invites her to look through the profiles anytime she wants. (seriously, how can I get this job?!)

Lucky Steven! Now our dear Jessica can find the perfect woman for him. Except Steven does not want her help-at all. He makes that pretty clear early in the book:
"Do me a favor, Jess. Don't help me again! I'm probably better off on my own."
Jessica completely ignores this, thinking to herself:
"He's so good looking"
Jessica decides that super hot Steve doesn't know what's good for him, and that by "don't help me", he meant "please Jessica, help me find a date!"

But wait, Liz needs Jess's help too! Jessica starts talking to Nicholas Morrow (you may remember him as the guy that guilted Liz into going on a date with him) Jess convinces Nic that Liz needs someone new in her life, and that new person is him! She compares Liz's love of Todd to smoking, telling Nic: "She got really dependent on him, and now she's having withdrawal symptoms"
Trust me Jess, cigarettes are much more exciting than Todd Wilkins.

Jessica even enlists the help of Mr. Collins, convincing him to give Liz an assignment to write a story on the upcoming sailing competition-which Nicholas is going to be competing in! With Jessica's encouragement, Nicholas calls Liz and offers her a ride to the competition. Elizabeth agrees, telling herself that Nic doesn't like her like that anymore, and that it's just a friendly gesture. Right.

This "friendly gesture" quickly turns romantic when Nicholas tells Liz that his boat has two names: the public name, Seabird and the private name, My favorite twin.
Gee, don't come on too strong or anything, Nic.

Liz is both uncomfortable and intrigued. Is Jessica's plan actually working? Guess so, because Liz agrees to go to a BBQ for Nic's cousin, Jeffrey. Jess "considered falling in love with him for a wild moment", but decided against it because Jeffrey is not rich. You dodged a bullet, Jeff!

Jess's plan is definitely not working with Steve, possibly because she picked a random 43 year old woman and didn't tell Steve that she was setting him up. She tells this poor woman that Steve was chosen for her by the matchmaking service, and instructs her to call Steve. Steve is totally confused and declines going on a date with her. This doesn't deter Jessica, who finds another woman from the matchmaking service, and tells her to show up at their house on Saturday.

How desperate are these women? If a matchmaking service told me to show up at some random guy's house without even speaking to him beforehand...well I might say yes, because I'm pretty desperate right now.

But let's get back to Elizabeth's dilemma. Despite all of the obvious signs that Nicholas wants more, Liz somehow convinces herself that he just wants to be friends. She even goes to a movie with him, and he kisses her after! Gasp, what would Todd think?! Well, being the doormat that he is, Todd would probably think "It's ok, I'll take you back".

Liz isn't sure about seeing Nicholas again, until Todd suddenly stops calling and writing for a week. After only a week, yes a week, of not hearing from Todd, Liz decides to start dating Nicholas. Jess is already fantasizing about what will happen when Liz and Nic get together, picturing the Morrow family naming a wing in their house "the Jessica wing" after her. Because people name things after you when you set them up with the amazing Elizabeth Wakefield.

But why did Todd disappear? You know this has something, (okay, everything), to do with Jessica! Jess answers the phone one day when Todd calls, and literally cries about how depressed Liz is, how she never leaves her room and is slacking on her schoolwork. Todd feels horrible and decides to back off. So instead of talking it over with Liz, he just ignores her. Smart.

Why does anyone in SVH still trust Jessica?! She's been proven to be a liar time and time again. Really, were they all dropped on their heads as babies?

Speaking of stupidity, the woman from the matchmaking service shows up at the house-and SHOCKER, Steven is not interested! Steve finds out that she's from the matchmaking service, that Jess works at, and is super angry. Naturally, Jessica's reaction is to set Steve up with one more woman from the agency, Melissa . Buttt when she tries to badger this woman into dating Steve, her response is " I've decided I prefer food to men." Good move, Melissa.

Don't worry too much about Steve's love life though (I know it was your top concern). Steve runs into Cara Walker when she's stuck with a flat tire on the highway. He helps her out, takes her to coffee after, and sparks fly! Cara's parents are getting divorced, and that has apparently made her less shallow and more appealing to Steve. Now I can rest easy, knowing that Steve will love again.

However, Betsy (you may remember her from Promises) is not pleased with this. She sees Steve with Cara at Lila's party, (did I mention there was a party? Well, there is.), and gets angry. She's pissed that Steve has "the nerve to carry on with someone else so soon after Trish". Hey, at least he waited a good 11 books to start dating again after Tricia's death. I mean, has she seen how quickly everyone else in SVH moves on from relationships???

As for Todd and Liz, Todd is back in town, (damn, already?), for the weekend. Todd's going to Lila's party to talk to Elizabeth. Problem is, Liz is going to the party with Nicholas! Uh oh! Liz wants to break things off with Nic because she still loves Todd, but she figures it would be best to do it after the party. After all, parties are SO rare in Sweet Valley, and she wouldn't want to mess up this party for Nic! As you may have guessed, things go bad. Todd walks in to see Liz slow-dancing with Nicholas and resting her head on his shoulder. The second she sees Todd, Liz pushes Nic away and runs after him. I'd feel bad for Nicholas, but I'm still not over how annoying he was in this book. No sympathy for you, Nic!

Todd stomps away and Liz has a major emotional breakdown. Elizabeth finds Todd, and
they have yet another sappy reunion-well kind of. They agree that they're still in love, but that they can't maintain the long-distance thing. Good, now we can stop hearing about Todd for the next few books. Dreams do come true!

We wrap up the book with Lila telling the twins that Betsy made a scene at her party. Former town tramp Betsy went up to Steve and Cara and freaked out, accusing him of forgetting about Tricia. Will Betsy stand in the way of Steve and Cara's budding love story?!? I'm dying to find out, and I know you are too!

Moral? If your boyfriend moves to Vermont, don't even bother with the long distance thing-especially if your boyfriend is anywhere near as dull as Todd Wilkins,
Don't use your matchmaking job to set your brother up with random women!
Good, solid life lessons. Thanks again, Sweet Valley!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

SVH #22 Too much in love

Well Bill and DeeDee look...mature for sixteen. Did anyone ever think to make the teens on the covers look like, I don't know teens? Me and my crazy ideas! Also, Bill looks like a pompous ass and DeeDee looks like a desperate wreck. I'm thinking that's going to set the tone for this book...

We start this great American novel with the usual "sun-streaked blonde hair" and "sparkling blue-green eyes" spiel and Ned announcing that he and Alice are going to Mexico to pick up documents from a lawyer. Clearly it's impossible for someone to mail something from Mexico to California. Impossible, I tell you!

Alice makes a point of telling the twins that she has some very important papers she has on her desk in the study. These papers are plans for some interior designer project and they cannot be replaced. So you know something bad is going to happen to those papers.

SVH is having a talent show soon, and Elizabeth is involved in planning it, (surprise, surprise). Liz calls up DeeDee Gordon to ask her to be in charge of designing the sets. Like all SVH books that feature minor characters in the main story, we need some kind of connection between the twins and said minor character. DeeDee acts kind of weird and says she needs to ask Bill before she commits to it. Liz spends about a page and a half fretting over DeeDee, wondering if she's alright, because Liz is the sensitive, caring twin dammit! And don't you ever forget that! (I may have had a bit too much caffeine this morning)

Speaking of acting weird, Todd is also behaving strangely. Now why would that be? If you've read
this , you already know.

Being a psychic, I know exactly what you're thinking. Why is DeeDee acting strange? What's going on? The suspense is killing me! Fear not, on the next page we start to find out. DeeDee shows up at Bill's house unexpectedly, and horror of horrors, he's at the library! Without her! But it's not just that incident. DeeDee has felt Bill pulling away from her for the past few weeks. It terrifies her because her parents got divorced, and according to her mother the divorce was caused by them not spending enough time together. DeeDee vows that this will not happen to her relationship with Bill.
And I quote: "Bill needs to see how much I depend on him, how much I need to be with him. Once he see's that, he'll never leave me"

Bad idea DeeDee. Not that I would know, from experience, or anything.....

We also learn, (in a convo with her BFF, Patty Gilbert), that DeeDee has given up the design classes she was taking. She doesn't want anything to interfere with her precious Bill time. She wonders to herself why Patty, who is independent and outgoing, is still friends with her. I want to make fun of Dee, (and rest assured, I will) , but I gotta say, I feel bad for her. I've been that clingy girlfriend, and it is not a good time. But enough about my problems, because....

..Jessica Wakefield is planning a party! And who cares about my issues when a party is about to happen in Sweet Valley?!? Liz is aghast at the idea- Jessica wants to have a party when their parents are gone? Who woulda thought???!? I can't wait! SVH parties are the only parties I get invited to, so I am beyond excited.

Meanwhile, DeeDee continues to be a clingmonster ,(it's a medical term), and Bill is more and more turned off. She follows him everywhere, and acts more like an obsessed stalker than girlfriend. Like many SVH books, it is almost painful to read, and I am embarrassed for her. Poor Bill is totally confused and wonders what happened to his formerly cool girlfriend. He agrees to go to a movie with Dana Larson (just as friends), and decides not to tell DeeDee because he knows she'll freak out. This is not going to end well.

Back to the party!!!! (Can you feel my excitement?) Jessica enlists none other than Lila Fowler's help with party planning, and Lila is full of great suggestions, such as inviting college frat guys. Inviting frat boys to your house is always a fabulous idea. Thanks, Lila! Jess agrees and imagines meeting the man of her dreams "handsome, rich, with a gorgeous car". Not just a nice car, but a gorgeous car. Reach for the stars, Jess.

In preparation for the party, Jessica attempts to make mini pizzas and wash the bed sheets, resulting in a fire in the kitchen and a broken washing machine. Any guesses as to why she needed to wash the bed sheets for a party? I can think of a few, but I'm trying to keep this blog PG. (ok, maybe PG-13)

In the midst of all of this exciting party planning, Jess runs into Bill and Dana Larson leaving the movie theater and practically jumps for joy. Finally, a chance to get back at DeeDee for what happened in this book ! Jess casually lets it slip to Dee that Bill was out with another girl, and of course DeeDee flips out. She corners Bill, and Bill responds by breaking up with her. Bet you didn't see that coming!

The break up is utterly devastating. I cried, I sobbed, I called in sick to work. That's how hard it hit me. Dee takes it better than I did, and after one attempt to get back together with Bill, she begins to heal and regain her self-esteem. She has an epiphany of sorts, and realizes how crazy she's been acting. She finally gets all the way back to normal thanks to Patty's scheming (for once, Jessica is not the one scheming! How novel.) Patty, with Elizabeth's help, cooks up a plan to force DeeDee to become independent again. Basically, Liz fakes sick so DeeDee is forced to take control of the talent show. This plan totally works and DeeDee's confidence comes back. In typical Sweet Valley fashion, DeeDee's issues are totally resolved within days.

Now that DeeDee is okay, it's time to party!! Yes, the party we (I), have been waiting for is finally here.

Brief summary: 19 frat guys show up, and SHOCKER, they bring beer! Frat guys bringing beer to a party? So odd. Some random Pi Beta sorority sister gets drunk, beer is spilled on Alice's important papers (I told you something would happen to the papers! Psychic.) The neighbors call the cops, and Jessica is about to be taken down to the station, when big bro Steve shows up and saves the day. So all in all, a good party! I know I had a great time.

Jessica swallows her pride and goes to the artistic DeeDee to help her fix Alice's papers. She even apologizes to DeeDee for telling her about Bill and Dana-and get this,-it's a genuine apology! Don't get too worried, I'm sure Jessica's trademark selfishness will be back in the next book. DeeDee saves the day by somehow copying Alice's design perfectly, and Elizabeth tells Dee about she and Patty's deceptive plan to make her take over the talent show. DeeDee doesn't get mad and they all share a hearty laugh. How nice.

But, wait! Alice and Ned are coming home early! Now there's no time to replace the broken vase! Jessica is forced to come clean about the party, the broken washing machine, and fire in the kitchen. Alice and Ned respond by grounding her for a month and giving her a stern lecture.

Haha, just kidding, no. They don't do a damn thing. Ned figures that Jess "has probably punished herself enough" and they drop it. No punishment whatsoever, except Jess has to pay to replace the vase. Note that any money Jessica has comes from her allowance...which comes from her parents. So Alice and Ned are essentially paying to replace the vase. Genius parenting. Now I see why Jessica is such a well-rounded, responsible young lady.

Oh, you thought this was over? Not yet! We still have the talent show! The talent show goes off without a hitch, and Bill even asks DeeDee if they can rekindle their relationship. Dee agrees, but tells Bill that they have to take it slow. But wait!  The talent show isn't over just yet! Todd gets onstage and recites a depressing poem. Elizabeth knows now that something is definitely wrong, and Todd breaks the bad news: he's moving to Vermont! I'm heartbroken, really, I am. More on Todd's tragic news in our next story, #23 Say Goodbye.

Moral of the story: don't drop everything you care about to focus on a relationship. Being super clingy and not having your own interests is a major turn-off, and you should never be fully emotionally dependent on another person. Wow...that is actually a pretty good lesson. Well done, ghostwriter.