Welcome back to Nostalgic Reads! Today, we head back to Sweet Valley, California.
Author: Francine Pascal/Kate William
Series: Sweet Valley High #2
Blurb: Beautiful and ruthless, Jessica Wakefield is determined to be chosen queen of the fall dance at Sweet Valley High. If she can win the contest, she’s sure to win Bruce Patman, the most sought after boy in school.
The only person standing in Jessica’s way is Enid Rollins. When Jessica discovers the truth about Enid’s past, she knows the crown is within her grasp. She doesn’t care that Enid is her twin sister Elizabeth’s best friend or that revealing the secret may cost Enid both her reputation and the boy she loves. Only Elizabeth can save Enid from Jessica’s vicious gossip but can she stop her scheming twin in time?
Review: Oh boy. Jessica is not endearing herself to me at ALL.
I don’t think I fully grasped this book when I was younger. I never really had a boyfriend to speak of when I was in high school, so the desperation to hang onto one was never really there for me. To be honest, I’ve only ever really dated two guys in my life – and I married both of them!
Anyway, the main crux of this book is that Enid Rollins, Elizabeth’s best friend, has a secret. She is pretty straight-laced now, but she used to drink and do drugs with her old boyfriend, George. They got sent to juvie after nearly killing a kid in a drunk driving accident and Enid came out sober. She changed her whole life. Which – good for her. George was sent away to finish school, but he and Enid have kept in touch through letters. In fact, Enid’s letters have helped him clean up his act as well, and since he is coming to town soon, he wants to see her. No big deal, right?
Wrong. Turns out Enid’s current boyfriend, Ronnie, is a jealous, controlling jerk who doesn’t like it if Enid even looks at another guy. Enid is absolutely terrified that he will find out about her horrible past and that she is still in contact with George. First of all, Enid, girl, you need to run. Ronnie is bad news. I don’t care how much you love him, he should not have this much control over your life. Elizabeth thinks that Ronnie should be happy that his girlfriend has worked so hard to improve herself and has been a good and loyal friend to someone who needed help. I agree. He should be. But he’s an ass.
So let’s talk about how awful Jessica is in this book, shall we? She . . .
- helps start a rumor about one of their teachers dating a student, which could get that teacher fired.
- obsesses over wanting to date Bruce Patman just because he’s rich and drives a nice car (otherwise, he’s a jerk too).
- finds one of George’s letters to Enid and GIVES A COPY TO RONNIE.
- asks Ronnie out to the school dance after he breaks up with Enid (and only after she finds out that Bruce Patman is taking a college girl) in order to improve her chances of being named prom queen.
There is also a subplot about their French teacher, Ms. Dalton, who is actually dating Lila Fowler’s father, but who the entire school thinks is dating Ken Matthews, the captain of the football team. Sure, Ken clearly has a crush on the teacher, but Ms. Dalton is really nice and would never jeopardize her career that way! And besides, there is always nice Mr. Collins (who looks like a young Robert Redford) who has an interest in her too.
So yeah, Ronnie finds out and is horrible about it. Enid, of course, thinks that Elizabeth is the one who told him because she was the only one who knew (except for Jessica, who found one of the letters that got dropped in Elizabeth’s bedroom). Jessica claims that she is trying to help the situation by going with Ronnie to the dance, but her real motivation is to try and get enough votes to be the prom queen and kick Enid out of the running. Ronnie is on the dance committee, so she thinks this will help.
Elizabeth finds the missing letter on her bedroom floor and immediately figures out what must have happened. Enid gets some advice from Ms. Dalton (who is her favorite teacher) and decides to go the dance alone, but is surprised by George, who shows up to take her. He has cleaned up his act and is now absolutely gorgeous. Of course. They are old friends who have known each other a very long time though, so they immediately fall back into that comfortable relationship. George tells her that her letters were what inspired him to make all the changes in his life and were what helped him keep going. Aw! How sweet! He also asks to take her to the dance, which she immediately agrees.
Jessica gets her comeuppance by the end, of course. Elizabeth always seems to be able to do that, once she finally realizes what her twin is up to. Honestly, she should always just assume that Jess is up to no good. It’s almost always true. Jessica wins the prom queen title, but instead of Bruce winning king (which Jessica assumed, since he is so amazing whatever), she gets . . . Winston Egbert, the school nerd! And as such, she is stuck paired with him for the rest of the semester’s events! Hahahahahaha! All thanks to Liz, who started the rumor that Jessica had a thing for Winston once she found out Jessica was the one who shared Enid’s letters.
Does Jessica learn her lesson? Of course not. She never does. She just comes up with another scheme to catch Bruce, especially after the look they share at the dance.
So to sum up the rest: Enid apologizes to Liz and they are friends again. Ms. Dalton arrives at the dance and shares a dance with Mr. Collins. Ken Matthews, who was supposed to take Lila Fowler to the dance, dumps her when he finds out that she was the one who started the rumor about Ms. Dalton in the first place.
Definitely more cohesive as a whole than the first book (since there aren’t a million plot points). Still don’t like Jessica. Still think Elizabeth is a bit of a naive doormat. How were these two such role models for preteen girls back in the day? But still, an entertaining read after all these years.