I believe the previous recapper already commented on Jessica's awesome “Flashdance” sweatshirt. Oh yeah one shoulder cut out. So stylish. But I would like you all to notice the caption, “Jessica's had enough!” Had enough what, you might ask? She's so sick of never doing work in school, laying by the pool and having parties. What a tough life. It' s like a sweatshop or something.
Well, in this very special Sweet Valley High, Liz is even more annoying and
Elizabeth looks for her “new silk blouse” but of course it's not in her closet. Honestly, I don't even know why she has a closet. She should just hand everything over to Jessica. Jessica has already worn it, you see. It's all Liz's fault for not being around when she wanted to ask if she could borrow it. Oh, and did Jessica hear Steven downstairs earlier? With that, she has successfully changed the topic. Yes, Liz tells us, Steven quit school because she's so heartbroken about Tricia Martin's death.
Steven had been shattered by the loss of the only girl he had ever really loved. Tricia's death had been a terribly difficult experience for him, and the passage of time had only seemed to increase his pain and loneliness.
I don't even know what to say anymore. I swear, it's like the ghostwriters are reading a different series than us.
Jessica tells Liz that Cara is having a party soon but Steven doesn't really like Cara right at this very second. Liz suggests that Jessica invite Steven, saying that she can't get a date and is too embarrassed to go alone. Riiight. Because it's less embarrassing to show up to a party with your brother as your date than it is to go alone. Sweet Valley is a strange, strange world.
Jessica goes downstairs and notes how good looking her father is. (I guess if she's willing to date her brother, checking out her dad isn't a big leap.) I laugh out-loud when she describes him as “giving the salad the same concentration and commitment he gave [his] legal practice.” Which is to say... none at all? Right? I bet there are pieces of lettuce all over the house.
Just then Steven walks in. Jessica thinks he looks “bad” but not physically bad--god, forbid. See, he's still tan and muscular. I'm so relieved to hear that he's been able to keep his tan up whilst mourning the death of his one true love. So we're all clear: Jessica and Elizabeth are really, really good looking. Ned is hot. And Alice could be the twins' older sister. And it is not at all disturbing for Jessica to think these things about her family members. I mean, they're just so attractive, you can't help but comment on it.
Jess invites Steven to go with her to Cara's party. He thinks she's trying to fix him up with Cara again and gets pissed. He tells her she's always trying to manipulate his life. I'm not the biggest Jessica fan, but I'm pretty sure it's Liz who is always meddling in her family's lives. Steven storms out. Ned and Alice berate Jessica for being so insensitive. St. Liz speaks up and says it was her idea. They're like, “Oh, in that case it's a brilliant scheme!” Jessica leaves, annoyed that they'd yell at her but not Liz.
Next day, Jessica goes to the Dairi Burger with Cara and orders “a Tab.” Remember Tab, you guys? I'm glad I thought it was gross growing up, because they banned some of the chemicals in it. I'm surprised Jessica hasn't grown a third eye yet. Cara orders a Tab, cheeseburger and fries. She tells Jess she can have some fries because she's on a “diet.” Ah, yes, the have-all-the-cheeseburgers-and-fries-you-w
Just then, there is a ruckus at the front of the Dairi Burger. We're told that there is a bar called “The Shady Lady” across the street that has a wild reputation and is known for selling alcohol to minors. Huh. I swear this bar was just plopped down in the middle of town yesterday. Because in other books, they always drive to Kelly's to do their underage drinking.
Anywhoodle, a boy named Nicky Shepard is the cause of the ruckus. He's a junior at SVH too and Jessica has “always” found him fascinating. Really? Always? Because I swear he was plopped down in town for this book too. Naturally, Nick is handsome. He lives in Sweet Valley after all, and they expel anyone who doesn't fit their very narrow standard of beauty. Jessica describes him as having “the body of a football player” but he doesn't actually play any sports. And he drinks a lot. Another great diet.
Nicky comes over and acts like a complete douche. Of course this turns Jessica on. She decides he “wasn't like anyone she'd ever met before.” Which is the same tune she's singing every book. Blahblahshe'sgoingtowinhimcakes.
Predictably, at the party Steven refuses to dance with Cara and is generally a wet blanket all night. Jessica worries this will reflect badly on her (how?). Just then Caroline Pearce comes up. Jessica tells us that Liz gave Caroline a makeover and now she's not a gossip. She's also pretty now because, as you know, once you submit to Liz's meddling you immediately become hot. Jessica uses this opportunity to bitch to herself about how great everyone thinks Liz is.
For some reason she then goes over to Liz and Todd. (Fact: Todd is described as wearing “pleated gray linen slacks and a tweed coat over a polo shirt.” Todd dresses like an old man.) Liz disappears and Todd starts to talk about how perfect and Jess is all, “Sit on it, grandpa.” She storms off, right into...a bathhouse? Does this make anyone else think of naked gay men? Oh, look, it's Nicky Shepard!
They have deeeeeep conversation. Exhibit A:
NICKY: I like being a loner. It makes me seem mysterious
JESS: It makes you seem sad.
NICKY: Maybe I like being sad.
JESS: How can you like being sad?
NICKY: It's easier than being happy.
If Nicky enjoys being sad, doesn't that defeat the purpose of being sad, I wonder? No, says Francine, this is not only profound but it is sexy as hell. Jessica might as well give him her panties now. Then he tells her about how his parents don't love him (boo freaking hoo) and how Jess is smarter than she lets on (no she's not). Then they make out.
Jess and Nicky go back to the party and dance, like sad kids usually do. Liz sees them and gets all uppity as she is wont to do so Jess and Nicky leave in his Mustang. Is it me or is the Mustang to person ratio in Sweet Valley 1:1?
The next day, Liz and the 'rents are having brunch, which I find hilarious for some reason. Perhaps because it's past midnight as I type this or perhaps because I'm imagining Alice scheduling their eating time precisely so she can put out a buffet and drink mimosas instead of just pouring a bowl of cereal like normal people. At the brunch table, Liz discusses this odd “resentment” Jessica has been showing toward her lately. How could anyone resent her? Unpossible! Then Jessica comes downstairs and Alice immediately gets her orange juice (in my head this is because some of it is spiked and some of it is for the children). Jessica acts strangely subdued and even drunk!Alice and clueless!Ned notice it, so it must be bad. Sensing their daughter is having “problems” and she needs “guidance,” Ned and Alice quickly get the hell out of there and leave that talking up to Liz.
Jessica tells Elizabeth that everyone loves Liz so much, they don't care if Jessica is around. Not true! This series would suck ass if it was all Liz cheating on boys and meddling. There would be no magical vodka or sociopathic tendencies! Worse, Liz doesn't even hang around with Lila.. Sweet Valley would be a dull, style-challenged place without Jessica Wakefield.
Liz is concerned. She thinks she can't talk to Todd about Jessica, since he doesn't like her (
After being prodded by Liz, Steven goes to “talk” to Jessica, but they just end up fighting. Jess decides to prove she's just as wonderful as Liz by cleaning her room, but then thinks that'll take too long. So she's just going to make dinner. Knowing Jessica, Ned and Alice just assume she wants them to buy her something expensive.
They eat hesitantly, assuming Jessica is trying to poison them. This “cuts through” Jessica “like a knife.” It's an eating metaphor whilst they eat! Genius. The talk is Ned telling the whole family private attorney-client information about Ricky, who goes to school with Jessica and Liz (and works at Casey's). Oh that Ned, he's such a great lawyer to be sharing the intimate details of that family's legal battles with the twins. That way it can get around school faster. Liz announces she's going to write an article to the Sweet Valley News about the case. Ned seems to think this is wonderful rather than a sure way to get him sued by the family.
We're supposed to feel jealous of Liz here, because she takes the spotlight from Jessica. But really I feel like she's a horrible person. I mean, who hears the intimate details of a family's divorce problems and decides to write an article to the newspaper without asking someone in the family if it's okay? And what good is a newspaper editorial going to do anyone but Liz, who can put it in her portfolio? What a self-centered bitch. I'm surprised someone hasn't beaten the crap out of her.
Jessica gets all mopey and depressed so she goes to see a movie by herself. Without a man! She should be shot! Luckily for her, Nicky Shepard just happens to be there too and he takes her for a ride in his Mustang. Because heaven forbid she ever try to find enjoyment in anything other than a boy's arms. She asks him why he's so “quiet” at school and he says he doesn't fiit in with that “scene.” The education scene? He's morally opposed to learning (or whatever it is they do all day at Sweet Valley High)?
Then we get to the meat of it. Nicky is going to San Francisco to the “real world” soon. He's through with school. He's through with Sweet Valley. He's going to get a job. Someone should tell Nicky that all jobs entail “work” and so long as he's going to SVH all he has to do is party, dance and never actually attend classes. Jessica is not the one to explain this to him, however. She makes out with him.
The next day, Liz wakes Jessica up. Just the mere fact that she woke her up is enough to have me go, “bitch” but add to that the fact that she wants Jessica to go to Ricky's family's court hearing! She's all, “Come on, Jess, let's get our meddle on!” And Jess is all, “Go away, you crazy person!” Liz lies to Jess that Ned really wants Jessica there (why?). And then she goes downstairs and tells Ned to invite Jessica, as if she's the boss of him or some shit. Ned is all, “No way, I don't care about Jess! Let her sulk” because that's the kind of father he is.
Liz and Ned go to the court hearing. I didn't mention before, but the point of the case is that Ricky's mom and dad got divorced, and it was a rough one. Now the mother won't let the paternal grandparents see the kids. What I find hysterical about this is that Ricky is the twins' age. Why he can't just phone his own grandparents and schedule a meeting that the mom doesn't know about, like a normal person, is beyond me. What is he, two?
After the hearing, Ricky comes over the Liz and asks her to not write a story airing his family's dirty laundry in the newspaper. Liz is shocked, shocked! Then Annie Whitman (Ricky's girlfriend) comes over and tries to comfort Liz, saying Ricky hasn't been himself lately. Dude, if I were Annie I'd be like, “Bitch, back away from my man. Are you trying to kill him like your sister did to me?” Ugh.
Ned comes over and tells Liz that with any good story you're going to “step on some toes” and encourages her to keep writing it! Actual quote: You just have to ask yourself if the pain you cause some people is greater than the enlightenment you give others.” WHAT? No seriously, who is she “enlightening” about Ricky's family problems? Also, are you being paid by Ricky's grandparents to get back in his good graces? I honestly don't know what to say anymore, Ned. How could you possibly be a worse role model?
Nick takes Jessica to a party. But there's beer at this party and it makes Jessica nervous. Ricky is all, “Stop acting like a prude; I know you're into the magical vodka, baby.” Actually, he doesn't. But he should. Instead, they leave to go “talk” and she tells him about all her “problems” at home. Instead of laughing in her face, Nicky says he know show she's feeling and invites her to runaway to San Francisco on Friday. Jessica considers it until she thinks of Liz and that special twin bond they have. You know, the one they only seem to have when someone is in danger or they're pretending to be psychic. She tells him she can't, but he insists she think about it.
Even though he's drunk, Nicky drives home. Of course he gets into an accident (did you have any doubt?) but, luckily, neither Jessica nor Nicky is hurt. He calls his parents to come pick him up. The terrible parents that are driving Nicky away from Sweet Valley show up and yell at their son. Jessica seems to think they're terrible but I kinda think yelling at a boy who drove drunk and hit a telephone pole in the Mustang you bought him sort deserves it, you know? Nicky shouts back that he's leaving soon and his father's all, “You mean we don't get to pay for your screw ups anymore? You wound me!”
After their romantic car accident, Jessica starts to consider running away with Nicky. I'm just irritated that we're more than a hundred pages in and no one has packed a bag yet.
Jessica decides she's going to patch up her relationship with her parents (but if it doesn't go well, she's out of there). She goes downstairs to talk to Ned, who whines about how “difficult” his case is. Now I'm not a lawyer but according to a quick google search, unless both parents have agreed its in the child's best interest to keep the grandparents away (which is decidedly not the case, since the father is AWOL) then it should be pretty easy for Ned to petition the court for visitation rights. But then, I never said Ned was a good lawyer. He's so busy talking about the case, he doesn't pay any attention to Jessica. Then when she asks to go he says she wouldn't find it interesting and Jess is all, “But Liz seems to” and Ned is like, “But you're stupider than your sister, honey.”
For some reason, Jessica doesn't take that well. Imagine!
Steven pays no attention to Jessica either. And when she tries to talk to Liz, Liz keeps looking at her watch because she has to go to the Sweet Valley News to talk about the family-wrecking she wants to do. But then Lila calls and says Jessica hasn't been around much and would she like to go shopping? Jess says no! Oh come on, Jessica! Who needs your family to love you when Lila wants to take you shopping!? I think Lila and Jessica have a better bond than Liz and Jessica ever did. Has Liz offered to take Jessica shopping once this entire book? No. What a crappy sister.
Jessica calls Nicky and says she's down with the whole running away thing. Nicky is like, “Cool because I'm leaving tonight now.”
On Friday, Jessica wakes up. Nicky has already left for San Francisco, and she will leave that day. (Me: Finally!) Jessica's all set to go. She's just worried that her parents will think she was kidnapped, like Liz was by the orderly. Normally, when someone packs their things and leaves, it's pretty obvious it's a voluntary thing, but then the Wakefields are too bright so she's probably right to worry. Jessica decides to write them a note.
By the time you get this, I will be far away. I'm sorry if my leaving causes you all a lot of pain but it will be better for all of us in the long run. There are many reasons why I'm going. It isn't just your fault [Me: Ha!]. You can't help being the way you are any more than I can. You're so good. It would just be better for all of you if you'd forget that I ever existed. I've never been anything but trouble anyway. This doesn't mean I'm forgetting about you. I'll be thinking a lot about all of you as I take the bus to my new home. I love you, Liz. And make sure you tell Mom and Dad that I love them too, and Steve, even though I know he hates me. Someday I'll return, I promise, but not for a long time. Please don't try to find me. My mind is made up. I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused.
Still your loving sister,
PS. I'm leaving you my new jeans. I think they make me look fat anyway.
Aw. I'm not gonna front, I kind of want to give Jessica a hug here. And that PS is made of win. I'm seriously considering an icon. Maybe if she had gone shopping with Lila she could've left Liz some non-fat-making jeans.
When Liz comes in to borrow Jessica's scarf, Jessica nearly breaks down crying. Inevitably, Ned ruins the moment by shouting for Liz to hurry up. Jessica tells Liz she's spending the weekend at Lila's. Secretly, she hopes Liz will find the letter and come get her at the bus station. See, Jessica is just running away for attention like any good non-abused, suburban teen would. You know how when you're nine and your parents won't let you have chocolate for dinner, so you pack up your Scooby-Doo book bag and “run away” only to walk around the block for about a hour until you get hungry and go home? That's the same level of emotional maturity that Jessica has.
But OH NOES! When Jessica slams the door behind her, a “breeze” knocks the letter behind her desk! Thus the chapter ends with a dun-dun-daaaa flourish. But anyone with a brain is not actually worried.
At the hearing, Liz takes notes like the little worm she is. When Ricky gets upset and leaves the courtroom she stops his girlfriend from going after him so she can talk to him. Like she knows better than Annie how to help him! The gall! Anyway, Ricky lays into her that she's a know it all .It's all very satisfying to me until he starts crying and she tells him that he's not a “strong person.” How he refrains from kicking her, I'll never know. Liz gives him a long speech about how his grandparents love him or some shit and he “doesn't deserve” their love.
Then when they go back into the courtroom, Ricky speaks up and says he wants to see his grandparents. Then he smiles at Liz. Like she freaking solved all his problems or something. Then suddenly, everyone is happy-schmappy and the world is saved thanks to Liz Wakefield. I'm truly disgusted.
When Liz gets home, she discovers Jessica's room is empty. She tells her parents and they all panic. They call Lila (as you do in an emergency situation) but Lila hasn't seen her. Steven suggests they ask Nicky. Ned and Liz go to Nicky's house and his mother is all, “Yeah, he's gone but we haven't bothered looking for him like you suckers are doing.”
Jessica, meanwhile, is waiting at the bus station. She's been there for hours. Waiting for Liz to come “rescue” her, that is. But Liz hasn't showed up! She decides they must not love her and hops on the bus.
Steven calls a friend of Nicky's, Joe, and tells him he owes Nicky money and wants to pay him back. Joe's all, in that case lemme give you his address. I dunno who this Joe is or how Steven knows his number off the top of his head. I think the ghost writer looked at the word count and realized she better think of an out fast. Anyway, Joe says he's staying with “Denny Wyatt” (which I only mention because it's awful close to Danny Wyatt who appears in SVU. More proof that the ghostwriters can't think of original names) in San Francisco.
Liz and Steven go to the bus station (Ned and Alice go to the airport, because they're useless). They get there just as the bus for San Francisco is pulling away. Liz freaks out but Steven's all, “You're forgetting something. Buses make stops.” (Cookies if you get the reference.) He asks a guy where the next stop is, and they hop in his car and drive there. Liz worries they won't get there in time. But of course there's only four pages left, so I know they do.
Steve and Liz get on the bus at the next stop and they all hug and cry. Jessica then writes a letter to Nicky explaining why she's not going to San Francisco but there's no hilarious PS so I'm not going to bother transcribing it. Then there's some lead up to the next book, #22: Too Much In Love, which someone needs to recap stat, and that's it.