Beware. The amount of times that a reference is made to "periods" is a little scary.
Look at Jessica's facial expression! What could she possibly be so upset over?? When I first read this, the last things I possibly expected to read about were the menstrual cycles of the Wakefield twins, seeing as they don't even seem to have any in other books! But I suppose there is a time for firsts, and they'd already used pretty much every whacked out storyline possible. Yet, the ghostwriter managed to turn something as normal as going into puberty into something so crazy!
Oh man, this book sucks so much. Like, seriously. Don't say I didn't warn you.
So, it starts off with Elizabeth running into Jessica’s room all excited about something, something “wonderful” that had happened. She asks Jessica if she looks any different to how she looked that morning, because of course whenever girls get their period for the first time, this mysterious change comes over them! The most brilliant segue into the whole “the two girls were mirror images of each other, beautiful, tanned, perfect etc etc” spiel occurs here - I’m serious, they actually say “Anyone looking up at that window would have seen two girls who were mirror images of each other”. WHY would anyone be outside the Wakefield’s house looking up at their window? Great work, ghostwriter, promoting stalking! But then again, it is Sweet Valley. Who knows if there is a 12 year old girl who just happens to look identical to both Jessica and Elizabeth standing outside? Oh wait, they've already used that storyline.
Anyway, Elizabeth goes on to say all this clichéd stuff like, we’re blossoming into women Jessica! Isn’t it great! Now you can’t have unprotected sex! Yet does she stop to ask Jessica if she has in fact started her period as well? NO. OF COURSE NOT. BECAUSE THEY ARE TWINS, SO OF COURSE THEIR BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS WOULD BE TICKING AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME! Comparisons are made between getting your period with you know, life changing events like going on your first date, getting a driver’s licence or going to the prom so they decide to go and break the news to their mother who decides to make them an extra special dinner. I don’t know, this book always weirded me out because for once the twins were experiencing something that people actually experience, you know not just sunshine and happiness all the time (ignoring the attempted rape, murder, 15 Christmases in one year type of thing), yet the writer still managed to turn this entire event into something so extremely nauseating. I mean, whose mother made them a “gourmet feast” when they got their period? Maybe it was just me who got thrown a pad and told “get used to it” (too much information hahaha).
Moving on. Elizabeth goes on and on about how grown up she feels and Jessica comes up with one of her schemes to go and visit their cousin Robin (oh right, that cousin who always pops up when the writer is short on storylines) in San Diego. They decide to use the fact that they’re “so grown up” now to con their parents into letting them go.
The next day at school, it seems like Elizabeth has told pretty much everyone who will listen that she’s now a woman, whereas Jessica, gossip queen of Sweet Valley, has not told a soul. WHAT COULD BE UP? HMM?? She’s not acting suspicious or unlike herself at all! They decide to go buy some “stuff” for fun, “stuff” translating to “sanitary pads” because oooh it‘s so embarrassing to say that, and so they hop on their bikes to go to the chemist. But who walks into the chemist? Oh, only Bruce Patman and Todd Wilkins! (Okay, this always bugged me. Why did Bruce always hang around with the sixth graders? Maybe it’s because I’m from Australia and we were generally separated from Year Seven when we were in Year Six. But did he never have his own friends?) Luckily, they leave after an embarrassing encounter with the cashier waving around the box and yelling about its price. Cos you know, that always happens.
That night at dinner, the Wakefield’s give them permission to go to San Diego to visit Robin because “You’re more mature now” according to Mr. Wakefield, giving them a private wink. Ew. Dads + periods do not go well together. Jessica and Elizabeth are ecstatic and start discussing how sophisticated Robin will be after living in France for a year.
At school, at the end of Chapter Three, after the writer has kept us in suspense all the way up to now, we find Jessica crying in the bathroom. Oh no. She hasn’t actually gotten her period yet. Oh man, that sucks that you don’t have to worry about that time of the month yet. I say, HONEY, WHO CARES? ENJOY YOUR FREEDOM WHILE YOU HAVE IT! But it’s actually a terrible thing, because everyone seems to be talking about having their period. Of course, this is never, ever mentioned in any other Sweet Valley book, so I guess Jamie Suzanne tried to cram as much in as possible. Jessica starts to freak out because maybe Ellen and Lila started their periods a long time ago and had a secret pact not to tell Jessica!
It is at this point that I feel like throwing the book away in disgust. It is just your period. You will get it, Jessica. You are only twelve. If you were eighteen, we might have some sympathy. However, she redeems herself by yelling at Elizabeth for dressing like a baby, who is wearing a deep turquoise blouse with puffy sleeves and a round collar, and pearl buttons down the front. Oh, the fashions. Then she ruins it by continuing with her irritating drama queen thoughts “what if she really was the only one who hadn’t gotten her period yet? And what if she never got it?” OH NOEZ, JESSICA.
After a heart to heart with Alice Wakefield, Elizabeth starts to learn more about puberty and the “roller coaster” of being a teenager. Vomit. A couple of days later Jessica and Elizabeth board the bus to San Diego and arrive to find that their cousin Robin has turned goth! Or, in Sweet Valley talk, sophisticated, wearing a “black turtleneck, a black skirt and lots of silver jewelry…black shoes, and even the sunglasses she was wearing were black”. After lots of catching up, the twins find a photo of John W. Anderson, Robin’s supposed boyfriend. But wait, he’s sixteen! And Robin is twelve. A match made in heaven, obviously. Isn’t this just a little suspicious? But oh, he just happens to be out of town in Philadelphia. Robin shocks the twins by claiming to desperately need a cigarette, and Jessica claims to be a regular smoker to impress her (once again, does Jessica ever convey an urge to smoke? This book is just so crazy!) and Elizabeth bursts into tears, after being called a baby for about the sixth time in the book. Well, hey, Jessica, at least Elizabeth has her period unlike SOME people.
Robin is allowed permission to throw a sleepover party to introduce her friends to the twins, but on the condition that she invites her old friend Becky to the party…the girl she was friends with before she wanted to join the exclusive clique, the Jaguars. She unhappily agrees and starts the planning, getting ready for her initiation into the clique which is to take place that night. The Jags appear to be a more hardxcore version of the Unicorns, because, you know, they smoke! And wear lots of black. As part of her initiation, however, Robin has to go over to her “boyfriends” house. By the way, lol, Becky and Elizabeth become friends of course and refer to the Jags as the “hags”. Oh, the wit. So Robin and Jessica go together to Johnny’s house and long story short, chicken out and end up being chased by a dog outside the wrong house.
Robin’s mother and father wake up to find pretty much the whole sleepover gang missing, apart from Becky and Elizabeth who have spent a really exciting night playing board games. Man. Jessica and Robin get in trouble and Jessica gets angry at Elizabeth AGAIN, probably still upset over the fact that she doesn’t have her freaking period. Their trip ends with Jessica still angry at Elizabeth and on the bus ride back, Jessica begins to develop a stomach ache. She confesses to Elizabeth that she hasn’t gotten her period yet, and Elizabeth, instilled with the wisdom that a girl gets after having her period for a week says “Oh, Jess. Everybody’s different. You’ll start when you’re ready”. And with those words of wisdom, like magic, IT HAPPENS. Jess goes to the bathroom and woohoo, she’s started her period! About 133 pages after we’ve all stopped caring!