|SVT #42 - Jessica's Secret
||[Oct. 22nd, 2007|11:50 pm]
Elizabeth and Jessica are better than you.
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!
Wow. Sounds like the ghostwriter overdosed on Judy Blume books before sitting down to write this one. Only... this is nowhere near as good as something Blume would have written.
BECAUSE THEY ARE TWINS, SO OF COURSE THEIR BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS WOULD BE TICKING AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME!
OMG Liz, remember the 4 minutes!
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.
Didn't that happen when got bras too?
Do they go to stay at Robin's when it's her sister's birthday? I'd be heaps pissed if it was my birthday and my sister was having a sleepover with her friends.
Yeah, her birthday is the day before the sleepover and robin claims to be angry because she could have used the money that she spent on her sister's present on cigarettes. Elizabeth hears this and gets angry. As usual. I'm so anti-Elizabeth tonight haha after re-reading this book!
Why did Bruce always hang around with the sixth graders?
I've always wondered about that too, especially in Sweet Valley High. Why does a guy as supposedly popular as Bruce hang around kids a year younger? In school, one year means a lot of difference. I wonder if Bruce isn't considered a huge dork by the people his own age.
Okay, okay, this is just weird!!! When Steven or Ned asked why they were getting a feast, what did Alice say? "I'm made this because your sisters\daughters started bleeding out their arse?" *insert laughing smiley*
And what mother does that for her daughter[s]? It's just a NORMAL PART OF LIFE!!!!! But of course, the golden twins need to be spoilt...
That whole "special feast" thing reminds me of Ginger Snaps. lol.
In SVT, did they go to a middle school? If they did, then Bruce hanging out with them isn't too weird. Usually, grades 6-8 are in the same school and I had friends younger and older than I was in middle school.
In my high school, the hanging out was split 9th/10th graders and 11th/12th graders. There was very little 10th/11th hanging out which now that I think back, why not??? Hmm.
Sorry for excess use of "hanging out" in this comment
Arghh this has ruined SVT for me slightly!! This book sounds awful!! Completely different to the rest, not to mention their periods are seemingly never alluded to again! Meh I think I remember reading the bit where Liz runs in going on about her period, and then threw the book down in disgust! Lol I think I was about 12 myself at the time, mind you.
I hid everything from my mum lol!
Good recap though, you've conveyed how nuts this book is!
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).
I'm surprised they weren't thrown a "Period Party" because in SV anything is an excuse to party. But the "feast" is weird. I wouldn't want my father and brother, like, toasting my menarche.
This is probably a sad comment on my childhood, but when I read this book I was still young enough to not know what a "period" was and I had to go ask my mother what it was Elizabeth had. I was so confused as to why Jessica was jealous because my mom didn't make it sound like much fun! ...And, come to think of it, I still am confused.
So, Liz is supposed to be the SMART twin, right? And yet she really truly thinks that she and her twin sister will start menstruating identically because they are identical twins? And their mother thinks so, too?
I hope they all had cramps. Bad, bad cramps.
I have to confess that Jessica's reaction actually seems authentic to me. She has no reason to question Elizabeth's bizarre assumption that they would start at the same time, since Liz is the one who knows things like this, and she's reaching the age where EVERYTHING is a Big Deal and the End of the World. And since it's Jess, it's not just the End of the World, it's the End of the UNIVERSE. And she's the "sophisticated" twin, with the Unicorn membership (at least, with caring about her Unicorn membership - doesn't Liz get in at some point and decide she doesn't care?) and the obsession with boys and clothes and makeup and yadda blah, so if anyone is going to get her period first, it should be her, not boring, childish Elizabeth! Plus, before you get your period, you have no concept of what a hassle it is. I was pretty excited to get mine, and now I wish I never had. :P
I mean, the rest of the book is sheerly ridiculous, and I did enjoy your recap (and am now pretending that Bruce hangs out with kids a year younger than him because unlike his classmates, they have not yet realized what a jerk he is, heh), but Jessica freaking the hell out rings very true to me. If the Sweet Valley books had more authentic character moments like that - well, they'd be good and this community wouldn't exist. And that would be sad. *g*
Yeah, I agree - it's one of those moments where she does actually seem twelve years old. That is, a bit immature and prone to freaking out about things which aren't actually that big a deal when you look back on them, but seem Oh So Important at the time ^^
I don't remember all the stuff about Robin in this book at all, though o_0
I agree with you. I remember being thrilled when I got my period because I knew that it meant that I was grown up but I didn't know that it meant pain and mess and hassle and also didn't even make me any more grown up. So I really did identify with Jess in this book (um, until they got to Robyn's, that is).
Though, like you, I enjoyed the recap. I would have found a family meal to celebrate my first period rather creepy :S
I have to agree with the people that posted above. I had skipped a grade in school and so I was a year younger than everyone in my class. I can remember being in eighth grade and horribly upset that I was the only girl in my class (it seemed) that hadn't gotten her period yet. Never mind the fact that they were all thirteen and I was only twelve. I did end up getting it that year - and got back at my friends by telling them that since I was a year younger, I technically got mine a year before they did. ;)
Seriously though, at that age that is a very big deal...at least in my time it was. So I think Jessica's reaction is pretty spot-on.
I didn't get my period till I was 15. Lucky me!! I didn't get a special dinner, just a lousy cup of tea. Ripped off!
i kinda sympathise with Jess here! My big sister had to explain the whole thing to me (after I nagged about tampons lol) and I remember thinking bout how *cool* it would be - didn;t quite believe her when she said it sucked!!! Also I was quite bummed to find out my best friend had started hers like, a year before - and not told me *sob*. Still, I was totally mortified when my mom told me she'd told my dad -aarrggh!! So the idea of a Family Feast - TRIPLE AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
OH MY GOD, I TOTALLY REMEMBER THIS BOOK. Even when I was reading it for the first time when I was like, 10 I thought it was freakin' lame.
Books like this are the reason I was afraid to tell my mom when I first got my period... I didn't want her to throw a 'feast' in my honor or something. Heh.
omg they actually mention periods? In the SVH series, I didn't even think they needed to go to the bathroom ever.
Well, after this book they had the surgeries that took such bodily functions out. You know, standard in Sweet Valley.
Didn't another book deal with the subject too? Some tomboy chick, right?
#25 Standing Out was about Billie Layton 'growing up' and changing her name back to Belinda. It's also mentioned in a later book around the #90th book, where Jessica is again buying 'stuff' and she witnesses a robbery.
Why did I miss all these books? Lol
Elizabeth the Spy. Best book ever :p
2007-10-23 02:15 am (UTC)
I don't remember every bursting with joy/pride at having gotten my period. the first time i got it i was sad and wondering how i could live my life going through that hell every month. ahhh. to be in sweet valley world....
2007-10-23 02:18 am (UTC)
and might i add - i would pay ridiculous amounts of money to have my period taken back. haha.
Lol love this recap. Thank you!
"Dads + periods do not go well together."
Hee hee hee, it's funny that you say this, cos my dad is the father of 3 girls... in fact even our cat was a girl... and although he's quite good at most girl things, this, despite his daughters being 30, 27 and 23 he hasn't quite mastered... I remember a few months ago i mentioned i had a stomach ache and he said 'Yeah i do too actually' and i was like 'Um, dad if you have the same thing as me i'd be fairly worried.' and he said "Oh..." and left the room rather hurridly!
I always liked this book when i was younger. i don't know why. But i also liked are you there god it's me margaret.. and the daffodils where they all get bras. sheesh what was up with me as a kid?!
Yeah, if Bruce Patman is so cool why the hell is always hanging out with kids younger than him!!! Although i'm in SA and we don't tend to separate schools until between years 7 and 8... well some private schools excepted!
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.
I think this cliché was in EVERY YA novel and teen show.
Even as a kid I thought Liz was incredibly stupid for assuming that their periods would have started at exactly the same time.
I want to hang with Robyn. She could cool Jess up! Imagine it!
I'm late on this one, but I had to go looking for a recap of this because somehow I never read it, and it sounds like it totally wouldn't have disappointed me. To the library ago!
...seriously, no one in my school discussed their periods. And maybe I'm the only person ever who felt this way, but I wasn't eager to start mine.
I do know someone who knows someone who made their daughters a special cake whenever they started theirs. They actually called it a Menarche Cake. I did not ask what kind of cake this was. I'm not sure I want to know. I'd have been REALLY embarrassed to celebrate my period.
2008-05-13 06:23 pm (UTC)
I'm quite sure the Menarche Cake was a red velvet cake.
2008-03-26 04:40 am (UTC)
my mom took me out to dinner when i got my period. it was embarassing cuz i knew she told my dad. and i totally felt just like jessica did when everyone got theirs before me. i was SO JEALOUS. i also didnt have boobs so it was totally obvious that i was like a little kid. haha. also i think my mom bought me this book to teach me about periods or something hahaha.
When I get my period a feast is the last thing I want. lol.
I remeber this book, it was one of my favourites. I think because of Robyn, who seemed so cool. And then so lame at the end.
HA. I pwn'd both twins because I got mine when I was ELEVEN. HAHAHA.
When I first got it, I was super excited. I got it way before most of my classmates and I was actually younger than most of them by a few months. However, by the second "visit" I was ready to get rid of it. lol.
I love that people are reading as far back as I am!
I hated getting mine, I remember breaking down walking into school that morning thinking everyone knew about it and I was so mortified.
I quit SVT way before this one, so I didn't even know it was ever discussed. At least something real and relate-able happened to the twins! I didn't know that ever happened.
Oh, and yes, I now too pray for the day it ends. Now, THAT'S something to brag about! heh!
Ohhh I remember this book, and fondly too. I think I read this at 10 or 11 and I hadn't gotten my period yet. I totally identified with Jessica and I checked my underpants all the time cause I couldn't wait to start bleeding. Things change....yet stay the same.
I remember this one! My older sister and her "twin" (a neighbor with the same birthday) had a babysitting club (oh yes they did, yes indeed) and they did a camp one summer, right? So I've always been the antisocial reading type, so I go upstairs to the "twin"'s bedroom and find her stash of books and start reading them. My sister finds me, takes this one away, says I can't read it because it's "adult".
I was in third grade and had not yet been given the joy of the knowledge of a period. I threw a FIT that my sister wouldn't let me read it.
Yes, that story was necessary. I considered it a very traumatizing experience. I now realize that reading the book would have been oh so much worse.
omg I wish I had read this book.
2010-04-08 03:57 am (UTC)
Wow.....just wow....and Elizabeth is the....smart one?
Poor Jessica! I totally sympasize with her on this. I was 14 before I got my first period. At 12 I was like: I'm scared, I don't want a period! D: Then at 14, I was like: Yeah, JUST COME ALREADY!
Eh. Periods, thats life. I am scarred for life (Scarred for life I say!) at Alice's heart to heart with ELizabeth about the "rollercoaster" of puberty. ITS BURNS MY EARS!
Bruce is "cool" and hangs out with year 6 kids? Janet is "cool" and hangs out with year 6 kids? I'm starting to think they're only cool to the year 6's, hm??
Hahaha, you're totally right. The "rollercoaster of puberty" talk is terrifying. I didn't even tell my mother when I got my period, and she never bothered to ask me about it. Great communication skills in my family.
My friend's grandmother (grandmother!) made her a cake with red icing when she got her period. I think if anyone had done that for me, I would have died. Eaten the cake, and then died.
I remember a time in the early teens when it was so cool to talk about periods, like we were really mature about it. (Plus, it got you out of swimming class four weeks in a row if your teacher was an easily-embarrassed male, like mine.)
Man... In my high school swimming was compulsary for about six weeks in your first year of high school. I had one of those "easily embarrassed male teachers", and was able to skip the whole of the swimming component. I might add, those six weeks were all in a row. I don't know how that works either,lol
High five for being 14! :-) I was 14 too (actually quite close to 15) and people always act like thats really old but its quite normal
I'm dying to get hold of this one, I never managed to read it and I still cant believe the SV world actually acknowledges bodily functions. Now I'm waiting for the one where the Unicorns get diarrhoea after some bad burgers at Dairi Burger. LOL.