Uh, so this recap took a little bit longer for me to finish than I thought it would. >_> Sorry.
I have a confession to make. When I was reading these books as a little girl growing up in Nowhere, Iowa, I considered Amy the loser BFF of Liz. And I identified with that, and liked Amy. Now I just kind of like laughing at her. Anyway. I bring to you AMY MOVES IN.
Not much to it. It's Amy there in the middle (with a cast on her arm! The mystery will be solved, I promise), with... I always thought it was Liz to her left (our right) giving her a very uncertain looking grin, but I think it might be Jess. o_O Lila is there on Amy's right looking like she wants to jump her, and then devour her. If Lila Fowler was looking at me like that, it would put the fear of god into me.
Strangely, Amy Moves In is also the title of a book by Marilyn Sachs about a Jewish family living in the Bronx in the 1940s. Something tells me that there is more literary value to that one than to this.
The back for this one reads:
Elizabeth Wakefield is shocked and upset when she hears that her best friend, Amy Sutton's, house has burned down. But she's happy to learn that Amy will be staying with the Wakefields while Amy's parents look for a new home. It will be just like having another sister around.
But living with Amy isn't as much fun as Elizabeth thought! Amy treats Elizabeth like her personal maid. And everytime Amy talks about the fire, she stretches the truth a little more. Even worse, Amy is spending all her time with Elizabeth's twin sister, Jessica, and the snobby Unicorn Club. Elizabeth is puzzled and hurt. When Amy tells her new friends one of Elizabeth's biggest secrets, it's the last straw. Now the whole school is laughing at Elizabeth! Can she ever trust Amy again?
I'm pleased to see that the rest of SVMS has caught up with us here at 1bruce1.
(Also, according to the inscription written on the inside cover in my own hand, I obtained this book in 1993. Just a little FYI.)
Ahem. So we begin our story with Amy and Liz working on a project of some sort -- science, I think, and it involves pasting pictures of animals onto posterboard or some such. I always liked those projects best, because it was fairly mindless. I mean, a monkey could pass with a project like that. It's taken them hours and hours, but they don't really mind, because it doesn't feel like work!! They've been having fun working (would you believe me if I just typoed that as f*cking? *CLUTCHES PEARLS* There's a Sweet Valley book I would read over and over) ~*together!!1!*~ Amy says something about Liz is lucky because she always has company in her twin. Description of hair eyes blah blah blah, and Liz warns Amy that having a twin isn't all fun and games: for instance, Jessica would be bored with this project. Amy jokes that Jessica probably wouldn't be interested in endangered species unless that species was a unicorn.
Admit it, you laughed. I did.
Blah blah blah, something about Amy's mad baton twirling skills (I used to twirl baton competitively and when I try and imagine Amy doing that... I can't). Liz is invited to stay overnight to work on the project (on a school night? When I was a kid, I knew better than to even ask) but is blocked by Alice for the win, because "everyone has been so busy lately that we haven't spent much time together as a family." Okay, fair enough. My family does this too, even now that we're twenty-two, twenty, and eighteen. So Amy agrees to finish the poster and Liz packs up her typewriter (*giggling with glee*) and heads home.
Cut to Liz and Jess, who is put out because she hasn't seen Liz in a long time (aw)... except it wasn't anything special, she just felt like she didn't have time for her anymore. Liz is surprised and calls Jessica jealous, who promptly lets it roll off her, and says she'd just had a lot of free time this weekend and we arive at the crux of the matter: Jessica had been bored. Thus ends the most pointless scene in the book. (Also, I think that might be the reason my sister and her last boyfriend broke up.)
The next morning, Liz goes to meet Amy at her locker like they'd arranged, except, gasp! She's not there! She's not in homeroom either!! After HR (as we used to call it), Caroline Pearce (you know, the biggest gossip in school) approaches Liz and wants to be filled out on the details. Liz is, of course all, "What details?" and they dance around the mulberry bush for about a page when Liz is finally just like, "OKAY TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED PLZ." and she answers, "Amy's house burned down last night!"
That's right. We were all sitting and hoping it would be something like Amy ran away with a tattooed forty-something named Bubba to follow her dreams as an exotic dancer in the desert town of Las Vegas, but no. It was just a house fire.
They continue Caroline says six Sweet Vally fire trucks were there and it all just BURNED because they couldn't stop the fire. It was always burning, since the world's been turning. (Wait. No, that's the Billy Joel song. Crap. *grapevines it off*) Also Caroline says what happened to Amy is WORSE, and then Jess runs up and says she heard from Lila that Amy broke her ankle, but Caroline contradicts! She says Amy broke her leg. From jumping out of her window. Because -- wait for it -- she missed the net. (I dare you not to laugh at that.) Liz's next thought is how awful it is, because she was invited to stay the night! She could have been there! St. Liz is not so saintly after all, it seems.
The rest of the day is a lot of blah blah blah, eighty zillion rumors floating around and of course everyone asks Liz if it's true -- like she's supposed to know, right? Well at the end of school she and Sophia Rizzo (of Sarah's Dad and Sophia's Mom/Mum fame) walk by the house to see what the skinny is. So it turns out at least part of the rumor is true: where Amy's house once stood, there is a "pile of burned bricks and a heap of smoldering ashes." OH NOES.
So Liz runs home and who should be there but Amy!!1! Only one arm is broken but she's otherwise fit as a fiddle, so are her mom and dad. But all of her stuff is gone. Amy is understandably upset -- my grandparents had a fire when I was in sixth grade and while their house was generally okay, I understand the sturm und drang. Liz, always ready to look on the upside, says, "At least you don't have two broken arms and two broken legs and won't be in the hospital for a month." Amy is all "Say what?" They move on quickly though, Amy is going to stay with the Wakefields while her parents stay with Amy's uncle (uhh why??? PLOT CONTRIVANCE, OBVIOUSLY!) and Amy regales Liz (and thereby us) with the tale of the fire: it started in the living room, Amy's dad was calling the fire department from their house (what? I'm pretty sure that's not what you're supposed to do but okay). Liz said it must have been exciting to see the firetrucks and everything working and I think Liz's bedside manner could use some work. So Liz asks how Amy actually broke her arm, and she says...
She tripped on her shoelaces coming down the front steps.
Not as good as jumping out of a window and missing a net, in my opinion, but still amusing. I give it a seven.
Liz laughs a bit and signs her cast. We're all hunky dory.
Next chappie, Jessica plus Lila, Ellen, and Mary Wallace-something else-Jingleheimer-Schmidt. They're all uber curious about Amy (because it is apparently the only exciting thing to have happened around Sweet Valley -- what? With all the kidnappers, rapists, leering teachers, and awful parents? I don't believe it), and make Jessica promise to call and tell them what's going on. So Jessica gets home and when she asks Amy to tell her what happened, hangs on her every word. Then something strange happens. Amy begins to feel... strange. Powerful. She embellishes the story a little at Jessica's encouragement -- well, not directly. It's an indirect sort where the attention makes her happy, so she does it to do what makes her happy.
So Jess runs off to call her harpies, and the Unicorns come to the Wakefield house to visit Amy. INORITE? Mary brings her favorite teddy bear for Amy (aw I always liked her a little more than other Unicorns) and Jessica begins to tell the story for her. Eventually, Amy stops trying to butt in and go with the embellishment, something about a police escort in the ambulance to the hospital, and running all the red lights on the way to the hospital. (To be fair, if it was early in the morning and there was no traffic, this could probably be true. My mom's been known to run a red light or two taking us kids to the ER in the middle of the night... all two of them.) The unicorns sign her cast and draw a little purple unicorn underneath their signatures. So her cast is made into a reserve for unicorns. They talk talk talk yammer yammer yammer, and then leave, and Liz is forced to concede that the Unicorns "can be nice -- when they want to." (She almost added that they were usually nic eonly when they were up to something, but she caught herself the line continues. OH LIZ.)
With the Unicorns gone, Liz and Amy settle in to play some Scrabble, but Jess will play if she can be on Amy's team. This book is reading more like an episode of the Twilight Zone, for me. Alice Wakefield comes up and checks Amy's temperature to see if she can go to school tomorrow and determines that she can. But this moment of decent parenting is interrupted when Alice says they can stay up an extra hour. I don't know about you, but I'd think someone who'd had the kind of day Amy did would say that she should get some sleep. They go to bed, Liz can hear Amy crying herself to sleep. Let's take a second to feel badly for Amy. Now let's remember all the bitchy things that Amy is yet to do.
So next morning, Jess is in her bedroom listening to Liz and Amy through the bathroom that connects their bedrooms (does Steven share this bathroom as well, accessible from the hallway? I presume Ned and Alice's bathroom has a master bath, but I can't imagine that Steven would have his own, in addition. </sidebar>). Jess thinks Liz is trying to push her out of the little Liz'n'Amy circlejerk, because if Jess hadn't been there, Liz probably would have sent Lila and Ellen away last night! (I can't help but think that if they said they were there to see Amy, Liz would have been a little weirded out but said, "Oh, she's upstairs *leads*") Liz ALSO suggested they play Scrabble, which Jess hates! (But Liz and Amy both enjoy.) And then, she "all but ordered" Jess to leave so they could work on their science project! (Which they have a week to make up.) Leave it to Jess to make it all about her, am I right? Well Jess goes in, and gets Liz out of there with a suggestion that she should get breakfast running. She braids Amy's hair, saying it's the way ~*Unicorns*~ are wearing their hair these days. And then she casts a spell on her to eat all of the other sixth graders.
Well okay that last part isn't true. But the rest of it is.
So they come downstairs and Amy has a PURPLE RIBBON in her hair (LE GASP) and they're getting a ride to school in Mr. Fowler's new car. Amy doesn't want to go if Liz can't but Jess is all, "la, it's a huge car there will be plenty of room!" so they agree but when the car gets there, it's already "stuffed with Unicorns." Lila orders Ellen to the backseat so that Amy can sit upfront (XD) and Liz plays the martyr, saying she'll walk since there's no room.
So they get to school and in HR Amy is regaling the tale to classmates about the fire, this time saying that she was choking on smoke and she NEVER thought she'd stop coughing. Liz says to herself, 'Hm. That wasn't part of the story last night. She said she only smelled smoke. And then Julie Porter says she wished she'd tell the story about jumping out the window, because wasn't that how she broke her arm, Liz? Liz is like, Uh, DEFLECT you'll have to ask Amy. Way to avoid, Liz.
So we cut to Amy's POV, and she's thinking about how nice it is having her classmates' attention and support, and attention -- did I list that twice? Sorry. But when she's talking to them, she doesn't have to think about how she started the fire.
Sing it with Dwight:
Josef Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev,
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc,
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron,
Dien Bien Phu and "Rock Around the Clock,"
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team,
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland,
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev,
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, trouble in the Suez...
AMY STARTED THE FIRE!
She left ashes from the fireplace in a paper bag in the living room instead of taking them outside. And now her family's homeless because she's a lazy bitch. So at lunch Liz has to flounce off for something to do with the Sixers with Mr. Bowman (a poor man's Mr. Collins, in my humble opinion) so the Unicorns help out Amy with lunch. She's all weirded out because they're being nice (understandably) and asking her about what happened during the fire. Also, Brooke Dennis and her record producing dad might be having a party or something. Liz meets Amy at her locker later, and Amy denies the opportunity to do an interview for the Sixers. Because she is ~*guilty*~ and ~*afraid*~ the story of how the fire started might get out. I can't blame her. If I started the fire I wouldn't want anyone else to know either. Of course, I totaled the driver's ed car when I was in high school, so some of us just have to earn our infamy in other ways.
The girls get home and Alice says they'll make Amy's favorite cake for dessert. Liz is kind of whoopedoo about it. Alice uses her Super Parenting Skills to figure out that something is wrong with Liz. Alice's advice is that when people have losses as big as Amy's sometimes they act strange and Liz should be an understanding friend. Which is, I suppose, not necessarily bad advice. So she trots upstairs after they bake their cake and Liz's room is a mess with clothes. She's understandably peeved. So Liz asks if now would be a good time for her and Amy to work on their science project but Jess is "conducting an exeriment" with Amy. (I was just going to say "experimenting" but that is depressingly misleading.)
So Liz capitulates and does some other homework and Amy comes out once she and Jess are done and.. okay, I need to type this up:
Elizabeth blinked. The girl standing beside Jessica didn't look anything like Amy. She was wearing a purple designer top that must have come from Lila, Jessica's pink drawstring-waist pants, and a string of pink beads that Elizabeth recognized as Mary's. Her blonde hair was tied back with a purple ribbon and she was wearing lip gloss and a little bit of blusher.
I go OMG FUG but Liz goes OMG YOU LOOK LIKE A UNICORN, and then Jess gets all defensive. Later, Amy and Jessica are going to play Monopoly, and ask Liz to bring them up glasses of milk to go with their cake before she goes to do homework. At this point I'd be like, what the hell? Get your own goddamn milk, you lazy bitches. But Liz just does it and goes to do homework. Then Jess and Amy come back in and are being loud and inconsiderate but Liz doesn't say anything she just passive-aggressively takes it. Liz, I'm so disappointed. In a continuity nod to Sweet Valley Kids (if my memory serves me correctly), she takes her stuffed koala off its shelf and sleeps with it to make herself feel better. Aw. Suck it up, Liz.
So next it goes on for a couple pages about how Liz feels worse over the next couple days because Amy's ordering her around at home and fibbing about how things happened to everyone else. She's sitting with Julie Porter and Sophia Rizzo at lunch a couple days later and they're asking her all these questions and she's being all evasive because of course she doesn't want to actually say anything bad about Amy, she just wants to sit there and stew in her own juices instead of actually doing something to rectify the problem. Julie and Sophia are a little put out too, because Amy's been spending time with the Unitards (hm. Does that insult scan? I think it needs work). Then Amy comes up, in so many words wheedles/demands Liz help her in cleaning out her locker, and then Sophia totes calls her on it, calling her bossy. It gets thense there for a minute, but Liz goes with Amy in order to keep the tension down. Bad move, Liz. This could have been a cleansing experience for everyone involved.
Next chapter, la la la, Liz is cleaning Amy's locker and says they need to talk. But Liz dances around it and Jess appears to walk with Amy to class. Close but no cigar! That night Amy is at home and is sniffly and sad because she talked to her mother and they're not having any luck in finding a house. Liz expresses an amazingly (saintly!) amount of patience and says she hopes Amy's parents find a house too. And then -- wait for it -- Amy says, "I bet you do! Because then you can get rid of me!!1!" Okay, Amy, hold up, nailing yourself to the cross gets a little difficult after the first two spikes. Things are about to explode, when Alice appears and "cheerfully" suggests that some cleaning gets done before homework. Amy plays a Poor Me card, and Liz says she'll take care of the mess. What a bitch.
So in our next scene cut, we find out that Amy at least feels guilty about how she's treating St. Liz. Not guilty enough to stop treating her best friend like a disobedient dog, but still guilty. So while Liz is hanging out up front with Trusty Boyfriend Todd in HR, Ellen and Lila are making fun of her clothes. They then of course look at Amy for confirmation, challenging her to agree with them. And she does. Kind of. And they continue to remark about how Liz is so babyish and probably sleeps with a doll and then Amy lets slip that actually, it's a stuffed koala. OOPS. Amy tries to modify the remark, but Lila and Ellen are gone.
CUT SCENE, Liz is walking down the hallway with Julie and has a feeling that the people they just passed were laughing at her. Frankly, I'm surprised that she doesn't have this feeling more often, but what do I know. Sophia runs up to them and asks to speak to Liz alone for a moment, but before she can say what she wanted to say, Jerry McAllister and Bruce Patman are walking by being their charming, witty selves, calling Liz "Baby Bear." That's what Sophia had wanted to tell her -- that the Unicorns were spreading the rumor that she was sleeping with a stuffed bear. See, in my high school the rumor would have been that she was sleeping with half the basketball team or something. But not in Sweet Valley. And so Liz uses her brilliant deduction skills ot determine that Amy was the one who told everyone. (Because Jessica would never do anything so sociopathic. Never.) THE GAME IS AFOOT.
So the rest of the day Liz suffers through people sucking their thumbs at her, calling her "Baby Bear," asking if she needs her nap, etc. And then, the scene I've been waiting for THE ENTIRE BOOK happens: Liz and Amy confrontation. All of the issues that have been cooking for the entirety of the book come crashing in one screaming match (I kid you not, Mr. Bowman pops in and says he can hear them all the way down the hall and asks if they want to take it outside. Not if they want to talk it out calmly, if they want to take it outside. LOL). Liz calls Amy a slob and then after Mr. B interrupts, it says "Slob was the very worst name she had ever called anybody." Liz really is a saint. Call me when she gets stigmata, because then we really will be in business. Amy turns in the newspaper story she'd written about the fire and hands it in to Mr. Bowman and leaves. It's the fake version she's been telling everyone all week, and Liz is understandably still miffed.
After dinner (a short scene which I am skipping because it is BORING), Amy starts moving her stuff into Jessica's room, and Liz apologizes for calling her a slob (Liz I really wish you weren't such a big person sometimes) and calls Amy on not telling the truth in her news story, but Amy says her word is as good as Liz's. BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH. Ahem. Sorry. And then Liz talks to Jess, who accuses her of ruining her reputation because of the Baby Bear thing. WAHT. I know I'm being hard on Elizabeth (who isn't), but she just cannot catch a break here. Because she cries after Jess and Amy bunk up together.
The next scene is Jess and Amy, Amy's stuffing her (borrowed) clothes into Jess's closet while Jess prattles on about how her life is ruined because everyone is calling Liz Baby Bear, etc. Amy reflects that she's a little tired of Jess's talking. Well, Amy, you should have thought of that before you drew a line. There's a reason Liz is your best friend and not Jessica.
Good ol' Alice Wakefield looks in on Liz and discusses what's gone down between her and Amy. Her parenting is actually pretty good here. She's understanding of Liz's problem (Amy telling about the koala bear, which is actually a marsupial and not a bear okay I'm sorry, that's been growing for thirty pages, and also that she lied in her Sixers story), and of Amy's problem (adjusting to life after losing all her crap in a fire), expresses a desire to have some magic words to make everything right, and then offers to make fudge with Liz for a snack for a movie that's on TV later that night. It makes me think of what my mommy would do. ♥
So beginning of the next chapter, Liz gets up early (on a Saturday morning) and makes pancakes for the whole family, then Jess and Amy come down. Jess is all excited because Amy's mom left some money for her to get some clothes of her own (not going shopping with her, though -- you're getting points off, Mrs. Sutton). Then she's all super sweet to them both, and says she's going to work on her science project and Mr. Wakefield is going to help her build a model of a rainforest. She even declines Amy's offer to help with the dishes. My interest is piqued. Is she trying to kill them both with kindness? It's one of my favorite revenges, I have to say, and while it's just passive-aggressive enough, it just seems too underhanded for our Liz. Hm. Onward!
Oh god, there are forty more pages? Jesus god, did I really used to read one of these books in a night? How did I make myself?
Blah blah, at Lila's house the Unicorns are being bitches about Amy wanting to buy jeans with her money (Lila says she should buy pants, like the white ones that Brooke is wearing -- I hate white pants, can I just say that?). They're also being bitches when Amy doesn't want to shop at Valley fashions because her money's not going to go very far and when she wants to go to a cheaper store. So basically Amy is starting to realize she's been a huge bitch.
Monday at school is tres uncomfortable, and Amy goes to talk to the science teacher to ask for another week on the project since she's frittered away her time after (that's right, I said frittered) when Liz walks in with her project, finished and handed in a day early. Liz says she and Amy decided to work separately. SNAP. And her extension is totally denied. But WAIT. IT GETS BETTER. Amy's mom makes an appearance and says they might get the insurance report tomorrow. And they run into Mr. Bowman who makes a remark about the window, and Amy's mom is all "Que?" and Amy's like "MOM WE NEED TO GO" so they skedaddle out of there, and now Mrs. Sutton is all excited that Amy wrote a story for the Sixers, but Amy feels all bad about it because she lied her face off. So she does what all of Sweet Valley does when they're in trouble: she goes crying to Liz.
So Liz, being St. Liz, forgive her and offers to straighten her troubles out. Amy is going to rewrite the article without the bit about jumping out of a window thirty feet up and missing the net, and the ambulance running red lights to the hospital, and it being the worst broken arm the doctor's ever seen in all his years of medical practise. Also she offers to help her make a new poster for the science projects by looking through Ned's old National Geographics (yeah. Wonder why he keeps those around *wink wink*). She also tells Liz she's the one who STARTED THE FIRE THAT WAS ALWAYS BURNING SINCE THE WORLD'S BEEN TURNING.
So the next day, they turn in the project, take their quiz, get an A. Liz visits Mr. Bowman with Amy to turn in her new, truthful story and he is Understanding. And there's more good news! The Suttons found a house and it's only A BLOCK AWAY!!! And also, the fire was caused by faulty wiring. So sadly, Amy didn't start the fire. But it's not going to stop me from singing Billy Joel.
Sigh. As a sidebar, I want to know what kind of awful, bitchy fallout and personality transplant Liz and Amy had that Amy actually did become Jess's BFF for Sweet Vally High. Sorry, this Liz will stop projecting her own teenaged experiences onto these characters. Ah well. Until next time, kids!