Saturday, February 6, 2010

The one with the silver ski suit.

Super Special: Winter Carnival

"A winter wonderland..." My hometown is currently buried under two feet of snow, so I get this. I love the snow! It's so pretty and spangly and clean looking, and I don't have to go to school tomorrow! I am in love with the snow, even though I know it will soon turn black with car exhaust. My only stipulation is that it had better not knock my power out. If that happens, the snow will go from being my beloved friend to my ENEMY. The snow will become my Amy Sutton.

Speaking of Amy Sutton, she's in this book because we're zooming ahead in honor of the snow. I was going to save this super edition until next winter so it would be topical, and chronologically placed, but with all the global warming going on who knows if this will happen again?

Anyway, Amy is back in the SV but she's Jessica's friend now and likes boys and makeup. Todd has moved to Vermont, so Liz is dating Jeffrey French. One of these days I am going to post a head to head: Todd v. Jeffrey, and we can debate the pros and cons of the Elizabeth Wakefield Boyfriend Struggle. Oh, and Jessica is still a total bitch. Now you have all the backstory you need!

Jessica's bitchitude, in this book, takes the form of her stealing Elizabeth's slot on a new teen trivia show in order to meet hot dudes. Elizabeth feels put out because of that, and also because this essay she wrote about being a twin only got an honorable mention. Also, she makes dinner and does the dishes a lot in this book because Jess is out with her hot trivia boyfriend, David.

There's a winter carnival coming up, and Jeffrey plans to spend it doing lots of intense hand-holding with Liz, but Todd is coming home for a sports banquet for the Sweet Valley equivalent of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program and he wants Liz to be his date, for old times' sake. This causes some strain to Jeff and Liz's relationship, and increases Elizabeth's depression. And then she is driven to the point of suicide by the fact that her mother buys Jessica a silver ski suit to wear at the carnival. Elizabeth realizes, yet again, that she is boring and not a silver ski suit kind of person, and hates it. She has to make do with a navy blue parka.

So things are already bad, and then Jessica goes and fucks everything up even more. Liz is supposed to meet Jeffrey at La Palma canyon so they can discuss their shitty relationship, but Jessica takes the Fiat and Liz is stranded at home. The subtitle of this book should really be, I Can't Wait Until Cell-Phones Are Invented. Because then Liz could just call Jeffrey and tell him she's going to be late. But since she can't, he assumes she doesn't want to be his girlfriend anymore and instead of going and explaining, Elizabeth screams at her sister and then cries a lot.

Jessica, bless her heart, wants to make everything better so she arranges this total cockamamie scheme where forges a note from Liz asking Jeffrey to meet her at the Winter Carnival, so they can hold hands and gaze into each other's eyes, like they planned. But then Jessica doesn't get a chance to tell Elizabeth about the note before they leave, separately, for the carnival at Mont Blanc. Again, a cell, even a Zac Morris style behemoth, could solve all their problems. When Jess arrives at the carnival she runs to Jeffrey and pretends to be Liz, and tells him she's sorry. But Liz sees them and gets the idea that Jessica is into Jeffrey. And again, instead of going and figuring things out, she cries, and gets on the first bus back to Sweet Valley. "I wish I never had a sister," she says, and then she falls asleep.

Cue the Wayne's World sound effects: doodly doo, doodly doo, doodly do0.

The phone rings and Elizabeth wakes up. It's the Sweet Valley police, calling to tell her that Jessica was in an accident on her way back down from Mont Blanc, presumably to catch up with Liz and plead her case. And Jessica is DEAD! The Wakefields are all crying and wailing. "I don't know how any of us is going to survive," Mrs. Wakefield sobs. "We just aren't a family without Jessica!" I wouldn't be able to survive without her, because they are all boring except for Jess, but it's interesting that Mrs. Wakefield hasn't been prepared for this eventuality with all the comas and shipwrecks and kidnappings and various-shady-murder-involved dealings with her daughters prior to this moment. Also surprising? That she remembers she has kids at all, for all the involvement she has with them.

Elizabeth meets up with her friends, who are trying to make her feel better, and Todd and Jeffrey get in a fight over her. And we know this is a dream sequence, right? That's supposed to teach Elizabeth a lesson about how much she loves her sister. But I love how her subconscious just had to throw that scene, of two men fighting over her, in there.

Then Enid walks in in Jessica's silver ski suit to break up the fight, and Elizabeth wakes up. And Jessica is there, in her room! Not dead! Steven has driven her home. Elizabeth explains her dream to them, and Steven asks what might have caused it, and Jessica responds that the twins have been having "a number of misunderstandings lately, most of which are [Jessica's] fault." A few seconds ago Elizabeth was so glad to see her sister, and now she's like, "Most of them?" all bitchy. How quickly we forget.

The twins go back to the winter carnival, and build snowmen, and go to a dance (of course). Liz and Jeffrey get back together and dance at the Snow Ball to a Droids song called "Snow Girl," with lyrics that go,

You took my heart girl, which was made of ice
One look at you and I'm on fire
So let's just listen to our hearts, girl.
Lift up our hearts even higher

And Elizabeth promises herself, the very last line in the book, that she'll "never, ever regret having a twin again." Until the next time.

What they wore: Since this book has as a major plot point the dichotomy between Todd and Jeffrey as Elizabeth's boyfriends, I thought I would point out what Jeffrey is wearing in one scene: he is casually preppy in old faded khaki pants and soft pastel sweaters that looked comfortable and sturdy at the same time. In another scene, he is wearing madras shorts with a sweater tied over his shoulder. Jeffrey sounds like J.Crew catalog circa 1989, doesn't he?

Jessica borrows a mulberry sweater from Elizabeth without asking, and Elizabeth retorts that Enid bought her that sweater for Christmas. Who knew Eeny Rollins had such good taste in sweaters? Mulberry, and all the purples, tend to look better on brunettes, I think, but that could just be my own bias showing because I'm a brunette. But wouldn't it be funny if Enid bought Elizabeth that sweater knowing it would wash her out? All "Hee hee hee, there goes your perfect tan, you biatch!" Enid is oppressed.

We also have the Elizabeth Clothing Paradox explained: "Since her own taste was conservative, it amazed Elizabeth that Jessica borrowed so many of her things. But then, Elizabeth thought, Jessica always liked to appear in new clothes." Thank you, ghostwriter. Although that does sounds a little OCD to me, this habit of Jessica's, of wearing things she doesn't like in order to not wear the same outfit twice. Doesn't it?

I love it when the clothes are actual plot points. In this book, it's the silver ski suit that Mrs. Wakefield buys Jess. It is made of Lycra and spangly and the silver material would fit Jessica like a glove. Amy Sutton gets a matching one in gold, and Cara Walker tells them that they're going to look like robots, and now I have a picture of C-3PO on skis. Anyway, Elizabeth covets this ski suit, and Mrs. Wakefield tells her that she knew you wouldn't go for something like this. Twist the knife! When Jessica offers to loan it to her sister, Elizabeth sighs and says she's fine with her navy blue down ski suit: You're you, and I'm me, and wherever we go people are going to expect me to be on time and to wear navy-blue and they're not going to expect you to do either.Jessica stared at her sister. She couldn't imagine a fate worse than the one Elizabeth was describing for herself. Dammit, people! There is nothing wrong with navy! It is a nice alternative to black!

The height of the B-plot in this book is that Jessica goes on a date with Trivia David to a sushi restaurant and embarasses herself by eating the wasabi whole. She is very eager to look good on the date and impress David's nineteen year old sister Barbara, because their mother owns Bibi's, at the mall! Here is what Jess wears: tight black stirrup pants and an oversize black men's vest over a bright-pink long-sleeved t-shirt, with black ballet flats. Add a bunch of skinny scarves and some coke bloat to the mix, and Jessica will look just like Lindsay Lohan. Barbara's boyfriend Mitch would totally be a douchebag hipster if he were alive today, because he is wearing, to the double date, an oversize Hawaiian shirt with a jewelled pin, and strangely cut linen pants that made him look emaciated. Welcome to the skinny cut on boys era, folks! Also, Mitch is wearing kelly green glasses. I have twenty five pair of glasses, he tells Jessica. I change them to go with what I'm wearing.

When Jessica tries to food Jeffrey into thinking she's Liz, she's wearing a hot pink sweater and white leather boots. And Jeffrey doesn't even notice. Todd never would have fallen for those shenanigans.

For the snow ball, Elizabeth has bought a whole new outfit that's going to be a surprise, and I thought for a minute that Liz might indugle herself, for once, and buy something slinky and Jessica-y. But at the moment of the big reveal, we find Liz is wearing a silver silk dress, with slightly puffy sleeves ending at the elbow, a round neck, and a soft full skirt. The fabric shimmered like ice. This could be cool, and 80's-riffic, although I am leery of the round neck. I love puffed sleeves, though. Anne of Green Gables has brainwashed me in favor of them, forever. But instead of throwing on a black shrug or adding some tights and big jewelry, Elizabeth accessorizes with a small strand of pearls around her neck and tiny silver and pearl earrings. Oh, Liz. Boring is as boring does, you know. Le sigh.


  1. Aw, I remember the huge Zac Morris phones.

  2. Oh, I totally remember the Todd vs. Jeffrey drama - wow, apparently I managed to sneak more of these book than I thought.