I was briefly tempted to just go FUCK THIS and leave book 12 as a blank space in my Revisited list, but I powered through and rewrote the whole thing. Pain. In. The gee. Anyway. Here we go.
Sweet Valley High #12: When Love Dies
Poor Steven Wakefield is miserable. So miserable in fact, that it takes him a second or two to realise which of his sisters he's talking to. It turns out it's "tempestuous" (psychotic) Jessica, rather than "levelheaded" (boring) Elizabeth. And the reason Steven is so sad is because his girlfrenn Tricia Martin has broken two dates recently and has been giving him the cold shoulder. So naturally, instead of showing the tiniest bit of sensitivity towards her brother, Jessica gets annoyed that he's hung up on someone from such a white trash family, suggests that Tricia probably doesn't care that he's upset and then angrily eats a banana.
Later that evening, Todd decides to go to Tricia's house to confront her and find out what's going on, but not before Jessica goads him some more and implies that Tricia might be cheating on him. Jesus, Jessica. And this is what she's like with someone she claims to love. Imagine what she'd do to an enemy? Oh yeah, she tries to ruin their lives, humiliates them until they change everything about their appearance and bullies them until they try to kill themselves. Charming girl, really.
Steven drives from the “beautiful green area of Sweet Valley” where the Wakefields live, to Tricia’s neighbourhood, which has discarded cans and broken glass and weeds everywhere, not to mention the “uneven road”. And the Martins don’t even live in a split level house. Bloody peasants.
Him and Tricia have a big fight because she won’t tell him what’s wrong and when he asks if she’s met someone else, she says nothing. They break up and he storms out, at which point Tricia falls onto her bed “like a dress slipping from a hangar” (because she’s so delicate), under the bare bulb on her bedroom ceiling (because she’s so poor).
It turns out that Tricia has recently been diagnosed with leukemia, which is what her mother died of years before and what drove ther father to becoming a messy drunk. She's only been given a few months to live, so she decided that she didn’t want the same thing to happen to Steve, so she’d rather have him think that she’s cheating on him and leave her, instead of telling him the truth.
At school, Cara Walker gets the news of the breakup from Jessica and is delighted, because she thinks Steve is “a genuine, certified hunk”. Jessica decides that she’s going to set Cara up with Steve and also learns that local TV celebrity Jeremy Frank is in Fowler Memorial with a broken leg after a skiing accident. She then hatches a plan to convince Elizabeth to sign up with her as a hospital volunteer, so she can, I dunno, flirt the hot guy or whatever.
The next day, the twins pull up outside the hospital and Jessica is silent, thinking back to two books ago and the time that Annie Whitman attempted suicide.
“Jessica never passed by this hospital without feeling a twinge of guilt. She remembered how agonising it had been to admit that she was just a teensy bit responsible for driving Annie to it.”
A teensy bit. A MOTHERFUCKING TEENSY BIT. It was ENTIRELY your fault Jessica, you deranged bitch. JESUS.
So they go sign up to be candy stripers, because that’s what hospital volunteers are called in America, due to the uniforms they wear. I Googled candy stripers to see what the clothes were like and in amongst the highy flammable sexy Halloween costume versions, there was this great photo of some candy stripin’ ladies in 1976, which probably wouldn’t have been too far off from what they would have worn in 1984 when this was written:
Ah god. Even the Wakefields with their perfect size six figures and aquamarine eyes and swishy blonde hair couldn’t make those uniforms look good. Nice hats.
Jessica’s plans to ogle Jeremy Frank are put on hold straight away though, as she’s assigned to the maternity ward and ends up spending all her time there finding vases for flowers and having newborn babies and photos of babies thrust in her face. I have to say, I actually feel for Jess here as there’s few things more boring than being cornered by someone intent on showing you photos of some baby you don’t know. Needless to say, she’s none too impressed when Elizabeth gets to meet Jeremy and sign his cast, so she sneaks her way to his room, convinced for some reason that once he meets her he’ll put her on his TV show.
Jessica enters the room, asking if there’s anything she can get for him, makes some small talk about the fact that she’s not actually Elizabeth but her twin and is about to sign his cast too, when she loses her balance and goes crashing into his banjaxed leg, stabbing the other one with the pen. Morto for her. Also, while at the hospital, Elizabeth spots Tricia looking frail and unhappy, but she runs off when Elizabeth calls out to her. HMM.
Steven is moping around the house over his now former lady love, so Jessica lets on that Cara Walker has a load of gossip about Tricia and that she’s having a party that night and he should come. While convincing him to go, she slags off Tricia’s trampy sister Betsy for hanging out with “that dropout Rick Andover”, because clearly it’s fine for Jessica to do it, but not for someone who isn’t from the lovely green area of Sweet Valley.
Cara’s party is actually a ruse in Jessica’s mision to get her brother and Cara to hook up, so the only other people there are Jessica, her date Aaron Dallas, Lila Fowler and some rando dude called Jim that Lila brought who no one knows. Cara tells Steve that she heard Tricia has a new boyfriend and was seen draped all over some guy at a pharmacy recently. Steve gets all angry, or as the book puts it “Steve felt himself stiffen.” Ay ohh! Down boy. So in an attempt to drive thoughts of Tricia away, he gets all up on Cara, who is delighted and they proceed to score the faces off each other.
|I think the real problem here is that Tricia is actually a Victorian ghost.|
Back at school, Liz sees Tricia looking all miserable so she goes over to her and asks what’s going on and why she ran off at the hospital. Tricia tries to fob her off with a story about how she was there to visit a sick friend and Liz is all like who is she and what room is she in and what’s wrong with her and it’s like, shut up Liz, she obviously doesn’t want to talk about it so leave her the fuck alone and stop prying, you nosy wench.
The twins are back on candy striper duty and Jessica is determined to win Jeremy Frank over, so she sails into his room with a jug full of water, on a mission to make a better impression. But uh oh! Jeremy is getting a sponge bath and is TOTALLY NAKED. ACTUAL COCK IN SWEET VALLEY, YOU GUYS. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. On seeing a dong for the first time, Jessica screams and spills the cold water all over him before fleeing from the room. She’s essentially having a Carry On Doctor subplot with him.
Meanwhile, a weird lonely orderly called Carl keeps staring at Elizabeth and her perfect face. She tries being friendly to him and says hello, even though he creeps her out. She tells herself to stop being so silly. “What could he possibly do to her?” she wonders. Well hello there, foreshadowing. I bet if Elizabeth was in a slasher film she’d be the one idiot running upstairs.
Elizabeth has also been cooking up a scheme with Jeremy in order to prevent Jessica from causing him any further bodily harm. Apparently as soon as a guy she’s into actually starts paying attention to her, she loses interest, so he’s going to pretend like he fancies her so she’ll calm the fuck down.
There’s a new patient on Elizabeth’s floor, so she calls in to see if she needs anything and it turns out to be Tricia. She tearfully confesses her illness to Elizabeth, as well as her plan to keep it from Steve and makes her promise to keep her secret.
For the next week, Elizabeth is miserable as she feels like Steve should know what’s going on with Tricia, but can’t talk to anyone about it. She can’t tell Jesscia, she can’t tell Todd, or Enid, or her parents, so whoever can she talk to? Why sexy Mr. Collins, of course!
She goes to his office and and tells him and his sky-blue eyes the whole story, asking what she should do. Mr. Collins puts “a comforting hand on her shoulder”, tells her to follow her instincts and probably took a few moments for himself afterwards with the office door locked.
Over in the hospital, the whole Jessica-Jeremy scheme has been bubbling away and comes to a head when he gets her to come to his room and asks her to marry him. Jessica panics and runs away, so I guess the plan was a success. Jesus, if a guy Jessica is chasing after isn’t too busy trying to rape her, then he’s fake-proposing to her.
That evening back at home, Elizabeth fills Mammy Wakefield in on the Jeremy scam she’s pulling on Jessica and Alice is all “The things you girls come up with! One thing about having twins – it never gets boring!” She’s not like a regular mom. She’s a cool mom.
Elizabeth doesn’t get a chance to talk to Steve that night before he leaves for a party with Cara, so he’s all distant for the night and keeps thinking about Tricia. Especially when he smells Cara’s perfume, because Tricia didn’t need to wear any, as “the scent of her skin and hair was naturally delicate and sweet”. Yeah Steve. I suppose she pooed bottles of Chanel No. 5 as well. Anyway, Cara gets fed up with him constantly thinking about Tricia and angrily calls a halt to whatever thing they had going.
Meanwhile, Jessica has been considering Jeremy’s pretend proposal and has come around to the idea of being engaged to a celebrity. She goes to see him at the hospital and tells him she will marry him after all, so he bursts out laughing and explains that the whole thing was a ploy to get her to back off, while gallantly leaving out the fact that it was Elizabeth's idea. She’s all annoyed but he makes it up to her by having her on his TV show. So everything is grand there, I suppose.
Elizabeth eventually gets to talk to Steven and tells him everything that’s been going on with Tricia. He immediately drives over to Trica’s house and tells her he knows what’s happening and that he loves her and is going to be there for her so they have a big teary reconciliation and it’s all very sad. :(
A few days later, Elizabeth is leaving the hospital and sitting in her car, about to leave when Carl the creepy orderly shows up. He tells her that she’s needed back inside but when she gets out of the car, he chloroforms her ass and drags her into his van.
UH OH! CLIFF TO THE HANGER GUYS. THE END.
There was a very disappointing lack of hilarious clothes in this one, in fact the only proper outfit we get (apart from a mention of Elizabeth’s LOVELY tailored cordoury skirt) is Cara’s dress at the fake party.
“She was wearing a splashy Hawaiian print halter dress. It was cut so low in the back that Steven could see the white lines from her bikini crisscrossing her dark tan. She had pulled her long brown hair into a ponytail over one ear so that it snaked seductively down her bare shoulder.”
It actually sounds pretty nice, apart from the tan lines. Boo.
Things I counted:
Number of pages: 136
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2
Amount of times Tricia is referred to as pale/delicate/fragile: 12 Because she's a porcelain doll-ghost, you see.