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Last time, in Sweet Valley High… Elizabeth was found innocent of manslaughter, with some guy coming forth at the last minute to confess his guilt and never be seen again. Jessica was still rightly upset that Elizabeth gets off with a slap on the wrist while Sam is still forever-dead, Uncle Ben-style. Steven and Billie got together, Bruce and Pamela got together, Lila was scheming to get her parents together again, and Margo was a shoplifter with a large wig collection. (It’s worth noting that on the Goodreads page for this book, under the “Readers Also Enjoyed” section is the title Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall.) Today we delve into The Wedding, which involves a wedding and also evil cater-waiters. Spoilers to follow…

As you can imagine, there is only one real couple candidate making any progression towards having a titular wedding, and that would be the estranged George Fowler and Grace Rimaldi. Lila knows they only have eyes for each other, but the problem is that Grace is still currently dating Pierre the Pill (who is French and has a ponytail), and of course has a life and a business in Paris. At a fancy party Lila throws so that all of her SVH friends can meet Grace, however, poor Amy Sutton is accosted by Pierre on the tennis courts. She leaves the party in a panic and has a sleepless night or two before finally calling Lila to confess. Lila, who was seeing a counselor because she was sexually assaulted on a date, is an excellent friend to Amy in the phone call, but then loses all those brownie points by deciding to use this information as a potential bargaining chip if her plan to eliminate Pierre doesn’t go well. Oh, Lila.

Lila’s plan largely involves taking Pierre out for a day of ‘bonding’, theoretically to placate Grace, who begs Lila to at least give Pierre a shot. Lila overexerts Pierre through sports, shopping, and potential food poisoning, then takes him to a restaurant where he gets, as the kids say, crunk. Lila then takes him home and lets him sleep it off in a closet while she goes to meet her parents for dinner. George proposes! Then Pierre shows up at the restaurant in a crazy drunken rage, embarrassing everyone, and Lila takes him outside, where she threatens him with telling everyone what he did to Amy. Which she should anyway, because Amy’s sixteen. By the time Pierre concedes defeat and Lila gets back to the table, Grace has already accepted George’s proposal, and they’re engaged.

Meanwhile, Liz has a new lease on life now that she isn’t going to a detention center or reform school or wherever the ghostwriters decide is the punishment for juvenile involuntary manslaughter. She goes out and eats ice cream with friends, only to be confronted by Dead Sam’s best friend, who reminds her that great, she wasn’t responsible for crashing the Jeep, but she was still the one driving drunk, and hey, Sam is still dead. How dare she enjoy hot fudge sundaes.

Todd finally breaks up with Jessica in eight words: “This isn’t right! I’m sorry, Jess. It’s over.” You could have said that like three books ago, Todd. Jessica is now faced with her worst fear, which is being alone. A conversation with the girl dirt biker that introduced Jessica to Sam in the first place reminds Jessica that she needs something to occupy her time and her thoughts and make her feel more alive and involved in the world. So Jessica organizes a dirt bike race in memory of Sam, the proceeds going to the Sweet Valley chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving. It’s actually the perfect thing to do, and Jessica is in her element.

Margo is crazying all over the place in this one. She goes to known sleazy dive Kelly’s Bar, meets a local semi-pro? dirt biker named James, and pays him $2000 to enter the memorial rally, win it, and date Jessica so he can get information about the entire Wakefield clan. She also tries to get a job with Valley Catering, the team behind the Fowler wedding, but they’re all full up. So Margo does what any unreasonable person would do, which is run over one of the waitresses right after the waitress has put her baby in a carseat. (The baby lives.) Margo gets the call to work the wedding and has a wig for the occasion.

(Intrepid teen private eye/blandly named Josh Smith is still on the hunt for Margo. It’s a hunt that involves a lot of talking to himself out loud, and being not at all good on the fly any time he has to ask anyone questions. Or, really, any time he has to talk to anyone who is not himself. Veronica Mars, he is not.)

The wedding is the lavish affair one would expect from a new money multimillionaire technology? tycoon and his old money-turned-new money multimillionare stationary tycoon fiancée. Invitees include all sorts of the rich and famous, and also everyone that goes to Sweet Valley High, because why not sully your fancy affair with teenagers. Margo, as an undercover cater-waiter (sorry, undercover EVIL cater-waiter, who cannot be in the same room as a shiny knife without thinking about stabbing someone), notes that Elizabeth is the only person who is actually polite and acknowledging of waitstaff. She knows she’s picked a good person to become, but let’s be real, once she becomes Elizabeth, she’s not going to give a second thought to any waiter. Margo now also talks to herself in a truly disturbing way:

“If I’m not more careful, I could still blow this whole thing!” she said. Then her voice lapsed into a low, raspy sound. “Beware overconfidence.” The voice in Margo’s head used to come only silently, echoing in her mind. Lately, it had begun speaking through her mouth as well. She was becoming one with the voice. She was the voice.

Everybody needs to get out of Sweet Valley, stat.

Jessica goes to the wedding with James (a.k.a., Sam Woodruff Memorial Dirt Bike Rally winner “Black Lightning”). Everyone is impressed by his handsomeness. Jessica is impressed by how much he lets her talk about herself. (Jessica Wakefield is Jessica Wakefield’s favorite subject, after all.) Elizabeth goes with resident nerd Winston Egbert (whose girlfriend is on vacation). Margo is properly horrified, and vows that when she’s Elizabeth, she will pick better dates. Note this, teenage nerds! Not even crazy serial killers want you! Todd and Elizabeth share a silent dance, in which Todd is waiting for a sign that Elizabeth still wants him, but Elizabeth has no idea that this is Todd’s angle, and she thinks this is just his way of saying a more permanent goodbye, as he never broke up with her officially before he started dating her sister. I hate you, Todd. Everyone gets all hopeful for the future of Sweet Valley’s dream couple, but they part ways because both of them are too stupid to actually speak language at one another. Margo vows she’ll take Todd as her own someday. There’s a lot of vowing going on.

As for me, I vow to plow ahead and bring you next the peculiar horror (sorry, Sweet Valley TERROR) that is Beware the Baby-Sitter.

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