Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #26 – Sweet Valley High Book #38 “Leaving Home”

Will Sweet Valley lose a Wakefield twin to Europe? You’ll have to read on to find out! 😉

“Leaving Home”


Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins

Elizabeth Wakefield is thrilled when she has the chance to attend an exclusive Swiss boarding school. She has always dreamed of visiting the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, and as much as she loves Sweet Valley, she is sure the romantic Swiss countryside would provide the perfect inspiration for her writing. But Jessica Wakefield is in a panic! The thought of losing her sister has Jessica wondering how she would ever survive without her best friend in the entire world. Jessica can’t let Elizabeth go, so she devises a scheme to make sure her twin won’t leave Sweet Valley. Will Jessica’s plan to stop Elizabeth from leaving work, or will it just end up driving her away forever?

Elizabeth wants to go to a boarding school in Switzerland that is known for its exceptional writing program. Sounds like a great opportunity for an aspiring writer, but no one can get behind her. Jeffrey worries about what will happen to their relationship if Elizabeth leaves (remember the long-distance disaster with Todd?) and Enid doesn’t want to lose her best friend, while Jessica is determined to keep her twin from abandoning her. Elizabeth thinks the best way to handle this is to show everyone the school’s brochures and talk about how great it would be – all the time.

While all this is going on, Winston Egbert is dealing with a moral dilemma. His dad bought him a lottery ticket and he makes a big show of it (he is the class clown after all) but right before the drawing he runs an errand, sets his coat down and an old man who has a similar coat takes Winston’s coat! Don’t worry about Winston getting jipped though, because Winston has the man’s coat, which has the winning ticket inside. Winston has hit the jackpot and won $25,000! (Not that I would kick that out of bed, but since when is a jackpot only $25,000? Was this how it was in the eighties or is this just one more example of lack of research?) The old man has no idea his ticket won and no one knows that Winston’s winning ticket isn’t really his – except for Winston. He doesn’t want to give up the money, but he tracks the man down to give him back his coat and sends an anonymous gift to the man’s granddaughter because that was how the old man said he would spend the money.

Back to Liz… she gets into arguments with Jeffrey over Switzerland, and then with Enid too. Why doesn’t anyone want to be happy for her, or at least fake it? Enid and Jeffrey feel bad so they decide to make a scrapbook for Elizabeth so when she gets the scholarship she needs to attend, she’ll have a memento so that she doesn’t forget them or become too homesick. But since this is top secret, both of them keep blowing off plans with Elizabeth and come up with super lame excuses. Lila says something (never a good thing) and Elizabeth begins to think that Enid and Jeffrey are becoming a couple – and she hasn’t even left yet! Drama… Elizabeth tries not to let it get to her though, because someone from the school’s scholarship fund is coming to interview her to see if she is worthy of his scholarship, which is a full ride by the way. He’ll interview her, her family, friends and teachers and follow her around school for a day (creepy, right?). His name is Mr. Sterne. (I know – totally original. That is right up there with a lovely and kind woman being named Miss Prettie.)

Mr. Sterne shows up and Jessica and Steven are ready to sabotage their sister big time. Steven doesn’t shave and acts like a bum who cannot function at college because he gets separation anxiety while Jessica goes out of her way to dress like a slut (I’m not sure how this part is different from any other book). Elizabeth’s parents are late (though for them it is unintentional) and Elizabeth is pissed at all of them for their behavior. The next day, Jessica leaves after Elizabeth and is wearing a matching outfit. She gets all of her guy ‘friends’ to help her. She pretends to be Elizabeth and there is always a different guy looking for her (as Elizabeth) in hopes of convincing Mr. Sterne that Elizabeth is as trampy as Jessica really is. Elizabeth (the real one) meets with Mr. Sterne in the main office at the end of the day for her final interview and he tells her that ‘her behavior’ is unacceptable but keeps getting interrupted by the receptionist because someone is on the phone for Liz. It is Steven, pranking the number under a different guy’s name every time. Elizabeth doesn’t know what to say until she looks out the window and sees herself a.k.a. Jessica outside. When she gets home she lays one into her demented siblings and then goes by Jeffrey’s to cool down, but sees Enid’s car there. Now she is certain she doesn’t get to go to Switzerland AND her boyfriend has already moved on to her best friend. (I thought Jessica was the drama queen?)

Elizabeth gets back home and starts screaming at Jessica and Steven again, when Mr. Sterne suddenly shows up. They called him and explained what they had done and that it was never really Elizabeth acting a fool. Mr. Sterne says what they did spoke about Elizabeth’s character more than an interview could and offers her the scholarship. Before Elizabeth can respond, Jeffrey and Enid arrive and show her the scrapbook they put together. Elizabeth is overcome with emotion, but not enough to stop her from turning down the scholarship because nothing could be better than Sweet Valley. Are you flipping kidding me?

This book had some pretty decent schemery going on, which I always appreciate, though I did get a little irritated that no one was happy for Elizabeth at all when the opportunity presented itself. And don’t even get me started on how she turned down the scholarship that was so important and the opportunity to go to Interlochen after everything… On the subject of the school, the school in the book, Interlochen, is a real school… in Michigan. For real. Interlaken is a town in Switzerland, but has no such school. Oopsie! Also, Winston of course gave the money back because he is a stand-up guy. Almost everyone was proud of him, but not the richest girl in Sweet Valley, Lila Fowler. How could he possibly give back the money before buying her a single present! (This feels like a facepalm moment, except that I am so the opposite of shocked, it isn’t.)

A great book that is as ridiculous as it gets. And isn’t that the whole reason we read these books? 😉

I was torn with this book because Elizabeth is my favorite twin and yet if I cared about her at all, I would have been like, “Run, Liz! Run!” She had the chance to leave Sweet Valley for Europe, all expenses paid and yet she stayed. We’re sure she is the smart twin, right? 😛


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