Have you ever had a secret admirer? I never have, but have always wished I had had one. How cool would it have been? Well, if you’re like me and wonder if you missed out on anything, read this book. You’ll be happy you were left out!
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
When the school newspaper at Sweet Valley High begins to run personal ads, everyone goes into a frenzy. Even the shy and serious editor of the paper, Penny Ayala, places an ad, and a boy named Jamie responds. Jamie’s letters are sensitive and witty, just like Penny’s, and he seems to be her perfect match. Elizabeth Wakefield encourages Penny to pursue Jamie, but when she overhears a group of boys laughing about “Jamie” she realizes that Penny’s secret admirer is nothing but a joke. Jamie doesn’t even exist! Can Elizabeth stop the boys from breaking Penny’s heart?
Sweet Valley High’s student newspaper, The Oracle, starts running personal ads. All right, would a high school paper ever do this? I can’t believe a school would ever allow it. I mean the entire idea screams pandemonium to me, but whatever. Jessica Wakefield and Lila Fowler are bored of high school boys (again) and decide to place ads, but Jessica thinks an ad should describe what she wants while Lila thinks the ad should just describe the person writing the ad. They make a bet on who can write the best ad – whoever lands the dreamiest guy wins. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Wakefield and Enid Rollins are concerned about the editor of the newspaper Penny Ayala because she never dates. The girls convince Penny to place her own ad. She relents, but signs it Quasimodo and writes all of this bizarre and self-depreciating stuff that isn’t true. She wants a boy with a creative sense of humor. Um… okay.
Someone actually does respond to Penny’s ad and answers in the same style Penny wrote hers. He has a real ‘imagination’. In spite of herself, Penny soon becomes smitten with her mystery boy. They arrange to meet in front of a bookstore and Penny decides to make herself prettier by finally wearing makeup. She goes to the spot they agreed on and is wearing a red headband (how Jamie will know it is her) and waits… for forty-five agonizing minutes. She finally gives up and goes home. (For anyone who has ever been stood up – this is so not fun.) Turns out that Jamie doesn’t even exist and it is only a group of guys led by the sexy and obnoxious new guy, Kirk Anderson (even Jessica thinks he is a douche and that is saying something) and a bunch of his pals, but Neil Freemont is the one doing all the writing. Neil feels bad because he has started to fall for the girl who has been writing those letters…
Jessica has received a few responses to her ad and goes out with dreamy Paolo who turns out to be far from dreamy. He is charming, cultured, smart, funny and a gentleman, but he is also fat. Jessica is so mortified she pretends to have a terminal illness and lays it on so thick that Paolo rushes her home and is afraid to leave her alone – gag. Jessica looks through the rest of her responses and finds one with a photo included. The picture meets Jessica’s dreamy criteria and she decides to respond. His name is John Karger.
The next week at school, Elizabeth and Enid hear Kirk and his friends laughing about how Quasimodo was none other than nerdy Penny. They know that this is mostly Kirk’s doing, and none of the other guys have the balls to stand up to him (I can’t figure that one out, I mean he is hot, but not rich, smart or some kind of prodigy so what is with all the man-crushing?) so they decide to get back at him. They come up with a plan quickly (hey Jessica is not the only evil genius between them, it’s just that Elizabeth only uses her powers for good) and pretend a famous model, Erica Hall, is Elizabeth’s cousin and is coming to Sweet Valley. They talk loud enough so Kirk will overhear them. He declares that he is going to take Erica to an upcoming school dance and Elizabeth acts skeptical because she only goes out with gorgeous guys, so Kirk slips her his picture and tells her to let him know when Erica says yes. Jackass. I so want him to get it, anyway…
Neil feels awful about the whole Jamie thing and writes another response, unknown to the others, to Penny asking for another chance and to meet him at the Dairi Burger. Penny decides to give him the benefit of the doubt and as Neil is heading inside, he sees Penny waiting for him, just as Kirk stops him, as pompous as ever. Kirk gives Neil crap about meeting Penny and Neil tells him where he can stick it (FINALLY!) and sits down in front of Penny. They get on wonderfully and Neil asks Penny to the upcoming dance and she, of course, says yes.
Jessica goes out with John Karger and has a fantastic time except that he cuts the date short to go back to his dorm and study. Honestly, he never seems that into her, but still makes plans for a second date. Liz calls Kirk and tells him that Erica will go out with him and that he should meet her outside of the school gym on Saturday night. Lila has also found a wonderful guy and she and Jessica make plans to bring their dates to the beach concert before the school dance and have their fellow cheerleaders be the judges of whose date is hotter. At the concert, Lila and Jessica are mortified to find out that they have the same date and that he was just responding to their ads for a sociology project he was working on. He can’t understand why they are so miffed and walks away hand in hand with his beautiful college girlfriend. Ha! Jessica and Lila still manage to find cute college boys to take to the dance that night. Everyone is having a good time and happy, except Kirk who is pissed he has been stood up.
I am not sure why I liked this book as much as I did, but it certainly was never boring. I really liked the character of Penny was glad to see Neil finally man up in the end. Any book where Elizabeth gets her scheme on is a book I’m a fan of and Kirk gets served, exactly what he deserves. (I would have been much more devious, but I’ll take what I can get.) 😉
I am not sure there is much more to say on this book, but let me say this about the next… it is a game changer. You know those promos that TV networks would run where they’d advertise a life-altering episode, some impending tragedy for ratings, how a main character was going to get the ax. Well that is what I am doing right now. In the next book, someone is going to die and not like Tricia Martin where there is a chance to say goodbye. Tune in for the next Sweet Valley High blog/memorial. I am still reeling from this character’s death…