Sweet Valley High #2: Secrets by Francine Pascal

Back Cover: Jessica would stop at nothing…..

TL;DR: Enid has a deep dark secret that gets revealed within the first ten pages, Ronnie turns out to be a complete asshole, Jessica is willing to use any means to secure Bruce Patman as her own and Elizabeth remains a naive to her sister's wicked ways.

The Main Plot:

Secrets picks up the story of the Wakefield twins several hours after the previous novel, Double Love, left off. Jessica is still distraught over the betrayal of sister that resulted in her getting throw into the school swimming pool. Never mind this was Elizabeth’s innocent way of getting back at her twin for the events in the previous book.

Personally, I think it’s more than a fair trade seeing how Jessica:

*Manipulated both Elizabeth and her crush Todd throughout the entire novel to keep them apart and win Todd away.
*Allowed the school to believe that it was her sister who was picked up at a dive bar with a violent high school drop out when it was really her.
*Claimed that Todd tried to rape her after he scorned her advances and would only reluctantly give her a kiss on the check goodnight.

But apparently being thrown in a swimming pool? Way more humiliating, never mind the fact the student body was under the impression they where throwing her twin into the pool. Jessica’s best friend, Cara Walker, seems to have a better grasp on sanity and points out that Jessica kind of deserved it. However, being the true friend that she is she tries to soften the blow by telling Jessica she totally look liked Bo Derek in 10 afterwards.

Jessica is mostly terrified that Bruce Patman saw her. Apparently, Jessica is in love with Brad because he’s rich, desirable and drives a black Porsche. You see, Jessica would just die if he saw…which ok is confusing because in the previous book she had called him a “disgrace” and he had called her out pretty much her whole family for being sluts in front of the entire school during an altercation over the football field. The scene finishes up with talk of the upcoming fall dance and how Jessica needs to win the crown so she can be the Queen to Bruce’s King.

Or at least his favorite consort.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth the good is baking cookies with her bff Enid Rollins. I didn’t really cover her in the previous mini-recap because I was on Jessica’s side and found her more boring than mysterious. But Enid has a deep, dark secret that may cost her the love of her boyfriend Ronnie so it looks like they’re going spice her up a bit.

However, any form of suspense about what this secret could be is killed off within the first six pages when they reveal it to us. Two years earlier, when Enid was fourteen, her parents had divorced and she had fallen in with a rough crowd. She had turned to a life of drugs and alcohol with her boyfriend George, who was roughly sixteen at the time and had a car.

The two went joy riding in George’s GTO “stoned out of their minds“ and had run over a little boy. Luckily this was the slowest joyride in history because the child only broke his arm and had a minor concussion. Because the two had only maimed a child instead of committing vehicular manslaughter they were just given probation.

George was shipped off to private school, in true eighties fashion, and Enid became the boring goody goody we met her as in the first book.

The scandal comes in when we find out that Enid has spent the last two years writing George at private school and the two remain close friends. She is terrified Ronnie will find out about this and leave her because in George‘s most recent letter he wrote to her about how he‘s coming back to Sweet Valley and that wants to see her. This is when I couldn’t help but become a bit concerned about the dynamics of this relationship because over the following pages we get these descriptions about Ronnie:

“He expects one hundred percent of my attention.”

“You’re talking about someone who turns green if I look sideways at another guy by accident. Last week he caught me going over a homework assignment with a guy in my history class. I thought he was going to blow a fuse!”

…that’s healthy.

Instead of telling her friend to run away from her controlling boyfriend with trust issues, Elizabeth assures Enid that there is no way that Ronnie would ever leave her…because he loves her. The chapter ends with Enid dropping a letter under the bed as the girl’s move on from their light hearted discussion of a borderline abusive relationship and into ghost stories. The transition is flawless.

Several days, and the introduction of a sub-plot later, Jessica returns to the Wakefield house in a sour mood. Bruce is still ignoring her advances and didn’t help her look for the necklace she didn’t actually drop on the stairs. For a girl who claims to always get what she wants, she’s not having much luck so far in the series.

On top of that, her siblings are trying to ruin her reputation between Jessica’s friendship with Enid and her brother, Steven, dating the younger sister of the town’s drug addicted bicycle. She rants about this to her mother, who the book lets us know is just as attractive, perfect and flawless as her daughters, but ultimately runs off to Elizabeth’s room for solace after her mother has the gull to suggest she may be jealous.

This is where Jessica finds the letter from George Enid had carelessly left in the room several chapters earlier. After the narrators fills us in on Jessica’s lack of a conscious she reads about the accident and makes a Xerox copy. Just another show of sociopath tendencies.

It doesn’t take long for Jessica’s actions to take effect, Ronnie is in a sour mood on his double date with Enid, Elizabeth and Todd. The other couple knows something is wrong because “he didn’t hold her hand during the movie“. Elizabeth goes off to find Enid, who is predictably crying in a bathroom. Elizabeth has a moment of clarity and points out Ronnie has no right to hold actions in Enid’s past against her but it falls on deaf ears.

Sounding more and more like a character in a domestic abuse psa Enid moans “Who ever said love was fair?” however things start looking up when Ronnie drives the couple up to Miller’s Point after dropping off the other couple off.

This is short lived after Ronnie attempts to sexually assault Enid to loud rock music. Enid pushes him away, because she is not that kind of girl…anymore at least. Ronnie reveals that he knows all about the letters to George, refuses to listen to her explanations and pretty much calls her a dirty whore. There is also a lot of wrist grabbing and pulling away.

The two break up, Ronnie at least has the manners to drive her home instead of leaving her alone on the hill and Enid immediately blames Elizabeth because she is the only one she talked to about the letters and George. This turn of events cause the two best friends to not speak for pretty much the rest of the book and much confusion for Elizabeth about how Ronnie found out Enid’s secret.

Being the more naïve of the two twins, Elizabeth confides about the situation to her twin. Instead of feeling guilt about tearing her sister away from her best friend Jessica goes as far as to suggest that Elizabeth is better off without her before running off to a party to find Bruce.

As far as high school parties go this one is rather dull. They drink wine, Jessica becomes totally devastated to find out Bruce is going to the dance with some nineteen year old (which is totally ancient, according to Lila) and eventually convinces Ronnie to take her to the dance “as friends”. Really, it’s only worth noting that the party is held by Lilia who seemed to be hated in the previous book because her rich father wanted to tear down the football field and build a factory right next to the school, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t go along with building zone codes.

Jessica kicks up her evil scheme of the month by playing off her date with Ronnie as an attempt to get him back together with Enid. She also implies to Elizabeth she spoke to Enid in an attempt to fix their friendship when all she really did is imply that Elizabeth had confessed to her she was the one who leaked the information to Ronnie.

Why anyone, in their right mind, would trust Jessica as far as they could throw her is beyond me.

Despite her best efforts, Elizabeth has no luck figuring out who else knew about the letters. Winston, the class clown from the previous book, was apparently friends with George and knew of the letters but swore he wasn’t the one who leaked the information. I’m seriously beginning to question why a sixteen year old seemed to only socialize with fourteen year olds….

But, seeing how we’re only about thirty pages from the end of the book, it all starts to come together fairly quickly. Elizabeth discovers the letter from George under her bed, where Jessica had returned it after making the photocopy to slip in Ronnie’s locker, and puts it all together. Instead of simply calling her sister of her deception she puts together yet another scheme.

I wonder if it will be on par with throwing her in the swimming pool again.

As all of Sweet Valley High gets ready for the Fall Dance, Enid decides to take after the brave little toaster and go stag to the dance. Right before she can leave, the mysterious George of the letters shows up on her door with bells on to whisk her off to the dance.

Because George can now be described as a tower of tanned muscle topped by a g gorgeous white smile and the sexiest eyes Enid had ever been hypnotized by she promptly forgets that she ever dated Ronnie and falls into his kiss.

There is also some disturbing imagery as they recall their childhood:

“I remember you when you were a skinny kid with bangs that kept falling in your eyes!

“And braces,” Enid said. “Don‘t forget the braces.”

Which ok is kind of cute if you forget about the part where he had been dating her at the time along with providing drugs and liquor to her. But they’re all straight and clean now so let’s just ‘awww’ and accept him as an obvious improvement over Ronnie.

Enid and Elizabeth make up the dance, Ronnie fumes in the corner and Jessica wins the crown just like she wanted.

Only, because of Elizabeth’s devious plan, Bruce doesn’t win fall dance…king? I don’t really understand the title. Elizabeth spread a rumor around that Jessica was now crazy about Winston, the class clown from early who is smitten with her.

Another dosage of Sweet Valley High Justice: Wreck lives and walk away with a dork as your fall dance king.

The Sub Plot There’s really only one subplot in the book. Lila’s father is dating one of the teachers at Sweet Valley High, twenty five year old Ms. Dalton. Because this takes attention away from his daughter, she “accidentally” starts a rumor around the school that she is having an affair with Ken Matthews, the Captain of the football team who has a schoolboy crush on her.

The students run with it, Ms. Dalton almost quits and Ken doesn’t show up at school for the week this takes place. No one actually investigates the rumor and Ms. Dalton finally decides to just ignore it after several emotional breakdowns in front of her class throughout the book.

WTF In what world does this make sense?: The accident that Enid was involved in when she was fourteen happened in Sweet Valley only two years prior to this novel taking place. Seeing how all the main characters grew up together and have an overwhelming love of running with the tiniest bit of gossip I don’t understand how this remained secret.

They ran over a small child while high on a drug binge. That should have at least made the five o’clock news or something. Yet known of the characters have any recollection of this event occurring.

Also, at one point in the book Jessica reads the following in one of George’s letter:

“It’s like the time we took all those bennies, and before we knew it we were cooking along in the GTO doing eighty or ninety…”

Now, I’m not medically trained or anything but I’m pretty sure hitting a small child with a car going that fast would kill them….pretty sure. Just a gut feeling.

Morals of the Story:

If you’re the evil twin: Don’t wreck relationships in order to win fall dance queen because you’ll end up with a total dweeb for your date.

If you’re the good twin: Use your friends to embarrass your twin sister after she once again tries to wreck your personal relationships.


Sadako said...

I don't think I ever realized how truly evil and twisted Jessica was. Granted I only read a few books, but WOW. And people thought Brenda Walsh was a bitch!

Welcome to the world of blogging! Hope you enjoy it!

Miss Moppet said...

I know this is hard to understand, but I'm old enough to have read these books first time round, and Bruce Patman, with his Porsche and his quiff, was hot in an 80s kind of way. My whole class was reading it, and we all wanted to go parking in 1BRUCE1.

Re: the accident, hm. Maybe they managed to execute the joyride without harming anyone but then hit the kid as they were parking? Doesn't explain why no-one heard about it though!

I have to read this one again!

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