Someone doesn’t want Jean in Pi Beta Alpha –
Once she started comparing herself to Jean, she just couldn't stop.
I could say I was pleasantly surprised by Sweet Valley High Book 30, Jealous Lies. To be honest with you, though, I’ve come to cherish the hour or two of eye-rolling these books typically elicit, much as I savor the prospect of a truly horrible movie. So call me silly, but I was a little disappointed when Jealous Lies turned out to be, well…kind of good. In the sense that it dealt seriously with how awful teenage girls can be, and the consequences of those actions. Not a terrible lesson for teenage-girl readers to be learning from their pulp fiction.
Sandra Bacon and Jean West are best friends and fellow cheerleaders. Lately, Sandy has been feeling jealous of Jean, as if Jean is better at everything that Sandy. In her mind, the OMG AWESOME (and baffling) high-school sorority Pi Beta Alpha is the only prestigious thing she has that Jean does not. Now, everyone is expecting Sandy to nominate Jean for PBA, but Sandy really doesn’t want Jean to be in the club. I know, right? Girls!
Without rewriting the whole book (hey…there’s an idea…), let’s just say that Sandy suggests Jean bring hunky, quiet Tom McKay to a PBA party as part of her pledge (Tom dated Jessica once, and “a few people joked that she had turned him off the female sex forever”). Jean gets the date, and then Sandy tips Tom off that he’s being used as a pledge requirement. When an angry Tom fakes an illness and stands Jean up, Jean plots a revenge scheme designed to prove that she’s PBA-worthy. She’ll make Tom fall in love with her, and then humiliate him in front of the whole school. At a dance. On Friday the 13th. Which is her birthday. Just go with it. This school has a lot of dances.
Guess what happens? JEAN AND TOM FALL IN LOVE FOR REAL. As they get closer, Tom confesses that he ditched her on purpose for their first date, because Sandra had suggested that Jean was just using him. Now Jean and Sandy are in a fight, and Sandy realizes that she’s been a total jerk. When Jean ends up risking her PBA acceptance by not humiliating Tom in front of the whole school as planned, Sandy explains to the whole coven that she’s been scheming and is in the wrong, even offering to give up her spot in the club so Jean can take it.
That’s the story. Perhaps, even now, you’re thinking “who the hell are Jean and Sandra?” I’ve mentioned it before, though not for a while – not these characters, they’re new. There is a somewhat irksome trend in these novels whereby characters are introduced to us suddenly, though they have no bearing on the plot at hand. Then, in the final page of the book, we’re reminded of whatever crisis these characters are undergoing, and prepped to read an entire book about it next month (presuming it’s the 1980s, when these books were released on a month-by-month basis). For example, in Jealous Lies, right after everything’s settled with Jean and Tom, we get to read a couple of paragraphs about Aaron Dallas and some new kid named Jeff. Just a few paragraphs to introduce them, and then we’re back to the regularly scheduled program. It’s like clockwork.
It was a tiny bit refreshing to see some characters that can honestly make some mistakes and learn from them. Sandra, Jean, and Tom all pulled some nasty stunts in this book, and they paid for them. They probably won’t revert to their scheming ways, because they are actually nice people. Oh, and they aren’t main characters, so they don’t need to keep forgetting their lessons in order for new stories to happen. But I won’t be sad to see some old standby bitches and patsies return in Book 31. And thanks to our old standby foreshadowing tricks, I know for sure that Jessica, Lila, Liz, and Enid are going to be front-and-center. Now that sounds like Sweet Valley.