Where Are We? Sweet Valley Middle School, the Wakefields’ house, and Dr. Q’s office.
When Are We? The book opens on a Tuesday, and Dr. Q visits the school on a Thursday, but otherwise we’re just floating in Sweet Valley timelessness.
Recap: Mr. Bowman (the faculty adviser for the Sweet Valley Sixers) asks Elizabeth what she knows about hypnosis, because Dr. Q, “a hypnosis as well as a psychic,” is going to be speaking at the school assembly. Elizabeth immediately plans to expose her as a fraud and have that be the front-page story of the next issue.
Todd, Ken, and Bruce play basket ball while Bruce expounds on how girls are inferior and dating is a waste of time because they only try to change you. Todd mentions that Elizabeth is one of the smartest kids in school and he wants to get to know her better, and Bruce wants to know why he’s never asked her out then, so Todd is basically pushed into saying he was going to ask her out next weekend. Okay, I am completely confused. Not by Bruce being a jerk and the whole scene being weirdly homosuggestive, although there is that, but: this is book #107. I’m pretty sure Elizabeth and Todd talk, hang out, flirt, and generally think of themselves as almost kind of paired off in previous books. Now he’s suddenly too shy to talk to her and doesn’t know her that well?
He asks her out by leaving a note in her locker. She walks up to him in the cafeteria to tell him “The answer is yes.”
At the assembly Dr. Q invites children up on the stage to be hypnotized. None of this would be allowed at any school I went to: not the psychic hypnotist, not the “sending kids to interview her at her office later,” and definitely not the hypnotizing them on stage.
She picks Jessica (who fervently believes in her powers), Elizabeth (who doesn’t), Bruce, and three kids Jessica claims not to recognize.She gets the twins to swap personalities (foreshadowing! of…something that was written first), and Elizabeth fakes it, but Jessica doesn’t (and insults Elizabeth hilariously by saying things like “Sorry, I have to go feed the poor and homeless” while she’s being her). She also gets Bruce to do something out of character for him, which I guess is why he asks Elizabeth out? Except that’s also foreshadowing, really. (It must have been fun for the ghostwriters of this series to stick in things that related to SVH.)
There’s a boring subplot in which Amy Sutton’s mother gets to do an interview in a helicopter, and Amy’s allowed to go along and interview the pilot’s daughter, but Amy doesn’t want to because she’s scared.
Friday after school Elizabeth goes to interview Dr. Q, and Amy and Jessica tag along. But first, Bruce invites her to an action movie; she says no and he ends up calling Todd Wilkins a wimp. She makes it clear she hates “Arnold Weissenhammer” movies and wouldn’t go out with Bruce if he was the last man on earth, so you can guess what’s going to happen, right?
The interview consists of Elizabeth being confrontational (over possible trickery, then over personal gain, then over why Dr. Q didn’t make Bruce Patman less of a jerk while she had the chance. Ha.), Jessica desperately trying to pick up tips on hypnosis, and Amy timidly trying to find out if hypnosis could rid her of her fear of flying.
So naturally Jessica invites everyone over to try to hypnotize them. And she actually can hypnotize them, except things go wrong. Bruce is listening to a baseball game, and shouts out stuff about “the Twins;” she tries to make Liz love and admire her, but someone shouts out “Bruce Patman!” right before she can say her own name. The only thing that doesn’t get ruined is her plan to make Lila quack whenever she sees the principal.
Janet and Amy think they’re twins, and are unbearably smug about it. Elizabeth thinks she likes Bruce, and goes with him to his stupid movie. That part is actually pretty disturbing. She keeps denying her own feelings of boredom and annoyance, erasing the thoughts by reminding herself how special Bruce is, and it’s like a glimpse into the mind of someone who’s been indoctrinated into an icky cult. Todd drags Jessica along to spy on them, which is oddly touching under the circumstances, but is also a little “they will sneak around behind your back constantly, Liz” hint of things to come.
Lila gets in trouble for repeatedly quacking at the principal in the cafeteria. I feel sorry for her, but ten year old me would have found that scene hilarious.
Jessica now wants Dr. Q to undo her hypnosis, but she can’t find her, so she drags everyone back to her place and tries again. Great, Jess. Steven is blaring a baseball upstairs. She reminds Elizabeth she can’t stand Bruce, and un-ducks Lila. Janet and Amy start mimicking baseball-game stuff, and in frustration Jessica yells that they’ve never even heard of baseball.
When she wakes everyone up they’re fine, and Elizabeth likes Todd again, but none of them remember what baseball is. I would honestly call that good enough, and so does Jessica, but then the doorbell rings and it’s Dr. Q.
She tells off Jessica for treating hypnosis like a toy, and then fixes everything, including Amy’s fear of flying. Elizabeth is left with horrific memories of having gushed over Bruce Patman, and I’m left wondering if post-hypnotic suggestion is to blame for the eventual end of this series.
8:45 Wed., homeroom
Hi. This discussion is kind of boring. Don’t you think so?
Well, I was just wondering if you wanted to go to a movie. With me, I mean. Saturday night. We could go see the Eileen Thomas movie if you wanted. Or if you didn’t want to, we could do something else. Like I don’t know what, but maybe we could think of something.
My dad and me can pick you up.
But if you’re really busy I understand.
P.S. Wilkins, that is (p. 27)
That is painfully dumb and kind of sweet, but honestly, the sixth graders I’ve known would have thought “maybe we could think of something” was suggestive. Also they would probably have pretended to find “my dad and me can pick you up” suggestive. Either I know peculiarly horrible pre-teens, or this is just another instance of Sweet Valley innocence failing to line up with real life.
“Listen well,” the hypnotist said in a low voice that seemed to rumble across the stage. “Neither of you respects the dangers of the unknown.” She lifted an arm and pointed accusingly at Jessica, then Elizabeth. “The forces of the universe cannot be controlled,” she said. “But they are there all the same.” (p.42)
Lady, please. In this series Jessica is one of the forces of the universe.
After all, she liked Brice, and Bruce liked this kind of movie, so she must like this kind of movie too. Right? (p. 95)
Disturbing. I wish I could say no pre-teen girl ever thinks this way, but sadly, I’ve seen stuff nearly as bad in terms of suddenly adopting some guys taste in music/movies/whatever.
ElizaTodd Relationship Status: Todd likes Elizabeth and wants to get to know her better, so he asks her to a movie. She says yes. He calls her at home to remind her, and he’s so shy he can barely speak to her on the phone.
Supernatural Jessica: Uses Tarot cards to accurately predict Todd’s note (well, an invitation from an admirer); hypnotizes everyone.