OMG, Jessica is totes going to run away...again.
Jessica Wakefield has a horrible life that sucks to the 100th degree. After nearly failing math, her parents grounded her for several weeks, and she's upset the world did not stop turning. I'm not exaggerating here either. She's pissed that the sorority went ahead with its big dance, that her friends kept shopping, and that her friends even had a slumber party when she couldn't be there. It's all just proof that no one gives a damn about her.
The one shining light is Sam, who, frankly is a shining light for all of us. He gets to pick her up from school and stay for dinner, but he changes plans on her at the last minute because he really needs to do some work on his bike. She pitches a fit about how he doesn't love her and all that jazz before running away.
Saturday morning marks her first day of freedom, and she has some big plans in mind. Her and Sam will have breakfast together, then do some shopping, eat lunch and maybe see a movie, and then have a romantic candlelit dinner together. It seems that Sam never quite agreed to that plan though. He actually spent the last week telling her about a big race on Saturday, which she forgot out. This is clearly more proof that he doesn't care about her though, so she shouts at him and heads to the mall by herself.
Shopping by yourself isn't that much fun though. She gets really depressed when she sees a couple who looks like them having a good time together and breaks down. While crying in front of the fountain, a random guy comes up and gives her a tissue. He introduces himself as Ted and talks to her for a bit. Ted is a member of the Good Friends, a new community group in the area, and he asks her to stop by the next day.
Jessica takes the Fiat to the “bad side” of town, which is not at all ironically where Tricia lived. The Good Friends house is so run down that she plans on sneaking out when Ted comes out and sees her. All the guys in the group wear, gasp, old jeans and worn out shirts, and the girls wear, double gasp, clothes that went out of fashion at least a year ago. They all talk about Adam Marvel, the cult founder I mean their leader. Jessica assumes that he's super old, but he's actually young and hot, so she sticks around a little longer.
In a classic case of Jessica going full ass into every single thing she does, she instantly becomes drawn to them. They don't think it's weird that she's a spoiled brat cheerleader from a well off family, nor do they laugh at her problems, which are frankly laughable. The Good Friends think she is a good person and that she can help them out. Susan is the only dissenter. She seems pretty unhappy about this new girl hanging around, but Jessica plays it off as her having a crush on Adam and not liking the competition.
Jessica completely changes the way she dresses to fit in with the group. She starts wearing tweed skirts, plain blouses, long skirts, and no jewelry. Since she doesn't want to share, she lies to her family and friends about how she needs to do work in the library all the time. Sam catches her in a lie when he tried to see her at the library, but she just lies again and says she went to one out of town. She then goes off on him about following her around all the time.
Adam explains that they go out and solicit donations, then divide up the cash, and give the money to different charities. After a long day though, the kids stop the bus and go through the money to buy groceries. Adam explains to her that it's no different than organizations using donations for administration costs. If they had to work to provide for themselves, they wouldn't have as much time to raise money. That totally makes sense to Jessica.
While sitting around the table for dinner, Ned reveals that he heard some big news about a cult working in Sweet Valley. The Good Friends (duh) set up shop in a city, use different charities to get donations, and then take the money and run to set up in a new town before they get caught. Liz talks to Jessica about it in the hopes of sharing some gossip, but Jessica just freaks out about how Liz shouldn't spread hurtful lies about people without evidence.
Liz thinks this is odd, but it all makes sense when Sam shows up later. He followed Jessica and saw her at their house. Liz tells him what she learned from her father and then decides to impersonate her twin. Sam takes Jessica out for the night, which lets Liz sneak into the house for one of their meetings. She doesn't really learn anything new though. Susan, however, does get Liz alone and tells her to get out. Adam comes in the room, but it's not clear if he heard her.
During another meeting, some kids run in with some important news. Brian, one of their members, disappeared while fundraising at the mall. Adam is less then pleased and demands that they go back to the mall and find him, showing off his dark side. Jessica runs back to Adam after dinner at Casa Wakefield, where she hears that Brian's own parents kidnapped him to save him. Adam convinces her to get Brian's parents' contact information from her dad's files.
When she does, Adam tells her that they are planning on leaving town and that they want her to go with them. Though she isn't sure at first, she quickly decides that they care about her more than her own family and friends do. She shows up to leave with them, and Adam tells her to ditch the Fiat before they leave. Before they can take off though, Todd shows up with the cops just behind Liz and Sam.
Sam called Liz because Jess told him she had the flu and he wanted to stop by and see her anyway. They realize this was a lie she told to escape with the group and headed over to the house after calling Todd. Adam keeps growling at Jessica to get in the van, while Liz breaks down and begs her to stay because she really needs her. Sam then comes out of the house with Susan. Adam heard her warning Liz, tied her up in an empty room, and told everyone else she left to care for her sick mother. Susan then reveals that she's an undercover reporter. The cops arrest Adam and probably do something about all those runaways.
Our B-plot is all about Liz and Todd. Since they never ever do things together, they decide to join the new SVH bowling team. Justin, the coach, makes it clear that he likes Liz by saying stuff like, “oh I wish I met you before Todd did” and “hey, you're pretty hot for a stuck up bitch.” He is always there to walk her through new techniques and keeps finding excuses to touch her. Just as she's about to tell Todd, Justin pops up and reminds them of an upcoming practice, so she just changes the subject.
Justin brings her flowers when she's out with Enid and tells her that he'd love to take her out just once because she's oh so beautiful. Liz finally breaks down and agrees to meet him just once for a not a date. Justin keeps talking about her looks and nothing else, which makes her realize that he knows nothing about her. She does eventually tell Todd what happened, but only when they're done saving Jessica, so the ghostwriter just glosses over it.
*Liz hates the one meeting she goes to because they all just sit around and agree with Adam instead of voicing their own opinions. Yeah, I'm sure Queen Liz really lets her friends have their own opinions in the cafeteria.
*Liz tells Enid about Adam and how she thinks he knew she wasn't Jess at that one meeting. Enid keeps seeing a car following them all around town and describes a guy who looks like Adam. The guy then walks into the Dairi Burger with something in his hand. Enid thinks he has a gun and makes Liz get under the table, but it's actually just Justin with flowers.
*Did Liz learn nothing from her one not a date with Nicholas? If a guy keeps asking you out and makes it clear that he wants to date you, you can't just randomly meet him for a meal and say it's not a date.
*I also hate that the only reason she didn't like him is because he kept talking about her looks, which made her realize that he didn't actually know her the way Todd did. Duh.
*Some people said that they felt bad for Jessica in this book, but I never really did. The only reason she gets ticked off is because people literally did stuff without her because she was grounded. Do you think Lila or Amy being grounded would for one second stop her from going to a party?
*There are a few great scenes where Liz hesitates about talking to her parents because Jessica seemingly changed for the good. She does nice things, dresses appropriately, treats people with respect, and actually does her homework. Is it wrong if I said Liz should have just let her go?
*Annie, one of the cult girls, tells Jessica that she never met a cheerleader before and that Jessica isn't what she expected. Don't worry about it kid, 90% of the cheerleaders I knew in real life were exactly like the old Jess.
*On her date with Sam, Jess gets ticked off because he orders popcorn. Despite her always eating popcorn before and after, she hates it in this book and hates that he always gets in when they go to the movies because he offers her some, remembers she doesn't like it, and then eats it all himself.