- Is It?– Judy: #1574 (10 Mar. 1990) – #1586 (02 Jun. 1990)
This is a sequel to “The Honourable S.J.” Ann has started at Craddock College and is pleased at first to find that her room-mate, Sally Cairns, is a friendly well liked girl. But soon she is not so sure if she is lucky to be rooming with Sally, as her behaviour reminds her of S.J. She acts nice but some incidents make Ann think she’s not what she seems. When Ann gets the lead in a play, Sally who has been assigned as prompter seems to continuously make problems for her. She prompts her on lines she’s already said, making her flustered. Then on the first evening of the play, Ann gets locked in her room. Sally takes over the part from then on. This also gives Ann to look closely at Sally without her glasses and she notices that it isn’t just Sally’s behaviour that resembles S.J.
Sally continues to follow a similar pattern to S.J. Ann is more suspicious when a new girl Beth joins and it seems S.J has been blackmailing her. Beth leaves the school before Ann gets to question her about it. Sally then steals a bracelet and threatens Ann that she will frame her if she doesn’t give her money. All these actions make Ann start to investigate her, she looks through her address book and tries to get her to slip up about her family. When an old friend Carrie comes to stay she thinks she can confirm suspicions. But Sally blames a bunch of tricks played on Carrie as Ann’s doing and Carrie leaves angry. Ann starts questioning other people about Sally’s past and finds she’s told different stories to different people. Also some girls seem to know she isn’t as nice as she seems. So Ann knows even if she isn’t actually S.J. she is hiding something.
Soon after this Ann finds hairs left by Sally in her hairbrush have dark roots. When Sally gets her into trouble again and the Head tells her they won’t be accepting her back to college next year, Ann has enough. Ann confronts Sally and she does admit that she’s S.J. but also that things don’t change, her father is on the board of directors over Mr. Smith’s job. Ann finds out that S.J. has gotten a girl Claire blackmailed into doing her exams for her. Ann and Claire team up and instead of writing the exam Claire writes a confession for “Sally”. S.J. leaves vowing revenge on Ann.
So this was a nice spin on the usual S.J. story. There is a bit of a mystery to whether Sally and S.J. are actually the same person. It is possible that Ann could have just had the bad luck to meet two nasty characters. It also addresses the issue of how S.J. could keep getting into these schools and fool everyone again and again. Perhaps in previous schools her father had paid off people to hush up her expulsions, but clearly she pushed that too far, so now she has to have a whole new identity.
I like the updated looks and the actual passage of time. Ann has a new haircut and looks older but is still recognisable. Likewise even though there is a question of whether Sally is S.J. they do share a lot of similar expressions, while at the same time giving her a new look. Another thing I liked is the title using the question mark to picture S.J. There are some mistakes in the story though that should have been caught by an editor, although she is mostly referred to as Sally Cairns two separate instances her last name is said to be Smith and Carstairs.
In the previous post I have already talked about the characters so I’ll just add that I like that this is recognisable S.J. story but with a mystery twist. As far as I know this was the last S.J. story, even though she vowed to make Ann pay no matter how many years it took. S.J. is a memorable character and while she never seemed to change, she was always scheming and being nasty, it was good to see the people and the settings around her change.