A Sojourn to the Past and Into the Future

Sweet Valley High. The title conjures up so much, so many memories to my mind, that it's quite impossible to ignore thoughts of myself cramped in my bed as a teenager, saving my allowance so I could buy new titles, and ignoring the rest of the world for 16 year old California blondes Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Seeing myself now. more well read than ever {I'd like to believe so}, it seems so distant to be remembering about the girl whose imagination was wrapped around Calico Drive.

As a high schooler, I was a geek mostly, for staying at home instead of doing high school stuff most students did: engage in sports during weekends {Failure to attend swimming lessons? Blame it on Jessica.}, go on short excursions, or hang out while watching movies or cooking or baking. I would break out of my reading funk though just so my friends and I could exchange books and then go back to reading. My high school life {and even during grade school} was devoted to reading SV books {and then some YA and not so YA lit}, getting lost in the world of Jessica and how she never wore a watch, and how Liz has always been the perfect twin. I loved Lila Fowler next, such a badass girl, really. I can imagine her being played by Mila Kunis {though she's too old for SVH}. My favorite and most worn out book has always been Jessica Wakefield's Diary Volume 3 and sigh, the sagas. Don't get me started about the sagas {loved the Patmans and the Fowlers!}.

 Jessica Wakefield and Sam Woodruff

But the one I've completed would have to be this:
Sweet Valley Senior Year. I loved how there were handwritten bits to it:

This was the only stage I actually liked Elizabeth more {well, just by a few notches}
because of Conner McDermott.

Although, I really thought they were the ugliest twins to ever portray the Wakefields and the
prettiest were the TV twins Cynthia and Brittany Daniel, who later appeared on the
SVU covers.

And then, years after, long after my book shelf has evolved into heavier reading and where my SV books are buried in the farthest nooks, Francine Pascal, author and creator of our generation's favorite books {kind of like the 80s and 90s' Twilight}, comes out with Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later. Our fascination with these books might just be equal to today's kids' adulation for Bella, Edward and Jacob.

As a die hard Sweet Valley girl {until now, sometimes, I wonder why I am unabashedly so}, I was discombobulated and antsy until I finally got my hands on it {Thank you, Margarita Queen!} and proceeded to read every single letter until I was finished the morning after. Here are some of my thoughts on the book and...


The Good:

  • Judging by the number of inquiries I got when I tweeted I was reading this, we are no doubt, all curious and intrigued by what happened to the twins. Did Liz and Todd finally got married {wait, wasn't Liz with Tom Watts in SVU?}? Was Jessica now a famous actress dating a famous model? Was Lila Fowler now ala Lily Van Der Woodsen, heading charity functions while being married to a {yet another} Italian count or Bruce Patman {whom she had a relationship, not a fling, back in SVU}? We all have preconceived assumptions who ended up with who and FINALLY, Francine Pascal comes up with something.
  • I finished the book in eight hours, which is a record for me, yet again. Much like its predecessors, a Sweet Valley book is highly entertaining, highly intriguing and is always capable of flip flopping your heart from Liz to Jess and back again. I don't know how many times I've sympathized with Liz even if I've thought she was too prissy and too nice. Going back, if the entertaining part is what you're after, then this definitely has it.
  • Liz is now a writer for a Zagat for off Broadway plays and lives in New York City, Jess is now a PR girl for an organic cosmetics company and she actually takes her job seriously, though she's remained in Sweet Valley.
  • References to Facebook and Twitter are all over the book, also, Liz listening to Beyonce in one of the chapters.
  • I don't know whether to laugh or get shocked over Steven Wakefield's revelation of changing sexual preferences. And with Aaron Dallas, too, Jessica's first ever boyfriend!
  • Loved that bit between Bruce Patman and Elizabeth. He does emerge as a really sensitive guy in the end, sigh.
  • Lila Fowler and Ken Matthews end up together, though are on the brink of divorce in this book.
  • Any SV geek like I was needs to read this. 
  • Jessica's bridal march "All I Ask of You" from the musical Phantom of the Opera affirmed that I've always been a Jessica. It's kinda cheesy but hey, I am cheesy like that.
  • REALLY, Jessica AND Todd? Really? So yeah, they hated each other all through out and dated a few times out of I don't know, lack of storyline sometimes but REALLY?? After all that flirting and after two failed marriages for Jessica, she was just going to end up with Todd Wilkins? Really? I honestly have not decided whether I like this ending but oh well. 

Now, the Bad:

  • It might have been the years since I last read a Sweet Valley book but I was cringing at how bad the writing was. Either that or Francine was such a bad writer compared to her team of wonderful ghost writers. I was appalled at how Jessica's character said 'like' and 'so' too damn much when she was not at all like that ever since SV Kids, and throughout SVU.
  • Jessica's marriage to Michael McAllery back in SVU sounded so much more romantic than the one with Regan Wollman. Surely, the point was not to romanticize everything, but to breathe life into the relationship, as what Michael McAllery was once portrayed --- with glory.
  • More than a decade of not writing the books herself, I highly doubt Francine Pascal had a deep recollection of the events that transpired to the characters. There were too many continuity flaws one of which is George Fowler, Lila's father, being renamed to Richard Fowler. Too, didn't Enid Rollins renamed herself to Alex Rollins in SVU and became Jessica's sorority sister?
  • I can't believe Lila Fowler peaked in high school. I'd have thought she was going to have replaced George as the matriarch of the Fowler business empire. But she had only a brief reference in the book, where she threw a party, despite her and Ken's impending divorce and with nothing else to credit herself with.
  • WTF, Winston Egbert's death. So unceremonious for such a funny character.
  • I really kind of wish Laurie White wrote this instead of Francine. I'm pretty sure she would've done a better job.
Overall: Despite not turning out to be the SVH we were imagining back in the days, I loved reading SVC. Sure, I'd skipped over some chapters as I was completely bored out of my skull while reading Liz' non-adventures in New York City, but I loved Jessica's quips, Jessica's stand off at Lila's party and how that guy Liz brought to their grandma's party was so enamored with Jessica, as always. I really wish this would become a series again.

Did you love Sweet Valley as a kid, too? 
And did you like SVC?