I was a HUGE fan of the series created by Francine Pascal in 1983. The books, about identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, hold a special place in my heart. The numerous ghostwriters who actually wrote the books used their words to create incredible visuals in my head; I loved the detailed descriptions of the twins’ looks, their rooms, their friends, their clothes. The characters and storylines are beloved memories of my childhood and adolescence.
Thenâ€¦I grew up. I still have my original books, but I didn’t read the other series about the Wakefield twins in junior high and elementary school. I didn’t watch the TV show. Series creator Francine Pascal continues to publish compelling YA lit; her series Fearless was featured in 2001 on YALSA’s list of “Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.â€
And then â€“ rapture! This year, Pascal wrote and published Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later. It follows the Wakefield twins as adults, leading completely different lives than I ever expected as a fan of the original books. Despite the 1980s setting of the original series, this book is set in the 21st century, which is understandable but changed the feel of the characters for me. Since I don’t believe in spoilers, I feel somewhat limited in what I can share about the storyline, but I will say that in regards to the characters, I spent a lot of time gasping and saying â€œNo way!â€ The story is not particularly compelling beyond its connection to the series; to a fan like me, it felt like hanging out at a reunion with the former class gossip (Caroline Pearce, anyone?) as she filled me in on the latest stories about old classmates.
According to Wikipedia and Amazon.com, there is a Sweet Valley High movie in the works, as well as a possible musical. I don’t know if I’ll be checking either of those out, but I do know that it was worth reading Sweet Valley Confidential to get Pascal’s take on “what happened next” to some truly beloved characters.
Casey O’Leary – just finished reading All That Is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd.