Going Old School: Sweet Valley High

 Have you ever thought you had… say, sweet tea, in your glass–you’re craving tea–but you take a big swig and it’s lemonade? 

You turn your nose up because it wasn’t what you expected in the least. It’s a shock at first. It’s not what you wanted, but you drink it anyway because you like lemonade and you’re thirsty. 

That’s how I felt about Sweet Valley Confidential.

If you know me well, you know I loved the Sweet Valley High books growing up. While many girls were reading Babysitter club books, or Anne of Green Gables, I was all up in Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s business.

When my mom told me I could go to B. Dalton books, the only bookstore in our small town, I remember being giddy all day. I’d march straight back and buy 2 or 3 books. Sometimes, I’d get to purchase 4! I couldn’t read them fast enough. I’d trade with friends, if we were missing one of the consecutive book stories. 

I fell in love with the Wakefield twins and their lives. I was always partial to bad-girl sister, Jessica Wakefield, but I adored Elizabeth and her boyfriend, Todd’s romance and true love. When the series ended, I knew they’d be together forever. They’d endured so many things, for so long. 

I could relate to a little of each character. I was invested in their lives and what they went through. I knew what it was like to have a sister to occasionally…or often, fight with. Stealing clothes, shoes, and jewelry from a sibling made sense. I swooned over Todd and even Bruce. Which is really odd saying that last statement because my dad’s name is Bruce and something about the word swoon with his name in the same sentence freaks me out slightly.

When I found out that Francine Pascal was writing a ten-years-later book, I thought I’d come out of my skin, but so much was going on I didn’t have time to nab it. Last night. I did. Sent it right to my kindle, and it’s so odd how quickly it all came back as I started reading. Things I thought I’d forgotten, nope. All there. Right back into their lives and you know, it brought back memories of my youth that I enjoyed. 

But it was like drinking lemonade when I thought I was getting sweet tea. Can you be disappointed in something and yet still like it? I dare say…you can. Because it happened to me. Those teenage dreams of having true love, all those books that I sighed with satisfaction, gone. Doused with the ice-water of reality. Fictional reality. 

I was angry for half the book, yet I kept reading because I’d poured half my teenage life into those books and that young girl had to know what the heck was going on and why? 

Sweet Elizabeth wasn’t so sweet anymore. In fact, she made her away around men more than Jessica ever did. Friends with Benefits. That’s not Elizabeth! I did love reading what happened to everyone, especially the way Pascal did it at the end. I smiled because I remembered those crazy kids. Not all of them had happy endings, but let’s be honest. The stars sometimes don’t go on to do these amazing things we think they will. In fact, some of them do very little. She resolved the conflict, and while I was happy to see them sisters again and Elizabeth happy, I could still taste the lemons and not the sugary goodness of southern sweet tea. 

I did learn something new about my writing from this book. I have another author besides Nora Roberts to blame for my former head-hopping. LOL I had no idea that’s what she was doing all those years ago, but I caught it quick last night and I thought, “So you did this to me! You and Nora.”

Here’s a small peek:

The Wakefield Twins—and the whole gang from Sweet Valley High—are back!
What terrible secret has torn Jessica and Elizabeth apart?
Ten years after graduation, the Wakefield twins have had a falling out of epic proportions. When Jessica commits a complete and utter betrayal, Elizabeth flees to New York to escape the pain and immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a serious journalist.
“A perfect storm of decades past, and we are LOVING it.” —MTV
Jessica remains in California, dealing with the consequences of her heart-wrenching choices. She’s built a full life for herself but dearly misses her sister. With Elizabeth as her enemy, Sweet Valley is no longer the idyllic town of their youth.

What series books did you read as a teenager? Did you read Sweet Valley? Who was your favorite character/s? 

21 thoughts on “Going Old School: Sweet Valley High

  1. I LOVED Sweet Valley. Started with Twins and worked up to some of the University ones.
    Friends with Benefits doesn't sound like Elizabeth to me either…but at least Pascal turned the story into something great at the end. Thanks for sharing about it!

  2. Yep, read these. I even read The Flowers in the Attic books (talk about screwed up).

    And wasn't there one called Fifteen? For some weird reason I loved that one. I probably read it when I was…what? 10! 😀
    ~ Wendy

  3. Everyone I knew read SVH, so I had to do something different. (Such a literary rebel I was) I read a series called Couples. A group of friends in High School, and each book was about a different one of them. That series went on forever too as classes graduated and new friends were incorporated. I bought the whole line, and my parents tossed them when I went to college. Not that I'm bitter or anything…

  4. I was a lame teenager. I never read any of the Sweet Valley books. In fact, I don't think I realy read. 🙁 Lame-o.

  5. I loved Sweet Valley…although I only ever read the Twins books, not the High versions. But I did watch the show. I totally related to Elizabeth…bookworm, good student, quieter. Yep. In fact, because of her and Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice), I love the name Elizabeth, and plan to name a daughter Elizabeth when we have kids.

    And yes, I loved Babysitters Club too!

    Ah, good times. Good times.

  6. Somehow I skipped the popular teen books – went from reading Nancy Drew to adult fiction. But I did manage to read a few Sweet Valley books when I worked at a children's library. (Best after-school job ever!) I can understand your disappointment…I felt the same way when a third Anne movie came out several years back and Anne was nothing like the Anne of Green Gables I loved. 🙂

    Head-hopping! I have soooo much trouble reading books with omniscient third-person. Probably because I worked so hard to hammer it out of my own writing…so I get all irked when I read it in a published book. (Though, I do realize at different periods it was the norm. Cue: Francine Rivers' older stuff.)

  7. I missed out on Sweet Valley High, but I can relate to being totally absorbed in teen books. 🙂

    I don't think I'd like to revisit those characters 10 years later. I think I'd rather preserve not only my memories of them, but my own imaginings of how they turned out.

  8. I read some Nancy Drew.
    I read a lot of history books back then.

    Don't you just love those 10 years later stories?!? They can rock your world! lol!

  9. I may have read a couple sweet valley – but don't remember. I LOVED Nancy Drew (and I read Flowers in the Attic series too – Can't believe you got me to admit that – uuugggghhh-eeewwwww—iiiccckkk). I read A LOT – but I don't remember reading many series, to be honest.

  10. I LOVED Sweet Valley High! What a fun post! I also loved the Babysitters Club, and The Boxcar Children.;)

  11. Never read these books. I was into Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. 🙂 And of course the Mandie Books by Lois Gladys Leppard and Grandma's Attic always made me laugh. 🙂
    Little house on the prairie, The three investigators by Alfred Hitchcock and then in my early teen years – Jeanette Oke's books.

    Fun times, fun memories 🙂

  12. Hey everyone! Man, I've been slammed at the day job today, but I wanted to pop in and say hi!

    So those of you who read Sweet Valley, which twin did you like best?

  13. I never read the Sweet Valley High books, but as a teenagers, I devoured the First Love books put out by Silhouette…anyone remember those?

    In high school, friends and I would pass around bodice rippers…talk about mind poison for teenagers. Then I'd swipe a few Judy Blume books from my stepmom's shelf–more eye-openers. Then I read my first Danielle Steel book at 16 and she was my favorite author for quite a few years.

  14. Okay, not only have I never read Sweet Valley High books, I've never even heard of them. Ugh! Can we still be friends? 🙂 Judy Blume books were big when I was a young teen because she gave a real look at life through a teen's eyes. Now you have me curious!

  15. I remember reading Sweet Valley High. In the 90s, there was also Sweet Valley Kids, when Elizabeth and Jessica were in elementary school. Jessica was my favorite, although I'm more like Elizabeth.

  16. I had the Sweet Valley High Board Game. 🙂 I had no idea this new book existed. Crazy! I also loved Babysitter's Club.

  17. I haven't read any but wished I did! 🙂

  18. I loved SVH!!! And I totally remember the Playing With Fire and Dangerous Love covers. I also love the name Bruce, due in large part to the character. 🙂

  19. I loved SVH! Elizabeth was my favorite twin. Though I stopped after a few of the SV University books. I really started disliking Elizabeth. Plus, she and Todd split which was not a part of my ideal plan. Did you ever read either of the two books about their parents?

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