The Return of Sweet Valley High

When I heard Sweet Valley High was making a comeback, I was hopeful. Somewhat excited. After all, this was a book series both my sister and I grew up with. I read the books for ten years straight- 1984 to 1994. The Wakefield twins, Jessica and Elizabeth, and their friends were an intergral part of my life for a long time. I was not the only one. The popularity of the books led to Sweet Valley Elementary, Middle School, and University versions, along with a short-lived tv show in the ’90s. Our Mom bought us the board game for Christmas in 1988. I was known for carrying the latest Sweet Valley High book in my purse, with a bookmark enclosed. No matter what changes were going on, Sweet Valley High was a constant, always along for the ride. Those were fun days 🙂

My sister went out last night to get the brand new Sweet Valley Confidential. Late last night, I read through the book- and was  disappointed. Elizabeth and Jessica, who should actually be in their 40s now, are 27. They are also estranged. Seems Jessica stole Elizabeth’s longtime boyfriend, Todd Wilkins, away from her, and plans to marry him. Liz is now living in New York. Her new best friend is super-rich playboy Bruce Patman. Enid Rollins, her former best friend, is now a gyn doctor. Their older brother, dark-haired Steven, is divorced from Jessica’s ex good buddy, Cara Walker. He is now gay, and in a serious relationship with Aaron Dallas. Lila Fowler, separated from her hubby Ken Matthews, the hunky blonde football star, is still vain, shallow, and hot. She lives off her daddy’s money. Ken and Jessica dated from time to time in the past. The Wakefield’s parents are still around. Reading the old names, still familiar to me, brought a smile to my face.

There is so much darkness in the book. Vivid details about sex, profanity, the death of goofy classmate Winston Egbert, cancer, alcoholism. Plus, I must admit, it’s hard to read about Facebook, Beyonce, and Perez Hilton. Mixing them with the Sweet Valley High gang does not work very well. No one is really happy or satisfied in this book. A very negative image is cast upon adulthood. I get moving forward and progress, and while the SVH books did deal with serious issues, like drugs and the accidental overdose of Regina Morrow, there was a light-hearted essence in the books. There was a healthy, realistic balance. Why else were they such of a hit?

Today’s society has a cynicism that was absent when SVH first hit bookstores. This book is filled with that cynicism, sadly. I guess they figured this was the only way the characters could make a comeback. It’s just too negative for me, tainting the original premise of the series. Sure, Jessica was selfish and could play dirty, but not to this degree. Plus, who really wants to read about Elizabeth’s sex life?

For me, this was more than enough. I will keep Sweet Valley High in the past- along with high school, my thick eye makeup, and Thursday night’s NBC lineup. They say you can’t go home again. I always found that statement untrue, and resented it. However in this case, I agree.

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~ by kmnnz on March 31, 2011.

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