If you were a girl growing up in the 80’s there is a good chance the names Elizabeth & Jessica Wakefield will be more than a little familiar to you. And if you, like me (and my big sister) were as obsessed with the sun-kissed Californian town of Sweet Valley as we were, then there is a good chance you too danced a jig of utter glee when you heard a new book had been released in this long running franchise. Ladies & Gentleman (well, not likely many gentlemen, but don’t want to be accused of sexism), I give you Sweet Valley Confidential!
Set 10 years after the gang graduates from high school (which is a little stretch, I’ll admit, as I’m sure it’s been a good 18 years since I devoured a SVH novel), we get to catch up with the (still) aesthetically blessed twins, who are now 27. And while the story is largely fluffy and lacking any grit, by God it was fun to take this walk down teenage memory lane! All our favourites are there – Todd Wilkins, Bruce Patman, Lila Fowler, Winston Egbert and of course all the
Stepfords Wakefields; in fact my favourite laugh out line comes from Mama Alice – look for it at the end of the family gathering for Grandma’s birthday…
Without giving anything away that isn’t already covered on the back of the book, this time around we meet a newly hardened, hurt Elizabeth, who moulds herself in more of a mean Jess mould. It’s, at times, not overly believable, and you do cringe a little at the writing (we’re not all still 14 Ms Pascal), but I wont give anything more away – especially as I’d risk my incurring the wrath of my yet-to-read-but-dying-to-do-so-sister.
Despite the predictability I can still safely say I loved this book. It was a school reunion of sorts, especially the Epilogue, which does a wonderful job in getting you up to speed with all the SV crew. And what is wrong with an opportunity to indulge in a spot of harmless nostalgia?
So if you loved the Sweet Valley as much I did in the 80’s and early 90’s, do yourself a favour and grab yourself a copy and a cosy spot to read. As long as you’re aware you aren’t reading Austen you will lose yourself in a lather of long lost memories and old friends. All that we await next is a midlife TV show reunion of Degrassi Junior High to see if Spike turned her life around after her teen pregnancy, or perhaps what happened to the beloved Babysitters Club crew of Claudia & co, and my trip down teenage memory lane will be complete.