Sweet Valley Confidential: The Wakefield Twins As You've Never Seen Them Before
By Karen Ballum on July 19, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
It was a simple tweet with a link to a post about Sweet Valley Confidential, the first book in the continuation of the Sweet Valley High series. I clicked over to it, started reading the first chapter and I haven't been able to stop myself from blurting out "OMG" ever since. The twins are now 27 and, well, let's just say that things have changed.
I entered the world of the Wakefield twins when I was about seven years old. It started with Sweet Valley Twins. I don't think I read more than a dozen of them before picking up my first Sweet Valley High. (Why yes, I was rather young to be reading them but don't worry, I totally didn't understand the almost-rape scene.) By the time I actually got to high school, they had started releasing the first books in the Sweet Valley University series. My friends and I gobbled them up for a few months before getting distracted by something shiny.
The Sweet Valley world was part of my childhood and adolescence, a part that I happened to share with thousands of other girls. I've always felt a little bit sad that so many of the characters I read as a child got stuck at one age while I got to grow up. I always wondered what the grown up versions of these characters would be like, and let me tell you, a 27-year-old Elizabeth Wakefield is nothing like I would have imagined. After I read Lilit Marcus' Sweet Valley Confidential post on The Gloss, I too "nerded the hell out" and started sending emails to everyone I knew who would appreciate the magnitude of what she revealed in her post about the first chapter of this book.
This is where the spoilers start. You've been warned.
I wanted to read this chapter. No, I needed to read it. Some very quick Google work led me to the Sweet Valley Ten Years Later website. Not only could I get access to the first chapter but so can you (at least for a limited time). All you have to do is sign up for a newletter and MacMillan will send you a link that allows you to download the chapter as a PDF. A few minutes after I signed up, I had the chapter pulled up on my computer screen. (Update: The chapter is now available on the Sweet Valley Confidential website.)
Here's a bit of what went through my head:
Of course the twins figures are mentioned but shockingly they aren't described as "a perfect size six." Oops, I mean "a perfect size four" since the original books have been updated and size six hardly seems desirable these days. Oh wait, they are gorgeous. "Absolutely amazing."
Elizabeth really isn't speaking to Jessica? She really hates Jessica? I mean it's kind of about time but still, seriously?
Elizabeth Wakefield has orgasms. With a man she didn't like very much. Elizabeth Wakefield slept with someone she didn't like. And she's considering sleeping with her boss? This does not compute.
I'm not at all surprised that her life was all about Todd. Okay, maybe a little, but only because I thought her writing would come first. And Todd was cheating? Betrayal? Deceit? It had to be Jessica, right? Because what else could cause her to hate Jessica and leave Sweet Valley? Although how many times has Jessica tried to steal Todd/any boy that Elizabeth has liked? Elizabeth has never hated her before.
Her best friend is Bruce Patman?!? 1Bruce1? Her would be rapist? That Bruce Patman? He's her only friend from Sweet Valley? What. The. Heck?
I honestly couldn't believe what I was reading. I could believe that the writing was just as bad as I remembered but all this other stuff? It was though I landed in an alternate universe. It's wrong! All wrong!
It's also very, very addictive and if the whole book was available I'd be sitting here at my computer until I finished every single page. I figured I wouldn't be the only one surprised with the direction the chapter went, so I went where I go when I want to dish about anything literary -- to the book blogs.
YA Revisited said it made her miss Jessica. So true. I'm hoping that they do alternating chapters because I simply must know Jessica's side of the story.
Sixteen and Perfect takes on the issue of Elizabeth's confession about orgasms and people's reaction to it.
Much has been made about Liz having cried after every orgasm she had with some rebound guy after she broke it off with Todd. This has sent a lot of people up in a fury of “TMI!!!!!” But I think it’s a (somewhat misguided) attempt at creating intimacy with the character while also showcasing how much Elizabeth has grown up in 10 years. Is it jarring? Absolutely, yes, especially because the original novels were so coquettish about sex.
I think that jarring is a good word to use. One just does not associate the Elizabeth of the Sweet Valley High series with orgasms of any kind.
Bookslide doesn't mince words in the title of her post - Oh God, please no.
I’d avoid it like the plague, though, because the phrase “I need brain bleach” will immediately come to mind when you hear about Liz’s weepy orgasms and how she’s now bffs with her former would-be rapist.
The 1Bruce1 livejournal community just simply opened up a comment thread and let people rip.
The overall verdict? The writing still sucks. No one can believe that Bruce and Elizabeth are BFFs. We'd rather had a Jessica chapter. And no matter what we say, most of us are itching to get our hands on a copy and read the heck out of it. How many days until March 29, 2011?
Photo Credit: Sweet Valley Ten Years Later website.
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