'Sweet Valley High' Grows Up, Stays Dumbed-Down


sweet valley high bookAre you a Jessica or an Elizabeth? Now that Sweet Valley High creator Francine Pascal has debuted an adult version of her best-selling YA series, the old debate over which twin you identify with (bad girl Jessica? bookish Elizabeth?) can start anew. Except why would you want it to?

I hate the idea of my daughter reading the original Sweet Valley High books, not because I'm a prude, but because I don't want her buying into the whole virgin/whore myth before she even starts dating. (And the atrocious writing is almost as disturbing as the content.)

Tell me you don't still gag a little bit when you remember the obligatory description of Jessica and Elizabeth that kicked off every stinking book in that series: "Perfect size 6 figures," "stunning Pacific blue eyes," "glossy shoulder-length blond hair." (Then there were those identical gold lavaliere necklaces the twins always wore. I spent way too much time and energy as a kid wondering what the heck a "lavaliere" was. Turns out it's a type of pendant that hangs from a necklace.)

I don't mind references to sex or substance abuse in YA lit as long as it serves a purpose and is depicted realistically: Awkward, with unexpected consequences, not some slick and stylized pastime for the popular kids only. The Sweet Valley High books make being a nerd look hopelessly boring and being cool endlessly exciting, and we all know neither is true.

I'll admit that a teeny-tiny part of me is curious about what the twins are up to in Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later. But I'm hardly the target demographic -- somehow, Jessica and Elizabeth have managed to stop the clock at age 27, even though they went to high school in the '80s. The way I figure it, that means girls who are currently 17 years old will be the only readers truly interested in the Wakefields' latest exploits. I mean, who among us read Sweet Valley High books when we were actually in high school? Back then, we would have said they were for pre-teens ... you know, the tweens of today.

Would you mind if your daughter started reading Sweet Valley High?

Image via Amazon

issues, sex, drugs & alcohol


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Simpl... Simplicity3

I loved reading those books when I was a teen.  I plan on reading the new book.

If I had a daughter, I wouldn't mind her reading them.

Memph... MemphisSuzi

I LOVED them and devoured everyone as they came out.  I have actually re-read some of them as an adult for the laughs and memories.  And I am more like Elizabeth. 

And it young adult fiction, its just supposed to be a fun read, not the next Great Gasby.  I still read "trash" like this when I just want a enjoyable read, not requiring alot of brain power...ie Nora Roberts, etc.

nonmember avatar Anon

I read them and forgot about them. Thinking back I didn't buy into any virgin/whore complex. It never crossed my mind. It was just a book about two sisters. I would not mind if my daughter read those if she were old enough.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

I'd rather my daughter (if I had one) read these books than the angsty, wimpy, Twilight series. At least Elizabeth and Jessica were spunky, ambitious and resiliant. All Bella ever does is whine,twitch and pine for pale controlling pseudo vampire boy.

Ashley Post

My sister and I both read them when we were growing up all the way through high school. I was even known to break them out in college when I got homesick (brought a few with me).  Love them love them love them. They are just campy fun. I will probably read the new one out of curiosity's sake.

Anna Bazhaw-Hyscher

I'm with you on this one. They're absolute trash. But I'm also a little curious... maybe not curious enough to buy, but I admit that I did read the sample on my nook...

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