'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

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