Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Confidential was reviewed a few times in #CBR III, and there was a fun discussion in Ashley’s review last year. I already knew what happened in the story, I knew that the Sweet Valley books aren’t quality literature, but still… I saw it on the shelf at the library and snatched it up right away. The librarian told me she had decided not to order it last year, but a mint condition donated copy came in so she shelved it. Apparently it has been very popular, so at least I am not alone in my shame.
As is evident from the cover, Sweet Valley Confidential takes place 10 years after Wakefield twins have graduated from high school. This was a bit jarring at first – how could the twins be a decade younger than me when I started reading the books when I was twelve or thirteen and they were (perpetually) sixteen years old? Given that I have not read or even thought of these books in over twenty years, it was a strangely depressing to find out how much of my mental real estate was seemingly devoted to the novels.
The story begins with the twins separated, alluding to some type of catastrophic event that had separated the sisters. Because this is a Sweet Valley novel, of course the girls are fighting over a man. Sweet Valley remains an insular community, with most people continuing to live there after college, and generally everyone being attractive and wildly successful. Much of the book is devoted to Elizabeth and Jessica’s interior monologues, which are kind of repetitive. Jessica’s monologues reflect her speech, using “like” and “so” repeatedly, the informal speech still emphasizing how Elizabeth is the smart twin. It is a vaguely more adult version of the books that focused on the characters as archetypes – Jessica generally means well but makes mistakes that outrage the tiny busybody community of Sweet Valley, Elizabeth is perfect and a martyr that everyone loves, Todd is the jock with a brain, the especially rich kids are careless, the ugly people are the endearing class clowns, people just can’t help but give in to their feelings, etc. The interesting changes from the early series is that there is homosexuality, several people “go all the way” (of course, they are making love and it is amazing, but still), and some of the nice characters turned into bitches for no good reason at all.
Of course it is all wrapped up all nicely at the end, but it was kind of fun, if only for the nostalgia of it all.