01 May 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

For a large segment of the female population who came of age in the 1980s, the mere mention of "Sweet Valley" will conjure up memories of characters we grew up with: class clown Winston Egbert, rich and arrogant Bruce Patman, brave but doomed Tricia Martin. Foremost among this cast, though, were the perfect twins: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield.

Don't lie. Even if you are a brilliant feminist career woman now, there is a good chance you read and enjoyed at least a few of these books. I graduated to a deep love "classic" Literature, but I was still super excited to hear that all these years later, Francine Pascal was going to write a new novel telling us where the Wakefield twins ended up after high school. We'd caught a glimpse during the fairly short-lived (and soap operatically addictive) Sweet Valley University series, but nothing beyond sophmore year.

Finally, yesterday, my copy of Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later arrived at the library. Huzzah! This morning, as my Sweetheart slept, I laid in bed and finished catching up with the Wakefields and their crew.

Lots of changes since we last saw them! When the book opens, the twins are 27-years-old and have had a major falling out. Jessica has betrayed Elizabeth in the most appalling way imaginable and Elizabeth has fled to New York City, determined to never forgive her sister. (I am actually dying to tell you what she did, but if you care about Sweet Valley at all, you will likely pick this book up at some point and I don't want to wreck it for you.) Most of the book centers on this rift and the question of whether Elizabeth will ever be able to forgive Jessica or if the twins will forever be apart.

Along the way, we encounter other familiar characters - Steven Wakefield, now a married, successful attorney with a pretty serious secret of his own; Lila Fowler, still rich and spoiled and contemplating divorce from NFL star Ken Matthews; Bruce Patman, now Elizabeth's best friend; Winston Egbert, former class clown turned arrogant asshole; and, of course, Todd Wilkins, Elizabeth's high school sweetheart.

Being a Sweet Valley book, none of the characters are completely fleshed out. I was disappointed to read about Winston's transformation from lovable goofball to rich jerk, but it was really only mentioned in passing. Same with Enid Rollins, once Elizabeth's sweet best friend and now an arrogant, ultra-conservative doctor.

There's also no way this book will be mistaken for great Literature. And you know what? That's okay. No one expects it to be. It's a Sweet Valley book, for crying out loud! It's far-fetched and convoluted and ridiculous and trashy and quick and fun. Pure fluffy entertainment, for sure. If you are one of the many women who grew up alongside the Wakefield twins, reserve your copy of Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later (because, seriously, you do NOT need to invest in a hardcover of this; you'll read it once, be entertained and done) and look forward to an afternoon of mindless entertainment.

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