On the front page of the New York Times today is an article about Sweet Valley Confidential, a return to the series many of us loved as teens (or younger), the Sweet Valley High series. Now it’s a book for adults. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are 27 years old and as the article points out, are “living on separate coasts, drinking, having casual sex and – gasp – enjoying it.”
Why is this news? Well for one thing the book is a bestseller, and a film based on the original series is in production. According to the NYT, the original series, begun in 1983, included hundreds of books that sold 150 million copies worldwide.
But it’s also news, again according to this article, because there’s a lot of buzz about this children’s series being reinvented for adults and including adult behavior like -gasp- sex. Here’s a great quote from writer Francine Pascal: “I’ve had people who have questioned Elizabeth having orgasms… And I say to them, if they’re listening, would you deny a 27-year old woman the right to have an orgasm?”
Wow. Because we don’t have enough these days to be concerned about, right? (Like, say, pink nail polish on boys?)
I didn’t read a lot of teen fiction when I was a kid, and I didn’t read many books aimed at girls. Most of the books I loved fell somewhere between fantasy and literature. And when I got into romances I went straight from Judy Blume to adult romance novels. But something about these books hooked me.
Elizabeth was the good twin, and Jessica the bad one. But even Jessica wasn’t really bad, just a little selfish. The two sisters were completely different but always there for each other. They were perfect in such a ridiculous way — of course they were popular and beautiful, had tons of friends, a perfect family and a glamorous life. They had lots of problems but it all worked out in the end of every book. It was a soap opera for girls, long before Beverly Hills 90210.
Of course, the girls should really be in their forties now, rather than 27, but I imagine being 27 is just a little more marketable.
I can’t say this is worthy of front page news, and I don’t know that I’ll read the book, which seems to be getting truly horrible reviews. But it was a fun article to read and brought back fond memories of a series I loved.
Did you grow up on these books? Will you be reading this one? If you do, let me know what you thought.