Let me start my book blog with the series that started it all. The very first book that I remembered reading was a book in the Sweet Valley Kids Series. I read through the Kids, then moved on to the Twins series. I think I started reading Sweet Valley High right when I started high school too.
However, when the Sweet Valley University series came out, I started to lose interest and moved on to other books. I found the University series a bit confusing what with new characters and stuff. But still, the Wakefields and their friends have a special place in my heart.
So, just imagine the giddiness I felt when I chanced upon Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later at my favorite bookstore on my birthday. It’s like God and Francine Pascal arrived at my doorstep just to say, “Happy Birthday, Ly!”
As the title indicates, the book picks the story up ten years after Elizabeth and Jessica’s high school graduation. We first encounter a darker, more bitter Elizabeth; it’s Elizabeth like we’ve never seen before. She now lives in Manhattan, working as a writer for a magazine that reviews off Broadway plays.
Jessica, on the other hand, is still in Sweet Valley, trying desperately to get her twin to talk to her. Why? I wouldn’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say that Elizabeth ran away to New York after Jessica committed one of the biggest betrayal she could ever do. I mean, Jessica has always been selfish, and Elizabeth has always been forgiving. This time, however, the offense is so great that it actually drove Elizabeth away from Sweet Valley.
While the book focuses on the twins (of course) we are also treated to a rundown of what happened to their friends. Arrogant Bruce Patman is now a changed man and is Elizabeth’s bestfriend, Ken Matthews has married and is divorcing Lila Fowler, Winston Egbert is an obnoxious millionaire, Enid Rollins is an obnoxious doctor, Steven Wakefield turned out to be one of the biggest surprises, and Todd Wilkins is playing a very central role in the story that I can’t say what he is doing without turning this into a spoiler.
The book is a bit more adult, yet still in the kinda-wholesome spectrum. Francine Pascal’s writing style has not really changed; still, for me, brilliant. She brings you, right there, in Elizabeth’s anger, in Jessica’s regret, in Bruce’s longing. The people in the Sweet Valley series, with a few exceptions, has always been picture-perfect, this time, however, Pascal incorporated some of the not-so-perfect issues of the modern times. She touched on divorce, philandering, and revenge.
All in all, it was great revisiting the stories I grew up with and knowing how the people in it turned out. The good thing about this is that it did not fall into the trap of making everything sickly sweet and perfect. Though it is still, in general, a happy ending, some of the outcome is quite surprising.