Sweet Valley Redux

When I was a kid, I used to read the Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal. Lo and behold, they’re back! Okay, so I’m not actually confident that Pascal is writing the series again since Sweet Valley Confidential reads like a standalone novel. Either way, I enjoyed this super-quick trip down memory lane.

Yes, the Wakefield twins are back, but they’re no longer the goofy high schoolers they were when I left them. They’re women (women who are younger than me, despite the fact that as teenagers they were older than me — an odd side effect of fictional time) with lovers, careers, and a rift in their relationship.

It has, admittedly, been almost two decades since the last time I indulged in Pascal’s writing, so I’m not really sure how I think this newest addition to the Sweet Valley saga measures up. I’ll say that the prose was somewhat clunky in places (many of which have to do with the use of the word “like” in Jessica’s narration — I understand the valley-girl lingo Pascal’s going for, but I don’t think it’s working…the placement of the “likes” is, like, awkward, you know?), but that the plot was interesting enough to compel me through the novel. I can’t leave out the fact that these characters are characters I loved as an adolescent, and that also made this a genuinely fun read. Plus, as a twenty-something living far from my own personal Sweet Valley (sans mega-tiff with the sib), and as someone who always empathized with Elizabeth more than Jessica, this book spoke directly to my own struggles with living far from home and all that is familiar and comfortable. All in all, I enjoyed it.

GOOD FOR: Fans of the original Sweet Valley High series, homesick twenty- and thirty-something women living/adventuring in a new place, and any woman who’s ever been in a spat with a best friend/sister.

BAD FOR: Haters of chick flicks & chick lit, anyone currently going through a bad breakup or feeling betrayed by a sister or sister figure, “The Other Woman” (at least, if you’re plagued with guilt over being said “Other Woman”).

COMPATIBLE WITH: The Peach Keeper, Juliet, Naked, and Spooky Little Girl.

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