So how big of a nerd am I? Pretty big, my teenage friends. Pretty damn big .So big that when my brand spanking new copies of the revised-and-updated-for-the- ipod-generation Sweet Valley High volumes 1 & 2 came from the publisher (yeah, sometimes it’s kinda cool being an unpaid teen book blogger—you do get some freebies), the first thing I did was run right over to my living room bookshelf and pull down my copies of the original versions, circa 1983 to compare. Yes, dear readers, I am the proud owner of the first 100 original SVH paperbacks, collected through the years from friends and second hand bookstores. When I was in 7th grade, my best friend Amy H. had the whole series sitting pretty on her white painted bookshelf in her huge canopied bed-bedroom, and to exorcise my adolescent envy of that unbroken line of perfect paperbacks (Amy was VERY neat), I was determined to hunt down my own set. Were they completely unrealistic and unapologetically soap opera-ish? Absolutely, but there was just something so reassuring about those perfectly turned out teenage sisters, their wholesome school and agreeable family—Elizabeth was good and Jessica was bad, and you could take that to the bank. Plus, you have to remember, this was 1983. YA literature was in a rut. There weren’t a million and one chick lit series to choose from like there are now. It felt like me and my friends graduated right from Beverly Cleary to Danielle Steel and V.C. Andrews. So, what’s the verdict on the new girls? Well, from just a casual perusal, SVH appears to be just as cheesy and squeaky clean as I remember. Now sixteen year old California twins Jessica and Elizabeth have cell phones, drive a red Jeep Wrangler instead of a Fiat, and Elizabeth maintains a blog as well as writing for SVH’s website. But Elizabeth is still pining for captain of the basketball team Todd Wilkins, and Jessica is still chasing anything in pants. Of course, nothing too sexy ever happens in Sweet Valley. In Double Love, when Jessica accidentally gets in over her pretty little head with SVH dropout Rick Andover, a notorious playa, the cops conveniently show up before Jessica’s virtue is threatened. I know, too tame for you, right? But if your little sister keeps stealing your Gossip Girl books and she’s already read all of the Clique, throw these shiny new paperbacks her way. They oughta hold her—at least until the next Clique comes out. And who knows? Maybe she’ll grow to love good old Jessica, Elizabeth, Enid, Todd, Bruce, and the rest of SVH gang as much as me and my Gen-X compatriots did. Now that you’ve traveled down nostalgia lane with me, I’d love it if you would post YOUR memories of your fav series from when you were a kid.
Sweet Valley High Series, 2008 by Francine Pascal