26th Jul 2010
Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal
There are certain books from my childhood that every girl my age will remember. Depending on how ‘cool’ you were (as much as any ten year old can be ‘cool’), there were two series to suit the discerning pre-teen: The Baby-Sitters Club (snooze), and Sweet Valley Twins. A spin-off from the widely-successful Sweet Valley High books, Sweet Valley Twins was definitely the ‘cool’ kids’ choice. Chronicling the middle-school years of California-based, identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, the series comprised over 200 books by the time it disappeared from our bookshelves.
With hindsight, it was fantastically terrible and riddled with cringe-inducing clichés: Elizabeth, the older twin, was conscientious and hard-working, always did the right thing and held the moral high ground. Jessica, “two minutes younger”, was devil-may-care, superficial and popular. They were both “blessed” with blonde hair, blue-green eyes and year-round tans. The rest of the family consisted of mischievous but protective elder brother Steven, and cool, youthful, understanding parents. Elizabeth dated walking snore Todd, and Jessica was romanced by loveable jock Aaron. So far, so vomire.
Yet, somehow, these books managed to be the literary equivalent of kiddie-crack. On our far-too-frequent-for-my-mum’s-liking trips to the bookshop, my sister and I would hunt down the newest tome, the missing volumes, the rare specials with hunger. We would tear them open and start reading before our long-suffering mother had even paid for them, and on more than one occasion, we would have finished the last page by the time we returned home (at this point, my darling mother attempted to re-acquaint us with the pauper’s best friend, the library). Identifying just what it was about these saccharine-saturated, far-fetched, melodramatic stories that so engaged us is a task I’ve long given up on: they were just plain great. The Unicorn Club, the sixth grade paper Elizabeth edited (The Sixers), the colour schemes of the twins’ separate bedrooms: I remember it all vividly.
Once we’d exhausted the entire Sweet Valley Twins catalogue, it made perfect sense to move on to the Sweet Valley High series, yet it just wasn’t the same, and as pre-teen wholesome enthusiasm turned into snarling hormones and fledgling lust, our interest in the twins’ escapades waned. A brief foray into the 90′s TV series momentarily reignited our affection, but the books have long since been relegated to Mum’s dusty attic. However, a chance conversation a few weeks ago revealed that not only is a film adaptation of Sweet Valley High being made, but a new series detailing the twins’ lives in their late twenties is also being released! Expect to find me first in line for both…
You can pick up Sweet Valley Twins books on Amazon for only a penny!
Post by Annette Barlow