SPOILER ALERT: I TALK ABOUT THE ENDING!
Once upon a time, I was a bored 5th grader in the school library, looking for a way to pass the upcoming weekend. I was too old for the kiddie books, but not quite ready for a substantial read. The school librarian at the time recommended that I read a Sweet Valley High book, and as they say, the rest is history.
All throughout middle school and high school, I was a complete bookworm. More often than not, the book in my hands was from the Sweet Valley High series. I simply loved them. I grew to love the twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, like they were my real-life friends. I followed their adventures through school, boyfriends, girl-fights, etc and when I finally did outgrow them, I was happy to see that a television show had been created around them. My little sisters watched the TV show and I would occasionally catch myself watching them. Apparently, there are some things you never outgrow!
When I was presented with the opportunity to review Francine Pascal’s follow up to the series, Sweet Valley Confidential, I was beside myself with excitement.
Then I read it. It broke my heart.
The plot is this: The girls are all grown up – 27 years old. They still live in Sweet Valley, CA. Jessica has an affair and ultimately steals Elizabeth’s fiance. Elizabeth flies off to the first job she can land in New York to escape.
She struggles with her broken heart. She cries a lot. Jessica begs her for forgiveness. She is madly in love with the guy – Todd, if you remember him from the series – and won’t give him up.
Jessica is still the same selfish bitch she always was, but now it’s on a larger scale. She’s a grown up bitch with grown up actions, which let’s face it, adults are capable of doing much worse things than teenagers.
Elizabeth? She’s exactly the same as we remember her. She’s sweet, innocent…but this horrendous thing that Jessica has done, it’s changed her. I grew excited as I read how she was finally growing a pair and standing up to Jessica.
The story shows how Jessica is guilty, sorry, but unwilling to give up her lover because she has finally found true love and just isn’t willing to lose it. Elizabeth vows never to forgive and refuses to speak to her. She plots revenge. She attempts to go on with her life.
And then…she sees Jessica at a family gathering. All hell breaks loose. Then Jessica flies to New York and apologizes. Elizabeth met a guy. She feels better. Realizes she wasn’t in love with Todd anymore anyway. She misses her twin.
And all is forgiven.
WHAT. THE. EFF?!
I hate to say this, but I hated the book. I hated the endless attempts to humanize Jessica through showing that she just couldn’t help herself, she was just too selfish…every passage that – I can only assume – Pascal used to try to gain sympathy for Jessica just made me hate her even more.
I was disgusted that Elizabeth forgave Jessica. I was horrified that she was her maid of honor.
Honestly? I wish I hadn’t read it. I’ve always had such pleasant memories of the Wakefield twins. Now, as far as I am concerned, that image has been ruined.
The book created a monster out of Jessica and a complete and utter moron out of Elizabeth.
The only positive thing to come from reading this book is that I must say, it was awfully creative of Pascal to come back to the twins after all of these years. She wrote these characters as though no time had passed…and she had no problem bringing them back to life, and bringing me back to my teenage years, when I would devour those books within an afternoon. I read it, cover to cover, in one evening.
Have you read the Sweet Valley Confidential? Did you enjoy it or were you as unhappy with the ending as I was?
I received a copy of Sweet Valley Confidential in order to facilitate my review. All opinions are unbiased.