Oh my, it’s Sweet Valley High (and other ’80s books)

Sweet Valley High returned to bookstores in the US this week with a where-are-they-now style sequel, Sweet Valley Confidential.

As Shannon – author of *ahem* Shannon’s Sweet Valley High blog (no word of a lie – click the link and see for yourself) heralds:

“This is it, folks. The day we’ve all been waiting for. The day we find out exactly why Elizabeth Wakefield left Sweet Valley and why she cries when she orgasms.”


The new book, Sweet Valley Confidential, takes place ten years after the high school series, and now the quintessential Californian twins and their pals are in their late twenties and. Having. SEX. I know, right?

Here’s what author Francine had to say about the revisited book series:

This is the first time in history that a kids’ book has made the leap into adulthood. And it’s a very difficult thing because the people who used to read the books are people of importance, they’re grown adults, and they have a certain ownership of ‘Sweet Valley’ because it was their adolescence. With the new book I hoped not to outrage them and I don’t think I have. But I think I have surprised them in a lot of ways and I hope I have touched them.”

There’ll be no touching of me, strange author lady! Anyway, seeing Sweet Valley trending on Twitter last week made me have a good ol’ reminisce about the books I used to devour during my pre-teen years. I was definitely a geeky book worm as a kid, and would spend ages in the local library or WH Smith book section,  quietly consuming novel after novel.

So here’s a list of the book series (Wait! What’s the plural of ‘series’? Series’s? Serieses? Serious? Oh hang on, it’s simply ‘series’. Okay. As you were…) that I used to read growing up in the late eighties.

And don’t worry, I’m not going to waffle on and bore you with tales from my yoof, as that’d be the virtual equivalent of excitedly showing you my holiday snaps while your eyes glaze over and your thoughts turn to killing yourself – there’s nothing more boring. Luckily for you, my memory is also incredibly shit so I can’t recall that much about them, anyway.

Sweet Valley Twins (by Francine Pascal)

I was more a fan of the Sweet Valley series before the gals went to high school and remember being inspired by Jessica to start my very own club; a club that pissed all over her band of ‘Unicorns’. It was called… ‘Kylierama’ – yes a clever merging of ‘Kylie’ and ‘Banarama’ (you’re impressed, I can tell) – and we used to choreograph out-of-sync dance routines in the school playground. I also remember having a ‘heated discussion’ (oh alright, I threw myself on the carpeted floor in a full-on tantrum) with my mum in the middle of C&A, aged nine as I wanted to wear head-to-toe purple, just like Jessica. Funnily enough, I’ve yet to grow out of wearing stupid, themed clothing, see Exhibit A

The Babysitters Club (by Ann M. Martin)

The bookshelves in my room were lined with the entire collection of BSC brick-printed covers- I fucking LOVED this series. I took to dotting my ‘i’s with hearts like Stacey and remember heading straight to Tammy Girl to purchase a pair of yellow parrot earrings just like Claudia’s. Bit gutted I chucked those out now, actually, as ‘novelty’ accessories are de rigueur for SS/’11.

[Note: I’m now starting to realise where my obsession with forming clubs and girly gangs derived from, what with the bloody Unicorns and BSC – I’d like to think the Le Blow ladies are a grown-up extension of this… yeah, alright then…]

Ramona (by Beverly Cleary)

Now that I think about it, Ramona Quimby was an annoying little bitch, wasn’t she? Bit of a mischievous pain in the arse, really. But I read all the books, regardless. I remember the TV series more clearly, if I’m honest and recall Ramona’s hair being akin to Natalie Portman’s nifty black bob in Léon. I also wanted this hairstyle, but alas, The Mothership insisted I kept my bum-length, poker straight tresses au natrurel (earning me the hilarious nickname ‘Curly Sue’ – amongst unmentionable others – at school).

Flossie Teacake (by Hunter Davies)

What can I say? I’m pretty sure this is where I got my penchant for (faux) fur coats and sneaking out to the pub when underage. I blame Flossie bloody Teacake (best name in the world, by the way).

Scrambled Legs (by Jahnna N. Malcolm)

With titles such as ‘We Hate Ballet!’ ‘Drat! We’re rats!‘ and ‘The Battle of the Bunheads‘, this was my geeky way of quietly revolting against my thrice weekly dance lessons as a child. Rumours that Black Swan was inspired by this series of ballet books have yet to be confirmed. But I reckon it was.

Sisters (by Marilyn Kaye)

I recall reading this series but can’t remember much about the sisters themeselves. They must have been a boring bunch of bitches then, eh? It was Ilana Fox who reminded me of the series in the first place – go read her post instead.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal will be available in the UK on April 14th by Arrow Books, £6.99.

– Natalie Wall

  • Comments

  • avatar

    Ah, I was strictly a Judy Blume girl. Actually, I was an Enid Blyton girl til the age of 12 when my English teacher politely suggested in my report that I might like to broaden my scope.

    • avatar

      Had Ms Blume on the list… but then my OCD kicked in and I removed her on the grounds that she didn’t *strictly* write an ongoing series of books (…did she?). Slightly annoyed at myself now. Ah-ha yes – Enid Blyton too. Falls into the same category as the Bunty comic, remember that?!

  • avatar

    OMG Miss Wall…I loooved SVH…SO wanted to be Jessica, wanted to be Stacey from The Babysitters Club (from NYC but without the diabetes) Bella from Flossie Teacake (tall glam and scary) and Aunt Bea from Ramona (she drove a yellow corvette)
    In the “Sisters” books there were 4 sisters – just like me…I wanted to be Cassie – she was always in trouble for overspending on Mom’s credit card at the mall. ( There was most definately no mall in my sleepy Hertfordshire village cica1990…but I could dream dammit)

    • avatar

      Ha ha! “Stacey but without the diabetes”!! Was it any wonder we befriended each other, Miss Laws? Balenciaga handbag or not… 😉

  • avatar

    I used to tell people my name was Jessica I loved SVH that much. Always hated Elizabeth though so sensible as she was. Especially as she get older and she still refused to sleep with Todd…

    • avatar

      Ha ha ha, this comment (and the post itself!) made me laugh. She was a pious bitch wasn’t she. But at least she didn’t paint her bedroom brown…

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