From the time I was merely a pre-teen I was fascinated with California and the well, sunny lifestyle. Even though I lived in North Carolina most of my life, thousands of miles away, my imagination could be taken away to the shores of Sweet Valley, with Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, the twin sisters who captivated millions of young readers. Francine Pascal’s ability to create this series for young readers and young women was amazing and very much in tune with some everyday obstacles that young people face. I think that the relation to the story lines is why the series was and still is, such a hit.
The beginning series of Sweet Valley Kids depicts the twins and their friends in many funny and sometimes mysterious stories. I did not read that many of these, but they are very delightful for young readers. I actually first began reading the Sweet Valley series in the Sweet Valley Twins series. The twins were in Middle School and many different pre-teen issues were in each novel. From making the cheerleading sqaud to losing a loved on, the series was a great way for pre-teens to connect to story lines. There were also Thriller and Super Thriller editions.
As I grew older, I continued to follow the Sweet Valley series. The books were so enticing and exciting for a young girl to read, from Double Love, the first book in the series to later on Super Thrillers, such as The Evil Twin. I would even re-read these books twice or even three times. The characters in the books became more dynamic. Elizabeth still was the studious, more down to earth twin, where as Jessica was the free-spirited and often found herself in more than one “scrapes” that Elizabeth had to help her out of. The friends included the rich and spoiled Lila Fowler, quiet and smart Enid Rollins, Bruce Patman, Todd Wilkins and many more beloved characters that made the series complete. The main characters even had personal books titled after them, such as Lila’s Story, which really gave the reader a closer look at who the character was deep down. The real life dilemmas such as drug addiction, fitting in, divorce made the stories so realistic. These books were so enthralling I collected nearly every single one of them from the early oval shaped covers to the new editions.
Later on another series came out, Sweet Valley University which tells the lives of yet again Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield as they make their way into adulthood and their college years. These series were just as interesting and addictive as well. From endless relationships and super suspenseful situations, Sweet Valley University set the scene for older readers who had followed the series for years.
Not only were the books a hit, there also was a hit TV series. The series was of course about mainly Jessica and Elizabeth, with many similar attributes as the books. However to understand and enjoy the series better the books were much more detailed. In edition there was a board game created by Milton Bradley also which was enjoyable for the beloved fans. Finally there was even dolls made of Elizabeth and Jessica, these dolls are rare, and can be found only online on sites such as ebay and amazon.
Sweet Valley was a place that I wanted to live and be a part of; as funny as it seems now, at 33 I still want an old copy of my favorite book to reread or simply have to give to my own daughter one day. The books can still be bought at bookstores or you can find them in wholesales lots on ebay as well. Some of the older books are rare and very hard to find as well. The endless drama, laughs, hardships and success of the series made the series unforgettable to many of us beloved fans.