Last year, I re-read the first Sweet Valley High book, Double Love, and my mind was more or less blown. Was Jessica always so wicked? Were Ned and Alice Wakefield actually interesting? Had Enid Rollins always been such a horrible friend? (Oh, wait. That much I did know way back when.) The things I missed as a tween about the secret lives of the residents of Sweet Valley were eye-opening, and I couldn’t wait to dive into SVH #2 and crack my world open even wider.
And then I flat out flaked like Jessica Wakefield when Alice tells her to clean her room. (But seriously, get with it, Alice. J. Wake’s got way too much going on! She doesn’t have time for menial tasks like throwing away that pile of Hershey wrappers living under her bed when she’s got a school to rule!)
Fortunately, I woke up, smelled the Dairi Burger and got my priorities in order. I finally returned to Sweet Valley for Secrets, and it was amazing. And enlightening. And naturally, I have several thoughts.
Ken Matthews is the Most Interesting Man in the World (or the Most Interesting Boy in Sweet Valley)
Back in the day, I had a MAJOR thing for Ken Matthews. (Or as he was referred to in the early books, “Kenny Matthews.” Who knew? Certainly not me.) Thank God that Ken, his long legs and his thousand-watt smile still stand the test of time. Is he practically failing his classes? Sure. Are his jokes terrible? No more terrible than Elizabeth’s. But here’s the thing about Ken: he’s so charming and sexy that the whole school actually believes the rumor started by Lila Fowler that he has something going on with the 25-year-old French teacher, Ms. Dalton. And even better? When he finds out that Lila started the rumor, he refuses to go to the homecoming dance with her. That’s about as upstanding as a guy can get in Sweet Valley. I can’t wait to see what he’s up to next.
Jessica Wakefield: Fickle in Love
Remember how in Double Love Jessica was cruising around town letting Rick Andover call her Heaven, while doing everything in her power to steal Todd Wilkins from her twin sister, Elizabeth? (You dodged a bullet, Jess. Wilkins is blander than lowfat tapioca.) Now, like two days later, she’s just got to get that gorgeous Bruce Patman to take her to the homecoming dance or she’ll D-I-E because she’s been madly in love with him and his 1BRUCE1 license plate since freshman year. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT TO HER. Until the next guy comes along, I’m sure. ::::Crossing my fingers it’s Ken Matthews::::
The gossip system in Sweet Valley is FLAWED
Sweet Valley is just big enough to have its own university, but definitely small enough for everyone to know literally everyone else’s business, especially with Caroline Pearce at the helm of the gossip mill. Sooo…how did two years pass with no one knowing that drippy Enid was once a wild child who got stoned with her friend George and hit a little boy with a car? This goes to show how little everyone in town cares about anything Enid-related. (Don’t worry. Enid assures us that the little boy just got a little scuffed up. But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that Ronnie Edwards will never speak to her again if he finds out!!)
ENID ROLLINS IS SERIOUSLY THE WORST
This is what it’s like to be friends with Enid Rollins: You sit around while she obsessively talks about why the guy she’s kind of dating doesn’t like her or why he won’t like her anymore. Then she accuses you of stabbing her in the back when said guy finds out about her hidden past/criminal record and she treats you like you have the plague. But then another guy comes along and gives her the time of day and she’s like, “Oh, Liz, I knew you’d never really hurt me—you’re my best friend!” And if you’re Elizabeth Wakefield, you’re like, “Oh, Enid, I love you! Let’s go bake cookies.” And listen, I’m never going to bash anyone for wanting to bake cookies, but get with the program, Lizzie. Enid’s the worst. It’s time to find someone else to make cookies with. Try Jessica! She loves chocolate and she’s always up for a good time.
Burt Reynolds = The King of Cool?
When Todd reminds Elizabeth that she’s going to the dance with the most fantastic guy on the West Coast (full of yourself much, Wilkins?) Elizabeth responds with, ”Burt Reynolds is taking me to the dance?” Was Burt Reynolds the go-to cool guy in 1983, or is Liz Wakefield just really out of touch? Either way, Liz, keep it up. You’re a riot.
And of course, I had to take to the internet to check out Burt Reynolds in 1983 and, oh yeah. He was definitely the King of Cool.
Obviously, with this many a-ha moments bubbling to the surface, I have to keep going with my Sweet Valley re-reads. I have so many questions! What kind of games will Bruce and Jessica play on each other? What drama will my girl Lila Fowler stir up next? Will anyone out-cool Burt Reynolds? Doubtful. We’ll see what happens when I read SVH #3: Playing with Fire—and hopefully, this one will be less Enid-heavy.