Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal
Source: Received for review
Publication date: March 29, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars
Summary from Goodreads.com: Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.
I have to open up explaining that I was a die hard Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High fan. I still remember walking into a Waldenbooks and picking up Dear Sister, not realizing it was book 7 in the series of Sweet Valley High. I devoured it and immediately started going through all the books that were out in the series. At another trip to Waldenbooks I realized there was also the Sweet Valley Twins series and was so excited that I mowed through those as well. These books were instrumental in nurturing my love of reading as they had me running back to the book store so often and when I couldn’t find a new one I started picking up LJ Smith books, Baby-sitter’s Club, Christopher Pike, RL Stine and that was that. I absolutely loved reading.
While I never really got into the SVU books because I had moved on to adult books at that point I was still so excited when I heard that Francine Pascal was coming out with a ten years later book. I always wondered where the twins and their friends would end up so this book was a dream come true. Unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations. It is definitely geared to those who grew up with the twins but be ready for several shocks.
The story is told from alternating view points and flash backs of events that eventually lead up to what split the twins apart.
I had two main issues with the book. One was I felt like Pascal wasn’t really true to several of the character’s personalities. Yes, ten years have passed and people change but I feel like there are basic traits that are ingrained and will stay true even as people grow older. Probably about 80% of the book focuses on Elizabeth’s seething anger towards Jessica and how horrible Jessica is. I understand Elizabeth was heart broken and angry but the depth of her spite was really out of line with the Elizabeth we all know and love. There were a few other characters like Steven, the twins’ brother, who also was twisted into a character I almost didn’t recognize. From my memories of the books that involved him he was a caring guy and wonderful big brother. In this book he’s portrayed as a cheating jerk who doesn’t care that the entire town knows he’s not faithful to his wife.
My other big problem was the fact that so much of the book was taken up by Elizabeth’s anger that it was totally anti-climatic when you reach the end. Things are basically resolved within a few pages and you are left feeling like what just happened? I wished there would have been a little more easing into the ending so it didn’t seem so out of the blue.
I have to warn those who still have the picture of the relatively innocent twins in their heads that there are a couple shocking moments I could have done without. I did not need to hear about how Elizabeth cried after every orgasm or read about someone gazing at her “taut nipples”. It’s one thing if these sex scenes or references to sexual encounters contributed towards the story line but some of them just seemed thrown in because the author suddenly remembered this book is supposed to be geared towards adults and not young girls.
What is great about this book? It was fun to see which of the twins’ class mates ended up marrying each other, what they did with their lives and the last section of the book is basically a run down of a bunch of the characters and a short bio. We see favorites like Lila Fowler, Bruce Patman (and you will be shocked to see how Bruce turned out!), Winston Egbert, the gossip, Caroline Pearce, Todd Wilkins and even some of the more minor characters like Dee Wilson, Jeffrey French, etc.
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