Catching Up With Jessica and Elizabeth: Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later
I started reading the new Sweet Valley High book last night, and oh my god I love it I hate it I love it I hate it. It’s unexpectedly stirring — you can feel it in your heart, this fluttering memory of caring about Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, and aren’t we all Elizabeths? Did anyone identify with Jessica? Oh you sluts! Just kidding, somewhat, because Jessica, what is wrong with you?! but I’m getting ahead of myself — but the book’s main problem is that Jessica, what is wrong with you?!
The thing she does to Elizabeth — the drama that provides the book’s foundation — is so ridiculously evil I don’t even know where to begin. And the ease with which she started doing that thing? Ugh, I could kill this girl.
OK so in case you haven’t heard, Sweet Valley High is back (you can read chapter one here), and it’s 10 years later, meaning the twins are 27 and so is everyone they grew up with (Lila Fowler/Enid Rollins OMG, etc.), which means the book’s being marketed to us and not pre-teens. Us being women who read SVH as kids and feel fondly (or deeply, surprisingly hateful) toward the characters, and who might get a thrill out of hearing Jessica and Elizabeth describe their wines and their orgasms, both of which they enjoy liberally. It’s kind of like running into someone super-pretty you went to high school with and discovering that they’ve become even more beautiful than they used to be (nooo!), but that they’ve got a shitty job/life, so phew. (Do you guys do that? Where inside you’re an asshole? Well don’t even worry, because there’s no way you’re as much of an asshole as Jessica “Lizzie pick up the pho-one” Wakefield, but does that surprise you? No. No, Jessica, I saw this coming even back in the day. You’re dead to me.)
Anyway, I’m only about halfway through because I got so mad at someone in the book that I had to fall asleep, but here are a few fun parts from the first 150 pages (it’s about 300 long).
Oh, and quick backstory — Elizabeth’s living in New York and working at some awful theater magazine while Jessica’s living it up as a total B in Sweet Valley and doing PR.
The dialogue can be kind of hilarious/it’s a Sweet Valley book. For instance, Page 28 (and spoiler alert):
Todd interrupted her misery. “Come on, Jess. I’m not saying it wasn’t horrendous what we did, it was a terrible betrayal that we’ll have to live with. Nothing is going to change that. So what should we do now? Break up?”
Burn in hell. Also, does anyone else remember Lila Fowler more vividly than actual friends she used to spend time with? Here’s where Lila’s at right now, and it’s so good. Page 29:
Lila Fowler was no different than she had been in high school. Still the same light brown wavy hair — only now it was ironed flat and streaked blond — hazel brown eyes, a perfect little figure, and just as rich and snobby as ever. Lila had never really changed, never grown, and now all she had left was her old cheerleader uniform. (Ed. note: huh?) She’d done nothing with her life so far other than drop out of college in her third year. She’d spent a few months trying to get work as a model, but when the agencies didn’t scoop her up immediately, she gave up and went back to plying her natural talent as a shopper and a flirt. It was like the good old days, and Elizabeth said it made her feel popular, just like in high school.
Lila, her perfect body delectable in the shortest shorts possible and a salmon-colored silk halter top loose enough to slide lightly over her just right, slightly augmented, perky braless breasts, answered the door with shrieks of delight and surprise.
I ❤ u, u bitch!
On page 43, this is just an amusing full sentence:
And page 44:
All she could remember now was how much they had hated each other, Jessica and Todd. They hardly spoke. They weren’t even Facebook friends.
Kind of funny, but to be fair the book actually does an impressive job of inserting social media/technology/modern signifiers in a not-too-heavy-handed way. Mostly. Stay tuned for something a few inches down, though.
Elizabeth remembered a cartoon of a couple sitting in a restaurant in New York: The man wants to call the waiter, who is across the room. He lifts his hand and calls out, “Actor! Actor!”
Haha. I don’t know. Let’s just keep going.
His smile was nothing like Todd’s. Except — on closer look — for the slightly crooked fucking front tooth.
F word siren!
Okay, there were fun parts. Like that he is fabulously handsome — dark hair, charcoal eyes, a great body — and very young-looking for forty-two. And with his wealth and brains he’s extremely powerful, which is very sexy. And I love the parties and the private planes and yachts and all that stuff. Like, who wouldn’t?
Which is hilarious (the book’s narrative goes forward and back in time, shifting from first to third person), and guess whose thoughts those were? Yeah. She thinks with “like” and “so” a bunch. As in, she so thinks, like, with “like” and “so” a bunch.
Page 97, more Jessica:
I like dancing, hangin’ out, fooling around. Even updating Twitter would be more exciting, if only I had something interesting to say.
And then my other notes are a little too spoilery/vague (“Page 130, jess u cunt”), even though so are all the other things above. I’m enjoying this book, but it fills me with rage.