I'll be generous and say it's been five years since I picked up a Sweet Valley book of any permutation. As Elizabeth and Jessica entered sixth grade, eleventh grade, twelfth grade, you can bet I was right there beside them. Just a bit younger.
When you're in high school, you're far too cool to read about fictitious characters of your age who are, in fact, leading much cooler lives than you. But when you're in middle and elementary school, you need your idols.
Even at age eleven, I could sense that the Sweet Valley twins were ridiculous, implausible. Universally beloved, stunningly beautiful, seamlessly slipping in and out of trouble? Yeah, okay.
At least the junior high version made passes at educational moments. Once the twins hit high school, all they wanted to do was make out with boys who were "in a word: perfect." All the time. And occasionally help their friends who had "real problems."
But I read on anyway. I knew it would all end in a hot mess (or an earthquake--spoiler alert), but I couldn't look away.
Now I can pretend that I'm re-reading these books as research. Learning what works and doesn't work in Young Adult fiction. But let's be honest: I really want to see if they still hold that hot mess magic.
There are many lulz-tastic lines that Flo and I read out loud to each other from our respective couches ("Why can't life be like football?" "He looked through her. Into her."). But instead of tossing the books down in disgust, we're flying through. Fact-checking ("I thought Conner and Elizabeth's first kiss was in the hall after she read the poem about him." "Nope, it was in the car."). Frightening ourselves with the fact that crazy Melissa Fox is, in fact, similar to girls we know.
We judge ourselves a bit. But the magic lasts: we keep reading.
|And you know it's true.|