During my childhood reading years from fourth grade to second year high school (now called 8th grade in K-12 program), I was a rabid Sweet Valley fanatic. I always looked up to the life of the Sweet Valley kids. Most of the people I was drawn to as I grew older turned out to be SV fans themselves. I admired the Wakefield twins. I was more like Elizabeth but I wanted so badly to be as cool as Jessica and be part of the Unicorn Club with Lila Fowler. I think it actually affected me a lot as a kid. I looked up to these Sweet Valley kids a lot. I loved most of them and I kept imagining and daydreaming of being in that world. I remember holing up in La Consolacion’s elementary school library way after class hours just to read and borrow as many SV books as I can. Guessing from the dilapidated condition of the books, it was clear that the series was definitely a hit during my time.
In high school, I even remember exceeding my sleeping curfew just to watch the SVH TV series. It was not as good as the books, but I practically and religiously watched them. I was even disappointed with the casting because I kind of expected a more gorgeous set of blonde twins.
So it’s small wonder when I was completely frantic in seeing a far-flung sequel from Francine Pascal on the lives of my favorite Wakefield twins. I first saw the cover in SM Valenzuela National Bookstore last December 2011. “Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later” with a red background and traces of the twins’ signature blonde hair. It was expensive so I did not buy it then.
I never forgot about it. Until one day, I had my bonding with my bestfriend from my previous job. As we pigged out on Boni High Street, I ransacked her iPad Mini and found it there!!! I immediately had it emailed to me and I read it for most of the night’s remainder.
It took me one sitting to go through the thick book. It’s unsettling to read. There are many unexpected turns especially on Stephen Wakefield. He became a lawyer and so much more… Mechanically speaking, it may not be well-written or well-edited compared to other books I’ve grown to love as an adult.
But it “completed” my reading life or a certain phase of my reading life. Also, it was the one SV book written by Francine Pascal herself. It turned out that the old books were written by other people even though it had Francine’s name all over it.
It felt good to know that a certain series grew old with me. They are also in their twenties already in the Confidential sequel. It felt like catching up with a long lost childhood friend.
By my current reading standards, I won’t give it a five-star rating. But I just knew that I had to read it, regardless. Apparently, Francine Pascal wrote six novellas regarding the SV people’s adult lives, beginning with Confidential. I managed to get three, so I am still looking for the other three to complete my final reading regimen for this series. As a kid, I was unable to afford the books. But I endured waiting in line at the library for my turn to borrow each title. As an adult, I may be able to afford it but due to the not-so-stellar writing, I opted to just read it from my Lenovo tablet in digital format.
Reading it was good in the sense that it served as benchmark of my literary reading exploits, that it marked an era of my reading life that finally has full closure as the characters aged with me. I began with Sweet Valley as a little girl and continued to dig in the world of words as an urban young professional woman. For all its limitations, I continue to thank this series for introducing me to the world of words and helping me stay there…