Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Secret secrets are no fun, secret secrets hurt someone"

I decided to take a break from my "serious adult reading" and read the recently donated "serious teen reading" Sweet Valley High: Secrets.
I didn't really get into the Sweet Valley High series -- by the time I was old enough to read them, I wasn't interested (college is a different story). I did read about 30 or so of the Sweet Valley Twins series in grade school. Actually, I am embarrassed to admit I was probably in 5th or 6th grade still reading SVT, while I noticed today that when I cracked open Secrets, it's recommended for ages 12 and up. Alright, I was a bit immature back then and still wanted to be a member of the unicorn club, ok?!

This title was the second in the SVH series following the lives of beautiful California twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (I recall each SVT book was required at some point to mention their tanned skin, sunkissed hair, eyes as blue as swimming pools) as they navigate the turbulent waters of teen life at Sweet Valley High. I found Secrets to be particularly dull as it spent most of its 118 pages chronicling the break-up of secondary characters Enid and Ronnie after Jessica gives Ronnie a copy of a letter from Enid's ex-boyfriend (discussing how they used "bennies" and once hit a kid with their car!) and instead of being upset with Enid's drug abusing, kid running over past, Ronnie is jealous that she's still communicating with her ex! At the same time there is a rumor going around started by that bitch Lila Fowler that their French teacher is having an affair with the student she tutors after school. This is some scandalous shiz for a 12-year-old!
I thought a more appropriate title for this book would have been Gossip, since that was going on throughout, and I was more than half way through when I remembered that it was about secrets instead: Enid's secret past, the fact that she was keeping it a secret from her jerky boyfriend, and Jessica secretly copying the letter and letting Elizabeth take the rap. Oh yeah, the reason why Jessica is trying to ruin Enid's life is because she doesn't want her sister Elizabeth to have any other friends and Jessica wants to be crowned queen of the dance so that she can be with hunky Bruce Patman.
I was only 5-years-old when this book came out, and I find the language and descriptions even embarrassing for back then -- the teachers "sock it to (them)" with homework, outdated references to E.T. and the Boston Strangler, and the clothing descriptions! The lead singer of the Droids (SV's "answer to the Rolling Stones" with a female lead?) is all decked out in "black velvet jeans, sparkly pink leg warmers over the jeans and a purple satin top." Yes, I think I turned out fine for having skipped this series during my formative years.
On a scale of squeaky clean teen fun, Sweet Valley High: Secrets is more badass than staying out past your curfew since Jessica actually gets into some wine(!), but not as hardcore as, say crushing up Smarties candy and snorting it like cocaine off of your desk during recess.
Not recommended for: adults with a reading level above 6th grade, or today's teen, who probably doesn't know who E.T. or the Boston Stranger are.

1 comment:

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