Tuesday articles: Reviewing the reviewers
Tuesday Article: Anna Nicole Smith

Oh, eighth grade, you were good times.


You should know I was not always a nonfiction addict. Way back in the hallowed annals of time, I read all the fiction I could find--a lot of fantasy, a lot of novels, even some "classics." When I finally made it through the tunnel of misery that was my grade school experience, I found that the bigger school I went to for seventh and eighth grade was a wonderful haven where I could finally, finally meet some new people. Once I figured out I didn't have enough money to ever be one of the cool kids (this took a good chunk of seventh grade, but give me a break--some people never do figure it out) I realized I could act as nutty as I wanted and say whatever I pleased, which was very freeing. By the time I got to eighth grade, which was, as Frank Sinatra would sing, a very good year, I even had a best friend and sometimes got to stay over at her house.

Sweet I always had a good time at Christina's house, and one of my favorite things to do there was to wake up the next morning before anyone else was up and attack her hallowed shelf containing the entire Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal. I'm sure she would have just lent me any of the books, but somehow it was more fun just to try and plow through as many of them as I could in those quiet morning hours. Eighth grade was the very best of times.

So when I saw that good old Francine was publishing an adult novel titled Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, I HAD to get it. I knew it wasn't going to be any great shakes as literature (and boy, is it not), but I knew the nostalgia would be so, like, worth it.

And it was. I read the first hundred pages, and then skipped to the end and the epilogue that described what happened to all the Sweet Valley characters. I just laughed and laughed. I laughed so much that CRjr, who was playing on the floor next to me, kept looking over and raising his eyebrow (he can't get pincer grasp but he's been raising his eyebrow since birth--I'm so proud) like, what is the crazy old lady chortling about now? Well, this:

"Still, it was nothing like it would have been had it been Jessica. Instinctively, Todd knew that she was the true danger. But he planned never to get close enough to find out how dangerous she really was." (p. 20.)

Oh, Jessica Wakefield, you're so dangerous! And this:

"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..." (p. 29.)

No one, but no one, could describe gorgeous valley girls and boys (and they're all gorgeous in Sweet Valley) and their clothes like Francine Pascal. Who could ever forget Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, the twins with the perfect blonde hair, the blue-green eyes like the ocean, the perfect size sixes, and their matching gold lavalieres?

What's great about this book is it totally reflects what, as an eighth grader, you think adult life is going to be like (glamorous, full of romantic dilemmas, with not a money or health care worry in sight). I'm not going to tell you any of the story; if you read any SWH books in your youth you're going to enjoy finding it out yourselves too much. Have a great time. I know I did.