Saturday, December 31, 2022

Double Love by Francine Pascal


Oh, Sweet Valley. You were Young Me's dramatic fix, scratching an itch that wouldn't be scratched until I discovered Asian dramas and bodice-rippers years and years later. There was a point in my life where I tried to wear one purple thing every day, just like Jessica, because I wanted to be an honorary "Unicorn." And even though Jessica was the pretty, popular, fashionable one, Elizabeth was the one I wanted to be friends with, because she wanted to be a writer and loved to read-- just like me.

I recently bought books 1-12 bundled on Kindle for, like, $1.99, which is a pretty sweet deal (maybe even a Sweet Valley deal? LOL). I read a lot of the elementary and middle school-set ones, but DOUBLE LOVE was the only Sweet Valley High book I ever read, maybe because my parents thought they would be too spicy for middle grade me? This book was honestly pretty wild, like a teenage soap opera-- a dangerous older guy who takes minors for underage drinking, a family of drug addicts, and lying about sexual assault to get revenge on guys rejecting you? And people think this series is wholesome and old-fashioned. LOL.

I don't want to say too much about this book because spoilers, and there really isn't a solid plot except for drama, but the gist of this book is: Elizabeth and Todd like each other but aren't going out with each other because of misunderstandings (most of them named Jessica) and the fact that they're both spineless weasels who are afraid of confrontation and that includes confronting each other. The other main plot thread is that Jessica is a sociopath and a pathological liar who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and those things that she wants mostly include a) whatever her sister has that she doesn't and b) boys, the more the better, especially if they are effusive in their admiration.

Compared to a lot of teen books written by middle-aged ladies, this one felt more "teen" than most, although there is an overuse of the word "terrific" and "golly-gee"-type sentiments, and I was a little surprised that this high school also has sororities (was that a thing?? do high schools have sororities and rush weeks?). I also had an "lol" moment where they go to a burger place for "clams and milkshakes." What is this, New England? Who are these teens going to the malt shop for seafood? Is this burger joint owned by Wolfgang Puck? Sweet Valley seems to be a Santa Monica-inspired town so maybe Wolfgang has a summer home there where he cooks for the Fowlers and the Patmans on weekends, I don't know. But what I do know is that this is glorious trash and it's reinforced why I liked it so much as a kid.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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