the best friends you’ll never have

Sweet Valley Confidential, the long-awaited “reunion” book for the Sweet Valley High universe, came out this week, a cause for much excitement for twenty- and thirty-somethings who grew up with Liz and Jess.

Shockingly to some, Sweet Valley was never my thing. I started with BSC at age six, and I think my mom felt that I was too young for Sweet Valley High, too advanced a reader for Kids, and dear god just look at all the spinny racks of Francine Pascal; I AM ALREADY LINING ANN M. MARTIN’S COFFERS EVERY MONTH. CHOOSE ONE. So I think the number of SV books I ended up reading adds up to less than ten.

I bought Sweet Valley Confidential anyway, because I needed some light reading on my Kindle, I’m running out of trashy celebrity tell-alls, and Meg Cabot’s new book isn’t out until the middle of the month. (SO excited for Abandon!) I actually haven’t finished reading it yet, because having never really been a fan, it’s just not as much as a page-turner for me as it for those who grew up wanting to be size six blonde beauties with eyes the color of the California ocean. Or alternatively, Lila Fuckin’ Fowler. Anyway, I am only like a third or so of the way through, which is unusual for me because in third grade my teacher called me a liar because I read faster than she did.

The question that SVC brings up for me, of course, is whether such a book would work for the BSC. We already have the The Summer Before, which I think works okay as a prequel, even though I don’t like how it messed with canon a bit. Ann has pretty much categorically denied that there will ever be a book featuring the Sitters after eighth grade graduation, but she also had, in the past, said that there won’t be ANY new books featuring the girls, and we got The Summer Before, so let’s examine the possbilities and the logistics.

A book like Confidential, with the girls aged ten years or so? I honestly have a hard time seeing it work, and wouldn’t even really want it. I like that we can explore our own ideas for the girls’ futures in fan fiction, and it’s not set in stone that so and so got married/divorced/had babies/came out/became an executive/became a ne’er do well who never moved out of his parents’ basement (Hi, Logan!). Also, frankly, I don’t really see Ann has an adult/chick lit writer, or even a writer for an older YA audience. I don’t think she’s really a writer who wants to deal with sex, drugs, alcohol, and more adult topics. I think she handled more “adult” storylines deftly in Main Street, but in a PG fashion. I just don’t see her wanting to introduce adulthood to the BSC.

I can see a Confidential-type book working, however, for California Diaries. It would be THE BEST THING EVER. Bring in Peter Lerangis to write it! The CD books were always more adult than BSC, and touched on issues in a way that would shock the shit out of Stoneybrook. So yes, bring on Palo City Confidential!

I do think that a BSC-in-High School book or miniseries would work. Maybe bring Stoneybrook up to Palo City-levels of issues beyond “Wow, why do all of the parents in Stoneybrook suck?” Bring in a little bit of sex and controversy, just not as much as in the adult lives as our Sweet Valley friends. This is, I think, the most likely scenario for any kind of BSC reunion book.

Ann has said that she has no plans to write a reunion book, and prefers that readers are able to imagine the girls’ future themselves. But she had also said that she would never write a new BSC book of any kind, and we ended up with The Summer Before anyway. Sweet Valley Confidential seems to be doing pretty well, if the excitement across the non-fandom blogosphere is any indication. Scholastic might take note of the possible very large dollar signs. The problem with The Summer Before is that it is very much a book aimed at middle grade readers. Parents who were fans as children might want to buy it for their kids, kids might be interested in it, and super diehard nostalgists might want it, but it’s not something that most adults would buy for themselves. Whereas Sweet Valley Confidential appeals to both teenage readers who weren’t around for SVH the first time around AND to readers who are now adults, who are ok with reading a trashy novel about people in their own age group. While a book about high schoolers isn’t quite the same thing, I can see people wanting to know what happened to the girls once they finally graduated from eighth grade, after a sisyphean thirteen-year run.

What do you think of the BSC’s reunion book possibilities?

8 Responses To This Post

Subscribe to this post comment rss or trackback url
Tintin LaChance said, April 7th, 2011 at 8:25 am

I’m suddenly completely gung-ho for the possibility of California Diaries continuations. I never liked them as much as the BSC books–CD were significantly less substantial, and even at 11, I thought the issues felt kind of pasted on–but I really, really like Ducky. And I’d like to see some more of his gay-shame little face. Pretty much everyone else, I could take or leave.

I’m pretty much okay with never having a reunion book, but I have imagined so many scenarios for their lives growing up that I’d rather just play with that. It’d be more fun, IMO, to take a few of the charges/Mallory’s siblings/whoever and focus on them a few years older. Then the babysitters could appear in a very tangential way, but you could have the New Adventures of Vanessa Pike or something. Of course, that’d probably be a hard sell to the non-obsessive public, but it’d be a fairly neat compromise: it’s in the future, but exactly what everyone’s doing in their late teens/early twenties is still kind of murky.

Eowyn said, April 11th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

OK this has nothing to do with what Greer is asking but since she mentioned the Sweet Valley books I just had to get this off my chest. I suspect the main reason the Wakefield twins were always described as being 5’6″ was to establish the fact that they were above average in height but not so tall that they would be (gasp!) taller than their dates. Why the books always mentioned their dress size is unclear to me.

greer said, April 12th, 2011 at 7:35 pm

@Eowyn, did you read the new book? In it they are described as basically the most beautiful women who ever beautifuled. Blech. And I think you have a point about their heights.

I think that whole thing may have been why Sweet Valley held little attraction for me, even with the juicy storylines. Sure, we can assume that everyone apartment from Sturdy Mallory was reasonably good-looking, but it wasn’t as much as a plot point as in SVH. And as a very awkward kid/teen, I think I appreciated that.

@Tintin: I was eleven when CD came out, I think, so I was pretty much the perfect age for it. I do think that if CD had come out ten years later, Ducky would have unequivocally been written as a gay character and they wouldn’t have just hinted at it.

greer said, April 12th, 2011 at 7:35 pm

apartment? APART.

Jenn said, July 11th, 2011 at 8:07 am

I’d kind of like one where they all come back and dig up the time capsule from the FF series. She could focus on the club members, but also some of the charges that would be of-age by then.

Rachel said, February 4th, 2013 at 1:22 am

Up until recently I wanted a BSC reunion book. But while I want it to be the girls grown up, I don’t want it to deal with grown up issues. I mean maybe a divorce, but not coming out, or being a drug addict, or anything I couldn’t hand to my daughter when she was reading the regular BSC books. I would rather have no reunion then one that ruins the wholesomeness of the series.

playing_horses said, January 6th, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I wish there was a BSC reunion book! However, like Rachel, I don’t think I would want for it to be about really grown-up issues. Perhaps at the level of California Diaries? I read Sweet Valley Confidential and I hated it. The characters were so…out of character. If there was ever a BSC reunion book which I highly doubt, I would hope the characters would stay in character.

greer said, February 6th, 2014 at 1:17 pm

SVC was pretty boring to me, but I never got into SVH so I’m not the best judge.

Response To This Topic

Please Note: The comment moderation may be active so there is no need to resubmit your comment