Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Danielle finally updates!

I am fortunate that my partner in crime, Cheryl, has been updating you all more regularly on our Countdown to Sweet Valley Confidential. Sadly, I have fallen a bit behind and have only today finished the second book in the series, "Secrets." So far I am almost embarrassed to admit how much I am enjoying the books. I wish I could chalk it all up to the nostalgia of revisiting places and characters I so adored as an adolescent, but I fear I am actually amused by the petty high school drama found on each page.

As I'm sure you can imagine, "petty high school drama" is pretty much the name of the game in Sweet Valley, California. So far I've seen Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield fight over a boy, Jessica chase the Homecoming crown, Jessica gossip about Elizabeth's best friend... and Elizabeth stick around to clean up after Jessica's messes, and exact some form of fitting but harmless revenge. And while all this is expected, I am actually surprised at some of the intense subplots and the shockingly casual way they are all handled.

For example, in the first book, "Double Love," not only do Jess and Liz (and big brother Steven) almost accuse their father of having an affair, Liz is also involved in a scary situation involving underage drunken driving. She also accuses Todd Wilkins, the object of the twins' affections and Liz's eventual boyfriend, of attempted rape. In "Secrets," one of the twins' classmates goes so far as to plaster posters throughout the school alleging an affair between a student and teacher, and Liz's best friend Enid Rollins admits her past problems with drugs that led to her involvement in an accident in which a young boy was left paralyzed.

While I definitely remember the crazy scenarios from my first read of the series, I am sure I missed the possible gravity of each of these situations the first time around. For Enid to admit freely that she once mixed alcohol, marijuana and ecstasy with a boyfriend before hopping behind the wheel... it's absolutely horrifying! What's worse is that she seemed much more concerned about becoming fodder for the rumor mill when she confessed her secret to Liz than she seemed remorseful for the lives she altered.

Of course, my mild dismay at the nonchalant approach to such heavy subjects as accused rape, student-teacher affairs, drunken driving and drug use only draws me further into the books (not sure what, exactly, that says about me--but I feel it totally necessary to out myself as a former high school goody-two-shoes who spent all her time practicing her saxophone and reading about high school scandals instead of actually participating in such activities). Maybe the reason it's so easy to ignore the terrible things because it's blatantly obvious how fakely perfect everybody and everything in the books turn out. In a perfect place like Sweet Valley, nothing can bring you down.

Except maybe forced references to cell phones, "24" and "Heroes". But that's a topic for another time, I suppose.

--Danielle Capriato



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