Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sweet Valley Saga!

If you thought the Sweet Valley series couldn't get any more [insert your adjective of choice here], then you haven't read any of the Sweet Valley Saga.

I just finished "Sweet Valley Saga: The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story", which details Elizabeth and Jessica's ancestry on their father's side. And just like the stories following the girls' own lives, this book is drama drama drama.

There is a lot going on in this book (it follows five generations of Wakefields), so I'm not sure I can summarize it all. Instead, I'll post some of my favorite [read: cheesy] passages.

Page 31:
Theodore's chin sank to his chest. He fought back the tears of defeat and the desire to give up, to return home to England. No, he decided at last. He couldn't go back. Because no matter how vast this country was, Alice was there, somewhere, somewhere in the wild, lonely West.
Theodore checked the list of fares. He had just enough money to get himself to Cleveland, Ohio. That wasn't very far west, but it was a start. "One ticket to Cleveland," he requested, laying the money on the counter, his hand shaking slightly. It was all the money he had in the world. Theodore twisted the ring on his finger; he thought of the rose he had carved for Alive. "Somehow I will find her," he vowed, oblivious to the ticket seller's curious stare. "If I die searching, someday I will find her."

Page 53:
For the first time, Theo realized how blind he had been. How could he not have noticed how much he cared for Dancing Wind? As he held her in his arms, not knowing whether she would live or die, Theo knew that he'd never forgive himself if he lost her now. Dancing Wind had given him so much in the past few months; she'd taught him to laugh and share again. She'd taught him how to look ahead to the future, encouraged him to forget the past. And he'd given her nothing in return. How could I not have seen? he asked himself. We are so much alike. Dancing Wind is alone, without family; we are both exiles, far from our roots. Destiny brought us together and now it might separate us.

Page 114:
(this passage occurs after an earthquake that buries Sarah and Edward)
"There's no way out. Edward, this cramped, airless space will be our tomb." Sarah began to cry quietly. "I wanted only one thing, to become your wife. And now ..."
Edward smoothed a hand over her hair. "I love you as much as if you were my wife."
"But I'm not."
"Then let's marry right now! We don't need a justice of the peace in order to vow our eternal love for each other." Gazing deep into Sarah's eyes, Edward said, "Sarah Wakefield, I promise to love and cherish you always, until death do us part."
Overcome with emotion, for a few seconds Sarah could not speak. Then she managed to swallow her tears. "I promise to love and cherish you, Edward Brooke," she whispered. "Until death do us part."
"Here, I'll make it official." Edward fumbled in his pocked and pulled out a small piece of paper. In the murky light. Sarah could see that it was the receipt the desk clerk had written up for them when they checked into the hotel. Now Edward turned it over. With a pencil, also from his pocket, he wrote a few quick words.
He handed the paper to Sarah, and she read aloud what he had written. " 'On this day, we were married.' " Edward had signed and dated the statement; now she did the same.
"My wife," Edward said.
"My husband."
Their lips met in the most tender, meaningful kiss they had ever shared. Edward pulled Sarah closer, crushing her body against his own. As the kiss deepened, all the passion they'd been harboring during the months of their courtship rushed over them like a powerful wave. "Shall we stop?" Edward murmured in her hair.
"No," Sarah breathed. She wanted to be swept away; she wanted to go as far as their love would take her.
(Is this what "Twilight" reads like? Because that's what I imagine.)

Page 127:
Sarah's cheeks flushed hot with anger. "Father, there was nothing to know. Nothing happened between us until we went to San Francisco. We may not have been married on paper, but we were married in spirit."
(Another thing I'd imagine them to say in "Twilight.")

Page 167:
Sometimes Ted couldn't believe his good fortune. Harry's sister Samantha was as much fun as Harry had promised. While visiting the Watsons that past December, Ted had enjoyed dancing up a storm with her and talking to her about Fitzgerald's novels and motion picture stars like Charlie Chaplin and Clara Bow.
(In the words of Chandler Bing, could the author BE trying any harder to make this passage seem timely?)

Ted flipped through the brittle, yellowed pages of Dancing Wind's diary, wondering about the woman who had filled the volume with the tiny, slanted script.
*Puts on nerd glasses*
Dancing Wind's diary would not be brittle and yellowed. Theo met her around 1880, when she was already with the circus and keeping a diary of her life. Paper produced before 1880 did not contain the chemicals and materials that make it turn dry, brittle and yellow with age. Her diary, in fact, would have been in pretty good condition, assuming it had been kept just sitting in a relatively dry environment.
*Pushed nerd glasses up nose*
[And that is what six semesters and $20,000 of graduate school gives you, folks: The ability to point out technical errors in a terribly cheesy book.]

Page 205:
Julia couldn't tell whether Ted had agreed to her proposal because he had nothing better to do or because he was as interested in her as she was in him. It didn't really matter, she decided. After cracking her first big story, she felt confident that her future would be marked by success. She planned to put all her energy into this next assignment: Ted Wakefield's heart.

Page 213:
"Now you look at me, Ted. I'm pretty, I'm smart, I like hard work and adventure. Most of all, I love you. With my whole heart and soul. Are you going to hold that against me?"
Ted touched her face. "No. No, of course not."
"I'd make you a perfect wife and you know it."

Page 215:
"Hmm," Tedd said, considering. "Just right for a study."
"Just right for a nursery, I think," said Julia.
"Well yes, someday. But for now --" He broke off and stared at her. Julia, standing by the window, smiled at him. "Julia, you're not ...?"
She nodded. "I am. We are!"
"Julia!" Ted crossed to her side in two long strides. "I'm -- I'm -- we're -- oh, hurrah!"
Picking her up, he lifted her high in the air. Julia squealed with laughter. "How's that for a scoop?" she asked him. "Extra, extra, read all about it!"
He set her back on her feet. Before he folded her in his arms, she saw that his eyes were sparkling with happy tears. "We make quite a team, Julia. And I think this is going to be our best story yet."
(I've never had to tell anyone I was pregnant, but I've got to imagine this is the absolute most cheesy way to do it that I've ever seen. Are you kidding me???)

I didn't expect anything better from this book. It's Sweet Valley, after all, and with Sweet Valley comes cheesy romance and intense drama. I wasn't exactly interested in the twins' paternal lineage, and now wonder if I should try tracking down the Sweet Valley Saga that follows their maternal lineage. As I found out when reading the Wakefields' untold story (and in the final page), members Alice (Robinson) Wakefield's family came in contact with the Wakefields in just about every generation until Ned and Alice themselves got together. That actually might be the most interesting part of the whole saga series -- a fictional account of what a small world we live in.

-- Cheryl Sadler



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