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Okay, so was I the only nerd obsessed with the Sweet Valley High books when I was a kid? I read them obsessively from ages 10-14. I desperately wished I had a twin. At ten and eleven, I figured that's how high school would be...I'd outgrow being so shy and awkward by then, and I'd spend my days hanging out at the local soda shop with my friends, writing a column for the school newspaper, dating someone Handsome with a Mysterious Past, and spending a semester in Paris. By ages 12 and 13 it became increasingly apparent that this is not what the future had in store for me, and the storylines became more and more ridiculous. I stopped reading them completely in high school, and took them all off my bookshelf, hiding them in a box somewhere. I let my parents throw them out at some point when we moved. Now I kind of wish I still had them (not that I need anymore books, let alone, like, eighty of them!) A testament to the Most Atrocious Writing Ever.

There was an interview with Francine Pascal in a BUST issue awhile back. This might be something only I know about, but Francine wrote some books before Sweet Valley about a girl named Victoria. I discovered them in my library when I was twelve (there were three of them but I only remember the title "Hanging Out With CiCi"). Victoria was way cooler than the Wakefield twins. She was written in the first person. She wasn't the most beautiful girl in school. She got in trouble for smoking pot at parties. She messed around with boys (anyone who read the Sweet Valley books knows the twins never went farther than "a long, lingering kiss"). She was sassy and smart mouthed and actually funny. And I couldn't understand how someone who could create a realistic teenage character like Victoria could go and create the most unrealistic twins in the world. But in the interview Francine Pascal was actually really funny and seemed pretty cool. (She called Todd boring. Awesome!) I guess I can't blame her too much that young girls would rather read about rich, popular, dazzlingly beautiful 16 yr olds instead of one who complained about how knobby her knees were and talked back to her mom.

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November 2012

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