Were you that girl who grew up coveting the Wakefield twins' aquamarine eyes and cascading blond hair? Who remembers the customized license plate on Bruce Patman's Porsche? (1BRUCE1.) Who can vividly recall chubby Robin Wilson methodically shedding pounds so she too could be popular? Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High series was the Barbie-doll equivalent of literature, ubiquitous and dumb and rife with all kinds of screwy messages about gender and class and race. But oh, they were delicious, and I loved them so. How to resist the prospect of revisiting a now-grown-up Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and the rest of their preternaturally good-looking, wealthy crew in Sweet Valley Confidential?
Jessica, who's 27, has broken her saintly sister Elizabeth's heart by sleeping with Lizzie's longtime boyfriend, the dimpled, dull Todd. Elizabeth is a fuming mess who has fled to New York City. Marriages are splitting up, the nerds have become rich and mean, and, in one particularly entertaining reveal, a Wakefield has gone gay. Make no mistake: This is a very bad book, bloated and silly and, worst of all, often quite boring. It's not as fun as you might think to finally read about Elizabeth having sex. ''Gently, he unbuttoned her silk blouse. She didn't move…. He just stared at her, drinking in the sight of the flesh and blood and years of longing. Still she didn't move.'' (Move, Elizabeth!) Sweet Valley fans should treat this book as a ridiculously indulgent exercise in nostalgia and then revel in how well they've turned out compared with those crazy Wakefield girls. C
Where's the rest of the SVH gang now?
Todd Wilkins: Guilt-ridden sports columnist engaged to Jessica
Bruce Patman: In love with Elizabeth; still driving a Porsche
Enid Rollins: Recovering alcoholic and right-wing gynecologist
Lila Fowler: Separated from high-school-turned-NFL football star Ken Matthews; fake boobs
Steven Wakefield: Successful attorney unfaithful to wife Cara Walker
Winston Egbert: Dotcom millionaire who now treats women like crap