Saturday, 6 February 2016

Sweet Valley? Those Books from the Eighties?!

Is there something you've loved since your teens that you're still passionate about? 
I'm an all or nothing kind of person, that's just who I am, so when I invest in something it tends to be that I'm in it for the long haul.
Take That?  Yep, loved them since 1992.  David Beckham?  I've been lusting after him for twenty years.  Grease: The Movie?  I can't even begin to imagine how many times I've watched it since I first saw it as a nine year old.
But in terms of books, the big love affair of my adolescent years was with the residents of a white, middle class, American community.  Yes, I'm talking Sweet Valley.  Sweet, sweet, Sweet Valley.
I've tried to remember when I first discovered these books, and it's difficult to be sure.   Possibly my first experience was a Sweet Valley Twins book back in Summer 1991, although it could easily have been before. Whenever it was, I was quickly hooked.  Jessica and Elizabeth's lives were so totally far removed from my own, but I loved their family, their friendship groups, their clothes, their hobbies - everything!  I wanted to be a member of the Unicorns.  I wanted to go to Dairy Queen.  I wanted to be a twin.
Over the years the Sweet Valley series made up a large chunk of the small selection of books I actually owned.  Although I've always been a voracious reader, as a child that was mainly fed through library loans.  But Sweet Valley books seemed to turn up at car boot sales, in charity shops, fetes, fairs - making them an affordable option.  And whenever I was given spending money by a family member for birthday or Christmas, my money would almost inevitably be spent in the Monmouth branch of WH Smith, to get my latest fix of the Sweet Valley gangs antics.
As I grew older I gave my Sweet Valley books away, especially when I packed up my bedroom to move permanently to Sheffield.  I hadn't read them for a long, long time and although I had excited palpitations when the Sweet Valley Confidential book came out in 2011 (what a let down that was), I'd had no pangs to reacquaint myself with the twins earlier escapades.
Fast forward to 2015 and I really, really regretted not keeping my collection.  I can't say what it was that made me almost crave their familiarity, but there was an overwhelming sense that I needed these books back in my life.  And that's why I'm slowly rebuilding my Sweet Valley collection and why from now on you'll spot a fair few Sweet Valley reviews here on Books with Bunny. 
They've not dated well in many ways and young adult fiction has moved on to somewhere totally different, somewhere more representative of the masses and far more diverse in every possible way. They're not the books I'd recommend to the majority of teens nowadays.  However, they're special to me, partly through nostalgia, but also because they satisfied my reading needs for many, many years in the early to mid 90s.  
As I said at the beginning, when I love something, I'm all in.  And with Sweet Valley, I'm definitely still very much all in.


  1. Got to love a Sweet Valley book. Was also disappointed with the Sweet Valley Confidential book, especially since it didn't match up with anything from the Sweet Valley University series. Did you read any of the SVU books?

    1. I did! Yeah, I don't know what they were thinking with that book. It was a whole hotchpotch of contradictions. This time around I'm trying to read in some sort of order, starting with the Twins books.

  2. I remember being told off for reading a Sweet Valley High book during a library lesson at school, which annoyed me as I'd picked it up that lunchtime in the library after finishing Oliver Twist, which I'd been reading at home on my own time! I did love the Sweet Valley books but I didn't want to be a twin. I just wanted to be blonde!

  3. I didn't grow up in the 90s, so I didn't really hear about them till later. I loved the Heartland books, so for me I guess that was my "teen" series.

    I think I will take a look to get an idea of 90s American teen culture. I didn't even know they made their way to England as well.