One of Annabel’s favorite questions to ask the adults around her is, “What did you do when you were my age?” Her current variation on that question is asking about what books we liked when we were kids. She loves books and I’m pretty sure she’s looking for new material. As I was telling Annabel the books I used to read, I realized that the first two series I mentioned both had twins as the main characters. Gee, I wonder why?
The first series I remember reading on my own was The Bobbsey Twins books. These had two sets of boy-girl twins (those poor parents) as the protagonists, six-year-olds Flossie and Freddie and 12-year-olds Nan and Bert. The books were originally published in 1904, so that tells you a little something about those retro names. The bookcase my brother and I shared was well-stocked with these books. I think I was reading them when I was six or seven, because I have memories of writing book reports about them for certain teachers. My memories about the books themselves are spotty. I think sometimes the twins solved mysteries…Nan was bossy, Bert was macho, Flossie was cute. Sorry, Freddie, you must have been super-dull.
After I was over the Bobbsey Twins, I moved on to the Queens of twin-lit: The Wakefield Twins, the stars of the Sweet Valley books. I freaking looooooved all of those books. I started with the Sweet Valley Twins series, then moved onto Sweet Valley High, then Sweet Valley University, etc. I have read all of them, plus the bonus editions and super specials and sagas and yadda yadda (yes, even SV Confidential. Yes, even The Sweet Life.). In the Sweet Valley Twins books, Elizabeth was the smart, responsible, goody-goody twin, and Jessica was the impulsive, social, fun-loving twin. The Sweet Valley Twins books were basically harmless…the Sweet Valley High books definitely were not.
Where to start…well first of all, 16-year-old Jessica is a total psycho. She cheats on her boyfriends (sometimes with her twin’s boyfriend!), she’s nasty to her friends, and she even spikes her sister’s punch, leading to Elizabeth driving drunk and killing Jessica’s boyfriend. And Jessica was perfectly fine with Elizabeth going to jail for it, because she’s pure evil. But yet, she was still sooooo much more fun to read about than Elizabeth. Jessica was the YOLO twin (she never would have said something stuffy like carpe diem, Latin was definitely a boring Liz thing), while Elizabeth was the dull Freddie Bobbsey of the pair, an old person trapped inside of an (allegedly) young person’s body. Seriously, this person is like 40, right?
You are supposed to be 16! What is even happening here?!
These books had more ridiculous plot twists than Grey’s Anatomy. There were car crashes, drug overdoses, cults, personality changes, and I think like eight of Jessica’s boyfriends end up dead.
I probably won’t steer Annabel towards the Sweet Valley books when she’s older, but if she discovers them on her own I won’t stop her…then I can get some of my questions answered! I’m curious to know if the high school books have been updated at all. Are the girls still “perfect size sixes with cornsilk hair and aquamarine eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean?” Do they still drive a Fiat? Is Elizabeth still a wet blanket? Do they keep their 80s fashion sense? Do they ever actually look 16?