VERSUS

“Like the twins of that poem, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield appeared interchangeable, if you considered only their faces.

“And what faces they were.

“Gorgeous. Absolutely amazing. The kind you couldn’t stop looking at. Their eyes were shades of aqua that danced in the light like shards of precious stones, oval and fringed with thick, light brown lashes long enough to cast a shadow on their cheeks. Their silky blond hair, the cascading kind, fell just below their shoulders. And to complete the perfection, their rosy lips looked as if they were penciled on. There wasn’t a thing wrong with their figures, either. It was as if billions of possibilities all fell together perfectly.” -taken here.

I know I’m supposed to chronicle my Bantayan and Bohol escapades now but allow me to wallow in simple childhood pleasures in the meantime. Bohol and Bantayan can wait.

When I was a kid, I hated reading. Maybe it was the lack of good material (school had us read stuff like “The Ant Ate The Alligator.” But my entire family loved it while I really didn’t see the point. The love started in Sweet Valley and I’m forever thankful to these sisters who, for a long time, made me wish I was blond and blue-eyed with a twin too. The franchise died several years ago only to be revived now by the 10-years-later edition: Sweet Valley Confidential.

The quote above is classic Sweet Valley–from Kids to Twins to High to University. After setting the premise for the book, they find a way to segue into describing the identical pair. From details of those blue-green eyes and long blond hair (Elizabeth’s always tied in a ponytail; Jessica’s hung loose or pulled back with barrettes) to how Elizabeth liked green (sometimes blue) and Jessica preferred pink (sometimes purple). Jessica’s best friends were Lila Fowler and Ellen Riteman; and they love playing dress-up and dolls. Tomboy Elizabeth liked soccer and her best friends were Amy Sutton and Todd Wilkins.

In middle school, that description was pretty much the same–only maturing to the immature life of a preteen. As her love for writing grew, Elizabeth (still wearing blue and ponytails) became the founder and editor-in-chief of The Sixers; while Jessica’s girlish whims translated into being a member of the snobby and exclusive Unicorns Club. They got the “sort-of boyfriends” to match–Aaron Dallas (never mentioned in Kids) for Jessica and sweet basketball stud Todd Wilkins for Elizabeth.

Four years later, as juniors in Sweet Valley High, their straight sunny hair grew wavy. They filled out to Size 6 figures–which is very telling of its outdatedness. Hello, Size 6 is the new 14!; the greenness in their eyes became aqua; and they stretched to a full 5’6″. Amy Sutton, after a stint in Connecticut, went full circle and became Jessica’s other best friend, apart from Lila Fowler. Elizabeth had Enid Rollins and steady boyfriend Todd Wilkins (except when he went to Vermont and she got together with Jeffrey French). It’s not exactly surprising that Jessica changed boyfriends as often as she changed shoes. Jessica became head cheerleader (she used to be a baton twirler for the Boosters) and Elizabeth wrote–get this–the The Oracle’s gossip column “Eyes and Ears.”

The descriptions change–consistency was never really a factor in this series. But it was always tied together by a variation of “the two were always best friends despite the differences.”

Another consistent point? My loyalty hasn’t wavered.

Of course my explanation is quite simplistic. There are spin-offs like The Unicorns, Junior High, Senior Year, SVU and Elizabeth and any attempt to bottle the books in one blog entry would just be careless presumption. I’m just going through a long trip down memory lane and preparing myself for the anticipated arrival of Confidential.

**

Favorites:
Sweet Valley Kids: Jessica’s Secret Friend. She and Lila had a big fight. On the beach, she found a message in a bottle of a person looking for a best friend. They begin a correspondence. I actually didn’t like the layout reformat. Apart from the obvious cover change, they stopped putting whole-page illustrations inside and settled for tiny caricatures at random corners of the page.

Sweet Valley Twins: Four Super Chiller episodes leading up to the 100th book “If I die before I wake.”

Unicorns: “Who will be Miss Unicorn?” I’d like to spoil it for the poor people who haven’t read it yet. But why spare you the fun?

Sweet Valley High: A Kiss Before Dying. It’s definitely a ripoff of West Side Story but it brought me to tears anyway.

Btw, it is nothing short of amazing that I just type a title and voila! The book cover comes out. Google is really God’s gift.

I’ve only read one each of Junior High, SVU, Senior Year and Elizabeth. Er, I didn’t really like them very much. hahaha.

**All details were derived from memory. If there are any mistakes, just correct me. 😀

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