Sweet Valley High Nostalgia: Drugs are bad and outcasts with funny glasses will grow up to be Cat Power


Lynne,the shy musical genius of Sweet Valley: the inspiration for this entire blog?

Sweet Valley High nostalgia is  is ubiquitous these days in the blog world. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sweet Valley High book series, the publisher is putting out a special “new” edition of the first and second in a series of over a hundred books: “Double Love” and “Secrets,” updating the lives of the ultimate 80’s Valley Girls (the series started in 1983 and ran its course all the way to 2003) to the 21st Century. (Props to great blogger Sarah Weinmanfor this bit on NY Mag blog).

For those not in the know (and if you are ages 22-32 and a female American you probablyare in the know), these books, the product of “Francine Pascal” and her various ghostwriters, documented the travails of a pair of size-six, blond identical twin sisters, Jessica and Elizabeth (respectively a trampy party girl and a hardworking and socially minded aspiring journalist), and their wealthy, primarily white, California-living sun-kissed friends (and occasionally a girl of color, such as Rosa, for whom a whole book is devoted to how she tries to cover up being a Mexican). My favorite character was Lila, who you might remember as being the poor little rich bitch who drove a Fiat (one of the few brunettes in power) and basically destroyed everyone in her path. Her male counterpart was the evil Bruce. Lila was hands-down the inspiration for Rachel Bilson’s character on The OC.

As an 8 year old (waaaaaaaaay too young to be reading this trash), these books were way more interesting than the vanilla Babysitter’s Club, for they feature lots of gossip-y and backstabbing behavior, vague descriptions of teenage sexual activity, a rock band with a girl drummer (yep, the Droids), serious motorcycle accidents, kidnapping, and even hard drugs! Better than 20/20 after TGIF nights, for sure.

Following a trail of SVU nostalgia, it was on Feministg.org where I found out about possibly the most amazing in-depth coverage of the Sweet Valley High series: The Dairy Burger  (named after favorite hangout of Jessica’s—except in one book, where she goes on an ill-advised diet), which reviews SVH books and other teen trash of the 80’s and 90’s. Not only do they do hilarious reviews of how truly terrible these books are (pointing out how lookist and consumerist they truly are, not to mention anorexia-inducing), but they also give in-depth plot summaries.

After a little bit of searching on Dairy Burger, I found a review of my favorite SVH book: OVER THE EDGE, one I’ve been trying to find for years now (I am thinking of going to EBay today, really). Over the Edgetells the tragic story of one of Bruce’s ex-girlfriends, Regina, also a friend of Elizabeth’s (i.e. one of the good girls). Regina, along with having been dumped, is also, sadly, deaf. Yes, deaf. So poor deaf Regina, both hard-of-hearing and out of luck-in-love, starts hanging out with badass kids, such as “Justin Belson, who is a troublemaker with bad grades, who also hangs out with Molly Hecht and some badass named Jan…She is invited to a party at Jan’s house, which will be WILD because Buzz the drug dealer will be there. And he doesn’t get his name from a bumblebee, if you know what I’m saying. Everyone warns Regina that he is bad news….”

Reginathen goes to the party and there is this intense scene where the crew of derelicts coerce poor deaf Regina to do coke. PEER PRESSURE! What happens? Regina has a rare heart condition and she dies from her very first rail. Deaf, brunette, dumped, and suffering a rare heart condition which means a bit of marching powder=swift death. Sucks. Don’t do blow! But especially don’t do blow if you already seem to have EVERYTHING IN YOUR LIFE GOING WRONG FOR YOU.


(It’s actually not bad advice now that I think about it)

And you thought the Jesse Spano “I’m so excited” Saved by the Bell episode was bad?

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