When I was a kid, I loved to read. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on. I would read my mom’s Stephen King books. I read Atwood. Christopher Pike. Judy Blume. I read some stuff that was over my head, like The English Patient. I even remember “stealing” books from the school library. They had a section dedicated to grade 7 and 8 students, and since I was only a mere grade 6 kid, I was forbidden from taking out those books. Did that stop me? Nope. I would smuggle the books out of the library by hiding them under my clothes, and then return them the same way once I was finished with them. I was never caught, thankfully – can you imagine the consequences? Detention for reading! Although I probably would have cried if anyone did catch me.
But probably my all time favourite series as a child was the Sweet Valley High (SVH) franchise. I received an allowance of $5/week which I would save so I could buy all the books that came out each month. There was SVH, of course, and then Sweet Valley Twins (a little young for me, even then), Sweet Valley University (where they finally had SEX), and the short lasting Unicorn Club. There were some others too but I was too old by the time those sets came around.
I LOVED the Wakefield twins. I totally wanted to be Elizabeth. I spent so many nights staying up late reading about their crazy antics. I must have bought at least 100 books, which, at five bucks a pop, is $500. That number doesn’t seem that big now, but that represents close to two years worth of allowance. That’s a long time in kid years.
I was really particular about my books, so no spine cracking for this girl. Sometimes I took my obsessiveness a bit too far, like the time that I noticed a big crease in the cover of one of my books and I went to Coles and switched it for a new one. As in hid it under my clothes (again) and took a new copy, leaving the old one behind. Probably not my proudest moment.
Not too long ago I stumbled across this awesome blog by Robin Hershkowitz, The Dairi Burger. Robin reread a bunch of the SVH books and blogged about the experience. If you are familiar with the SVH series, I seriously recommend checking out the blog, the posts are laugh out loud funny. Even the comments are great. Obviously there are a ton of things that happen in the series that were entertaining at the time and now seem totally ludicrous. Like when Margo, an individual who is not related to the twins but looks identical to them when she dies her dark hair blonde, comes to SV to kill one of twins and take her place. Plus there’s the fact that these characters never have to urinate, are completely self absorbed, and there is absolutely no adherence to any sort of chronology (the ghost writers probably knew how crappy these things were and didn’t want to endure the pain of reading the earlier books).
At the time, though, these books were great. They’re currently in my parent’s basement, awaiting the day I have a bigger place and possibly a child who wants to read them. Because even though the Wakefield twins are not good role models, with all the cheating and lying and backstabbing, I still love them. But I don’t think I want to be Elizabeth anymore.
What’s your favourite childhood fiction series? Do you still feel the same way about that series now, as an adult?