Title: Double Love
Author: Francine Pascal (creator) and Kate Williams
Series: Sweet Valley High #1
Blurb: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are identical twins at Sweet Valley High. They’re both popular, smart, and gorgeous, but that’s where the similarity ends. Elizabeth is friendly, outgoing, and sincere — nothing like her snobbish and conniving twin. Jessica gets what she wants — at school, with friends, and especially with boys.
This time, Jessica has set her sights on Todd Wilkins, the handsome star of the basketball team — the one boy that Elizabeth really likes. Elizabeth doesn’t want to lose him, but what Jessica wants, Jessica usually gets … even if it ends up hurting her sister.
Meet the Wakefield twins, their guys, and the rest of the gang at Sweet Valley High….
Review: Welcome to my first Nostalgic Reads post! I’ll tell you what, revisiting some of this stuff has been trippy! I was such a different person when I read them before!
First, a little history. This series began in 1983 created by Francine Pascal and then written by a team of ghostwriters There are 143 books in the base series, not counting the Super Editions, Super Thrillers and Magna Editions. This series had several spin-offs, including Sweet Valley Twins (which I also read), Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley High: Senior Year, and Sweet Valley University.
Now, onto this book. This book has at least six plots going on. Each one of these could easily be a book of it’s own. Those plots are:
- The main plot, according to the blurb, which is that Elizabeth likes Todd Wilkins, the captain of the basketball team, but Jessica is going after him like crazy, even though Todd seems to like Elizabeth as well.
- Both sisters are pledging to join the Pi Beta sorority, although Jessica is the only one who’s really excited about it.
- Their father Ned, a lawyer, might be having an affair with another lawyer, Marianne West, from his law firm.
- Their brother Steve has a mystery girlfriend who is revealed to come from a family with a bad reputation.
- Jessica has an unfortunate “date” with bad boy Rick Andover which leads to a bar fight and a case of mistaken identity.
- The school might lose their football field and the two richest families – the Patmans (old money) and the Fowlers (new money) – are fighting over who takes over the land.
My head is already spinning. I don’t think the other books in the series deal with quite so many plot threads. This may have been just a way to introduce a lot of characters quickly, plus give you a good idea of the town and the school, but boy is it a lot!
The twins. What to say about the twins? Typically, girls who read these books were supposed to identify with one or the other, and I think most probably identified with Elizabeth because she was the bookish twin. Also – Jessica Wakefield is a deeply unlikeable person. I don’t remember disliking her that much when I was younger. I probably, like a lot of young girls, wished I could be more confident like she was: co-captain of the cheerleaders, boys who fall at her feet, the one the whole school practically worships.
But oh my goodness, reading her now. She is such a shallow, lying, manipulative, drama queen! She throws tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. She lies CONSTANTLY. Let’s look at plot #5. She goes on this date with Rick, who gets drunk and gropey, and ends up riding home in a police car after the resulting bar fight gets broken up. The policeman recognizes her last name and knows that his niece goes to school with Elizabeth Wakefield. He doesn’t know that they are twins. So when he drops her off with a warning, and says her name as he tells her goodnight, someone overhears it. Suddenly, the whole school is talking about Elizabeth’s wild night out. Jessica NEVER corrects anyone, claiming that she never hears anyone talk about it. Eventually, she attempts to explain it to Todd, but he thinks she’s just trying to excuse Elizabeth’s “bad behavior” and take the blame.
Jessica also tells Elizabeth that Todd tried to assault her too, just to get back at him for liking someone else and not being attentive enough at the school dance they go to together. Seriously.
The thing is, Elizabeth is clearly the “good girl,” but she also comes off as a complete doormat. She forgives Jessica for anything and everything she does, although she does manage to get some revenge by tricking the student body into throwing Jessica into the school pool. Elizabeth is the writer of the “Eyes and Ears” gossip column in the school paper, but the identity of that person is always kept a secret. If they get discovered, they get dunked. Elizabeth tricks people into thinking that Jessica is her and gets Jessica thrown in the pool instead. It seems like a paltry punishment for all that Jessica does throughout this book, but at least it’s something.
Does this book still hold up? Not necessarily, although it is still highly entertaining, if only for the ridiculousness of it all. We’ll see how some of the other ones stack up.