Sweet Valley High, v. 2008

Thank you to December Quinn and Victoria Dahl who both forwarded me links, each with eerily similar subject lines that said, “OMG DID YOU SEE THIS?”

In a great steaming pile of “Huh?” the books that led me to read romance, the books I both love and skewer with abandon, the books (or book) I read last August and reviewed because really, while they reinforced everything I hated about being a teenager, they were a huge part of my teen years – those books are being re-released by Random House. Yup. It’s Sweet Valley time again. The gravy train that is books-not-actually-written-by-Francine-Pascal is pulling into yet another station. Ka-ching!

And, since we’re talking twins – Wakefield twins, even – here’s your double dose of “What the crapping damn?”

The folks at Gawker posted the Random House promotional letter that elucidated who on earth those wily folks have updated the Sweet Valley High series for the 2008 reading audience: Elizabeth has a blog. They drive a Wrangler instead of a Fiat. And whereas in 1983, those pesky twins were a “perfect size six,” in 2008 dollars, that’s just too damn fat. Oh, no. Now they’re a “perfect size 4.”

Dammit, my goals of dieting for the year down to a rather unhealthy weight solely to achieve perfection have just moved farther and farther away.

Plus, get a load of the subject tags on the Random House site. Homelessness and poverty? In Sweet Valley? Are they kidding?! That’s a big issue to solve, but if the shining nobility of Elizabeth Wakefield is focused on current issues, homelessness and poverty won’t stand a chance. Just wait until Liz takes on illegal immigration.

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  1. 1
    Randi says:

    Oh sweet heavens. hahahahaha. Well, just think, these books will help bridge a gap between gen x (us) and gen zero (is that really a gen?). Eventually, gen zero will be our age and then we can laugh our silly asses off as we drink wine and reminisce about Sweet Valley High. Oh, the times we shall have….

  2. 2
    soco says:

    I’d say the girls have actually gained weight.  A size 4 today is at least a size 8 by 1983 standards unless they’re shopping at WalMart which I’m just guessing not.

  3. 3
    Jennifer says:

    I’m seriously surprised they didn’t make the twins a size zero. SERIOUSLY.

    Or, as the captcha prompts me, size ones.

  4. 4
    Victoria Dahl says:

    I was surprised too, frankly.

  5. 5

    “Perfect size 4”

    Oh, way to build good, positive body image in pre-teen girls!

  6. 6

    Does anyone else remember the store 5*7*9? I think that’s what it was called. I distinctly remember wandering around that store in high school and thinking, “What the hell is a size zero???”  What a difference a decade (or two) makes! I remember a time when a girl might be thought of as TOO skinny.

  7. 7
    DBN says:

    A wrangler?  Are they kidding?  That isn’t what perfect size 4 Sweet Valley high girls drive.

  8. 8
    kambriel says:

    With the sainted Elizabeth on it, all social issues in Sweet Valley shall be righted and evil-do-ers destroyed!

    I wonder if she’ll visit a crack house?

  9. 9

    I read most of these books during English class when I could scam them off my friends so I don’t have the most detailed recollection of them.

    Sizes have been adjusted down in the most bizarre way. I went into The Gap this summer and found that the size I *always* wore at The Gap before had gone down by two sizes while I’m sure that my rear has gone up at least a size since the last time I bought jeans there.

    Numbers really are slippery things…

  10. 10

    Lol on the subject line.

    Yes, it is true sizes have changed, but it would have been nice if they hadn’t changed it in the books.

  11. 11
    nkkingston says:

    So it was a Perfect Size Six in the American editions too? A lot of teen books get minor alterations when they come to the UK (including sizes), so I’d figured they were a UK size six (which, I think, is a US size two?). It’s actually quite comforting to know they’re not.

    I remember when, age about twelve, my friend introduced me to Sweet Valley University (between the two of us, we’d already worked our way through Kids, Twins, High and that Purple Unicorn stuff) with the announcement that “There’s sex! In the first book!”

  12. 12
    DS says:

    Ah, ha.  It’s the 30 year cycle. Toys and books generally reach their peak of interest (in terms of number of people seeking vintage copies out) about 30 years after the initial release.  Theoretically it has to do with the first users growing up, having children of their own, and becoming nostalgic about their own toys and books as they watch their children.  After this peak interest wanes for a while with some items retaining their value and others losing value. 

    Ok, this may sound like bullshit, but it was once explained to me by a Wise Old Bookseller who was trying to get me to buy a collection of mildewed YA books.  I didn’t bite on the books but I have observed that give or take 5 years or so, his theory is usually correct.

  13. 13
    sandyLou says:

    Oh lord. What a flashback. I loved those books. I cried all night when Regina died from her cocaine overdose. (After she only tried it one time and dying, it certainly convinced ME never to touch the stuff.) And now it’s coming back? Will there be new books? Will I get back into it? So many questions!
    Updating the sizes-even if you’re doing it, why would Random House proclaim it so proudly?
    I understand the Wrangler-I didn’t know what a Fiat was even back then.

  14. 14
    Laura K says:

    I’m not surprised at all ladies and gents.  As an educator, I saw the Boxcar Children resurrected along with tons of arcane series popular from the 70/80’s.  Now the Babysister’s Club is popular with pre-teens who are struggling to learn English for the first time.  I say more power to them if they can hook a new generation into reading.

  15. 15
    Meag says:

    As a very dorky, overweight acne riddled junior-high student Sweet Valley High was the series that I lived vicariously through. I wantedto be Elizabeth because she was smart and cool. I think now if I ever met her, I’ll strange her with whatever cause she was trying to save.

    I always remembered that they always described the Spanish tiles on the kitchen floor of the Wakefield house. Why? Are they that trendy?

  16. 16
    CanadaGirl says:

    I wonder if Elizabeth still drives that Ford pinto

    I’d have to say the saddest books for me were when Steve’s girlfriend was dying of leukemia and she hid it to protect him from the pain. So much drama! Such selflessness!  Oh, how my 11-year-old self did weep…

  17. 17
    CanadaGirl says:

    Ahh yes. Wrangler. Never mind!

  18. 18
    Mala says:

    Oh, man.  I was traumatized ENOUGH by the fact that Leven Rambin, who wasn’t even born when the books came out, is the new cover babe for the twins.  (Guess playing near-identical Lily and Ava on AMC was training?) But I had NO idea they were updating the content, too.

    Pardon me while I sit here in the corner and rock back and forth with sniffling sobs.

    Perfect Size 4?  Wrangler?  Blog? 

    I swear to God, if Regina dies from an overdose of crank or something, I will hurt someone.  (I, too, cried my way through that book.  Poor Bruce Patman!  He was a asshole-turned-woobie LONG before Logan Echolls…)

  19. 19
    Jessica G. says:

    Ok, in the publisher’s defense, this (US) country’s clothing stores have seen size inflation.  I used to wear an 8 and now I wear a 6.  So the Wakefield twins could have dropped a size as well.  I may have to resurrect those first 25 books I bought to sell on EBay.  **thinking about calling mother about my ‘stuff’ in her basement**

  20. 20
    Judith Loue says:

    oh man….i was in Junior High from 1964-1966…no SVH…uh, my big FIND from those years was/were THE RUSSIANS…The Brothers Karamazov was, and still, is, BETTER THAN TV…am i nway out of place here???or whatdown

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