I got sick of staring at this one untouched on the children’s New Books shelf so I brought it home. I figure that reading it will give me a better ability to try to pawn it off on kids who come into the library…
Long lost twins! One in America and one in England! They find each other on a social networking site. In a series of emails to both each other and their friends, we learn about the details of each girl’s life– as well as the secret history that separated them and the plan that brings them together again. Yes, yes– if you’re a grownup this feels a little familiar. BUT the writing is actually really fresh and clever and interesting, the story has some surprising quirks, and both girls have traits that are interesting enough. Basically, the book is dying to be turned into a Tween feature film– or at the very least, a popular after school special.
Get one here.
Fangirl was so worth the 3 month wait at the library. This book is a lovely package: there’s romance and family and relationships and new things and life changes and personal development. You’ll love this book in the park or on the train, on the couch, or in a waiting room (or at least I did)…
Plus, it’s about a twin. The wonderful World of Sweet Valley predisposes me to love anything about twins. Especially twins with different personalities.
Cath’s a twin who writes online fan fiction about a popular Harry Potter-ish book character. She followed her sister to a college a few hours from home, and instead of continuing to be twinny BFF’s, her sister becomes a popular partygirl, and Cath becomes a lonely dorm room fan fic writer who has thousands of fans online but no friends in real life. On top of her sister’s new habit of binge drinking, her dad’s fluctuating mental health, and her MIA mom’s reappearance in the periphery, Cath might sorta be finding her voice, finding herself, and falling in love.
Fangirl is super well-written, and you’ll be sad its world is over when you get to the last page.
The cover of this book is so fairytale blah, but don’t let that deter you!
After her popular and outgoing twin’s death, shy and awkward Olivia and her parents have moved to an old Victorian in San Francisco to start fresh. Alas, the tragedy brings out the worst in each of her parents, their family structure continues to crumble, and Olivia feels terribly sad and alone.
BUT a bit of magic enters her life in a surprising way, and suddenly Olivia has some of the support she needs to start moving on. In addition to the magic, there’s a good deal of real-life stuff that is fairly interesting– and readers who know San Francisco will be amused by identifying different subtle landmarks (and piecing together the sometimes “creative” merging of them). The story is reminiscent of something that Francesca Lia Block might write, but the language is completely different.
In my opinion the mention of clothing brand names weaken the story a bit, as does the too-tidy ending. But all in all, it was a solid amusement that had me looking up the author as soon as I finished.
I devoured the Sweet Valley books when I was a kid– all of them. Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins, The Unicorn Club sub series, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, and even the historical fiction-esque Sweet Valley Sagas. I’ve easily read over 200 of the tomes combined.
Sometimes they had a moral or social lesson to them (e.g. be nice to disabled people, or tell an adult when someone you know is using drugs)– but most of the time they were pure fluff that relied on serious gender and class stereotypes and era-appropriate mainstream mirroring to tell predictable and formulaic stories. As I said, I read at least 200 of them. And I turned out ok. I got good grades in school, I can understand big words, I think that helping others is important, I have a master’s degree, I’m a feminist, I’m a critical thinker, I now enjoy complex literature and nonfiction, etc. So if any of you are parents, please keep this in mind if you find yourself pulling “crappy” books out of your kids’ hands at the library. If you need more encouragement, check out The Power of Reading by Stephen Krashen, where you will learn that kids who read (anything) for leisure have better vocabularies and higher reading scores (even though the value of reading scores is sometimes contestable).
Anyway, Sweet Valley Confidential: The Sweet Life- The Serial is pretty fluffy. If you’re nostalgic for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (this time as 30-year-olds), you may as well pick the book up (if you don’t know who I’m talking about, bypass this one). The writing is addictive, and there’s a solid chance that you’ll get sucked into the so-so storyline. Sure, this is a book you’ll have to wrap in another book as you read it on public transit. And sure, the story includes a guy with control issues and an anger management problem gets who accused of rape but it turns out the accuser was just a drug addict… (can you guess who?). ugh.
If you read the fist installment of Sweet Valley Confidential, I will have you know that this one is less bad. There’s just as much unbelievable drama, but it’s better constructed or something. At the very least, there’s not a vivid description of Elizabeth Wakefield having an orgasm.
Find a copy at the library.