Because we moved a lot when I was a kid, books were my escape. Often the awkward new kid in a classroom of unfamiliar faces, I would rush home from school to hang with my besties, Ramona Quimby and Sally J. Freedman. As I got a bit older (read: when I grew boobs), I “met” Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, the beautiful blonde twins of Sweet Valley High, and I won’t lie: We became instant BFFS4EVA.
And because Francine Pascal had a bevy of ghostwriters creating adventures for these two sun-kissed twins, I was never without an escape into the idyllic (read: Stepford) California town of Sweet Valley.
Yes, the books contained the same hokey description of the twin beauties (say it with me: perfect size 6 figures, heart-shaped faces, wavy blonde hair, and sparkling blue eyes), and yes, the plot lines were ridiculous, cheesy, and over-the-top, but that didn’t stop millions of girls like me from devouring the hundreds of books in the series. And admit it: You loved the cover art and secretly crushed on Todd Wilkins, too.
The series ended with Elizabeth and Jessica as twentysomethings, and frankly, I feel cheated. I need to know that the twin beauties are 40 and fabulous in Sweet Valley. Is Elizabeth still friends with Enid? Is Bruce Patman still a douche? Are Ned and Alice Wakefield doting grandparents? Luckily, I have a few ideas in case someone wants to hire me as a ghostwriter for Sweet Valley High: 40 and Fabulous.
Elizabeth Wakefield now runs the Wakefield Weekly, a newspaper dedicated to helping moms keep up on all the latest parenting news. She is the president of the PTA, wears pearls, and has exactly one martini at precisely 5 p.m. every night—one olive. She has two children with her Israeli husband, Avi, whom she met while covering the crisis in the Middle East in her journalism days.
Jessica Wakefield has stamps from 32 countries in her passport and her fashion line, JW, Inc. is thriving. She discards men like she does hair products, and she sends Elizabeth harried texts as she jets around the world. She’s now a perfect, hallowed size 2 and that wavy blonde hair has been dyed black and cropped short. Currently, she’s in Tibet searching for inner peace while harassing the monks.
Todd Wilkins lives two streets over from Elizabeth and has never gotten over their breakup. A high school basketball has-been, he’s married to a blonde, perfect 6 debutant and secretly stares at Elizabeth’s picture on Saturday nights after three Scotches. He sees Elizabeth at soccer games and wishes he never let her go. Elizabeth has a restraining order pending.
Enid Rollins is still Elizabeth’s best friend and embraces the hippy, organic lifestyle. She has six kids and runs the website Rollin’ in Organic where she sells cloth diapers she weaves on her own loom. She wears natural deodorant and specializes in holistic yoga. Enid’s house is a disaster and always smells faintly of marijuana.
Bruce Patman got fat. And has been bald since he was 25. He lost all his money, self respect, and sex appeal in his 30s and is currently a blackjack dealer in the local casino. He drives a beat-up Toyota Camry and really misses his black Porsche.
Lila Fowler is famous for being famous. She jumped on the social media bandwagon in the early 2000s and became the Queen of the Retweet. She lives in Los Angeles and rubs shoulders with Hollywood A-listers. She Instagrams her life to her 40 million followers as she jet-sets the party scene with her partner, Anastasia, and their two Pomeranians.
Winston Egbert started a technology company in his garage and sold it for $10 billion. He’s married to a supermodel and never takes Jessica’s calls. He lives in a modest house in Sweet Valley and joins Elizabeth for cocktail hour once a week.
Cara Walker had a scandalous affair with Ned Wakefield in the early ‘90s. After Alice kicked Ned out of the meticulously decorated Wakefield family home, Ned proposed to Cara. Cara accepted his four-carat diamond ring, and after cleaning out his bank account, skipped town and hasn’t been seen since. Ned lives at the Motel Six and spends his days Vaguebooking.
Jeffrey French consoled Alice after Ned’s devastating affair. They now run a successful B&B in Vermont. Alice visits Elizabeth regularly and passive aggressively tolerates Ned once a year at the Wakefield Christmas gathering.
The Droids had a chart-topping hit in 1987 and faded into obscurity. They have a regular Friday night gig at the local casino where Bruce Patman works. Lead singer Dana has the hots for Bruce, and he gladly buys her cheap liquor and tries to take her home.
I really think I’m on to something here. Hey, Francine, call me, m’kay? I’d love to flesh out my idea for Sweet Valley High: The Grandparent Diaries.