Amazon Digital Services – Published February 13th 2013.
If you were a teen during the mid-eighties to to mid-nineties, chances are you have read a Sweet Valley High book. You may have discovered them at your local library Their soft-focus pictures of beautiful, blonde twins beckoned you. They seemed sophisticated. Dangerous. You probably were on the cusp of starting high school and couldn’t stop reading anything and everything about what high school was like. You dreamed of boyfriends, dances, adulthood!
If You Lived Here,You’d Be Perfect Right Now chronicles author and retro pop culture enthusiast Robin Hardwick rereading the entire series and documenting a grown woman’s view of the angst and absurdity of the lives of the perfect Wakefield twins Each book of the series is revisited with equal parts sociological lens, parody, and sardonic nostalgia.
As a girl in her late twenties, I am the right age to have been completely obsessed by the Sweet Valley books in the mid-nineties. And obsessed I was! I longed to have a twin sister and have – as Francine Pascal or one of her ghost writers used to say – “golden blonde hair, aquamarine eyes the same colour as the ocean and classic So-Cal good looks.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only girl who wanted a best friend like Lila Fowler or a hunky boyfriend like Ken Matthews and a social life that consisted of hanging out at the mall or in your friend’s parents mansion.
This book takes us right back there to the adventures of the outgoing, popular Jessica and the shy, studious Elizabeth, but reading it through the older, more cynical eyes of Robin Hardwick. Through these eyes, the once popular, spoiled Jessica comes across as having more than a few sociopathic tendencies. Manipulating everyone around her and taking no responsibility for her actions, she is a lot less appealing and I no longer wish I was her! Elizabeth, once endearingly shy and always a sympathetic ear for her friends, now appears to be nothing more than an interfering, uptight shrew. (Harsh? Maybe, but fair.)
The book itself is edited poorly. Too many errors spoil the read. That, coupled with the fact that Hardwick, while undoubtedly witty, re-uses her quips almost as often as Francine Pascal re-uses the “one of the Wakefield twins is kidnapped” plot line, makes it a disappointing read. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sorry that I read it. It was fun to re-visit my childhood for a while. I very much doubt I will read it again, though. I’m giving this book 2 stars, purely for the nostalgia. If you, like me, were a Sweet Valley fan, you might enjoy it. Just don’t go in expecting too much.