Sweet Valley High #2 – Secrets Review
Jessica Wakefield is already back to her old tricks in Secrets, not days after Elizabeth had her thrown into the school pool to teach her a lesson about lying. Jessica has set her sights on two things: the handsome Bruce Patman and the crown of the queen at the upcoming “big dance” and what Jessica wants she gets. Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s best friend, Enid, is standing between Jessica and everything she wants. Even more unfortunate, Enid has a secret that could lose her everything she has worked for, a secret Jessica discovers.
Secrets is fabulous. With the exception of a quick snapshot of the twins and their friends, the book wastes no time on introductions. It’s like the second episode of a beloved television show where you’ve already met and loved the characters and get to really dig into who they are.
The first thing I notice about this book is that it works both as a good first time read, for those unfamiliar with the series, and a good continuation, for those who loved the first book. The mark of a great sitcom is you can watch it all the way through or pick up in the middle if the season and still understand and enjoy the episode. A few examples would be Friends, Big Bang Theory, and How I Met Your Mother. This concept is lost in most book series but not in the land of Sweet Valley High. There is something comforting about knowing I can pick up any of these books and enjoy it; for instance, say one was out of print and unavailable at your local library it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Secrets assumes the same maturity in its reader that Double Love did. It was written for middle schoolers but tackles issues that many middle-grade writers seem afraid to. Secrets deals with emotionally abusive relationships, rebuilding your life after tragedy, and people’s perceptions of you. All veiled by Jessica’s wild antics. I love the way Francine Pascal trusts her young readers to find those themes while enjoying the over dramatics of the story as well.
Of course, everything works out by the end, even better than before and Elizabeth teaches her another important lesson about lying by rigging the royalty selection at “the big dance.” She would never take the crown away from Jessica, just change the king. This might be the best thing about these books, there is no “what have we learned” break down, like an after school special but a lesson is definitely learned… until the next book at least.
At first glance, this book seems incredibly simple but it is worth taking a deeper look at. Whether it is your first time visiting Sweet Valley or you and the Wakefield twins are old friends, Secrets is a perfect summer read for you to enjoy.
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