Book 14 of 52: Sweet Valley Saga: The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story

On January 3, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches sent out the following tweet: “Okay, I may regret asking this, but what’s the weirdest sex location you remember from a romance novel?”

Her followers had some interesting answers, including on the back of a galloping horse and a camel. My answer, though, brought me around to re-reading Sweet Valley Saga: The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Storythis week. That answer was a building that collapsed during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (apparently, Sweet Valley is not the only book to, uh, tackle this situation).

This book was published in 1992, what I’d consider the tail end of Sweet Valley’s dominance over teens and tweens at the time. I was 12. I read this and the first Saga, Sweet Valley Saga: The Wakefields of Sweet Valley, after I’d read just about all the “Sweet Valley Twins” and “Sweet Valley High” books available. The Sagas tell the history of Jessica and Elizabeth’s ancestors, making stops in history along the way. Here, we have the great flu epidemic of 1918, the crashing of the Hindenburg, WW II, Southern California hippies, and the 1906 earthquake.

The first saga book tells the twins’ maternal history, and this one the father’s. The stories overlap in many places, suggesting that destiny wanted these two families to be together at some point. Yes, there is a woman’s story told here – you can guess what happens to an 18 year old who has sex the morning of her wedding, and what happens to the father. This is a “saga” after all. There are two more after this – for Lila Fowler’s and Bruce Patman’s families.

The book is much cheesier than I remembered, but 12-year-old me was much more susceptible to melodrama. It was so scandalous back then. Broken love affairs! People having sex! (even though you don’t read anything about it, just what happens after) HIPPIES! It was a nice step back in time for 32 year old me.

I’m bummed the reboot of Sweet Valley didn’t work out, at least for me. I hated Sweet Valley Confidential and didn’t even know that there were more new books under the series “Sweet Life.” Diablo Cody insists that she’s still working on a movie musical version of the series.

Hopefully, that’ll fare better than the book reboot did. The original series was so fun, as were these Sagas. I want the brand to consider, but in the right way (and to show that I’m still invested in this…I’ve been thinking waaaay too much about casting).

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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