Book name: Sweet Valley University: Love, Lies and Jessica Wakefield
Author: Francine Pascal and Laurie John
Genre: YA fiction
Publication Date: 1994
Star Rating: 5/5
I was quite a fan of Francine Pascal’s ‘Sweet Valley High’ series, both on TV and as a book series, so I was delighted when the books extended to Jessica and Elizabeth going to university.
Jessica and Elizabeth opt to stay close to home by going to Sweet Valley University. They are joined by Enid, Elizabeth’s close friend, and also Elizabeth’s now ex-boyfriend Todd.
Jessica’s bestie Lila Fowler has moved to Italy and married a count, which is incredibly glamorous but leaves Jessica eager to move from girlhood to being a woman.
Love, Lies and Jessica Wakefield grapples with how she intends to make that happen.
Love isn’t something we readily associate with Jessica Wakefield, except loving herself of course! So, as Love, Lies and Jessica Wakefield opened, I was intrigued by seeing her fall desperately in love.
Jessica’s new boyfriend is described by everyone as being dodgy and dangerous. No wonder she’s attracted to him!
But her feelings develop quickly, and before she knows it Jessica is ready to sleep with a boy for the first time.
However, everyone thinks he’s giving her the run around and she’s lost all sense of valuing herself or her studies. He’s the only thing that matters.
After the very careful limits on their behaviour in the ‘Sweet Valley High’ books, where relationships are always quite innocently portrayed, I was very interested by this swift development.
Francine Pascal certainly wasn’t afraid to move her beloved characters on into adult life.
Being in love, and especially when she’s insecure about it being reciprocated, was personality-forming for Jessica. By the end, I liked her much more than I had done during the ‘Sweet Valley High’ books.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is trying to get over her break up with Todd and settle into being at Sweet Valley University.
I always thought Elizabeth would go somewhere further from home for college so I was surprised to discover that she had chosen an in-state college.
Enid has re-invented herself as a glamorous girlfriend of a sporty boyfriend and now insists on being called Alex because Enid isn’t a cool enough name.
Elizabeth hasn’t changed at all. She wasn’t ready to sleep with Todd and broke up with him because of it. He’s moved on very quickly into a physical relationship with another girl, and this is part of what is troubling Elizabeth.
I felt so sorry for her. Elizabeth always seemed grounded and sure of herself at high school, but she appears lost in college. I liked her all the more for her vulnerability, especially around comfort eating.
The move to college isn’t always easy, something that Love, Lies and Jessica Wakefield explored with real sensitivity. Life is very different to high school and growing up comes in fits and starts, as Jessica’s sudden leap into adult life proves.
Of the twins, Elizabeth is here the one who is more reticent about taking big steps. However, love might be on the horizon for her, too, in due course.
Love, Lies and Jessica Wakefield felt like catching up with old friends after a couple of years and marvelling at how much they’ve changed.
I loved every page of it.
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