Friday, July 12, 2013

Whidbey Woods and Ramblings on Grown-Up Children's Book Characters

   Here are more photo's from the Whidbey Island trip that I took in April. These pictures are from when Jess, Mike, David and I took a hike through the rain-misted and sun splashed woods.  While hiking, we Chit-chatted, ducked under branches, examined plants and breathed in the delicious forest air. 

  Recently,  I some how got caught in a internet rabbit hole and ended up on the Wikipedia page for Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, the Sweet Valley Twins. When I was in elementary school I read the Sweet Valley Kids series which take place when the two twins are seven. The summer before middle-school started, I read tons of the Sweet Valley Twins books, which take place when the twins are in middle school. As an only child, I have a deep interest in sibling relationships. I like to hear sibling stories from my friends. The sibling relationships portrayed in the Sweet Valley series is part of what attracted me to these books. The Sweet Valley books are by no means high up in the children's lit cannon, but their formula got me to turn pages.  I lost interest in the the twins adventures before I ever got to the Sweet Valley High series. Despite my abandonment of them, I still have fond memories of these books. When you read tons of books starring the same characters, these characters begin to feel like friends. This is why I was so dismayed by the Wikipedia page for the twins. The ghost writers of the Sweet Valley books followed the twins life well into adulthood. Most people would expect a happy ending for two characters that starred in several children's books. But no, this is not the case at all. According to Elizabeth Wakefield's Wikipedia page, Elizabeth became engaged to her high school sweet heart, Todd. But they did not live happily ever after. Instead, creepy Todd cheats on Elizabeth with her own twin sister! This is quite a betrayal and a double betrayal at that! It is sad to think the two lively twins I read about in the Sweet Valley Kids series grow up to have such a poor relationship. Of course Elizabeth is not so interested in having a relationship with her sister after the Todd scandal and they become estranged. And this Todd seems like quite the shady fellow. Cheating on your finance is bad enough, but cheating on her with her identical twin just seems weird. It would be difficult to get lost in a passionate moment because the face of his mistress would constantly remind him of the betrayal of a women that he supposedly loves. But this isn't the worst twist inflicted upon the Sweet Valley Twins, and in particular Elizabeth. So, Elizabeth gets romantically involved with a new guy named Bruce. Here is a quote from the Wikipedia page "She is involved in a scandal when Bruce is accused of rape. This echoes back from when Bruce attempted to rape Elizabeth herself." What!?!? Why is Elizabeth involved with a creepy dude who tried to rape her? This whole convoluted mess seems like a tragic ending to a series that a bunch of children are reading. It makes me afraid to find out what ever happened to other favorite childhood book characters. Like, what about Ramona and Beezus. I hope they grew up to laugh out their childhood quarrels and antics rather then rehashing them as adults. Or the box car children? If these mystery solving rascals grew up to be anything but upstanding citizens it really would be upsetting. I loved the 'Anne of Green Gables' story, but I never read any of the later books when Anne was a grown up. And maybe it's a good thing I didn't!  At least with the Harry Potter books we kind of know what happens to the kids. They grow up and marry the people they are suppose to and then have broods of their own rambunctious magician children.  I get that life is messy and that if you follow characters into adulthood, it can't all be rainbows and unicorns, but I wish they (the Sweet Valley ghost writers) had written a future for these twins that involved less betrayal and less creepy men. Maybe I'd have a different view point if I had continued reading these books when the twins were in high school. I know the middle school plot lines could get pretty soapy and I'm sure they got more soapy when they were in high school.  But from my perspective, I feel there are plenty of soapy and entertaining story lines without the inclusion of estranged sisters and relationships with rapists. 


Marieken Hoefnagel said...

I love the photo with the road! I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason it's very interesting. And I used to love Sweet Valley High!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Sweet Valley I hadn't heard those words together for over a decade. I had forgotten all about them!

Autumn Elixe said...

Huge betrayals in the Sweet Vally Twins' adulthood. Seems like the writers somehow also betrayed the readers.

Amber @ Fauna Finds Flora said...

Marieken- Thanks! I like that reaction to a photo I took!
Keith- Haha, yeah, I wonder if 'kids these days' still read them.
Autumn- Yeah, I agree. There is plenty of potential for juicy story lines that aren't so depressing for the readers.