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Double Love: Sweet Valley High #1    by Francine Pascal order for
Double Love
by Francine Pascal
Order:  USA  Can
Laurel Leaf, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Sweet Valley High series, set in southern California and originally published in the 80s, has been dusted off and refurbished with blogs, cell phones and all the modern appurtenances of the wired life. How does it measure up against the myriad of new high school relationship series, like The Clique and The Ashleys? Sweet Valley High more than holds its own.

The series stars are twin sisters Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, whose personalities are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Flighty and feckless Jessica is popular at school, captains the cheerleader squad, and is used to taking what she wants from life, without much consideration for others, including her sister. Serious and studious Elizabeth writes for the school paper, befriends class outsiders and nerds, and tolerates her own needs always being second to her sister's wants.

But it's very hard on Elizabeth when Jessica makes a play for basketball team captain Todd Wilkins, 'one of the most coveted guys in school'. Though he's initially interested in Liz, Jessica uses all her wiles, manipulates events and lies, in order to draw Todd's attention her way (it's very hard to like Jessica though one has to admire the thoroughness of her selfishness). Lacking confidence in her own attraction, Liz believes everything her sister tells her.

But there's more to the story than a twinned love triangle. Jessica is determined to dig out all family secrets and believes their brother Steve and their father are both in the midst of unsuitable love affairs. Misunderstandings persist and expand on all sides, until a dangerous situation reveals the truth to Elizabeth, who finally shows the stuff she's made of. Double Love is an excellent and engaging beginning to the Sweet Valley High series.

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