No, that headline is NOT clickbait, I promise.
You will recall that I recently had the mind blowing experience of meeting Sweet Valley High ghost writer and prolific author Eileen Goudge in the most unlikely of ways. Read about that HERE. And, seriously, grab the tissues: the story is a doozy.
Eileen is a New York Times best selling author with almost thirty published novels not to mention that she ghostwrote the much beloved “Sweet Valley High” series. Oh, and she’s an amazing human and good citizen of the Earth, to boot. Basically, we love her.
About three months ago, I started working with an amazing all women writers collective as their social media manager. (Seriously, go check out the Tall Poppy Writers, you won’t be disappointed). As I was curating content for their Facebook page, I decided to share my Scary Mommy Sweet Valley High post, figuring that their demographic would like the story, too.
Wait for it, I’m about to get to the good part….
One of the writers posted in the Tall Poppy Writer Facebook group about how much they loved my post. Several of us reminisced about Sweet Valley high, the story lines and the characters. And then…
…one of the writers mentioned that Tall Poppy Writer Eileen Goudge had ghostwritten the first six books of the Sweet Valley Series. Oh, and sorry to burst your bubble if you thought Francine Pascal actually wrote all the books.
It was one of the most surreal moments of my life.
As I detailed in my previous blog post, meeting Eileen was a career highlight thirty years in the making. As I sat in her NYC apartment, I marveled at how Life throws you twists you didn’t see coming, much like the juicy novels Eileen is known for writing. Every action has a consequence and, sometimes, the kindness and good you put into the world winds up coming full circle. Well played, Universe. WELL PLAYED.
Eileen gifted me with a chapter of Sweet Valley High that she wrote just for me. As in, I’m a character in the story. I am still in shock that she took the time to not only write it but that she even thought to give me such a cherished gift. And, when she told me I could publish it for my fans to read? Well, let’s just say that I’m trying to figure out how to skywrite “I LOVE EILEEN” outside her apartment window in perfect airplane script.
Without further ado, I give you, Sweet Valley High, Keeper of The Fruit Loops edition:
The New Girl at Sweet Valley High
“The new girl? I heard she was scary.” Jessica Wakefield looked up from shaking Fruit Loops into a bowl.
“As in scary smart,” said her twin sister Elizabeth as she buttered her wheat toast.
Breakfast at the Wakefield home, with Jessica favoring sugary cereals over her sister’s “boring” eggs and toast, was a bit like the twins themselves: a clash of opposites. Identical, both with blond hair and blue eyes and mouths that’d had Jessica making pouty faces in the mirror ever since Bruce Patman said hers was “made for kissing,” the sixteen-year-olds were different from one another in every other way. Jessica thrived on drama where Elizabeth was happiest when no one was making waves. Which had seldom been the case growing up under the same roof as Jessica.
“She’s just a kid,” Jessica replied with a dismissive wave of her hand as she sat down to eat. She wore jeans shredded at the knees and a black T-shirt with the words “Bitchacho” in red letters across the front. Elizabeth, who wore a red Hollister hoodie and jeans without holes, sometimes wondered if her twin dressed the way she did because she didn’t want Elizabeth raiding her closet.
“A ten-year-old genius,” she said, joining her sister at the table. “I heard from Enid the only reason her parents didn’t put her in a school for gifted children was because they want her to have a ‘normal’ childhood.”
“Like being the youngest person in our sophomore class by six years is ‘normal.’” Jessica looked up from slurping her cereal to roll her eyes. “She might as well have two heads.”
“Well, you know the saying—Two heads are better than one,” Elizabeth quipped.
Jessica giggled, reminded that her sister could be funny when she wasn’t being all serious. “It won’t get her a date.”
“She’s too young to date,” chimed their parents in unison. Mrs. Wakefield stood at the stove stirring scrambled eggs in a frying pan while Mr. Wakefield, dressed for work in a suit and tie, poured coffee into a mug. “There’s no one her age for her to even make friends with,” their mom added. “Girls, I want you to be nice to her.” She addressed them both but was looking at Jessica as she said it.
An impossible feat for Jessica, thought Elizabeth. Her twin wasn’t a mean person, but she wasn’t the most compassionate, either. As one of the more popular kids in their class at Sweet Valley High, Jessica didn’t know what it was like to be friendless, seated alone at a table in the school cafeteria. Not that Elizabeth did, either—she had her own circle of friends—but she could empathize.
“Bet she didn’t have any friends at her old school either, her being a baby Einstein and all,” Jessica said now around a mouthful of cereal. “Not that there’s anything wrong with her,” she added when Elizabeth glared at her, before muttering under her breath, “That we know of.”
When they were done eating, the twins grabbed their backpacks—Elizabeth’s with yesterday’s completed homework assignments neatly organized inside and Jessica’s a jumble of half-done homework assignments—and headed out to catch the school bus. Fifteen minutes later, they were getting off at their school, where the campus of Mission-style buildings and emerald lawns sprawled beneath the blue sky of sun-drenched Sweet Valley. Amid the sea of students hurrying to their classes, Elizabeth noticed a group of kids lingering outside the administration building, clustered around someone who stood at their center, everyone talking animatedly. Someone short with brown hair, she saw as she whizzed by.
The twins, who were in the same homeroom, slid into their seats just as the bell rang. Their teacher, Mr. Blake, stood from behind his desk just as a latecomer burst through the door, a girl whose face was flushed as if from having dashed to make the bell. The short, brunette girl Elizabeth had noticed earlier, whom she didn’t recognize. But if the girl was short, there was a reason for it besides genetics: She was just a kid. A cute kid with sparkly brown eyes to go with her glowing cheeks and the confident air she wore, that of someone twice her age, who could be none other than…
Baby Einstein, Jessica mouthed as the twins exchanged startled looks. A smiling Mr. Blake beckoned to the girl, who walked to where he stood. “Class, meet our newest student, Christine McDevitt.”
I know, right?
I was blown away, too.
And, I can’t help but wonder what the Universe has in store for me in the next thirty years…..