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SparkLife: Flashback Romance

In February 2009, as part of a month-long Valentine's Day celebration at SparkLife, the SparkNotes blog, I wrote a little something about teen book series published in the 80s and 90s. Here now is the article as it was originally printed at SparkLife.

Sometimes you want a book that's intense and deep - but sometimes you just want something light, sweet, and maybe even a little cheesy. It can help you break away from a crazy day. The following series, initially published in the eighties and nineties, have some fun reads for Valentine's Day.

Before there was Gossip Girl, before there was 90210 (the new version OR the original), there was Sweet Valley High. This series about California born-and-bred twin sisters Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield was huge. With all of the spinoffs and special editions, there were hundreds of books set in Sweet Valley. There were series that followed the girls and their friends in elementary school (Sweet Valley Kids), middle school (Sweet Valley Twins), and college (Sweet Valley University), but the original series, Sweet Valley High, was the most popular and longest-running of the bunch. There was even a TV series in the 90s starring Brittany and Cynthia Daniel. They reissued and updated the first few books in the line last year, starting with #1: Double Love, but I recommend that you read the originals instead. Some of the plots are a little soap opera-ish (kidnapping! murder! mistaken identity!) but these books definitely paved the way for some of today's most popular series. There are parties, dances, and dates with plenty of break-ups, make-ups, and shake-ups. Through it all, Todd and Liz, the super-couple, held on . . . well, most of the time.

You've probably seen or heard of Degrassi: The Next Generation, the popular television series that airs on The N. Before there was Degrassi: TNG, there were four short films and three TV shows: The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, and Degrassi High. In the eighties, they released books about the main characters, many of whom are on Degrassi TNG as parents and neighbors. What to find out about their first loves, first dates, and first car accidents? Then check out the books about Spike, Snake, Caitlin and Joey Jeremiah, which they republished a few years ago.

Here are a few more series to track down at the library or used bookstores:
The Girls of Canby Hall by Emily Chase - College roommates share space, secrets, and boys.
Merivale Mall by Jana Ellis - Cousins fight over the same guy, classmates go skiing, and friends go shopping.
Sisters by Jennifer Cole - Psst! This is a pen name for an author who wrote others romances for adults and teens, including some of the Sweet Valley High books.
Saved by the Bell books - Yes, they do exist! Zach and Kelly were totally one of my favorite 80s/90s TV teen couples. By the end of the show's run, when the characters were in college, they got married. Most of the books (25, to be exact) take place in high school, though they released a few books (5?) set in college. (Thanks to this site for the verification.)

Original link, now broken: SparkLife: Flashback Romance

Related Booklist: Juvenile Series of the 80s and 90s
Tags: articles, books, reviews, series, sparklife
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