As a young adult, I read every single one of Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High books from cover to cover at least once, and many times twice. As an adult, I even used my editorial credentials to get an advanced copy of Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, just so I could find out what happened to Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, Todd Wilkins, Enid Rollins, Lila Fowler, Bruce Patman, and the rest of the gang who resided in the fictional town of Sweet Valley, California.
For those of you unfamiliar with the popular series, it was basically the literary equivalent of reality shows like The Hills and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Every month or so, a new Bantam paperback was released, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of complete opposite identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth and their circle of friends as they navigated their way through high school, dealing with salacious coming-of-age drama that widened the eyes of teenagers around the world.
“Are you a Jessica or an Elizabeth,” was a topic of conversation that could go on for hours, and little copies of those books were collected and traded by tweens (way before that term was coined) like baseball cards.
Decades later, some of the soap opera style storylines and scenarios are a bit blurry in my mind, however, if you list off any of the 181 novel titles, I can probably describe exactly what the cover looks like. To any Sweet Valley fans, more specifically, all girls who were old enough to read in the mid-’80s to early-’90s, those portrait-style book covers were iconic.
From Double Love, the debut SVH book featuring the smiling twins — Jessica looking sort of sexy with a devilish smile washed across her perfect face and wearing her cool girl denim jacket, and Elizabeth, her hair conservatively worn half up and half down, looking super innocent in her high-necked sweater — to one of my personal favorites, Slam Book Fever, which has a colorfully clad Jessica looking over the shoulder of her sister, who is writing intently in a black and white speckled notebook, the artist behind the covers of these YA literary masterpieces is James L. Mathewuse — and get this — he takes commissions.
According to his website, the Florida-based artist (who also has Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys cover art on his impressive resume) will create a custom masterpiece for you, with free consultations and portraits starting at $200.
As a Sweet Valley aficionado, the coolness of seeing an original portrait of myself, loaded up in ’80s-style makeup and wearing a really cool, off-the-shoulder shirt, poised in a Jessica or Elizabeth-esque stance, hanging proudly on the wall would be next level.
If my husband is reading this, consider it a hint.
h/t: HuffPost ParentsMore On