HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Stretching the Truth: Sweet Valley Twins #13
Author: Jamie Suzanne
Cover Illustrator: James Mathewuse
Publisher: Bantam Books, republished in 1988
ISBN-13: : 978-0553155549
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-9 and up
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Suzanne, Jamie. Stretching the Truth: Sweet Valley Twins #13 (published in 1987 by Bantam Skylark Books, a trademark of Bantam Books Inc., 666 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY 10103). What’s wrong with Mary Robinson? Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are identical twin sixth graders who live with their parents and older brother Steven in Sweet Valley, CA, just outside of Los Angeles. Their good friend Mary Robinson has a rich new stepfather who has a fabulous yacht and is going to build them a huge house. Yet Mary has been telling little white lies about her family to impress her friends. So why has she been acting so strange? And what will happen when people find out the truth? Will her friends still like her? Stretching the Truth is Book #13 in the “Sweet Valley Twins” (also known as “Sweet Valley Twins and Friends”) series (#118 is entitled No Escape!), the first spin-off to originate from “Sweet Valley High” created by Francine Pascal, who presided over a team of ghostwriters for the duration of the series.
The original series began in 1983 and ceased publication twenty years later with 603 books to its name. It quickly gained popularity and spawned several spin-off series, including “Sweet Valley Twins” written by Jamie Suzanne beginning in 1986 and going back to the twins’ sixth grade year, “The Unicorn Club” covering the Wakefields’ seventh grade, “Sweet Valley Senior Year,” and “Sweet Valley University.” The novels Sweet Valley Confidential and The Sweet Life, which follow the characters as adults, were released in 2011 and 2012. The books are generally classified as young-adult or kids’ fiction and mostly belong to the genre of soap opera, romance novel, or fantasy-adventure. They would primarily appeal to giggley, starry-eyed, pre-teen girls. There is not much of any real moral substance or didactic value to them.
What I do like about Stretching the Truth is the consequences of not telling the truth and the value of good friendships. What I don’t like about it is the emphasis on pop culture, the snooty cliquishness characterizing many of Jessica, Elizabeth, and Mary’s friends, and the boy-craziness of these girls (only in the sixth grade!). The euphemistic “Gee” is found rather frequently, and several references to dancing occur. The Wakefields seem to have a happy home, but of one of their friends’ fathers it is said, “Mr. Fowler was usually so busy traveling on business that he let Lila do just about anything she wanted.” The following statement about another friend somewhat summarizes the character of the book. “Jessica was furious, but she didn’t dare challenge Janet. Janet was too popular and important to cross.” It could be a lot worse, so I consider it fair.