Francine Pascal's "Sweet Valley High" series follows the misadventures of physically identical but otherwise different teenage twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. "Rumors" is the 37th novel in the series. It centers around a mysterious student and the rumors she attracts when she is asked to local ball by one of the school's most-desired hunks.
The "Sweet Valley High" books, set at a Southern California high school, were immensely popular with teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s. The first book was written in 1983. Though Francine Pascal's name is on the cover of them all, many of the books were authored by ghostwriters and there were spin-off series involving some of the original characters. The "Sweet Valley" franchise totaled hundreds of books, which sold 150 million copies worldwide. Though the books feature many characters, the Wakefield twins are generally central to the plots.
The "Sweet Valley" universe revolves mostly around the Wakefield twins: the sweet, studious Elizabeth and the mischievous, fun-loving Jessica. However, at the core of "Rumors" is the twins' fellow Sweet Valley High student, Susan Stewart. Susan is a wealthy, popular girl with a dark family secret; she becomes close friends with the Wakefield twins. Another key character is the series' villainous Lila Fowler, one of the wealthiest and unhappiest girls at school.
In "Rumors," Lila becomes jealous when she finds out that Susan has been invited to the Bridgewater Ball by one of the school's most wealthy and popular students. Susan's family background is quite mysterious. She lives with a guardian and does not know the identity of her mother. Rumors abound on campus that Susan's mother is a famous Hollywood actress. Lila decides to spread vicious lies about Susan's background. Feeling hurt and ashamed, Susan decides to find out the truth. When all is revealed, Susan is vindicated.
Pascal--born Francine Rubin in 1938--graduated from New York University in 1958. She is the author of a number of beloved teen series, such as "Fearless," which revolves around a teenage spy. Other works by Pascal include "The Strange Case of Patty Hearst," an adult non-fiction book, and "La Villa," an adult novel. In 2011, she published a novel about the twins set 10 years after high school, called "Sweet Valley Confidential."
- FictionDB: "Rumors" by Francine Pascal
- Good Reads: "Rumors"
- "Rumors"; Francine Pascal; 1987
- NPR; Twin Drama Returns in "Sweet Valley Confidential"; Rachel Syme; Apr. 10, 2011
- "New York Times"; Sweet Valley Twins Are Back, and, Like Readers, Fully Adult; Julie Bosman; Apr. 16, 2011
- Sweet Valley Ten Years Later: Francine Pascal