Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #43 – Sweet Valley High #47 – Troublemaker

I hope you’re ready for a Sweet Valley book you don’t feel as guilt about loving, because this next installment is light on the guilt, heavy on the pleasure. Hazing hijinks, really bad dancing, and putting a rich prick in his place awaits! 😉

“Troublemaker”

svh_troublemaker_b

Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins

No one at Sweet Valley High can understand why a shy, sweet and sensitive girl like Julie Porter is attracted to someone as conceited as Bruce Patman. But no matter what anyone says, Julie sees a warmth in Bruce’s piercing blue eyes whenever he is around her. Julie’s longtime neighbor and best friend, Josh Bowen, isn’t fooled though. He’s trying to get into the fraternity Phi Epsilon, which Bruce belongs to, and knows what the arrogant senior is really like. When he hears that Bruce has invited Julie to a party the fraternity is throwing as his date, Josh is sure that Bruce has a rotten trick in mind. Josh tries to warn Julie and she is furious. She’s never had a serious boyfriend before and she can’t understand why everyone is trying to spoil her happiness. But will Bruce make Julie happy, or is he just out to break another heart?

Remember the Bruce Patman before Regina Morrow happened? The arrogant asshat that you couldn’t stand and secretly wished would get hit by a car or suddenly become poor (even better) before love and a wonderful person transformed him into a fellow person… Well the old Bruce Patman is back. Ugh. And that is what this book is really about.

Josh Bowen is pledging Phi Epsilon because his older brother, Phil, was in it and said it was the whole reason to go to school – he loved it. And Josh admires his older brother, so he is determined to get through pledging and make his brother proud. This book definitely focuses more on hazing than it does some naïve school girl crush. Bruce seems to have it out for Josh especially and makes him eat five huge ice cream confections (think super sundaes) until he gets sick in front of everyone, stuffs him in lockers for long periods of time, makes him do public push-ups and constantly loses count when Josh is nearly finished… I could go on. What gets me is that Bruce is the douche, but most of the other members aren’t down with pledge torture and several of them constantly say how it is ‘getting out of hand’ and yet nobody tries to stop Bruce even once. Why the hell not?

Anyway, Elizabeth has become good friends with Julie Porter, who is helping her learn how to play the recorder. (Yes, Liz’s love affair with the recorder isn’t over yet, but at least it is much less shameful in this book.) Julie seems to have eyes for Bruce Patman, but it isn’t all that serious. She thinks she is handsome – he is. She thinks he is dreamy – he is on paper. And she is in denial or excuses his less than fine (douchey) qualities and behaviors… but isn’t this what you do with a crush? I mean she never loses herself for Bruce or compromises her values for Bruce and when she can no longer pretend he is an okay guy, she gets angry at Bruce. So not nearly the drama the book’s summary would have you believe.

Anyway, Bruce invites Julie to a party and Elizabeth and Josh both warn her about Bruce. They don’t try to dissuade her from going out with him, as much as they’re encouraging her to be alert and you know, not blind. Unbeknownst to Julie, Bruce has also invited this chick Danielle to the party as his date, and poor Julie is just a means to an end. Bruce charms Julie and acts like the perfect gentleman, eventually getting her on a couch where a bunch of people are making out. They’re about to kiss when Bruce suddenly gets up and tells Julie he wants to change the record so they can listen to something meaningful for their first kiss that is worthy of being remembered as “their song.” Poor naïve Julie is even more smitten because she lives for music.

A few minutes later, Bruce is back and they’re kissing and suddenly the lights come on and Julie is horrified! Everyone is staring at her and Bruce kissing, but it isn’t Bruce – it was Josh (and of course before the lights came on it was too dark to see). I don’t really understand how or why this horrifying. I mean I am really anti-PDA myself, but if there was an audience I would be just as horrified kissing the person I came to a party with, as I would be kissing someone else. Maybe that’s just me? Julie quickly leaves the party and now she is certain that Bruce is a mega jerk. But she also thinks Josh is just as bad, because he must have been in on the whole thing.

Except Bruce’s cruel setup was about lashing out at Josh, not Julie. So he wasn’t in on it. He was told that all of the pledges had to go to where Julie was and kiss the girl waiting for them, who would report on which of the pledges was the best kisser. Josh, you seem like a nice guy, but you’re about as naïve as Julie. So he did it, and was just as horrified. He tries to explain himself to Julie for days, but she refuses to have anything to do with him. Josh almost loses it on Bruce for the second time, and I am just waiting for him to deck Bruce. I want to see it happen. Actually, I want someone to take a baseball bat to Bruce’s Porsche and bust the windows out of his car. 😉

Josh is torn about whether he should finish out pledging for the fraternity, which is almost over, or just quit. After a bunch of other members talk him down and try to humanize Bruce (as if!) he decides to stick it out and hopes to get the fraternity back to what it used to be, before Bruce and his cronies charged themselves with running things. But he knows he has to make it right with Julie no matter what, because he actually does have feelings for her, and he can’t deny them anymore. Shocker, right?

Josh tries to man up and talk to Julie but she won’t take his calls and has her father lie about her being home. So, he asks Elizabeth to plead his case to Julie. She tries, but what can you do? A few days later, Bruce has the pledges acting like wait staff and serving everyone in the cafeteria. Josh just keeps telling himself he only has to get through three more days, and so many of the other guys have been so great about everything, he is determined. Until Bruce tries to get Josh to humiliate Julie again. Putting Josh down and embarrassing him is one thing, but going after the girl he loves – it’s on bitch! 😛

The thing is though, this humiliating thing is to go up to the lunch line and buy six cups of Jell-O and give them to Julie. Not dump them on her, or say anything about it, but just hand her a tray full of Jell-O. Again, I am trying to see how this would be embarrassing, but what happens next is priceless. Josh buys the Jell-O, all different colors and then mixes them together and heads over to Julie, but halfway there he stops, turns and quickly walks up to Bruce and dumps the entire tray of rainbow gelatin on Bruce’s lap. Yes! 🙂

Bruce shrieks like a little bitch (oh, how I love it) and goes on and on about his new pants, and how hard his tailor worked on them (yes he has his own private tailor, just one more reason to hate him). Josh goes over to Julie and apologizes and she finally sees the light and admits she has grown-up feelings for him too. They kiss, and Josh makes a joke about it being the second-best kiss of his life (the first being that party) and Julie gets her flirt on. I hate to say it, but they really do make a cute couple.

The big side story of this book was Jessica trying out for a school play. She has to brush up on her ballet skills (she and Elizabeth took ballet in middle school) because the part requires it, but she kind of stinks. She blows the audition but the drama teacher loved her performance and she gets a callback. She is surprised she did, and Elizabeth tells her she should actually read the play (for like the fifteenth time) but Jessica is just too busy. When Jessica gets the lead she is mortified to learn that it is a comic role about a girl who just can’t dance, but thinks she can. Jess almost drops out, but Elizabeth points out that it’s the character roles that people really appreciate or something like that. Jessica sticks with it, and she and her stinky dancing are a big hit! 😉


I think the only thing that could have made this book better is if Bruce lost his status within the fraternity and Josh was able to join since most of the guys were pretty nice and it was important to him. I really want Bruce knocked down a peg, or ten.

Also, I appreciated that no one in this book needed a good shake. The girls didn’t play their normal pathetic roles and there weren’t any misunderstandings or other things that reminded me how idiotic the people of Sweet Valley are as a whole. And this made me happy.

I could totally relate to Julie in this book because who hasn’t dated a ‘project’ before. I didn’t marry one, but my biggest dating blunders in high school and college were all about making the bad guy decent, the rough guy polished, the asshole player guy whipped. But you know, it just never works out the way you think it will. 😛

Until next time…

-DMW

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