Sweet Valley High #47: Troublemaker

The moral of the story: The old Bruce is back.

The Big Deal: Phi Epsilon party


Julie Porter has been teaching Liz how to play the recorder. They’re about to leave school together one afternoon when they see Ronnie Edwards, Winston and Bruce down the hall and then hear someone talking from inside a locker. Bruce opens the locker and lets a kid out. It’s some kid named Josh who is a good friend of Julie’s. He’s pledging Phi Epsilon. Liz remarks that pledging sure has changed since her ex-boyfriend Todd was a member. He never would have done something as mean as stuff someone in a locker. On the way to Liz’s house, Julie thinks about how cute Bruce Patman is. Liz tells her she doesn’t think he’s such a nice guy and then tells Julie about Jessica’s experience with him. She does not mention the fact that she herself was almost raped by him. (I’m still not over it.)

Jessica is planning to try out for a play, and the part requires dancing. There’s still a barre in the Wakefields’ basement from when the twins were in sixth grade, so Jessica starts practicing. She’s appalled to find she can’t even do the simplest of ballet moves anymore, which leads me to believe the ghostwriter has no idea how limber cheerleaders need to be. Jessica really screws up her audition, falling all over the place, so she’s surprised when she gets a callback. The drama teacher tells her to make sure she reads the play carefully. She doesn’t, and at the callback she thinks it’s just a test when the teacher tells her to do the same combination with even worse mistakes. Jessica finally realizes she’s trying out for a comic role, not the romantic lead.

Liz and Julie are at Casey’s with Josh when Bruce and four other Phi Epsilon brothers come in. They each order two desserts, eat one and give the other to Josh. They tell him to eat all five extra desserts if he wants in the fraternity. He gets through three of them and then gets sick. Liz and Julie take him outside, and Bruce comes after them in a few minutes with a club soda. Julie was mad at Bruce a second ago, but now she sees what a nice guy he really is. Bruce asks her to the Phi Epsilon party on Friday and she just about dies. She tells Josh and he reacts like anyone would, telling her to be careful because Bruce has a reputation. Julie gets defensive and convinces herself Josh is only saying those things because he’s jealous. Everyone in Sweet Valley has an ego problem. At school the next day, Liz also tries to warn her about Bruce, but Julie insists she can take care of herself.

At dinner that night, Liz tells her parents about Bruce asking Julie to the party. Jessica says Lila told her a rumor that Bruce had asked someone else, too. Liz tries to ask Lila about it the next day at school, but Lila just wants to talk about John Pfeiffer and his constantly calling her. She wants Liz to put something in her column about Lila seeing another guy, but Liz won’t do it. So Lila won’t tell her anything about the rumor.

Josh and the other pledges are at Bruce’s house, where they’re being forced to clean for the next night’s party. Bruce gets up to his usual jackassery and Josh is fed up. He and Bruce argue, then fight. A couple guys pull them apart and then Josh leaves. John Pfeiffer follows him and tells him Bruce has been having a hard time since Regina died and feels like he got too soft while they were together. John thinks Bruce sees his soft self in Josh so he’s trying to toughen him up. Or something. Some ridiculous attempt at psychology, anyway. Josh thanks John and drives past the school, where he sees Liz. He offers her a ride and they talk about Julie. Liz tells him about the rumor that Bruce has another date to the party, and Josh says they need to go tell her. So they go to her house and she gets all upset that she was Bruce’s second choice. But then she’s just happy that she’ll be at the party as Bruce’s date.

At the party, Bruce gives Julie a tour of the house and then leaves her alone for a while so he can flirt with the other girl he did, in fact, invite to the party. Liz sees him kiss Danielle, then cross the room to talk to Julie. Bruce and Julie go into the dark make out room, and a while later, Bruce comes back out and puts on some romantic music. Waiting for him to come back, Julie can’t believe what a nice guy he is, putting on her favorite music group. He comes back to the couch and they start kissing, then someone turns on the lights. Julie sees it’s Josh she’s making out with, not Bruce. Josh looks just as surprised as she is, but Julie thinks he was in on it anyway. It’s all been a setup for Bruce to humiliate Josh. Liz drives Julie home and Josh wanders into the food room. Winston tells him he’s sickened by Bruce’s stunt and says the fraternity used to be different. Josh is even more determined to get in so he can help get it back to the way it used to be.

At school, Bruce makes Josh do some more horrible pledge tasks and he keeps doing them. He manages to explain to Liz what happened at the party and asks her to tell Julie. She says she’ll try, and tells Josh he should pay more attention to Julie than to Phi Epsilon. Thank you, Liz, you meddlesome brat. Liz tries her best with Julie, but she refuses to believe Josh wasn’t in on the prank.

The next day at lunch, Bruce tells Josh to get a bunch of Jell-O and bring it to Julie. I guess that would be really embarrassing or something. Josh gets the Jell-O, but then he dumps it on Bruce’s lap. He quits the fraternity stuff, then he and Julie go outside and kiss. Later, Jessica is a big hit in the play. Hooray!


Try as she could, Elizabeth was unable to imagine why Bruce would ask Julie to the party. If he wanted to make his ex-girlfriend, Amy Sutton, jealous, he would have asked someone truly stunning. Something strange is going on, Elizabeth thought.

Liz is such a bitch. The worst part is that she turns out to be right. Oh, how I hate her.

Then John gave a hand signal to someone, who quickly turned on the stereo.

Is there a hand signal for “stereo” that I should know? Did John and this “someone” learn sign language? Or did they invent their own hand signal just for this purpose? If you’re across the room from someone and want them to turn on the stereo, you need to know the hand signal.

The Cover: I guess, from left to right, we have Josh, Julie and Bruce, but that doesn’t really look like the Bruce from covers past, does it? Maybe it’s just seeing him in profile for the first time.


  • Larissa May 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but the Bruce on this cover looks kinda…elfish? Like…Upturned nose high arched eyebrows…I kinda expect his ears to be pointy too. :-/


  • tracy london May 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    oh for the love of god…i am really sure ned and alice give a damn about julie and her mad crush on bruce effing patman. they don’t even care about their own demon spawn.


  • trappedintheattic May 22, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Bruce is looking a little Chuck Bassian there.


  • nugirl77 May 23, 2009 at 4:00 am

    THAT guy is Bruce PATMAN on the cover in the hideous button-down sweater?!? 1BRUCE1??? He looks like a preppy wimp! That’s not the devastatingly handsome and desirable Bruce we all love to hate! 😀

    I’m the same, Shannon – I just cannot get over how predatory Bruce was in Dear Sister (#7) and how he almost did rape Liz (ugh). She was mentally ill when he tried to – how sick was that? I found it well-nigh IMPOSSIBLE to swallow ANY of this falling-in-love business he went supposedly experienced with Regina Morrow.

    I haven’t read this story, but I do have the Sweet Valley Twins book Teacher’s Pet (SVT #2) and I like the reference to the twins’ sixth-grade interest in ballet, particularly the barre in the basement. It shows SOME authors in Francine Pascal’s team of ghostwriters pay attention to things like continuity. As for realism, or any attempt at realism, it sounds like the usual SVH fare: pop-psychology at its worst, and bullying problems solved by throwing Jell-O around. Another great post – thanks! 😀


  • Jeni May 23, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    To me it looks like Bruce is thinking “Damn, I’m so hot I can totally get away with wearing a cardigan” and Julie is mulling over how much she looks like Mary Lou Retton. I think Josh has a crush on Bruce – look at the intensity on his face. Pure, unrequited love.


  • Kathryn Rebecca March 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Liz is still the recorder, haha.


  • Kathryn Rebecca March 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Still rockin’, I meant.


  • Anonymous May 11, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Julie looks like she’s trying to be Molly Wringwald.


  • Anonymous May 11, 2013 at 2:52 am

    Oops, I mean Ringwald. Dup.


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