Sweet Valley High #86: Jessica Against Bruce

SVH086The moral of the story: Girls are just as stupid as boys.

The Big Deal: No parties or dances. No fun.


The International Federation of Teachers has chosen Sweet Valley for some honor that I don’t understand, but it means that for the next three Thursdays, teachers from all over the world will be hanging out at Sweet Valley High. Liz hopes she’ll get picked to host the teachers and show them around the school. And of course she does, along with Todd, Enid, Penny and some other nerds.

Bruce keeps talking about how totally bored he is with Sweet Valley. He comes to school one day wearing a leather jacket with a big white X on the back and says he’s created a club for “real men who know real excitement when they see it.” The twins think he looks like an ass. Bruce spends his lunch trading wisecracks with Jessica, who doesn’t think Bruce is being fair about his club. She decides to try to join. Sam is in Colorado for a month, so Jessica has nothing better to do, anyway.

The Federation of Teachers show up, and Liz and Todd take them to the cafeteria at lunchtime. They walk in to find Jessica and Bruce at the center of a loud debate. The foreign teachers act all scandalized, but Liz manages to convince them it’s all practice for a debate tournament. At the end of the argument, Bruce relents and says Jessica can join the club.

Jessica goes to Bruce’s house that night. On a table in the basement is a roulette wheel divided into four sections, one each for Bruce, Ronnie Edwards, Tad Johnson and Jessica – all the members of the club so far. Jessica spins the wheel and it stops on her name, which means she has to perform a dare. And her dare is to drive to the bottom of the hill … with no headlights! I’m frightened, but she totally gets there in one piece, and when she does, Bruce presents her with her very own Club X jacket. She goes home and tells everything to Liz, who disapproves but agrees to keep it all a secret. She’s pissed, though, because the club keeps pulling all these crappy stunts (pulling the fire alarm, gluing lockers shut, etc.) while the foreign teachers are visiting and it’s making Sweet Valley High look less than perfect.

The next night, Bruce looks surprised when the wheel lands on Ronnie’s name instead of Jessica’s. Ronnie’s dare is to jump over the fence at the community pool and dive off the high dive. Ronnie does it, and then Jessica feels like showing off, so she does it, too. They all go out to the Dairi Burger afterward. Michael Harris sees them looking all cool in their jackets and decides he wants to join. Not long after, Charlie Cashman and Jim Sturbridge join, too. Even with so many names on the wheel, it keeps landing on Jessica. One of her pranks is to smoke a cigarette in Mr. Cooper’s office. Another day, Ronnie shows everyone how to hotwire a car because that’s going to be that night’s stunt. The wheel lands on Jessica again and now she knows Bruce is rigging it because of his smug attitude. So she hotwires his Porsche and drives it to the Dairi Burger. Which is probably one of the coolest things Jessica’s ever done.

For her next stunt, Bruce tells Jessica she has to walk across the train trestle at the edge of town. He says it’s okay because he knows there aren’t any trains scheduled for that day. So Jessica starts across and has a total Stand by Me moment when a train starts to come. She pulls a Vern and trips and falls, then manages to get to her feet and jump to the ground with no time to spare.


After that, Jessica plans to quit Club X, but she wants to get revenge on Bruce first. There’s going to be an assembly at school dedicated to the foreign teachers, and Jessica wants Bruce to rig the PA system to play KZZP, “the hardest hard-rock radio station in the valley.” She manages to get everyone out of the basement by saying she saw a crack in Bruce’s windshield. When she’s alone, she examines the roulette wheel and finds a magnet under the piece of cardboard with her name on it. She moves the magnet to Bruce’s name, and he looks shocked when it lands on him.

In the auditorium, Jessica sits next to Liz, who tells her Mr. Cooper asked her to deliver a speech for the teachers. Jessica is upset because she knows the prank will embarrass Liz. She runs out of the auditorium to find Bruce and tell him not to do it, but Mr. Collins stops her in the hallway. He’s suspicious and says he knows the club has been pulling all the stupid pranks around school. He drags Jessica back to the assembly and makes her sit with him. In the middle of Liz’s speech, KZZP starts to play. Bruce is caught and given two weeks of detention. Not one to go down gracefully, Bruce gives up the names of the other club members, and they’re all given one week in detention.

Jessica is grounded, which sucks because Sam is coming home that night and she desperately needs to see him. Even though Liz is super pissed about the assembly, she lets Jessica convince her to pretend to be her while she sneaks out to see Sam. Jessica dresses as Liz and goes to the Dairi Burger, where she tells Sam everything and says she loves him. Aw.


Tad, Bruce, and Ronnie were leaning against a tree, hands in their jacket pockets and grins of superiority on their faces.

I feel like they’re going to break into song at any second. “Here come the Jets!”

“Where’s our Jeep?” Elizabeth demanded. “And what are you doing with Bruce’s car?”

“Oh,” Jessica said lazily. “That. I stole it.”

Okay, for real, this is one time where I really just love Jessica.

And she didn’t know what she was going to tell her parents, either. They were bound to notice her coming home at five-thirty every afternoon for a week.

Since when? I thought the twins had to make dinner every night because they have absent workaholic parents.

The Cover: I swear, Jessica gets uglier and uglier with every passing book. But check out those totally awesome jackets.


  • Merrie August 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I piecked this book up at a garage sale some years back. I still miss the quarter I wasted on it. 🙂


  • Raj August 4, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    “I swear, Jessica gets uglier and uglier with every passing book. But check out those totally awesome jackets.”

    She does look really weird in the cover, but I think its a welcome change…usually she has that annoying smirk in her face, which makes her look reeallly ugly! I think its also the hairdo 😛


  • Jenna August 4, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Jessica does look like shit in this book, but I love when she is a ‘bad girl’ and does daring things. It reminds me of why she’s marginally cooler than stick-in-the-mud Liz. And, not gonna lie, I’d do very bad things to Bruce Patman. I’m a sucker for tall, dark and handsome. He’s the only SVH guy that doesn’t look like a total pussy, even though he’s a douche/rapist.


    Karla Reply:

    I would so take a whip to Bruce Patman.


  • HelenB August 5, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Jess is kind of amazing in this book, wow.

    LOL @ the scandalised teachers though – because in foreign countries kids never act badly!


  • Kate August 5, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Jenna, Bruce looks EXACTLY like this kid I went to high school with who was a bit on the geeky side. He really could have been the cover model. It’s funny how that makes me see the cover… to me he looks like a nerd in a leather jacket.


  • Daners Isadora- Bond Girl August 5, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Jessica totally gained one cool point.


  • Smiley August 12, 2009 at 10:20 am

    The pictures of Bruce always made me think of Robbie Benson in the 80’s. Remember him?


  • Hina December 18, 2010 at 4:15 am


    I LOVE the Stand By Me reference you made there! Because I do so love 80’s Keifer!


  • Marian October 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    “The foreign teachers act all scandalized”

    hahaha Your recaps are awesome.


  • The Noble Margo May 21, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Wow, Bruce Patman had a Tyler Durden moment! If only Club X had evolved into Fight Club….


  • wendy August 9, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Since when does Amy have light blue eyes? See page 27. She has gray eyes. Did anyone on Francine’s staff keep track of basic stats?


  • Dane Youssef July 29, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Oh Christ on a cracker, look at those jackets! So… Club X is a guild of ’50’s greasers…

    Heh. Jessica’s trying to be a leather-clad biker-chick. It’s so damn funny… Damn… funny. My sides hurt.

    I remember… the TV show tried to adapt this one. Notice I said “tried.”

    –Sincere As Always, Dane Youssef


  • Dane Youssef July 30, 2014 at 3:17 am

    This is one of the books that the show tried to make into an episode.

    I really do wish that the SABAN program had made a lot more of an effort to made the show follow the books property. At least a little more. Or at all, even.

    But SABAN tured this soap-opera into a sit-com.

    It’s true that the illustrations for the girls kept getting more and more hideous. No wonder they started using live-action photos of the Daniels twins.

    It was a good idea. The illustrator’s down-syndrome must have progressing with each passing book cover being released.

    Oh by-the by, I do remember reading this and thinking, “They labeled their leather-jackets with huge X’s? They want to stand out like that? I know they’re a gang, but shouldn’t something like that should be more incognito? Shouldn’t they not broadcast a destructive criminal operation like the one they’ve got?”

    But I guess when it comes to these books, logic doesn’t just take a back seat. It stays hacked-up and mulched in a plastic bag in the trunk.

    –As Always, Dane Youssef


  • Elizabeth is Too Perfect August 13, 2017 at 8:52 am

    The “Club X” episode was a lot better, although I did enjoy the visitors from the other schools who thought that there was something fundamentally wrong with the American kids.

    JW was also a slu tty showoff when she disrobed and jumped into the swimming pool in the middle of the night. Don’t her parents ever keep track of where she goes and what she does? Most people on this site are probably in their 30s and just love to bash this series. I know i do. It REALLY upset me that the parents and Steven were absent in the TV show. These twins have more freedom than anyone else I know. Most of us grew up ebing cross examined by parents ie where are you going?/ How long are you going to be? Ring us every half hour so we know that you are okay and I am sure that most of us were not allowed out on a schoolnight.

    why would anyone ruin a perfectly good leather jacket by placing an X on it?


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