Super Star: Bruce’s Story

26 Feb

bruce

Estimated Elapsed Time: 6 long, grueling weeks.

Summary/Overview:

Apologies in advance for length: it’s a longer book and the story is ridiculously convoluted. 

Bruce and Roger are nervously awaiting the arrival of their grandfather, who is seventy but fairly spry.  He also still holds the family purse strings, I guess, because the entire family is on edge about this visit, which is six weeks long.  That’s not a visit so much as an internment, but okay.  At any rate, the family is throwing a 70th birthday bash for him, too.

After the party, Grandpa Patman announces that he’s going to host a contest for Roger and Bruce over the next four weeks while Mr. and Mrs. Patman are vacationing in Japan, the prize being control of the Patman empire.  OKAY THEN.  He gives each boy two thousand dollars in cash and tells them to invest it wisely.  Then he insists that both boys give up their credit cards and checkbooks for the month.  I don’t get it–is it an investment competition or a frugal-living one?  It can’t be both.  Bruce is horrified that a future he was once secure in is now up in the air and buckles down to win the thing.  Roger seems much less sure about this contest, and rightfully so, because it is LITERALLY THE DUMBEST THING EVER.

Bruce immediately buys concert tickets, gets in an expensive fender-bender, and then gambles away nearly all of his money.  He doesn’t seem to get the “investing” part of the contest.  Alternatively, Roger immediately invests $1500 dollars in some stocks for Robotech, a company that’s rising due to rumors of a takeover.  His stock soars for a while, and he feels invincible.  But then, surprise, it crashes, and he loses seven hundred dollars.

Meanwhile, Bruce is pursuing fellow hot senior Tracy Atkins, whose flattered but unsure she and Bruce have anything in common.  She prefers to spend her time sewing clothes and taking care of her little brother, who has a muscular disorder and goes to the Nicholson school, a special place for kids with disabilities.

BUT WAIT: the school is in dire financial straits and needs to raise $10,000 dollars or it faces closure.  She’s working with some other kids at Sweet Valley to raise money for the school.  Enter Harbor Days, a two-Saturday-long event that’s sort of like a carnival for vendors to sell food and goods and keep part of the profits while donating the rest to the school.  Bruce asks to help, in hopes of both impressing Tracy and also earning back the money he’s wasted.  Tracy suggests he write “The Bruce Patman Guide to Dating” and sell that [blogger’s note: I officially hope these two end up together because they are both INSANE].

Anyway, Bruce sabotages Roger’s first attempt at the Harbor Days sale by switching out his paint for water-soluble stuff and staging a water balloon fight near the painted hats so the colors run.  His dating guide sells like hot cakes, though, and he plans to secretly pocket all the money.  Roger totally knows it was Bruce and is super pissed, but whatever.  He plans to sell enlarged photos of people at the second day of the festival, and he swears his friend Lisa not to tell anyone.

Lisa, of course, tells Tracy, who tells Bruce.  But then Tracy gets suspicious of Bruce and follows him home, where she sees him about to tamper with the photo paper.  She’s mad, so she cries?  And runs away?  At any rate, she warns Roger, who confronts Bruce, who tells him that he thought about doing it but didn’t actually do it.  Whatever, I’m bored.

The second day of Harbor Days goes well, and Bruce sells homemade ice cream based on a recipe of Tracy’s grandma, even though the two are no longer on speaking terms.  Roger sells his photos.  The event raises just over three grand, which is way short of their projected fundraising efforts.  Everyone is sad, but then they get an anonymous donation and the school is saved! Hooray!

Grandpa Patman throws ANOTHER party to welcome back Mr. and Mrs. Patman and also to announce the winner of his STUPID contest.  When he goes to open both envelopes, though, he finds them empty, and he is LIVID.  Then Bruce and Roger tell their story about how they learned a valuable lesson on competition and family and gave all their money to the SAVE charity.  Whatever, they could have just donated that four grand at the start and saved me 200 pages.

Everyone wins!

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Patman’s maids (one of?) is named Miranda.
  • Grandfather Patman’s two mottos: “Get rich and work hard.” What a charmer!
  • Grandfather Patman’s party has a Latin-American band (I’m not sure what that means) and Latin-American-themed food. Why?  WHY?
  • Tracy’s brother has some sort of “genetic muscular disorder” that is never named but referred to as such several times. WEIRD.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Filled with contentment, Bruce settled back in his chair.  For just a minute, he was reminded that there was nothing better in the whole world than being Bruce Patman. Here he was, still in high school, and he could have anything he wanted.” (14)
  • “He couldn’t believe his ears.  Didn’t Tracy realize this was a dream of an invitation? From the modest look of the Atkinses’ home, she couldn’t be used to being offered fifty-dollar concert tickets.” (78)
  • “Put that in the Bruce Patman Guide to Dating, Bruce thought. Staying friends with a girl you used to date is definitely cool.” (208) YOU WILL NEVER SEE THIS GIRL AGAIN

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I had never read this one, because the only person who interests me less than Bruce Patman when it comes to a Super Star book all about them is Enid (I’m dreading that one, let me tell you).  After having read this one, I feel fairly confident in saying this: Bruce Patman is a total sociopath.

Setting aside the fact that this novel’s central premise–a financial competition between two seventeen-year-olds to see who will inherit the family business YEARS FROM NOW–is so skull-crushingly STUPID that I can’t believe I read the entire thing, let alone recapped it in detail, you’re still left with the fact that everyone in the world of Sweet Valley is completely off their rockers.

Grandpa Patman is nuts.  Mr. and Mrs. Patman are either clueless or cruel.  Bruce literally displays most of the criteria of someone with antisocial personality disorder (sociopathy).  Roger is a doormat.  All of these people blow, and yet this book goes on at length about them, and we are supposed to remain engaged.

Blech.

Spoilers for Sweet Valley Confidential: One thing that I couldn’t stop thinking about the entire way through this book was that Bruce ends up with Elizabeth.  There are so many things about the SVC book that make me angry (most of them have to do with how little respect Pascal seems to have for the fans), but this is one of the things I can’t let go of.  Bruce is the literal worst, and no amount of “growing up” would erase what a terrible fucking human being he is.

Whatever.  We’re on to SVH #66: Who’s to Blame?

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