Tag Archives: justin belson

SVH #41: Outcast

14 Oct

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week


The kids are still reeling from Regina Morrow’s tragic death at Molly Hecht’s party.  In order to channel that sorrow into something tangible, everyone decides to hate on Molly Hecht.  She’s feeling completely isolated at home and at school.  No one will talk to her: not her friends, not her former best friend Justin Belson, not even Elizabeth Wakefield, who brushes Molly off after she pleads for help.  Even her parents are pissed at her and basically blame her for Regina’s death.

Elizabeth doesn’t feel like she can talk to Molly, but then she realizes that maybe Molly really needs help, so she tries to recruit Justin, who all but hangs up on her the first time she asks.  She corners him at school and offers to help with his essay on Hamlet if he’ll help her with Molly, but he’s still extremely reluctant.  It takes a few more tries, but she finally convinces him to help her.

Buzz the drug dealer contacts Molly and asks her to meet him at Kelly’s.  She goes and lets him get her drunk and high before making out with him.  He tells her that he’s the only one who understands her, but in order for them to be together, they’ll have to run away because the cops are looking for him.  She says she has some money in an account, and the two make plans to go to Mexico.

Elizabeth follows Molly to the bank during lunch and figures out what’s going on.  She tells Justin, and the two of them worry about Molly for a while before finally heading over to her house to confront her.  When they get there, they see her getting into her mom’s car.  They follow her to Kelly’s where she gets into Buzz’s car.  Justin has Liz get out to call the police while he chases them down.  Buzz gets out of the car and tries to attack Justin with a knife, but he beats him off with a stick and a punch in the face.  The police come, Molly cries, and everyone’s okay.  Molly decides to become a better person.

The B-Plot involves Jessica wanting to do something in memory of Regina.  She recruits the rest of the Pi Beta Alphas into helping her create a scholarship fund for SVH students who have overcome adversity of some sort.  It is a success, thanks largely to Ned Wakefield, whose law firm will handle the financial aspects of it.  Jessica feels good about herself but still mostly hates Molly Hecht.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Get out of here!’ he screamed, raising a hand as if to hit her.  ‘Get out of here and leave us alone!  You killed my sister!  You killed her!'” (50)
  • “No thanks.  I’ve been your scapegoat long enough, Elizabeth, so you can take your talking and shove it.” (113)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • This book begins right after the last one, when people are just leaving Regina’s memorial service.
  • Sweet Valley High has a language lab.  This strikes me as extravagant.
  • Mrs. Wakefield picks up Chinese food for dinner, and everyone goes crazy for it, seemingly forgetting that Ned Wakefield is allergic.
  • Molly Hecht has $2,314.83 in her savings account.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

People tend to react irrationally when something bad happens.  When tragedy strikes, a natural impulse is to look for something or someone to blame.  In this case, it’s Molly Hecht, who hosted the infamous party where Regina died.  But people’s automatic shunning of Molly seems so forced and so over-the-top that it’s difficult to believe.  Her parents, in particular, struck me as a weak plot point:

“No, Molly.  You’re staying in Sweet Valley, and you’re going to go to school every single day.  You’re going to face those kids and take it, and you’re not staying home sick or or dropping out or moving away.  You’re going to stay and take what’s coming to you,” her father says to her after she tries to explain her feelings.

This scene comes quickly after a scene at the Wakefields’ house, where Ned and Alice sit all three kids down for a family meeting and talk about drugs.  Both parents urge their children to always feel as if they can approach them about anything, and the family shares some wholesome moments.  But Molly’s family situation is much different: her parents are divorced, her dad lives in San Francisco, they don’t seem to like her, etc. etc.  Perhaps this is why she got into drugs, but that is never explained or even talked about.

I guess it doesn’t matter why the trashy girls do drugs.  It only matters when it’s someone who’s heroic and beautiful like Regina.

Lesson learned.

SVH #40: On the Edge

11 Oct

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks


Bruce Patman and Amy Sutton are totally hooking up, and pretty much everyone at Sweet Valley knows it except Bruce’s girlfriend, Regina Morrow.  Elizabeth worries over whether or not to say something to Regina, but Jessica convinces her that it might only make things worse.  The twins throw a barbeque, and Bruce and Amy hook up behind a tree.  Elizabeth tries to distract Regina while Jeffrey intercedes, but Regina’s not completely stupid and sees what’s going on.  She freaks out and yells at Elizabeth, Bruce, and Amy.  She storms out and goes home.

Both Bruce and Elizabeth try to talk to her in the days that follow, but Regina shuts them down.  She starts hanging out with pseud-bad boy Justin Belson, who’s on academic probation because of cutting class.  He’s friends with a lot of the shadier kids at SVH, including some druggies.  People try to warn Regina about Justin and his friends, but she’s not very receptive and thinks that she knows him better, he’s complicated and misunderstood, etc.

Regina and Justin go to a wild party at Molly Hecht’s house.  Everyone who’s there is excited about the possibility of a drug dealer named Buzz showing up.  Even though Nicholas Morrow, Elizabeth, and Bruce all warned Regina that the party was bad news, she goes anyway, despite being completely uncomfortable with the situation.  At the party, people are drinking beer and smoking the marijuana.  Regina coughs because the air is thick with smoke, and Molly Hecht and Jan Brown make fun of her.  Buzz shows up and everyone crowds around him to look at his little baggie of cocaine.

Elizabeth has been angsting over what to do about Regina being at this party.  I don’t know how it’s her business, but apparently it is, because she calls Nicholas, who thanks her and races out to his car to go to the party.  He gets pulled over for speeding, and when he can’t produce his driver’s license, the police take him to the station.  I don’t know about you guys, but here in the U.S., drivers have 24 hours to produce their license.  He finally gets the police to listen to him about the party, and they head out towards Molly Hecht’s house.

Justin can tell that Regina’s uncomfortable and promises that they’ll leave soon, but he’s worried that Buzz is trying to get Molly hooked on heroin, and so he wants to be there–to stop her, I guess?  Regina sits at the table with the cocaine and watches it get cut into lines.  She’s teased for being naive, and then she decides that it looks harmless, so she does two lines of it.  Her heart starts beating super fast and it’s clear that something’s wrong.  Justin tries to get someone to call an ambulance but Buzz is like, “ARE YOU CRAZY THERE ARE DRUGS HERE!” and Regina’s gotten pale and weak.  The cops and Nicholas burst in and Regina’s rushed to the hospital.

Bruce and Liz are called to the hospital and wait with the Morrows.  The doctors come out and tell them that Regina suffered a heart attack due to the cocaine and she’s dead.  Everyone cries.  A memorial service is held a week later, and everyone cries some more.

The almost nonexistent B-Plot involves Amy and Bruce in their attempts to gather information about drugs in Sweet Valley for a school project.  They meet up with Amy’s cousin Mimi, who tells them all about Buzz, the drug dealer who will be at Molly’s party.  Apparently he’s the biggest pusher at Sweet Valley College and the police have been trying to catch him for a while.  This seems mostly like exposition to further the plot along.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Regina knew her parents would die if they knew where she was.  As it was, they hadn’t been thrilled when Justin had shown up wearing  a leather jacket.  Even with his chiseled features, he looked slightly tough–a little older than guys she knew at school and definitely more streetwise.” (59-60) [Blogger’s note: Her parents have a problem with a leather jacket but not an attempted date rapist?]
  • “According to Justin, authority, no matter what kind, was bad.  If someone told you not to do something, chances were you should go ahead and do it–if only to show them how stupid rules were in the first place.” (90)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Amy Sutton’s cousin Mimi, who is helping provide information for the project she’s doing with Bruce, is only 19 but is apparently a junior in college.
  • Justin Belson’s life is messed up because his dad was murdered during a robbery at the liquor store he owned.
  • The ghostwriter spells Secca Lake wrong, and then, only a page later, claims that Bruce’s vanity license plates on his car read Bruce 1.  This is a falsity and very close to blasphemy, as we know that his license plate reads 1Bruce1.
  • Molly Hecht’s party starts really early.  Like, 7pm early.  I wasn’t invited to a lot of parties in high school, but I do know that a 7pm start time would make Molly’s party the place to not be.
  • Nicholas reads “Dirge without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay at Regina’s memorial service.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

“We don’t know exactly what happened yet,’ the internist said wearily.  ‘All we can say for sure right now is that Regina took a lethal amount of cocaine tonight and experienced an extremely rare reaction–rapid acceleration of the heartbeat, which brought on sudden cardiac failure.  It’s possible that a heart murmur she’s had since birth may have contributed to this…” (131)

It’s hard to snark on a novel that is actually pretty sad.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to, but it’s harder to do when the premise isn’t so flat-out ridiculous.  That being said, there are a few things worth mentioning in this analysis.

The first is that I’m uncomfortable with how ignorant everyone seems to be about cocaine.  Now, granted, I was born after the characters of this world (although we graduated high school around the same time in terms of publishing dates.  Haha), so I went through the DARE program in the early 90s.  I lived in a world where drug awareness and scare tactics were used from an early age.  We were warned of the dangers of ALL drugs and were told to STAY AWAY.

I’m not going to debate the effectiveness of such programs, because it’s sort of irrelevant.  At any rate, we were made aware that drugs could be dangerous.  What is surprising to me is that the teens of Sweet Valley seem to be ignorant of this.  None of the people at the party seem to think that cocaine could be dangerous.  They laugh off Regina’s questions and Buzz even says something about how he can’t believe that people are telling lies about cocaine being dangerous or addictive (I realize this is part of his business strategy, but bear with me).  At the hospital, after finding out about Regina, Bruce asks if the cocaine had been poisoned.  This leads me to believe that he can’t imagine the drug alone could hurt her.  Pssh.  Whatever.

The last thing I want to talk about is how Regina’s death is actually explained.  The doctor said that she took a “lethal” dose of cocaine and this exacerbated a potentially pre-existing condition caused by a heart murmur.  But if the dose was lethal, couldn’t that just have been it?  People can overdose on the drug.  The word “lethal” was in his description of what she took.  Doesn’t lethal mean death?  Why did they have to over-complicate her death with the discussion of a heart problem?  Moreover, how is it possible that they never caught this hypothetical heart murmur over the course of her extensive medical treatments?  I know that the treatments focused on her hearing, but you’re telling me she never had a physical?  Really?

At any rate, someone’s gonna be blamed for the loss of an innocent, and that person is gonna be Molly Hecht.