Thursday, October 06, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - On The Edge

Hi! I'm back! So Dubai was tremendous fun while also being kinda bananas and like a futuristic colony on Mars with the HOTTEST AND HUMIDIEST HEAT OF ALL TIME. Then when we got back there was a bit of that aimless newly unemployed dawdling where the days just sort of went in amongst endless Friends repeats and reading books and catching some Pokemon and getting into Grace & Frankie on Netflix. Anyway, here we are. Oh wait, HAVE YOU SEEN they're going to make Sweet Valley High graphic novels? SO MANY FEELINGS.

Okay. It's here. IT'S TIME.

Sweet Valley High #40: On The Edge
 

Jessica Wakefield is admiring her reflection in the locker room before cheerleading practice (because she's basically Alyssa Edwards when it comes to mirrors - and HOW GOOD is Drag Race Allstars this year you guys? KATYA FTW) when the rest of the squad come tumbling in, led by Amy Sutton. Amy's buzzing because she's convinced that Bruce Patman is crazy about her and even Jessica thinks she's particularly "boy crazy" lately, which is the pot calling the kettle a ho, but there you have it. Maria Santelli chimes in to say that it really did seem like Bruce was into Amy when they all ran into him in the hall on their way to the locker room just now, though. Jessica's not convinced that Bruce will dump Regina for Amy, but decides it's been a while since there was any proper drama so maybe someone shaking things up a bit won't be any harm.

Amy and Bruce have been doing a project together for their health class about DRUGS in Sweet Valley. Gasp! DRUGS? YES, DRUGS! Anyway, she's over at the Patman mansion to work on it with Bruce and purrs at him and touches his hand and acts all coy while telling him about a dream she had where they made out until Bruce gives in and kisses her. Dammit Bruce! He pretty much immediately reverts back to obnoxious would-be rapist Bruce, giving Amy a cocky smile and saying he'd forgotten how much fun it was to spread around "the old Bruce magic with more than one girl" and insists that he'll be able to convince Regina to let him do what he wants. Eugh and boo. Also, it's kinda gas that Amy is presented as a villain here for plotting to score with Bruce when stealing boyfriends is just a regular Tuesday afternoon for Jessica.

At school, Regina is feeling like there's something up with Bruce, since he's now cancelled on her for two Friday nights in a row to work on the longest project in the world with Amy and now he's stood her up for lunch in the cafeteria. A dude called Justin Belson asks Regina if he can sit with her when he sees that she's on her own and Regina says yes despite the fact that she doesn't know him at all, because she hates eating alone. Justin is cute and tall and chiselled but has an air of danger about him too because he was recently on academic probation and hangs out with Molly Hecht and Jan Brown, who are apparently Bad News. Justin and Regina chat over lunch and he reveals that he has three copies of the Ingenue magazine that she was on the cover of, which is totally normal and not alarming. Why three? Why could he possibly need that many? Regina. You in danger, girl. He asks her out to a game in LA that night, but Regina turns him down because she reckons Bruce wouldn't like it, but agrees to have lunch with him again the following week.

Jessica and Elizabeth are planning a barbeque for Saturday evening and Elizabeth is apprehensive about the fact that Regina, Bruce and Amy will all be there, now that she knows Amy and Bruce shifted, but Jessica is excited at the prospect of a bit of scandal. Elizabeth feels like she should give Regina a heads up, particularly since the whole cheer squad knows that something is going on too and it seems unfair to leave poor (not actually literally poor though), beautiful, formerly deaf Regina in the dark. Jessica is horrified and pleads with her not to, as it'll be obvious that Regina will have found out via Jessica and Amy will be mad at her. Elizabeth isn't convinced until she talks it over with her boyfriend Jeffrey, who advises her to stay out of it as it could easily come to nothing and just be a load of big talk from Amy. Shockingly, Elizabeth actually minds her own beeswax for once in her life, but during the barbeque Bruce and Amy sneak off to shift each other behind a tree and Elizabeth sends Jeffrey over to tell them to cop on while she distracts Regina who is sitting alone by the pool. However, Regina sees them emerging from the dark behind Jeffrey looking all sheepish and blows up at everyone for making a fool of her, including Elizabeth and then demands the keys to Bruce's Porsche so she can drive herself home and storms out, but not before telling Amy that she hates her. Ha, fuck you Amy! But seriously, the moral of the story here is that you better let Elizabeth Wakefield meddle in your life when she wants to unless you want everything to go to shit.

The following day, Regina thinks about her relationship with Bruce and decides that they had been drifting apart anyway and she could sense that he was getting bored now that everything was normal with them and there was no transatlantic romance like when she had to go to Switzerland for a series of treatments to regain her hearing and like when she came home to Sweet Valley only to be held hostage by armed and disgruntled former employees from her father's company. I love this series, you guys. She avoids Bruce's calls all day and decides to go out with Justin Belson to take her mind off things. He takes her out to notoriously shady spot Kelly's for some reason and tells her about how his father was stabbed to death when his liqour store was robbed two years ago and that his mother checked out has been on pills since then. Y'know, date-type chat. He also tells her about his ex-girlfriend Molly Hecht who got him through all these troubled times but who is now hanging out with people in the "real hardcore drug set" and how worried he is about her. Regina finds all his tragedy just ~fascinating~ and decides to do her best to be a good friend to him and fix him or whatever.

At school, Regina and Justin start to hang out together and even Jessica is mildly worried about the development, wondering why Regina is getting friendly with someone who she'd have so little in common with. Regina and Justin have lunch together, when Molly Hecht shows up and is alternately mean and insincere and then friendly and nice to Regina, telling them that she's having an "anything-goes sort of party" when her mother is out of town that weekend and that some dude called Buzz is meant to show up and there's no way someone called Buzz in this series is anything but Big T Trouble. Later that day, Elizabeth tries to talk to Regina, who defiantly mentions that Justin is taking her out on his motorbike after school, so we get another great lil backstory recap of how motorbikes = DANGER after Elizabeth came off one in a crash and ended up in a coma. Liz wants to apologise for what happened at the barbeque but also ends up warning Regina about Justin and his friends and how "some of those kids are heavily into drugs. And not just marijuana either." Elizabeth is such a mam. Anyway all she ends up doing is pissing Regina off, who tells her to butt out and leave her alone and then Elizabeth starts crying. She's just not used to people telling her to stay the fuck out of their business, guys!

Aw Regina! :( Also, this black and white headshot of Bruce is kinda gas. Did he give it to her? Has he got a stack of them lying around? What's going on with his GIANT LIPS? I need answers, people!

Bruce and Amy are still working on this never ending, foreshadowy project and are meeting Amy's cousin Mimi who works in a drug rehabilitation centre for the lowdown on the Sweet Valley drug scene. Mimi mentions that she's heard about Molly Hecht's upcoming party and tells them that this dude Buzz who's rumoured to show up is the biggest coke dealer at her college and that if they know anyone going to it to warn them, because he's a "smooth operator" known for getting good kids to try "something dangerous". Bruce immediately jumps up to call Regina because he knows she'll be going and Amy barely contains her jealousy. However, like Liz, all Bruce ends up doing is annoying Regina by telling her to be careful at the party and she hangs up on him. On Saturday, Elizabeth hears about Mimi's warning from Jessica and calls Regina too, who is by now thoroughly and justifiably fed up of people being on her case, because she's also had her brother Nicholas badgering her about staying away from Justin all week. She starts to feel bad about being cold with Elizabeth on the phone (just Elizabeth though, obvs) and writes a mysterious letter before going to meet Justin. They head to Casey's Place for a soda before the party and Regina tries to talk him out of going because she's starting to feel uneasy about the whole thing when it seems like there'll inevitably be trouble there. Justin is adamant about going though because he's still in love with Molly and wants to keep her out of danger.

Elizabeth and Jessica are getting ready to go over to Lila's house to watch movies on the Fowler's big screen with a bunch of the other kids from school and Elizabeth is fretting about Regina and trying to think of some way of stopping her from going to Molly's party. Jessica is trying out a spray-on hair colour and putting streaks of red in her glorious Aryan mane and suggests that Liz calls Nicholas and makes it his problem instead. Liz thinks it's a genius idea and gets him on the phone to tell him about this dodgy party and Nicholas says he's going over there to take her home. Unfortunately, Nicholas is in such a hurry to get there that he runs out of the house without his wallet and then gets pulled over for speeding, but his licence is at home in the wallet so the cop takes him down to the station, which seems a bit unnecessary. Meanwhile, Regina and Justin arrive at the party and this ain't no Wakefield barbeque or Lila Fowler shindig with decorations and boardgames and the Droids, oh no. The house is dark and the music is loud and the whole place smells like beer and cigarettes and NO GOOD CAN COME OF THIS PRETTY REGULAR-SOUNDING PARTY. Someone hands her a beer and then Justin goes off to dance with Molly, so Molly's weird friend Jan Brown comes over and is mean to Regina, making fun of her for never having tried drugs before and accusing her of stealing Justin away from Molly. Then the doorbell rings and Molly leads the famous Buzz into the room, telling everyone to be quiet as she announces his arrival like it's Downton Abbey, rather than a house party. The music gets turned down and everything, it's exceedingly lame and these kids have no chill.

Regina is having a terrible time, feels woozy from the beer and wants to leave, but when she tries to sneak away, Justin spots her and brings her over to sit with the group circled around Buzz like he's Drug Santa, who reveals a bag of cocaine with a flourish and a "would you all just take a look at this!" because he's the lamest dealer of all time. Justin leans in to tell Regina that he doesn't want to leave Molly while Buzz is around because Buzz has apparently been trying to convince Molly to try heroin. When Buzz starts cutting up the coke, Regina asks what he's doing and everyone overhears and laughs at her. Then lousy Jan Brown makes another comment accusing Regina of stealing Molly's boyfriend and Regina decides she's had enough of everyone's bullshit and wants to do something out of character to shut everyone up so she tries a line. Molly and Jan think she needs another so Jan and Buzz sort of force her to do another one while she's too dazed to protest and lads, I didn't expect to be so affected by this but it's really sad, particularly when you know how it's all going to shake out. :((( Regina thinks she can hear drums, but it's actually her heartbeat going bananas and when she looks like she's going to pass out, Justin gets her onto a couch and asks Molly to call 911 but Buzz is like "eh, nope". However, in the meantime Nicholas has told the cops at the station about how he's worried for his sister who is at a house party with drugs in it and at that exact moment, two cops, followed by Nicholas, burst in the front door.

Everyone is freaking out and Buzz makes a break for the back door, while a terrified Justin explains that Regina has had two lines of coke and one of the cops radios for an ambulance. Regina sees that Nicholas is beside her and fitfully Lifetime movies her way through telling him it isn't anyone's fault and that he's always been such a good brother and asks where Liz is (OH PLEASE) and Bruce too and that she wants to see them, mumbling "Nicholas, find them" before passing out. Of COURSE her dying words are her looking for Elizabeth Wakefield. Not just Bruce, who she was so recently in love with, not her parents, but A Fucking Wakefield Twin. Nicholas gets in touch with Elizabeth at Lila's house and Elizabeth, Jeffrey, Bruce and Enid all rush to the hospital, Bruce says it's all his fault for acting like such a jerk, Elizabeth tells him it "isn't a question of fault" and then decides that if anyone is to blame it's her, because it always has to be about her.  They get to the hospital, where Regina is in with the doctors and Nicholas tells the group that she had a heart attack from the cocaine. A few hours go by and then the doctor breaks the news that Regina has died and that she had an extremely rare reaction to the coke which caused an accelerated heartbeat which led to cardiac failure. And also that she may have had a heart murmur since birth, but like, which is it, Mister Doctor. And surely a heart murmur is something that would have come up over all her years of medical treatments and fancy doctors. Either way, imagine reading this as an 11 year old, my god it'd frighten the absolute shite out of you. No wonder so many women have told Francine Pascal that Regina Morrow is the reason they've never tried cocaine. Reading it now though, it's a bit like...this doesn't seem entirely legit, Ghostwriter. Her accelerated heartbeat stuff sounds more like a panic attack rather than DEATH, but there you go.

At school on Monday, there's an assembly so Mr. Cooper the headmaster can address the students about what happened. There's no sign of Justin or Molly and it's just as well, because Bruce keeps saying he wants to kill Justin and then Caroline Pearce, Winston Egbert and Lila Fowler each do a heavy-handed "well I'm never going to try cocaine now that it turns out you can die from it" bit. At the assembly, Cooper stresses that Regina's parents want them all to know that no one is responsible for Regina's death and that no one is to be treated as though it's their fault, so that'll definitely work and put an end to any bad feeling towards Molly or Justin. Done aaand done. That evening, Elizabeth gets the mystery letter that Regina wrote before the party and it's all super poignant and about how sorry Regina is and how she sees that Elizabeth had her best interests at heart and there's even a PS that mentions how she hopes their friendship will last forever. Elizabeth bawls crying but is also relieved "knowing that Regina had forgiven her before her death", because you can't get into heaven with a grudge against a Wakefield twin, duh.

There's a memorial at school on Friday for Regina and Nicholas has asked Elizabeth to make a speech and I'm sorry, but it's not as if Elizabeth and Regina were bffs or anything. Enid is Elizabeth's closest friend, and if anything, Elizabeth probably hung out with Lila Fowler more than Regina since she moved to Sweet Valley, but we're supposed to buy lines like "the loneliness she felt was so profound, she didn't think it would ever go away" as if Regina was someone Elizabeth spent all of her time with, rather than a nice girl she knew from school. Basically, if someone even vaguely adjacent to Elizabeth's life dies you'd better believe that it's all going to be about her. Anyway, she speaks at the thing and Nicholas reads a cheery poem called Dirge Without Music and everyone is sad and DON'T DO DRUGS KIDS BECAUSE YOU WILL HAVE A HEART ATTACK AND DIE.

Notable outfit:
This book is too preoccupied with evil drugs for any fun or frivolity in the way of outfits. Regina wears a "cardigan sweater" and "grey flannel pants" to the party and maybe the real tragedy here is that she died in such an ugly outfit. RIP Regina, you beautiful square.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2 (TWO? I mean I know this is Regina's book but this is an outrage.)

Appearances of the word 'drugs': 23

4 comments :

  1. Regina, you in danger girl! All the lols!

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  2. The Downton Abbey bit made me lol. This is unrayyyyl thank you <3

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  3. Omg that headshot reminds of me of Joey in 10 Things I Hate About You. Here's my headshot...bahahaha.
    Also I have a shit ton of these books if you ever need more or are missing one. Just found them ALL at my mom's. I think I even have the preteen ones! :)

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  4. "RIP Regina, you beautiful square" slayed me. This is the best!!

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