This is a very special Sweet Valley High post because by the end of it, Sweet Valley will never be the same. Someone is going to die. It will mark the second death of the series, but the first unexpected death, and the first death of a major character who was a central figure in several of the books up until now…
“On The Edge”
Sweet Valley Scale: 5 out of 5 Twins
Regina Morrow and Bruce Patman have been together for months, but when the beautiful and devious Amy Sutton is paired up with Bruce on a school project, she schemes to steal Bruce away from Regina. Little by little, Bruce’s resolve to stay true to Regina crumbles and Regina is furious when she discovers that Bruce has been seeing Amy behind her back. Hurt and feeling betrayed, Regina turns to Justin Belson, a troubled senior at Sweet Valley High. Regina’s friends are worried. They think Justin and the people he hangs out with are bad news and rumors have it, heavy drug users. Is Regina on a dangerous course and can she be helped before it is too late?
Let me start with saying that Bruce Patman is the ultimate asshat and the world would be a much better place without him. Same goes for Amy Sutton, who was a wonderful character in Sweet Valley Twins and Friends, but has become a terrible person (not just in this book) that threatens to erode any positive memories of her character (although interesting note, Sweet Valley High is the original series and came first, so really Amy was just redeemed into a human being in the series I first knew her from). All right, well Amy Sutton and Bruce Patman are together, behind Regina’s back since the very beginning of this book. What I don’t understand is how Bruce changed so dramatically and became a decent guy with a crappy track record to an even crappier guy without any warning. I know I am expecting more than I should from the ghostwriters behind this series, but there wasn’t even a cooling off period or quasi-jerkiness shadow on the horizon. He was so in love with Regina, and yet fell for Amy right away. And this is bewildering since Amy lacks tact, class or even charm. She is pretty but there are other pretty girls who want Bruce and have failed who at least have something else going for them.
Regina can sense Bruce pulling away, but tries to convince herself it is just her imagination. Bruce stands Regina up for lunch so she eats alone and Justin Belson joins her. Jessica Wakefield notices and worries because Justin is part of a rough crowd. Justin calls Regina and asks her out, but she declines because she is with Bruce. Her brother Nicholas, tells her he doesn’t like Justin calling her because he is into the drug scene. Regina gets defensive and tells Nicholas she can be friends with whoever she wants.
Elizabeth and Jessica are having a barbecue, and both Amy and Regina are invited. Elizabeth wants to tell Regina the truth about Bruce, but Jessica and Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Jeffrey French, talk her out of it. At the Wakefield’s barbecue, things get tense when Bruce takes Amy into the bushes (Elizabeth actually didn’t blab for once) and Regina is looking for Bruce. This is where I have to stop. For real? At least the old Bruce Patman wasn’t a complete idiot and wasn’t keen on getting caught. Everyone is in a backyard – not a baseball stadium. The bushes – seriously? All right, I’m done for now. Regina asks Elizabeth where Bruce is and she doesn’t know what to say, but then Regina discovers the truth for herself. Regina is angry at Elizabeth for not telling her the truth. She screams at Bruce and Amy and takes the car keys so she can drive herself home.
Regina is upset at all of her usual friends because they didn’t tell her the truth so she calls Justin and they go out the next day. Justin takes Regina to Kelly’s (the sleazy bar in Sweet Valley) and Regina is really uncomfortable because they serve beer. Justin tells Regina about how he used to have his crap together but then his dad was murdered when his store was held up and the only person who got him through was his ex-girlfriend Molly Hecht. But now Molly is hanging out with Jan, who is a hardcore druggie and all her druggie friends. Regina realizes that Justin is just as lonely as she is. Regina vows to make a difference in Justin’s life since she couldn’t make a difference in Bruce’s.
When Regina finally meets Molly, Molly snubs her and it is obvious Molly is jealous. Molly invites Regina and Justin to a party at her house this weekend – an ‘anything goes’ party. Justin is uncomfortable and tells Molly that Buzz better not be coming to the party. Meanwhile, Elizabeth tries to reach out to Regina and apologize. Elizabeth is sure if Regina realizes her friends are behind her and love her, she’ll forgive them and get back to being her usual self. But Regina isn’t hearing it and when Elizabeth brings up Justin and his friends, Regina shuts Liz down cold.
Amy Suttons’ cousin, Mimi, who is a social worker at a clinic tells Amy and Bruce about Sweet Valley’s drug scene for their school project (the project that started this whole mess) and tells them about Molly Hecht’s party. Mimi says that a drug dealer named Buzz will be there, and he has corrupted quite a few people in his time. Mimi tells them to warn anyone they know not to go to Molly’s party. Bruce calls Regina and tells her what Mimi told him and then tries to convince her not to go. But Regina just gets pissed (as she should) that Bruce has the audacity to act like he gives a shit about her. Then Amy tells Jessica who tells Elizabeth and Elizabeth freaks out and tries to convince Regina not to go to Molly’s party and again Regina is defensive. The funny thing is, Regina doesn’t even want to go, she is only entertaining the idea as a favor to Justin, but her pride is getting in the way.
The night of the party, Regina decides to convince Justin that they shouldn’t go. She writes a mysterious letter and drops it in the mail and afterward it seems like the weight of the world she has been carrying around with her has disappeared. Regina talks with Justin about the party but he really wants to go because he is worried about Molly and begs Regina to go with him (ONE – you’ll know that this means in a minute). Regina realizes Justin is still in love with Molly and agrees to go with him. He thanks her for being such a great friend.
When they arrive at the party, Justin disappears and Regina is on her own. She is uncomfortable and doesn’t know anyone, but everyone who notices her judges her as a boring person who doesn’t know how to have fun and loosen up. Regina tries to prove Molly and her friend, Jan, wrong when they get in Regina’s face about being a ‘goody goody’ by taking a swig of beer (just one drink), trying to hold her own (TWO). A little later, everyone is gathered around some guy named Buzz and Regina decides she wants to get out of there – she can just go for a walk. She feels really woozy from the sip of beer earlier and knows it is messing with her. On the way out Justin calls her over to where everyone is gathered. She tells him she is leaving and he convinces her to join him, for just a minute and then they can leave – he promises (THREE). So, Regina joins everyone who is sitting down in a circle…
Meanwhile Elizabeth is going crazy with worry and Jessica suggests she get in touch with Nicholas (why Elizabeth, Miss Clear-Headed hadn’t thought of that before, I’ll never know). Elizabeth tells Nicholas everything who rushes out to bring Regina home. On the way, he is pulled over and Nicholas realizes he was in such a hurry to leave her forgot his wallet. When the police question him, he tells them why he is in such a hurry and they decide to take him to the station (morons and FOUR by the way). Once he is at the station, he tells them again what is going on, and when they hear him talk about Buzz they realize Nicholas is legit, because Buzz is very bad news. Nicholas leaves with the police for Molly’s party.
Back to the circle… everyone is doing a line of coke. Regina doesn’t know what it is and everyone makes fun of her for being so naïve and clueless. They tell her to do a line because it will make her feel better about everything. She knows she shouldn’t, which is exactly why she does. She is tired of always being the girl who does everything she should and never anything unexpected. She starts to feel strange and someone pushes her head down and makes her do another line (FIVE).
Nicholas and the police arrive and Buzz makes a run for it (he gets away). Regina starts to feel wrong and someone has her lay down. Regina tells Nicholas that she loves him, and it is no one else’s fault, but her own. She asks to see Elizabeth and Bruce and then passes out. Elizabeth and Bruce arrive at the hospital and Nicholas tells them they’re still waiting for the doctors. Regina had a heart attack from the cocaine. A doctor comes out and tells them that he is very sorry, but Regina didn’t make it. She had a very rare complication to the cocaine: an accelerated heartbeat.
Everyone is devastated back at Sweet Valley High. They hold a memorial service for Regina and everyone not-so-secretly blames Justin and Molly for her death. The next day Elizabeth receives a letter in the mail from Regina (her mystery letter). The letter tells Elizabeth that she forgives Elizabeth, and even Bruce and Amy. In the letter she tells Elizabeth that she hopes they can be friends forever…
All right, so the counting was all the things that could have gone differently once Regina was at the party that would have meant she would have lived to see another Sweet Valley High book. Her death was so preventable – it makes it more tragic. It’s like the moral of the story is, if you’re a good person you’ll die from cocaine, but if you’re a loser don’t worry, you’ll be just fine. This is the first unexpected death of a Sweet Valley High character (and also the first death of a main character, as Regina has been in several books, and two books revolve entirely around her).
Now let’s talk about the other problems. I may not have tons of experience behind the wheel, but taking someone into a police station because he forgot his wallet seems just a wee bit extreme to me. Also, I like when a YA series tries to tackle a real issue, but only if they do their homework. Lots of things give people an accelerated heartbeat, and cocaine does that to everyone. It isn’t an ‘extremely rare complication’ of cocaine. Also, Regina passes out. How? Cocaine is a stimulant and with a fast heartbeat she should have been manic or had a seizure, not just drift off to dreamland.
I wish they hadn’t killed Regina; she was seriously one of my favorite characters. Why couldn’t it be Bruce or Amy instead? Yes, that is the anger (and bargaining) stages of my grief. Expect a memorial for Regina in my post at the end of the third season of the book series. Regina, you really were fairer than them all…