Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #72 – Sweet Valley High Super Star #2 – Bruce’s Story

An entire book focusing on Bruce “Asshat” Patman – I wasn’t sure I would make it through, but the book wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be – here’s to that! 😉

“Bruce’s Story” (Super Star)


Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins

The license plates on Bruce Patman’s Porsche read 1BRUCE1, and that is exactly what he thinks of himself – as Number One. Handsome, rich and arrogant, Bruce is used to getting everything he wants. Bruce’s cousin Roger, who lives with the Patman family, is nothing like Bruce. In fact, the boys only have one thing in common – their grandfather, who is one of the richest men in California. A shrewd, hardworking businessman, Mr. Patman decides to have a contest between Bruce and Roger. The winner will inherit their grandfather’s entire estate including the controlling interest in the family company. The war is on – and Bruce will do anything to win!

Bruce Patman’s grandfather, Alexander Patman, is coming to Sweet Valley for a visit – for six whole weeks! This is a fact that Bruce can’t get over because his grandfather is a very difficult man and that’s putting it mildly. He is always criticizing, lecturing and no matter what Bruce does, he can never seem to please him. His grandfather is looking forward to meeting Bruce’s cousin, Roger, for the first time, who was his other son’s illegitimate son. Roger hopes that his grandfather isn’t as bad as Bruce is making him out to be, but it soon becomes clear – the old man is even worse.

After a week, Bruce’s parents announce they’re going to Japan for a vacation for the next month, leaving Bruce and Roger alone with their grandfather. The night before the Patmans are going to take off, Grandfather Patman announces he has decided to have a “little” contest between his two grandsons. He gives both boys $2,000 and takes away all of their credit cards, cash, checks, etc. so that is all they have to live on. They have one month to make their money grow. The Patman with the largest sum at the end will inherit the company and the old man’s entire estate (after Bruce’s father of course). It’s kind of twisted if you think about it. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am all for both boys earning their places in the company and not having anything handed to them, but this contest is an all-or-nothing thing that just proves if you come in second you’re a loser. Not to mention it pits both boys against each other and that can’t be a good thing. (Also, they are sworn to secrecy so they can’t even vent about it or get advice from their friends or other confidants.)

Meanwhile at Sweet Valley High, Bruce has found himself infatuated with a girl named Tracy Atkins. He has had classes with her before but she never really caught his attention until she got a haircut – I am so serious. She is best friends with Roger’s best friend, Lisa, and I’m telling you because it matters later. The Nicholson School is this school for kids with special needs. Due to financial issues, it is going to close its doors unless it raises $10,000 for the next school year. The local community springs into action and enlists the help of Sweet Valley High students. The school has students vote and one person from each grade will be on the student committee in charge of raising $5,000. Some freshman dude is picked (we’ve never heard of him before, and we won’t again) along with Roger’s friend Lisa (sophomore), Bruce’s crush Tracy (senior) and of course, Elizabeth Wakefield. Seriously, who didn’t see that coming? And of course Elizabeth is chosen by the committee to be the leader. Oh, and I should mention, this school means a great deal to Tracy because her little brother has some “rare muscular disease” and so he goes to the Nicholson school.

Bruce is having a difficult time being poor. The night after the announcement, and after his money was taken away, he got into a car accident because he was daydreaming about Tracy. Then he buys expensive concert tickets to take Tracy out, because he isn’t that smart, but this isn’t news. Tracy won’t even go to the concert with him, which makes me warm up to her a little. Bruce decides to make the money he has already lost back by playing poker, but as usual he’s just full of hot air. He loses $800 playing before he finally stops. For those wanting a tally, he has blown through $1450 in the first week, and made zilch.

Roger isn’t doing much better. At first he wants to talk to Bruce and work together. The contest can’t divide them if they don’t play by their grandfather’s rules. But Bruce is being a dick and finally pisses Roger off so much he is determined to win. Not because he has any interest in the prize, because he really doesn’t and makes this clear (remember until a few months ago he was dirt poor), but he wants to beat Bruce for the sake of beating Bruce. Maybe this is immature, but I would do the same thing – I mean we’re talking about beating the original asshat here.

Roger decides to invest in the stock market. I thought this was a good idea too, and it would have been a great idea if Roger didn’t become overconfident and if he had actually listened to the advice he was being given. See, Lisa’s dad is a stockbroker and Roger contacted him about the stocks. Lisa’s dad suggested he put a small amount of money into the more risky stocks, keep half of his money in a sure thing that had zero risk (like savings accounts) and then put the remainder in lots of different medium-risk stocks. But Roger wants to put $1500 into a stock that Lisa’s father advises against. He said it’s profitable now, but it is bound to plummet anytime. Roger is insistent. The next day, Lisa’s father calls and says that Roger has made $500, but some merger or whatever didn’t come through and the stock is going to collapse very soon. But Roger just sees dollar signs and refuses to pull out. Of course then the stock does collapse as predicted and he sells it for a loss. He’s down $700. I never understand people who ask experts for their advice and then refuse to listen to said expert advice. Sigh.

Sweet Valley High’s fundraising committee comes up with this event called Harbor Days. It sounds like a boardwalk type of deal and the committee invites local merchants and Sweet Valley High students to set up booths selling things. They get to keep half their earnings and the other half goes to the Nicholson School fund. I would say something, but this is the kind of thing I would have thought up and organized so really all I’m going to say is “Sounds nifty.”

Bruce is still trying to woo Tracy because she isn’t giving him the time of day, and when he hears about Harbor Days he thinks he can make money and impress Tracy at the same time. He says he wants to help and then he suggests selling copies of his little black book – you know the names, phone numbers and addresses of all of the girls he has dated or been with. I told you he’s a real prince. Thanks to Tracy’s horror and refusals to allow something like that into the fundraiser, she suggests he write a dating guide instead. They pull it off and because Bruce is such a schmoozer he comes off as funny, but most of the good ideas are Tracy’s. Still he does pretty well for himself and his books are a hit, probably because he left out a lot of his finer points of dating, like how to date rape.

But Bruce knows that Roger invested in the stock market and with all of his losses, Bruce is sure he’s behind (and he is) so he sabotages Roger’s Harbor Days products for sale. Roger planned to hand paint white visors and hats at his booth, but Bruce switched out Roger’s special waterproof paints with water soluble paints and then paid a kid to start a water balloon fight in front of Roger’s booth, and you can figure out the rest. Needless to say, Roger had to give everyone refunds and was really embarrassed. He realized what Bruce had done, not just because of Bruce’s remarks but because of where he found his real paints.

Bruce hasn’t handed in half of his money from the books he sold to the Nicholson School fund. He told Tracy he was going to donate all of it, but doesn’t actually plan to give any of it away. What I don’t understand is how ridiculous the committee is, using the honor system with merchants. I mean it would be so awesome if we could do that, but this is the real world. If it were me, I would have set up a different system, like having workers at each booth or in order to leave show what you earned and pay up upon exit. I mean seriously.

Harbor Days is having a second weekend of fundraising and for some reason everyone has to come up with something new to sell. I don’t understand why they didn’t stick with their original ideas (especially since Roger never used his special paints) but neither of them even considers it. Bruce has some homemade ice cream at Tracy’s house (she finally gave him a chance – gag) and it’s amazing. He finds out it is her grandmother’s recipe and Bruce says they should sell it at the next Harbor Days. Meanwhile Roger is teaming up with Jim Roberts from “Perfect Shot” and blowing up photos that Roberts has taken of students and celebrities to sell. They’re splitting expenses and costs.

After what happened last time, Roger doesn’t tell a soul what he is doing, except for Lisa, who he swears to secrecy. But Bruce is determined to ruin Roger’s next attempt too, so he tells Tracy how he is worried about Roger and how hard Roger took the last Harbor Days, and how Bruce wants to help, convincing her to find out what Roger is doing. She gets it out of Lisa, and then tells Bruce. Roger finds Bruce with his ice cream and has a chance to mess with Bruce’s stuff like Bruce messed with his. All he has to do is unplug the freezer. He has his shot and sneaks into the place its being kept and then he doesn’t do anything. Bruce witnesses this in the shadows and thinks his cousin must be weak.

Tracy defends Bruce when Lisa brings up the money he still hasn’t given the committee. But Lisa tells Tracy the terrible truth. Bruce ruined Roger’s last project and is looking to do it again. And he has no intention of giving them his money. Honor system aside, they know what he made, why don’t they just take the damn money. It’s irritating me. Tracy decides to follow Bruce to find out the truth for herself. She follows him to the camera store, where he finds out how to ruin the paper Roger’s portraits will be printed on, and then back to his house, watching him open the boxes with Roger’s precious paper inside. What I don’t understand is why Roger doesn’t do a better job of hiding his stuff. I mean he knows Bruce ruined his project before, why leave shit lying around. And for that matter, he’s going in 50/50 with Jim Roberts – why not keep everything at Jim’s house? Apparently, Roger is stupid and deserves to have the paper ruined.

Tracy calls Roger later to tell him Bruce ruined his paper or if he hasn’t ruined it yet he is going to, so Roger is a little more careful while Tracy is through with Bruce. Shortest romance ever. When the next Harbor Days comes around it turns out Bruce didn’t mess with Roger’s stuff. He was going to, but because Roger couldn’t, he apparently couldn’t either. The two boys call a truce, and Bruce buys a photo while Roger gets some ice cream. How sweet. Yes, if you caught that, even though Bruce hasn’t turned in his earnings and Tracy knows that a creep he is, he is still able to sell her grandmother’s ice cream. What the fuck? I keep telling myself that she only lets him sell it because of the Nicholson School. But I would still hold the ice cream for ransom until I got the money from the first time around. Things are a little better between Tracy and Bruce now that she knows he didn’t ruin Roger’s paper. But because he thought about it, they can’t be together. She wants to be friends though. My only thought: “Why?”

It turns out that the committee was not able to raise enough money to save the Nicholson School and everyone is all sad about it. But then they receive an anonymous donation that is a little more than $1,000. Gee, I wonder who it’s from. Then the PTA or some adult group receives another anonymous donation of a similar amount. And with those donations they have reached their goal and the Nicholson School will stay open for another year! Hooray!

Grandfather Patman throws a surprise party for Bruce’s parents upon their return from Japan. Tracy, Lisa and a lot of other people are there. After dinner, Grandfather Patman makes an announcement and talks about the contest he had between the boys. Everyone appears shocked and horrified and this seems to amuse the old man. At least now I know where Bruce gets it from. (But Bruce’s father is all right, so I guess the douchebag gene skips a generation.) Grandfather Patman puts both boys on the spot and asks for their envelopes, which has the money they still have inside. I feel like this is a descendant of some terrible reality TV show. Bruce and Roger both think they’ve lost, but the real loser is Grandfather Patman – both envelopes are empty! He demands to know what is going on and where their money is, and both boys say they donated everything to the Nicholson School (but they didn’t tell each other they had done so, which is why they both thought they’d lost). Come on, you knew who those two “anonymous” donations were from.

Grandfather Patman is pissed at first, but he comes around after his son (Bruce’s father) points out that the boys did learn an important lesson, and they did the right thing. Grandfather Patman talks to the boys in private and says he agrees and hopes they’ll always cooperate with each other. Does this mean they both inherit the company and his estate 50/50? I don’t know, it’s never mentioned.

Henry Patman (funny aside – the ghostwriter messed up and had Grandfather Patman call him George at one point – George being George Fowler, Henry’s rival. I think a prerequisite for writing these things should be knowing the names of the characters, but whatever) decides to be the Nicholson School’s permanent benefactor so they never have to worry about closing their doors again!

And the book is over… Thank God.

Super Star posts tend to be a little longer because the books are almost twice as long and more involved, but if you stuck with me up to this point I am impressed. Unlike the first Super Star this book was not worth a long post. I mean it’s Bruce Patman, he should hardly get as many cameos in other books as he does, but his own book… At least I can take comfort in knowing there isn’t going to be a sequel. 😛


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