Perfect Size Six

September 6, 2010

#18 Head Over Heels

“Can Bruce Patman really fall in love?”

Like so many girls before her, Regina Morrow has flipped her shit for Sweet Valley’s resident bad-boy, Bruce Patman. Poor, myopic Regina. Besides being deaf, she also appears to be short-sighted when it comes to boys and relationships. The SVH ghost writer du jour continuously hits us over the head with the fact that Regina is disabled and special and wants anything to be normal. Well, normal in Sweet Valley is getting used and abused by a Patman, so get ready, girl.

At the present moment in time, Bruce and Regina are in love and happy as clams. We know it’s real love because he buys her expensive presents, takes her home to meet the folks, and tells her he loves her. Apparently, a couple of chapters are supposed to negate Bruce’s douchey past, because Bruce is a new man….(for the time being, before Trampy Sutton moves to town and pulls Bruce back to the dark side.)

Because Jessica and Lila can’t bear to see anyone else happy, they make a bet over the status of Bruce and Regina’s relationship. If they break up before the centennial, Lila has to write Jessica’s history paper. If they’re still together, Jessica must write Lila’s. (That’s a lose/lose situation if there ever was one.)

Plus, Lila’s in rare alpha-bitch form in this one. She’s pretty much the only person in Sweet Valley who hasn’t joined Regina Morrow’s fan club.

“‘Just look at her,’ Lila seethed, pushing her food away in disgust. ‘She looks ridiculous in that purple dress. You’d think she was color blind, not deaf, the way she dresses.'”

Oh, and Jessica’s a dumbass yet again. “Elizabeth shook her head in disbelief. Only my twin, she thought, would ask to speak to a deaf girl on the phone. It just figures.”

Sweet Valley High isn’t known for its adroit handling of serious issues, and the theme of disability is no exception. This is an especially touchy issue with me since I grew up with a physical impairment that couldn’t magically be cured like Regina’s deafness. And I wasn’t able to convert the highschool douchebags I liked into decent human beings through the sheer power of my goodness and beauty. (Changing people in general is pretty impossible, even though it’s like second nature in Sweet Valley.)

My first irritation is the cause of her disability. She wasn’t just born deaf. Oh no, that wouldn’t be melodramatic enough for the world of Sweet Valley. Her disability is caused by her own mother’s vanity (which also doubles as a Perfect-Size-Six moment).

“But a few weeks after (Skye Morrow) learned she was pregnant, one of the most glamorous magazines in New York offered her a spectacular assignment. They wanted Skye to appear in their special summer issue, modeling bathing suits and resort wear. After long discussions with Kurt, Skye decided to take the job. It would be her last modeling assignment, and she wanted it to be perfect.

There was only one catch. The magazine told her she would have to lose ten pounds in less than a month. Ignoring what her doctor told her, Skye took diet pills and lost the weight. The assignment went perfectly, and in the magazine’s summer issue, Skye looked more beautiful than ever before.

But the consequences were grave. The pills Skye had taken had damaged the delicate tissue in the ears of her unborn child. After Regina was born, it became obvious that she wasn’t responding to noises the way Nicholas had. The doctors’ pronouncement was grave: Regina had suffered permanent damage to her ears. She would never be able to hear normally.”

Yes, my eyes are still rolling out of my head after reading that. What kind of shitty mother takes diet pills while pregnant? Um, Skye Morrow, that’s who. Well, she does feel adequately guilty, I guess. And redemption appears to be right around the corner!

Miracle of miracles, a Swiss medical team has invented some sort of therapy that will allow Regina to hear, after a year or so of treatments. Well, Regina is so besotted with Bruce that she doesn’t want to leave, even if it means she will never be able to hear. Granted, Bruce would be a lot more attractive to me with a mute button, but he is sooo not worth it. Well, Regina is new to dating, and she picked Mt. Everest as her first mountain to climb.

The Morrows try desperately to change Regina’s mind. They don’t know about her puppy love with Bruce, so they go about it all wrong. There’s a lot of fighting and arguing. Regina just comes off as really bratty and immature throughout most of the book. And helpless and in need of protection, of course. Mrs. Morrow even enlists Saint Liz to help, but even Elizabeth Wakefield can’t overcome the lure of Bruce Patman. (I hate Bruce, and I would still pick him over Liz.)

Cue Jessica and her scheming, bitchy ways. She finds out that Bruce is campaigning to be the Centennial king, so she tells Regina that Bruce is only dating her to up his popularity and win votes—because dating a disabled person is the surest fire way to win friends and influence people. Regina is so painfully naive that she believes Jessica and breaks up with Bruce with no explanation. (Please kill me now because I actually feel sorry for Bruce effing Patman.)

“I never would have believed it in a million years, (Elizabeth) thought. Bruce Patman is crying.”

OH MY GOD. Sweet Valley has frozen over. Patman, down! Bruce is so upset that he has gone to Elizabeth Wakefield, the girl he tried to rape 11 books earlier, for help! And she is deservedly dubious of the reformed Bruce until he unleashes the waterworks. (Sucker!) Liz has told him everything, so now Bruce is faced with a moral dilemma. Should he be selfish and get Regina back? Or should he leave things as they are and let Regina go to Switzerland, unfettered by him?

Bruce chooses a little of both. He has Liz plant a letter in Regina’s luggage explaining what really happened and how much he loves her. So Regina will go to Switzerland, but she won’t think he’s the son of a bitch that he actually is. Awww. I am totally rooting for these two crazy kids to make it work right now. Luckily, Regina does REALLY well with the inscrutable hearing therapy, and she’s back home in 8 books. (Well, 9 books really. I don’t know if I would count her kidnapping as a homecoming.)

Bruce is in a love-sick holding pattern until then, so girls of Sweet Valley can finally enjoy a cup of wine without fear of Bruce Patman taking advantage. Don’t we all love a good, bad-boy redemption story?

The B-plot is pretty negligible. Lila is lusting after a construction worker at her father’s office building. How déclassé! She’s convinced that he’s not really a construction worker, that he’s really a blue-blood in disguise who’s slumming it for some romantic reason. Sorry, Li. He’s just pauvre and psycho, which is fleshed out in the next book, #19 Showdown!.

Sorry about the delay with this review. I had to edit out a lot of my passionate opinions on the social construct of disability. I’ve also been studying non-stop for the GRE Literature subject test, so I will probably be posting less until the date of the exam, which is October 9th. Wish me luck!

1 Comment »

  1. Oi, the GRE Subj test! Good luck, good luck! Flash cards are the bestest way to study for it! Keep breathing!

    I don’t see why they had to reach for this whole contrived Centennial election thing as Bruce’s reason for dating Regina. Wouldn’t it have been far more effective for Jess to tell her that Bruce was a hound who spread rumors about her (that is, Jess, and “getting whatever he wanted from her, whenever he wanted it”) and tried to drug and rape Elizabeth? Surely his history as a pig is more realistic.

    Comment by Dwanollah — September 29, 2010 @ 2:05 pm | Reply


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