The Unicorns are volunteering at a child care center for people without a lot of money and Lila has gotten close to a little girl named Ellie. She even helped her mom Mrs. McMillian get a job working at Fowler Enterprises. She’s there when she sees the woman run into her old boyfriend Gerard, who recently transferred to Sweet Valley. It turns out that they dated and even got engaged, but he wanted to travel around the world, while she wanted to settle down and have kids, so they broke up.
The two start dating and Lila offers to babysit for free, just so they can spend time together. Ellie gets a little dependent on her, but she doesn’t see anything wrong with it. At the same time, there’s a big weekend coming up for middle school kids and their parents. Lila keeps seeing how the other girls are with their parents and wishes she had the same thing with her dad. She also hears Mrs. Wakefield talking about how a parent should never break a promise to their child and it sticks in her head.
Mrs. McMillian is really a horrible mom because she starts ignoring Ellie because of her new boyfriend. At a picnic for the center, she spends the whole time with him and doesn’t even notice Ellie acting out or throwing a tantrum, so Lila has to take care of her. Then she drops her off at the mansion and thinks she’s sick when she’s actually pouting.
The last event of the weekend is a huge picnic where kids and parents are supposed to make a dish and share it at the dinner. Lila’s dad announces at the last minute that he can’t make it because he has to go out of town on another business trip. She makes plans to go with the Wakefields, but it isn’t the same. On Friday night there’s a huge dance and she’s waiting for Alice to pick her up, when Ellie randomly shows up on her door.
It turns out that Ellie ran away from home because she heard her mother talking about going away with her new guy and leaving her behind. Lila isn’t sure what to think because it doesn’t sound like her, but then again, she hasn’t been the same since this new guy popped up. Ellie makes her promise not to tell anyone that she’s there and to just spend time with her and take care of her.
At first it’s really easy and Lila thinks she makes a great surrogate mom. Then Ellie keeps asking for more and more and demanding things. She hates a crunchy peanut butter sandwich because it has lumps, wants to play with a specific doll, won’t go to sleep and makes Lila keep reading her stories. Jessica shows up and when she hears what happened, she tries to make Lila call her mom. Apparently Mrs. McMillian left the kid with a sitter for the weekend.
Mr. Fowler comes home the next day and Lila keeps hiding the kid, even after her mom calls in a panic because the kid disappeared. Jessica tells the other Unicorns what’s going on and they all come over. They all see how much Ellie changed, especially when she pitches another fit. Eventually they get her all riled up, she starts screaming and Mr. Fowler rushes in.
Mrs. McMillian is pissed off, but calms down when she hears what happened. She explains that she and her new guy are getting married and Ellie heard them talking about their honeymoon. She tells Ellie that he loves her very much and they’re going to be a family. Mr. Fowler realizes that he needs to be around for Lila more and that she’s still a kid, not an adult. They make a dish together and he cancels his trip, so he can take Lila to the picnic.
*Mrs. McMillian really is a horrible mother. She talks about never having any money, but then hires a sitter to watch her kid for a whole weekend. Plus she doesn’t pick up on the fact that Ellie is so unhappy.
*Gerard isn’t that great of a catch either. At one point, he sits in the car and starts honking because she’s taking too long to drop off her child and he never spends anytime with Ellie, despite wanting to marry her mom.
*I get that Lila is super rich, but no 7th grader needs to wear suede boots, pumps, a 60s style mini-dress or any of the other things she wears in this book.
*Mr. Fowler wasn’t always rich, but I think the ghost-writer forgot that. In this one, he doesn’t know what a measuring cup is and can’t figure out how to make rice.