Mrs. Wakefield is sick and apparently she’s been sick for a few weeks. Ned has to go out of town on a business trip and she planned on going, but backs out at the last minute. Both the twins notice that she isn’t feeling well, but good old Jessica finds a way to turn it back around on herself. She becomes convinced that Alice isn’t really sick, just ignoring her. She sees her talking to Liz, but then later she’s too tired to talk to her.
Jessica answers the phone one day and listens as her mom talks to a doctor. It turns out that Alice has a lump on her neck. They think it’s a swollen gland, but it might be cancer so they’re doing a biopsy. They aren’t sure if it’s a virus or something more serious. Jess keeps it all to herself, but lets a few details slip when Caroline Pierce calls that night.
By the next day, Caroline has spread it all over school that Alice is dying and Jessica can barely go on. Auditions for the upcoming school musical are coming up and everyone thinks Jess is perfect for the lead. She kind of lets everyone believe that their mom is really sick, while Liz feels bad that everyone thinks it’s true.
The doctor does the biopsy and promises to call on Friday with the results. Right before the auditions, they learn that she’s fine and should get better in a few days. Dana Larson, who’s her biggest competition, decides to step aside because she thinks Alice is dying and this is her last chance to see her daughter on stage. Jessica decides not to tell anyone the truth and just take the role.
There’s also some trouble at home because Jessica keeps bossing everyone around. She makes up chore lists and then gives her siblings the worst jobs. She does stuff like cleaning the counters and taking Alice ice cream, while making them cook, do laundry and dishes. She also takes some money from the emergency stash, to buy pizza and other stuff for herself.
Ned finally comes home from his trip and everything goes back to normal, except that everyone thinks their mom is dying still. Ned discovers the missing money and demands that Jess pay it back out of her allowance. She makes him think she was using the money to get Alice flowers, so he also makes her buy a bouquet for her mom.
Dana and some other girls show up at the Wakefield house. Jessica realizes that she can’t keep lying, especially not when her family is laughing and joking around. She reveals that Alice isn’t dying and gives Dana the lead role. The teacher calls and offers Jess a smaller part in the play, so everything kind of works out for her in the end.
*Jessica orders a small pizza from Guido’s and it comes to $3, plus 50 cents for delivery. First of all that’s really cheap! Second, even back then I’d assume most places had a minimum purchase price for delivery.
*Alice and Ned keep around $5-10 in the cookie jar for “small emergencies”. Even back then, I can’t imagine that small amount really doing anything.
*Jessica actually does seem kind of sympathetic in the beginning of the book. She’s really worried about Alice and thinks her mom is going to die and leave her all alone.
*She spends a good chunk of the book moping over some lame ass purple sweater from the mall. It’s pale purple, with a silver unicorn embroidered on the front. When she finally gets it, she announces that it was the only one in the store, which seems unbelievable. Oh and it cost $40, which is a hella lot for a pre-teen girl’s shirt in the 80s!