Mary is now Mary Robinson, but she's a little upset because her mom recently remarried. They barely had any time together alone, and now they don't even share the same last name. She tells the twins all about her new stepfather Tim and how he's building a huge house for them.
This pretty much sets the tone for the whole book. Every time someone mentions her stepfather, she tells them something else huge. He's an architect who works on huge buildings, is the best man in the world, and even bought them a huge new boat. Unfortunately, most of what she tells them is a lie.
Tim is actually a handyman/construction worker with little money. He did buy a boat, but it's a tugboat that requires a huge amount of work. She keeps lying to people because she's incredibly unhappy about things at home. Mary feels like she never gets any time alone with her mother because every time she turns around, Tim is there. She even goes home a few times to see her mom at lunch, but he's always there.
Like most teens, she starts acting out. She pretends like she's sick all the time, which winds up with her going to the doctor. Janet is super annoyed because Mary keeps missing meetings. She tells the other Unicorns that if she misses one more meeting, they'll throw her out of the club. Elizabeth also notices that Mary isn't around much, but she tells them she's just busy with her new family. Liz manages to track her down just in time to get to the next meeting so she keeps her job. Janet is really annoyed because she wants to throw a party, but they have no money in the budget for decorations let alone entertainment.
Tim realizes that Mary's "illness" is because of him. He basically tells her mom that if things persist, he thinks he needs to move out. Her mom thinks that she's unhappy because her birthday is coming up, and they decide to throw her a surprise party on the boat. They invite the entire club and her whole class to the party and ask them to keep it a secret.
At the same time, everyone signed up for a jewelry making class after school. Mary was so distracted by things at home that she forgot to sign up. Jessica decides to make her a bracelet in class for her birthday, and Elizabeth helps her make the design. Mary notices that no one asked her about her birthday so she thinks they forgot. After crying about it to Elizabeth, she tells her about the party. Mary freaks out because she let everyone think that Tim bought a huge yacht.
She starts acting out again and pretending that she's sick. She then sneaks out of the house, planning on running away to her former foster family. Tim finds her after she falls down the stairs and hurts her arm. He wakes up her mom, takes her to the hospital, and makes up a song for her. The doctor mistakes him for her real dad, and she says that he kind of is her real dad. Tim also lets her know that he wants to adopt her.
Mary is still nervous about her party, but she shouldn't be. Everyone thinks the boat is super cool and they love Tim. He pulls out his guitar and sings their favorite songs, and multiple people tell her that they wish their dads were like that. Tim even agrees to play for the next Unicorn party, making everyone love him even more.
*How many of you were allowed to leave school for lunch? Mary goes home at least three times, and she even leaves to take Elizabeth home with her.
*Did you know that Elizabeth is a talented artist? Yeah, in this book, she creates the design for Jessica's jewelry.
*This is one of the few SVT books where Lila hates Bruce. Jessica mentions that their families feuded for years and don't get along. In the later books, she thinks he's just as cute as everyone else.
*Bruce arranges for Jessica to be in the same class as him. She thinks he'll ask her out because she helps him make something for his mom, but he goes right back to ignoring her.
*At one point, Mary decides that she'll run away and track down her real dad even though she can't remember him. She apparently gets over that in a few chapters because she can't wait for Tim to adopt her.
*Tim lets her know that her dad gave up his parental rights so he can adopt, and it doesn't even phase her! Come on, that would have to be a blow to anyone but especially a teenager.
*Why the hell is Jessica on the cover of this book? I also have no idea who that boy is next to her.
*If the boat in the background is their tugboat, I'm totally jealous! Why would that embarrass her?