Monday, December 19, 2016

The Unicorn Club #14: Lila on the Loose


Remember how in all those other Sweet Valley series that George didn't give a crap about Lila? Yeah, well that's still true. Lila recently got an A on a math test, and he was so excited that he agreed to take her to a fancy dinner at Chez Francois to celebrate. She buys a new dress and drags Jessica to the mall for a new hair cut. After the salon, they stop by Casey's and see Jimmy Lancer with his friends.

See, Lila introduced herself to him once and then made up a story to her friends about how they went on a date. She tries to play it cool while sipping on her nonfat vanilla shake, which she only chose because it sounded more mature than a sundae, while trying to ignore h. Jessica starts in on how if they're really dating, she should go and talk to him and even threatens to go over herself. Lila finally does, but Jimmy doesn't really remember her. She accidentally puts her hand in his sundae, his friends all laugh at her, and Jimmy defends her. He even says that she's the most beautiful girl in Sweet Valley Middle School.

Dinner does not go the way she hoped. Her dad is super late, and the waiter keeps asking if she wants to order. She almost cries at the idea that he forgot about their special meal but then learns that he had a business meeting that ran late. He sends a message to order whatever she wants and he'll see her later. She orders the entire menu and then takes everything home with plans to eat dinner together. Instead, she wakes up in the middle of the night alone.

It turns out that he did come home after all. When she wanders downstairs in the morning, he's sitting at the table with breakfast. He just brushes off her questions about where he was and hands her five $100 bills for doing well in science. Yes, it was a math test and not a science test that she aced. Though she lies to her friends about how he had a special cake made for her and how their meal was so great, Caroline lets it slip that her family was there, saw Lila all by herself, and how they all felt really bad for her.

Since her friends know she lied, she tries to win them over by suggesting they throw a party. Her dad's going out of town yet again, so they can use her house that weekend. While she feels a little better, she can't help noticing how much they talk about their parents. It makes her feel so bad that she tricks Elizabeth of all people into inviting her over that night for dinner and to play Pictionary. Now that's a game I haven't heard mentioned in a long time!

Dinner goes really well, but Lila keeps imaging having a similar night with her dad and failing. She offers to clean the table and gratefully accepts Alice's help in figuring out what to do. She doesn't know how to put away leftovers or what to do with the dirty dishes. While listening to Steve tease the twins, she pictures him standing up for her in the same way. She then realizes that he teases the twins because they're his sisters and he loves them but he teases Lila because she's an annoying little pest and has to leave the room.

Lila runs into Jimmy again at the mall. He's browsing some hard rock CDs, so she goes over and pretends like she loves that music. She then offers to buy him a super expensive CD, he resists, and she adds a ton more to the stack. Since that went so well and her friends wonder if they really are dating, she then invites him to Chez Francois. The other girls are super jealous, but Kimberly admits that she saw Jimmy with some cute girl named Hilary. They also point out that their dads would never let them date a boy in high school.

In the hopes of making her dad feel something, Lila tells him that she met a guy. Instead of asking any questions at all, he basically ignores her. She even shouts that she's dating an older boy, but he just hands her a few credit cards and tells her to have fun. With her friends in tow, she goes crazy at the mall. She spends $500+ on a few bathing suits, drops hundreds more on music and shoes, and buys stuff that doesn't even fit. This ends with her spending $75,000 on five necklaces with unicorn pendants and five super expensive pearl and gold necklaces.

Dinner actually doesn't go too bad, though she does roll her eyes a few times because he doesn't know anything about French food. She also has to explain to him what a five star restaurant rating means. To win him over, she presents him with an expensive diving watch that she bought during her shopping spree, which he once again tries to refuse. They take a walk on the beach, he holds her hand, and then he kisses her on the cheek.

Jimmy had such a good time that he calls to thank her. When she tells him that it was her dad's treat, he says to thank him for her. Lila then rushes to her dad's office to tell him that her high school boyfriend is on the phone and wants to thank him for dinner. George just says that's nice and ignores her for a few minutes before basically telling her that he has work to do. She then invites Jimmy to the party and tells him that he can bring some friends.

Their only problem is Mrs. Pervis. Jessica calls and pretends that she's George's secretary. She says that George wanted Lila to join him for a weekend away from home and that she should go and visit her sister for the weekend. Despite making a bunch of mistakes on the call, Mrs. Pervis believes the story and heads off. She does arrange for their limo driver to take Lila to the airport though. Lila then has him drop her off, cashes in her travelers checks, and gets a taxi home.

The process takes way longer than she expected, which leaves her getting home after the party started. Apparently, six car loads of high school students were the first to arrive. More high school kids showed up and started trashing the place. They threw a planter in the pool, ate all the food, broke a bunch of stuff, and even went on the roof and started jumping into the pool. Morons. The kids won't listen to anyone.

Lila gets it in her head that she just needs to find Jimmy and that he'll put a stop to it. One of his jagoff friends stops her and makes a rude comment about how middle school kids are making the party lame. She finally does find Jimmy, but he actually brought Hilary to the party. Hilary drapes herself all over him and says that he can't stop talking about his new little sister. That is the last straw. Lila heads outside and screams at people, but no one will leave.

That's right about the time that George shows up. Even as his daughter breaks down in tears, he ignores her and shouts at people to leave. He tells them that he's going inside to check the damage and that they should all be gone when he comes back. When he does, Lila flips out on him about how he should put her needs first. George literally rolls his eyes and tells her she's grounded, which causes her to point out that he's never around to enforce a punishment. George then says he has to leave early in the morning for yet another business meeting, which leads to Lila crying even more, screaming at him, and then running to her secret hiding place in a tree.

While curled up in a little ball, she has a dream about her dad and hearing him call her name. He really is calling her name, and he wraps her up in a hug when he finds her. He apparently spent hours running around outside trying to find where she went. They have a long talk that ends with him promising to focus less on work and to spend more time with her. Though she assumes that he'll leave anyway, he's still there in the morning. He even tried to make muffins, which he royally screwed up.

When George decides to ground her for two weeks, she tells him that she'll only accept her punishment if he gets grounded too. They agree to try and spend the next few weeks getting to know each other and being a family. They even decide to follow a recipe and make a new batch of muffins. Lila then reminds him of a song they danced to when she was a girl, his eyes light up, and they sing together as he dances with her around the room. I teared up a little.

*It's been so long since I recapped a Unicorn Club book! I was at a used book store a few weeks ago and saw a ton of Sweet Valley books on a shelf. Mentally flipped out a little until I got closer and discovered this was the only one I didn't have.

*Jessica doesn't get why Lila needs to dress up and have her hair done “just” for dinner with her dad. It's kind of sad that Lila views this as such a big deal.

*It's equally sad because she thinks doing well in school will make her an intellectual equal to her dad and that now he'll want to have long conversations with her.

*Though the other girls didn't believe she went on a date with Jimmy, Jessica did because she said Lila wasn't creative enough to come up with a story like that. Ah, middle school best friends.

*Lila apparently has the entire upstairs floor to herself. I don't think we ever knew that before.

*You have to love that Caroline's parents felt bad enough to point out Lila sitting alone at the table but not bad enough to ask her to join them.

*Um, Elizabeth is the one with a secret hiding place in a tree, not Lila. I'm pretty sure Lila never goes outside unless it's to the beach, for a tennis match, or to hang by the swimming pool.

*Jimmy is a tool. Gee, she bought you fancy gifts, you told her she was beautiful, you kissed her (kind of), and you held her hand. I'm absolutely shocked (shocked!) that she would think you liked her.

*George is also a tool. You know that nothing will ever change. He always uses work as an excuse to ignore his own daughter.

*There's actually a scene where she asks about the family business. Every time she asks a question, his eyes literally drift back to the newspaper or he sighs and asks if she's done.

*Lila looks like a middle aged woman on this cover.

4 comments:

  1. When I was younger and would read the Sweet Valley books, I always thought of Lila as a spoiled bitchy turd...but she's kind of pitiful in a way. It would suck to have everything you could possibly want and yet be tossed to the side like garbage by the only parent you have.

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    1. And her mom kind of did the same thing! Who has kids and then just heads off to Europe for over a decade without even contacting them?

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  2. I always had a soft spot for Lila, her dad was such an ass and she had no one else. He spent practically her entire life working or away on business trips. So many of her books she's trying to get his attention and it either never works or never lasts.

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    1. I actually think there's another Unicorn Club book where he avoids her and then throws money at her when she complains about wanting to spend time with him...

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