April 29, 2014

SVT #7, Three’s a Crowd: Lifetime Presents: Not Without My Daughter

Posted in books tagged , , at 7:46 pm by Jenn

Liz, no one cares about your involvement in this

Liz, no one cares about your involvement in this

Summary: Jessica’s friend and fellow Unicorn Mary has been hanging out at the Wakefields’ house a lot. When Jess or Elizabeth doesn’t invite her over, Mary comes up with reasons to invite herself over. Then she spends a lot of time hanging out with Alice. I think this is the first time we learn that Mary’s in foster care; she rarely talks about her birth parents but seems happy in her foster home.

Though Mary’s a nice girl, Jessica gets suspicious of her intentions for always wanting to be at the Wakefields’ house. She gets Elizabeth to agree to stop letting her come over for a while. After a while, Mary and Jessica make up, and Mary gives Jess her favorite silver and gold bracelet as a sign of their friendship.

Then Jessica overhears Ned and Alice talking about how the Altmans, Mary’s foster parents, want to adopt her. (She’s been living with them a long time, and I’m kind of surprised this is the first time the subject has come up.) Jess wants to break the news in the paper, and over Elizabeth’s objections, she sneaks the info into Caroline’s gossip column. This is all without even discussing it with Mary, by the way.

So Mary learns about her possible impending adoption from the middle school newspaper, the poor girl. She then tells Elizabeth what led her to foster care. Her parents divorced when she was little, and her mother left her with a co-worker while she went out of town to care for her own mother. The co-worker decided to up and move to California one day, and never told Mary’s mother. She implied to Mary that her mom was dead. Then one day she abandoned Mary, who wound up in the foster system. Even though she hasn’t spoken to her mom in seven years and doesn’t know if she’s even alive, Mary has always told herself that her mother will find her one day. She doesn’t want to be adopted in case that happens.

Mary tells this to her foster parents, who are disappointed but understanding. Then a social worker suggests that Mary move on to another foster family so the Altmans can take in a child who does want to be adopted. I’m not sure that’s plausible, and if the Altmans wanted to adopt a child so badly, why wait seven years to bring it up, but whatever. Mary has to leave Sweet Valley, is the bottom line.

Then, the coincidence to end all coincidences. Just days after hearing about Mary’s life story for the first time, Elizabeth encounters a woman who looks just like Alice…and who turns out to be Mary’s mother. (The resemblance to Alice is only important because it explains why Mary always wanted to spend time with Mrs. Wakefield.) She managed to track Mary down, but I guess she didn’t get an address and had to figure out where Mary goes to school, because she shows up there out of the blue. Elizabeth takes her to her house, knowing Mary’s there, but only figures out who she is as they’re arriving. Good job, Liz – you even suspected she might be the kidnapping co-worker, yet you had no problem going off alone with her. Way to be smart.

Mary and her mom have a nice reunion, and we learn that Mary got the silver and gold bracelet from her mother. (Jessica has to give it back.) Everyone’s all happy for a few days until Mary’s mother tells her they’re moving (since she’s from another town). Mary freaks out and tells Elizabeth she doesn’t want to move. She also doesn’t want to tell her mother that since she doesn’t want to seem ungrateful. Elizabeth tells Alice, who tells Mary’s mother, and after a bunch of off-screen conversations, Mary gets to stay in Sweet Valley. And hopefully have a Lifetime movie made about her, because dang.

In the B plot, such as it is, the Unicorns want to make a celebrity cookbook to make money to host a dance. They write to their favorite celebrities and ask them to send in recipes. Apparently movie stars are very kind in the Sweet Valley-verse, because they’re all cooperative. I’ll admit, it’s a creative idea.

There’s also a story where Elizabeth wants to enter the sixth-grade paper, the Sweet Valley Sixers, in some competition. Jessica accidentally spills juice on the ditto master (this is…the 1980s, right?), and she and Mary have to rewrite an article about a visit from a fashion designer/boutique owner/I’m honestly not sure who she was. The paper goes to print before anyone gets a good look at the article, and there are some typos, but the general consensus is that the article is interesting and well-written. Elizabeth gets a little jealous because she’s supposed to be the only twin who’s good at writing. I get the idea Elizabeth wants to be the only person in general who’s good at writing.

Thoughts: Jessica: “I’ll volunteer to do the typing. I have an electric typewriter.” Janet: “That’s terrific, Jessica. I didn’t know you could type.” Really, this is the 1980s, right?

“Mary, how did your parents meet?” Jessica, she’s in foster care, you bitca.

So remember, kids, if you meet a strange woman wandering around and she says she’s looking for a friend of yours, don’t be suspicious. She’s probably your friend’s long-lost mother. Introduce them! You’ll be a hero! Talk to strangers and save the day!


  1. sjsiff said,

    “Talk to strangers and save the day!” Wiser words were never said.

  2. Rocky said,

    I know I read this when it first came out but that’s been a bit. So, am I understanding this correctly? Mary’s mother left her daughter with a coworker so she could take care of her sick mother, and the coworker kidnapped Mary and then ditched her in California? So when Mary entered the foster care system, why didn’t she mention this? She could have been reunited with her mother much sooner. Also, did Mary’s mother wait 7 years to start looking for her kidnapped daughter, without involving the authorities?

    • Jenn said,

      I guess since Mary was so young, she didn’t get what was going on and didn’t say anything about her mother? And when her mom started looking for her, she didn’t know that Annie had changed Mary’s last name to her own. Though I’m not sure Mary would have gotten that either when she told Social Services her name. There are definitely a few plot holes, but what good soap story doesn’t have them?

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