June 24, 2014
SVU #19, Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams: I Donut Think This Is a Good Idea
Summary: When we last heard from our charming Sweet Valley friends, Billie was pregnant and Steven was making plans for their future. He wants them to get married, start their family a little ahead of schedule, and try to figure out how they can still become lawyers. Billie, however, isn’t completely sure what she wants to do. She talks to her friend Chaz (the guy Steven is jealous of), and he sends her to see his sister at a clinic. There, Billie learns about the magical world of choices. She can have the baby, yes, but she can also place it for adoption or have an abortion.
Though the Wakefields and Winklers don’t yet know about the pregnancy, Steven tells Jessica, asking her to keep her mouth shut. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Steven, you naïve dork. Jessica’s mostly excited that Steven and Billie are getting married, which means she gets to wear a pretty dress and be the center of attention as a bridesmaid. What do you mean, the bride’s supposed to be the center of attention? Oh, you naïve dork.
Billie’s parents show up for a surprise visit, and Steven awkwardly shuffles them over to Ned and Alice’s so the families can all be together and learn about the baby at the same time. Except Billie still isn’t sure she wants to keep the baby. There’s some fighting, and though Steve is very supportive of whatever Billie wants to do, he clearly likes his vision of a happy little family.
The news comes out about the baby and the wedding plans. The families are stunned, but agree to help support Billie and Steven however they can. The wedding’s in two-and-a-half weeks (…yikes), and Alice will be planning most of it. This is a Bad Idea. Alice turns into a nutcase, and has the nerve to disagree with the color Billie picked out for the bridesmaid dresses. Hey, Alice, it’s not your wedding, so pipe down.
Billie becomes less and less sure about the choices she’s making. She’s afraid of having a daughter who turns out like one of the twins – either a big mess she can’t control, or a goody two-shoes who’s no fun. Steven, for his part, worries that he’ll have a son who gets horrible grades. But he’s not as freaked out as Billie, who actually locks herself in the Wakefields’ bathroom so she can panic in peace. Steven talks her down.
Billie gets confirmation that she won the guitar competition from the last book, so marrying Steven and having the baby will mean giving up a semester in Spain. Steven tries to cheer her up by decorating their apartment like they’re in Spain. Steven is actually pretty cool in this book. I don’t expect to ever say that again, so enjoy it now.
But then there’s more fighting. Billie feels like Steven is making all the decisions for them. Billie, sweetie? If you don’t like it, tell him. He thinks you’re okay with everything because, you know, YOU KEEP TELLING HIM YOU’RE OKAY WITH EVERYTHING. Funny how that works. Anyway, Steven’s also not completely happy, since he’ll have to take an internship he doesn’t really want in order to provide for his family. There’s fighting, there’s fighting, there’s fighting, and then suddenly something’s wrong and Billie starts bleeding.
Yes, in the grand tradition of soap operas (and this series is definitely a soap), Billie miscarries. Steven feels guilty because they were fighting, and he thinks he put too much stress on Billie. Billie worries that now that they’re not “obligated” to get married for a baby, Steven won’t want to marry her anymore. Except…Billie wasn’t 100 percent down with getting married. I don’t understand that girl. Whatever, the next book’s called Here Comes the Bride, so that kind of answers that question.
Jessica and Val have started their own fashion business, despite not having business degrees, experience running businesses, or, in Jessica’s case, even the tiniest grasp of how the real world works. I don’t know who would want to do business with them. Jessica’s still a college freshman! But apparently things are off to a good start, and Val has everything under control. They just need money.
Since no bank in its right mind would loan money to Jessica outright, she has the option of using her and Elizabeth’s Jeep as collateral. This means convincing Elizabeth to co-sign. Liz is too smart for that, but it’s a moot point – Lila agrees to invest some of the money her father gave her in her unreliable best friend’s startup company that has no business plan or promise of being successful. Silly children with their silly disposable assets.
Jessica and Lila come up with a mutually beneficial idea: a fashion show at Lila’s donut shop. Lila is done with people not paying for food, and the fashion show will bring her exposure. The Thetas will model the clothes. I’m not sure a place that sells unhealthy food is the best place to show off clothes – “you’ll only be able to fit into these if you stop eating donuts!” – but at least someone’s trying something different.
Tripler-Wakefield Designs, or whatever, gets to work, but Jessica’s uneasy because Val and Mike seem really close. And also because there’s no fabric. Apparently fabric imported from other countries often gets held up in customs, but Val insists that what they’re getting is top-of-the-line stuff. If you’re suspicious that Val is actually using the money to buy what she says she’s buying, you’re not alone – Elizabeth is wary, too.
Jessica goes home to help with the wedding, but while she’s gone, she can’t get in touch with Val. The fashion show is coming up quickly, and nothing appears to be ready. Since the proceeds are going to charity, they can’t call it off, or everyone could be arrested for fraud. Jessica eventually ditches her horrible mother-of-the-groomzilla to check on her business, and realizes that Val hasn’t been there for a while. She thinks Val and Mike have taken all their money and run away. Lila (possibly jokingly) suggests that they flee the country, and Jessica (totally not jokingly) gets ready to go.
But it was all a misunderstanding. Val and Mike did leave the state, but only to go to Texas to get more fabric, since what they ordered was destroyed in a fire. Val thinks the show will be able to go on time, and no one will be a fraud. In fact, everything goes well, and somehow, these plucky young entrepreneurs with their laughable business practices are successes.
Speaking of laughable business practices, as I mentioned above, Lila has realized that giving away food isn’t a way to make money. And how do you donate your proceeds to charity when there are no proceeds? Also, how do you pay your employees when you’re not bringing in any money? The answer is that you don’t, which is why Lila’s employees quit. Lila orders her friends to start paying their tabs, but since they don’t have money, she puts them to work. Cue Isabella and Danny trying to make donuts without having any idea how.
And there’s another problem: Jessica knocked down some guy named Pelmer in the shop, and he claims he’s injured, so he’s suing Lila. She needs money to pay for a lawyer, but she’s not very cooperative about the process. (Lila, uncooperative? I know, I was surprised, too.) Lila assigns Winston and Denise to follow Pelmer and find out if he’s really injured. This might actually be the smartest thing Lila’s ever done. Too bad Winston and Denise are horrible at being private investigators, and Winston’s a klutz, so when they get photographic proof that Pelmer is a liar, Winston breaks the camera and accidentally exposes the film.
Bruce becomes Lila’s punching bag, but he tries to be patient while she’s dealing with all her issues (which is good of him, considering he got her the donut shop in the first place). Danny and Isabella quit, sick of Lila’s abusive management tactics, and Bruce tries to convince them to help out their friend. Funny, I never thought of Lila as their friend. But then Bruce learns that since Lila’s the only one who owns the shop, he has no liability in the lawsuit. He immediately quits and takes off to let Lila handle everything on her own. Also, Winston, Denise, Danny, and Isabella picket the shop, which is great.
Lila begs her friends for help, reminding them that they’re putting on a charity fashion show, and that the shop’s proceeds also go to charity. They get her to admit that she opened the shop so she could be respected, not philanthropic. With everyone back on board, they organize the successful fashion show, but Lila isn’t happy with Bruce. I’m not sure why he wants her back anyway. They were both awful to each other.
There’s also a stupid plot where Tom casually proposes to Elizabeth, and she’s not sure if he’s serious or not, so she accepts, but it turns out he WAS serious, and he even gets her a ring. But then he’s all, “This is happening way too fast,” like, no kidding, so they call of their kind-of-not-even-real engagement, which she wasn’t even excited about. On the plus side, Tom enjoys spending time with the Wakefields since it reminds him of when he had a family, so that’s kind of nice.
Thoughts: I really want a donut now.
I’m surprised and a little impressed that the book presents abortion as an option, but the women who talk to Billie about it almost sound like they’re trying to talk her into it.
Bruce says Lila was fired from the department store because she was “unsuited for the workforce.” Winston: “I wish I were rich enough to be unsuited for the workforce.” Heh.
Jessica: “I hope you know what you’re doing.” Val: “I hope so too.” Yeah, they sound like people who should be starting a business together.
I take back what I said about Lila not being able to run a business. She knows how to boss around people to get them to do all the work, which is basically the same thing.
“Just between you and me, Lila, I’ve never trusted Jessica Wakefield.” I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Alison: Everyone knows that.
“Don’t act like a big martyr. You’re a man. You don’t have to do anything.” Well, then enjoy being a single mother, Billie.