August 12, 2014
SVT #14, Tug of War: Wakefield vs. Wakefield
Summary: Some girl we’ve never heard of is moving to Texas, which normally wouldn’t make a difference, but since she’s the president of the sixth grade, that means they need to find a new one. I’m not sure why the vice president can’t just step up, but that’s never mentioned. Elizabeth would like to be the new president (despite already having a student government role), but the Unicorns want a Unicorn president. Never mind that there are only three Unicorns in the sixth grade, and one of them is Ellen, who I wouldn’t trust to run a lemonade stand.
No one actually knows what the class president does, but this time around, he or she will get to make a big decision. The class is holding a book fair, and the president gets to decide what to do with the money they make. Jessica thinks they should have a big party. Everyone will come in costume as a favorite book character (this is later expanded to include movie characters), which is the only tie-in to books. Elizabeth thinks the money should be used to buy a VCR. Yeah, this book is a little dated.
When it comes time to nominate candidates, Amy names Elizabeth, and Lila names Jessica. Probable future dropout Jim Sturbridge nominates uber-nerd Randy Mason, wanting to embarrass him. Little does he know that Randy actually wants to run, so Jim did him a favorite. I love it when bullies’ plans backfire. Jessica is sure she’ll win the election, since she’s the most popular of the three candidates and this is, after all, a popularity contest. (Kids: Don’t ever let anyone tell you a school election is about the issues or anyone’s platform. It’s not. Sorry. Also, a good number of high-schoolers who run for student government do it because it looks good on their college applications.)
Elizabeth actually wants to be an effective president, bless her heart, and she comes up with ideas like giving an award to the best teacher. Jessica’s more focused on getting votes. She decides to have a party at Lila’s so all the popular kids will know how cool she is. Elizabeth makes up a bunch of flyers with her platform, but before she, Amy, and Julie can distribute them, they disappear. They wind up in the school’s fountain – and who knew the school had a fountain? Liz doesn’t want to believe that Jessica had anything to do with them getting dumped there, but it’s pretty clear Lila and Ellen were involved, and it’s possible Jess put them up to it. (She actually didn’t know about it until later.)
Fearing retaliation from her sister, Jessica snoops in Elizabeth’s room and finds out that she’s going to hold a campaign rally after a school soccer game. I’ve never heard of a student doing that, especially a middle-schooler. Lila enlists her father and his connections to come up with a counter-plan: They’ll have their own gathering and distract people with copies of Johnny Buck’s newest single.
Steven urges Elizabeth to start fighting dirty. I kind of enjoy Steven in this book; he’s really entertained by his sisters competing against each other, and basically wants them to drive each other crazy. SVT Steven is so much more fun than SVH and SVU Steven. Anyway, Elizabeth draws mustaches on Jessica’s campaign posters, like, way to be creative, Liz. When Ned and Alice find out, they announce that the girls will both have to drop out of the election if they can’t be civil. That’s an actual parenting moment, there. Good job, Wakefields!
Elizabeth thinks about quitting the race, since it’s not worth it if she and Jessica are going to end up hating each other. Amy tells her that they have to keep going to show Jess that she can’t get what she wants all the time. That’s probably half the reason Amy’s backing Liz. Elizabeth goes to Randy’s teeny, tiny, pathetic rally, since he went to hers, and realizes that he has some great ideas for the class. He’s also come up with the plan to have the party Jessica wants, charge admission, and use the proceeds to buy the VCR.
Liz likes this idea so much that she thinks about incorporating it in her platform (though she would give Randy credit). She asks Alice about it, and Alice advises her to do what she thinks is right. On election day, Elizabeth does that, and then some: She announces that she’s dropping out of the race and supporting Randy. This is especially bold because Jessica has no idea what she’s doing, and Elizabeth probably could have easily won. But her votes go to Randy, who ends up winning.
Elizabeth is worried that Jessica will be furious at her for what she did, but Jessica couldn’t care less – she gets to have her party, and she doesn’t have to do any work. Can you imagine if she’d won, though? That would have been a disaster. And she wouldn’t have time to go roller-skating and run into cute older boys in a set-up for the next book.
Thoughts: We just did a campaign storyline! Why are they doing another one?
I watched Election while I was reading this. Tracy Flick would laugh in Lila’s face over her campaign tactics.
Johnny’s single comes in record form. In 1987? Hadn’t most people moved on to cassettes by then? Especially rich people like Lila?