September 8, 2015
SVT #38, Lois Strikes Back: If Elizabeth Is Nancy Drew, Then Lois Is Bess
Summary: Instead of raising money on their own, the PTA wants the kids of Sweet Valley Middle School to hold a bike-a-thon to earn money for a VCR and videotapes. Students will get people to pledge a certain amount of money for every mile they ride out of 30. Whoever makes the most money (which doesn’t necessarily mean finishing the race first, or even finishing at all, depending on the amount/size of pledges) wins a top-of-the-line mountain bike.
Everyone wants to win the bike, especially plus-sized Lois Waller, who wants to start a paper route. Bruce thinks this is ridiculous. How could a fatty-fatty-fat-fat like Lois finish a 30-mile bike ride? Hasn’t anyone seen what she eats? He starts calling her Lois Walrus. Because middle-schoolers are generally awful people, no one stands up for poor Lois. And since Bruce gets his desired result – humiliation on Lois’ part – he just keeps harassing her.
The twins get to work lining up sponsors. Their parents, of course, contribute, and Steven reluctantly pledges a nickel a mile, so that the most he’ll have to give each twin is $1.10. SVT Steven is such a jerk. Lila and Ellen aren’t the least bit interested in the bike-a-thon, and frankly, I’m a little surprised Jessica is. She wants a new bike, and I’m not sure she realizes how much effort she’ll have to put forth to get it.
At school, Bruce lays into Lois again, and this time she gets revenge without even meaning to. He trips over her backpack and spills his lunch all over himself. He tries to blame her, saying she tripped him on purpose, but no one believes him – and the janitor makes him clean up the mess. Awesome. Bruce decides to get even by getting a huge sponsorship for the bike-a-thon. Lois has already signed up 23 sponsors, but not for huge amounts. Bruce gets his parents to pledge $20 a mile.
When Lois, Elizabeth, Amy, and barely-in-this-book Julie find out what Bruce has planned, they get together to figure out how much more Lois needs to have pledged in order to beat him. She’s almost there, and gets the pledges she needs at the retirement home where her mother works. Lois’ mother hadn’t wanted her to bother the residents, so Lois didn’t ask any of them for pledges, but the residents want to help out. This time, Lois keeps her mouth shut about how much she’s going to make.
The Sixers decide to do some special articles about the bike-a-thon, with an insider’s view. Elizabeth will ride with Lois, and Amy will ride with Bruce. They’re pretty excited about the whole thing. Jessica, however, is no longer excited. Lila’s uncle has sent her Johnny Buck’s album before it comes out, and all the cool people are gathering at Lila’s house the day of the bike-a-thon to listen to it together. Jessica has promised her parents that she’ll do the bike-a-thon, since she made a commitment, but she plans to duck out after a few miles.
The bike-a-thon begins, and Jessica rides four miles before quitting. Elizabeth sticks right by Lois, even though Lois is going pretty slowly and Elizabeth would like to go faster. They wind up having a pretty good time, and Lois manages to ride 22 miles before she tires out. Rock on, Lois. Elizabeth goes home and calls Amy, who admits that she lost track of Bruce after eight miles. But Amy herself finished the bike-a-thon, and she reports that at the finish line, everyone who rode all 30 miles got a gift certificate for a free sundae.
At school, Bruce brags about finishing the whole bike-a-thon. But Elizabeth starts to get suspicious. He’s not riding a bike anymore – his old one or the brand-new one he would have won at the bike-a-thon. He also doesn’t know about the sundae certificates everyone got at the finish line. Plus, Jessica reported that he turned up at Lila’s party, which doesn’t seem likely if he rode all 30 miles. He also seemed angry when he made it to Lila’s. Jess thinks Liz is crazy, and they make a bet: If Liz is right that Bruce didn’t finish, Jess has to do her chores for a week.
Elizabeth Nancy Drews things up, and after she and Lois bug Bruce, he admits that he crashed his bike and didn’t finish. The participants all had punch cards and were supposed to get a punch at each mile; Bruce just punched holes himself and lied about finishing. I mean, of course. So Lois is declared the real winner and even gets an assembly in her honor. I’d like to note that people are pretty nice to her in this book, but I don’t think it lasts.
Thoughts: If Elizabeth is such a great person, why isn’t she friends with Lois? Why doesn’t she stand up for her more?
I love that the people who ride the whole 30 miles get ice cream. “You just did a ton of exercise! Celebrate with junk food!”
Elizabeth and Lois are shocked that Bruce punched his own card to cheat. I’m shocked that he was the only one who did it (or at least the only one who got caught).