September 22, 2015

SVT #39, Jessica and the Money Mix-Up: Making a Racket

Posted in books tagged , at 6:16 pm by Jenn

How could someone not notice a big stack of cash in this thing?

How could someone not notice a big stack of cash in this thing?

Summary: With Alice out of town on business, Ned is relying on the kids to help out more around the house. Jessica is, as expected, not on board. She gets a lecture about being more responsible, which makes her feel bad that her father doesn’t have faith in her. Ned gives her the chance to prove herself by asking her to deliver an envelope containing $500 to someone named Mr. Hopper. She’ll need to do it soon because Mr. Hopper is about to leave his house.

Jessica heads out on her errand, but she’s delayed by Caroline, who has some supposedly juicy gossip. It’s not that juicy. By the time Jess remembers what she’s supposed to be doing, Mr. Hopper has already left. His neighbor was asked to keep an eye out for Jessica and let her know that Mr. Hopper will be back late, but Jess can come by in the morning. You know, if Mr. Hopper had just asked the neighbor to take the envelope from Jessica, we would have been spared the rest of this book. But that would be too easy.

Even though the next day is Saturday and Mr. Hopper is leaving really early in the morning for a week out of town, Jessica sucks it up and plans to go see him then. She stashes the money in the cover of a tennis racket she finds in a closet at the Wakefields’ house. But in the morning, the racket’s gone. Steven tells her that it actually belonged to his friend Peter Moore. Ned was annoyed when he opened the closet the night before and the racket fell on his head, so Steven took it back to Peter.

After recruiting Elizabeth to help her, Jessica rushes over to Peter’s house, where she learns that his father is off playing tennis. The twins pretend they just wanted to borrow the racket, not mentioning that there’s a fat wad of money inside. Peter loans them his mother’s racket, probably wondering why his friend has such weird sisters. After searching a few tennis courts (apparently there are a bunch in Sweet Valley), Elizabeth sees that Mrs. Moore’s racket is from the Sweet Valley Country Club, so that’s probably where Mr. Moore is.

She’s right, and the twins stalk him to the club’s restaurant. Jessica pretends to be a busgirl while she tries to get her hand in the racket cover. Mr. Moore catches her, so the twins do an actual smart thing: They tell him exactly what’s going on. Mr. Moore apologetically tells them that the envelope isn’t there.

Jessica now has a week to figure out what to do about the money before Mr. Hopper comes back. She decides that they’ll just need to earn $500 and pretend it was never missing. (And I say “they” because she easily guilts Elizabeth into helping her.) The girls create an odd-job service calling Helping Hands, planning to make $500 in seven days by washing cars and mowing lawns. All while going to school, doing homework, attending Unicorn meetings and Booster practice (Jess), and working on the newspaper (Liz). Sure.

Of course, Jess doesn’t like doing manual labor, so Elizabeth gets stuck with the brunt of the tasks. Not that it really matters, since there’s no way they can make that much money that quickly. The twins’ last chance to earn back the money is a radio contest Jessica enters. If she’s called, she’ll play Name That Tune with five Johnny Buck songs for a chance to win $1,000.

Amazingly, Jessica gets picked. Ned’s on the phone when Jess is supposed to call the station back, so Elizabeth pretends she has to make an important phone call, I guess because Ned wouldn’t give in if Jess asked. Jessica gets four of the five songs right, but she’s so focused on the prize that she calls the last song “A Thousand Bucks” instead of “A Dozen Bucks.” No money for Jess.

Jessica decides that it’s time to come clean. As she’s about to tell Ned that she lost the money, she sees him leaving the house, accidentally dropping something on the floor. It’s the envelope, and all the money is still inside. She figures that he found the envelope and either forgot to tell her or held on to it to teach her a lesson. Elizabeth is disappointed that her detectiving turned up the wrong answer (she thought Steven took the money from the racket and lost it somewhere in his room).

Jess admits to Ned that she lost the money, so he starts to tell her that he had it all along, only now he can’t find the envelope. She lets him know that she found it. Apparently he forgot to talk to her about it all week. Then he tells her that she should always come to her parents when she screws up so they can help her fix it. Yeah, right! They’ll lecture her about it and punish her. The real lesson here is never give Jessica any responsibilities.

Thoughts: To make $500 in seven days, the girls would have to make just over $70 a day. Neither seems to think this is unreasonable.

Ellen tried to get the Unicorns to change their official color from purple to red. And she didn’t get chased out of town by a mob with torches and pitchforks?

It’s 1990 and Jessica’s still listening to records. NO.

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