January 12, 2016
SVT #45, Lucy Takes the Reins: Horses and Seals and Skunks, Oh, My!
Summary: In case you’ve forgotten that Elizabeth likes horses, this book serves as your reminder. Elizabeth’s hanging out at Carson Stables again, where Ted is struggling to keep up with payments for Thunder, the horse he bought from Lila. He manages to get an extension until after an upcoming championship competition, where he hopes to win the thousand-dollar prize. Ellen is also entering the competition.
Elizabeth and Ted meet Lucy Benson, a seventh-grader new to Sweet Valley. She loves horses, too, and has been hanging around the stables. She used to have her own horse and participated in competitions. But when Ted offers to let her ride his horse, she makes up an excuse. Later, Ellen challenges Lucy’s supposed riding expertise, but Lucy still won’t get on a horse, even after she tells Elizabeth she wants to.
Eventually, Lucy decides she’s had enough of Ellen’s taunting that she’s not actually good at riding. She takes Thunder for a spin, but when she’s done, she’s shaking. When Elizabeth calls Lucy at home, Mr. Benson thinks Liz is a friend from glee club. Sounds like he has no idea where his daughter has been spending her afternoons.
While practicing for the competition, Ted falls off of Thunder and breaks his leg. There goes his chance to win the $1,000 he needs to keep his horse. Elizabeth and Lucy go to the hospital with him, and a nurse chats with Lucy, making her uneasy. Elizabeth wonders why Lucy’s so uncomfortable with someone being friendly to her.
But there’s no time for that – Ted needs money! Elizabeth thinks Lucy’s good enough to take his place in the competition. Lucy disagrees, and Ellen taunts that she can’t handle the pressure. So Lucy decides she won’t back down after all. Ellen talks to Jessica about Lucy, so when Lucy comes over for dinner, Jess tries to dig up dirt on her. All Jessica learns is that Lucy carries something with her that she claims is aspirin.
In the nurse’s office sometime later, Jessica hears Lucy talking about forgetting her medication. She mentions having had an accident, and her parents subsequently forbidding her from riding her horse. Elizabeth then comes across a story about Lucy falling during a competition. When she asks Lucy about it, Lucy comes clean: She has epilepsy. Her parents panicked over her having a seizure while riding and decided it would be safer for her to quit. Lucy, however, wants to prove that she can still ride (and also that she can beat some girl named Alison, but that’s a much smaller motive).
Ellen wants Lucy out of the way so she can win the competition, so she tries to call the Bensons to tell them how Lucy has been riding again without their permission. They don’t get her call until the competition has already started, so Lucy is able to enter. Her parents arrive while she’s competing and are understandably furious with her. Lucy tells them that she needed to prove that she could do the things she wants despite her epilepsy. After all, her doctor said she could keep riding as long as she takes her medication.
The Bensons calm down, and Lucy’s able to finish the competition. Of course, she wins, and she gives Ted the prize money. Her parents are even willing to consider buying her old horse back. So they all live happily ever after, except Ellen, who falls off her horse when the Boosters arrive to cheer for her during the competition. And I assume Ted never has money problems again.
In the B-plot, Jessica has some close encounters with animals. First, while she’s on a picnic with her family, a skunk gets into the cooler and eats the piece of chocolate cake Jessica wanted. Then, while she’s at the beach with Lila, she finds a baby seal covered in oil from a nearby oil spill. Jessica saves him, sacrificing her outfit, and is rewarded with the attention of a cute guy named Adam.
Jessica starts hanging out with Adam and the environmentalist group he’s part of. Unfortunately, this book does not lead to Jessica joining Greenpeace or leading protests about pollution. She just helps clean up the oil spill and worries a lot about the seal, Whiskers. She does bug her family a little about being a little more ecological, but they don’t really listen. Also, Steven knows her sudden interest in saving the planet mostly stems from a new crush. Anyway, Whiskers winds up okay, and Jessica helps release him back into the wild.
Thoughts: I guess the moral of this book is that it’s okay to disobey your parents if you have a really good reason.
The image of a skunk eating cake has always stuck with me. It sounds adorable.
After Jessica hears Lucy talking to the nurse, she’s all, “I’m a detective.” I love that Jessica considers eavesdropping “detective work.”
Apparently you can enter a riding competition without your parents’ permission. Keep that in mind, kids!