March 8, 2016

SVT #49, The Twins’ Little Sister: Preteen Moms

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:57 pm by Jenn

I love this cover

I love this cover

Summary: Spending time with Belinda Layton’s baby brother has made Jessica wish for a younger sibling of her own. She pulls Elizabeth into her new obsession, and the two of them decide to show their parents that they’re responsible enough to help out with any babies Ned and Alice might want to have. As if that was the only thing holding them back from having more kids.

Jessica’s second new obsession is Chad, a friend of Steven’s who seems to be interested in her. He flirts a little when Jess makes him a snack, then mentions hanging out with her at a party Janet’s brother Joe is throwing. Despite Jessica’s past bad luck with an older guy, she thinks she and Chad could actually make something work. To be fair, he’s only a couple years older. And also to be fair, middle-school girls tend to develop crushes on guys who seem to have crushes on them. So I don’t blame Jess for thinking there’s something in her future with Chad.

The Wakefields have dinner with another family, the Steeles, who have a five-year-old daughter named Chrissy. The Steeles were supposed to go on a cruise and have Chrissy stay with their housekeeper, but the housekeeper has to go to a wedding. This is why you actually listen when your housekeeper tells you things like, “My daughter’s getting married and I’ll need a week off.” The twins immediately realize that they can demonstrate their responsibility by taking care of Chrissy for the week. Ned and Alice are like, “Yeah, sure, okay. We’re here if you need us, but you’re the main caregivers.” What?? I can’t believe the Steeles are okay with this arrangement.

Jessica and Elizabeth agree to split responsibilities, though Liz isn’t sure Jess will do her half of the work. They’re in charge of getting her to and from school, feeding her, bathing her, and getting her to bed. So they’re 12-year-olds, doing a full-time parenting job. What could possibly go wrong?

The week with Chrissy starts, and everything seems great. She’s sweet, she’s well behaved, and she goes to sleep easily. The trouble starts the next morning, when Jess struggles to get Chrissy to school on time. Then she and Liz realize that if Ned and Alice had a baby, the twins would probably have to share a room again. As it is, Chrissy has to sleep in the den. The morning struggles continue with Elizabeth, who runs into Bruce while taking Chrissy to school. Chrissy kicks Bruce in the shin, which is awesome. Later, Chrissy sees Elizabeth and Todd together and asks if they’re boyfriend and girlfriend. They’re understandably embarrassed.

Speaking of boyfriends, Jessica’s sort-of beau, Aaron, is looking forward to seeing her at the Howells’ party. Then Chad shows up and mentions dancing with Jess at the party. She’s thrilled to have two guys’ attention, especially since one of them is in high school. But she thinks it would be easier to date someone her own age, so she decides to stick with Aaron. However, she doesn’t want to tell Chad that there’s no chance of a relationship because she doesn’t want to crush him before the party.

Chrissy tells Steven that Elizabeth has a boyfriend, which is such a little-sister thing to do. Liz worries that Chrissy overheard the twins talking about Chad, and that she’ll mention Jessica and Chad’s almost-relationship to Steven. They make sure she can’t talk at dinner, because apparently that’s the only time Steven and Chrissy see each other.

The twins are surprisingly mature about taking care of Chrissy, but their excitement for the task doesn’t last. Five-year-olds are, of course, a lot of work. Plus, since Chrissy’s sleeping in the den, no one can watch TV after she goes to bed. They can’t get phone calls or play loud music because the noise wakes her up. Basically, they can’t be preteens while they’re trying to be parents. This book should be used as pro-birth control material, along with Teen Mom.

The night of the party, Ned and Alice graciously agree to provide childcare for the first time all week. Chrissy gets makeup on Jessica’s dress, leading to a fight between the two girls. Chrissy says she likes Steven better anyway – oh, and she told him about Chad. Jess decides not to go to the party, since she thinks Steven will talk to Chad there and she’ll be humiliated. Elizabeth changes her mind, telling her to keep her head up and refuse to be humiliated (which is actually good advice).

But the Wakefields aren’t home in time for the party – Alice is stuck at work, and Ned has car trouble. Amy has been trying to make money (see the B-plot), so Elizabeth hires her to watch Chrissy while the twins go to the party. Chrissy isn’t happy about having a sitter, but after a book full of the twins indulging her and letting her have her way to avoid a fight, Elizabeth tells her to suck it up.

At the party, Jess gets Elizabeth to eavesdrop while Steven talks to Chad. Jess is worried that Steven will laugh off her crush, but instead, he just tells Chad that Jessica thought there was something there. Chad is nice about the whole thing, admitting that he might have flirted a little with Jess when he didn’t intend to lead her on. He agrees to dance with her, at Steven’s urging, and let her down easy. He even kisses her on the cheek. As for Todd and Liz, she thought Chrissy had scared him off, but he likes that someone sees him as Elizabeth’s boyfriend. By the way, the rest of the guys at the party spend the whole night looking at Joe’s model railroad. Wow.

When the Wakefields all get home, they learn that Chrissy has disappeared. She and Amy were playing hide-and-seek, and Amy has failed at the seeking part of the game. After a few pages of searching, Jessica finds Chrissy at a neighbor’s house, having snuck in to look at their fish. Crisis averted! Chrissy makes it through the rest of the visit without incident, and the twins realize that taking care of a kid is, you know, hard. No more babies for the Wakefields.

In the B-plot, Amy’s trying to make money to buy soccer tickets for her parents’ anniversary. The girl doesn’t know how to charge enough money to make her odd jobs worth it. She bakes cookies, mows lawns, and cleans garages, but either hates the tasks or screws up somehow. She winds up with enough money, thanks to her babysitting fee, but I can’t imagine it was worth it.

Thoughts: Jessica: “‘I know that Chad will be terribly unhappy when he hears that there’s no future for us. But he’ll have to learn to live without me.’ She put an extra quiver into her voice. ‘I’d rather perish than hurt Aaron.'” What is UP with this girl?

“If only someone would suddenly offer to give her some money!” I’ll give Amy some money if it means I don’t have to read about her anymore.

“Steven doesn’t have any right to talk to Chad about me. It’s not any of his business.” Uh-huh. Find me an older brother who doesn’t think his younger sister’s personal life is his business, especially where relationships are concerned.

Elizabeth thinks that Chad telling Jessica she’s like a sister to him is “like a line from a wonderfully sad romantic movie.” Ew. Who wants to watch a movie like that?

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