December 19, 2017

SVT #115, Happy Mother’s Day, Lila: Pygmomlion

Posted in books tagged , , at 5:05 pm by Jenn

Lila would never wear jeans that hideous

Summary: It’s almost Mother’s Day, but who cares about moms when there’s going to be a fashion show? There are only 20 slots, and they all get taken before Jessica even learns about the show. All the Unicorns are in, so Jess feels left out. But then she learns that it’s a mother/daughter fashion show, and motherless Lila took a slot that could have gone to Jessica and Alice. Lila lies that her mother will be in town for the show. Jess is legitimately happy for her, which may be a first. Elizabeth isn’t sure Lila’s telling the truth. It would seem pretty coincidental to me if I didn’t know she was lying.

Lila tries to call her mother, who apparently moves around Europe a lot and doesn’t tell her daughter how to reach her. This is still more contact than I always assumed; I thought Grace didn’t keep in touch with Lila at all. From what we learn of her in SVH, she would be desperate for any contact she could get with Lila. Lila tries to talk to her father about her mother, but he’s on his way out of town for business, as usual. Poor, practically orphaned Lila.

Jessica wants to make a poster for Alice for Mother’s Day (how…thoughtful?), and she asks Tamara to help her. Tamara is more into fashion than art, and she doesn’t have much of an attention span, so it doesn’t go well. The girls end up splashing water at each other and get in trouble with the art teacher. As punishment, he sends them to deliver some things to the women’s shelter that will receive the proceeds from the fashion show. Jessica doesn’t want to spend too much time with homeless, jobless, sad women, but at least the trip gives her the chance to ask Marcella, an employee in charge of the show, if she and Alice can be alternates in case another mother/daughter pair can’t make the show.

The shelter gives Lila some inspiration for how to solve her problem: She’ll just pay a woman staying there to pretend to be her mother. Then she’ll have her father give the woman a job in Mexico so she’ll have to leave town and no one will spot her later and wonder why she’s still in Sweet Valley. That Lila, she’s a real do-gooder. She checks out her prospects and settles on a woman named Kate who bears enough resemblance to her that people will believe she’s Grace.

Just as Kate arrives at Lila’s house for a discussion of the deal, Jessica shows up. Lila pretends that “Grace” is out of it from a stampede during a safari that left her with some amnesia. This is also supposed to explain why she’s not wearing designer clothing. Jess finds Kate familiar but can’t place her. Lila glams Kate up and goes all My Fair Lady on her to teach her how to be a sophisticated world-traveler instead of some grimy, down-on-her-luck single mom. Kate doesn’t seem that interested; she appreciates the money, but her sophistication lessons mean she can’t be with her real daughter.

Jessica’s coming over for lunch with Lila and “Grace,” which will be Kate’s first real test to see if she can pass for an upper-class lady. There are a couple snafus over the stories Lila has told Jessica about her mother’s travels, so after lunch, Jess decides to follow Kate. She trails her to the women’s shelter, realizes that’s where she first saw Kate, and asks the workers there who she is. Just as Kate and Lila are connecting on a human level, and Lila’s realizing that poor people aren’t icky, Jessica announces that she’s on to Lila’s scheme. Kate blasts Jess for being a bad friend and just wanting her slot in the fashion show.

Lila’s miserable now and knows she can’t get away with her plan. To her credit, Jessica takes Kate’s words to heart and realizes how lucky she is to have a stable, loving family. She keeps quiet about Lila’s lies and comes up with a plan to cheer up her friend. She tells Lila to keep her slot in the fashion show; Jessica will make sure her modeling partner shows up. Then Jess gets a break when Tamara gets the flu and has to drop out of the show. Jess and Alice get her and her mother’s spots.

The girls and their mothers go to a fitting for the show, and Lila is stunned to learn that her new partner is…her father. Jessica told him everything, and he wanted to be there for his daughter. Unfortunately, the day of the show, Mr. Fowler doesn’t show up. Lila gets to do commentary, since she doesn’t have someone to model with. After the show, Alice relays a message that Mr. Fowler was in a car accident and is in the hospital. He was rushing to get to the show on time, but it was raining and he crashed. He’s not badly hurt, and Lila’s touched that he really cared enough to want to do something fun with her.

On Mother’s Day, Lila makes her father breakfast in bed. It’s not great, but it’s the thought that counts. They spend a bunch of time together, probably the most they’ve ever spent with each other. They decide to take flowers to the women at the shelter. Meanwhile, Alice tells Jessica that her kindness toward Lila was a wonderful Mother’s Day present. Yeah, I wouldn’t get used to it.

Thoughts: I hope the people who work at the shelter don’t give away personal information about the women staying there to just anyone, like they do with Jessica. Many of those women are most likely trying to escape domestic violence. I mean, obviously Jessica isn’t going to attack Kate, but it’s a bad policy.

Also, for a town that’s supposed to be perfect, Sweet Valley sure has a lot of homeless people.

Lila wants to wear a straw boater hat in the fashion show. Lila SUGGESTS wearing a straw boater hat. Lila should be checked for a head injury.

I’m surprised the book doesn’t end with Mr. Fowler and Kate meeting and falling in love.

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