The Big Deal: Visit from Aunt Helen
Aunt Helen is coming for a visit, and the twins go to Casey’s Place after school because they’re afraid their parents will make them clean the house some more before Helen gets there. Steven is at Casey’s too, and he’s feeling all inadequate because he likes a girl named Jill who pays more attention to Joe Howell than she does to Steven. Across the ice cream parlor, Jessica can’t pay for her sundae and Lila makes a big deal about loaning her two dollars.
When the kids get home, Aunt Helen gives them each a hundred dollars for no reason at all. Also, her arm is in a cast and she’s very vague with the kids about what happened. The next day, the kids all end up at the mall. Liz buys the new Amanda Howard hardcover and a book for Amy, Jessica buys sundaes and hair ribbons and shit for all her friends, and Steven buys some earrings for Jill. They all end up spending around thirty dollars and I’m so stressed out because I know they’re going to run out of money soon. Steven gets up the nerve to ask Jill on a date for Friday. She accepts, but she still seems way more interested in Joe. She barely pays attention to Steven.
That night, Liz overhears her dad and Helen talking about lawyers and sharks bullying Helen. And the next morning, an overnight delivery courier brings a letter to Aunt Helen during breakfast. She refuses to open it while the kids are still there. That afternoon, Amanda Howard is signing autographs at the bookstore. Liz asks her how she comes up with her ideas and Amanda tells her there are mysteries going on around them all the time if you pay attention. So now Liz thinks the thing with Aunt Helen is a mystery she has to solve. Thanks a lot, Amanda Howard. Liz and Amy search through Helen’s purse for clues and find a picture of a mean looking guy in a suit. Amy is convinced Helen is a spy. I’m sure she is not.
Jessica keeps buying stuff for her friends because she’s trying to make a point to Lila about being generous. Lila tries to give her financial advice, telling her people won’t remember the things she bought them, but Jessica won’t listen. By Friday she’s down to fifteen dollars. Liz has seventy because she’s boring, and Steven spends everything he has left on a disastrous date with Jill. She wants to dance and he doesn’t know how, and he accidentally jabs her when he tries to pin a corsage on her. He ends up having to borrow money from her and take the bus home.
This is one of those books that really wants to drive home that there’s a difference between the twins.
Liz goes to Amy’s house Friday night. She’s supposed to spend the night there, but after watching a courtroom drama she’s convinced Aunt Helen witnessed a crime and that’s why she’s hiding out at the Wakefields’ house. She and Amy rush back home to make sure she’s okay. They run into the living room, yelling that they won’t let anything happen to her. Everyone is just sitting around watching a movie and looking at Liz like she’s crazy. It turns out Helen was only in a car accident and the insurance company is being a jerk about paying for the repairs. The man in the picture is Helen’s boyfriend. No word on why she’s been so secretive.
Liz uses the rest of her money to buy a camera she’s been saving up for. She also buys a new shirt for Jessica. All of Jessica’s friends pitch in to buy her a pair of earrings to thank her for being so generous. Steven goes to Jill’s house to pay her back the money he had to borrow. She takes it and practically slams the door in his face. She seems like kind of a bitch, but (setup for the next book) Steven is in love.
“You know, you should really learn how to manage your money,” Lila said. “You’re always running out of it.”
“That’s because I don’t have any,” Jessica complained.
Story of my life, Jess.
The Cover: Look at Liz being all sassy, fanning herself with a fistful of dollar bills. And hey, that’s a real expression on Steven’s face!