The twins' Aunt Helen is coming for a visit, and since they just cleaned the house and don't want to clean anymore, they decide to go for ice cream. Since Steven is there too, they figure they can't all get in trouble for not coming home right after school. When the bill comes, Jessica realizes that she doesn't have any cash. Lila lets her borrow the $2 but only after giving her a lecture on how she needs to learn how to handle her money responsibly. That's easy for someone with an $8,000 a week allowance to say.
Helen had a cast on her arm that she won't talk about but gives the kids each an envelop with $100 inside. Ned suggests they pool their money or put it in a savings account for college. They hate his ideas, and even Helen tells them to just do something fun with it. Jessica calls Lila and brags about all her new cash, but Lila doesn't really care and tells her that she'll blow it pretty soon.
Jessica decides that this is the perfect opportunity to show Lila that you can be rich and generous. She takes most of the Unicorns out for ice cream and treats them all. Jessica then buys Kimberly a new bracelet, gives Ellen money for a poster she wants, and buys stuff for the other girls. She does see a shirt she really likes, but since it's $40, she decides to wait and see if she finds something else she likes better.
Every time they go out and do something, Jessica gets stuck paying. She finally sits down to count her money and realizes she only has $15 left because she spent all her money on her friends. Some of the Unicorns go shopping again, and Kimberly keeps hinting around about Jess buying her a necklace before getting annoyed. Lila realizes she's broke and tries to talk to her about it, but Jessica just shrugs it off and points out that at least she made her friends happy.
Elizabeth has been eying a new camera and now has the cash to get it. First though, she goes to the mall with Amy and finds out there is a new Amanda Howard mystery out. She ends up buying it even though she's never bought a hardback before and getting a Johnny Buck biography for Amy. Elizabeth also finds out that Amanda Howard is coming the next day to sign copies of her latest book.
Even though she's super nervous, she gets to meet her favorite author. They have a talk about where Howard comes up with all her ideas before she inscribes a special note on Elizabeth's book. Liz then starts wondering if there is a mystery in her own house surrounding her aunt. Helen still won't talk about what happened to her arm, and the adults keep changing the subject when Liz walks in the room.
Liz makes up a story about needing Helen's help picking out an outfit for a school dance and lets Amy snoop through her things. They find a picture of a man with a scowl on his face. They later watch a murder mystery at Amy's house, and Liz decides that her aunt is on the run from a murderous mob or something. She rushes home and tells her everything. It turns out that her aunt was really in a car accident and broke her wrist. Her insurance claims she never sent in her last payment and won't pay, so she's in town to get advice from Ned.
Steven is obsessed with this new girl named Jill Hale. He keeps trying to get her attention but doesn't seem to notice that she only has eyes for Joe Howell. When he gets his money, he decides to take her out for a special dinner at a romantic French restaurant. First though, he buys her a $30 pair of earrings and springs for a bouquet of flowers. He even gives Jess $10 because she helped him pick out an outfit and gave him an article on first dates.
She isn't ready when he shows up, so the taxi he rented charges $40 for the ride. Jill gets something cheap to eat but then orders dessert, which puts him over his limit. He gives her the flowers, she asks him to pin one to her dress, and he accidentally pokes her with the pin. He then steps on her feet while dancing, gives her the earrings that look just the ones she's wearing, and has to borrow money from her to pay for dinner. Jessica feels so bad for him that she actually gives him his money back.
The next time they all to the mall, Jessica runs into Liz picking out a picture frame for their aunt. It turns out the guy in the picture is her boyfriend who hates having his picture taken. Liz wants to give her a frame for her picture, and Jess gives her half the money. They then stop by the clothing store where Jessica saw the shirt she wanted. Liz agrees to give her the rest of the money in exchange for a sweatshirt Jess bought that Liz likes. Jessica then meets the Unicorns for ice cream and orders before she realizes that she doesn't have any cash left. Lila rolls her eyes but agrees to pay for her and tells her not to worry about paying it back.
Steven takes what money he has left to pay Jill back for dinner. He gets caught in a storm, but her mom makes him come in and sit down anyway. Jill comes downstairs with bitch face firmly in place, wrinkles her nose at the money, and pretty much shoots him down when he suggests they go out again before storming off, leaving him mooning over her.
*Lila tells Jessica that she has $100 and that it's not like she won the lottery. Of course it's not a lot for a girl with a big allowance, charge cards, and store accounts.
*Is it just me or does $40 seem like a lot of money on a shirt for a sixth grader? Then again, since I work from home, I can't remember the last time I bought a shirt that cost more than $20! LOL
*I also think $22 for a hardback book is a lot given that this book came out in 1992. I've gotten a few new hardbacks from Target and Walmart recently that were right around that price or even less.
*Would Helen really need Ned's advice? This was back in the checkbook days, so couldn't she just get a copy of her canceled check from the bank, send it to her insurance company, and wait for them to send her a check for the damages? It really doesn't seem too hard.
*Steven describes Jill as thin, blond, and green eyed. He knows nothing else about her but is in love. Nice to know he cares about what is on the inside...
*Lila is constantly talking about managing money in this book, which is ridiculous given the way she acts in other books. She'll buy an entire rack of dresses without thinking twice but then whines at loaning a friend a few dollars. If I had her dad's money, I'd treat my friends all the time!
*It might be because I read the next book first, but I really don't like Jill. She is such a little bitch. She talks about how her family travels all the time for her dad's work and how she lived in Europe and generally just acts like a spoiled brat. I would also like to point out that Joe, in a later book, acts like Steven went after Jill while they were together, but Steven did in fact ask her out first, so it's really Joe who went after his best friend's girl.
*When Steven goes to the jewelry store, the guy shows him a pair of $400 diamond earrings first, then $300 pearls, etc. Seriously dude? Do you really think a 14 year old boy has hundreds of dollars to spend on jewelry?