Elizabeth Gail and the Frightened Runaways

Elizabeth Gail books were favorites of mine when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade- then I discovered Sweet Valley High in 3rd grade- early 4th grade and stopped reading Elizabeth Gail books. Elizabeth Gail books are Christian fiction, and they center around a girl who is named Elizabeth Gail, of course,but everyone calls her Libby.  Libby is 12, and she is a foster child who is about to be adopted by a family called the Johnsons. Chuck and Vera are her foster parents who eagerly want to adopt her, and Vera is a total MILF with long blonde hair she always seems to wear in a braid or ponytail, and Chuck has red hair and apparently an awesome, chiseled, Brad Pitt like body that the author, Hilda Stahl, seems to always drool over. Hilda Stahl seems to have bigger crushes on Chuck and Vera Johnson than Francine Pascal does on the entire Wakefield clan!! Chuck and Vera’s bio kids are Ben who I believe is about 15 or 16, Susan, who is 12 like Libby, and Kevin is maybe 10? ( I am not sure this book mentioned Kevin or Ben’s ages, not every book did, but from memory I believe that’s how old Kevin and Ben are). Toby is about 9 years of age, and was just adopted by Chuck and Vera. Toby hated Libby when he first moved in with the Johnsons because Libby reminded him of his abusive older sister. Libby herself was abused by her mom pretty badly, and her dad isn’t around, which is why Libby is in foster care. And yes Chuck and Vera are Christians,  and often quote scriptures and what not to teach Libby important lessons. And Chuck and Vera live on a farm, and all of the kids have chores to do on the farm- which when I was 7, I thought that was soo cool- it was almost like Little House!!!  Well on with the story!

Libby is in the barn feeding Snowball, and hears a sneeze.  Libby thens sees someone hiding in the hay and is all ” I know you are in there come on out!!” and out pop April and May Brakie! April and May Brakie are foster kids who once stayed with Libby in a home where the foster mom beat April and May pretty often. 😦  April and May explain that they found out Libby was living there from their caseworker, and they need to stay with Libby. Libby asks why, and the twins explain ( yep they are twins) that they have to get away from Evelyn and Morris Stern, their new foster parents, and Libby knows why, but Libby is screaming ” no, no”‘ and as Libby is saying she doesn’t want to help, May sort of shoves Libby, and Libby knocks her arm into the wall and cries out in pain.  April tells May not to hurt Libby, she knows Libby will help. Libby says she has to go into town with Vera, and she will think about helping the girls while she is gone.

Libby is at her piano lesson with Rachel Avery, who used to be a professional pianist until she had a baby ( good Christians are stay at home moms ya know). Libby is in real pain and is not playing her best, and is also clearly distracted and worried, and she does not want to remember Morris Stern.  Rachel asks Libby if she has practiced this week and Libby says she has, she is just having a little trouble. Of course Libby can’t tell Rachel why her arm is hurt. Rachel reminds Libby of her upcoming recital in November, and we also hear that Rachel has told Libby before that she can perhaps be a famous concert pianist one day. Libby then asks Vera if she thinks the adoption will go through quickly, and Vera says there is no reason why it shouldn’t.

Libby goes out to the barn after piano lessons and gives April and May food from the kitchen. Libby then tells the girls she doesn’t want to ask the Johnsons to take in April and May, and that they should go back to the Sterns and say they are sorry for running away. April and May say they absolutely cannot do that, and Libby knows full well what Morris Stern is like.  Then May talks about how Morris Stern ” touched her all over” and how gross it was, and he tried to also touch April but April kicked Mr. Stern and ran away. Libby is again thinking she does not want to remember Morris Stern- she is in a loving home now, a home that taught her to pray and love Jesus.  Libby then thinks of how Jesus would want her to be, and tells the girls she will help them, and hide them until she figures out a way to help them.

Next, Libby calls her best friend Adam, and asks him to see if he can have Grandma Feuder ( there’s a great book about how Adam and Libby get to be friends, I think it’s Book 3, but I no longer have that one!! Drat) invite the Johnson family over for a bit, and she can’t explain why but just wants Adam to do it. Adam agrees, and Libby tells Vera she can’t join them because she wants to stay home.  April asks if Libby has asprin because she is sick and feels feverish. Libby then thinks about her dad, who is now dead, but abandoned her at age 3, but she learned to love and forgive her dad by praying to Jesus.  Libby then wonders what would happen if Chuck and Vera found out about April and May and got so mad they wouldn’t want to adopt her, and Ms. Kremeen Libby’s new social worker is all too eager to get Libby out of this Christian home- huh?? Wouldn’t the social worker only care that Vera and Chuck treated Libby well? I bet Hilda Stahl was trying to say that the terrible liberal government doesn’t want Christians to care for children or something- not that  my 8 year old mind knew that- at least that is my theory. Hilda Stahl is a Pentecostal minister or something. Just an aside.  Libby has April and May stay in the spare room and gives them clean clothes and lets them shower.

Susan is asking everyone who used her shampoo and Kevin’s brush. Libby is asking Susan to cut it out, but Susan won’t let it go. Then, Libby says she wants to talk to Chuck but can’t talk to him about what is bothering her at that moment. Chuck then tells Libby he and Vera are eager to help Libby with any problem, large or small, and he is ready to help Libby when she is ready to talk. I love Chuck.  Libby is carrying Vera’s favorite platter, and her arm is wicked hurting. Susan bumps Libby, and the platter shatters. Susan and Libby start to argue with each other,  Vera asks what is the matter and Susan says how Libby broke the platter, and Libby yells back it was Susan’s fault, and then Vera says broken platters can be replaced, but not broken relationships, and this should never stop the girls from loving each other.  Libby then sees Adam, who says he saw a girl looking out the window and it was not Susan and who was it? Libby tells Adam it wasn’t Susan, but she is not ready to tell Adam who it was, and he has to trust Libby on this.

Libby, May and April are talking in the spare room, and Libby tells April and May about how she accepted Jesus as her personal savior, and Chuck reads part of the Bible to the family every night, and Libby has learned to love,forgive and accept others, and is even slowly learning to forgive her mom. April said she and May lived with a Christian family and they were going to be Christians, but the family didn’t have the money to keep the twins.  Susan then creeps by saying she heard Libby talking to someone and Libby BETTER say who it was or she will tell on Libby, and Libby is forced to give her secret away, and she introduces Susan to April and May.  Susan is happy to know the secret, and assures Libby she will not tell Vera and Chuck. As Libby goes to bed that night, she starts to have a nightmare of Morris Stern molesting her and keeps thinking to herself that Chuck is her dad now, and he would never hurt Libby, but the bad thoughts of Morris won’t go away. At least give ol’ Hilda credit for discussing relevant social topics.

Libby comes home from school, and sees Ms. Kremeen’s car!! Libby starts to freak, but Susan tells Libby it’s probably just for a standard visit, and Susan hasn’t said a word about the twins.  Ms. Kremeen is hounding Libby about the fact that Libby is struggling with reading, and Vera tells Ms. Kremeen that Libby is getting tutoring for her reading, and assures Ms. K that they are handling the issue, and Vera knows Ms. Kremeen doesn’t approve of the Johnsons’ belief in God, but they prayed Libby into the family and will NOT give her up!! Ms. Kremeen then ask Libby about April and May Brakie, and Libby tells Ms. Kremeen she has no idea where they are, and Vera stands behind Libby 100 percent. If Vera only knew…

Toby then asks Libby if she will do Toby’s chores, and Libby is in a lot of pain with her arm and can’t do both her chores and Toby and tells Toby she simply can’t do his chores, and Toby is all pissy and he says he hopes Libby never gets adopted.  When Libby goes to see April and May, they tell Libby they know the Johnsons wouldn’t keep them, and would turn them in to Child Services, so they are going to run away. Susan is with them and Toby hears them all talking, and the girls ( April and May) try to tell Toby that as a fellow foster kid, he can’t blab, but he runs to go tell Chuck Libby is harboring April and May.  Well, Toby only told Kevin, and Kevin goes in the room to ask if it’s true. Libby says yes but Chuck and Vera can’t know, and Toby says he doesn’t care and knocks Libby into a desk, she hits her arm, and Libby cries out in pain, and Chuck comes into the room when he hears Libby cry out.  Chuck notices Libby has a big bruise and bump on her arm ( and Hilda Stahl writes about Chuck wearing a pullover emphasizing his muscled chest- yum)  and Chuck then orders Libby and Toby into his study. Toby tells Chuck ” don’t beat me” and Chuck says to Toby he would never beat any of the children, but he expects proper behavior and the truth from the kids.  So at first, Toby won’t tell, but then Chuck insists so Toby says that April and May Brakie are in the house.  Libby tells Chuck who the twins are, and they had to leave their foster home because the man was ” mean” to them but she won’t say what Morris did.  The family goes to see the girls, and Vera sees April is really sick and goes to make food and care for April, while Chuck has April and May pray with him and they pray that April will get better and that they will find a good home to live in.  Chuck then says the girls can stay the evening, and he will handle this situation in the morning. Chuck then helps Toby and Libby make up by having all of them pray together- hey, told ya there was mucho prayer in this book!

Libby is crying and crying and thinking no one loves her, and Chuck says Satan is making her feel that way, and he wants to know why Libby had to leave the Stern family.  Libby says it hurts too much to remember and tells Chuck not to make her.  Chuck then talks to Mr. Cinders from Child Services, and Mr. Cinders agrees to let the girls stay for awhile while the Sterns are investigated.

Libby is again having nightmares, and then sees that the twins are gone from the house! Libby tells Chuck this ( the girls were asleep when Chuck got the good news so they didn’t know they could stay at least a few days) and Chuck and Libby find the girls in the barn and tells them what Mr. Cinders said. April then says she already is feeling better, and Chuck says Jesus is caring for her.

At school the next day, Morris Stern is waiting to talk to Libby in the office! He basically tells Libby that if she squeals on him, he will make sure the Johnsons never adopt Libby! CREEP! Worse than a creep, really. He makes Bruce Patman seem like a friggin saint. Or- maybe Bruce Patman grew up to be a Morris Stern!! SHUDDER!  When Libby gets home, April tells Libby the Sterns are with Vera and Chuck in the study!  Chuck has Libby go into the study with May and April, and Libby finally reveals her secret of how Morris Stern touched Libby everywhere, and Evelyn says she had no idea Morris did this, and of course Morris is pissed. Vera is utterly shocked, and Chuck thanks Libby for being strong enough to tell her story. oh by the way another aside- Jesus made Libby’s arm better as well. Chuck and Libby then pray together for Libby to forgive Morris Stern for his sins. I wouldn’t forgive that asshole Stern, but that’s just me.  Then Libby tells Toby she is happy to help Toby with his chores, and after they are done, Vera calls the family to dinner, and Libby is again grateful to be in such a wonderful, loving family. I can’t remember if April and May are ever mentioned again, but in YA style, I’d bet they are not.

Coming next week- I hope by next Thursday- a Sweet Valley Twins book- Jessica The Thief!! This is the last SVT book I read before deciding ( in 9th grade!!) that I was too old for Sweet Valley Twins. Incidentally, I read SVH until my JUNIOR YEAR of high school!!!!!

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