Sunday, April 13, 2014

“She said maybe I hadn’t worried enough”………California Diaries # 3: Maggie

I apologize for the delay in posting this.  I normal get annoyed when bloggers post about how their life is just way to busy to update their site, but.....I have just been way to busy to update this site.  I've been working 14-16 hour days at work (including weekends), and have had limited time for any recreational reading/writing.
Maggie has kind of this cliché backstory, about how she has this rich/famous movie producer father and gets good grades, and everyone’s jealous of her.  But in reality she’s super insecure and her home life is kind of messed up.  Her father is a bit controlling and has very high expectations for her.  He has a movie coming out soon and is super busy getting ready for that.  The early feedback on the movie is that it sucks, so this is making him more stressed than usual.  Mrs. Blume deals with stress by drinking, which doesn’t really improve things from Maggie’s perspective.
Maggie’s hanging out with Amalia and some friends of hers and they go to watch this band some other friends of theirs formed.  Amalia keeps telling Maggie to audition as the band’s back-up singer, but Maggie refuses.  But eventually she does, and the band thinks she’s great and they make her the lead singer.  Maggie’s father thinks this is an awful activity and tells her not to do it, but she ignores him.  The band, Vanquish, is competing in a battle of the bands contest, and Maggie realizes this is the same night as the premiere for her dad’s new movie, which she’s supposed to go to.  She asks her dad if she can go to the band thing, then get to the premiere late – missing the screening, but showing up for the party.  Her dad refuses.  So, Maggie comes up with this ridiculous sitcom-y plan where she’ll go to the premiere, but get “separated” from her parents so they think she’s sitting with friends.  Then Ducky will drive her to the battle of the bands, then back to the premiere before anyone notices.   
The plan goes okay at first, and she makes it to the competition.  They perform, get second place, and a cute guy seems into Maggie.  Then Ducky takes her back to the premiere, but she’s late enough that her parents knew she was missing.  Her little brother had seen Maggie leave, so he told their parents before they called the cops thinking something awful happened.  Mr. and Mrs. Blume told everyone else Maggie was at some classical piano thing to cover, but were super pissed at her.  She plans to continue in the band though.
  • The best thing about this book was that Maggie keeps her “journal” on her computer, so it’s actually in a typed font instead of the stupid “handwriting” font that the other ones have been in.
  • The worst thing about the book’s that in addition to the journal pages, Maggie writes poetry and we have to read all the poems.  Or skim through them to get back to the actual plot.
  • I guess I never thought about this, but Maggie has the same last name as Grace Blume from the original BSC series.  I remember they also had a character named Erik DeWitt in both California and Stoneybrook, is it that hard to come up with original names?
  • Maggie’s one of those annoying people who’s constantly talking about how they did awful on a test and must have flunked, only to turn around and get a 95 – 100.   She also thinks she’s an awful singer, even after everyone who hears her says how amazing she is.
  • Sunny’s convinced that Maggie likes Justin, this guy who had checked her out back in the first California Diaries book.  Maggie keeps insisting she’s not into the guy and that he’s way too old for her.  But she finally admits to herself that she does like him and he seems a bit interested in her.
  • Maggie’s poems actually evolve into songs, and of course the band loves them and end up using one in the competition.
  • Maggie does complain a lot about how annoying Sunny is in this book, which is a lot of fun, because Sunny’s freaking annoying.
  • For instance, Sunny reads an article in Variety about Maggie’s dad casting a new movie, brings it to school, and reads the description, going on and on about how this Justin guy is perfect for the part.  The description is for a super good-looking teen that looks like a young Pierce Bronson with Harrison Ford’s swagger.
  • Sunny also tells Maggie how asking Justin to come over to meet her movie-producer father’s a much better line than asking him to come over to meet her dying-of-cancer mother.  Which is true, but throwing her mom’s illness in people’s faces is kind of low.
  • Maggie’s also one of those annoying people who gets mad at herself when she makes a stupid mistake on a math test and gets a 94.  But I can’t really criticize her too much because I was like that in school too.
  • Interesting thing…..Maggie says how she isn’t actually in high school, she’s just in the high school building.  Which was how I originally thought it should be described, but Dawn and Sunny seemed to like claiming they were high schoolers.
  • I don’t think I knew that Maggie had a little brother, but she does…Zeke, an 11-year-old.  He plays this trick on his mom by pretending to be floating dead in the pool, and she freaks out about it.  Which, I can understand, cause that’s kind of awful.
  • The Blume family housekeeper, Pilar, quits, because Maggie’s mom’s a bitch to her.  Mrs. Blume’s yelling at her for not watching Zeke more, and Pilar says he’s not a little kid who needs to be watched every second.  She also says she needs to keep up her energy for acting lessons (which is kind of an obnoxious thing to say to your boss). Mrs. Blume responds by saying she needs money for those acting lessons too, causing Pilar to walk out.  But Pilar does come back later.  Probably cause Mrs. Blume was right, she DOES need money for those lessons.  Not to mention food and shelter and all that.
  • When I hear about a housekeeper named Pilar, all I can think about is the character on Passions.
  • The name of the movie  Mr. Blume’s working on is Fatal Judgement.  It’s an action movie.  We don’t hear many details, but I can still sort of picture a trailer for it in my head.  It looks awful.
  • When Maggie realizes that the battle of the band thing conflicts with her dad’s premiere, she makes a list of pros and cons for whether or not to quit the band.  Pissing off her father appears on both lists.
  • The girls in the BSC were always making pro/con lists too. I don’t think I ever did that.  I mean, I think about pros and cons for things, but I never wrote them all down as a list.
  • Maggie also polls her friends about what to do.  Dawn’s the only one who tells her to choose her dad and quit the band.  She says it’s about Maggie supporting her family, not about doing whatever her dad wants.  This is the girl who moved away from half of her family because she thought California was a nicer place to live.  But whatever.
  • Maggie gets fashion advice from Sunny, Ducky, and Dawn, about what to wear for the band’s competition.  Sunny suggests spiking her hair, Ducky suggests cat’s-eye glasses and a neon 50’s dress, and Dawn suggests a barefoot, no makeup, natural look. 
  • Regarding fashion, I always remembered Maggie as dressing kind of punk, but apparently that’s just a phase that she grew out of.  She does chop most of her hair off in this book though. 
  • I have a hard time thinking of the Dawn I know from the BSC books fitting in with Sunny and Maggie, at least the Sunny and Maggie that have been presented in these last two books.  But I guess that’s the point, that they’re both changing and Dawn will do that too.
  • Maggie makes me laugh because early in the book she says how she’ll probably become a veterinarian.  But then she gets caught up in the band thing and starts taking about winning Grammies someday.  But she might also still be a vet.  It seems very 13 of her.
  • Maggie’s dad tells her how he really wanted to write/direct interesting low-budget independent films, but he didn’t work hard enough in film school so he got stuck producing huge blockbusters.  What an unfortunate thing for him.   It must totally suck to be rich and famous.
  • If Mr. Blume’s as powerful as Maggie keeps claiming, he could find time to produce more arty films in between blockbusters.  Also, how did he get so powerful if he wasn’t working as hard as his classmates? Hollywood’s a really hard business to break into.  Producing movies is hardly a consolation prize.
  • Maggie’s insecurities are kind of bugging me by the end, because she’s so successful in pretty much everything she tries to do, yet still doesn’t have her confidence lifted.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

“Why does everything have to change so fast?”…………California Diaries # 2: Sunny

Sunny always seemed like a fun character when she showed up in the BSC books.  But I guess we always saw her through Dawn’s eyes, or occasionally another BSCer.  Being in her head and reading her journal is entirely different, the girl is totally annoying.  I mean, it makes sense that she would change since she’s dealing with a lot.  But the whole book’s just a bunch of whining about how difficult her life is.  I was going to write it was XXX pages of whining, but because of this journal format these books don’t have page numbers on them and it messed up my plan.  
Sunny’s mom has lung cancer, which we already knew.  She’s in and out of the hospital throughout the book.  At one point she comes home, but her cancer support group comes to visit and annoys the crap out of Sunny. Her dad’s also dealing with a lot because (in addition to his wife being sick) he’s in the middle of renovating the book store he owns and I guess things aren’t going well.  Which sounds lame in comparison, but Sunny keeps talking about it so I had to mention it. In some ways he’s counting on Sunny to do stuff to help around the house but in other ways he’s ignoring her.  Both annoy her.
Anyway, Sunny feels like she can’t really confide in her friends about what she’s dealing with.  She doesn’t really say why.  One day she cuts school and heads to the beach because she thinks it’s the only thing that will calm her down.  She’s worried that at the local beach her friends’ father that works a concession stand will see her skipping school, so she takes the bus all the way to Venice Beach.  And, she meets a guy, Carson.  He’s a runaway from Ohio and is full of crap about how great it is to have nothing tying you down and to be able to roam the country and do whatever you want.  His favorite book’s On the Road, which tells you all you need to know.  Sunny’s totally into him though, so decides to go back to the beach and see him again.  They hang out a lot, but Sunny’s worried about how she’s telling him a lot about herself and he hasn’t really confided in her.  Also, he refuses to ever make actual plans with Sunny, because he doesn’t believe in schedules.  Yup, he’s THAT annoying.  She finally asks him about this and he tells her more about his crappy life back home.  She thinks this is some breakthrough moment, but it really isn’t.
At one point, Sunny comes back from seeing Carson and sees Dawn, who tells her that her mom went back to the hospital for tests.  Sunny and Dawn have this big fight about how Sunny’s been withdrawn.  Sunny decides to run away and goes back to Venice Beach to see Carson.  She says she wants to run away with him, and he’s all, “um, no.  I don’t want to have someone tying me down.”  Then he finds out she’s only 13 (he seems to be 17-18), and is appropriately freaked out about that.  He asks what’s wrong at home and she tells him.  Then he tells her that her life’s not that bad and she’s lucky to have two parents that love her (even if one’s sick) and to have friends that care about her.  Kind of harsh but true. 
Carson takes off and leaves Sunny on the boardwalk at night.  Classy.  She misses the last bus home and starts to get scared, because apparently the beach isn’t so fun at night.  She uses her only quarter to call home, but gets the machine.  She’s freaking out because she thinks she’s being followed, but then runs into Ducky who’s there looking for her.  Apparently, Sunny’s parents saw her note about running away, got worried, and called all her friends.  She’d mentioned the beach to Ducky previously and he took a chance looking for her.  Ducky drives her home. Sunny goes to Dawn’s first, who calls Mr. and Mrs. Winslow. Dawn’s mad, but lets Sunny spend the night and the two of them talk about what’s been going on.  The next day Sunny talks to her parents about how upset she’s been.  Nothing’s resolved, which marks the difference between these books and the original BSC series.

  • Sunny writes in her journal how she can’t sleep and has been lying awake a long time and even listened to all her CDs trying to sleep. But she writes this at 1:06 am.  How many CDs could she have, I would think it would take more than 3 hours to listen to them all (assuming she went to bed at 10:00, which actually seems early for a 13-year-old).  Maybe she meant over the past few nights?
  • Sunny gets in trouble in math class, because she wasn’t paying attention, and when the teacher asked her to define a tangent she says you can see a lot of them on the beach….tan gents (as in gentlemen), get it?  It’s a really lame joke.  It sounds like something Joey from Full House would have said.
  • Sunny also gets asked about the Electoral College (in a different class) and says it’s a good place to learn.  But that was unintentionally funny.
  • Sunny says 90% of the guys at school wear T-shirts with flannel over them to school.  That’s the first time I’ve ever heard clothing described in a BSC book that matched what I saw in school at the time.
  • Ducky, however, wears a bowling shirt, cool sneakers, and green “overdyed” jeans, which Sunny thinks is much cooler.  I disagree.   But I do admire someone with the guts to go against the trend.
  • One thing I do like is that when Sunny sees Ducky, she mentions how she really doesn’t know him and he doesn’t know her.  They are becoming friends, but they’re not acting like they are already BFFs.
  • That Amalia girl from the last book isn’t mentioned at all, but she gets her own book soon, so I guess she’ll be back.  I already am more interested in her than Maggie, who seems a bit cliché with her whole, “it’s such a burden that my dad’s rich and works with famous celebrities” thing.  Maybe it will be better when I’m reading her POV.
  • Sunny writes in all capital letters.   It’s annoying.  But what’s funny is the back of the book has a quote from the journal and that’s written with proper upper/lowercase letters.  It’s still in Sunny’s “handwriting” though.  I guess someone didn’t communicate with the cover designer.
  • I would think it’s more annoying to write in all capital letters than read them.  It’s just so unnatural.
  • Sunny says Venice Beach is peaceful.  I have to say, I have been there and peaceful isn’t how I’d describe it.  It’s more…overcrowded and noisy.  But that was 2012, so maybe it was calmer whenever this book was written.
  • Sunny gets upset because her mom keeps giving her things like a music box that’s a family heirloom and old jewelry.  She thinks it’s a sign that her mom is settling her affairs because she thinks she’s dying.  She tells her mom (kinda rudely) that she doesn’t want them.  She also mentions how ugly/unfashionable the jewelry is.  Then later Dawn shows up wearing a pair of earrings from this collection, because Mrs. Winslow gave them to her.  Dawn would wear the ugly earrings.  Maybe it’s Connecticut that makes people bad with fashion? No offense to Connecticut.
  • Ducky manages to find Sunny because she had mentioned being at the beach and watching weightlifters.  So, he guesses she meant Venice Beach.  That seems like a bit of a stretch.  Los Angeles is a really big place and there are a lot of beaches.  Even Venice Beach itself is pretty big.  The chances of him finding her seem pretty low.
  • Sunny has to help out at her dad’s bookstore.  She points out in her journal that she’s not legally allowed to work.  So someone in the BSC world’s aware of child labor laws.  Good to know.
  • At one point, Dawn’s dad and Carol come by to have lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Winslow.  Later, Dawn calls Sunny and says how she had wanted to come, but “mom and dad” told her Sunny wasn’t home then either.  Since when does Dawn call Carol “mom?”  Like two seconds later Sunny refers to Dawn’s step-grandparents.  And two pages before that Sunny mentioned “Mr. Schafer and Carol.”  So it’s not like the ghostwriter doesn’t know the backstory.
  • I always thought it was weird how here and in the BSC books the girls referred to the other girls’ parents as Mr. and Mrs., except for in the cases where it was a step parent (Watson and Carol).  Do they have less respect for the step parent? Do they think the reader would get confused if Kristy/Dawn used a first name and the others used a last name?  Cause I think most girls who read these books were smart enough to figure something like that out.
  • So, Sunny gets sent to the principal’s office for not paying attention in class and when Dawn’s all judgy and asking why, Sunny jokes, “you didn’t hear about me and Mr. Dean? It’s serious.”  Which I thought was actually a funny response (and so did Ducky), but Dawn didn’t.  (Note: It’s funny because it’s obviously not true.  It wouldn’t really be funny if a 13-year-old was actually sleeping with her principal).
  • Dawn gets mad at Sunny because she says she covered for her with her parents (about skipping school). She says how Sunny made her a liar.  Which is exactly what Jill said in the first book that they all thought was annoying.
  • Then Sunny tells Dawn she wasn’t a liar because she never said she wasn’t at the beach.  Ah.  13-year-old logic.
  • Speaking of the principal, he basically lets Sunny do whatever she wants because her mom’s sick.  So, do most of the other teachers. She even forges a note about missing school, and they all know she forged it and don’t call her on it.
  • The teachers know she forged the note because she signed it “Dr. Merwin, MD.”  And I guess doctors don’t usually do Dr. and MD in a note. 
  • They did something similar with teachers cutting a student slack in the book where Stacey’s parents got divorced……the teachers let her show up late to every class.  I don’t buy it.  I guess a dying parent’s more serious than a divorce, but it still seems a bit unrealistic that she could get away with missing multiple days of school and never paying attention in class.  There’s the one teacher who sends Sunny to the principal’s office, but everyone else is all, “we’re here if you need someone to talk to.” 
  • I don’t really get why Dawn seems annoyed with Sunny.  The girl’s mom is sick.  She’s dealing with a lot and being a little annoying.  But Dawn’s supposed to be her best friend, she should be a little more understanding.  To me, Sunny’s a fictional character so I don’t have to be understanding.  But Dawn should be.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"I will just be so glad not to be squished and squeezed and bumped all the time"......California Diaries # 1: Dawn

I liked the first California Diaries book more than I expected.  The entire book’s supposed to be Dawn’s journal, so the whole thing is in her handwriting and on lined paper.  I like her handwriting so I was okay with this one, but I don’t know how I’ll feel about the others.  Regular typing is easier to read. 
Dawn’s school’s overcrowded because it’s a K-12 private school spread over three buildings. Apparently, a lot of kids transfer in in 8th grade so they can go to the high school the following year.  It’s that good or something.  Anyway, they let in too many people and there’s not enough room in the middle school building. The school decides to move all the 8th graders into the high school building, which Dawn’s all nervous about. 
About a week in she gets an invitation slipped in her locker to come to some great party to get to know the older kids.  A bunch of 8th graders got them, but not all of them.  Her friends Sunny, Maggie, and Jill all do though.  Sunny and Maggie want to go, but Jill thinks it’s crazy.  Dawn seems undecided.  They end up having a sleepover at Jill’s because they don’t think their parents will let them go.  But Jill’s mom and sister go out for the night, and the girls decide to walk to the party (1.5 miles away).  Well, Dawn, Sunny, and Maggie  go.  Jill stays home. 
At the party there’s drinking and smoking and throwing kids in the pool.  Sunny gets totally trashed, but Dawn and Maggie just end up hanging out with this new girl Amalia (also an 8th grader).  Then the cops show up and everyone runs off.  Dawn, Sunny, and Maggie get kind of lost, but they end up bumping into Amalia again, and then all of them meet this guy Ducky who offers to drive them home (or to Jill’s).  Jill had told her mom they were sleeping, so they weren’t in trouble.
Anyway, it turns out the party was a prank that the upperclassman were pulling on the 8th graders.  Which was obvious to everyone except the naive 8th graders. They invited them to a party at the house of a teacher who was out of town.  As soon as it got wild enough, they called the cops and bailed so that only the 8th graders got in trouble.  But the school finds out and EVERYONE gets in trouble.  There’s a school assembly and Dawn thinks it’s going to be for the teachers to call out the students who organized the party. But the principal actually yells at everyone and says the whole school’s on probation and that anyone will be suspended immediately if they’re caught drinking, smoking, trespassing, defacing property, lying to their parents, etc.  I would think they’d be suspended for a lot of that anyway, but to the kids it sounds awful.  Each grade also needs to use their class funds to pay back the teacher for damage to her property, which means some grades won’t have enough money for a class trip.
Meanwhile, Dawn accidentally overhears a phone conversation and finds out that Carol’s pregnant.  Dawn’s super excited and tells Carol she heard right away.  Carol isn’t mad at her for eavesdropping but tells Dawn she wanted Mr. Schafer to be the first to know and he’s out of town on business.  She also wants to wait and tell him in person and asks Dawn to keep the pregnancy a secret.  Dawn’s not happy about this and thinks something must be wrong with either Carol or the pregnancy.  She does eventually tell Jill, to explain why she’s been upset and swears her to secrecy.  But then when she’s at Dawn’s house, Jill offers to carry a box for Carol because she doesn’t think she should be doing that in her condition.  So, Carol’s annoyed at Dawn, and then it seems she ends up telling Mr. Schafer over the phone, because she doesn’t want him to be the last to know.  Jill apologizes, but later it’s clear Jill thinks Dawn, Sunny, and Maggie should have gotten in more trouble about the party.  They argue, and by the end Dawn says she knows her and Jill’s friendship is over.  But she has now become friends with Ducky and Amalia.

  • Dawn tells us how Sunny wanted to rush out of her house because her mother (who has lung cancer) was having a horrible morning.  Dawn’s all judgy about how she’s sure she would want to spend time with her mother if she was sick.  But Dawn just moved across the country from her mother, so I don’t really know if I buy that.  And to be fair, she does write later that she doesn’t know how she’d really act in that scenario.
  • I kind of don’t get why it’s such a big deal that Dawn’s going to be in the same building as the 9-12th graders.  She’s still technically at the same school and will presumably have some of the same teachers.  And if it’s all kids that have been going to Vista since elementary school she would at least somewhat know some of them from when she was in 6th grade and they were in 8th.  Maybe it’s because she’s been in 8th grade so long she doesn’t remember back then.
  • There’s also this part (before the school building switch) where Dawn and Sunny refer to themselves as the rulers of the school, and how long they waited for that.  But that reads false because of how long they’ve been 8th graders.  I don’t mind them not aging, but to act like they are newly in 8th grade is just silly.
  • At Dawn’s school everyone (grades K-12) is required to keep a journal.  No one reads them, so I don’t know how the teacher’s know if the kids are doing it, but it’s the rule.  Dawn says how she would keep one anyway and thinks most kids would by the time they’re in middle school.  I doubt that.  Dawn even said she didn’t write in hers much when she was in Connecticut, so obviously the requirement has an impact at her.  I certainly don’t remember her keeping one before, unless you count the stupid club notebook. So, this rule sounds like a pretty lame excuse for the framework of the books.
  • Now here I thought we wouldn’t get any crazy outfits, but we do get to hear what Dawn’s friend Jill wears.  Dawn, Sunny, and Maggie all feel like Jill is acting immature and that she seems like a little kid who doesn’t fit in with them anymore. Which is probably what really led to the friendship ending.  But anyway, her outfit: “A sweatshirt with a huge pink unicorn on the front.  The unicorn’s horn…was sparkly gold, and the unicorn was standing on a powder blue cloud that was made of some puffy material.  On Jill’s feet were pink sneakers, and on the toe of each sneaker was a pony with an actual tail hanging over the side of the shoe.” Now, I certainly wouldn’t have worn in 8th grade.   But I guarantee you that if Claudia wore it she’d be called a genius.
  • Dawn talks about how some of the kids in the high school seem more than just 4-5 years older than her.  This makes sense because people grow a lot between 13 and 18.  But she says one guy could practically be her father.  Which is a bit of a stretch.
  • When Dawn finds out her dad has to go on a 10 day business trip, she’s mad that he’s “abandoning” her and won’t be around when she has to start at the high school.   I hope I wasn’t that self-centered when I was 13.
  • After a phone conversation with Sunny about Mrs. Winslow’s health, Dawn asks Carol what “sterile” means. And Carol blushes and giggles too much answer.  Over the word sterile? Am I missing something?  That’s not even a sexual term, what’s there to be embarrassed about?
  • Dawn’s worried that she and her friends will get hazed because the upperclassman are allowed to haze the 9th graders on the first day of school (with things like writing F on their foreheads).  But the teachers say that since the 8th graders are being moved to the school a few weeks into the school year it doesn’t count and there’s to be no hazing… the school is actual okay with the hazing on day one?  I’ve never heard of a school allowing that. Is it a “cool California” thing or something?
  • Dawn says she doesn’t really miss her Connecticut friends as much as she thought she was.  She and her friends also barely baby-sit anymore and she doesn’t miss that either.  Sad.  Realistic, but hearing her say she doesn’t miss the BSC is kind of a buzzkill. 
  • One reason Dawn wonders if something is wrong with Carol’s pregnancy is because she offered to take Jeff miniature golfing and out for Mexican food.  Which a pregnant person can’t do? Shouldn’t someone who claims to know a lot about kids know something about pregnancy?
  • Also, Dawn doesn’t get why Carol doesn’t want to tell her dad about the pregnancy over the phone.  How hard is that to understand? Some things work better in person.
  • Dawn and Maggie both get thrown in the pool at the party.  Maggie’s embarrassed to get out because she was wearing a T-shirt with no bra, and apparently is too well-endowed to really do that.  But she has to get out and gets an appreciative look from the guy all the girls in school are into.  And she seems pleased with that.  Dawn then mentions she was wearing a big denim jacket, but even if she weren’t there would be nothing for her to see.  So, then, why didn’t Dawn be nice and offer her jacket to her friend?
  • Ducky’s real name’s Christopher.  Everyone calls him Ducky because his family thought he was like a young version of Ducky from Pretty in Pink.  That’s like, the least creative nickname ever.
  • Ducky is also 16 and in 10th grade, if you’re wondering how he can drive.  If you’re also wondering why he quickly becomes friends with a bunch of 13-year-olds, I can’t help you.  At least not yet.  Maybe after his book?
  • Dawn makes an enemy out of this girl Mandy, who I think is supposed to be in 10th grade.  She gets sort of lost and thinks she’s opening her new locker (#160 B), but it is actually #160 D.  She accidently breaks the mirror hanging in the locker while hitting it trying to get it open.  Dawn apologizes and offers to pay for the mirror, but Mandy’s kind of a bitch about it.  Anyway, they run into Mandy at the party.  She also likes the guy who was checking out Maggie, and hates Dawn more now because she’s friends with Maggie, who the guy paid more attention to then her.  I’m assuming she will show up again.
  • I thought from past books that all of Dawn’s friends in California were fellow vegetarians?  So, why does Jill’s mom and sister make bacon when cooking them breakfast? 
  • I must be really old, because when Ducky complains about how hard their class worked to raise money for the trip that they can no longer take, all I can think of is how their teacher worked hard to buy a nice house that they all trashed.
  • During their fight, Dawn tells Jill to quit being such a “B –”  and to just grow up.  That’s what is says in the journal a B with a dash after it.  The context makes it seem like she should be writing baby there, but the fact that she only wrote the B makes it seem like she was saying bitch.

And as an FYI, someone suggested in the comments that I recap the BSC Movies/TV-Series.  I discovered that the whole series is actually on Netflix streaming.  So…I will definitely be writing about those at some point.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

“I do think we’ll always be friends”……BSC Friends Forever Special: Graduation Day

This is the last BSC book ever….that seems so weird to say.  It is not my last entry, because I’m going to be reviewing the California Diaries series next.  It felt unfinished to not try them.
Anyway, it’s the end of the school year and this time, the girls are actually graduating 8th grade and moving on to high school.  They all feel a little differently about this, but each has their own emotional angst to deal with.  Mary Anne seems excited about graduation, but feels like she still has unfinished business with Logan.  It’s kind of annoying that almost all of Mary Anne’s books in the Friends Forever series have had her angsting about Logan.  Get the hell over it already. Be the independent person you claim you want to be. At the end she and Logan talk and decide they don’t like avoiding each other all the time and I guess they’re going to try being friendly-ish.  We don’t actually see this conversation, so it’s kind of hard to tell for sure. 
Meanwhile, Claudia’s angsting about whether she’ll pass her finals.  Ultimately, she passes everything except Science.  She’s still allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony, but will get a blank diploma and have to go to summer school.  Stacey’s angsting about her parents both being at the graduation ceremony and thinks they’ll fight, or that things will be awkward with her mom and Samantha.  But they all manage to be adults about the whole thing. Kristy’s nervous/scared about change in general, but is mostly just angsting about whether the BSC will stay intact and how much it will impact her life if doesn’t.  We don’t get much closure on this, but it’s clear that all the other girls don’t feel as strongly as Kristy about wanting to keep the club going.  Realistic, but sad. I don’t like change either, Kristy.
We also get a whole subplot surrounding the kids in the neighborhood.  While I’ve enjoyed the way the Friends Forever books spent more time on the teenage storylines, I did kind of miss hearing about the kids in town.  I think it’s fitting that they get something to do in the last book.   They’re putting together a time capsule they say is about the neighborhood, but is mostly about the BSC.  The plan’s to open it in 7 years, because that’s when their oldest clients (the triplets) will be graduating high school.  Super weird to think about that. 
We get to read letters that Jessi, Mal, Abby, and Dawn wrote with the items they put in the time capsule, where they talk about what Stoneybrook means to them.  It’s nice that they get to have at least a small voice in the last book.  Jessi put in a newspaper article about racial intolerance a few towns over, Mal puts in a pamphlet for the Stoneybrook Chamber of Commerce, Abby puts in pictures of the BSC, and Dawn puts in ads from the Stoneybrook town paper (to show how airline (and other) prices changed). Those are all pretty fitting. We also get to read letters the current BSC members wrote with their submissions. Mary Anne puts in a piece of burnt wood from the fire, Stacey puts in the flier for the BSC talent show they did awhile back, Kristy puts in the original flier for the BSC, and Claudia puts in a flier about the upcoming celebration for Stoneybrook’s 250th anniversary.
We also get to read letters/submissions from a few kids…Jackie Rodowski puts in a softball and a note about how important Kristy is to him and the Krushers.  Claire puts in her teddy bear, because she doesn’t understand what a time capsule is.  Then the day after they bury it she freaks out and they have to dig it up to get it back to her (but they rebury the capsule right away).  Charlotte Johansson puts in the Stoneybrook Elementary School newspaper, featuring an award-winning essay she wrote about Stacey (the most important person in her life).
Meanwhile, the girls are also writing letters to themselves, meant to be opened in 4 years.  It’s this school tradition where they hand in these letters at 8th grade graduation and are have them mailed back to them at high school graduation.  They are handed in sealed, so no one else will read them.  This is really hard for everyone to do, but ultimately they all write nice letters summarizing the big things that have happened to them and predicting the future.

  • In her journal, Kristy asks if it’s possible to just have a do-over and do 8th grade again.  I think she’s already gotten a few of those.
  • Okay, I may have a hard time being snarky about this book because I’m feeling sentimental right now.
  • At the start of the book no one knows if Charlie’s going to college because he “dropped the ball” and didn’t send in applications early enough to go to any big school.  He was waiting to hear from a smaller state school that had a later deadline (and ultimately gets in).  He also plans to transfer to UCLA next semester/year.  Now….this is a common plot on TV shows. But I don’t understand how any high school students could just forget about applying to schools.  When I was a senior in high school, there were constant reminders about getting in applications, meetings with the guidance counselors about it, etc. The school also had meetings with parents.  I don’t buy Watson and Kristy’s mom not checking in on Charlie about this.
  • Early on, Mary Anne’s telling the Pike kids about the letters to themselves they’re writing, and they decide it would be cool to make a Pike time capsule.  Then Mary Anne’s all, “hey, I have a great idea! Let’s do a Stoneybrook/BSC time capsule.”  But she’s pretty much just stealing their idea.  Then all the Pike’s participate in that, so I don’t know if they still did their own.  But I’m kind of curious about it.
  • They talk about the time capsule being about the neighborhood, but Kristy and Abby live way across town.  They should have just called it a BSC time capsule.
  • It’s really annoying that we don’t get to see Mary Anne actually talk to Logan.
  • Apparently there are over 1,000 kids at Stoneybrook High School.  That includes kids from multiple middle schools in Stoneybrook and from a couple other towns.  Now that doesn’t seem like what we’ve heard in the past.  They said in an early Kristy book that there was another middle school in town, but the kids from other towns is a surprise.  Why is it called Stoneybrook HS then?
  • Okay, what’s really weird is this book is that it takes place before graduation, when the last two Friends Forever books happened in the summer.  It’s like they decided to end the series after they wrote those books and went back in time so it ended with graduation.  The only part that makes it really noticeable is that Mary Anne’s already living in her new house and that Dawn and Jeff come home for the graduation.  In her last book, Mary Anne moved into the house in the summer, and Dawn and Jeff came home with Sunny.  Oh, and Claudia has to go to summer school but she wasn’t spending any time there in her last book.
  • Claudia says that Kristy used to make her answer her phone “Baby-Sitters Club” during non-meeting times, but we saw Claud answer her phone a lot and she never gave the club greeting outside of meetings. 
  • You know when I finished middle school we weren’t allowed to wear caps and gowns.  They made a big deal out of telling us we weren’t graduating anything, we were just being “promoted” to high school.  That we’d only graduate when we finished high school.
  • It’s interesting to hear that Claudia failed science.  We’ve heard her have issues with math and with English, so it’s a nice change.  I’m glad she’s so well-rounded.
  • We get to read the letter Charlie wrote to himself 4 years ago.  He talked a lot about wanting to be responsible and there for his family, the way his dad never was. I don’t think we ever got his perspective in a super special, I would have liked that.
  • There’s this weird moment where Claudia gets a wrong number for “Elios.”  I thought it was going to end up meaning something, but it was never mentioned again.  I guess it was a way to work in the line about not answering the phone with the club greeting, to show Claud’s not as into the club?  Maybe I am reading too much into it because I’m thinking of Alias, where the wrong number was a code that it was time to have covert meetings.  Because why else would you bother showing a wrong number?
  • Jessi’s going on a world tour with a dance company, she and a few others at her school were selected.  I’m kind of surprised her parents would let her do that, but good for her.
  • Stacey has this stupid subplot about how she may not be able to graduate because she has an overdue library book and can’t find it.  She doesn’t even remember checking the book out, so thinks it must have been back in 7th grade.  Now, my high school had a similar rule about library books and graduating, but I’m pretty sure they bugged people about them at the end of every school year, not just your graduation year.  So you’d think Stacey would have been asked about it before now. But anyway, Stacey finally just buys a new copy of the book (Risby) and gives that to the librarian. 
  • For a Science paper, Claudia does an experiment about whether plants grow better if they listen to different types of music.  Now, Charlotte did this same experiment for the science fair way back in an early book (and won I think). Claudia gets a D+ on the paper though. It doesn’t really surprise me, she’s apparently working on a 4th grade level.
  • When talking about how fast the kids are growing up, someone says “can you believe Charlotte will be in 4th grade next year?”  Which I can’t.  Because Charlotte has been in 4th grade for about 200 books now, ever since she skipped a grade.  So, I can’t imagine she suddenly got stupid and would need to repeat a grade while everyone else (even Claud) moves up.
  • Regarding the time capsule, apparently the Pike triplets will be responsible for digging it up in seven years.  Some of the BSC girls say they don’t know if they’ll be there.  Which I guess makes sense, but I would think part of the fun is thinking of what it would be like to be there in the future.
  • I can’t picture 17 year-old guys wanting to make that effort for some crap they buried as kids.  Especially since it’s buried in Mary Anne’s yard.  Are Richard and Sharon just going to let the kids show up and dig next to their garden?
  • Mary Anne’s listing the people most important to her, and in this order we get “Dad, Dawn, Sharon, her grandparents, Jeff, Kristy.”  I’m surprised Dawn gets second when she’s still in California and Sharon lives with her.
  • Mary Anne may want to study psychology someday. Not what I expected from her, but I guess I can see it.  She’ll need to learn not to cry at other people’s life stories if she wants to be a therapist though.  I don’t think that would be helpful to the patients.
  • Kristy says when some of the girls dropped out of the club she felt like her world was falling apart,  but if I remember correctly, she was still okay with easing up on the whole thing.
  • Mallory mentions that she only wants 2-3 kids when she grows up, but I know she said she wanted to have 8 like her mom at one point.  Maybe she smartened up.
  • We spent the whole Friends Forever series seeing Claudia bond with Erica Blumberg, but she doesn’t get a single mention in this book.  Even when Claudia’s talking about her friends and the most important people in her life.
  • They do some of the letters in this book in the girls’ handwriting and some as typed (but typed on a computer and a different font then the rest of the text).  So, there were like 5 full pages in Claudia’s handwriting, which I always thought was the hardest to read.
  • Now the very first page of the book was a journal entry of Kristy’s.  But this one wasn’t in her handwriting and it wasn’t in the font used in other chapters for emails/typed letters.  So, for that one page I thought this book was going to be like the first Friends Forever book that was told entirely through journal entries.  But luckily it was just that one page.
  • The book ends with the girls (all 8 of them) having a graduation party in Claudia’s room.  It seems like a lame place for a graduation party (do something special!), but they were clearly going for the nostalgia of being in BSC headquarters. They talking about whether they’ll be friends as adults and how friendships may be different when they’re older and it’s actually kind of sad.  I’m a sap, I can’t help it. But they think they’ll still be a part of each other’s life, even if they don’t see each other very often.
  • Oh they also promise to have a reunion in 12 years, no matter what they are all doing, and even sign a pact about the whole thing. 
  • There are a bunch of random BSC factoids at the end of the book.  For instance: there are 213 BSC books that have a total of 31,570 pages.  It says assuming you read one page a minute it would take 21.9 days of continuous reading to read them all. That doesn’t sound like so much when you say it like that.  I mean, that's condensing a huge part of my childhood into 2 weeks.
  • There 176,539,000 BSC books in print (as of this book’s release in 2000).  That includes Little Sister books.  If you lined them up vertically they would cover 21,000 miles.  Now that DOES sound like a lot.
  • The book is dedicated to all past, present, and future readings of the BSC.  I guess that means us.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

“He hasn’t worn underwear on his head in school since second grade”…….BSC FF # 12: Claudia and the Disaster Date

After going to a dance with Alan Gray in her last book, Claudia has decided to go out on an actual date with him.  But she’s too embarrassed to tell her friends about it, so she’s nervous about being seen with him the whole time.  Also, when Kristy and Alan run into each other they argue and make Claudia more uncomfortable about things.  But she finally tells the BSC about it.  Alan also realizes that Claudia’s awkward because of her friends, and suggests they go on a group date…the BSC (including Dawn who’s in town) along with Pete Black and Cary Retlin.  But Alan spends the whole time on his best behavior and even lets Kristy win at miniature golf.  Claudia finally tells him she wants him to be himself, and says they will figure out what will happen together.   And the book ends with the two of them hanging out with the BSC and Alan’s friends.

Since it’s summer, Claudia and her friend Erica are working in the children’s room at the library.  Claudia says they got the job fair and square and it has nothing to do with her mom.  I’m sure.  Anyway, Claudia had told her mom she wanted to update the mural in the children’s room, but her mom said she wanted Claudia to just do the job she was hired for.  Claudia’s really excited about it though, and tells Ms. Feld (the children’s librarian/her boss) the idea.  Ms. Feld gets really excited too, and tells Mrs. Kishi she wants Claudia to do it.  So, Mrs. Kishi’s annoyed that Claudia went to Ms. Feld behind her back and Claudia doesn’t understand why her mom’s mad.  It gets worse when Ms. Feld tries to get the kids at the library to help with the mural and they make a huge mess of it. 

Meanwhile, Erica’s also dealing with stuff, because she really wants to find her birth parents.  Her parents want to wait a few years before they tell her about them.  So Erica gets Claudia’s help to open the safe in her parents’ office and find her birth certificate.  But Erica can’t really handle the information and starts to cry.  Claudia tells her she needs to tell her parents she found their names, which Erica does.  This inspires Claudia to apologize to her mom.  They make up, and Claudia figures out a way to update the mural and let the kids be part of it (without making a mess).

  • I totally don’t get the thing where Alan puts yellow M&M’s in his eyes and pretends to be Little Orphan Annie.  He doesn’t do it in this book, Claudia just references him doing it back at Mary Anne’s surprise birthday party
  • BTW, why is there an apostrophe in “M&M’s”?  It’s not possessive, like that’s the name of the people who make it, is it?  Because each individual candy is called an “M.” It’s not a typo in the book though, it’s that way on the candy packaging and appears to be part of the trademark.
  • Alan and Claudia go to see The Tsunami Monster’s Revenge.  That sounds like a fun bad movie.
  • I find it weird that Claudia’s only just now going on a date with Alan, when the dance was 4 books ago. 
  • Claudia describes the children’s room at the library, but honestly, whenever I picture it I’m really picturing the children’s room in the library in my town as a kid.  I do the same thing with picturing my middle school for SMS.
  • Claudia tells Alan that she thinks Janine just uses big words just to mess with other people.  She used to think Janine couldn’t help it.  I like the new theory, it makes Janine seem more fun.  I would totally do the same thing if I was a genius.
  • I kind of like how they portray Dawn in this book.  She’s actually pretty laid back (as opposed to only being called laid back in other books).  She keeps laughing and making sarcastic comments about how Kristy’s handling the Claudia/Alan thing.
  • Claudia tells Erica to read the book, Find a Stranger, SayGoodbye.  Which I sort of think I read, but can’t actually remember anything about it.  Maybe I just remember them talking about it in the BSC?  I read a ton of Lois Lowry’s other books though.
  • When Kristy’s ranting about Claudia going out with Alan, Claudia reminds her that she went to a dance with Alan. Kristy claims she only did that once and learned never to go out with him again.  But that first dance was in the phantom phonecaller book, and I think she also went to a dance with him later on.  It was briefly mentioned in either in the book with her mom’s wedding or the one where Logan first shows up.   And she definitely invited him as her date to Mary Anne’s surprise party in book 10.  That’s why he was there and putting M&M’s in his eyes.
  • Claudia’s kind of in an awkward spot with the mural.  Her mom’s mad about the kids all being involved, but that was really Ms. Feld’s doing.  And I can see why she wouldn’t want to badmouth her boss to her boss’s boss. 
  • One of the things Claudia wants to change about the library mural is make the kids look more diverse.  These girls were always so politically correct. 
  • Claudia outfit: “Beige linen shorts, an enormous red, blue, and purple tie-dyed T-shirt that [she] had made earlier in the summer, a pair of earrings [she’d] made from bottle caps and glitter, and purple high-tops with blue socks folder over the top.” 
  • Alan’s dad jokes about how they are driving in a minivan to go to miniature golf and Alan rolls his eyes.  It surprised Claudia since that seems like Alan’s type of humor.  But it actually makes sense.  That could be where Alan got his sense of humor, but it also doesn’t mean he’s not embarrassed by his parents.
  • When Claudia’s talking to her mom about being an artist, she says she likes art because she can just create what she sees.  And Mrs. Kishi says how she always wanted to be a writer for similar reasons, but wasn’t good at it.  So, she likes to find books that are saying things she’d like to say herself.  That’s kind of sad.
  • Claudia’s all impressed that Erica thought to look in her parents’ safe to find her birth certificate/parents’ names.  She claims she wouldn’t have thought of something like that.  Except she DID think of something like that back when she thought she was adopted.  She wanted to get into her parents’ lockbox to find her adoption papers.  She just didn’t have a key, whereas Erica knew the combination.  Claudia may be dumb in school, but she was always pretty smart with mystery stuff.  She needs to give herself more credit.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

“It was as if I’d finally found the ruby slippers and clicked my heels”…..BSC FF # 11: Welcome Home, Mary Anne

Mary Anne’s family’s all set to move into their new house, which is really their old barn.  When I heard they were renovating the barn, I thought they were using it as a base and adding sections to it.  I always pictured the barn to be the size of a 2-4 car garage.  But apparently, the barn was always big enough to just be turned into a 4-bedroom house.  The downstairs is an open-space floor plan, with bedrooms added upstairs (in what used to be the hayloft I guess).  It actually sounds like a pretty decent place, if we accept that it was always supposed to be that big.  Their property must be pretty big too, if it fit their original house and a barn as big as a house..  They kept the old barn door that slides off the wall as a sliding door, so basically the whole kitchen wall can just be opened up.  It sounds like it could get drafty in the winter, but there are only two more books in these series, so I guess we’ll never see winter.  That’s kind of sad.

Anyway, they move into the house and Mary Anne feels kind of weird about it and isn’t sure if it feels like home.   But luckily, Dawn and Jeff are coming home for the summer to distract her.  Sunny’s coming with them for a month, since her mom just died and she’s having trouble adjusting.  Sunny’s method of dealing is basically to avoid talking about the whole thing, and she doesn’t stop moving/doing things so she doesn’t have to think about her mom.  This includes trying to hook Mary Anne up with a high school guy (but abandoning the plan when the friends he brings for Sunny and Dawn are dorks), going overboard trying to decorate Dawn, Jeff, and Mary Anne’s bedrooms, and making Mary Anne and Dawn take her to NYC (alone, without parental approval) to walk around the Village all day. On this trip to New York, Sunny decides she wants to go to some club, but Dawn and Mary Anne say they have to get home to avoid getting killed by their parents.  Dawn tells her she’s been getting her way since her mom died and it has to stop.  Sunny doesn’t take this well, but she listens.  So, they go home and don’t get caught or in any trouble for the little adventure. But Sunny and Dawn aren’t talking to each other.

Mary Anne and Sunny talk about what it’s like to lose a parent (even though Mary Anne admits she doesn’t remember the losing part) and Sunny seems to make a break through with things.  She also decides she misses her dad and should go back to LA.  She and Dawn talk and make up for their argument in New York.  Then they have a housewarming/going away party and we briefly get to see the rest of the BSC members….even the ones no longer in the club.  By the end, Mary Anne’s feeling more at home in the new house.

There’s a subplot that involves Jeff being miserable because the one thing he liked about Connecticut was the old house.  He also thinks his friends have moved on without him, but of course the triplets and Nicky are still happy to see Jeff.  With their help, Mary Anne gets Jeff excited about redecorating his new room, and doing wild things like painting it to look like a race track or hanging a basketball hoop inside. When Sunny gets onboard the ideas get even wilder, like making it into a haunted house or a jungle with vines to climb on.  Ultimately, they make it into a superhero themed room, so Jeff’s fairly happy by the end.  Considering he’s in lowly Connecticut and all.

  • Mary Anne claims she broke up with Logan “not long ago.”  Well, it’s summer and she broke up with him back in early fall….that’s almost the full school year.  Practically a lifetime for teenagers.  Although, admittedly not a lifetime for someone who was 13 for a decade.  But still.  Stop whining about it.  I mean, she said she wanted her own identity, but she’s still basically describing herself as “Logan’s ex.”
  • Mary Anne mentions how she didn’t have many clothes to fill her new closet.  But shouldn’t she have gathered some in the year since the fire?  She’s gone through all 4 seasons since the fire. What has she been wearing all this time?
  • When they get their luggage at the airport, we hear that Sunny has a large duffel and Dawn has a backback.  That’s supposed to get them through an entire month/ summer?  It’s not like Dawn could claim to have left stuff in Connecticut.
  • Awkward moment….Sunny tells Mary Anne to take off the hat when they’re in the sun, and Mary Anne says, “Haven’t you ever heard of skin cancer?”  And of course, Sunny’s mom just died of cancer.  Oops.
  • To try and stay busy, Sunny decides to do all these chores, vacuuming/dusting/etc.  I’m not sure how dirty the house could have been after a few days of anyone living there.  But I guess it doesn’t matter if she’s just trying to stay busy.
  • Since when is Nicky Pike friends with Jeff?  The triplets were always his friends, but not Nicky.  The triplets tried to avoid talking to him, why would they let him hang out with their friends?
  • The girls ride their bikes to the pool.  Sunny rides Jeff’s.  I guess the bikes were in the barn during the fire, huh?  We never heard about whether they had a garage or anything, so I guess the barn actually made sense for that stuff.
  • Mallory’s conveniently at a two-week writing camp so we can have Kristy and Mary Anne take a joint sitting job at the Pikes, but still be able to make an appearance at the party at the end.  Too bad, I kind of miss Mallory.
  • Another suggestion Sunny makes for Jeff’s room….make it look like a surf shop.  Because we can’t not mention surfing in a book that features Dawn and Sunny.
  • Dawn calls Stacey to tell them about their sneaking to NYC so someone will know what happened if they get kidnapped or something.  That’s actually a good idea.  And Stacey tells them she’s jealous.  Ha.
  • Hey, what happened to Dawn being scared of the city?  She relaxed a bit by the end of that SuperSpecial, but she still didn’t seem super eager to spend much time there.
  • Also, what happened to Mary Anne being a tour guide for everyplace she went?  She keeps asking all these questions about how they’ll get around in NYC.   Then Sunny keeps talking about this article she read about the Village and Soho, and Mary Anne doesn’t seem to know any of it.
  • In New York, the girls see a stall selling mini-backpacks. Those were super popular back when I was in middle school. I wonder if I still have mine somewhere.  I take forever to get rid of stuff, there’s boxes of it at my mother’s house.
  • Mary Anne mentions that the DJ on the local radio station’s annoying, but he plays decent music.  She also says there’s no real alternative.  But aren’t they only an hour or so away from NYC?  Why wouldn’t they get New York radio stations?
  • I feel like I’m reading spoilers for the California Diaries books (which I’m going to TRY and recap), because we hear all about how Dawn and Sunny were fighting in California, but made up before her mom died.
  • There’s this whole thing where Mary Anne tells us how lucky they were to get away with the NYC trip and that nothing bad happened.   It’s like a disclaimer or something….telling kids not to “try this at home.”
  • Abby makes some really nice comments to Sunny about what she must be dealing with. She also says she wishes they’d gotten a chance to hang out, which makes sense cause she knows what Sunny’s going through more than anyone.  It’s just too bad it happens at her going away party.  I’m surprised that Sunny wouldn’t have spent any time with the BSC while she was in town.  Wouldn’t Dawn want to see them too?
  • Also, it kind of sucks that in one of the last books of the series we don’t get a lot of the actual BSC members hanging out together.  Even the 4 who are still in the club.  I like the girls interacting.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

“Trust me. My mother would not want to date him”…… BSC FF # 10: Stacey’s Problem

Stacey visits her dad in New York and they spend a lot of time with his girlfriend Samantha.  Towards the end of the weekend, her dad tells her that he and Samantha are getting married.  Stacey likes her, so she’s really happy about this news.  The one thing that she feels a bit awkward about is telling her mom.  Her dad actually agrees to call and tell her so that Stacey doesn’t have to.  Only when Stacey gets home, her mom can tell there’s something she’s not saying, so Stacey ends up telling her.   Mrs. McGill’s kind of upset about the news and actually cries after Stacey tells her.  She tells Stacey she doesn’t know why she’s upset since she certainly didn’t expect to get back together.  But it’s definitely a weird position to be in.   Anyway, Mrs. McGill takes the high road and calls Mr. McGill and Samantha to congratulate them.

Afterwards, Stacey’s worried about her mom and offers to stay home from the welcome home party the BSC’s having for Mallory.  But her mom insists she’s fine and that Stacey should go and have fun. Later Stacey and Claudia decide to try and find a guy for Mrs. McGill to date.  Claudia gets some video dating tapes from the company that runs a service by pretending she’s writing an article for a student newspaper (a college paper, since this happens over the phone).  Stacey, Claudia, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Mallory watch all the tapes, but can’t agree on any guy as a suitable match for Mrs. McGill.  Fortunately for them, this doesn’t matter because Mrs. McGill managed to find a guy on her own who invites her to a country club party.   Stacey wants to stay home from her weekend in NYC to help her mom get ready, but Mrs. McGill insists she go and says that she’s capable to getting herself ready.  However, the date doesn’t go that well and Mrs. McGill says she won’t be seeing the guy again. 

Of course, Stacey’s still worried about how her mom seems distracted.  But then her mom makes two announcements.  First, that she’s going back to her maiden name (Spencer) and second, that she’s opening her own clothing store in downtown Stoneybrook.  Stacey thinks this is great and offers to help as much as she can.

Meanwhile, Mallory’s back in Stoneybrook for the summer, even though the rest of the BSC isn’t out of school yet.  She feels kind of weird because she sees her siblings going to Byron for help with things and referring to him as the oldest siblings.  Plus, since Jessi and all her other friends are still busy with school and various activities, she feels left out.  But she manages to still help out the BSC with some new computer skills she picked up, and she shows them how they can use websites to plan activities for their charges.  As if the BSC hasn’t managed to plan tons of activities without the internet?  I mean, I love seeing how technology can make life easier, but I’m not sure what it can add to the BSC, unless they are making a digital calendar or something.

  • Claudia’s having dinner at the McGills’ and they decide to play a game while they wait for the food to be ready. Stacey suggests Monopoly, but Claudia and Mrs. McGill tell Stacey they don’t want to play with her because she’s too good at math.  But are math skills really necessary for playing monopoly?  I know it involves money, but you don’t need to know calculus or anything.
  • When Claudia’s there for dinner, they’re making homemade pizza.  Mrs. McGill starts on the dough while the girls are at a BSC meeting, then they come  and join her.   Stacey says they spend two hours making the pizza.  So, are we supposed to think that Stacey, who needs to eat at regular intervals, has dinner at almost 8 pm?
  • Mr. McGill tries to get out of telling Mrs. McGill he’s getting married by saying he thinks it should come from Stacey.  But Samantha tells him, no, it should come from him.  I agree, just because it’s an awkward position to put Stacey in.   If there was no child involved it might be different.
  • Mallory’s the president of the Internet club at her boarding school.  The point of the club is to teach people how to “get on websites” and do research.  Which sounds more like an additional class than a club. But whatever.
  • Hearing the girls talk about the video dating tapes was rather amusing.  They have this whole conversation about how bald men aren’t appealing, but that older people may not mind.   It’s more entertaining when you read it than my description.
  • We also hear that while Kristy’s mom doesn’t seem to mind that Watson’s bald, Kristy thinks Watson does mind because she sees him checking his baldness in the mirror a lot.   I’m kind of surprised Kristy would notice that.
  • Also, is it really surprising that 13-year-olds aren’t going to find any middle aged appealing?
  • Stacey owns a cell phone.  That seems weird.  Even weirder than hearing Mallory talk about the internet.
  • Samantha offers to drive Stacey home from the city so she doesn’t have to take the train.  This seems super nice of her, but I guess she wants to bond with Stacey.  Anyway, on the drive we find out that Samantha’s a fashion photographer.  Obviously Stacey finds this cool, but I’m surprised she wouldn’t have already known this.  Her dad’s been dating Samantha since that book where they went to Fire Island and it’s never come up?  I mean, I would think it’s something Mr. McGill would tell Stacey early on, to give her and Samantha something to talk about.  Or to give Stacey a reason to like her.
  • Also, does this mean that Mr. McGill’s marrying a second person with ties to the fashion industry?  Interesting.
  • In terms of Stacey’s love life, she meets up with Ethan each time we see her visit NYC, but she claims they’re just friends.
  • When Mallory’s whining about how she’s bored because her friends don’t have time for her, she mentions she’s been watching soap operas and knows the plot lines of every show on every channel.  Now, I know soaps aren’t the most intelligent things on the air, but I would think it would take more than a week (which is how long she’s been home) to be up to speed on shows on multiple channels.
  • Regarding Mallory’s siblings considering Byron the new “oldest” – they go to him because he’s nicer than the other triplets.
  • Stacey doesn’t think very highly of her mom, does she?  First she thinks she wants to stay home from a party to comfort her, then she needs to find a guy for her, then she keeps calling her from New York to make sure she isn’t having trouble with hair/clothes getting ready.
  • Kristy suggests naming the new store “Serious Clothing,” and Claudia says she’d never go in a store called that.  I kind of like it though, not in a “these are clothes for serious occasions,” way but in a “we’re not messing around” way.  And really, I wouldn’t go in stores that Claudia thought sold stylish clothes, so maybe her disliking a name’s a good thing.
  • In NY, Stacey runs into Laine, who acts like nothing ever happened between them.  But then when Stacey mentions having a fight with Claudia, Laine’s all, “yeah, well she was always a loser.”  Stacey decides it was for the best that they went their separate ways.  She also thinks it’s a little sad since they used to be such good friends. She realizes this must be how her mom felt about hearing Mr. McGill was getting remarried.
  • Claudia offers to work at Mrs. McGill’s new store, only to be told that she can’t because of child labor laws.  Which is interesting because Stacey worked at Bellairs.  And Logan worked at that restaurant in town.
  • Mrs. McGill does offer to sell some of Claudia’s handmade jewelry or her painted shirts in the store.  The jewelry idea I understand.  But I hope Mrs. McGill has better fashion sense than to think the majority of Claudia’s clothes are good.  Otherwise her store will not go well.
  • I love that Stacey thinks her mom is distracted because of her dad getting remarried, but it turns out to be because she’s planning a huge career move.
  • There’s an ad in the back of this book for a dating handbook called “The Rules for Teens.”  At first I was horrified such a book exists/existed, but then I realized the sample rules we see are things like not eating like a bird on a date and to expecting a guy to pay for everything.  So, maybe it’s not so bad.