I think I read this book after I had read other Mallory books, so I knew Mal and Jessi were going to end up members. But I liked it anyway, because it showed how Mal and Jessi came to be in the club. It was like a TV show pilot, because it set up how the books are going to be structured for the rest of the series. I always thought it was interesting to see pilots after later episodes of a TV series, and I guess I thought the same thing about this book.
So, this picks up right after Stacey moved back to New York. The girls think of inviting Mal to join the club, and she is super excited about going to a meeting. It is kind of sad what makes her happy. Then again, I was happy today because tech support fixed the printer at my office…so maybe I shouldn’t judge. Anyway, the weekend before, Mal is sitting for her siblings and Nicky breaks his finger playing volleyball. It is not Mal’s fault, but the BSC blame her and decide to put her through all sorts of rigorous tests to see if she is good enough to join the club. These involve a written test where she is supposed to draw the digestive system, which you know the rest of them could not have done. Mal ends up walking out pissed off.
At the same time, she is also making friends with Jessi, who just moved into Stacey’s old house. The two decide to start their own club, where they will sit together for the price of one (since they are only eleven). No one hires them except their own parents, but even this pisses off Kristy because “the Pikes are a good customer.” Anyway, with Stacey gone, the BSC is super busy and desperate for help. This makes them give Mal another chance, and she insists on bringing Jessi. The two girls go on trial sitting jobs as a final test, and the BSC promises not to be as harsh as they were earlier. Mal’s job goes well, and that is how the book ends. But as we all know, Mal and Jessi both end up in the club.
Subplot: People in Stoneybrook are racist. I know the whole “Jessi is black” thing has become a joke, but in this book people really do treat her family badly.
- Mallory doesn’t understand why Claire needs to draw attention to herself because she is the youngest in the family. I would think being the youngest in a family of eight would need to draw attention to herself.
- Ah, yes. Mal’s dorky BSC meeting outfit: “My red jumper that said Mallory across the front, a short sleeved white blouse, and white tights with little white hearts all over them.”
- Jessi is new in Mal’s homeroom, and the teacher, who sits everyone alphabetical, puts Jessi next to Mal, and moves everyone who comes after “Ramsey” down a seat. Doesn’t that seem destructive? Why not just stick the new person at the end? Is the teacher that anal about the alphabetical order thing?
- Mal says she has never had a best friend because she spends so much time with her siblings and reading. Well, that was her choice, wasn’t it?
- Wow. Girls in Mal’s class are racist bitches. They say things like “Can you believe that new girl is black?’ and “She doesn’t belong here.” I have to give Mal credit because she is all, “So?” and actually challenges them.
- Jessi knows some really lame jokes. For example: “How many stupids does it take to change a light bulb? Three. One to hold the bulb and two to turn his legs.” I mean, that couldn’t have even been original when this book was printed.
- Heh. Mal gets in a bunch of digs at Claud’s lack of intelligence. When Claudia tries to give her the definition of “oral” Mallory snarks/narrates “I bet you anything Claudia did not know the meaning of that word before today.” I bet you anything Mal doesn’t know what else that could refer to. Later, Mal corrects Claud when she mispronounces digestive system and mixes up soy formula/soy sauce.
- Mrs. Perkins has a baby in this book, but it is a total after thought…not like some books where the girls actually sit for the other kids while the woman gives birth.
- Jessi talks about how she would never get a lead in a ballet because she is black, but you know she ends up getting all the leads.
- Is Kristy really surprised Mrs. Pike would hire Mallory to sit? It is her own daughter of COURSE she is going to use her. Especially considering how bitchy you where to her.
- The woman who lives across the street from the Ramseys’ actually yells at her daughter to not go near Becca. But on the plus side, Dr. Johannsen encourages Charlotte to play with her. Not everyone in town is racist.
- Jessi is worried that people won’t want her to sit because she is black, and Kristy is all, “well if anyone said that, I wouldn’t sit for them either.” I think this actually happens in a later book.
- The BSC spends like a chapter realizing they treated Mal like crap and didn’t give her fair tests. So, it is a shame she will keep getting the short stick for the rest of the series. This is the stuff I didn’t necessarily pick up on when I was younger…the small ways it was stacked against her.