I actually have a few strong memories to this one. I think this is because it was a later book, so I was older when I first read it. For instance, I remember how Stacey wears some sweatshirt/sweatpants outfit in the middle of summer, and thinking how strange it was. The other scene I remember specifically, is how when the “bad girls” get caught drinking, Mrs. McGill says that if Stacey had one sip of wine, she’d be having a diabetic reaction. Which, I didn’t believe then and don’t believe now. It may have an affect, but one sip would not create a visible reaction.
I was a little disappointed after reading this book, because the plot has one of Stacey’s new friends going on vacation before all the drama happens. She doesn’t show up at the end, and I was annoyed because I wanted resolution on whether she would stay Stacey’s friend or side with the “bad girls.” I think the next time we see her is when she’s hooking up with Robert behind Stacey’s back, so I guess she’s with the bad girls. But that was like 10 books later, so I didn’t know after reading this one. And I hate dangling plot lines.
It’s summer vacation, and without the BSC, Stacey’s bored. She starts spending a lot of time with some new friends she’s met via Robert. The only ones we’ve met are Sheila, a cheerleader, and Andi, one of the girls featured in the book where Stacey splits from the BSC. In this one, we meet a bunch of friends of Andi – Mia, Jacqui, and Heather. Andi leaves for vacation pretty early in the book, so we’re down to a group of five (including Stacey) who are hanging out, mostly at Stacey’s house.
Mrs. McGill decides that Stacey should get a job, and she ends up working at a “kid center” in Bellairs (the local department store), a place where parents can dump their kids while they shop. Stacey’s friends like to shop, so they start meeting her there after work to hang out. Stacey starts to notice some disturbing things about the girls….they get her to buy them things with her employee discount, then return them at full price, they abandon her on line for concert tickets, and she suspects they are shoplifters. She wonders if they are using her as a cover, so that while she’s chatting sweetly with employees, her “friends” can shoplift. But, Stacey keeps convincing herself that they must be okay people, after all, “Andi’s friends with them.”
Then, at a big concert, Sheila and co. pull out some flasks of wine, and Stacey’s shocked. She, of course, doesn’t drink any, but is dragged off with the other girls when a security guard catches them and calls their parents. None of the girls back Stacey up when she says she wasn’t drinking. Mrs. McGill’s pissed, but believes Stacey, however, she still gets grounded for three days. Which is one of the few times we actually see these girls get in trouble. Robert of course, takes Stacey’s side.
Meanwhile, Dawn and Mary Anne have been taking care of Dawn’s six-year-old cousin Amy, who’s staying with the Schafers for a few weeks while her parents are in London. Amy’s miserable, misses her family, and refuses to have any fun. Finally, she runs away to try and find her parents. Somehow, she makes it downtown and into Bellairs’ Kid Center. Stacey has been talking to Claudia, so she knows all about Amy. When she realizes there’s an extra kid at the center, she figures out it’s Amy and calls Dawn and Mary Anne. Soon after, she thinks about her friends and decides that the BSC isn’t always perfect, but together they balance out to some great friends. Then Stacey tells Claud she wants to rejoin the BSC, she gets invited to a meeting, and they let her rejoin, etc.
- When Stacey’s mom was younger, she called herself “Paula” to honor Paul McCartney.
- When Stacey interviews at the Kid Center, the director says that the regular staff is trained in primary education….but the whole time Stacey’s working, it’s her and a couple high school students.
- During her interview, Stacey just walks off and starts playing with this little girl at the center. And she totally forgets to go back to the director and finish the conversation. But, it apparently makes her look “devoted,” so she gets the job. The fact that her mother works at the store probably didn’t hurt either.
- Dawn’s cousin’s actually her second cousin, because her mom’s cousin is Amy’s mother. But Amy’s last name’s Porter, which I think is Sharon’s maiden name. So, this means Amy has her mother’s last name. Right?
- The totally inappropriate for summer outfit: “Midnight-blue-and-white striped hooded sweatshirt with a laced placket, and matching spandex leggings.” And Stacey puts it on after hearing a weather report that says it will be in the eighties, so it isn’t like we can pretend it was an unusually cold day.
- The thing with Amy’s pretty ridiculous. Sharon and her cousin hadn’t been in touch for awhile, but started talking again when Sharon sent a wedding announcement. Then the mother just calls and asks to dump Amy there for THREE WEEKS while she goes to London on a business trip with her husband (his business trip, she is tagging along for fun).
- That’s a lot to ask of someone you haven’t seen in years. And it’s sort of mean to abandon a six-year-old who has never been away from her parents with people she’s never met.
- This band Stacey’s into, U4Me, is on a concert tour, and since they were “having a great time on the West Coast,” they decided to cancel their Midwest concerts. And the girls are like, “their manager must have been annoyed.” Which, I’m sure is true, but the people who paid for tickets were probably even more annoyed. Do contracts not exist in BSC-land?
- Then, the band just randomly adds a concert in Stamford less than a week in advance. That seems unlikely, especially considering they weren’t even supposed to be in the area.
- Of course, all the 13-year-old boys hate U4Me. As do I, because what the hell kind of name is U4Me?
- Stacey and her friends go to wait on line for concert tickets several hours before they go on sale. But an hour after they got on line, they have gotten half-way to the front of the line.
- When Mary Anne’s looking for Amy, she looks in the secret passage, even though she “can’t imagine a six-year-old going in it herself.” But doesn’t Nicky Pike go in alone all the time? He’s only two years older.
- Shouldn’t you call the cops if a six-year-old disappears? It took Mary Anne and Dawn twenty minutes to get to Bellairs (after Stacey called them), so it probably took Amy longer than that. How much longer would you wait to call the police?
- Mrs. McGill says she’s disappointed that Stacey couldn’t tell her friends were using her. After all, she was raised in New York City and as a little girl “could size up a suspicious person from half a block away.”
- It’s kind of weird that Sheila, who was always friends with all the clean cut cheerleaders, is now hanging out with a bunch of grunge kids with nose piercings, green hair, and black lipstick. In my school those were two groups of kids.
- The cover of the book made me laugh, because the girls on the front are actually dressed in clothes that would have been in style back in the early nineties. Except for Stacey, who’s all preppy. Now, they don’t look like they were described in the book, but I’ll still give them some points.
- Robert shows up at the house to visit while Stacey and her friends are hanging out (and her mom isn’t home). I’m a little surprised they don’t make an issue out of this. I remember other books where Mary Anne and Dawn have to hang out outside when a guy visits because their parents aren’t home. Obviously, Mrs. McGill could have different rules, but it did stick out to me.
- So, Stacey’s mother nicknamed Stacey’s wardrobe selection as SDT, or Stacey’s Daily Trauma. However, whenever SDT is mentioned in the book (which is a lot), I keep reading it as STD. Which would be a whole different problem for Stacey.
- When Amy runs away she’s trying to find a train station to go to London where her parents are (she’s six). I can’t figure out how she manages this trip without someone wondering about the child roaming the streets alone.
- Even though this book constantly references Stacey trying on multiple outfits, very few are really described in detail. All we get are things like, drawstring pants, flowered minidress, khaki pants, etc.
- One of the employees at Bellairs is Mrs. Ballmar, who I’m pretty saw we met in the counterfeiter mystery. Only she doesn’t know Stacey here, and I think this book came out after that one. But I could be mixing up names.
- Stacey tells the BSC that she quit her job at Bellairs so that it wouldn’t interfere with baby-sitting. Which, is supposed to be all responsible of her. But, isn’t quitting a job with no notice actually irresponsible?
- I like that they don’t have Stacey suddenly realize that the BSC were always the better friends. Instead, she still acknowledges their flaws, but decides that their pluses outweigh the minuses, and that they can go through a rough patch and still be friends.