Saturday, July 24, 2010

“Dance mania at Stoneybrook Middle School was in full swing”…..BSC # 127: Abby’s Un-Valentine

Memory Reaction

I didn’t read this book as a kid, but I did read it a couple years ago, before I started this blog. My reaction at the time was, “so, I guess this is why there’s BSC fan fiction with Abby and Kristy as a lesbian couple.” Not because I think that a 13-year-old liking sports or not being interested in boys is gay. I just think others might use that as a basis for fan fiction. I actually think it’s good that the ghostwriters had characters not interested in dating – people develop at different rates, and it seems like a better example than having a character claim to not be interested in boys, only to reveal that she only says that because she thinks no one likes her.

Revisited Reaction

It's almost Valentine's Day in Stoneybrook (again). While Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne are all planning to go to the school dance with various dates, Abby couldn’t be less interested – she doesn’t like any boys at school and doesn't want a boyfriend period. Now unfortunately, a boy’s interested in her. Ross Brown, who I know has been mentioned before, but can't remember the context, has been hanging around Abby a lot and asks her to the dance.

Abby says no, and her friends and sister can’t believe it. Ross keeps persuing her, leaving flowers or other gifts by her locker, stopping at her house, etc. Claudia and Stacey think Abby’s just nervous because she hasn’t had a boyfriend before, and they encourage her to go to the dance with Ross. Abby tells them off about this, and it makes for a couple of tense BSC meetings. The only BSC member who sympathizes with Abby is Kristy (Mallory has left and poor Jessi just tries to play peacekeeper - she gets even less face time than usual).

It occurs to Abby that Anna (her sister) might like Ross, and that they seem to have similar interests. Abby invites Ross over, thinking she'll leave Anna and Ross alone, with the hope that things will progress naturally from there. When Ross gets there he confuses Anna for Abby. The girls aren't sure how to handle it, so they don’t say anything at first. However, their mother comes home and calls them by the correct names. Ross realizes his mistake and thinks the girls were tricking him. He leaves and refuses to talk to them the next day in school, so Abby and Anna go to his house to apologize and explain in person. He forgives them and asks Anna to go with him to a concert at the community center the next afternoon. That goes well enough for him to ask Anna to the dance that night. Meanwhile Abby and Kristy go to see some horror movies on Valentine's Day night.

Subplot: Apparently Kristy's family has been training a puppy to be a guide dog. However, now the dog has gotten old enough to go to guide dog school, so she’s leaving. This is a problem because Andrew, has grown particularly attached to the dog. He pouts about this a bunch and has a temper tantrum or two, but the dog still leaves, and it could not be more boring.


  • Abby says her family moved to Connecticut because her mom couldn’t handle the long commute on the Long Island Railroad. It’s a good thing they found a place SO much closer to the city. I mean, commuting from Connecticut to NYC is MUCH more reasonable. It’s not like Stacey ever had to move to NYC because her father refused do such a long commute.
  • Claudia Outfit: “She was dressed in…a woolly sweater, long black tights with thick blue socks, and hiking boots…[Her] sweater was blue, white, and gray with a snowflake-patterned yoke. It was enormous, stretching almost to her knees.” That seems sort of un-Claudia to me.
  • Stacey Outfit: “She was wearing a short, dark brown leather skirt over pale stockings. She had on these cool boots that came to just above her knees. Her sweater was the color of butter, and it looked unbelievably soft.” That actually sounds really nice.
  • In this book, Abby describes Dawn's wardrobe as "beach casual" instead of "California casual." I’m still not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it’s a nice change in pace.
  • Stacey's boyfriend Ethan lives in New York, so he sent her a romantic email in days leading up to Valentine's Day. This leads Abby to say that email and romance don't belong in the same sentence. I feel the same way about the BSC and email. These girls should be frozen in the eighties/early nineties.
  • Another thought: Why does Abby say that about email and romance? She has already said she hates romance and all that “mushy stuff.” So, does she like email and not want it tainted with romance?
  • Mary Anne wants to make birdfeeders out of pinecones during a sitting job for Kristy's siblings, and she calls Mrs. Brewer to ask her to buy the right ingredients. It seems a bit rude to be hired to baby-sit, and then ask for the parents to go out of their way to help you.
  • So, I guess Andrew spent the last few months living in Chicago with his mother and step-father, but it doesn’t mention Karen doing this. I suspect this was the plot of a Little Sister book, (and Wikipedia seems to confirm it).
  • The book descriptions from that link make Karen sound like a really, really, annoying brat. Her bio page is way too nice, however. (And why does she get her own entry, when the members of the BSC are all combined in one general BSC entry.)
  • Abby goes over to Kristy's house to hang out with a Valentine's Day hater, and the two of them decide to sit on the stairs because it’s away from the animals making Abby sneeze, but close enough to watch the kids in the other room. Now, they aren’t baby-sitting. They just decide to do this because they’re so responsible, they can’t help but watch children.
  • Watson’s old cat, Boo-Boo died at some point, so the family has a new kitten named Pumpkin. According to David Michael and Andrew, Pumpkin likes Karen best, so she's “her cat.” This makes the Andrew problem and Karen’s brattiness worse.
  • Kristy tells Abby she only ever went to dances with Bart was because it was easy, but she knew she wasn't really into him "that way." I wonder why she thought she was "in love" then? Granted, she ultimately changed her mind, but she did consider the possibility.
  • Abby's English class is doing a whole study on romantic poems that lasts for over a week leading up to Valentine's Day. Which, really? The teacher has time to do a whole unit centered around one silly holiday?
  • Abby tries to read an “unromantic” poem in her English class (to counter the “mushiness”). She says she got the idea from an episode of My So-Called Life. Is it wrong that I tried to figure out which episode she could be talking about?
  • At this point, Nannie has her own catering business out of the house. I don’t know when that happened, but good for her.
  • Stacey actually gives Ross tips on what to give Abby to win her over. Which is really kind of mean since she knew Abby wasn’t interested.
  • Jessi announces that she’s going to the dance with a bunch of kids in her grade. I hope that means she has some other friends at school. I kind of felt bad for her when she stopped getting storylines/books and Mallory went off to boarding school. According to the list in the back of the book, Jessi had three books above # 80, and the series went to # 131.
  • I have no idea if this is true to life, but supposedly the Brewer/Thomases will be able to visit Scout (the dog) in a year, after she’s finished guide dog school (assuming his owner agrees). Now, I am certainly not in a position of having a guide dog, but I don’t think I would want strangers coming to visit the dog that’s supposed to be helping me.
  • Karen mentions that she would visit Scout (the dog) even if he ends up in Australia. And Nannie adds that she’d really like to go to Australia. I think I would go to Australia with Nannie, she seems like a fairly cool grandmother.


Emily said...

I was JUST thinking about that Stacey outfit today, and how it's something I'd totally wear!

HelenB said...

I always really liked Jessi, and I never hated Mal, so I was pretty pissed off when they stopped getting their own books :/.

I never read this one, but I wish I had! One of the things I loved about Abby was that she was always ready to call the others on their bull, which made a nice change from the usual passive-aggressive BSC fights.

Even though I've never really 'read' Kristy as a lesbian (I don't think love of sports and uninterest in guys is that unusual in a girl her age) she is the BSC member that AMM says she most wanted to be like, and AMM's gay, so take that as you will! (She also says that Mary-Ann is the one who was most like her... so maybe it's more likely that she's gay...)

Beatrice said...

I could have sworn that I'd read Abby's Unvalentine, but the end of the book seems really unfamilar. I guess I just read the first part, and then got sick of it? It's not the sort of plot that would have interested third-grade me.

The Andrew moving to Chicago/Karen deciding to stay thing was the plot of MULTIPLE books. I just finished reading a Little Sister book where, at the beginning of the book, Karen needs to decide whether or not she wants to move with the little house members to Chi-town. It's the entire plot of the book. And at the end of the book, she's still completely undecided. Biggest waste of time ever. (Not that reading the other Little Sister books is a great way to spend my weekend, either...)

And Nannie's catering business! I always loved that. Although it does put a ton on poor Nannie's plate: clean the house, run a home business, cook for your family, babysit your grandkids, etc., etc., etc. Poor woman's never going to get a true retirement.

SJSiff said...

Totally agree about it being rude to ask the parents to buy the stuff. I made pinecone birdfeeders with my sitting charges and brought the stuff with me, including the peanut butter.

Amy said...

! MSCL reference in BSC? Worlds colliding!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I have a friend who lives in Connecticut and it only takes him an hour to get into the city to visit me, whereas when I was working on Long Island one summer, it was 2-3. I guess it depends on where Stoneybrook is, but Connecticut is much closer to Manhattan than far parts of Long Island.

Aisle Say! said...

"Valentines Day"

"Ross keeps perusing her"

"Watson’s old cat, Boo-boo died at some point"

"Granted, she ultimately changed her mind, she did consider the possibility."

"The teacher has time to do a whole unit about centered around one silly holiday?"

The above are examples of a few grammatical mistakes made in your most recent blog-post. Just a tip: you might want to have someone whose first language was English proofread it. It's a great blog for someone not familiar with the language, though! :)

Everyone's a critic...

BSC Snarker, aka Kristen said...

Aisle Say! - I guess this is what happens when I write/post late at night. Thanks for letting me know, I'm going to go do another round of proofing.

Ashley said...

A lot of things that you mentioned in this post happened in Little Sister books, which I always thought was strange. Most people who would be reading BSC would be too old for LS. (Not including ourselves, lol.)

But yes, Andrew and Karen's little house family move to Chicago in LS#96, Karen's Big Move. She originally moves with them, but realises she misses Stoneybrook too much, so she moves in with the big house family. The little house family moves back in LS#103, Karen's Movie Star.

Kristy's family gets Pumpkin in LS#102, Karen's Black Cat. And, speaking of LS#103, Boo-Boo dies in that book. It's strange that they wouldn't mention it in the BSC books.

And finally, Nannie starts her candy/catering business in LS#93, Karen's Cooking Contest.

maria said...

I did NOT know ANM was gay. Shocker. But it never talks about a husband or children on the About the Author sections, but she does always have cats, so I stereotypically assumed she was just and old cat lady.
Go figure.

charmecia said...

this is one of my favorite Abby books. Abby inspired me to go out to eat on Valentine's Day all by myself. Thank you Abby.

p.s. i never believed that Abby and Kristy would be into each other like that. I always thought that Kristy had a thing for Mary Anne anyways.

Anna said...

Abby's English class is doing a whole study on romantic poems that lasts for over a week leading up to Valentine's Day. Which, really? The teacher has time to do a whole unit centered around one silly holiday?

It's perfectly doable when you have the kids for an indefinite amount of time.

Unknown said...

this is one of my favorite abby books simply because abby rocks for one and also because unlike the girls she doesnt freak out over being single and not dating. no wonder why i like abby so much.

rebecca said...

re: karen books, the one after she moves to chicago she seems to get a paper route... do her parents, who i admit at the best of times are tip top examples of hands off parenting, seriously ok with this? in a strange city? this perpetual 7 year old??
also i thought the reason mal and jessi werent friends with anyone else really is they were all racist or something? or is that mals excuse for only having one friend?
hang on, why did mal have like no friends and then suddenly at boarding school become popularish?
ooo i bet she was just too 'deep' for everyone at sms to understand her...

Stephie said...

Rebecca, Karen's Paper Route takes place after Karen moves back to Stoneybrook to live in the 'big house'. So it's not in a foreign city, just in her local neighbourhood. Plus, she has to do it with Kristy (not sure if that was her parents' decision or that they wanted an older delivery kid), who winds up doing all the work.

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