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.
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.