This is another one that I didn’t read as a kid. Going through these later books is really messing up my format.
Claudia’s back in 8th grade and enjoying it. But, it means she has less time to spend with her seventh-grade friends, including her boyfriend, Josh. She realizes that if her two groups of friends knew each other, it would be easier to balance her life. Just after she thinks this, her parents announce they’re going out-of-town for the weekend and are leaving Janine and Claudia alone. Great timing, right? Their aunt and uncle (Peaches and Russ) are still busy with their baby, so they can’t stay with them, but will be around in case of emergencies. And for busting the inevitable party, but we’ll get to that later.
Meanwhile, Janine has been feeling lonely because she broke up with her boyfriend recently, but isn’t as close to her old friends as she used to be (because she spent all her time with him). She’s kind of desperate to hang out with Claudia more, so, when Claud wants to have a party while their parents are away, Janine agrees. The plan’s to have the BSC and her seventh-grade friends in one place to get to know each other.
Word gets out about the party and more people show up than expected. We’re not talking the whole school or anything like that, just a few extra people (Pete Black, Erica Blumberg, Emily Bernstein etc). There’s not enough food, and people start spreading out over the house. Claud had also made large cookies for them to decorate, which ends up making a mess, and someone breaks a vase. Claud’s trying to keep everyone under control, but isn’t that successful. Then Peaches and Russ stop by unexpectedly, see the party and are all disappointed.
Everyone leaves and Claud and Janine fight. But they make up when Janine admits why she’s been lonely. They tell their parents about the party, since Peaches and Russ would have anyway, and don’t get in too much trouble. All their guests feel bad about the whole situation, so, they get together to buy a vase to replace one that was broken during the party. Which gives them another chance to actually get to know each other. So, it all works out perfectly.
There’s also a really boring subplot about how Bill and Melody Kormon are fighting a lot. Eventually Mary Anne gets them to work together by pretending to be locked out of the house. So, they’re being fairly nice to each other by the end. It’s kind of annoying, because, sometimes, siblings just don’t get along and don’t become BFFs. The BSC doesn’t have to save everyone that way. And they shouldn’t act so scandalized at the fact that a brother and sister are arguing.
- Seventh-grade friend outfit: “Black velour vest…red ribbon roses decorating the bottom edge. With her black jeans, black suede shoes, and a long-sleeved white shirt it made a very cool outfit.” I think I had an outfit like that when I was younger.
- Claudia outfit: “I’d worked hard on my outfit – a long black skirt, a white shirt with full sleeves, and a short vest that I’d covered with bright-colored buttons and bows. My hair was braided with strands of ribbons that matched the decorations.” I did NOT have an outfit like that. Although it doesn’t sound so bad. Compared to Ms.Frizzle costumes anyway.
- There’s a triple date between Claud/Josh, Mary Anne/Logan, and Stacey/Ethan. Which is kind of cute, I guess.
- Janine’s helping Claud with her homework, and she’s all, hey, “how about some C12H22O11?” The translation of this is that it’s the chemical compound for sucrose, which is her way of asking for candy. Did she really expect Claud to pick up on that? I do like that this is good continuity, Janine’s admitted to liking junk food before. But she really needs to learn how to speak to her audience.
- Mallory’s the one who broke the vase, so I’m not sure why everyone at the party chips in to buy the new one. But whatever.
- Janine refers to “channel swimming” when she’s looking for something to watch on TV.
- Claud tells Josh to come over before they go on their triple date, so they have time to hang out alone. But like five minutes after he gets there it’s time to leave. And they’re the last two arrive for the date.
- Janine’s reading a novel about chess, and talks about how mathematical it is. I kind of wish they had her secretly reading trashy romance novels or VC Andrews or something. Her hobbies don’t all need to be science related.
- I think there was a whole book devoted to this, so I won’t complain about it too much now, but what’s with Claudia going back to 8th grade? She was doing well back in 7th because they were right that she needed to relearn those “basics.” Going back to 8th grade, in the middle of the year, means she only got half the basics, plus missed the first half of 8th grade.
- At one of the BSC meetings, the girls are passing the notebook around. Which makes me ask, do they only read/write in the notebook at meetings? I always figured they wrote in it at home and passed it to one another each day. But then I remembered they don’t bring BSC stuff to school, because of the PhantomCaller thing. So, how do they fit it all in? And if they’re only writing in it during meetings, why not just talk about it.
- I thought it was weird when Mal says she got an 86 on a test and isn’t upset by it, since we recently heard about her being a super-good-student. But Claudia points out it’s weird, and I realized it’s a set up for her going to boarding school in a couple books.
- Peaches calls Claud and wants to talk to Janine, and Claud tells her to call the other line so Janine can answer in the kitchen. I must be getting old, because that sounds a bit lazy to me.
- Janine has gotten a modem for her computer and keeps talking about websites she’s found. It feels strange since I was over the BSC by the time the internet became prevalent.
- People in books/TV sure are lucky. My parents never let me stay alone overnight when I was a teenager. And I was such a goody-goody, I wouldn’t have had anyone over.
- When Mary Anne, Kristy, and Abby hear about the party they ask if they can invite Logan, Shannon and Anna to the party, Claud says, “sure.” Then she adds “I’m leaving the asking up to you guys.” The BSC thinks this means they should invite their “other friends,” but it’s a pretty weak explanation to me. These girls almost never socialize with people outside their club or boyfriends, so it seems out of character for them to invite others. Especially when Claudia told them the whole point was for her two sets of friends to meet.
- Here’s proof Claudia should have stayed in seventh-grade. She invites the six other regular BSC members and her four seventh-grade friends. When she hears about three additional people coming she thinks, “hmm, I guess that brings the total number of people to ten or eleven?”
- Why do Bill and Melody have to be so happy together at the end? Why not apologize but still not want to hang out together?
- Claudia’s party outfit: “I slipped into the black pants, then pulled a black turtleneck over my head. I had a fleece top with turquoise, hot pink, and lime green stripes and one thin line of red. It was a boxy jacket style and looked festive.”
- I like how the party’s described as wild/out of control, when there wasn’t more than 20 people at the thing. They weren’t blasting music or drinking and having sex. They were making a mess, but that’s not so outrageous.
- Peaches had invited Claudia and Janine over for dinner the night of the party, and Claud gets out of it by saying she and Janine had “special sister plans.” Janine overhears and actually thinks Claud was serious. I find Janine so much more likable now than when I was a kid, and feel a little bad for her here. Back then I think I would have just thought she was an idiot.
- When they tell their parents about the party, Mrs. Kishi asks if there was drinking. So even she was expecting more drama than we got in a book with “big party” in the title.