Again, after my time.
Stacey notices that her ex, Robert, has been acting kind of down. She remembers that Andi (the girl he dumped her for) came to talk to her a couple months back to tell her she was worried about Robert. Stacey sort of reached out to him then, but hadn’t talk to him since. Then she runs into Robert’s sister at the mall, who tells her Robert’s still miserable and makes Stacey promise to call him. She does, and the two start talking again (as friends). Robert says he hasn’t been happy lately, isn’t interested in the activities he used to do, and hasn’t really been interested in talking to his friends.
The basic idea’s that Robert’s depressed and Stacey spends most of the book trying to help him. She talks to his friends, but they’re mad at him for dropping off the radar in recent months. She convinces him to rejoin the baseball team after quitting, but then he skips practice. She even starts tutoring him because he’s stopped trying in school. Her daily tutoring’s the only thing that convinces Robert’s parents to unground him (which they did because his grades dropped), but he doesn't even seem to care about that.
Stacey has no idea what to do, so she finally calls into some radio call-in show offering advice, and is told she can’t help him herself and should convince him to talk to an adult. Stacey decides to do this, but Robert gets all defensive and pissed at her for butting in. Then Stacey tells her mom, who wants to call his parents, but Stacey begs her not to, and she agrees. Later, Robert comes back to her house crying and says he hurts inside and doesn’t know why. He agrees he needs help and Stacey convinces him to talk to his baseball coach (Robert’s choice of a “trusted adult”), which is apparently somewhat helpful. Stacey realizes that she let herself get too caught up in Robert and let things in her own life slide. But she and Robert decide to be friends and even go to some dance together.
Meanwhile, there’s some new place in Stoneybrook where people can go to pick strawberries. Of course all the kids in town go crazy picking berries. Then they end up with way too many, and Kristy decides to have some festival where everyone brings strawberry baked goods and plays related games. It’s pretty nondramatic. I started craving strawberries though, so I’m glad I got them at the store yesterday.
- Stacey says she doesn’t like to define herself as a diabetic. Then maybe she shouldn’t always bring it up when she first starts to describe herself.
- In math class, Robert can’t answer a question and is sort of laughed at. When Stacey’s asked, she considers not answering so Robert doesn’t look as bad, but says she can’t do it because she doesn’t like playing dumb. I approve of this choice.
- The copy of the book I have is hardcover. Which is really weird, I don’t remember ever seeing a hardcover BSC book. It’s the same size/shape as the others, so I’m wondering if the book was falling apart and was rebound it somehow.
- Guess who wore this: “She was dressed entirely in animal prints. She was wearing a long-sleeved zebra-print leotard under leopard-print overall shorts. A tiger-stripe scarf was tied around her neck and her hair was caught up into a ponytail with a lizard print scrunchie. Her earrings were two orange spotted giraffes."
- The strawberry picking place is called Strawberry Fields Forever. They acknowledge it’s a Beatles reference.
- Stacey’s dating Ethan at this point, who lives in the city, and she goes to visit him on two different day trips. She sees her father while she’s there too. I like this. They’re close enough to NYC that she can do that, so it makes sense that she’d do that instead of always going for a whole weekend.
- I’m not sure why Stacey was so against her mom calling Robert’s parents, since she had already decided to bring an adult in, but didn’t have much success asking Robert to go to anyone himself. I guess it’s typical of a teenager though.
- There’s this thread throughout the book about how Stacey has to write her “self-portrait” for English class, and she says it’s basically an autobiography. Claudia even does a sketch of her to go with it. But didn’t all the girls already write their autobiographies? Why give them the same assignment twice?
- Stacey keeps saying how she doesn’t want to talk to others about Robert because she doesn’t want to betray his confidence. So, she only says vague things about how Robert’s unhappy. But…that’s really all she knows.
- Both Claire Pike and Linny Papadakis get sick and throw up from eating too many strawberries. They claim they won’t ever eat any again, and everyone tells them they will as soon as they feel better. But I’m not so sure. It’s a known thing that you can get an aversion to foods when you get really sick from them. It happened to me with macaroni and cheese – I loved it as a kid, got sick after eating it, and for years after I could barely look at it without getting nauseous.
- Jessi and Mallory take the younger Pikes to the strawberry picking place. Mr. Pike gives them $20 and says if they pick enough to cost more than that, they’ve picked too many. Then when he comes to pick them up they have to ask for more money and he just hands it over. They don’t mention whether they pay for all the ones they eat while picking (which is at least enough to make Claire sick). They certainly weren't keeping a count of them.
- Stacey describes Ethan as an art student. She doesn’t mention his age in this one, but I think he’s supposed to be 15 or 16. How’s someone that young an art student? Doesn’t art student suggest out of high school and in some kind of art school/program? Or does she just mean he takes art classes? Because they never describe Claudia as an art student.
- So, the part where Stacey tells us that Andi talked to her about Robert is really detailed and she even mentions that she sent Robert a Valentine-gram. I had absolutely no memory of the Andi conversation, but the valentine-gram seemed kind of familiar so I looked it up. Sure enough, this all went down in another Stacey book. Funny how I couldn't remember that but have such vivid memories of the early ones.
- How many strawberries are these people picking/buying? I love strawberries, but I always eat them in the first couple days after I buy them, because otherwise they go bad. This book takes place over a couple of weeks, so if they’re picking cartons of them, the problem shouldn’t be having too many too eat, it should be that the berries are going bad. I’ve gone apple picking and ended up with too many to eat, but apples last longer than strawberries.
- Stacey talks to Robert’s friend Alex about his issues, but Alex says he doesn’t care if Robert’s not happy, because he totally wasn’t there for him when his parents were getting divorced. My first thought was that this is awesome continuity from back when Stacey was friends with him, because I specifically remember his parents splitting up. But my second thought was that no 13-year-old boy would say anything like that. At least not to another teenager.
- Also, Alex’s parents split up back in book 83, which is way before Robert started feeling depressed. And it seemed like Robert and Stacey were both being very supportive of Alex at the time. So, maybe it’s not good continuity.
- When Robert shows up at Stacey’s house it’s around 11:00 pm. Stacey convinces him to call his baseball coach to ask for help then. He does and leaves a message. Then the coach calls him right back and agrees to meet with him the next day. But this seems awfully late for phone calls. Could he really not wait till morning to call? I mean Robert’s depressed, but he isn’t suicidal.
- Stacey does tell Ethan that she’s been helping Robert and he’s pretty cool about it. She’s nervous about telling Robert about Ethan, but she finally does after he’s agreed to ask for help.
- Stacey keeps telling us how what she used to feel for Robert is gone and won’t come back, and that she doesn’t want to be more than friends. I think she protests a little too much, but whatever.
- Of course, when Stacey calls the radio show she gets on the air. I’m sure no one ever calls in to radio shows and doesn’t get on, or has to wait to get on.
- When planning the festival, they go on the internet and find a “strawberry chat room,” where people from all over send them recipes and ideas. I love how this was clearly an attempt to be hip/modern, and now it just makes the book seem so dated.
- Everyone brings baked goods with strawberries to the festival to share. Kristy gets the idea to gather recipes for everything into a book, which she then copies and staples together to sell to everyone. She does this all while the festival was going on, which I can buy because it was at her house and Watson has a copier in his home office. But my question is, why do all these people just have the recipes with them? Normally if I bring food to a person’s house I don’t carry the recipe with me. I don’t usually have them memorized either.
- The BSC’s going to use the money they made at the festival to take their charges to some water park. That’s generous of them.
- I really like the messages in this one – first that a 13-year-old can’t always help someone on their own, and second that while you can help others, you shouldn’t always lose yourself in their problems.