Saturday, March 2, 2013

“Why on earth would anyone leave you here”……………BSC Mystery # 28: Abby and the Mystery Baby

Memory Reaction
After my time, so nothing to say here…

Revisited Reaction
Abby gets home from school and finds a baby on her front porch in a car seat.  Like what happens to most girls when they’re 13.  After the initial shock, she basically falls in love with the baby right away.  She IS a BSC member, afterall. They call the police, but Abby’s mom tells them (privately) that she wanted to let the baby stay with them.  And they agree right away. Which is when you know that Mrs. Stevenson knows more about the baby than she’s letting on.  So, the baby stays around, Abby and everyone else coo over him and that’s pretty much the bulk of the book.  Since they don’t know the kids real name, they call him, Eli.
This actually isn’t much of a mystery, but I think that’s why I like it as a mystery book…it’s actually believable for teenage “detectives.”  The BSC wants to see if they can find out who left the baby there.  
Their investigation’s pretty limited.  Mallory and Jessi think it was a woman in some writing group they are in, because she wrote a story about abandoning a baby.  I can see their point, because leaving a baby on someone’s door step’s such a rare and original idea…obviously there’s a connection.  Another suspect’s the nanny that Mrs. Stevenson hires, because Abby thinks she’s weird, and because she once calls him “E.J.”  The nanny says it’s because her nephew’s name is E.J., but the girls don’t totally buy it, because they always let their imaginations run away with them.  The only other clues the girls have are that Maria Kilbourne saw a green car in the area the day the baby was left, and that Abby finds a receipt from a NYC pharmacy on her driveway.  All of this, of course, leads nowhere.
The more interesting action is with Abby’s mother who’s acting a little weird.  First she acts shocked at the blanket that the baby was wrapped in.  Then, she agreed to take in the baby, and insisted on talking to the police and a social worker with no one else in the room.  And one day Abby calls her at work and is told that she was taking off for “family business,” which Mrs. Stevenson denies when she gets home.  Abby ends up searching her Mom’s home office, and sees that she had written the name “Miriam” down on post it note.  This reminds Abby that her mom has a sister named Miriam that the family hasn’t spoken to in years.  Abby and Anna look through old photos to see if they can find out what Miriam looks like, and they can only find one of her baby pictures…where she’s wrapped in the same blanket that Eli was wrapped in when he was dropped off. 
Abby figures out that since her mother ran off without telling them where she was going, that she must have found where Miriam was.  She hits redial on the phone, gets a hospital, and takes off to the city (by herself) to confront her mom.   She shows up at the hospital and finds her mom and aunt talking.  The story is that Eli’s father left her, she was struggling to make ends meet, and she didn’t take care of herself as well as she should (she’s diabetic).  She dropped the baby off at the Stevenson’s and then went to the hospital.  She was out of it/in a comma for a while, which I guess explains why she didn’t make a follow up call about the baby.  But everyone put the past fights behind them and wants to be family again.  Miriam and the baby are going to live with Abby’s grandparents in Florida while she gets back on her feet.  This way if she has to drop the baby off one someone else’s doorstep, she doesn’t have to worry about him freezing to death.
There’s a subplot that’s a bit more prominent than there usually is in mysteries – the BSC decides to say it is “writing month” or something for the kids they sit for.  They encourage all the kids to write poetry/stories, and then host some event at the library where the kids do readings.  It’s a nice idea in theory, but reading little kids’ stories isn’t the most entertaining thing.

  • So, soon after Abby finds the kid, she goes to change his diaper (the mom had left a bag with some supplies).  And she’s all, “Suddenly, I had the answer to something I was wondering about. It’s a boy!”  The way that was worded just cracked me up for some reason.
  • Claudia outfit: “A funky red-flannel minidress layered with a black-and-white-checked thrift-shop man’s vest, black tights, and red high-tops.”  I have two thoughts – first, could they possibly work in more hyphens into that description?  Second, that actually sounds a little like something someone on My So-Called Life would wear.  The only problem is that show was on in 1994, three years before this book was published.  Styles changed a bit.
  • When I Googled My So-Called Life to find that link, I saw that the entire series is on Hulu Plus, and I’m now really tempted to spend my weekend watching it.
  • Stacey was wearing jeans that “were stonewashed to a perfect degree of faded blue, and torn at the knee in this casual-yet-not-sloppy way. She wore them with a crisp white shirt, a green V-necked sweater, and brown Hush Puppies.”  That doesn’t really sound like a Stacey outfit to me.  Maybe the ripped jeans, but not the sweater.
  • Apparently, Miriam left a note in the car seat, which Abby totally missed (but her mom found).  Some detective.
  • When talking about the woman in her writing group, Mal’s all, “I know it’s a mistake to confuse fact with fiction,” and it cracked me up because Mal is ALWAYS mixing the two up.
  • Miriam’s story makes no sense.  The sister lived in NYC, so she rented a car, drove to CT, and knocked on Abby’s door.  When no one answered, she didn’t know what to do and was feeling faint, so she left the baby on the porch, but then apparently drove back to the city before going to the hospital.  If she was that out of it, why not go to a closer hospital?  I mean, this takes place in February, not the best time for leaving a kid outside.  She really couldn’t sit in the car for an hour to wait to see if anyone came home?
  • Also Mrs. Stevenson said that Miriam used her last few dollars to rent a car and drive to Connecticut.  Did she not think of making a freaking phone call?  If she knew where her sister lived, she must have known where she works and that she’s in the city all the time.
  • The Stevenson’s borrow a crib from Kristy’s family, one that supposedly belonged to Emily Michelle but was now in the attic.  My question is: Emily hasn’t aged since shewas adopted.  So, how did she outgrow her crib?
  • Mrs. Stevenson tells the nanny she hires that the baby is four months old, and Abby notices that she says this as fact.   But this is before she tracks down Miriam, so how did she know about the 4 months part?  Unless maybe it was in the note?  But it sounded like Miriam wrote a somewhat incoherent note, so it seems weird that she would put in that info but forget contact information.
  • Abby does attempt to call the pharmacy to find out if the receipt’s really from the baby-abandoner or if it actually came from her mom.  The first thing I noticed was that when she calls the pharmacy she gets an actual person. How retro. Then the rest of the call’s kind of silly – she pretends she’s her mom and asks about her prescription to see if her mom is a customer.  Then there’s a contrived moment where she asks if her maiden name is in the system, which is all so that the pharmacist can say they have an M Goldberg in the system.  Which I guess is a clue, but it’s a stupid one because who’s going to read it and think, “Oh, I bet that means the baby was left by Abby’s aunt that we have never heard about.”
  • I don’t know why Abby didn’t think to say…ask her mother if it was her receipt.
  • Mrs. Stevenson’s first name is Rachel, and her maiden name was Goldberg.  In case it ever comes up in BSC trivia or something.
  • Abby calls Kristy when she finds the baby, because she doesn’t know what to do.  Kristy comes over with her grandmother, and then calls that cop they are always working with.  I don’t know she couldn’t just call the main number at the station.  When they are looking for clues about who’s robbing banks or whatever, it makes sense that they need to talk to him because most cops won’t talk to kids.  But when it’s an actual emergency anyone would listen.
  • At a sleepover, the girls are all into watching Eli, and Abby says it’s like the movie “Three Men and a Baby” because they all fought over who got to take care of the baby.  Which doesn’t totally sound like the plot of that movie (at least the majority of it), but whatever.  I remember in that movie the baby was left on the doorstop of where the father lived, so maybe this was supposed to be foreshadowing that Eli was left on their doorstep because they were family.  Cause the girls all think the person just picked the Stevensons at random, because it’s a nice house.
  • Eli’s real name is Daniel.  I like Eli better.
  • So, Charlotte, Becca, and the Arnold twins are talking about how they are worried about boring people with their writing, so Claudia and Stacey talk them into writing and performing a play.  Because Carolyn’s a science nut, she wants to write about photosynthesis, and that’s what they make the play about.  Good thing they won’t bore anyone.
  • The girls are looking at pictures from Abby and Anna’s Bat Mitzvah, and Mary Anne asks if all their relatives were there.  Abby says, “All the one’s were speaking to.”  Which comes off like a joke, but I guess is a  hint they have a relative their not speaking to.
  • Also, when talking about families, Kristy mentions her Aunt Colleen, who was mentioned way back in book 6
  • Abby totally gets away with going to NYC alone because her mother felt guilty about lying.
  • Other stories read at the BSC poetry slam thingy a rap about boogers and puke (the Pike triplets) and a bunch of stories about mystery babies appearing (the kids in Abby’s neighborhood who are obviously influenced by actual happenings).  Oh, and Vanessa gives a bunch of background on poetry.
  • Since Eli/Daniel is moving to Florida, Abby thinks that she should figure out a BSC trip there.  I guess no one told her it already happened.


Moxie said...

Claudia and Stacey's outfits sound like something I'd wear. Well, without the vest and with normal jeans.

And who the Hell leaves their baby on someone's porch in FEBRUARY in CONNECTICUT?! That's just asking for a babysicle. Which I think would make a much better story. But I only like babies if they're corpses.

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SJSiff said...

Holy cow, I just read this book and missed that the aunt had rented a car and was driving! I thought she was in a taxi (although why a taxi driver would be okay with leaving a baby on a porch I have no idea). But her mind was so muddled AND she was behind the wheel? There's just no way for this make sense...maybe if she'd taken a bus, then no one would have seen her drop off the baby? But then she'd need the presence of mind to figure out the routes, walk to Abby's house, etc...

Anonymous said...

This book always felt weird to me. I never understood why she coudnt just have called them at some point to maybe mention that her baby is on their doorstep!! And I always hate loved the mysteries I wished to be like them but then cringe when they would go run off with that one cop.

Anonymous said...

Would it really have been so hard for Miriam to call at some point and be all "Hey, I have a baby and the father left me and I'm really messed up and can't take care of the baby right now. I know we haven't talked in forever and it would be a big imposition, but would you mind taking care of little Daniel for a while?"

OR why Mrs. Stevenson didn't just tell Abby what was really going on when she read the note. Maybe I missed something, but I don't get why she had to be so secretive about taking care of her nephew