I didn’t read this as a kid. I did read it a few years back, before I started this blog, but then I moved and lost access to the library that had BSC books. I finally re-found it on ebay a few weeks ago. However, I really don’t remember what I thought of it then…just that Stacey seemed a bit too happy about seeing her mom date a client’s father. My parents split up when I was about Stacey’s age, and while I was never upset about it and wanted them to both be happy, I didn’t really want to think about either of them dating.
The BSC has a new client, the Brookes. Stacey has the first job for them and thinks the kids (Joni and Ewan) are adorable. Her mom comes to pick her up at the end of the job, and meets the recently divorced father, John. They kind of hit it off, and end up going out.
Stacey's thrilled because she thinks the guy’s nice, cute, etc, and that her mom deserves to meet someone like that. The problem's that Joni (age 9) and Ewan (age 5) are younger and are not thrilled with the idea, especially Joni. They both want their mother to return - apparently she moved to Georgia to be a news anchor person because she thought her kids were holding her back career-wise. But the kids don't know that part, so they think Mrs. McGill’s trying to replace her or something.
Anyway, Joni acts like a bratty 9-year-old and tries to wreck the relationship. John's a writer who works from home, but uses a sitter so the kids don't bug him while he's writing. She plays loud music, hides her father's computer mouse, and locks him outside so he can't meet his deadline, hoping that will get him to cancel his date. It doesn't really work very well, and John just grounds her instead of talking to her about why she's upset (at least not that we see), and that makes her act out more. Eventually, Claudia sits for the kids and manages to get Joni feeling better about the whole thing. The Brookes spend Thanksgiving with Stacey and her mom, and it gets a bit rocky, but Stacey talks to Joni and makes her feel a little better about the whole situation. And then Mrs. McGill dumps the guy. Seriously.
Subplot: Mallory hates school because kids ages 11-13 are assholes. She wants to go to Stoneybrook Day, but it's too expensive, so she does some research and finds a boarding school where she thinks she can get a scholarship. We know how all this turns out.
- Stacey and her mom are having a book club and are reading Pride and Prejudice. They end up talking about women marrying rich guys, and Stacey’s amazed when her mom tells her that there are women who think like that today. Which….seriously? I'm glad the idea never occurred to Stacey, but I'm surprised that she was so surprised by it. Isn't she the sophisticated worldly one.
- When Stacey and her mom are talking about the book, they get into a discussion about the McGill's divorce. Mrs. McGill admits that she started to resent Mr. McGill's long hours after he quit being a public defender and became a corporate lawyer. The work “didn't seem as important.” And Stacey's all, "wasn't that judgmental of you?" which seems a bit harsh to me. She probably said it nicer than how I'm envisioning it though.
- Do people (who aren't on TV shows) easily switch from criminal to corporate law like that?
- Also, (and this is kind of a low blow), Mrs. McGill never seemed to have a problem spending the money her husband made at that “less important” job.
- Claudia outfit: “A pair of long shinny earrings dotted with small clay beads…a long beaded necklace…which had fallen beneath the bib of her tie-dyed overalls. (She’d dyed them herself)?” Well, of course she dyed them herself. Who the hell sells tie-dyed overalls?
- I’m trying to remember…have we ever seen Mrs. McGill, or any other BSC parent picking their daughter up after a sitting job? And actually coming to the house and ringing the doorbell? There have been some times where the parent of the kids drives them home because it’s nighttime, but I don’t remember the sitters’ parents picking them up. It’s probably realistic, but it just seemed a bit contrived.
- The Brookes want to watch a movie of Indian in the Cupboard, and Stacey tells us how it's a great book, but she hasn't seen the movie yet. This makes me feel old, because I read that book as a kid, and when the movie came out I couldn't remember the book because I'd read it so long ago. And that was apparently forever ago too.
- Just once, I'd like to see someone in the BSC reference a book that totally sucked. And to tell us that. Saying the Kishis don't like Nancy Drew doesn't count. Something like, "Vanessa was reading Twilight again. If you've never read it, you're lucky, it's really ridiculous and poorly written." I get that Ann M. Martin was trying to encourage reading, but it gets a little annoying. And I was a total book worm as a kid.
- Although, it would be funny if one of the books with a positive reference was another one by Ann M. Martin.
- At one of the first jobs, Stacey hears John using a typewriter, and is all shocked that he's using such an old fashioned device. She thought everyone used much more modern devices like electric typewriters and word processors. For the record, he uses the typewriter when fleshing out ideas, he does the actual writing part on a computer. Which seems weird to me, but whatever.
- Kristy gets upset that John calls for sitter outside of meeting hours. He calls at 5:27 and 6:10. Such a non-conformist. The reason he has to do this is because his lateness is one of the things Mrs. McGill gets annoyed at later on.
- Interestingly, when he calls at 6:10 everyone’is still there hanging out. Convenient for the story, since I don't think they ever talk about staying at the meeting past 6:00. Especially Kristy, who gets a ride.
- I appreciate the fact that they went to the trouble of setting up Mal's boarding school good-bye for a full three books. She was around before even Dawn showed up, so her character deserved that. I just feel bad that they had to make things so miserable for her. She always hated her looks and a lot of the boys in her school, but she seemed pretty happy generally.
- On Thanksgiving, Joni doesn't like the classical music that’s playing. Mrs. McGill asks what she likes, and Joni asks for Hansen. Wow, I'd forgotten about that band. Stacey doesn't have any, if you care. I guess she has some taste.
- So, here are some of Mrs. McGill's reasons for ending things with John: She reread some of his books and thinks she disagrees with some of his world views, he's too hard on his kids, he's always either late or early, and he didn’t offer to help with the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner. She also thinks he’s self-centered and is annoyed that the day before Thanksgiving (when she's cooking), he shows up with a draft of his manuscript and asks her to read it (she says she doesn't need another thing to do).
- I think it’s kind of weak that they had to paint Mrs. Brookes as a bad mother, who left her kids to further her career.
- Stacey tries to convince her mom not to break up with the guy right away (this is the day after Thanksgiving, but Mrs. McGill says she's supposed to go out with him the next day and can't do that knowing she's going to dump the guy. They get into a bit of a fight about it.
- After the break up, Stacey goes to visit the Brookes, because she had gotten them gifts when visiting her dad in the city. John’s all surprised to see her, but lets her in. The kids are upset because they feel like Mrs. McGill dumped him because they were acting up. Stacey convinces them this isn't the case and says she's still be there for him. She adds that they can be "honorary siblings." Which is nice, I guess, but it seems a bit disloyal to her "almost-sister" Charlotte Johanssen.
- So, do you think the Brookes kept the BSC as their sitter?
Final note: So, the only book from the original series I have left to recap is the final book in the series, The Fire at Mary Anne's house. That will be posted next. But I have decided to also write up the Friends Forever books, and even managed to order all of them from Amazon. So, expect to see that shortly.