Thursday, May 15, 2014

“So what if he thinks we’re boyfriend – girlfriend?”.......California Diaries # 4: Amelia

I knew very little about Amelia going into this because she didn’t appear in any of the original BSC books and hasn’t been too present in these diary books so far.  So, I was curious, and I ended up liking her.  This book is probably the darkest of the CD books though (so far anyway). 
It starts right before Christmas and Amalia is angsting over what to get this guy James as a gift.  She kind of thinks he’s her boyfriend but they haven’t actually talked about it.  He’s in the same band as Maggie and is 16.  The problem is James is kind of a jerk, which we see pretty early on when he freaks out about her talking to some other guy at a band rehearsal.  The guy is Justin, the guy Maggie is kind of into and the conversation was totally innocent, but James still is upset by it.  But then he apologizes, so Amalia ends up giving him cologne for Christmas.  He gives her an ankle bracelet with their names linked together.  Which seems like a pretty big signal to me, but Amalia decides she doesn’t want to wear the bracelet until she is clear on how James sees their relationship.  Then he gets mad because she’s not wearing the bracelet.  He comes off as very controlling, but Amalia is 13, so she doesn’t see that.  Anyway James and Amalia fight and make up a couple of times and eventually officially decide they are going out.

We also learn a bit about Amalia’s family.  She has a “perfect” sister Isabel.  She’s not a super genius like Janine, just kind of a goody-goody and spends all her free time volunteering at a shelter for abused women.  Amalia’s usually annoyed by Isabel’s perfectness, but she goes to help at the shelter once and bonds a little with a little boy.  Later she finds out that the mother of the little boy got attacked by her ex-husband.  This motivates Amalia to sign up full time at the shelter.   

Meanwhile, James is still an asshole, and gets all pissed off (again) when he sees Amalia talking to Justin and Ducky at a band rehearsal.  Justin pats her on the back because she’s upset about the whole thing with the women’s shelter.  But he and Amalia fight and he almost hits her.  Her friends don’t see the almost hit, but they see the argument and tell Amalia he’s a jerk.  She defends him at first, but eventually tells Maggie and her sister about the almost hitting thing.  Both of them are smart and tell her to end things.  But James also tells Amalia he can’t live without her so she hesitates to end things.  Eventually she does and James keeps calling her house in the middle of the night and spreading rumors about Amalia hooking up with other guys.

By the end James quits/is kicked out of the band because everyone is disturbed by his behavior.  Naturally, this makes him angrier about the whole thing.  Her next journal entry is a a few days later and it seems like things have quieted down with the harassment.  But then at the very end Amalia finds a creepy note in her locker from him.

  • At the beginning, Amalia says James must be her boyfriend because they have kissed 2, maybe 3 times. Shouldn't she know for sure whether it’s 2 or 3? Does she not remember or is she not sure if something was a kiss?
  • Do 16-year-olds wear cologne? Cause Amalia says she mainly picked that gift for James because the stuff he wears is awful.
  • Amalia’s apparently an artist, because her diary’s filled with sketches and comic strip type things.  I kind of like that they just throw us into the middle of her diary with pictures in it and let us assume that, instead of having to sit through a boring backstory where she tells us her talents and her family.
  • Amalia calls her diary “NBook.” It annoys me for some reason.
  • On Christmas, Amalia and her older sister both got up at 5:30 am and “manage” to wait until 5:57 to run downstairs.  They seem kind of old to be getting up that early for presents, but whatever.
  • Do they let 13-year-olds volunteer at women’s shelters? Cause they make volunteers sign confidentiality agreements, and a 13-year-old can’t legally sign contracts.  Probably because they don’t totally understand what they’re signing, evidenced by the fact that Amalia talks about people at the shelter to everyone in the universe.
  • I like that Amalia writes about how annoying it is to be forced to keep a journal. She says how people who’ve gone to Vista since elementary school are used to it, but she’s new and doesn’t like it.  She also doesn’t see the point since no one will ever collect it.   I see her point, but apparently everyone keeps writing in them so the school must be doing something right.
  • Amalia gets in trouble because James emotionally blackmails her into cutting class to go out to lunch with him.  But that means leaving campus which 8th graders can’t do, but 11th graders can.  Which makes me jealous.  When I was in high school they only let seniors leave.  But then they took it away the year I became a senior.  It felt like a huge deal at the time.  Anyway, Amalia gets off with a warning, which seems pretty lax, although if anything else happens she’ll be suspended.  Which seems harsh.  Do they not just have regular detention?
  • Amalia’s parents seem rather….unconcerned with the 16-year-old harassing their 13-year-old daughter, but that could just be because we’re hearing this only through Amalia’s journal.  I mean, the guy leaves two rag dolls on her yard with a knife in the male doll’s chest and an evil smile on the female doll.  Her mom wants to talk to James’s parents and her father wants to talk to James directly.  Amalia thinks these are horrible ideas, but I agree with her mom.  I guess I am getting old.  But, the point is they don’t seem to actually DO anything either way.
  • The woman from the shelter who was attached ends up having to send her son to live with someone (family?) where he can be safe, while she stays with friends elsewhere.  She has to testify against the ex-husband and is worried about what he may do, since he keeps ignoring the restraining order.  So, like I said, this is a kind of dark book.
  • Based on this book, it seems like Amalia has become really good friends with Maggie, and less close friends with Dawn and Sunny (who are both closer with Ducky).
  • I think what I like most about Amalia is that she doesn’t whine. Dawn whines about things changing, Sunny whines about her mom, and Maggie whines about being rich.  Amalia angsts a lot and doesn’t like her sister, but she doesn’t whine.


Anonymous said...

I hate that she calls it her NBook too!

Allison said...

What does NBook even mean? Anyway, Amalia is pretty cool.

BSC Snarker, aka Kristen said...

I think it's just an abbreviate for notebook. Because those three extra letters are just so hard to write.

Anonymous said...

lol, 13 year olds can not volunteer at a women's shelter- that's illegal. Where I live, you have to have some kind of qualification to volunteer there, plus a Working With Children's check and a Police Clearance!

Anonymous said...

You couldn't leave campus for lunch till grade 12??? At my school, we were allowed to leave starting in grade 7. In junior high, all the cool kids went to McDonald's or Safeway, and my friends and I just walked to each other's houses, and watched Red Green. (We were def not the cool kids.) By high school, I'm not sure how they even would have enforced a rule keeping us on campus. This was early to mid-2000s too, not some super-permissive old-timey era.

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