So. Ducky. I was looking forward to this because all I really know about Ducky is references in the few BSC Fan Fiction stories I’ve read. But he seemed to get more coverage then Amalia and Maggie and always seemed pretty interesting. Plus, I really wanted to know why a 16-year-old guy would befriend all these 8th grade girls. It turns out that Ducky has been drifting apart from his two childhood best friends. One of them, Jay, has become “cool” and hangs out with guys that Ducky thinks of as “Cro Magnons.” Those guys aren’t exactly nice to Ducky. His other former BFF Alex, has just kind of withdrawn completely. When Ducky met Dawn and Co, he thought they were cool and got along with them better than he had been getting along with the guys. The friendships naturally developed from there.
There’s still some drama with these other two former friends. Jay makes fun of him on Valentine’s Day, because Ducky brings a bunch of flowers into school to give to people. But later, when Jay’s girlfriend likes the flower (that she only got because Ducky had given it to him), Jay’s nice to him and tells Ducky they should get dinner the next night. Ducky is excited because he thinks this means he and Jay may get back to being good friends. But when Ducky shows up, it turns out it’s a surprise blind date, which he’s not happy about. So, he and Jay argue and there’s a bunch of back and forth.
Meanwhile his friend Alex is showing signs of depression. Ducky tries to help by setting him up with Sunny (who also has issues), but it doesn’t work out. And while Sunny was pleased that Ducky was trying to help, Alex is pissed off about it. You would think Ducky would have thought of that since he was pissed about Jay trying to set him up. But whatever. Anyway, Jay’s throwing a party and convinces Ducky and Alex to come. There are a ton of guys there (it’s an all guys party) and a lot of drinking. Alex gets drunk and ends up passing out in the shower. Ducky sees him and gets Jay to help break the door down. He takes Alex back to his house, where Alex makes him promise “not to tell.” Ducky agrees even though he doesn’t get what he’s promising at first. However, he then realizes Alex may have been trying to kill himself. So, he calls Alex’s therapist to tell him. Then Alex hears the phone call and gets mad at Ducky. Which is basically where we end so nothing’s resolved with that. It would have been ridiculous if they had resolved it, since depression/suicide isn’t easy to settle, but it’s kind of an annoying end.
We also see a bit of Ducky’s home life. His parents are in Ghana for a long-term trip and he lives with his 20-year-old brother, who doesn’t seem to pay much attention to Ducky. So, their house is a mess and they don’t eat well, etc. This is something that probably sounds decent to most teenagers at first, but I think Ducky is kind of over it and wants normalcy. At one point (when things are good with Jay) Jay and a couple of his friends come by to help him clean up. Jay says he has been trying to make his new friends see that Ducky and Alex are “cool” because he misses hanging out with him. Ducky’s sort of starting to see that some of the “Cro Mags” aren’t so bad, but then at the party he changes his mind when they all see what happened with Alex as cool.
- So, Jay’s actually Jason, but he decided recently to go by Jay. And Ducky has a hard time adjusting to that. I get that, I have a friend who decided she didn’t want to go by the nickname everyone called her as a kid and it always feels so weird to say.
- On Valentine’s Day, Ducky shows up at school wearing a plastic halo, carrying a plastic bow and arrow, and pretending to be cupid. Then he gives everyone, including his teachers (both male and female) flowers. He thinks this is “doing Valentine’s Day right” and is better than past years when he had blind dates or gave cards to every girl in his class (causing them all to get mad at him). I like that he does his own thing, but he can’t really be surprised he gets made fun of with a stunt like that.
- They don’t say WHY Ducky’s parents are in Ghana for so long. I think that’s the problem with the diary format of these books. Of course the guy isn’t going to write in his journal about why his parents are in Ghana, because in theory he probably wrote about the trip back when they first left. Although, I think every book has made a point of explaining that students at their school are required to keep journals and that no one is allowed to read them. So maybe that’s a bad explanation.
- The characters also all call the books journals, even though the series is called “California Diaries.” I guess that sounds better than “California Journals,” but they should have at least one character call it a diary.
- Every book also has the characters writing in their journals when they are supposed to be paying attention in class. You’d think they’d rethink this journal idea because of that.
- Ducky notes that he refers to himself as “you” in his journal. Like….“after dinner you drive so-and-so home.” Which is an interesting style choice, and he wonders what it says about him. I think he’s detaching himself from his actions. But I’m no shrink or anything.
- Jay runs into Ducky when he’s out to dinner with Dawn and Sunny. And apparently he and Dawn are pretty friendly (to Ducky’s surprise/horror), but then they start talking about vegetarianism, and you know how charming Dawn can be about that.
- Oh, and Ducky says that Dawn is trying to be nice because she doesn’t want to make a scene. Um….since when?
- There’s this awkward moment when Alex and Sunny meet where they are talking about cancer. Alex says his uncle died of it, and Sunny’s all, “oh, the doctors say there have been lots of advancements.” And Alex says how his uncle just died last year and doesn’t think much could have changed since then. Way to make her feel better.
- There’s a scene where Ducky drives Sunny to the hospital to see her mom. Then he drives her home, and her mom’s there too. So, I don’t get why Sunny went to the hospital? If she just went for an appointment or her support group, why would Sunny visit there?
- Ducky finally tells Sunny about the drama with his friends and she’s all, “why didn’t you tell me sooner?” That makes me wonder what Sunny and Dawn thought about Ducky’s other friends. They must know he knew other kids before they met him.
- What I don’t get…..if Ducky’s kind of anti-social and hates the cool crowd, what was he even doing at that party he met Dawn at? Wasn’t that cool kids playing a prank on the 8th graders? It doesn’t seem like his scene.
- Ducky makes his Ws without a line. So, they look like this: \ V - It is really annoying. And there are more Ws used that you would think.
- When they go to Jay’s party, Alex asks Ducky if he brought anything. Ducky asks, “why, is it his birthday?” And it turns out Alex was just joking, but you would think Ducky knows when Jay’s birthday was. I know they’ve drifted apart, but I still remember my childhood best friend’s birthday and I haven’t seen her in 15 years.
- Is it weird that I relate to Ducky more than any of the female characters in this series? I just think the issue of drifting apart from childhood friends resonates with me more than the super dramatic stuff happening with the girls.