Sunday, January 4, 2015

“I forgot who I was on that Friday outside the cineplex”…..California Diaries # 14: Amalia Diary Three

It’s approaching the end of the school year and Amalia’s feeling a bit pressured.  She’s trying to study for finals, thinking about a summer job, and is working with her sister to plan a surprise anniversary party for their parents.   She also has the painful job of being Maggie’s friend, and having to listen to her complain about her poor little rich girl life.  Maggie spends a lot of time at Amalia’s house to get away from her fighting parents, and it starts to get on Amalia’s nerves.

Amalia’s out on a date with this guy Brandan, whom she met in her last book.  After the movie they are waiting outside for Amalia’s sister to pick them up.  The sister’s late, and the theater’s locking up for the night, when Brandan runs back in to use the bathroom.  The usher offers to let Amalia wait inside, but she says she’ll wait out front.  It’s late so not many people are around when a group of teenage girls walk up and start making racist comments to Amalia for being Latina.  They start pushing her around and one girl actually spits in her face before the usher comes outside and breaks things up.  Then Brandan comes back and her sister shows up and they hear what happens.  Everyone is appropriately concerned.

Anyway, Amalia deals with this for the rest of the book.  She doesn’t want to call the police even though others encourage her.  But she is pretty miserable for awhile.  Her sister tells her about a similar event that happened to her before they moved to Palo Alto and how she regrets not telling anyone about it at the time.  This helps Amalia see that she still has her dignity and that no one can take that from her. She even sees one of the girls who attacked her on the beach one day, and is fine with it and continues enjoying her day.

Amalia and Maggie also get into a fight because Maggie’s father offered both girls summer jobs working on some movie set and Maggie thinks this is just awful of him.  Amalia’s all “WTF, I’d take that job” and it leads to a bigger fight.  But they make up at the end.  However, Amalia acknowledges that they still have some differences that they don’t understand about each other.  Mainly that Maggie thinks her rich white girl problems are worse than any stress Amalia will ever deal with.

At the end, Amalia does well enough on her finals, cements her relationship with Brandan, and has a great time at her parents’ anniversary party.

  • Amalia has the worst luck.  First she dates an abusive guy then she gets beat up and spit on by a bunch of racist girls?  I think she ranks right below Sunny in terms of problems the people in this series deal with.
  • Brandan’s going to camp for most of the summer, in Massachusetts.  He grew up in NJ and has gone to the camp every year and is going to be a CIT.  For some reason I was hoping they would reveal the name of the camp was Camp Mohawk (even though I can’t remember what state that was in).
  • I forgot that Amalia’s diaries have all these annoying cartoon-y drawing to illustrate things that are happening instead of just writing everything.  They are more annoying than Maggie’s “poetry” because with those poems, you can skip them and still get the story.  But Amalia’s cartoons explain key events.  And she kind of sucks as an artist.
  • I mentioned this in the book where he was introduced, but Brandan’s from Short Hills, NJ, which is like two towns over from where I grew up.  That makes me smile for some reason. 
  • It’s a plot device to make Maggie and Amalia fight, but I kind of can’t believe that a movie producer would just hire 13-year-old girls to work on set.  There are strict laws about child actors, so why would they want to hire more kids? Especially when they can use college students as “interns” to get totally free labor.
  • So right after the incident with the racist girls Amalia’s annoyed with Brandan for taking so long inside and leaving her alone.  But afterwards she’s surprised to hear Brandan has been blaming himself for what happened.  I guess the initial reaction was just her first irrational thought and later she’s seeing it more objectively?
  • The story Amalia’s sister tells about what happened to her isn’t nearly as bad as what happened to Amalia.  It was really just that the sister’s ex-boyfriend was joking around with some other girls about how he was on “vacation from white girls” until she moved.  Which is a really crappy thing to say, but it’s not physical or anything.
  • I can’t believe Maggie has the nerve to tell a girl who got hit by random girls on the street she doesn’t have problems as bad as an eating disorder and a dysfunctional family.  I wouldn’t even call Maggie’s family that dysfunctional.
  • Maggie insists that her limo driver always pick her up around the corner from school so she doesn’t have to get seen being rich.  As though everyone in that school doesn’t already know who her dad is.
  • There’s also a subplot about how Sunny and Ducky are planning a going away party for Dawn (who’s going back to Stoneybrook for the summer).  But their surprise plans keep getting leaked to Dawn before they can carry them out.  In the end they just kidnap her and take her to the beach.
  • At the beginning of the book they are talking about the party as a going away thing, but at the end Amalia starts talking about Dawn’s birthday present.  So, that’s a weird continuity mistake I think.  Like they forgot what they were doing by the end of the book (or like two different people wrote it).
  • Amalia’s annoyed because her English teacher tells her that their final exam’s going to be essay questions selected at random from everything they did that year.  And Amalia doesn’t like that it means she has to know everything.  I guess I’m old, because I just thought that was the whole point of a final.
  • I guess Maggie has been making progress with her therapist because after finals she thinks she aced all of them, rather than assuming she failed only to get a 98 like she used to do.  But I still wish there wasn’t so much Maggie in all of Amalia’s books.
  • Amalia’s nervous about failing her tests and having to repeat 8th grade. I guess she’s new to this never aging thing in the BSC-verse.


Allison said...

I really like Amalia. She and Ducky are probably my favorites.

Mouse said...

Dang it! I know my constant Maggie-hate gets old but she just makes it so easy. Even when someone else has a problem, she's gotta make it all about her.

elektra said...

I read this series as a school girl. Many of them, anyway. I have some and others I read through libraries. I didn't read as many California Diaries as Baby Sitter's Club (includes mysteries, specials and Friends Forever) and Little Sister. Never read The Kids in Ms. Coleman's Class, but I knew about the series.

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