This is the last BSC book ever….that seems so weird to say. It is not my last entry, because I’m going to be reviewing the California Diaries series next. It felt unfinished to not try them.
Anyway, it’s the end of the school year and this time, the girls are actually graduating 8th grade and moving on to high school. They all feel a little differently about this, but each has their own emotional angst to deal with. Mary Anne seems excited about graduation, but feels like she still has unfinished business with Logan. It’s kind of annoying that almost all of Mary Anne’s books in the Friends Forever series have had her angsting about Logan. Get the hell over it already. Be the independent person you claim you want to be. At the end she and Logan talk and decide they don’t like avoiding each other all the time and I guess they’re going to try being friendly-ish. We don’t actually see this conversation, so it’s kind of hard to tell for sure.
Meanwhile, Claudia’s angsting about whether she’ll pass her finals. Ultimately, she passes everything except Science. She’s still allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony, but will get a blank diploma and have to go to summer school. Stacey’s angsting about her parents both being at the graduation ceremony and thinks they’ll fight, or that things will be awkward with her mom and Samantha. But they all manage to be adults about the whole thing. Kristy’s nervous/scared about change in general, but is mostly just angsting about whether the BSC will stay intact and how much it will impact her life if doesn’t. We don’t get much closure on this, but it’s clear that all the other girls don’t feel as strongly as Kristy about wanting to keep the club going. Realistic, but sad. I don’t like change either, Kristy.
We also get a whole subplot surrounding the kids in the neighborhood. While I’ve enjoyed the way the Friends Forever books spent more time on the teenage storylines, I did kind of miss hearing about the kids in town. I think it’s fitting that they get something to do in the last book. They’re putting together a time capsule they say is about the neighborhood, but is mostly about the BSC. The plan’s to open it in 7 years, because that’s when their oldest clients (the triplets) will be graduating high school. Super weird to think about that.
We get to read letters that Jessi, Mal, Abby, and Dawn wrote with the items they put in the time capsule, where they talk about what Stoneybrook means to them. It’s nice that they get to have at least a small voice in the last book. Jessi put in a newspaper article about racial intolerance a few towns over, Mal puts in a pamphlet for the Stoneybrook Chamber of Commerce, Abby puts in pictures of the BSC, and Dawn puts in ads from the Stoneybrook town paper (to show how airline (and other) prices changed). Those are all pretty fitting. We also get to read letters the current BSC members wrote with their submissions. Mary Anne puts in a piece of burnt wood from the fire, Stacey puts in the flier for the BSC talent show they did awhile back, Kristy puts in the original flier for the BSC, and Claudia puts in a flier about the upcoming celebration for Stoneybrook’s 250th anniversary.
We also get to read letters/submissions from a few kids…Jackie Rodowski puts in a softball and a note about how important Kristy is to him and the Krushers. Claire puts in her teddy bear, because she doesn’t understand what a time capsule is. Then the day after they bury it she freaks out and they have to dig it up to get it back to her (but they rebury the capsule right away). Charlotte Johansson puts in the Stoneybrook Elementary School newspaper, featuring an award-winning essay she wrote about Stacey (the most important person in her life).
Meanwhile, the girls are also writing letters to themselves, meant to be opened in 4 years. It’s this school tradition where they hand in these letters at 8th grade graduation and are have them mailed back to them at high school graduation. They are handed in sealed, so no one else will read them. This is really hard for everyone to do, but ultimately they all write nice letters summarizing the big things that have happened to them and predicting the future.
- In her journal, Kristy asks if it’s possible to just have a do-over and do 8th grade again. I think she’s already gotten a few of those.
- Okay, I may have a hard time being snarky about this book because I’m feeling sentimental right now.
- At the start of the book no one knows if Charlie’s going to college because he “dropped the ball” and didn’t send in applications early enough to go to any big school. He was waiting to hear from a smaller state school that had a later deadline (and ultimately gets in). He also plans to transfer to UCLA next semester/year. Now….this is a common plot on TV shows. But I don’t understand how any high school students could just forget about applying to schools. When I was a senior in high school, there were constant reminders about getting in applications, meetings with the guidance counselors about it, etc. The school also had meetings with parents. I don’t buy Watson and Kristy’s mom not checking in on Charlie about this.
- Early on, Mary Anne’s telling the Pike kids about the letters to themselves they’re writing, and they decide it would be cool to make a Pike time capsule. Then Mary Anne’s all, “hey, I have a great idea! Let’s do a Stoneybrook/BSC time capsule.” But she’s pretty much just stealing their idea. Then all the Pike’s participate in that, so I don’t know if they still did their own. But I’m kind of curious about it.
- They talk about the time capsule being about the neighborhood, but Kristy and Abby live way across town. They should have just called it a BSC time capsule.
- It’s really annoying that we don’t get to see Mary Anne actually talk to Logan.
- Apparently there are over 1,000 kids at Stoneybrook High School. That includes kids from multiple middle schools in Stoneybrook and from a couple other towns. Now that doesn’t seem like what we’ve heard in the past. They said in an early Kristy book that there was another middle school in town, but the kids from other towns is a surprise. Why is it called Stoneybrook HS then?
- Okay, what’s really weird is this book is that it takes place before graduation, when the last two Friends Forever books happened in the summer. It’s like they decided to end the series after they wrote those books and went back in time so it ended with graduation. The only part that makes it really noticeable is that Mary Anne’s already living in her new house and that Dawn and Jeff come home for the graduation. In her last book, Mary Anne moved into the house in the summer, and Dawn and Jeff came home with Sunny. Oh, and Claudia has to go to summer school but she wasn’t spending any time there in her last book.
- Claudia says that Kristy used to make her answer her phone “Baby-Sitters Club” during non-meeting times, but we saw Claud answer her phone a lot and she never gave the club greeting outside of meetings.
- You know when I finished middle school we weren’t allowed to wear caps and gowns. They made a big deal out of telling us we weren’t graduating anything, we were just being “promoted” to high school. That we’d only graduate when we finished high school.
- It’s interesting to hear that Claudia failed science. We’ve heard her have issues with math and with English, so it’s a nice change. I’m glad she’s so well-rounded.
- We get to read the letter Charlie wrote to himself 4 years ago. He talked a lot about wanting to be responsible and there for his family, the way his dad never was. I don’t think we ever got his perspective in a super special, I would have liked that.
- There’s this weird moment where Claudia gets a wrong number for “Elios.” I thought it was going to end up meaning something, but it was never mentioned again. I guess it was a way to work in the line about not answering the phone with the club greeting, to show Claud’s not as into the club? Maybe I am reading too much into it because I’m thinking of Alias, where the wrong number was a code that it was time to have covert meetings. Because why else would you bother showing a wrong number?
- Jessi’s going on a world tour with a dance company, she and a few others at her school were selected. I’m kind of surprised her parents would let her do that, but good for her.
- Stacey has this stupid subplot about how she may not be able to graduate because she has an overdue library book and can’t find it. She doesn’t even remember checking the book out, so thinks it must have been back in 7th grade. Now, my high school had a similar rule about library books and graduating, but I’m pretty sure they bugged people about them at the end of every school year, not just your graduation year. So you’d think Stacey would have been asked about it before now. But anyway, Stacey finally just buys a new copy of the book (Risby) and gives that to the librarian.
- For a Science paper, Claudia does an experiment about whether plants grow better if they listen to different types of music. Now, Charlotte did this same experiment for the science fair way back in an early book (and won I think). Claudia gets a D+ on the paper though. It doesn’t really surprise me, she’s apparently working on a 4th grade level.
- When talking about how fast the kids are growing up, someone says “can you believe Charlotte will be in 4th grade next year?” Which I can’t. Because Charlotte has been in 4th grade for about 200 books now, ever since she skipped a grade. So, I can’t imagine she suddenly got stupid and would need to repeat a grade while everyone else (even Claud) moves up.
- Regarding the time capsule, apparently the Pike triplets will be responsible for digging it up in seven years. Some of the BSC girls say they don’t know if they’ll be there. Which I guess makes sense, but I would think part of the fun is thinking of what it would be like to be there in the future.
- I can’t picture 17 year-old guys wanting to make that effort for some crap they buried as kids. Especially since it’s buried in Mary Anne’s yard. Are Richard and Sharon just going to let the kids show up and dig next to their garden?
- Mary Anne’s listing the people most important to her, and in this order we get “Dad, Dawn, Sharon, her grandparents, Jeff, Kristy.” I’m surprised Dawn gets second when she’s still in California and Sharon lives with her.
- Mary Anne may want to study psychology someday. Not what I expected from her, but I guess I can see it. She’ll need to learn not to cry at other people’s life stories if she wants to be a therapist though. I don’t think that would be helpful to the patients.
- Kristy says when some of the girls dropped out of the club she felt like her world was falling apart, but if I remember correctly, she was still okay with easing up on the whole thing.
- Mallory mentions that she only wants 2-3 kids when she grows up, but I know she said she wanted to have 8 like her mom at one point. Maybe she smartened up.
- We spent the whole Friends Forever series seeing Claudia bond with Erica Blumberg, but she doesn’t get a single mention in this book. Even when Claudia’s talking about her friends and the most important people in her life.
- They do some of the letters in this book in the girls’ handwriting and some as typed (but typed on a computer and a different font then the rest of the text). So, there were like 5 full pages in Claudia’s handwriting, which I always thought was the hardest to read.
- Now the very first page of the book was a journal entry of Kristy’s. But this one wasn’t in her handwriting and it wasn’t in the font used in other chapters for emails/typed letters. So, for that one page I thought this book was going to be like the first Friends Forever book that was told entirely through journal entries. But luckily it was just that one page.
- The book ends with the girls (all 8 of them) having a graduation party in Claudia’s room. It seems like a lame place for a graduation party (do something special!), but they were clearly going for the nostalgia of being in BSC headquarters. They talking about whether they’ll be friends as adults and how friendships may be different when they’re older and it’s actually kind of sad. I’m a sap, I can’t help it. But they think they’ll still be a part of each other’s life, even if they don’t see each other very often.
- Oh they also promise to have a reunion in 12 years, no matter what they are all doing, and even sign a pact about the whole thing.
- There are a bunch of random BSC factoids at the end of the book. For instance: there are 213 BSC books that have a total of 31,570 pages. It says assuming you read one page a minute it would take 21.9 days of continuous reading to read them all. That doesn’t sound like so much when you say it like that. I mean, that's condensing a huge part of my childhood into 2 weeks.
- There 176,539,000 BSC books in print (as of this book’s release in 2000). That includes Little Sister books. If you lined them up vertically they would cover 21,000 miles. Now that DOES sound like a lot.
- The book is dedicated to all past, present, and future readings of the BSC. I guess that means us.
Your comment about Claudia being well-rounded made me laugh way too much. :)
I think Claudia has always been open to new friends and new hobbies going by the books. I didn't read the friends forever books but reading summaries seems like her and Erica did have a nice friendship.
Regarding Mary Anne's most important people, I'm surprised Jeff made it into list before Kristy. Did she feel obligated to include him because he's family, I mean she rarely sees him and they never seemed close.
I think it'd be kinda cool if AMM released a reunion book where the girls are 25.
I think the reason I stopped reading the BSC after about fifty books if that I would have loved to see them evolve, go to high school, deal with the consequences on the club and on their friendship. I know those books were aiming at younger kids, but the audience could have grown with them. Besides, a lot of stuff that happened in the later books would have made a bit more sense if they were freshmen and not still in middle school.
Thank you for all of your recaps. I need to see if I can get my own copy of this one. I think you will find there is much to snark about in the California Diaries series.
In relation to your comment about FF book 12 being in summer and this book being set before summer, maybe an extra BSC-land year passed in between those last books. AMM just wanted to squeeze in one more year of 8th grade for the BSC (and one more year of Charlotte being in 4th grade).
Unsure if you saw this but Buzzfeed has an article ranking the BSC cover outfits.
I love this blog so I don't want it to end! Would you consider doing an entry for the movie (there are some Oscar worthy performances there) or maybe some of the Disney Channel episodes from the late 80s/early 90s? I think there are some on YouTube. Also I know I had an actual book based on the movie that was the same length as the rest of the books. I don't think you've done an entry on it. Just a few ideas to keep things chilly:)
If you would recap the movie that would be epic. Anyone know what ever happened to Dolly?
Technically it's not the last BSC book; the prequel was written in 2010. And it's all about Stacey's first move to Stoneybrook, Claudia feeling much too cool for Kristy and Mary Anne, who have just given up playing with dolls in favor of angsting over the father she doesn't have (Kristy) and the mother she doesn't have (Mary Anne, who also angsts over how her father is there for her too much in making up for the mom's absence). Oh, and the BSC starts and Watson gets picked on a lot by Kristy (which, as someone whose mom is dating a jerk, I can totally relate to).
I could (and still can) really relate to Kristy in this one. She's afraid to go forward, knows she can't go back, worries that the ground will drop out from under her if she stays where she is. This would all be better suited, I think, to graduating high school and not knowing if you can get a job or where you'll live if your parents are the types to kick you out as soon as you hit eighteen, but as someone who didn't have friends, much less a club, I guess I can't relate directly to the emotional drama of graduating from eighth grade. If it was all about going to a brand-new school, maybe I'd get it. I've moved 24 times in my short (22 year) life. And I've gone to about as many schools. Still, how weird is it that she never felt odd about suddenly being in the same school as Sam (because Charlie is graduating in this book, too, and this is hardly mentioned except that he's looking at colleges or something)?
I generally try to ignore the fact that with Stoneybrook's twenty Christmas (and other) holidays, the girls have been in grade 8 for about twenty years. So this made me laugh: In her journal, Kristy asks if it’s possible to just have a do-over and do 8th grade again. I think she’s already gotten a few of those.
And after reading this book, I tried to write a letter to myself in the same style the BSC girls did. A time-capsule letter of sorts, noting what sort of things were happening in my life at the time I wrote it and what I hoped for, stuff like that. It's still sealed up in an envelope, being crushed (if it hasn't been destroyed) at the back of the junk drawer in the kitchen.
The bit about Charlie not applying for college - totally lame. In the book "Mind Your Own Business, Kristy" he's freaking out about going to college and all the pamphlets and Kristy tries setting him up with his ex, who has her college applications all under control and hopes that Charlie will dump his new "girlfriend," who is a real cow.
The Mary Anne/Logan story got old fast. Yeah, it was kind of a plot twister that MA ended up with the first actual boyfriend, and I liked that there was some drama over his control-freak-ness and her inability to speak up and tell him when and where to stuff it when he was being a jerk. But really, once she dumped him, I'd say maybe write one book in which they become friends again and leave it at that. Move her on. You'd think the whole issue of there having been a fire that burns her whole house to the ground would take precedence over a lame ex-boyfriend.
Trying to figure out the time-warp/time-travel/character inconsistencies is a waste of time. You'll never wrap your head around it.
Mary Anne, a psychologist? Yeah, right. Not only would she snot all over her patients, but I think that was only added in slight reference to the time she, herself, saw a counselor. The books did tend to reference each other a lot (sometimes mistakenly).
I usually skip all the handwriting, if it's not real easy to read, like Mallory's or Stacey's. (Although, Stacey did have a tendency to write postcards and letters while on a train or in a van. Despite all the time incontinuity, the series did keep to a series of themes - Dawn tended to get lost with kids, Claudia tended to end up tutoring kids - ha!) But for this book, I tried. I think I still have a headache, and that was two years ago.
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