Sunday, March 2, 2014

“Why does everything have to change so fast?”…………California Diaries # 2: Sunny

Sunny always seemed like a fun character when she showed up in the BSC books.  But I guess we always saw her through Dawn’s eyes, or occasionally another BSCer.  Being in her head and reading her journal is entirely different, the girl is totally annoying.  I mean, it makes sense that she would change since she’s dealing with a lot.  But the whole book’s just a bunch of whining about how difficult her life is.  I was going to write it was XXX pages of whining, but because of this journal format these books don’t have page numbers on them and it messed up my plan.  
Sunny’s mom has lung cancer, which we already knew.  She’s in and out of the hospital throughout the book.  At one point she comes home, but her cancer support group comes to visit and annoys the crap out of Sunny. Her dad’s also dealing with a lot because (in addition to his wife being sick) he’s in the middle of renovating the book store he owns and I guess things aren’t going well.  Which sounds lame in comparison, but Sunny keeps talking about it so I had to mention it. In some ways he’s counting on Sunny to do stuff to help around the house but in other ways he’s ignoring her.  Both annoy her.
Anyway, Sunny feels like she can’t really confide in her friends about what she’s dealing with.  She doesn’t really say why.  One day she cuts school and heads to the beach because she thinks it’s the only thing that will calm her down.  She’s worried that at the local beach her friends’ father that works a concession stand will see her skipping school, so she takes the bus all the way to Venice Beach.  And, she meets a guy, Carson.  He’s a runaway from Ohio and is full of crap about how great it is to have nothing tying you down and to be able to roam the country and do whatever you want.  His favorite book’s On the Road, which tells you all you need to know.  Sunny’s totally into him though, so decides to go back to the beach and see him again.  They hang out a lot, but Sunny’s worried about how she’s telling him a lot about herself and he hasn’t really confided in her.  Also, he refuses to ever make actual plans with Sunny, because he doesn’t believe in schedules.  Yup, he’s THAT annoying.  She finally asks him about this and he tells her more about his crappy life back home.  She thinks this is some breakthrough moment, but it really isn’t.
At one point, Sunny comes back from seeing Carson and sees Dawn, who tells her that her mom went back to the hospital for tests.  Sunny and Dawn have this big fight about how Sunny’s been withdrawn.  Sunny decides to run away and goes back to Venice Beach to see Carson.  She says she wants to run away with him, and he’s all, “um, no.  I don’t want to have someone tying me down.”  Then he finds out she’s only 13 (he seems to be 17-18), and is appropriately freaked out about that.  He asks what’s wrong at home and she tells him.  Then he tells her that her life’s not that bad and she’s lucky to have two parents that love her (even if one’s sick) and to have friends that care about her.  Kind of harsh but true. 
Carson takes off and leaves Sunny on the boardwalk at night.  Classy.  She misses the last bus home and starts to get scared, because apparently the beach isn’t so fun at night.  She uses her only quarter to call home, but gets the machine.  She’s freaking out because she thinks she’s being followed, but then runs into Ducky who’s there looking for her.  Apparently, Sunny’s parents saw her note about running away, got worried, and called all her friends.  She’d mentioned the beach to Ducky previously and he took a chance looking for her.  Ducky drives her home. Sunny goes to Dawn’s first, who calls Mr. and Mrs. Winslow. Dawn’s mad, but lets Sunny spend the night and the two of them talk about what’s been going on.  The next day Sunny talks to her parents about how upset she’s been.  Nothing’s resolved, which marks the difference between these books and the original BSC series.

  • Sunny writes in her journal how she can’t sleep and has been lying awake a long time and even listened to all her CDs trying to sleep. But she writes this at 1:06 am.  How many CDs could she have, I would think it would take more than 3 hours to listen to them all (assuming she went to bed at 10:00, which actually seems early for a 13-year-old).  Maybe she meant over the past few nights?
  • Sunny gets in trouble in math class, because she wasn’t paying attention, and when the teacher asked her to define a tangent she says you can see a lot of them on the beach….tan gents (as in gentlemen), get it?  It’s a really lame joke.  It sounds like something Joey from Full House would have said.
  • Sunny also gets asked about the Electoral College (in a different class) and says it’s a good place to learn.  But that was unintentionally funny.
  • Sunny says 90% of the guys at school wear T-shirts with flannel over them to school.  That’s the first time I’ve ever heard clothing described in a BSC book that matched what I saw in school at the time.
  • Ducky, however, wears a bowling shirt, cool sneakers, and green “overdyed” jeans, which Sunny thinks is much cooler.  I disagree.   But I do admire someone with the guts to go against the trend.
  • One thing I do like is that when Sunny sees Ducky, she mentions how she really doesn’t know him and he doesn’t know her.  They are becoming friends, but they’re not acting like they are already BFFs.
  • That Amalia girl from the last book isn’t mentioned at all, but she gets her own book soon, so I guess she’ll be back.  I already am more interested in her than Maggie, who seems a bit cliché with her whole, “it’s such a burden that my dad’s rich and works with famous celebrities” thing.  Maybe it will be better when I’m reading her POV.
  • Sunny writes in all capital letters.   It’s annoying.  But what’s funny is the back of the book has a quote from the journal and that’s written with proper upper/lowercase letters.  It’s still in Sunny’s “handwriting” though.  I guess someone didn’t communicate with the cover designer.
  • I would think it’s more annoying to write in all capital letters than read them.  It’s just so unnatural.
  • Sunny says Venice Beach is peaceful.  I have to say, I have been there and peaceful isn’t how I’d describe it.  It’s more…overcrowded and noisy.  But that was 2012, so maybe it was calmer whenever this book was written.
  • Sunny gets upset because her mom keeps giving her things like a music box that’s a family heirloom and old jewelry.  She thinks it’s a sign that her mom is settling her affairs because she thinks she’s dying.  She tells her mom (kinda rudely) that she doesn’t want them.  She also mentions how ugly/unfashionable the jewelry is.  Then later Dawn shows up wearing a pair of earrings from this collection, because Mrs. Winslow gave them to her.  Dawn would wear the ugly earrings.  Maybe it’s Connecticut that makes people bad with fashion? No offense to Connecticut.
  • Ducky manages to find Sunny because she had mentioned being at the beach and watching weightlifters.  So, he guesses she meant Venice Beach.  That seems like a bit of a stretch.  Los Angeles is a really big place and there are a lot of beaches.  Even Venice Beach itself is pretty big.  The chances of him finding her seem pretty low.
  • Sunny has to help out at her dad’s bookstore.  She points out in her journal that she’s not legally allowed to work.  So someone in the BSC world’s aware of child labor laws.  Good to know.
  • At one point, Dawn’s dad and Carol come by to have lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Winslow.  Later, Dawn calls Sunny and says how she had wanted to come, but “mom and dad” told her Sunny wasn’t home then either.  Since when does Dawn call Carol “mom?”  Like two seconds later Sunny refers to Dawn’s step-grandparents.  And two pages before that Sunny mentioned “Mr. Schafer and Carol.”  So it’s not like the ghostwriter doesn’t know the backstory.
  • I always thought it was weird how here and in the BSC books the girls referred to the other girls’ parents as Mr. and Mrs., except for in the cases where it was a step parent (Watson and Carol).  Do they have less respect for the step parent? Do they think the reader would get confused if Kristy/Dawn used a first name and the others used a last name?  Cause I think most girls who read these books were smart enough to figure something like that out.
  • So, Sunny gets sent to the principal’s office for not paying attention in class and when Dawn’s all judgy and asking why, Sunny jokes, “you didn’t hear about me and Mr. Dean? It’s serious.”  Which I thought was actually a funny response (and so did Ducky), but Dawn didn’t.  (Note: It’s funny because it’s obviously not true.  It wouldn’t really be funny if a 13-year-old was actually sleeping with her principal).
  • Dawn gets mad at Sunny because she says she covered for her with her parents (about skipping school). She says how Sunny made her a liar.  Which is exactly what Jill said in the first book that they all thought was annoying.
  • Then Sunny tells Dawn she wasn’t a liar because she never said she wasn’t at the beach.  Ah.  13-year-old logic.
  • Speaking of the principal, he basically lets Sunny do whatever she wants because her mom’s sick.  So, do most of the other teachers. She even forges a note about missing school, and they all know she forged it and don’t call her on it.
  • The teachers know she forged the note because she signed it “Dr. Merwin, MD.”  And I guess doctors don’t usually do Dr. and MD in a note. 
  • They did something similar with teachers cutting a student slack in the book where Stacey’s parents got divorced……the teachers let her show up late to every class.  I don’t buy it.  I guess a dying parent’s more serious than a divorce, but it still seems a bit unrealistic that she could get away with missing multiple days of school and never paying attention in class.  There’s the one teacher who sends Sunny to the principal’s office, but everyone else is all, “we’re here if you need someone to talk to.” 
  • I don’t really get why Dawn seems annoyed with Sunny.  The girl’s mom is sick.  She’s dealing with a lot and being a little annoying.  But Dawn’s supposed to be her best friend, she should be a little more understanding.  To me, Sunny’s a fictional character so I don’t have to be understanding.  But Dawn should be.