Ducky’s parents come home from their trip to Ghana, which he has some mixed feelings about. He’s annoyed because them being home kind of puts a cramp in his and his brother’s style. He’s expected to be home for dinner and say where he’s going and keep the house in better shape. But, he also obviously cares about his parents and feels rejected that they keep abandoning him to go travel the world. Then his parents call a family meeting to tell Ducky and his brother they are going back to Ghana. And even though Ducky had been complaining about his parents this whole time, he’s pretty heartbroken that they’re leaving, especially since it’s right before Christmas.
Meanwhile, Ducky’s still really worried about his friendAlex. Alex is still withdrawn and is skipping school, not caring about anything, and drinking. Ducky keeps trying to help by making sure Alex gets out of the house and checking on him. But, Alex usually gets annoyed at Ducky constantly trying to help. It all comes to a head one night when Ducky stops by Alex’s house. At first he thinks no one’s home, but right before he leaves he hears a car running in the garage. He opens it (with a key hidden under a doormat) and finds Alex in the car trying to kill himself. He pulls him out and calls 911. They arrive the same time as Alex’s mother and they end up at the hospital. Alex is okay, but once everyone realizes just how bad his depression is, his mother decides to send Alex to a rehab facility in Chicago. Ducky gets to see Alex before he leaves, and Alex seems to acknowledge that he needs the help he’ll be getting, and is grateful for what Ducky did. It’s kind of sad though.
- Ducky refers to Dawn, Sunny, Maggie, and Amalia as being only 13, so I guess they are in fact in 8th grade again. Not really surprising.
- We get much less of Jay, Ducky’s other childhood friend, then we did in his last book. Ducky seems pretty done with him as a friend and doesn’t seem to care as much about that.
- Sunny’s advice to Ducky about Alex is to bring him to Venice Beach. It’s an interesting theory. She argues that sunlight helps depressed people.
- Ducky tells one of his teachers (the one who’s house everyone trashed in the first book) about how Alex hasn’t always cut class and gotten bad grades and all that. The teacher advises him to not give up on helping Alex. I know he was trying to help, but it seems like it would be better to go to Alex's mother than a teacher.
- Ducky’s parents offer to not go off to Ghana after what happens with Alex. Apparently they realize their kid’s dealing with some difficult issues and may actually need parents around. Ducky considers it, but then decides to tell them to go.
- Ducky’s parents come home on December 1, and don’t even bother waiting until after Christmas to leave their kids again. Granted one of them is over 18, but it’s still pretty cold. They’re just like, “Oh, your grandparents would love to have you over for Christmas.” They were just away since before the series started, which is more than a year even if he hasn’t moved up a grade in school.
- Ducky complains that his parents want to have family time and do things like take them to Disney Land and have family dinners. Then they ask to have a family meeting and I knew right away they were going to leave again. Ducky was shocked by it though.
- Ducky thinks he’s too old for Disney Land, but I’m way older than him and am sure I’d have fun there. Maybe I’m immature.
- I get that Alex has some serious issues, but it seems kind of odd to send your suicidal son halfway across the country for help. Do they really not have any facilities in LA to help with this sort of thing? Or do they only do drug rehab for actors?
- Alex’s mother talks about how they’ve all missed some major signs about how depressed he was. But the guy was in therapy. So, what the hell kind of doctor missed this? I mean, Ducky has been worried about him since before his last book, did the kid’s mother really not notice anything? Did the school not call his family about how much school Alex was missing? Maybe it was denial.
- After the suicide attempt, Ducky does a bunch of research on suicide and lists all the warning signs out in his diary as a little PSA for all the readers.
- Quick update on Dawn/Sunny drama. Sunny’s mom is still dying, Sunny’s still acting out in reaction to this, Dawn and Sunny are still not talking. I’m assuming this is because Dawn is still being her judgmental self, but we don’t get confirmation of this last one.
- Ducky is the only one of these California Diary characters I care about, other than Dawn/Sunny, who I think of as BSC characters. I know Maggie was in the BSC books, but I don’t really think she had real characterization until the Diaries series.