Sunday, November 23, 2014

“I guess I’ll just have to take things as they come”…..California Diaries # 12: Sunny Diary Three

This book’s kind of a downer, as I expected.  Sunny’s mom’s dying. We know this, because her cancer has been discussed in every single book in the diaries series, but now she’s days away from death.  Sunny, her dad, and her Aunt Morgan (her mom’s sister) are sitting in the house with her mom just waiting for the death to finally happen.  A bunch of people come by to say their good-byes and everyone keeps crying.  Sunny gets annoyed that people keep showing up when she just wants to be left alone with her grief.

It’s actually pretty well-written and I feel for Sunny.  I may have teared up at one point.  She writes a lot of details about how her mom’s doing and alternates between doing that and writing about how she must be a horrible person for not handling all this better.   She’s a mess, but I find her sympathetic.  There’s not a whole lot to snark about when the entire book’s a chronicle of someone’s death.

Anyway before she dies, Mrs. Winslow says her good-byes to Sunny and gives her the journals she kept for years as a teen/adult.  She tells Sunny and her dad to take care of each other, and tells Dawn and Sunny (who are now friends again) to take care of each other.  There’s lots of crying. Afterwards, Sunny really just wants to be left alone or with her friends.  She calls Dawn, Ducky, Maggie, and Amalia her “cocoon” because she thinks they’re protecting her.  A few days after the funeral Sunny, Mr. Winslow, Aunt Morgan, and Dawn go to the beach where the Winslows got married and spread Mrs. Winslow’s ashes.  Sunny starts going back to school and actually trying to catch up on the work she’s been blowing off for 12 books.  She still writes about how much she misses her mom though, cause that kind of angst doesn’t go away easily.

  • Since Sunny’s home during the day she watches some trashy talk show about people in a situation where a woman is married to her ex-husband’s brother.  Sounds like fun. I remember being home sick as a teenager and watching trashy talk shows. 
  • Sunny and Ducky do make up for their fight from the concertin the last book.  Sunny says she didn’t mean what she said and was just trying to convince Ducky to drive them home.  She apologizes and Ducky accepts, and then he shows up a lot to be there for Sunny.
  • I think there are a couple pages missing from the book I have.  It’s hard to tell because these books are annoying and don’t have page numbers, but there is a jump in the action. One page ends with Mr. Winslow asking Sunny to pick out flower arrangements for the funeral and the next one starts with Sunny in the middle of a conversation with Carol about how it’s okay if she wants to be alone sometimes. 
  • After Mrs. Winslow dies, Dawn, Ducky, Maggie, and Amalia are all at Sunny’s house.  Sunny wonders when the last time the five of them were together outside of school.  She thinks it was when they met Ducky at that party. But that means they’ve never all been together as a group outside of school? Some friendship. (Although, I’m pretty sure that isn’t really the case, because I think they were all together at some other party in an earlier book).
  • Sunny also refers to the night they met Ducky as being “months ago,” but since that was in the fall and we have gone through a summer, two Christmases and are now in March, it should be a year-and-a-half ago. 
  • Sunny worries that she’s missed so much school this year she’ll have to repeat 8th grade.  She hasn’t seemed worried the other 10 times she’s had to go through 8th grade, why does it matter now?
  • Dawn and Sunny remember a time when they were little and Mrs. Winslow took them downtown where they left pennies face-up for people to find and have good luck.  My first thought was that I would never even bother bending down to pick up a penny.  My second thought was that it seems nice, but also a little cliché to make Mrs. Winslow this wonderfully giving person.
  • We get a Jill mention.  She apparently saw Sunny at school and asked if she misses her mom.  Which… a really dumb question for someone who’s mom just died.  I thought these girls were too hard on Jill before, but maybe I was wrong.
  • Sunny reads her mother’s journals.  Some interesting facts about Mrs. Winslow:
    • She dressed up as a hippie for Halloween.  I’m pretty sure she was a hippie so this seems like a lame costume.  It’s like when I was a little kid and my father told me he was dressing up as “a dad” for Halloween.
    • She had some big fight with her parents about something in high school and Sunny’s not really sure what.
    • She was a cheerleader in high school and in the Young Republicans.  This surprises Sunny, but we later find out that was just to please her parents.
    • Her parents pretty much disowned her when she decided to go to UCLA instead of Townsend for college.  She didn’t talk to her sister for years either, but those two made up in time for Mrs. Winslow’s wedding.  She never made up with Sunny’s grandparents because they died in a car crash before Sunny was born.
  • I’m surprised Dawn went along when they spread the ashes. It seemed like it was a family only thing, and I would have felt weird intruding on something like that for one of my friends.  But Sunny does seem to want her around for comfort, so I guess it makes sense.
  • Sunny’s surprised to learn that her father proposed to her mother, she didn’t think they were that traditional.  But, someone has to propose. What did she think they just woke up one day and got married without thinking about it?
  • Sunny decides she will never go back and read the journal pages from this time period.  She was going to get a whole new book, but decided it would waste too much paper. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

“But it’s so uncomfortable being with her”……California Diaries # 11: Dawn Diary Three

Dawn’s kind of bored with how things are going in her life, and is missing being close with Sunny.  But she’s still pissed at Sunny for how she’s handling her mom’s cancer.  Because Dawn is super-judgmental and insensitive. Mrs. Winslow’s in and out of the hospital throughout the book and doing pretty badly.  Dawn keeps visiting her and is understandably upset at how she looks. 

There’s an upcoming concert for some band called Jax, and Dawn’s completely obsessed with the lead singer Pierre X.  She and Amalia try and get tickets, even though the concert’s going to be at 11:00 at night at some club and Dawn doesn’t know if she’ll be allowed to go.  However, they don’t get tickets because the group is the hot new thing and the concert sells out.  Dawn’s upset, but it turns out Ducky was able to get 4 tickets.  He wants to take Dawn, Amalia, and Sunny.  Dawn’s thrilled until she realizes she’ll be spending the evening with Sunny.  She tries to get Ducky to un-invite Sunny or find her another ride.  But Ducky just tells her to get over it and make up with Sunny already.  Thank you Ducky.

Dawn does try to talk to Sunny, but Sunny’s kind of a bitch about it and won’t talk to her.  We finds out that Mrs. Winslow has decided to stop getting chemo, since it’s not helping.  Dawn tries to talk to Sunny again after this, but Sunny says she doesn't want to talk about it.  Carol tells Dawn that Sunny’s handling her mom’s cancer in her own way and Dawn shouldn’t judge.  Carol also thinks that Sunny is pushing people away because she doesn't want to feel the pain of losing them the way she’s losing her mother.

Dawn needs to beg her dad and Carol to let her go to the concert.  They’re understandably nervous about Ducky driving them so late at night and worried there may be alcohol around at the concert.  But they agree to let her go.  Once they get to the concert, they run into a friend of Ducky’s brother who offers to get them drinks.  Sunny jumps at the chance for this, but the others just ask for sodas/seltzer.  The friend insists on getting Ducky a real drink though, and then later gets them several rounds of shots.  So, after the concert Ducky’s still a little drunk and also claims to be tired from dancing too much.  Dawn gets him to admit he isn’t up to driving, then she calls her dad to come pick them up.  However, Sunny refuses to be picked up and lectured at and decides to take the bus.  She wants Amalia and Ducky to go with her, but they don’t want to leave Dawn alone while she waits for Mr. Schafer.   In the end, Amalia goes with Sunny on the bus and Ducky goes home with Dawn.  Sunny’s super pissed at both of them.

Later, Mrs. Winslow comes home from the hospital for the last time.  They’re going to get around the clock nursing care to help make her feel comfortable at home.  So, it’s basically a matter of waiting for her to die.  Which sucks, obviously.  Dawn and the others decide to be there for Sunny despite her recent behavior, but can’t find her at school.  Later, Dawn sees Sunny in her yard.  They talk and pretty much make up.  The next book’s Sunny’s, so I assume this is when Mrs. Winslow will die.

  • In this book Sunny lives next door to Dawn, but I’m pretty sure in the past she lived several houses down the street. It seems to be for plot convenience, so they can have them interact more despite the fight.
  • I know people dislike Dawn, but I was really excited to get to a Dawn book.  Dawn and Sunny drama is way more interesting than any of the other characters.
  • When Dawn kisses Mrs. Winslow good-bye, she says a tiny part of her always wonders if she can catch cancer (even though she knows she can’t).  It sounds silly,  but I thought the same thing when I was seven and my friend’s brother had leukemia.  But, you know, seven is a lot younger than 13.
  • While Ducky’s visiting Dawn, Carol starts to breastfeed Gracie in front of them.  And Dawn says how Ducky didn’t bat an eye or even look.  I think this confirms some things that have been said about Ducky.
  • Carol’s telling Dawn how she shouldn’t judge Sunny because she isn’t in the same situation as her.  And Dawn’s says she’s in the same situation because she cares about Mrs. Winslow too. But Carol’s all, no.
  • The book starts on Groundhog Day, and Dawn wonders in her journal why seeing a shadow means a longer winter, since seeing a shadow means it’s sunny.  I’ve always wondered that myself.
  • Sunny makes fun of Dawn, because Mr. Schafer insisted on talking to Ducky about the concert and made Dawn call him when they get to the club and when they were leaving at the end of the night.  But this seems pretty reasonable for a parent of a 13-year-old.
  • Ducky’s angsting about whether tried to Alex kill himself because he wasn’t a good enough friend, and Dawn tells him he’s being self-centered.  Which is actually pretty decent advice and one of the better things Dawn does in the book. Alex clearly had much deeper issues.  It also makes Ducky laugh.
  • When Carol gives Dawn the advice about Sunny trying to push people away, Dawn says “she needs a shrink.” I can’t tell if she means that nicely or not, but I thought it was funny that Carol’s response was that Sunny probably should see a therapist.  Way to state the obvious.
  • Dawn mentions how if she was in Stoneybrook she’d be busier because she has more close friends.  But it was her choice to move, so she should stop bitching about that.
  • Dawn and Maggie go to some square to go shopping, and go to a tea shop to eat.  Dawn says you can get a lot of things other than tea there and she doesn’t just mean food.  My first reaction was that she meant some kind of drugs, because I can’t figure out what else that could mean.
  • Dawn also says she considers dying her hair black.  That seems out of character for her.
  • Maggie had never heard of the band before Dawn brought up the concert, so don’t feel bad that Ducky didn’t invite her to the concert (even though Ducky did feel bad).  He could only get four tickets though.  However, if Maggie’s so into music I think she would have heard of the new popular band everyone loved.  She might not like them, but she would have heard of them.  Even Jeff had heard of them and thought Dawn was lucky to be going.
  • This singer, Pierre X, plays a song about a guy who cheats on his girlfriend because he’s in love with two people.  And by the time he realizes he loves the first one more, she finds out about the cheating and ends it.  Dawn’s reaction to this is that she wouldn’t have broken up with him.  What happened to her independent feminist side?
  • Dawn tells her dad Ducky can’t drive them home because he’s so “tired.”  Mr. Schafer’s not an idiot though, he knows Ducky was drinking and lectures him on it.  He even brings a bucket in the car in case Ducky gets sick.
  • It’s really kind of uncool of Ducky to get trashed when he’s with three other people who can’t drive and are dependent on him to get back to town. 
  • Dawn has lots of really lame fantasies about this Pierre X dude.  They involve buying produce, drinking coffee, and “going steady.”
  • When Dawn finds out about Mrs. Winslow at the end, she says she never thought she would actually die, even after she stopped chemo.  Which, really? Talk about denial.