Dawn has been writing to Lewis Bruno (Logan's cousin) since the end of book #37. He's finally scheduled to come for a visit in mid-January, and Dawn is pretty nervous.
She made a New Year's resolution to "get a boyfriend," and she decides that Lewis would be the perfect test case. If Dawn can get him to like her, maybe she'll be able to find a local guy as well. Since Dawn has never been particularly popular with boys, she decides she needs a new image in order for that to change.
Mary Anne finds Dawn as she's thumbing through some fashion magazines that she borrowed from Stacey. Mary Anne is into the idea of doing a makeover, so she helps Dawn fix up her hair and makeup, and then takes a couple of pictures of the new Dawn. Next, Dawn revamps her wardrobe so it looks a little more cool. She cuts, sews tie-dyes, you name it. Finally, it's all about the attitude; she talks back to one of her teachers in class (igneous rock!!!) and even angers Queen Kristy by popping her bubble gum during a club meeting. The other BSC members aren't exactly thrilled with the new Dawn. They don't think her new look is right for her, but it's the changes in her personality that they dislike the most. Dawn figures that they're just jealous. After all, if it's okay for Claudia and Stacey to be cute and cool and have unique senses of style, why not her?
Finally, the big day arrives. Dawn and Mary Anne head to the airport with the Brunos to get Lewis, and Dawn is more nervous than ever. She's decked out in a brand-new outift from Zingy's, and even though she feels a little overdone (that should have been her first clue that this new image wasn't exactly working), Dawn is sure she's going to make a good first impression. Ummm....not exactly. When Dawn first sees Lewis, she's convinced she's in love. Lewis, however, isn't as taken with her. The car ride home is really awkward, and Mary Anne is not exactly thrilled with Dawn's sudden lack of conversational ability. She gives Dawn some ridiculous magazine article about you-directed conversation, telling Dawn to read and learn before the two of them go out with the Bruno boys the next night.
The date is a disaster, to say the least. Dawn is so worried about taking all the dating advice articles she's read to heart that she ends up looking and sounding like an idiot. Plus, she cries during the movie (Gone With the Wind), causing her massive amounts of eye makeup to run. Mary Anne doesn't make the night any easier; she keeps trying to "save" the date by pinching Dawn every time she does something that Mary Anne doesn't like, and trying to get the conversation going in more amusing directions. Dawn is pretty frustrated by her stepsister by the end of the night; not only does she blame Mary Anne for the date being a failure, but she's also frustrated with her for trying so hard to get her to change. Dawn is beginning to feel that nothing about her is okay as it is.
Dawn decides she needs to see Lewis again, without Mary Anne around. She calls him one afternoon and asks him to meet her at a nearby cafe,w hich he agrees to do (not very enthusiastically). When they get there, Dawn happens to get a look at herself in a mirror, and realizes how ridiculous she's been. She doesn't like the way she looks, she doesn't like the way she's been acting, and she's done. Dawn apologizes to Lewis for everything, and they agree to start over. Dawn runs home, showers, and puts on one of the few outfits she owns that she didn't cut to pieces, and throws together a bunch of health food. By the time Lewis arrives, she's ready. Since no boys are allowed in the house when her parents are gone, Dawn takes Lewis for a walk around the property, and shows him the barn. Once Richard gets home, Dawn takes Lewis inside and has him try the health food she made earlier. To his surprise, he likes it! They agree to get together for another date in couple of days.
Later that evening, Dawn has a talk with Mary Anne. She tells her how frustrated she's been that Mary Anne seemed so determined to change her, and Mary Anne apologizes. They hug, cry, and agree to make the date on Thursday another double. This one goes much better than the first: they go bowling (unathletic Mary Anne actually gets the highest score), have dinner at Cabbages and Kings, and then do a little window shopping. Mary Anne makes some excure for dragging Logan away so Dawn and Lewis can have some time alone, and (ta da!) Lewis kisses Dawn. This is when Dawn realizes that she doesn't want a local boyfriend; she just wants Lewis. Ah, young love!
Meanwhile, the club has been sitting for Sarah and Norman Hill. Norman is seven and considerably overweight, and his family isn't exactly doing a great job of dealing with the issue. They make him feel awful, like he's unlovable the way that he is. Once again, though, the BSC comes to the rescue by suggesting that Norman talk to his parents about how he's feeling. He decides to try losing weight by pretending he's Stacey, and will get really sick is he eats anything sweet.
Rating: 5 (this is my favorite book in the series!)
Thoughts and Things
- Oh, man...that creepy postcard Dawn sends to Lewis! If I were him, I probably would have cancelled my trip after reading it.
- As a kid, I totally tried cutting up my clothes after reading this book. Let's just say that the results were not attractive.
- I think I'm in the minority here, but I've always liked Norman Hill and this subplot. Even back in the day, when I'd sometimes skip reading all the sitting chapters, I never skipped these.
- Food alert: lots of good stuff at Mary Anne and Dawn's New Year's Eve party at the beginning of the book.
- The BSC definitely has a habit of freaking out whenever any of the members changes, or makes a new non-club friend, but I think they were justified in calling Dawn out this time. She really wasn't being herself. Still...I would think that Dawn would remember how she felt in this book when Mary Anne gets her own makeover later one, and maybe not be so awful to her.
- Lewis is supposed to be 5' 10". That seems awfully tall for a 14 year old boy (pretty sure he's 14 and not 13...).