The Schafers and Spiers are busy getting ready for a week-long visit from Jeff. Things go pretty well at first; the family enjoys dinner at Casa Grande and a movie that, according to Dawn, was so bad it was good. Then, things start to fall apart; Richard is the only one at home with Jeff during the first part of the week, since Sharon has to work and the girls have to go to school, and he really wants to spend time with Jeff. The problem is that Jeff's idea of fun isn't exactly the same as Richard's, and Jeff ends up bored. In fact, he even pretends to be sick at one point so he won't have to be around Richard anymore. This offends Mary Anne, who gets all snippy about it, which in turns offends Dawn, who accuses Richard of ruining Jeff's vacation. By the time the family leaves on their weekend vacation, hardly any one in the family is speaking to each other.
When the Schafers and Spiers were still getting along, they voted to go to Boston (rather than Washington D.C. for their vacation. At the last minute, though, Jeff decides he'd prefer Washington. Since reservations had already been made for Boston, that's where the family goes. Jeff pouts the whole way there, and an increasingly bratty Mary Anne accuses him of screwing up her car game on purpose. When they get to the hotel, Mary Anne promptly moves from the room that the three kids are supposed to share into the room that Richard and Sharon got for themselves. Dawn and Jeff are totally fine with that. The family goes out to do some sightseeing (acompanied by more complaining by Jeff), and we get our own little tour of Boston.
The next day, the Schafers go whale watching, while the Spiers go to a couple of museums. Dawn notices that Richard seems sorry to have missed the whales, and that her mother wishes she could have seen the museums. Later that day, after Jeff throws a fit and won't go to the aquarium, Dawn and her mom have to miss out on it, too. All for one and one for all, I guess...
On the family's final day in Boston, Sharon and Richard lay down the law: no more fighting, but Jeff keeps on acting like the world's biggest brat. The morning after they get back, things really come to a head. They've hired a photographer to come take a family portrait, but the session doesn't exactly go well. Richard and Sharon can't agree about where to pose the family, and the kids are still fighting. When the photographer shows them some polaroids of them fighting, though, Dawn and Mary Anne realize how silly they were. The family apologizes just in time for Jeff's return flight. Oh, and they DO get their portrait.
The Schafers and Spiers aren't the only Stoneybrook family having issues; the Barretts are, too. Mrs. Barrett is getting pretty serious about Franklin DeWitt (this books mars his first appearance in the series), and both of them are eager for their kids to get along. They try really, really hard to impress each other, but it doesn't work. After everyone relaxes, things go much better.
Thoughts and Things
- Cover time; I'll start with the good things. Mary Anne's dress is really cute; I'd wear it. Sharon is also very pretty, but she looks more like imagine Maureen McGill would. Now, the bad; Dawn looks like a middle aged man who's just had his third face lift, and I don't like the way Richard is looking at her....
- Like many of you, I find it hard to believe that studious Mary Anne would make it all the way to age 13 without knowing what the Boston Tea Party was all about. She grew up (mostly) in New England, for Pete's sake!
- I find it very hard to believe that they were able to make reservations at a famous hotel in Boston at the last minute like that.
- Speaking of that famous Boston hotel, if the Parker House Hotel is the Omni Parker House that I found on Google, they must have spent a FORTUNE. I'm pretty sure it's the same place; their website mentioned the Freedom Trail.
- I want to go to Boston; I love history, and I wouldn't have minded Richard's lectures on what everything was all about at all!