Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#93 Mary Anne and the Memory Garden

Winter break is over, and SMS is back in session. One of her New Year's resolutions is to do better in English, and she's off to a pretty good start with the new project that her class has been assigned. The class is going to be divided into groups, and they'll each do a project of some sort about William Shakespeare. Mary Anne is happy with her group; she's working with Gordon Brown (who knew the prime minister went to SMS???), Barbara Hirsch, and Amelia Freeman. They have their first planning session at Mary Anne's, and it goes really, really well. Mary Anne is surprised and happy to find that she feels comfortable enough with everyone to share ideas and speak up, rather than just sit back and let everyone else make the decisions. It looks like the second part of the school year is off to a good start.
The next day, the SMS kids are greeted with some awful news; Amelia Freeman and her family were hit by a drunk driver the night before. Mr. and Mrs. Freeman, plus 6th grader Josh, escaped with some broken bones and other minor injuries, but Amelia was killed instantly. The whole school is upset, including the BSC. Mary Anne notices that Kristy seems to be having a particularly hard time coping. She's weepy, and can barely function. Mary Anne realizes that for once, she's going to have to be the strong one in their friendship. Kristy starts to bounce back, though, when she takes on the planning of an SMS chapter of S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving). At that point, Mary Anne is the one who isn't doing so well. Now SHE'S weepy (well, more so than usual) and she wants to sleep all the time. She knows she needs help, so she goes back to see Dr. Reese. Dr. Reese helps her see that she's just grieving for her friend, and that grief has to happen in its own time and in its own way. Taking care of Kristy gave her something to do, and since Kristy is now dealing with her own grief by taking action, Mary Anne has been feeling kind of lost.
A few sessions with Dr. Reese helps Mary Anne to start feeling better, but she still wants to do something to remember Amelia. Over in California, Dawn and her friends are cleaning up a vacant lot and turning it into a neighborhood garden, which is what inspires Mary Anne. A memorial garden, complete with plaque and bench, would be the perfect way to remember her friend! It takes awhile to get the right permission, but it all comes together in time for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Rating: 3.5
Thoughts and Things
  • Good Lord, was this book ever depressing...don't read it if you want to hold onto your good mood!
  • It was so out of character for Kristy to be so gutted over Amelia's death, but I guess Dr. Reese's explanation of Kristy being upset because death is something that she can't control makes sense.
  • It really, really, really bugged me that no one discussed the possiblility of an afterlife at any point in this book. All we heard about was that death was final, and only Amelia's memories would live on. It would have made a lot more sense if at least ONE person had brought up the topic. Death usually makes people think about what happens afterward, and there are lots of ways that this could have been dealt with in a non-religious way, if that was the concern.
  • The person who owned this book before me filled out the notebook pages in the back, and her response to the "what would you change about the book" question was that she'd change the part where Amelia died. Ummm, if that happened, there wouldn't be a book anymore.


  1. I have this book...but never finished reading it. Even 9-year-old me knew that it was a downer.

    I love reading the notebook pages in the books I got from Goodwill and Salvation Army. The kids that filled out the ones in my books always want to change the main conflict, too. Silly kids!

  2. I agree about the lack of afterlife discussion. It's odd to me that the characters tend to be areligious, unless they're Jewish and then not much outside a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Once or twice, Mallory goes to church, and there's a christening here and there, but no confirmations, first communions, baptisms of older children, or other rights on initiations.

  3. Don't Claudia and Will talk about the afterlife in Summer Vacation? I can't remember for sure...MA never mentions it re: her mom, so it's not that surprising to me that it's not mentioned here, either.

  4. Yes, Claudia and Will discuss it. Will says he doesn't believe in heaven or hell (yes, they actually used the word "hell" in a BSC book!!!) but that he believes that his grandparents' spirits are floating around somewhere, looking down on him.

  5. omg this book actually had me in tears. i really liked amelia freeman in some of the other books. and i thought she was really cool and sweet.

    i hate drunk drivers just as much as i hate robert brewster in the series, just not fair.

    abby was the greatest in that book because she could relate to how it feels losing a loved one
    due to a drunk driver.

    claudia was alright also in the book.

    this book really was good and im glad i got the chance to read it again, cause i love this book so much.

    and kristy actually crying over amelia's death, and she barely even knows her is totally beyond me. i mean talk about major creepy.

    i was so expecting mary anne to cry in this book.

  6. I think this is by far the best Baby Sitters Club book ever. Sure It's really depressing but its deep. Instead of acting like everythings perfect and happy, that nothing tragic happens and that everything is miraculousy fixed at the end of the book. The writer address somthing serious and all to real without making it a pity party. This is propbably one of the only books that addresses somthing serious and gives the characters appropiate reactions. Drunk driving kills and no matter how much the writers like to keep stoneybrook iydillic and perfect, life isn't. Because of the realistic sympathy used so many readers are able to identify with the characters and their feelings. So Kudos to you.

  7. I got a BSC book from the library and on the question 'where did you read most of this book' and someone answered "the bathroom" 😝