Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Abby's Book

(photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

From Birth to Backpack

Abby and Anna are born about a month early. From the get-go, it's pretty clear that they have a special connection. When one baby would cry, Mrs. Stevenson would put the calm baby in her crib and the crier would settle down. When one girl gets hurt, the other cries as if she were hurt, too. It isn't until preschool that Abby realizes that not everyone has an identical twin; preschool is also when the twins' separate interests start to emerge. Neither girl particularly likes it when people make a big deal out of the fact that they're twins, but they still want to hold onto that special bond they have. When their dad takes them to pick out backpacks before starting first grade, they choose different ones and are horrified. They end up choosing the same ones after all, with neither girl getting what she chose originally.

Red and Blue Just Won't Do

First grade. Abby and Anna are in the same class, and their teacher seems less than thrilled with having identical twins. The other kids don't even try to tell them apart; they're both called Abby-Anna. The girls hate it. Then, their teacher sends a note home with them, discussing the trouble that having twins in class can cause. She asks the Stevenson parents to start dressing one twin in blue, and the other in red, so it's easier for everyone to tell them apart. The Stevenson parents agree to try it, and Anna becomes blue and Abby becomes red from that day forward. This helps the teacher tell them apart, but not so much the students. Instead of calling both of them Abby-Anna, the kids call them by their colors. The girls hate that even more. They also don't believe their teacher can really tell them apart; they think she's really only looking at the colors they wear. So, they decide to switch colors one day to see if anyone notices. Sure enough, everyone thinks Abby is Anna and vice versa. Even their dad, who shows up at school that day, mixes them up. This freaks out both girls; they think their own dad doesn't even really know them. He was just playing along with their joke, though; he knew who was who the whole time. Since no one is particularly happy with the color experiment, Anna decides to cut her hair short so they can go back to wearing whatever they want.

Without Dad

One day, when they're in fourth grade, Abby and Anna's dad is hit by a car on the way to work and killed. The Stevenson family kind of falls apart. Mrs. Stevenson's parents stay for a few weeks to help out, but when they leave, things are still a mess. Mrs. Stevenson just can't function the way she used to, and Abby and Anna are left on their own a lot. Groceries aren't getting bought, laundry isn't getting done, and the house is a mess. The girls drop out of all their after school activities, and stop seeing their friends as much. One night, Abby points out how awful things are to her mom, and asks what Dad would have thought if he could have seen the state of the house. This mobilizes the family; Mrs. Stevenson hires a housekeeper to take care of things during the week, and encourages the girls to go back to their old lives as much as possible.

The Shooting Star

One year (more or less) after Mr. Stevenson's death, things are still not quite right for the remaining Stevensons. Mrs. Stevenson is throwing herself into work, most likely to try and escape the pain of being without her husband, leaving the girls on their own. They in turn throw themselves into their various friends and activities, to the extent that all three of them end up leading mostly separate lives. Then, Mrs. Stevenson announces that they'll be taking a family trip to Sanibel Island in Florida during the twins' winter break from school. Abby is really excited at the prospect of actually spending time with her mother and sister, but when they get to Sanibel, nothing really changes. For days, each Stevenson pretty much pursues her own activities and interests, much to Abby's dismay. Finally, she hears about a family New Year's Eve party that their resort is throwing, and she tries to get Anna and her mother to with her to sign up for it. They ask Abby to go do it for them, which kind of makes her lose her temper. She points out that they haven't done a single thing together since their arrival; the staff doesn't even know that they're together. They end up having a talk, and deciding to spend New Year's Eve together.

>New Places, New Faces

The Stevensons move to Stoneybrook. Basically, we get to see parts of Kristy and the Dirty Diapers from Abby's perspective.

Rating: 3

Thoughts and Things

  • I wasn't much of an Abby fan when I first got back into the BSC as an adult, but I've liked her more and more as I've gone through this blog project.
  • The whole color coding thing was totally appalling. It was appalling for the teacher to suggest something like that, and it was appalling for the Stevenson parents to go along with it. The girls were obviously very different people right from the start; would it have taken THAT much effort for their teacher to learn who was who?
  • It makes me sad that no one in the Stevenson family ever really moved on from Mr. Stevenson's death. I like them and I want them to be happy!
  • The pictures in this book are much better than most of the portrait pictures. Mrs. Stevenson is DEFINITELY the hottest BSC mom (page 108), but she faces pretty stiff competition from Maureen McGill, as pictured on the cover of Stacey McGill...Matchmaker?.
  • Abby gets an A- on her autobiography.


  1. The color thing seems really weird to me. We had identical twins at my elementary school and they were always put in different classes to encourage independence. Even when they were together, it was easy to tell them apart, even though they dressed the same (school uniforms) and had the same haircut, etc. I'll admit that if I didn't see either of them for awhile I did have trouble telling who was who if one of them approached me (when they stood next to each other it was easy), but kids who saw them every day had no issue telling them apart, and teachers certainly didn't, either. Even if the Stevensons really were totally indiscernible, the teacher should've been able to figure something out that was less humiliating than basically turning the poor girls into colors.

  2. My nephews are identical twins and why I can tell who is who when they are together, if one walks buy, I have to look for the mole on the left cheek to know for sure who I am talking to. I am a bad aunt.
    The boys' school has a strict rule that twins have to be in different classrooms. They say it's so they can expand their social circles, but I bet it's because they know they could never get parents to agree to dress their kids in certain colors. :-)

  3. I'm an identical twin and I always thought the whole color coding thing was crazy and unrealistic. When my sister and I started kindergarten my mother wanted us to be in the same class and it was actually the school that wanted to separate us. It wasn't until high school that we were ever in the same class. Also my sister and I are a lot more alike than Abby and Anna and even our friends/teachers could tell us apart.

    I always had a soft spot for Abby. I'm more like Anna but I could relate to the whole twin, dead father thing. I was younger than Abby was when her father died, but had the exact same family structure growing up.

  4. There were two sets of twins in my kindergarden class but no one ever had a problem telling them apart. Sure they dressed alike but once they spoke their personalities came out. I never understood why it was a problem in BSC land.

  5. i went to summer camp one time and there were four sets of twins there, one set of who were best friends with me and my other best friend, (and still are) but no one had any trouble telling them apart. I think its crazy to even have the kids wear name bracelets ( a.k.a, marilyn and carolyn), because if peolpe cared enough, they would try to tell them apart.

    oh, and my school also has siblings in different classrooms.

  6. I thought the whole Abby-Anna thing was kind of a rehashing of Mallory and the Trouble with Twins when Marilyn and Carolyn said that the kids at SES couldn't tell them apart and didn't want to try and called both of them 'Marilyn or Carolyn'. (Though M & C brought on the problem of both being called Very-Lyn when they kept asking Jamie Newton 'Which one am I?' in Claudia and the Sad Goodbye.)

  7. I think its kinda of disgusting how schools refuse to put identical twins in the same class because they can't be bothered to learn who is who. My best friend growing up was an identical twin and i watched as they had to put up with a lot of predudiced crap from teachers and students who were to lazy to care that they both had different personalities and once you knew them were easy to tell apart.

  8. I have twin students this year, and I don't really have any trouble telling them apart. Neither do their friends, even though they are identical and have similar personalities, but still, there's always some way that you can tell twins apart. Two years ago, I had another set of twin students. At first, I had to look at the mole on one's cheek, or at their glasses frames, which were different colors, but after I got to know them, it was much easier.

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  10. There's a couple of identical twins that I know from working in the baby-sitting room in the local jewish community center. One girl has an i's in her name, the other one has a U in her name. One wears pink ..the other wears purple...though i will say they're wearing a lot less of those colors now that they're older than when they were toddlers. They're now almost 6. The colors are more of an accent than anything else.. not outright.