This book begins on the same day that the last one ends: the day of Mr. Zizmore's goodbye party. Claudia isn't there; she's sitting for the Rodowskys instead. Even though Claud and Stacey are on their way to repairing their friendship, Claudia is still a little mad about the whole Jeremy situation, and doesn't really want to be at a party where she'd have to watch the two of them together. When she gets home from a sitting job that night, she finds a message waiting for her from Mary Anne. Apaprently, she has big news. It's pretty late at that point, so Claudia has to wait until the next day to find out what Mary Anne has to say. The news definitely ends up being big: Jeremy and Stacey broke up the night before.
Claudia spends that night awake, mulling over what the breakup might mean. She's nervous to see Jeremy at school the next day, but he barely even acknowledges her. Claudia starts to completely overanalyze what that might mean, but she doesn't come to any real conclusions. Luckily, Claud has a new activity to keep her mind off of Jeremy. She and Erica Blumberg have volunteered to help with this program that helps immigrant families learn the skills they need to live in a new country. Claudia's assigned family, the Yashimotos, are Japanese. Claud is pretty nervous about her first day as a "teacher," but she really likes the Yashimotos and the work she's doing with them. By the following day, though, Claudia is right back to obsessing over Jeremy. This is largely due to the fact that posters for the Cupid's Arrow Dance have started to appear all around school. Claudia would, of course, like to go to the dance with Jeremy, but he seems to be avoiding her at that point. So, she finally decides to ask him herself, in a note. She slips it into his locker one morning before class, and then waits nearby to see his reaction as he reads it. Erica and Kristy join her, and (finally) they see Jeremy coming down the hall. Claudia can't bear to look, so the other two give her a play-by-play of what they see happening. He doesn't seem to have seen the note, and when Claudia turns around, she figures out why. The locker that Jeremy is walking away from is NOT the one she put the note into.
Claudia is freaking out, so Kristy enlists Cary Retlin's help later that day to get the locker open. He agrees to help, but it doesn't do any good. Not only is the note already gone, but the locker belongs to none other than Alan Gray. Alan approaches Claudia that afternoon and asks to talk to her about the note. To her surprise, he doesn't pull any of his usual crazy stuff. He's really nice about it, and flattered that she thinks so highly of him. Claudia is dismayed; Alan thought the note was actualy for him! She's even more dismayed when he accepts her invitation to the Cupid's Arrow Dance, but Claud doesn't have the heart to tell him that the note was meant for someone else. At that day's BSC meeting, her friends all have different reactions. Mary Anne suggests they all keep an open mind, Stacey thinks he's actually kind of cute, and Kristy goes ballistic. She thinks Claud is nuts for going to a dance with him. After the meeting, Stacey asks her what she's going to do about Jeremy. Claudia feels awkward talking to Stacey about him, and she tells her so.
The Kishis take the Yashimotos to the Metropolitain Museum of Art that weekend. It's a lot of fun, but the children don't understand that you're not supposed to touch the art. Claudia pulls them aside and explains things to them, which makes her realize how important communication is. She decides to talk to Stacey, first thing Monday morning. They agree to meet before that day's BSC meeting, and as they're walking to Claudia's locker, they see that someone has left a gigantic bouquet of flowers there. It was Alan, of course, and he later surprises Claudia with lunch from Burger King. She tries to make him understand that they're just hanging out as friends, but he doesn't seem to get it. Neither does Jeremy; he's really hurt that Claudia is going to the dance with someone else, and he won't listen when she tries to explain the situation to him.
Claudia's talk with Stacey that afternoon goes a lot better. She and Stacey agree to never let a boy come between them again, and they both feel a little more free to talk about Jeremy. Meanwhile, Alan keeps doing all sorts of nice things for Claudia; he's definitely not the same guy he used to be. At one point, Cary pulls Claudia aside for a chate. He knows the note wasn't meant for Alan, and he warns Claudia not to keep stringing him along if she's not interested. Claudia tells Cary that Alan knows they're just friends, and Cary tells her in return that Alan wants more than that. Claudia promises to be play nice.
The day of the dance arrives, and Alan comes to pick up Claudia. He actually made her a pin in the shape of a heart to wear. Even so, Claudia still looks for Jeremy once they're at the dance. She's excited when he cuts in on her when she's dancing with Alan, but the excitement is short-lived. Claudia realizes that she'd actually rather be dancing with Alan, and that she and Jeremy are meant to be only friends. When the song is over, Claud goes to find Alan.
Thoughts and Things
- Jeremy was ridiculous for being so mad about Claud going to the dance with Jeremy. I mean, he was avoiding her in school. What was she supposed to do, clear her schedule until he decided he was going to be friendly again?
- I totally used to overanalyze everything my crushes said or did, just like Claudia. :)
- I just can't get into the Claudia-Alan pairing, no matter how many times I read these books!
- I like that Stacey and Claudia didn't just jump right back into being best buddies like they used to be. It's actually pretty realistic for there to be some tension between friends after a huge fight, even when it's over.
- These books are so 90's compared to the regular BSC series: the pop culture references, technology, outfits, etc.
- Claudia's work with the Yashimotos actually makes me want to learn Japanese again....