Friday, June 25, 2010

The Summer Before

Prequel time! Sixth grade has just ended for the four original members of the BSC, and the summer ends up being a pretty intense one for all of them. Here's what happens:

Kristy's birthday is in August, and she kind of hopes her dad will acknowledge it in some way. She writes him a letter, hoping that will help, but it comes back to her with "Adressee Unknown" written on it. Kristy's really bummed by this, but she doesn't tell anyone right away what she did. She eventually confesses to Mary Anne, though. In spite of the letter, Kristy still thinks that her dad is going to surprise her by just showing up on the big day. That's why she chooses to have a dinner at home with her family and friends instead of going out somewhere. When her brithday arrives, there's nothing for Kristy from her dad. No present, no visit, no phone call, nothing. Luckily, Mary Anne had figured that something like that would happen, so she planned a surprise for Kristy. The day after her birthday is "Kristy Day," complete with parade, to show Kristy how much she means to everyone in her life.

Claudia is growing up a lot faster than Kristy and Mary Anne. They're still into dolls, while she's into art, shopping, and boys. She definitely feels like there's this distance between them, and isn't really sure how to feel or what to do about it. When her brithday rolls around (July), she decides she wants to have a boy-girl pool party at the Goldmans' house next door. Janine was allowed to invite a few friends to the party, too, and Claudia fully expects them to be losers. She was wrong; one of them, Frankie, is awesome. It's luv at first sight for Claudia, but there's one problem: Janine clearly likes him, too, and stops speaking to Claud because of it. Things get even worse between them when Claudia and Frankie start hanging out and talking on the phone all the time. One day, they head to the community pool and run into a bunch of Frankie's friends...primarily girls. They all treat Claudia like a little kid, and it's almost a week after that day before she hears from Frankie again. Even then, he only calls to dump her. Mimi comforts her and points out that she still has her old friends, but...Claudia doesn't, really. She's been so wrapped up in Frankie all summer that she's totally ignored Kristy and Mary Anne. Claudia works things out with them, though....and with Janine.

Mary Anne is working on getting more independence from her dad. He agrees to let her start baby-sitting....but only with another sitter there. It doesn't matter how many kids will be present; Mary Anne is not allowed to sit alone. She's pretty nervous going into her first few sitting jobs, even though someone else is always with her. By the end of the summer, though, her dad feels she's ready to baby-sit by herself (lord, I wish this storyline were more interesting....).

Stacey is still in New York City, getting ready for her move to Stoneybrook. All of her friends (Laine Cummings included) have gone all Mean Girls and turned on her since her diabetes diagnosis. In fact, Stacey's baby-sitting charges are the only ones who seem to care that she's leaving the city. Then, her parents throw her a surprise going-away party and invite all of her former friends....who are just as thrilled to be there as Stacey is to see them. As horrible as they are to Stacey, though, she just wants to know why they won't be friends with her anymore. They don't know about her diabetes, of course, but she just can't understand how they can turn their backs on a friend like they have. By the time moving day arrives, Stacey is ready to leave. Living in the suburbs is a pretty big adjustment for her...until seventh grade starts and she meets the rest of the BSC.

The book ends the same way that Kristy's Great Idea begins (almost word for word), and the BSC comes full circle.

Rating: 3.5

Thoughts and Things
  • I really didn't like Frankie, and I can't believe that the Kishi parents let their (barely) twelve year old daughter spend so much time with an almost high school student.
  • I like that the book ended with the first few chapters of Kristy's Great Idea. It seemed fitting. :)
  • Poor Stacey. :(
  • I got this book for my birthday this past April. It had been at least 15 years or more since I'd gotten a BSC book for my birthday, and it was my favorite gift!
  • Mary Anne's clothes didn't seem as awful as they were described at the beginning of the series. At one point, she was wearing pedal pushers and a lavendar baby-doll shirt. That actually sounds cute for someone of that age. Where are the little-girl outfits that Richard makes her wear?
  • It seemed a little out of character for Kristy to want her dad to be a part of her birthday. She always seemed to accept that he wasn't really a part of their lives, and she didn't seem to want to change that.

So....that's the end. I've really, truly, finally finished reading through the entire BSC series, and it took me less than a year! I've had a few questions about what's next for me, blog-wise. I have some ideas, but I'm going to take a week's "vacation" to recover before I start anything new. Check back then! :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Graduation Day

(*I swear I didn't plan it this way, but in the book, the SMS graduation is on.....JUNE 23RD. Exactly 10 years ago today!!!*)

So...the big day is (finally...after 14 years) fast approaching: the BSC members and former members are getting ready to leave SMS for good and move on to high school. They're all busy with end-of-school stuff, including writing letters to themselves that will be sent back to them in four years, when high school graduation is on the horizon. Each BSC member has different thoughts, etc, about all the big changes that are happening. Here are the details:

Kristy, who's usually so brave about everything, is scared about the whole leaving middle school and going to high school thing. She doesn't like that her family is going to change, with Charlie leaving for school and she REALLY doesn't like that the BSC is going to change. She's determined to keep the BSC as busy as possible with big projects over the summer so they won't be able to slow down once school starts again, and she starts by creating a time capsule for the neighborhood. All the BSC members and former members, plus quite a few of the kids, add stuff to it. It's buried in Mary Anne's yard, and it's supposed to be opened in seven years, when the BSC oldest charges are getting ready to head to college.

Mary Anne, who's usually NOT brave, is really excited about moving on to high school. She does feel like she has some unfinished business, though, and that business is Logan. Mary Anne knew at the time that she made the right decision to break up with him, but she doesn't like that there's so much tension between them, and that they don't even really talk anymore. She's even having second thoughts about the breakup. She decides she needs to talk to them, and they eventually DO meet and clear the air. There's no romantic reunion or anything, but they leave their meeting on better terms.

Stacey is nervous about having both of her parents, plus Samantha, at graduation. She's convinced that they're going to fight (perhaps physically), and she's anticipating major embarrassment. She gets a notice in the mail one day, though, that makes her forget those issues. It's from the SMS library, asking her to return the copy of Ribsy that she borrowed, or she won't be able to graduate. Stacey freaks out; she doesn't remember checking that book out, and thinks it must have been back in 7th grade. She doesn't think the book survived two moves, so she's sure she won't be graduating with her friends. Stacey worries about this for a few days, and then realizes that she doesn't have to return the exact same copy of Ribsy that she checked out all that time ago; she just buys a new copy and hands that in instead. Also, no one in her family dukes it out at graduation.

Claudia, as usual, is worried about her grades. She needs to pass her finals in order to move on to high school, but she's awfully worried that she won't be able to make that happen in math. Stacey tutors her, and she ends up getting a C+. Unfortunately, she fails her science final. Since she'd also gotten a bad grade on an important project earlier in the year, she's definitely failed the class. It looks like she won't be graduating after all, but once again, summer school comes to the rescue (she'll be given her diploma if she passes science over the summer).

After graduation, Claudia has a party for all of the present and former BSC members in her bedroom. They talk a lot about their futures, and they make a pact to meet up for a reunion exactly 12 years from that day....and Kristy starts to feel a little bit better about the inevitable changes that are going to happen to all of them, and their friendships.....

Rating: 4

Thoughts and Things
  • Good lord....when I finished this book last night, I felt like someone had died or something! Can't believe I'm really done, except for The Summer Before....
  • Man, I SO sympathized with Kristy in this book. I've totally been the one that wasn't read to move on or to have things change, and I've definitely had to deal with the aftermath of something that I'd put my whole life into ending. The letter she wrote to herself nearly broke my little heart!
  • Charlie's letter to himself gets its own chapter, and it's pretty good. It explains a lot about who he is, and WHY he is the way he is....
  • Stacey really redeemed herself in this one, after being a witch for most of the FF series. In her letter to herself, she recognizes that their friendships are going to change, and that Ethan probably won't still hold the same place in her life that he does at that time. She's also the only BSC member to pick up on how Kristy's feeling about the end of the 8th grade, and the likely end of the BSC. Good going, reminded me why I liked you in the first place!
  • Would any middle school hold a student back for failing ONE class? In my middle school, you could fail everything and still move on to high school.
  • Is it really that common for middle schools to have full on graduations, complete with caps, gowns, a ceremony, and a valedictorian?
  • After the last book, I think we had decided that another school year happened between that one and this one, but I'm not so sure. Mary Anne states that her house had only been finished for a few months, and that the Logan split hadn't happened that long ago, either. I think the only reason that there was some summer in the last few FF books prior to this one was that they probably didn't know the series would end so soon. Otherwise, I think FF would have happened over one school year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FF# 12 Claudia and the Disaster Date

Summary's been awhile since Claudia and Alan Gray went to that dance together, and apparently, they're just now getting around to hanging out again. Claudia isn't really sure what to expect from him; he seems to have changed, but Claud keeps expecting him to get up to his old tricks. That, and the fact that she would really rather not be seen with him makes it hard for Claudia to enjoy spending time with him at all.

In other news, Claudia also has a summer job (along with Erica Blumberg) in the children's room at the library. Right away, Claud notices that the mural outside the room could use a little updating. She mentions it to her mom, who makes it clear to her that her job is in the children's room, not in painting hallways. On day two of work, Alan shows up. He tries to be helpful, but he ends up creating more work for Claudia in the end. She manages to get rid of him in time to have a little talk with Ms. Feld, the children's librarian, about redoing the mural. Ms. Feld is thrilled with the idea, and agrees to look at some samples of Claudia's work. Mrs. Kishi, though, isn't as happy. She doesn't like that Claudia went to Ms. Feld about the mural after she herself said no. Things are frosty between them which doesn't make for a good start to the workday. Neither does the fact that Kristy and Alan both show up at the library at the same time. Kristy doesn't let up on the Alan insults, and Claudia finally confesses at that day's club meeting that she's been seeing him. Kristy has major issues with that; she just doesn't like Alan and can't accept that one of her friends is essentially dating him.

Things are going a little better for Claud at the library. Ms. Feld likes Claudia's ideas for the mural, and plans are in place to start working on it. Then, Alan shows up to walk Claud to her BSC meeting so they can talk. She tries to put him off, but he isn't having it. He calls her out on being embarrassed to have her friends see them together, and asks that they give him a chance. They make plans for the BSC to go out for mini golf with Alan, Cary Retlin, and Pete Black. The big day finally arrives, but first, Claudia has to get through her day of work. She gets to the library to find everything in place for work on the mural, and Ms. Feld eager to have the kids help, too. Claudia isn't so sure about that part of it, and she was right to be apprehensive. The kids make a huge mess, and the mural looks terrible. Mrs. Kishi is furious, and she has to step in and make sure everything gets cleaned up. Once again, she tells Claudia that her job is to help in the children's room, not to paint murals.

The group date that night goes okay. Everyone plays in pairs, and Cary orchestrates it so that Alan and Kristy are a team. She does her best to insult and berate him, but Alan doesn't rise to the challenge. He's polite and calm....not like the normal Alan at all. Claudia doesn't like this super well-mannered Alan any more than she liked the goofy, joke-playing Alan. She knows there's a side of him that's both, and she encourages him to let that side show. To celebrate their new understanding, Claudia has a backyard BBQ for all of her friends, and some of Alan's. That's where they officially become boyfriend and girlfriend. Awwww, isn't that cute? :)

(By the way....Claudia ends up redoing the main part of the mural on her own, and the kids get to be involved by putting a handprint border around it).

Rating: 3

Thoughts and Things
  • So....explain something to me. It's July in this book, yet in the next one, we're back in June and it's graduation time. Did another 8th grade happen between the two books, or did SMS go back in time?
  • I still don't get the whole Claudia/Alan thing, but Abby and Alan might not make a bad pair....
  • I like that Claudia's friendship with Erica didn't go by the wayside when she and Stacey made up.
  • Speaking of Erica, she finds out the names of her birth parents in this one. It's actually kind of intense....
  • I really think the FF series could have lasted longer if all of the books had been as good as Kristy's Big News.

Monday, June 21, 2010

FF#11 Welcome Home, Mary Anne


At long last, the Schafers and Spiers are done renovating their barn. Mary Anne is excited to move in, even though she still misses her old house. She's also excited that Dawn and Jeff are coming for the summer, and that they're bringing along a guyes: Sunny Winslow. Mary Anne is looking forward to having Sunny stay with them, but she's a little apprehensive at the same time. Not only is Mary Anne a little jealous of how close Dawn and Sunny are now, but Sunny's mom has just died of cancer, and Mary Anne isn't sure how to act around her. Sharon encourages her to just include Sunny in everything that she and Dawn would be doing anyway.

It doesn't seem like Mary Anne has to worry much about Sunny at first. From the second she steps off the plane, Sunny is running at top speed. She's enthusiastic and energetic, and excited to be visiting Stoneybrook. Mary Anne can tell that she's not quite all right, though, so she vows to be supportive and just follow Sunny's lead. That proves to be a little tough to do; on her first full day in Stoneybrook, Sunny decides that Mary Anne needs a new boyfriend. During their day at the pool, Sunny flirts with this older high school guy on Mary Anne's behalf, and makes a date with him and two of his friends. Mary Anne really isn't comfortable with the idea of going on a date with anyone yet, but she goes along with Sunny's plan anyway. The date is kind of a flop, and Mary Anne knows she needs to tell Sunny she doesn't really want to go out with any of the guys again. Sunny beats her to the punch, though.

With all of Sunny's energy and her eagerness to do everything there is to do in Stoneybrook, she quickly gets tired of the same old routine. That's when she gets her big idea: she, Dawn, and Mary Anne should sneak off to New York City for the day. Both Dawn and Mary Anne are apprehensive about the idea, but Sunny eventually talks them into it. Mary Anne feels totally guilty at first, but she ends up relaxing enough to have a really good time. Then, while the girls are shopping, she happens to look at her watch. They had totally lost track of time, and it's late enough that they need to leave NYC in order to get home before Sharon and Richard. Sunny, though, doesn't want to leave. In fact, she wants to stay late enough to go clubbing that night. Dawn is having none of it. She calls Sunny out on her irresponsible behavior, and draws attention to the fact that she's been getting her own way ever since her mom died. This subdues Sunny, who finally agrees to go home.

None of the three girls are particularly happy with each other by the time they get home. Dawn leaves again right away to get Jeff at the Pikes', and Sunny stomps upstairs and shuts herself in the room she's sharing with Dawn. When Mary Anne heads up there later, she hears Sunny inside crying. Mary Anne knows that Sunny really needed to let go like that, so she just lets her cry. They talk a little about what Sunny's been going through, losing her mom and being away from home. In fact, Sunny's decided that she needs to be with her dad, and that she should go home.

Rating: 3

Thoughts and Things

  • The big question...who's Dawn and who's Sunny on the cover? I think Dawn is the one on the left, in the yellow shirt, and Sunny's the one on the right, with the necklace.
  • The New York trip was the sole reason that this book got a rating of 3. Not only would I have LOVED to do something that daring when I was a kid, but I also love the way they travel. Walking up and down random streets and NOT sticking to the typical tourist stuff is how I like to see big cities. :)
  • Is it just me, or does Sunny give off a bit of a....promiscuous vibe? You know she'll be at all the frat parties during college....
  • The new Schafer-Spier house sounds cool, but I can't imagine them turing the barn into a house. I never pictured it being big enough, and I DID picture it as being kind of run-down.
  • Even though I don't miss the baby-sitting stuff too much in this book, I'm glad that we've seen a little more of some of the BSC's charges in the last few books.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FF# Stacey's Problem


Stacey, her mom, and Claudia are having a girls' night at the McGills'. They have fun making their own pizza and playins board games, but Stacey notices that something's wrong with her mom. She seems distracted, and she ends up going to bed early with a headache. The next day, she still seems so out of it that Stacey almost doesn't want to go to New York for the weekend. It's a good thing she does end up going, though, because her dad and Samantha have some big news: they're getting married. Stacey is pretty happy about it; she likes Samantha, and she can tell her dad is really happy.

When Stacey gets back to Stoneybrook, she's glad to see that her mom is over the funk she was in before. That is, she's over the funk until Stacey breaks the news about her dad's engagement. Mrs. McGill doesn't say much, but after they get home, Stacey finds her in her room, crying. She explains that she isn't sad because she wanted to get back together with Ed; she definitely DOESN'T want that. She's just overwhelmed at this whole chapter of her life (her marriage) really, truly being over. Stacey really wants to help her mom feel better, so she and Claudia decide that Mrs. McGill would be happier if she were dating. They get a tape from a video dating service, and the whole BSC gathers at Stacey's to try and pick her potential new stepfather. None of the guys seem quite right, so it's back to the drawing board.

As it turns out, Mrs. McGill didn't need any help getting a date; she's got one with a guy she met through work. One again, Stacey doesn't want to go to New York, since she thinks she needs to be there to surpvise her mother's comings and goings from her date. Also once again, Stacey heads to New York anyway. She's having fun getting to know Samantha even better, but she can't get her mind off of her mother's date. She forgets about it briefly, though, when Ed and Samantha take her out for Sunday breakfast at a new place. While they're waiting in line, who should they run into but Laine Cummings! She acts like nothing ever went wrong in their friendship, and even asks if Stacey can sit with her and her friends. Stacey makes sure her dad says no, and the whole weird encounter is over.

After the meal, Stacey finally gets ahold of her mother by phone. Unfortunately, the date did not go well. There was nothing really wrong with the guy; there just wasn't any chemistry. Since Mrs. McGill seems really disappointed, Stacey asks her dad and Samantha if she can just go home. Samantha offers to drive her, to save a little time. Stacey gets home and decides that it's her mission to cheer up her mom. Mrs. McGill insists she doesn't need it, and a couple of days later, she seems like she's back to her old self. She cooks a fancy dinner for Stacey, and tells her that she has some big news: she's decided to go back to her maiden name, and she's seriously thinking of quitting her job to open her own clothing store. Looks like the times, they are a-changin' for the whole McGill family.

There's actually a subplot in this one! Mallory is home from Riverbend, and she feels totally out of place. Her family seems to be functioning just fine without her, and her friends are all still too busy with school to spend time with her. There really isn't much of a resolution to this; everyone just kind of tells Mallory to hang on and give it time.

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things
  • When Stacey's mom tells the BSC members about the store, they all offer to work there. Maureen actually tells them that that's not possible because of child labor laws. I can't believe that it took them until the end of the series to make any mention of that kind of thing!!!
  • I don't get why Stacey feels like she has to micromanage her mother's life.
  • I'm glad that Maureen went back to her maiden name. I'm actually kind of surprised that none of the other divorced women in the series did that.
  • The pizza that Claudia, Stacey, and Maureen made at the beginning of the book sounded great....until they put the anchovies on it. Seriously, though....I've always wanted to try making my own pizza.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FF#9 Kristy and the Kidnapper


Kristy and Abby are part of the new SMS debate team, and they're heading to Washington D.C. for a competition. As soon as they make it to their hotel, Kristy spots someone she knows in the lobby. It's Terry Hoyt...or, at least she thinks it is. Kristy is mystified when he's introduced by one of his friends as David Hawthorne, but this David guy claims never to have HEARD of Stoneybrook, let alone lived there. Later that night, Kristy is sure he's avoiding her. He can't avoid her for long, though; they're put on the same three person debate team.

Kristy, David, and Kai (the other person assigned to their group) actually make a pretty good team. They even win their first debate. There's a dance that night for all the students participating in the debate tournament, but Kristy, Kai, and David all leave early and decide to practice some more. Kristy is just leaving her room to head down to their meeting place in the lobby when she runs into David. He'd relaxed around Kristy while they were preparing for the debate, but now, he's back to being less than friendly. Then, he whispers in her ear that he's being followed. At first, Kristy thinks it's just a kid from one of the other debate teams. Then, she looks back and sees an adult man in dark clothes behind them. When they get to the stairwell, David shoves Kristy into it and tells her to run. He's right behind her, but just as they get to the lobby, the man grabs David. Kristy rushes into the lobby and screams that David is being kidnapped. Security comes running, and the catch up to David and his kidnapper in the parking garage. As soon as the man sees the guards chasing him, he drops David and takes off. David is shaken, but okay.

Both David and Kristy are taken into an office to be questioned by police. Before the officers get there, he asks her not to mention that the kidnapper had said "Your father is going to pay" just as he caught David. Kristy is mystified as to why, so David finally has to come clean about his dad's secret agent work, and his own previous identity as Terry Hoyt. Kristy doesn't say anything about the kidnapper's comments to the cops. David's dad eventually arrives to talk to the two of them. They hadn't managed to catch the kidnapper, so both David and Kristy are going to be assigned Secret Service agents until he's caught.

Meanwhile, the debating is still going on. Kristy, Kai, and David win another round, in spite of the craziness that Kristy and David have been through. That same day, Mr. Hawthorne brings the two of them a bunch of pictures of criminals who could have been the kidnapper. They identify him; it's a guy named Lance Dibdin. David's dad had busted the ring of compuer hackers that Dibdin was a part of, but Dibdin stayed out of jail on a technicality.

Kristy, David, and Kai make it to the final round of debates. In fact, they're debating the team that Abby's on (Abby and Kristy had been super competitive the whole time, arguing over everything). The final debates are being held at the Lincoln Memorial. Just as Kristy and her team are finishing up, she spots someone in the crowd: it's Lance Dibdin. She screams and points at time (she's so scared that it's all she can do), but he continues to make his way toward David. Security (and Mr. Hawthorne), quickly take him down and arrest him. In spite of all the drama, Kristy and her team go on to win the debate finals.

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things
  • This one approaches BSC Mystery levels of unrealisticness. I kept expecting Sgt. Johnson to pop out of nowhere and help with the investigation.
  • The camaraderie between Kristy, David, and Kai was really fun to read about. So was David's relationship with his dad!
  • I'm not surprised that Kristy and Abby are good at debate, but many middle schools actually HAVE debate teams? My high school didn't even have one, although they did offer a debate class. Which I took. And hated.
  • I just have to reiterate how perfect the girl they got to play Kristy on these covers is. Definitely the best match out of all the FF cover girls!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

FF#8 Mary Anne's Revenge


Mary Anne is now involved in the yearbook. The good news? She likes it. The bad news? Cokie Mason is one of the editors, and the other editor (Rick Chow) just agrees with whatever she says. Cokie seesm to have it in for Mary Anne, even more so than usual. She's always making snide comments in front of the whole group, and Mary Anne can't seem to speak up and defend herself. She's not too happy with her own lack of guts, so she starts speaking up in other ways. Mary Anne's friends and family are a little surprised, to say the least, about her new attitude.

One day, Claudia and Mary Anne arrive at school together and get some big news from Stacey. Someone has started a rumor that Mary Anne begged Logan to take her back, and when he wouldn't, she went nuts by sending him lots of crazy emails and leaving tons of phone messages. It's pretty obvious that Cokie's the one responsible, which is the last straw for Mary Anne. She's determined to get revenge on Cokie, once and for all. She spends some class time making a list of awful things to do to her, and when she shares her list with Kristy at lunch, she sees that Kristy also has a list. The BSC members (and Abby) are all eager to be in on the plan.

That same day, Logan pulls Mary Anne aside for a chat. He's heard the rumor, and since he obviously knows that it's not true, he wants to make sure Mary Anne is okay. He also wants to tell her himself that he and Dorianne Wallingford have kind of started seeing each other. It hasn't really moved past the friendshp stage yet, but Logan wants to get it out in the open anyway. Mary Anne ends up being late for her yearbook meeting because of her talk with Logan, and as soon as she walks in the room, Cokie starts to give her a bad time. Mary Anne really lets her have it, and Cokie is pretty much speechless. She leaves the room, and Mary Anne, Austin, and Abby get to work counting the ballots for the "Most" and "Best" voting (Most Likely to Succeed, Best Artist, etc). When they finish, they notice something odd: Cokie and her friends have bascially swept the voting. There are also ballots missing (Mary Anne can't find hers), and the number of ballots doesn't match the humber that the teachers collected. Mary Anne and Aby lock the ballot boxes up overnight, and they go to Mr. Fiske (faculty advisor) the next morning. He agrees to have another vote....with better security this time.

Since Cokie still hasn't given up on her rumor-spreading and nastiness, Mary Anne decides she needs to do more in the way of revenge than just telling Cokie off once. Kristy suggests enlisting the help of Cary Retlin, so Mary Anne arranges a meeting with him in the SMS library after school. When she gets there, she finds him with a stack of magazines. Step one in their revenge plan is to fill out tons of those annoying little subscription cards, but not send them right away. The cards are a backup plan, just to have around in case things don't go well. On their way out of the library, who should they run into but Cokie herself? She invites both of the them to a party she's having, and to Cokie's surprise, Mary Anne accepts.

The next day, Mary Anne goes to Kristy's for dinner after the BSC meeting. They totally lose track of time, and Mary Anne gets home way past curfew. Her dad is not happy; they argue, and Mary Anne ends up grounded for two weeks. That poses a problem, because Cokie's party is that weekend. Mary Anne knows she has to be there. If she doesn't show up, Cokie will think she lost her nerve. So, Mary Anne decides to sneak out. She gets out of the house okay, and the party itself is actually pretty decent. The food is good, and lots of Mary Anne's friends are there. Cokie's still up to her old tricks, though. She orchestrates it so the music will stop just as she happens to be making a statement about how desperate Mary Anne still is to get back with Logan, and everyone there hears it. Everyone there also hears it when Mary Anne tells off Cokie yet again, and the whole place claps and cheers. This doesn't make Cokie happy; it's HER party.

Mary Anne is feeling pretty good about herself as she heads home after the party. She stops feeling good, though, when she finds her dad waiting up for her. They fight again, and is escalates to the point that Sharon wakes up and comes downstairs to see what's the matter. She orders them to sit and listen to her, and she points out that Richard and Mary Anne are having so many problems lately because they're both still struggling with the aftermath of the fire. They have a nice family meeting, and Mary Anne's grounding is reduced. She realizes that she doesn't want to be that weak person who never stands up for herself anymore, but she also realizes that she doesn't want to be mean and sarcastic anymore. Time for a happy medium!

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things
  • Cokie's house is made to seem like a mansion, but when Mary Anne was over there working on the Megan Rinehart project in #46, it was just a normal house. Also, Mary Anne makes it seem like she's never been to Cokie's before, when we know she has.
  • This is the only book where I can truly say that I enjoy Cary Retlin. It's interesting that Kristy seems to be the one who always suggests that the BSC work with him....
  • I loved that Mary Anne got a little rebellious in this one. It makes her seem like a typical teenager. :)
  • In order to get some ideas for decorating their new house, Richard and Sharon take Mary Anne on a tour of historical homes in Greenvale. Mary Anne didn't enjoy it (this is when she was in her brief grumpy and sarcastic phase), but I would have been totally into it!
  • The description of Mary Anne's nightmare at the beginning of the book was actually kind of scary....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FF#7 Claudia Gets Her Guy


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.

Rating: 2.5

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....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FF#6 Stacey and the Boyfriend Trap


It's New Year's Eve, and Stacey's in New York with her dad. She convinces him and Samantha to head down to Times Square to watch the ball drop live, and while they're there, Stacey gets interviewed for tv. She also makes a New Year's resolution: to be a better friend. She starts on that the next morning by giving Ethan a call. They haven't seen much of each other since their breakup, and Stacey misses him. They have a good time together, but it's cut short when Stacey has to catch her train back to Stoneybrook. When she meets her mom at the station back home, there's mail for her: a letter from Toby, the guy she dated in Sea City. He's going to be traveling the East Coast with his family while his brother looks at colleges, and he wants to stop in Stoneybrook and see her. She decides not to respond right away, and calls Jeremy instead. She's glad to see him again, but decides that it would be best not to say anything about Ethan or Toby. Jeremy was busy when she was gone, too: he went to the mall with Claudia and Erica. This doesn't exactly make Stacey happy; she still doesn't want Jeremy spending time with her ex best friend.

When school starts up again after the break, Stacey gets some bad news. Her math teacher, Mr. Zizmore, is moving to Texas so his wife can take a job there. Pete Black is also in Stacey's class, and he pulls her aside afterwards to talk to her about an idea he has: he wants the students to throw Mr. Z. a goodbye party, and he wants Stacey's help in making it happen. They make plans to go to Mr. Kingbridge the next day and ask him if it would be okay. He loves the idea, and suggests that the students combin with the faculty to make one really great party. Just as they're leaving Mr. Kingbridge's office, Stacey runs into the last person she ever expected to see: Wes, her former substitute and possible future full time teacher (he's applying for Mr. Z's job). She invites him to the party on the spot.

Word about the party get around. Even Robert Brewster, who's still dealing with the effects of his depression, wants to be involved. Stacey has to talk Jeremy into participating, though, and when she tries to be nice and ask Claudia to help with the decorations, but Claud ignores her. In between trying to recruit people for the party, Stacey finally finds time to reply to Toby's letter. He had included his email address. so she writes back that way. She doesn't specifically tell him whether or not she wants to see him, though; she just sort of updates him on what's going on in her life. The next time she's online, Toby IMs her and asks about coming to visit. Stacey finally says yes, figuring that it couldn't hurt anything.

A date for Mr. Z's party has finally been nailed down. At lunch that same day, Kristy asks Stacey if Sam can help out. He had Mr. Z back in the day, and credits his former teacher with showing him that math can be fun. Claudia laughs at this, and says that math only has its uses for someone like Stacey, who needs it to count all her ex boyfriends. That makes Stacey think. She DOES have an awful lot of that normal at 13?

The planning committee for Mr. Z's party decides on "Great Math Minds' as their theme. They want to hang up pictures of famous mathematicians, but they need someone with artistic talent to draw them. Jeremy suggests Claudia...a fact that doesn't make Stacey happy. Remembering her New Year's resolution, though, she heads to Claud's house early for that day's BSC meeting to talk to her. Claudia agrees to help with the pictures for the party, and they both end up apologizing for the rotten things they've said to each other over the last few months. Things aren't totally back to normal, but they're on their way.

Saturday, the day of the party, arrives. It also happens to be the day of Toby's visit. He looks exactly the same to Stacey, although he seems to think he's changed for the better. They spend a few hours hanging out, and it's not exactly fun for Stacey. Then, just as Toby is heading outside to wait for his dad to come back for him, Ethan shows up. He's in Stoneybrook for an exhibit at the museum, and he thought he'd stop by and see Stacey. Stacey is frantically trying to figure out what to do with the guys when Toby's mom calls to say that they're going to be late. Stacey has no choice but to take both guys over to SMS with her while she helps set up for the party. The guys pitch in, which means that Stacey doesn't have to entertain them. After awhile, Jeremy pulls Stacey aside for a chat. He's noticed the copious amount of Stacey's exes in the room, and that she has a lot more in common with them than him. He wants to break up, and Stacey is actually not that upset about it. She seems to be getting closer to Ethan again, and even wonders if maybe all of her ex boyfriends were brought together in one place so she could see who she was really supposed to be with.

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things
  • This book could totally have been fan fiction. Think about it; how many times have we made fun of Stacey's dating habits? :)
  • Toby is so lame, it's not even funny. I don't see him as a military guy at all (that's what he plans to do after high school). I see him putting the minimum effort into his classes at some party school, and living in a frat house. He'd be the one in the frat who thinks he's a lot cooler than he really is. :)
  • Thank goodness the Claudia/Stacey fight basically ends in this one; I was getting really tired of it!
  • There's a chapter when Stacey and Kristy help Mary Anne pick out a design for her new bedroom. I love the descriptions of the rooms that they each pick reflective of their personalities!
  • I wonder who the two guys in the pictures on the cover are supposed to be? Any thoughts?
  • Stacey is such a hypocrite. She's allowed to spend time alone with Ethan and Toby, and she can keep that from Jeremy, but it's a crime for him to go to the mall with Claudia AND ERICA BLUMBERG, especially when he freely admits it? Ridiculous. I don't like the FF Stacey at all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

FF#5 Kristy Power!


Kristy's English teacher, Mrs. Simon, has left to have a baby. Her class has a great subsitute, Ted Morley. One day, Ted (that's what the students call him) announces two special projects. Each student is going to read a book from a list he provides and then write a paper about what it meant to him or her. Each student is also going to write the biography of another student in the class, and he's already paired everyone up. Kristy, unfortunately, is paired up with Cary Retlin. He's not any happier about working with her than she is about working with him, and they both approach Ted after class to try and get out of it. No dice; they're stuck with each other, at least for this project. Later that evening, though, Cary calls Kristy and asks for a truce. Neither of them wants a bad grade on the project, so Kristy agrees.

The following week, Ted has some bad news for Kristy's class. Some of the SMS parents objected to the books on the list he provided, and they want him removed from his job because of it. Ted is standing behind the list he provided, since no student is obligated to read anything that they or their parents find inappropriate or offensive. Since there isn't much else they can do at that point, the class concentrates on their projects. Kristy and Cary meet up in the library to interview each other, and it's an interesting experience. Cary asks Kristy all sorts of weird questions and doesn't take any notes. Then, he won't answer any of Kristy's questions normally. The next afternoon, Kristy heads to Cary's house to interview his family. His youngest brother, Steig, gleefully tells her about every little thing Cary's ever done wrong, but Benson Retlin is a little less talkative. When Kristy asks why the family left their home in Illinois, Benson won't talk. That's where the interviews end. Kristy can't resist going upstairs to take a look at Cary's room (he's outside at this point), and while she's up there, she sees a notebook open on his desk. She can't help reading just a little of it, and she's pretty shocked by what she sees. The paragraph she reads is all about how Cary did something to get himself kicked out of school, and how he still thinks about his old life all the time. Before Kristy can read any more, Cary arrives, wondering what she's doing in his room. Kristy is totally jumpy and nervous, but Cary doesn't seem to put two and two together and realize that Kristy's weirdness is because she read his journal.

The next day, Kristy still feels awfully guilty about snooping. She temporarily forgets about that, though, when she gets to English class and finds Mr. Taylor the principal waiting there instead of Ted. Ted's officially been suspended until the whole book list situation can be further examined. To his credit, Mr. Taylor doesn't seem particularly happy about the suspension, and neither do a lot of the other adults at SMS. He promises that Ted will get a fair trial, so to speak.

The next day, it's Cary's turn to interview Kristy's family. She's a little afraid of what they might tell him, and (of course) her brothers have plenty of embarrasing stories to share. Cary totally makes fun of her, and Kristy responds by saying that at least she didn't get kicked out of school. Cary figures out that Kristy read his notebook, calls her a jerk, and stomps out of the house angrily. Kristy feels horrible, and want to apologize the next day at school. Cary seems to be avoiding her, though, so she doesn't get a chance to. What's also disappointing is the boring sub they get in place of Ted. That is, she seems boring until the kids get around talking about the Ted situation. She lets them know that there's going to be a public meeting about the case, and lots of the kids in Kristy's class plan to attend. Enough people speak up in favor of Ted (and against censorship) that he's reinstated as a teacher. Their next class with him is definitely a celebration, but they quickly get back to work on their projects. Ted tells the students that he wants to meet with each pair after school to see where they are with their biographies. Cary talks to Kristy just long enough to set up their meeting time. Ted seems pleased with their progress (he doesn't know they've been fighting), and as Kristy and Cary are leaving, Ted asks Cary how his novel is going and compliments him on using notebooks instead of a computer. That's when Kristy realizes that she didn't see Cary's journal; she saw his novel in progress. Now it's Kristy's turn to be mad; even though Cary never confirmed or denied that what she read was a journal, he let her go on thinking it was and feeling bad about it. They end smoothing things over at Kristy's Christmas party, and things go back to normal with the two of them. At least, they're as normal as they can be with Cary involved....

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things
  • What exactly does the title have to do with anything? What kind of power is Kristy supposed to have???
  • At one point, Kristy is trying to decide between The Outsiders and The Red Pony for her book report. It's funny that those books are on a list that parents objected to, because they were both required reading for me in 7th grade.
  • In the last book, Jeremy transferred in to Claudia's English class, which is taught by Ms. Hall. She's been Claud's English teacher for most of the series. So why, then, are both Claudia and Jeremy in Kristy's class, normally taught by Mrs. Simon?
  • It's kind of awesome that Cary has Dali and Escher on his walls. I also like that skeleton lamp he has. :) I don't necesarily WANT one, but it does sound cool.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

FF#4 Claudia and the Friendship Feud


Claudia and Stacey are still fighting, so when a job at the Pikes comes up that only the two of them are available for, neither is thrilled with the idea. Stacey gets out of it by claiming she has a conflict, and suggests that they call Erica Blumberg instead. Rather than pitching a fit about a non-BSC member getting half of a BSC job, Kristy is actually into the idea. Claudia has a really good time working with Erica, and she begins to think that she may have found herself a brand new friend. She and Erica go to the mall together, and Claud drags her to all sorts of stores that Stacey used to like to visit. Erica's not really into that sort of thing, but she's a pretty good sport about it anyway. She's also a good sport when Claudia drags her shopping a second time, in downtown Stoneybrook. She finally hits her limit, though, when Claudia mistakenly calls her "Stace." Erica doesn't to be anyone's rebound friend, and she lets Claudia know.

Meanwhile, Claudia seems to be making another friend as well: Jeremy Rudolph, the boy she claims Stacey stole from her. They keep running into each other at school, and when Jeremy calls her one night, they end up talking for an hour. Jeremy really seems to want to be friends, but Claudia still wants more. When Stacey gets wind of what's going on, she pulls Claudia aside at school and orders her to stay away from Jeremy. Claudia nods as if she agrees, but she's really just shocked at Stacey's audacity.

The Pike kids are tired of the whole Stacey vs. Claudia fight (what a am I) so the orchestrate a sitting job with the two of them. They start talking, and though it looks like things are going well, the girls end up fighting again. Stacey really doesn't seem to understand why Claudia is still so upset. Claudia, on the other hand, realizes something important: she owes Erica a major apology. Erica doesn't need to be more like Stacey; Stacey needs to be more like Erica. After the sitting job, Claudia heads to Erica's house to apologize. Erica forgives her. It looks like things are getting interesting on the Jeremy front, too: at the end of the book, he transfers in to Claud's English class.

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things
  • Lord, could Stacey be more horrible?
  • Claudia really needs to stop telling people that Stacey stole her boyfriend and that she dated Jeremy first. Neither is true! That being said...I'm still totally on Team Claudia.
  • Yay for someone having a non-BSC friendship that doesn't end when the book does.
  • The jewelry that Claudia and Erica were looking at during their mall trip sounds so 90's! I love it! :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

FF#3 Mary Anne's Big Breakup

Summary was pretty well established in Everything Changes that Mary Anne was having some issues with Logan. Those issues haven't gone away; he's still smothering her, and she's tired of not feeling like a complete person when she's with him. She finally gets up the nerve to end things with him when they're out to dinner one night, and Logan doesn't take it well at all. That upsets Mary Anne, but she holds off on crying until Logan is out of sight.

News of the breakup travels fast, and by the following Monday, everyone at SMS knows. The girls seem pretty sympathetic, but the boys are totally on Logan's side. They ignore Mary Anne, or are really cold to her when she tries to say hi. Kerry and Hunter Bruno are convinced that Mary Anne hates them, hates Logan, and thinks she's too good for everyone. Mary Anne tries to set them straight. Not everyone is totally unhappy about the breakup, though. Both Dave Griffin and Pete Black ask Mary Anne to the upcoming Fall Fling dance, but she turns them both down. She's just not ready to go out with anyone else yet. She's not sure Logan is in the same place, though, especially when she sees him laughing it up with Kristy. Mary Anne is pretty upset at the thought of the two of them ending up together, but she doesn't come right out and ask Kristy at first. Then, Kristy invites her to go pumpkin and apple picking with her family, and the whole story comes out then. Kristy and Logan AREN'T together, and have no intention of dating. That makes Mary Anne feel better.

The night of the dance arrives, and Mary Anne is home alone. She decides to watch a movie, but before she can pick one, Logan calls. He's got the new Robin Williams movie, and he wants to watch it with Mary Anne, just as friends. She agrees, but before the movie ends, Logan starts pushing for them to get back together. They end up having a huge fight, and Logan leaves angry. Mary Anne freaks out, but after talking to both Dawn and Claudia, she realizes that ending things with Logan was best for her. Now, she can start figuring out who she is as an individual.

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things
  • So, Mary Anne and Logan breaking up seemed to affect all of SMS in one way or another. Is that even realistic? Who cares about a couple of 13 year olds ending their relationship...even if they HAD been dating for about 12 years. ;)
  • Stacey, Kristy, Claudia and Mary Anne are about to go to a crafts fair at the end of the book. I really wish we'd gotten a chapter of them actually shopping there. I love stuff like that!
  • I so wish Mary Anne had gotten together with Pete Black by the end of the series. They totally need to get married. :)
  • Jessi was basically written out of the series completely, after her mentions in Everything Changes. Even Abby and Dawn make appearances in some of the FF books, but I don't think Jessi reappears until Graduation Day. I bet she'd accuse the ghostwriters of racism...if she were real, that is. :D
  • If SMS is having a Fall Fling, does that mean they're not having the Halloween Hop?

Friday, June 11, 2010

FF#2 Stacey vs. Claudia


There's a new boy at SMS, and he's caught Stacey's eye. His name is Jeremy Rudolph, and he's just moved to Stoneybrook from Olympia, WA. Stacey and Claudia invite him to sit with the BSC at lunch, and he accepts. Jeremy is pretty cool, and it doesn't take long for Stacey to feel like she's known him for ages. When he leaves the lunch table, though, Mary Anne comments that he'd be perfect for Claudia. Claud is definitely not opposed to the idea; later that afternoon, when Stacey arrives for the BSC meeting, she finds Claudia alone in her room, sketching him from memory. Stacey encourages her to ask Jeremy out...but she's starting to wish she could do that herself. She's still technically dating Ethan, but they're having trouble finding time together, and eventually, Ethan suggests they cool things off.

One day, Claudia begs Stacey for her help with Jeremy. Claud is totally smitten at this point, and Stacey (who is also pretty smitten), realizes that she has to choose Claudia over Jeremy. So, she orchestrates a little plan to give the two of them some time alone. She invites Jeremy to the mall with her and Claudia, but claims to be sick at the last minute and cancels. The next day, Claudia calls Stacey and tells her all about the fabulous time she had with Jeremy...much to Stacey's disappointment. Later that same day, though, Jeremy stops by to check on Stacey. He admits that he doesn't like Claudia romantically, and that he'd like to go out with Stacey sometime. Stacey is stuck; she really wants to date Jeremy, but she wants to be a loyal friend to Claudia, too. She asks Jeremy for some time to think about it, and he agrees.

The next morning, Stacey still hasn't made a decision. She goes for a jog to try and clear her head, and runs into Rachel Griffin, a girl who's just moved back to Stoneybrook after being away for a few years. She's not exactly friends with the other members of the BSC, so Stacey talks to her about the Jeremy situation in the hopes that Rachel will have a more objective opinion. Rachel reasons that even though Claudia's feelings would be hurt if Stacey dated Jeremy, Jeremy isn't going to go out with Claudia no matter what. She also advises Stacey to talk to Claudia first. Needless to say, Claudia doesn't exactly take the news well. She's furious, because she feels like Stacey stole Jeremy from her. Stacey decides she doesn't care what Claudia is thinking or feeling about the situation anymore, and agrees to go out with Jeremy. They hang out in downtown Stoneybrook after school, and have a great time. The next day, though, Jeremy is really cold and distant with Stacey....after she's seen him talking to Claudia. As it turns out, Claudia was telling Jeremy about Ethan, and she made it seem like Stacey was still dating him. Stacey tries to explain the situation to Jeremy, but he's still unhappy about Stacey's lack of honesty. Later that day, Claudia and Stacey really have it out after the BSC meeting, and that friendshis is officially off, for the time being.

Eventually, Jeremy gets over Stacey's lack of forthrightness about Ethan, and they make plans to go out again. As Stacy is busy getting ready for the date, who should show up but Ethan! He thinks they're still together. Stacey gently tells him that things aren't working out, and that she's already seeing someone else. Ethan leaves, and Jeremy arrives for their date. Again, it's fun...and Stacey is plus one boyfriend, and minus one best friend.

Rating: 2

Thoughts and Things

  • Stacey was a total cow in this one. Everyone knows you don't go out with someone your friend currently likes, whether that friend has a chance with their crush or not. It just isn't done.
  • That being said, Claudia was a little off the mark. She kept accusing Stacey of stealing her boyfriend, and ruining her chances with Jeremy. Too bad Jeremy wasn't her boyfriend and she never really had a chance with him in the first place.
  • This books wasn't nearly as well written as the last one, but I still found myself identifying with what Claudia felt. It's hard to be logical in those situations.
  • I'm pushing 30, and I'm actually identifying with stuff that happens in these FF books. There's either something really wrong with me, or really right with the books. ;)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

FF#1 Kristy's Big News


Kristy and her family are at dinner one night when they get a phone call. It's Patrick, and he wants to talk to Kristy, Sam, and Charlie. He's got some big news: he's getting married, and he wants the three of them to come out to California for the wedding. He's bought them plane tickets already, and Sam and Kristy have both agreed to go. Charlie, however, refuses. Patrick also makes no mention of David Michael, and when the tickets arrive the next day, there are only three.

Kristy isn't sure how she feels about everything. She and Sam and Charlie are supposed to stay out there for an entire week, and they haven't spent that much time with Patrick for years. Plus, the whole David Michael situation is weird. He really wants to go to the wedding, but he wasn't invited. Then, there's Charlie. He's still got a lot of anger towards Patrick, and he wants nothing to do with him or his wedding. Finally, Elizabeth lays down the law: if Charlie doesn't go, neither can Kristy and Sam. Kristy talks Charlie into going, and they set off the following week. Patrick and his fiancee, Zoey, leave one of their cars at the airport for the kids to take back to the house. Kristy expects her father to live in some shack, so she's pretty surprised to see that his house is actually very nice. Both Patrick and Zoey are at work, so the kids have a chance to look around first. Then, Patrick and Zoey show up. The meeting is a bit awkward, particularly between Patrick and Charlie, but Zoey is really friendly and eases the tension. They serve the kids lunch from Zoey's restaurant, where Patrick is the chef. He's still doing some sportswriting, but not full time. He also wants Charlie and Sam to be his best men. Sam agrees, but Charlie flips his lid. He has no intention of being all buddy-buddy with Patrick....

The next day, Patrick and Sam go shopping for tuxes, and Zoey takes Kristy shopping for a dress. Kristy starts to like Zoey more and more, and she starts to wonder exactly what she sees in Patrick. He and Sam pick out the world's ugliest tuxes for the wedding, so the whole family has to go back out on another shopping trip. Patrick is sulky and snappish almost the whole time, and Kristy realizes that she actually likes Zoey better than her own father. On another day, Zoey sends Patrick, Kristy, Sam, and Charlie on a picnic together. It's a failure; there's a lot of tension, and Patrick and Charlie end up fighting again. Charlie ends up refusing to go to the rehearsal dinner, and the other two stay home with least at first. They have a pretty deep talk about their dad, and their expectations of him. The three of them realize that they need to accept Patrick for who he is, and stop wanting him to be someone he's not. They call a cab, and show up in time for the rehearsal part of the rehearsal dinner.

That night, Zoey asks to sleep in Kristy's room so Patrick won't see her on the wedding day until it's time for the ceremony. For the whole trip, Kristy has been wondering exactly how much Zoey knows about Patrick and what he did to them in the past, and it finally all comes out. Zoey pretty much everything already, and she lets Kristy know that he's grown up a lot. She seems to be going into the marriage with her eyes wide open, which puts Kristy's mind at ease just a little bit. The next day, the wedding goes well. Kristy has some thoughts about her mom and dad and what their wedding must have been like as she's watching the ceremony, but she realizes that she'll probably never have a lot of the answers she wants about what happened there. The ceremony is short, and the reception goes well. Charlie even gives a toast that's not hostile, and (we think) Patrick and Zoey live happily ever after.

Rating: 4

Thoughts and Things

  • This book has always resonated with me. Not only is it better written than a lot of the laster BSC books, but I identify with a lot of what Kristy, Sam, and Charlie are going through. I'm a divorced kid, too, and I see some of my dad's personality in Patrick.
  • It's weird that it was never explained why Patrick ignored David Michael. He didn't even acknowledge his existence when Charlie brought it up. I know there's a lot of talk out there in the fan world that DM might not be Patrick's, but I don't buy it. Elizabeth doesn't seem like the type to cheat on her husband....even when things get bad.
  • The girl that they got to play Kristy on these covers is adorable!
  • Kristy actually refers to Watson as a "mild-mannered millionaire" at the beginning of the book. That was kind of funny!
  • Ooooooh, Patrick and Zoey live together....AND SLEEP IN THE SAME ROOM!!!! So scandalous for the BSC world. ;)
  • Is it wrong that I kind of want to marry a grown up version of Charlie, minus all the anger?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Everything Changes

It's summer (for the last time!), and, well, everything is changing for the members of the BSC. I think I'll recap this one Super Special style.

Kristy is freaking out about how the BSC will run in July. Abby, Mary Anne, Stacey, Claudia, and Kristy herself are all going to be out of town for the whole month, Dawn won't be in Stoneybrook until August, and no one else has much time for sitting. Things get worse from there: first Logan and then Jessi drop out of the BSC completely. At least heading back to Camp Mohawk as a CIT will take Kristy's mind off of things. She's not happy that Mary Anne decides not to go at the last minute, but she and Abby are in the same cabin, which gives them a chance to get to know each other better. They actually get pretty close....and then Abby drops out of the club, too. Kristy refuses to speak to her for days, until their campers unite to try and get them talking again. Abby explains that she just wants some free time, and being in the BSC was definitely getting in the way of it. Kristy understands how Abby feels....which scares her.

As I said, Mary Anne decides to stay home rather than go to Camp Mohawk. There's so much up in the air with her family and her life that she feels she should stick around to see what happens. Logan is also proving to be a bit of a problem; he's trying so hard to be supportive of Mary Anne with everything she's gone through that he's actually smothering her. She tries to talk things out with him a couple of times, but it just doesn't go very well. Mary Anne realizes that she needs to consider a permanent break-up. In other news, her grandmother visits from Iowa, and brings a bunch of Mary Anne's mother's old things to replace what was lost in the fire. Also, Richard decides not to take the job in Philadelphia. They're going to renovate the barn into a house, and they'll be renting the Goldman's house (next door to Claudia) in the meantime.

Claudia's family takes a vacation to Monhegan, an island off the coast of Maine. The Kishi parents want to "get back to nature," which means no phone, tv, computer, etc. Claud isn't exactly thrilled with the whole idea, but she actually gets pretty into it. There are artists around for her to hang out with, and Monhegan is beautiful. She even gets to eat lobster every day of her trip. As it turns out, Claudia is the only one in the family who really took the "getting back to nature" theme of the trip seriously; Janine snuck her computer into the house, her mom gets caught reading a cheesy romance novel when they're supposed to be reading worthwhile stuff, and Mr. Kishi sneaks over to the neighbor's to watch tv.

Stacey spends the month of July in NYC with her dad and Ethan. It's fun at first....until her dad sees Ethan outside of some adult nightclub and restricts the amount of time they can spend together. Then, Mr. McGill drops another bombshell: he and Samantha are seriously thinking of living together. Stacey doesn't want this to happen, even though she likes Samantha. They decide to wait another month before making any decisions; they're taking things slowly. Also, Mr. McGill lifts the restriction on Stacey's Ethan time after the four of them (Mr. McGill, Samantha, Stacey, and Ethan) have dinner together and he sees how mature Ethan really is.

After everyone gets back from vacation, the four original members of the BSC get together. It's pretty clear that they won't be able to run the BSC like they did before, since it's only the four of them now (Shannon dropped out when they called her to see how much she'd be able to help in the coming year). They decide to cut back on their number of meetings per week, and on the amount of sitting they do. Kristy is really sad about this, but even she knows that it's for the best.

Rating: 3.5

Thoughts and Things
  • In Claudia's first postcard to Stacey after she finds out that she's going to Monhegan, she says she's never been stuck on an island before. I guess she hasn't read SS#4. :)
  • Another inconsistency: Stacey decides she wants to learn to needlepoint, but she brought some needlepoint with her to Sea City in #8. I can forgive that, though; #8 happened well over 10 years before this book. She probably just forgot how. :)
  • It really, really annoys me how Kristy refuses to use words like I, he, she, we, the, etc. in her journal entries. It just doesn't work.
  • Lobster every day for a whole month might get a little....old. ANYTHING every day for a whole month would.
  • The whole book consists of Kristy writing to Mary Anne (and vice versa) and Claudia writing to Stacey (and vice versa). Am I really supposed to believe that Kristy never wrote to Claudia, Stacey never wrote to Mary Anne, etc?
  • Mr. McGill keeps emphasizing that the club he saw Ethan outside of was for ADULTS. Was he trying to imply that it was a strip club?
  • I have to say...I'm really looking forward to NOT having to slog through a chapter 2 from here on out!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#131 The Fire at Mary Anne's House


Early one morning, Tigger wakes Mary Anne up. At first, she can't figure out why. Then, she hears the smoke alarms, and her dad yelling for her. Their house is one fire! The place is totally filled with smoke, but everyone (including Tigger) makes it outside safely. Sharon managed to grab the cordless phone on her way out, and she's already called for help. The firefighters get there quickly, but all the family can do is watch their house and everything in it go up in flames. Pretty soon, the neighbors start arriving. Stacey tries to get Mary Anne to go home with her so she doesn't have to stand their watching the fire, but Mary Anne doesn't want to leave. She's sort of frozen in place...and she can't cry. Eventually, Sharon starts making calls to everyone who needs to know about the fire. Many of them want to talk to Mary Anne, but she refuses until Dawn is the one asking. She'll be heading to Connecticut as soon as possible to be with the family.

Eventually, the Thomases and Brewers show up with an invitation to stay at their house until other arrangements can be made. Richard, Sharon, and Mary Anne accept, and Mary Anne heads there for some rest while Richard and Sharon start searching through the rubble for anything salvageable. After her nap, Mary Anne heads back where her house used to be. They've managed to find a few things, including Sharon's wedding ring, but most of their stuff is gone. Mary Anne still can't cry, though...even when Dawn finally arrives and is crying herself.

Things at the Thomas-Brewer house are a little overwhelming for the Spiers and Schafers. They even have to resort to sneaking out to the kids' playhouse in the backyard in order to have a family meeting about what to do next. Richard wants them to see the fire as an opportunity to start a new life. In fact, he wants them to start a REALLY new Philadelphia. He's been offered a great job there, and Sharon wants to go back to school. She'd have her pick of schools in Philly. Mary Anne is in shock; she's lived in Stoneybrook all her life, and she doesn't particularly want to leave.

One night, Mary Anne wakes up and can't get back to sleep. She sneaks out of the Thomas-Brewer mansion, borrows Kristy's bike, and rides over to where her house was. She goes into the barn, which is where they've been storing everything that might be able to be saved. Mary Anne starts to feel really, really alone, and that's when she finally starts crying about everything. Dawn finds her, and they have a nice cry together. That's more or less where the book (and the series) ends....

Subplot: Lots of fire safety info. Also, the BSC enters a "Best Baby-sitter" contest as a group, with help from their charges. I don't think we ever find out who wins...

Rating: 3

Thoughts and Things
  • I couldn't believe how...graphic the fire scenes were. Wow. I've read this one once or twice before, but I don't remember it being so scary. I'm more scared of drowning than I am of fire, but still...
  • It was a little out of place for Mary Anne to have the final book in the regular BSC series. It should have been Kristy. In fact, Kristy's Worst Idea would have made a great final book in the series. Some elements could have been taken from Everything Changes (members dropping out of the club, for instance), added to Kristy's Worst Idea...which could have led into the FF books.
  • In a way, I like that the book was left open-ended. Problems aren't always solved and questions aren't always answered neatly within the span of 130 pages. :)

Well....that's it. The end of the regular BSC books. Finishing this one gave me such a WEIRD feeling! I know it's not really the end; there's still FF, The Summer Before, and my other Ann books to keep me occupied. Even so, I've all but finished what I set out to do almost a year ago...that's just crazy to think about! Thanks for reading along, and stay tuned for BSC: The Sequel. ;)

Monday, June 7, 2010

#130 Stacey's Movie


Time for our final Short Takes classes in the series, and Stacey's assigned to her first choice class: moviemaking. It's going to be taught by an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, and Stacey can't wait to get started. Carrie Murphy, the teacher, puts her into a group with Erica Blumberg, Pete Black, and Emily Bernstein. Erica is assigned the role of director, Pete is the cinematographer, Emily is the producer, and Stacey is the screenwriter. At first, they try to film a sort of horror movie about zombies taking over SMS, but that ends up looking stupid. Then, Stacey gets the idea to film a documentary instead. They'll interview different kids about life as a middle school student, and try to give people a clear picture about what goes on in the mind of the average SMS student. The group starts by interviewing Pete, and Stacey is surprised at what he reveals. Pete wishes he could drive, and have an actual job, so he can get out of Stoneybrook that much sooner. Abby is up next; she kind of freaks out when Erica points out that she's an awful lot like her mom (both of them cram their days full of stuff). Next is Jessi, who has some surprising things to say about being a black kid in a (mostly) white world. Stacey is especially shocked by her comments. Then comes Cokie; she kind of calls the BSC out for thinking they're better than everyone else, and points out that ALL cliques probably feel that way, to some extent. Next up is Claudia, who talks about how hard school is, and how she doesn't feel that artistic talent is rewarded. Stacey tries to interview Emily next, but Emily won't reveal anything really juicy. In fact, she keeps turing things around and asking Stacey questions.

Things take an interesting turn when Stacey's group interviews Mary Anne. It's pretty clear that she's in a bad mood, and when she's questioned, she admits that she sometimes hates her mother for dying. It's a great interview...but Mary Anne wants it cut. She'd had a fight with Sharon right before her interview about Sharon's forgetfulness, and she had gone into it thinking that maybe her birth mother wouldn't be so scatterbrained. Stacey tries to get her group to cut the interview, but they all vote to keep it in. Then, Stacey herself is interviewed and reveals some stuff about her parents' divorce that she wishes that she hadn't, and she understands where Mary Anne was coming from before. The others in the group STILL won't take any of the material from either interview out, so Stacey gets the idea to film explanations from both herself and Mary Anne. Those both make it into the final cut.

Subplot: Kristy is also in the film class, and she's in a group with Alan Grey, Logan, and Anna. As usual, Kristy takes over. She especially pisses off Alan, and she even starts to put the movie (they're filming BSC charges doing funny stuff) over the safety of the subjects. Eventually, she starts acting a little less annoying.

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things

  • I thought it was totally lame that they added in those little explanations after Mary Anne's and Stacey's interviews. Neither of them said anything that was that bad, and the movie probably would have been better if they'd just used the original interviews.
  • So...the students now get to choose their own Short Takes classes? In the past, everyone in the school had to take the same class at the same time.
  • This book actually wasn't horrible...Stacey lucked out with her last one.
  • Since when did Stacey become such a movie buff? She goes on and on about how fascinated she is with filmmaking, and how awful it'll be if she's not assigned to her first choice ST class.