Monday, December 3, 2012

"I mean, cool, let's eat, not cool, you're starved." California Diaries #1: Dawn (1997)

I decided to go out on Black Friday this year, though it's not normally my idea of a good time. But being me, I didn't head to the mall or Best Buy or something like that--I went to the thrift store instead. I didn't find any BSC I didn't already own, but I did find three California Diaries books. Since I'd never read them before but I've heard they're not bad (not to mention the fact that they were half price), I picked them up. The other two were about Maggie (from the We <3 Kids Club) and someone named Amalia, but the first book is Dawn, so I decided to blog about it.
Dawn and the other eighth graders in her Cali school are forced into the high school building because the middle school is overcrowded. Some upperclassmen haze a number of the eighth graders by throwing a "secret" party and inviting them, then calling the cops and getting them arrested. Maggie, Sunny and Dawn leave a sleepover at Jill's to attend the party. Sunny, whose mom is dying of lung cancer, gets drunk and they make it home late. Sunny and Dawn end up getting in some trouble, and they lose Jill as a friend. But they make two new friends, Amalia and Ducky, so all is well.
Interesting tidbits
The whole book is done in Dawn's handwriting. It's a lot less annoying than I expected it to be.
The premise behind the books is that Dawn's California school, Vista, makes the students keep a diary, though no one ever reads it or grades it. Dawn apparently goes through notebook after notebook in keeping her diary.
Humorously, the book starts at the beginning of eighth grade (a few weeks in)...despite the fact that, during eighth grade, Dawn's mom got married, she spent months in Cali and then moved back to Stoneybrook for at least a few weeks.
In the BSC books, Maggie's dressed all punk, with green hair with a tail, and leather. These days, she's Miss Perfect, worrying about grades and dressing like Daddy's little girl. Jill, on the other hand, is regressing and is acting really immature and dressing like a six year old.
Dawn is in study hall in her first day in the high school building, when a "big guy" starts making out right in the middle of class. The monitor yells at him and calls him Dex, and Dawn thinks it’s funny that this big, scary looking guy is named Dexter.
Dawn says she doesn't miss Mary Anne or the BSC very much.
Heh heh heh. Jeff went clothes shopping with Carol and the housekeeper (Mrs. Bruen) and they came home a short time later with only a pair of tube socks. I can't think of a single boy who actually wore tube socks in the 90s.
 When Carol's gynecologist calls, she tells Carol she's 3 weeks pregnant. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you generally don't know you're pregnant until you miss your period, at which point you're 4 weeks along. You're already 2 weeks pregnant when you conceive, because they count from the beginning of your menstrual cycle. I don't think it would really be possible to find out right at 3 weeks. Maybe they mean 3 weeks since conception (aka 5 weeks pregnant)?
Totally off topic, but I just picked up the Amalia book and it's full of illustrations. The front of the book says they're done by Stieg Retlin...which is the name of Cary Retlin's younger brother in the BSC books. This Dawn book is dedicated to Laura, whom I can only assume is Laura Perkins (which probably answers my earlier question as to whether there actually a Laura Perkins.)
Oh, Lord. Dawn tells Carol that she was eavesdropping and overheard the pregnancy news. One of the first things she blurts out is that they should name the baby Ashley but spell it Ashleigh. Yuck.
Much like Dawn and her ears, Sunny pierces her navel without her parents' permission.
Heh. The pizza guy asks if Maggie's famous and Jill tells him that Maggie's dad knows John Travolta, Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Moore.
Maggie, Dawn and Sunny attend the "secret" party where a lot of drinking and smoking is going on...Dawn says the drink tastes like strawberries and insect repellent, which, to be honest, is what most punch at high school and college parties tastes like.
Yuck. Sunny gets quite drunk, and AMM's "drunk dialect" is even worse than her allergy dialect. "Dawn? It'sh me, Shunshine."
Dawn and Maggie get thrown in the pool...and Maggie is not wearing a bra. She apparently is quite chesty. I feel her pain, but even at thirteen, I would have never left the house sans bra. Not a smart choice.
Amalia and Ducky, the other two characters who get books in the series, are both sort of introduced at the party. Amalia hangs out with Maggie and Dawn during the party, while Ducky (who is older and has a car) rescues them when they don't make it home on time.
I like Ducky. He says he doesn't drink or smoke, because his body is a temple and he only puts pure things in it, like Mountain Dew and Pez.
The party was in the backyard of a house while the owners were out...and the house turned out to be owned by one of Ducky's teachers.
Jill says she wishes Dawn and Sunny had gotten into trouble over the party intead of just getting a lecture, and the two of them part ways as friends. (She's not even really mentioned in the Maggie book and not at all in the Amalia one.)
Over all, that wasn't bad. The Dawn one was actually written by AMM, not ghostwritten. Both the Sunny and Amalia ones are ghostwritten by one of the usual BSC crew. They're pretty good also, but because they build on each other, I felt like I was missing something. I've got to get my hands on the Sunny one that happens between Dawn and Maggie. Apparently, she runs away from home and gets herself a reputation, and something happens with a boy. Interesting. And I've got to find the Ducky one too, because I just have to know if he's gay or not. (Am I pathetic or what?!)
Next week: I will actually finish Mary Anne and the Silent Witness, which I started just before I found these guys. Should be done and posted around Thursday.

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