Monday, March 31, 2014

“She reminded me of a chicken rotating on a barbecue grill.” BSC #34: Mary Anne and Too Many Boys (1990)

Before I begin, I need to apologize. The posting for #30 was accidentally obliterated what I like to call The Great Thumb Drive Crash of 2014. There will be a posting for #30 eventually, but I couldn’t bring myself to reread it right away.

I’m heading off on vacation next weekend (Rhode Island, here I come!) and I’m bringing a stack of BSC books with me. One of two things will happen: I’ll have plenty of time and you may get treated to 3 or more books; otherwise, I may not get any reading done at all. I’ll try to get at least one book done (I have layovers both on the way there and on the way back) so I should have #35 for you at least.

So the very stupid plot line in this one is that Mary Anne, Stacey and the Pikes have gone back to Sea City. The same boys from #8, Alex and Toby, are there. MA and Stacey get into a fight because Stacey assumes her “relationship” with Toby is more important than Mary Anne’s with Alex. It gets even worse after Toby “dumps” Stacey. Meanwhile, Mary Anne is angsty because she goes out with Alex a couple times but she worries about her love for Logan. Eventually, she realizes that she and Alex are just friends, and just because you like a guy doesn’t mean you have to date him.

The subplot revolves around Vanessa’s crush on a random guy who works at the ice cream shop. She leaves him love poems, but he thinks they’re from Mallory. The BSC isn’t really too involved; MA just worries about Vanessa a little bit, but Vanessa sorts the whole thing out by never telling Chris the truth and leaving him with one last poem.

Interesting Tidbits

What is the earliest ghostwritten book? I have my books really awkwardly arranged (I only have 3 “cubes” for what is at least 5 cubes worth of books, so I have to pull 25-48 out to get at 1-24. The first one I see here is 27—neither 25 nor 26 were. But there could be earlier ones. One day when I’m really trying to avoid my research paper, I’m going to through and make a database of all the ‘manuscript assistants’ and which books they wrote.

The cover! Literally seven boys and two girls. I’m assuming that’s MA with Alex and Stacey with Toby. The boy building a sandcastle could be Nicky (he’s got glasses.) Then that could be the triplets in the background, but why are they blonde? (I love the one on the left’s pink/purple swim trunks.) And once again, someone has played with the cover, to give MA short hair! Some BSC fan has even less of a life than I do!


Did you know Dawn has “yards of wheat-colored hair?” Mean neither. If it’s that long, she probably steps on it all the time. Oh, and the same set of member descriptions pegs Jessi as “this really neat black girl.” I don’t know why, but that strikes me as odd.

The story starts the day before the Pikes leave for Sea City, and Stacey and Mary Anne are reminiscing about their last trip. It’s not until they pull Mal into the conversation that she joins in. I’d almost forgotten she was in Sea City with them.

Sharon-itis (the disease where you put things where they REALLY don’t belong): grocery list and pencil in the fridge; tomato in the coupon drawer*

*Who the hell has a coupon drawer?

The triplets and Nicky have a running contest going on whenever the Pike station wagons pass each other (which happens a lot…think that Mr. and Mrs. Pike were egging them on a bit?) Nicky actually shakes his fist at his brothers.

Margo says that ‘raisin rum’ ice cream looks like it has flies in it. That’s a comment I would have expected out of one of the boys. I guess her car-related queasiness doesn’t extend to food.

Claire goes missing at the Howard Johnson’s on the way to SC. So MA is keeping a careful count of how many kids they have. Right as she reminds us of that, she says they can head to the beach because they have everyone: Stacey, Mal, Margo, Claire, the triplets. Vanessa says she’ll be along in a minute. Um…anyone missing?

Mary Anne microwaves bacon for the Pikes. Yum?

What’s with Claire making ice cream messes and getting another free ice cream because of it? It happens twice in the first five chapters. And then the guy at Ice Cream Palace who likes Mal accidentally sets the whipped cream machine onto crazy high, so he remakes Mal’s strawberry sundae. I personally would have wanted the one drenched in whip cream.

This conversation says a lot: Mary Anne: Logan has nothing to worry about. Stacey: Do you mean, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him? (Oh, Stacey…*shakes head*)

I do find it really interesting that Mary Anne is actually cheating on Logan when she hangs out with Alex. Sure, they’re not making out or anything, but it’s still emotional cheating.

Vanessa’s luuuuuv poem: An accident brought us together/And I know we will never part/Please say you’ll love me forever/You’ve totally stolen my heart. Mary Anne’s concerned because Vanessa’s writing these words to a guy she met once, but that sounds pretty typical pre-teen to me. I used to get crushes on boys at Vanessa’s age and imagine us getting married. (One time, I imagined marrying the guy I liked at sixteen and making ends meet by driving the school bus….)

Oh, and I think Vanessa may have the nicest handwriting out of everyone in these books.

Ooh, I think this is the first time Dawn met Carol!

Dawn and Jeff are watching Indiana Jones while babysitting. Jeff spends the whole evening playing with the three year old while Dawn deals with a colicky baby. She thinks the idea of Jeff as a babysitter is funny, but why is that so weird? (Of course, I’ve already read the book where he is babysitting.)

How does Chris know the Pikes’ names? He calls Vanessa by name and then says, “Tell Mallory…”

Jessi’s totally watching Sesame Street, although it is never mentioned by name. She puts it on for Squirt but ends up watching it mostly by herself.

I hope that Misty and Frodo the hamsters are the same gender. Squirt puts them in a cage together after watching a same/different segment on the above-mentioned show. I remember reading that as a kid and hoping that Jessi could tell the hamsters apart or the Pikes might get the wrong hamster. (I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to spell hamster with a P…hampster.)

Mary Anne and Stacey actually get into an argument over who used whose towel. And it’s as boring as it sounds.

Apparently, Mary Anne and Logan take turns paying for their dates.

Funniest part of the whole book: Only Mrs. Pike is up when Mary Anne gets home from her “date” with Alex, and she (jokingly) wants to talk over MA’s date with her. I don’t know why this cracks me up, other than I basically just wrote her taking on the same role in one of my fanfics with her son’s girlfriends.

Vanessa’s final note to Chris: I’d love to see you tonight/but the timing just isn’t right./We’re leaving Sea City today/and going far away./I’ll always remember your smile/please think of me once in a while. I [heart] you forever, your secret admirer

Mallory shouts in her sleep. I once had a roomie who did that and, like Vanessa says, it’s creepy at first, but you get used to it.

The title quote is MA’s opinion of Stacey’s tanning procedure.

I’m pages from the end of the book, and all I can think is, they were so busy talking about boys in this book, they didn’t even touch on the issues from the first Sea City book. It would have been nice if they’d thrown a little nod to it, like having Byron not wanting to go snorkeling with his brothers or having the triplets pick on Nicky a little more.

One final Vanessa poem, this one to Mary Anne: Love can hurt, love can sting/a broken heart can never sing./Boys will come, boys will go/but a friend is forever, this I know./A friend is rare and hard to find/everyone knows it’s true/You helped me through a very bad time/I’ll always be grateful to you. Awwww!

Kristy: red t-shirt, faded jeans, visor
Stacey: khaki safari pants, jungle print blouse, expensive belt; blue bikini
Sharon: pink jumpsuit. Wait, was that really Dawn’s and ended up in her clothes by accident? Please say yes.
Dawn: Laura Ashley dress, pearl barrettes (for a plane trip. For my trip, I plan to wear a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans and flip-flops so I don’t have to worry about walking around in my socks at the airport. I would NOT wear a dress that’s probably dry-clean only.)
Claire: red tank swimsuit
Mallory: swimsuit with blue bottom and striped tank top

New Characters:
Chris, the Ice Cream Palace boy (12)--36
Sheila, Alex’s mother’s helper charge (2)—26
Julie and Gregory, Dawn’s sitting charges (3 and infant)—27 and 24


  1. The first ghost-written book was #23, Dawn on the Coast. Ann M. Martin had never been to California and wanted it written by someone who had.

    I so agree on the coupon drawer! Even my sister-in-law, who's so good at coupons she sometimes ends up with the store paying her, only has a a little notecard file folder.

    What's really weird about this book is that, at least at the time that Graduation Day was published in 2000, this was the best-selling book.

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