I’m trying to decide which I hate most right now: alcohol, my computer or Karen. Normally I’d say Karen (my house is generally a Karen-free zone), but I had a little of this book read last night, but since I was drinking hard cider (yummy!) while reading, I forgot to save it. Then this morning, my computer had a malfunction of the stupid variety—the control button got stuck, as it does frequently, but nothing was working because of it—including saving or closing programs. As such, I’m starting over. If the early part of the book seems to be low on tidbits, it’s just because it’s not nearly as interesting the second time in two days. (Also, I’d drink some more Woodchuck this time, but it’s 9:30 in the morning. I have some standards, no matter how low they may be.
Kristy decides to try out for the SMS softball team, something I’m surprised she never did before. When she makes the team, she and the other new members are all told they have to vandalize a toolshed as initiation. After initially resisting, Kristy eventually gives in—wanting to look like a team player—and spray paints the shed. Some of the other girls stop for a smoke and the next morning, it’s announced that the shed burned down, injuring a bystander who tried to put out the fire. Assuming the fire started because of the cigarettes, Kristy freaks out. It’s made worse by the fact that the girls are all getting ‘I know what you did last summer’-style notes. It turns out that one of the girls who helped with the vandalism, the other one who didn’t want to do it, has been sending the notes to scare the other girls into confessing. Kristy decides to confess after the boys’ baseball team is blamed for the fire, but it turns out that the cigarettes weren’t really the cause of the fire. Kristy decides not to ever go along blindly with the group again.
Meanwhile, Karen has decided she really wants to be thirteen (because thirteen is, for some reason, ‘grown up’) so she starts copying. Every. Single. Move. The BSC makes. It’s more annoying than normal Karen, and that’s saying something. Finally, annoyed with herself for giving in to peer pressure and Karen for being Karen, Kristy convinces her stepsister to not try to be someone she’s not.
Also, Claudia and Stacey agree to coach the Krushers for Kristy, mostly for humor value. Honestly, having Mallory do it—because she seems to know the game best of the rest of the club—would have made much more sense.
Le cover! Kristy is making a fabulous bitch face, while Karen looks like she’s writing down everything Kristy’s doing. Also, in a fabulous bit of continuity, Karen’s shirt clearly says Kristy’s Crushers. Part of me keeps trying to write Caren, for some reason.
When listing the members of her family, Kristy actually includes the ghost of Ben Brewer. (Interestingly, later Kristy mentions how Ben Brewer’s furniture and stuff is still set up in his bedroom on the third story. I never noticed this before. It gives a teensy-weensy bit of logic to Karen’s belief in the ghost. If you were Watson and had to deal with Karen’s craziness, wouldn’t you do anything you could to discourage her—up to and including dismantling the room?)
Really bad pun alert! Emily Michelle is playing with a seeded dandelion. She sneezes and the seeds scatter. Kristy says, “Dandy!” Later, EM and Nannie are blowing the seeds off all the dandelions. Nannie’s a gardener…why would she do that? My dad used to yell his head off when he caught my sister and I doing that, because it just meant more dandelions later.
After Claudia suggests Kristy join the school softball team, Kristy muses that the only way she’d be able to juggle playing and coaching is if she gives up something else. At various points, Claudia suggests giving up school and homework.
The title quote comes from the first meeting of the book. Claudia is eating gummi worms by dropping them into her mouth from above. Mal suggests she looks like a baby bird being fed by its mother.
I’d totally visit Planet Claudia.
Kristy’s making fun of the school lunch again. It’s not as creative as normal; it’s the same joke one of my classmates made in first grade about pasta looking like worms.
Obviously, Kristy makes the team. Despite saying in the last chapter that a lot of the team had graduated, only four new players join the team. In addition to Kristy, there are another eighth grader, Bea, seventh-grader Tonya and sixth grader Dilys. She’s the one who writes the creepy notes.
Two of the returning members of the team, Marcia and Tallie, threaten the new girls with initiation. They tell Kristy et al that they can’t join the team—really be accepted by the other members—until they get hazed in. If they don’t agree, then the other girls will do things to make them look bad on purpose. Here’s my problem with this: why don’t the new members just go straight to the coach? They know hazing is against the rules of the school, and Coach Wu wouldn’t put up with it—she’s pretty no-nonsense. I realize that would be kind of derail the plot, but it wouldn’t be the end of things, because it’s not like that would sit well with the team members.
I’m still trying to figure out why Stacey and Claudia were so keen to coach the Krushers. I get they want to help Kristy, but it’s not like either one of them has an athletic bone in her body.
Mary Anne’s allowed to stay up as late as she wants? That must be Sharon’s influence. My bed time at thirteen was 9:30 (10 on Tuesdays, so I could watch NYPD Blue.) I would think 10 or 10:30 would be plenty late enough. But I guess Mary Anne is a sensible girl; she says she only stays up late if she’s studying. That’s probably why she’s allowed to stay up as late as she’d like.
After the gummi worm incident and the mac-n-cheese as worms incident, Andrew decides to look for worms in the backyard, which makes Mary Anne decide that worms are ‘the theme of the month.’
Karen should go hang out with Stacey. She wants to know if Mary Anne was wearing something sophisticated when she met Logan. (Normally, I’d say that she should hang out with Dawn. Y’know, she and Ben Brewer could invite Dawn and Jared Mullray over for ghost paté.)
I love this line: “Somehow, the idea of color-coordinating the spray paint was so ridiculous that it almost made me feel better.”
When the time comes to actually vandalize the shed, Tonya and Bea are actually enjoying themselves. Bea even brings a burnt cork so they can cover their faces and look like they’re wearing a ‘hobo’ Halloween costume. (Okay, the last part is my thought, not Bea’s. You ever notice that traditional Halloween costumes just don’t exist anymore? Back when my parents were kids, people dressed as gypsies and hobos all the time. In these politically correct days, no one would dream of sending their kid out dressed as a Rom or a transient.)
I like the non-Karen part of this book. 1. A member of the BSC actually does something she knows is wrong, even though she knows it’s wrong. Kristy flat-out gives in to peer pressure. It’s very realistic for a girl her age. 2. Kristy’s guilt is massive. The book has to teach a lesson; any book aimed at teens/tweens that shows bad behavior has to show repercussions. Even if Kristy never gets caught (I’m in chapter 8 and I can’t remember how the book ends), just how sick, emotionally and physically, her guilt is making her feel should be enough to give smart girls who read this pause.
Claudia spelling! Yay! (Side note: she’s not writing up a job, but Krushers practice. This is smart so that Kristy knows what went on while she was gone. It’s like when I used to write long notes for the teachers when I substitute taught.) Introdused, prety, whistel, clipbored, doinng, standinng, reelise. Also, it’s for reel!
Leave it to Claudia and Stacey to get dressed up for Krushers practice. Part of what amuses me is that Stacey wears a Brooklyn Dodgers hat. When we were in high school, my friend Kelly would end awkward pauses by saying, “What about them Brooklyn Dodgers?” It was cute and funny, until one day I said back, trying to be cute myself, “You know they moved to LA about forty years ago, right?” She didn’t. She was stunned; it was like I’d just told her the sun was cold.
Both Stacey and Claudia are using Kristy’s old gloves. I guess this is before it was established that Kristy is a lefty, because chances are they both aren’t lefties. (Reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, Switch Around. It’s the second book out of three about these two siblings. Thirteen year old JP is a genius but not into sports. When he’s forced to coach his half-brother’s softball team—something his sister Caroline would rather be doing, instead of babysitting her infant half-sisters—he and Caroline both vow to sabotage their new jobs. Among other things, JP doesn’t tell a righty on his team that he’s using his older brother’s old lefty glove, or tell his half-brother that he’s a lefty using a righty glove.)
Claudia is trying to remember a softball drill Kristy taught her, but she can’t recall the name. She thinks it might be pop tart or soda pop. I’d try either of those drills.
It’s really sad—but entertaining—when the players know more about the game than the coaches.
Kristy actually gets so upset after Bea and Tonya threaten her that she cries, just a little.
The first note: ‘I saw what you did. I’m biding my time.’ Fuh-reaky! I would have been scared if I’d gotten that note, and I didn’t even do anything!
Note numero dos: ‘I know what you did. Pay me fifty dollars or I will tell.’ Kristy’s worried because she doesn’t have fifty dollars. I know some kids her age who got an allowance of fifty dollars a week back in 1994.
Kristy sums up the whole blackmail thing like this: It’s her own fault, because she let herself be talked into something she didn’t want to do. BINGO! “I’d copied other to try and fit in, instead of being myself…And now, I didn’t like myself very much at all.”
When Kristy shows up at Krushers practice (which sounds like fun but fairly unproductive…honestly, I’d say it’s probably the best Kristy could hope for. Stace and Claud are keeping her kids showing up and practicing even if they’re not really learning anything new), Stacey calls her Coach Emeritus.
Karen keeps following Kristy around, trying to be—well, not really like Kristy, because she keeps talking about boyfriends and shopping—so maybe she’s trying to be like Stacey? It’s actually less Karen then you’d think based upon the title and the cover, but it doesn’t make her any less irritating.
Kristy, to Karen: “No one else is like you in the whole world.” Thank the heavens for that.
The end of the book has Kristy stating that some things never change, and then suggesting that their lunch that day is compost. She’s back to normal.
Claudia: sunglasses with round metal frames and square green lenses; big yellow shirt with red x-shaped buttons, baggy white pants, red Doc Martens laced with black and yellow laces (Outfit inspiration: Ronald McDonald); red satin baseball cap, purple sweatpants, purple high tops with pink laces, pink crop top
Stacey: black wrap top, short brown skirt, black tights, leopard shoes and scarf (in her hair), gold leaf earrings; black and neon yellow bike shorts, Nikes, black sports bra under a huge white shirt, Brooklyn Dodgers ball cap
Lisa Engle (Karen’s mom): flowered dress, hat with a flower
Seth Engle (stepdad): linen jacket and pants, panama hat (I’m cracking up picturing this and I’m not sure why)
Kristy: jeans, dark blue shirt, black sneakers (for skulking)
Karen: black and yellow bike shorts, black bathing suit top, white t-shirt, ball cap (for copying Stacey)
Next week: Still trying to play catch up. There will be Mystery #15, and, if I can muster the time, we’ll finally finish our time warp by me critiquing Dawn at her bitchy best: #60. (I finally went out and found one of those things that most people have…what’s it called…oh yeah, a LIFE. Heh. So I’ve been busier than normal.)