Sunday, March 20, 2016

“Mom, Abby’s allergic to Stoneybrook.” BSC Portrait Collection: Abby’s Book (1997)

The story of Abby! Dum da dum! Heh, drama.
From Birth to Backpack: Abby as a small fry, looking identical to Anna but not acting identically
Red and Blue Just Won’t Do: In first grade, Abby and Anna’s teacher couldn’t tell them apart, so she makes them each only dress in one color
Without Dad: Abby’s dad dies in a car accident
The Shooting Star: Abby’s family goes on vacation to Florida, but they don’t spend any time together until Abby makes them enjoy each other’s company
New Places, New Faces: Abby’s point of view on moving to Stoneybrook
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Abby’s actually kinda cute here. And according to the note on the inside of the book, that’s actually a real Aretha Franklin CD cover.

Abby says she doesn’t approve of forcing kids to write about their lives instead of living it. But we’re also talking about a girl who forgot she had to write a whole autobiography assignment until the weekend before it was due, so that explains a whole lot.
Anna is eight minutes older than Abby, but she walked a couple of hours earlier than Anna did. I would have thought, given their personalities, that Abby would have walked early and Anna would have chilled for a month or two until she decided to join her.
This is stupid. Abby’s parents knew they were having twins. They even knew they were having identical twins and that they were girls. But her parents were completely surprised by the fact that their twins arrived early. I would think that would be something they’d prepare for, since that’s pretty par for the course for twins.
Oh, Abby. She even makes preschool puns.
Abby hates that no one can tell her and Anna apart in first grade and calls them both Abby-Anna. Being five, she can’t vocalize what’s bothering her. You’d think that the kids would figure it out eventually, since even then, the two of them had completely different interests, but it’s not helped by the fact that the two girls insisted upon identical school supplies and insist upon wearing the same outfit. It’s the same story as the Arnold twins: twins with different interests and different personalities, who dress identically. Only difference? Mrs. Arnold made her daughters dress that way. It just never occurred to Abby and Anna that they could wear different clothes and still be twins.
I’ve always wondered when schools switched to allowing twins to be in the same classroom. When I was in elementary school, twins had to be separated so they would develop separate identities. I can see how that would be difficult for some twins, though, so I could see letting them stay together for a couple of years.
Abby and Anna switch colors so that Abby can prove no one can tell them apart. When their dad comes to school at recess, he can tell they’ve switched but goes along with their scheme. Unfortunately, the girls think their dad can’t tell them apart either, and it depresses them enough that they tell their parents what’s been happening at school
So, school starts after Labor Day where Abby lives, yet by October 15—six weeks later—there’s been enough time for a) everyone to confuse the Stevensons’ identities b) the two of them to wear their colors and c) the two of them to look different long enough that they establish separate friends who know their identities. Sure.
Abby and her dad have an ongoing joke about Abby rolling her eyes and saying how much she love meatballs. I’m not sure if there’s something I’m not getting or if it’s just a lame joke. (That’s actually the last thing she ever said to her dad before he died, so I have to wonder how long it took before she ever ate another meatball.)
Oh, and with all the pasta here—the spaghetti and meatballs Abby’s dad was going to make for dinner that night, the ziti casserole a neighbor brings over after hearing about the accident—all I can think is, isn’t Abby allergic to tomatoes?
Abby overhears her grandfather say that his death was instantaneous, so her dad didn’t suffer. I was Abby’s age when my grandfather died and no one told me anything, but I overheard stuff. A lot of stuff. Some of it made it harder to sleep and some of it made me easier. Honestly, looking back, I really wish someone had just told me straight up that he had a DNR and they’d pulled the plug, but I think they didn’t think I could handle it.
Even though this book is really lame, I found myself trying not to cry when Abby and Anna were talking to their mother. It had been a little more than a month since their dad died, and there was no food in the pantry, no dishwashing detergent, a house full of dirty dishes and full trashcans, and Abby admits she’s worn the same pair of socks for three days in a row. Abby says they need to pull the house together, and her mother says she needs to pull herself together. It’s sad because it’s actually realistic. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to lose a husband…never mind having to carry on for your daughters. Hard.
I like this: Abby’s family pretty well fell apart after her father died. This was partly because he was all about routine and traditions, and her mother couldn’t stand to follow those routines because they hurt too much. They got back into routines a couple months after her father died, when Rachel Stevenson decided to pull herself together for the sake of her daughters. But it took them several years to figure out that they needed to start new traditions as a way to honor their father and become a family again.
Abby’s friends from Long Island? Elvia, Jennifer and Joyce. I go back to the idea I had last week that the writers just started using a random name generator at some point and didn’t stop to think how many people named Elvia or Joyce were born in 1984. (This book: 1997. Abby’s friends: 13.)
Oh, and apparently all/most of Abby’s LI friends were also Jewish.
It’s so much more obvious in the Abby books how all these characters are so one-dimensional. When the Stevensons decorate their Stoneybrook house, Anna picks out a four-poster bed and flowery, Laura Ashley-esque wallpaper—a match for the types of clothes she is usually portrayed wearing—and is mostly concerned about where she’ll put her stereo and CD collection. Abby picks a traditionally-masculine wallpaper with tan and blue stripes and is interested in a fold-out couch for her friends to sleep on. At their going away party, their friends give Anna violin CDs and Abby a bunch of balls. It’s obvious through all this that Anna is very introverted while Abby is—duh—the extrovert of the two, and then of course, one likes sports and the other likes music….
Actually, I think it would be a lot more interesting if Abby, the outgoing, smart-mouthed one, dressed like a future nun and played the violin, while Anna, the introverted, quiet one, were into sports and dressed like she had no fashion sense.
Anna says the title quote, followed by, “We have to go back to Old Woodbury.” (Their mother reiterates that Abby also ‘has allergic reactions when she’s under stress.’ So she’s suggesting that Abby’s allergic to her emotions?
Abby acknowledges that she and Kristy have a lot in common, commenting how odd it was that Kristy seemed to like Anna better when they first met. She does admit that she was telling her crappiest jokes at the Thomas’ house when they spent the night there, but otherwise seems confused as to why Kristy was so opposed to her in the first place.
When Abby makes a really bad rhyme-pun, Kristy compares her to Vanessa. This is both awesome and awful at the same time. I can’t decide who should be more insulted, Abby or Vanessa.
Abby gets an A-. Didn’t some of the other girls get two grades, one for content and one for mechanics? I know Claudia did, because she got a decent grade for content and a lousy grade for mechanics like spelling.
Five year old Anna and Abby: white t-shirts, green cardigans, black jeans; overalls and a yellow shirt (Abby); flower-print dress (Anna)
Nine year old Abby: jeans, turtleneck, cowboy vest

Next: #107

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