Okay. This book drove me nuckin’ futs when I first read it a couple years ago, and there is one, very simple reason why. If you’ve never read this book before, here’s a very quick summary: Kristy meddles in Charlie’s love life. That’s annoying enough by itself, but it’s so Kristy that you’re not even surprised by it. Here’s what I found so obnoxious about this book: Kristy keeps telling Charlie to give up his new girlfriend because she’s trouble, and she’s flippin’ right! I would have liked the book a hell of a lot more if Kristy had warned Charlie that this girl, Angelica, was no good, and she turned out to be wrong and Angelica was harmless….
A more detailed plot summary: Kristy throws a spring-break spring training for the Krushers and Charlie agrees to help. He just broke up with his girlfriend and enjoys the attentions of the Hsus’ sitter, Angelica, so much so that he slacks on his part of the deal. He promises to get some famous baseball player to come to the training camp but doesn’t follow through. Kristy tries to get Charlie and his ex back together but just pisses him off.
Kristy wins four tickets to a rock concert and agrees to give two to Charlie in exchange for a ride to the concert. Kristy, Charlie, Angelica and Claudia are on their way to the concert with Angelica driving Watson’s car when they get pulled over. Angelica crashes the car and admits she doesn’t have a license. Charlie realizes that Angelica’s a liar and a bad seed and he gets back together with his ex, who gets the baseball player to come to the training camp.
The front cover: All the ladies love Charlie…
The back cover: The story summary begins “Kristy’s brother Charlie is a good guy….” This is an understatement. Not only does Charlie shuttle Kristy (and her friends) all over the place, but every time he drops her off and discovers she needs help with whatever she’s gotten herself into, he drops everything and takes care of it. He does things like run concession stands at Krushers’ games and transport the team from place to place, even when it means getting stranded at a ‘haunted’ house. He came in during the Pike plague and helped cook and clean even though he didn’t get paid. Charlie’s the kind of kid you can be proud of, whether he is your son, your neighbor or your brother.
Porky, Arnold and Piglet: Kristy’s nicknames for her brothers. I get Porky and Piglet, but it took me fifteen minutes to get the Arnold reference. It shouldn’t surprise me that Kristy would make a Green Acres reference, given the fact that these girls love Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy.
Kristy makes the Hillary Clinton argument: if you have a forceful personality and a penis, people call you strong-willed and a born leader. But a female with the same quality is either bossy or a bitch. (Okay, Kristy doesn’t say the latter, but it’s obviously what she means. You all know that’s what some of her classmates will call Kristy behind her back.)
The Brewer-Thomas clan has six pets, but it took me absolutely forever to list them all, since it’s usually just Boo-Boo and Shannon that get mentioned. The rest of the pets are all Karen and Andrew’s—two goldfish, and two caged small animals that used to live at the ‘Little House’ until Karen and Andrew started switching houses every other month instead of just staying with their dad on weekends. (I still haven’t pinpointed exactly when that happened.) Karen’s rat is named Emily Jr.—which is supposed to be a compliment, but hopefully that rat’s dead long before Emily Michelle is old enough to figure that one out. And if I remember correctly, Andrew’s hermit crab is named Bob.
Charlie is looking at college brochures…during spring break…of his senior year. He should have already chosen a school by then.
Oh, and the brochures include Levithan Polytechnic Institute and Rhineback School of Arts. Would any person be considering those two schools at the same time? If you really don’t know what you want to study, you go to a big state school, where you have 3000 major choices. (David Michael suggests that Charlie go someplace where he can train to be an astronaut, which is such a 7 year old thing to suggest.)
Obviously, this story revolves around the Krushers, and Bart does indeed show up. There goes my theory that Bart does not show up again after he breaks up with Kristy.
When Kristy calls the meeting to order while picking up a phone call, Mrs. Kuhn thinks she dialed Pizza Express by accident. That leads to various BSC members quipping, “One babysitter, extra cheese with pepperoni?” and “Is that a deep dish sitter or a Sicilian?”
I’m picturing Jessi giving the Kuhn kids ballet lessons and it’s hilarious. I think it’s mostly because they always describe Jake as being pudgy and klutzy—the eight year old boy version of myself—that I find him plié-ing so funny.
Kristy asks Bart to help with her Spring Klinic (she spells it with a c at this point, but it’s the Krushers, so k it is. Plus, then I can all it Kristy’s Krushers’ Klinic and shorten it…) He turns her down because then the Krushers would know all his secrets. Kristy says it’s only a game, so who cares, but I’m actually with Bart on this one. Plus, that may be the only time in the history of the world that Kristy’s called softball ‘only a game.’
Ha! Charlie knows just how to annoy Kristy, which is absolutely no surprise. When the radio station called Kristy to let her know she’d won four tickets to the Blade concert, she thought it was Alan making fun of her. (She didn’t realize that they pre-tape most radio segments. I had that argument repeatedly with my sister when she was tying up the phone line trying to win radio contests in her teens. Seriously, people: when you hear them answering the phone and telling some schmuck he’s the 57th caller out of 101, that’s when you can quit calling, because they’re recording the call with the actual winner.) So later when Kristy’s crabby, Charlie asks her if she had a fight with her boyfriend, Alan.
Charlie’s post-high school dreams? Clown college. Awesome.
So the big baseball star Kristy promises the kids will be at the KKK? (I told you I was going to shorten it!) His name is Jack Brewster and he used to play for the Mets. What bugs me is that Kristy goes all gaga and starts telling the kids everything, and Charlie just says he ‘might’ be able to get him to come. It tells me Kristy wasn’t really listening—she only heard the words she wanted to hear. (I don’t know anyone who does that. Certainly not my mother, who tells all my relatives all the prospective details about my wedding that ‘might’ happen…just after I told her not to tell anyone anything until it’s set in stone!)*
Huh. I don’t remember ever hearing that Kristy’s dad used to play minor league ball, but he makes a lot more sense when you factor that in. He’s like a little boy who didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas…so he ups and leaves his family for the chance to be a reporter for a sports team instead. Still not okay, but his logic is a teensy bit less shady now.
I’m not surprised that the kids on the Krushers love Charlie. I kinda love him myself.
Various things Kristy calls Angelica before she learns her name: Monica, Jessica, Seneca, Veronica, Cressida, Sparticus.
Oh, and Kristy does eventually call it Krushers Klinic. I don’t know if I remembered that or it was just a logical assumption. (You know Karen’s sitting back there on the bench going, Crushers’ Clinic in her head…)
Double Ha! Mr. Pike calls Jessi ‘Jesserina’. It’s such a dad joke and I adore it.
I no longer have that list I used to amass of the members of Kristy’s Krushers, but I do know that the KKK has more members than the team usually has. As of now, the only additions to the regular krew (see what I did there?) that I’m aware of are Vanessa and the triplets. Vanessa’s usually a cheerleader, but she’s playing in this book. And I guess that the triplets’ can attend the KKK around their Little League practices….
Kristy refers to the sounds Charlie’s car makes as ‘the mating call of the Junk Bucket.’ That put a really inappropriate picture in my head, like a scene out of a documentary about wildlife.
You know Angelica is a bad girl because she smokes!
Claudia’s idea of a good snack: she wraps a licorice string around a pretzel.
This is interesting, and I never noticed it before. After Mrs. Barrett became Mrs. DeWitt, the assorted Barrett-DeWitt kids seemed to do everything together. But only Buddy and Suzi are Krushers, despite the fact that Lindsey, Taylor and Madeleine are all the right age to join.
Dumbass. Kristy tries the sitcom-staple of setting Charlie and Sarah up to go to dinner together. It never works for kids of divorcing parents, so why does she think it will work in this case? It’s double-bad because Charlie invites Angelica along. Kristy talks him out of it, but it still goes very badly.
Number of baseball puns in Abby’s KKK sitting notebook entry: five. Number of sentences: five. She’s batting a thousand.
Abby’s method of dividing the kids up for a practice game: “All kids with vowels in their names, to my right. All kids with consonants in their names, to my left.”
Shocking. Kristy admits that she was an idiot for butting into Charlie and Sarah’s break up.
*It wasn’t until chapter 9 that I realized Kristy didn’t tell the kids at the KKK that Jack Brewster might come. The kids weren’t all showing up because of JB; they were showing up because they idolize Charlie. He’s the one who tells the kids Jack Brewster will be coming.
Ooh, this is awful: when Charlie slacks on his co-coach duties, Kristy calls him on it. Charlie points out that he’s volunteering, and therefore, he can slack if he wants to. Kristy suggests he’s just like their father. This has to be the ultimate insult for one of the Thomas kids, but especially for Charlie. (Part of the reason I liked the FF series so much was that Patrick leaving was addressed: Charlie was allowed to be angry at this dad—for good reason—while Sam got to play peacekeeper, a role that I think matured him.)
Finally, a sign that Charlie is a teenaged boy and not perfect: He’s really mad—understandably so—after Kristy’s comment, but he comes to KKK anyway. He then makes Mary Anne play message girl and relay questions and messages to Kristy, because he doesn’t want to talk to her. Passive aggression at its finest, folks.
So Blade—the band Kristy, Claudia and Charlie love—has a new CD called…Shrunken Heads. Yet they write love songs that Abby and Kristy were embarrassed that Charlie was singing along with.
Watson drives an Oldsmobile, which Charlie asks to borrow. When I was remembering this story, I thought that Watson’s car was a stick, because Charlie sucked at driving it. Instead, he says he’s not used to power breaks and power steering. (I’ve driven a car without those things, and it’s really not that different, so I don’t get this, but okay.) Angelica convinces him to let her drive because she’s getting car sick. Kristy hates the idea because Watson loaned Charlie the car and she feels like letting Angelica drive is sneaky and wrong. Kristy’s right, for more reasons than she knows, but Charlie’s so mad at her he won’t listen.
I don’t understand why Mr. Kishi is mad at Claudia when he picks her up at the police station. Watson? Yeah, I get him being pissy. His car is stranded on the highway and possibly totaled. Plus, Charlie let someone else drive the car, a totally stupid choice. But Mr. Kishi? I don’t get that one.
Oh, snap. The title quote is Watson’s snarky response when Charlie tries to defend his actions on the way home from the Stamford police department. Later, he tells Charlie to ‘rethink his social attachments’, which is Watson-speak for ‘you’re not to see Angelica anymore.’
Ha ha! Angelica convinces Kristy to hand a letter over to Charlie. Kristy notices the letter is typewritten and suggests that’s formal and took extra effort. This is no longer true. These days, if I wanted to take extra effort, I’d definitely handwrite it.
Oh, and then Charlie actually reads the letter out loud to Kristy! I’ve got a younger sister and if I got a letter from a significant other like that, I’d never let her know what it said.
In the aftermath of everything, Charlie fears that he actually is like his father, because he promised to help Kristy with the KKK and instead, let her and the kids down. He thinks he’s immature because he can’t figure out where he wants to go to college or what he wants to study. But Kristy points out that he held the family together when Patrick left. Charlie would get up in the middle of the night to feed David Michael. He even learned to write a check and paid the bills. Kristy tells him she looks up to him so much that she sometimes asks herself, “What would Charlie do about this?” when she’s stuck on a problem. That’s sweet.
In the author’s note, AMM says that she actually went to Walt Disney World as ‘research’ for super special #1. Sure, Ann. I believe that’s the only reason you went there. *wink*
This is my 200th post. I should celebrate, and I think I will…by eating a few Cadbury Crème Eggs…(Actually, watch this space. I plan to do something fun..ner than normal coming up in a few posts.
Claudia: fringed leather vest, oversized plaid shirt, wide tie, bell bottoms with two different color legs, VCR hair clips
Next: Mystery #29