Me and the new hubby with my niece, the NuggetThis book is written all in diary entries, letters and emails. Like an original-series super special, the chapters alternate, this time between the four original BSC members.
For the month of June, the four girls (plus Abby) are all supposed to be out of town. Kristy, Abby and Mary Anne are to be CITs at Camp Mohawk, while Stacey is with her dad in NYC and Claudia's family is on a small island off the coast of Maine. A variety of different plots overlap. Among other things, Logan, Shannon, Abby and Jessi all drop out of the club for personal reasons, leaving just these four.
Kristy: Goes to camp and enjoys spending time with Abby at first. Freaks out repeatedly about people dropping out of the club.
Mary Anne: Decides not to go to camp while everything is up in the air. Worries about Logan, who is smothering her, and whether her dad will take the job in Philly (spoiler alert--he doesn't.)
Claudia: The Kishis are on an island with no telephone or television, but everyone is sneaking technology time when the others aren't looking. She and Janine bond over it a little and she finds artist inspiration. And meditates.
Stacey: Fights with her dad about Ethan and about him wanting to move his girlfriend in. At the same time, they each find the other's interests boring and wind up.
The cover. Three out of four of these girls look pretty much the way I'd expect them to look in 1999.
Kristy writes like she's in a hurry. She skips the 'I' or 'it' at the beginning of any sentence that would normally start with one: Am inspired by Mary Anne and all she's been through. Will be so great to go to camp again. She also refers to her friends in short hand. MA. A. St. Cl.
Mal is apparently spending the summer writing a book. It's about a fifteen year old selectively mute boy, and his best friend who just wants more out of her life than she's currently getting. Oh wait. No, that's my 'book.'
Also, Kristy mentions not having spoken to Shannon for a while. That's interesting to me. I mean, they don't have much in common; I've always thought that Shannon would be better friends with Stacey, or even Cokie and her friends.
Claudia writing letters equals...lots of Claudia spelling! Thier, vacasion, dood (dude), dont, barbados, speling, coste (coast), peopel, belive, poepal (people...she has real trouble with that one), sumer, minniture, defanitely, worthwile, freinds, bordom, electrisity, computter, metropolitin, musum, postcad, detale. She also uses its for it's, exited for excited, cost for coast, and too for to. There may have been more, but it was three whole pages of Claudia spelling--luckily not in her handwriting--and some of them washed right past me.
Two most interesting things from the first Claudia chapter. She wants Stacey to go to the top of the World Trade Center for her. This was 1999, so okay on that one. Second, she says she's never been stranded on an island before. But she has. And a lot less civilized one at that. I don't know how she could forget that one!
Kristy wonders if Abby will survive camp because she's freaking out over the packing list ("Why do we need bug spray?"), but shouldn't she be more concerned with the fact that Abby is allergic to everything? Camp=woods=pollen=allergy-riffic.
Mary Anne is feeling 'cross' about the Logan situation. How very British of her.
Obviously, Jessi drops out of the BSC because of ballet. This is the part that gets me, though. Suddenly, a ballet school on par with the one she almost went to in NYC is opening in Stamford. RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT. I know if I were about to open a world-class dance school, a small town in Connecticut would be my first choice, too.
More Claudia spelling. Mornig, Mary Ann, shes, Main (Maine), yisterday, actualy, realy, didnt, contane, havent, restrants, fetures, shoping, youve, butons, perchases, souvenears, disconts, purchise. She usues bake for back, hear for here, grate for great, are for our, diner for dinner, Been for Bean (the LL kind), pares for pairs, role for roll and your for you're. The most interesting thing is how she writes the Main (heh) town names: Free Port and Port Land instead of as single words. She actually gets Freeport right a few times and writes it as freeport once. Oh, and you guys know I love it when Claudia tries to spell a word a couple of times and then just gives up. She's done that a couple times so far, with fettuccine (to be fair, I tried to spell it fetachini, so I sympathize) and brochure.
Oh, and Claudia is obsessed with detailing how many lobster foods she eats. Two days into the trip and she's eaten two lobster meals, one of them at McDonalds. (I can confirm that in the 90s, you could get lobster rolls in New England McDonalds. I was actually eating them in Rhode Island, so you'd think Claudia would have been less surprised.)
Ooh, Stacey name-drops Chelsea Clinton, who would have been 19 at the time the book was written. (She's one year older than I am, to the day.) It makes me wonder whether this Cowgirl Hall of Fame is a real place, like how Stacey and Claudia are obsessed with the Hard Rock Cafe. It is! And, Google confirms that Chelsea Clinton did actually have her birthday party there 'many moons ago.'
Stacey's so bored in NYC that she's needlepointing. I can't see it. Maybe she should just go out and make some non-Ethan friends.
Ha! Kristy is the only Thomas-Brewer kid going to camp this summer, so Karen and David Michael keep saying she's spoiled. It's actually quite realistic, but more annoying that Kristy usually finds them.
Abby and Kristy's campers: Marcia (mar-see-ah), Kate, Harmoni, Rachel, Jenna, and LaVonne. The book is dedicated to AMM's new goddaughter, Harmoni, so that's where that name came from. The girls are all listed with last names as well, which makes me think they were all named after someone. But what I find most interesting is that, last time camp was mentioned, every one of the CITs (except, I think, Dawn), had at least one girl from Stoneybrook in their cabin. I'm mentally scanning them in my mind; Stacey had Karen; Mary Anne, Margo and Nancy; Claudia, Vanessa and Haley. Kristy had eight year olds that time as well, and she had Charlotte and Becca in her cabin. This time, not a single name is a familiar one.
I'd forgotten how much foreshadowing of the Mary Anne-Logan break up there was in this book. I know FF#1 is mostly in California, but I haven't read #2 yet. I bet it's the same way.
Claudia: expeted, beleve, theres, isnt, dont, gidebooks, geting, fery, becuase, lot's, finaly, strate, befor, wethered, shingels, yeard (yard), prety, steped, litle, waht, scatered, minature, docter, grocerys, supplis, listan, exitment. She also uses form for from, trials for trails, and hole for whole.
Claudia's reaction to the lack of things to do on her island? "Maybe I'll go start a fight over what to listan [sic] to on the radio." I suddenly love her.
Ethan refers to the couches in shopping centers as 'Guy Couches': they are where the men who humor the women in their lives by shopping with them plop when they're tired of shopping. Stacey keeps using it as a proper noun.
Ethan is reading Of Mice and Men.
Kristy says Abby loves camp, and then proceeds to say that Abby spends most of her time complaining about her allergies and the bugs. But there's a lot of competition, which she loves. And for some unknown reason, she likes camp food. Has anyone had Abby tested for brain damage?
More spelling: Finaly, wouldnt, waht, alot, arent, realy, theres, migt, meditat, brout, meditatting, Ill (I'll), certin, beleve, spoilled, bordom. She uses your for you're
Claudia's book for the summer: A Wrinkle in Time and Little Women.
I'm trying to keep a time table for this. Kristy's first entry is dated June 25, while MA's first, the second chapter*, is more specific: Sunday, June 27. (In 1999, when this book was written, June 27 was actually a Sunday.) Some of the entries are just dated "Monday", but then the actual date is confirmed an entry or two later, by someone else. Following the rest of the chapters up to this Claudia chapter...Claudia leaves for her trip on Satruday (I have not been looking at dates until this point, so I didn't notice that), which must be July 3. She left the day before, while Abby and Kristy leave for camp on July 3. Claudia writes to Stacey on July 9, when she lets her know she's still eating lobster every day. Claud has her priorities straight.
*The chapters are not numbered, which is driving me INSANE.
Humorously, Claud and Stacey are writing each other letters too close together. This happened to a friend and me....it's pretty realistic, too. They're both bored, so the letters they're sending are so close in time that they're asking questions the other has already answered.
Heh. I love this. Ethan's 'older' friend's parents were out of town, so he threw a party. Yep, Stacey went to a raging kegger and got drunk and puked on Ethan's shoes. Just kidding of course; this isn't the California Diaries. The party was 10 kids drinking coffee and reciting poetry.
Kristy keeps talking about how much she likes Abby...as the two of them are arguing and one upping each other.
Stacey's dad actually faxes her a memo. This is funny to me on so many different levels. He requests a meeting with her, and when he shows up fifteen minutes late, she points out that she was on time, and then asks if she should take notes.
Claudia spelling is very hard to keep up with this time, so I'm just trying to find new ones I haven't already noticed. Limelite, he', fornt (front), desided, iland, broshure, imagin, hapen, carful, slipery, falen, belowe, describ, neddles, misterious, streek, disapear, crewel (cruel). Funniest part, though? Ethan's friend who had the party was Tomas, and Claudia tells Stacey that she thinks she (Stacey) spelled that wrong.
Mary Anne's grandma Baker travels with more luggage than Stacey. Obviously we find out that this is stuff mostly for MA--memories of her mother to replace the ones that were lost--but it doesn't bode well for the itsy bitsy rental house the Spiers are living in.
The title quote is Kristy's take on Logan. She then says, "I don't want to be really pushy, but I am..." and gives MA advice.
Okay, we all knew it was coming, but Claudia didn't spell Stacey's name wrong until page 80, almost halfway through the book. She also uses whanted, bord and lonly.
Kristy sums up the BSC in one, half-page long paragraph, but didn't even mention a single ridiculous large group activity. Hearing all the life changes put down in one place makes it even more ludicrous that the past nearly-two hundred books occurred within two school years. I always use Dawn as an example: How could her parents get divorced, both get remarried and her father have a baby during this time frame?
Kristy's been taking Claudia lessons. When Jessi confirms that she is dropping out of the BSC, Kristy attempts to alleviate her depression...by eating some candy.
Interestingly, when the girls write letters, they only send them to their besties. Wouldn't Claudia, who's bored witless at this point, send a letter to Mary Anne or Kristy? I mean, I guess Stacey and MA could be talking on the phone on occasion, since they're not what in Quinn Morgendorffer would call 'uncivilization,' but no mention is made of it.
HAHA! Stacey's dad and Samantha have decided to live in sin. It's so...un-BSC-like.
Janine snuck her laptop into her luggage with her. It's not stated as such, but Claudia basically blackmails her sister: Let me borrow your computer or I'll tell mom and dad. Actually, Janine thinks Claudia will blackmail her, so she offers in advance of the blackmail. (BTW, their email handles are NYCGirl and CKishi. Either Stacey has been with her provider since pretty much the dawn of time, or her mom signed up with a small provider. I'm imagining her address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
More spelling: surprize, surprized, papperback, upstares, stamering, freinds, pertending. Brakes for breaks.
Kristy talking about a boy CIT: 'He was a very moist person.'
Shannon sighting! She, Mal and Jessi show up at MA's house to give her a scrapbook that she can use to start rebuilding her memories, whether in Stoneybrook or Philadelphia. But I feel like Shannon should be off at camp or something.
Lobster update: Claudia has eaten lobster now for 15 days straight. She's beaten my clam eating record, and I once had steamahhhhhhhs for an appetizer, clam chowder for my soup, and clam pasta for my meal....
Spelling: improtent, frige, develed, thermis (Thermos), forgoten, identafy, discribe, leter, Ethen, medcine cabinat, fairy, farry (both for ferry...), discoverd, exibit, ilustraited, studeos, speled, wonderfull.
I love that the authors set this whole thing up in this book that travels all through the FF series and is completely, utterly believable. Kristy gets so upset with Abby for dropping out of the club that she completely stops talking to her, despite saying how much she enjoyed her company in her last post. She keeps discussing how horrible it is that everyone wants to leave the club and what will become of it? And (total spoiler alert), in the final book, every member of the club says that they can't picture it continuing on into high school...except Kristy.
Mary Anne actually starts a journal entry "Good evening, diary." It's like the opposite of Kristy's journal, with the lack of unnecessary words.
Stacey's (surface) logic why Samantha can't move in with her father: not enough room in the medicine cabinet and closets. Even Claudia knows that isn't the whole story.
Claudia catches her mother reading a Harlequin Romance novel. I really think that Mrs. K can't say a whole lot about Claud's Nancy Drew habit after that.
More spelling: incredable, harlaquinn, cushin, alredy, remerber, hangars, cuaght, especialy, exitement, discovary, lattest, prepare, defyed, nervouse, expete, tallented, famouse, begining, distante, pated (patted), expresing herslef, matered, demonstratting, technikes, experament, beginers, frist, middel, mathodical, easles, purpal, realistacaly, experiance. She spelled Janine--which she wrote a lot--as Janin once. Oh and she wanted to pant like Salvador Dolly, so there's that.
When Grandma makes the presentation of Alma's things to Richard and Mary Anne, she makes sure to gather the whole family together. It had to be at least a little weird for her to meet Sharon--the new wife of her daughter's husband--but she's as much a part of the presentation as everyone else.
I just love when Claudia calls Stacey on her bullshit about why Samantha can't come in. All Stacey needs to do is say, "I don't feel comfortable with the idea of Samantha moving in. I don't feel like I know her well enough, and I need more time to get used to your relationship." But she's thirteen and may not even realize that's part of the problem.
Yet more Claudia. (If you haven't noticed, I'm combining several of these together. Some of her letters/emails are only a page or so long.) Gues, fell for feel, threw for through, arond, charcoles, rember, natur, recorde, nose for noise, allmost, afew, especally, encyclapodia, leve, evry, singel. She also writes "I'm am" at one point.
I love how, through all the books, one thing about Stacey is very consistent: She's very much her father's daughter. Stacey comes home late one time, and Ethan is two years older than she is. Her father's decision based upon just those two pieces of information: he's too old for Stacey and a bad influence. He makes a choice without getting to know Ethan at all. Later, when he wants to move Samantha in, Stacey...jumps straight to the decision that it's a bad idea, without thinking it over. During her fourteen allowed hours with Ethan, she tells him about the Samantha situation, and he tells her she's being ridiculous and has no valid reason to feel the way she feels. (Other than being a moody teenager). Dad's really surprised at how mature and sensible Ethan is. That's when he decides everyone needs to get to know each other better. (Duhhhhh.)
After Claudia catches her father watching the neighbor's television, she boasts that she's the only one who hasn't broken the rules. Except for, you know, emailing Stacey on Janine's computer. And reading a Nancy Drew behind a library book. And probably a few other things here and there....
I think it's funny that Marcia is Abby and Kristy's least favorite camper. Back when I was a CIT, there was a woman named Marcia (pronounced the Brady way, not mar-see-a) who would come and visit the camp every couple of weeks, gripe about something, and then leave...expecting us all to change everything.
You know Mary Anne's excited about moving into the Goldman's house because she writes an all-caps headline about it.
Two things I thought as the book ended. I really thought Stacey and Ethan were going to break up, so I guess that's just good foreshadowing, and more subtle than the Mary Anne-Logan break up that's completely written on the wall at this point. Second, the BSC members agree to step back, meet less often and sit less often. I'm not sure how that works--do they tell certain clients to find new sitters, or just have to turn down jobs when they're over booked?--but I know I like that there's less sitting, more realism in these final books.
I know you were worried, so not only does Claudia never break her lobster streak, but she also sends Stacey a lobstar [sic] postcard near the end of the book. This is my final treat to you. It's been playing in my head all through this book:
Next: FF #1