March 6, 2013

BSC #114, The Secret Life of Mary Anne Spier: Me, My Elf, and I

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:18 pm by Jenn

Wouldn't that head freak out the kids?

Wouldn’t that head freak out the kids?

Summary: It’s Christmas! Again! Mary Anne spends a ton of money on presents, which she can only do because her father lets her use his credit card, on the promise that she’ll pay back whatever she spends. She goes way overboard. I mean, I wouldn’t spend this amount of money, and I have an actual job, one that doesn’t require changing diapers for $4 an hour. Anyway, Mary Anne knows she won’t be able to make the money she needs by babysitting. She also only has two weeks to make it since that’s when Richard will be paying his bill, and he plans to charge interest.

Mary Anne learns that Winter World at the mall is hiring, so she goes to apply for a job. Yes, I know she’s only 13. Yes, I know Stoneybrook has a lax view of child labor. But before anyone can call BS, Mary Anne chats with another girl (Angela) who’s applying for a job, and is advised to say she’s 16. Mary Anne decides she doesn’t want to lie, but Angela turns in her application anyway. Both of them get hired to be Santa’s elves and wear hideous costumes. Mary Anne decides not to tell anyone about her job, since a) she lied to get it and b) it’s embarrassing.

Of course, Mary Anne is awesome at her job, and the kids love her, blah blah blah, but she keeps getting paranoid that someone will recognize her. Even though she’s wearing a giant elf head. Yeah. She also becomes friends with Angela, who it turns out was kicked out by her parents (because of her “lifestyle” – she never gives details on that, but she probably, like, kissed a boy and her parents thought she was “a fast girl”). Angela’s trying to make money to go out to California and live with some friends. Also, her parents are monsters, because at one point she tries to call them collect and they won’t accept the charges.

Basically the book goes on and on with Mary Anne working at the mall and trying to keep her secret. One day Logan and Dawn (oh, yeah, Dawn’s in Stoneybrook for Christmas) show up with Logan’s brother and sister, and Mary Anne practically has a heart attack. Dawn and Logan remain oblivious, but somehow, Logan’s brother Hunter figures out Mary Anne’s an elf. I really have no idea how.

Ultimately the truth comes out because Mary Anne and Dawn have a fight. Dawn has been distant and a little snobby since her arrival in Stoneybrook; her school in California is 8th-12th grades, so she feels all special that she gets to go to school with high schoolers. She suddenly thinks middle schoolers are babies and that she’s all sophisticated and stuff. She’s not. It’s annoying. Mary Anne calls her on it, and Dawn blasts her for being gone all the time and keeping secrets. Mary Anne confesses that she took a job at the mall, and Dawn convinces her to come clean to everyone, including Richard. He wants to punish her, but Sharon points out that it’s Christmas, so he lets it go.

The B-plot is so dumb that at one point it only gets a five-page chapter. The local hospital can’t afford to give toys to the kids hospitalized over Christmas, so Kristy organizes a big Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa extravaganza. People bring toys to a fair, and the BSC girls donate those toys, plus use the proceeds from the fair to buy more.

Thoughts: In this book, Hanukkah comes after Christmas. I don’t think that’s possible.

Richard charging Mary Anne interest seems mean to me. She’s basically just borrowing his money and will pay him back later – why should she have to pay extra? He’s not losing anything.

Kristy wants to use canned-food donations to make refreshments for “Santa-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa Town.” First of all, why Santa and not Christmas? Second of all, that sounds like a Top Chef challenge. Enjoy your tuna and lima bean casserole, everyone!

I guess Winter World doesn’t run background checks on employees, or they would find out Mary Anne’s real age. It’s good to know a program using people around kids is so concerned with their safety.

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