October 27, 2011

BSC #88, Farewell, Dawn: West Coast Represent

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 6:44 pm by Jenn

"This time it's for good." Promise?

Summary: After hearing in the last book that Sunny’s mom has cancer, Dawn decides she really wants to move back to California – for good. School is about to start up, so she has to go quickly, which means she only has a couple of weeks left in Stoneybrook. While she’s trying to figure out how to break the news to Mary Anne, Dawn tells Kristy, in case she needs to get a move on replacing her in the BSC. Kristy tells Claudia, Claudia tells Stacey, Stacey tells Robert, Robert tells Logan, and Logan tells Mary Anne, who’s understandably ticked about not hearing the news straight from Dawn.

Mary Anne turns into a big baby, acting like a jerk to Dawn and refusing to help the other BSC girls plan her goodbye party. Of course, it’s just because she’s so upset, but talk about handling it badly. Though, to be fair, everyone else handles the news of Dawn moving across the country a little too well. Maybe they’re as sick of her as I am. Anyway, long story short, Dawn goes back to California, rarely to be heard from again.

In the B plot, James Hobart breaks his leg, so the BSC girls and a bunch of kids decide to put on Christmas in the summer to make him feel better. It’s sweet but boring.

Thoughts: There are actually some nice moments in this book, and Dawn is much less annoying than usual. Jessi writes her a nice letter saying how much she looks up to Dawn and admires her for standing up for what she believes in. There’s also a scene where Dawn and Stacey talk about changes and how it can be hard to make people understand what you want when they’re not ready for a change. And while I’m not a Dawn fan, I did feel a little bad for her, feeling torn between her two homes, and her friends who want her to stay but also want her to be happy.

Interesting that, despite being on probation, Stacey has been reinstated as treasurer. Maybe Shannon just really sucks with money.

Jessi tells the kids not to buy James a gun that shoots sparks because Dawn doesn’t like guns. Who gives a crap what Dawn doesn’t like if the present isn’t for her? If I were the kids wanting to buy it, I’d say, “Dawn’s moving across the country. I can buy whatever the heck I want.”

Why does Dawn write Sunny a letter when she’s going to see her in two days?

August 23, 2011

BH90210 1.22, Home Again: The Best-Laid Plans

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 9:07 pm by Jenn

When I inevitably proposition the man of my dreams, I hope it's while I'm on a carousel horse, holding a stuffed panda

Summary: School’s out for the day, and Steve’s celebrating by getting punched in the face by some guy. Brandon breaks things up and Steve says the guy said something mean about his mother. At work, one of Jim’s coworkers says some guy named Henry Powell is in town, which means people are probably going to be fired. Jim says he’s not worried, then learns he’s supposed to have Powell with Henry the next day. At home, he tells Cindy he’s sure the lunch means something bad.

Brandon and Brenda commiserate over their father’s possibly axing, Brandon saying that they’ve taken for granted how awesome their lives are. The next day, Jim has an awkward lunch with Powell, who’s noticed that Jim isn’t very happy in Beverly Hills. Steve (wearing an eyepatch) stops by the Walshes’ and he and Kelly talk about how great a mom Cindy is. Jim kicks them out so he can tell his family he hasn’t been fired, he’s been promoted – and they have to move back to Minnesota.

Cindy, Brenda, and Brandon aren’t too excited about leaving Beverly Hills, and Brenda notes that Jim doesn’t have to take the promotion. Jim says they’d have to move immediately, but he wants the family to make the decision together. They do a blind vote, with everyone but Jim voting to stay. He’s not surprised that Brandon and Brenda want to stay, but he’s surprised that Cindy does. Jim calls Powell to turn down the promotion offer, and Powell doubles his salary, so Jim overrides the family vote and announces they’re going back to Minneapolis.

Brandon and Brenda talk about how they felt when they first moved to Beverly Hills (she was excited to come, he wasn’t). She’s sad to leave Dylan and miss out on a summer production of Romeo and Juliet. She’s worried that people will think they’re going back to Minneapolis because they couldn’t hack it in Beverly Hills. Cindy tells the twins that they have to move by June 1st. Brandon doesn’t think his mother ever adjusted to life in California, but Brenda disagrees. The twins make a list of pros and cons about their two states.

At school, with everyone now aware of the Walshes’ move, Kelly offers to let Brenda move in with her, and Steve does the same with Brandon. At the Peach Pit, Nat’s also sad to see Brandon go. Andrea wants to have a “goodbye dinner” with Brandon, who’s too dumb to realize that this is really a date, even when Brenda tells him it is. Jim distracts Brandon from his request to stay with Steve by giving him his old car (his promotion comes with a new one). He then heads back to Minneapolis by himself.

Brandon notices that Steve is acting weird around him, but can’t get him to talk. Dylan’s all mopey over Brenda’s impending move, lamenting all the things they haven’t done together yet. Kelly tells Brenda that her mom said no to Brenda moving in (not like Jim was going to allow that anyway). At home, Cindy encourages Brenda to trust that Dylan won’t go out with any other girls after she leaves. Brenda and Brandon complain that their friends are either not speaking to them or are moving on without them.

Andrea and Brandon go to the boardwalk and ride a carousel while she teases that she has a surprise. Her goodbye present is…herself. She wants them to have a memorable goodbye with each other. (Wink wink.) The next day, Brandon tells Brenda that he thinks Andrea’s pretty, but he never wanted to do anything with her because they’re just friends. Brenda encourages him to bed her. They run into Dylan, and Brenda lets it slip to Brandon that they’re sleeping together. He hopes she’s being careful. (Foreshadowing!)

Out in cold, gray Minnesota, where there’s snow on the ground even though it’s June, Jim goes back to his old office and learns that work requires a lot of work. Back at the beach, Brenda tells Dylan that she’s not sure a long-distance relationship will work for them, considering it didn’t for Brandon. He suggests running away together, but instead they just make out. At school, Brandon tells Andrea he’ll sleep with her, then kisses her. At home, Jim calls Cindy and tells her how busy things are. She worries that he’ll be working a lot when the rest of the family joins him.

Andrea drops by the Peach Pit to tell Brandon that she actually can’t have sex with him that night because of a family get-together. They can’t find a time when they’ll be able to be alone at her house, so Brandon suggests that they meet at the Peach Pit on Sunday. (That HAS to be a health-code violation.) Steve arrives, is short with Brandon, and leaves. Brenda and Dylan hook up at his place before she tells him she came over to break up with him. He can’t talk her out of it.

On Sunday, Brenda’s still bummed over the breakup, as well as Kelly declining to hang out with her. She tells Brandon she thinks Steve’s just mad at him for leaving. (Ya think?) Brandon takes Steve to the beach and forces him to talk about his feelings. He admits that he dreamed about coming to California and being in the ocean, but the first time he went in, he got pounded by waves. He hasn’t been back in since the fall, and he thought he’d share his “last wipeout” with Steve.

Brenda and Cindy pack, and Brenda complains that Jim’s job is ruining her life. Jim calls to say he has to take a later flight (I guess to come back and help pack). Brandon falls asleep on the beach and dreams about hooking up with Andrea. As Jim arrives back in California earlier than expected, Nat calls to ask Brenda to help out with a private roast at the Peach Pit that night (since he can’t get a hold of Brandon). She reluctantly agrees to go.

Brandon and Andrea meet at the Peach Pit and make out before letting themselves in…to find a surprise party organized by their friends. Andrea quietly assures Brandon that she wasn’t setting him up. When Brenda arrives, the party starts, with David filming people saying nice things about the twins. Jim and Cindy look on, hearing how much their kids’ friends like them. Dylan says his goodbyes to Brandon in person, saying that Brenda saved him from going back to drinking. “You Walsh people are the only family I got,” he says.

Jim thanks everyone for accepting them in Beverly Hills. He gets all cliché, saying “home is where the heart is,” then announces that the promotion and raise aren’t what he really wants. The family is staying in Beverly Hills. Andrea thinks this means she and Brandon are destined to just be friends. He asks if she would have really slept with him, and she tells him he’ll never know. Cindy wonders why Jim didn’t tell her earlier that they were staying, but he just decided. Instead of just letting everyone have a happy ending, Brenda tells Dylan that she’s late.

Thoughts: Brenda wears a long black dress on the beach. Is she mourning her sailor husband who was lost at sea?

So Brandon had no idea what Brenda and Dylan were doing when they disappeared from the dance together? He’s even dumber than I thought.

When Brandon agrees to have sex with Andrea, they’re standing by a big banner that says, “Go for it.” Nice.

No one told Andrea about the surprise party? Nice friends.

Kelly: “I’ve even become less of a b*%$# since I started hanging out with [Brenda].” Steve: “Well, there really only was one way you could go, Kelly.” I love them together.

I made it through the first season! It…wasn’t that great, actually. But I know it starts to get soapy coming up, and I’m excited for that.

May 20, 2011

BH90210 1.1, Class of Beverly Hills: Beverly Hills, That’s Where I Want to Be

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 10:06 pm by Jenn

"Are these pleated khakis turning you on?"

Summary: Twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh are new to Beverly Hills, having just moved there from Minneapolis. Brandon is pretty relaxed about their first day at their new school, but Brenda wants to make a good first impression. Steve Sanders meets up with his ex, Kelly Taylor, who got a nose job over the summer. Brenda and Brandon meet with their new principal, who’s impressed with their academic achievements and warns that West Beverly is competitive.

Kelly makes Brenda her chemistry lab partner so she doesn’t have to sit with an overweight girl. In Brandon and Steve’s Spanish class, Andrea Zuckerman is the only person who actually understands the language. Later, Brandon meets with her to discuss writing for the school paper. At lunch, no one wants to sit with Brandon. Kelly tells Brenda that West Beverly is socially intense; one false move and you’re in a lot of trouble. Freshmen David Silver and Scott Scanlon are harassed by football players.

A plane flies over the school advertising a party, and Kelly tells Brenda it’s being thrown by a super-rich girl named Marianne Moore. The two of them decide to go together. Even though freshmen aren’t invited (though Marianne spells it “freshman”), David is resigned to go. On the way home, Brandon and Brenda talk about the party, but she doesn’t want to go with him. Brenda’s mom Cindy embarrasses her a little by insisting on meeting her new friends (including Donna Martin) before the party. Brandon meets up with Steve and they head into the party together. Brandon and Brenda hang out with their new friends at the party as David tells Scott he wants a shot at Kelly. Scott gets outed as a freshman and shoved into the pool.

Brandon meets a girl who’s also alone and she immediately hits on him. She tells him she hates that the same people always come to these kinds of parties. He asks why she goes to them and she admits that the party’s at her house – she’s Marianne. She threw the party because her parents always tell her to be social, but she doesn’t actually like a lot of people, despite being popular. Brandon asks if he can call her sometime. She writes her name on his arm in lipstick. Steve gets tipsy from a bottle in a paper bag, then asks Kelly to dance, yelling at her when she says no. He tells David that she’s a huge bitca and he dumped her because she’s horrible in bed. David figures out that Steve’s mom Samantha is a huge TV star. He goes looking for Scott but winds up getting volunteered as Steve’s designated driver. Steve’s too drunk to care that David doesn’t have his license.

Kelly and Brenda pull up next to them on the way home and call David a geek. David’s night gets worse when a cop car pulls up behind them at a red light. For some reason, he puts on a football uniform. He delivers Steve home safely but doesn’t put the car in park, so it rolls down the driveway and crashes. On Monday, Brenda teases Brandon about how he’s talked about Marianne all weekend. He’s not sure anything could ever happen between them since Marianne’s rich and the Walshes are normal. At school, Steve’s drunken antics are being laughed about, and it turns out he’s not sure who drove him home. Said driver is freaking out that Bruce Steve will kill him over crashing 1Bruce1 his car.

Kelly makes Brenda’s ID a fake ID and gets her in trouble for not paying attention in class. Brenda’s worried about breaking the law since she’s never broken one before. Still, she makes plans to go to a club with Kelly and Donna. Brandon finds Marianne at lunch and asks if she wants to go to Paris over the weekend. She doesn’t get that he’s joking, but she’s up for it. She’ll settle for a regular local date, though. Brandon asks Andrea for suggestions for a date spot, but she wants his article and won’t be helpful. She tells him she didn’t go to Marianne’s party because socializing won’t get her into an Ivy League college. But somehow, she knows of a romantic restaurant where Brandon should take Marianne.

Brenda gets ready to go to the club, though she’s told Cindy she’s going to another party. Brenda thinks she should treat her daughter more like the Beverly Hills parents treat their kids. Her fake ID gets her into the club, but the doorman (DJIMON HOUNSOU! I’M TOTALLY SERIOUS!) rejects Kelly’s, so Brenda’s the only girl in the group to get access. Some guy named Jason offers to buy her a drink (she takes five minutes to choose something and finally orders a banana daiquiri). She pretends to be a student at UCLA. Brandon and Marianne head out on their date on her dad’s motorcycle, eventually ending up drinking champagne and making out in a hot tub. She want to get naked, but he doesn’t want to rush things. Brandon asks if her mom didn’t teach her about playing hard to get, and Marianne tells him her dad manages rock bands and his mom was a groupie. He expects that later he’ll regret being an idiot, but she doesn’t think he is.

Brenda, however, is, as she goes to Jason’s place, still pretending to be in college. He starts to take her clothes off and she tells him to slow down, which he actually does. He takes her home (well, to the sorority house she pretends is her home), giving her his number; she told him she doesn’t have a phone. Brenda winds up taking a cab home, arriving at the same time Brandon does. They’re both late and tell each other not to say anything to Cindy. The next morning, Brenda calls Kelly to tell her about Jason. (By the way, Kelly’s mom is really annoying.) Kelly tells Brenda to have a good time and not worry about her lies.

At school, Kelly teases Steve about his car and tells him a freshman drove him home from Marianne’s party. Brenda’s schoolwork is clearly suffering thanks to her new friendship with Kelly. Brandon gets flowers delivered to him in Spanish class. Andrea tells him that she doesn’t see it working out for him and Marianne, since he’s smart and down-to-earth, but she isn’t. He tells her that Marianne’s very different from the way people see her. Brenda calls Jim’s answering machine from a pay phone (so ‘90s) so her friends can hear his voice. Steve puts out a bounty on David, who’s been wearing a disguise. He tells Scott he accidentally left Scott’s Lakers cap in the car, and Scott notes that his name is inside it.

In gym class, some guy asks Brandon how Marianne was in bed. Brandon gives him a vague answer, then learns that the story about him and Marianne having sex is all over school. Marianne responds to the news by hitting him in the stomach. She accuses Brandon of using her to become popular. If anyone cares, the principal and the Spanish teacher are totally going to do it. Andrea yells at Brandon for being a jerk. David and Scott break into Steve’s car, setting off the alarm. It seems Steve was hoping for this, so he’s ready to bust them. He first thinks Scott is the car-crasher, but David comes clean and offers to pay for the damages. He advises Scott to get himself a good quote from his insurance company and make some money.

Brandon talks to Brenda about the Marianne situation and how he feels bad for not denying the rumor. She’s happy to hear that he hasn’t turned into the sort of guy who would do what he’s rumored to have done. She tells him she has a date with an older guy, again swearing him to secrecy. Brenda admits that sometimes she thinks she’s in love with Jason, but that can’t be true because they just met. She heads out in a dress her parents should have never let her even look at in a store. Jason and Brenda have dinner with a couple of his friends, and she pretends to be an astronomy major, which is especially stupid since she knows nothing about astronomy. (A black hole is “just a hole. That’s black.” Please tell me more, Ms. Wizard.) Later, Jason invites Brenda to spend the night the next Friday.

Brandon goes on the school radio station to tell everyone that he and Marianne didn’t do anything. He apologizes, feeling bad that Marianne doesn’t trust him anymore. Brenda tells Kelly about Jason’s proposition, and Kelly tells her it’s time to tell the truth. Brenda’s not really in favor of that, but she’s not sure she’s ready to have sex with him either. Their chemistry teacher tells them he’s suspicious of their similar answers on a recent quiz and lets them know he’s watching them. Brandon tracks down Marianne, who’s still a little mad and regrets letting him get close to her. She decides to stay home this weekend, which she never does. She does seem open to dating him in the future, though.

The principal tells Brenda he’s concerned about her slipping grades and asks if he can do anything to help her. She just says she’ll work harder. He gives her a note to have her parents sign. Brandon tries to talk to Andrea about how he’s not a jerk, but she runs off to catch a bus. He follows her in his car as we see that Andrea speaks Spanish so well because she rides the bus with a lot of Hispanic women. Brandon realizes that Andrea lives way outside of Beverly Hills; she tells him she’s not rich and wants to go to a good school. The administration doesn’t know she’s not from Beverly Hills. Brandon explains the Marianne situation, trying to let Andrea know that he’s not a bad guy. She tells him she uses her grandmother’s address to go to West Beverly, and he promises to keep quiet. She’s happy to finally get to bring a friend home from school.

Brenda and Jason go out again, and he tells her that the last woman he went on three dates with wound up being his girlfriend for almost a year. They broke up because they had a fight about furniture. Brenda decides to come clean, and Jason’s understandably furious. “I should sue your parents,” he says. He drives her home (I would’ve made her walk) and she tells him her feelings for him haven’t changed. Brenda wants sympathy for having to lie to her family and shirk her schoolwork for him. She also admits that she was going to sleep with him. Once home, Brenda apologizes to Cindy, who says she knew things weren’t right but she wanted Brenda to be happy. Brandon wants to know what happened with Brenda, but she wants to keep it to herself for a while. She tells him she misses Minneapolis, where things weren’t this complicated. He thinks she had sex, but both twins confirm that they’re still virgins. Brenda’s not sure they’ll make it in Beverly Hills, but Brandon seems optimistic.

Thoughts: I know all the 90210 pop-culture references (“I choose me,” “Donna Martin graduates,” Andrea Zuckerman is 30 years old, etc.), but I’ve never watched it before. And I’m sad about that, because this show is AWESOME. The outfits alone are blog-worthy.

I also knew West Beverly was the same school used for Sunnydale High, but it was still weird to see it. I kept expecting the Scoobies to walk through a scene.

The school has valet parking? What?

I think I’m going to hate Andrea. A lot.

Teeny-tiny Brian Austin Green is cracking me up. But at least he looks like a high schooler.

Jason is played by Maxwell Caulfield, who was born in 1959, making him 31 when this episode was filmed. That makes the 25-year-old-dating-a-16-year-old thing a bit creepier.

And now, some glorious, glorious outfits:

  • Brenda wears red jeans. Like, ketchup red.
  • Kelly wears an orange blazer, a purple shirt, white Lycra shorts with purple polka dots, and turquoise tights. Even Claudia Kishi’s like, “What’s up with that?”
  • Kelly also wears a green blazer that makes her look like she just won a golf tournament.
  • Brenda wears a turquoise blazer, an orange shirt, and a black and white checkered shirt. Yes, together.

March 13, 2011

SVH #83, Steven’s Bride: And That’s Why You Never Listen to Jessica

Posted in books tagged , , , at 5:45 pm by Jenn

I think those flowers were drawn on. And Steven's a robot

Summary: Cara’s moving to London. Oh noes! Steven’s sad, and compares the situation to Tricia dying, which is stupid, but that’s Steven. Jessica points out that if Steven and Cara get married, Cara can stay in Sweet Valley. Steven is not that bright, so he proposes, and Cara accepts. Clearly neither has thought this through logically. Jessica isn’t helping, as she acts as a wedding planner (hey, that should be her career!) and finds them a chapel in Nevada. The lovebirds decide to tell their families they’re going on a ski trip and elope just a few days before Cara’s supposed to go to London.

Jessica’s sworn to secrecy, but that lasts about five minutes before she starts telling people about the engagement. Elizabeth finds out and – you may be surprised to learn – is against the idea of a high schooler marrying a 18-year-old doof. But she does agree not to tell Ned and Alice. Cara’s father calls to tell her he and her brother are coming to visit, and for some reason Cara thinks that her parents are going to get back together. Yeah, this girl is really not mature enough to get married. Cara also thinks that that means they won’t move to London, and she won’t have to marry Steven. It turns out her father’s actually engaged to someone else, so the wedding’s still on.

Steven’s been working toward a special law program, but when he gets accepted, he realizes that he wouldn’t be able to balance it with marriage and the part-time job he’ll need to get to support himself and Cara. He lies and tells his parents he didn’t get accepted, but Jessica finds the acceptance letter and tells Elizabeth he lied. Jessica realizes that Steven and Cara getting married is a bad, bad idea, and it’s time to convince them of that. She has Cara take a babysitting job with difficult kids to show her how unprepared she is to have her own family, and drives home how much she’d be giving up to get married. It doesn’t work, though, and Steven and Cara head to Nevada.

The twins finally decide it’s time to tell Ned and Alice what Steven’s doing. The four of them and Mrs. Walker head for Nevada to stop the wedding. It turns out that Jessica’s machinations have actually gotten to Cara, and when it’s time to say “I do,” Cara says she doesn’t. Steven’s ticked until Cara gives Elizabeth a message to give to him, saying that she still loves him. Steven dusts off the rushing-to-the-airport-to-stop-her-from-leaving cliché so he can say goodbye to Cara. Who I will miss, because she’s the only one of Jessica’s friends who’s semi-normal.

Thoughts: If this book had been written today, Steven and Cara’s issues would be pretty nonexistent. They’d be able to communicate via text messages, the Internet, and Skype. I mean, they would obviously end up breaking up anyway, but at least they could drag out the inevitable.

Reason #137 why Jessica can’t be trusted with secrets: Elizabeth asks what gossip she’s hiding, and Jessica replies, “There isn’t any! And it doesn’t have anything to do with Steven, either!”

Elizabeth finds out about the engagement because a woman from a jewelry store calls and says she needs to talk to Steven about his wedding rings. How does she know Elizabeth isn’t Steven’s fiancée and she didn’t just ruin a huge surprise? And why is she calling the Wakefields’ house anyway? He doesn’t live there.

“Steven’s expression was neutral, masklike.” Yes. He’s a robot.

At Cara’s bridal shower, Jessica gives her Barefoot in the Park. Because we all know how 16-year-olds love Neil Simon.

The ghostwriter says straight out that Steven and Cara haven’t slept together. Of course not – who is she, Annie Whitman?

Cara’s father gets engaged before he even tells Cara he’s dating someone. Wow, he sucks. And her mother isn’t any better of a parent, letting Cara go off alone with Steven on what she thinks is a ski trip.

I love how Todd tries to get Elizabeth to calm down about the elopement: Basically, “Eh, it’s not going to work out. Your family can go to Steven’s next wedding.”

January 25, 2011

BSC #67, Dawn’s Big Move: Leave Already

Posted in books tagged , , , at 10:22 pm by Jenn

Why isn't Dawn's hair ever waist-length and white-blond on the covers?

Summary: Dawn decides that she wants to move back to California and spend six months on each coast. Everyone makes it happen, because they’re totally sick of her and want her to leave Stoneybrook. (Okay, I may be projecting.) At the last minute, she changes her mind and decides to stay in Connecticut, but then realizes she really does want to go to California. So she does. Yay!

The B plot is about a big athletic competition called Run for Your Money, which apparently is raising money for something, though it’s not clear how. Some of the BSC girls and their families compete, and then the girls compete as a team. Their sitting charges are way too into it.

Thoughts: She’s gone! For now. The big excitement will come in #88, when she leaves for good.

Why do Sharon and Richard ring the doorbell of their own house?

Kristy complains that Dawn leaving will hurt the club. Kristy, can’t you just be glad that she’s about to be out of your life for six months?

Why would you hire the Papadakises hire Kristy to babysit at a family party? Why do you have family except to watch your kids? (Speaking as a non-parent with six nieces and nephews.)

Kristy doesn’t think of throwing Dawn a going-away party until Karen suggests it. Wow, she really doesn’t care about Dawn.

Dawn’s comments about meat are at an all-time high in this book. Maybe the ghostwriter wants to make sure we don’t miss Dawn too much.

Trivia: Janine is a surprise foosball enthusiast.

April 11, 2010

BSC, The Summer Before: Growing Up is Awfuller Than All the Awful Things That Ever Were

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

Should Kristy be offended that her bracelet has a dog bone?

Summary: In the months before the series begins, Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey struggle through the summer, dealing with tons of issues that all pretty much come down to one thing – growing up is really, really tough.

Kristy is about to turn 12, and all she wants for her birthday is some sort of contact from her estranged father. She also really doesn’t want her mom’s boyfriend Watson around, partly because she likes her family the way it is and partly because she doesn’t want Watson to replace her father. Kristy gets her hopes up way too much, and when her father doesn’t show, she beats herself up for putting so much faith in him. Mary Anne creates Kristy Day to cheer her up.

Claudia has fallen in looooove with an older boy named Frankie, effectively stealing him right out from under Janine. She’s spending so much time with her new boyfriend that she has less and less time for Kristy and Mary Anne, but she feels like they’re growing apart anyway, since Kristy and Mary Anne haven’t quite matured to Claudia’s level yet. Frankie winds up dumping Claudia when the age difference proves to be too much, and as Claudia realizes that she doesn’t have many friends to turn to (a point she brings up early in the series, when she says Stacey’s her first real best friend), she discovers that even though she, Mary Anne, and Kristy are different now, they still have a friendship.

Stacey is preparing to move from New York to Stoneybrook and leave behind the only life she’s ever known. She’s more excited than nervous, as her friends have become total witches and she wants a new start. She finds Stoneybrook much more comfortable than she expected, and as the book ends, she’s starting to form a friendship with Claudia.

Mary Anne is stuck between childhood and adolescence, but mostly because her father has stuck her there. She wants to babysit like Claudia and Kristy, but her father only lets her sit with another person. Meek, mousy little Mary Anne takes her first stand in this book, letting her father know that she’s growing up and, though she still respects his rules, they’re going to have to start changing.

Thoughts: This book has quite a different tone than the others in the series – it’s very bittersweet. But even in my 20s, I find it relatable. Things are changing for all four of the girls, and they don’t know how to handle the new things they’re dealing with. They’re all growing up, in their different ways, and some faster than others. And that’s what adolescence is like. Some people mature faster than others, some people fit in more than others, and some people handle change better than others. But everyone has to deal with new experiences and feeling out of control. It’s all part of growing up.

I find it hard to snark on most of this book. There are a lot of moments that feel very real – like Stacey realizing that her relationships with her old friends are never going to be the same, or Claudia realizing that she doesn’t have anyone she can really talk to, or Mary Anne being frustrated over her the way her father treats her, or Kristy feeling devastated over the fact that her own father hasn’t taken the time to acknowledge her birthday. I think every woman can relate to this book. We were all teenagers once, and it wasn’t easy. No one has a perfect life. These girls just find a way to make it work.

Okay, so there is some snark here. Why does Stacey’s mom tell her to “have fun and be careful” in Connecticut but not in New York? Because Connecticut is such a dangerous place?

Janine wears jeans. Does that seem out of character to anyone else?

Possibly the best line ever in a BSC book, from Stacey, re: Laine, who has seemingly turned everyone against Stacey so that Laine won’t turn on them: “Her Royal Meanness had evil superpowers.” Laine is a complete bitca in this book, and I’m kind of surprised Stacey agrees to be friends with her again in The Truth About Stacey.

Should I be concerned that Stacey asks her parents for a dog after seeing a sign for a taxidermist?

Yeah, I bet there’s a synagogue in Stoneybrook.

January 31, 2010

BSC #28, Welcome Back, Stacey!: Way to Ruin the Plot With the Title

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:09 pm by Jenn

Looks like Stacey crashed an '80s dance party

Summary: Stacey’s parents’ fighting has reached a boiling point, and they decide to get divorced. Her dad plans to stay in New York, but her mom is considering moving back to Stoneybrook. They tell Stacey that she can decide who she wants to live with, which also means she gets to decide whether to stay in New York or return to Connecticut. Despite feeling like New York is her real home, the lure of the BSC cannot be denied, and Stacey goes back to Stoneybrook.

Thoughts: I really liked this book as a kid, mostly because Stacey was my favorite sitter and I was so excited that she might go back to Stoneybrook. I remember when I first read the book, which would have been when I was seven, I was so impatient to find out what Stacey would decide. Well, seven-year-old me, the title of the book is Welcome Back, Stacey! The front caption is, “She’s home for good!” And the back cover even has Stacey listed as the club treasurer again. I’m sad that you couldn’t put the pieces together from those clues.

I love sarcastic Stacey. Whenever she leaves the house, her mom always tells her, “Have fun and be careful.” In one scene Stacey returns from a trip to Gristede’s to get cartons for the move, and she’s annoyed by the task and her parents’ constant fighting, so she calls out, “I was careful and I had a ton of fun.” Heh.

Why does Stacey’s mom even look at a four-bedroom house in Stoneybrook, let alone buy it? And how the heck can she afford it? Does she sell drugs on the side? I kind of want to start a rumor that she sells drugs on the side.

Stacey has a fantastic crazy outfit in this book: short red pants with purple suspenders over a bright yellow and black sweatshirt (suspenders over a sweatshirt? Really?), purple push-down socks, red hightops, a necklace of wooden bananas and oranges, earrings shaped like sunglasses, and a red scarf as a headbank. When did she get that scholarship to clown school?

January 3, 2010

SVH #23, Say Goodbye: The World’s Lamest Love Triangle

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 11:58 pm by Jenn

I thought Jessica was the twin who could fake cry

Summary: Todd is moving to Vermont, as we learned in Too Much in Love, and Elizabeth is all torn up about it. I don’t blame her – he sounds like the perfect guy. Which probably means he secretly kicks puppies or something. Anyway, once Todd is gone, Jessica’s worried that Elizabeth will just mope around (she hits the nail on the head there), so she encourages Nicholas Morrow to, um, befriend Elizabeth (since Nicholas has already declared his love for her). Nicholas doesn’t need any encouragement in that department and is eager to swoop in and pick up where Todd left off. Except Elizabeth is all, “Waaaah, Toddddddddd!” and not ready to be with someone else. Todd comes back for a surprise visit, spots Elizabeth and Nicholas together, and decides that they need to see other people while still being in love and stuff. I don’t know, teenagers are weird.

In the B plot, Jessica has to pay her parents back for a dress she bought (at Lisette’s, natch), so she gets a part-time job at a computer-dating company. Wow, this book was before its time. She decides to find a girl for Steven, who hasn’t dated anyone since Tricia died. You’d think she’d be great at that, but she’s an idiot, so she’s not. But then Steven runs into Cara, who’s suddenly all mature and stuff, and it looks like something’s developing there…until Betsy Martin shows up and ruins it all. Blast that Betsy Martin! Oh, wait, I don’t care.

Thoughts: Elizabeth is understandably upset that Todd’s moving 2,000 miles away. Who wants to tell her that California to Vermont is actually 3,000 miles?

Jessica considers hooking Steven up with a 43-year-old divorcée. Yes, she should absolutely be a matchmaker.

Nicholas’ private name for his boat is My Favorite Twin. Elizabeth, he’s going to boil your bunny!

Jessica “consider[s] falling in love” with Nicholas’ cousin. How appropriate that someone who’s so manipulative can manipulate her own emotions. Though why would she consider falling in love with a guy who reminds her of a librarian?

There are two unintentionally creepy moments in this book. At least I think they’re unintentional. Please, please let them be unintentional. The first is between Alice and Steven: “A warm smile flashed between mother and son. Mrs. Wakefield, a slim, honey-blond woman, looked especially attractive that night in a slate-blue dress.” Why are those sentences in the same paragraph?? The second is between Elizabeth and Steven: She tells him that Nicholas is “tall, dark, and handsome. He looks a lot like you, in fact.” Where’s Sigmund Freud when you really need him?

November 26, 2009

BSC #13, Good-bye[,] Stacey, Good-bye: Empire State of Mind

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 9:17 pm by Jenn

Why does everyone look so happy? Do they secretly hate Stacey?

Summary: Stacey’s father is being transferred back to New York, so she has about a month to say goodbye to all of her friends. It’s not enough. Uh, and that’s basically it.

Thoughts: I’m not sure why Ann M. Martin decided to send Stacey back to New York, but it only lasts for 15 books, so it’s kind of a waste. And seriously, Stacey moving is pretty much the only plot. There are a couple of sitting jobs recounted – Jeff still wants to go back to California, the Pikes pretend to be secret agents – but it’s all about Stacey.

This is where all the foreshadowing about Mallory joining the club pays off. The BSC girls aren’t sure they should take on an 11-year-old – and with good reason, since most parents, given the choice between an 11-year-old sitter and a 13-year-old one, would choose the older girl – but they figure that with seven younger brothers and sisters, Mallory can hold her own. And since her parents let her help out with watching her siblings while they’re out and another sitter is present, she’s probably qualified enough.

Though speaking of the Pikes’ two-sitters-for-seven-kids rule, why is it that they hire two girls to watch seven kids but Kristy watches seven kids on her own?

Another moment that doesn’t quite hang together: Stacey says it’s too far for her father to live in Connecticut and commute to work in New York, but later in the series, that’s exactly what Abby’s mom does.

When Stacey first tells Claudia that she’s moving back to New York, the girls come up with the idea of Stacey moving in with the Kishis. It’s a completely age-appropriate suggestion, and once again a reminder that despite their maturity when it comes to watching kids, these girls are still in middle school.

Dawn claims that people in California don’t have yard sales. Dawn, just because you’ve never been to one doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Speaking of Dawn, when she becomes the new treasurer of the BSC, Claudia remarks, “Too bad she can’t add.” Oh, so now we’re commenting on people’s weaknesses? Watch yourself, Spelling Queen.

Funny how Charlotte Johanssen is so attached to Stacey – with her shyness, sensitivity, and tears, she’s more like Mary Anne.

There are two standout outfits described in this book, and, surprisingly, Claudia’s is the less flashy one. She wears “a purple-and-white striped body suit under a gray jumper-thing. The legs of her body suit stretched all the way to her ankles, but she was wearing purple push-down socks anyway. Around her middle was a wide purple belt with a buckle in the shape of a telephone.” Incidentally, I really wanted push-down socks when I read these books, and I wasn’t even sure what they were. I’m still not sure. Anyway, the weirder outfit is worn by Dawn: “She was wearing a very short kilt, an oversized red sweater, and yellow socks over red tights. On her head was a red beret with a sparkly initial pin attached to the side.” She’s dressed like a French ketchup/mustard bottle.