It's now summer for the 976th time in Stoneybrook, and Stacey is a little sad because she's no longer friends with the BSC. Luckily, she now has Andi, one of Robert's friends. Unfortunately, Andi is about to take off for some family vacation. Stacey calls and asks her to come over and that she'll call the other girls. There's Sheila, Jacqui, Mia, and Heather. They all have fun, but one of the girls snoops in her room and finds a letter that Robert wrote to her jokingly calling her Toots.
Since Stacey has the house to herself all day, the girls start coming over every day. They hang out, watch U4ME some new boy band, and eat a lot. Robert stops by one day after working at his painting job. Maureen comes home to find everyone lounging around the house, a plum stain on the wall from where one of the girls threw one at Robert, and food everywhere. After the girls leave, she demands that Stacey find a job.
Stacey looks in the paper but all the jobs are for full-time or adult workers. While thinking about what Kristy would do, she decides to check the grocery store for fliers. She calls a woman about watching her mother, but the woman snaps at her for not having any experience. She calls about a dog walking job and the woman wants someone older, and she calls about models needed. The modeling job is a bust, but she does find out that some kids center needs help. After that fails, Maureen comes home and announces that she got her a job at the Bellair's kid center.
After one meeting, Stacey gets the job. Not long after starting, her new friends start showing up every day. Stacey thinks it's a little weird that they always want to shop at the same place, but she doesn't think it's weird that they wait until she's distracted talking to a worker and run off without her. She doesn't even think it's strange when she sees workers stop some shoplifters and her friends take off.
They eventually ask her if they can use her discount to buy some stuff. She hesitates, they do the whole peer pressure thing, and she agrees. They all buy a bunch of fancy stuff: a silk robe, an ostrich feather hat, a sequined dress, and calfskin gloves. The next day, they have a ton of money and take her out to eat. They admit that they returned the items without receipts to make some extra cash. She would freak out but they find out that U4ME announced a show in Stamford and they can all get tickets.
A few days later, she's getting ready for the concert and thinks about what happened when they bought tickets. After a few minutes of waiting in line, the other girls pretty much just ditched her. They gave her money for their tickets and took off, leaving her alone in line. She gets over it, because hey, it's U4ME. Maureen drops them off and embarrasses Stacey by asking about her injection kit.
Stacey notices security guards checking kids for alcohol and sees a sign warning against smoking and drinking, but she ignores it. The other girls then all reveal that they sneaked in their own alcohol. It doesn't take long before they are all drunk and want her to drink too, but she can't because of her diabetes. They all smoke too, get caught by security, and removed from the concert.
The guard finds a bottle hidden in her sweater, and no one will believe her when she pulls the diabetes card. Another guard says that she has to call their families and everyone has to have a parent pick them up. Maureen shows up, flips out, and snaps about how even a "sip of alcohol" would cause some massive reaction. The guard assures her that it's okay and that Stacey isn't the first girl to hang with the wrong crowd. Maureen doesn't ban her from seeing them but makes it clear that it's not okay.
In the midst of all this, Sharon has some big news for Richard, Dawn, and Mary Anne. Her cousin stopped talking to her because he disliked her husband so much, but now he wants them to be a family again. Conveniently, he and his wife are also planning a two week trip to England and want to leave their daughter with them, which she thinks is a great idea.
Amy absolutely hates everything about Stoneybrook. She spends all day in Jeff's room, only comes out periodically, and cries a lot. No one can get her to have any fun. Dawn and Mary Anne invite over some of their charges, but the kids wind up taking off and saying they'll never come back because she's so gloomy. One day, Amy announces that she wants to play hide and seek. When they finish counting and look for her, they realize that she's gone.
Stacey is working in the kids center when a woman comes in with two kids but only one is hers. She realizes that the other is Amy because Claudia kept her up to date on everyone. Stacey calls them, they rush down, and she sees the two and talks to them for the first time in months. The more she thinks about things, the more she realizes that she misses the BSC.
She confesses to her mom that the other girls probably shoplifted, and Maureen encourages her to tell the store. She does, but they decide not to go after them. They also talk about changing the receipt policy when she tells them the rest. After giving it some thought, she calls Claudia and tells her that she wants to join the BSC again. Claudia talks to everyone and they invite her to their next meeting.
Stacey kind of apologizes for being mean to the girls in the past. Most of the girls agree to let her back, but Kristy points out that she called them babies and Dawn asks about Robert. Stacey says that they're still together but that she can do her job without him getting in the way. A job comes in, Mary Anne asks her about her work schedule, and she says she quit the kids center to focus on the BSC. Way for indoctrinating yourself back into the cult kid!
*The kid center she originally applied at had a bunch of applications on file, and the guy said he might call her as early as September for an interview. Why would you put out fliers and look for workers months before you even need to hold interviews?
*I really hate how these girls act in these books. During her interview at Bellair's, Stacey wanders off to play with a little girl while the interviewer is still talking to her. She then comes in and sees the woman putting together a tricycle and has to point out that she put the handlebars on backwards.
*The girls keep going to some Chinese restaurant named Ed's or something like that, and it's described as a fast food place. It really made me miss Panda Express. I can't believe the closest one if 45 minutes from me!
*The kids they check for alcohol are all punk. WTF? U4ME sounds like some boy band, so why would older punk kids even want to go?
*This book came out in the mid-90s, so it surprises me that the venue banned smoking inside. In my late 90s/early 2000s college days, my roommate and I were frequent concert goers, and I remember smoking (and drinking) right on the middle of the floor.
*Okay, so Stacey says that each bottle is the size of cough syrup. They haven't even each drank a full bottle by the time the warm up bands are done, but she says they are completely drunk. How?
*Mary Anne and Dawn both cry when Amy flips out about her parents leaving. She's like throwing herself at the door and on the floor. It's supposed to be sad, but it would probably make me scream in real life.
*Jeff gets pissed off when he finds out that they changed his room for Amy. Hm, maybe you shouldn't have moved across the country then?
*It's actually kind of cute when Mary Anne and Dawn come to the kids center. Stacey gets the tissues ready for Mary Anne without even thinking.
*This is the book where Dawn starts missing California. Sunny calls to tell her that her mom has lung cancer, and she really wants to be there to help her. It's funny that in the next book when she actually leaves, they say she's been missing "home" for a long time when it's kind of only one book.
*Sunny asks Dawn if she remembers when her mom smoked, which seems to indicate it was more recently since they met later in life. In Dawn's Portrait book, she claims that Sunny's family were hippies. Not many hippies I know smoked cigarettes.
*U4ME is a horrible band. They canceled all their Midwest shows because they had "too much fun on the West Coast," they once canceled a show in NYC because the lead singer took off to go skiing, and they announce the Stamford show less than a week in advance. The girls think it's soooo coooool, but they guys think it's stupid and irresponsible. I agree with the guys.
*Robert hangs out with Marty Bukeman in this book, and they even have a handshake they make up. In the book where he cheats on her, Stacey freaks out when she hears he's with Marty because they never, ever hang out.
*I have no clue which girl is which on the cover except for Stacey. The book describes one (Shelia) as a goodie-goodie cheerleader, one has red streak in her hair, one is into grunge, and another dresses in almost all black and wears black lipstick. They all just look like mid-90s girls to me.
*Robert comes over and hangs out with the girls in the living room. But in other books, he's only allowed in one specific area when her mom isn't home.
*Let's talk about the diabetes/alcohol thing for a minute, shall we? I'm a diabetic, and I've been known to drink on occasion. Oh, who am I kidding? I've gotten trashed off my ass dozens of times (maybe even hundreds) in my life. Somehow, I managed to do it without killing myself. My cousin, who is a serious diabetic, also drank in the past. I've seen her down multiple sugary alcoholic drinks without dying.
*I also love that Shelia even wants to be friends with Stacey after that whole article she and Robert wrote on how athletes are bad.
*U4ME brings back memories for me. I actually saw New Kids on the Block when I was 10, 11, something like that. Also, when I was crazy about hard rock and saw Disturbed, Godsmack, and bands like that, my roommate and I took a break to see NSYNC.