Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before

Even though my blog was up and running when this book came out, I never actually picked up a copy until I saw one for sale for a buck at a flea market.

So, it's the summer before seventh grade. Kristy, Mary Anne, and Claudia are all starting to drift apart, and Stacey is just about to move to Stoneybrook.

Kristy is less than happy that her mom is dating Watson. While she likes that her mom keeps paying her to sit for David Michael, she doesn't want some stranger always around. It doesn't help that her mom invites him over for family dinners too. When he asks if she'll watch his kids one weekend, she turns him down and lets him know pretty bluntly that it's because she doesn't want to, not because she's too busy.

The worst part is that she really misses her dad. She remembers how he came through at the last minute the last year and sent her a birthday card, but she isn't sure if he'll remember this year. Though she does send him a card, it comes back as addressee unknown. Kristy eventually confides in Mary Anne about how she hopes he will show up and surprise her.

Mary Anne finds a box of her mom's stuff that includes a few dolls. She starts imagining her mom playing with them and thinking about her a lot. It also makes her want to make clothing for them. Kristy refuses because she doesn't know how to sew, and Claudia refuses because playing with dolls is so immature.

When Mrs. Pike calls and needs two sitters, Kristy asks Mary Anne. She then asks her dad for permission, which he refuses because she's way way way way too young. After some discussion, he agrees to let her sit, if she calls and checks in every 30 minutes. Mary Anne keeps freaking out about everything that could possibly go wrong, including a fire breaking out and Claire falling down the stairs. Since this is a BSC book though, the job goes amazing. She has so much fun that she even forgets that the Pikes are paying her and almost asks why they gave her money at the end of the night.

Claudia decides to celebrate her birthday at the Goldman's house next door. They have a swimming pool that they let all the neighbors use for free, and she plans on a boy girl party. Janine invites a few friends from her summer statistics class, including the super cute Frankie who will be a freshman in the fall. Frankie almost instantly goes after Claudia. He makes her a hot dog, gets her drinks, and promises to buy her a new single. Janine is extremely pissed, especially after falling fully dressed in the pool. It takes Claudia way too long to realize her sister likes Frankie.

They quickly become the IT couple of the summer. They go to the pool, out with his parents, shopping, and all this other stuff. Her parents aren't happy in the slightest. Frankie shows up one day and asks to see her art. Her mom follows them upstairs but gives them some privacy, and Claudia winds up giving him a drawing she made.

Richard agrees to let Mary Anne sit, but she can only sit if there is something with her. When Mrs. Newton calls with a job offer, the poor lady is a little doubtful at having two kids watch her young child. Kristy can't do it, and while Claudia thinks it's a stupid rule, she does go with her.

Since Claudia is way too cool for everyone now, they barely talk at all. She does think it's impressive that Mary Anne takes charge and lets Jamie do things on his own. When Mary Anne puts him down for a nap, Claudia calls Frankie. They wind up talking for 20 minutes. Though she feels guilty, she doesn't feel so guilty that she bothers hanging up when Mary Anne comes downstairs, which puts more distance between them.

Kristy's whole family wakes her up on her birthday to a special breakfast. She finds a stack of presents waiting for her, but none are from her dad. They have a family dinner with no Watson but Mary Anne. She gets even more gifts and watches the sky, but she kind of breaks down when she realizes that her dad really did forget her birthday.

Knowing this would happen, Mary Anne set up Kristy Day. She gets the Pikes and other kids to make gifts for her and plans a parade down the street. Though she did ask Claudia to come, she already had plans with Frankie. Kristy is pretty touched by the whole thing and realizes that she still has a lot of people who care about her.

Frankie keeps showing up late as they get near the end of summer. He and Claudia head to the pool one day, but he doesn't want to sit where they usually do because his friends are all back in town. The girls fawn all over him and talk about how he should try out for football and how he's so cute. They act like major bitches to Claudia, especially after finding out her age. Between them treating her like a baby and Frankie practically ignoring her, she has less than an ideal time.

Frankie is super cold to her when he leaves her at home. The next time they talk, which is days later, he ends things with her because of some lame excuse. Claudia realizes that it's the age difference and that he doesn't want a kid holding him back. Since she can't call her friends, she sobs to Mimi. Mimi then encourages her to talk to Janine, and they actually make up. To her awesome credit, Janine just poo poos the popular girls as not really being competition.

Kristy calls Claudia and asks her to meet her and Mary Anne with their sitting charges the next day. Richard decided to let Mary Anne actually sit on her own because she's so mature and responsible all of the sudden. Things are a little awkward, and when Kristy mentions how she's glad summer is over, Claudia gets all ticked off that she won't tell her why, which she eventually does. They decide that their memories and shared experiences will hold them together and that they can still be friends, even as their lives change.

Meanwhile in NYC, there's a girl named Stacey who also sits. She can't wait to move away and get a fresh start, but she especially wants to get away from Laine. After way too many stories about when she was first diagnosed and how the other kids treated her, we get to hear about some of the kids she sits for and them preparing for their move. They run into Laine a few times, but the girls barely speak.

Maureen planned a big surprise going away party for Stacey. Laine gets her alone and tells her that the only reason kids from their class came was because she made them. She also makes it clear that Stacey needs to leave now. Stacey asks if Laine is scared of her, and Laine laughs in her face. The other girls make fun of her for her charges being there, and when she's too upset to eat, Laine makes all these rude comments about how she's only doing it for attention and how she always makes it all about her. She then “trips” and spills soda all over Stacey's new shirt. When she complains to her mom, Maureen tells her that she's too sensitive and it was just an accident.

They finally make their big move to Stoneybrook. Stacey thinks it's super pretty but whines about how there's only one bus, one taxi, and just one diner. She and her parents are pretty shocked that not only can they order food, but they can have it delivered! Come on, I literally lived in a township and not a town and had delivery. She winds up meeting Emily who introduces her to Claudia and pops up a few times like seeing the Kristy Day parade. Stacey is also on hand when the other three girls meet up and chat together at the very end. It then dives into the first chapter of Kristy's Great Idea.

*Kristy thinks it's snobby that Watson has a honor roll student bumper sticker on his car. Given that Karen is in kindergarten in this book, I think it's pretty bad too.

*It's a little weird that Watson comes to family dinners what seems pretty often but that his kids have never meet Elizabeth or her kids.

*Richard makes Mary Anne call him at work when she wakes up, when she leaves the house, and when she comes back. He also leaves notes about what she can eat for breakfast, what chores she needs to do, and other stuff. In real life, she'd wind up pregnant at fifteen!

*What's up with this box filled with stuff belonging to her mom? I thought she didn't find any of that stuff until her mystery book.

*The Goldmans actually leave their house so Claudia can have her party there. They have full run of the pool, their grill, and apparently their house too. Who the hell does that? As we had a pool growing up, I know that is a major liability.

*Kristy has a stack of gifts from people who sent presents through the mail before her birthday like aunts, uncles, and cousins. Is it weird that my family never did that?

*According to Stacey, everything changed when Laine went away to summer camp. When she came back, she started acting too cool for her, found new friends, and just stopped calling. Laine also stopped waiting for her, walking to school with her, or saving her a seat. First of all, Laine does not seem like the type of girl to go to camp. Second, this completely interferes with all the other stories Stacey told about NYC. When she wet the bed at that party, they were still good friends.

*Maureen kind of has her head in the sand here. While I get that teen girls fight and make up all the time, Laine has been riding Stacey for months now. You'd think she would pick up on that.


  1. I always thought it was weird that the Goldmens just left their house for their teenage neighbor to use too. Who does that?

    No, I never received presents from my aunts, uncles and cousins on my birthday either.

    Maureen fails to notice a lot when it came to Laine. She's the one who acts like what happened in Stacey's very first book was no big deal. Who thinks that about a girl who was a horrible little shit to their daughter? Then again she re-enrolls her daughter back in the same school where she was treated like crap by her classmates when they moved back to NYC. Hope Maureen likes paying Stacey's therapy bills.

    1. I never even thought about her sending Stacey back to the same school! What, does the fantastic and amazing NYC only have one school in that neighborhood?

    2. LOL! Stoneybrook has more schools then NYC.

  2. I was really nervous to read this book it seems like so many series or books lately when they write a new one they somehow ruin it. Like the Sweet Life where Todd married Jessica who didn't become an actress, and Elizabeth dated Bruce. Or Steven and Aaron are suddenly gay. Or the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird.

    But it really was pretty good even if there were a couple weird parts. Claudia using her neighbor's pool for a party, or Mary Anne suddenly finding a box of her mom's things (and kind of ruins the book where she decided to learn more about her mom).

    1. It wasn't terrible at all. I do think it's funny that Martin won't do a book set in high school or college because she doesn't want to ruin the magic, but then writes this book that messes with the continuity anyway :)

    2. It does. And its funny because I always thought when they were going to do the Forever Friends or what ever those were called that was going to be when they finally moved up to high school. She mined all she could out of middle school and the 8th grade to the point it was getting ridiculous. But there was so much they could have done with high school. For one a new school and new grounds. New clubs. Even changes with in their families with Charlie leaving for college and Stacey's father remarrying. It seemed like a natural progression for a series that started when most of the girls were 7th graders.

    3. I would actually just like to see what happens to them in high school! Claudia and Stacey started pulling away at one point and got sucked back in, but then they had that fight over Jeremy and stopped talking for a long time too. I wonder if they'd go their separate ways or cling together?

    4. So would I. Would they stay together or pull apart. Naturally, I'd like them to stay together, friends in high school. But as you pointed out Claudia and Stacey had their problems right before the series ended. I always got the feeling Stacey would break away from the group busy dating high school boys and that Claudia would probably get more involved in the art world. Taking more classes and making friends from those classes. I don't really see Kristy and Mary Anne breaking apart from each other until maybe college.

    5. I think Stacey would have a rude awakening in high school when she realized that no one really cared that she was from NYC and that she's not really as cool as she thinks she is all the time. I can actually see Kristy pulling away from Mary Anne to become one of the jocks and Claudia hanging out with the stoners...