Nostalgic Bookshelf

Snarky recaps of nostalgic media, including Making Out, Baywatch, Blyton and Baby-Sitter's Club
4
Apr 2018
The Baby-Sitters Club #4: Mary Anne Saves the Day by Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club #4: Mary Anne Saves the Day by Ann M. Martin

Title: Mary Anne Saves the Day

Summary: Mary Anne has never been a leader of the Baby-sitters Club. She’s left that up to Kristy… or Claudia… or Stacey. But now there’s a big fight among the four friends, and Mary Anne doesn’t have them to depend on anymore.

It’s bad enough when she’s left alone at the lunch table at school. But when she has to baby-sit a sick child without any help from the club members, Mary Anne knows it’s time to take charge.

The Baby-sitters Club is going to fall apart unless somebody does something – fast. Maybe it’s time for Mary Anne to step in and save the day!

Tagline: Mary Anne’s on her own. Can she take charge?

Initial Thoughts

I remember this book mainly as “the one where Mary Anne’s father finally agrees to let her do stuff,” and I used to find it HUGELY UNFAIR that his change of heart happens because she handles an emergency well. (And I mean, really well. Many parents, possibly including me, wouldn’t be as clear-headed in a crisis as Mary Anne is in this book.) What if an emergency had just never happened, huh? Would she have been in pigtails until she left for university?

On rereading, I may possibly have misjudged Mr. Spier. In fact, now I’m wondering if the emergency was even the whole reason he changed his mind.

I also remember that this is the book where all the BSC are in a fight with each other. That still bothers me enough that I felt anxious at the beginning, waiting for the fight to start.

[Wing: DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN.]

Recap

Chapter One opens on a Monday afternoon in January, with Mary Anne and Kristy meeting between their houses so they can cross the road together for a BSC meeting at Claudia’s house. This chapter has a whole bunch of standard-chapter-one information:

  • Kristy is the club president and the BSC was her idea
  • Mary Anne’s mother died when Mary Anne was little
  • Kristy’s parents are divorced
  • Claudia is the vice president because she has her own phone
  • How the club works
  • Stacey is glamorous, diabetic, and comes from New York
  • Mimi is Claudia’s grandmother (actually, I’m not sure this is standard-chapter-one information; I think it’s here because Mimi is why Claudia fights with Mary Anne)
  • Janine is a genius
  • Claudia hides junk food around her room; Stacey can’t eat it
  • The Club Notebook
  • Watson is going to be Kristy’s step-father and she usually takes the babysitting jobs with Karen and Andrew;  Mary Anne is afraid of Morbidda Destiny (SERIOUSLY, Mary Anne?)
  • Mary Anne has to wear braids and the clothes her father picks out for her, which she describes as “corduroy skirts and plain sweaters and blouses penny loafers.”

The chapter also includes a page-long summary of what happened in the last book with the Baby-sitters Agency. [Wing: Good lord, this chapter has A LOT.] [Dove: I do not find this as eye-poking as Sweet Valley. But maybe that’s because I’m only on my fourth book.]

You know, as much as I complain about the “chapter one of a BSC novel” boilerplate, there’s something weirdly comforting about it. It’s boring, but boring in a cozy way. [Wing: I like in later books how sometimes the ghostwriter will try different ways to introduce the information, like Claudia thinking about how she would paint each of them, etc.] [Necromommycon: Yes, they definitely did what they could to keep it entertaining. Props for that. ]

In among all that, we get some information which will be important later on:

The latest we can stay out is ten o’clock. In fact, only Stacey is actually allowed out that late, although recently sometimes Claudia has been allowed to sit until ten, too. Kristy and I have to be home by nine-thirty on the weekends, and nine o’clock on weeknights.

You know, now that I’m reading this as a parent, I can’t think of very many situations (other than Parents’ Night at the school) where I’d need a sitter but only until nine.

Anyhow. They get to Claudia’s, Mimi answers the door, and we learn that she’s been teaching Mary Anne to knit.

They go upstairs and we get this painfully frank assessment of Janine’s personality:

Janine is a genius. Honest. She’s only fifteen and already she’s taking classes at Stoneybrook University. She corrects absolutely everything you say to her. Kristy and I avoid her as much as possible.

And we get this, which makes me want to hug these girls because they are so YOUNG and ADORKABLE, and also kind of makes me wonder how different my dating life would have been if I’d had the sense to have a formative crush on Kristy instead of George:

 Luckily, Kristy dresses more like me than like Claudia and Stacey. It’s nice to have somebody to feel babyish with. Mrs. Thomas doesn’t put any dressing restrictions on Kristy; it’s just that Kristy doesn’t care much about her appearance. Her brown hair is usually sort of messy, and she wears clothes only because it’s against the law to go to school naked.

I love that these books give us a range of girls’ appearances and interests and never once pull out the “she’s not like most girls” thing. The girls are a little bit alike, a lot different, and it’s not a competition. There’s some insecurity, sure: jealousy around curfews, concerns about clothes. But there’s no “the tomboy is better because she’s more like a boy” or whatever. It is a RANGE and they are ALL AWESOME, okay?

Then Kristy takes a job sitting for Jamie Newton and his new baby sister Lucy WITHOUT OFFERING THE JOB AROUND,  and Claudia calls her a job-hog, and Kristy says “look who’s talking,” and the battle is on.

Stacey mutters a criticism of Claudia, Claudia snaps back, and while replying to Claudia, Stacey calls Mary Anne a shy little baby. Mary Anne objects, but also cries, and man I feel for her; I’ve rage-cried myself, and it feels horrible and embarrassing to be CRYING when you’re actually ANGRY. [Wing: I HATE THIS SO MUCH. I often find myself shouting, ignore the fucking tears and listen to the rage, goddamn it.] Then Kristy tells Mary Anne to shut up.

I know this book is from Mary Anne’s perspective, but I think I’d be on her side anyway, because at this point she really is getting dumped on for things that aren’t her fault just because she’s there and the others are fighting. I think that’s why I enjoy her mega-flounce so much:

“Maybe I am shy,” I said loudly, edging toward the door. “And maybe I am quiet, but you guys cannot step all over me. You want to know what I think? I think you, Stacey, are a conceited snob; and you, Claudia, are a stuck-up job-hog; and you, Kristin Amanda Thomas, are the biggest, bossiest know-it-all in the world, and I don’t care if I never see you again!”

I let myself out of Claudia’s room, slamming the door behind me so hard that the walls shook.

Wasn’t that satisfying? Even though 1) we already know from the rest of the chapter that she doesn’t think that way about them at all, usually, and 2) when she leaves she’s already hoping Kristy or Stacey will call out to her (they leave too, after a little more yelling), but they don’t. [Wing: I do love Mary Anne showing a spine here, because you’re right; she’s not actually involved in the issues of this fight, just a bystander until they drag her in for things that don’t even really have much to do with their baby-sitting complaints.] [Dove: I just want to bash Kristy’s head against a wall. Is that ok with everyone?]

Chapter Two opens with Mary Anne crying and getting dinner ready. She’s just setting the table and reheating pot roast, but that’s still more than I did at her age. She washes her face and tidies her clothes before going downstairs to greet her father when he gets home, too.

I have no idea how he’s managed not to notice she’s growing up when she literally has the habits and self-control of a thirty year old. If I was twelve and had just had a massive fight with all my friends, my parents would have come home to screaming and crying and general fits of anguish, not dinner and tidiness.

They toss a salad together (not a euphemism). They sit down and Mr. Spier says grace and asks God to “watch over Alma,” Mary Anne’s dead mother, which he does before EVERY MEAL. Mary Anne is uncomfortable with this and so, frankly, am I. [Wing: Is this where the mother’s name changes? Is it later? At some point her name changes, and it annoys me every time I remember where it happens.] [Necromommycon: I think it’s later, but I can’t remember when. ]

He asks her questions and nags her and tells her about the case he’s working on. The whole thing is painfully awkward, and I feel so sad for them.

If a meal averaged half an hour, that meant we spent over four hundred hours a year eating together, trying to make conversation—and we barely knew what to say to each other. He might as well have been a stranger I just happened to share food with sixteen times a week.

[Wing: This is so fucking heartbreaking, and I carry a lot of sympathy for this into later books, when I think Mary Anne is a passive-aggressive ass.]

Up in her room, Mary Anne does homework and thinks about the BSC fight, wondering if she should call someone. She considers calling Claudia, on the basis that Claudia hadn’t said anything mean to her during the argument (she’d just told her not to call Stacey’s diabetes dumb). But of course, Mary Anne isn’t allowed to use the phone for anything non-homework-related after dinner. YEESH. I’m trying hard to remember that Mr. Spier is trying his best here, but he really is ridiculously strict.

Mary Anne looks around her pink, little-girly bedroom, noticing how babyish it is and how it doesn’t have anything in it that reflects her personality. Her walls have framed pictures of her christening, Humpty Dumpty, and characters from Alice in Wonderland.

Look: children grow up fast, and as a parent, it frequently feels like a struggle to keep up with that. It also, sometimes, feels SAD; I have been known to literally cry while sorting out clothes for the too-small bag every few months. But when you are a parent it is your JOB to help your children grow up. Trying to keep them trapped in early childhood is unhealthy and cruel.

I feel like spanking Mr. Spier right now, in the non-fun way.

Mary Anne waits by her window with her flashlight, hoping she and Kristy will signal each other their apologies. But Kristy keeps her blinds drawn.

(I know this is mostly a by-product of my desperate need for representation, but the whole fight between Kristy and Mary Anne in this book—and then Kristy’s jealousy over Dawn—has always felt so, so, SO girl-crush-y to me.)

[Wing: You are not alone!]

Literally the first sentences of Chapter Three are: “The next morning I woke up feeling sad. Kristy had never stayed mad at me for so long.” I feel like this proves my point.

Mary Anne walks to school alone, which she’s only had to do six times since kindergarten (whenever Kristy was absent). [Wing: I know this is supposed to make us sad for Mary Anne, but mostly I am shocked that in eight grades, Kristy’s only missed six days!]

Mary Anne worries that all the others have made up and she’s the only one they’re still mad at, so she’s relieved when she sees Kristy alone. Ha! She waves but Kristy just tosses her head and flounces away. Kristy, you magnificent bitch: I’m still siding with Mary Anne but that was sort of awesome. A minute later Claudia calls out to Kristy, who ignores her the first time and then asks “Are you talking to me? Or to some other job-hog?” HA. I don’t even know anymore why I was dreading their fight, because this is hilarious.

In class, Mary Anne writes some incredibly passive-aggressive “notes of apology,” and is self-aware enough to realize this means she’s still mad at them.

Dear Kristy,

I’m sorry you’re the biggest, bossiest know-it-all in the world, but what can I do about it? Have you considered seeing professional help?”

In the end, only her note to Claudia is an actual, sincere apology, so she writes out a good copy, intending to give it to her at lunch.

But at lunch Stacey is with the “sophisticated group that included boys” that she and Claudia usually sit with; Claudia is sitting with Trevor Sandbourne (“Just the two of them,” which sounds unlikely for a junior high cafeteria); and Kristy is sitting with the Shillaber twins and has REMOVED THE FOURTH CHAIR. Mary Anne has nowhere to sit! Okay, all my school lunchroom anxieties just came flooding back.

Also, Kristy’s doing that “notice your ex is watching so you start acting exaggeratedly interested in your conversation and laughing loudly” thing.

Mary Anne sits down alone at an empty table. And then someone asks to sit with her, and it’s a blonde girl she’s never seen before. DAWN. I’M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU RIGHT NOW. [Wing: DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN DAWN. Oh my god, y’all, I love Dawn so much, and she’s finally here!]

They talk, and when Dawn assumes Mary Anne is new too,  Mary Anne lies and says the friends she usually sits with are out sick. I have never understood the point of this lie. I guess she…doesn’t want Dawn feeling sorry for her? I don’t know.

Kristy’s still trying to act she’s having the time of her life with the Shillaber twins, whoever they even are, so Mary Anne actually thinks the words “two can play that game” and starts whispering with Dawn and making her laugh. This is DELICIOUS.

I love the cover for the graphic novel.

Twice I caught Kristy’s eye. She looked absolutely poisonous.

Dawn invites Mary Anne to come to her house tomorrow after school. Mary Anne accepts but feels guilty because she knows she’s just using Dawn to make Kristy jealous, and she also hopes Kristy will find out and be surprised, mad, and “a little hurt.” I swear this book only needs some aging up and few “adult situations” and it could be something from Bold Strokes.

Chapter Four brings us to Wednesday, which is a BSC meeting day. Mary Anne wakes up thinking their fight must be over,  because how else can they have a meeting? So she rings Kristy’s door on her way to school, but Kristy (staying just out of view) makes David Michael answer the door and say she’s not there, and when he (adorably) argues the point, she tiptoes over and slams the door in Mary Anne’s face.

Dawn looks skeptical at lunchtime; she’s beginning to doubt the “all my friends are absent” thing.

Stacey and Claudia are actively glaring at each other, so if anything the fight is worse.

At the end of the day, Mary Anne dawdles to make sure Kristy sees her going home with Dawn.

After a few moments, I spotted Kristy. She spotted me at the same time and made a face that was a cross between a scowl and a sneer. So what did I do? I smiled. Not at Kristy, but at Dawn, who happened to be right in front of her.  I’m sure Kristy thought I was trying to make up with her again.

Boy, was she surprised when Dawn called, “Hi, Mary Anne!” and ran up to me.

“Hi,” I replied. I flashed another smile. And as we headed out the door I looked over my shoulder in time to see Kristy standing openmouthed behind me.

Mary Anne is being really unfair to Dawn here, but I still can’t help enjoying this.

Dawn’s house is a mess and her mother is unorganized (and distracted by old photo albums when she’s supposed to be unpacking, which sounds like me when I’m trying to unpack books). But Mary Anne likes the house, and they both love The Parent Trap, which they can watch in Dawn’s room because the television is in there for now. They trade “single parent family” information and discover that Mr. Spier and Dawn’s mother (Sharon Porter) both grew up in Stoneybrook. I HAD COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN THIS PART. [Wing: Well then you are in for a ride!] [Dove: The minute Mary Anne asked for that movie, it twigged, single dad, single mum… I see where this is going. PWP!]

After the movie, Mary Anne runs to Claudia’s house. It’s meeting time.

Chapter Five is the worst BSC meeting ever.  Mimi answers the door, looking worried. Stacey and Claudia are sitting in the room, not talking. They do the bare minimum necessary to get through the meeting: taking phone calls and assigning jobs. Kristy doesn’t even show up. When they’re all available for a job, Claudia puts slips of paper in a hat and they draw for it. At six o’clock Stacey and Claudia leave without speaking.

Mary Anne looks back and sees Claudia in her window, so she waves, and Claudia waves back. That’s encouraging enough that Mary Anne goes back and gives her apology note to Mimi to give to Claudia. Aww.

When she gets home her father isn’t there, so she calls Claudia. They each apologize and wonder what they’re going to do about the club. They agree that Mary Anne will try to talk to Kristy and Claudia will try to talk to Stacey. Considering the hurt feelings at this point, that might work better if they tried it the other way around, and each approached the person they have a less intense friendship with.

Kristy is an ass the next day:

“You and Claudia are speaking?”

“Yes.”

“Brother. Whatever happened to faithful friends?”

“What happened to them?” I cried. “They had doors slammed in their faces, that’s what!”

[Dove: A+ to Mary Anne for a spine that Elizabeth Wakefield can only dream of.]

But they do work out some basic “how to conduct club business when we’re all mad at each other” rules. Honestly, all businesses could probably use this. I love that even in the middle of DRAMA, Kristy still knows how to organize stuff.

Dawn breezes by and says hi, and Mary Anne shrugs and says “Dawn’s a good friend.” In retaliation, Kristy informs her that now she can stay out until ten on weekends,  nine-thirty on weeknights. So now only Mary Anne has an early curfew, and she feels humiliated, and angry at both Kristy and her father.

On Friday it’s Mary Anne’s turn to answer the phone and accept all the jobs she can (as per Kristy’s new rules).  One of those jobs is for Jenny Prezzioso on Sunday afternoon, and the rest of Chapter Six is that babysitting job. Mary Anne ends up having to change Jenny out of a ridiculous dress so the child can actually play (and having to wash and blow-dry the dress and put her back into it before her parents get home) because Mrs. Prezzioso is a silly, silly woman.

In Chapter Seven Mary Anne politely confronts her father and asks him to extend her baby-sitting hours. She’s nervous, and he’s just lost his case, and the phone keeps interrupting. It’s obviously not a good time for this conversation, but she tries anyway.  [Wing: UGH, Mary Anne, I know this is important to you, but choose your moments wisely!]

He flatly says no, calls her a sixth-grader because he forgets that TIME IS A THING AND SHE’S IN GRADE SEVEN NOW (although come to think of it, soon they will stop aging for the rest of the series, so I guess time isn’t THAT MUCH of a thing). [Dove: They’re a year older than the Wakefield twins? Seventh grade is such a big deal to Jessica.]

He also accuses her of “not sounding mature at the moment,” which is terribly unfair in the middle of a difficult, emotional conversation. You don’t sound particularly mature either, buddy, telling your twelve-year-old how hard it is for you to raise a child on your own.

Mary Anne tells him he seems more like her jailer than her father. He sends her to her room, and she feels bad for insulting him but also still thinks she should be able to change her hair or her room, so she has enough backbone not to feel guilty for having her own opinions.

The next day after school she visits Mimi for advice. Mimi tells her that if she doesn’t like the way things are, she must change them herself.

“Perhaps you have not found the right way yet. If this is truly important to you, then there is a right way to change it. And I know that you, my Mary Anne, will find that way.”

Claudia walks in just in time to hear that “my Mary Anne” part and be outraged by it, because Mimi always calls her ”my Claudia” and she thought she was “the only one you call yours.” Now she’s angry with Mary Anne all over again.

I feel a tiny bit sorry for Claudia here, because I know Mimi is the one who consistently makes her feel loved and valued, but then Chapter Eight opens with a notebook entry all about it, and you should not be dragging your MY MARY ANNE drama into the club notebook, Claudia.

Mimi has apologized but Claudia is back to not talking to Mary Anne. Kristy is still not doing the flashlight code out her bedroom window even though Mary Anne waits by her window with a flashlight, twice. Then the next time it’s Mary Anne’s turn to answer the phone at a club meeting, Claudia blasts loud music so Mary Anne can hardly hear the calls (Mimi solves this one by inviting Claudia to come downstairs to have tea).

Ha, Mary Anne ends up having to call Kristy FOUR SEPARATE TIMES to offer her jobs. That could only be more awkward if they were ex-romantic-partners, which is basically how I’m reading this anyway. The third time it’s about a job for all four of them, helping out at Jamie Newton’s birthday party.

The fourth job she calls Kristy about is Mrs. Pike needing two sitters. Only Kristy and Mary Anne are available, and when Kristy says she doesn’t want to, Mary Anne threatens to invite Dawn Schafer to sit with her instead. OMG, it’s basically a romcom at this point.

Chapter Nine is the job at the Pikes. Kristy and Mary Anne get through it even though they aren’t talking by playing Telephone and also by doing separate activities with groups of the kids. Even just reading about the Pikes exhausts me. [Dove: I actually loved this chapter – and the sheepish way Mary Anne noted that the kids thought they were just playing a really fun game, one that they will keep playing. And she feels sorry for their parents for inflicting that on them. That was amusing. But I still want to kick Kristy.]

The Pike parents don’t get home until nine, so Mary Anne is five minutes late, and her father is waiting for her. She tries arguing that a nine-thirty curfew would work better, but he says no, and suggests that the next time she thinks she’s going to be late, she should call and let him now.

This reread was the first time I could feel some sympathy for his point of view (on this one thing, I mean, not in general). Mary Anne is still, in this respect, more childlike than her friends. She still sees herself as the kid in this situation; I mean, she passively waits for the Pikes to get home instead of seizing the (admittedly limited) agency available to her and calling her father. So I don’t really think it’s the emergency that changes his mind, so much as her stepping up and taking charge of things (including her friend problems). [Wing: I do think it’s her actually doing more adult things than it is the emergency itself; she’s not proactive here, and he understandably calls her on it, but later, she is super proactive, and it’s clear she’s learned from this mistake and taken steps to change.]

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back here in Chapter Ten, Mary Anne is thinking things over:

One of my biggest fears is confronting people and dealing with people I don’t know—like picking up the phone to get information, or talking to sales clerks, or asking for directions. Dad knows all that. Maybe when I stopped avoiding things, he would notice.

Even though my father didn’t know about the fight everyone in the Baby-sitters Club had had, I decided that it was really time to do something about it.

You know what? I’m not convinced her father doesn’t know about it. In isolation he might not have noticed, but Mimi knows. Kristy’s mother almost certainly knows (that door-slamming alone would have been a tip-off). These people know each other. They live right next to each other. Having now personally been through a couple of rounds of “leaving first graders to work things out but keeping a close eye on them and talking it over with the other mums” my theory is that Mr. Spier and Mimi and Mrs. Thomas are fully aware of the events of this book.

I can’t even tell if that’s a reasonable theory, or if I’m just so desperate for him to be a less remote parent that I’m making things up.

Mary Anne writes Kristy a simple, sincere apology note saying she wants to be friends again. She can’t figure out a way to get it to her, though.

Dawn calls and Mary Anne invites her over. They go through Mr. Spier’s old yearbooks and find his picture, and the quote underneath it is dedicated to S.E.P. and those are Dawn’s mother’s initials! I had literally forgotten this entire subplot. Then they look for “Sharon Emerson Porter” and she’s signed her picture in Mr. Spier’s yearbook.

Dearest Richie,

Four years weren’t enough. Let’s start over. How can we part? We have one more summer. Hold onto it, Richie. (Love is blind.) Always and forever, Sharon.

Yikes. Finding out that your new friend’s mother has a history with your father would be weird. [Wing: And yet they love the hell out of it most of the time.]

Also, this makes the “talking about Alma at every meal” habit even stranger. If she was his one and only relationship it would make some kind of sense,  but since he was in love with someone before her, shouldn’t he have, I don’t know, developed at least some capacity to move on from the past? Instead of being morbid and depressing at every single meal, I mean.

In Chapter Eleven they find a similar note from Mr. Spier, and a dried rose in Sharon’s yearbook. Dawn and Mary Anne spend the whole week speculating about it and trying to figure out why they broke up.

On Saturday Mary Anne babysits for Jenny, whose parents are going to a basketball game (Mrs. Prezzioso is overdressed, as usual; Mr. Prezzioso is in jeans, and Mary Anne suspects they’ve been fighting about that). Mary Anne describes it as “my scariest baby-sitting experience ever,” and it really does sound terrifying.

Jenny is quieter than usual and sits around listlessly while her parents are getting ready to leave. After they’re gone she doesn’t want to play, not even with the Kid-Kit. Mary Anne reads to her (Blueberries for Sal), and Jenny falls asleep even though it’s only noon. Then Mary Anne realizes Jenny has a fever. She takes her temperature, and it’s 104 degrees.

She tries to call the Prezziosos, doesn’t get an answer on either phone, and leaves messages. She tries the doctor and gets an answering service. There’s no answer at the Pikes’, the next-door neighbours, or her own house.

She calls Dawn, who comes over; she calls the gym where the basketball game is, and arranges to have the Prezziosos paged when they arrive. I am IN AWE that she even thought of all these options, you guys.

Dawn suggests calling 911, so they do that, and the helpful man who answers sends an ambulance. They keep cold compresses on Jenny’s head until the ambulance arrives, get her coat and mittens, leave new messages on the Prezziosos’ phones telling them which hospital they’re going to, and ride with Jenny to the hospital. THEY EVEN REMEMBER TO LOCK THE DOOR OF THE HOUSE WHEN THEY LEAVE. I know parents who are less competent than these girls. [Dove: This is why I can’t do even the simplest job that has responsibility for other humans’ safety. I would freeze. My mind boggled that Mary Anne and Dawn handled this like the absolute bosses that they were.]

Mary Anne answers the admitting nurse’s questions as well as she can, explains where Jenny’s parents are, helps Dawn keep Jenny calm and entertained, and finally the Prezziosos get there.

In Chapter Twelve Mr. Prezzioso drives the girls back to his house to get their stuff, and then pays them each twice what they’re owed. Hey, remember the days when an adult driving two twelve-year-old babysitters home (and overpaying them) didn’t worry anyone?  But they’ve more than earned the money, and he tells them what a great job they did.

My Kindle copy of this has a strange transcription error:

 Dawn rode slowly over to my house, and It rotten along next to her.

[Dove: Same. It took an embarrassing amount of time to figure it out.]
[Necromommycon: I checked the paperback. And even after I knew what it said, for some reason I couldn’t shake the image of Dawn and a house quietly rotting side by side. ]

Anyway. They make sandwiches and go up to Mary Anne’s room to look at old photo albums.

And this? This is the one scene from the book that I can NEVER forget. I bet this scene has launched a thousand fics. Kristy looks over from her bedroom and catches Mary Anne sitting next to Dawn and laughing:

 Kristy looked furious. (Good, she was jealous.) But she also looked…hurt? Or maybe betrayed. I couldn’t tell. For some mean reason, though, I felt triumphant. I’d show Kristy. I was no longer the old Mary Anne who depended on her for friendship and who went along with anything she said or did. I could take care of myself. I could make my own friends.

To be certain that she got the point, I put my arm around Dawn’s shoulders. Then I stuck my tongue out at Kristy.

Kristy stuck her tongue out at me.

Of course, Dawn catches them at this, realizes she’s been being used and lied to, and storms out. Mary Anne cries.

I can’t believe that was all one chapter. Chapter Twelve has just about killed me with drama. I feel like I need to lie down for a while and recover.

Chapter Thirteen is a nice, soothing chapter that opens with a call from Mrs. Prezzioso to Mr. Spier, telling him all about how competent and amazing Mary Anne was that afternoon. She’s still so upset over her fight with Dawn that she’d forgotten the whole medical drama, but now she tells her father all about it and he’s suitably impressed. (Jenny has strep throat, by the way.)

She presses her advantage, and he agrees to a curfew of nine-thirty on school nights and ten on the weekend. Then she goes upstairs, unbraids and brushes her hair, and comes down to show him. He agrees she can wear her hair down sometimes and take freaking Humpty Dumpty off her bedroom wall, and he hugs her, and I may have teared up a little.

At bedtime she writes apology letters to Kristy and Dawn.

Chapter Fourteen is Jamie Newton’s birthday party, which is almost a disaster. The BSC still aren’t talking. (Mary Anne has apologized to Dawn, standing next to her while she reads the letter, which is adorable. Dawn hugged her so all is forgiven. Mary Anne also puts her letter to Kristy in Kristy’s locker, but Kristy continues to ignore her at school.)

At the party the girls fight over who gets to check on Lucy, managing to make Mrs. Newton frown at them. Kristy steps on Mary Anne’s foot, Mary Anne deliberately overfills Kristy’s glass with punch (getting it in her lap), and Claudia mops it up and then flings the wet napkin in Stacey’s face. Jamie’s in tears, and Mary Anne takes charge, gathers the BSC in the kitchen,  and calls an emergency meeting for immediately after the party.

Chapter Fifteen is the “Mary Anne reveals her new self to the group” chapter, and I love it. I love this entire book, obviously. But now she tells the group it’s time to either make up or break up.

Kristy says somebody owes her an apology, but realizes she no longer remembers who or for what. They all laugh, Mary Anne makes them all simultaneously apologize, and then they each make genuine individual apologies to the group for their own flaws. I’m making it sound formal and sort of creepy, but it’s not, it’s sweet and displays a lot of self-awareness from each of them.

And—most satisfying of all—Kristy notices that Mary Anne has changed and says that with Mary Anne around she won’t be able to take charge all the time anymore. Also, Stacey says her hair is pretty down, and Kristy’s suitably impressed with her new curfew.

It turns out Kristy’s locker is broken, so she didn’t get the note.

That night Mary Anne gets a call from Dawn. She’s confronted her mother with the news that “Richie Spier” is still in Stoneybrook. Mary Anne hears her father come in and at dinner asks him if he ever knew a Sharon Porter. He chokes on his wine and then tells her Sharon’s parents didn’t approve of him, and they lost touch after going off to college.

Mary Anne calls Dawn back to discuss this, and then calls Kristy for reasons we don’t get to know yet.

Chapter Sixteen begins cryptically:

My father has lost his mind. Honest. I can’t believe what he said to me the other day. He said, “Yes.” The amazing thing is that he said yes after I said, “Dad, may I have a Baby-sitters Club party at our house?”

Poor kid. Imagine being thrilled and disbelieving that you’re allowed to have a few friends over. God, Richard badly needs some therapy and a marijuana prescription.

This is an important party: Dawn’s being inducted into the BSC. Dawn’s MOTHER brings her to the party and Mary Anne’s father ASKS HER ON A DATE.

Kristy shows up and starts grilling Dawn about her babysitting credentials. Luckily Dawn is an experienced sitter who has even coped with a house fire. I can’t decide if Kristy’s need to take control of situations is endearing or annoying. [Wing: I find it both, but here it makes me laugh, because she’s so clearly jealous of Mary Anne and any time she spends with Dawn that she has to find some way to drive Dawn off. It fails.] Anyway, they do a pizza toast to their newest member, and all ends happily.

Final Thoughts

I LOVE LOVE LOVE This book. I mean, Richard still annoys the hell out of me (I assume the only reason Sharon can stand him is that she’s stoned all the time), but I do also feel sorry for him. I can see why he needs to see Mary Anne take charge of her own life a little before he’ll relinquish control of it; it’s just that I find his degree of control excessive and…well, unhealthy.

But the sarcastic notes, and the fighting, and the jealousy… OMG, I wish someone would reboot this but make them all twenty-somethings running a business.

[Wing: I would read the hell out of that fic.]

[Dove: This one has been my favourite so far. I think I said that last time too, so it’s an indication that they get better each time. I love the new Mary Anne. Dawn seems very cool. I still want to kick Kristy though.]

 

Necromommycon has been mummified and buried in the countryside (with a large number of books).

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