Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BSC Prequel: The Summer Before

Published April 2010

The Summer Before opens on the last day of sixth grade for our girls. They're all mere eleven year olds. Oy. After school, Kristy sits for little brother David Michael, and then again that night. Why? Because her mother is going out with her boyfriend, the balding millionaire Watson. We learn they just met in May, and have been out on 6 dates so far. Keep that little nugget of information in mind during the next book.

After DM is in bed, Kristy sits down to write a letter to her MIA father. She tells him about what has been going on in her life, then addresses it to the last known address she has for him. Our favorite breeder Mrs. Pike calls to ask if Kristy and someone else can babysit for her whole brood of 8 kids. Kristy calls Mary Anne to see if she could possibly sit with her.

The next day, Mary Anne laments because she has to call and let her father know when she leaves the house to go over to Claudia's. Honestly? Call me crazy, but if I had an eleven year old at home by herself, I'd want to know, too. I don't see this as Richard being too strict. Later that night she gets his permission to sit with Kristy.

Claudia is busy planning her birthday party. She wants to have a pool party at her (unbelievably nice) neighbors' house, and include both girls and boys. She stresses about how her family will react to this idea, but they are actually pretty cool with it. She also considers how she feels so much older than Kristy and Mary Anne.

In New York City, Stacey is feeling lonely, ever since her old best friend Laine came back from camp the year before and turned into Her Royal Meaness. So Stacey is actually looking forward to her family's impending move to Stoneybrook.

Kristy's letter to her father is returned to her Addressee Unknown. She's understandably bothered by this, and won't tell anyone about it. But she's all excited about Family Night, just the Thomas clan grilling out and looking for meteors. She doesn't even invite Mary Anne. So she's pretty pissed off when Watson shows up and joins in on the fun. She puts on her bitch face, and flat out says no when Watson asks if she'll sit for his kids. Sam volunteers for the job.

Kristy and Mary Anne sit for the Pikes. Mary Anne starts out the job freaking the hell out, but soon settles down and does fine. Of course. When she gets home, her dad Richard says she can sit again, but only with another sitter, is home before nine, and calls to check in.

On the day of her party, Claudia, of course, spends a long time picking out the perfect outfit. She decides she looks at least fourteen. I think that's adorable. Kristy shows up wearing a bathing suit that's too small, and Mary Anne's is a pink frilled suit with a mermaid on it. Oh, girls. I think you're adorable, too. Claudia's sister, the awesome Janine, has invited two people from her statistics class, one of whom, Frankie, is apparently a Greek god. He spends a lot of attention on Claudia, and she's all about it. She doesn't understand at first why Janine's mad later that night. Then she figures out Janine likes Frankie. No shit, Claud.

Back in New York, Stacey sits for  a bunch of kids we never hear from again, and tells them she's moving. Dramatics ensue. When she returns home from a job, she walks into a surprise going away party. Included are all her sitting charges, all the girls in her class, and Her Royal Meaness and her parents. Laine lives up to her name, and tells Stacey the other girls are only there because she told them they had to come. Laine and some other girls say some real Mean Girl shit to Stacey, and then Laine caps it all off by purposefully spilling a soda on Stacey. Good going, Laine. Just coming in contact with all that sugar will probably kill her. 

Mary Anne starts thinking about Kristy's upcoming birthday. Kristy wants to have a family dinner, and include Mary Anne. And no Watson. Her mother is hurt by this. Really, Elizabeth? It's your daughter's birthday. Of course she doesn't want this random guy you're dating there. Mary Anne knows Kristy is expecting something from her father for her birthday, but she worries Kristy will be disappointed. So Mary Anne decides to hold Kristy Day the day after to cheer her up. She'll include Claudia, the Shillaber twins, Lauren Hoffman (who?), and of course, random kids from the neighborhood. She thinks parades and skits will be a good idea. Oh Mary Anne, you're setting a dangerous precedence here. She thinks having speeches might be getting carried away. Good to know she draws the line somewhere. She buys Kristy's present, a baseball jersey with her name on it. Good job, there. Mrs. Newton calls her asking if she'll sit for Jamie, and Mary Anne explains about the two sitter rule, and she'll get back to her.

Claudia is dating Frankie. It's wonderful. And kind of boring. She also uses the word verbose, and explains what it means. Seriously? This from the girl who has trouble spelling her own name later on? Ok. Claudia also agrees to be the second sitter for the Newton job, but spends half the time on the phone with Frankie.

It's finally moving day for Stacey, and she is ready for it. She loves Stoneybrook, and is amazed by the house, that the people are nice, and the fact they can get delivery food there. Stacey is digging the suburbs.

It's Kristy's birthday. She explains she wants to stay at home so her dad can find her if he shows up. She and her family have a nice morning together, and when Charlie points out she'll be a teenager next year, her mom can't believe she'll have three teenagers. Poor Elizabeth. Little do you realize you'll have the same three teenagers for about the next twenty years. Kristy spends the day expecting a present from her father, or for him to show up. He never does. 

The next day is Kristy Day! The only downside is Claudia won't be there, she'll be with Frankie at the beach. Mary Anne spends the morning at the Pikes' making crafty presents for Kristy. Then it's time for the parade! Kristy is touched. Richard is impressed with Mary Anne's planning, and decides she has grown up this summer, and allows her to sit alone.

Claudia goes to the pool with Frankie, but it's a terrible day. He's with all his older girl friends who have been out of town all summer, and pretty much ignores Claudia the whole time. And then he doesn't call her for days, and when he does, he dumps her. Poor Claud. But she ends up making up with Janine.

The last day of summer, the three girls are all sitting, and decide to meet up at the playground. They talk out what they've been going through that summer in a very mature discussion. 

On the first day of school, Emily Bernstein is Stacey's guide. I always liked her. She has Stacey sit at her table at lunch, which includes Claudia. After school Claudia walks Stacey home. They get along well. But I could have sworn they met by literally running into each other. I guess I'll find out.

The last chapter is pretty much a redo of the first chapter of Kristy's Great Idea, so I'll hold off on that for now.

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