Thursday, April 1, 2010

~The Summer Before~ Review



I just finished the book a couple of minutes ago. The biggest issue I had with it (which isn't necessarily a BAD thing) is that I wished it were longer. Page wise it was about the length of a super special with 17 chapters. I wasn't ready for it to end! Come on, I've been waiting TEN YEARS.

Every chapter alternated narrators, with Kristy having the first and the last chapters.

The book moves quickly (it would have to with each girl really only having four chapters except for Kristy). It begins on the last day of sixth grade and runs through when Kristy gets the idea for the BSC in the very last chapter. Going from the very beginning of the book where Kristy is talking it's obvious that this took place quite a bit in the past, though how long ago isn't exactly clear. I get the impression that Kristy is now an adult since she says: "And the summer brought the four of us, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne, and me, together to form the Baby-Sitters Club - something we would belong to, in one sense or another, for the rest of our lives."
There's no mention of cell phones, computers being the norm,(other than Janine having one in her room.) or anything of the high tech world we live in today. This will keep the readers who were worried about the books being updated too much happy.

Plot Lines:

Kristy's mother has just started dating Watson in May of sixth grade. They're starting to get more serious, and Kristy is missing her father more than ever. She writes him a letter, but it comes back with "addressee unknown" written across it. Hes' moved, and she doesn't know how to get in contact with him. She desperately to hear from him for her birthday, and she hopes against hope that he will somehow show up for her birthday in August, and when he doesn't, she's devastated, even though she knew in her heart that it wasn't likely. There's a mention of Sam going to baby-sit for Karen and Andrew when Kristy downright refused.
I felt bad for Kristy in some points because she doesn't want her family to change. Her, her mother and her brothers were going to have Hamburgers and watch for meteors (the meteors are mentioned a lot), and Watson gets invited, and Kristy is sorely disappointed. You can see Watson already starting to step into the father role, when he gives Kristy a nice bracelet for her birthday and calls her, which her father neglects to do. (Kristy was adamant about him not being there for the birthday dinner.)

Claudia- Feels herself pulling away from Kristy and Mary Anne. She's more interested in boys, and other things that Mary Anne and Kristy are definitely not into yet. For her twelfth birthday, she wants her first girl boy party isntead of the sleepover she has every year with K and MA and a few other girls. The Goldman's next door (Claudia wonders why they don't call them the Goldmen instead of the Goldman's hehehe) allow her to use their pool for their party. Janine invites two of her friends including a VERY CUTE boy named Frankie. Janine likes him, however he shows interest in Claudia, and Janine starts giving her the cold shoulder. After the party they start hanging out more and more and Claudia keeps blowing off K and MA (and isn't able to make Kristy's bday dinner.) In the end, the two of them end up going to the pool, and Frankie basically blows her off when his friends are there. They were away during the summer and now they're back he has no use for Claudia. They basically treat her like a 5 year old, Frankie dumps her, and eventually everything goes back to normal, though Claudia still feels like she's years older than K and MA, but they decide to try and work on their friendship.

Mary Anne- Desperately longing for independence. When Mrs. PIke calls Kristy asking if she can come sit for all 8 Pike kids and if she knew someone else who could sit with her. Kristy calls Mary Anne, but of course she has to ask her father. She has a very rational conversation (much more rational than when she tried to get a later curfew in Mary Anne Saves the Day), and he finally gives in and says she can go with Kristy .... on several conditions which include that She has to call every 30 minutes and be home by 9 on the dot. Mary Anne is relieved but incredibly nervous about something going wrong on her job. However, the sitting job goes smoothly. Kristy goes out and plays softball with the boys, and Mary Anne stays inside and plays beauty parlor with the girls (Mallory is acting as a deputy baby-sitter.) They play a Snail game (or something , I have to go back and look) Where they come up with a category, and someone names something in that category, and the next person has to come up with something in that category that starts with the last letter of the previous word.
Mary Anne does some more baby-sitting with Kristy, and then she has a job with Claudia at the Newton's in which she does most of the work (Claudia is really only there because Mary Anne HAD to have someone sit with her) and is awkward because Claudia is on the phone with Frankie
The last big thing that happens is that Mary Anne throws a "Kristy Day" because she knows how badly Kristy is feeling about her father. It takes place the day after Kristy's birthday (Claudia is off with Frankie) and she gets the Pikes, Jamie, Jenny Prezzioso, and a few other kids. They make presents and a banner (which says "We love you KISTY") and parade down to the Thomas' house to surprise "Kisty". After this, Mr. Spier sees how responsible Mary Anne is becoming and finally allows her to baby-sit on her own.

Stacey~ This was my favorite storyline... which isn't terribly surprising considering she was always my favorite sitter. We see more of her life in NYC before moving to Stoneybrook. She's anxious to get out of the city and away from her ex friends. She now doesn't really have ANY Friends and her free time is spent helping clean her apartment preparing for the move and baby-sitting. (She basically says that the doorman to her apartment building is about the closest thing she had to a best friend.)She calls Laine "Her Royal Meanness" (Hehe). Laine is a complete BITCH in the book. She reminded me of why I hated middle school so much. Stacey's nickname for her is pretty much spot on (only I would have substituted meanness for something else). I'm still not exactly sure WHY Stacey's parents decided to keep the whole diabetes thing a secret. (Stacey stated that a fifth grader had had leukemia and everyone knew about it so there were no surprises). Stacey's baby-sitting clients and neighbors throw her a going away party in which the Cummingses show up, and a bunch of girls from school whom Stacey suspects Laine threatened to get them to go. THe girls are complete bitches at the party (Seriously, I would have thrown them out on their asses), making fun of the little kids who care more about Stacey than these girls do.
The McGill's move to Stoneybrook, and Stacey falls in love with the town, glad that it isn't anything at all like New York, but relieved there is a department store, and restaurants. She's surprised that it isn't completely quiet at night. She can hear crickets and an owl hooting in the distance.

The book finishes up with the beginning of seventh grade , ending on the night that Kristy gets her idea for the Baby-Sitters Club. It provides a great segue to the first book in the series even if parts of it do overlap.

Things of note:
~Jenny Prezzioso LOVES Kristy. She's not a brat in this one, but just seems like a sweet kid even if she is dressed to the nines.
~Mary Anne wears braids, but she's not in dresses and skirts all the time. Instead she wears capris pants and Pedal Pushers, with flowery blouses.
~Mary Anne actually meets Stacey first. She helps her get to a class on her first day of school
~Stacey and Claudia DO NOT crash into each other. They meet each other at lunch. Emily Bernstein (who showed Stacey around school that morning) introduces her to the kids at their table.
~Last day of Summer Vacation K MA and C meet on the Elementary School playground with their sitting charges (David Michael, Jamie, and Jenny). David Michael is acting as a junior baby-sitter. He gets told to keep Jenny, who is wearing a pink dress and pink shoes, clean. Miraculously, he does.
~First Janine quote (although it's not a direct quote, it's something Claudia says Janine would say...or has said) "I suppose that sometimes it's acceptable for one to use aint as the colloquial contraction for is not..."
~Some of Stacey's NYC baby-sitting charges include:
8 year old Jeremy and 5 year old TWila. Brother and sister who play "sticky" and can't leave each other's side at all. The game ends when Stacey tells them she's moving and Jeremy is PISSED and jumps up.
3 year old twins Sean and Sarah Beckett. They're not as upset as Twila and Jeremy. They ask a bunch of questions and seem interested that all their furniture will fit into a van.
The Goldsmith Kids, three of them. They all burst into tears.
~Mary Anne sees a girl about their age who she has never seen before with blonde hair and blue eyes watching the Kristy Day Parade.
And last but not least......

~First Claudia outfit description!!
"Claudia was wearing willowy black pants, cinched at the waist with a drawstring, and a boldy patterned summer shirt with ties that she was adjusting around her midriff. Her midriff would have been bare, but Claud had slithered into a lacy black tank top before she'd put on the shirt. On her feet were delicate silvery sandals, and her hair, which was looooooooong and thick, was held away from her face with two silver combs."

Classic BSC... even if it's BEFORE the BSC


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Alison said...

A couple things(I might be wrong, though):

1. Kristy never ate a meal with Watson until BSC #1, I believe. I don't know if she had ever even met him.

2. What's with Mary Anne's outfits? Pedal pushers? Richard would not approve.

3. I thought the girls didn't know Jenny Prezzioso before the BSC.

Donica said...

There's no mention of Kristy never having ate a meal with him in #1, nor having her ever met him. It's insinuated that he's been around awhile.
2. Maybe Mr. Spier is a little more lax in the summer about the attire due to the heat?
3. Mary Anne knew Jenny before #4...didn't seem like anyone else did though.

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I just wanted to say that I was browsing through blogs (cuz I'm bored at work) and came upon this one and OOOOOMMMMMGGGGGG!!! I was such a fan of the BSC. Great idea to start a blog. :)

Linainverse5 said...

nice blog post by the way
and i gotta say
out of all the people i felt sorry for the most
it had to be kristy.

claudia was horrible in that book and she deserved to get dumped for how she treated mary anne and the others.

wow, and to think laine couldnt be much more worse. no wonder why they didnt last long as friends. makes you kinda feel sorry for stacey.

mary anne was alright
until when she started acting like a worrywart.

charmecia said...

i agree with what carmella said
you cant help but feel sorry for kristy. i mean she was the only one who still wanted to see her father again and have him in her life, yet her father still acts like a total douchbag. i wanted to find the guy and smack the living shit out of him.

claudia was indeed horrible. i mean come on claudia, her sister saw him first, yet she goes after him anyways. serves her right. and she definitely deserves to get dumped for being so bitchy to mary anne when all mary anne wanted to do was see if claudia could fix her dolls.

hmmm mary anne's story was alright,
even though richard was such a dick in that book, i mean gheesh.

and stacey's story was sad, and that laine can be so bitchy that its a shame that her and stacey's friendship doesnt last long in the series.

good book though
and great prequel.
makes me want to read it all over again.