{Rereading The Baby-Sitters Club: Books 126-131 & California Diaries: Dawn – Diary Three}

So… I finished the main series. In this special installation I have the FINAL six BSC books… and one random California Diaries that fell in between them. If I had gotten here as a kid, I would’ve spent days being sad about the end of my beloved book series. As an adult who has been frantically trying to read them all within a year of time, it’s a bit of a relief, though there is a touch of emotion there as well.

As the series is wrapping up, we are starting to lose BSC members, and we are getting to the final narratives for some of the girls. I didn’t even acknowledge this in the last couple of posts as it just didn’t occur to me. So we’ve already seen the final Jessi book (which was SO long ago; I want to say it was 115). Mallory’s final turn comes in The All-New Mallory Pike (#126). Mallory has been accepted to an all-girls private school, and this book showcases her time there. As a Mallory-narrated book with the main character away from the other sitters, I thought I wasn’t going to like it. However, I actually loved it! I enjoyed reading about Mallory’s adventures at her new school, and thought a lot of the characters introduced were pretty cool. It was nice to see Mallory fitting in and being happy somewhere. Perhaps that’s why she was not such an enjoyable character in her other narratives: she just hadn’t found the place she belonged yet. The subplot deals with her siblings who, I will admit, I get kind of tired of after a while: I feel like they are ultimately always having the same fight.

Up next, we have the final Abby book, Abby’s Un-Valentine (#127). And in true Abby book fashion, I didn’t love this one. The plot was fine: the Valentine’s Day dance is coming up and Abby wants to avoid going. She struggles to get this message across to a young SMS boy named Ross who, while seemingly well-intentioned, just is not getting the hint. Eventually Abby sets him up with her sister Anna after she gets the message across that she’s just not interested in romance. And as I type this, I genuinely have no idea what the subplot was… I guess this really speaks to how much I don’t like the Abby books. Honestly, there are a bunch of sitters I’ll miss when we get to Friends Forever, but Abby is not really one of them. I feel like, even after all this time, I am still holding onto a little “Abby was Dawn’s replacement” resentment! Old habits die hard, and I was a super loyal Dawn fan as a kid (even though as an adult, while I still like her, I can see how very, very different we are, and realizing that I was mainly choosing to be her because we had the same blonde hair and blue eyes!).

The final Claudia book of the main series is next: book one hundred and twenty-eight, Claudia and the Little Liar. We revisit a beloved set of charges, Haley and Matt Braddock, but all is not well. Haley has started compulsively lying, and she begins to spread rumors to the BSC charges that the club is spying on them to their parents and teachers. Haley is infuriating in this book, but in true BSC fashion, there is a reason she has been acting out (school trouble, as Claudia comes to find out, and in the end Claudia becomes someone for Haley to bond with rather than attack with lies). Sidebar: I always find it so funny that Kristy goes into a panic whenever something like this happens: she has so little faith that their record of good service will just suddenly disappear because a kid says the baby-sitters are spying.

In Kristy at Bat (#128), Kristy gets her final shot at narrating the series. If you ask me, she probably should have closed it out, but I’m actually okay with where the books went in the end (we’ll get there soon). I would not have been okay with this being the final installment of the series as I was pretty bored with it. Kristy goes to baseball camp with Watson and stands up to a famous baseball player (who is meant to be coaching) for being surly and doing a bad job. She ends up helping him turn his attitude around, and a good time is had by all. It was not a bad story, I just find myself disengaging whenever the books get too into a sports plot line. (This is also very much true for real life, although I have been known to enjoy a baseball game or two… mostly because they sell hot dogs at the games. However, of all the sports that exist out there, baseball is the one I mainly understand, although I wouldn’t be caught dead playing it… I have major playing sports anxiety and never know when you’re supposed to run or what the exact rules are).

Our trip to Palo City, California for this installment is also our last foray into a narrative with Dawn Schafer, with California Diaries: Dawn – Diary Three. And while I like Dawn the best out of all the California Diaries characters, I will also admit that there’s not a ton of meat to her plot lines. Dawn is the least angsty, at least directly. She is kind of dealing with her friends’ angst-situations which, in the case of Sunny, is causing their friendship to drift more and more. This book continues to explore that idea. With Sunny’s mom’s cancer getting worse, the family must accept the inevitable and stop treatment, and Dawn is the one narrating all of this. She is also trying to make up with Sunny, and Ducky gets them all tickets to a concert. The concert subplot doesn’t really go anywhere: Ducky wants to take Amalia, Dawn and Sunny, which Dawn initially thinks will be awkward. She tries to make up with Sunny, which doesn’t work, but the book ends before what I can only assume was a very tense concert.

The final Stacey book, Stacey’s Movie (#130), showcases another SMS Short Takes class. Stacey, Abby, Logan and Kristy as all in the same class, but different movie making groups. Stacey’s group decides to make a movie about the SMS students, talking about their feelings as middle schoolers. This creates a conflict when Mary Anne, in a moment of frustration, talks about how she hates her mom. The movie team wants it in the movie but Mary Anne wants it removed. Stacey is the one who has to come up with a solution that works for everyone. As with the previous books that cover this, I really like the idea of the short takes classes, and I liked this book, for the most part. Well, at least Stacey’s movie team. Kristy’s movie subplot wasn’t all that interesting (to the point that I am not even positive what it was, but I THINK it was Kristy basically making America’s Funniest Home Videos with the kids of Stoneybrook).

And then there was one…

The final book, number one hundred-and-thirty-one, is The Fire at Mary Anne’s House. I was quite curious going in as to whether or not Martin and her ghost writers knew this was going to be the final installment or not. One-thirty-one is such a strange number to end on, however it seems that they did know… at least according to the “Dear Reader” section at the back of the book. As the book’s title suggests, there is a fire at Mary Anne’s house, started by faulty wiring and bad enough to destroy nearly all of the Schafer-Spier’s possessions. The family needs to live with the Thomas-Brewers while they attempt to get back on their feet. This proves a challenge since there are already so many people living in their house, but they manage to make it through. Overall, the book was a good ending to the series as it questions how a tragedy can bring new beginnings, and it ends on a hopeful, optimistic note that leads us into the Friends Forever series.

So there you have it: the end of the original BSC. The next installment (there are three more to go after this) we will begin Friends Forever and get closer to wrapping up California Diaries!

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