{Rereading The Baby-Sitters Club: Friends Forever – Everything Changes, Friends Forever Books 1-5, California Diaries: Sunny – Diary Three & Maggie – Diary Three}

A new era has officially begun! I have moved on from the main BSC canon into the Friends Forever series! This is the final leg of the journey to reread (or read for the first time, as is the case with these as by this time in original publication date I was a new high school graduate and had long since outgrown these books). My original goal had been to finish it all by the end of 2020, but now my goal is to do it within a year of starting which was approximately the end of March/early April (exact date CAN be looked up on Goodreads, but frankly I’m being too lazy to do so).

The Friends Forever series is kicked off with Everything Changes and frankly… it is weird. It has a completely different tone from the original series, and somehow makes the girls seem younger, even though arguably they will actually get to age in these final twelve books. This first book is all about clearing things out and going back to BSC roots. Everyone quits or moves except for Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey. It’s written in letters and journal entries, as the club members are all off doing their own things in various locations (Kristy and Abby at camp, Stacey in New York, Claudia in Maine, with the others in Stoneybrook doing their own things as well). As you would expect from a book titled Everything Changes, everything just feels weird and different and not quite like the BSC we are used to, and I’m not sure I’m liking it. However, after getting into some of the books to come in this post, I changed my mind. What I didn’t like was the style of this book and how each narrative was close to the way the girls would actually write. Reading Kristy’s weird shorthand and Claudia’s constant spelling mistakes was a chore. Thankfully they don’t do that in the regular books (though I am suspecting they will return to it in the final super special and I’m really, really hoping they don’t).

In the first regular sized book, Kristy’s Big News, the past comes back to haunt Kristy… and make me really mad. Patrick Thomas calls during dinner one night to tell his children that he is getting married, and he wants Charlie, Sam and Kristy to be there. His obvious omission: David Michael. Kristy and Sam are looking forward to going, more out of curiosity than the fact that want to see their father. Charlie reluctantly agrees to go and is often (understandably) hostile to his father, who essentially acts like a petulant toddler the entire time. Kristy and her brother Sam try to be supportive… until Kristy finds out her dad and his new wife want to start a family. My main takeaway from this one is that I dislike Patrick Thomas with a passion and think Kristy and her brothers forgave him too easily. But then again, I have never been in this situation so I admit that it out of the realm of my experience and harder for me to understand.

We take a quick little sojourn to Palo City for California Diaries: Sunny, Diary Three… and it is a bummer of a book. Sunny’s mother, who has been getting sicker and sicker for a few books now, finally succumbs to cancer. It’s a really hard book to read. The whole thing is about her mom slowly dying with very little other action (granted, that’s more than enough action but it’s not a light, happy read in any way, shape or form). I was also very confused by it as it seems like there’s a chapter missing from either this one or the previous book. Suddenly Sunny is fighting with Ducky and has made up with Dawn. All of this apparently happened at the concert from the previous book… but the concert isn’t in the previous book OR this book! It’s a really strange, large plot detail that just seems to have been thrown away. But overall the main takeaway is how rough this book is to read!

In Stacey vs. Claudia, Friends Forever book three, a new boy moves to town. Jeremy Rudolph immediately catches the eye of both Stacey and Claudia… and it quickly escalates into the destruction of their friendship. Basically, they both like Jeremy. Stacey, who is still with Ethan, attempts to set him up with Claudia at first. However, when her relationship with Ethan falls apart and she finds out Jeremy actually likes her, she takes him for herself. I have to say, this is not Stacey’s finest hour. First off, she encourages Claudia to go out with Jeremy (she is still technically dating Ethan at the time). Second, she breaks up with Ethan after they have one argument about his busy schedule. She’s mad because he’s taking an art class on the days they can see each other. Then, she learns that Jeremy likes her instead of Claudia, and she quickly agrees to start dating him. She and Claudia launch into cruel comments about the other one, each maintaining that they are the correct one in this argument (I’m more on Claudia’s side here… while there’s nothing she can do if Jeremy is legitimately not interested in her, Stacey should’ve been more sensitive about it). This takes an interesting turn at the end of the book in that the fight is not resolved. It actually continues for the next few books.

However, in the next book we see another conflict between two characters, this time Mary Anne and Logan. In Mary Anne’s Big Breakup, Mary Anne decides that she has once again had enough of Logan not taking her feelings into account. Or is it taking her feelings too much into account? It’s a bit confusing. But the bottom line seems to be that Mary Anne is outgrowing Logan and wants to figure things out on her own. Logan does not take the break up well, but Mary Anne doesn’t really handle it well at all either. She expects them to break up and slip into being friends, which is not something Logan wants and Mary Anne can’t really understand why it’s not happening. However, she does decide to take some time for herself, even though suddenly all the offers for dates are looming. And even with this lengthy description, I feel like I’m leaving out some details, but honestly we’re do close to the end of this thing that they really are all starting to blend together!

In Claudia and the Friendship Feud, Claudia and Stacey are still fighting, and it’s still mainly over Jeremy. Jeremy and Claudia have remained friends, much to Stacey’s chagrin. I have to say, I think Jeremy is the culprit here. While Stacey and Claudia had every right to be mad at each other, Jeremy knows that they had a falling out over him, and he continues to date Stacey and hang out with Claudia “as friends.” He’s kind of playing both girls in a way. However, as a result of her feud with Stacey, Claudia becomes friends with Erica Blumberg, a character that has been around for a long time but it now getting more prominent. She helps out with a job at the Pikes and becomes kind of a quasi-member of the club (more like in the capacity of Shannon Kilbourne, as I don’t think she attends regular meetings; they just call her when they need an extra baby-sitter). Meanwhile, it’s Thanksgiving in Stoneybrook, and everyone is celebrating in various ways. As it’s a Claudia book, the story mainly focuses on the Kishi celebration, which includes Peaches, as well as a friend of hers whom she had a very similar falling out with over a boy. Long story short, Claudia and Stacey are still fighting when this book ends.

We return to a Kristy narrative with Kristy Power! This book had a lot of strange small plots going on it seemed. First, there was the controversy over a reading list that almost gets their English teacher fired (the same crazy parents from previous books are back with their book banning/burning ways). Said English teacher has also given out a biography assignment and paired Kristy with Cary Retlin. She reads what she believes to be his personal journal and learns he got kicked out of his old school (reason undisclosed). Cary is hurt when he learns that Kristy read his private journal and milks his answer for all its worth until it is revealed that he’s writing a novel. Eventually, everyone bands together to ensure that the English teacher isn’t fired for his reading book, and they are ultimately successful.

The last book in this installment returns us to Palo City and the third and final Maggie book of the California Diaries series. In this one, she is still recovering (well) from her eating disorder. She continues to go to therapy, while also still juggling the pressures of her everyday life. However in this book Maggie seems happier, more settled into her activities and less stressed. She begins to date an up and coming actor from one of her father’s movies, but is upset when their relationship is exposed in the news. I don’t know, it seems like a really high stress situation to get Maggie into, since she’s already prone to bad stress reactions. However, she does seem to be getting happier as the series gets closer to an end, so that’s progress!

And thus another installment of Rereading the BSC comes to an end. There are two more left, and I am just about finished with the books for the next post. I’m going to have to get sewing like a maniac when I’m done so I have lots to post without these book interludes!

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