{Rereading The Baby-Sitters Club: Friends Forever Books 6-10 & California Diaries: Amalia – Diary Three}

We are at the penultimate leg of this rereading the BSC journey. This post will cover all but four of the final books in the series, and features five Friends Forever books and one California Diaries book. I think I’ve been doing this long enough to that we can just jump right into the good stuff.

In Stacey and the Boyfriend Trap, literally every single male interest of Stacey’s returns. And I mean everyone, from Toby (Sea City) to Wes Ellenburg (the teacher she had a crush on). The main plot revolves around throwing a party for beloved math teacher Mr. Zizmore who is moving away from Stoneybrook. Stacey and Pete Black take on the challenge of throwing the party. To complicate matters, Toby from Sea City wants to come for a visit, Ethan shows up unexpectedly, Robert Brewster gets involved in the party planning and Jeremy ultimately breaks up with Stacey. The party planning also becomes the catalyst for Claudia and Stacey to heal their friendship, which is going to be a recurring theme moving forward with the books.

In Claudia Gets Her Guy, a mix up leads Claudia to accidentally dating Alan Gray. Well, into accidentally going to dance with Alan Gray, where she realizes she might actually have feelings for him. It all starts when she finds out Stacey and Jeremy have broken up, and decides to go for it herself. She writes Jeremy a letter that ends up in the wrong locker… Alan Gray’s locker, to be precise. She feels too bad to tell him the letter wasn’t for him, but this seems to lead in a good direction for her. Jeremy becomes a thing of the past, which I for one am very happy about, as he was just a nuisance. Yes, Stacey was mainly to blame for what ended up happening, but Jeremy’s behavior didn’t help. The book also serves to make Alan Gray, perpetual Stoneybrook Middle School jokester, seem a little more human.

Mary Anne’s Revenge sees the return of Cokie Mason. It is also the last time Cokie will cause any trouble for the BSC. In this book, Cokie takes advantage of Mary Anne and Logan’s recent breakup to spread rumors about Mary Anne and how she is handling things. They are also feuding over the superlatives section of the yearbook, creating a new voting system which Cokie then rigs sot hat she and her friends win most to the titles. A fed up Mary Anne seeks the advice of Cary Retlin to get revenge on Cokie. While they come up with some various plans, ultimately it is Mary Anne standing up for herself at a party (thrown by Cokie) that eventually forces Cokie to back down. I like the Friends Forever version of Mary Anne. She’s not as whiny and complain-y as she is in the main books, perhaps because she is facing the things that made her so whiny and complain-y in the first place. She’s able to stand up for herself a little bit more, which is also nice to see.

In our one Palo City Interlude for this installment, we see the final diary in the Amalia collection. A lot of small, disconnected plot lines occur: Amalia is dealing with her growing feelings for Brandon, her grandparents are coming into town and they’re throwing a party and she must cope with the aftermath of a racist incident (a group of drunk women spit at her and call her insulting names). On top of all that – and even before all that happens, Amalia also finds herself struggling in school a little bit. With finals coming up, she finds it difficult to deal with Brandon, the band and everything else she has to do. For the most part, I thought the book portrayed the aftermath racism incident fairly well. It took Amalia almost through stages of grief in responding to it, and she was also able to bond with her sister over it a little bit. She starts out angry at the girls who harassed her, but ultimately decides that taking the high road is the best response.

Kristy and the Kidnapper is a final foray into a mystery for the BSC series. Kristy and Abby travel to Washington D.C. to complete in a debate competition (cause, yeah, Kristy and Abby are suddenly really into debate). There, they meet David Hawthorne… or should I say Terry Hoyt? David/Terry used to live in Stoneybrook, and was featured in a previous mystery book. At first, he is unwilling to admit to Kristy that they know each other, but after an incident with a strange man chasing them through the halls of the hotel, he tells her the truth and they deduce that the kidnapper is someone his father (a secret service agent) helped to arrest. The rest of the book follows the debate competition with more secret service agents protecting Kristy and David. I didn’t love this one. It took a lot for me to get through it, even though it was a mystery. I just didn’t feel particularly invested in the story, however I do like when they return to old characters that only appeared in one book for brief periods.

We return to a Stacey narrative with Stacey’s Problem, and… I’m not sure exactly what Stacey’s problem actually was. Yes, there’s some stuff that could be a potential problem, but nothing every really materializes as a true issue. Main plot point: Mr. McGill is getting married again, and Stacey is gaining a stepmother. She worries about telling her own mother this, and tries to find her dates with a video dating service (a plot line that doesn’t really go anywhere). This book was almost more about Maureen McGill than it was about Stacey, because the former eventually realizes that she doesn’t want to date, but she wants to go back to her maiden name (Spencer) and open up a boutique clothing store in town, which Stacey is actually really excited about. Overall, it was an interesting story even with the slightly misleading title, and I will say I would like to know more about this store they’re opening, but it seems as though this is yet another way to move the people of Stoneybrook on from this endless loop of the same year (the final count was this is the girls’ twelfth time in 8th grade!).

And there you have it! The next post will be the FINAL BSC reread post.

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