4 out of 5 stars
Sometimes I get really passionate about a BSC book while I'm reading it. Like in the first book when everything comes together for the first time or when Mimi died or when the girls somehow win a lottery and they all go to California and stay with Dawn's dad. This book made me passionate, for good reasons and bad.
Let's start with the cover. It's cute right? The girls are roller skating, their outfits are all there: Mary Anne's mom jeans, Kristy's sweater + turtleneck (isn't that hot??), Claudia's totally dibbly vest + fedora, Dawn's "Cali Casual". There's only one problem: this scene DOES NOT HAPPEN IN THE BOOK. What?? This is the first time that has happened and it is super annoying. Also, the tagline "Nothing beats your friends" has nothing to do with the story. This isn't about Mary Anne hanging out with her friends. I don't think they even get together, besides meetings, except for one lunch time. Which is a nice opening for Disgusting School Lunches by Kristin Thomas.
Kristy always brings her own lunch - and then makes disgusting remarks about the hot meal.
"Look. Lookit that brown thing," she said, pointing to a blob on Claud's plate. "You know what that could be? It could be something that just, like, *fell into* the pot while the cooks were stirring...what is that stuff?"
"It's beef bur-gig-non," replied Claud.
"Bur-gig-non?!" exclaimed Dawn, laughing. "That's *bourguignon*. You pronounce it the French way."
"How would you know?" said Claud. "You don't eat meat."
Gross. Okay, back to the story. Stoneybrook Middle School is doing another ridiculous school-wide assignment (do they ever do any *actual* learning, like SAT vocab words or something?). All the 8th graders will be grouped up in 4's and assigned a living author to research and report on. Which is pretty cool, actually. But Mary Anne is freaked out about having to work with possible strangers or even worse, Cokie Mason or Alan Gray. And even though she misses Logan terribly, she doesn't even consider that she might have to work with her ex-boyfriend.
I missed Logan. I had been missing him for some time. And the missing hurt. Logan and I used to be so close that we were almost part of each other. Sometimes I knew what he was thinking; we didn't even need to talk.
Dawn and my friends are the best - they're people with whom I hope I'll be friends for the rest of my life. [Don't count on it.] But Logan is a boy, so my relationship with him is different from my relationship with my parents or my friends. (I should hope so)
So you know where this is going, right? Mary Anne gets paired up with Pete Black, Miranda Shillaber (never heard of her...this is where my BSC character spreadsheet would come in handy), and ...Logan Bruno. Mary Anne freaks. She can't even focus on the fact that she gets one of her favorite authors, Megan Rinehart. I think it's funny that they used a fictional author for the actual project, because they mention several real authors at the beginning of the book. Oh well, I guess they couldn't get Judy Blume's consent or something. (BTW, you should totally follow her on Twitter! She's pretty awesome.) Okay, while MA is busy making awkward eye contact with Logan, Miranda is shooting daggers at Pete because one time in 7th grade, he snapped her bra and it fell off and was totally embarrassing hah! So this group is going to work out great, right? Wrong!
As they're all sitting there, trying to figure things out, their English teacher comes by and asks if anyone would like to switch with Cokie Mason, because she just looooves Megan Rinehart. Miranda jumps for the chance and now Mary Anne's worst nightmare has come true. Cokie doesn't care about the project, she's just out to sink her claws into Logan, now that he's available. Not only is Cokie a mega skank, but she's not all that bright either. Because Cokie can't even remember Megan's name, let alone actually read any of her books. The project is off to a great start.
Let's switch over to the baby-sitting in this book for a minute, shall we? We only get one family in the whole book, but nearly all of the girls baby-sit for them. The Kormans have moved into the Delaney's old McMansion and they have 3 kids: Bill, Melody, and baby Skylar. The two older kids aren't crazy about their new house and freak out over every little sound it makes, including the toilet. They build it up into their heads until they're convinced there actually is a Toilet Monster and the BSCers spend the whole book trying to help them get over it. (Instead of, you know, talking to the parents.) For once, they don't totally succeed and the book ends with the kids still kind of scared.
Okay, back to the school project. Logan seems to fall for Cokie's little Miss Awesome act (or her cleavage, I'm not sure which) and actually goes out with her several times. Gag me with a spoon. They spend so much time going on dates that they put their project in jeopardy. Which is a big deal to MA & Pete, especially after they find out that Rinehart and two of the other authors are actually going to come to their school and listen to their presentations. Like, whoa. I would be freaking out too. MA & Pete decide that they'll just have to do Cokie & Logan's parts of the paper too, but they won't do their presentation, so basically the latter two will look like fools in front of everyone. MA is totally cool with Cokie being made a fool but not so sure about Logan, because she thinks she might still be in love with him. Yuck. Well, Logan pulls it off at the very last second and gets with Mary Anne to go over their project and he tells her that he misses her too. And he wants to take her out to dinner after their presentation and maybe talk some more. Ugh, do not want! The presentation goes well, Cokie makes a fool of herself, Mary Anne doesn't throw her shoe at anyone, and they get to meet Rinehart. And let's end with a special What Stacey Was Wearing...
[Stacey] always knows what's the newest in fashion, and she puts together these chic outfits like paisley-print leggings; a huge, long shirt; short, black, lace-up boots; and a ton of silver jewelry. She might top off the look with a black fedora. Stacey is also allowed to wear makeup, plus she'll do wild things like paint a tiny heart on each of her fingernails.
And an extra special what Mary Anne wore on her date with Logan. I did two versions of this one, an expectation of what you think this outfit is going to be after reading the description and what the reality probably is lol.
"What do you think of this outfit?" I held up an over-sized blue top and a pair of red tights. [Note: tights, not leggings!]
"I think your father won't let you out of the house in it." [Dawn]
"Yes, he will. When I bought it, he said, 'Mary Anne, that's much too revealing,' and I said, 'It's not nearly as revealing as a bathing suit,' and he said, 'That's true,' so I got to keep it." (Whoa, go sassy MA!!)