4 out of 5 stars
I finally read another BSC book! I kinda suck huh? I'm going to try to get better about it, because I actually missed these perpetual teenagers' baby-sitting hijinks! So this story really deserves like a 2.5 for the actual plot (major fat-shaming going on that I'll get into later) but I just had to bump it up for the outfits. There are a plethora of outfits and Dawn is bringing her A-game in this one, folks. (Too bad she goes back to Cali-casual in the end.)
The book starts off on the day before New Year's Eve and Mary Anne & Dawn are getting ready for their epic BSC slumber party, making their grocery list. Dawn wants to make gross vegan (their words, not mine) stuff, of course, like soybean pie and tofu apple nut loaf. Mary Anne goes for the good stuff, like pigs in a blanket (she liked the name lol) and English muffin pizzas. They start talking about Logan and his cousin, Lewis. Remember him? Yeah me neither, hang on let me go look him up. Oh yeah, he shows up after that creepy pedo Travis. Okay, got it.
So apparently, Dawn & Lewis have been penpalling it for awhile now and Lewis is finally coming to Stoneybrook. Dawn is excited but super nervous and doesn't think he'll actually like her. I know this sounds like I'm totally insecure, but I'm not. People are always saying what an individual I am. You have be at least somewhat secure to be an individual. Oookay. She makes a resolution to get a boyfriend, even if it means changing herself to do that. (Hello, she already almost did that with Travis?!)
MA & Dawn are 1 minute late to the BSC meeting that afternoon and Kristy gives them the stink eye. When is she going to get over her jealousy of their relationship?? Probably right about when Dawn moves back to California. Claudia pulls out one of those popcorn tins with 3 different kinds (those were the bomb.com) that her Aunt Peaches sent her and the girls snack down while we get the intro story and What Claudia is Wearing... (click any of the pics to make bigger for more detail!)
Dawn gets a sitting gig for the family du jour, Sarah and Norman Hill. We also, surprisingly, get an update on another family: the Kormans. Apparently Bill & Melody are no longer terrified of the toilet monster. I know you're glad to hear it. So let's talk about the Hills. In Dawn's words: Norman Hill...was fat. (I don't mean to be unkind. There's just no other way to say it. He wasn't stout. He wasn't husky or stocky or pudgy. He was fat.) Okay then. It's going to be like that? On her first sitting job, Norman gorges on cupcakes in his room, eats Hershey Kisses the entire time they watch The Little Mermaid, and eats an early dinner of pb&j sandwich with Oreos and milk. The neighborhood kids call him Enormous Hill and his parents have threatened to send him to fat camp if he doesn't lose 20 pounds.
Okay, yeah that's bad and all. But his parents kind of suck. They don't try to figure out WHY he's over-eating. They still bring in all this bad food to the house. He's 7 years old. He doesn't have any self-control. They need to do it for him. Ugh. I hated this storyline. It's almost as bad as Robin in Sweet Valley High. Claudia baby-sits him next and sort of tries to find out why he eats so much but then reads a letter he wrote to his penpal where he makes up all kinds of stories. Stacey tries a little harder, telling him about her diabetes (how many kids has she helped with that? 4 or 5?) and suggesting he talk to his parents about how they're making him feel. Of course, that actually works because the BSC are licensed psychiatrists.
Now back to Dawn & Lewis. At the NYE party, Claudia & Stacey show up in fancy outfits: Claudia had tied her hair up in a high ponytail with this silver netting around it. She was wearing wide black pants and a top with a silver moon appliqued on the front. Stacey wore a form-fitting purple dress and pink tights with black stripes. The girls have tons of fun, eat lots of snacks, and talk about boys. I've noticed lately that we talk about boys a lot more than ever before. That's because your bodies are changing, Dawn, and hormones are running rampant. The girls each call a boy at midnight, except Dawn, Jessi, & Mallory. Dawn feels like a loser and makes a second resolution to change herself, to make sure she gets that boyfriend.
She starts going thru the fashion mags and Mary Anne agrees (kind of insists) that maybe Dawn could do with a change. She slathers all this makeup on and does her hair in about 50 curlers, then tears a shirt up to make it off-the-shoulder, and takes a sexy new picture to send to Lewis. Dawn is so excited about her new look that she decides to make it permanent, along with an attitude adjustment.
"Dawn" [the teacher said] "Name two common forms of igneous rock."
"Heavy metal and pop," I answered, tossing my hair over my shoulder.
She starts tearing up all her clothes, making miniskirts out of sweatpants, more off-the-shoulder tops, and adjusting her jeans. The other girls don't like her new look and attitude, because they're jerks. MA understands though and comes up with this ironic little sentence: "Everyone should be allowed to change. I mean, we're only thirteen. None of us will stay exactly the way we are for the rest of our lives." It's finally time for Lewis to come and we get the best outfit that Dawn has ever worn:
Black ballet slippers; black lace capri leggings; a short metallic silver skirt with all this crinoliney stuff underneath that made it poof out; a stretchy, tight, black-and-white-striped top with long sleeves. I'd bought six rubber bangle bracelets, and a new pair of feather earrings that reached down to my shoulder. (I wore both earrings in the two holes in my right ear. I put a pair of small black hoops in the two holes on the left.) This time I didn't set my hair; I piled it on top of my head, then made six braids.
Of course, her new look does not mean that their first date goes well. Quite the opposite, in fact. Dawn is so busy trying to act cool that she forgets how to communicate so Mary Anne starts piling all these self-help articles on her, like "You-Directed Conversation" and "Taking Charge of Your First Date" and "Flirting with Flare". This just makes it worse, of course, so she thinks maybe she needs to push her outfits more.
A denim skirt and black turtleneck that she borrowed from MA. "I was too plain. Working quickly, I applied blush, mascara, and lots of navy blue eyeliner. The final touch was the hot pink lipstick I'd bought at the drugstore that afternoon. The next problem was my hair. I opened the [hair] clip and let the curls "flow free". I looked like a little kid with big loopy curls. Luckily I had some hair gel. I put gel on the sides, and looked a lot better. I jazzed up the outfit with a pair of black textured stockings I'd bought at Zingy's and a pair of short black boots I already owned. My skirt needed to be shorter, so I rolled it up two inches and untucked the black turtleneck. Much better...
Dawn pulls out all the stops on the date, saying Lewis' name every 5 seconds, touching his arm, making creepy eye contact, trying to hold hands in the movie theatre. They go see Gone with the Wind which is a big mistake. Dawn starts crying halfway thru and gets blue and black rivers streaking down her face. It's all a huge fail and it's all Mary Anne's fault. Duh, because it's totally not the crazy outfits.
I'd spent Sunday tie-dying a pair of white tights and some of Richard's old t-shirts. Today I was wearing the dyed tights, my new sweat skirt, and one of the t-shirts belted over a leotard. I'd spent the rest of the afternoon putting my hair in tiny braids all over my head. (Who else did this in the 90s??) Then I gelled the braids. This morning I'd unbraided my hair up to about chin-length. I left in the braids along my head. It looked cool. The top was in braids and the bottom was all crinkled and frizzy. [So sorry I couldn't find this exact hairstyle! I can picture it though, can't you?]
Okay, that's the last outfit because Dawn finally comes to her senses and tells Lewis why she's been dressing like this. He tells her he likes how she used to look and she runs home, washes all the cool out of her hair, throws together some granola lunch, and Lewis finally sees the real Dawn. And surprise surprise, he likes her. Gag me with a spoon. Dawn & Lewis kiss in the end. Is that her first kiss? I can't remember. And he goes back to Kentucky.