Previously: Stacey falls for an older lifeguard. Despite the fact that he gave her her whistle, and we spent too much time discussing the analogy there, nothing comes of her crush. Except a #hosuspension. Or three.
Sweeney: This book begins with the girls being reunited after their devastating separation of *gasp* two weeks. Can we say co-dependency problems? Dawn has been in California with her dad. Her friends are referring to her tan and lighter hair as disgusting, making this friendship perhaps both co-dependent and abusive. Girls, I love it when you write this for me.
Dawn’s too nice to actually say anything mean but in my head even her well-intentioned statement comes across snarky just because I want it to: “Poor Kristy Thomas hadn’t gone anywhere. She’d stayed here.” (My contempt for this fictional child has reached irrational levels. Maybe R. L. is right; I do need help.)
I will take any excuse possible to feel not sorry for Kristy Thomas, even one so pathetic as the fact that she was forced spend two weeks in her OMGHORRIBLE mansion with her OMGHORRIBLE really nice new step dad. Life must be hard…
Anyway, I’ll stop being a bitch (ha, kidding.) and get back to Dawn. She reminds us about her struggles as a child of a messy divorce and bicostal parents. That’s her #firstworldproblem. All the girls have one. I don’t really see why we need Kristy because that’s hers too, but then how would we know that it was all HER IDEA buteveryonehelped. Oh shit, I broke my promise already. Oops.
Dawn mentions on page two that they got to watch European Vacation on the plane and I lost the will to continue reading because that sounded like a much better idea. But I carried on, just for you people. I hope you realize how hard we work for you.
Nugs: Seriously, yo. HOW ARE WE NOT GETTING PAID FOR THIS???
Sweeney: Blah, blah, blah it was all Kristy’s idea, let’s explain the club for the milliontieth time, insert a random bad joke about hippies, and only by the grace of my part caffeine-bloodstream am I still awake.
Back at home Dawn reminds us that her house is really old and after repeating a lot of things we already know, she likens her house to a “large creepy dollhouse” which naturally makes me think “ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK CROSSOVER.”
Nugs: Guys, can we PLEASE do an “Are You Afraid of the Dark” review? I don’t know if you’ve been ignoring my email requests because I am a gigantic loser or because you’ve been plotting against me or what, but I will keep begging until I am allowed to get this shit done. Now, I won’t force you to make this happen, but I will let it be known that my sad faces are adorable.
Sweeney: I want this review series to happen too. And I want it to be a product of the Snark Squad Sleepover that I also desperately want to happen.
Dawn references the one Nancy Drew book I own (not to be confused with the Nancy Drew Files, which is covered here on the blog by the lovely Lor) as it was a gift from my first grade teacher.
That sidebar had no point.
Yeah, I just cool-story-bro’d myself. It needed to be done. Moving on:
Dawn validates her status as my favorite by being a thirteen year old familiar with poltergeists. Her “Where Are They Now” obviously involves growing up to be the lost lady of snark.
Sorry does this strike you as a lot of bullshit before we get to our actual plot? It does? Good, then now you know what’s up in Stoneybrook. This is actually one of my favorites (Slutty Stacey and Mary Anne’s One Interesting Moment, on either side of this book, are also pretty great) up until the book’s inevitably disappointing conclusion. Just keep in mind that this book will let you down and you’ll thank me later.
Nugs: And this is different from the other books… how, exactly?
Sweeney: You’re right. I think I put that there for myself. I remember loving this book and I need a reminder that the end is going to let me down.
There’s a really bad storm and Dawn’s reading scary books and thinking about poltergeists in her old scary house and suddenly she gets all Nancy Drew and I want to #hosuspension her for that alone because I think Nancy is trying to duke it out with Jessica Wakefield for the title of Most Ho-tastic Fictional Character in Traumaland so just thinking of going all Nancy Drew makes me suspicious but then I remember that this is Stoneybrook and she’s reading oldschool Nancy Drew and I need to calm down with the #hosuspensions and the run-on sentences.
To the point! Dawn decides to look for a hidden passage in her house and who better to help? The BSC of course because in addition to being babies who watch babies they are also amateur detectives because Scholastic kids have a really solid history of figuring shit out quickly, don’t they? Fortunately we’re actually relying on Nancy’s pre-Nancy-Drew-Files skills, as Dawn is educating the girls with the relevant pages of her Nancy Drew book.
I READ ABOUT IT. IN A BOOK.
Naturally we get more cunty moments from Kristy including a bitch showdown in which Dawn’s all, “LISTEN HO, THIS IS MY HOUSE AND MY SEARCH SO I’LL BE GIVING ORDERS.” All right so Dawn actually only thought this and didn’t really call Kristy a ho and worded it a little nicer. I’m just trying to improve things a little for everyone.
Nugs: Worked for me. I’m a little disappointed that Dawn did not, in fact, actually call Kristy a ho.
Sweeney: In my version she calls her a ho and throat punches her. Let’s just go with that.
Round one of the search is a flop. The girls split up and basically spent the bulk of the search-for-a-secret-passage playing pranks on each other that are ultimately outshined by Dawn’s nine-year-old brother in a mask.
Lots of really uninteresting baby-sitting stuff happens, frequently involving the telling of ghost-stories and never-ending storms in Stoneybrook. The youngest of the Pike boys is being picked on by his three older brothers, a “plot” introduced in Slutty Stacey because that’s the kind of thing that constitutes a story arc around these parts.
One day Dawn is reading in her barn when the ground opens up beneath her and she falls through what turns out to be a trap door. If you find this to be in any way a remarkable bit of contrivance, then you are clearly new to Traumaland.
Dawn goes wandering around this unlit underground passage by herself without any fear or concern whatsoever. I had a brief self-conscious moment in which I was all, “Am I being made to look like a chickenshit by a fictional tween?” Then I realized that, no, this is a #kidsaredumbyo moment, even if this is Stoneybrook where nothing bad ever happens.
Dawn gets a flashlight and follows the path, discovering that it leads to some narrow stairs that come out in her bedroom. It’s all very Clue and I think the other reason I loved Dawn is that I was unspeakably jealous of this.
However, because of all the ghost story shit, Dawn gets a little spooked and stays away. She finds some old stuff down there and decides that there could be a ghost so she doesn’t tell anyone. One night while her mom is on a date with someone who isn’t Mary Anne’s dad (Dawn has lots of feelings about this and basically issues her mother a #hosuspension) the power goes out because Stoneybrook is all NON STOP STORMS BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS IN A SCARY BOOK.
Dawn reads Jeff some of her ghost stories and Jeff is all, “Ugh. Books.” so Dawn’s like, “FINE, I’VE GOT A SUPER COOL SECRET.” So they go into the passage but a couple things are different from her previous time in the passage and suddenly there is an ice cream cone down there. Naturally this means that there is a ghost.
Nugs: Clearly, this is our insight into Jeff’s future as the medical director at Harvard. Or a NASCAR driver.
Sweeney: Face, meet palm. Palm, meet face.
They lose their minds, run screaming out of the passage, call mama back from her date (Psh. Ghost my ass. Clearly this is a cockblock moment more than anything else) and push furniture in front of the door into Dawn’s room because obviously that will keep the ghost out.
Sidebar: Dawn’s hatred of this guy produces a mildly entertaining conversation between her and Jeff. The date’s name is Trip and the kids joke about what a douche nozzle he must be.
Later that night Dawn reads a history of Stoneybrook that grandma just happens to have given to Dawn’s mother that evening (because Dawn’s mom took Trip to her parents’ house on the first date. This isn’t so much #hosuspension as #desperationsuspension. Calm down there lady.) Naturally, this bit of contrivance concludes with a ghost story whose location is not specifically laid out but aligns pretty conveniently with Dawn’s situation.
One day while Mary Anne is over and feeling self-congratulatory and brave, Dawn shares the secret passage with her. All is mostly well until Dawn spots something newly out of place. She freaks out and tells Mary Anne the business about the ghosts, causing Mary Anne to freak out.
Back in boring babysitting land, Dawn is sitting for the Pikes when the triplets are again downright awful to Nicky. Nicky cries and runs off. The Pikes have established a “two block rule” for Nicky in order to help him feel less like a baby in the face of his brothers’ tormenting. It had recently occurred to Dawn that she lives OH HEY ABOUT TWO BLOCKS FROM THE PIKES. When Nicky runs off this time (as he has done several times in the book so far) Dawn goes directly to her house, gets the flashlight and OH HEY NICKY IS THE GHOST.
Yeah, that’s it. Nicky is the ghost.
The girls have a slumber party and after feeling left out of the junk-food-and-s’mores-party, Dawn and Stacey get back at the other girls with a prank involving the secret passage and then everyone laughs. The end.
Aren’t you glad I kept your expectations low?
Nugs: #kidsaredumbyo. A child-eating shark would be amaze right now.
Sweeney: I support that entirely.
Next time on The Baby-sitters Club: Mary Anne’s Only Interesting Moment and possibly additional commentary from the ladies of snark in #10 – Logan Likes Mary Anne.