"Why does Sunny want to make people miserable?" or California Diaries #11

You’ll all be relieved to know that Dawn manages to get an ounce of compassion in this book.  It takes until the bitter end, but it does come back eventually.  Until the end though, she’s the same old Dawn from the previous books.  The tagline for this book is Missing. Losing. Hurt.  It probably should read Judging. Bitching. Compassionless.  But enough about that.  
She starts right away with her judgment!  At the beginning Dawn is sitting for Jeff and Gracie, and explaining to us how much better she knows to parent Gracie than Jack and Carol do.  Also then she talks a little about Mrs. Winslow and how terrible Sunny is to not visit her.  Then she says, all smugly, “I think I’ll visit Mrs. Winslow tomorrow.”  (The emphasis is NOT mine, it’s all Dawn’s.)  And she tells us that Mrs. Winslow is definitely hurt that Sunny never visits.  How does Dawn know this?  Did Mrs. Winslow tell her?  No.  Dawn is just assuming.  
Also on Dawn’s judgment block is Carol.  For having the audacity to breastfeed her infant daughter in the comfort of her own fucking house, just because some of Dawn’s friends happen to be there.  Even though Dawn specifically states that Ducky doesn’t bat an eye. Because I guess either Gracie should starve or Carol should be sequestered whenever one of Dawn’s friends happens to pop by.  Perhaps someone should point out to Dawn the environmental impact of formula feeding vs. breastfeeding to Dawn, then she’d change her tune and get all high and mighty about it.  
Dawn, despite her judgment, does miss Sunny.  And she even finds herself pining for Mary Anne back in Connecticut.  So she decides to try and get closer to Maggie, Amalia and Ducky.  Ducky and Carol both defend Sunny, and Sunny’s need to come over and talk things out with Carol.  Ducky says he’s glad that Sunny has Carol to talk to and Dawn should be too.  But Dawn actually hates Carol a little bit for it.  
Oh my God, you guys!  Jax is playing at a club in North Palo!  Who is Jax you ask?  Only the most awesome band to ever come out of Belgium, led by smokin’ hottie Pierre X.  Dawn (and possibly Ducky) is sooo in love with Pierre X and she has very PG rated daydreams about him.  But they’re playing at a small club in North Palo and there’s some weird thing where you stand in line for a bracelet with a number on it.  Then a couple days later go back in number order and they call some kind of random number and that’s how they give away tickets.  It seems needlessly complicated.  Dawn and Amalia don’t get tickets.  But guess who gets four??? Ducky.  And he wants to take Dawn, Amalia, and Sunny to the show with him.  Squee!  (Ducky worries that Maggie will be annoyed, but no worry.  Maggie has no idea who Jax are.)  
Dawn is now freaking out about two things: 1-getting permission to go to the show which is to be held at a club that serves alcohol, and 2- having to spend time with Sunny.  Dawn talks to Ducky about the Sunny sitch, and Ducky, being an entirely reasonable human being, thinks Dawn should either talk to Sunny or suck it the fuck up.  Dawn wants Ducky to ask Sunny to get a ride with someone else which Ducky won’t do.  Dawn talks to Maggie about how to get her dad and Carol to agree to let her go, and Maggie comes up with a plan.  
But Dawn remains too afraid to ask them to go. In the meantime, Mrs. Winslow is back and forth from the hospital to home. Dawn visits her a few times and Mrs. Winslow can’t talk because of throat sores from chemo, so Dawn reads Franny & Zooey to her.  She has an uncomfortable confrontation with Sunny at the hospital one day.  When Dawn complains to Carol about it, Carol tries to point out to Dawn that Sunny is pushing people away to protect herself from being hurt.  Dawn snarkily replies, “Sunny needs a shrink.”  Carol, ignoring Dawn’s tone of voice, does agree that therapy might help. 
 
Dawn finally works up the courage to ask Dad and Carol about going to the show and they’re reluctant at first.   Jax isn’t even going onstage until eleven.  Dawn begs, pleads and promises that Ducky is a responsible driver and that she’ll call when she gets to the concert and will call before leaving for home.  She also fails to mention it’s at a club that serves alcohol.  And when she tries bargaining by saying she’ll clean out the garage, Jack and Carol laugh and agree she can go – with all her stipulations.  
A day before the concert, Dawn is visiting Mrs. Winslow, who is back at home.  Mr. and Mrs. Winslow tell her that there will be no more chemo, that they aren’t treating the cancer anymore.  Dawn is aghast and tries to talk to Sunny, but Sunny rebuffs her.  Dawn lashes out at Carol, who explains that this was Mrs. Winslow’s decision to get comfort care only.   Dawn is sick to her stomach about it – and finally begins to feel a modicum of sympathy for Sunny. (But only a modicum, so far.) Dawn, Amalia, Maggie and Ducky agree that they will rally around Sunny, even though she’s been rebuffing most friendship offers. 
Concert night!!!!  Dawn wears a white T-shirt with a vest over it, black miniskirt and black high-heeled sneakers. (WHAT THE FUCK ARE HIGH HEELED SNEAKERS??? Oh my god, I Googled some and they are fucking hideous).  Carol thinks she looks great, Jack not so much, but doesn’t keep her from going.  Dawn sneaks a pair of ‘funky earrings,’ out in her purse.  Because I’m sure Jack is more concerned with the silver in her ear than the lack of clothing on her legs.  Ducky comes to pick them up and he’s grilled by Jack about being a good driver, wearing seatbelts, obeying the speed limit, not drinking, etc etc.  Sunny makes a snarky comment about Jack when Dawn gets in the car, and Dawn coolly responds, “Oh Sunny. I’m so sorry your dad is too busy worrying about your mom to be concerned about you.” Which….ouch.  Low blow, Schafer.  
Guess who gets drunk at the concert courtesy of one of Ted’s (Ducky’s older brother) friends?  Ducky and Sunny.  Ducky has a few drinks early on, insisting that by the time the concert ends, he’ll be fine.  The concert is awesome-sauce and Dawn is sure Pierre X looked right at her during one of the songs.  But at the end of the night, Ducky really isn’t OK to drive and he admits it.  Sunny tells him to suck it up and drive them home anyway, and Dawn and Amalia are dead set against it.  Ducky can’t decide what to do, but eventually, after Dawn steals his keys and hides them in her purse, he does side with Dawn.  Dawn wants to call Jack to pick them up and a huge fight breaks out between Dawn and Sunny.  
Sunny ends up stalking off to take a bus, even though she’s told that buses don’t run this late.  Amalia goes with her to keep her safe, while Dawn calls Jack to pick up her and Ducky, telling Jack that Ducky is too exhausted to drive.  It’s kind of sad because we know how much work Ducky has put into his friendship with Sunny, and she yells at him that if he stays with Dawn, they aren’t friends any more.  Dawn tries to cheer him up.  Jack comes and obviously isn’t falling for the whole too tired bit and straight out asks Ducky what the hell he was thinking by drinking and driving.  Ducky is very polite and contrite and honest with Jack.  Dawn realizes that Ducky seems relieved to find that there are parents out there who do care about him, even if his own don’t.  
Sunny continues to be mad at Dawn and Ducky.  Dawn and Ducky get closer and go shopping and other fun things together.  Carol and Jack sit Dawn down one day and tell her that Mrs. Winslow is home from the hospital for good.  That she’s receiving comfort-care only at home and refuses to be taken back to the hospital.  Dawn can’t believe she’s being brought home to die and spends a lot of time crying.  Dawn looks out the window and sees Sunny sobbing on her back porch and Dawn goes over to comfort her.  The girls have a pretty touching mutual apology.  Dawn thinks it’s not quite enough, but decides to just be there for Sunny and try to erase the last few months of their friendship.  
  • So she doesn’t entirely redeem herself, but she is at least coming around.  It’s just frustrating that there are all these people explaining to Dawn, point blank, exactly why Sunny is behaving the way she is, and Dawn remains mystified by it all.  Also redeeming her is that Sunny’s own bitchiness was jacked up a notch in this book making Dawn’s frustration a little easier to understand.
  • Ducky is especially vulnerable in this book.  It’s been only a little more than a month since Alex tried to kill himself and he seems so fragile.
  • When Ducky refuses to leave Dawn at the club and wants a ride home from Jack, Sunny yells at him that there’s something wrong with him, and that’s why he can only keep 13 year old girls as friends.  He’s a wimp, and  guys think he’s a dweeb and girls will never look at him.  Ducky is genuinely hurt by this, though he’s been one trying to reassure Dawn that Sunny doesn’t mean all the terrible things she’s said to Dawn. 
  • So this club where the concert is held has a bracelet system for drinks.  If you’re over 21, you get a bracelet and get served.  Sunny gets to the concert and immediately makes plans to buy a bracelet off someone.  Sunny , Luca says you’re THIRTEEN. Do you even menstruate yet?  I don’t even think there are 13 year olds who can pass for twenty-one. Not only that, but wouldn’t the bracelets most likely be the kind that need to be cut off?
  • How fucking big is Palo City? I was under the impression that it was nothing more than a suburb of L.A.  But everyone acts like this club is so fucking far away – it’s in North Palo! There was a huge stinking deal made over the fact that Jack had to come get his daughter and drunken squire ALL THE WAY IN NORTH FUCKING PALO!!!
  • Dawn likes to shop at this place called The Square, which has funky boutiques.  Jack and Carol aren’t crazy about it, but it’s near the mall, so she sneaks there anyway.  There’s a restaurant called The Tea Shop, where Dawn tells us you can buy “more than food.”  Huh, something tells me that if a 13-year old knows The Tea Shop is a drug front, the local po-po must know it too, amirite?  Maggie and Dawn eat there, but they stay in the front and don’t go to the back where all the “other stuff” is.   So, is it like a head shop? 
  • At dinner, before Dawn asks permission to go to the concert, Jack and Carol ask how their days were.  Jeff speaks up, “My math teacher is a bonehead.”  I kind of love Jeff, the truest 10 year old in the entire BSC-verse.
  • Thirteen seems a little young to be reading Franny and Zooey.  Though maybe not, I read Catcher in the Rye the first time at fourteen.  And when you spend 20 years in eighth grade, you’re bound to read a little bit ahead, I guess. 
  • Occasionally, I’m reminded how awkward these books are because they’re in diary format.  When Dawn is describing the concert, she says that Jax played a loud rowdy number first then went into a slow ballad, then a hard rock tune or whatever.  Someone actually writing in a journal would use song titles for their favorite band.  It would read like “Jax started with Get Fucking Rowdy, and then slowed it down for I love you, Dawn baby, and I swear he was looking right at me!!!”  The diary awkwardness never seems to go away, but it does seem worse in the Dawn books. 
  • Fun fact: Ducky’s a good dancer according to Dawn.
  • Maggie is now eating more and not so obsessed with counting calories.  She’s even put on a couple pounds.
  • Dawn was only grounded for the weekend.  I guess Jack gave her props for at least calling and not getting in a car with a drunk 16 year old.  Neither Jack nor Carol were terrible in this book though I normally don’t care for either one of them. 
  • Dawn was a bitch about the breastfeeding thing, yes.  But I’m just relieved there finally is a breastfed infant in a BSC book. 
  • Ducky is gay hints:  He LOVES to window shop.  And this little exchange which may or may not be a hint.  I’m actually not quite sure what to make of the long pause.  This happens when Ducky and Dawn are talking about her and Sunny’s friendship. 
Dawn: “Ducky I love you, so pardon me when I say that you’re such a guy.  That was such a guy thing to say.”
This was followed by a pause so long I thought Ducky may have left the phone for some reason.  “Ducky?” I asked. 
After another slight pause he said, “Yeah, I’m here.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing.”
I frowned, which of course,  Ducky couldn’t see. 
  • I’m kind of not looking forward to reading the next one.  I hear it’s crazy sad.  But, my goal is to finish the series before I take a short maternity leave from blogging in a couple months.  So within the next week or two, I’ll get out the box of tissues and take a stab at it.  I promise to be reverent (which I know people are about Sunny’s mom dying) and not snarky.
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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in Ann M. Martin, California Diaries. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to "Why does Sunny want to make people miserable?" or California Diaries #11

  1. Sarah says:

    I haven't read CD in so long, but man did I love them. And yeah, from what I remember the next book is super, super sad.

  2. Lenora says:

    I'm kind of torn on the whole, "Dawn is a judgmental bitch" thing. On the one hand, I think it's probably pretty accurate for a 13 year old to be self-centered and not sympathetic to someone who's not treating her particularly well. I also think most would be embarrassed by breastfeeding in front of friends (disclaimer: I'm an extremely pro-breastfeeding RN who is a former breast-fed baby). On the other, clearly these kids are being written as a lot older than 13.

  3. moxobee says:

    I've been enjoying these CD recaps so much! I adored BSC as a kid but stopped reading them before CD came out, so I missed them.There's something kind of jarring for me about Ann M and her gang of ghostwriters hinting at gay characters and head shops, so I welcome a bit of snark!

  4. magnolia says:

    i was blown away by #12. it was a really amazing treatment of the issue, and it actually helped me grieve my mother. weird, i know, but it did. looking forward to your treatment of it.

  5. "And when you spend 20 years in eighth grade, you’re bound to read a little bit ahead, I guess." HAHA! I never read California Diaries, are the books written in hand-writing or something? It was something super trivial that made me avoid them, but I think I'd enjoy them after your recaps.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In the early to mid nineties, high heeled sneakers were something different, possibly even more hideous than the "modern" ones. They had chunky square plastic heels an inch or two high. I can't for the life of me find a picture, but the heel was a lot like the ones on these: http://www.retrovintageshoes.com/2010/04/05/you-know-youre-a-90s-kid-when-you-had-jelly-shoes/The top was like a Ked or Converse. They were really heavy.

  7. Amiee says:

    I think I only read maybe the first 1 or 2 of these when they first came out, but I'm really enjoying your recaps.

  8. BSC AG says:

    Congratulations on needing maternity leave! Do you plan to breastfeed in front of high schoolers? I wouldn't be too comfortable with it, but I agree: hooray that one baby in the BSC world gets milk.And yes, the next one is very sad. Especially if you know someone who died of cancer (for example, your grandmother) and she had the same last words as Sunny's mom.

  9. nikki says:

    BSC AG-I'll pretty much breastfeed in front of anyone in my house. My house, my rules and my kid needing to eat is priority #1. As you know, infants digest so quickly that waiting even a few minutes to feed them can turn into a meltdown entirely too quickly. In public or someone else's house I'd just try to gauge the situation, but still would nurse in front of whoever, maybe just using a blanket to cover up. (Which my kid HATED!!)

  10. BSC AG says:

    I'm pretty new to breastfeeding (she's three weeks today), so that probably has a lot to do with it. I do like the cover-with-a-light-blanket option.

  11. BSC AG says:

    ps: I do feed her when she needs it; I just go to another room to do so. Just want to clarify there… 🙂

  12. Lisa says:

    When Dawn was trying to convince her dad and Carol to let her go to the concert, she wrote “If Dad and Carol say I can’t go, I’ll have to sneak out. Or tell them I’m spending the night at Maggie’s or something. But that’s a last resort.” That made me wish they would say no, so Dawn would do that. I’d love that.
    And yes, the next one is really sad. But I still love it.

  13. shoes quotes says:

    Wow, amazing blog layout! How lengthy have you been running a blog for? you made running a blog look easy. The whole look of your website is wonderful, as neatly as the content material!

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