“We should make a pact,” or BSC Friends Forever; Graduation Day

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

By popular demand, I’m reviewing the very final ever BSC book. Until The Summer Before was released anyway.

After 213 books, and endless years in eighth grade, the BSC and all the other eighth graders at Stoneybrook Middle School are getting ready to graduate. Middle school graduation is evidently a huge deal in Stoneybrook. They have a ceremony with caps and gowns and everything! They all write a letter to themselves to be mailed to them as they’re getting ready to graduate high school in four years. Everyone has a difficult time writing them, but are able to get it done in the end. Also, there is a little babysitting project involved, natch. Each of their very interesting storylines:

-Kristy- She’s depressed at the thought of graduating. She knows the BSC likely won’t continue once they’re in high school and she’s having trouble letting go.

-Mary Anne- She wants to be friendly with Logan again. They have dinner and decide not to be so weird around each other. And I snore because it’s boring. And she writes about her house burning down, which she is surprisingly Zen about.

-Claudia – She has trouble with her finals. She ends up passing everything except science, so she can graduate with her class but will only be promoted to SHS if she passes summer school.

-Stacey- She worries about her mom and her dad (and dad’s girlfriend Samantha) getting along at graduation. But they do, and it’s OK. She also freaks out because she forgot to return a library book and may not be able to graduate. So she buys the library a brand new copy of the book, which was Ribsy.

The big babysitting project they decide on is a time capsule with their babysitting charges. Each kid puts one thing about their community or family in a tin box, which is buried in Mary Anne’s yard, and will be opened in seven years, when the oldest of the charges (The Pike triplets) are getting ready to graduate high school.

  • Did anyone have a middle school graduation? Because we didn’t. The eighth graders had a special dance, but there was no ceremony or anything.
  • For that matter, did anyone have final exams in middle school? We didn’t have those either. We didn’t take end of year finals until high school, but even then they weren’t a huge part of our grades.
  • This book cover confirms what I always thought (and what was confirmed by both the TV show and movie). That Kristy is actually the prettiest babysitter.
  • Kristy seems to have lost the ability to write in full sentences. Her entries are filled with fragments: “Can’t believe am about to graduate. Not ready for it. Am not ready for high school Tried to explain to mom. Was told am being silly.”  Like, what the shit is that about? Even Claudia can write in full sentences, KRISTY.
  • Speaking of Claudia, she manages the (not so) very impressive feat of misspelling her own name. Congratulations, Cladia.
  • Charlie is graduating high school, and he gets the letter he’d written to himself when he graduated SMS. It’s mostly about what a dick their father is. Also, Charlie got good grades but failed to apply to college in time. He ends up not applying to where he really wants to go (UCLA), but does get into the local Boiceville State.
  • Also, Kristy points out to Charlie that UCLA is “near dad.” Nope, Kristy. LA is not near San Francisco. California is a much bigger state than Connecticut, sweetie.
  • Jessi puts an article about racism in the time capsule. The letter she writes with it mentions that racism makes as little sense as intolerance against religions, disabilities or…..sexual orientations. After fifteen California Diaries books with an obviously gay character without the word gay being mentioned, I’m frankly shocked to see Ann M. mention of sexual orientation here.
  • Stacey puts in the time capsule a flier for the BSC talent show. She puts it in, because it epitomizes why she decided on Stoneybrook over NYC after her parents divorced. In NYC, she lived in a high-rise building and nothing like that ever happened there. She likes how much community there is in Stoneybrook. *shrugs* I live in a high rise, and while we certainly don’t have talent shows, but we do get together with other kids. And we have a tot lot, so the kiddos can play together. I think high rises make nice communities.
  • Dawn gets in on the time capsule and spends a whole letter talking about being a bicoastal kid. WE GET IT DAWN!!!!
  • After graduation, all the BSC and former BSC members get together for a party at Claud’s and they talk about what they want from their futures. Here’s what we have: Claudia wants to graduate art school and live by herself before getting married, but is unsure about kids. Kristy doesn’t want to get married, but wants a lot of kids. Mallory wants a writing career and a husband and only two or three kids. Dawn will probably live in California (duh) and maybe wants to get married but not have kids. Jessi would like ‘maybe one kid,’ and a dance career. Abby just wants to travel a lot before deciding. Neither Mary Anne nor Stacey has decided on anything beyond going to college.
  • Out of all, this was the most shocking conversation. Kristy says she doesn’t want to get married, and Stacey says that’s fine, not everyone wants to get married. Kristy says, “If they want kids they have to.” And Stacey says, “Plenty of people who aren’t married have kids.” Remember back in the beginning of the series, when Watson and Elizabeth didn’t even live together before getting married? How far Ann M. has come. I’m sort of proud of her for adding that line (and the earlier line about sexual orientation) in there.
  • At the end of the book, there is an index of all the BSC numbers; number of books, pages, etc. But if you want a real close look at the numbers of the BSC, I suggest you check out BSC Ag. It’s a great blog, which reviews each book, but also keeps track of things like SMS students, Claudia’s candy, number of Halloweens and so much more. She’s actually finished the series and is compiling all kinds of interesting different numbers.
  • In the thank-you, Ann M. thanks the ghostwriters. They are: Ellen Miles, Peter Lerangis, Stephanie Calmenson, Suzanne Weyn, Nola Thacker, Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner, Gabrielle Charbonnet, Jeanne Betancourt, Jan Carr, Diane Molleson, Vicki Berger Erwin, Mary Lou Kennedy, Helen Perelman, and Laura Dower. Some of those I don’t recognize. I’m guessing they were Little Sister ghosties.
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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
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15 Responses to “We should make a pact,” or BSC Friends Forever; Graduation Day

  1. Megan Laplante says:

    I had a middle school graduation from 8th grade. We walked the stage and got a “diploma” thing. It was done for years and my class was the last to get it. 8tj grade class of 97,high school class of ’01. And I have to lol at the UCLA near SF thing. Everyone thinks that! I live in CA now(bay area outside of SF) and LA is a 7-8 hour drive.

  2. We had a graduation Mass, as I went to Catholic grade school (and then high school). No caps and gowns, but it was a fairly big deal as many of us had been at that school since kindergarten.

    I want to reread this book now! I did think it was weird that California Diaries never once said the word “gay”. And that was the more “mature” spinoff of the BSC, plus they had underage drinking and stuff.

    I live in a neighborhood with two grade schools nearby (one Catholic, one public) and an increasing number of families. It’s not New York, but it is a major city, and there’s definitely a feeling of community.

    • nikkihb says:

      I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I got confirmation from Peter Lerangis himself via Twitter that Ducky is gay. It made me so happy.

      I definitely feel more connected to the community I live in now (a suburb of DC, but a large close-in suburb with things like walkable communities and public transit) and in my high rise building than I ever did in the small town I grew up in.

  3. Jamie Anne C says:

    We didn’t have an actual “graduation ceremony” at my junior high, I didn’t even have a middle school when I went. Junior high was grades 7,8,9. High school was 10,11,12 and elementary was k-6. I was the last grade nine class, to graduate from junior high. That fall, grade nine moved to highschool, and we adopted traditional middle school like everyone else in the world. While we didn’t get a grad ceremony, we did have a formal grad dance, with a grand march, and daddy/daughter Mother/son dance. We had silhouettes done, with our names on them, that lined the gym, and we got to sign them, like a yearbook.

    Stacey not having a sense of community in her NYC condo, rings about true, when you consider how dated AMM’s Leave It To Beaver family and neighborhood views were. Families didn’t live in the city, they moved to the suburbs where there were trees, and lawns. Ask Judy Blume, she’ll back AMM up on that. Shared spaces, and activities in condos, are modern amenities for condos. How else were cities supposed to keep people from moving to the ‘burbs? Give them the city convenience, with the suburb community feel.

    I think it’s foolish that these kids are stressing out over whether or not they want to get married and have babies. Let’s get through HIGH SCHOOL first bitches! Gawd, these girls are acting like it’s Armageddon! Someone get Kristy a Xanex, and let’s all chill.

  4. SJSiff says:

    Aw, thanks for the shout-out! I always enjoy reading your posts.

    I had a kindergarten graduation, a high school graduation, and a college graduation (that I didn’t attend). But I went to the same school for kindergarten through twelfth grade. We didn’t really have finals either….the end-of-the-term tests were mostly similar to the preceding ones. Maybe a touch harder. College had finals.

    Wouldn’t you love to read a book about them coming back to open the time capsule?

  5. Sarah says:

    I only read this one once and it made me really sad to know it was all over.
    Also I feel so naive – so many YA bloggers talk about how it was obvious that Ducky was gay and yet I NEVER noticed. And I read those California Diaries more than once. Will have to go back and see if I pick up on the hints.

    • nikkihb says:

      Definitely go re-read the CD series. As an adult, the gay is hard to miss. I think at one point, some of the cro-mags even call him a fairy. Or something similar.

  6. I was excited to see you’d reviewed this one since I loved your California Diaries reviews 🙂 This book came out when I was a sophomore in high school, so I didn’t actually get around to reading it until my mid-twenties. At the time, I remember being especially stoked that Dawn said she didn’t want to have kids, probably because she was the sitter I most identified with back then (I know…but I was/am bi-coastal for work, and at the time I was kind of an annoying/preachy vegan), and decided when I was about 15 that I was NEVER having kids…and also I was just stoked that this was presented as a normal acceptable future “want” for girls (ditto with Kristy’s wanting kids and not marriage).

    My middle school did have an 8th grade graduation ceremony, but we weren’t allowed to wear caps and gowns and they kept it low-key, constantly stressing that a middle school graduation was no big deal/no great accomplishment. One of my teachers told me that the principal felt that if we made a big deal about MS graduation then we would be less likely to aspire to graduate from high school…my hometown does have a pretty huge dropout rate so that ALMOST makes sense to me now.

    Also, the SF/LA thing reminded me of this: http://www.funnyordie.com/articles/a106c8188f/the-map-of-america-as-seen-by-a-new-yorker
    …though to be fair, a few years back, my ex-husband and I were visiting my family in LA and his cousin that lives in Northern CA (farther north than SF) heard we were there and was like, “Hey, you guys are in California! Sweet, I’ll drive down to see you for a couple of hours,” and we were like, “um…you know that’s going to be a long-ass drive, right?” But he did it, he drove all the way to LA to have lunch with us for a couple of hours.

    • nikkihb says:

      I love that Ann M. included the option of not having kids, or having kids outside of marriage as reasonable lifestyles.

      Can I say, I sat here and could NOT figure out where the name of your blog, bewaretheundertoad came from. i KNEW I recognized it from somewhere and I was wracking my brain trying to figure it out before I googled it and was like “DUH! JOHN IRVING!” My favorite Irving quote – Keep passing the open windows. It’s actually immensely helpful to me.

  7. Anne Person says:

    I had a middle school graduation. We had it in the school gym, kids got their diplomas, and some kids read speeches.

    And, yeah, I think Ann gets pretty gay-inclusive in the spinoffs. I’m also pretty sure that in one of the Friends Forever books( #13????) there is a mention of a drag queen. This could just be my weird mind, but I think I remember something like that.

  8. Wicked Wonder says:

    Jahnna and Malcolm also wrote Bad News Ballet, a series that premiered after the BSC and the reason I never got into the show Bunheads (BNB used that term). Super obscure, but hey, I’m a nerd.

  9. Kamren says:

    Haahaahh. I’m not too bright today. Great post!

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