Sunfire Book Recap: Margaret

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Margaret, who was raised by her aunt and uncle after her parents died, is leaving home in Chicago at 16 to be a schoolteacher in a Nebraska prairie in 1886.

She arrives in Nebraska and first lives with the the school board president and his wife, the Wilsons. The Wilsons are not very friendly and don’t give her much food, only potatoes and string beans for dinner. Mr. Wilson complains about almost everything she does.

On her first day of school, the classroom of children, who all vary in age and size, rebel a little, but she has it mostly under control. Her biggest nuisance is Henry Clark, who is the same age as her. She had first met Henry at the train station with his brothers when she arrived, and led by their brother Robert, they had helped bring her extra trunks to the Wilsons’ house. She has thought about Robert a lot since that day.

The class progressively grows worse, lying about their names, throwing things at her back, and refusing to do anything she says. Mr. Wilson tells her “spare the rod, spoil the child,” so she tries whipping a couple of misbehaving boys with a tree switch. That only works temporarily, and she hates doing that.

Finally, Margaret decides to visit the Clark farm to talk to Henry’s father about his misbehavior. Robert greets her at the door, and listens in as she tells Farmer Clark that Henry needs to behave and value learning. Farmer Clark doesn’t think anyone needs school, and says Robert, his smartest son, never even went one year. Robert’s mother died when he was 7.

The next day at school, Henry shows up with Robert in tow. The class acts badly again, and at the end of the day, Robert tells Margaret that Henry didn’t learn anything. The next day, Margaret gets ahold of the class a little better with a nature walk and using songs to teach, but Robert still says Henry didn’t learn anything. Then Robert tells her he wants to learn how to read. A blizzard sweeps through the area during a school day, and Margaret accompanies Robert and Henry as they bring home three of her students in the freezing weather.

Meanwhile, a schoolteacher from the next town over named Gerald comes to call on Margaret. He is perfect-looking, like a porcelain doll. They meet up several times, and since he is from NYC, he visits her in Chicago while they are both on their Christmas break.

When Margaret gets back from break, she moves in with Mary, a widow who has three stepchildren in Margaret’s class. Margaret begins teaching Robert to read, and he learns pretty quickly. She bought a bunch of new supplies and gifts for the class in Chicago with Christmas money, so they are excited about learning and more receptive to her method of teaching.

It turns out Robert was cousins with Mary’s husband’s family, and he visits Mary a lot and brings her food. Margaret wonders if he’s in love with Mary. Gerald starts to visit too, first for Margaret, but Margaret notices his attention and interest in Mary. Pretty soon both Robert and Gerald are visiting at the same time, and Margaret feels they are both courting Mary. Margaret is a type of feminist in her day, arguing that women teachers should earn as much as men teachers (Gerald makes $36 a week, while she makes $12 a week), that bloomers are okay for women to wear, and that women should be allowed to vote.

A wave of either diphtheria or influenza comes through the area, and people quarantine themselves. Many people die from the illness, and when Margaret hears that no one has seen the Wilsons in a long time, she goes by their house. They are both at death’s door with the illness, so she calls for the doctor and helps nurse them to health. Margaret hears that Farmer Clark died, as well as one of his boys, but she isn’t sure which one. Margaret is gripped with fear that it could be Robert.

One of Mary’s children dies, and at the funeral, Robert shows up. Margaret is so relieved to see him alive. She and Robert walk off by themselves, and she tells him how sorry she is about Henry. They hug each other, and then he kisses her. She gets confused and runs away. She assumes he only kissed her out of grief. School starts back up, and Margaret has lost some other students besides Henry.

Gerald is going to school for the summer at Antioch College in Ohio, and Margaret decides to go too since they accept women. She wants to become a better teacher. Robert tries to talk to her again after a community picnic, calling her Margaret instead of Ms. Evans for the first time. He says she’s always been Margaret in his mind, and tries to pull her close, but she pulls away and says he better go find Mary. Robert asks if she’s going to Antioch because of Gerald, and she angrily replies that she’s going to learn.

Margaret and Mary talk about Gerald and Robert, and it turns out Mary felt both were courting Margaret. Margaret says she couldn’t be more wrong, and asks which one Mary wants to marry. Mary basically implies she would say yes to the first person who asked.

During the summer, Gerald asks Margaret to tell him what Mary says in her letters. Margaret asks him if he has feelings for Mary, and he admits he does. Margaret encourages him to tell Mary and get permission from his father to marry and move back to NYC and work in his father’s bank. Gerald does all this, and pretty soon he and Mary are engaged.

When she returns to the prairie, Margaret asks Mary what Robert said about her engagement. Mary said he was very happy for her. Mary moves to NYC to be with Gerald, so Margaret goes back to living with the Wilsons. Since she saved their lives earlier, they are much nicer this time.

After several days where she never hears from Robert, Margaret decides to go find him herself. She takes a buggy out to his farm and finds out there’s a prairie fire headed straight for it. She finds Robert, and he tells her that’s why he didn’t come to see her – he had to stay and watch the fire. He calls her “Meggie” and kisses her, and Margaret realizes maybe he loved her all along, not Mary. Robert has to go fight the fire with backfire, and he tells her he’s going to ask her to marry him as soon as he gets back.

Margaret waits for the rest of the day as Robert and some other men fight the fire, worried sick about him and praying he survives. The fire lessens, so she believes the backfire must have worked. Finally, Robert rides up on his horse. Margaret tends to some of his burns in the kitchen, and he asks her to marry him. She says she knows the right answer to that question – yes. The End!

Grade: A

Another really enjoyable Sunfire romance, with a strong heroine. Gerald was pretty lame as a rival love interest, and Robert could have had more interaction with Margaret in the first half of the book, but all in all, it was good fun.

Book Deets
Author: Jane Claypool Miner
Year: 1988
Pages: 220

Sunfire Book Recap: Roxanne

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It’s 1938, and three months after her father’s death, Rosie Wilson’s mother, Laureen, blindsides her with bus tickets to Hollywood, where she insists Rosie will change her name to Roxanne and become a big movie star. Rosie has to drop out of school and say goodbye to her boyfriend Henry in her Oklahoma town.

Laureen and Roxanne take a bus to Kansas City, where they are going to catch a train to California. During their layover, Laureen insists they go see a movie at a fancy movie theater in KC. There a talent show is being advertised in conjunction with an appearance by Gary Marlowe, a member of the famous acting family, who is making his screen debut. Laureen tries to get Roxanne into the talent show to no avail, and the two have a run-in with Gary that isn’t very pleasant. After the movie, Roxanne and Gary haggle over a taxi, and she tells him not to let his ties to his family drag him down.

They rent a room at a boardinghouse in Hollywood, and Roxanne drops off her photo and name at all of the casting agencies. She has to take a waitressing job while she waits for her big break, and it seemingly comes one day when John Randolph, a movie producer’s son, takes notice of her “perfect” voice as she waits on him and sets up a screen test for her at Randolph Studios.

Roxanne goes to the screen test with her mom, who is overbearing and interfering. John says she did well, and she’ll hear something soon. Five days pass and no word from John. Roxanne resumes working at the restaurant, and one day Gary Marlowe comes in with two girls. She has been daydreaming about Gary a lot for some reason, but he seemingly doesn’t recognize her and leaves abruptly. After he’s gone, she realizes she had a dirt smudge on her face the whole time. Finally John shows up to her boardinghouse with flowers and the offer of a one-year contract with a five-year option at Randolph Studios. Pay is $100 a week. According to an inflation calculator, that would equal $1,656.89 in 2016.

Laureen, Roxanne, and John go driving around looking for a house for the mother and daughter to rent near the studio, then Laureen leaves them alone. John kisses Roxanne before telling her she doesn’t have to be nice to him just because of who his father is. Roxanne tells him she has a boyfriend, and they can only be friends. John seems to view her as a challenge.

John is her only friend during her first month at Randolph Studios. He helps the duo find furniture for their rental home and hires a maid to keep up their house, even though Roxanne protests that they don’t need one. He helps them find a place to get new clothes and drives them out to lunch. Roxanne spends her initial time under contract not doing too much, but she gets paid all the same. More time goes by. Soon enough it’s been 4 months and she still hasn’t gotten to say a single line in a movie. She hears other starlets talking about how pushy her mom is and that it makes a bad impression.

Roxanne finds out as she’s standing in line to try out for a part that the movie is starring Gary Marlowe. When she has to walk across the stage in front of him in full makeup and costume, he asks if he knows her. She reminds him that they met in KC, and he instantly remembers her as Rosie, “the girl with the mother,” and bursts out laughing. He mentions seeing her at the restaurant, so he did recognize her that time. Three days later, she finds out she’s won a bit role in the film.

John continues to make advances on her which she puts off while still remaining his friend, and her mother continues to embarrass her on set by being pushy and overly critical of every other actress. Roxanne finally tells Laureen that she’s only hurting her chances and giving her a reputation of being hard to work with. Laureen is upset and doesn’t talk to her for two days, but does tone down her antics at the studio. John visits Roxanne at the set, and since he and Gary Marlowe are old friends, she ends up hanging out with both of them a lot and getting to know Gary better. But one day when John is not by them, Gary tells Roxanne that John is in love with her, she seems ambitious, and he doesn’t want to see his friend hurt. She accuses Gary of hurting all the starlets he dates and drops. After John returns to college, Gary and Roxanne resume not speaking to each other outside of work.

When the female lead in the movie is sick, Roxanne has to stand in for her, and this requires her and Gary to kiss. She gets into it, but makes Gary think it was just her being a good actress. Gary leaves for the day with two starlets.

Roxanne finishes filming her small part in the movie. She, her mother, and John are celebrating with dinner at the Coconut Grove when Gary shows up again with two girls on his arms. Roxanne and Gary end up dancing, and he tells her that she really does have talent.

Roxanne finds out her part in the movie was cut and is devastated. As a consolation, the studio wants her to do a short featurette where she will have to wear a bathing suit, and her mother throws a fit and causes a big scene. John convinces Laureen to let Roxanne film the feature, which requires her to stand around in a tight bathing suit and recite one line. She thinks she’s smoothed things over with the studio by doing the short, but John lets her know he’s heard they’re going to drop her from her contract. They need to trim some fat, and her mother is too difficult. John has a way to possibly save her contract though – he’s hoping his father will let him make his own movie, and if he does, he’ll cast Roxanne in the leading role.

John does get the chance to make a movie, and it saves Roxanne’s job for now. It’s extremely low-budget and has to be completed in 3 weeks. He ends up yelling at Laureen one day to get off the set for interfering too much. When they screen the movie, John’s father shuts it off halfway through and declares that it is terrible. Roxanne yells at him that he’s not giving his son a chance, but nothing changes his mind. Roxanne gets her pink slip at work the next week, and John gets shipped off to New York City. Roxanne tells her mother they are going to work as extras for the foreseeable future, while she visits studios looking for her next big break. And when she gets one, Laureen will not be going to the set with her anymore.

Roxanne and Laureen start getting work as extras, and then Roxanne specially requests to be sent to work at Berkeley Studios, where Gary Marlowe is being loaned from Randolph for a movie. She finds Gary at the studio cafeteria and asks for his help. After some bickering, he says, “I’ll see what I can do.” He implies he’s going to help her as a favor to John. A few days later, he’s gotten her hired to be in his movie for $500 a week.

She begins work on Gary’s movie while her mother is off being an extra in “Gone with the Wind.” Gary is mostly professional with her, continuing to go off with other starlets at the end of the day. One day they both show up early before filming a difficult scene, and he confides in her that he’s always worried about his performance. “Most of the time he was distant and formal with her, and then suddenly he would let his guard down and she’d feel as though she was talking to an old friend.” But before long they are arguing again, both angry with each other for perceived slights. They have to share a passionate kiss again during filming, which leaves Roxanne confused.

After the movie wraps, Roxanne gets called back to Randolph Studios and is told they want to give her another shot, but one condition is she must stop seeing John without letting him know that his dad manipulated the whole thing. Roxanne turns it down angrily, saying John is the only person who has treated her decently and she won’t trade his friendship for a contract.

When she gets home she finds out that Henry is in town. She meets up with him, and he begs her to come home and marry him. He was dismayed to see her bathing suit feature as it wasn’t proper, and he thinks she’s starting to sound as ridiculous as her mother in her letters. They eat Chinese food, with Henry complaining the whole time, then go visit Grauman’s Chinese Theater. There they run into Gary, who keeps bringing up John as if Roxanne should feel guilty for being out with Henry while John is away. After they watch a movie at the theater featuring the Marlowes, Roxanne is introduced to Gary’s famous parents, who invite her to come visit their Santa Barbara house. Henry returns to Oklahoma without her, saying he still plans to wait for her in case she changes her mind.

The Marlowes screen Gary and Roxanne’s movie at their Palm Spring home, then offer Roxanne a deal to star in the sequel that they’re preparing to pitch to the studio. The movie is a go, so Roxanne and her mom move into a bigger house and get a personal driver who picks them up in a limo. Moving up in the world!

John finds out about how Roxanne gave up a contract for him, and thinks it means she loves him. She has to tell him for the thousandth time she that she doesn’t see him that way. Later Gary accuses Roxanne of using John for his connections and to get success. She tells him off and says she does like John, the only person she doesn’t like is Gary. He looks hurt and immediately turns the conversation back to their script. She tries to backtrack later and tell him she does like him and is grateful for how he’s helped her, and he says anything he did for her was only for John or because he thinks she’s talented.

Roxanne hires an agent to find her a studio deal, and then she and Gary warm back up to each other, talking about their childhoods over lunch. Gary then invites her to go to the Santa Monica pier with him, and he wears a disguise so no one will recognize him. They have a great day, and Gary says he didn’t speak to her that day in the restaurant because he’d been dreaming about her and he got scared when he saw her, so he ran away. Roxanne thinks he’s joking. He also tells her all the starlets around him are for his image, as directed by the studio. At the end of the day, they have a close moment, but Gary pulls away.

Roxanne’s agent works out a huge contract with Randolph Studios that includes her right to date anyone she wants. Even though she feels they didn’t treat her the best in the past, her agent assures her she will now be treated like a queen. She’s being written about by famous Hollywood gossip columnists and everyone is buzzing that she’s going to be a huge star.

Gary and Roxanne go to the premiere of their movie together, and Roxanne starts to hope that he’s interested in her romantically, but he turns down her offer to come inside and visit longer at the end of the night. The next day all the gossip columns claim Gary and Roxanne are madly in love. Roxanne is upset but is told she better get used to public speculation and printed mis-truths about her life.

Gary and Roxanne are working on their third film together, and they are getting along much better. Their first movie is a hit at the box office. John gets a job at his father’s studio too and still comes around to have lunch, but isn’t as obsessed with Roxanne as he used to be. Gary continues to keep things strictly professional with her, even as more gossip pops up about them dating. The studio plans for three more movies to pair them, due to the success of their first two films. Gary invites her and her mother up to Palm Springs again, and they have a good time. Gary and Roxanne go to dinner together and have other outings, but it’s still just as friends.

One night, Roxanne says she doesn’t want to go out with him again without disguises due to all the photographers, and Gary jokes that it’s good for the box office. Roxanne accuses him of only taking her out in order to take advantage of the publicity it lends to their movies, and calling photographers to tip them off. Gary tries to explain, but she says she’ll never speak to him again. (So dramatic!)

Roxanne spends three days crying and misses work, but her agent cajoles her into going back to the set by saying he’ll try to get her out of the other movies with Gary once this film is wrapped. Gary tries to apologize again and says he didn’t realize she cared about him enough to cry for three days over him, but she tries to pass if off like she was just angry about being used and then came down with the flu.

Henry comes back to Hollywood and says he’s going to look for a job there. Henry read about her and Gary Marlowe in the gossip columns and came to win her back. He thinks if he gets rich, she’ll marry him. Roxanne tries to deflect this talk by inviting John to come to the movies with them. John actually brings a date named Doreen. So Roxanne has successfully shaken one of her two stalkers. John confirms that the studio asked Gary to start dating Roxanne, and Gary had made sure it would be okay with John first. John says no one thought Roxanne would really fall for Gary because she had never seemed to like him very much.

Laureen says Henry can’t stay at their house anymore because the press has caught wind of his presence, and Roxanne had previously mentioned him as her boyfriend in an interview. If she wants leverage to get out of additional Gary Marlowe movies, she can’t risk upsetting the studio heads.

Back at work, Gary and Roxanne have to film a love scene. Gary is upset she is trying to get out of their future movies and that she won’t listen to his side of the story. Cyril Randolph, John’s father, comes by the set to direct their love scene, and he is overly critical and doesn’t like anything Roxanne does. Gary whispers to her to play it for real, because he knows she loves him. She says that’s ridiculous. They start filming the scene, which involves similar dialogue – “I know you love me.” “I don’t love you.” He grabs her and kisses her passionately, and Randolph is pleased with the scene. They have to do a few more takes, and Randolph loves it. He says they’ll do picture after picture and become America’s favorite couple.

Gary cajoles her into having lunch with him, again insisting she loves him. But he thought she didn’t even like him and thought he was a spoiled brat. He keeps calling her Rosie, and she tells him to stop. He follows her to her dressing room and tells her that he loves her and kisses her. He says he’s loved her since Kansas City, but John was in the way, and he thought she hated him. He says he knew she really loved him when she spent all that time crying over him. He says they really will be the most romantic couple, and then they return to work. The End!

Grade: A

I love classic Hollywood and the 1930s, so this was perfect for me. Roxanne was a likable heroine and the journey through her rise in Hollywood was very interesting. Her mom was super annoying, but I liked the resolution of her mom becoming an extra and how that was a believable solution to her being too overbearing with Roxanne. I was glad the relationship with Gary was more fleshed out in the second half of the book, but I wish there had been more of a resolution with Henry. He never seemed to “get” that Roxanne was over him. All in all, very fun read and it made me want to watch old movies for the rest of the day.

Real people of the era mentioned in this book: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Bob Hope, Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, Carole Lombard

Book Deets
Author: Jane Claypool Miner
Year: 1985
Pages: 346

Sunfire Book Recap: Emily

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Emily Blackburn is getting ready for yet another high society party, but feels trapped and jaded. She is only 16 years old and is already bored with her rich, pampered life in 1899 New York City. She lives in a mansion on Fifth Avenue and is jealous that her 25-year-old maid gets to do fun things like eat dinner with her milk wagon-driving boyfriend in Chinatown, and visit Coney Island. Emily is not allowed to visit such middle-class places.

Emily is escorted to her cousin Annabelle’s party by Worthington Bates, a childhood friend whose father is a partner in her family’s firm. She, Annabelle, and Worth grew up together. Her parents consider Worth the only suitable escort until her coming out party in a year. Turns out Annabelle is becoming a stuck-up beyotch. Emily remembers back a few months earlier, during Annabelle’s 17th birthday celebration, when she started to suspect that Worth may have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Then she saw her brother Edward being chastised for playing with a boy “below his station” and realized that her life was empty and meaningless, and if it continued on the same trajectory, it would always remain so.

Two days before they are set to sail to Europe for an extended trip, Emily is shopping with her mother and Annabelle. She starts getting overwhelmed again at the thought that this is her life forever – buying clothes for parties, then getting invited to more parties and needing to buy more clothes. She faints in the middle of the store. The family’s doctor, Dr. Marstellar, makes a house call and assures her she’s fine.

When the day comes for the family to leave for Europe, Emily’s little brother begs her not to go. She feels his forehead and realizes he’s burning up with fever. She tries to tell her mom they should postpone the trip, but her mother says that’s nonsense and refuses to even go check on him. Emily declares that she is not leaving him, and her mother says fine – Emily can stay and they will send her post cards.

Two days later, Edward’s fever gets worse. Emily is at home alone with a skeleton crew of house servants, and they call the doctor to come see him. Accompanying Dr. Marstellar is a young medical student named Stephen Reed. Emily accidentally insults him when she mistakes him for the doctor’s driver, and they exchange some barbs. Stephen seems to be prejudiced about rich people and is not shy about letting Emily know this. Though Stephen is being rather rude and angry, Emily “felt a strange attraction” to him. Just then, a maid calls that Edward has scarlet fever.

A few days later, Edward falls into a coma. The maid sends for Dr. Marstellar, but he cannot be found, so Emily takes it upon herself to go to Presbyterian Hospital to find him or Stephen, even though it is considered improper for her to do so without a chaperone. She sees Stephen in the children’s ward, appearing way more sweet and friendly as he tends to patients than when she met him. He goes home with her while they wait for a different doctor to arrive, and he checks on Edward. Emily listens in as Stephen talks gently to a comatose Edward, revealing he has a little sister named Nancy who he could not afford to buy a doll. When Emily tries to talk to him about his family, he shuts down on her again. After the real doctor arrives, Stephen leaves quickly.

Edward starts to get better. Emily’s parents return her telegram with a message that coming home early would be “impossible.” Fueled by her anger at them, Emily sets out alone again to see New York City by herself and experience some freedom. She finds that being able to shop alone doesn’t satisfy her though – she needs direction and purpose. She returns to Presbyterian Hospital, not sure what she’s doing there. She runs into a student nurse named Maude Adams. Maude tells Emily that Stephen is only 18, brilliant, and skipped a bunch of grades. Dr. Marstellar is his benefactor, paying for his medical school. Emily quizzes Maude on what it’s like to be a nurse, and noting Emily’s interest, Maude suggests Emily become a volunteer at the hospital.

Emily is tempted by the thought of volunteering, especially if it would put her in close proximity with Stephen, but she doesn’t think it would ever be allowed. Her maid Meg arrives back from Europe, saying she took an earlier boat with Annabelle and Worth. Emily’s parents are still in Europe.

Stephen is surprised to see Emily when she shows back up at the hospital. She tells him about wanting to become a volunteer, and Stephen tells her the hospital is not a place for the childish whims of a rich little girl. She should go back to Fifth Avenue where she belongs. Emily basically tells him to go eff himself. Emily is granted permission to become a volunteer by the head nurse, Mrs. Harrigan.

Despite Worth questioning her decision and Annabelle threatening to send a telegram to her parents tattling on her, Emily shows up for her first day as a nursing aide. She spends hours on her first assignment – scrubbing floors. Next she has to empty bedpans, which almost makes her gag. Emily isn’t sure she’ll ever return to the hospital after her miserable day, but then she runs into Stephen, who again teases her about not belonging there. That makes her determined to come back.

Over a week later Emily is working in the children’s ward and recites poetry to help them fall asleep, which earns Stephen’s admiration. Then her father’s butler shows up, saying her parents are distraught about her working in the hospital and demand she come home at once. She faces them and they demand she stop going to the hospital and start abiding by their rules. She rails against how stupid their rules are and points out how they couldn’t come back for Edward, but one whiff of her disgracing the family name and they were on the next boat home.

The next month Emily sneaks back to the hospital for some kind of closure and to say goodbyes she didn’t have the chance to make when she was yanked away by the butler. She finds Maude and tells her that her parents won’t let her come back. Maude tells her that Stephen was upset when that man took her away and he asked about her, and Emily gets Maude to find out Stephen’s address for her. Emily goes to Stephen’s apartment the day before Thanksgiving with a basket full of fancy food like pâté and petit fours, and a French doll for his sister. Stephen is not there when she arrives, but his mother lets her come in. Emily sees for the first time that his sister Nancy is crippled. The neighborhood is bustling and poor, and the apartment is small and plain. His mother is wary of Emily and says they cannot accept her gifts, and then Stephen arrives. He tells Emily they don’t need her charity, and he didn’t ask her to come. She flees in humiliation.

Worth confesses to Emily that he has fallen in love with Annabelle, but he thinks she loves someone else. Emily had thought he loved her, but it was Annabelle all along. Emily’s mother calls Dr. Marstellar to come look at Emily because she has been “listless” lately and not eating as much. He examines Emily and proclaims that she is fine, and Emily asks for more information about Stephen. Dr. Marstellar met him when he used to donate one day a week providing medical care in Stephen’s neighborhood. Stephen became his buggy driver at age 14 and showed a large interest in medicine, so Dr. Marstellar got him back in school. His father died when he was 9. His sister Nancy broke her leg and it never healed correctly because she didn’t get to a hospital. He could possibly reset it, but Nancy’s mother is scared of hospitals, despite Stephen working there. Dr. Marstellar describes the “fatalist” attitude of the poor. Then he warns Emily that Stephen is a lone wolf.

Emily decides to return to Stephen’s apartment around Christmas and not get kicked out this time. She brings secondhand gifts from her siblings and her own closet, plus non-fancy food like bread, cheese, and gingerbread cookies. When she arrives, Stephen’s mother says Stephen is not there, but Emily says she has gifts from her siblings including the little boy that Stephen tended to. His mom lets her in, and they have tea. Emily is reciting poems to Nancy and making her laugh when Stephen walks in. He sees the food she brought and again tells her they don’t need charity. Emily responds angrily and turns to leave. His mother tells Stephen to get her in a hansom cab outside. Stephen says his mom and sister may like her, but his feelings haven’t changed. Emily thinks he likes her but doesn’t want to admit it. Stephen says they are worlds apart and it would be doomed to failure. She calls him a snob as he gets a cab to pull over and tells her to go home. Then he grabs her and kisses her roughly. When they part, he again tells her to go home.

The next day, Christmas, Emily takes a bunch of candy, fruit, and extra new toys her siblings don’t want and sneaks to the hospital while her parents are out. She delivers all of the goods to the children’s ward and reads them Christmas poems. Stephen is waiting for her outside the door, having heard that she was there. They walk outside and he apologizes for how he acted. He just feels guilty going to medical school while his mom and sister only scrape by. He says if he dropped out of school and worked, they would be doing better. Emily says he can’t drop out, he was born to be a doctor. “Sometimes I wonder where you come from, Emily Blackburn. You’re not quite real,” he says. She leaves feeling like he admitted his feelings for her in his own way. When she gets home, her mother has returned early and caught her. She says if Emily goes to the hospital one more time, she’ll be sent to a Swiss boarding school.

Because it is too late for Worth to find another date and her gown was expensive, Emily’s mother lets her go with him to the masked New Year’s Eve ball at the Waldorf. Annabelle is attending with the senator’s son, who Worth thinks she loves, but she doesn’t look happy. Emily starts to feel upset and overwhelmed again, and before midnight she has to get out of there. She begs Worth to make an excuse for her if her parents come looking for her, and she gets her coat and goes outside. She gets on a bus and takes it down to Wall Street, where tons of people are partying as fireworks light up the sky over the East River and the clock strikes 12. It is now January 1, 1900. At that moment Emily decides she will become a nurse and win over Stephen, no matter what her parents say.

On New Year’s Day Emily tells her parents she wants to be a nurse, but they brush her off again. She goes ice skating with Worth, Annabelle, and the senator’s son in Central Park, and as she and Worth skate together, she looks up and sees Stephen. Seeing her with another guy, Stephen practically runs away.

Emily takes her siblings to her maid’s mother’s house in the Bronx where they eat and play with other children. Her mother demands to know where she went, but Emily doesn’t want to say because her mother would not approve of them mixing with “common” people. Assuming Emily went back to the hospital, her mother says she will be going to a Swiss finishing school before the end of the month.

Emily convinces Annabelle, who is thawing out, to bring a note to the hospital for Stephen because Emily is confined to her house. In her note Emily asks him to come to her house and help convince her parents that she is meant to be a nurse. Annabelle brings back his reply two days later, and he is basically telling her to let it go. Annabelle admits that she needs Emily and doesn’t want her to go to Switzerland, and also admits that she has feelings for Worth too. Emily begs Annabelle to help her go to the hospital one last time to see Stephen before she gets shipped off – literally. Worth picks her up in his new automobile – motor car – a rarity even in NYC. It cost a little over $1200 and he can’t drive it faster than 9 mph. He and Annabelle bring her to the hospital, and just as she goes to tell Stephen what she came to say, someone yells that a building collapsed on 82nd Street. Emily tells Stephen she has a faster way to get to the accident site, and leads him outside to Worth’s car. He drops them off near the site, and Stephen tells her to go home, but she refuses – she feels a pull to help. Construction workers are trapped in the collapsed building.

Stephen and Emily work together, tending to and comforting the hurt men. After a long day, Stephen escorts Emily home and tells her she’s different from other rich people. She says lots of rich people are nice, like her friends, and Stephen asks if Worth is the guy she was with at the park. She tells Stephen that Worth is like a brother to her. Stephen says he cares about her and tried so hard to put her out of his life, but it never worked. He admits he loved her from the first time they met, but she wasn’t part of his plan. She tells him about boarding school in Switzerland, and he says he loves her. They kiss.

He walks her home, and she goes inside to face her parents. She is covered in dirt and blood. Her mother sends her to her room and says they will discuss it the next morning. She is in more trouble the next day when a photo of her tending to a man is printed in the newspaper with her name in the caption. Apparently her mother thinks this is humiliating. Emily tells them the man died, and asks if they even care about his family. That shocks them.

Just then Stephen shows up, and tells her parents how much Emily’s work at the hospital was praised by all the staff. They are very impressed by him. He gives a little speech about being American and having opportunities in the new era, and her parents start to soften, showing that they will eventually consent to Emily doing nursing school when she is old enough. Her father says she can’t volunteer at the hospital if she’s in Switzerland, so boarding school is called off.

Emily walks Stephen out and kisses him in gratitude. She asks Stephen what his other dreams are besides being a doctor, and he says he wants to open a free clinic to help people struggling with money. Stephen says he also dreams of spending his life with her, and Emily says she wants to make that dream come true. The End!

Grade: A

This is very well-written story with a well-crafted heroine. Stephen could have been fleshed out more – he just seemed like a jerk for most of the book. The historical details that made this a turn-of-the-century time period were interesting without being overbearing. Very enjoyable read.

Book Deets:
Author: Candice F. Ransom
Year: 1985
Pages: 351

Re-Reading Christopher Pike, Part 1

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I am re-reading a bunch of Christopher Pike books for fun, without really wanting to take a bunch of tedious notes like I do while reading the Cheerleaders books, so I’m just going to include my brief thoughts about each one along with the book description included on either Amazon or Goodreads. 

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When Shari Cooper awoke at home after being at her girlfriend’s birthday party, her family acted like she wasn’t there. They didn’t hear a thing she said. They wouldn’t even look at her. Then the call came from the hospital. Her father and brother paled. Her mother started to cry. Shari didn’t know what was wrong. Not until she followed them to the hospital. There she found herself lying on a cold slab in the morgue. The police said that it was suicide.

Shari knew she had been murdered. Making a vow to herself to find her killer, Shari embarks on the strangest of all criminal investigations: one in which she spies on her friends, and even enters their dreams — where she comes face-to-face with a nightmare from beyond the grave. The Shadow — a thing more horrible than death itself — is the key to Shari’s death, and the only thing that can stop her murderer from murdering again.

Remember Me: I read this one so fast. From what I’ve heard, the sequels are ridiculous, so I don’t intend to try and get them, but this one was great. A suspenseful murder mystery, emotion, even a little afterlife romance.  Grade: A+

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Charlie loved Mary. Loved her with all his heart. They were the happy couple, the one that people at school pointed to with envy.

But then Mary makes a mistake, a small mistake with another guy. And Charlie loses it, and someone dies. Now Charlie is a hunted man and Mary is an outcast. But what really happened that dark night, when love and rage shook hands on a deserted street? Only God knows, and maybe Charlie.

Execution of Innocence: This one was a little dull at times, and is certainly not one of Pike’s best. The story is mostly built up through police interrogation interviews and flashbacks, with some real action near the end and a twist. Grade: C-
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Jane Retton would never let anyone read her diary filled with her wildest secrets.
Then somehow her diary ended up at school. And soon, everyone was reading her final, shocking entry. Some girls would simply die. Other girls would kill. But Jane Retton – she would do both.
Gimme A Kiss: Another story told in the framework of flashbacks, police interrogation, and then action at the end which take place in “present time.” This is a pretty slim book and the story goes by quickly. I couldn’t help but suffer huge secondhand embarrassment when Jane’s diary entry gets passed out all over school – that would probably have been one of my worst nightmares when in high school. The twist was something I kind of saw coming. Grade: B
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When Alison first read the chain letter signed “Your Caretaker,” she thought it was some terrible sick joke. Someone, somewhere knew about that awful night when she and six other friends committed an unthinkable crime in the desolate California desert. And now that person was determined to make them pay for it.
One by one, the chain letter was coming to each of them … demanding dangerous, impossible deeds… threatening violence if the demands were not met. No one out of the seven wanted to believe that this nightmare was really happening to them. Until the accidents started happening — and the dying…
Chain Letter: So this was written 13 years after I Know What You Did Last Summer and has the same basic premise, but I think I like the execution better here. Stories about people being terrorized with notes and dead animals left in their mailboxes and things like that get kind of boring and tiresome, but the idea of a chain letter forcing the main characters to act out embarrassing and self-destructive commands is a lot more intriguing. I was able to guess the perpetrator, but still enjoyed the ride. Grade: A

Re-Reading “Freddie the Thirteenth”

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Freddie is the 13th of 16 children! Her family was like the Duggars before reality TV. Nine of her older siblings are all grown and moved out of the house, leaving Freddie and her older brother Glen, who are both in high school, John and Mark, who are older and both attending college or trade school, Trisha and Jan, who are both in junior high, and Danny, who’s still in grade school. (Glen, Trisha, and Danny are really the only siblings of note for the rest of the book).

The story begins on Freddie’s first day of 10th grade, which is also her first day of high school. She tries to sneak in a few extra minutes in the bathroom, since each of her siblings is limited to 10 minutes, and breaks her new blush when a snake creeps in under the door. The culprit is Danny, who said he sent his pet snake in because Freddie had been in the bathroom for 11 minutes.

Freddie and Glen walk to the bus stop, where her best friend Annette awaits. The two girls excitedly talk about starting high school and the older boys that will be there. They have an agreement that if one girl gets asked on a date, she’ll do her best to set the other girl up on a date with one of the guy’s friends.

Freddie thinks back on Bart Cunningham, a boy she met at Positive Mental Attitude camp during the summer. Bart’s father was the director of the camp, and Freddie had a huge crush on him, but his time was always monopolized by Val, a girl who attends Freddie’s school and is a year older. Bart’s family is moving to Tulsa, where Freddie lives, so she hopes to see him again one day.

They head to class, and the day goes okay – she even sees Val, who waves at her and says hello. Freddie particularly enjoys Speech class. When the last bell rings, Freddie is heading toward the bus when she sees none other than Bart Cunningham in the hallway. She hides behind Annette so he won’t see her, then explains to Annette that when she filled out a form about herself at camp, she only listed one sibling – Trisha. She was embarrassed about the size of her family and didn’t want Bart to look at her funny or ask a bunch of questions. They even talked about Trisha, so she intentionally led him to believe she only had one sibling. Now that he was here at her school, he was sure to find out the truth!

The next day, Bart finds her in the hallway and says how glad he is to see her. He offers to take her home, but she panics and says she’s actually going to the library. He offers to take her there, and they chat on the way. Then she says she has to meet her mom at the shopping center, so he drives her there and finally leaves her with her deception.

In Speech class, the teacher says that everyone in the class will give a speech, and a winner will be selected to compete with winners from the junior and senior classes in front of the whole school. Freddie wants to win, and decides she will give a speech about the downfalls of being in a big family. While leaving school, she spots Bart and Val walking side by side, and feels disappointed.

At home, Freddie is downstairs when she sees a car pull up – it’s Bart, bringing Glen home. She hurries to hide in a closet before they come inside. She listens as Bart and Glen talk, and Bart mentions he knows a girl with the same last name as Glen. Because Freddie is such an unusual name, Freddie knows Bart is figuring out that she didn’t tell him the whole truth. He leaves and she opens the closet door, only to come face to face with Danny. Danny blackmails her into doing the dishes for him so that he won’t tell anyone he saw her hiding in the closet.

Freddie tries to avoid Bart but then realizes she’s going to see him eventually. She then sees him standing by her locker talking to Annette and waiting for her. She explains why she didn’t tell him about her family, and he says she should be proud. He brings her home and gets invited to stay for dinner, so Freddie goes the extra mile to make their dinner table look really nice. Her sister Trisha then makes a big deal of making sure Freddie and Bart sit next to each other, which embarrasses Freddie. Danny also blackmails her again into doing the dishes.

Bart asks Freddie if she wants to go to the football game with him on Friday, then says it will be a double date with Glen and another girl. Freddie immediately feels guilty that she is going to be going back on her pact with Annette. But when she goes to talk to Annette about it, it turns out Annette is the girl Glen asked on a date. The foursome goes to the game and to get pizza in Bart’s car. When Bart brings the siblings back to their house, Glen doesn’t get the hint that they want to be alone and stays with them all the way up to the door. Freddie is disappointed, so when she gets upstairs and Trisha wants to know how the date went, Freddie tells her they’ll talk about it later.

The Sadie Hawkins girl-ask-boy dance is coming up, and Annette wants her and Freddie to double with Glen and Bart again. Freddie says she wants to see if Bart asks her out again before she asks him to Sadie, while Glen has already asked Annette to a movie. Freddie does her speech for the class, then sees that she in fact won for Speech 1. But it turns out that Val Edwards won for Speech 2, and Freddie is immediately intimidated about competing with her.

Freddie’s older sister Betty is about to have a baby, and asks if Freddie would come stay with her family for two weeks after the birth in order to help out. Freddie is overjoyed at the notion of some quiet and privacy, until Trisha asks if she can come too. Betty says sure why not, and Freddie lays into Trisha about inviting herself along and stealing Freddie’s chance of being alone. Trisha says Freddie is so mean now and runs upstairs, then Freddie looks over and sees Bart standing in the doorway. He asks her to go get a limeade, and she says he probably thinks the worst of her. He says he just thinks her siblings look up to her and she should be happy that they do. They go to the limeade shop and talk about her speech, but she isn’t sure if it’s a date or not. When Bart brings her home, he throws a ball around with Danny, and then Freddie goes upstairs and apologizes to Trisha.

Freddie plans to ask Bart to Sadie Hawkins and takes extra care to get ready for school. When she approaches his locker, she sees Val Edwards standing near there. They talk about the speech contest, and then someone passes by and asks Val if she’s asked “that guy” to the dance yet. Val says if she means Bart Cunningham, that’s who she’s waiting for right now. Freddie says she has to go and scurries away, sure that Bart will say yes to Val.

Freddie’s sister has her baby, so Freddie and Trisha get packed up and head to Betty’s house. They are there when Freddie receives a phone call from Bart, who asks if she wants to go out next Saturday. Freddie says she would, but that’s the night of Sadie Hawkins dance. He says he’d forgotten about that and does she have a date – she says no, but she thought he did. He says he was waiting for a particular girl to ask him, but she never did – her name is Freddie Oliver. Freddie laughs and asks him to the dance. Annette brings up doubling with her and Glen again, but Freddie says she’d rather have Bart to herself this time.

Freddie and Trisha bond, and Trisha explains how she felt Freddie was shutting her out after going off to high school. Freddie and Bart go to the dance and have a great time, and at Betty’s doorstep that night, she thinks he’s about to kiss her when she sees Trisha watching from the window.

Back at home the next week, Freddie is getting ready for another date with Bart when she finds her mascara all messed up on her eyelashes. Jan tells her that she saw Danny putting glue in the mascara tube. Freddie blows up at Danny and tells him to go play in traffic. She has a tough time getting the glue-mascara off and it makes her eyes red and puffy. She heads to the library before her date to work on improving her speech for the competition. When she goes to find Bart, his face looks grim. He tells her Danny and his friend were riding bikes in the street and Danny got hit by a car. They hurry to the hospital, where Danny is in surgery with a broken leg and ruptured bladder. Freddie feels incredible guilt considering their last argument and her “play in traffic” comment.

When Danny is awake after surgery, Freddie goes in to apologize. He tells her he was only putting glue in her mascara because he thought that would “stretch” it – make it last longer – so that she might be able to lend him some money to get a new inner tube for his football. He also says he didn’t actually go play in traffic, there were just more cars than normal where he usually rides his bike.

Freddie decides to revise her speech from being about the pitfalls of a big family to the benefits of a big family. She includes stories about Danny’s accident, Trisha spying on her and her date, and puts a positive spin on the rest of the stories she had used in her original speech. She gives the speech in front of the whole school and says she used to think she was the unlucky 13th, but now she knows she’s probably the luckiest girl alive. A few minutes later, she’s announced as the winner of the contest.

Bart takes her back to the limeade shop to celebrate, and she asks him about Val. He says when Val asked him to Sadie Hawkins, he told her he already had a date, even though Freddie hadn’t asked him yet. He says he’s liked Freddie since camp, but because she was so shy and Val was always more aggressive, he was passive and let Val keep him from getting to know Freddie better. They make it official that they are boyfriend and girlfriend, then share their first kiss.

Grade: A – This was one of my older sister’s books, and I vividly remember reading this when I was really young, multiple times. The battered copy shows a lot of wear and tear. It’s a very simple story, one that I could easily see taking place in the 50s or 60s as well. I’m still not completely convinced it’s really set in the 80s! But it’s timeless all the same.

Book Deets
Author: Sandy Miller
Year: 1985
Pages: 155

Re-Reading “Crushing On You” (Love Stories #25)

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Shauna is in the midst of getting everything her 15-year-old heart desires, including making the cheerleading squad and catching the eye of Tommy, a football player she’s had a crush on for quite some time.

The only problem is that her newfound hobby and romance have taken her attention off her schoolwork, which has sent her grades plummeting and puts her position on the squad in jeopardy. Tommy is kind of an airhead and doesn’t see what the big deal is, but Shauna’s parents disagree and sign her up to get tutored at the “Brain Drain,” the tutoring center at school. Shauna is so embarrassed to be seen going into the Brain Drain, as she always thought kids who needed tutors were stupid.

Chad has been tutoring at the Brain Drain for the small paycheck it provides and because it will look good on his college applications. He gets assigned to tutor Shauna in math three days a week, and finds a very annoyed student waiting for him when he’s unintentionally late to their first session. Chad’s lateness is only the first obstacle they encounter – Shauna keeps calling him Brad and then skips doing the worksheets he assigned when Tommy wants to go out with their friends after a big game. She also lies on the ground and does leg lift exercises while Chad’s checking her work. After Chad chastises her for wasting his time and hers, then walks out, Shauna runs after him and promises to take the tutoring seriously from now on.

Soon enough, they’re actually friendly with each other and enjoy their talks among the tutoring. Chad even decides for the first time to go to a football game with his girl-crazy friend Jamie, who notices Chad’s attention on one particular cheerleader. Chad and Shauna chat after the game and he offers her a ride home, but she’s going off with Tommy. Chad realizes it’s not that he doesn’t want a shot with Shauna – it’s that he doesn’t have one.

Meanwhile, Tommy and Shauna are drifting further apart as he’s focused on partying and she’s actually getting serious about school. No matter how he tries to cajole her, she stands strong and insists on getting more rest and devoting more time to homework so that her grades will pick up. Tommy is not happy about it, but when they do spend time together, he always invites a bunch of friends rather than be alone with Shauna, which in turn annoys her.

Chad comes to Shauna’s house for dinner and more studying, and he hits it off with her baby sister, Lindsey, which endears him to Shauna even more. Her friend Holland starts teasing her about Chad and how much fun Shauna seems to have with him.

When Shauna gets every question on her work correct, Chad rewards her with a little trip to the beach, where they get ice cream and feed fish, and Shauna buys him a gift. They also do one last big study session at the pizza place before her math exam, and she has a blast. Then her mom informs her that she’s been doing so well, her parents think she’s ready to stop being tutored. Shauna is surprised at how sad that makes her. She realizes she has feelings for Chad beyond friendship, but doesn’t know how he feels.

Chad plays it cool when she informs him she can stop being tutored, but he is disappointed as well. After Shauna’s math exam, she sees Chad waiting for her in the hall, and she flies into his arms, excited at how well she thinks she did. They are still hugging when Tommy comes upon them, unaware of what she’s so excited about and unhappy to see her in another guy’s arms. He pulls her away from Chad, and she helplessly waves goodbye as Tommy drags her down the hall.

While Tommy said they could celebrate her good exam, she ends up watching him talk about football for 15 minutes with two other players, watches him flirt with three different girls they pass, and then they end up going to McDonald’s. Right there in the drive-through line, Shauna realizes physical attraction isn’t all she wants in a relationship – she needs more depth, like what she has with Chad. On the way home, she breaks it to Tommy that she doesn’t want to date him anymore. She wants to find a way to let Chad know she likes him and see if he feels the same way.

Chad gives Shauna a fun kids book about a “math curse” that he thought she would find amusing. She says thanks and says she needs to talk to him later. Chad decides to go by the gym during cheerleading practice to wait for her so they can talk, and on the way he runs into Tommy, who asks Chad why he’s been “bothering” Shauna and says that Shauna doesn’t want him around. Chad, who still doesn’t know they broke up, is not intimidated and keeps going on to the gym. He stops at the doors when he hears the girls talking about Shauna being “glad it’s over.” Holland makes a comment about “the little gift he gave you,” which Shauna says she doesn’t want. Chad, sure they’re talking about him, hurries away, feeling hurt and humiliated.

Shauna gets her math exam back and scored a 92. She tries to call Chad to tell him, but he’s not home and never returns her calls. When she finds him and tells him at school, he is cold in return and walks away. Shauna leaves a secret admirer note in his locker that she’s sure he’ll know came from her, but he never says anything to her. As a last-ditch effort, Shauna decides to purposefully suck at math for a week in order to get put back in the Brain Drain. That way Chad will have to talk to her.

When she walks in the Brain Drain, she’s met by a girl named Lizbeth, even though she had requested Chad. Lizbeth tells her that Chad asked not to be assigned to her, and Shauna breaks down in tears, telling Lizbeth that she just wanted to see him because she’s in love with him.

As she’s walking home feeling sorry for herself, she feels an acorn whiz by her. She turns around, and there’s Chad. He says Lizbeth told him what Shauna said, and he wants to know if it’s true. He says he feels the same way, and she asks why he’s been avoiding her. He tells her he overheard what was said in the gym – but Shauna tells him they were actually talking about Tommy, that she was glad it was over with him. The “gift” they referred to was a 5×7 glossy photo of himself that he had left in her locker. Chad also didn’t know the secret admirer note was from her, he thought it was Lizbeth playing a joke on him. Chad and Shauna smile as they realize their misunderstanding, kiss, and live happily ever after… for high school, at least.

Grade: A – I had checked this out from the library back in the day, and always remembered it, even though I only read it once back then. It’s a very simple, sweet story with no big plot twists, just nice character and relationship development, and one misunderstanding.

Book Deets
Author: Wendy Loggia
Year: 1998
Pages: 181

#1 OTP: Mary Anne Misses Logan

I guess you could say my first “OTP” was Mary Anne Spier and Logan Bruno from The Baby-Sitters Club. I wanted to be like Stacey, but I related most to Mary Anne, since I was quiet and shy and unsophisticated, just like her. I always loved the romance between Mary Anne and Logan, and I even remember telling my mom about it when I first read the book where they broke up.

My collection of BSC books are long gone, having gotten water damage in my parents’ garage, but I recently went thrift store shopping and found some BSC books for super cheap. Coincidentally, all of the milestone books for Mary Anne and Logan were available, so I thought it would be fun to re-read them and recap them here, in honor of my first favorite couple.

#46 – Mary Anne Misses Logan

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Mary Anne is sitting around missing Logan and thinking about an English assignment where groups of four are going to be randomly assigned and required to study a particular author. The groups are posted on the wall at school, and Mary Anne sees that she is in the group studying Megan Rinehart with two people named Miranda and Pete, along with Logan Bruno himself. She freaks out and cries because it’s going to be so awkward and she thinks Logan hates her.

When their group meets for the first time, Mary Anne and Logan exchange uncomfortable hellos. A teacher comes over with Cokie Mason, who Mary Anne has described as her “mortal enemy,” and says that Cokie wants to switch into their group because Megan Rinehart is the only author she cares about. Mary Anne knows the only thing Cokie cares about is Logan. Miranda jumps at the chance to switch with Cokie, and Mary Anne wants to die. They start talking about the assignment, and when Logan smiles at her, Mary Anne realizes she wants him back. Cokie puts all her attention on Logan and says the author’s name wrong. Dawn confirms that she heard Cokie’s best friend saying Cokie just wants a shot at Logan now that he’s available.

The next group meeting is at Cokie’s house. She fawns all over Logan and ignores the other two. They agree to each read 4 of the author’s books for their project. As Mary Anne is leaving she hears Cokie asking Logan to a movie, and soon enough at school everyone is talking about how Logan and Cokie have gone out several times. They hold the next meeting at Pete’s, where Mary Anne wants to cry because Cokie and Logan sit together and Cokie babbles on about all the things she and Logan have been doing together. They talk more about the project, and Mary Anne gets the feeling that Cokie hasn’t done any of the reading and that Logan hasn’t finished his part. They only have to turn in one paper, so she and Pete might end up doing all the work themselves. She and Pete decide to work together and leave Logan and Cokie out of their future meetings, if the two aren’t going to be any help.

The principal then announces that three authors will be coming to the school for Author Day, and the groups who have those authors will give their projects orally in front of everyone. One of the authors is Megan Rinehart. Pete says that each one of them should read their contributed section. Since Cokie hasn’t started hers and Logan hasn’t finished his, that’s not good news for them. Pete tells Mary Anne that they’ll turn in the complete paper and get a good grade, but Logan and Cokie will be on their own for the presentation, and everyone will be able to tell who put in the work. Mary Anne enjoys the thought of Cokie being embarrassed, but doesn’t want the same thing to happen to Logan.

Logan calls Mary Anne and says that he actually has done his section of the project, but he wants to get together with her to compare notes and make sure he’s on the right track. Mary Anne admits that she and Pete had covered his section for the paper just in case he didn’t do it, and he says he got swept away with Cokie because he misses Mary Anne. They work for hours on rearranging his section to match hers and Pete’s.

At Author Day, Pete, Mary Anne, and Logan read their sections, and then Cokie gets up and reads word-for-word the description that was on the book jacket. They meet Megan Rinehart and get a signed copy of her new book, then Logan asks Mary Anne to have dinner with him as a way for him to say thanks for all her help.

He calls and asks her where she wants to go (which I suppose is an improvement from the days when he was ordering food for her), and Mary Anne tells Dawn that if they get back together, she’d be sure not to let him run her life.

They meet up and say they miss each other. Logan says Cokie means nothing to him, she’s fun but she’s not Mary Anne. He asks her if she’d go out with him again sometime, and they make plans for the following Friday. But Mary Anne is pretty sure they’ll see a lot of each other before then, and he’ll be hanging out by her locker again, and eating lunch together again, and talking on the phone again.

Sure enough, when she gets home, Logan calls and asks what she’s doing the next day. When she says she’s hanging out with Claudia and Dawn, Logan tells her to have fun. As they hang up, she looks down at something she’d been doodling: “MAS + LB 4-Ever.”

Also in the #1 OTP Series:

#10 – Logan Likes Mary Anne

#41 – Mary Anne vs. Logan

#1 OTP: Mary Anne vs. Logan

I guess you could say my first “OTP” was Mary Anne Spier and Logan Bruno from The Baby-Sitters Club. I wanted to be like Stacey, but I related most to Mary Anne, since I was quiet and shy and unsophisticated, just like her. I always loved the romance between Mary Anne and Logan, and I even remember telling my mom about it when I first read the book where they broke up.

My collection of BSC books are long gone, having gotten water damage in my parents’ garage, but I recently went thrift store shopping and found some BSC books for super cheap. Coincidentally, all of the milestone books for Mary Anne and Logan were available, so I thought it would be fun to re-read them and recap them here, in honor of my first favorite couple.

#41 – Mary Anne vs. Logan

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I always thought they looked soooo cute on this cover!

Mary Anne and Logan have been having a number of rough patches lately. She feels like he’s being too pushy, and sometimes she wonders if she’s falling out of love with him.

She’s getting ready to go on a babysitting job when Logan calls to see if she wants to go to a movie. When she tells him she can’t, he suggests that she get Dawn to babysit in her place, but Mary Anne still says no. The conversation upsets her, and she almost starts to cry. When she gets to her sitting job at the Prezziosos, Logan calls her again and she tells him she can’t talk. He calls two more times before she can finally speak with him, and he makes a plan for them to get pizza the next night without asking if Mary Anne is okay with it. She is not upset that he made plans, just that he did it without even considering asking her first.

On the following Saturday, Mary Anne has no plans and just wants to curl up by the fire and read “Wuthering Heights” as it snows outside. Logan has other plans. He shows up at her house and tells her to get her ice skates and they can go to the park. He looks so excited, she doesn’t have the heart to say no, even though she’d rather be by herself. They go ice skating and help some kids make a snowman, but Mary Anne’s toes get frozen and she stops having fun. Logan wants to make snow angels and go skating again, but Mary Anne finally speaks up and says no, she wants to go home. He’s upset, but they do as she wishes.

The next time they have a date, it doesn’t go well. Logan orders what they normally like to eat for himself and Mary Anne at the diner, even though she had been thinking of ordering something different. Then he says they’re going to go see “Halloween Part 3,” but Mary Anne wants to see “The Music Man.” She ends up saying she’d rather just go home.

Back at home, Mary Anne’s father tells her he thinks she’s spending too much time with Logan and needs to cut back. He misses seeing her around the house more, and she got a C in English. Mary Anne readily agrees with him. She tells Dawn, and Dawn says she thought Mary Anne and Logan would date through high school and college and get married and she’d be maid of honor. (I thought so too!) Mary Anne says she’s only 13, did Dawn really think she’d marry Logan?

She calls Logan and tells him they need to cool it, that she feels like he’s overtaking her life. Logan is weirdly calm and cool in response, just saying “Okay.” She cries as soon as the call is over, but thinks this might ultimately help save their relationship.

The next Monday at school, Logan walks by Mary Anne and Dawn in the hall without acknowledging them. They avoid looking at each other during school assembly, and he doesn’t sit with the BSC at lunch. Mary Anne never told the others about the “break,” so Kristy asks where he is and then points out that he’s sitting with some of the guys. Mary Anne doesn’t clarify anything. Logan is waiting by her locker at the end of the day, and says he just wanted to say hi. They both say hi, and then he leaves. While doing her homework, all Mary Anne can think about is Logan. She tells Dawn she wishes “cooling off” didn’t hurt so much.

At the next BSC meeting, Mary Anne looks terrible as a result of crying all afternoon. She finally confesses to the rest of the club that she told Logan she wanted to cool off, but he seems to have taken it as a breakup. Jessi says it seems like they’ve been a couple “forever” (and since they’re going on three years of being in the 8th grade, I guess that’s accurate).

Mary Anne is starting to think she should call Logan and try to fix things when Logan calls into the BSC meeting and asks if Mary Anne can babysit his siblings on Valentine’s Day. He says he’s going out, and they specifically asked for her because they miss her. She’s shocked wondering who Logan could be going out with, but takes the job to remain “a professional businesswoman.” Mary Anne imagines Logan’s new girlfriend is tall, blonde, not shy, the opposite of her – someone named Olivia. She obsesses over this imaginative girl for quite awhile.

On Valentine’s Day, Mary Anne goes over to Logan’s house and he answers the door wearing a tux, with a corsage in his hand. He leads her to the dining room where he has set up a table of china and silver for a romantic dinner. Mary Anne still thinks it’s for the other girl, until Logan tells her it’s for them. The babysitting job was just a ruse. He gives her a rose, a bracelet, and chocolates, then presents a dinner he made (with some help). Mary Anne is touched but is feeling overwhelmed again, realizing she’s not ready to jump right back into things with Logan. He used to understand her and take her feelings into consideration, and now she felt like he didn’t, he only thought about what he wanted.

She calls him up and asks him to meet her at the park. She tells him he never took the “cooling off” period seriously and should have consulted her before just deciding that they would get back together. She says she wants to break up with him, and returns the bracelet he gave her. The last lines of the book are; “Goodbye, Logan.” “Goodbye, Mary Anne.”

Also in the #1 OTP Series:

#10 – Logan Likes Mary Anne

#46 – Mary Anne Misses Logan

#1 OTP: Logan Likes Mary Anne

I guess you could say my first “OTP” was Mary Anne Spier and Logan Bruno from The Baby-Sitters Club. I wanted to be like Stacey, but I related most to Mary Anne, since I was quiet and shy and unsophisticated, just like her. I always loved the romance between Mary Anne and Logan, and I even remember telling my mom about it when I first read the book where they broke up.

My collection of BSC books are long gone, having gotten water damage in my parents’ garage, but I recently went thrift store shopping and found some BSC books for super cheap. Coincidentally, all of the milestone books for Mary Anne and Logan were available, so I thought it would be fun to re-read them and recap them here, in honor of my first favorite couple.

#10 – Logan Likes Mary Anne

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The BSC starts their first day of 8th grade, and Mary Anne brings a picture of movie star Cam Geary to put up in her locker. At lunch, she suddenly thinks she sees Cam Geary himself in the lunchroom, but Stacey tells her it’s Logan Bruno, a new student from Louisville, Kentucky. He’s the cutest boy Mary Anne’s ever seen.

Claudia calls an emergency BSC meeting at lunch because she’s been getting tons of extra babysitting request calls ever since Kristy’s bright idea of advertising at the PTA meeting. They’re swamped and need extra help. Logan overhears them talking and offers to pitch in – he’s had plenty of experience babysitting in Louisville, he says.

Logan comes to their next meeting, and Mary Anne makes sure to dress extra nice and do her hair. She finds it hard to say a single word to him due to nervousness. Claudia starts to tell a story about a classmate snapping some girl’s bra strap, and then they all get embarrassed that she said “bra” in front of Logan. Then Mary Anne spills popcorn everywhere. Logan tries to tell a story to lighten the mood, but then he realizes its conclusion isn’t something he can say in front of a bunch of girls. Logan gets his first babysitting assignment, but Kristy the dictator says another babysitter has to go with him for his first job. Mary Anne is the only one free, so even though she has managed to utter only monosyllabic words in Logan’s general direction, she will be the one to accompany him to the Rodowsky home.

They end up watching a kid named Jackie who’s a terror, but they have a good time and Mary Anne is impressed with Logan’s skills. She manages to loosen up enough to talk to him, and he tells her she has a nice smile.

At the next meeting, everyone agrees that Logan’s great and he’s a good babysitter, but they aren’t sure they’re ready to have a boy in the club. They all vote on Mary Anne being the one to call him and find out how he feels. When she does, he tells her he doesn’t think he should join the BSC, but he asks her to the Remember September Dance. She says sure! But deep down she wonders why he doesn’t want to join.

The other BSC members help Mary Anne shop for a dance ensemble, then they go to the dance together. Mary Anne meets up with Logan and he gives her a smushed orange flower. They start to dance and she’s having fun, but then she accidentally kicks her shoe off and it hits the wall. This is like, sooooo embarrassing, and she gets upset that Logan and Dawn are laughing about it. She goes off to be by herself, and Logan tries to get her to dance again, but she keeps refusing. She watches him dance with all the other BSC members, but every time he comes back to her, she says no. Finally, it’s time to leave, and he still tells her he had a good time with her. What a sweetie.

Mary Anne’s awkwardness does not deter Logan, and he continues to pursue her and asks her to do things with him. They have some awkward pauses in their conversations sometimes, but Mary Anne is getting the hang of it!

Stacey is having a party, which unbeknownst to Mary Anne is actually a surprise 13th birthday party for her. Stacey pesters Mary Anne to invite Logan, which she does, and he says yes. Then Mary Anne asks if he has reconsidered joining the BSC, and he doesn’t know.

Mary Anne arrives to the party, and Logan takes her aside and tells her he likes her because she’s different from other girls. He wasn’t sure things were going to work out between them at first though, because Mary Anne is so sensitive. The lights go down and they bring out a big cake for Mary Anne and sing happy birthday. She is so shocked and uncomfortable with all the attention that she runs out of there. Mary Anne is so mad that everyone would spring that on her when they know how shy she is, including Logan. When she realizes no one is coming over or calling to see if she’s okay, she starts to think she’s blown it and everyone is fed up with her.

The next day her father agrees that she can get a cat, so one good thing came out of this! She calls Logan and they apologize to each other, and she invites him to come help her pick out a cat. He meets her at the shelter and she gets a gray tiger cat and names it Tigger. Back at her house, Logan gives her a silver bracelet for her birthday and asks her to the next school dance.

Mary Anne and Stacey make up, and the club decides that Logan can be an associate member, where they will call him for help when they need it, but he doesn’t have to come to the meetings since it’s too embarrassing for everyone.

Also in the #1 OTP Series:

#41 – Mary Anne vs. Logan

#46 – Mary Anne Misses Logan