the best friends you’ll never have

In elementary school, there were certain things that I rejected as a matter of principle: The New Kids on the Block and all later iterations of pop music, the color pink, anything with ruffles, tennis lessons. The things I did like: music that rocked really hard (I was around 14 years old before I admitted that music that didn’t have guitars with distortion had any merit at all), Beavis and Butt-head, wearing black (which my mother didn’t allow outside of black leggings). As much as I liked the BSC, there was no one who I really looked up to, who I totally wanted to be once I hit middle school. I liked certain parts of who Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn were–I admired Claudia’s talent and outfits, although I was always an excellent speller; I like Stacey’s popularity with boys and love of wearing black, but she was too conventional, somehow; I liked Dawn’s commitment to causes but sometimes she was too overbearing; and I was too uncoordinated to ever be like Kristy, plus I didn’t really like her “uniform” that much. I have also always hated turtlenecks.

No, the Baby-Sitters Club members were all missing something: Rebellion. It was hard to be a rebel when you spent all of your free time watching other people’s children. Many people would be uncomfortable hiring someone who wore a black leather jacket and said “Yo” instead of “Hello.” There was no rebellion to be found in BSC at all. People who so much as chewed gum were chastised for their wild behavior.

BSC was not the only series I read, however. I also received three GirlTalk books a month. One of the biggest differences between BSC and GirlTalk was that the GirlTalk girls did not baby-sit. They hung out, shopped, and had sort-of boyfriends/crushes, and that was about it. Awesome. And while they weren’t a formal club, the four main characters of GirlTalk did have a “We are so different, yet we are all good friends!”-thing going on as well. There was Sabrina, who was friendly and ditzy and loved the latest fashions, but couldn’t really pull them off. There was Katie Campbell, who was preppie, matching her headband to her sweater to her plaid skirt, but joined the boys’ hockey team. Also, her mom eventually married a hottie rich French-Canadian and they moved into an mansion that made Watson’s house seem like a cottage. There was Allison Cloud, who was beautiful and exotic (she was Chippewa, so “exotic” was of course the ghostwriters’ adjective of choice to describe her looks), but didn’t care at all about her appearance because she was too smart for that, so she read all the time instead.

And then there was Randy Zak.

Like Stacey, Randy was a Native New Yorker and wore lots of black. But she also held the title at Bradley Junior High for “Most Detentions Accrued By a Female Student.” She played the drums in a rock band called Iron Wombat, which inexplicably played a lot of Prince for a rock band (the series is set in a suburb of Minneapolis), but otherwise seemed to rock pretty hard. She road her skateboard everywhere, and loved trash horror movies. Her black clothes, unlike Stacey’s, did not come from Bloomingdales’ “Young Sophisticates” section. No, Randy’s clothes came from the Lower East Side or Alphabet City instead. Here is an outfit desciption from It’s All in the Stars, narrated by Sabrina:

Randy has a great sense of style, too. Tonight she was wearing one of her SoHo outfits. She had on a black miniskirt, a black turtleneck sweater, purple-and-green leggings, a bunch of beaded bracelets, and wild earrings. And, of course, she wearing her black leather jacket.

Randy’s style is actually not that far from how I personally dress, oddly enough, since these books are like 20 years old. And I’m not thirteen years old.

Randy definitely reflected who I wanted to be when I grew up far more than any BSCer. She never took shit from anyone, and she did her own thing, all while ROCKING OUT. There were several years in my life where I self-identified as a Metalhead. We had other things in common too, like we both had dads who worked all the time and had high-powered jobs, and Randy is also an equestrian, just like I was. I even got my dad to buy me a black drumset, but I eventually gave it to my older brother because I have no sense of rhythm. Randy is just so freaking cool. I still want to be Randy Zak, damnit.

Who is your favorite YA rebel? And what characters did you identify with and want to be?

Lastly, here’s a picture of the first GirlTalk book, showing the differences between the different characters:


(GirlTalk never was that popular, I guess, because it was pretty hard for me to find a decent picture of the cover.)

8 Responses To This Post

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baseballchica03 said, January 26th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Oh my God, I totally forgot that series existed! Awesome.

karenforyou83 said, January 27th, 2009 at 10:07 am

I remember the series (and that cover!!!), but I can’t remember a single plotline. I also totes had the Girl Talk board game (and the BSC one and the SVH one).

nikki said, January 27th, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Jo from Little Women. Hands down the greatest rebel from ya literature!

Myu said, February 2nd, 2009 at 7:50 am

“then there was Randy Zak”

Off-topic, but that would well be my drag queen name if I were a man.

bibberly said, February 9th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I totally loved that series. But I had to snicker every time it was mentioned that Randy’s outfits were wild and crazy “because she was from New York” while Stacey’s outfits were mature and sophisticated for the exact same reason.

» Favorite House Stoneybrookite: the best friends you’ll never have said, August 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am

[...] a little upset with me, because I think the best house in the series is the renovated barn. While Randy Zak from Girl Talk also lived in a renovated barn, hers seemed much less pleasant, like a barn that [...]

Isabel Escalante said, December 7th, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I love Girl Talk. I always wanted to be Sabrina. She’s the car├ícter I identified with the most.
And in Sleepover Friends, Stephanie.

greer said, December 8th, 2014 at 10:56 am

@Isabel Escalante Sleepover Friends was one I missed somehow. I may have taken one or two out of the library, though. Sabrina was the one in Girl Talk I probably related to the least, since she was so bubbly and outgoing and had that big happy family.

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