the best friends you’ll never have

This question isn’t hard in terms of choosing a character, but I’m having trouble discerning what “minor” really means here. Does “minor” simply mean “non-BSC member”? Or is limited to those who truly just didn’t show up much in series, MAYBE played a major role in one book, but was mostly limited to the background?

If we are going with the first definition, I have to go with CARY RETLIN. Cary was introduced fairly late in the series, but made quite an impression. Once Alan Gray and Cokie Mason had basically worn out their usefulness–Cokie can only try to steal Logan so many times before it got stale, and immaturity isn’t all that interesting, really–Cary was brought in to play the antagonist. He and Kristy have an especially acerbic relationship, and he seems to really know how to push the exact buttons to make “Kristin” lose her cool and lose the sense of control that is central to Kristy’s emotional stability. He can get her to get herself in trouble (Kristy in Charge), reveal the more unsavory parts of her personality (Kristy Power!), and just plain frustrate her (Kristy and the Middle School Vandal.)

Plus, he’s just so plain mysterious. He can pick locks. He apparently enjoys birdwatching. He is highly intelligent, and seems equally inclined to use his powers for good or for evil, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. Take Stacey and the Stolen Hearts–he just wanted to help his good friend Alan Gray.

What also makes Cary an intriguing character is, despite his Mischief-Knighting and Kristy-Frustrating, you still believe that he’s a genuinely good guy. I love the other Cary that reveals itself in Mary Anne’s Revenge and Claudia and the Disaster Date. He’s just a little bit too smart for middle school, and instead of revelling in his big vocabulary or taking extra classes, he uses his excess brain power to make some Complications. Complications, after all, as Cary is fond of reminding Kristy, make life more interesting, and Cary certainly makes the last third or so of the series more interesting.

But since Cary played such a major role in so many books, and we get an awful lot of his characterization and background–how many other non-BSC member/non-BSC client houses and family life did we get a glimpse of?–I’m hesitant to write him off as a “minor” character. If we are going with someone I’d really call minor, I’m going to pick Emily Bernstein.

Emily is arguably the smartest girl in the eighth grade, the editor of the SMS Express, and, while she plays a major role in Claudia and the Perfect Boy and Stacey’s Movie, we don’t really know all that much about her, even though she’s been at SMS since the beginning of the series. I like Emily for her smarts and journalistic skills, but also I have this weird idea that she and Trevor Sandbourne (from The Literary Voice) get together and have this really cerebral, writerly relationship, where they have arguments about literature and the merits of their respective preferred forms of writing. Poetry vs Prose: A Sexual Tension Showdown.

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hobbes12 said, November 27th, 2011 at 8:16 pm

OMG CARY RETLIN. Although I agree, we see so much of him that he doesn’t seem like a minor character. As for actual minor character, I guess I always liked Josh, Claudia’s 7th-grade (2nd time) boyfriend, but I’m not sure if I like him enough for him to be my favorite.

greer said, November 27th, 2011 at 10:49 pm

@hobbes12: I like Josh, too, although he is a little bit immature.

maculae said, November 28th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Cary Retlin was totally the Jess Mariano of Stoneybrook Middle School. I totally wanted him to get with Mary Anne.

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