the best friends you’ll never have

The Rosso family is back. This time it’s summer, which they’re spending in Fire Island. First off, I have to ask why Fire Island. No such explanation was needed in Just a Summer Romance, because Fire Island is a reasonable place for a New York City-area family to own a beach house. This time, however, the Rossos are going there for the first time, and they will be going for the entire summer, and Mr. Rosso will have live with relatives in NYC for the week, since the commute is too far. Now, considering the Rossos live in New Jersey, which has many fine beach towns within commuting distance of New York City, this decision is just baffling to me. Also, I can only imagine how expensive it is to rent a house with seven bedrooms for an entire summer.

The house, by the way, is named Sandpiper House. Stacey and her father stayed in “the Sandpiper” during their trip to Fire Island. I am not sure if it is the same house, but I like to imagine it is, but I don’t know why Mr. McGill would rent a house with so many bedrooms. Perhaps he was anticipating the entire BSC coming. I did look to see if the Sandpiper is a real house in Davis Park. I did not find a house called that, but there is a street called Sandpiper Way, AND there was a club open from 1965-1979 in Fire Island Pines called The Sandpiper that was apparently the birthplace of disco. If Ann was hanging out in gay nightclubs in the 70s, she is much more interesting than any of us could have ever imagined.

Anyway, like Ten Kids, No Pets, each chapter of the book is about a different Rosso kid. Once again, I think the book would have been improved if it were just about one of them, or if it were like a Super Special and each child had several chapters. For most of their stories, we just don’t have enough time to care. The only story where it feels like it has some resolution is Candy’s, where she thinks the house next door is haunted, because Hardy’s chapter of the book also focuses on this. Once again, Abbie’s chapter is at the beginning, and she meets Justin Hart, Melanie, and Lacey. She becomes friends with them, but because it’s at the beginning of the book, we don’t really know all that much about it, only snippets here and there from other characters. Bainbridge’s chapter, conversely, is at the end, and he apparently had a girlfriend all summer whom we didn’t hear about at all, and now her grandfather is sick and she has to leave. But we don’t really care, because we haven’t been following their story all along.

I can see why these two books in particular have retained more popularity over the years than Ann’s other early books, but I find them almost frustrating to read as an adult. The chapters are just not long enough for us to really care about the characters and what’s happening to them. (I suppose if Ann were a master of the short story, she could do it, but, well, Cheever she ain’t.)

Random thoughts:

  • Faustine: children’s literature’s first vegan?
  • Hannah is a little sociopath. She takes great joy in seriously scaring her sister Candy and ruining Abbie’s social life (by telling Justin Hart that Abbie has a crush on him). For these transgressions, Hannah gets punishments like “no allowance for a week” or “grounded for a day,” and never has to actually apologize to her sisters. Another Karen Brewer.
  • If you are a pain in the ass on a movie set, you get a bit part instead of just being an extra. Thanks for the lesson, Dinnie!
  • Lyme Disease is very easily cured. (Do not read Ira’s chapter if you have a phobia of clowns.)

    External links:
    Kirkus Reviews came to the same conclusion I did.
    BSC Chronologically‘s take.

    This was the last book in the Readalong. Thanks to everyone who read along and commented! I will post a wrap-up post on my overall thoughts about the books, and then for the rest of the summer, I’ll stick to the Monday blog post/Friday BSC link post schedule I mentioned in a previous post. I’ll also be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, as I mentioned before, and I’ll be posting what I write on Babysitters100 (livejournal/dreamwidth). I have started a private cabin on there for BSC fanfic, so if you want to spend July working on a BSC fanfic, just let me know your screenname there in the comments and I will add you.

  • 2 Responses To This Post

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    Jess said, June 24th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Ann as a disco queen is now part of my head canon. Thank you.

    greer said, June 25th, 2014 at 8:34 am

    @Jess, I feel like I’ve done my job, then ;) Perhaps her boring biography about crazy times with ice cream in college was all a coverup for what she was really doing in late 70s?

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