To Go: 86
11. The Conversations – Michael Ondaatje
12. The Birth House – Ami McKay
13. Essex County – Jeff Lemire
14. Mary-Anne Saves The Day – Ann M. Martin
At first I thought I’d be reviewing Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, because I’d started it earlier this week, but then I remembered I had to read Mary-Anne Saves The Day (a Babysitters’ Club book) for Children’s Lit. So I just powered through that bad-boy after my morning class, and finished it within a couple of hours.
Mary-Anne Saves The Day follows the four founders of The Babysitter’s Club (Mary-Anne, Claudia, Kristy, and Stacey), an after-school group they created to assist parents in the area with their childcare needs – three times a week they take calls in Claudia’s room from parents in their area, and assign babysitting duties to whichever of the girls is free. The story focuses on Mary-Anne, the shyest and most doormat-like of the girls, as she deals with the aftermath of a falling out the girls have after Kristy breaks a club rule so that she can be the first of the girls to babysit for an infant they all wanted to look after: she doesn’t offer the job around to the other girls, and simply takes it for herself. Name-calling and general immaturity ensues.
Finding a new place to sit at lunch, since her friends are no longer sitting together (or letting her sit with any of them), isn’t Mary-Anne’s only problem in the book; she has to find a way to convince her father that she’s mature enough to babysit until 10 p.m., which he’s absolutely adamant against.
I can’t sugar-coat it: I wasn’t a fan of the book, which was ironic since I read it as a child and loved it. Mary-Anne was a petty and annoying narrator, which was abundantly clear when every adventure she had with Dawn, her new friend, was done to spite the other girls in the club, specifically Kristy, and make them jealous. To be quite frank, all the girls seemed rather hurtful and nasty, and I couldn’t find a single quality I liked about them. Mary-Anne whined too much, Kristy was a raging witch with control-freak tendencies, Claudia overreacted to everything, and Stacey was snobby and generally unlikeable.
However, I guess it was written for the correct audience, given that girls of that age are portrayed as having those characteristics: immature but desperately trying to prove otherwise, jealous, and petty. And it’s no wonder that I liked it when I was that age – how couldn’t I feel bad for Mary-Anne? She was obviously the victim, never mind the fact that, for the most timid girl, she gave as good as she got, and continued to fuel the flames post-fight by making Kristy as angry as she possibly could.
I think the only enjoyable moment of the book was the big fight at one of their clients’ child’s birthday party; Kristy tripped Mary-Anne, whose retaliatory gesture was to pour punch onto Kristy’s lap. Claudia and Stacey shoved dirty napkins in each others’ face. It was a wonderful (if not a little tame) way to reward readers who had to deal with the irritating nature of all four girls; every single one of them got what they deserved.
Of course, the novel ended on a positive note with all the girls making up. But whatever; the best part was the almost food-fight. And no, I wouldn’t recommend the book at all, unless you like sitting down to read a book that makes your blood boil from the sheer pettiness of the characters.
Next book: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You – Peter Cameron. If I have to read something for class first, though, then Cameron’s book will get pushed back.