Jessi and the Awful Secret (RS#61)

Original Publication Date: 1993

Ghostwriter? Yes, Suzanne Weyn


Jessi volunteers to help teach a ballet class for underprivileged children (it goes really well: she becomes a role model for a young girl and gets Watson Brewer to sponsor a scholarship to dance school for her and another student). One of her own ballet classmates, Mary Bramdstedt, comes along with her. In getting to know her better, Jessi comes to realize that Mary is starting to become anorexic, and heading downhill fast. Jessi tries to talk to Mary but quickly realizes shes's in over her head. When Mary faints from hunger and weakness during a ballet lesson, Jessi tells her teacher the truth. Whether Mary gets better...we don't know.

AND! Shannon is in this book! She's apparently found herself with some free time, and has been trying to hang out with Kristy, but Kristy is now the busy one. So Shannon starts getting closer with other BSC members. But then Kristy starts feeling left out. Jessi helps her get over her jealousy, though.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: Twinkies, potato chips

Jessi reiterates for us that Mallory doesn't think she's pretty, and the describes her in such a way ("so much goodness inside" "someday she'll...") that you can tell she agrees. Ouch.

I find it very odd that Jessi, a ballet student since she was a child, doesn't know what anorexia is.

While Mary Anne is reading about anorexia, she quotes some of the more serious effects of the disease to the rest of the BSC, but stops before she gets to the really bad stuff (weakened heart, death). That seems consistent with her character.

We learn something about Shannon! She likes to people-watch and do impressions of who she sees.

Uh-oh, I think Stacey's starting to slide: she lets the Brewer-Thomas kids watch TV.

Kristy is a stress-eater.

Kristy finally asks Shannon point-blank if she's avoiding home because there are problems there and Shannon isn't very convincing in saying no...

Jessi narrates "I prayed Mme Noelle would take me seriously." I think that's the only time we see a hint of religious belief in Jessi. At least, I can't think of any others.

Claudia's getting in to photography.

Their Families:

I think it's really interesting that when it's brought up that Sharon's parents sent her across the country to get her away from Richard, it's always mentioned that they were wrong that he'd never amount to anything, but rarely if ever that he would have deserved her without being a successful lawyer.

Like Kristy, Charlie is very punctual.

Aunt Cecelia is calling Jessi by her nickname now, instead of Jessica.

Tiffany Kilbourne is eleven; Maria is eight.

You guys, Janine keeps her books alphabetized. ISN'T SHE WEIRD?

The Club: nothing new

SMS: nothing new


I like that Jessi's ballet class has pretty much the same cast of characters and that they're consistently portrayed. For example, Mary Bramdstedt had previously been the one who moved stiffly and Katie Beth Parsons doesn't really like kids too much. There is one new (to us) student: Mindy Howard, who's very thin and is one of the things that prompts Mary Bramdstedt into anorexia.

David Michael, Andrew, and Karen blame Emily Michelle for putting away their toys by hiding them in random places. But, you know what? Take care of your things and don't leave them out. Then they'll be fine.

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 4

Halloweens in 8th grade: 2 (plus one in seventh)

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2

Summers after 8th grade: 3

BSC Fights: 8

SMS Staff and Faculty: 32

Students (other than the BSC): 96; 63 8th graders, 2 7th grader, 18 6th graders, 12 unspecified

Clients: 29

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 65 (bonbons, bubble gum, Butterfingers, butterscotch candy, candy hearts, Cheese Doodles, Cheetos, a chocolate bar, chocolate-covered cherries, chocolate marshmallow cookies, Chunky bar, cookies, Cracker Jacks, crackers (unspecified and whole wheat), cupcakes, dark-chocolate caramels, Devil Dogs, Ding-Dongs, Doritos, Fig Newtons, Fritos, fruit pie, Goobers, gumdrops, Gummi Bears (regular and sweet-n-sour), Heath bars, Hershey's kisses, Ho Hos, jawbreakers, jellybeans, Kit-Kats, licorice, licorice whips, Lifesavers, M&Ms (regular and peanut), Mallomars, malt balls, marshmallows, Mentos, Milk Duds, Milky Ways, mini candy bars, Necco wafers, Oreos (Double Stuf and chocolate-dipped), Payday bars, Planter's Peanut bar, popcorn, potato chips, pretzels, pretzel sticks, red hots, Ring Dings, root beer barrels, salt water taffy, Snickers, taco chips, Tootsie Roll Pops, Tootsie Rolls, tortilla chips, Triscuits, Twinkies, Yodels)

Crushes: Claudia-8 (Guy, Terry, Austin Bentley, Timothy Carmody, Arthur Feingold, Woody Jefferson, Trevor Sandbourne, Will Yamakawa), Dawn-5 (Travis, Lewis Bruno, Parker Harris, Price Irving, Richie Magnesi), Mary Anne-2 (Alex, Logan Bruno), Stacey-7 (Toby, Kelsey Bauman, Pete Black, Ross Brown, Pierre D'Amboise, Scott Foley, Sam Thomas), Kristy-1 (Bart Taylor), Mallory-1 (Ben Hobart), Jessi-3 (Daniel, Curtis Shaller, Quint Walter)


wanderingfrog said...

You guys, Janine keeps her books alphabetized. ISN'T SHE WEIRD?

Actually, I do think this is weird. Doesn't Janine read primarily nonfiction? Alphabetization isn't the most useful way to organize nonfiction. At home, my children's fiction section, YA fiction section, and adult fiction section are alphabetized by author, but my nonfiction is organized by subject. I haven't gone as far as putting them all in strict Dewey or LC order, but that's mainly because of issues of space and proportion. For instance, my 746.432 section would be enormous.

SJSiff said...

Jessi just describes them as "alphabetized" but I'm assuming it's alphabetized by author or subject, or author within subject like I do it (e.g.; fiction by author, field guides by author, religion books by author). I also think it's funny that Jessi's surprised that Janine is organized.

Unknown said...

I think Janine is a closet serial romance novel reader and she stashes them like Claudia does her Nancy Drews. Behind her alphabetized set of encyclopedias (which are the only books her parents approve of her owning). You know she's reading something rediculous sounding like "The Cowboy's Nerdy Sweetheart" under the covers with a flashlight at night, dreaming of the day that totally hot guy from chem class realizes she's the one...

SJSiff said...

Janine's brain probably does need a break sometimes...