Original Publication Date: 1993
Ghostwriter? Yes, Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner
Dawn is thrilled: Jeff is coming for a visit! She can hardly wait to see her brother. The five Schafer/Spiers are even going on a four-day trip to Boston together to bond. Commenter Laura pointed out that this was the original plan back when Richard and Sharon tied the knot: instead of spending money on a honeymoon, they'd all five take a road trip.
However, things don't go as well as imagined. Jeff feels out of place with his old friends, and he and Richard struggle to get to know each other (can you blame them, though?). Tensions run high, and the family ends up at each others' throats. Mary Anne and Dawn end up defending their blood relatives to each other and ticking each other off even more. The trip doesn't go well as a result; the kids keep splitting up Schafers vs Spier and dragging the adults into the conflict. Richard and Sharon get fed up with the kids, and force them to at least play nice, but things aren't really resolved until about an hour before they have to take Jeff to the airport. But they promise to do better next time. Although...does Jeff ever visit again? Maybe in the Friend Forever series...
Also, Mrs. Barrett's kids learn to get along with her boyfriend's kids.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: chocolate kisses
Uh-oh...Dawn's missing her "old home" and is "a California girl at heart."
Mary Anne clearly has no idea what War of the Worlds is about (read her notebook entry before chapter eight). What's actually mind-boggling though is that she doesn't have the slightest clue what the Boston Tea Party was. A thirteen-year-old on the East Coast should know about that.
Dawn actually admonishes Claudia "don't eat too much junk food while I'm gone" in the postcard she writes her. Yeesh.
Again, I gotta say: Kristy may be tactless with her peers, but she comes across as a great sitter.
Also Claudia. She's great at resolving conflict.
I think one of the reason I can't stand it when Dawn mentally snarks about Richard's "uptight" cleanliness is that he does a lot of similar to MY dad. For example, it's all Dawn can do to not roll her eyes at Richard's teaching her hospital corners when they're making Jeff's bed. My dad taught me hospital corners when I was a little kid, telling me he learned them from his late mother (or did I make that up...my mom is a nurse like his was...).
Dawn's family seems to enjoy riffing bad movies, which will come up again later in a Mary Anne book.
Seriously, how messed up is it that Jeff and Richard didn't meet (or if they did, didn't get to know each other) until just before Richard became Jeff's stepfather? REALLY non-custodial stepfather, I know, but still.
Mrs. Barrett is now dating Franklin DeWitt (who has four kids of his own). By the way, have we always known her first name is Natalie?
SMS: nothing new
PSA Time: nothing stood out
The Barrett kids play a game involving a broken down bus. I've actually driven a school bus that died on the interstate; I don't see how this is a fun game.
The Smithsonian is not just one museum; it's several.
The whale-watching info is accurate, by the way. There is an area off the New England coast called Jeffrey's Ledge that's a hot spot for whales (I saw minke and fin whales there).
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 graders, 18 6th graders, 12 unspecified
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 72