Chain Letter

Original Publication Date: 1993

Ghostwriter? Not that I can tell


Okay...so this book takes place during the summer, but was published the same month as Dawn's Big Move. It seems to take place before the events of it, too. It has some similarities with the tenth Super Special, Sea City, Here We Come!. But I don't think they're the "same" summer. While Jessi and Mallory do still go with the Pikes to Sea City, no one else goes. In particular, Mary Anne and Dawn go to California, and Stacey goes to New York. Also it was published the month after Stacey and the Mystery Money, which takes place during a school year So...I'm counting this as another summer. Which means that the next book, which takes place during the beginning of the school year, will be counted as beginning eighth grade again.

Anyway, plot. Kristy has an emergency appendectomy and her cousin Robin (remember her from way back?) sends her an obligation--I mean, chain letter, complete with the whole "if you break the chain bad luck will visit you" bit. The gimmick with it is that they're supposed to write to the next person and reveal a secret. Robin starts with telling Kristy that she blamed the dog when she broke her mom's expensive perfume container. The other secrets:

Kristy tells Stacey (who's in New York) that sometimes she hates her father. Really hates, as in wishes he were dead. Can't say I'm surprised that she has strong feelings about him given what a jerk he was/is.

Stacey tells Mallory (who's in Sea City) that when she first moved to Stoneybrook, she was nervous about making a good first impression so she dyed her hair red. It looked awful but she was able to dye it back, which is why she knew how to handle things when Mallory dyed her red hair blonde in California.

Mallory admits to Jessi (who's also in Sea City) via letter that she copied from Jessi during a test once. Jessi knew, and accepts Mallory's apology, also via letter.

Jessi writes to Mary Anne (who's in California) that she and her sister accidentally set fire the living room rug (yay Back to the Future!) and didn't fess up when their parents found the tiny spot and assumed a smoker friend of theirs did it. She also sends Mary Anne a homemade bookmark.

Mary Anne sends a letter to Claudia (care of Stacey's dad, with whom she's staying) and tells her that "last year" when her life was in upheaval: her dad remarrying, moving, finding out that her mom's mom was still alive...which was eighth grade...she got so stressed that she ended up meeting with a therapist several times. The sessions helped a lot, and Mary Anne is back on top of things. She also sends Claudia some pictures of her and Dawn from a photo booth.

Claudia writes to Dawn (also in California) about the time about two years ago when she stole a dollar from Mimi's purse for Twinkies. She says she still feels awful about it, but has learned her lesson and will never steal again. She also sends Dawn a friendship bracelet.

Dawn writes to Shannon (who's at camp) that she lied to Mary Anne on their flight home that Cam Geary was in first class. No reason, just to mess with her.

While they're sending letters around, they also plan a surprise party for Kristy which will be held when she finally gets out of the hospital (she got a secondary staph infection) and deal with the BSC answering machine being on the fritz. Annoyingly, we don't get to find out secrets about Logan or Shannon.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: none mentioned

I thought Claudia knew something about art. Why then does she fail to understand that some famous sculptures are missing body parts because they're old? (think of the Venus de Milo)

Considering the more significant secret Dawn reveals in her portrait book, the one she told Shannon was a cop-out. It's almost like she lied just to have something to write in the letter.

Claudia tells Mary Anne she's going to remember the therapist's name. In a few books, she does indeed!

Mallory and Stacey may have bonded over having Toby the Jerk flirt with them.

Dawn is apparently sick of Disneyland, which would fit with her father becoming, in her words, "Disneyland Dad" when she visited a while back.

Their Families:

Karen writes a contraction in a get well soon card to Kristy.

The Ramseys let their friends smoke inside their home, I guess? I wouldn't, even if I didn't have a baby. My uncle smokes, and when he visits anyone's place he is polite and smokes outside. I think he even smokes outside at his own home. I still wish he'd quit altogether, though.

That's cute; Margo Pike writes to Stacey to tell her that Toby the Jerk is hanging around an ugly girl. Mean thought, but she's trying to be nice to Stacey.

The Club: nothing new

SMS: summer time

PSA Time:

When it's necessary, therapy works. Don't worry about stigma or whatever. It works.


Appendices do have a purpose; they help the immune system.

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: 6

BSC Fights: 8

SMS Staff and Faculty: 36

Students (other than the BSC): 111; 78 8th graders, 2 7th graders, 18 6th graders, 12 unspecified

Clients: 29

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 85

Mary Anne-2


Anonymous said...

I really liked this post! I had never even heard of this book. Thanks for the pictures. The stationary is so cute! I wonder what would make Stacey think people would like her better as a redhead?

SJSiff said...

There's another one like this called "Secret Santa" that shows up around the time Stacey comes back the the BSC.

The stationery is fun and I'm glad that Jessi's has horses instead of ballet slippers. She's not reduced to one character trait yet!

Laura said...

Anonymous: Yeah, doesn't Stacey know that blondes have more fun? Or that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?

Dawn actually lies to MA on their flight to Cali, not Stoneybrook. (Unless you meant Dawn's home, because she moves back for her 'six months' in the very next regular series book.)

Yes, I remember Robin. She's Kristy's cousin who has the diabeetus.

There a quite a few BTTF references in the BSC. The Ramsey's burnt carpet and when Carolyn finds/is looking for a "flump caterpillar" to build her time machine in Mary Anne's Makeover and Kristy, Bart and the Thomas-Brewer kids watch it in Snowbound!

We don't allow smokers to smoke in our house either. They either go outside or they go without. (I also have friends and the dad smokes but not in the house since his youngest was born. The doctor apparently specifically said to him "No more smoking in the house.")

My heart just breaks for Sam (and Kristy, Charlie and David Michael - and even Elizabeth) when he cries when Patrick doesn't call or send a card/letter on his birthday.

I too feel stiffed that we didn't get to learn a secret each from Logan and Shannon. Shannon writes to Logan, Logan writes to Lewis, Lewis writes to whatever "pen pal" he has besides Dawn, voila!

SJSiff said...

Ooh, good catch with which flight; I misread it.

It wasn't a direct BTTF reference with Jessi's secret, but it was close enough to remind me of the line, "Oh...and if you guys ever have kids, and one of them, when he's eight years old, ACCIDENTALLY sets fire to the living room rug...go easy on him."

And I agree, I felt bad for Sam and the rest of the family reading that part. Even though they're fictional.