Original Publication Date: 1999
Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles.
Mallory is off to Riverbend Hall, a boarding school in Massachusetts. She fits in very well there, surrounded by other girls who have similar interests to her and teachers who encourage the academic pursuits of their students. Unfortunately, the one person she doesn't click with is her roommate, Alexis. Alexis has been at Riverbend since the last school year started, and clearly wants to walk all over Mallory, smothering her with rules about how the roommate situation should work and not letting Mallory have any say in how they should share their space and time. She's really passive-agressive about it all, and even takes it so far as to snark to Mallory that she won't bother reading her journal again (without permission, of course; Mallory had made it clear that the journal is private) because it's boring. Mallory tries to deal with the issues on her own, and takes the advice of the senior girl who acts as a residence hall director, but she can't seem to resolve the tension between her and Alexis. It turns out that Alexis has already had two roommate who also didn't get along with her. The school thought that Mallory, being from a large family, would be able to room with her more easily. But Alexis takes things too far, trashing the room and defacing Mallory's pictures. The dean finally admits that the situation needs intervention. It turns out that one of Alexis's previous roommates is in a single rooom, and agrees to trade with Alexis. Frankly, I think the unstable behavior that Alexis displayed shouldn't have been rewarded with a single room and the school should have considered expelling her, but Mallory's happy with the solution.
In a subplot, the younger Pikes fight over what do with the room situation, now that Vanessa is on her own. Abby notices the Byron doesn't seem to care and just wants things to end, so suggests that he and Nicky share one room, Adam and Jordan share another, the three girls move in to the larger room that had been the boys' (and Mallory will join them there on school breaks). Problem solved!
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: Hershey's Kisses under her pillow. She also makes chocolate chip cookies to put in a care package for Mallory.
I'd never noticed it until I saw their handwriting so close together, but Mary Anne and Jessi have very similar styles of writing. Jessi's is basically a stretched-out version of Mary Anne's.
Any time a BSC member is mentioned taking a language class, it's French. I know it's common middle school class in the US, but I'm surprised that no one takes Spanish, which is also very popular. In middle school, I took a quarter of French, and few quarters of Spanish, and a year of American Sign Language. My older brother took a quarter or two of Japanese in middle school.
The girls email each other. It's kinda weird to see modern technology in books that reference I Love Lucy so much.
This book implies a more reasonable explanation of the Pike parents' permissiveness: it's not that they have no rules, it's that they've realized certain battles, like insisting the kids all eat the same food at dinner, aren't worth the effort.
Apparently a record exists for the most strands of spaghetti sucked into a mouth consecutively; it's 27, set by Sam Thomas.
Mallory and Vanessa have had a morning tradition of Mallory telling Vanessa the weather in exchange for a poem. After Mallory leaves, Vanessa plans to pay Nicky a nickel a week for the weather report.
Jordan's the oldest triplet.
The Club (and clients):
Kristy organizes a little ceremony during Mallory's last meeting to make her an official honorary member. Don't tell Dawn! It's like a repeat of when Kristy officially inducted Mallory and Jessi in the club, having never done that for Dawn. (There's also a going away party after the meeting; the one at the end of the last book wasn't the official party)
The BSC also sort of apologizes for how they treated Mallory when she first joined, with the stupid test and all. They don't actually say "I'm sorry" but they acknowledge that they were being jerks.
I wonder how the sixth grade will go about replacing Mallory as treasurer.
A point in favor of Riverbend over SMS: Mallory has learned the difference between "us" and "we." She says "We Riverbend students..." correctly, since it's the subject of the sentence instead of the common error in this book "Us baby-sitters..." (it's fine to use "us" if it's the object of the sentence, but most of the time it pops up in these books it's used incorrectly)
PSA Time: nothing stood out.
This is Mallory's last book. It takes place in January, at the start of the new school term in her boarding school.
Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa happened between this book and the last one (the last one mentioned the Winter Solstice too) but we saw no celebrations of them, so no change with the holiday counts.
Starting 8th grade: 11
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 4
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4
St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 11
BSC Fights: 12
SMS Staff and Faculty: 67
Students (other than the BSC): 216: 122 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 30 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 38 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 143