Original Publication Date: 1999
Ghostwriter? No. The book is dedicated to "Jean Feiwel, who was there at the beginning and is always there."
This is, in my opinion, the saddest BSC book. Louie and Mimi dying in Kristy and the Snobs and Claudia and the Sad Goodbye get to me too, but this is the book in which Sunny's mother loses her battle with cancer. Some of her last words are the same as my grandmother's last words (who also died of lung cancer): "Take care of each other." Then Nana signed "I love you." She died a few hours later.
Yeah, it's a hard book to get through. I also haven't read it since I became a mother myself, which makes the fear of leaving my children too soon all the more real.
When last we left California, Sunny's mom had come home from the hospital to receive palliative care only. Sunny's maternal aunt, Morgan, also comes to help with things around the house while the family awaits the inevitable. Sunny spends most of her time in a haze, plodding through the necessary parts of life like school and eating, and trying to savor her time with her mother. Friends and family start coming to say their goodbyes. The waiting and worrying is very well-written. On March 19, Sunny's mom dies.
Before dying, her mom had given Sunny the diaries she wrote from about high school until a few months ago. A few days after the funeral, Sunny starts reading them. She's surprised to find out that her mother was a cheerleader and a member of the high school Young Republicans, very different from the liberal, hippie-type of person Sunny knew. Sunny reads on and learns that later in high school, her mom's politics changed, which caused a rift between her and her parents. The rift never healed: her parents didn't attend her high school or college graduation, or her wedding (although Morgan did, and was the maid of honor), and then before Sunny was born they were killed in a car crash. Reading that makes Sunny decide to start re-reading the journals, but more carefully instead of skimming them, to treasure the memories her mother recorded.
Sunny, her dad, Morgan, and Dawn drive out to the place where Sunny's dad proposed to her mom and where they had their wedding (a park on the ocean). They scatter the ashes there in the ocean. They go back to their lives, but of course there's a gaping hole. Sunny is comforted somewhat by knowing she has people she can rely on, but the hole remains.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Ducky):
Sunny apologizes to Ducky for her behavior in Dawn's last diary, and they make up.
All five friends stick together in the days surrounding the funeral, giving Sunny much-needed strength.
Sunny's maternal grandparents are dead, which is almost a blessing: they didn't have to see their daughter die. There's no mention of Robin, Sunny's mom's late sister, who was brought up in a previous diary (on a bad day, her mom mistook Sunny for Robin).
It's mentioned again that Sunny's parents were never able to have any more children.
Sunny and her parents are casual members of a Unitarian church, which seems fitting for them.
Tell the people you love that they're important to you.
This book takes place during the second half of March, although it wasn't published until August.
This is the last book narrated by Sunny.
Whoever owned this book before me wrote "Drohan" on the inside front cover, just like Dawn's third diary.
I'm sure the date is a complete coincidence, but March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph. He's the patron saint, among other things, of families and of a happy death. I don't think Sunny's mom had a happy death in that she was in a lot of pain, but at least she was with the people she loved.
Starting 8th grade: 9
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-3, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3
Summers after 8th grade: 10
BSC Fights: 11
SMS Staff and Faculty: 67
Students (other than the BSC): 209: 119 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 26 7th graders, 47 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 37 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 130