Original Publication Date: 2000
Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis, with interior illustrations by Steig Retlin.
Amalia is pretty busy planning two parties: one going-away party for Dawn (she'll spend her summer in Connecticut) and one twenty-fifth wedding anniversary for her parents. She's also trying to spend time with Brendan, her good-friend-but-not-really-boyfriend-but-maybe-he'll-become-her-boyfriend, and with Maggie, whose mother is now drinking much more. Plus she has to study for finals. One evening, she gets a break from the busy-ness and goes to see a movie with Brendan. On the way out, while he's in the bathroom, a group of (white) drunk teenage girls confront Amalia, shouting racial slurs like "wetback" and start to try to beat her up and spit on her. The movie theater manager breaks everything up just as Brendan comes back, and the two of them console Amalia while they wait for her sister to arrive with the car (the manager is very sweet, giving Amalia and Brendan movie passes for next, food and drink, and offering to call the police without pressuring Amalia). Isabel wants to take Amalia right to a police station to report the incident, but Amalia balks. She doesn't even want to tell her parents, because she feels like somehow what happened is her fault: she should have fought back better, she shouldn't have been in that area alone, and so on. Her sister doesn't really help when she pressures Amalia to do what would make Isabel feel better rather than what would help Amalia. Ducky, Maggie, Sunny, and Dawn do a bit of the same thing, but on a far lower level: more "talk about it and let it out" rather than driving around asking if that girl is one of the ones who did it.
Shaken by what's happened, Amalia wonders if it's a good idea to have such an ethnic anniversary party for her parents. Will they draw the wrong kind of attention by playing songs with Spanish lyrics? Will the Mexican food upset people? What helps some is finding out why Isabel's been hounding her, almost shaming her, into taking action: Isabel was subjected to racism previously and never confronted anyone one about it, and now feels like the racists "won." Amalia disagrees, saying that the gang she dealt with didn't take away who she really is. They scared her, yes, but Amalia is going to "win" by recovering and being strong.
Amalia passes her finals, ends up confirming that she and Brendan are dating, and successfully pulls off the surprise party for Dawn and the anniversary party for her parents, feeling very happy to be surrounded by so many wonderful people.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Ducky):
Sunny seems to be getting back to her old self, as much as one can after losing a mother.
Amalia wonders if Ducky and Sunny are becoming a couple.
I'm confused why Maggie stays over at Amalia's so often, but her younger brother is stuck at home with an alcoholic mother.
When someone does something rotten to you, it's not your fault. Of course it makes sense to take reasonable precautions, like locking your car door, but whether or not you forget to lock the car door it's not your fault if someone else does something wrong and you didn't deserve for your car to get broken into. This can be extrapolated to more serious scenarios: be reasonable, but don't blame yourself for other people's evil choices and don't let anyone else blame you either.
This book goes from the end of May to mid-June.
This is the last book narrated by Amalia.
Amalia notices that the word problems in her math book feature people with names of various ethnicities. One example is Nguyen. All the other examples are first names, but I've only ever know Nguyen to be a last name.
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