Original Publication Date: 2000
Ghostwriter? No. Ann M. Martin dedicates this book to and thanks all the readers of the BSC: past, present, and future.
After a thirteenth trip through eighth grade (the last book took place in the summer; now it's the end of May), the eighth grade members of the BSC are finally about to graduate to high school. Here's what's going through their minds as they prepare to leave SMS:
Kristy is pretty nervous about high school. She's been happy with how things are going, and the change worries her. More so when Stacey reveals her plans to spend more time in New York City and also helping her mom with the new store. Mary Anne, Dawn, and Claudia also want to cut back on sitting for various reasons. Basically, Kristy's worried that she's peaked already. But after reflection, she figures she can't stop time and resolves to make the best of it.
Mary Anne is very excited to graduate. She feels like she's ready to see what life has next for her. She and Mallory help several of the BSC charges put together a time capsule, which will be opened in seven years when the oldest of kids will be heading to college. Mary Anne isn't quite ready to leave middle school behind, though: she feels the need to talk with Logan and finally get all that sorted out, which she does. Now Mary Anne is ready for a fresh start in high school.
Stacey is nervous for a different reason: she's worried her parents will cause a scene at graduation. She's also wondering if the BSC will really matter once they're high school students. Then a new worry: she has an overdue library book that she doesn't remember checking out of the SMS library, and won't be able to graduate until it's returned! After searching everywhere, Stacey just buys a new copy and gives it the librarian. Now she can graduate (and her parents behave just fine).
Claudia is concerned that she might not pass eighth grade. She worked very hard on a science experiment (whether music affects plant growth; the same things Charlotte Johanssen did for a third-grade science fair) but only got a D+ and now might fail science. Then she does tank the final. Her parents are able to work out a deal with the school so she can walk at graduation and officially graduate once she passes summer school.
Mallory helps out with sitting during her summer break. She feels a little out of place after her time at boarding school, and still carries the scars of the teasing she received. While there are many things she likes about Stoneybrook, she definitely doesn't like how it can be stifling due to its small size and propensity toward cliquishness. Despite this, being away for a while has made her appreciate the good parts, and she considers Stoneybrook her home.
Jessi is preparing for a summer world tour with her dance studio. The letter she writes for the time capsule implies that she feels less connected to Stoneybrook than the rest of the BSC. She plans to become more serious with her dancing.
Abby writes a letter about why the BSC has been important to her. She's still not totally settled in Stoneybrook, but feels at home when she's with her friends.
Dawn visits for graduation. She notes that while she's a California girl at heart, she feels a connection to Stoneybrook. She wishes airfare were cheaper so she could visit more.
There are also chapters from:
Jackie, who writes a letter about Kristy's Krushers and how great it is to be allowed to be a part of a team like it. He puts the letter and a softball in the time capsule.
Claire, who doesn't quite get the concept of a time capsule (per Vanessa, to whom Claire dictated the letter), offers her teddy bear for it with a letter about why it's important. The time capsule gets dug up early to retrieve the bear, then reburied.
Charlotte, who includes an issue of her school newspaper which has an article she wrote about an important person in her life: Stacey. She hopes that when the time capsule is opened she and Stacey will be still be almost-sisters.
Charlie, who wrote a letter to himself four years ago in eighth grade which he's now received (the BSC writes similar letters to themselves). His letter was written three years after Patrick Thomas took off, when the Thomases were still struggling financially. Charlie writes about how he hopes he can go to college, but isn't sure if he'll be able to afford it ("present day" Charlie is going to a local small college with aspirations to transfer to UCLA), and that he hopes his mother will be dating someone nice, since she deserves it. He also hopes that he will never shirk his responsibilities the way his father has.
For the time capsule, Mary Anne contributes a piece of burnt wood from her old house with a letter about how everyone came together to offer help, Mallory an information pamphlet about Stoneybrook, Jessi a newspaper article about racial intolerance and a plea for equality for all people (not just in terms of race; she specifies sexual orientation, religion, mental and physical disabilities, and others), Kristy an original BSC flier and a letter about how great it is to feel connected to the people around you, Abby a letter and photo album about the BSC and the kids in Stoneybrook, Stacey a flier from a talent show the BSC charges had and a letter about how close-knit everyone in town is, Dawn a series of ads that show current prices for various things and a letter wondering how things will change in seven years, and Claudia a flier that she designed for the upcoming 250th "birthday" of Stoneybrook and a letter about what is planned for that.
The book ends with a BSC party at Claudia's, reminiscing about the fun times they've had and wondering about what the future holds. They make a pact to reunite in twelve years. I was hoping for a book about that, but 2012 has come and gone.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: none mentioned
Because she's nervous about moving to high school, Kristy wonders if it's possible to just repeat eighth grade. Not again, Kristy; you've done that enough.
There's a brief implication that Claudia's birthday is in the early summer, which is consistent with her Portrait Collection book.
Claudia has a computer in her room now.
Dawn describes Mary Anne as the world's best stepsister, but Richard as a pretty nice stepfather. Funny.
Samantha (Stacey's soon-to-be stepmother) wants to have kids. Assuming the infertility issues that plagued Stacey's parents after she was born aren't an issue this time around, Stacey is excited at the prospect of having a sibling or siblings.
The Club (and clients):
Claudia includes Jamie and Lucy Newton in her list of people who are special to her. Back in the day, the Newtons were her favorite clients, so that's nice continuity.
Summer starts for the fourteenth time at the end of the book.
New-to-us student: Stephanie Kingsley, 8th grade
Emily Bernstein is valedictorian.
PSA Time: nothing stood out.
This is the last Friends Forever book and the last Super Special. I have The Summer Before to recap next. After that, some posts summarizing the trivia found in the books, reviewing the TV series now that it's on Netflix, and then American Girl books.
A good way to compare today's prices to past prices is not just "This cost X in 1950" but to figure out how many hours of work the average person would have to put in to afford the item. So while milk was under a dollar a gallon in the fifties, keep in mind that the average income in the US was under $4,000 a year.
Starting 8th grade: 13
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 5
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-6, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 6
St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 14
BSC Fights: 13
SMS Staff and Faculty: 69
Students (other than the BSC): 219: 124 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 31 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 16 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 38 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 153