26 July 2011

+JMJ+

Reading Diary: BSC #6 Kristy's Big Day

"I feel like we're in a movie," I said.

"The Bride of Frankenstein?" asked Sam. ". . . I Married a Witch?"

"No!" It's just that . . . well . . . think about it. Mom and Dad get divorced, Mom meets new guy, new guy has two kids, new guy turns out to be millionaire, Mom and new guy get married, we move to mansion. But that doesn't mean it has a happy ending."

"Yeah, stay tuned for Part Two," said Charlie. "I know what you mean. It's hard to believe."

"And scary."

"But," said Sam, turning serious, "we can make it work . . ."

Yeah, because whenever a divorced parent enters into a second marriage, it's always the children's responsibility to make it work. As someone who once sabotaged her mother's wedding just because . . . I'm not buying it.

But I suppose that after the harsh satire of single motherhood Ann M. Martin just gave us in BSC #5: Dawn and the Impossible Mom Three, it was time to play nice. So she does.

The whole Baby-sitters Club does, really. Because there's one thing that five thirteen-year-old girls can do to help pull off a wedding that has to be ready in two weeks . . .
Wedding Countdown:
Monday -- five days to go

Stacey, Mary Anne, Dawn and Claudia showed up at my house at eight-thirty sharp. Stacey brought her Kid-Kit, a box of games and toys she sometimes takes on baby-sitting jobs (we all have one); Dawn brought a big book of rhymes, songs, games, and activities for children; Mary Anne brought the club record book and notebook; and Claudia brought the nametags and some art supplies. . . We set to work in the backyard.

Both the bride and groom have family and friends driving in from out of town to help them prepare for the wedding. And they all have children under eleven years old who need looking after while the grown ups hustle. So Kristy gets another Great Idea . . . to start a daycare!

This is why Kristy's Big Day has the highest "body count" of all the BSC books so far: fourteen children, aged ten years to eight months, all gathered in one backyard for five whole days of fun. =P Even four-year-old Andrew, Kristy's stepbrother-to-be, who has been the only one to show some resistance to the wedding, has his game face on. And in another sense, that's no fun.

What I really miss here is the adolescent angst and the way the titular baby-sitter very literally works through her issues, finding growth, insight, redemption or even catharsis through taking care of children. (How startlingly traditional they seem all of a sudden!) What almost makes up for this loss is the make-believe wedding the baby-sitters help the children stage.

It's not quite a wedding-within-a-wedding, but it serves a similar reflective purpose. The stoic groom is Kristy's youngest brother, the flamboyant bride is her soon-to-be stepsister, and their wedding vows are all about getting along as same-age siblings in a single household. It's seriously sweet, and highlights the fact that children of remarrying parents end up making lifetime commitments, too.

Wow. I think this book I was prepared to bash just won me over. =P

Image Source: BSC#6: Kristy's Big Day

12 comments:

Belle said...

Haha great review, love the "body count". I'm excited you're going through the BSC, it makes me want to pull out my collection from my parent's roof and do it myself :D I was never a fan of Kristy books, though.

Sullivan McPig said...

I always wonder about hoe Americans look at marriage. It sometimes feels as if marriage is some kind of holy grail to them. Very different from how it's treated here, where it's fun, but not as important as it seems to be in American books I read

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Belle -- I almost went with "baby count" and then decided to let the metaphor keep its full power. ;-)

This is only my second Kristy book. I really liked the first--but perhaps that's because it's the first in the whole series? It'll be interesting to see which baby-sitters I end up liking in the long-term. Right now, Stacy is my favourite and Claudia is the one I'm drawn to least.

Sully -- Not being an American, I believe it would be dangerous for me to try answering such a direct question! =P

Shaz said...

I AM American and I don't get the hyper-romantic, rose-coloured glasses view of marriage so prevalent in my country. Of course, if some handsome man put a ring on my finger, I might feel differently. :)

Belfry Bat said...

Well, good McPig, it's funny you ask, for now I can't help but recall how huge portions of required reading litterature (the comedies particularly) END with WEDDINGS. This is the case in Shakespeare and comic opera from Seville to Vienna, at least through the period before the Revolution, and was mentioned by Mark Twain, I think towards the end of Tom Sawyer. As a litterary convention, in itself it would be OK, except that modern America particularly houses a subculture that does its best not to live in the real world, but in a fantasy informed by all the happy endings they've ever heard. Note how the convention doesn't easily accommodate the examination of our protagonists' married lives and the families they raise.

So it's just possible what you're picking up on is an echo of this disconnect between the written and the real.

There are other pressures, of course. There's a huge industry profiting by the sale of fairy-tale weddings; there's a tendency to downplay... well, GKC called it the secret that everyone knows... as forming any commitment, so the wedding itself inherits all surviving solemnity-of-occasion; I'm sure you can think of others.

Belfry Bat said...

... or was it Puddin'-head Wilson?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Shaz -- Wouldn't we all? =P

Bat -- There is a similar "disconnect between the written and the real" in this novel. It's partly due to the convention of Happily Ever After and partly due to Ann M. Martin's goodwill toward broken families that are trying this unorthodox way of fixing themselves. (We can't all be hard on the parents in books for teens. =P)

And I'm afraid I can't help you with the Mark Twain novel! =(

Sullivan McPig said...

@Belfry Bat:
Interesting view.
I never looked at it like that I will confess.
Required Dutch literature is much less positive. Most Dutch literature has a rather grim world view so no happy endings/weddings there.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

As for "high" Philippine literature . . . I wouldn't say it generally takes a "grim" view of marriage, but it definitely doesn't subscribe to the romantic view one gets in American lit.

Cristina said...

Enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I read BSC years ago. Your post brought back memories. Thanks for stopping by http://alaskanbookcafe.blogspot.com

Yvonne said...

Great review!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Cristina and Yvonne: Thanks! =)