07 May 2015

+JMJ+

Reading Diary: BSC #14: Hello, Mallory! by Ann M. Martin

I am so flattered that the girls want me to join their club. But I'm nervous, too. What if they decide I'm not good enough or not grown-up enough or something? Oh, well. I'll know on Monday. That's when I go to my first club meeting.

Right now it's Saturday. Two days to wait. But I've got plenty to do. I'm reading three books--
Dr. Dolittle, The Incredible Journey, and this really funny one called Freaky Friday. I love to read, and I don't believe that you have to finish one book before you start another. I like to write, too. I keep journals, and I write stories, stories, stories. Sometimes I illustrate them.

Plus, this afternoon, I have to baby-sit . . . I guess I'm lucky that my parents pay me for taking care of my own brothers and sisters.

If Ann M. Martin had never said, two decades after writing this book, that she had "no strong feelings" about Mallory Pike, I never would have guessed. Mallory is endearing in this story--and I can't imagine any author not being on the side of a lonely, literary girl.

Of course, as soon as I wrote that, my inner advocatus diaboli rose to the challenge. For it's easy to imagine Martin being the first to resist the idea of letting Mallory into her precious BSC. =P There is something undeniably Sue-ish about the latter getting to join the club although she is only eleven, and the other girls, whom she has admired for a while, are all thirteen. This is likely deliberate: Martin admits in her author's note that many BSC readers were Mallory's age and had asked for a character whom they could relate to. But not everyone easily accepts a Sue. At least not without hard proof that she's got what it takes.

. . . "Turn around and sit at the desk, Mallory," Kristy said. "We want you to draw a picture of the human digestive system."

"Why?" I cried.

"Because it's an important thing to understand. You might have to sit for a kid with colic one day."

"If I do, I'll give him soy formula," I said. I was dangerously close to crying.

"Just draw."

What could have been a one-note wish-fulfillment story gets unexpected depth, when the girls whom we (and Mallory) have been loving for some time turn out to have a mean streak of 80s movie bully proportions!

I get that they're selective about whom they let into their club: it's also a business, after all. But if you recall the welcome that Dawn Schafer gets when she first moves into the neighbourhood and the ease with which new friends Logan Bruno and Shannon Kilbourne are asked to be associate members, it's kind of suspicious that Kristy & Co. would be so hard on Mallory, whom they have known for a long while. It's almost as if they invited her to join just so they could have someone to pick on!

Ah, unvarnished human nature: I never expected to find you in a Baby-sitters Club book! =P

Without giving away any more specifics, Mallory stands up for herself and proves that she doesn't need the approval of older, cooler girls ("Cool" is relative, kids) to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Woo-hoo! On the other hand, she does need a blatantly ex machina element to pull it off. Um, boo? I can't really complain, though, when I can't tell which of the two plot points I like better--LOL! For not only does Mallory do what my wimpy eleven-year-old self would have seen as a great act of courage, she also gets what my lonely eleven-year-old self longed for every day. And do you see what Martin has done there?

From beginning to end of Hello, Mallory, our title character is pure wish-fullfilment Sue. But Martin is such a talented writer that she makes it work.

Image Source: BSC #14: Hello, Mallory by Ann M. Martin

2 comments:

DMS said...

I read these growing up, but I haven't reread any of them- so it has been a long time. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about this one and I am glad that Mallory stands up to the cool girls and she gets what she wants. Very empowering! :)
~Jess

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Mallory standing up to five older girls at once is truly impressive! =)