Not Wanting to Hang Out With the 407 Girls As a Clinical Sign of Severe Pathology … or, Canby Hall #22, Troublemaker

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Canby Hall #22 - Troublemaker

You know what always bugged me about YA novels? The way they would introduce new characters — seemingly important new characters, judging by the amount of time and ink spent outlining them — and then NEVER MENTION THEM AGAIN. Perhaps current series are also guilty of this (I don’t know, because I’m just now realizing that I don’t actually read any modern series … are there legitimate book series with recurring characters out there for adults? I guess you could consider Tana French‘s Dublin Murder Squad, truly some of my favourite books on the planet, a series, but the whole point of her novels is that she picks one character from the preceding book and builds a new story around them, so it’s not an issue that everyone else is forgotten. She is such a lyrically gifted, haunting, and still technically perfect writer that I would never criticize her anyway. Man, I’m distractible. Where was I?) Canby Hall #22 is an example of this nonsense. Here we have, in excruciating detail, one Laura Lee Evans shoved down our throats. And much like Mary Beth Grover in the early part of the series, we pretty much never hear from her again. Was Laura Lee supposed to be the New 407 Girls’ Casey Flint, their non-roommate sidekick? Then why is Penny Vanderark introduced two books from now? (And Penny really does take over the Casey role to some extent.) And why weren’t next-door neighbours Maggie and Dee enough for the New Girls? Was it because they didn’t live alone and therefore always had each other? Do the roommates really have to always be this magical threesome bestowing benevolence upon lonely singleton dormmates?

Obviously I’m not hip enough to get it, so let’s get to it.

The book opens with Toby moaning about the snow. Her roommates diagnose her with the Winter Blahs. Texas Toby goes on and on about how crappy the winter season is, and it just seems a tad overdone to me. The Toby Houston I know wouldn’t make this big a deal out of anything. Anyway, Andy and Jane decide to throw a Winter Blahs party for Toby and invite the whole dorm. Toby asks if this party will be similar to the quilting bees they have back home. Did she grow up in 1923? She is informed that it will be a boy-girl party. She then wonders whom she should ask. Really, Toby? This again? How many times do we have to reestablish your burgeoning relationship with Neal? Inexplicably, the roommates suggest Randy, and then suggest Neal. Toby, who apparently did grow up in 1923, says there’s no way she can call up a boy and ask him to a party. However, she becomes way too excited and invested in the upcoming event, which I can understand, as standing around drinking flat soda, eating Cheetos, and listening to a terrible high school band would definitely be the highlight of my month. Of note, the opening to this book describes Andy as having “a wonderful hipness that came from growing up in Chicago.” I am definitely resolving to use the phrase “a wonderful hipness” more often.

Spirits are dampened, however, when new housemother Meredith can’t give them permission for the party. A brief recap of Meredith’s difficult start at Baker House is given, with evidence that she has changed for the better being provided in the form of her new hairstyle, which is a “body perm” given to her by the fourth-floor girls. This poor woman has to have a perm, and she can’t even have it done by professionals? Anyway, Meredith says they have to ask headmistress PA. The usual blather is given about how they’re all too terrified to even consider doing so. Despite the millions of times they’ve asked for and received favours from her in the past.

The girls are discussing their party plans with Maggie and Dee in the Dining Hall, where it is decided that California Dee will also be a guest of honour, and Gigi Norton and her best only friend begin eavesdropping. Gigi, as you will recall, was Jane’s roommate the year before, was dubbed The Worst Person in the World, and is the new Pamela. And apparently, Canby Hall ghostwriters love alliterating “Y” names, as the void left by Pamela’s movie star mother Yvonne Young has been filled by Gigi’s lame friend Yolanda York. Gigi is jealous that the 407 girls and their friends are planning a party to which she will likely not be invited (because she doesn’t live in their dorm, but details details.) Gigi tells Yolanda that she’s going to throw an even better party and will ask her parents for money to make it AMAZE-BALLS. Yolanda innocently inquires if Gigi actually knows where her parents are. Apparently Gigi’s parents are well-known photographers who travel the globe and occasionally think to leave information with their agent on how their only child can reach them. Ah. So Gigi has issues because her parents neglect her. It’s Casey all over again. Gigi marches over to the 407 girls’ table and informs them that she’s having an awesome party too. They try to get out of going and she tries to pin them down. I don’t understand this. She hates them, so why would she want them to attend? She tells them her theme is going to be “Come as Someone You Hate.” Toby stands up to her and tells her the idea is evil. The other girls back her up. Gigi leaves with the threat that they will all regret this.

The next day Andy is panicking because she just realized that a huge history paper is due the next week. She had a month to work on it, but wasted most of that in the dance studio, so she’s way behind the rest of her class on the assignment. So now she has to spend from now till the due date in the library, which means she won’t be able to help out with the Winter Blahs party. Toby has been inordinately and inexplicably counting on this party to lift her spirits and is worried that Andy’s procrastination will ruin things for her. Unselfishness, thy name is “Canby Hall Girl.”

In the dining hall, they encounter the aforementioned Laura Lee Evans. She is very thin and very pale with “fragile-looking” skin, and is also very quiet, wears very conservative clothes, and keeps to herself. Although she’s also a fourth-floor girl, the others rarely see her. Since no one can be allowed to live a life independent of the 407 girls, Jane goes over and invites her to their party. Laura Lee says “I don’t really think about things like parties” and moves to a table farther away to sit by herself. Jane is mystified and the 407 girls discuss how Laura Lee is always alone, has no friends, and has the only single room in all of Baker House. (Until Penny arrives in a couple of books, but who’s keeping track? Besides, um, me?) Jane, Andy, Toby, Maggie and Dee make it their mission to find out why Laura Lee is so unhappy (their assumption) and how to get her to stop being a hermit.

Really, poor Laura Lee.

Anyway, the next morning Jane awakens to find the entire campus covered in a sheet of ice. She discovers that no salt has been spread because the handyman is sick and PA’s phone line is down, so the headmistress doesn’t know. The handyman’s wife tells them there’s a barrel of salt and sand at every dorm and the students will have to spread it themselves, even though there are insurance restrictions on that. There is no barrel at PA’s house, so now Jane is worried about her. Jane and Toby spread the sand all over the campus and up to PA’s door. We then go through the entire cliched song-and-dance: PA observes this impassively, she orders them to come inside, Jane and Toby are terrified, then PA says she’s “never been more proud of two Canby Hall girls”, they relax, yada yada. PA then tells them that Meredith told her about their co-ed party and permission is granted because they have just proven themselves to be responsible. I don’t really know what spreading salt has to do with allowing boys into a dorm for a party, but OK.

We cut to Gigi on a winter walk around campus, noting to Yolanda that she doesn’t need to get permission from PA for her party because she rented out the back room of Pizza Pete’s. She couldn’t afford a posher place because she never did get in touch with her parents, but no matter. At that moment, Texas Toby and California Dee come out to the pond to make their first attempt at ice skating, and Gigi and Yolanda hide behind a tree to watch. Toby starts bellyaching about how Andy could have spared a little time from her obsession with her history paper to teach them how to skate. Self-absorbed, much? Because ice skating is more important than schoolwork? Toby then snarks that “Jane’s a true friend” and “some certain roommates” shouldn’t have left their work for the last minute. This kind of disloyalty is totally not Toby. I hate when characters’ actions don’t ring true. Unsurprisingly, they both wipe out once finally on the ice and Gigi comes out from her hiding place to mock them. Dee and Toby realize she heard their entire conversation. And that is one reason why you don’t badmouth people, October Houston.

Back in 407, Toby makes more snide remarks to Andy. Andy is shocked that Toby is mad at her. Me too, dude. They start talking about the party and Andy mentions that she’ll invite Matt, but she really wishes she could invite Steve Palmer from her parents’ restaurant. Fidelity, thy name is “Canby Hall Girl.” She goes to call Matt, and Toby complains that Andy has time to make a phone call but not to teach her how to skate. Jane shuts her down firmly, and it’s about time. Toby agrees to stop whining, but says “that still doesn’t mean I have to be happy about this history project of hers.” Toby, I’ve always liked you, so it pains me to say this, but … you’re being kind of a jerk.

Toby then gets a phone call from Randy so she takes the opportunity to ask him to the party, but he wisely turns her down. Gigi, who is apparently everywhere, overhears this too and does her best to make Toby feel worse. Back in the room, they’re all discussing Gigi’s upcoming party when Andy begs them to keep it down. Why is she attempting to get any work done in a room shared with others? Take thee to a deserted corner of the library, woman! Toby says she hopes Andy’s work won’t keep her from the W.B. party. Jane and Maggie push her into the fourth-floor bathroom and tell her (again) to stop picking on Andy. Laura Lee walks in with hairstyling products and, at the sight of them, tries to scuttle away. Maggie offers to help her with her hair and, when Laura Lee declines, Jane jumps in with the only logical conclusion: “Laura Lee, why are you so afraid of people?” Yes, because there could be no other reason why she wouldn’t want you touching her head. LL says she’s not afraid, she just likes to be alone. When asked why she came to Canby Hall then, she says she had to come because it’s a tradition in her family. Jane says it’s also a tradition for Canby Hall girls to make friends. LL says “I can’t, so why don’t you just leave me alone?” I’m on your side, Laura Lee. These bulldozers would make anyone join a monastery and take a vow of solitude.

After dusting themselves off from their rejection by an obviously crazy person because who else would ever reject them, Jane and Maggie make Toby call Neal and ask him to the W.B. party. Of course Neal gracefully accepts. As Gigi and Yolanda have no lives and have decided to follow the Baker House girls around everywhere, Yolanda was eavesdropping on this conversation from behind a pillar. When Yolanda reports on this to her master Gigi, Gigi notes that she knows Neal’s address at school because he was Jane’s boyfriend last year, when Gigi and Jane were roommates. Gigi starts ominously rolling a piece of paper into her typewriter.

The 407 crew starts ticking off their list of respective dates. It is noted that Cary is going because, a) he likes Jane, and b) although “Ambulance was good, they didn’t get asked to play that many gigs.” Yet they got invited to Colorado??? Dee starts sketching a palm tree she’s going to paint on her dorm room wall. This gives Jane an idea.

Andy is in the library and spots Laura Lee sitting by herself. Like the boundary-challenged person she is, she sits down next to her. LL clearly doesn’t want to talk, but Andy blathers on. She’s having a tough time with her history paper because her topic is black history in America, which is sort of, you know, broad. LL suggests that she narrow it down to black women in America. Andy is amazed and grateful at this groundbreaking idea, and convinced that LL must actually be a super-great person.

Jane has come up with a secret idea that is supposed to be a wonderful surprise to Toby and the reader, but which will only surprise the former. She goes to the Greaf Diner to tell Cary what she wants the band to wear to the W.B. party. He violently objects, but she is calmly confident that she will eventually change his mind.

Proving that they’re no better than The Worst Person in the World, the 407 girls hide in the bushes outside Addison House to see what Gigi and Yolanda will be wearing to their “Come as Someone You Hate” party. Turns out Yolanda is dressed as Ms. Merriweather, the dining hall’s head cook, and Gigi is dressed as a slovenly Toby Houston. The 407 girls vow revenge. Over at Pizza Pete’s, Gigi is starting to panic because no one has shown up to her party. Just then, five creatures in strange costumes (sheets with socks, balloons, and red blobs on them) show up. They say they came as things they hate: pizza, parties (specifically Gigi’s), and the sock pile that lives on Gigi’s floor, with which her former roommate is very familiar. They tell Gigi she’s a creep for picking her party theme and that because of it, no one at Canby Hall will attend.This doesn’t strike me as realistic because, a) in real life, mean girls are unfortunately usually pretty popular, and b) I definitely don’t believe that every teenage girl in a school would have enough moral fortitude to reject a party on the grounds of incivility.

Neal sends Toby flowers in advance of their W.B. party date. Dude, cool it. It’s called overkill. A package for Andy arrives from her parents, and every girl present in the dorm lobby is excited, since the Cords’ boxes of treats are legendary around school. The gang of girls traipses upstairs behind the box to watch Andy open it and share the goodies. When Andy does, she finds a note stating that it’s a Term Paper Survival Kit from her family. Organic vitamins, prunes, herbal tea, gorp, Turkish dates, beef jerky, saltless peanuts, and wheat-germ granola are all included. The gathered girls, faces falling, start politely backing out of the room. Just as the last ones disappear, Andy penetrates the deeper layer of the box. Turns out the health-food items were just to deter poachers. Underneath are beautifully iced petit fours. The 407 crew, Dee and Maggie dive in. Because they can’t just let sleeping dogs lie, Toby marches down to Laura Lee’s room. It is noted that hers is the only door in the dorm without decorations or messages from friends. Toby invites LL (who really was sleeping – nice idiom choice on my part) to 407, but LL declines. Toby gives her a petit four and says cake is the easiest way to make friends. LL repeats the word “friends” in a daze like she’s never heard it before. Toby then babbles on about how she didn’t think she needed anyone either when she first came to Canby Hall, but life is much better when you let friends in, and all LL has to do is accept their offer of friendship. Good grief, these people are pushy! LL effectively says she’ll think about it, but the cake has visibly softened her. (As it would me.)

Meanwhile Gigi and Yolanda are hiding in the infamous fourth-floor broom closet. Seriously, these two need an extracurricular or something. Yolanda reports that she overheard the 407 crew saying eventually they’d “get through” to Laura Lee. Gigi takes this to mean that they want something from LL, and decides that she and Yolanda will spy on her, too. She has major revenge plans in mind. She asks Yolanda if any girls are outside the door, and Yolanda says no. As they scamper out of the closet, they come face-to-face with Meredith. Yolanda, who is not the brightest Crayola in the box, says Gigi just asked if there were any girls around, not if any staff were around. Meredith comes up to them and asks why they’re in her dorm. They claim they’re on a scavenger hunt. Meredith privately vows to keep an eye on them.

That night, Toby and Jane call Neal. Toby wants to thank him for the flowers, Jane wants to let him know how to dress for her secret party theme. Neal, however, yells and hangs up on Toby, who starts sobbing. The omnipresent Gigi and Yolanda are hiding behind a chair, enjoying the scene. Apparently Neal received a letter saying that Toby never wanted to go to the party with him, that she really wanted to go with Randy, and that she was going around school making fun of Neal. The letter was signed by Andy. Luckily, Jane immediately calls Neal back, tells him Andy would never do such a thing so the letter must be a prank, and manages to smooth things over between him and Toby. She then sees Laura Lee in the lounge, looking at the H volume of the encyclopedia. (Whenever a detail like that is included, you can be assured we’ll hear about it again.) LL tells Jane she heard giggling coming from behind some chairs and the front door of the dorm subsequently opening and closing. Jane decides to tell LL all about Gigi and Yolanda. “It’s kind of scary, all this intrigue that goes on at a boarding school,” LL responds. “I don’t believe I can handle it.” And then she runs out of the room. Jane goes over to look at what she was reading. The encyclopedia is open to the HEA page. LL could have been reading about Health Insurance, Hearing Aids, William Randolph Hearst, or Hearts. Jane wonders if LL’s secret is that she needs hearing aids, but then realized that she heard the giggling, so that couldn’t be it. Uh, wearing hearing aids would have helped her do that.

Andy confirms that, obviously, she did not write the poisonous letter. The 407 girls acknowledge that it must have been Gigi. Well, at least they didn’t insult our intelligence by dragging out that epiphany. Andy writes a letter to Steve saying that her history paper is done and all she has to do is type it. She goes to Greenleaf for fresh typing supplies. While window-shopping, she spies Laura Lee and guidance counselor Michael Frank get out of a taxi. (There’s no one else with them, because as we know, this is a man who cares nothing about the potential for sexual assault allegations.) “Now Laura Lee, are you sure you don’t mind my going upstairs with you?” he asks. LL responds that she doesn’t, “because it won’t make any difference, one way or another.” After they enter a building, Andy goes over to read the sign and sees that it lists lawyers, doctors, dentists and a travel agency. She doesn’t know which office LL and Michael have gone to. The plot thickens. Andy then bumps into Yolanda, who assumes that Andy must be following Laura Lee around too. When Andy assures her she is not, Yolanda tells her that LL visits Michael in his office all the time and never takes gym class. Andy self-righteously marches off, but her curiosity is piqued.

Back at the dorm, Andy is bragging about her speed-typing skills. Apparently she used to type her older brother’s papers so he would let her “play his hottest albums.” Toby decides to go into town to get snacks. (Jane, in a nice throwback which I appreciate because I am not at all used to continuity in this series, requests cherries jubilee.) Dee is busy painting her wall palm tree. Right after Toby leaves, the 407 phone rings with the message that Meredith wants everyone up in her apartment immediately for an emergency dorm meeting. The caller appears to be speaking through a handkerchief, and hangs up when Jane asks who it is. Andy reluctantly gets up and puts all her typed pages and notes in a red folder on her desk. They pick up Dee and go up to Meredith’s apartment, where they find they’re the only ones there and Merry isn’t even at home. They realize the call was a hoax. They dash back down to their rooms, where they find someone has ruined Dee’s painting with blobs of paint. They have also stolen Andy’s history paper folder, which contained her only copy of the paper, leaving a pair of red mittens in their wake. (These pranks seem awfully similar to the stuff Pamela pulled when she first arrived on the scene. And I see locks still haven’t been installed in this wildly naive institution.)

The girls are silenced by this tragedy, then all start looking for the paper. Eventually Toby returns and is filled in. She is horrified, and mentions that her mittens were stolen too, while she was signing out downstairs. Andy holds up the mittens that were found on her desk and asks if they’re Toby’s, which they are. Page 5 of Andy’s paper is then found under a pile of Western shirts in Toby’s drawer.

Thanks to ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, they don’t drag out the roommates’ mutual suspicion for long. These people are best friends, and that would have been just too ridiculous. They quickly recognize that Gigi must have been behind the theft. Naturally, they decide not to go to the authorities, which would end this book in about two more pages, purportedly because that would tempt Gigi into destroying the paper completely instead of just hiding it. (THANK GOD FOR PERSONAL COMPUTERS.) They come up with a plan and go to Laura Lee’s room. They ask her to participate because she’s the only one who doesn’t take gym class.

The plan is put in place and the reader is subjected to watching it unfold. In the dining hall, within earshot of Gigi and Yolanda, Andy says loudly that she is no longer speaking to Toby, who stole her history paper, and that she and others will be boycotting the W.B. party. On the other side of the dining hall, Toby is complaining loudly about how Andy wrote a horrible letter to her boyfriend. We are told that Part A of this ingenious plan is complete. We are not told how many painful parts there actually are.

The next day in creative writing class, which Jane shares with Gigi, Jane starts a class discussion and asks what her teacher thinks of someone who works for weeks on a paper and then has it stolen. When the teacher, feeling great referred pain on the part of this hypothetical fellow writer, expresses strong sympathy, Gigi scoffs, “Oh please. Anybody who thinks about this has to realize — why didn’t the airhead take better care of her stupid history paper? I mean honestly. You don’t just go waltzing out of the room and leave something that valuable on the desk.” She and the other students realize she’s said too much, but the teacher just says that Gigi has “a most peculiar outlook on life.” The others tell Gigi she’s sick and that the thief will get in big trouble. Isn’t that enough? She all but confessed right there. Oh, we’re only on page 126. The ghostwriter was contracted through page 168. So it’s not. But that was Part B.

Part C takes place during gym class, which Gigi cuts. She goes back to her room in Addison House instead and picks up her locker key. In the hallway, she runs into Laura Lee. Gigi accuses LL of spying on her and calls her a head case for her frequent meetings with Michael. LL asks her why she needs her locker key. Gigi, furious, gets in a few cutting remarks and runs away.

We move to Jane meeting Laura Lee at the front gates as planned (why?) and congratulating her on her detective work. Jane tells her that Andy will be following Gigi to the lockers to make sure Gigi doesn’t destroy the history paper. After that it will be Jane’s shift, and then Toby’s. As it’s an emergency, they’re all taking a chance and cutting a few classes today. LL admires their dedication and Jane says that’s what friends are for. At that moment, LL freaks out at the sight of a car entering the school gates. It’s her parents, coming to check up on her. In desperation, she asks Jane for a favour. Apparently her parents and “all the doctors” want her to be involved at school, mix with people, and make friends. Every time her parents visit they find her all alone and then get upset. Jane thinks LL’s parents must be monsters.

Meanwhile Andy is following a nervous, pacing Gigi and tails her into the library. There, Meredith spots Andy and wonders why she’s cutting class. Then Merry spots Gigi and, having heard the story of the stolen history paper through the grapevine, figures out what Andy’s doing. And … leaves her to it. Because that makes sense.

Jane, ready to hate LL’s parents, meets them. They are thrilled to see their daughter with a friend. They recognize Jane’s name; turns out LL’s mom went to school with Jane’s aunts, fellow members of the “Renegade Brigade,” a group of girls that got into some vague mischief back in the day. The Evanses want to take the girls out for lunch, but they have class (which they’re not attending, but OK) so they head over to pay a visit to PA instead. LL thanks Jane for pretending to be her friend, saying “I’ve never seen them so happy.” Jane tells her she wasn’t pretending. Awww.

On to Part D of the plan (DEAR SWEET HEAVEN HOW MANY PARTS ARE THERE) as Jane goes to relieve Andy of her surveillance duties. On the way she runs into Meredith, who cryptically lets her know she’s figured out what’s going on. Jane whispers some new exciting plan into Andy’s ear, and she runs off. Jane then takes up spying on Gigi, who heads for the building with the lockers. Jane ends up alone with Gigi in the basement of lockers as Gigi pulls out the infamous red folder. Gigi tells Jane it’ll just be Jane’s word against hers, and starts ripping up the paper. At that moment, Laura Lee steps out of the shadows. She’d decided to cut class herself in case Jane needed backup. Suddenly, inexplicably, everyone else shows up. Maggie snaps a photograph of Gigi holding the paper. Dee comes in with a paint can and threatens to upend it on Gigi. Andy takes the paper back from Gigi who, knowing she’s been caught red-handed, tells them all to lighten up and that it was just a joke. They all decide to leave her alone and not involve any adults. Again.

Giddy with relief, the 407 girls, Maggie, Dee and Laura Lee link arms as they walk across campus. They run into LL’s parents, who are overjoyed to see her with a group of friends. Mrs. Evans starts crying and each girl introduces herself and says something “extra nice” about Laura Lee. “It was a beautiful moment, one of those glittering moments to be etched in stone to last forever.” Uh, more cheese, please? Gigi shows up and tells LL’s parents that LL is “too strange to have friends” and that she’s crazy since she’s always seeing doctors and shrinks. This prompts LL to make her grand, stunning confession: she has a bad heart.

[crickets]

That‘s the solution to the great mystery? Oh brother. The girls start “adding up all the clues”: LL’s pale skin, a sign of poor circulation; her fear of people and friendships; her frequent naps and many visits to doctors; the encyclopedia opened to H. “It was all so simple when you knew the facts.” Guess what, Eileen Hehl, ghostwriter? It was all very simple when we didn’t know the facts. No need to pat yourself on the back here. And also, can I just say, how ridiculous is it that Laura Lee would be looking up “Hearts” in an encyclopedia in a public place? If she’d had her condition all her life, wouldn’t she already have read everything she could get her hands on, and about her specific disorder, not just the generics? And why would a congenital heart condition make you afraid of people? Ugh. Anyway, LL’s parents then tell the girls that actually, LL has been cured. The doctors all want her to live a full, active life. But LL can’t accept it and doesn’t believe it, even though Michael Frank even went with her to Greenleaf to confer with her medical doctor. Somehow after this conversation, though, LL’s mind has been suddenly changed and she will now try everything a regular Canby Hall girl does. The Evanses take all the girls out to the Greenleaf Inn to celebrate.

The day of the W.B. party, it finally thaws. Andy’s paper is safely turned in. Toby goes to meet Neal’s train. She’s looking good because Jane and Andy have trimmed her hair. I don’t care what year it was, you couldn’t have paid me to let a teenage friend near my head with scissors. The W.B. party committee, which now naturally includes an enthusiastic Laura Lee, starts decorating. That evening Toby and Dee are escorted, blindfolded, to the lounge. The great surprise is revealed: the party has a beach theme!

[crickets]

Ambulance is playing reggae. Heating lamps are everywhere. Styrofoam packing peanuts are strewn on the floor to simulate sand. Everyone is wearing bathing suits, Hawaiian shirts, and flip-flops. There are ridiculous beach hats. Cardboard hot dog and ice cream stands are on the walls. And super-cool Ambulance is wearing beach attire. That’s what Cary was making a fuss about? Chaperone Merry is sprawled out on a beach chair with a paperback, wearing a black woolen old-fashioned bathing suit that covers her entire body. I have literally never seen one of these in real life. Laura Lee is handing out sodas and tells Jane, “I never knew that parties could be so much fun” and “I just didn’t realize that friendship could be so important.” Why would a cardiac issue prevent this girl from having basic common sense? Turns out LL has also met a boy from Oakley Prep, and they go to dance. She calls out, “This is fun! I’m going to have to learn all the wild dances!” Wow, this teenage banter really rings true to life.

The next night is time for Part E (ARE YOU KIDDING ME) of the never-ending plan. In the dining hall, every single Baker House girl is dressed up like Gigi Norton. They’re carrying a sign that says “COSTUME PARADE! COME DRESSED AS SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO SHIP OFF TO A DESERT ISLAND – WITH A ONE-WAY TICKET!”

So they all dressed up as Gigi Norton, someone they hate. I’m sorry, how does this make them morally superior to her? At least she came up with the idea first.

This ridiculous book ends with all six girls helping Dee repair her painted palm tree. They comment on how lucky Gigi is that they didn’t go to PA with the story (and why didn’t they? Wouldn’t that be grounds for expulsion?) and Laura Lee says “You are the best bunch of friends that anyone could ever hope for,” presumably just before climbing back into her padlocked box, since we never hear from her again.

Thank God that’s over. Next up is Super Edition #2, which means an extra 60 or so pages of cheese to wade through. With the help of a strong sedative, I’m up for it if you are!

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4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Class Schedules and Class Wars … or, Canby Hall Super Edition #2, The Almost Summer Carnival | The Girls of Canby Hall ... Revisited

  2. As we both keep saying, the new 407 girls are a huge improvement on the old ones, but Gigi Norton was a huge step down from Pamela Young, who made a much better mean girl. Mean girls, after all, usually have *some* positive/attractive qualities that garner some admiration or respect and so give them a certain cachet. Pamela was rich, well-connected, beautiful, had an expensive wardrobe and confidence to burn, and was capable of treating those she liked fairly well and of behaving in a way that made a certain sense, so she made a more or less realistic alpha girl character who could hold her own at the school, i.e., she had at least some friends and normally wasn’t one to care if some people disliked her, though she did care when *everyone* shunned her. Gigi by contrast is just cartoonishly nasty, to the point where one questions her mental health. She and Jane were roommates during Jane’s freshman year and Gigi played the same country and western song for 24 hours straight or some such to try and break the Guinness World Record, which is really obnoxious and strange. And a Come As Someone You Hate party? That’s way too mean-spirited to be fun or funny. I’m not surprised no one wanted to go. You could probably get away with being a lovable weirdo in high school, and you can get away with being a functional and coolly confident mean girl, but hateful weirdos are never popular in high school, or anywhere else.

    As for Laura Lee… yeah, that whole plot was pretty lame. If she’s healthy now, why is she still so pale? I remember that even as a teenager I thought it didn’t make any sense for her to be looking at basic information about a heart condition in the encyclopedia when she’d already be very well-informed about it. And I remember rolling my eyes at the “Renegade Brigade” name. Sounds like what a bunch of very prissy girls who think they’re being wild and crazy if they short sheet someone’s bed would call themselves.

    • “A bunch of very prissy girls who think they’re being wild and crazy if they short-sheet someone’s bed” – LOL! So true! That reminds me of a story I heard about Ann M. Martin of BSC fame. I hate to make fun of Ann M. Martin because I love her and because I’m a huge rule-follower myself, but in any case, in some interview she said that she and her college friends used to wear long nightgowns on Saturday nights and watch SNL. If they were feeling “truly wicked,” they would order ice cream to be delivered in a cab and then one of them would run down in her nightgown to pay for the ice cream and the cab fare. “Wicked” indeed! Our Ann would definitely be considered for the Renegade Brigade.

  3. Pingback: Casey Flint Replacement, Take Two … or, Canby Hall #23, But She’s So Cute | The Girls of Canby Hall ... Revisited

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