Tagline: Claudia thinks she's adopted, and no one understands.
Cover: I guess that it's like, a rule that practically every cover has to feature baby sitting of some kind, because instead of actually showing Claudia and the Great Search, it's showing her with Emily Michelle. I don't understand why the Brewers would take a couch and place a chair and table in front of it, but I guess when you're rich and you live in - get this - a mansion, you can afford to have impractical furniture. Claudia is rocking a top-pony, but other than that she doesn't look too wild. Big surprise.
Plot!: Claudia starts to believe that she was adopted, and when she can't find any evidence that proves she wasn't, she decides that she was. She looks for her 'birth parents,' but when she tells her parents what she's discovered it turns out she wasn't adopted after all. Meanwhile, she's been helping Emily Michelle with shapes and colours and stuff, because she knows how it is to be behind everyone in terms of learning. Or something. And in minor subplot land, the Papadakis' grandfather has hurt himself so Kristy has a regular job there.
Points of Interest:
- Claudia thinks that Peaches and Russ can't have kids. That kind of makes her later miscarriage even sadder.
- I don't understand Janine's taking community college courses while she's still in high school. Do those count as, like, real college courses? So, theoretically, she could get her degree really soon after finishing high school? Huh. I wonder where Janine really would go to school.
- Claudia gets to leave early because Janine is getting a prestigious award...on a Monday afternoon. Oookay.
- Claudia gets really snarky about Janine's friends, wondering if they get dressed in the morning by closing their eyes and reaching into their closet. Which I'm sure many people think that about her. Also, she gets huffy because they're wearing checks with plaids, and I'm SURE there's one time where she says something about how she likes to break fashion rules like that. Gah. Claudia was never one of my favourite characters.
- Claudia says that Kristy has never missed a meeting, which is a total lie, because Kristy missed one when Louie was sick.
- Kristy says that she has news about Emily Michelle, and Claudia says that they try to keep each other up to date on the kids they sit for. Okay, except it's Kristy's FREAKING SISTER. Why are these girls all so coldly detached?
- Apparently "me" (pronounced "meh") is Vietnamese for Mommy.
- If Claudia had $250 (Janine's award money amount), she would run to Bellair's Department Store and buy a Day-Glo green sweater with charms knitted into it. I think it's a good thing she does not have the $250.00.
- Instead, Janine thinks that she'll put the money towards college. She'd better invest it well, because otherwise $250 will cover about the cost of highlighters for her textbooks.
- Claudia decides that she's adopted because there are no baby pictures of her, just her, alone.
- Claudia discovers that her mom is certified to teach school in Connecticut.
- Ugh. Claudia discovers a locked box in her parents' room, and just knows that her adoption papers are in there, and that's why her parents don't love her as much as Janine. Ugh.
- Sam and Charlie went to a play at the high school. Really?
- David Michael has a cold, so he talks just like Abby and Hunter Bruno when they have allergies.
- OH my Lord. Claudia tells Stacey that she thinks she's adopted, and Stacey's advice? Seach for her birth parents. Not anything reasonable, like talk to your parents.
- Argh. Dawn gets upset when Emily Michelle puts something in her mouth, and then starts to compare her to other kids they know, like Gabbie Perkins (robo-tot who plays on a FREAKING softball team!) and Marnie, who, really, is not that much more advanced than Emily.
- And then Kristy talks about how Emily is different from Karen, Andrew, and David Michael. Okay, except they did not GROW UP IN AN ORPHANAGE UNTIL THEY WERE TWO. The first years, the first year especially, are HUGELY important for babies' development, not just language and motor skills but also emotional growth. Gah.
Watson and Elizabeth and Nannie need to spend more time with Emily, reading and talking about shapes, letters, and pictures. And less time needs to be spent comparing Emily to other children.
- (This is an area that I work in, so I think I'm extra sensitive to how it's portrayed in these books)
- BLGHAH. Claudia says that Emily doesn't seem to be as smart as everyone else in her family, which is bullshit. First of all, she's a toddler. Second of all, see everything I just wrote.
- There's an adoption agency in the phone book (so presumably in Stoneybrook, or Stamford, or close) called Love Bundles, and it only specializes in placing Vietnamese children. I guess that's how it usually works, it just seems odd for the area.
- Okay, later she opens the Stamford phone book, so Love Bundles is in Stoneybrook. How many adopted Vietnamese children are there in Stoneybrook?
- This book is how I learned that you need to have two keys to open a safety deposit box.
- Lois Lowry shoutout! Stacey finds a copy of "Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye" at the Perkins' house (o...kay?) and calls Claudia to tell her it's a story about an adopted girl.
- FARGH. There is a student volunteer at the library's reference desk. There are SO MANY things wrong with that. If the Stoneybook Public Library is a unionized workplace, there are SO MANY violations. (Libraries are my field too, so I'm just set off by how improbable everything is. Wait until we get to Mary Anne and the Library Mystery if you want to see arghs.)
- Apparently, all birth announcements automatically go to the local paper. I find that hard to believe. Isn't that an incredible invasion of privacy?
- This part makes the least sense of anything. Claudia thinks that one of the other people born the week she was might really be her. So...if this couple was going to give up their daughter for adoption, they still had an (automatic) baby announcement?
- Stacey's parents couldn't have any more kids after Stacey. I think I knew that, but it's one of those things that I forget.
- There's a random Krushers practice interlude. These books could have used a good editor.
- Chapter 13: Stacey finally suggests that Claudia talk to her parents. FINALLY.
- Claudia's parents tell her she's not adopted. And they have an explanation for everything: they didn't take pictures because they were busy, Claudia looks like a combination of both of her parents, her birth was announced in the Stoneybrook Gazette, the special locked box has $500 in it (for emergencies). A LIKELY STORY.
- In the end, Emily is accepted into preschool for the following fall (too bad she'll be two and a half forever) and Claudia accepts that she's a Kishi by birth and makes tentative peace with Janine. The end.