Friday, August 21, 2009

Friends Forever #11: Welcome Home, Mary Anne

Tagline: Nothing stays the same...

Cover: This is the first Friends Forever title I'm covering. Thanks to a fairly reasonable recent eBay purchase, I know own all of the Friends Forever books, with the exception of Graduation Day (but thanks to ANOTHER eBay purchase, that one should be arriving soon). The Friends Forever series uses real photographs of models for the cover, I guess to make it look 'hip' and 'new'. It kind of works...? I guess...? I don't know. The whole flower motif is totally late-90s girl power. Mary Anne is the one in the middle (she has long hair in these shots, even though you can't really tell in this one, and even though she definitely has short hair on the cover of The Fire at Mary Anne's House). I would guess that Dawn is on the left (and Sunny is on the right), but the book describes Sunny as having freckles, and that's what the left side model does, but the right one doesn't look like Dawn to's all so confusing.

Plot!: After The Fire at Mary Anne's House, she, Richard and Sharon have been moving from rental home to rental home while they remodel the barn so they can live in it (that's covered in Mary Anne's Breakup). In this book, the house is ready to be moved in to, so they do, and it takes some adjusting. Dawn and Jeff are home for the summer (I guess it's summer...?) and they bring Sunny with them, because Sunny's mom has just died (in the California Diaries series) and a change of scenery will be good for her. But she's not dealing with her grief, and Jeff hates the new house, and Mary Anne is starting to lose it. But then Sunny breaks down and bonds with Mary Anne, Jeff decorates her room, Sunny goes back to California, and everything is okay again.

Points of Interest:
  • The character bios are on the inside cover, so there's no Chapter Two. And I know that we make a lot of fun of it, but I tried reading the Sweet Valley series after the earthquake where Elizabeth is living with some weird family, but it was like #3 in the series and there was no explanation of ANYTHING and it was all kinds of confusing.
  • Also, the BSC has been whittled down to its original Fab Four. Mallory is at private school, Jessi is taking a lot of extra dance classes, Abby is around but not sitting, and Mary Anne and Logan have broken up. Again.
  • The book starts with "there's no place like home," so Mary Anne can ruminate on the meaning of home, and how she both has a home and doesn't have a home.
  • One of Mary Anne's diary entries is dated June 27. So I guess it is summer. Then when does Graduation Day take place? I haven't read it yet. Do they go through another year, just in that book? There better be a good answer for this! (There probably won't be).
  • In other other California Diaries continuity, Dawn and Jeff now have a little (half-)sister named Grace.
  • Jeff is aggressively angry towards the new house. I don't think he came from California to see the house after the fire, did he? I just remember Dawn coming. So why is everyone surprised and unprepared for him to be having these feelings?
  • Mary Anne is jealous of Sunny and Dawn's connection. I guess it's normal - she's never really had to see Dawn with her other best friend before. It still kind of feels out of place in this book, though. There's a lot going on.
  • The three girls go to the pool for the day, and of course Mary Anne is wearing one of her outrageous beach getups. Sunny, whose dial is stuck on 'manic', tells her to take it off. Mary Anne asks, "haven't you ever heard of skin cancer?' Sunny, whose mom died of lung cancer, replies that she's heard enough about cancer to last a lifetime. Awkward.
  • Speaking of, what did Mary Anne's mother die of? Is it mentioned in the books?
  • Sunny tries to set Mary Anne up with this jock guy, and they go out on a group triple date. The guy is actually interested in Mary Anne, but she shuts him down pretty quickly. But it's okay, because Sunny is already on to the next plan.
  • I love the lack of baby-sitting in these books. Mary Anne just goes on one job, at the Pikes, and it's less about them and more about Jeff's pain.
  • As if there wasn't enough fuel for Byron slash, he also shows remarkable talent in interior design.
  • Sunny feels a bit left out when the Schafer-Spiers are talking like a family, and when Mary Anne tries to talk to her about it, she flips and starts planning a rogue trip to New York. WHICH THEY GO ON, secretly, and lie to Sharon and Richard about. And they never get caught, which is surprising and kind of awesome.
  • Sunny throws an absolute tantrum while she's in New York, refusing to leave a store and go back to Stoneybrook before they're discovered. While Mary Anne is dealing with this, she takes the time to get freaked out by a man in a sequined pink prom dress. Hey, Oiny!
  • After they get home, Sunny and Mary Anne bond a bit, and Sunny decides to go back to California to grieve and be with her dad.
  • At the end of the book, Mary Anne decides she feels like she's home. Which is good, because this is the last book that she narrates in the series.
Final thought: I really like the Friends Forever series. I have a hard time thinking of them as canon, but that's getting easier, and I like the actual character growth and development that they go through.


nikki said...

I've only read one FF, the one where Claudia dates Alan Gray. I didn't like it that much, because I didn't really care for the portrayal of my fictional boyfriend, Alan Gray.

But this one sounds all kinds of awesome. I need to track these (and CalDiaries) down and finally read them.

Also Byron slash is one of my guilty pleasures. Particularly Byron/Jeff.

LAK said...

I own them all, but I never read them. It seemed a bit weird and like they were trying to re-start the series.

I might have to hunt down the California Diaries, just so I can see this continuity fairy you speak highly of!

Emily said...

I think Mary Anne's mom died of cancer. Also, LOVE the New York trip. I would totally have done something like that at 13!

Lucy said...

For some reason I have this idea in my head that Mary Anne's mother died of childbirth complications. But I might be getting her mixed up with Vada in My Girl...

Sadako said...

I always thought it was weird when they would try to intersect CA Diaries with the BSC world because in California, Dawn's friends are just so much more...I don't know, like, out there. Drinking, anorexia, abuse. It's hard to imagine Sunny of CA Diaries in lil ole Stoneybrook. She would so blow poor MA's mind.

Also the MA model looks all of seven and Dawn and Sunny look like they're about seventeen.

I remember MA gets a letter that her mom wrote to her before she died, so I don't think it was in childbirth. I think it was cancer, too.

charmecia said...

mary anne's mom dies of cancer as explained in mary anne's book(im totally doing a blog on that book).

awww i loved the bond between sunny and mary anne and the fact that they brought california diaries into the bsc world with someone other than dawn.

dude, the new york scene was my favorite part in the book, next to the pool scene.

charmecia said...

and jeff lived in the house before he left for california in book 15, cause richard and mary anne move into dawn's house later on in the series so of course he would miss it.