So, this starts right after Stacey and Jeremy break up. Actually, it starts at the same time, with Claudia baby-sitting while all her friends are at Mr. Zizmore’s good-bye party. The next morning Mary Anne tells Claud the news, and she’s nervous/excited about what this means for her and Jeremy. However, the next morning, Jeremy totally ignores her in the hall. This goes on for days, so she finally decides to make a move herself and invite him to the upcoming dance. She’s scared to do it in person, so she writes him a note and slips it in his locker.
The only problem is, she had typed the note so she could spell check it, then rewrote it by hand. But spell-checker couldn’t figure out what she meant by “Jaramy,” so she addresses it with “To a good friend.” (For the record, Microsoft Word does suggest Jeremy as a correction for that). But spell check may not have been so advanced back then. Anyway, Claudia accidently puts this note in the wrong locker. And since she used that neutral greeting, the person who gets it thinks it’s intended for him. That person? Alan Gray.
Claudia’s horrified when she realizes Alan has the letter, but she doesn’t realize he thinks it’s for him. She thinks he’s going to tell the whole school she likes Jeremy. But he actually tells her how the note’s the nicest thing anyone has ever written to him and that he knows he can be a pain, but he liked that she saw the real him. AND he tells her how much he’s always liked her. So, he wants to go to the dance and Claudia feels like she can’t turn him down.
After that, Kristy keeps telling Claudia she’s crazy, and Stacey keeps asking about Jeremy. But Alan’s being super sweet – he asks what color corsage to get, he brings flowers to her in school, he leaves all sorts of other gifts for her, he brings a tablecloth and candle in so they can have a “romantic lunch” at school, etc. Claudia tells him she meant they should go as friends, but Alan says he knows but thinks they could be more in the future.
Anyway, Jeremy hears that Claudia’s going with Alan and gets all upset. Even though he spent days avoiding her. Claudia tells him she really wanted to go with him, but says she can’t not go with Alan now. At the dance, Jeremy cuts in to dance with her. While dancing, Claudia realizes that she really isn’t that into him after all. She’s just not feeling it and keeps thinking how she wishes she were still dancing with Alan. So, Claudia and Jeremy briefly talk about how they weren’t meant to be a couple and will stay just friends, and Claudia goes back to dancing with Alan.
While all this is going on, Claudia and Stacey continue to mend their friendship. Early on, Claudia says she can’t talk about Jeremy with her. But eventually, she decides that if they are going to be friends they need to be able to do that, and she and Stacey talk all about it. They both apologize for the things they said. Stacey even tells her Jeremy’s feelings for her were part of the reason behind their break up. Anyway, by the end things are all good with them.
- On Sunday morning, Mr. Kishi’s making blueberry pancakes for breakfast and Claudia asks for 5 pancakes. Now….I know pancakes aren’t totally junk food, but that’s not exactly a healthy balanced breakfast, especially once you load them with syrup. What’s up with her parents only wanting her to eat healthy foods, but serving a huge stack of pancakes?
- Also, these books were always showing the parents cooking big breakfasts for their kids on weekend mornings (pancakes, omelets, etc.) Was I deprived as a kid? That was a pretty rare occurrence in my house, if we were lucky it was frozen waffles that we toasted ourselves (and added ice cream to if it was before my parents woke up). But I wasn’t served anything, especially not when I was in middle school.
- The day after Claudia finds out about Jeremy and Stacey splitting up, she decides she needs to look really good and spends ages picking out her outfit. Janine actually picks out the final outfit – a blouse she made out of a kimono that belonged to Mimi and a skirt, with a black chopstick in her hair. I don’t really have anything bad to say about that, but we don’t really get much detail.
- When Mary Anne told Claudia about the break up, she forgot the part about Ethan and Toby being at the party. That…..seems like an important detail.
- Claudia actually starts her letter to Jeremy several times. She spells his name differently each time – Jermy, Jermery, Jerymy, Jermie, and Jaramy. Spell check knows I mean Jeremy for every single iteration. At least in Word. Blogger only knows about half of them.
- I know Claudia’s a crappy speller, but you’d think she’d have learned the name of the guy she’s been obsessing over for months.
- Seriously, Jeremy’s kind of annoying. When he was with Stacey he would stop and chat with Claudia in the halls all the time. But he’s newly single and suddenly can barely wave before turning and walking away? He was never presented as shy and he knows how Claudia feels about him, so what’s the problem? And then he’s mad at her? Even after she explains the note was meant for him? I mean, what did he expect when he stopped talking to her?
- So, after Claud realizes she put the letter in the wrong locker, Kristy suggests that they get Cary Retlin to open the locker and take the letter back. Since apparently Cary can get into anyone’s locker. Of course, by the time they do this the letter’s gone. But Cary does figure out that the letter wasn’t meant for Alan and threatens to tell him. But Claudia tells him she doesn’t want to hurt Alan.
- I think Cary does eventually tell Alan about the letter, while Claudia’s dancing with Jeremy at the dance. But, I guess he gets over it when Claudia comes by and says she really wants to be dancing with him.
- Kristy keeps going on about how awful Alan is. Are we supposed to forget that Kristy went out with him? Several times actually. That doesn’t mean she can’t dislike him, but maybe she should mention that or something.
- I can’t believe they got away with a “romantic” lunch at school. When I was in school we weren’t allowed to be in classrooms if no teacher was there. It was a liability thing. And we certainly wouldn’t have been able to light a candle.
- Cary’s actually a pretty smart guy to figure out what’s going on. I think most boys that age would be clueless.
- Claudia’s dance outfit: “a short retro dress [she’d] found in a thrift shop. It had white trim and white heart-shaped buttons…..[she] also wore clunky black shows with a stacked heel and a square toe. [She] had a wristful of hot-pink bangles.” Again….not really anything bad to say. Either she’s getting saner or I am losing brain cells from reading books that are meant for 8-year-olds.
- Janine (of all people) tells Claudia and Alan they look good together. But then she clarifies that she meant his red shirt went good with her pink dress. But since pink and red kinda clash I’m going to take that is confirmation Janine still doesn’t get fashion and her earlier suggestion was a fluke.
- Claudia’s still friends with Erica Blumberg, who apparently has been fighting with her parents because she wants to find her biological parents. She even was looking at websites about it, but hasn’t done anything because she doesn’t want to go behind her parents back. I wonder if this will lead anywhere. Although, I can’t imagine too much can happen with it since she’s not a main character.
- So, Claudia and Alan seems kind of random....but I can see sort of see it. We are always seeing Alan at his most annoying because that's when he's been relevant, but it makes sense that he can be sweet too. I'm not sure if it will last though, he'll be sure to regress at some point.
- There’s this annoying subplot where Claudia and Erica volunteer to help recent immigrants to the US learn English and about living in the US. We get like three whole chapters devoted to it, but it felt like more. And the woman Claudia’s helping has little kids, so we have to hear about them too. And there’s even an acknowledgement in the dedication that mentions some organization that I guess is a real life version of where Claudia was volunteering. I didn’t look it up because I really don’t care.
- Not that it’s not good to help other people or anything.