Stephanie Hirsch has just moved into a new house and is going to be starting seventh grade shortly. She now lives in a subdivision called Palfrey's Pond, which is near her best friend Rachel. I have to say, Rachel kind of annoys me, even though I like her book, too. I'm a Stephanie fan, through and through. Rachel is super tall and a definite Type A personality. She excels at everything, like grades and extracurriculars, and is pretty uptight and a huge neat freak. Steph is more easygoing and sloppy, but I love her hardcore. I mean, she has a poster of a 17 year old Richard Gere on her ceiling which she pretends is her boyfriend named Benjamin Moore. How can you not love her?
The day before school starts Stephanie sees a new girl hanging out by the pond. The new girl, Alison, is really tiny, and has a little dog with her that is described as the kind with fur hanging over its eyes. Oh, you mean like this one?:
That's my Shih Tzu, China. I totally picture Alison's dog Maizie as her. Alison tells Steph she just moved in, and shows her the homeroom assignment she's received in the mail. She's in the same homeroom as Steph, and Steph's surprised because she thought Alison was more like 10 years old. Alison is from LA, where Stephanie's dad is on a business trip. Alison tells Steph that Maizie can talk, and her first language is French. China can only tell you what's on top of the house. Alison says she's Vietnamese and adopted, her mother is American, but her father is French, so she lived in Paris until she was 6. Steph makes herself comfortable, because she loves to hear details of other people's lives. She also totally believes that Maizie can talk. Alison tells her that their vet said that only one in seventeen million dogs can talk. Right.
Rachel tells Steph later at her house that dogs can't talk. But Alison said so, so it must be true! Rachel is doing what everyone does their last day of the summer, going through her closet and taking out clothes that don't fit any more. Oh, did I say everyone? I meant no one. Rachel hasn't done her back to school clothes shopping yet, which is surprising because I'd think she would've done that last January. Stephanie already did hers, and she got a pair of designer jeans. Sexy! Rachel's mom won't let her sister or her buy them because she says they're a rip-off. If they use their own money, what's the big deal? Let them waste their own money if they want them! Stephanie says she doesn't care about labels, she just likes the way they fit. I have to agree with her there, whenever I shell out the big bucks for a nice brand of jeans they're more comfortable and softer and cut better than a cheap-ass pair. Then again, I always have to shell out the big bucks for jeans because designers don't realize that short people exist and that someone with a 28 inch inseam does not appreciate getting the bottoms of the standard 32 inch inseam jeans all gross and wet and stuff. Make all pants come in different lengths, assholes!
Enough of my short person rants! Rachel gives Steph a shirt to try on, and she strips in front of the open window. Rachel yells at her for not wearing a bra, and Steph says it was too hot. Look, Rachel, if you didn't notice before that she didn't have a bra on, then she probably doesn't need one too badly. Rachel shows Steph how she covered her notebooks in old wallpaper, and I totally did that in 5th or 6th grade after reading this book. I'm a follower, I know. Rachel finds the wallpaper, and then tells her parents she's going over to Steph's. They argue about the talking dog possibilities, and Rachel is pised that she's in a different homeroom than Steph. When they get to Steph's she has to return a phone call to her dad, and Rachel covers her notebook with wallpaper for her. Stephanie wanted to do it herself, but Rachel's the boss! Rachel asks Steph if she wants her to put her name in the inside for her, but Steph says it's okay. Rachel says she'll just use a ruler to make lines inside so the letters are even then. Rachel, lay off! Before going to bed, Stephanie finds her ruler and does it herself.
Stephanie introduces Rachel to Alison the next morning. Alison is wearing baggy pants, a ginormous white t-shirt, sunglasses around her neck on a leash, running shoes, and is carrying a canvas bag. Steph thinks she looks great, I think all she needs is a weird hat and a camera and she'd look like the stereotypical tourist. Rachel introduces them to Dana Carpenter, a ninth grader. Another author who has ninth grade as part of junior high! On the bus Steph sees a guy named Jeremy, who is almost as sexy as Benjamin Moore. Steph has studied her Crayolas, so she identifies the color of the jacket he is wearing as chartreuse with a dragon on the back. Rachel says Jeremy has a hot bod. I bet she'd hit that.
Steph and Rachel have homeroom in adjoining rooms, but Rachel makes Steph stay with her until the bell rings. Does she not know any of her other classmates? Stephanie has the Alan Gray of their junior high, Eric Macaulay, in her homeroom. He calls her Hershey Bar, because her last name is Hirsch. It could be worse, guys; he could put yellow M&M's in his eyes and tell everyone he's Little Orphan Annie...in just about every freaking book that mentions him. Alison starts pulling the shit out of her bag and she has the weirdest assortment of stuff I've ever seen: a stone, a roll of tape, a pad of paper, a pen, cherry lipgloss, and a framed photo. I guess if you need tape you know who to ask? Steph's homeroom teacher, Mrs. Remo, is black. Jessi would approve. After homeroom, Rachel and Steph compare schedules and all they have together are lunch and gym class. Rachel is the sad. She tells Steph that she (Steph) is an eternal optimist like it's a bad thing. Steph doesn't know what that means, and Rachel tells her to look it up. She does, and doesn't see anything wrong with it. Me either!
The girls head over to Alison's after school, and Maizie tells Alison a story about how her stepfather, Leon, took her for a walk that morning and fell into the brook. Alison asks Leon if it's true and he says Maizie wasn't supposed to tell anyone. So Leon just goes along with his stepdaughter's crazy stories? Steph still believes the story, and Rachel tells her later that she's gullible. True.
Steph's mom goes out later that night, and she stays at home with her little brother, Bruce. Bruce has nightmares about bombs and Steph has to comfort him. The next day Bruce writes a letter to the President to tell him to never have a nuclear war. I think Bruce is kind of a messed up little kid. Better take him to a doctor before he sends his ghost friend after you.
Stephanie is meeting Alison and Rachel at her mom's travel agency to go shopping for decorations for Alison's room. Before they get there, sexy ass Jeremy, who the girls call Jeremy Dragon because of his jacket, walks in and asks for some travel brochures. Steph gives him a bunch of them, and is stoked because she got to touch his hand a bunch of times. Ah, to be 12 again. She tells the girls, and they're all excited about it too. They go shopping, and Rachel wants to compare prices on everything and write down stuff they like and where it is, but Steph and Alison just want to buy shit. Alison has her mom's credit card, and gets a new comforter, sheets, throw pillows, lamp shades, and posters. Stephanie is impressed that Alison's mom let her have the credit card, and I am too. Can she adopt me? I have a shoe and high end makeup addiction that could put someone else's credit card to good use.
Steph goes over to Alison's afterwards, and says that her mom looks a lot like the fictional famous actress Gena Farrell. Alison says that's because she is Gena Farrell. Steph isn't as impressed by the credit card now that she knows Alison's mom is rich and famous. Alison acts like it's no big deal, and then teaches Steph a card game called Spit. Since Steph has a one track mind, she forgets all about Alison's mom and starts playing. She remembers later when Rachel arrives. Rachel didn't recognize Alison's mom, and Steph asks a million questions about her. Alison says she doesn't want to talk about her, and Steph is silent for a bit and then asks if Alison ever ate frog legs in France. They all laugh, and we're left hanging on the answer.
Steph, Rachel, and Alison spend some time in the girls bathroom staring out the window and watching Jeremy Dragon play soccer. Pervs! Rachel says he's experienced sexually because he has hairy legs. What? I don't think guys immediately sprout hair on their legs after they have sex. Rachel's dumb. Speaking of Rachel being dumb, Stephanie's mom calls an exterminator, who happens to be the man who bought Steph's old house and is also Jeremy Dragon's father. She freaks out and calls Alison and Rachel and tells them to come over, and Rachel says that she's interested in the dragon jacket, which may be an antique. Her aunt buys antiques, so she's an expert. Mr. Dragon says that was his high school jacket. Rachel - open your mouth, insert foot.
The seventh grade is having a bake sale to put together food baskets for the needy, and if there's money left over then the class gets a winter dance. Sexy! Eric Macaulay, who totes has the hots for Alison, nominates his BFF Peter Klaff for chairperson. Peter is super shy, but accepts. Steph has known him forevs, but is just starting to notice him. She should check his legs for hair.
Rachel the nerdo is trying out for the debate team, and Stephanie is thinking about trying out for the percussion section of the symphonic band, but first has to find out if she has rhythm. Unfortunately, there's no montage to an inspirational hiphop song where an inner city student helps her find her rhythm. I wish there was. Steph and Alison go to Alison's grandma's for a day, but Nerdface stays home to work on her speech (though her real reason is that she gets carsick). Alison's grandma, Sadie is super cool. They make some kickass brownies and she teaches them how to dance. Sadly, having a montage with a hip granny teaching the girls how to dance just doesn't have the same effect as an inner city student trying to overcome their roots. Oh yeah, and Alison confesses to Steph that Maizie really can't talk. No shit, Sherlock.
Sadie's brownies sell very well, and Steph and Alison get to touch Jeremy Dragon's hands when taking his money and giving him brownies. Hot! Rachel has her debate team tryout thing, and wows everyone with her maturity and nerdiness. She makes the team, of course. The seventh grade makes enough money in their bake sale to have a winter dance, which shall be held on Groundhog Day, which is also Steph's birthday. The brownies brought in nearly a fifth of the total sales, and I wonder what Sadie's special recipe contains.
Halloween! The girls dress up as witches, and make plans to go to Jeremy Dragon's, Peter Klaff's, and Eric Macaulay's. Instead of saying trick or treat they are going to say the "double double toil and trouble" crap from Macbeth. Steph says they're too old to trick or treat, but they just want to get into the guys' houses. What? Who lets trick or treaters inside their house? We just open the door, throw them some candy, and send them away. They go to Jeremy Dragon's first, and he recognizes Rachel and knows her name. She gets all pissy when they leave and says that the idea was babyish and she wants to go home. Ho needs to calm down! Stephanie finds out why Rachel was acting all bitchtastic a few days later when she is delivering a note to another teacher and discovers that Rachel has been switched out of seventh grade math into enriched ninth grade math with Jeremy Dragon. Rachel gets all snippy when Steph innocently asks her why she never told her, and I have no idea why. What gives, bitch?
Now it's Thankgiving, and Steph's extended family, plus her mother's widowed friend and her daughter, are coming over to dinner. Steph's dad is flying in from California to come, too! He brings her a sexy sweatshirt, and she tells him she'd really like her own phone line for her birthday. She fantasizes a bit about the number, saying that it will be 662-STPH, and I laugh. Her dad takes Bruce and Steph out to dinner, but her mom stays home to get food ready for Thanksgiving. Steph doesn't think anything is unusual.
Everyone comes the next day, and they all have dinner and stuff. Stephanie tells Widowed Friend's daughter Benjamin Moore is her boyfriend, her aunt's poodle Enchilada barfs on Bruce's shoes, and her cousin Howard is gassy. Steph's dad tells her later on that he wants her to hurry up so they can go into the city that night. Steph asks if her mom has to work in the morning, and her dad lays it out on her that they are separated and he took the job in California to see how living apart would be. Steph is shocked and pissed that no one ever told her, and her dad thought she would've guessed it by now. You tell her you've been transferred at work for a little bit and say nothing about any marital troubles and you expected her to guess it? Dumbass. She refuses to go to New York, and her father and Bruce leave without her. She spends the remainder of her Thanksgiving break stuffing herself full of leftovers while being pissed off at her parents.
Back at school, Peter Klaff demonstrates his mad flirting skills by showing Steph where his mom, who is a doctor, burned two warts off his finger with dry ice. Um, sexy? Stephanie pretends to be interested and tells him his hair smells good, and he tells her he uses apple shampoo. The next day, she finds a bottle of apple shampoo in her desk. Hot! He calls her later at home, but chickens out and just asks her for the math assignment and then hangs up. Steph knows he has the hots for her because his twin sister is also in their math class, so he could've gotten the assignment from her. Peter Klaff knows how to work the ladies.
Stephanie has a twitch in her leg and a pain in her stomach that keep recurring. Rachel says she's probably going to start getting her period soon. Rachel thinks hairy legs = hot lovin' skillz, so it's pretty safe to say she's full of crap. Stephanie does too. At Rachel's house later Steph and Alison find out they'll both be spending Christmas break in California, and Rachel throws a shit fit, saying that Christmas break is when most people get depressed because they have no one special to spend the holidays with. Alison invites her to come along and stay with her family, but Rachel says her family needs her, and runs and locks herself in the bathroom crying. I wonder if her leg has been twitching, because she's totes getting her period soon.
The girls exchange Christmas gifts before vacation starts. Steph gives them purple flowered barrettes, Alison gives them a picture of all of them in a purple suede frame, and Rachel gives them purple t-shirts that say "Friends." I'm surprised she didn't give them dictionaries or day planners or something.
California! Steph's dad has a gf named Iris. Iris sucks ass, and I think her dad's a dick for having his girlfriend there 24/7 when he hardly ever sees his kids and he just broke the news to them about the separation from their mother. Her dad loses my respect even more by telling Steph that she's really been putting on the lbs. Ass. One day while her dad and Bruce are out fishing Steph passive aggressively rips Iris a new one, and she leaves. Her dad tells her later she was rude, but Steph doesn't give a crap. I don't either, her dad should try to have a little tact. Play grab ass with your gf some other time when your kids aren't around, jerk. Steph is depressed, and lies to Alison and tells her she's too busy to visit her in Malibu. Poor Stephanie.
The girls reunite at home and talk about the upcoming dance. Alison devised a way for all three of them to play Spit, and Rachel asks them when they're going to grow up and stop playing such a ridiculous game. I think Rachel may actually be 80, not 13. She probably prefers shuffleboard and bingo. I love bingo. Rachel also says Steph is acting pre-menstrual. I think Rachel is PMS-ing all the time, so I guess she'd know.
School begins again, and Jeremy Dragon is now taken by Dana Carpenter. She's wearing his ID bracelet, and says that he wears a pin of hers pinned to his underwear. Ouch! How does Dana know this? Are her legs hairy now? A new guy shows up in Alison and Steph's homeroom, and he's kind of sexy. His name is Max, and when Rachel sees him at lunch she wets her panties and wants to know all about him. She calls him comely, and I start to wonder why she just doesn't say fine piece of ass, but then I remember that she's a senior citizen.
Steph's mom does an at home version of Jazzercise, and then makes Stephanie step on the scale. She's shocked by all the weight Steph's gained, and says she's calling Dr. Klaff in the morning to get her on a diet. Steph nearly dies of embarrassment at the thought of the possibility of Peter Klaff finding out she's become a fattypants. Her mom cleans out all the junk food from their house, and Steph is sad.
Dana and Jeremy Dragon are now broken up, because his slutty ass made out with an eighth grader named Marcella at a party. The girls are loyal to Dana, and now ignore the Dragoned One. Rachel begs Steph to introduce her to Max at lunch, and then reaffirms my belief that she's 80 by quoting the musical Oklahoma as a way to flirt with him. Somehow he still seems into her, and she blushes and adjusts her dentures.
Bruce wins an anti-war poster competition, and the family gets interviewed by the local paper. He also wins a trip to the White House. I bet Rachel can tell him all about her memories of the White House during the Civil War. Dana tells Steph the next day that she saw the article, and then shows them that she's wearing Jeremy's ID bracelet again. He was really sorry and super sexy, so she took him back. Stephanie gets sent to the school counselor after her English teacher reads her paper entitled "I Used To Be An Optimist But I'm Not Anymore." She doesn't really have much to say to the counselor, but decides to mail her paper to her dad when she gets home.
Steph's mom is going to go to New York for a weekend, and asks Steph if she'd like to stay with a friend. Steph was going to ask Alison, but her mom tells her she already asked Rachel's mom if it was okay. Rachel has to cancel a flute practicing session with a fellow band nerd, but says that her mother is looking forward to having Steph there when Alison offers to hang out with Steph and have her spend the night there. Cold as ice! The girls make plans to go shopping for the Groundhog Day dance, and Rachel says she wants something really wild. How wild can you be with polyester elastic waist pants pulled up to your armpits?
Damn! Jeremy the slut broke up with Dana again! He wants to be free to date other people. You can't turn a ho into a housewife, Dana! The girls tell her that Jeremy's just so interested in sex that he forgets about everything else, and that Dana shouldn't let him try to pressure her into giving it up. Dana tells them that their generation is amazing and that when she was their age she didn't know anything. Um, Dana? They're two years younger than you. I don't think that counts as a different generation. Unless you're talking about Rachel, who predates the baby boomers.
Alison and Steph go to the movies while Rachel is practicing her flute and reliving the days when she hung out with Mozart. They see Jeremy making out with Marcella the eighth grade slut the whole time. Gross! and Tacky! When Steph goes back to Rachel's she finds her in bed reading with a face mask on. Have to firm up those wrinkles! Steph tries to talk to her about all the fun stuff they did when they were growing up, and Rachel says it was all a long time ago and she doesn't think about it. What a bitch. Steph gets all sad and thinks that Rachel doesn't want to be BFF any more.
Steph wakes up the next morning to find Rachel doing her homework. Rachel says she always gets up early on Saturdays to do her homework. NERD. Everyone knows weekend homework is for Sunday nights! She finishes and they eat breakfast. After breakfast Rachel cleans her room, and vacuums and dusts the whole thing. Rachel sure knows how to party on a Saturday.
Rachel's mom drops them off at the place they're meeting Alison to go shopping. At the first store they go to Steph finds her dream outfit, and let me tell you, it's hot. It's a skirt and top made out of dark green sweatshirt material with a lacy collar and little animals on the sleeves. Peter Klaff will not be able to contain his boner. Rachel gets pissed that Steph didn't look at every store before deciding on something. Shut up, Rachel, and go eat some prunes or something. They run into a girl from their class who says she has the hots for Max, and Steph tells her that Max wants Rachel. Rachel gets pissed off and storms away into a supr expensive store and tells the salesperson she wants something informally wild. When she goes to try a pair of pants on Steph notices that they're designer, and Rachel basically tells her to fuck off. She then accuses Steph of lying about her parents (Steph never told Rachel or Alison about the separation) and calls Steph and Alison babies. They have a huge fight, and Steph runs out crying. When she arrives back at Rachel's house she packs her shit and goes to spend the rest of the weekend at Alison's. Good riddance, Rachel was acting like a psycho bitch!
Everyone at home and school is all surprised that Steph and Rachel had a fight and aren't speaking. Have you met Rachel? She's been a ho for most of the book! Steph's dad sends her an amethyst necklace for her birthday, which Steph says she'll wear unless Iris picked it out, because then she'll flush it down the toilet. Nice! Alison and Steph go to the dance, and they see Rachel there. Rachel is wearing a white pleated shirt shaped like a lampshade and white jeans. Sexy! The boys devise a way to get Rachel to dance with Max, Eric with Alison, and Peter with Steph. Or, you know, they could've just asked them, but whatevs. After awhile, Steph heads for the girls' room and, because this is a Judy Blume book, discovers that she has gotten her period for the first time. Her homeroom teacher helps her get everything situated, and then announces to everyone that it is her 13th birthday. Everyone sings to Steph except Rachel, who sucks. At the end of the dance Peter kisses Steph and wishes her a happy birthday.
Rachel's mom dropped off a birthday present for Steph at her house while she was at the dance. Steph's mom says she should call and thank them, but Steph chooses to write them a note instead. A few weeks later she sees Rachel's mom digging her car out of the snow, and she asks Steph what went on between her and Rachel, and then proceeds to blame the whole thing on Steph. No way! Rachel was being the bitch! Stephanie is understandably very pissed.
Steph's dad calls and tells her that he broke up with Iris and he's moving back. However, he's not going to be living with them, but he'll have his own apartment. Steph still has lots of hope. At school, everyone except for Alison and her have come down with the flu. Most of their class is absent. Alison calls Steph after school and tells her that she needs to see her right away. She comes over with Maizie and a bag, crying and saying that she's running away. She just found out the her mom is pregnant, even though she couldn't get pregnant all those years ago before she adopted baby Alison, and Alison is afraid that her mom and stepdad will love the new baby more than her because it will be theirs biologically. Alison hides in Steph's closet when her parents come to get her, and then comes out and passes out. When she comes to, she says that her dog can talk. Weird!
Alison has the killer flu, and is out of school for awhile. Dana and Jeremy Dragon are back together again, but she's not wearing his bracelet because they decided it was the bracelet that was causing all of their problems. No, it was Jeremy's slut-tastic ways. Rachel and Steph have now been not speaking for seven weeks. One day, Stephanie isn't paying attention and accidentally follows Rachel home off the school bus. Rachel turns around and then walks her home. They walk each other home and talk things over. Rachel was acting like a bitch because she thought Stephanie wanted to be friends with Alison instead of her. You can have more than one friend, Rachel! They both apologize and make up, and the book ends.
Rachel's hair is atrocious! Half ponytail in a huge scrunchie right on the top of the head...oh wait, I have the exact same hairstyle in my fifth grade school photo. Shit!