I mean even by adult, not-mentally-unstable standards. You really can churn out a semi-decent teen novel.
And have it reflect well on me for ever liking this series in the first place. So the girls return from their Fort Lauderdale shenanigans to find that out of the blue, Canby Hall has decided to let in boys.
Side note: as far as I can tell, this experiment did go well, since the boys end up staying through graduation, but no other males are ever admitted. These three remain the only boys the following year, and when the new class comes in around book 18 there are no boys then either. Did the school administration fear no others could ever live up to these three superior specimens of teenage masculinity? In Today, that might be true. Anyway, the whole dorm realizes things have definitely changed when they go down for Sunday brunch, and later for a fire drill, looking like crap and the boys are there to witness it all.
The girls are all wearing ratty bathrobes a Canby tradition, apparently, though we never hear of it again and Pamela Young is wearing an herbal mud mask. PA makes the official announcement once classes start back up, which is a little late on the uptake if you ask me. Why would there be no warning given to the students, and especially the parents, before such a major change in a year-old boarding school?
In any case, the time has now come to introduce the new men on the scene. They are Terry, a writer whom Dana, of course, instantaneously falls head over heels for; Sheff, who is black so is obviously a new love interest for who else but Faith; and Keith, who is a nerd and the surprise object of affection for the anti-male Casey.
Keith, though a stereotypical dork who accessorizes with calculators and pocket protectors even though I have never seen anyone dress this way despite spending years in academics, is the most lovable of the newcomers, if you ask me. You ought to be starting the day with more protein. Not to mention riboflavin. Terry and Dana end up in the same writing class and begin exchanging their work for the other to critique.
Naturally this convinces Dana they will get married. The campus adjusts to the awkwardness of having boys around and welcomes them. Are they some kind of vortex, sucking every new person on campus into their midst? Randy calls, and Dana blows him off because she wants to work on a poem to impress Terry in class the next day.
Why is this girl appealing again? Someone get back to me. Meanwhile, Sheff is super-cool and sophisticated, so Faith is tongue-tied around him. He declines for the moment, but in the middle of the night plays a song for her under her window. Which it has. Some poser with sheet music shows up and the local hero gets demoted to Regular Teenage Boy?
At this point it was time for a quick break so things could devolve into the cheesiness that seems better suited to one of the other books in this series. The Annual Pancake Breakfast takes place, which is when the girls invite local family and boyfriends over for pancakes in the maple grove. Afterwards, they put on an absurd, rather infantile Spring Concert that PA proudly claims is all her idea.
Let me paint a picture: the choir members dress up in tulip dresses while other girls dress up as woodland creatures and weave in and out among them. Keith dresses up like a bee and buzzes around like what I can only p is an imbecile. Shelley re a poem about spring wearing a dress made of scarves.
How twisted is that? This book — it took 12 books to get here, for crying out loud — is the first one to actually call the girls out on their ridiculously fickle behaviour, and to state that it is wrong for them to chase other guys while they have boyfriends just to be clear, those are 8 separate links to their inanityand to show consequences for doing so. How remarkably refreshing! Ignoring her relationship with Randy completely, she writes a bad poem asking Terry out and puts it in his mailbox.
He never mentions it.
Later he tells her he loved the poem, confirming that he received it, but never says anything about going out on a date. Dana is confused as no fictional male character has ever been able to resist her before. Obviously she must need to try harder. In fact this must be the only book in which Shelley is the one largely spared from the boy drama. Excuse me while I swoon. They all talk about how conceited Sheff is, and yet Faith seems to find it attractive.
I completely fail to understand that about some women. Johnny punches Sheff and Sheff refuses to fight. OK, I will grudgingly spare an ounce of respect for our new friend Sheff. In a nonsensical plot point, Faith and Dana decide that the logical answer to their troubles is to go to a fortune teller.
Sample exchange: during the palm reading, Madame Irene tells Dana she can see that Dana is a runner. I think of getting pair myself. She goes out to his farm and gets on a horse to go looking for him, but gets caught in a storm. Randy comes to her rescue. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have just witnessed the long-overdue demise of this infernal relationship. Dana mentions that she broke up with her boyfriend and that she and Terry should go out. Dana is mystified. Obviously security must be real tight at this place.
What a comfort to the families around the world sending their young daughters here. The Canby boys return home to find their room toilet-papered, sauerkraut and shaving cream everywhere, the beds short-sheeted, and a message in lipstick saying the stunt is from their 4 secret admirers. They deliver a gift-wrapped frog to Faith. They get Dana in trouble in her writing class. Uh, OK. Really, PA is the weirdest headmistress ever.
Her priorities are totally out of whack. She has no problem letting her teenage students gallivant off to a college Spring Break destinationbut totally overreacts to a not-even-very-imaginative prank like this one. In true PA-fashion, she grounds the whole school until someone comes forward to take responsibility.
Terry admits to Dana that they did it.
Dana feels like an idiot but convinces him they need to turn themselves in. And she figures out their boyfriends were the ones who started the whole thing. So the boys confess to PA, who scares them by saying this makes her rethink whether boys should be part of Canby Hall at all. Yes, because your precious girls are so well-behaved. I mean really. I mean, what does it have to do with anything? Most likely the ghostwriter was just fast approaching her deadline by this point.
And is the first to finally tell Dana that her habit of collecting guys is not healthy. Someone give this girl a prize! Mary Ann and Sara were always playing Lionel Richie records. Oh, uh, never mind. Neither do I. To paraphrase:. And so the boys are here to stay, at least until graduation.
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Will they be allowed to live independent lives, or will these girls engulf them in their dramas until they escape to college? Or will they all wake up one day mature and determined to focus on academics? I too was the only one of my friends to read this series well, I mostly abandoned it once the new trio arrived. Thanks, TurtleGirl, and welcome!
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Because I never read and re-read their books in the series when I was a kid, recapping them now for this blog is like reading them for the first time. How much sense would it make to have another boarding school that takes boys right in the same area?
But of course the writers wanted to give the girls some more boys to engage with, and this made a handy if nonsensical way to do it, and that is how this series works. I did like the relationship between Keith and Casey, which endures until graduation and is probably the most stable and healthy romantic relationship any of the Canby Hall girls ever have.
I also like that Terry has zero romantic interest in Dana in this book or any of the following books. Dana actually learns something from it, and they do become friends but then who else would take their terrible writing seriously? I did not like the way Sheff carries a torch for Faith for the rest of the series.
That spring concert was painfully lame. I did enjoy the fortune teller incident, silly as it was. And yeah, total overreaction from PA over the rubber hand in the food.