So, I totally loved this book the first time around, even though I’m not entirely sure why. Was it my artist phase? Maybe. Had I recently split with friends? Maybe? Anyway…
Enter Ashley Wyeth (no relation to Andrew Wyeth, Claudia asked). She dresses like a hippie, always wears work boots, has three holes in each ear (and wears different earrings in each hole, because ANM is obsessed with that particular fashion statement) and is an ARTIST. In Chicago, where she used to live, she studied at the very, very prestigious/famous/selective Keyes Art Society, and she has no time for anything but her art. And she thinks Claudia has talent (and for some reason, I keep hearing Dr. Allan Pearl say, “I do, indeed, have talent”).
So, of course Claud gets a MAJOR girl crush on her and pretty much blows off school, babysitting and the BSC. She and Ms. Art School (“I think that the secret of sculpting inanimate objects is making them look animated”) start spending tons of time together “in the field” looking for inspiration for a sculpture exhibit. Ashley picks a fire hydrant that’s “almost noble,” and suggests that Claudia either pick another inanimate object or sculpt a concept, none of which appeals to Claudia…finally, Claudia snaps and realizes that she’s not ready to commit all her time to Ashley and art, and reconciles with the BSC. And manages to get an honorable mention for a half finished bust of Little Pete. And manages to patch things up to friendly acquaintance with the Ice Queen.
Secondary plot: Jeff starts getting into trouble and it interferes with Dawn’s baby-sitting.
You know, for being “the best friends you’ll ever have” and for being “so different it is amazing,” the BSC can be ultra-mega bitches to any outsiders. Sure, the have non-BSC friends that only show up when the club is fighting, or someone needs to have a tragedy, or a date, or a class project…you get the idea. And sure, Ashley’s a mini-version of the 80s archetypal superbitch who’s so focused on her career at the expense of everything else in her life, but the girls didn’t exactly jump to welcome her…And they get sooooo petty when a club member steps out of their prescribed position (Mary Anne’s makeover, anyone?). They eat and mess with Claud’s stash, and then leave nasty little notes all over her room…Seriously, girls…whatever happened to starting rumors on the bathroom walls or public humiliation?
Oh, and the fashion? They keep mentioning how super WEIRD Ashley dresses. The girls who admire Claudia’s ridiculous combinations think a girl dressing a little hippie is weird. Now, I’m not big on the hippie love, but I subscribed to YM in late 80s, and the hippie look was in, big time. You have to wonder: don’t these girls ever see any older teens? Kids back from college? There have to be a few Ivy Leaguers home for the summers; this is a rather well off town in Connecticut. Also, Claudia’s “sophisticated” look: “a very short pink cotton dress, white tights, and black ballet slippers…hair way over to one side where it was held in place with a piece of pink cloth that matched the dress.” Um, sounds like a five-year-old going to Sunday school, to me. Now, maybe with black tights, it would have been fairly Edie, but white tights?
Plus, Ashley? Shut up. Thanks.