I don't even know where to start with this one...Maybe with the freaky little clowns on the cover.
Kinda giving me nightmares...and I'm not even asleep!
Yeah. This book doesn't really have a plot. At all. The idea is that Claud has to write her "autobiography" for school. So, she recalls a few choice anecdotes that are never otherwise mentioned. Like the time she spent at a special school in Stamford. Wait, what? Don't worry, I'll go back to that one.
So, I figure the easy way to do this one (because I am nothing if not lazy) (and self-deprecating), is to give you a brief summary of the different events that Claud covers.
Big event #1: The Kishis get another baby.
Don't worry, even Claud's not stupid enough to think she can remember being born. But Janine? She remembers A LOT. Especially given that she was only 3 1/2 when Claudia was born.
Lucky us, we get an anecdote about pre-school wonder-trio Claudia, Mary Anne and Kristy putting their hands in wet cement. Yay.
Big event #2: Claudia's sixth birthday "party" hits a speedbump.
So, Claudia liked kindergarten. [I hated kindergarten. But that's another story for another therapist.]
On the last day of said kindergarten [damn, I hate typing that word!], Claud distributes invitations to her upcoming (as in a few weeks away) sixth birthday party. It's going to be all circus themed. Or something. Only nobody RSVPs, AND the only people who show up are Mary Anne and Kristy. So Claud's all crying and heartbroken, so all the parents (and Mimi) and Mary Anne and Kristy all throw together a little surprise party to cheer up the wee artist.
Big event #3: Claudia loses a tooth (but finds the truth).
Circa second grade, Claud is scared to lose any teeth because she thinks that the Tooth Fairy is a monster that eats teeth (and even yanks 'em if she's really hungry). (Oh, and all the kids in 2nd grade are apparently obsessed with losing their teeth.) But the C-dawg falls or something and knocks one of her teeth loose and then she has to have the dentist pull it. And she catches her mom in the act of being the notorious T.O.O.T.H. And then Claud realizes that *SPOILER* [NOT REALLY] Santa and the Easter Bunny are also made up. And she feels all sad and grown up. Yeah.
Big event #4: Claudia IS the new girl!
So, after a decent year in third grade, Claud really starts to lose her shit, academically speaking, in fourth grade. Halfway through the year, she winds up transferring to a special school, the Stamford Alternative Academy, where she gets a lot of special attention, etc. And she really starts to do well in school, but she's crazy depressed and anti-social and does that BSC thing where she pre-dumps Kristy and Mary Anne rather than let them "outgrow" her or whatever. Finally, she gets so depressed that her parents let her go back to Stoneybrook Elementary School. And we all know how well that worked out for her.
Big event #5: Claudia goes to the beach. Seriously. (With the Thomases.)
So, the summer when the girls are eleven, Claudia joins the Thomas (post-Mr. Thomas, pre-Watson) family for a trip to the beach; Charlie and Sam are both playing on a baseball team that's in the playoffs or something. In this little bit, we learn that the Thomases don't have much money, and Kristy has to be really responsible. Or something. Oh, yeah, cause Kristy has to watch David Michael all the time. Blah.
So, that's the general picture. Now for the rants!
- "But as usual, I'm jumping into the middle of things. I guess that's because I see things not as having a beginning and an end, but as a big picture spreading out all around me with me (of course) at the center." Seriously. That manages to sound both stupid and pretentious. Quite a feat.
- "I'm smart, but, well, school and I (except for art and maybe phys ed) just don't agree." Me neither, actually.
- "Because I also have, well, an appreciation for what some people call junk food. But then, some people call wonderful works of art junk, too, right? Even Nancy Drew books! It's all in how you look at it." Okay, I've never heard the high/low art dichotomy used as a pro-Twinkie argument before. Also, even if you love Nancy Drew books, you know they're not great works of art. Not that they have no value, or aren't enjoyable or well-made or whatever. But not "wonderful works of art." Heh. "Art junk."
- Ah, yes, the notorious "fascinating parental fact." Sometimes, though, you just don't want to know. Trust me.
- Yes, I'm sure that "being smart and laid-back and looking totally together is the result of all those sprouts and tofu!" Oh, wait, though. Dawn's not laid-back! Damn, there goes your sales pitch.
- Apparently, Claudia knew what an art show was when she was young enough to draw all over the bathroom. Prescient!
- Holy fucking retardedness, Batman! When she was in kindergarten, she drew a fucking butterfly as her self portrait. Proving once again that huffing while knocked up is a baaaaad idea, Mrs. Kishi.
- Outfit! "An enormous shirt and patchwork vest over striped leggings." How edgy! How...exactly what she wears in every fucking book.
- In a mighty presumptuous move, Claud titles her autobiography "An Artist's Life."
- Dumb bitch can't even spell the name of the state where she's lived her entire life.
- Well, duh. Of course you don't remember being born or being brought home from the hospital.
- I always thought Mimi was a nickname, but, according to Claud's birth announcement, her name is Mimi Yamamoto. So, Claud calls her grandmother by her first name. Even as a kid. Kinda weird.
- Heh. Toddler Janine has a mullet.
- One of Claud's earliest memories is from when she was four and a half or five. Which seems kind of late, no? [Though I know jack shit about kiddie development, so I could be totally off.]
- On the first day of kindergarten, Kristy "looked around the room, folded her arms, and said, 'Not bad.'" The fuck? How old was she when she started school? 30?
- Ah, undiagnosed ADD. Excuse me, ADHD.
- L'il Claud outfit! "I was wearing black tights and my tall black rainboots and my red jacket with the brass buttons. I had a T-shirt with a lion's head painted on the front and I wore that under the jacket. I thought it made me look like a lion tamer." Um, is she wearing any pants? Or just the tights? Sure, Nancy Sinatra and Edie Sedgwick could pull it off, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for a five-going-on-six-year-old.
- Janine, on the other hand, was wearing "a [wait for it...] Laura Ashley flowered dress and white tights and flats." So, I'm totally trying to determine the rules for the BSC drinking game. And I think part of it should be "drink twice when someone wears Laura Ashley."
- L'il Kristy's idea of "party clothes?" So glad you asked. "Kristy was wearing navy blue shorts with a matching camp shirt, white socks, and her best sneakers."
- There's an elaborately contrived reason for no guests. Lame.
- I don't remember everyone being obsessed with losing their baby teeth. It just happened. I enjoyed it personally, cause I'm a sick fuck.
- The illustrations in this book totally fucked with me. First of all, Claud looks like a different kid in each picture. Then she looks younger when she's supposed to be older and vice fucking versa. Seriously. Weak.
- Some more "clever" homemade devices for deterring intruders. Yay. Still not amusing when the "intruder" is a creepy fairy.
- A 3rd grade teacher that wears "business suits?" Hmmmm...
- Claud's 4th grade teacher is both black and southern. But I thought Jessi's fam were the only black people in town?!?!? And the Brunos were the only southerners!?!?! My world is falling apart, much like when Claud realized that the tooth fairy was her mom.
- Claud gets tested for learning disabilities!!!! But I would've gotten a second opinion if they came back clear. Cause, not bright.
- Okay, a couple of things really bothered me about the whole special school thing.
- One, I would think Claudia would kind of like a school that didn't make her feel stupid all the time.
- Two, she threw a teenage hissyfit about going to school, and she alienated all the kids and didn't even try to make friends.
- Three, did she really think that the two girls across the street wouldn't have anything to say to her if they went to different schools?
- And, finally, is it really better to go back to the school where you were doing terribly, have to spend all kinds of time outside of school getting tutors and getting extra attention, and still not do well? Wouldn't that be worse for her self-worth? And she couldn't be in the same classes as her friends as school progressed, so what good would being at the same school be? Lunch period? This whole interlude really bothered me.
- Also, these girls talked EXACTLY the same at eight as they do at thirteen, and it's all ridiculous.
- Claudia never like Mr. Thomas. How convenient.
- I don't think I ever went away with another family when I was a kid, except with my extended family. I don't think that counts. But these girls are constantly travelling with other fams. Crazy, crazy parents.
- Claud's the only one who thinks the hotel at the beach is run down. Ha ha, Kristy's family is poor. And Claud's a snob.
- Also, Claud's acting like Kristy's all grown-up, taking care of David Michael. At eleven. Wait a minute...isn't that how old Mal and Jessi are?
- Of course, the written autobiography inspires some lameass art project.
Wowza. That sucked Cartman's balls.
One more thing: Mary Anne is one fugly kid.
See ya after Christmas, suckas!