The Girls of Canby Hall #9: Boy Trouble

Friday night: date night! Not for Dana, who only wants to stay home and catch up on her homework. She has a book report -- A book report? In high school? -- due and a Spanish assignment she hasn't even looked at yet. I thought Dana took Latin. Maybe that was last year. Anyway, she doesn't want to go out with Randy, so she does the logical thing: she sends Shelley. Don't you always send your best friends out on dates with your boyfriend?

Faith thinks it's a bad idea, but keeps her thoughts to herself. Why, Faith? What could possibly go wrong?

Shelley and Randy have fun together. They have a lot in common, both being country-types, and they had both been wanting to see The Grapes of Wrath while Dana and Tom didn't. Shelley is able to open up to Randy about her childhood and family in Iowa in a way she can't with Tom. Randy's more like Paul, her boyfriend back home: comfortable, but with something extra that she can't pinpoint yet.

Dana, Faith, and a few other girls are listening to Faith's Billie Holiday records when Shelley returns to her room. She tells them about the movie, which is set during the Depression.

"When was that?" Casey asked.

"I don't know, exactly," Shelley answered. "Fifty, sixty, seventy years ago."

"Ancient history," Cheryl murmured. "Who cares."

Perhaps Billie Holiday might.

Dana keeps her date with Randy on Sunday, which is too bad because Shelley would have enjoyed a hearty brunch with Randy's family. Now that she's moved past her crush on Michael, Dana is really starting to like Randy.

As the girls are on their way to classes on Monday morning, Pamela passes by and makes a crack about friendship. She has her first class with Dana and Faith, and wastes no time in telling Dana that she spotted Shelley and Randy having pizza together on Friday night. When Dana doesn't react, Pamela continues, stating that they looked "utterly entranced with each other." Class has begun by this time, and Pamela is called out for talking. Ms. MacPherson asks Pamela to share with the class, so she announces to everyone that Dana's roommate and boyfriend were out together over the weekend.

Pamela gets a reaction from the class, and Dana blushes and tries to explain that she sent Shelley and Randy out together. Everyone laughs, which is not the support against Pamela that Dana was hoping for.

Shelley has special permission to go to Waterville, two towns away from Greenleaf, on the back of Tom's motorcycle. The library there is holding a book for her. Tom has to go on to Boston, so Shelley is to catch the noon bus back to Canby. Tom warns her not to miss it. The next bus isn't until 4:30 and will get her back so late that she will be in trouble.

It's only 10:45 by the time Shelley retrieves her book, so she pokes around the unfamiliar library and becomes engrossed in the theater section. Selecting some books, she's surprised to run into Randy, who's come to Waterville for barbed wire and library books. He invites her to join him for lunch, since it's just a little after noon.

Shelley's panicked about missing her bus, but Randy offers to drive her back after they eat lunch. Before Randy shows her around Waterville, Shelley calls Alison and explains that she missed the bus and will be back late. They spend the afternoon together, and as they head back to his truck, Randy takes Shelley's hand.

And kisses her.

Shelley knew she was slipping into a situation that was completely, thoroughly, wrong -- and yet was almost irresistible to her.

She tries to protest, to say that Dana's her roommate and one of her best friends and Randy is Dana's boyfriend. Randy replies that he's not married to Dana. He likes her, but he likes Shelley too. He wants to see Shelley again.

He offers to tell Dana about the day they've spent together, but Shelley doesn't want that. He says they can tell her together, but Shelley says no to that, too. Then he says they don't have to tell her, and Shelley agrees.


Shelley was never my favorite of the girls (probably Dana was) but I don't really remember this side of her. I mean, I knew this happened, but...ugh. TWO boyfriends aren't enough for Shelley? She needs a third?

Randy drops Shelley off outside the gates of Canby. They kiss again before she gets out of his truck, and he promises to call her. Surely someone who answers the phone at Canby will recognize his voice and know that he usually calls for Dana?

Shelley escapes into a long bath and then her bed, feigning exhaustion. She knows her feelings for Dana's boyfriend are wrong and she tries to convince herself that she and Randy are just friends.

Dana answers the phone when Randy calls for Shelley, but he covers and pretends he was calling for Dana. Dana invites him to her Choral concert and a party afterwards next weekend, and they also make a date for the coming Saturday night.

Dana and Randy end up doubling with Faith and Johnny, and as they're standing in line for a movie, they see Tom and Shelley entertaining the crowd, with Tom dressed as a clown. As the line begins to move forward, Johnny pulls Tom and Shelley along. Shelley and Randy end up sitting next to each other, sandwiched between Dana and Tom. Shelley once again tries to convince herself that she and Randy are friends and that she's in love with Tom.

Casey fails a test and while she's upset over it, Pamela sees her vulnerability and moves in. She invites Casey to go to Greenleaf with her and her two friends. The group gets into trouble in the supermarket, after they accidentally knock over and bust open two bags of sugar and then veer into the ketchup, breaking several bottles that spill all over the sugar, and in their haste to run away, trample some cakes. The store manager corners them and calls Ms. Allardyce, who brings Alison along to pick up the girls. He tells them not to come back for a month. Pamela has an attitude and tells him there are plenty of other stores in town.

Ms. Allardyce is furious. She drives the group back to Canby and tells the girls to clean up then meet at her house. She restricts them to campus for three weeks and revokes all special privileges.

Shelley sneaks away to a pay phone to call Randy. They're both feeling guilty and uneasy, but they arrange a date anyway. Randy takes her riding, and then back to Waterville to eat. When they get to the diner where they ate before, Shelley makes him keep driving: she saw Pamela on the street, and she thinks Pamela saw them too.

Later, Shelley's not sure if it was Pamela. Pamela is, after all, still confined to campus, and she hasn't said a word about it to Shelley in the following days.

Shelley can't resist. The next time she sees Pamela, she brings up Waterville to see if Pamela has any reaction.

"...I just thought I saw you there. Outside the coffee shop near the library. Randy and I --" She went scarlet. "Tom and I were there for lunch and I though..."

Oh, Shelley.

Shelley is relieved when Pamela denies being in Waterville. Pamela, though, caught her slip, and Pamela was at Baker on Sunday when Tom stopped by, looking for Shelley.

Dana and Faith head into Greenleaf to run some errands. They meet Tom on his way to campus to see Shelley. Dana's sure that Shelley has gone back to Waterville to return a library book, but Tom is under the impression that he and Shelley have a date.

Dana and Faith stop for ice cream when they get to town. The boy at the counter tells him that he can't serve them. He's been told not to serve any Canby girl for two weeks. Dana and Faith are confused but decide they can't do anything about it and go on to return a sweater at another store. But the woman there won't help them either. She informs them that no Canby girl is welcome in Greenleaf stores for two weeks. Faith's friend at the camera shop confirms this. It's all a direct result of the antics of Casey, Pamela, Ellie, and Mary Beth at the supermarket.

Dana and Faith are rattled and want to get back to campus as quickly as possible. When they get there, they tell their story. Shelley can't believe it. She has a friend at the jewelry store and she's sure he won't turn her away. She's on her way to check out some stores that Dana and Faith didn't try when another girl comes in with the news.

Shelley calls Tom to pick her up and take her to Greenleaf. She doesn't have any luck either. While she's gone, Dana and Faith go to Alison. Alison calls the houseparents at the other dorms on campus to see if they've had any reports. They have, so Alison calls Miss Allardyce.

Miss Allardyce calls the four girls involved in the supermarket trouble to her house. She tells them to write letters of apology to the supermarket manager and dismisses them. Pamela tells the other girls that she's not going to write her letter and insists that her mother will pay for everything they ruined. Mary Beth and Ellie are going to write their letters right away, but Casey says she has too much homework to do.

Pamela says the stores need the Canby girls' business in order to stay open. Casey isn't so sure but she's willing to find out. Ellie and Mary Beth try to get Casey and Pamela to write their letters, but they hold strong.

None of the girls in Baker can concentrate on their homework until Casey, Pamela, and Mary Beth return to the dorm. (Ellie lives in a different dorm.) Mary Beth apologizes to everyone who's assembled to meet them and says she's going to her room to write her apology letter. Casey and Pamela stay tough and tell the crowd that they aren't writing their letters. After Alison breaks it up and sends everyone back to their own rooms, the group breaks up but warns Casey and Pamela that they better write their letters.

The next day Faith and Grace are trying to decide whether to do a feature on the boycott of Canby by Greenleaf stores when Pamela walks by the newspaper office. Grace asks if Pamela is going to write her letter. Pamela says no, she's not writing it because she has guts, which is more than she can say for some people. She tells Faith that one her roommates does like to take chances, that she's been having romantic dates with Randy in Waterville. Faith and Grace naturally assume Pamela is talking about Dana, but Pamela points out that Faith has more than one roommate. Faith and Grace don't want to believe Pamela, but Faith decides to find out for sure and asks Grace not to say anything to anyone.

A few days later Miss Allardyce calls an assembly and announces that Pamela and Casey haven't written their letters, and that until they do, every Canby girl is restricted to campus. Way to instigate some peer pressure, Miss Allardyce.

Most of the girls are upset -- many of them has plans off campus -- but Shelley is secretly relieved because she won't be able to see Randy. When she admits that she doesn't mind, Faith instantly knows that Pamela was telling the truth and when Shelley looks at Faith, Shelley knows that Faith knows. Faith excuses herself to go to the newspaper office, and when she returns to Baker angry, she meets Alison, who insists that Faith join her for a talk.

Faith tells Alison that she's upset about Casey, then admits that Shelley has been seeing Dana's boyfriend. Alison's advice is to do nothing. Casey isn't Faith's responsibility, and neither are Dana and Shelley.

Rumors about Casey and Pamela fly around campus. Dana helps organize a meeting of the Baker girls, including Ellie Bolton who lives on the fourth floor. Hmm. Would this be the same Ellie Bolton who was involved in the incident and lives in another dorm? The group decides to take action. They're going to first visit Casey and then Pamela and talk some sense into them. When they get to Casey's room, she's already cracked and is working on her letter. For some reason that's enough and the group disbands, never reaching Pamela's room.

Casey tells Pamela that she's written her letter and that Pamela needs to write one too. Pamela still refuses. The next night, the group reassembles to go to Pamela's room. Why couldn't they just have gone the same night they went to Casey's? This is stupid. Pamela's prepared for them and says that she doesn't care that the whole school is on restriction. Then she closes the door and goes to bed.

Faith suggests the silent treatment. It's the only thing she can think of to get through to Pamela. No one on campus will speak to or acknowledge her. It takes several days to get the entire school on board with the idea, but eventually everyone has been informed.

It takes Pamela a few class periods to catch on to what's happening, but when she does, she stays strong for a few more days. By the fourth day, she's angry. On the fifth day, she writes her letter.

Dana's choral concert goes on as planned. Everyone hates the polyphonic medieval music, as they expected from past performances. Dana throws a small party for her friends as a sort of bribe/thank you for them attending the concert. Randy isn't able to make the concert, but does go to the party. Shelley is overly nice, trying to be casual, but Tom immediately notices that she's acting unusual and confront Shelley after Randy walks away. He's heard some rumors that he didn't believe...but he does now. He storms out.

When Randy finds Shelley crying, she tells him that Tom knows about them. Randy tells her that they can't date, and Shelley agrees that they're hurting too many people. They agree to be good friends and hug, just as Dana walks into the room.

Dana runs out, followed by Shelley. In their room, Dana asks Shelley if she's been dating Randy. Shelley says they were saying goodbye when she saw them. Dana asks if Faith knew, and Faith admits that she suspected there was something going on but couldn't tell Dana. Dana's mad at both of them and leaves. She runs for a while until she realizes she's near Michael's house. When she knocks, he answers the door all dressed up. He's going out but has some time to talk to her. Dana explains about Shelley and Randy, which catches Michael by surprise, and even more so when she says she asked Shelley to go out with him in the first place. Michael questions Dana until she realizes she asked Shelley to go because she hadn't wanted to,not because she had too much homework. She insists, though, that she didn't mean for them to start dating. Michael tells her she has some thinking to do and that if she wants to talk more, she should make an appointment to see him next week.

Faith and Shelley talk, and somehow manage to convince themselves that it's as much Dana's fault as it is Shelley's.

"I mean, she should have known how much you and Randy have in common. She may have wanted this to happen and never even realized it herself."

"Do you mean it's just as much Dana's fault as mine?" Shelley asked, her eyes wide.

"It doesn't make too much sense otherwise, does it? I mean, I would never send Johnny out with anyone else. Would you want Tom or Paul to go out with another girl?"

Okay, Faith has a point with that last sentence, but I think it's going a little too far to say it's Dana's FAULT that this happened. Dana may have asked Shelley to go out with Randy ONE TIME, but she didn't ask her to continue to see him behind her back or to kiss him or take out of town trips with him.

Dana takes a walk to begin her thinking and decides that she likes Randy but never really feels comfortable with him because they're so different. She knows that she doesn't want to go out with Bret again but would never have asked Shelley to go out with him when they were together because her feelings for Bret were so intense. She doesn't feel that way about Randy.
Back at the dorm, she goes to her room. Shelley asks Dana to forgive her. Dana's not ready yet, so Shelley tries the "But it was all your idea in the first place!!!" tactic. Dana's not buying it.

She goes to the payphones to call Randy and they arrange to meet for pizza. Randy apologizes and says it wasn't planned. He hadn't ever even noticed Shelley before Dana asked her to go out with him that one time. Dana cuts him off and says that everyone keeps trying to tell her it's her fault. They have it out and suddenly Dana realizes that everyone was right. It WAS her fault.


Dana sees now that Randy and Shelley have so much in common (small-town life). She tells Randy that she forgives him and asks him to forgive her too. Then she doesn't even let Randy eat pizza. She asks him if she can take it back to Canby to share with Faith and Shelley. I guess he'll have to be satisfied with Dana's forgiveness, but it's okay because he had just finished a huge snack when she called.

Dana tells Shelley that she forgives her and they share the pizza.

The Girls of Canby Hall #8: The Big Crush

Anyone who would like to discuss early admission to college, academic difficulties, or personal problems should make an appointment with Mr. Michael Frank, Ext. 37. All appointments will be kept confidential.

This is the note on the bulletin board outside Alison's apartment in Baker House. Dana sees it, and at just the right time. She's been feeling depressed and unable to concentrate for no reason. Still, she doesn't call.

One morning while out running, Dana trips over a tree root and falls. She decides that she has to figure out what's bothering her. Her grades haven't been good lately. Her father married Eve instead of remarrying Dana's mother. She's still upset about Bret and wishes she could like Randy more. She can't get excited about anything and she's been a bad friend to Faith and Shelley. She tries to talk herself out of feeling this way and decides to give Mr. Michael Frank a call.

The next day is the first snow of the season. (It's November. The last book took place in September, mabye stretching into early October. I guess they don't do Halloween at Canby.) The girls decide to walk into Greenleaf to enjoy the dusting of snow, but when they get to the door they see that a lot of others have the same idea, including Pamela Young. That kills Dana's interest and she tells the others to go on without her. Running back up to her room, she almost knocks Alison over. Alison wants to talk, but Dana, on the verge of tears, just wants to be left alone.

On Monday, Dana makes an appointment with Michael Frank. He asks her to meet him at his house on campus because his office isn't set up yet. The school provides housing for its teachers? Not a bad setup! I wonder if they pay rent or if it's considered a benefit.

That afternoon she goes to her appointment.

He looked something like the Marlboro man, rugged and devastatingly handsome. He was only about thirty, Dana judged, with dark, almost black, curly hair, worn a little long in back, and rich brown eyes, underscored with laugh lines.

<sing-song voice>Dana's in love!</sing-song voice>

They make small talk, getting to know each other. Michael has a master's degree in psychology from Berkeley but he's from Chicago. He jogs and he worked on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico once summer while recovering from a short marriage.

They talk about her parents' divorce and her father's remarriage and how it has affected her. Before she leaves, Michael gives her an assignment for next week: write down some things, even if they're just little things, that tick her off.

Michael was clearly an exceptional person -- maybe the most exceptional man she'd ever met. He was wise and mature and he had a way of putting things that made them seem sensible and even comprehensible.

Told ya!

Everyone wants to know what Michael was like when Dana joins them in the dining hall, but Dana wants to keep it to herself.

It was almost as if she would give away something of her own by describing him.

Casey and the girls of 407 are soon joined by Pamela, Mary Beth Grover, and a third girl named Ellie who I know has been mentioned before. Pamela has heard that Michael is around thirty and unattached. Many of her friends in California date older men because they bring more experience to the relationship.

Yeah, but they're also OLD. Now, I say this as someone who's over thirty myself. I would find myself with very little in common with a teenage boy.

Shelley decides to go see Michael. She's concerned that, now that she's lost some weight, she's at risk for developing anorexia. She's started to be afraid to eat, scared that she's going to gain back the weight she lost. They talk for a while and Michael doesn't seem to think she's truly at risk, but he advises her to weigh herself daily so she can see that she's maintaining her weight and not gaining. That way she won't be so scared.

Shelley's so relieved that she runs back to the room and gushes about Michael. Faith jokes she'd better go see him too, so as not to be left out. Dana's a little jealous that others will be seeing Michael, even though she knows that's why he's at Canby.

Dana's father calls. He and Eve will be in New York next month and want her to visit them. They have some news but will wait until they're all together to share it.

Sunday night, Dana receives a note in her mailbox from Michael inviting her to go for a run with him the next afternoon. Returning to her room, she decides to join Faith to do laundry. Her hot pink sweat pants are grungy and she has to look good for Michael.

Dana wears a ribbon in her hair instead of a sweatband when she goes to meet Micheal. Really, Dana? That's not obvious or anything. I don't see why should couldn't wear both, actually. It's not like they serve the same function. A sweatband goes around the head and a ribbon usually goes around a ponytail. Oh, wait. Is it possible she's wearing a ribbon as a headband? That's not good for running, Dana. Just wear the sweatband.

Michael conducts Dana's counseling session while they run. They discuss Alison, who Dana says she did not go to with her issues because Alison knows her too well, and Dana's parents' divorce again. As they near Baker House, Dana is dismayed to see Randy Crowell sitting on the front steps waiting for her. Michael runs off alone, back to his house/office.

Dana blows Randy off when he asks her out for the weekend, but feels bad and agrees to go to Canby's midwinter dance with him. As she goes inside, she knows she's going to blow him off again the next time he calls. Come on, Dana, he's such a nice guy and he really likes you. Dana looks around at the other girls in the Baker lounge and feels older and more mature.

Michael understood that -- nobody else really knew her, but he did.

A romance for the ages, no doubt.

The Canby Hall library must be on some alternate version of the Dewey Decimal system. Faith and Casey are looking for Huguenots at the Brink in 677.25, which my friend Google tells me is for textiles. History is the 900s. After they leave the library, the girls walk past the conference room, where they see Michael arranging pillows on the floor. He has pillows instead of furniture. Is this really a good idea? Pillows all over the floor of an "office" of a young male counselor at an all girls boarding school?

They introduce themselves then turn to leave and see Alison running toward them with her arms full of overdue library books. She trips, dropping her books. Faith, Casey, and Michael help her pick them up. Faith and Casey are surprised that Alison and Michael have already met.

"We're still in the acquaintance stage," Michael said. "Let's see, there were the three faculty meetings, and the fire drill at the faculty houses, and then there was the time Alison spilled her cup of tea all over my hand in the faculty dining room."

So what you're saying, Michael, is that you're faculty? But seriously, HE'S FLIRTING WITH ALISON. Michael offers to return Alison's books for her so that she can make her meeting with Ms. Allardyce. How sweet.

Casey is all over that, but Faith takes some convincing. She admits, however, that they didn't seem like mere acquaintances. Back at Baker, they share the news with Shelley and Dana. Dana is incensed that they are gossiping about her man! She's practically in tears when she stalks out to go for a run.

Faith and Shelley realize what's going on: Dana has a crush. The three girls are afraid Dana is going to be in for a real letdown and that Dana's going to be badly hurt again.

Pamela Young approaches Dana and ask for a favor. She's noticed that Michael and Dana seem pretty tight, and she's just received a note asking to meet him to discuss her grades. They're bad, bad enough that she's worried about flunking out and wants Dana to put in a good word for her. And why would Dana do this for her, after the way she acted in the last book?

Dana tries to put Pamela off, but Pamela is persistent.

"Please, just say you'll mention my name. I know you have more influence on him than anybody -- I mean, it's obvious, isn't it? A faculty member wouldn't go jogging and stuff with a student unless their relationship was very special."

Run, Dana, run! She doesn't, though. She agrees to bring up Pamela's name and hopes that Michael will be impressed by her kindness.

Dana does mention Pamela, but Michael doesn't respond in any way. Pamela is sullen and nasty to everyone following her meeting with him, so it must not have gone well.

Dana continues to blow Randy off every time he calls. Poor Randy. I wonder why he doesn't give up. Michael has become the most important person in Dana's life and there's just no room for Randy.

A week before the midwinter dance, the girls sit on the front steps of Baker discussing what to wear. Shelley is still hoping to lose three pounds before the dance. If she was just a little thinner, she could borrow something from Dana. As they start to go back inside, Alison pulls up and gets out of her car. There's something different about her: a new haircut and no glasses! She got contacts.

"Alison," Shelley said, "I love your new look." She glanced at Dana's sullen face and then at Faith's. They all knew -- or thought they knew -- the reason for Alison's transformation. And the reason had dark brown hair and laugh lines under his perceptive eyes.

The next day after chapel, Dana runs over to Michael's house. He's outside standing by his bike and planning his garden. Dana invites herself in. He offers her some tea and dried apricots -- he no longer drinks the soda or eats corn chips that they shared on previous occasions. Dana knows exactly who could have convinced him to give up junk food: her health nut housemother.

She invites him to the midwinter dance, not as a date (she already has one) but just so he will feel included. Michael says no worries, Alison already asked him. Dana's upset and knocks over her chair as she rises to leave, but her mood changes when Michael asks her to save him a dance.

Dance night: Shelley has skipped enough meals to lose four pounds. She's borrowed pants from Faith and boots and a sweater from Dana. After Shelley leaves with Tom, Dana and Faith decide to wait in the Baker lounge. Dana's hoping that Randy will meet another Canby girl he likes better than her at the dance. When they reach the lounge, the guys are just coming in the door. Faith greets Johnny with a brief kiss. Randy has to settle for a "hey," from Dana.

While dancing, Randy wants to know why Dana has been so distant lately and wonders if she's thinking of moving on to "other pastures." Dana gets angry; she doesn't want to talk about it. She watches Michael dancing with Alison and then Casey, followed by Mary Beth Grover and a parade of other Canby girls. Finally, as the band starts a slow song, it's Dana's turn.

Was this the first time they'd ever touched? she wondered as her hand began to tingle. No, that first day, when she came to his house, he'd given her a friendly handshake in greeting. But tonight, his hand was warmer, fonder, as though it almost knew how important this moment was to her. And would be to her, forever. When she was old and gray, when she had accomplished what she intended in her life, when she had retired from her successful career and had children and grandchildren of her own, this evening would still be one of her most memorable experiences. Tears of joy stung her eyes as she realized how lucky she was, how wonderful it was to be Dana Morrison.

Okay then. I think this calls for an intervention. Also, Dana's about 45 in 2013 and certainly has had children by now if she's going to. I wonder if she still thinks this is one of the most memorable experiences of her life.

Their dance is interrupted by Tom's shout. Shelley has fainted. Alison and Michael take charge, getting her to the infirmary with Dana, Faith, Johnny, Randy, and Tom trailing behind. Shelley admits to Michael that she's been skipping meals. He sets up a weekly dinner for him at her house and invites her to bring Faith and Dana along if she wants. I'm pretty sure Dana's going to be all over that. She wouldn't want her roommate to be having private dinners with HER man.

Dana ponders her problems: Randy, the possibility of Michael and Alison, her own lack of perception when it came to Shelley's eating disorder. She decides to take care of one of them and calls Randy and invites him to meet her for pizza so that she can break up with him. On her way back to her room, she runs into Pamela, who expresses deep concern over Shelley's problem then drops a bomb: She's heard Michael is on his way out. When Dana asks for clarification, Pamela says it's against the law for him to betray confidences and implies that he did that when he and Dana discussed Pamela. (Only they didn't, because he didn't respond when she brought up Pamela's name.) Dana flips out and rushes off to see Ms. Allardyce.

On her way there, Dana runs into Faith, who wants to know what's going on. When Dana explains that Pamela asked her to talk to Michael, then turned around and accused him of breaking the law, Faith points out that Dana probably isn't the most unbiased person when it comes to Michael. Unfazed, Dana continues her trek, accompanied by Faith.

Dana opens the conversation with Ms. Allardyce by saying that Michael is the subject of some untrue rumors. Faith says that Michael and Dana should have the chance to tell her their side of the story. Ms. Allardyce asks them to return the next day.

At the pizza place, Dana and Randy order a small mushroom pizza before she tells him that she likes him but she needs her privacy right now. Randy takes it well, but he's clearly upset. He leaves her money for the bill and walks out just as the waitress brings their pizza to the table. The waitress says it's okay, another couple just ordered the same thing, and when Dana looks across the room, she sees it's Michael and Alison.

Dana returns to her room to find Shelley eating a soft pretzel. Dana fills Shelley in on everything she's missed -- Pamela's accusations, her visit to Ms. Allardyce, and her breakup with Randy. They have to hurry to make dinner before the dining hall closes, and Shelley stuffs even more food into her mouth. That was the quickest eating disorder recovery ever. Shelley invites them to go with her to dinner at Michael's.

The next day, Dana, Pamela, and Michael meet with Ms. Allardyce. Pamela lies and says that she met with Michael about her grades, nothing serious. Um, I'm pretty sure the headmistress has access to every student's record and that Ms. Allardyce KNOWS it's serious. She continues, saying that Dana told her that Michael had talked to her about Pamela's grades. Dana starts to defend Michael but Ms. Allardyce cuts her off. Michael asks Pamela the date of her appointment. She doesn't know, but he does. He has it written down: three weeks ago on Tuesday. He asks Dana when she mentioned Pamela to him. Dana doesn't know either, but says she only brought up Pamela's name because Pamela asked her to and that Michael changed the subject when she did. Michael shows Ms. Allardyce his appointment book. He and Dana saw each other the day before he saw Pamela and again a week later. He says, and has shorthand notes to prove it (couldn't he have faked them?), that Dana only brought up Pamela's name once and he didn't respond to her.

Michael tells Pamela that they will have a lot to talk about in future sessions. Ms. Allardyce takes his side.

"I think counseling is in order. Deal with it as you see fit."

Wow, that's kind of cold. Pamela threatens to call her mother, but Ms. Allardyce has already done so. She advises Pamela to listen to what Michael has to say. While I agree that Pamela needs some counseling, is it really a good idea for it to be with someone she's already made false accusations against? The next time they could be far more serious, and I don't think anyone wants that.

Pamela storms out. Michael and Dana leave together. Dana apparently hasn't learned anything, as she tells Michael that she's glad someone finally got the best of Pamela and that he's not in trouble. Michael once again ignores Dana and asks if she's coming to dinner with Shelley.

When the girls arrive at Michael's house, they see Alison in the kitchen helping him cook. Dana is despondent watching Alison and Michael together, so Faith and Shelley try to cover for her.

Dana travels to New York to see her father that weekend. She's glad to get away from Michael and Alison, to be in the city, and to see her father again. He's expecting to be finished up with his work in Hawaii soon, but Eve says they may stay on for the summer. She invites Dana to visit. Dana's father then announces that Eve's pregnant and due in July. So they're staying on for the summer because she won't be able to travel then?

Dana is shocked by the news but pretends to be as happy as her father and Eve are. She reveals the truth to Shelley and Faith, and then to Michael.

And then:

"Oh, Michael, I love you!"

Obviously she runs away.

She feels better after admitting that to him, even though she knows nothing will ever be the same between them again. Shelley and Faith notice the change in her, and Faith asks about Randy. Dana says she hasn't heard from him in a few weeks, but she hasn't called him either. Shelley and Faith have finally decided to talk to Dana about Michael. Faith points out that he needs a woman, not a teenager, and that he's fallen for Alison.

Dana catches a ride out to Randy's parents' farm and finds him mending fences. She apologizes for her behavior and they spend the afternoon together before he drives her home. Dana then goes up to Alison's, where Alison apologizes for not being there enough when Dana needed her and says that Michael has room enough in his life for both of them, just in different ways.

A few weeks later, weeks in which Dana avoided going anywhere near Michael's office, Michael invites her jogging. They agree to be friends.

This is one of my favorite books in the series. I just adore Alison and Michael and, while we only get glimpses of it viewed through the eyes of the Canby girls, this is the beginning of their story.

The Cover: "Three hearts break harder than one." What? Dana's was the only heart that was broken. Shelley and Faith weren't interested in Michael!

Let's move along to the back cover.

The fall term looks promising, with a new guy on campus.

Dana, Faith and Shelley find that they have yet another thing in common -- they all have a crush on the new guy. What's worse, Michael isn't from the prep school down the road; he's Canby Hall's new guidance counselor, and he's too old for anyone at school.

Or is he? Dana can tell that someone has captured Michael's interest, but she's sure that she can win him over. Then she realizes that Michael's romance is with one of the best friends Dana ever had...

Again, Faith and Shelley did not have a crush on Michael. THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED!

The Girls of Canby Hall #7: Four is a Crowd

It's September 5: back to school time! Dana's arriving by train and van again, wishing her family could have driven her to Canby. Her sister (too young to drive anyway) is already back in school and her mother has to work. I guess she couldn't take ONE day off to take her oldest daughter to boarding school. Come to think of it, this is how all the girls arrived last year, too: alone.

Dana is in for a surprise when she reaches Baker 407. Someone painted it over the summer. Instead of last year's "Insane Asylum Green," it's now a bright electric peacock blue. Sherwin-Williams has a slightly darker selection, and this site offers a look at fully furnished rooms done in peacock blue, although I would not say any of them are bright or electric. Maybe peacock blue has changed over past three decades. Anyway, it's not really my taste either, way too dark and depressing for me.

"Gadzooks!" is Faith's reaction. Maybe she thinks she's in a Scooby Doo cartoon. It turns out that Faith and Dana were on the same train, just different cars. You would think they might have discussed travel arrangements? They unpack as they wait for Shelley's arrival. Faith is feeling a lot better since her illness, but she's still down ten pounds. Johnny visited her in DC one weekend, and got to spend some time with her family, who he had met in July when they picked her up from school.

Dana hasn't seen Randy, but he did write her some letters while she was in New York. These girls are talking like they haven't seen each other all summer. It's been maybe three weeks.

Shelley declares that the room is "incredibly, amazingly, unbelievably, atrociously awful," and wants to paint it black. She thinks it would be dramatic.

Shelley's gained some weight during her time at home (which she says was two months but I've done the math and it just doesn't work) but is still down at least ten pounds from her chubby self of last fall. Actually, she calls herself a "little tub of lard." OVER TEN POUNDS?

As the group makes plans to go into Greenleaf for banana splits, Dana looks out the window and sees a navy blue limo and matching Cadillac pulling up in front of Baker. Two uniformed chauffeurs start unloading: a color TV, a video-recorder, an expensive stereo, skis, four tennis rackets, an electric typewriter, seven baby blue trunks, and nine baby blue suitcases. I hope this girl, whoever she is, has a single room.

Faith points out that the cars have California plates. What? They drove all the way across the country? I do not think the "willowy blonde girl in white pants and a black new wave shirt" who emerges from Baker was part of that road trip. Even Shelley flies in from Iowa.

"Miss Young" is on the third floor. And she has a maid named Nanette to put away her stuff. I wonder if Nanette gets a room.

Miss Young, whose first name is Pamela, has decided to take the Cadillac into Greenleaf to find some food. She instructs Nanette to find someone to do something about the two girls who think they're sharing her room. She's going to require a private room, of course.

Casey comes into the room with exciting information about their new dormmate: She's the daughter of none other than the famous movie star Yvonne Young.

Every time I read the name Yvonne Young, I think Yvonne DeCarlo.
I like to imagine that Pamela's mother is Lily Munster. Also, this book made me hate the name Pamela.

Casey joins the girls of 407 for ice cream and when they return to Canby, they take a walk around the campus. As they pass the headmistress's house, they glance into her window and see her get into what seems like an argument with a good-looking younger man, who then takes a crying Ms. Allardyce into his arms. It's oh so mysterious.

Shelley goes to breakfast early and is surprised to see Pamela already in the dining room. She decides to be friendly and goes over to Pamela's table.

She sure didn't look like the typical Canby girl. Her blonde hair was long and smooth. The front was a sweep of an even lighter blonde. She was wearing quite a bit of makeup, but so perfectly applied that it seemed almost natural. Her nails were long and polished a bright red. She was wearing a black silk shirt with the short sleeves rolled up. One one arm, she was wearing about ten thin silver bracelets. On the other wrist was a big old man's watch with a brown leather strap.

She's overdressed for Canby, which trends toward the preppy look. Pamela is annoyed by the no smoking rules, the no car rule, and the thought of having to walk anywhere.

In California, nobody walks anywhere.

Well, Miss Pamela, you're not in California anymore.

Shelley plays dumb and pretends she doesn't already know who Pamela's mother is, asking if Pamela ever sees anyone famous in the supermarket.

"Wellllll," Pamela said, coyly, "Sometimes I run into them in my very own kitchen. My mother knows a lot of them. She does a little acting herself."

When Pamela finally reveals her mother's name, Shelley plays it cool and doesn't gush all over the table. Bet she would have if she hadn't had advance warning. Pamela says her mother is a jerk for continuing to send her to schools like Canby (that she keeps getting kicked out of). Shelley's shocked that anyone would refer to their own mother as a jerk.

Pamela admits that some things about being the daughter of a famous actress are good. She gets to shop on Rodeo Drive and go to private movie screenings and meet actors like Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, and Michael Jackson.

When Faith comes over to the table and asks Shelley if she's done eating (they have plans), Pamela mistakes her for a bus girl. Faith gives her a Look and walks away.

"Boy," Pamela said. "And I thought we had trouble with servants in California."

"That wasn't any servant," Shelley said, jumping up. "That was my roommate!"

"Oh," Pamela said, not sounding particularly sorry, "well, I suppose she must be used to people making that mistake."

No, Pamela, I don't believe she is.

Shelley runs after Faith and says that Pamela's just a jerk and that no one is going to let her get away with acting like that at Canby. Faith wants to know what Shelley said to Pamela after she left. Shelley now realizes that she should have defended Faith, so she tells Faith that's what she did.

Casey is the first to see the new black walls of 407. She says it's going to be the most talked-about room on campus. Alison is the second to see the room.

"Tell us it's the sharpest decorating idea you've ever seen."

"No. I went to the palace at Versailles, outside Paris, one summer, and the Hall of Mirrors there was sharper than this room."

She's not sure she likes it, but she has a contribution: a black light and some day glo posters from her brother's dorm in the sixties. I had to wait many years after reading this book before I saw a blacklight and day glo posters in college. Finally I understood! You better believe I flashed back to this book, too.

Alison asks them to keep their door shut in case Ms. Allardyce comes through on a dorm check and then heads down to the second floor to find a homesick freshman. Before she leaves, though, Dana pulls her aside and asks what she knows about Ms. Allardyce's mystery man. Alison seems to know something but won't open up.

You know, I don't see any reason why Alison would know. Why would Ms. Allardyce confide in an employee? I mean, we don't know much about either one of them, but they don't seem like besties.

A week into the school year, Shelley returns to her room to find Pamela waiting for her. She wants Shelley to show her where the creek is located so she can go swimming. Shelley is flattered that Pamela picked her out of all the girls at Canby to ask.

By now, word has spread about Pamela's identity, and the campus is split on whether she's cool or not. She really does know Michael Jackson, Matt Dillon, and Jennifer Beal; she has the pictures to prove it. Shelley's friends, though, fall into the group that think Pamela is a snob and a show-off.

"Our pool isn't really big enough for laps. I'm trying to get Yvonne to put in an Olympic-size. Now what me mostly do is work out with Jane Fonda."

"Oh yes, me too," Shelley said. "I have the book."

"Not the book, dope, I mean Yvonne and I go over to Jane's and work out with her."

Pamela's looking for someone to do her homework for her. She needs to pass to keep Yvonne happy, but she has a lifestyle to maintain: dinners at Greenleaf's French restaurant, shopping in New York, at least two hours a day of tennis practice to keep up her game. She simply doesn't have time to do anything as mundane as homework. Plus, she's met someone: Bret Harper.

Dana's Bret.

Shelley tries to warn Pamela about Bret's womanizing ways, but Pamela isn't having it. She's better than the typical Canby girl, after all.

And then Pamela lays it on thick, telling Shelley that she's the only girl Pamela's met at Canby who has any real sophistication.

Randy picks Dana up early Saturday morning to see the sunrise. They go up to Lover's Leap, which is usually deserted when Randy goes there -- but today there are two cars. One is a beater. The other belongs to Ms. Allardyce! As Randy and Dana try to decide whether to stay or go, Ms. Allardyce comes running out of the woods, chased by the same man who was in her house that first night. There's some awkward small talk before Ms. Allardyce tells Dana and Randy they'd better get going if they're going to see the sun rise.

Pamela's taking the 407 girls to dinner at Auberge, Greenleaf's French restaurant. Shelley is excited but Dana and Faith are only going for Shelley. Pamela, however, is an hour late and the girls are getting hungry. When she does arrive, she's underdressed and does not apologize for being late.

Auberge is the fanciest and most expensive restaurant Faith and Shelley have ever been to. Pamela shows off as usual, speaking French with the employees. Faith and Dana are not impressed by anything she's said or done so far, and when Faith makes a rude comment to her, Pamela starts to cry.

I'm pretty sure those were crocodile tears.

Yep, that becomes obvious when Bret, who's there with his parents, stops by their table. Pamela's frown turns upside down and her tears disappear real quick. Really, Bret? You SEE your ex sitting there with your current girlfriend and you can't hide behind a menu or a potted plant? You have to approach them?

After he leaves, Pamela gloats over being with Dana's ex. Dana and Faith decide to head back to Canby for dinner in the dining hall and leave. Shelley, however, decides to stay. She wants shrimp cocktail. I remember shrimp cocktail sounding soooo sophisticated when I first read this book. I can't get fresh shrimp locally, but there's a recipe for shrimp cocktail in homemade cocktail sauce that I have to try sometime.

Dana asks Casey to help her find out info on Ms. Allardyce and her younger man. The plan is to set up a borrowed telescope on the roof of Baker to look into Ms. Allardyce's house, then sneak under her windows when they see he's there. When even Casey is skeptical of your plan, you might want to rethink things.

Five nights later, Dana spots him in Ms. Allardyce's house. Dana grabs Casey from her room and they sprint to Ms. Allardyce's. Aren't there assigned study hours at Canby? I seem to remember that from the first book. When they get close to the house, they keep running into other students and teachers. Finally they're able to make their move, sidling up to the house the crawling around to the right room.

Once they're in position, they immediately hear some good stuff. The guy's name is Yale and he feels like Ms. Allardyce abandoned him -- when he was in prison!

"Patsy," he said, getting up. "I just can't listen to this anymore. If you'd really loved me, you would've been there."

He storms out, with Ms. Allardyce following, leaving Casey and Dana enough time to get back to the dorm.

Shelley's been spending a lot of time in Pamela's room since the incident at the Auberge. Pamela gets movie tapes from her mom each month, so they spend most of their time watching the movies. Shelley likes it because she can spend time with Pamela without having to talk to her and get to know her better. She's finding out that she doesn't really want to know any more. Pamela's negative attitude is wearing thin. But Shelley's also started to feel sorry for Pamela. She's noticed that Pamela doesn't have any close friends and never gets mail from home except for packages from her mom.

Gee, could her attitude be a reason for that? If NO ONE likes you, maybe it's not them, it's YOU.

Shelley's waiting outside in front of Baker for Tom when Pamela comes out. She's on her own for a while because Bret's gone home to Boston for the week. Shelley doesn't mention that she saw him on campus with another girl ten minutes ago.

REALLY, BRET? AGAIN? This guy never learns!

Pamela weasels an invitation to join Shelley and Tom for pizza. She runs inside "for a minute" to get ready. Thirty minutes later, she's back. I don't know why Shelley and Tom (who arrived 10 minutes into the wait) didn't just ditch her and go by themselves the way they had planned. Somebody has to teach this girl that their time is just as valuable as theirs.

Tom is VERY angry about the wait -- until he gets a look at Pamela. It's not spelled out, but I'm pretty sure he drools. Now it's Shelley's turn to be angry, as Tom and especially Pamela flirt right in front of her! So obviously the thing to do is go to the ladies room and leave the two of them alone. When she returns, Pamela's moved into Shelley's seat right next to Tom.

Shelley runs out. Tom chases her down and says he knows what Pamela's up to, that he was just trying to be friendly, and he's so earnest about it that Shelley knows he means it. He warns her that she should dump Pamela as a friend.

Back at Canby, Shelley tells Dana and Faith what happened and adds that she and Tom had gotten to talking and forgot to go back to the pizza place for Pamela. They didn't remember her until they were almost back to campus, but when they returned to pick her up, she was gone. As far as Shelley's concerned, their friendship is over. Faith warns her that Pamela is going to want the last word.

Shelley has a bad play rehearsal, and by the time she returns to Baker, Faith and Dana have already gone to dinner. Shelley decides to start her homework and goes over to Faith's desk to borrow Dana's typewriter, which is used by all the roommates. She sees that Faith has started a letter to her sister, and for some reason Shelley decides to invade Faith's privacy and read the letter. It contains complaints about Dana and especially Shelley, calling her insufferable and making fun of her acting abilities.

Shelley starts to cry. Soon enough, Dana and Faith return from dinner having a laughing fit over a girl slipping on a pea. It sounds hilarious (really) but it's difficult to believe a slip on a single pea would cause such a sight. Shelley shows them the letter, which Faith denies writing. Shelley doesn't believe her, and Dana's not sure she does either.

Two days later Faith's developing film and looking forward to meeting up with her boyfriend Johnny when she gets a message asking her to meet Shelley. She cancels on Johnny (and it's his birthday!), explaining that this is her chance to make up with Shelley.

Faith hikes out to the falls, which is where she's to meet Shelley, but there's no one around. Faith lays down to wait in the warm sun and falls asleep. It's almost an hour before she wakes up, and she's angry that Shelley lured her out there and then didn't show up. She's ready to go tell Shelley off but ultimately decides not to mention it, thinking that it will drive Shelley crazy if she thinks she didn't get to Faith, or that maybe Faith didn't show up either.

The next day is Wednesday: Room Check. This is the first we've heard of Room Check. I suspect it's the first ever Room Check. Alison checks each room in Baker for 25 infractions. The girls in 407 have never had a perfect score, averaging around a 15 and they once had an 11. They're always near the bottom of the list of rooms.

These rules are strict! Alison's not checking for hidden puppies or illegal hot plates. She's checking to make sure they emptied their wastebasket, dusted their furniture, and made their beds correctly.

Shelley rises and leaves first and because she doesn't wake Faith the way she usually does, Faith oversleeps. She's running late so it falls to Dana, who's still asleep, to make sure the room is ready for inspection. To make it very clear to Dana that she has to clean up, Faith breaks it down to the basics:

Faith knelt by the side of her bed and gave it a shake. Dana opened one eye.

"Me Faith. Me late."

Dana kept her one eye open.

"Today Wednesday. Room Check. You clean."

"Okay," Dana said. "No problem."

When Faith returns to the room that afternoon, there is a problem in the form of a note taped to the door.


The room is a mess: soda cans on the windowsill, crumpled paper around Shelley's desk, Dana's bed unmade and with an open package of cookies in it. That actually doesn't sound that bad to me. I was expecting it to be trashed. I suppose that's why they earned an 8 instead of a 0.

Dana enters right behind Faith, who shows her the note and reminds Dana that she asked her to clean up. Dana insists that she did but Faith doesn't believe her.

Dana goes up to see Alison, and they're joined by Casey. Ms. Allardyce knows they've been spying on her and wants to see them the next day at her house. As Casey and Dana head back to their rooms, Casey says they're in big trouble, but at least Ms. Allardyce hasn't called their parents yet. Casey thinks someone told on them. She hasn't told anyone what they've been doing, and Dana only told Shelley and Faith. She doesn't believe either of them would have told, even with all the problems they've been having lately. Casey says it must be someone that one of them told.

Dana confronts Faith and Shelley about it. She no longer believes that Faith wrote that letter, nor does she believe Shelley called the newspaper office to set up a meeting with Faith. It has to be the same person, and it's probably also the same person who tattled on her and Casey.

Who could it be? Who out of all the students at Canby would hold a grudge against the girls in 407?

They're stumped. REALLY?

Finally Shelley says that she told Pamela about Dana and Casey. She did it to impress Pamela.

The next day, Dana and Casey go to their meeting with Ms. Allardyce. Dana takes the blame -- it was her idea -- and says that Casey was just going along with her. Ms. Allardyce points out that they would be outraged if she listened in on their private conversations. They both apologize and Ms. Allardyce sentences them to campus restriction for a month.

Then she brings the guy in and introduces him as her brother!

Later Dana questions Alison about him. Alison says that Ms. Allardyce raised her brother after their parents died. They were close in childhood, but when he started getting in trouble and stole a car, she had to distance herself from him for the sake of her career. Now that he's out and has a steady job, she's going to introduce him to the school at the Harvest Holiday dance next week.

Dana, Faith, Casey, and Shelley have a plan to get back at Pamela. Casey places a note "from Bret" outside Pamela's door. The not apologizes for being inattentive and asks her to meet him at the Auberge restaurant. Tom's in on the plan too. He calls the Auberge pretending to be Bret and asks her to meet him on campus instead. When she gets there, Tom's friend Ed, pretending to be Bret's friend, has her go out to the skating pond. The girls race out to the pond to prepare a romantic setting, then hide for a while to give Pamela time to arrive. Then they pretend to stumble upon the scene while out birdwatching, embarrassing Pamela who is sitting there alone.

The girls go back to 407 to wait for Pamela to contact Bret and find out he doesn't know anything about the day and to realize that they were the ones who set them up. She's furious when she confronts them. They tell her they know all that she did to them. She's pleased that she almost split up their perfect friendship and says that she's not done with them yet.

The Cover: WHAT is Dana wearing? It looks like a typical polo shirt (except the buttons seem to go all the way down?) under a weird blue blazer. Why would a high school junior be wearing a blazer to get ice cream in September? Shelley is wearing a thin long-sleeved shirt (nice touch on the Canby Hall insignia on the breast pocket) and Faith is in short sleeves.

The picture of Pamela reminds me of Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.

The Girls of Canby Hall #6: Best Friends Forever

Dana's in her family's apartment in New York packing for her trip to Shelley's Iowa hometown. These girls have just spent September through July at Canby, with breaks only at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the past two weeks in August. You would think Dana's and Faith's mothers might want them to stick around a little longer before going back to Canby, or that they might want to spend time with their old friends, but no. They're going to spend two weeks in Iowa with Shelley, who they will again be living with for another ten or eleven months.
At eleven, she would call Faith in Washington, D.C. That's when the long distance telephone rates went down.

LOLOL outdated technology. I love how this is explained, as if the author knew that in the future people wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. I don't have a cell phone but I don't even have to pay for long distance on my landline.

The next day, Faith flies to New York to meet Dana, then they travel to Iowa together. They're both nervous about being in the midwest for the first time and Faith is especially concerned because of her skin color. I'm pretty sure she thinks she's going to be the only black person in the entire state of Iowa.

Shelley and her brothers meet Dana and Faith at the airport. Jeff is immediately taken with Dana. Sorry, Jeff, if no one told you. She has a boyfriend. You're just a few weeks too late. If only you had been there to console her after Bret broke her heart.

"How big is Des Moines?" Dana asked, changing the subject completely.

"About 200,000. That's humungus compared to the population of Pine Bluff, which has only 5.000."

"Really!" Dana said in dismay.

Really, Dana. This is getting ridiculous. How big is Greenleaf, the place where you just lived since September? Maybe it's not, but I picture it as a small town, too. And even if it's big enough for you, a superior New Yorker, you can't spend TWO WEEKS in a small town without being dismayed? Why did you come? You could have pretended your mom wouldn't let you go. I bet she would have even gone along with it.

The group drives around Des Moines for a little while, where Faith is relieved to see some black people. By this time she and Dana have realized that they're being rude and try to find compliments about the city, things such as, "The streets are so clean."

As they sped along the interstate, Dana and Faith expressed their appreciation of the scenery. The farmland consisted of rich brown soil that contrasted dramatically with the golden corn crops. Beef cattle grazed in the fields; immaculate white farmhouses and deep-red barns graced the rolling terrain.

Pretty! The girls catch up on the drive to Pine Bluff, discussing fashion and Faith's two-week photography job while Shelley's brothers talk about hog feed, basketball (wrong season, boys), and tractors. Once they reach the town, they drive slowly so Shelley can point out the sights: the fire department, a handful of shops, the post office.

Look, I live in a town about half the size of Pine Bluff and I grew up in one much, much smaller. I know we don't have any sights to be seen. Why is Shelley so dense? It's not like she's never traveled anywhere before. Surely she visited Boston at least once in the past year, and she's been to Faith's in DC and I think there was even mention of a weekend in NYC with Dana too.

When they reach Shelley's house, Mrs. Hyde immediately feeds them: buttered biscuits, jam, honey, and iced tea. Yum. Shelley shows them around the house -- the guestroom is actually the sewing room -- and especially her room, which is pink and white and looks exactly like they expected. She shows off the ribbon she won for an apron she made in junior high and explains that 4-H is an important part of a Pine Bluff High student's life.

Dana and Faith are impressed by one thing in Pine Bluff: Shelley knows how to drive (and learned on a '67 Chevy, no less).

After they all clean up the kitchen and Shelley's brothers leave, Shelley, her parents, Dana and Faith have a sing-along around the piano in the living room. They are soon joined by Shelley's Iowa boyfriend Paul and his cousin Jack, who have come to take the girls bowling.

In the car, Paul asks what Dana thinks of Pine Bluff. She's not sure yet. They start talking about boarding schools and Paul is clearly not okay with Shelley returning to Canby in the fall. Maybe he feels that way because she's only been home two weeks and now she has her roommates visiting for the next two weeks. They start to get into an argument until Jack steers the conversation into a safer direction.

Shelley's brother Jeff joins the group at the bowling alley. They're loud like teenagers are and draw disapproving looks from the older people around them. Jack says, "Holy cow!" a lot and Faith realizes he's not so bad, even if he did look surprised when he first saw her.

Back at Shelley's parents' house, Faith says Jeff can't take his eyes off Dana. Dana laments attracting a second country boy but admits that Randy came along at just the right time when her heart was broken.

There's a ton of recap in this book. So far they've recapped Paul showing up at Canby and Dana's first meeting with Randy and I'm sure there was more before I started noticing it.

Dana says she could never really fall for Randy because she's too much of a city girl. Same goes for Jeff, whose favorite subject is his heifer Gertrude. Faith thinks the same about Jack. They know they're being snobs but that doesn't stop them from continuing to be that way. They do agree to try to be more open-minded.

The next morning, Shelley wakes them up with the promise of pancakes (which she calls both griddle cakes and hotcakes on the same page). After breakfast she drives them to another farm to meet Gertrude, teaching them all about Iowa and Pine Bluff on the way. Shelley obviously loves her home state a lot and is proud to be an Iowan. Shelley warns them that the farmer they're going to visit acts like he doesn't like people but underneath he's a real softie. Faith thinks that Shelley is warning her that he won't expect her to be black.

When they meet him, he's actually very nice and Faith even gets permission to take take pictures of some of his cows. Jeff is proud to show off Gertrude. Dana is impressed with his dedication and work ethic. Faith and Shelley wander off to find some other cows for Faith to photograph, leaving Dana and Jeff alone with Gertrude. Dana tries to look interested while he works with the heifer.

Shelley and Faith return with permission to take some of Farmer Jensen's horses out for a ride. Dana and Faith have never ridden before, and Shelley claims to be a terrible rider, so Jeff has to go with them. Shelley knows what she's doing, though, as she saddles up some of the horses.

Riding comes easy to Faith, but not to Dana. She's feeling a little more accustomed to it by the time they stop to let the horses drink from Round Pond. When they're getting ready to get back on the horses, Faith has a dizzy spell. She brushes it off as the heat. On the way back, Dana loses control of her horse. Oh, Dana. Dana loses the reins and almost falls off as her horse rushes toward the road. Jeff chases them down and manages to stop Dana's horse just as they reach the road. Dana is extremely grateful.

"I think you saved my life, Jeff," she said. Even those dramatic words sounded trite, compared to how she was feeling.

You play your cards right, Jeff, and you might get lucky with a real New York City girl.

The four of them agree not to tell anyone what happened. They don't want the farmer who owns the horses or Shelley's parents to think they're irresponsible.

The girls go to Shelley's father's pharmacy to eat at the lunch counter. While Shelley helps her friend Tad (who works there) make their sandwiches and ice cream sodas, Dana buys some band-aids for her hands and Faith decides to get some aspirin for the "weird feeling in her head." Next they head to the general store, which is packed with dry goods. I guess Wal-mart hasn't made it to Pine Bluff yet. Maybe by 1990.

(Wikipedia says that Walmart didn't expand to Iowa until 1983, and now that I think about it, when I was a kid, Kmart was the place to go. But I guess Pine Bluff doesn't have a Kmart either.)

Dana and Faith poke around while Shelley goes looking for some yarn. They spend some time making fun of the clothing department, offending Shelley when she returns.

"You don't have to be in a big city to buy good clothes. A lot of people manage to dress well here," Shelley retorted. There was an edge to her voice.

She also points out that she makes most of her clothes, which kind of speaks to their point. If you can't buy what you want, you make it. But Faith knows she's being a snob again and feels bad.

Lily, the woman who runs the store, isn't all that friendly. In fact, she's pretty grumpy when she checks the girls out. Shelley has her yarn and Faith buys a stuffed alligator as a present for her brother. Dana asks how the store stays in business with the woman's attitude. Shelley says that when you're the only store in town, it's easy.

Just you wait, Lily. Wal-mart's coming and then you're going to find some real competition.

Their next stop is the Trash and Treasure rummage sale at the fire department. Faith is still feeling weak and has a headache, but she decides to ignore the symptoms.

Dana finds a set of dessert plates because she's 16 going on 60. She's surprised to see the man behind the table reading poetry by Emily Dickinson, her favorite poet. (So much for Grace Phaeton.)

Faith is mopey as she and Dana are getting ready for a hayride that night. When Dana asks what's wrong, Faith says she's afraid she'll be the only black at the party. (I'm petty sure that's an issue at Canby, too, but it's never seemed to be an issue before this book.) Dana points out that no one has treated her any differently. She and Faith are both out of place because they're from the East Coast.

Faith says that she's just tired, but internally she acknowledges that she's exhausted and that even moving requires effort.

Dana and Faith meet a lot of Shelley's junior high friends at the hayride. It's taken me this long -- and I mean in life, not just in the 97 pages of this book so far -- to realize that Shelley probably went to one of those schools where junior high is 7th-9th. In fact, Dana and Faith might have, too. That's probably why they all started at Canby as 10th graders. Although, each one of them was worried about being the only new girl, so maybe not. I do think it's true for Shelley though, because she has mentioned junior high a few times in this book and if 9th grade was high school, why go back to junior high for all of your recollections?

Faith starts feeling left out on the hayride because Paul has his arm around Shelley and she misses Johnny. Dana and Jeff start making out (I TOLD YOU, JEFF! Way to go!) but she pulls away and says they hardly know each other. He starts to play the, "If you really like me" card, but a sudden storm begins before he can complete his sentence. Someone should have checked the weather forecast.

"Keep going," someone insisted. "It's only a little rainstorm."

"It's more than that," Clarence said, trying to keep his voice steady. "It's a twister."

WHAT?! I know they didn't have Doppler radar at every TV station in the mid-80s, but surely they had SOME form of radar to alert them to the fact that it's tornado weather. Okay, I looked this up. There were warnings that didn't generally go out until a tornado was on the ground, BUT STILL YOU CAN TELL WHEN A TORNADO IS POSSIBLE, especially if you're outside.

So of course everyone is panicking. I am panicking right now. Oh and they decide to outrun it. IN A WAGON PULLED BY HORSES. No, no, no. They make a run for an abandoned barn, which could FALL DOWN ON THEM instead of getting as low to the ground as possible.

Dana and Faith have no idea what kind of damage tornadoes can do, so Shelley's brother Larry kindly tells them about the Waco, Texas, tornado of 1953.

In ten minutes the tornado gouged a path a half mile wide and three miles long. It struck more than five hundred homes, killed eleven people, and seriously injured more than sixty.

The tornado has apparently moved away from them, as it started "several hundred yards" off the road and is now reported to be half a mile away. They finally reach the barn and watch as the tornado tears the roof off a farmhouse, then change direction and head straight for the barn they are in. WHAT DID I TELL YOU?

Just before it reaches the barn, the tornado lifts into the air and disappears. It's a miracle. Everyone is joyful and ready to head back to town. Faith has to have help getting back into the wagon and passes it off as fear, but really her knees feel like jelly and her head is still pounding.

Shelley's parents are relieved to see the girls and their sons return home safely. Shelley goes upstairs to take a shower because Paul is coming over later. Faith goes to lie down, and Dana sits with Shelley's mom, who is playing the piano again. They talk about choices. Mrs. Hyde could have had a career in music, but instead of going to college after high school, she wanted to stay in Pine Bluff with Mr. Hyde, who was just starting in the pharmacy business. She's never regretted that decision, but she wanted Shelley to go to Canby Hall to learn that there's more to life than Pine Bluff.

The next morning, Shelley wakes the girls early. It's time to head over to the Browns'. They're the family who lost their roof in the tornado. Everyone who is able will help repair the roof, and everyone else will bring food for the workers and the Browns. Dana reluctantly gets out of bed, but Faith is harder to rouse. She falls asleep in the car on the way there.

The girls take the Browns' daughter to the local swimming hole to keep her out of the way. Faith sits under a tree to rest, and Dana asks if she feels sick and suggests a doctor. Faith (SNOB) says they probably have great veterinarians but she doesn't have hoof and mouth disease. Dana (SNOB) agrees with her.

The next day is the start of the county fair, where Jeff will be showing his heifer. Everyone except Faith is up early. Faith finally gets up but isn't moving very fast. As Dana and Shelley are trying to decide what to wear to the square dance that night, Faith admits that she's not feeling well and has decided to stay home. Mrs. Hyde is concerned, but Faith doesn't have a fever and says she doesn't mind being left alone. She just wants to spend the day resting so that she'll be able to go to the square dance.

At the fair, Mr. and Mrs. Hyde deliver her pies to the bakery booth while Dana and Shelley go looking for Jeff. Shelley explains that Faith is sick. Jeff isn't happy; Faith will never get the opportunity to see him show Gertrude again. I'm sure she will regret it for the rest of her life. Um, Jeff, you've been working with Gertrude for probably months. Faith just met her -- and you -- a few days ago. It's not the highlight of her life. It's probably not even the highlight of her summer.

Dana and Shelley try to calm him down, but Jeff becomes inexplicably furious over this slight. How dare a girl he barely knows skip his event at the fair! They still have two hours until the heifer class starts, and Jeff is nervous. Mr. Jensen suggests that he go home for a shower and to change clothes, but warns Jeff to be back on time. If he isn't, no one else can show Gertrude.

As Jeff drives home, his anxieties over the showing return. He knows he's being unreasonable, but he's still angry with Faith.

A little cold shouldn't keep her away, he though, his irritation increasing. I think I'll tell her what a snob she is, afraid of a little fresh air because she sneezed twice. Or maybe people from Washington, D.C. don't realize how important the fair is in our lives...

By the time Jeff pulled into the driveway of the house, he was seething with rage.

Seething with rage? Over THIS? I think Jeff is a domestic abuse timebomb waiting to happen. Get a grip, man! Faith's been a snob, but she's covered it well, sharing it only with Dana. She has gamely gone along with everything since she's been in Iowa up to this point. And it's not like this is Dana, the girl he likes. Faith is basically his kid sister's tagalong friend.

So he walks into the house, seething with rage, and starts shouting for Faith. When she doesn't answer, he thinks she's not even there, that she's probably out with her camera. Yeah, Jeff, because the fair wouldn't be a good place for her to get some pictures.

After his shower, Jeff hears a noise coming from the sewing room/guest room.

Jeff opened the door slowly and was shocked to see Faith, full clothed, sprawled on the bed. She was breathing heavily, beads of perspiration covered her lip, and her eyes were half closed.

You want to rethink that seething rage yet, buddy?

Faith's able to speak but she's burning up with fever and in a lot of pain. She tries to make him go back to the fair so he won't miss his moment. He gets her up and helps her walk downstairs, where he hastily scribbles a note for his family before taking Faith to the hospital ER. He's upset about missing the showing at the fair, but he's more worried about Faith.

Jeff has to wait in the reception area while Faith is taken to a room. They won't give him much information other than to say that she's seriously ill. Jeff has a long wait, both for his family and for Faith's doctors. Eventually he sees Faith being wheeled to a room, but she's not allowed visitors until some test results are back.

The Hydes and Dana finally arrive. Still no one is allowed in with Faith. Mr. Hyde tells Jeff that they're proud of him for making the decision to take care of Faith instead of return to the fair.

Shelley and Dana are feeling guilty for ignoring Faith's symptoms. Mr. and Mrs. Hyde return from seeing the doctor. The doctor won't say what he thinks, but Mr. Hyde, base on his pharmacy experience, thinks Faith could have mono or meningitis. The family goes home to rest, since they can't see Faith yet anyway.

Shelley's mom has to call Faith's mom. I'm surprised the hospital didn't already do that, looking for insurance information and parental consent. Faith's mom will be flying in the next day.

Paul and Shelley's best friend Cary come over to keep her and Dana company. They all decide to go to the hospital to sit and wait. There's still no change in Faith's condition. Since Shelley's worried about Faith dying, maybe someone should call Johnny in Greenleaf and at least let him know.

The next day, there's still no change. The doctors do a spinal tap, which comes back clear. Faith doesn't have bacterial meningitis but she does have an infection of some sort. They only thing they can do for her right now is to give her aspirin and fluids, which she could be getting at home for a lot less money! Shelley and Dana finally get to go into Faith's room to see her. She's able to say a few words but quickly goes back to sleep.

Faith's mom arrives later that night. There's still no change. Faith gets slightly stronger over the next few days, and is able to have visitors (other than her mother, who is staying in the room with her) twice a day for ten minutes. It's at one of these visits that Faith asks Dana and Shelley if she's going to die.

Faith's mom wants to have her moved to a hospital in DC. Her doctors don't advise it, however, and the Hydes don't think it's wise either. Dana understands though, and surprisingly, Jeff does too. When they return to the hospital after dinner at the Hydes', Faith's condition has worsened. Now Mrs. Thompson is desperate to get her home, but the airlines won't take her because her illness is undiagnosed. Mr. Hyde contacts a rancher he knows who has a private plane, and arranges for the flight. Dana and Shelley decide to go along.

Jeff gives Dana a a stuffed cow as a going away present. They share a goodbye kiss at the airport, and as they leave, Dana is crying. She tells Shelley that she's homesick for Pine Bluff.

Faith's mom escorts her to the hospital while Faith's sister takes Shelley and Dana back to their home. While they're getting settled in, she asks if anyone has talked to Johnny. Shelley thinks he deserves to know, so Dana makes the call. Johnny wants to come to DC immediately but Dana says it's best if he doesn't, that Faith is unconscious and won't know he's there. He promises to call tomorrow for an update.

They Hydes and Johnny call a lot over the next few days, and for three days there's no change. The DC hospital is unable to come up with a diagnosis but confirms that the Iowa hospital gave Faith the proper care. That night, Dana and Shelley are making dinner for the Thompsons when the phone rings. It's Faith's doctor with good news: Faith is awake and her fever is gone!

Dana and Shelley are able to see Faith again the next day. Faith remembers the hospital in Iowa and says that it was just as good as the one in DC. She and Dana are ashamed that they were such snobs and have come to realize that small town life can be pretty great, even if it's not what they're used to.

The Cover
Dorky hat, Shelley. You too, Faith. We can tell here that Dana is the one with the mother who works as a fashion buyer.

I think Shelley's lost some more weight. She's thinner than Dana.

The Girls of Canby Hall #5: Summer Blues

June, a week before finals. Shelley is trying to study but keeps getting distracted by the sounds of Canby on a beautiful late spring day, her own thoughts on how far she's come in nine months, and Faith crashing into their room on a pair of roller skates.

Shelley and Faith will be staying at Canby for the month-long joint Canby-Oakley summer intensive program. Shelley will be taking drama, of course, and Faith photography. Dana is undecided, but Faith and Shelley think she probably will stay too. Bret will be around and the poetry intensive is being given by the famous Grace Phaeton, who Dana loves and who wrote such lines as:

"Oh void! Oh, dark abyss, vortex of the shriveled soul!"

Grace Phateon, by the way, is not a real poet. (Thank God.) Once again, Google to the rescue. This just was not possible when I read these books the first time around.

As Faith and Shelley ready themselves to go into Greenleaf for ice cream, Dana walks in with a bad sunburn. She fell asleep tanning on the Baker House lawn. Dana ends up in the infirmary and gets to skip classes the next day, which gives her a lot of time to think about Bret. He hasn't been calling as much lately, but she doesn't want to think about that. She wants to think about him being a senior next year and then going to an Ivy League college and getting married (with her sister, Faith, and Shelley as bridesmaids) and having two kids after she becomes an architect.

Dana falls asleep and when she wakes up, Casey is there. After hemming and hawing a bit, she says that Bret asked her to go to the movies.

"Why would he do something so dumb as ask out one of my best friends, though? Why wouldn't he ask somebody I didn't know so well?"

"I think he's already asked most of them," Casey said.

Uh-oh. Better put a hold on that order for a boy and a girl, Dana, unless you want to be a single mom. Casey tells Dana that Bret's been getting around lately and that Dana needs to ask him about it.

When Dana gets out of the infirmary she calls him and asks him out. They decide to take a walk on Friday night. To Ketchum Falls. There's a WATERFALL within walking distance of campus. Why did we not hear about this before? This is important information! How cool would it be to go to boarding school near a waterfall?

They sit to watch the waterfall when Dana brings up Casey. She makes a joke of it, saying that Casey thought Bret had been asking her out to a movie on a date, not to go with him and Dana together.

"Well, that is what you meant, isn't it?" She was giving him every opportunity to get out of this.

"I didn't know you'd want to get together tonight," he said.

"You mean you were asking her for a date, is that what you're saying?"

"I guess," he said, his voice dead.

Oh, Bret. You're not very good at this. Not good at all. First, you're supposed to break up with your girlfriend before you ask another girl out. Second, you're not supposed to ask one of her best friends out. Third, when you're confronted about your trying-to-cheat ways, OWN IT.

"I guess I'm just not any good at this, honey.

You don't say.

He dumps her. Man, now the falls are ruined for her. She's not going to be able to go back there and enjoy them ever again.

They walk back to Canby. Dana remains stoic on the walk, until they get back to her dorm.

"Oh, Bret!" she threw her arms around him. "Couldn't we try just a little longer? I thought you wanted us to last forever."

Secondhand embarrassment, right here.

After he leaves, Dana remains on the front steps of her dorm until Alison comes to lock the doors.

Three days later and Dana hasn't gotten out of bed except for exams. She didn't even bother with her philosophy exam. Casey smuggles some food to her and forces Dana to get out of bed and accompany her to an amusement park. There's an amusement park nearby too? Casey tells her that the other girls at Canby are starting to talk and that one of them is going to talk to someone at Oakley and then Bret will find out that Dana's moping and she doesn't want that.

The amusement park and some junk food improves Dana's mood, and she's able to open up to Casey. She's starting to feel better.

Dana goes home to NYC for the week between the regular school session and the summer intensive. Her mom takes her to a fancy restaurant for a Talk. It's the one about boyfriends coming and going in life and having to be happy with yourself instead of relying on other people to make you happy. Dana knows she's right but it's going to take some time.

Back at Canby, summer intensive classes begin.

"Now all your senses are deprived," she was saying. "Here in the darkness and silence, you will be free to turn toward your inner selves and find the poetry within. You'll be able to listen to the voices of your souls."

Someone ribbits. Pretentious words don't always go over well in high school poetry intensives. Grace Phaeton kicks Ronald Stillwell, the richest boy at Oakley Prep, out of the class.

Dana's walking to Baker House, relieved that she hasn't yet seen Bret, when she spots him walking arm-in-arm with a French exchange student. She's forced to make small talk but manages to extract herself from the situation quickly.

iPod Walkman full of sad country love songs in hand, Dana goes running out to a wildflower ridge to work on her nature poetry assignment. She's concentrating on nature when she's almost run over by a horse!

And a rider.

He was beautiful. Handsome was not the right word. He was beautiful. His hair was blond and longer than the guys at Oakley wore theirs. It curled in locks of pale gold around the collar of his chambray workshirt.

His face was narrow with a thin nose and high cheekbones. His eyes were a steely gray. Right now they were looking down at her coldly.

He's not much of a talker but introduces himself as Randy Crowell, one of the Crowells. The Crowells own a lot of land in the area, and she's on some of it. He invites her to stay as long as she wants. He learns that she goes to Canby and asks if he can call her sometime.

Bret who?

Classes are cancelled due to extreme heat. Dana wants to go swimming in Hudson's Creek, an idyllic swimming hole complete with rope swing,

so they get a group together and head out for the day.

As they return, Shelley's talking about meeting her boyfriend Tom in Greenleaf for pizza when she sees a familiar face: Paul!

Paul, her boyfriend. Her other boyfriend, the one from Iowa. The one who has no idea that she's been dating Tom for months. The one who is unknown to Tom, too.

Paul is in the area visiting colleges. He wanted it to be a surprise for Shelley.

(I thought Paul was the future farmer type. If he's going to major in agriculture, a fancy New England college probably isn't the place to do that. I mean, they might have ag majors, but all of my family members who were ag majors (and there are quite a few) went to schools closer to home, like in Kentucky and Illinois and Iowa and Missouri.)

Shelley comes up with an amazing sure-fire plan. Casey is going to pretend to be Tom's girlfriend to fool Paul and Shelley is going to pretend that Paul is just an old friend from Iowa to fool Tom. Tom and Paul get along very well and the plan works. Then Shelley gets another brilliant idea: go to the restroom and drag Casey along, leaving the guys alone. When they return, the booth is empty except for a note




Now Shelley's the mopey one, having lost both boyfriends in a single minute. She's back at the dorm when Paul comes looking for her. He's mad and he doesn't have much time before he has to leave (for Harvard) but he wanted to see her. He and Tom spent the evening together watching the Red Sox game at Tom's house.

Shelley says that the distance is so hard, that they were bound to drift apart. (That is, after all, why her parents sent her there.) He's pretty understanding, mostly because he's been hanging out with -- but not (yet) dating -- another girl. Shelley is instantly jealous. Really, Shelley? You're the one who's been cheating.

They go for a walk, kiss, and decide to wait and see how things go. Seems like they're both on the same page then, the one Shelley's been on all this time.

Randy stops by Baker House to see Dana. He wants to taker her and show her around his family's land. While he mends a fence, she tells him about herself. Laying in the field in the sunshine, she falls asleep. When she wakes up, a storm is approaching. They make a run for his pickup but don't make it before the rain hits. Randy drives to an old cabin where there's a woodstove they can light to keep them warm and dry off.

Randy tells Dana about the old hermit who used to live in the cabin. Egan taught him a lot about living off the land. Because that's something you totally need to know in 1980s Massachusetts.

It doesn't take long for them to get warm and for the rain to stop, so Randy starts getting ready to leave.

"Ready?" he said and turned toward her.

"Ready to kiss you," she said in a flash of bravery. She grabbed him by the collar and aimed for his mouth, but he turned his head at the last second, and so she wound up planting it on his jaw. She felt like a dope, een more so when he said, "We go slower on that stuff out here in the country."

Oh, Dana. This is almost as bad as when you begged Bret to take you back minutes after he dumped you. To make things even worse, she slips and falls in the mud. Randy, trying to rescue her, falls too.

Mud-covered, Dana returns to her dorm. After a shower, she talks to Faith about him. Faith wonders whether they have anything in common. Shelley comes in with news: dinner that night is a wienie roast in the birch grove. Everyone's there, even Grace Phaeton wearing

a pair of striped pedal pushers that Faith and Shelley were never going to let Dana forget.

What's wrong with striped pedal pushers? Aren't they basically capris? Now it's true, I have an unusual intense hatred of capris, but most people seem to love them. Maybe they were out of style at this time. I guess that's probably it. I used to read a bunch of old teen books (from the 1960s) and the girls were always wearing pedal pushers. I remember asking my mom what they were and having her explain them to me. I guess it's because people weren't wearing them anymore at that time. Well, Grace Phaeton, you just wait. They'll come back into style and then you can remind Faith and Shelley about this day.

Anyway, we have a MUCH more pressing problem than worrying pedal pushers. Dana doesn't know what s'mores are.
She DOESN'T. KNOW. WHAT. S'MORES. ARE. This makes me very sad. Where has she been? Do they not have s'mores in New York City? They must have them in DC, because Faith knows what they are.

Shelley panics when she doesn't hear from Tom after a week. Faith says to give him more time. Dana says to find someone else. Casey tells her to concentrate on acting. The dorm cleaning woman tells her to make him a nice stew (in July?). Shelley's acting teacher tells her to take him a rose. She decides to follow his advice. She leaves the rose in a black box on his doorstep at six in the morning. On her way back to Canby, she remembers that she didn't put his name on it. She thinks his mom will assume it's for her, so she goes back, writes his name on a leaf with lipstick, and slips it under the ribbon on the box.

But nothing is ever easy, so when she's hiding behind a tree to see if Tom's father will pick it up (he does), a neighbor who owns the tree asks what she's doing. She tries to say she's been jogging (in sandals) and stopped to rest but he's been watching her. He saw her go up to Tom's door twice, pick up something (the leaf) from another lawn, and now she's lurking around her tree. He's already called the police.

And the police car arrives, siren blaring, and the entire neighborhood comes out to see what's going on. Shelley tries to explain that she was just leaving Tom a rose, but they don't believe her. They're about to handcuff her and take her to the police station when Tom comes running out of his house.

Oh, my. This is worse that Dana begging Bret to take her back AND kissing Randy. Tom is finally able to convince the police that Shelley is telling the truth and they let her go She's not the Greenleaf Cat Burglar after all.

Tom and Shelley take a walk.

"Nice of you to bring by the flower. Hope you didn't have any trouble."

That Tom, what a sense of humor. They laugh for two blocks and even though they don't talk about it, Shelley realizes that things are going to work out.

Big news! Grace Phaeton is going to give a poetry reading! Dana is excited but Faith and Shelley are super unimpressed. Faith even goes as far as to call GP pretentious. This quickly blows up into a fight.

Dana leaves the room to call Randy and invite him to the reading. After she endures some teasing from one of Randy's brothers (who Dana had mistaken for Randy), Randy gets on the phone and agrees to go. He's not interested in the poetry reading, but he wants to see Dana.

There's not a good turnout for the reading. Grace's students are all there, of course, but only about ten extra people show up. They sit in the middle of the auditorium, to try to make it look less empty, and Dana tries to explain to Randy why she likes poetry.

After the reading, it's clear that Randy hated it. He makes a joke that she takes badly, and she runs out. She ends up in the woods, thinking about how much she misses Manhattan and how little she and Randy have in common compared to how much she and Bret shared.

Faith apologizes to Dana for being down on Grace Phaeton and poetry, and Randy drops off a poem he's written for Dana.

I talk a good game.
Tell you about listening to the forest
then I turn around and tromp
right over your feelings.
Egan would cry.

Would you give me a chance
to make it up to him
and to you?

Well. At least he tried?

He's outside waiting for Dana, and waiting for a kiss.

Dana, Faith, and Shelley take a picnic lunch out to the skating pond. Shelley and Faith say Dana seems happier with Randy than she was with Bret. Dana doesn't understand how they work as a couple, but they do.

Dana and Randy go for ice cream and run into Bret. Bret sits with them and eats his cone, but Randy takes it the wrong way when he teases Dana and tries to defend her. After Bret leaves, Randy says that when Bret was there, it was hard to tell which of them she liked. He storms out.

The next day, Bret finds Dana when she's outside working on a poetry assignment. He apologizes for the way he treated her when they were breaking up. He wants to get back together. It's not working out with his French exchange student, and anyway she's going back to France.

Dana sees through Bret. She accuses him of not wanting her until she got a new boyfriend. She says she needs some time to think about it.

On the last day of school, all of the intensive program students have their exhibitions and performances. Dana reads a poem she's written for Randy, who's standing in the back of the auditorium. Bret causes a disturbance when he abruptly leaves.

Before leaving for home, Shelley invites Dana and Faith to visit her in Iowa the last two weeks of August.

The Cover
Shelley is no longer considered chubby, having lost 15 pounds, which is good because she is again pictured as definitely not chubby (although her thighs do look kind of large if you ask me).

Dana looks absolutely miserable. I'm not sure whether it's because Bret finally showed his true colors or if it's the mustard knee socks worn with shorts.

(I have a thing for holiday themed socks and for some reason the mustard socks led me to Sock Wizard where I found many holiday socks I want, but also I MUST HAVE THESE SOCKS.

The swimming hole pictured in this review is actually in Texas.