The title of this book is more than a little ironic. Despite how much I enjoyed the series as a child, I can’t bring myself to side with these girls when they act like spoiled brats. For one, Janine never actually does or says anything that is cruel or condescending. Instead, she quietly absorbs every insult and attack Claudia throws at her.
Yes, Janine shows a clear disconnect with the rest of the family and Claudia has some valid points about this fact. For one, Janine never makes any attempt to help the family prepare meals. She never makes any attempts to help with Mimi after her stroke. But I admit, I sympathize with Janine. Time and time again, her parents make it a point to exclude her from things so that she may study. This only helps to leave Janine feeling excluded and Claudia feeling as if Janine is too good for the family.
I also wish more thought had gone into this title, because much of the book has nothing to do with Claudia’s and Janine’s problems with one another. It’s mainly focused around Mimi’s stroke and her recovery in the weeks afterwards. This is only the first step towards what is best known as the saddest story line in the BSC series: the death of Mimi. Of course, I have another nineteen or twenty books until we get to that point. But the fact is, Mimi is nearly just as essential to this series as the girls themselves. Especially in regards to Claudia and Mary Anne, who are the closest to her.
I also realized, this was Martin’s first step in exploring death in this series, (the next occurring in Kristy and the Snobs.) A subject that is hard to approach for the young children, whom these books are written for. Though these books can be immature at times and the characters can be childish, I feel this is was a good way to approach the subject. By showing Mimi’s strength and determination to overcome everything, she just strengthens the love readers feel for the character. Say what you will about the quality of these books, but I still say they offer some valuable lessons in life and children can still learn from them, much like I had as a little girl.