Matilda: The Book For Book Lovers

Roald Dahl was born 100 years ago today. He delighted so much in absolutes and extremes, I think he would have loved reaching such a nice, round, very-old age. Or maybe he just knew how delightful children find absolutes and extremes: so many of his characters are the worst (like Miss Trunchbull) or the best (Miss Honey) or otherwise the tallest or luckiest or poorest or … I don’t know, adrift in a giant peach, for example. Point is, nobody is ordinary or middling in the world of Roald Dahl. One of Dahl’s most extraordinary creations is Matilda Wormwood, the mischievous, telekinetic child genius of Matilda.

It’s funny: Matilda is unlike any child or adult I’ve encountered, but among my closest friends and favorite people I count a disproportionate number who once felt that they were just like her. I longed to be acknowledged as a kindergarten super-genius like Matilda, but something about her character made me feel seen.  If you identified with Matilda too, then you can already guess what I loved about her: not the mischief or the magic, but the transformative power of reading. Matilda is about belonging and overcoming, but it is above all a book for book lovers.

Matilda was the only character I remember putting voice to that frustration most child bookworms have: not being allowed to read enough. Matilda’s parents don’t think reading is important, but they also don’t think that Matilda is important; Matilda’s trips to the library are the largesse of their negligence. Mrs. Phelps, an elderly librarian who is just trying her best, directs Matilda to the children’s books then is astonished when Matilda makes her way through all of them in weeks.

When I was 7, I saw this as evidence that I was just as special as Matilda. I despaired during every second grade library trip. We were only supposed to get books from the picture book area, yet outside of school I had already blown through the Baby-Sitters Club and Nancy Drew and was on to Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. Now I realize that Matilda’s frustration is common to a certain type of kid. Almost every child who loves to read feels dismissed by teachers or parents who confine them to the “baby” books that are appropriate to their grade. I still remember my grandmother telling me that she used to check out so many books from the library that the librarian confronted her mother, insisting no child that small could be reading that much. This was in the early 1930s. Matilda was singular, but there sure are a lot of Matildas.

If you identified with Matilda as a young book lover, you probably related to her take on material that was a little out of her grasp. Look at her opinion of Hemingway:

Mr. Hemingway says a lot of things I don’t understand, especially about men and women. But I loved it all the same. The way he tells it I feel I am right there on the spot watching it all happen.

When I was re-reading Matilda I had to stop and go back over that sentence, because that was it. That was exactly how it was reading adult books as a small child. Sure, I followed the basic plot of Emma and Jane Eyre in fourth grade, but sometimes the adult’s motives and experiences were beyond my reach. I was good at reading, but I still hadn’t lived more than nine years. Still, isn’t that also how LIFE was when you were a small child? You couldn’t make sense of adults’ actions all of the time, but you still observed them.  It was so validating to read about another kid who could comprehend all of the words on a page, but not really get the subtext – yet still love what she was reading.  Plenty of A Midsummer Night’s Dream didn’t make sense when I was very young, but I knew enough to know that it was beautiful. It’s why Matilda whispered “it’s like music” after Miss Honey recited Dylan Thomas.

In the film adaptation of Matilda, the narrator says that authors cast out their books “like ships onto the sea.” I love that simile – authors work and dream and agonize, but they have little say over the fate of their books once they’re published. But like Matilda – and THROUGH Matilda – sometimes the right one drifts to you and takes you along:

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.

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Mama From ‘All-Of-A-Kind Family’ Was Some Kind Of Genius: C+S Book Club

Sweep out the sukkah and check the china shepherdess for buttons, because it’s time for another edition of C+S Book Club! Rather than lamenting that Amy March is a total bitch, or revealing that Marilla Cuthbert was, in fact, a creepy church hag, today we’re going to talk about someone who is better than you and I could ever dream of being: Mama from Sydney Taylor’s All-Of-A-Kind Family. Mama was so clever and calculating that I almost wanted to call her an evil genius, but she was also the kindest, most chill mother in RL-4 chapter book history.

Look. I don’t have children. But I did read that one book about how our children would be classier if we raised them like French children, and I’ve seen some episodes of SuperNanny, which is a show about how our children would be classier if we raised them like British children from 1905. Plus I’ve read those articles that Facebook friends post about why children shouldn’t have technology and fast food, as well as those other articles that Facebook friends post about why children should have technology and fast food. And let me tell you: not a ONE of those so-called experts had anything on Mama. Case in point: her dusting scheme.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then chances are you didn’t read All-Of-A-Kind Family. If you did read it, the dusting ploy is seared in your memory along with chocolate babies and that time Henny got lost in Coney Island. (FREAKING HENNY, am I right?) The chapter was titled Dusting Is Fun, because it was 1951 and Sydney Taylor didn’t really have to try (honestly, what was her competition in children’s entertainment? The show Lassie. That’s it.). By the end of that chapter you, a grubby-faced 90s kid wearing a t-shirt decorated with puff paint, wished you were an old-fashioned child in the Lower East Side dusting for free. And for fun. That is how powerful Mama’s dusting plot was.

Ready for the scheme IN ITS ENTIRITY? Hold on to your pinafore. Mama hid buttons around the front parlor. By the way, their house only had like 4 rooms and one of them was a parlor used strictly for fancy decorations and pianos, that’s how high-class Mama was. Okay, so then the dusting girl had to find all of the buttons while she was dusting. Also Mama got straight-up sneaky with it, like those buttons were under table legs and piano keys. You had to DUST. IT. UP. If you found all of the buttons, you had done a good job dusting.

All right, let’s talk about the genius parts of this plan:

  1. The girls never knew how many buttons there were. Say you’ve found 5 buttons. You couldn’t just call it quits at that point, because maybe there were 9 buttons that day. You had to dust every damn thing, and only then could you be sure you had all of the buttons.
  2. Mama kept it fresh. Sometimes she’d bring out the buttons a few times a week, and sometimes she’d wait two weeks because what did she care, she had those little dusting girls under her spell and they would WAIT FOR IT. They’d wait for those buttons.
  3. In case you missed it, the prize was that you had done a good job dusting. Mama raised her kids to want to do a very good job at something because it feels good to know that you’ve done a very good job. Mama quarantined four children with scarlet fever in a spotless 4-room apartment during Passover; she knew that you didn’t get a ticker tape parade every time you did a damn chore.
  4. But Mama was the best ever because one week she hid a penny every day. Judging by how much candy the girls could buy for a penny, it was basically a dollar. Do you know how great it is to find a dollar when you’re cleaning? Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie sure do.

Mama wasn’t all dusting and parlors, though. She also was really good looking. The girls introduced her to the Library Lady and they were so proud because even though she had, at the time, 5 children, she didn’t look like the other women in the neighborhood: “like mattresses tied about the middle.” Which admittedly sounds harsh, but you know exactly what they mean. I’m sure they’d all love Mama just as much if she were a lumpy mattress-lady, but the point is Mama had a whole bunch of kids and her figure and outfits were still on point.

While Mama enforced rules, she was lenient when it mattered. When Sarah made that big fuss about not eating her rice soup that one day, Mama stuck to her guns, but once Sarah had a few bites of the gross congealed soup she let her move onto something more appetizing. (I loved re-reading that chapter, because it so reminded me of when you’d get stubborn about something or throw a fit as a kid, and you wouldn’t even know why you were doing it, but you couldn’t will yourself to stop.) And when Gertie and Charlotte used their pennies to buy candy and crackers and ate them in bed, Mama played it like she had no clue, just because it makes kids feel smart and important having a secret.

The All-Of-A-Kind Family was medium-poor. They were second generation-ish Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side in 1912 long before their neighborhood became some sort of real estate holding for foreign billionaires. However, Papa had a scrap shop and they lived on one floor of a house instead of in a crowded tenement, so they were doing pretty okay. Mama was really good at being medium-poor. She was frugal where it counted, but she still allowed for splurges like a trip to Coney Island, or a treat when they went to the market.

If I can have one quibble about Mama, it’s that she finally had a boy and she named it Charlie. Look. One of my favorite real-life little boys is named Charley. It’s a great name. PLUS Adult Charlie from the book is such a cool grownup. You spend the whole time hoping that he and the Library Lady will meet and hit it off and … well. You know the rest. (Also: another post about the Library Lady, maybe?). So it’s great that Mama names a kid after him. It’s just … Mama. Did you forget you already have a Charlotte? She’s going to have so much Middle Child Syndrome. On the whole Mama picked good names – Library Lady even said! – so I can’t be too annoyed. And at least she didn’t name him after Uncle Hyman.

Library Lady = the Miss Honey of this series.

If I have kids, I’m going to skip the parenting guide telling me to make my children be more French. I’ll bypass the naughty step. I’ll steer clear of the Facebook click-bait. As far as I’m concerned, the best parenting guide there is this one weird old chapter book with no real plot. If I am even 1/10th of the benevolent evil genius Mama is, I think my kids would turn out just fine.

 

YA Novelizations That Probably Should Have Happened

With the final day of TEENS BE READING week here, we’re going to take a look at what could have been in the YA world. Missed opportunities, regrets left and right, plenty of hanging heads down in shame for never giving readers what they really want – novelizations of their favorite TV shows and movies.

In the literary world, novelizations are considered trash by any reasonable author’s standards. It’s one of the least creative ways to use your talent as a writer, and one of the most looked down upon. But people still do it. And they’re still entertaining. Mama’s still gotta get that money. Of course, novelizations are nothing new, in fact we’re covered them before with Dawson’s Creek (hint: a Gilmore Girls one may be on deck). There are plenty of books to choose from when it comes to kid and teen shows, such as Full House, The OC and Lizzie McGuire, but unfortunately not all our faves could be translated into the magic that is novelizations.

Here are our picks for what could have been. Books that could have had the chance of having Harry Potter like popularity. Ok, probably not, but it’s nice to dream.

Summerland: A Fresh New Summerland

The Summerland novel serves as a final chapter in the cancelled too soon WB series that ended only after two seasons. The book picks up five years later, when Bradin (Jesse McCartney) is a successful professional surfer who, after 3 years sober, resorts back to drinking when he has a string of losses. Meanwhile, we find out Nikki (Kay Panabaker) has lost touch with her former BFF and BF Cameron (Zac Efron), who suddenly became a movie star after he was spotted in the mall by a casting director. In the novel, he attempts to win her friendship – and maybe even her love – back.

The Real World: Seattle : The Slap

One of the most iconic moments in Real World history happened in season seven, when a dramatic showdown between Irene and Stephen led to the slap heard ’round the world. In this novelization, we only follow the lives of Irene and Stephen through a series of alternating past and present day (as in 1998) stories. We follow Stephen as he’s raised by a single mother in a black Muslim household then converts to Judiasm at 15, and we see Irene as she goes through the constant battle with Lyme disease. It all comes to a head when Irene calls out Stephen for being gay in “Present Day”, and his immediate response is to throw her beloved stuffed animal in the Seattle waters then slap her across the face. The epilogue includes Stephen revealing actually IS gay and engaged. To a man.

Guts: The Aggro Crag’s Revenge

For years, The Aggro Crag had to deal with tiny little teens climbing up its sides. No matter how hard it tried, they always managed to find their way to the top. In this Choose Your Own Adventure-type book, contestants must choose their paths up to the mount wisely, with rocks, creatures, and very bright lights at every turn. You won’t have a safety harness to rely on this time around, so do, do, do, do, you have it? GUTS.

S Club 7 in L.A. : S Club 7 in Las Vegas

Following their three TV series, Miami 7, S Club 7 in L.A., and Hollywood 7, the fictional British pop group continued their story via book form. Set in 2002, a year after the Hollywood season, the singers hop in their red convertible and drive to Las Vegas (despite the fact management offered them a private jet) to kick off their six-month residency at the Golden Nugget. The seven-book series features a singer’s perspective in each book. Tina’s got a side job working as a showgirl on her days off, Bradley fell in love with a girl at the Wheel of Fortune slot machines and he may or may not have gotten drunkenly eloped, and Paul is in massive debt due to his gambling problem.

Seinfeld: The Book About Nothing

Literally the one about nothing. The book is full of blank pages. The final page is a sketch drawing of Kramer storming into Jerry’s apartment.

Sister Sister: Sister Sister (Sister)

In this non-canonical novelization of Sister Sister, Tia and Tamera’s lost triplet, Tarisa, shows up with a desperate plea for money. Suspicions are raised when they realize that Tarisa doesn’t look like them and appears to be an adult woman. It all comes to a head when Tarisa has to dress up as Tamera to take Tamera’s Geometry test for her for some reason!

Destinos: An Adventure In Present Tense Spanish

This companion novella to the substitute teacher-endorsed “Spanish” hit takes you deep into the world of Fernando and Raquel. Or actually, very shallowly into their world, because all of the dialogue is written in basic Spanish. Raquel’s uncle Jorge is missing at the zoo and she and Fernando have to use all of their rudimentary vocab to find him! ¿Encontrará Fernando al tío de Raquel in el parque zoológico? They’re asking all their best questions and dropping all their most relevant knowledge: !Tío Jorge lleva una camisa roja! !Anduve cerca de las gallinas! ¿Ha visto a mi tío Jorge? ¿Cononce a Jorge, el hombre que le gusta jugar al tenis?

Friends: Ben’s Dyno-mite World

Capitalizing on 90s children’s fascination with Friends, a show about grownups, this chapter book highlights the busy, modernish Greenwich Village life of Ben, a little boy growing up with two moms and a dad he sees once or twice a season. When Ben gets lost in the Natural History Museum, he has to use his dino smarts to find his way back to his dad. He is with his Uncle Joey, but he is mostly useless.

Titanic: My Heart Will Go On And On

After the sinking of the Titanic, 17-year-old Rose Dawson (nee Dewitt Bukater) lands in New York with nothing to her name – so she makes a name for herself, first gaining popularity on the Vaudeville circuit, then starring in early silent films. As Rose’s fame grows, she finds herself bound for England aboard the Lusitania. Rose finally lets herself love again – a roguish scamp named Mack Carson – but when the ship meets a tragic fate, Rose must learn that her heart will go on. And on.

Zoom: Ub-an Fub-un Tub-ime Ub-in 02134

It’s a Saturday afternoon in Greater Boston’s zaniest zip code. The Zoom kids have to complete a fun obstacle course across Allston without dropping their balloons – or triggering Zoe’s latex allergy. When someone swipes Alisa’s bookbag during a rousing round of the cup game, the gang has to track it down by snacktime! Where could it be? Find out in this adventure written entirely in Ubbi Dubbi.

Goosebumps Books That Give You Anything But

I’m not particularly one for being scared. I don’t make it a habit of watching horror films and you won’t see me participating in one of those haunted mazes. When I was younger, I thought going on haunted hayrides and watching “scary movies” were fun, but my coping mechanism was to laugh off everything. HAHA THAT CREEPY STRANGER IN A MASK IS FOLLOWING US WITH A CHAINSAW THAT’S HILARIOUS AND MY KIND OF COMEDY. False. This is the exact opposite of what I wanted and needed in my life.

As a result, I pretended to watch every episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? (I’ve seen a handful, because some of them are actually frightening) and also bought Goosebumps books from the Scholastic paper “catalog” but only really read one or two of them. Many say there are a number of R.L. Stine classics that really are spooky, but let’s leave it to them to critique. I’m here to echo my younger self’s sentiments and cope with the scariness that is Goosebumps by poking fun of the books themselves. The contents of the novels may have been horrific, but some of these titles are laughable more than anything else.

Why I’m Afraid of Bees

In my head, scary books or movies have titles that are intriguing to the consumer, that make you want to know more, but is inherently frightening. Like The Blair Witch Project or I Know What You Did Last Summer or The Evil Dead. Why I’m Afraid of Bees just sounds like a three-page paper a 9 year old wrote in science class about his summer in the Vineyard.

Go Eat Worms!

DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!

My Hairiest Adventure

A cautionary tale about puberty, probably.

Say Cheese and Die – Again!

… Die… AGAIN, THO?

Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter

Maybe the peanut butter just got too mixed with the jelly? IDK, just an idea.

A Shocker on Shock Street

Honestly, it’s your own damn fault if you go to “Shock Street” and expect something other than death or a good fright when you go there.

How I Learned to Fly

That same 9 year old wrote a follow-up essay, and it’s part of Batman’s secret origin story.

Bad Hare Day

Puns, amirite?

Calling All Creeps!

Do we, as a society, use the word ‘creeps’ enough? I feel like we don’t. In which case, I’d like to call on everyone to reach out to the creeps. But not like, actual creeps. Just the word. Okay, good talk.

My Best Friend Is Invisible

My best friend is invisible too, so honestly this book does not scare me at all. Also if my invisible BFF was ordering pizza, that’s definitely not a nightmare, but rather a dream.

I Live in Your Basement!

Why is this monster blob so excited to exclaim he’s living in my basement?!

Chicken, Chicken

 

I mean, honestly.

 

Forever Scarred: Traumatizing Moments from YA Novels

Like Joey Tribbiani, we believe that some books belong in the freezer. If you aren’t a Friends fanatic, that’s a reference to the episode where Joey kept The Shining in the freezer because it was too scary. When he and Rachel do a book exchange, we learn that it isn’t just overtly gory fiction that makes you want to freeze away your feelings:

Whether gross, creepy, or just plain sad, these are some moments in YA fiction that had us reaching for the icebox:

The One Where Dobby Dies

I admittedly was very late to the Harry Potter game. Like, I didn’t start reading the series until the seventh book came out. I blame my parents. Anyways, as I was reading the books from the beginning, I would discuss my thoughts and feelings about what was happening to my friend who had read them already. In particular, I remember being so incredibly annoyed and mad at Dobby. Inherently, I disliked him for his affiliation with the Malfoys, but also I couldn’t stand the way he spoke in third person. “Listen to Dobby!” “Bad Dobby!” “Dobby is fed up with this Malfoy bullshit!” As I continued reading, he began to have a soft spot in my heart and soon became one of my favorite characters. So when he was killed by Bellatrix’s knife after essentially saving HP, I was absolutely gutted. He was devoted and loyal to Harry, and passed away in the most heroic way. I had to stop reading because I was so stunned and also the tears were clouding my eyes and prohibiting my ability to read.

Hazel’s ‘Fake’ Eulogy for Augustus

SPEAKING OF BLUBBERING AND TEARS. THIS ENTIRE PASSAGE:

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

The Hunger Games in General

Like a lot of other people, I like and appreciate the world Suzanne Collins created, it’s easy to forget just how troubling the premise is. Before the first movie came out, I was explaining to someone (a mother of three) what the books are about. It wasn’t until then, when I was saying it outloud to someone who has kids that I realized just how effed up it must be that we get entertainment out of these books, in particular the first one. As a parent, she must have been picturing what it would be like if her kids were put in that situation, when you have no choice but to watch your kid fight to the death in a televised sport. I know the series is more than this, but, still. How messed up.

Stacey McGill’s Diabetes Pee

Everything I know about diabetes I learned from Ann M. Martin. But the most traumatizing lesson was when Stacy hadn’t yet been diagnosed, and she wet the bed at a sleepover because diabetes makes you pee a lot. This led to her losing her best New York City friend. The diabetes also caused Stacey’s divorced parents to fight all the time and to bring her to some sort of quack doctor. When she tries to play it cool and not tell her BSC friends about the diabetes, they assume she has a shady secret. AND when everyone is tucking into Claudia’s food hoarder snacks, the narrator always explains that they have saltines or something for Stacey. Basically if you get diabetes you will pee everywhere and your life will be ruined, is what I learned. For more BSC thoughts, see our The Baby-Sitters Club: The Musical — Excerpts From The Libretto.

Jonas’s Dad Kills Babies

Ah, The Giver. Probably one of my favorite YA books of all time. Except for that part where Jonas’s usually-chill dad is seen cooing at an adorable little baby then shooting it up with death drugs because it was a twin, which was against the rules. Then Jonas learns that the baby who has been hanging out with his family is also on death row so he escapes into the wilderness with it. Damn.

You Might Get Cancer. Love, Lurlene McDaniel

Remember Lurlene McDaniel? She wrote treacly, vaguely Christian books about teens with terminal illness. She covered all manner of diseases but I knew her best from the Dawn Rochelle books, which were about a 1980s teen who has leukemia. McDaniel probably did a lot to teach the youths that kids living with disease are just like us. But it’s almost like she did a little TOO good a job because as someone who bruises easily and is prone to violent, cascading nosebleeds, I definitely spent my junior high years being like “you know who had these problems? Dawn ‘Leukemia’ Rochelle.” Most traumatic moment: when Dawn’s friend and hospital roomie died and Dawn got her Bible with that one part of Ecclesiastes underlined.

Open-Air Mating In The Alien Zoo

Our high school was notorious for ridiculous eight-book-long summer reading lists, where most of the books were 400-page tomes set on the British moors. But Junior Year, they assigned at least one “hip,” “modern” book: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that these disgusting slimy aliens abducted the main character and he had to live in a human zoo. They brought a porn star in and the two of them, like …. mated. In front of the disgusting terrible aliens. Who were cheering, maybe? It was horrible.

Those Disgusting Button Eyes

Coraline discovers Other Mother and Other Father, who are alternate-universe parents who have button eyes. Then Coraline, a human person, is supposed to sew buttons over her own eyes to “match.” And THEN she meets ghost children onto whom the Other Mother had sewn button eyes. Nah.

 

 

 

Judging A Dawson’s Creek Pocket Book By Its Cover

A couple of years ago, Molly was kind enough to send me a care package of books, most of which are geared towards a younger audience, because she gets me. One of the books in said package was a novelization of Dawson’s Creek, called A Capeside Christmas.

Here I am reading A Capeside Christmas while we were waiting to get into the Dawson’s Creek Writers Reunion at ATX TV Festival in June

It seems as if novelizing popular TV shows seemed to be a big 90s thing that brought in all the cash for these already hit programs. I’m pretty sure I read one or two of the Full House books, but there was also a collection of Buffy, Charmed, and Roswell ones floating around too. But the thing about these was that they were never *quite* in canon with the shows they were derived from.

I recently finished A Capeside Christmas, and hands down, it was one of the worst things I’ve ever read. But I finished it, so I guess it wasn’t that horrible. I thought the story was going to follow the gang during Christmas and some kind of trouble that ensued (per usual) around this time of year in the Cape, but instead, it was 146 pages about the Capeside Follies aka the town Christmas pageant that all of them are in. Dawson is lured in as director, Jen is the stage manager and Joey and Pacey are in the show showing off their talents – IN THE SHOW. It was a little off, but I could see how it still fit in with the show in general. But since Andie found a love interest in the book, it also lead to confusion as to whether it takes BP or AP (Before Pacey/After Pacey). It read like a DC fanfic, but was juuuust good enough to get picked up by a lesser known publisher. And for all we know, the Dawson’s Creek line of books could be just that.

Yes, there’s more than one of these books besides A Capeside Christmas. Although I don’t think I’ll be paying $.75 cents + $5 shipping to purchase “Too Hot To Handle”, I do want to appreciate these books for its comedic value. All of the novels have a corny subtitle, one that was probably from the same vault where your dad gets his Dad Jokes from. Just like I didn’t really know what A Capeside Christmas was about prior to diving in, I’m going to do the same thing and do exactly what you SHOULD do with any Dawson’s Creek novelization – judge a book by its cover.

**Also, each real description ended with:  

“Joey, Dawson, Pacey, Jen.”

Four fifteen-year-olds ready to take on the world.

They’re learning about life, and learning how to love. **

Shifting into Overdrive

Assumed Plot: Joey is eager to get her driver’s license, and since her older sister Bessie is too busy at the B&B and with her baby (and her hubs is mysteriously absent), Joey has to call on the help of one of her friends to pass the test. Since Dawson’s too focused on his latest film project for the Rhode Island Film Festival, Pacey offers to give her driving lessons in his pickup. Their road is a rocky one at the start, with constant bickering and stressful backseat (frontseat) drivers. However, it’s eventually smooth sailing for Pacey and Joey as she nears her test – but will the actual test be their budding romantic relationship? *Pacey actually taught Joey how to drive, right?*

Actual Plot: The road calls… Joey and Jen totally need a Dawson-free zone, so when Jen’s wealthy cousin invites her to an elegant Sweet Sixteen party in New York City, Jen coaxes a reluctant Joey along. Meanwhile, Dawson and Pacey are hot on their trail, dying to know what the girls are up to. The guys hit the road. And the road hits back….

Is high society ready for Jen’s ex-boyfriend Billy, and Danny, a sophisticated senior who’s totally into Joey? “And two sleepless gate-crashers?” It’s party time….

Major Meltdown

Assumed Plot: Now Juniors, they gang (excluding Pacey) are freaking out over the upcoming SATs and pressure of college in general. Studious Joey is taking extra SAT prep courses to bump up her score from 1400 to at least 1525. Jen is deciding whether she wants to go to college at all and Dawson is torn between going to Los Angeles or New York for film school. However the one thing they all have in common is the dilemma of whether they’re making the right decisions about college at all, a choice that will effect the rest of their lives.

Actual Plot: Jen hopes that a ski trip to a fancy Vermont chalet will enable her to rekindle things with Dawson, who is in turn occupied with his feelings for Joey; while Pacey looks forward to conquest over the ski bunnies.

Double Exposure

Assumed plot: Jen and Joey decide to take a photography class together, and one of their projects is to pick someone or something that has great value and serves as an inspiration to them as part of a photo project. Separately, the both Jen and Joey pick Dawson – and jealousy ensues. Will Dawson help out the new girl in town or the girl who’s been in his heart for his whole life?

Actual Plot: The Ice House is in serious need of funds, so Joey takes matters into her own hands and finds work as an underwear model, but when her pictures end up on the Internet, heads begin turning at school.

Don’t Scream

Assumed Plot: In the book version of one of the famous Halloween episodes, Pacey convinces everyone to join him on a trip to Salem to check out the place where the actual witch trials took place. Strange little things keep happening while they’re there – water glasses get knocked over with no explanation, doors keep shutting with no wind in the air, and even Jack’s going crazy because he keeps thinking he sees his grandmother everywhere they go – a grandmother who died five years ago. In Salem.

Actual Plot: “LIGHTS, CAMERA, SCREAM” Has Dawson’s dream finally come true? A low-budget teen horror film is shooting in Capeside and Dawson desperately wants to work on the set. This could be the professional break he’s been looking for an he’s really excited. That is, until Jen lands the job he wanted. Meanwhile, Joey loves the attention she’s getting while spending time with the movie’s to-die-for lead.

Too Hot To Handle

Assumed Plot: It’s summertime in the Creek and when they’re not working at the Ice House or at the video store or at Dawson’s parents’ restaurant, the gang spend most of their time at the beach. It’s there that both Pacey and Dawson meet some particularly attractive ladies, causing jealousy to stir inside both Andie and Joey, respectively.

Actual Plot: Pacey has a great idea to raise money to protect Dunn’s Lighthouse from developers. Students will volunteer to dress as celebs, and other teens will bid on them. The highest bidders for the stars will own them for a day. Who would turn down this chance to fulfill his or her fantasies?

Running On Empty

Assumed Plot: Jack confides to Jen that he’s gay, a confession he’s too scared to come forward with to both his family, friends, and especially girlfriend Joey. The pressure of being who people think he is and who he truly is gets to him, and it’s only Jen who can help him through it.

Actual Plot: Bessie and Joey’s plan to rake in the dough with paying guests during Capeside’s “Weekend of the Whales” festival goes south fast when Bessie sprains her ankle, spoiled potato salad knocks out all the cooks in town, and it rains and rains and rains. Pacey, Dawson, Jack, and Andie are eager to help out…but Andie’s got her hands full with the handsome twin brothers staying at Gram’s place, Dawson’s dealing with another obnoxious B&B client, a poetry-loving houseguest totally crushes on Joey, and there’s not a whale in sight! Looks like it’s gonna be a long weekend…

Trouble in Paradise

Assumed Plot: It was going well for soulmates Dawson and Joey for a while, before they separately started to realize that it just wasn’t working out romantically. After they spend a weekend in Paradise, Connecticut with Jen, Andie, Pacey and Jack on a skiing trip, their already tense relationship comes to a head when they’re forced to come forward with their true feelings during an intense round of Truth or Dare.

Actual Plot: It’s the return of Jen’s cousin Courtney the Perfect. Grams is thrilled. Jen and Joey are not, and their instincts are right: Courtney is definitely out to stir up trouble.

Playing for Keeps

Assumed Plot: In order to make some extra money in hopes of saving it for a new car, Pacey starts investing in off-track betting. Andie starts to notice that his hobby is soon becoming an addiction, as she sees he’s losing more money than he’s investing. Will Andie’s pressure to stop his gambling ways push Pacey to clean up his act or be on the brink of a breakup?

Actual Plot: Summer is finally here and the gang nab jobs as counselors at Camp Takabec. Jack is the football counselor, Dawson does audiovisual, Joey’s in arts and crafts, Jen and Pacey are directing the camp musical, and Andie is an academic tutor for challenged kids.

They’re managing to have a blast, even though Jen and Joey both fall for the same mysterious college guy from England. Meanwhile, a friendly color war is developing into “The Sex Wars,” pitting the guys against the gals. But who will win this friendship tug-of-war?

Tough Enough

Assumed Plot: Dawson’s secret love for the WWE is revealed.

Actual Plot: North…by Northwest? When Principal Green introduces a mandatory new program called “SpringPlan” at Capeside High, Jen, Joey, Pacey, Jack, Andie, and Dawson all sign up for projects that interst them. But Princpal Green has other ideas, and they find themselves assigned to “Character Building Through Wilderness Training” in the wilds of North Carolina. Oh yeah.

Wilderness Camp is run by a former marine drill sergeant who makes the Godfather look like Mother Teresa. Pre-breakfast runs, splittng wood, poisonous-snake identification classes. Tension is running high, but there’s only one way out of the woods for Jen, Joey, Pacey, Dawson, Jack, and Andie.

Calm Before the Storm

Assumed Plot: A huge winter storm is heading to Capeside, and everyone is preparing for the worst before hunkering down for what’s sure to be the worst storm in years. But tensions are already high for Joey and Dawson (who just broke up), Joey and Jack (whose kiss led to said break-up), Andie and Pacey (who are secretly working through Andie’s mental problems) and Jen (who is still coping with the death of her grandfather). They end up locked in the school for hours, since the storm came in early, and they are forced to stick together and hash out their problems while waiting for the storm to pass.

Actual Plot: “Whales mate for life.” “At least they know what they want,” Joey thinks.

Sometimes her relationship with Dawson seems so complicated. Even more so when her class field trip to Billings Island, a nature preserve off the coast of Capeside, is blown apart by a freak storm. And Joey and Dawson are separated from Pacey and Jen. Now they’re lost in the woods… stranded in an old cabin together, cold and shivering, alone in a storm… eager for warmth.

 

Gritty, Dystopian ‘Little Women’ Plotlines

Remember Little Women? Of course you do. It’s the 1860s tale of 4 New England sisters – the bitchy one, the one with a complex gender identity, the social anxiety one, and the other one – learning about life, love, and saving your work in case of manuscript fire.

Except now that the C.W. is getting into it, Little Women is going to be more like this:

Little Women is described as a hyper-stylized, gritty adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, in which disparate half-sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy band together in order to survive the dystopic streets of Philadelphia and unravel a conspiracy that stretches far beyond anything they have ever imagined – all while trying not to kill each other in the process.

Okay, we can work with that. I read Little Women probably a dozen times as a kid, and I lived in the dystopic streets of west Philly. Here are some sample plotlines:

  • When the girls are sorted on … I don’t know, Sorting Day … in the burned-out shell of the Reading Terminal Market, Meg is a Carer, Amy is a Flouncer, Beth is a Die-er, but Jo… Jo is OTHER and must hide out in the garret of Aunt March’s house so The Faction doesn’t enlist her.
  • Aunt March’s house is, like, somewhere in Delco.
  • The girls from the ruling class all collect L.I.M.E.s, or ligament-installed mechanical elements. They’re like weird extra robot arms and legs. Amy, being poor, buys a sawed-off body part from the black market instead … until the schoolmaster throws it in the snow. Gritty.
  • Beth, a meek child, frequently steals away to Laurence II, the mega-computer next door where the brain and memory of Mr. Laurence were uploaded before he was captured by … Them. I guess.
  • “They” have maintained a ruling society that has cut the lower class off from the modern world, but Meg infiltrates at Sally Moffat’s ball on the Main Line.
  • Meanwhile, Jo must hide the burned control panel of the wire tap she wears to the event by standing awkwardly against the side of the room.
  • In a feral state of fear and mania, Beth beheads a hitchhiking robot that she meets on one of her few trips out of the home.
  • Amy has to conceal her radioactive superpowers that she acquires after she falls through a crystallized chemical layer while sludge-skating on the Delaware.
  • She is saved by Jo, who is still furious that Amy smashed the hard drive for her allegorical exposee on Them.
  • Dystopian Jo didn’t save her work in a second location, either.
  • And Dystopian Amy is still a bitch.
  • A group of young rebels, led by Jo and Laurie, meet in a secret cell in Manayunk. It’s up to Operation Pickwick to save the day.
  • Instead of being reasonably good at piano and an accomplished artist, respectively, Beth and Amy are an EDM D.J. and a computer graphic programmer.
  • With the underclasses and recent immigrants cut off from the health care system, Beth takes it upon herself to care for a struggling foreign family in the grips of scarlet fever. After beating the disease, she lives under a cloud of weakness and brittle introversion, until eventually relapsing and dying in her teens. Okay, so you don’t really have to change that one. Like I said, grit. Pure dystopian GRIT.

Okay, so this is not going to be good. And if it airs, I’m watching every week.

Gilbert Blythe, Dream Man Or D-Bag: C+S Book Club

Gilbert Blythe just died again. I say again because, had the fictional Gilbert been a real person, he’d be about 120 years old, and sorry friends – or sore-y, Canadian friends – there’s just no way. But for a lot of us, Gilbert lived and breathed through the 1980s CBC Anne Of Green Gables movies. Jonathan Crombie was a Toronto youth acting in school plays when he was cast as Gilbert, and he made the character more lovable than I think he even was on the page.

When Crombie died earlier this month, we lost a little bit of Gilbert Blythe. Ah, but which Gilbert Blythe? Things aren’t always black and white in Avonlea (don’t get me wrong, Avonlea is  very, very white, insomuch that Anne’s red hair is a real exotic shot of diversity). In a previous C+S Book Club installment, we dispelled the idea of Marilla Cuthbert as a kindly yet stern benefactress: in my heart, she is first and foremost a creepy church hag. Likewise, one could argue that Gilbert Blythe is an early 1900s dream man – but just as easily, he could be an old-timey sarsaparilla-scented burlap douchebag. Let’s discuss.

Gilbert Blythe, D-Bag

I’ll defer to our Anne of Green Gables synopsis from our last post about the book: “Published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story is a timeless tale of orphans and family and imagination and screwing up your hair and dreams and getting your friend drunk by accident and Canada and Canadians and will they/won’t they romance and child-buying. Especially child-buying. When Anne, a plucky carrot-topped orphan with a heart of gold, ends up in Green Gables, she brings love, light, and happiness to Matthew and Marilla, a brother and sister who are married or whatever. ” Today, we look into the romance in question, between Anne – a child nobody has ever loved, who longs to achieve despite an early childhood deprived of education – and Gilbert, a boy who has parents and stuff but is still really mean to the orphan who wasn’t allowed to go to school.

I mean, Gilbert. First of all. Your top academic rival is a little girl who had to raise a litter of Garbage Pail twins and talk to herself in the woods instead of going to school. You think she’s weird? I don’t know, maybe it’s because her only childhood friend was herself, in a mirror. Then she finally gets to interact with humans and basically manages not to seem like a feral child – success! And you mock her, day 1. Kind of a dick move, Blythe.

If you’ve forgotten, Gilbert called Anne “carrots” and pulled her hair. Here’s something boys don’t seem to get: it hurts when you pull hair, because that shit is hooked onto your scalp. Also, “carrots” is sort of a juvenile insult for a thirteen-year-old. Oh, what’s that? Isn’t Anne 11? Yeah, she is – but Gilbert missed school for a few years to help out his sick dad or something. If Anne of Green Gables were a 1980s sitcom that’s the part where Anne would scream “Yeah? Well at least you HAVE a father!” and storm off. But the point is, at thirteen it’s pretty pathetic to have to make fun of a child two years younger than you, much less one who is the indentured servant of a mean old bag and an elderly man who’s afraid of her. I’m sure it’s in part due to Gilbert’s teasing that Anne dyed her hair green that one time.

In our last Anne Of Green Gables post, I posited that we could call an Anne and Gilbert post “Anne And Gilbert: Shit Or Get Off The Pot,” or alternately, “Anne And Gilbert: When You Hate Someone It’s Probably Not Because You Secretly Love Them.” If you’re a young lady, I want you to repeat that last title to yourself a few times until it really sinks in. When you hate someone, it’s probably not because you secretly love them. Also, if a boy treats you like garbage it’s probably because he’s garbage, not because he’s in love with you and doesn’t know how to show it. What nonsense is that? But people believe it, and maybe Anne and Gilbert are a little to blame. Or maybe …. maybe she liked him for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, he was the dirtbag of her dreams.

Gilbert Blythe, Dream Man

First of all, in Gilbert’s defense, Anne is kind of an idiot. We know that she grew up in shacks and orphanages, and we aren’t saying it’s her fault she’s an idiot, but she still is. It’s like when that homeschooled kid whose parents forgot to socialize her would transfer to your school, and she just didn’t grasp social norms. You understood that she was struggling with the whole… milieu, or what have you…. but that didn’t mean you particularly wanted to hang out on weekends (don’t worry, I know, #NotAllHomeschoolers).

So, yeah, he did call her carrots. She was particularly sensitive about her red hair, so I do get that. But that was ONE TIME. Chill, Anne. You’re going to let that follow you for your entire high school experience, or whatever you call high school when it’s a one-room schoolhouse and your teacher is banging Prissy Andrews? He pulled your hair, he didn’t kill your parents. He couldn’t because you don’t have any. As far as insults go, carrots is pretty weak. Hair-pulling is admittedly shitty, but holy cow, Anne broke a slate over his head. Slates were what chalkboards were made of before Pinterest invented chalkboard paint, and those things had sharp edges. Disproportional use of force, Anne. Jeez. Anything stupid Gilbert did after that point is probably because you concussed him.

Also, Gilbert isn’t the one who declared an academic rivalry; that was all Anne. And when you really think about it, she picked the kid who had been out of school for two years taking care of a parent (pressed much?). Talk about low-hanging fruit.

Anne didn’t really chill out until Gilbert saved her life. Gilbert wouldn’t have had to save Anne’s life if she hadn’t set herself off down a body of water pretending to be a poem. Classic Anne, y’all. Also I was joking that it’s Gilbert’s fault she dyed her hair green; that was her own shit.

My take? As a kid, I was firmly in the Gilbert Blythe, D-Bag camp. He reminded me of boys who would make fun of me for having red hair, or freckles, or reading too much. But now I see that Anne needs to get a damn grip. A lot of people are kind of awful when they’re 13. I’d go so far as to say that most kids hit a developmental stage of just being horrible people somewhere around middle school. So Gilbert made fun of you one time? Meh. No big. I’m glad that Anne eventually realized that he had a good heart, sharp mind, and awesome hair so their six kids weren’t all total carrots. And considering they named their son Shirley, those kids needed all the help they could get.

 

Best Of C+S 2014: Amy March Was A Total Bitch

There comes a time, as you grow and change and find your place in the world, that you realize that some of your childhood was a lie. For instance, I once thought that the March sisters from Little Women were four wholesome, hoopskirted gals a-wassailing through Greater Boston. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that really, there were three wholesome broads with those skirts, and one total bitch. That bitch? Amy Curtis March.


Growing up in the 1990s, it was sort of normal for a girl to be into the 1800s. The American Girl catalog was in your mailbox, the Little House books were in your Scholastic orders, and everyone had a mom or grandma who was really into Dr. Quinn. The 1994 film adaptation of Little Women was right in the zeitgeist. When I saw that it was on tv around Christmas, nostalgia got the better of me. I had to watch. And, umm… something jumped out at me that didn’t when I was a kid. So, I decided to re-read the book on my bus rides to and from work, and it was confirmed.

Amy March was a huge freaking bitch.

I accepted early on that Amy was my March counterpart. While I loved writing and piano, I was neither a free-spirited tomboy like Jo nor a gentle, shy dead girl like Beth. And Meg — seriously, did anyone ever want to be Meg? Leave a comment if you did. No, I was an Amy. I’m also the youngest of four, and I – like many youngest children – am kind of hammy and want everyone to love me. Like the youngest March sister,  I’m even the only one of my siblings to miss out on getting a nickname. Alcott never mentioned it, but I just know that Amy felt like she got the shaft there.

So,while it does pain me to say this, let me repeat: Amy March was a total bitch. Let’s discuss:

Nobody Cares About Your Nose, Amy.

Amy hates her nose, which is described as a small, flat snub nose. Oh, so an adorable nose? A nose that is too cute? What a trial that must be – like those girls who complain about being “too pretty.”

Amy wants a “Roman Nose,” which according to Wikipedia, is “a human nose with a prominent bridge, giving it the appearance of being curved or slightly bent.” Wow, March. Have you ever got shit taste in noses. That’s probably what my nose looks like, and you know how I got it? Not by sleeping with a clothespin on it – no, I  broke it. Twice.

Oh, You’re Too Good for Hand-Me-Downs? Can it, Amy.

The hardest thing in Beth’s life was dying of scarlet fever and the hardest thing in Jo’s life was having a dumb-bitch little sister who stole her manuscript, Eurotrip, and Laurie, but Amy — the hardest thing in her life was having a tiny, cute nose and having to wear hand-me-downs.

Alcott writes: “Amy was in a fair way to be spoiled, for everyone petted her, and her small vanities and selfishness were growing nicely. One thing, however, rather quenched the vanities. She had to wear her cousin’s clothes. Now Florence’s mama hadn’t a particle of taste, and Amy suffered deeply at having to wear a red instead of a blue bonnet, unbecoming gowns, and fussy aprons that did not fit. Everything was good, well made, and little worn, but Amy’s artistic eyes were much afflicted, especially this winter, when her school dress was a dull purple with yellow dots and no trimming.”

Look, I had a cousin who was an only child, and her mom shopped at the good stores. The day I’d get the big black trash bag of her hand-me-downs was like a freaking holiday. Oh, Florence’s mama sent you a red bonnet? Well my cousin’s mama sent me skorts and shortalls, and I was happy to have them.

Amy. Limes Are Stupid.

Poor thing. Always thwarted in her search for citrus fruits.

Pickled limes were the fashion at Amy’s school, because apparently she was educated with a bunch of other little dummies. So, Meg gave Amy the rag money to buy some limes, and I’m not even completely clear on what “rag money” is, but I’m pretty sure that if your family is poor enough to rely on something called rag money to supplement your income, safe to say you’re pretty hard up and shouldn’t be wasting your money on preserved citrus fruits.

Limes were outlawed in Amy’s classroom, but obviously all of the kids still brought them in, kind of like tamagochis in my school, circa 1998. [Sidenote: the spell-check suggestion for tamagochis is “masochists,” which is pretty apropos. What were we doing to ourselves? At least when limes are the 6th-grade trend, you don’t have to sneak off to feed it every 3 hours.] But, Amy wouldn’t give this girl Jenny a lime because Jenny was being a total bitch, so Dumb Bitch Jenny told the teacher that Amy had limes. He made Amy throw the limes into the snow and Amy had a fit even though a citrus fruit will do just fine in the snow. As a matter of fact, Amy couldn’t have known this, but in like 70 years they’ll invent this magical box that keeps food cold all of the time and – will wonders never cease – the food lasts longer. Also Amy’s limes are PICKLED, which admittedly is gross, but it means they can stay outside for a minute. [However, the limes do get stolen. We’ll go there later.]

Oh, and then the teacher hit Amy’s hand, which was majorly not cool. Our biggest bitches in this story are really the teacher and Dumb Bitch Jenny. Still, Amy’s a bit at fault for squandering the family’s rag money on some stupid limes.

Amy March Hates Irish People. This Irish Person Says Amy March Can Suck It.

The Republic of Ireland has retaliated by naming its least-appealing souvenir porcelain doll after Amy March.

When Amy’s limes got thrown into the snow, she wasn’t upset because she lost her limes – she was upset because the limes were “exulted over by the little Irish children, who were their sworn foes.” Yep, Amy March’s sworn foes were anonymous Irish street urchins. You bet your sweet bippy that one didn’t make the Winona Ryder movie. It wasn’t losing the limes that made Amy cry like – forgive me – a little bitch, it was the Irish kids getting the limes.

Amy. You live in Boston. Concord, whatever. You know those little Irish street children? They’re going to run your city. In 100 years, the descendants of one of those lime-eating Boston Street Micks is going to be our nation’s president. Your city’s basketball team is literally going to be called the Celtics. Don’t worry about what basketball is. If your grandchildren ever get arrested, you know who’s going to do it? An Irish cop. But you don’t even have to wait 100 years. Even in the 1860s, every one of those Irish kids has a pack of 14 siblings to back them up in a fight. And those kids are scary. They have been working in silk mills since they were 5. You know how my great-great-great grandmother survived the Potato Famine? By eating GRASS. Honestly, poor Irish children from Boston in the 1860s are probably the worst “sworn foes” you could make.

So, on behalf of Irish and part-Irish Americans, let me just tell Amy March that she can suck it. Know what she can’t suck, though? A lime – because the Irish kids got them. Booyah, March.

Ruining the ONE THING Your Sister Loves? Pretty Bitchy.

Remember when Amy was a little piss who burned her sister’s manuscript because Jo dared to have fun without her? God. What is your beef with Jo, Amy? Tell me. Because it’s sort of a recurring theme throughout the book.

On the plus side, I’d like to thank Amy March for the world’s first lesson that you should always, always back up your work.

You’re Using It Wrong, Ames.

I just cannot with this basic girl and her five-cent vocabulary. Honestly, though, Amy is 12 when the book starts, and that’s an 1860s 12. In 1860s Massachusetts, you could be a six-year veteran of the mills at 12. You could be betrothed at 12. But no, Marmee sent Amy to the ol’ schoolhouse instead, probably because of the child’s demonstrated inability to speak the English language. Look, Amy wasn’t spending her time watching tv or instagramming. The only thing to do was read books and learn how to use words properly, yet she was somehow incapable of doing it. For instance: “label” for “libel” (when she actually meant slander) and “vocabilary” for “vocabulary.” You just know this bitch says “liberry” and “pisgetti.”

I’m not saying I’m glad her teacher beat her at school, because I’m not, I’m just saying that if any of the March sisters deserved a formal education, it wasn’t Amy. All I know is, if Amy March lived today, she’d be that little cousin of yours whose tweets and Facebook posts are so incomprehensible that you basically have to do an English-to-English translation every time you read them.

She’s not even that good at art so maybe she should just shut up about it.

Amy March isn’t a real person, but she was somewhat based on Louisa May Alcott’s sister Abigail May. May probably had a lot of gifts and talents, but art wasn’t one of them. Here are some of her drawings:

Compare the scale of Marmee(?) in the chair with the girl to the right. It’s like a Cabbage Patch doll next to a Barbie.

My favorite part is the floating table.

May died young, and that’s sad, but you know what else is sad? These sketches.

I Ain’t Sayin’ She’s A Gold Digger (Yes, I am. Yes, she is.)

So, first Amy gold-digs her way into Fred Vaughn’s heart. Then, she sees the opportunity to get with Laurie, who in addition to being wealthy, also provides her with the opportunity to ruin Jo’s life. So, she does that instead. Either way, she’s a gold-digger.

Steals Jo’s Trip

Eyes on the prize, Li’l Amy. Eyes on the prize.

Jo put up with Aunt March’s Crappy Plumfield Storytime every day, with the understanding that at some point she’d get a Eurotrip out of the deal. Look, for a 20-year-old girl in the 1800s, it wasn’t as easy as just finding a college with a good study abroad program.

Then, Amy – freaking Amy – swoops in, befriends Aunt March, and gets the trip. As an indirect result, Jo had to move to a boarding house and marry an old German man.

Steals Jo’s Man

Jo and Laurie were endgame. I refuse to hear differently. Sure, Jo shot down Laurie’s proposal, but I think it was just the wrong time — she was coming back for him later, and that’s all there is to it.

So, when Laurie proposed to Amy — because she was the next-closest thing to Jo — Amy should have had the decency to know that Laurie was Jo’s one true love.

Instead, Amy was a total bitch, so she married him.

Conclusion

After all that, here’s the truth: now that I’m an adult, Amy is my favorite. Beth does nothing, gets scarlet fever, then dies. [Also, please don’t stone me, but did anyone else think Beth wasn’t exactly playing with a full deck?] Meg does nothing, twists her ankle, then gets married. Jo ruins her chance at true love, and acts so obtuse about how to behave in human society that I think she’s just doing it to get on her sisters’ nerves. She’s like that one girl in college who tried to be unconventional just for the sake of it, and you were always like “you know what? You’re not Amelie. Stop trying to be Amelie.”

Whether or not you think Amy is a huge freaking bitch (and don’t get me wrong, she is), that girl knew how to go after what she wanted. Somehow, she was ridiculously well-liked, but at the same time, you sure as hell didn’t walk all over Amy March. But, if I ever ended up with an Amy March of my own, I would need to make like Marmee and send her to live with a great-aunt for her teenage years – because honestly, what a little bitch.

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Yes Please, Amy Poehler

This is not brand new information: we love Amy Poehler. We’ve paid tribute to her on her birthday, we’ve endlessly praised her and her comedy wife Tina at the Golden Globes, we cry at all her Ask Amy videos, and today we raise our glass to her as an author. Her very first memoir/autobiography/life bible comes out today and it has the perfect title for how we view everything about her – Yes, Please. Amy P on SNL? Yes, Please. Amy P on Parks and Rec? Yes, Please. Amy P and her Smart Girls, Yes, Yes, Please.

It’s fair to say that we’ve been counting down the days for her book to come out, and our admiration and obsession aside, Amy is an interesting person who has lived a life/lives that I would want to hear about. As someone who grew up from a working class family in Massachusetts and eventually ended up on the most revered sketch comedy program ever to being one of the most beloved celebrities today, I’d want to know about their life, even if it wasn’t Amy. But I mean, it’s better because it is her.

This is the real author’s photo from the book. I mean, come on.

One of the reasons I love her is that in every interview I read or see of hers, she manages to churn out not only a hilarious response, but also give out heartfelt and genuine anecdotes. It’s one of the reasons I think so many people want to be her best friend. It’s like the Mindy Kalings or Jennifer Lawrences or Emma Watsons of the world – there’s a certain accessibility to them in which their aura of “celebrity” doesn’t get in the way of you becoming one of their friends.

A few months ago, Amy attended BookCon in NYC and sat down with her pal Martin Short to talk about the book. Martin told the crowd that he read it and the best part about her book is that reading it is like speaking to her IRL. It’s absolutely in her voice, and that’s what makes it so wonderful and honest.

As for Amy, she described Yes, Please as a book that doesn’t divulge tooo much into her personal life, and gets away with it by evading the reader with humor. She also says her book is an “attempt to speak to the feelings of being young and old at the same time”, because she’s kind of at an intersection of her life where she feels like she’s lived so much but still has so much more to live. And I think that’s what a lot of people who ‘look up’ to her need to hear right now. It’s not necessarily all about her life and what’s happened to her, but it’s what she’s learned and she shares those life lessons with us plebeians who aren’t worthy to hear such sage advice.

But if any of her past interviews are any indication of what her book’s going to be like, then get ready for one of the best books you’ll ever read in your life. Here are just a few of my favorite Poehler convo nuggets that will not only want to make you read her book, but have you saying, Yes. More, Please.

On her best mistake: “Thinking everything is going to run smoothly all the time. It won’t – things will always go wrong – but it never hurts to be optimistic.” {O Magazine, 2014}

Now that I have little kids, I’m up at 5:30 a.m. no matter what. Sleep at this point is just a concept, something I’m looking forward to investigating in the future. But I’d like to say that I maintain that same sense of play and creativity and spontaneity—of being able to get into a room with people and say, “Let’s waste some time.” When you’re a creative person, even when you’re in a position of power, you still have to be able to straddle those two worlds. Power sometimes comes down to knowing the vocabulary, figuring out how the system works and how to work within it. You need to believe that you deserve to be in the room once you get there.

I like to do things that challenge me and make me nervous. You learn early as an actor that creating your own material is the only way to have any control. Hollywood is like a bad boyfriend. You can’t stand around and wait to be asked to dance. I used to say that I wanted to make great art with people I love. Now I have an addendum to that goal: to get things on the air. {Elle Magazine, 2014}

{In which she schools Neil Brennan on being a woman}

I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading, like, “All right, everybody, now we go over here. All right, now this happens.” {Glamour, 2011}

Sometimes when you get too worried about how you look, or about how something’s gonna go, you kind of lose what made you special in the first place. I think that ASSSSCAT will really do that to you, really remind you that things are supposed to be dangerous, you’re supposed to feel uncomfortable, you’re supposed to enjoy not knowing, trusting your partner, and not falling back on the same stuff, and I think that that does that for me. It’s the kind of thing that every time, even when I’m really tired, or I feel kind of burned-out, or I feel like I don’t have anything—every time I go out and do it, I feel a thousand times better.  {The A.V. Club 2008}

“You know when you look in your closet and you’re like, Nothing’s working? I say, give yourself a theme. Rashida Jones and I have a game: We decide for three months how we’re going to dress, like Japanese Executive, Little House on the Prairie, Female Sailor on Leave. A couple of months ago, our look was Eighties Art Dealer: black blazers with shoulder pads, high-waisted jeans, air-dried hair and big eyebrows.” {Good Housekeeping, 2014}

 

If I wanted to give you advice as a Bostonian, I would remind you that: (with accent) “Just because you’re wicked smart it doesn’t mean you are better than me.” {Harvard College Class Day speech, 2011}

We’re ushered to a table in the back of the restaurant, and Poehler quickly orders her breakfast without consulting the menu. “Everything here’s good,” she declares. I place an iPhone on the table to record our interview. “Do you need me to hold the phone?” she asks. It’s not necessary, I tell her, iPhones are great at recording conversations. “That’s good to know,” Poehler says. Her eyes dart around the restaurant, then she leans and whispers, “…for spying purposes.” {Paper Magazine, 2013}

 

Always remember your kid’s name. Always remember where you put your kid. Don’t let your kid drive until their feet can reach the pedals. Use the right size diapers…for yourself. And, when in doubt, make funny faces. {The Daily Beast, 2009}

I would say my interview style is Morley Safer meets Kermit the Frog, with a dash of Christiane Amanpour. And a pinch of Dinah Shore wrapped in the shell of Lois Lane. My goal is to be the Edward R. Murrow of girls.  {The Huffington Post, 2008}

Grab your copy of Yes, Please today!! (we are seriously not even being paid for this we just love her so much}