Title: Brooke and Her Rock-Star Mom
Tagline: Having a famous parent should be great… shouldn’t it? [Raven: I dunno, you don’t hear many people shouting stuff like “My dad’s Fred West!”]
Summary: A mom with a secret…
Brooke Dennis’s dream has come true. Her mother, who has been living in Paris, is moving back to Sweet Valley. When she returns, Brooke’s mother has a new family—and a new career. [Wing: This made me think the new family was supposed to be one of the surprises, which infuriated me, so thank god it wasn’t that.] It turns out that she is Coco, the incredible new rock singer all Sweet Valley is talking about!
When Brooke finds out that her mum is the cool new singer, she’s ecstatic—until she learns that she must keep her mother’s identity a secret. Coco’s agent thinks that if the public finds out that Coco has a family, it will ruin her image.
How is Brooke going to keep something so fabulous a secret—especially when all of her friends are going Coco crazy!
First off: the cover, as you can see, says “mum”, the British spelling, but the book itself says “mom” all the way through. Why bother changing the cover but not the content? We English have grown up on American books, we know what a “mom” is. We also figured out sneakers, trash cans, sidewalks, parking lots, and so forth. It’s ok, we can keep up. Ok, so we don’t totally get the American use of “jumper”, but mom/mum is pretty self-explanatory. [Raven: Fun Fact – originally, this book was entitled Brooke And Her Rock-Star Maoam.]
I’ve only read this book maybe once or twice in my tween-teen years. I only recently bought a copy when I was finishing my collection. At the time, I wasn’t all that fussed about it. It seemed like your standard Sweet Valley fare, OMG the angst I feel for being soooo soopah speshul! I’m rich and my mommy’s famous, cry meeee a riiiiivahhhh!. Reading it as an adult who is now aware of her issues? Yeah, this is not a healthy book at all.
#TeamBrooke (or #TeamBrookette)
OMG, THE SONG TITLES IN THIS BOOK.
The book opens with Jessica leading Brooke in to Elizabeth’s room after school. Brooke wants to discuss her “Meet the Stars” article for the Sixers. Currently the stars are assigned thusly: Jessica: Johnny Buck; Elizabeth: Nick England; Mandy: Donny Diamond. I know Mandy wasn’t a Unicorn at the time, but I feel the integrity of the Sixers may be called into question by a Unicorn doing an article on the man also known as Donald Kaminsky, front man of The Polka Dots.
Also, Jessica is doing an article? I thought she got burned out after running her own paper. Also, on Johnny Buck? The dude who broke her heart when she found out a billion other tweens had a “special” hat just like hers.
[Wing: Excuse me, I have to go burn this country to the ground. BRB.]
Brooke doesn’t know who else there is to report on. How about Melody Powers? Oh, and Darcy Campman. Other than that, Brooke, you’re right. There are literally no other performers on the planet. I have no idea what your Top 100 singles chart looks like with so few performers – presumably everyone has to release a minimum of two albums, with a minimum of 10 songs on each, and each song is simultaneously released as a single?
Oh, Brooke actually says that she thought about Melody Powers (who has had the s removed from the end of her surname by the new ghostie), but she hasn’t released anything new for awhile. Fuuuk, so what does that do to the Top 100? And come to think of it, Darcy Campman is predominantly country, so she might not have such a good showing in the pop chart. How on earth does the pop chart work? I work with numbers and statistics all day, and this shit will bug me for weeks, I promise it.
Jessica suddenly exclaims that Brooke should do an article on Coco, who’s the hot new thing. She sings “a mixture of English and French lyrics in a husky, breathless voice.” So… she’s the love child of Celine Dion and Bonnie Tyler? Ok. Her debut song is called “Chocolate Kisses for My Baby”, which sounds either incredibly babyish, or incredibly racist. I’m going with babyish, but I’m fairly certain Wing won’t be as generous about their intentions. [Raven: Kinda reminded me of Chocolate Rain.] [Wing: Eh, I didn’t read it as babyish or racist, more that it’s terribly difficult to come up with titles. Also, it sounds like a pop song to me, i.e., ridiculous.]
Brooke says her voice sounds familiar and wonders if she was in a different band before going solo.
Here’s a sad tale about my usually excellent memory/recognition skills failing me. I used to absolutely love a song called “Taken For Granted”, released in the pre/early-internet era, by a group called S.i.A (which a friend of mine said was short for ‘Sisters in Attitude’ – and before the internet, your friend’s casual pub trivia held a lot more weight). The lead singer had a powerful but unique voice. This is the CD cover.
Fast-forward thirteen years and a similar voice is singing Chandelier. Oh, she’s called Sia. Hey, she kind of sounds like the lead singer from Sisters in Attitude.
Took awhile for me to figure out that gormless mate down the pub was talking out of her rear end when she posited the idea that Sia was: a) a group of female singers; and b) that those dots in her name meant “sia” was an acronym.
And just for balance: when I heard Killing Me Softly by the Fugees, my initial response was “OMG, that’s Lauryn Hill from Sister Act 2!”
Sometimes I rock at this game, sometimes I don’t. [Raven: I think ALL singers’ names should be acronymns. Let’s play! … Axl Rose: Asshole Xenophobe Leeching Revenue Off Slash’s Expertise. … actually, that’s gonna be hard to top. Damn.] [Dove: Slash: Shredding Like A Sexy Hero?]
Brooke says it would be fun to do an article about someone who’s completely new – they don’t even know what she looks like. The very earliest this book can be set is 1986 (but it was probably written a couple of years later), by that point, at least in England, music videos were released at the same time as the single – except for huge events, like Michael Jackson’s “short films”. And if they weren’t, artists tended to have to appear on things like Top of the Pops and the Saturday morning shows. It’s not impossible that an artist is completely mysterious, it’s just unlikely.
Brooke says she has to leave, because her mom is going to call her tonight. This is a Big. Deal.
(Also, the kids discussed the big party of the previous book, reiterating that the parents have not twigged yet.)
Next up, Steven can’t find the pickles. I’m honestly surprised this isn’t the b-plot, given how much that boy loves his food. He says he won’t enjoy his sandwich without a pickle.
“Give me a break, Steven,” Jessica said. “You’d enjoy that sandwich if I stepped on it. Anyway, I’m sure they’re in there somewhere.”
So, Steven has a foot fetish. That’s new. He also found a potato chip bag in the laundry hamper. Jessica says it’s no big deal, but Elizabeth is worried they’ve missed something, and if the neighbours mention it to their parents they’re screwed. Caroline Pearce and her mother live a few doors down and Mrs Pearce is apparently as big a gossip as her kid, so that’s a worry. Jessica says Alice has little to do with them, so it’ll be fine. [Raven: So the worst excesses they can find after their party is that a guest mistook their laundry hamper for a bin and put an empty bag in there? Fucking WEAK. When I was a teen, I went to a friend’s clandestine parent-free party and got so drunk I was sick on his kitchen ceiling. True Story.] [Wing: …I need to hear more of this True Story.]
Alice gets home with groceries and wonders what happened to all the mayonnaise, if May made them eat so healthily. Elizabeth blames the salads, and the other two quickly chime in. Alice doesn’t seem to be alarmed that this means May’s version of healthy is loads of veggies, but who cares what it’s covered in. Instead she says that she and Mrs Pearce are going to organise a neighbourhood garage sale. ALSO ALSO Great-Aunt Helen is coming to visit soon. Yay.
(You may dimly remember Great-Aunt Helen as being the person the kids wanted to visit when they were raising cash to prove they were grown up… and they promptly stole a dog that was being abused because they had no idea how to deal with it in an adult fashion. Great-Aunt Helen never got visited.)
The kids are delighted, Great-Aunt Helen gives excellent gifts. Alice chides her charges for being money-grubbing little bastards. I’d be more worried about the amount of dead bodies the twins have buried in the Mercandy backyard, Alice, but you do you.
Dad comes home and remarks how many potato chip bags there are in the trash. Not sure why he was going through the trash, but y’know, the Wakefields are weird. Steven, Jessica and Elizabeth all eyeball each other and wonder how to answer.
Thankfully, they’re saved by it happening off screen. Praise the Sweet Valley gods!
Now it’s Tuesday after school, and Elizabeth and Brooke are making spaghetti for dinner – I just want to point this out because there’s a few later books where the twins are asked to make dinner and they just stare helplessly at the kitchen, utterly bewildered by the concept that food needs cooking, when there’s a whole slew of books that show that they both can cook, and, of course, Elizabeth is excellent at it.
Brooke takes a phone call and comes back delighted. Her mother will be arriving in Sweet Valley on Friday afternoon. I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but Brooke’s mom lives in France. Brooke is very excited because she’ll get to see her baby sister, Sonya, and her step-dad, Bobby.
Elizabeth asks how long Brooke’s mom has lived in France, and Brooke says a couple of years. She wanted to go with them but the judge said Brooke wasn’t allowed to go with them and had to stay with her dad in California. I’m raising an eyebrow at that. In the 80s, pretty much every single custody hearing sided with the mother by virtue of her having ovaries. I guess Mr Dennis had a better lawyer than most. Probably Ned Wakefield. (Except that would break cannon, and we know how seriously the ghosties take cannon. Zombie Mrs McCormick says hi. Don’t worry, in about a year that reference will make sense.) [Raven: Doubt it was Ned. Brooke only moved into the street a few months ago.] [Dove: If in doubt, repeat your wife’s point.] [Wing: I wonder if she didn’t fight for custody because she was going to be moving around and didn’t want to further upend Brooke’s life.]
Brooke says the first year was the worst, because her mother didn’t call often because she was settling into her new life. Yeah, fucking no. If you can afford to move to France, you can afford to call the USA. Back in 2001, Wing and I were hardly rolling in the wads of Sweet Valley cash that the Dennis family has, and somehow we managed to afford calls between England and the USA. Admittedly not often, but it’s a different situation. [Wing: We would have called more often if we could have afforded to fuck off to France on a whim. Or to Canada, I guess, for Dove, since France is pretty much right there for her.]
Now Mommy Dearest calls and sends letters and presents once a week, but Brooke still misses her. And yeah, this must be hard for her. In fact, given how unhappy Brooke was when we met her, it’s amazing that she’s this well-adjusted now. She must have felt so abandoned, and her mother has a new husband and baby, so she would feel replaced as well. Add that her mother barely called and her father insisted on dressing her up in very fussy clothing. Oh god, I have even more feels for Brooke during The New Girl. (Then add in the betrayal of Jennifer, her first friend, not existing, and Elizabeth doing her book-long soulmates thing… poor Brooke. If you want to kill some people, you do that. I wish I’d written you better in The Hunger Games.) [Wing: God, I love Brooke so much. I just want her to be happy.]
Elizabeth reassures Brooke that her mother probably misses her as much as Brooke does. Brooke hits back with, if that’s the case why is she on the other side of the planet. Only not half as bitter as I wrote it. She says the presents and visits to Paris are nice, but it’s no substitute for a full-time mom. Oh, Brooke.
The next day, Brooke tells Elizabeth that she’s found out who Coco’s record label is, OmniArtists – and we learn she’s released two singles: Chocolate Kisses (this title is missing “for my Baby” this time) and Hot Coco. The label will send her a picture, and she can’t wait to see what Coco looks like. [Wing: I’ve just realised they’re making a play on “cocoa” for both of those. Good god, Wing, get your shit together.]
After class, Elizabeth, Brooke, Todd and Colin Harmon (Wing, don’t even bother looking him up, he’s background. He’s existed previously, but never done anything of interest [Wing: Thank you!] ) discuss the party again. Then talk turns to Coco, and Colin thinks she’s great. Largely nothing happens except Brooke and Colin blush at each other, so tween crushes are go! [Wing: They are adorable.]
On the way home from school, Lila, Ellen and Jessica discuss how exciting it is that Coco’s music video is coming out on Monday. (Lila, why are you walking? Don’t you have a limo?) They find it very mysterious that nobody knows what she looks like. Jessica says with so many fans, they ought to start a fan club. Lila and Ellen quickly jump on this suggestion and hound Jessica into agreeing to arrange it, even though she’s worried about it cutting into her free time.
She has all the resolve of Elizabeth, and by the time she gets home, she’s agreed, and phones the record label to ask how to run a fan club. She’s congratulated for being the first fan club for Coco in the United States, and asked what she wants to call the club. She says on “Coco Crazy”. And the woman at the label says that she’ll call some fan magazines and tell them about the club, and she’ll send some items over to Jessica.
Is that really how official fan clubs work? That sounds really odd. I know some things about America seem completely incomprehensible to a Brit – for example, the fact that anyone can sign for a credit card payment, regardless of whose name or signature is on the card – but this seems odd too. Every official fan club I’ve joined (My Little Pony 1989… so, um, one official fan club) was run by the official owner of the IP or someone who had the license, and you paid for items that were universal among the club throughout the countries/areas that licence covered.
I’ve never heard of fan-run offshoots that did their own thing. It’s cool, it’s just not what I would initially think of as being an official fan club.
[Wing: Oooh, I didn’t actually read this as an official fan club type of thing, which I think would be run by the IP owner, but one of those fan clubs like fan websites, etc., that were often recognised by the IP owner/musicians/authors/whatever but did their own thing. But I’ve never actually joined a fan club much less tried to start one, so that is all just speculation.]
Jessica gushes to the others afterwards about how exciting it is that they’re the first fan club in the country, and Lila doesn’t look pleased. Because rivalry.
Later, Alice asks Jessica and Steven why she found bologna in her closet. [Raven: A step up from a chip bag in the laundry hamper, I suppose. Who knows, maybe it builds and by the very end of the book Alice “discovers” that someone has done a massive shit in her hairdryer.] [Wing: IN HER SHOE. I died.] Again they blame May. If I was finding food all over the house, and my kids complained that the babysitter made them eat horrible food, but horded the best stuff for herself and troughed it in my bedroom, I’d definitely be calling the sitter to complain. Or at the very least, I’d tell the kids I was going to, to force them to fess up. But Alice is off her tits on gin, so thinks this is plausible.
When Jessica gets home from school the next day, a box has arrived from OmniArtists, Coco’s record label. It contains a signed photo (“To Jessica, My Number One Fan, Love Coco.”), six t-shirts with “Coco Crazy!” on them (I would not be happy with a t-shirt that just had text on it for my fan club – I had multiple Michael Jackson t-shirts as a kid, they all had him on, or his album artwork – the very best one was the Dangerous shirt) and some other stuff that isn’t covered. Jessica thinks Coco looks familiar, especially around the eyes, but Elizabeth cuts her off to exclaim about the t-shirts. Jessica grabs the picture and tears off to Lila’s house to gloat.
Later Brooke shows up and is given a t-shirt. She says she hasn’t been able to reach Coco’s agent. Unsurprising, you’re a twelve year old attempting to reach the agent of a European star who’s making a huge smash with her American debut, and you want information for a paper that is circulated to the sixth grade – not even the whole school – of a middle school in a suburb of LA. Brooke, honey, I’m pretty sure on Coco’s list of calls, you’re not even on page 50. [Raven: I guess that’s why the t-shirts were text. Game’s up if Jess hands one to Brooke and she goes “fucking hell, that’s my mum.” Also, 24-hour turnaround on printing, packing and posting from the record label? Ridiculous.] [Wing: They actually handled the picture thing pretty well. Brooke would have recognised Coco in it, but of course Jessica ran off to Lila’s with it to brag. I love that they are (generally) decent friends to each other who also try to one-up each other at every turn.]
Brooke and Elizabeth talk about crushes, because Brooke has got a crush on Colin Harmon. I really don’t think this crush ever gets mentioned again past this book. I will be pleasantly surprised if I’m wrong. Brooke asks Elizabeth when she first thought she liked Todd, and instead of answering, Elizabeth recaps Elizabeth’s First Kiss – her recap is quicker, but a lot less interesting than Raven’s. Elizabeth then suggests that she, Todd, Brooke and Colin go bike-riding over the weekend. Brooke would love to, but she can’t because her mom’s visiting.
Brooke then tears up and says she’s a bit scared. She’s really looking forward to seeing her mom, but she what if she’s changed a lot and it doesn’t feel like she’s Brooke’s mom any more. Poor Brooke. Elizabeth misses the point and asks if Brooke likes her stepfather. Brooke says yes, and her sister too (she never once refers to her as a half-sister, so kudos), and she’s not jealous. But she does feel like she’s not a part of their family.
Elizabeth says sure she’s part of it, otherwise why would she visit the USA. Brooke says what if it’s just for business. Elizabeth blandly reassures her that everything will be fine.
Brooke says her number one wish is for her mom to move to Sweet Valley so she can see her, Bobby and Sonya more often. She’d probably still live with her dad, but she could see her mom all the time.
I know this book is all about Brooke’s mom, but damn, it really sounds as if nobody gave a shit about what Brooke wanted in the divorce. She never mentions her father at all in this book. Probably bad writing, but even so, it sounds like Brooke desperately wanted to stay with her mother and a whole bunch of adults told her “No. Because reasons.”
On Friday, Brooke walks to the bus to go to Sweet Valley Plaza (I’m amazed it’s not called Sweet Valley Hotel), and Colin falls in step beside her. He knows she’s going to see her mom and says that his dad lives in New York with a new family, so he doesn’t see him very often either. He says that he bets she’s nervous, he always gets nervous before a visit. She admits she is, and then they part ways. Brooke’s glad she has something important in common with Colin. Colin’s probably been more help than Elizabeth, who goes with her standard “it’ll be ok” response every time Brooke says something about the situation. [Wing: Colin is a billion times better than Elizabeth at this, but I like Elizabeth failing miserably, because she has no idea what Brooke’s life is like and isn’t the best at actually looking at things through someone else’s perspective, though she thinks she does that.]
It takes fifteen minutes by bus to get to the hotel, which is longer than I thought. I always imagined Sweet Valley to be a small cosy little town, where you can get everywhere in five minutes – helped along by the town rearranging itself as the plot requires. Brooke asks for the room number of Constance Gray and it’s given to her. Huh. I suppose the Data Protection Act doesn’t have a Sweet Valley equivalent. Actually, this happens again later. Wing, is this thoroughly illegal, because it absolutely would be in the United Kingdom. [Wing: I can see it happening in the 80s and 90s (and, hell, today, depending on the hotel). I’m more surprised that Terrible Agent didn’t force her to check in under a third name to further protect her identity away from Coco.]
When she gets up to the room, she has a tearful reunion with Mom/Constance/Coco, who I’m just going to refer to as CocoMo, because otherwise I will randomly use Constance/Coco/Mommy/Mrs Grey and confuse everyone.
When they break apart, CocoMo asks about Brooke’s “Coco Crazy” shirt, and Brooke tells her that she’s a hot new star everyone just adores.
Then a baby cries, and Brooke asks if she can hold her. This is Sonya, her sister. I have no idea how old Sonya is. She’s in a crib, but she’s standing up, though still in diapers. So bigger than a newborn, smaller than a first grader. There. Facts.
CocoMo comments that Sonya looks just like Brooke did at that age. (That age? Still not given.) Then she moves on to handing over presents: perfume, jewellery and a jacket.
Then CocoMo drops her bombshell: she, Bobby and Sonya are moving to California, either Sweet Valley or LA. Brooke is delighted, this is her dream come true. CocoMo says that she was worried that Brooke might be too tied up with her new friends to have time for her. It cheers Brooke up to know her mom worries about these things as much as she does.
CocoMo then adds that she has a new career.
“Remember when I was taking voice lessons?” her mother asked. “My voice coach thought I was good enough to sing professionally,” Mrs. Gray went on. “After Bobby and I were married, I found an agent who promised to help me get started—but only if we would move to Europe. She thought it would be easier for me to get a start there, because there’s less competition and American singers are in such demand there. She was right, too. I’ve done very well.”
I’m fairly certain this is absolute bollocks. If there is less competition it’s only mathematically speaking (more people in the USA than France, therefore less people in France vs CocoMo for a record contract), and probably the ratio is around the same. Also, ghostie, you do get that Europe isn’t just Paris, right? It’s made up of loads of countries – the internet can’t agree precisely on the number, so let’s just say 44+ countries, loads of which have their own language. Hint: not English.
Also, I’m pretty sure the French hate us. And by us, I mean anyone who speaks English.
I tried to google whether it was easier to get a record contract in France than the USA, but my google-fu was weak. [Raven: Gotta say, I love the phrase “American singers are in such demand there.” In what way does that show itself, exactly? News reports with headlines like “France’s American Singer Crisis Enters its Third Month” …? “There were riots on the streets in central Paris today, when a peaceful protest march calling for of the resignation of the French President over AmericanSingerGate turned ugly. Fists started flying when an alleged live performance by the rapper Eminem in support of the protest actually turned out to be Charles Aznavour in a wig.”]
(Also, didn’t CocoMo raise show dogs back in the day, which is why Brooke kicked Sally the dog? No mention of that.)
CocoMo says she didn’t want to live in France, but she had to. But now her singles are selling well and her debut album is due out this week. She has an agent, Bernice, who has arranged appearances for her too. Does Brooke want to hear her single?
She plays “Chocolate Kisses for My Baby”.
OM-aca-GEE! Are you shocked? I’m shocked. My ghast is well and truly flabbered. Or at least, that’s Brooke’s reaction. No reader is shocked because we read the title.
CocoMo then hands over an autographed photo, “To my beautiful daughter, from her loving mother, Coco!” That’s… um… well. I don’t think I’d want a picture from my parent’s media persona. Especially if said parent was absent for years.
Brooke can’t wait to tell all the kids at school. Imagine, she’s doing a fluff piece on Coco and that’s her mom. She indulges a fantasy of a Coco concert where her mom brings her on stage and introduces her to the world.
It’s quickly shut down by the entrance of Bernice, CocoMo’s agent. She talks over CocoMo and Brooke, and informs Brooke that she doesn’t exist, as far as Coco goes. It’s not cool to have kids – and I would not have disputed this, right up until Bernice added “in the rock music business”. In the reality show Popstars, which was the non-cannon precursor to X-Factor, a bunch of five late-teens/20-somethings were rounded up, made into a pop group, the name of which I can’t remember. It came out halfway through the process, that Kym had children, which she had lied about, knowing she wouldn’t have gotten so far if they knew she had dependants. The record company claimed it wouldn’t have made a difference, but I doubt anyone on the planet believed that. Also, I think she may have lied about her age as well. (She was actually the most talented of the group, which probably helped.)
So I can see that in the 80s/90s, being an adult with children and a husband isn’t very desirable for a pop act – but Bernice mentioned the rock genre. Courtney Love gave zero fucks about whether marriage and a kid tainted her desirability as a musician, and I can’t think of a single fan who thought along the lines of “Yeah, I really liked Hole, right up until the singer married Cobain and dropped a sprog. Now they suck.” Also – for males, admittedly – illegitimate children kind of come with the territory.
tl;dr: Bernice doesn’t know what genre of music her client is in. (Yes, I know Cobain and Love were grunge, but fuck off. I know more than Bernice and my area of expertise is Microsoft Excel.)
Bernice talks to Brooke as if she’s six, soft baby words with barely-concealed impatience and dislike.
CocoMo faintly disputes the idea that Brooke doesn’t exist, but Bernice ignores her and continues to talk to Brooke, saying wouldn’t it be a turn off if she found out that Johnny Buck was married with a twelve year old daughter. (Ro$ey, I’m sorry, you don’t exist.) Bernice doesn’t let Brooke answer, she informs Brooke that she’d feel bored. They’d hate to know their idols were older than them. Do you want your friends to hate your mom? DO YOU BROOKE? DO YOU WANT TO DESTROY YOUR MOTHER’S CAREER, YOU SELFISH BASTARD?
Brooke mumbles she guesses not.
Bernice crows over her magnificent win over an emotional twelve-year-old who’s been blindsided by multiple bombshells today. She’s like, “Ha! Take that Coco! I was right.” Then turns to Brooke and clarifies that Brooke can never admit to being Coco’s daughter.
Brooke doesn’t want to lie, but Bernice clarifies that it’s not lying, it’s just silence. And CocoMo’s just like, “Welp, *sigh* that’s decided. Let’s just live with it.” A+ parenting, CocoMo!
Oh, and just to really clarify the position: BROOKE CANNOT TELL HER FATHER. Brooke feels she can’t do anything other than promise to go along with Bernice’s demands, because otherwise how can she fit into her mother’s life?
What the actual motherfucking fuck? I’m not even going to let the book escalate. CocoMo can get in the fucking sea. Preferably chained to a shopping trolley filled with bricks and a planetarium. And Bernice, who is a waste of good human organs. Fill in your donor card and do the right thing, Bernice.
Oh, you love your kid, do you? And fine, as a woman, you can have a career and a family life, and it’s damned unfair that a guy can have it so much easier, but you have no excuse for not calling Brooke from France regularly. You have no excuse for letting her feel as if she doesn’t matter. You have no excuse for LETTING YOUR FUCKING EMPLOYEE BULLY YOUR CHILD. CocoMo, I don’t care about the resolve. You can get fucked. You’re actually worse than Alice and Ned.
Uh… for those of you just joining us, if the above didn’t tip you off, I have a very unhealthy relationship with my mother.
I also want to clarify: I have no beef with women who choose careers, I have no beef with women who choose children; I have no beef with women who choose children and careers. Literally, do what you want. What I have a beef with is when parents make their children feel guilty for existing, like raising them is cutting in on something a parent would rather be doing. The child didn’t choose to exist. And in this book, CocoMo chose to get back in contact, seemingly with no regard to Brooke’s emotions. A+ parenting.
Later Bobby, CocoMo’s hubby, rocks up. He compliments Brooke, and Bernice quickly talks over them, saying that Brooke has agreed to the situation. She strides off before anyone can say anything else.
Bobby says he’s not a fan of the Bernice’s scheme, but so far every other idea of hers has panned out, and CocoMo’s career is very important to her, so he’s putting up with it.
This cheers Brooke up. And that’s honestly nice to see. One thing I will say about this book is that Brooke seems genuinely fond of her stepfather, and refers to Sonya as her sister, not half-sister. That’s refreshing at least.
They stay in the hotel room, get room service and they play with Sonya and chat all night, so that’s pretty good.
The next morning, however, Brooke wants to go to the aquarium (of course she does. That’s a normal human being’s default setting. I love the aquarium), but CocoMo says no, because Bernice has put her under house arrest. Before Brooke can even counter that, Bernice calls to say that CocoMo has an appearance in LA in an hour. Oh well, at least Brooke can see the baby sea otters with Bobby and Sonya, so that’s something.
Brooke says that she wanted to spend time with CocoMo, but CocoMo says no, she’s got an interview with Rolling Rocks Magazine (I see what you did thar, ghostie), and it’s totes important. So Brooke can get in the fucking sea. With the baby sea otters.
Bobby tries to bolster her mood and says they’ll have a great time. And they do. And on Sunday she plays tennis and goes swimming with her stepfamily, while her bio mom plans her costumes for the performance in Las Vegas.
On the plus side: yay for the unintended message of family is not necessarily blood. On the down side, Brooke’s mom sucks.
When she gets home, her dad asks how her weekend was. She’s upset but says it was great.
On Monday, Elizabeth asks how Brooke’s weekend was. She lies and says it was fun. She spots the Unicorns wearing their “Coco Crazy” t-shirts and is too distracted in class to function. After class, the rest of the fanclub inform her of the new club rule: everyone has to wear their Coco Crazy shirts every day this week as a way to promote the fan club. [Raven: What a ridiculous fucking rule.] [Wing: Gross.]
At lunch, Lila announces to the Unicorns that she’s having a party this afternoon to celebrate Coco’s video being released. And it’s actually for the fan club, not just the Unicorns, so she invites Team Boring and a bunch of boys too. Adorably, Jessica adds that Aaron’s going to lend her a fringed jacket that will look just like Coco’s. I find this adorable because – even though we didn’t see it – it shows that she and Aaron actually do occasionally talk about what they like, and do nice things for each other. I’m assuming Jessica offered to murder someone who wronged Aaron in return for the jacket.
People are surprised when Brooke says she can’t make it. Also, she doesn’t understand why everyone’s making such a fuss, Coco’s just a person, after all.
Brooke watches the video at home – although hers is on VHS, she was given a tape of the music video and all sorts of Coco merchandise by Bobby. Yeah, not even from her mother.
At Lila’s party, Colin asks Elizabeth and Todd where Brooke is. Elizabeth realises that Something. Is. Up. Colin guesses that she’s probably with her mom, because when his dad visits, he fobs off everything else to spend time with him.
Back with Brooke, she calls the hotel for her mom, but ends up speaking to Bobby. She asks if CocoMo’s around, but no. Bobby says he’d love for her to come over and have dinner with him and Sonya, and also CocoMo has the full day off tomorrow, so Brooke can come round after school and hang out.
Again, why is CocoMo not telling Brooke herself? I am absolutely not buying her alleged love for her daughter. What I’m seeing is a family dude, who adores his daughter and stepdaughter, and is kind of Stepford Husbanding through life, a smile through gritted teeth. Everything is fine. CocoMo really does love us all.
Brooke gets excited and suggests they go to the beach and get hotdogs, and maybe rent skateboards and – she’s cut off by Bobby, who reminds her that Bernice has them under house arrest, and nobody is going outside with CocoMo except for Bernice. He suggests they rent videos.
Brooke is disappointed, but doing something with her mom is better than nothing.
Another irritating scene at the Wakefields where some kind of food is missing and they blame May. I have no idea how they even notice food is missing, given how much Steven eats. [Raven: Pretty sure May spilled the beans the second she got Ned and Alice alone, and this is just the Elder Wakefields trolling the shit out of their kids.]
Brooke bumps into Colin after school, they talk a little. Brooke nearly slips up, saying her mom is looking at costumes, and he asks if she’s an actress. She changes the subject and says she’s heard he’s getting a band together. He says yes, Bruce Patman will be on the bass, and Scott Joslin on drums. I guess that means Colin’s on guitar. Is that the same lineup as NRG, swapping Colin for Aaron? Anyway, I bet nothing comes of this anyway. [Wing: Why would anyone want Bruce and Scott in a band ever again?]
When Brooke gets to the hotel, guess what? CocoMo has bailed, because Bernice has arranged for her to tape an interview in LA. She won’t be back tonight. At that point, the phone rings and it’s CocoMo. She says that she won’t be back for two days now, because of all of the interviews Bernice has lined up. She offers to have dinner with Brooke on Thursday. Brooke glumly agrees.
Bobby says he knows how she feels, and Brooke snaps that he does not.
Bobby shook his head. “Hey, wait a sec,” he said. “That’s not true. If anybody knows what’s going through your mind, it’s me. I don’t exist either, right?”
Brooke looked at him.
“And neither does Sonya,” Bobby said, giving Sonya a little squeeze. “But we love her, and we’re willing to put up with a lot to make sure that she gets what she deserves. She’s worked very hard for this career and—”
Brooke stood up. “I don’t care how hard she’s worked,” she said flatly. “She doesn’t have to treat me this way. She’s being completely unfair.”
“I know you feel that way, honey,” Bobby said, trying to console her. “All I’m saying is just hang in there a while longer—”
“If we hang in there, things are just going to get worse!” Brooke said. “Bernice wants Mom to be a big star, no matter how much it hurts us.” She stormed to the door and yanked it open. “You may be willing to stand around and take it,” she yelled, “but I’m not!” She slammed the door behind her as hard as she could.
I’m not against Bobby, because I think he has a fair point, but Brooke is a child who is missing her mother. Her mother has lived abroad for years, started a new family, and initially was very bad at staying in contact. While Bobby’s invisibility sucks too, Brooke is in the worse situation, because when CocoMo comes home late, Bobby and Sonya at least get to glance at her. They have her around before Bernice calls her away – in fact, they had her with them for a few hours this morning. They have scraps of CocoMo. Brooke is barely getting scraps of scraps.
Bobby is doing the best he can. CocoMo and Bernice are at fault. And yes, this will be my issues talking, but CocoMo is the parent of Brooke, it should be her responsibility to rein in the tactless and spiteful Bernice. Bernice is clearly a woman who does not like children, and can’t imagine a world where anyone likes them. If I was CocoMo, I would have kept Bernice away from my kids and told her firmly that fine, she’s my agent, but my husband and kids are my responsibility. You do not speak to them, other than pleasant greetings and mindless small talk.
[Wing: For that matter, why is she keeping Bernice as her agent? It’s clear that CocoMo and Bernice actually have different ideas about how to handle her career, even though CocoMo keeps backing down because she’s even more spineless than Elizabeth. Your agent works for you, CocoMo. You need to be on the same page.]
At school before lessons start, Lila, Ellen and Jessica discuss the article in Smash about Coco, and agree that it had no information in it at all. (I really want to give Ellen an A+ for noticing that.) They wonder if she has a boyfriend. Caroline Pearce pipes up that Coco is engaged to Johnny Buck. Brooke blurts that Coco can’t be engaged she’s married to – then stops. The Unicorns ask how she would know, and then when Brooke storms off, Lila says it’s a good thing they never made her a Unicorn.
Over in Brooke’s head, she wants to cry, but knows she can’t. And saving her mother’s career is ruining her life. Oh, Brooke.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jessica gets a call from OmniArtists to say that Coco will be signing autographs as Sweet Valley Disks – damn, I totally called Sweet Valley Records as the shop name – and she wants Jessica there as her special guest.
When Jessica reports this to Elizabeth (after a call to Mandy to squee), Elizabeth finds it odd that she’s doing a signing in Sweet Valley, rather than LA. Elizabeth, that’s not odd. Sweet Valley is the centre of the universe. Because you’re in it.
They also find it odd that Brooke’s not into Coco as much as they are and is being distant and tense. Elizabeth decides that she’s going to call Brooke to interfere in her life check up on her.
The next morning, Team Boring discuss Brooke and again note that it’s odd she’s not all over Coco. After school, while everyone else goes to get their compact discs signed by Coco, Elizabeth walks over to Brooke’s house. Mr Dennis says that Brooke’s going out to have dinner with her mom later, but there’s plenty of time for Elizabeth to visit.
She goes upstairs and finds Brooke curled up on her bed. Brooke jumps up when she sees Elizabeth, obviously embarrassed. What does Elizabeth say? “Hey, gosh, don’t you look like Coco?”
Which makes no narrative sense. It reminded me of this (apologies for ripping in the wrong aspect ratio, completely cocked up but couldn’t be bothered to run it again for 7 seconds):
And if you want to see that film thoroughly dissected, check out OGW’s recap.
Elizabeth’s completely out-of-left-field comment prompts Brooke to unburden herself of the secret, after getting Elizabeth’s promise that she won’t say a word. Again, it’s reiterated that even her dad doesn’t know. Yeah, Coco’s the hottest new thing and now she’s doing interviews, it’s not implausible he could see her on TV and be like, “Hey, that’s my ex-wife!” So excellent planning there, Bernice. [Raven: The whole Dad-not-knowing is SO MUCH bullshit. Surely they would be in contact about her imminent move back to USA? Like, there’d be some sort of LEGAL NEED, surely? With the custody of a child tangentially involved?] [Dove: Sweet Valley laws?] [Wing: Everyone’s using Ned as their lawyer.]
Elizabeth dishes out a tonne of sympathy, and understands that it must be even harder with the whole school being all about CocoMo. Then she has to ask why Brooke didn’t go to the signing. Elizabeth, how are you the answer to all of life’s problems and still so hopeless?
At the signing, Jessica is having a wonderful time – she’s managed to sell three dozen t-shirts. Uh… ok. I’m just going to go with this weird setup. Either Wing is going to school me in how odd fan clubs are, or you all agree with me.
Jessica keeps trying to ask personal questions of CocoMo, but she gives vague answers. Afterwards, CocoMo thanks her for coming, and gives her two front-row seats for her concert on Saturday. (Secca Lake? 3pm?) As she’s talking to Jessica, Bernice rocks up and chivvies her along, letting slip that they’re going to Sweet Valley Plaza.
Jessica, obviously, goes straight to the hotel and asks for Coco’s room number. The receptionist checks and says that nobody of that name is registered with them. That’s still illegal in the UK.
She lurks around until she sees CocoMo and Bernice. They get into an elevator and she checks which floor it goes to, and then heads for the stairs. By the time she’s pounded up four flights of stairs, she expected CocoMo to have been in her room, but instead she’s in the hallway talking to Bernice.
Jessica overhears her saying that she doesn’t think this is the right thing to do, the secrecy is too hard. Bernice tells her to wait just a little longer. CocoMo feebly says it must be resolved. Then leaves. Because fuck making your case, CocoMo. It’s just your kids and husband.
Jessica gets excited when she sees Bobby greet CocoMo with Sonya in his arms. OMG, Coco is a mom!
As Brooke’s going up to see her mom, she runs into Jessica coming down. It’s awkward for both of them, so they don’t linger. When she gets to her mom’s room, she asks how the signing went.
“It was terrific,” Mrs. Gray said enthusiastically. “The entire fan club was there, and they brought a banner that said—”
“Not the entire fan club,” Brooke pointed out. “I wasn’t there.”
*applauds and waves a “Team Brooke(tte)” banner*
Her mom concedes to this, and says she wishes Brooke could have come, but Bernice said it would probably be awkward. Bobby continues to Stepford by making small talk about the banner. Brooke breezes past this and says how about they all go to a town where nobody knows Coco and do some outside things, like roller skating or to the beach. Bobby quickly jumps in that it sounds awesome, and they could go horseback riding – clearly, he’s sick of indoors too.
CocoMo shoots this down. Not because it’s outside, but because she’s doing a concert, thanks to the Boys Next Door (ooh, a new band! Who we’ll never hear of again) cancelling.
Bobby got up and gave her a hug. “It’s terrific, Constance,” he said warmly. “We’re just a little surprised, that’s all. I thought we were going to have some time to ourselves for a change. But I’m really happy for you.” He turned to Brooke. “Hey, Brooke, isn’t it terrific? Just think—your mother’s giving her first U.S. concert right here in Sweet Valley!”
Brooke folded her arms. “Yeah, sure,” she said sarcastically. “It’s great. And what am I supposed to do? Hang out in my bedroom that night? Or go to the concert with a bag over my head and a big sign that says ‘I don’t exist’?”
Mrs. Gray sat down on the sofa. “Brooke,” she said tenderly. “I wish you wouldn’t—”
“Wouldn’t what, Mom?” Brooke said angrily. She jumped up from the sofa. “Wouldn’t hang around and embarrass you by wanting people to know that you’re my mom? Do you want me just to disappear? Am I supposed to hide from my friends forever, so I don’t accidentally give away the terrible secret that you’re my mother?”
*continues to cheer and wave banner*
Bobby and CocoMo try to convince her that all CocoMo wants is for Brooke to be happy. And yeah, I’ve seen no evidence of that at all. It seems like what CocoMo really wants is for Brooke to be happy for CocoMo, regardless of how Brooke actually feels.
Brooke asks if they can go away for the weekend, but CocoMo says she can’t pass on this great opportunity, she won’t have any time, what with getting the costumes together and rehearsals. CocoMo says she’d hoped to see Brooke every day, which is why she came to Sweet Valley. But y’know. Work. So it’ll be worth it in the end.
FUCK OFF BROOKE, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY! WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME? DON’T YOU WANT ME TO BE HAPPY? WHY ARE YOU SO FUCKING SELFISH? I CAME ALL THE WAY FROM FRANCE TO SEE YOU! THAT PROVES I LOVE YOU. IT COST A LOT OF MONEY. I BOUGHT YOU PRESENTS. AND NOW YOU’RE MAKING ME FEEL BAD. WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME? YOU HATE ME, DON’T YOU? I’M THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD.
Um, sorry. My childhood wrote the above paragraph.
Brooke only gets out the word “Mom–” in response before fucking Bernice appears and makes things worse. She dogpiles Brooke, telling her to listen to her mom. This concert could lead to a tour, and not just the USA, but a world tour.
Brooke explodes. She wants to know where a full-time touring mother will leave her.
CocoMo feebly tries to placate her, saying if she can just wait until after next weekend, things will get better. Brooke points out that promises are easy to make and hard to keep, then she storms out.
Oh god, Brooke. Tell your father. I know he made mistakes earlier, but at least he made them because he was trying to be a good father. He bought you fussy, prissy clothes because he didn’t know what you would like, and he wanted you to feel good about how you looked. Ok, it was a swing and a miss by not asking what you wanted, but his intentions were all about you, not about putting you on hold for a moment while he does his thing. And since then, things got a lot better. I’m just saying that ovaries don’t necessarily make a better parent.
Jessica gets home and gloats that she has front row tickets to CocoMo’s concert. Steven tries to be her date, but Jessica says no. She then heads to her room. She wants to blurt about CocoMo being a mom, but for once it doesn’t feel right. Clearly CocoMo is hiding it for a reason. Elizabeth comes in, so Jessica poses a hypothetical about a celeb with a secret. Elizabeth then says it must be about Coco, and confirms Brooke is the daughter. This floors Jessica, and Elizabeth groans. Then explains that Brooke is not allowed to tell anyone about being CocoMo’s daughter. Way to go, secret keeper. You lasted the entire walk home from Brooke’s house.
The next morning, Mr Dennis notices that Brooke is especially quiet at the moment and hasn’t been spending as much time with her mom as he expected. So at least one of her parents has noticed that this poor kid is fucking miserable. Although the word he uses is “quiet”. He says she can talk to him about anything she needs, but Brooke has to run for school. He offers to drive her, but she says she wants to walk.
Brooke spends the entire morning in a worried daze, realising that the higher CocoMo’s career goes, the less she’ll see her. At lunchtime, she walks paste a payphone and makes a decision. She calls the Sweet Valley Tribune and asks for the entertainment editor. I’d aim higher. If CocoMo’s done an interview with Rolling Rocks, which I can only assume is as widely read as Rolling Stone, giving the story to some crappy little local paper in the suburb of LA seems daft. I’d at least go for an LA rag.
Brooke tells her story to a dude named Mr Reynolds and he says once they check the facts, they’ll release the story some time next week. Way to hussle there, Reynolds. [Raven: I quite like this. I like to think it’s because Reynolds is like “Coco? Who the fuck is Coco?” … This book informs us that everyone on the planet is going Coco Crazy (apologies), but doesn’t really follow through with actual facts that back this up. Like, Jessica’s the first person to give a shit and form a fan club? And Bernice is so On It despite the fact that they all basically luck into a concert date that week? For that matter, why isn’t the tour booked already? Just randomly playing in Sweet Valley with no notice for your DEBUT CONCERT is patently absurd. The whole thing seems like the Coco phenomenon is writing cheques that the reality just can’t cash.]
Back at the Wakefield Compound, Alice says she needs to talk to Jessica about something Mrs Pearce said, but is interrupted by a phone call. Jessica races upstairs, calls a meeting, and they decide to confess before the parents catch them in a lie. When Alice is off the phone, they troop downstairs to admit everything. They say they had a few friends over without permission while Ned and Alice were in Mexico, and it’s been weighing on their minds. Alice says she needs to discuss it with Ned. Also, Jessica, Mrs Pearce wants you to make signs for the garage sale, since you did such a good job last time.
Excellent, that means the end of this annoying b-plot.
By Monday morning, the CocoMo story still hasn’t run – way to break an exclusive there, Reynolds – and Colin asks Brooke on a date. It would be awesome, except he asks her to a CocoMo concert, so she has to turn him down.
On Friday morning, Caroline Pearce breaks the news that the Sweet Valley Tribune has finally broken the CocoMo story. Elizabeth realises that this is a task for SUPER ELIZABETH, THE BEST BFF IN THE HISTORY OF BUSYBODIES FRIENDS. Unfortunately, she can’t get near Brooke, who’s mobbed by Unicorns.
Over with Brooke, this has made things even worse. She’s now surrounded by people who think it’s awesome that she’s CocoMo’s daughter. She’s grateful when she sees Elizabeth waiting at her locker. Elizabeth offers to walk her home.
Do you know what’s missing here? An EPIC TWINFIGHT. This would have been a perfect moment for Elizabeth to assume that Jessica blurted the story, because she just couldn’t keep it in any more – like with ithig. As Jessica’s innocent, she could have hit back saying Elizabeth is the one who values newspapers, how do they know that she didn’t leak the story? Both are not entirely plausible, but Jessica loves to jump to conclusions and Elizabeth has no faith in her twin’s ability to keep secrets – unless the plot requires, and then she’s shocked Jessica blurted. It would have been more interesting than the very repetitive, “Oooh, I found a lettuce leaf in the bathroom cabinet. How odd,” b-plot they went with.
Brooke tells Elizabeth that she feels awful for leaking the story, and Elizabeth merely nods sympathetically before Bernice appears in a black car. I can only imagine that she’s been stalking Brooke. She’s probably got a sniper trained on her at all times after this stunt.
Bernice bundles Brooke in the car (stranger danger, people!), and Elizabeth asks her to phone once she gets home. (Grudgingly: kudos, Elizabeth.)
Bernice then lays into Brooke. How could she be so selfish, doesn’t she want her mother to be happy, does she think she’s the only thing in her mother’s life? Bernice says imagine if her mother asked her to give up her dad, school, her friends, etc. It’s EXACTLY THE SAME. What? No it’s not, Bernice, you fucking muppet. A career is not the same as a) a parent; b) an education system Brooke is legally required to be entered into; and c) a whole bunch of friends; much less d) all of the above.
Bernice says CocoMo can’t be happy without singing. Also, don’t mention this conversation to anyone.
Brook barely says a word, but processes quickly that she has ruined her mother’s life.
There is only one thing to do: I’M RUNNING AWAY.
I’d suggest crying in the bath for a few hours and then telling dad that CocoMo’s agent is a toxic blight on humanity. But since Brooke is constantly being told she can’t tell anyone, it’s not entirely implausible running away seems logical.
Over with Elizabeth, she’s called downstairs by Alice, who is with Mr Dennis. Brooke didn’t come home, does she know anything about it? Elizabeth says that Bernice interrupted their walk home and she seemed pretty mad. Brooke was going to call when she got home, but she hasn’t called yet.
Mr Dennis says he’s only just found out about CocoMo, and can’t believe CocoMo put such a burden on Brooke. He knew she was upset, and he tried to talk to her, but now he knows she couldn’t. His suspicion is that Brooke got a telling off from Bernice about the article and ran away.
(I hope Ned’s practicing whatever type of law required to sue Bernice for this shit.)
At this point, Mr Dennis says he’s calling the police, since he’s called all her friends – Amy, Julie and Mandy. God, he even knows who her friends are. My mother still doesn’t realise that Tiny and Twinkle are two different people. And their real names aren’t even similar.
An hour later, CocoMo calls Elizabeth to ask the same questions Mr Dennis asked. Way to parent there, CocoMo. Your ex-husband called the police an hour ago, but sure, now you can check in. She says she’s “furious” that Bernice yelled at her daughter.
Yes, that’s the thing to be angry about. That one time your agent raised her voice to your kid. Not the weeks of emotional stress you’ve both put on her. And let’s face it, CocoMo, you are responsible for protecting Brooke. Bernice is not. (Not excusing Bernice’s behaviour at all.)
Jessica gets home from the movies later that night and Elizabeth tells her about the situation. Jessica is oddly calm about the whole thing, Elizabeth notices. But does fuck all. We skip immediately to the next morning, where Elizabeth makes pancakes.
“Wait a minute!” Jessica exclaimed. “Coco cancelled her concert? She can’t do that!”
Elizabeth turned around and stared at her sister. “I can’t believe you,” she said. “Brooke could be in serious trouble, her parents are worried sick, and all you can think about is the concert?”
Jessica stared at her feet. “I have front-row seats, Lizzie.”
*blinks* *laughs inappropriately* *feels bad for Brooke* [Raven: Glorious.]
Elizabeth then figures out that Jessica has known where Brooke is all along and Jessica breaks like a twig.
She was walking home from Booster practice yesterday when she saw Brooke at the bus stop with a duffel bag. She was clearly upset and wanted to run away. Jessica tried to talk her out of it. When that didn’t work, she came up with a plan to hide Brooke in the basement.
[Wing: HOLY SHIT CONTINUITY. Jessica is damn good at doing whatever it takes to keep kids from fully running away and putting themselves in real danger. I am seriously impressed. Elizabeth, you should take some fucking notes.]
The twins visit Brooke and tell her that CocoMo is furious about the yelling and has cancelled her concert. Of course, this makes everything ok.
Because in the history of abusers, a grand sweeping gesture is never a big warning sign that more abuse is coming, but if you disappoint your abuser, now they have a new nice thing they did to throw in your face when they want you to remember what a piece of shit you are.
CocoMo rocks up and says that she’s relieved Brooke leaked the story, because she was sick of trying to juggle everything and hide her life. If people don’t like the real her, then she can live with it. (And I suppose she does, because this is the last we hear of Coco. After this it’s back to Johnny Buck.)
The concert is back on, but only if Brooke sits in the front row.
… is nobody going to tell Mr Dennis, the parent who actually parented through this book, that his kid is safe? No? Ok.
So, the concert is back on, and the Coco Crazy fanclub go together. Ned worries that they don’t have a chaperone. Jessica sasses that Brooke’s mom will be there. Ordinarily, I’d skip this, but I want it noted because the parents really do go back and forth over what their tweens are old enough to do.
Also, Brooke sits with Colin, because romance and stuff.
During the concert, CocoMo introduces the world to her kid, just like in Brooke’s fantasy. [Raven: As we presumably never hear from Coco and her career again, can we conclude that Bernice was actually right?] [Dove: I think they mention her in a few books’ time, but it’s just “Yeah, we met Coco,” rather than “Have you heard Coco’s new single?”]
The book ends with the Wakefields getting home to face their punishment for the party. They have to clean the house because great-aunt Helen is coming to visit. And she has a surprise for them.
(As if Alice and Ned weren’t already going to shirk all the cleaning chores to the kids anyway.) [Wing: Well, maybe this way all three kids will be doing the work rather than just Elizabeth. Won’t hold my breath, though.]
My final thoughts are that I have a lot of issues.
Bernice is a truly awful person who has no sense of boundaries. I do not like or want children, but I understand that other people do. And regardless of my personal feelings, I would never order around someone else’s child, let alone emotionally blackmail them.
CocoMo is genuinely a terrible parent. She’s not as actively toxic as Bernice, she’s just passive and enabling. She lets Bernice talk to her kid that way, she lets Bernice lay all that stress on Brooke, and she doesn’t even seem to notice anything other than Brooke’s a bit sulky at the moment. She’s awful.
I feel bad for Mr Dennis, who barely got any screen time, but when he did he parented in a very responsible and loving way. And somehow we had to live with the message that girls need their moms, and moms are better than dads.
I feel that something should have been made of the fact that Bernice drove a wedge between Brooke and her father – a relationship that is fuck all to do with Bernice and her job.
Generally, Mr Dennis needed more screen time, and I would have liked to see Brooke realise that while her mom is great (and complicated), she also really loves the way her dad is around in a day-to-day fashion, and takes care of her, despite his job.
[Raven: This book was pretty annoying. To be honest, I think it asked the reader to accept too much bullshit in order to get the plot to work. I just didn’t buy into any of it. Not the premise, not the logistics of the thing, not the relationships. It felt as if the ghostwriter(s) knew they had zero knowledge about the music industry, or kids, or fuck it, human interaction, but also thought that Reseach Is For Losers so didn’t bother. They just made some assumptions, and built upon them. I was genuinely surprised when Brooke herself was the one to break the story, but that wasn’t enough to make me enjoy it. And “Rock-Star?” Please. An ACTUAL rock star on house arrest in a hotel room would have thrown the TV out of the fucking window within the first two chapters.]
[Wing: I know they keep saying “rock star” but y’all, she’s a pop star. Those song titles. That outfit. The way they describe the music (what little they d0). The fact that Johnny Buck fans adore her. She’s a pop star. I agree her parenting was terrible and she makes a ton of bad choices, but I also feel a little sorry for her. She has this dream that she’s sacrificed for and then she ends up with this manipulative ass of an agent. No excuse for being a terrible parent, but I think Bernice was deeply fucking with her head to turn her into the kind of star Bernice wanted to represent.]