Straight off the bat, shit in The Truth About Stacey gets crazy. Janine runs into a BSC meeting with a flier from a rival baby-sitting group: The Baby-sitters Agency. Their flier looks pretty much just like the BSC flier. Its members, Liz Lewis and Michelle Patterson, can stay out later than the members of the BSC. Kristin Amanda Thomas is NOT pleased.
The girls decide to call the Baby-sitters Agency with a fake baby-sitting job to see how their operation works. Kristy calls with the alias Candy Kane (yeah, that sounds legit) and finds out that Liz and Michelle call a bevy of older (high-school-age) baby-sitters for their clients to choose from. The BSC is crushed – they assume clients will love the BSA and all it can offer.
So we already know that Stacey has diabetes, but in this book we get to learn a lot about what that means – what her symptoms were and are, and how she has to deal with the disease every day of her life. (True story: one of my friends was diagnosed with diabetes when we were in second or third grade, and I was totally prepared for it thanks to Ann M. Martin and the BSC!) She mentions the famous bedwetting incident with her ex-best-friend Laine Cummings in New York, and how Laine acted almost afraid of Stacey when the doctor visits started and then started acting snooty. Since Laine was the leader of their friend group, all of Stacey’s other friends followed suit. Bummer for Stace… Laine done fucked up. We all know Stacey is the true queen bee.
Kristy calls a special planning session in which she outlines strategies to make the BSC more valuable to their clients: doing housework at no extra cost, offering special deals to their best clients, and carrying Kid-Kits (boxes or bags of games, coloring books, toys, etc. that they can bring to sitting jobs so the kids have something new and different to play with). She also suggests lower rates to undercut the BSA and offering late-night jobs to older kids like Kristy’s brothers or Claudia’s sister Janine. Claudia and Mary Anne are skeptical of some of these tactics and even call them degrading – but everyone agrees that Kid-Kits and special deals for the best customers are great ideas.
While Stacey is baby-sitting for Charlotte, two upsetting things happen: some of Charlotte’s classmates tease her at the playground and call her a teacher’s pet, and then Liz Lewis gives Charlotte a balloon advertising the Baby-sitters Agency. Everyone is pissed, but they forget about it for a moment when Mrs. Newton goes into labor! Jamie Newton is going to be a big brother, so Stacey has the idea to throw him a Big Brother Party while his parents are at the hospital. They finally call to deliver the delivery news – it’s a girl! Her name is Lucy Jane Newton. Jamie doesn’t seem that excited but the rest of the partygoers are. Stacey is not excited when she finds out from Jamie that Mrs. Newton called the BSA to inquire about older baby-sitters for the newborn baby. She tells Kristy, “THIS MEANS WAR”.
Things go from bad to worse. At school the next day, the Baby-sitters Agency is recruiting baby-sitters and it’s looking grim for the home team BSC. The girls all agree they need to get some eighth-graders to join up, and fast, so they can compete with Liz and Michelle’s Agency. And that’s not all Stacey has to worry about. Her parents are taking her to New York right before Christmas to see a holistic doctor – her uncle saw him on TV and her parents are willing to try anything to find a miracle cure for Stacey’s diabetes. Stacey is so not into it, but her parents insist. And Stacey’s twelve, so she doesn’t have a ton of power. She does, however, talk to Dr. Johanssen, who tells Stacey that the holistic doctor is basically a quack and just riding a fad, and he will squeeze a bunch of money out of the McGills for little-to-no results. Stacey begs Dr. Johanssen to talk to her parents, but Dr. J decides she has to think it over.
Kristy, who clearly gets off on embarrassing the other members of the BSC, makes them wear sandwich boards to school that say JOIN THE BEST CLUB AROUND / THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB. Way to sell it, Kristy. Stacey hopes that Pete Black, her sort-of boyfriend, won’t see her in the sandwich board, but he does – three times. Luckily, though, he’s cool about it. He helps her take it off at lunch and asks her to the Snowflake Dance. AWWWW ❤. None of the BSCers has luck getting any new recruits… except Kristy, of course.
Kristy got two of Liz Lewis’s ex-friends and ex-Agency members to join the BSC: Janet Gates and Leslie Howard. Kristy’s pumped that the BSC can now boast two eighth-grade members, but Mary Anne brings up the fact that they weren’t interviewed before joining, and how can the BSC know if Janet and Leslie are even good baby-sitters? But it’s too late now…
The two new members show up to the next meeting. The girls try to ask them about their baby-sitting histories, but Janet and Leslie give vague and evasive answers. There’s something off about them. But the new girls can stay out later than Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, or Stacey, so having them on board should earn the BSC more business. The original BSCers reluctantly add the new girls to the flier and pretty soon they’re getting more sitting jobs again. So all’s good, right?
WRONG. Janet and Leslie scammed the BSC… after each taking an important late-night job from new clients, neither girl showed up to her job! The new clients call the BSC, furious, but they aren’t as furious as Kristy, who uncharacteristically bursts into tears. The girls decide to confront Janet and Leslie at school the next day. They see Janet and Leslie with Liz and everything becomes clear. Liz put Janet and Leslie up to sabotaging the BSC – the girls are all still members of the Baby-sitters Agency.
Stacey baby-sits for Jamie Newton, who confides in her that his new baby-sitters just watch TV and talk on the phone to their boyfriends, not to mention the one who burned a hole in the chair with a cigarette. Then Stacey finds out that Charlotte’s new baby-sitters basically ignore her and one invited her boyfriend over. Stacey now knows how shitty the Baby-sitters Agency is for sure, and encourages Jamie and Charlotte to tell their parents about what’s going on. She also gets Dr. J to recommend a reasonable doctor in New York that she can convince her parents to take her to instead of the quack they have planned.
On the way home from school the next day, the girls see Jamie Newton playing by himself outside in the snow – no hat, no mittens, and only inches from the street where cars are whizzing by. Jamie says Cathy Morris (a member of the BSA) is watching him, but she’s inside and told him he could go play outside. The BSC is horrified, and when Mrs. Newton gets home they finally work up the courage to spill the beans about the Baby-sitters Agency. Mrs. Newton is grateful and vows to stop using the Agency, and to tell other parents about it too. Score one for the OG baby-sitters!
It’s finally time for Stacey to head to New York with her parents for her doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately for Stace, her parents “surprise” her with the news that they’ll be staying with the Cummings family. Stacey’s like, “UHH BUT LAINE HATES ME???” and her parents are like “That was months ago”. But once in New York, Laine is no friendlier to Stacey and looks at her like she’s a zoo animal, even though Stacey isn’t showing any symptoms like fainting or bedwetting anymore. After being poked, prodded, and tested at the quack doc the next day, Stacey springs her secret appointment on her parents. They’re caught off guard, but agree to take her to see Dr. Graham (recommended by Dr. Johanssen). Dr. Graham is cool and listens to Stacey and tells her parents that she’s doing super well but needs some more stability. Mr. and Mrs. McGill finally agree to chill out a little bit and let Stacey have more of a say in her own treatment.
In other news, Laine and Stacey finally talk about their issues. Laine apologizes and explains some of her behavior to Stacey, including that she was jealous of all the attention Stacey had gotten and the fact that she got to miss so much school. Having made up, they spend the rest of Stacey’s time in New York catching up. But still, Stacey is still happy to return to Stoneybrook. When she does, she finds that the Baby-sitters Agency has been basically vanquished. A lot of parents talked and decided not to use the Agency anymore, and the BSC even got new clients. BSC 4 LIFE.
Oh and P.S. Charlotte got skipped to third grade and Stacey and Pete had a great time at the Snowflake Dance, k bye.