Before we get started, a few notes about this cover: Jessi looks hot, Claudia would never dress that plainly, Mary Anne took the nautical theme way too far, and Mallory looks like an ogre. Also: props to the bowl cut in the middle.
Apparently Dawn and Claudia have both been taking sailing lessons (?) at the Stoneybrook Community Center. The book opens with them racing to Greenpoint Island and back, with the race ending in a tie. Each girl thinks she really won, and they bicker a little bit about it for the next few days. They agree to have a rematch that weekend, but since they’re not allowed to sail alone, they each need crew members: Dawn’s brother Jeff and Haley Braddock will accompany her and Jessi’s sister Becca and Jamie Newton will accompany Claudia. (I have a feeling the “crew members” won’t actually help much.) The girls plan to race to Greenpoint Island, then spend a couple of hours there with the kids, playing and having a picnic lunch.
Dawn gets so busy with exercising and phone calls and planning her trip that she forgets to give Mary Anne a message from Logan, and then Mary Anne thinks Logan stood her up and she gets into a fight with him, and then when she finds out it’s pretty much Dawn’s fault she gets into a fight with Dawn and says she wishes Dawn would get out of her life forever so she’d never have to see her again. Ouch, Mary Anne. Are your braids too tight?
Saturday rolls around and neither Claudia nor Dawn have chickened out – it’s a beautiful day and the race is on. Claudia, for once, dons herself in practical clothing and heads over to meet everyone for the send-off. Dawn gets in her boat with Haley and Jeff, and Claudia gets in hers with Becca and Jamie. Everyone’s excited and a little nervous, and off they go… and – uh oh – there are some menacing clouds ahead.
Dawn writes, “Claud and I knew we were in trouble the second we saw those clouds.” Quickly, the menacing clouds are accompanied by a haze and then a full-fledged storm. Claud and Dawn aren’t professional sailors, and their help is all under 10 years old. They consider turning around, but realize they’re closer to Greenpoint Island, so they stay the course in the rough water. All of a sudden it’s pouring and the rudder’s broken off Dawn’s boat, and Dawn, Haley, and Jeff are sinking. They have to throw all their supplies to Claudia’s boat and then jump into the water (which is brave – dude, I’m scared of sharks in my bathtub) and hold onto the side of the boat. Luckily, they soon wash ashore on Greenpoint Island. (But really, did we think Haley Braddock was going to drown?) BUT WAIT – it’s not Greenpoint Island! (TWIST!) Claud and Dawn have no idea where they are.
At home, Jessi is starting to freak out. Her parents are away and she’s home alone taking care of Squirt while Becca’s on the sailing trip. (Let this sink in: Jessi is eleven and her parents have left her alone for the entire weekend to take care of her sister and her baby brother. BRB, I need to call Child Services…) Jessi does what she does NOT want to do: she calls Aunt Cecelia. (Probs some foreshadowing here for the next book…) A.C. whips into town and is just as disappointed with Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey as I am, and she immediately makes Jessi’s life a living hell. Kristy, of course, calls an emergency meeting of the BSC (sans Dawn and Claudia) for the next morning.
The island crew manages to find a cave where they can stay dry and sheltered and a survival kit containing a few matches, which they use to light a fire with some dry twigs and branches. They feast on all the perishable food they’ve brought and set aside everything that doesn’t need refrigeration (water, bananas, apples, etc.). The fire warms them up and they start to relax, but Dawn keeps thinking about how she and Mary Anne left things and stressin’ the eff out. Finally Dawn and Claudia get everyone to sleep (after spreading dry leaves on the cave floor and using their picnic blanket as a comforter), but they’re both still worried about not knowing where they are and wondering whether they’ll be rescued. (Don’t worry, girls, you’ll be rescued. Everyone back in Stoneybrook is shitting their pants about it. Plus, this is Scholastic… we can’t get too dark.)
The next morning the kids (and Claudia) are excited because they get to eat candy bars for breakfast. Dawn and Jeff eat three small fish that Jeff caught (dude should be on Survivor; CBS – call him), because they’re ~healthy~. (Side note: I thought Dawn was a vegetarian? Is she pescatarian now? She’s going to town on that fish.) Then Becca has the idea to use seashells and clamshells to spell out HELP on the beach in case people are searching for them from the air. Claud and Dawn are skeptical because it’s hazy out, but honestly – they should have thought of that. It’s Island Rescue 101 and since members of the BSC seem to only watch cheesy rerun TV, they should have seen this on at least a couple of shows.
Back in Stoneybrook the remaining members of the BSC (minus Stacey, who’s in New York with her dad) gather in Mallory’s bedroom or an emergency meeting. Mary Anne and Jessi are both distraught (since their best friend and sister, respectively, are missing). The girls feel helpless. Jessi’s aunt won’t let her do anything to help, and Mary Anne is too much of a basket case because she keeps thinking about how she told Dawn she never wanted to see her again. Kristy decides to (gasp) cancel a Krushers practice and game so she can go out on a speedboat with the Pikes to help search.
Dawn and Claudia let the kids have some fun swimming, exploring, and playing games to keep them occupied. They let Jeff keep Haley, Becca, and Jamie occupied with building a fort while they go look for the boat and decide if a couple of people should try to sail out for help. Except – the boat’s gone. Washed away. Whoops. Dawn has a bit of a breakdown, but pulls it together before she gets back to the kids. Now what?
Mary Anne, who’s wracked with guilt about Dawn and in a fight with Logan, is about point four seconds away from a total mental breakdown when she’s reminded that she’s supposed to baby-sit for Charlotte Johanssen. Charlotte is mega-upset too (because Becca is her best friend) so the two commiserate and then ride down to the community center where the search efforts are located. The whole thing has dominated the local news and even made national news (as the “Connecticut Disaster”) and a reporter tries to interview Mary Anne by asking “how do you feel?” Mary Anne snaps, “how do you think we feel?” Wow. Someone’s grown some cojones since book #4!
Back on the island, no one is having fun anymore. There was another thunderstorm, they’re almost out of food, they didn’t get rescued, and Jamie’s got the flu or an ear infection or both. Hashtag shit storm. Claudia and Dawn have to trade off all night keeping the fire going and waking Jamie (who at this point is delirious) to make him drink water, as they try to flush the virus out of his system. By morning his fever has broken, but he’s gobbled up all the water. Claudia the savant has to rig up a device with the tarp and some sticks to collect rainwater for the rest of the crew to drink. Jeff catches more fish and everyone is hungry enough that they relent and dig in. But Claudia and Dawn are beginning to feel hopeless – why haven’t they been rescued? Does everyone think they’ve drowned?
Stacey, mature and sophisticated as ever, tells her dad in no uncertain terms that she is leaving New York early to go back to Stoneybrook to help search for Dawn and Claudia. She packs her suitcase, takes a cab (alone) to the train station, and takes a train (alone) to Stoneybrook. (She’s thirteen. Who are these parents?! Simpler times.) Her mother picks her up and takes her straight to the community center, where she finds out that they found Claudia’s boat floating along – empty. She jumps on board the Pikes’ boat with them and Kristy to go searching. TRUE BEST FRIEND. QUEEN STACEY.
Grim news, though – while out on the boat, Stacey spots debris and it turns out to be the pieces of Dawn’s boat, floating east of Greenpoint Island (the girls’ original intended destination). They know this is bad news, but there’s a storm brewing, so they can’t look any further – they have to return to the community center and deliver the news to everyone else.
Jamie’s fever is back, everyone is wearing down, and Claudia needs a plan to get them rescued. She goes into the woods and miraculously finds a mirror, which is glimmering in the sun. She realizes they could take it to the beach and try to signal to a plane with it, if they could catch the sunlight. Once the next storm passes and the sun comes out again, she goes to the beach with the kids and they practice signaling with it, hoping this will be what gets them rescued. And guess what? It is. (Claudia is way smarter than she gets credit for. She just can’t spell.)
“I never realized I was smart until I got stuck on that island.” – Claudia Kishi
A plane flies overhead and notices the mirror flashing, then indicates that it will send a Coast Guard boat with supplies, a doctor, and their parents. And a couple of hours later, the boat arrives. Everyone is rescued and ushered off the island onto the boat, where they’re reunited in a sobfest with their parents (and food!). And finally, the Baby-sitters Club is reunited at the community center in a group hug of tears and affirmations. All is right in the world.
Oh, and there was a huge front-page story written about the shipwrecked castaways, and a press conference, and Dawn and Claudia get commended (with medals of courage) on TV by the mayor for being “heroes”. Because Stoneybrook does shit right.