Ugh, another Dawn book already? Whatever… before we begin I’d like to point out that, on the cover, Dawn looks like Aunt Becky from “Full House” and Mary Anne looks like Connie from “The Mighty Ducks.”
If you recall, a while ago after Dawn barely survived a rough crush, Mary Anne set her up with Lewis Bruno, Logan’s cousin… through snail mail. Basically, Dawn and Lewis are pen pals. And now Lewis is coming to Stoneybrook to visit Logan’s family, and Mary Anne wants Dawn and Lewis to meet. Dawn, though, is having a rare bout of insecurity – she’s afraid Lewis won’t think she’s attractive (even though he’s seen her photo already) and that he won’t like her (because no guy has ever really liked her). Mary Anne is all, “you cray.”
Mary Anne and Dawn are hosting a New Year’s Eve sleepover at their house and everyone in the BSC is there. (Really? None of their clients wanted a baby-sitter on New Year’s Eve? You’d think it would be one of their busiest nights as a club…) Dawn feels left out as all the other girls talk about their boyfriends or the boys they like, and makes a secret resolution to herself to get a boyfriend. (Really? This is “Dawn the Super Individual”?)
Meanwhile, Dawn has a job with new clients – the Hills. Norman is “fat” (Dawn’s words, not mine) and has an overeating problem, including hiding food in his bedroom and then binging on it. His sister Sarah is a real asshole and is mean to him about his weight, and apparently his nickname at school is Enormous Hill. Poor guy. He tells Dawn that his parents keep taking him to doctors but his weight gain is only due to his eating habits, and that they’re sending him to Fat Camp for the summer unless he loses twenty pounds. Dawn sympathizes but also suggests that maybe Fat Camp will help. Dawn. Claudia sits for the Hills on a different day, and sees Norman get bullied badly. He tells her that he’s sad a lot, but he’s not sad when he’s eating. She suggests that maybe if he loses weight and stops getting bullied he’ll be less sad. She also finds out that he has a girl pen pal he writes to, but he lies in his letters and tells her he’s some kind of hero who beats up the bullies who pick on the fat kid. Claudia feels really sad for Norman. (And he’d probably want to kill her if he knew how much junk she eats without gaining weight. I know I do.)
Dawn and Mary Anne decided to give Dawn a makeover from Lewis’s arrival. They curl her hair and try a makeup routine for a magazine, and Dawn puts on an off-the-shoulder top and does what she thinks is a “sultry” pose; Mary Anne takes a Polaroid for them to send to Lewis so he won’t be too surprised when he meets her. Dawn is determined to make Lewis fall in love with her and thinks that this is the way. Dawn also makes an attitude change, flinging sarcastic barbs at her science teacher that make some of the cool kids in class approve of her. Not all of the BSC members approve of her new look, though; Kristy thinks she looks weird and Claudia says the new look is “all wrong” because it’s not Dawn. Dawn, of course, thinks Claudia is just jealous and wants to be the only creative dresser in Stoneybrook. But really, everyone is just annoyed that she’s suddenly acting like an asshole. Stacey tells Dawn to just be herself.
“It’s easy for you to talk. Guys like you. They don’t like me when I’m myself. I have to change.”
– Dawn to Stacey
When Dawn gets home she has a further psychotic break and sends Lewis a super-suggestive postcard: “Dying to see you Friday night. Mary Anne said you have an extremely hunky voice. Can’t wait to hear it whisper in my ear.” WHOA. When she goes with Mary Anne, Logan, and the Brunos to pick up Lewis, it’s predictably awkward. Lewis admits Dawn isn’t what he expected and he had “a different idea of her”; Dawn thinks Lewis is super hunky and wants him to like her. Mary Anne tries to coach her on how to engage Lewis in conversation, since they have a double date planned for the next night.
Stacey has the next turn with Norman Hill. They start doing an exercise tape together, but Norman goes to the kitchen “for water” and she finds him shoveling chips and soda in his mouth. He tells Stacey that, in addition to his sister and the other kids being mean, he feels like his parents don’t like him and wish he’d never been born. He overheard his father say “Norman is so fat, I can’t believe he’s our son” and when he brought home a perfect report card his dad just said, “Why can’t a kid as smart as you lose weight?” FUCKING RUDE, MR. HILL. God. Can Stacey adopt Norman, please?
Dawn and Mary Anne’s double date with Lewis and Logan is, predictably, a disaster. Dawn doesn’t dress or act like herself, and Mary Anne gets annoyed at everything she does, especially when Dawn doesn’t follow Mary Anne’s date rules. Lewis does not seem charmed at all. Dawn is pissed. She decides that things would have been okay if there had been less interference from others, so next time she wants to hang out with Lewis alone.
When she finally gets time alone with Lewis, she apologizes for her behavior and he tells her that he really liked the girl he thought he was going to meet (based on the letters she wrote and the picture Mary Anne sent pre-makeover). She goes home, showers and changes, and invites Lewis over an hour later to get to know the real Dawn – who, of course, Lewis likes. (I mean, I don’t like Dawn, but Lewis is a thirteen-year-old boy, so we’ll forgive him.) Once all the pretenses and disguises are dropped, they have a “great first date” (but no under-the-sweater stuff). And, of course, Dawn and Mary Anne apologize to each other and make up, and plan for a double date with Lewis and Logan for the night before Lewis has to go back to Kentucky. Of course, this time the date goes perfectly and Lewis kisses Dawn at the end of the night.
And as for Norman Hill? His sitch isn’t perfect, but his sister has started being nicer to him since he stood up for himself, his parents have stopped putting diet rules on the fridge but have stopped buying sweets, and he sends a legit photo of himself to Brittany, his pen pal. #TeamNorman His diet solution? To pretend to be Stacey, as if eating sweets will make him sick. Oh, Norman, I feel ya… I always wish I was Stacey. (But so far it hasn’t helped me lose any weight. Oh well. Keep the dream alive.)