Maggie

( 45 )

Overview

"When Maggie opened her eyes that New Year's Day some seventeen months ago, I felt like I could see again. The fog lifted off my soul, and for the first time since our son had died and she had gone to sleep—some four months, sixteen days, eighteen hours, and nineteen minutes earlier—I took a breath deep enough to fill both my lungs."

Life began again for Dylan Styles when his beloved wife Maggie awoke from a coma. A coma brought on by the intense two-day labor that resulted in ...

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Maggie: The Sequel to The Dead Don't Dance

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Overview

"When Maggie opened her eyes that New Year's Day some seventeen months ago, I felt like I could see again. The fog lifted off my soul, and for the first time since our son had died and she had gone to sleep—some four months, sixteen days, eighteen hours, and nineteen minutes earlier—I took a breath deep enough to fill both my lungs."

Life began again for Dylan Styles when his beloved wife Maggie awoke from a coma. A coma brought on by the intense two-day labor that resulted in heartbreaking loss. In this poignant love story that is redolent with Southern atmosphere, Dylan and Maggie must come to terms with their past before they can embrace their future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fans of Martin's Christy-nominated debut novel, The Dead Don't Dance 2004, will be delighted to see this somewhat uneven sequel in which Martin picks up the story of Dylan Styles, a farmer and junior college instructor. His long vigil at his comatose wife Maggie's bedside following the stillbirth of their son has ended with her awakening. Now, life in Digger, S.C., is beginning to return to normal or so it seems. Together, Dylan and Maggie try to rebuild a life interrupted, grieve the loss of their son and ponder trying for another baby. But as the couple pick up the pieces of their relationship, tragedies perhaps an overabundance of them are just around the corner. "What makes the broken whole?" Dylan wonders. "How does deep-down pain, interwoven like sinew, come untangled?" Martin's plot twists, including one involving Pastor John's past that comes back to haunt him and the people he cares for, may seem like a distraction from the stronger theme of Maggie and Dylan's own struggles in taking their marriage forward. One of Martin's many strengths is in his rich portrayals of people, but he has a penchant for overusing similes, and his often beautiful writing sometimes needs to be tightened. The ending laudably offers hope and redemption without too-neat resolution. Sept. 12 Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595540553
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/19/2006
  • Pages: 324
  • Sales rank: 244,135
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Martin
Charles Martin

CHARLES MARTIN is the author of six novels. He and his family live in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sometime before daylight, I heard it. Inches from my face, it sounded like a mouse sliding a saltine across a wooden floor. Seconds later, it sounded like the horn section of a symphony, tuning up. Then like cat purring lazily in the sun. And finally, like a woman who'd been in a coma for several months and was regaining the muscle tone she'd lost in her throat.

It was one of my favorite sounds--the sound of sweet dreams, the sound of contentedness, the sound of my wife next to me--the sound of Maggie sleeping. At that moment, she was sacked out and snoring like a sailor. I lay with my eyes closed, playing possum, listening and smiling because she'd die if she knew. "I don't snore!" Unconsciously, I had paced my breathing with hers, making sure to inhale deeply enough and to exhale slowly enough.

Moonlight filled our bedroom with a hazy grayish-blue, telling me the moon was high, full, and shining like a Milky Way spotlight on Maggie. I watched her, lingered there, and milked the Milky Way. Most nights she flopped around like a fish tossed up on the beach; then, on into morning, she'd settle down a bit and start spreading out horizontally. Now she lay sprawled across the bed like a snow angel, hogging all corners as if she'd grown accustomed to having the bed to herself.

My left cheek barely hung on the edge of the mattress, and not a single square inch of sheet covered me, but I could not have cared less. If I ever do, somebody ought to beat me into next week. Her feet told me she was wearing socks, her neck told me she was wearing Eternity, and her arms told me she was wearing me. All the world was right.

Around four in the morning, Maggie flung herself sideways, stretched like Blue, and then reencircled me like an octopus. When she settled, her hair draped across my chest like tentacles, mingling into me. Maggie's hair had grown well past her shoulders. Long and shiny, it was made for shampoo commercials. Mine, because of the coming summer heat and what would be long hours atop the tractor, was cropped relatively close, exposing my neck to the sun, dust, and dirt. When Maggie cut it, she had nodded in approval, reminding me that my grandfather would have nodded too. She tucked her nose up close to mine, where her breath filled my lungs either before or after mine had filled hers. Her chest rose and fell in an easy rhythm, and her skin was warm. Making sure she could not be uprooted, she hooked her right leg around mine like a boat anchor, stretched her right arm across me like a bowline, and then drove her right hand into the mattress like a tent peg.

Reluctantly I untangled myself and slid out from beneath the pegs. I pulled the covers back over her bare shoulders, tucked the hair behind her ear, and walked to the kitchen to put on the percolator. Blue followed, stretched, and stood at the screen door, his nose pressed against the latch. He knew how to flip it open, but with Maggie around he'd grown lazy and now waited on me with an air of expectation. I looked at him, and his ears dropped. I pointed toward the bedroom. "Hey, pal, she was in the coma. Not you. Let your own self out."

Blue whined, nosed up the latch, and disappeared off the porch.

While the percolator coughed and sputtered--the sweet sounds of my addiction--I stepped out onto the porch under a clear sky and onto the stage of my life. Judging from the thick black figures silhouetted against the dawning skyline, several turkeys roosted in the trees that lined the river and towered above our son's grave. I couldn't see it, but unless something really bad had happened to the world, the river flowed silently beyond those trees, filling the earth--or at least most of South Carolina, and me--with life.

Before me spread the rows of corn, silent sentinels, six feet tall and swaying in rhythmic, military unison under the quiet whisper of the spring breeze. As my eyes adjusted, ten thousand shades of black reflected off the cornstalks like slender hands waving toward heaven. Papa once told me that farmers are the choir conductors for heaven. It took me a few years and several hundred hours atop the tractor to understand what he meant.

From my perch on the porch, I could almost read the brass plaque that squatted below the roses--my testament to Maggie's "Yard of the Year." I stared and shook my head because I was smiling at a post-coma memory. Something that, at one time, I wasn't sure I'd have again.

The evidence that Maggie was alive, breathing, and back home spread around our house like an English garden. Camellias, roses, gardenias, wisteria, iris, anthurium, agapanthus, and even orchids bloomed in every patch of earth not covered by grass, porch, stepping-stone, or house.

I sniffed the air and walked to the side of the porch, looking over the tips of the cotton rows that had come up thick and bulbous. It was only May; it'd be late June before we saw any blooms. And, like everything in life, that depended on the rain. Waist-high now, they would be the last plants to show their color. And I'm not talking about the cotton; I'm talking about the little white flower that precedes the cotton, telling all the word that the white gold is coming, spring is over, summer has arrived, and the hard work is about to start. Judging by the buds, we were still a couple of weeks off.

I jumped, grabbed the porch rafter, and stood hanging and swaying from the truss. I looked at the cotton primed to erupt and paint the world with white flowers, and I marveled at the life I lived. Each day of my existence amazed me. I pulled up a couple of times, remembered that I wasn't as young as I'd once been, hopped down, skirted around the roses, and then stepped into the cotton--walking up one row and down another.

The bolls slapped my thighs while the sandy dirt sifted up through my toes, reminding me of Charleston and our month at the beach. I looked up, closed my eyes--the stars still shining in my mind--stretched my hands across the heavens, and filled my chest with the night--yawning in his pasture was a farmer's delight.

Between the buds, the many and various flowers lighting up the house, and the smile that spread daily across Maggie's face, I noticed someone unusual, an old invisible friend, as I walked around my house. He had moved out just after delivery, but once he heard she'd come home, he did too. He had returned slowly--a flash here, a sound there. He'd been back a week when I finally cornered him in the barn. When I asked him to stay, he moved his things into the space above the ceiling fan and made his bed on the rafters. I tried to make him feel welcome, because he brought with him the smell of gardenias and magnolia blooms, hot baths, cool sweat, and gut-busting laughter. He routinely tap-danced on the roof, sang in the rain, listened to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra all hours of the night, and laughed for little to no reason. Each day, he'd flutter down off the rafters, or the ceiling fan where he enjoyed multiple revolutions, and light on Maggie's shoulder. Pretty soon, he went wherever she did.

And that was good.

I walked back to the house, pressed my nose against the window, and gazed at Maggie sprawled across the bed just a few feet away. Her eyes were moving back and forth behind her lids, and her right index finger looked like it was writing in cursive.

Yes, life had thrown us a curve, but nothing short of death would dim her desire to have a child. You could tell it in the way she had repainted the nursery, the way she ran her fingers along the teeth marks on the railing of our secondhand crib, and the way she tapped me on the shoulder in the middle of the night when her clock told her it was time. I suppose she was like most women. Maggie dreamed of the delivery, of the excitement of getting to the hospital on time, of timing the contractions, of her pushing and me cradling her head and helping her count. Of looking down across her swollen tummy at the doctor's face as he waited for our child's head to appear through the canal. Despite the pain, the sweat, and the blood, she dreamed of hearing his or her first cry, of being handed our child with the umbilical cord still attached, of watching me cut the cord, and then, finally, of pressing him to her pounding chest and feeling him breathe, suckle, and pull at her with tiny, wrinkled, God-fashioned fingers. She dreamed of watching his eyes open and being the first person he saw. She dreamed of needing, being needed, and giving unselfishly--something she was good at.

But I knew that she, my simple complexity, and the dream didn't end there. She dreamed of pulling that wet, gooey, covered-in-white-paste kid--who no doubt looked a lot like me--off her sweating, flushed chest and of passing him to me--of extending him across space and time and placing him in my shaking arms. She dreamed of watching my face light up as I cradled the son or daughter we'd made--of giving me that part of herself, a second time.

For me, the desire for a child had grown over time. Maggie had planted the seed, watered it, and then waited. I first recognized it as my own desire, distinct from Maggie's, some twenty months ago. It was the moment I placed my son's casket in the dirt down by the river beneath the oak. It was a strange and new feeling. Something unexpected. I didn't know what to do with it. Yes, I felt guilty--what parent wouldn't--but I also knew I wanted to try again. I wanted to be a dad, and I wanted Maggie to be a mom. I wanted us to share the ups, the downs, the hard times, and the great times. I wanted to build a fort with our son or daughter, play catch, go to the beach and dig in the sand, laugh, wrestle, go fishing, teach him how to whistle, how to drive a tractor, and yes, I wanted to walk her down the aisle.

I cracked open the screen door and crept inside. I tiptoed down the hallway, making the floors creak, sat in my chair, pulled the door shut, and picked up my pencil. The single lightbulb fell out of the seams in the tongue-and-groove pine ceiling, dangling from a fraying cord a foot above my head. My writing closet was exactly four inches wider than I on each side, and if I scooted my chair up to the bottom shelf, the door just shut behind me. I fell into my writing position, resting my head on my left hand and holding the pencil in my right.

Since Maggie woke up, I . . .

Wait. Stop.

Saying Since Maggie woke up amazes me still. Every time I say it, I think the clouds should part, a huge brass horn should descend, and God should give me five minutes to blow at the top of my lungs for all the world to hear before I shout, "Hey,World! Maggie woke up!"

Before me sat a three-hundred-page dilemma. Maggie had asked me to tell my story, and I had. From the night our son had died on August 15 to the moment she woke up on New Year's Day--some seventeen months ago. My sweaty palms rested on the pages as the two sides of me waged war. I stared at the words and knew the pictures I'd painted would reopen wounds that had not yet begun to heal. I also knew that opening those wounds would increase the sense of responsibility that she had yet to express but that was written all over her face every time we failed to talk about it.

On the other hand, I had never lied to Maggie about anything, and before me sat two versions. Hers was the watered-down, G-rated version, which told enough of the story to satisfy her desire to know, and yet protected her from the R-rated version with all the ugly parts left in. The one on the right was the real story, the one I had written for myself--the director's take that would cut her to the core because it contained all my doubts and fears. I had written it because something deep inside me demanded that I rid my soul of the secrets that I kept there--those conversations with myself that I never voiced.

The discrepancies were simple: While I told her about the delivery and about our son's never crying a peep, I didn't mention her own screaming or my being crumpled in the corner covered in blood while the doctors worked to repair the damage to her body. While I told her about the funeral and Amos singing and the sun shining, I didn't tell her that I held the casket between my knees after we'd picked him up at the morgue, or that I buried the teddy bear with him, or that I had wished every day between then and the time she woke up and even some days since that Amos had just lowered my son down on top of me and covered us both.

While I did tell her about the fire I set in our dead cornfield, I did not explain the scar on my arm or how it got there. While I told her about watching movies with Bryce to pass the time, I did not tell her that there were nights I could not drive home afterward. And though I told her how I pulled Amos and Amanda out of the ditch that slippery, snowy night, I didn't say that I stood in the ice and snow and screamed at God, shaking my fist at heaven and daring Him to strike me down. Or that, when He didn't, I wished He had.

In Maggie's version, I told her about being in the hospital, how I had sat with her and talked with her. I told her that on most nights, when the halls were quiet, I'd rub her legs to keep the circulation going. I didn't mention that while the therapist had said ten minutes was all that was needed, I often massaged for hours. And I did not tell her that when Amanda came daily to change her gown, I helped so I could see my wife, touch her skin, and feel her warmth. I did not tell her how I bathed her, put socks on her feet when they were cold, held her hand beneath the sheets. I did not tell her that I slid my chair close to the bed and whispered in her ear, "Please come back to me." And I didn't tell her that finally, for one reason or another, I had come to the place that, even if she never woke up, I could have lived without her--and now that memory, that ability to be alone, was maybe the greatest betrayal of all. I stared at my work and remembered something my grandfather said one night, "There's just one problem with pulling the wool over someone's eyes. And it surfaces whenever they take it off."

While I collected my nerve, both manuscripts had sat collecting dust. I had finished a week ago, but it had taken that long to muster enough gumption to do what I was about to do. I pushed back from the desk, stacked the pages, and wrapped my version in a plastic grocery store bag. I knelt on the floor, opened my pocketknife, and pried up the single board that hid the cash box where Papa used to hide Nanny's jewelry when they went on vacation. It was about a foot square and locked relatively watertight. I lifted out the box, dusted it off, and flicked the lock.

Inside I kept our birth certificates, the deed to the house, and a few other keepsakes. I laid the manuscript in the box, locked the lid, and slid the entire thing back into its safe place.

I licked my fingers so the bulb wouldn't burn me and twisted it off, listening to the sizzle of spit on lightbulb. I walked into our bedroom and leaned against the door frame, watching my wife sleep wrinkle-free and without torment.

I tiptoed across the floor and gently pushed her Audrey Hepburn hair out of her Bette Davis eyes. I knelt next to the bed and watched her. If she had any idea I was there, she didn't show it.

I whispered, "Maggie," and waited. No response. I whispered again. Finally I touched her cheek and said, "Honey?" She swatted my hand like a mosquito and flopped to the other side of the bed as if the bugs weren't biting over there.

And then I did something I'd never done before. I lied to Maggie. I laid her version on her bedside table, set a cup of coffee down on top, and crept out. Once an early riser, Maggie had awakened from the coma and found her internal clock reset. Now she was happy to sleep till ten thirty. Knowing that, I was pretty much assured that the coffee would be good and cold by then--just the way she liked it.

I slipped on my jeans and hat, made sure my writing closet was locked, and stepped into my boots. Then I hopped onto my tractor and dropped the harrow into the ground--something I'd seen my grandfather do five hundred times.

With a slight breeze cooling my face, I turned around in my seat, saw the deep cuts in the soil, and remembered something else Papa once told me. He had his pocketknife in one hand, scraping the fingernails of the other.

"Funny thing about farming . . ." He'd pointed out across the field with the tip of his knife. "To grow anything new, you've got to cut the soil and get rid of what remains of the old. I imagine if the earth could speak, it would tell us that it doesn't like that too much." He shrugged. "But life is like that. The past fertilizes the future." He snapped his knife closed, slid it into his front pocket, and stared at me with no expression.

"Problem is, we have a tendency to forget that."

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

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(30)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    haunting and moving tale

    Maggie wanted children in the worst way especially after she had a stillborn and fell into a four month coma. Once she recovers her health, she and husband Dylan try the adoption route, but the interviewers conclude they might not be good candidates. Even though a fertility specialist insists her chances of conceiving at probably zero, she becomes pregnant. One day Dylan comes home to see their house torn up and his wife beaten and bleeding. She miscarries leaving her extremely depressed. However, her troubles have just begun. Arsonists destroy their home and that of their next door best friends too. Three convicts have come to Digger looking to get even with Father John for turning state evidence against them when he was younger, willful, and hung with them. Their devastation impact the relationship between Maggie and Dylan, who will need divine intervention for their marriage to survive. --- MAGGIE is a haunting and moving tale about a couple, who due to misfortune and bad luck, find their marriage collapsing with the only tenuous tie left being their deep love for one another,. Readers will empathize with Maggie who bears more than her reasonable share of troubles and will understand why she emotionally pulls away from her beloved Dylan. She intellectually knows her spouse is a good man who has stood by his ¿Maggs¿ and has tried to help her through her despondency and grief, but may have hit the wall with her rejection of him. Though the convicts seem over the top adding pain to an already battered lead duo, fans will appreciate this unforgettable character study with its deep message of hold on to the love even when darkness engulfs every cell of your body. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    Highly reommend this book

    The story of Maggie and Dylan is the best I have read in a long time. Love conquers all and this book reminded me of that. The story will captivate you and wont let you put this book down until the last page. To the author and his wife I send a big thanks for never giving up.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I read it a long time ago...

    AND IT WAS THE BOMB! it was a great book. probably the greatest book ever! it was actually my first romance book i have ever read...
    XD

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2003

    Amazingly Awesome!

    This book is great! Anybody who likes the babysitters clubs books will love this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2002

    Rated highly by a male

    I can come to one conclusion about this book... it was awesome! I have read this book and 2 others from the California Diaries collection. They gave great detail on what the scene was and I could imagine the scene when I closed my eyes, (Such as the party). I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to get addicted to a series. Once you read one you have to get your hands on the other.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2002

    Best book of all maggie diaries

    Finally....the happy parts of Maggie's life! I really like this book...I recommend it to all the teenage girls age 12-14!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2001

    True Real Life Stuff!!

    This is so realistic in sooo manyways many girls of anns age have an eating diorder and its no fun so i think ever teenage girl should read this book! Its not good to not eat! and this makes teenage life sound reall bad but rally bad is really worth getting to do all the other good things in life! Lifes to short do things rite instead of wrong!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2001

    Don't ever put this book down!!

    I could not put the book down, but the olny time i really did was when it was really important. I loved this book and hope everyone that thinks of buying it sould definatly buy this book. When you get it you will experience some of the things we only dream about doing and geting away with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2001

    finished reading 2day, may 3rd, 2001

    I don't think this book was good, it was great! Although, I think Maggie shouldn't have told him to find another girlfriend in the end. I would b bgragging if I was going out w/ a hot celebrity. So far I'v read every series of california diaries. M y favorite character is Sunny, and Amalia. i could relate to Amalia.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2001

    I loved it

    I loved this book. Its very realistic. Maggie is one of my favorite characters in the seiries, along with Amilia. I think everyone should read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2000

    Great!

    I loved, loved, loved this book. The shear idea of it is so creative and at times I finish this book in one sitting! (I have read this book over 10 times.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2000

    This is the best book in the series so far!

    This book was the greatest! In the book, Maggie's dad hires tyler kendall to be in his movie. Tyler in a big teenage movie star, and he falls in love with Maggie! Maggie doesn't like movie stars. she thinks they're all fake, but not this one! The book tells all about it, and i just loved it! of course in the end it's Maggie+Tyler forever and ever, and everyone lives ever after!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2000

    California Diaries, Maggie; Diary Two

    Valeria 13 yrs. old 8th Grade This book is actually very easy to relate to . . . for most people. Even though I have not finished reading this book, the plot is easy to understand. Maggie is a girl dealing with an eating disorder called anorexia. I think that this book is a good book for teen girls to read, especially if they ever had to deal with any types of eating disorders, even if it¿s not anorexia. Maybe even if you¿re not a teen, this will help you notice what people around you deal with. It can make you see that you should be who you are and shouldn¿t let food control your life. Hopefully, when I finish this story, Maggie will realize her wrongs and fix them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2000

    GOOOOD book

    I love this book because it is so exciting to read with the hard times and the good times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2000

    GREAT BOOK

    This was a really good book! It is about a 13 year old girl named Maggie having an eating disorder. You should read it to find out what happens to her!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2000

    This book is great!!

    This book is really good, because of the neato ending. I did not think that it would happen! Again, the charecters are totally real, and I can identify with most of them. The California Diaries series are Ann M. Martin's best work so far =)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2000

    Nicole, age 11

    This was a very realistic book dealing with the (probably most) common teen eating disorder: anorexia. It gives factual information, and it shows that Maggie realized that she had a problem. If anyone reading this review, and you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, READ THIS BOOK!!! It can help. Thanx :-)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    Once you pick it up you won't put it down untill you're through!

    All of the California Diaries are great. The best part about them is that they don't have a specific theme,they're just about everyday teen life,both the ups and the downs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    AWESOME

    OHH MY GOD ANN M MARTIN DOES AN AWESOME JOB AS ALWAYS. i HAVE READ EVERY CAL. DIARY LOVE EM ALL TOO!! EVERYONE SHOULD DEFFENITLY READ THIS BOOK. ALTHOUGHT IT ISN'T EXTREMILY REALISTIC IT COULD HAPPEN. THE CHARITURES ARE SO COOL AND DOWN TO EARTH.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2000

    From Melissa- OldNavyChicky!!!!!

    I love this book, it is way better than the weight problems 'cause they are so sad and Maggie needs a little happiness!!! The book was excellent, I only wish it had been longer!!!!

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