If, like me, you’re a child of a Certain Decade, there’s a good chance you grew up reading Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series, about a group of thirteen-year-old girls (later joined by some younger girls plus a guy) who start a…actually, the series title is really self-explanatory. Although we were blessed with this delightful series, alas, it means we were too early for YA’s current golden era when we were teens. And perhaps equally sadly, the same goes for the members of the BSC. But just in case they should ever reboot, I’ve crafted this extremely helpful guide to what each member should pick up in the event Myriah Perkins ever takes a nap while they’re in charge.
Kristy Thomas: Rites of Passage, by Joy N. Hensley
Sam McKenna can’t back down from a dare, has a brother who may or may not be a jerk, is a badass athlete, is dead set on proving she has got what it takes to be a leader, and faces some of the best unresolved sexual tension in YA. Sound like any BSC founding member you know? (Okay, I might be overstating the Kristy-Bart chemistry here, but the point definitely stands about Sam and Drill.) Kristy would definitely krush things to read Hensley’s excellent debut, about a sixteen-year-old girl who enters military school with the intention of being among its first female graduates, and then probably join up herself, just to show Sam who’s boss.
Claudia Kishi: The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby
As if the fact that Juby’s latest YA is set in art school isn’t clue enough that this is a Claudia book, anyone who has spent five minutes with the indisputably coolest member of the BSC would know Claud would strongly identify with Normandy Pale’s being sick of living in her older sister’s shadow. While it’s unclear who’s more terrible, Kiera or Janine, the fact remains Claudia would totally dig The Truth Commission trio’s commitment to both honesty and owning their own personal brands of weird.
Stacey McGill: Making Pretty, by Corey Ann Haydu
Was anyone more sophisticated than Stacey McGill? (Well, yes—her BFF, Laine, but that’s a sore spot we won’t discuss here. Laine probably read Gossip Girl while tittering to herself about how provincial Blair Waldorf seems.) That is a rhetorical question, because the limit did not exist. Stacey was gorgeous, a walking love letter to New York City, a child of divorce, in a toxic best friendship, and definitely the most likely to be in an actual cool romantic relationship. She was basically Making Pretty in character form, minus a nuanced and complicated relationship with a big sister, and I have no doubt she’d hug this book when she was done, just like I did.
Mary Anne Spier: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
You just know that more than anything, Mary Anne wants things to kick her in the feels. She probably rereads The Fault in Our Stars every birthday as a gift to herself. There’s no question she’d be head over heels for the sweet, sad, longing, romantic struggles of Lara Jean Covey, and empathize about being a teenage girl raised by a single dad. And though there may not be any boys she loved before Logan, I predict Mary Anne will turn into just as big a Kavinsky fan as the rest of the YA already has.
Dawn Schafer: Three Day Summer, by Sarvenaz Tash
Dawn may have been the closest thing the BSC had to a hippie, but somehow it didn’t seem to come with particularly cool taste in music. She probably went on to do a lot of experimentation in college, though, and she definitely liked the flower child aesthetic, so how could I rec her anything but Tash’s delightful and funny dual-POV romance set during the three days of Woodstock? And if she finally picked up some solid musical taste from the awesome bands realistically referenced throughout, well, that’s just an all-around win.
Jessi Ramsey: Tiny Pretty Things, by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Ah, Jessi. Talented ballerina, best friend to a glue stick with glasses, and all-around nice girl, trapped in the unbearable whiteness of Stoneybrook. How badly do I want Jessi to know there is a far cooler world out there, one that will nurture her talent and let her explore ballet-centric beauty? And how badly do I want her to see black ballerinas in particular totally killing it? Of course, I would make Jessi read Brandy Colbert’s Pointe in a heartbeat, too, but my top rec for her is Charaipotra and Clayton’s coauthored debut, because if there’s one more thing I wish for Jessi Ramsey, it’s to learn how to play a little dirty. She earned it.
Mallory Pike: Vivian Apple at the End of the World, by Katie Coyle
Let’s be honest—if you were parents to not only Mallory Pike, but the entire eight-child Pike brood, you’d take off, wouldn’t you? Just completely disappear in the middle of the night, by any means possible? There’s maybe a 70-30 chance that’s gonna happen to them someday, so what better way for Mallory to be prepared than to immerse herself in the story of Vivian Apple, a girl whose parents disappear in the middle of the night, seemingly as a result of the Rapture? Of course, the odds of Mallory finding a BFF as fab as Harp aren’t great (we are, of course, working on the assumption that Jessi will have already left Stoneybrook in her rearview mirror), but stranger things have happened.
Shannon Kilbourne: Pretending to be Erica, by Michelle Painchaud
Poor, poor Shannon—always an associate, never a regular member. It burns, doesn’t it, seeing all you could have but knowing true legitimacy is forever just out of your reach? I bet sometimes it makes you wanna do terrible and duplicitous things, just because you can. Who is Shannon Kilbourne, anyway? Were you always Shannon Kilbourne? Or might you be a con artist daughter of an even bigger con artist, involved in a complicated plot to steal a painting that turns even more complicated when real feelings and the opportunity to experience a real teen life for the first time confuse everything you thought you knew? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Abby Stevenson: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Admittedly, I didn’t spend too much time with Abby as a tween reader—she came along just as I was aging out of BSC and into a deep obsession with Sweet Valley High—but I was excited to learn Abby was the BSC’s first Jewish member. Abby also struggled with grief over the death of her father when she was a kid, and those two things make Kissing in America the perfect read for the asthmatic twin, who, if I’m being honest, wore my favorite cover outfit of all the BSC members on Welcome to the BSC, Abby.
Logan Bruno: What You Left Behind, by Jessica Verdi
And finally, we come to the token male presence in the BSC, the charming southern gentleman who lives for two things: sports and his sweetheart. While I definitely most strongly recognize shades of Logan and Mary Anne in the characters of Austin and Marissa in Play On, I think it’s imperative we shove him into a grittier tale of being an overwhelmed athlete in love. You’ve already jumped from Kentucky to Connecticut, Logan; surely you can handle a literary shift out of your southern comfort zone, can’t you? Can’t you? Oh, God, I already made him cry, didn’t I. Sigh.