The most surprising part of this re-read is how little I remembered this book. I own this one. I must have re-read it dozens of times, and yet most of it was a surprise. I remembered the school aspects, which are great, but not much else. It’s a shame, too. The mystery in this one is so interesting!
Grams put Sammy on dog-walking duty for a new character, Mrs. Willawago. She and a few of her neighbors are currently fighting against eviction due to eminent domain. When this takes a threatening turn, of course Sammy gets involved.
At school, everyone is a-buzz about the end-of-year dance and class superlative voting. For Sammy, this book is about guilt. She accidentally frames Heather for the death of a teacher’s pet bird, and it all goes downhill from there.
Since I had forgotten many aspects of this book, it was like reading it for the first time. That was a lot of fun! It was also fun reading this, knowing that most of its readers were probably learning new things about the government. Eminent domain isn’t the most interesting of topics until it gets used. So though it may not be a new term for the target audience of this series, it was probably the first time any of the readers became interested in the topic.
I also loved the mystery in this one because it seems to end early…in an awesome city council meeting showdown…but the ending is a red herring. There’s two mysteries in this book, and one of them isn’t immediately clear. Remain alert for the surprising conclusion!
No matter how cool the mystery, however, I’m sure that isn’t why fans would enjoy this book. The Heather x Sammy conflict reaches a pretty satisfying climax. Though the rivalry is far from over, Heather is hardly as devious or as important in later books. The rest of the series focuses on Sammy’s relationship with the other Acosta, and no matter how much Heather tries to keep Sammy away, her bite hardly has the same impact.
I liked this one a lot more than I remember. And moments like that are what truly make this nostalgic re-reading so fun.