Dawn loves her life in Stoneybrook – her new stepfamily, the kids she sits for, and especially her friends in the Baby-sitters Club. But lately, Dawn really misses her dad and brother in California. Seeing them on holidays and vacations just isn't enough. So Dawn's made a decision – a big one. She's going back to California for six months.
Of course, everyone's shocked. What's Mary Anne going to do without her best friend and stepsister? Who will replace Dawn in the club? And will she really come back...?
Dawn has been missing California, her dad, and Jeff a lot lately. She's been missing it so much, in fact, that she decides to try living there again for 6 months. Her Stoneybrook family is pretty surprised at this, and Sharon is understandably hurt. She agrees to try and work something out, though. Mary Anne actually takes the news pretty well, unlike when Dawn leaves forever later in the series. She actually encourages Dawn to go, and tells her that even though she'll be missed, her happiness is the most important thing.
Sharon and Jack have multiple pphone discussions about the logisitcs of Dawn making this change. They have to coordinate with both SMS and Dawn's CA school to see if she'll be able to switch from one to the other. Jack also has to learn about Dawn's everyday life (dating, curfew, etc), since he hasn't been around for that for awhile. The guidance counselors at both schools agree that the change wouldn't be too tough for Dawn to handle from an academic point of view, so it's official: Dawn is going to be a California girl again.
When Dawn breaks the news to the other members of the BSC, they 're surprised but understanding...with one exception. That would be (surprise, surprise) Kristy. She's worried about what will happen to the club with one full member gone. Shannon is too busy to take on the role, and Logan doesn't really want to try it again. The girls consider just taking on a new member, but everyone is kind of afraid of ending up with another Janet or Leslie.
As the big day gets closer and closer, Dawn starts to have second thoughts. Jessi comes back from a weekend in Oakley, where she was visiting Keisha, to find that EVERYTHING had changed (including Keisha). Stacey has also had similar experiences going back to New York, which makes Dawn worry that she won't fit into her old life as quickly and easily as she'd like to. She even briefly changes her mind and decides to stay in Stoneybrook, after making a pros and cons list (also after the BSC had thrown her a goodbye party, and after her plane ticket had already been bought). In the end, though, Dawn decides that regardless of what her list says, California is where she belongs.
Ann M. Martin's Dear Reader Letter
In Dawn’s Big Move, Dawn has to make a very important decision. It isn’t easy for her. Her mind is telling her one thing, and her heart is telling her another. In the end, she decides to go where her heart leads her. One of the biggest decisions I ever had to make was where to go to college. To begin with, my guidance counselor had looked at my SAT scores and told me they were low, so there were very few colleges I would be able to get into. My parents looked at my grades and my activities, and decided that was ridiculous. Together, we visited thirteen colleges, and I applied to five. I was accepted at all of them, including two of the top women’s colleges in the country, Smith and Mount Holyoke. I knew I wanted to go to one of these colleges, and I liked both of them very much, but I liked Smith a little better. However, my mother had gone to Mount Holyoke. I agonized over this decision for days. I knew my mother would be happy if I went to Mount Holyoke, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. However, my heart was telling me to go to Smith. In the end, that was the decision I made — and it was the best decision of my life!
This book's cover image first appeared in the 1993 BSC calendar showing Mary Anne with long hair. However, Mary Anne cut her hair in #60 Mary Anne's Makeover, so the image was modified for the published book. That is why this cover shows her with a middle-length haircut she is not depicted as having in any other artwork.