Dawn's been missing California more than ever. Especially now that her friend in California needs her. Dawn must face the facts: while she loves Connecticut, her heart is telling her to return to California permanently.
But it sure isn't easy. It is tough to hear her friends talk about replacing her in the BSC. Even worse, Dawn can't figure out how to break the news to Mary Anne. How can she tell her best friend and stepsister that she wants to leave—forever?
Dawn's missing California again. She misses her friends, her family, her school, the weather, everything. Plus, Sunny's mom has just been diagnosed with lung cancer, and Dawn really wants to be there for her best friend and the Winslow family. So, she makes a big decision: she's going to move back to Palo City for good. She breaks the news first to Carol during a phone call from California. Carol promises to tell Jack. Sharon walks in just in time to hear the end of the conversation, so Dawn has to tell her. Sharon is understandably upset that Dawn wants to leave Stoneybrook.
Richard gets home from work in the middle of their conversation, so he's let in on the plan at that point, too. The one family member that Dawn doesn't tell? Mary Anne. Dawn knows that her stepsister will be upset, and needs to figure out how to break the news to her as gently as possible. Luckily, Mary Anne has been so busy with baby-sitting and spending time with Logan that she doesn't notice how oddly everyone is acting at home.
Dawn is alone one afternoon, and she starts on a list of things she needs to do to get ready for the move. That's when she realizes that she needs to let the BSC know ASAP, so they can find a replacement. Dawn calls Kristy and tells her what's going on, and asks her not to tell anyone, since she STILL hasn't found a way to let Mary Anne know what's happening. Kristy agrees. Dawn finally decides to break the news the next day. She and Mary Anne are planning to make a pizza together for dinner, and Dawn writes a whole speech that she'll give when she tells Mary Anne that she's going back to California.
Too bad Dawn never gets a chance to use it; before she can steer the conversation in the right direction, Logan calls Mary Anne to see how she's taking the news that Dawn is moving. Apparently, Kristy told Claudia, who told Stacey, who told Robert, who told Logan. Mary Anne is furious that she was the last to find out, and she says some pretty awful things to Dawn. The girls don't exactly stop speaking, but things are definitely different between them. Mary Anne starts acting like she doesn't care anything about Dawn, and she does her best to avoid her stepsister while the club is working on their latest event (a surprise Christmas in summer for James Hobart, who's laid up with a broken leg).
Dawn really wants to fix things with Mary Anne before she leaves, so she plans a fancy dinner for the two of them one evening when their parents are out. They manage to have some decent conversation, but when Dawn tries to bring up the subject of her move and her friendship with Mary Anne, Mary Anne clams up. Things don't get any better by the time Dawn's farewell party rolls around. She's sure that Mary Anne has some big surprise cooked up for her, but that doesn't seem to be true. In fact, Mary Anne doesn't seem to have had much to do with planning the party at all. It isn't until the day before Dawn leaves that things finally go back to normal, with lots of crying. At least Dawn can leave, knowing that Mary Anne doesn't hate her....
Ann M. Martin's Dear Reader Letter
Throughout the Baby-sitters Club series, Dawn has gone back and forth (literally and emotionally) between her West Coast family and her East Coast family. She's been pulled in opposite directions for a long time and has important ties to each coast. She's even moved back to California briefly, and then returned to Stoneybrook.
Finally my editors and I decided that Dawn needed to make a choice and stick to it. And we felt that Dawn would choose California. This was a difficult decision, but once it had been made, we realized that it created an opportunity for new things to happen in the Baby-sitters Club. We decided to replace Dawn with a brand-new member of the BSC, who would be as important to the series as any of the other characters. That's how Abby was created. Furthermore, we decided to give Dawn her very own series, set on the West Coast. That's how California Diaries began. All in all, we felt that the decision to take Dawn out of Stoneybrook turned out to be a happy one, with many exciting things in store for the characters and the series.
This is the last book published with the original cover style. Starting with book #89, all new books were published in a new style with character photos on the left side of the cover.