May 8, 2009

Pine Hollow Tip: Stalking is perfectly acceptable if a boy doesn't want to talk to you.

The Trail Home
Pine Hollow #2

Are there some problems even your best friends can't help you solve?

Callie Forester is out of the hospital after the car accident that nearly claimed her life. Now Carole Hanson and Stevie Lake are determined to help her on the road to recovery. But Stevie is still consumed by guilt. After all, she was driving the car; could it be her fault that Callie almost died? Scott Forester, Callie's brother, certainly seems to blame her. Meanwhile Carole Hanson wants to know what secret Ben Marlowe is hiding. Why won't he let anyone get close to him? What's he afraid of? And if she does find out, will it ruin their new friendship? As for Lisa Atwood, she's enjoying life in California, working on a TV show. Will she decide that California is the place to be and abandon her friends and boyfriend? This summer could mark the end of everything, or a brand-new beginning.

You know what's sort of annoying? This book. You know why it's sort of annoying? It reads like it was written by a life coach, or maybe a motivational speaker, or maybe someone who spends their time frolicking through fields of daisies. It mainly caused me to feel unnerved, because whenever I run into dialogue that is this formal (and therefore totally ridiculous) I get a little twitchy. For instance, this is a short book. Only 166 pages. But people tend to fly off into giant, unexpectedly deep discussions that I don't care about, which also seem rather redundant because you're pretty sure you always know what their conclusions will be. It's kind of like a lengthy episode of Dawson's Creek, only with shorter words. And it took me forever to finish it.

Also, this book is mainly about Carole's inability to mind her own business. Ben Marlowe is hiding something! He's quiet and sullen and totally not interested in people! Well, okay, why don't you just give him space then, Carole? Why do you suddenly feel the need to get in his business and decide to, I don't know, stalk him and stake out his house?

So while Carole is invading people's space in more ways than one, Stevie is upset because she was driving the car that sort of almost killed Fez and Callie. She immediately quits her pizza delivery job and goes to work at "the laundry." Callie's brother hates her. This is mostly left undeveloped. Her brother is still a giant twerp who actively hopes Lisa is miserable in California so she will come back to Virginia and his incessant hovering. Don't worry though, kids. He only does it because he "loves" her! Really!

But mainly it's all about Carole stalking Ben. And Ben catches Carole stalking him, because she somehow discovers his address and goes there to discover his giant secret. He is not...whatever it is she thought he was. He is poor. He lives on a street with rusted cars and not absolutely perfect lawns and dogs leashed to trees with frayed rope. You guys! Carole is attracted to the kid living on the wrong side of the tracks. It would be so adorable if she hadn't staked out his house and accidentally gotten caught because she actually decided to park right in front of his house. Oh, Carole. You dope.

And then Fez dies and Ben tells Carole all that she wanted to know and Carole has the nerve to tell herself that she kind of suspected what was up with Ben. Carole, shut up. You totally didn't, otherwise you wouldn't have been having a minor conniption fit over every tiny thing he wasn't telling you which leads to what? He's poor and wants to go to college? How is this even minorly interesting, CAROLE?

Oh, and Callie did therapeutic riding or something and PC is an equine angel. And Lisa is probably having the time of her life in California, but she keeps downplaying it because she's probably afraid of her boyfriend. I would be.

And then everyone had a deep conversation and decided that life was hard. The end.

  • That meant untacking, grooming, watering, and feeding the sweet horse that had just exerted so much effort for their friend. Oh my God, is this how this book is going to be on every single page? *thumbs through book* YES. YES IT IS.
  • "As if Max, or anyone here, could possibly ignore the needs of any horse!" And then Stevie picked up her skirts and sashayed back to the estate to resume her embroidery!
  • Ben would never, ever, under any circumstances, do anything that would hurt a horse. That's great, person who wrote this. I kind of got it now! The Saddle Club characters aren't, like, animal abusers. I think it's very clear. You can stop being annoyingly repetitive now that you have gotten to page 28.
  • Apparently helping Ben is going to be Carole's own personal Saddle Club project. What the hell does that mean? Carole, shut up about the stupid club apparently no one cares about anymore and do your damn job.
  • Oh, good. I'm glad to know Fez isn't in "constant pain." He's just "in pain a lot of the time."
  • Pine Hollow keeps the barn key in its "more or less secret hiding place under the mat outside the office door." Where do these people live? Utopia?
  • Why do I get the feeling that this author should be editing Martha Stewart Living? Oh, it's because she uses words like piquant and tableau. PIQUANT and TABLEAU.
  • Wow, Emily is a little go getter: Callie is going to do all the work and she's going to get better, and that'll make me look brilliant. With this author, I cannot tell at all if she is kidding.
  • You think of me as someone who helps around the stable, someone you can laugh with or maybe rely on or borrow money from sometimes. Look, look! Friendship defined!
  • Do we really need to read about Carole opening junk mail? What is pertinent about this?
  • Oh hell. If Lisa is coding the fact that she's spending lots of time with Skye Ransom in a post card she's sending to the barn, she needs to break up with her boyfriend.
  • "She's all yours, for now." Alex's creepy possessiveness rears its ugly head. Isn't it so fabulously attractive, ladies?
  • Carole watched Ben work, gentle and kind. The veins stood out on his strong hands... This, kids, is why The Trail Home is a YA book. Well, this and the Dawson's Creek conversations.


Molly said...

These books were really, really terrible, weren't they. I can't WAIT until you get to the ones where that creepy nerd starts stalking Callie.

Alex was such a dick. I never liked him in the regular SC books, but he really needed a punch in the face in this series.

Heather said...

You know, I may have been able to read this series IF it had been totally new characters. But these older versions of the Saddle Club were nothing like I thought they would be, so I never got past the first book.

Molly said...

I never thought of this until now, but why are there NEVER any people at Pine Hollow older than Lisa, except for the adults? No high school or college students? Really??