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Ducky: Diary 3 (2000)

Ducky: Diary 3 (2000)

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3.65 of 5 Votes: 1
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0439095492 (ISBN13: 9780439095495)
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About book Ducky: Diary 3 (2000)

Sunny up and kisses Ducky. Hoo boy. Here we are. Spoilers ahead, I'm not going to use tags.I think it's important to note that, while I'd read some of the early California Diaries several years ago, I was reading everyone's Diary 2 and 3 fresh right before reviewing, so I had not read ahead to this point when I wrote them. It was my habit while reading to dog-ear pages that contained "ambiguously gay Ducky" moments to write up later. Had I done that for this book, I would have dog-eared every page. And I'm not talking just hints that he is gay, but hints about the ambiguity itself. This book explores that ambiguity in the most ambiguous of ways. Ducky begins to feel a strange turn in his relationship with Sunny; meaningful looks, more laughing at each other's jokes than usual. He struggles not to think about it. He tells himself that they are just friends, nothing more. He denies that there ever is, or ever could, be anything going on when Brendan asks, and he pointedly refuses to let his mind "go there." At the same time, he acknowledges to himself, that when he is with Sunny he feels more alive.At this point, I'm nervous. This feels exactly like the kind of in-denial protesting-too-much that signifies that there IS something else there, that it's NOT just friendship. Ducky and Sunny just seems wrong! Like kissing your sister! Ewwww.I mean, on the one hand, yes, a guy who hates sports and likes shopping isn't necessarily gay, and my insisting that Ducky's fashion sense is a "Ducky is gay" hint is me playing into stereotypes as much as anything else, right? I mean, there are femmey straight guys. But. But. Still. Ducky can't just turn out to be straight after all this. I know there are gay characters in YA fiction now, plenty of them, but in the late 90s/early 00's there weren't, and this was all we got. Hints and subtext. And when the hints and subtext are violated by the text, fangirls and contemporary gay youths--of which I count myself as both, even though I'm just reading this now--feel betrayed. Besides, think how many girls the books would mislead into thinking they can just totally date their gay best friends. Anyway, thankfully, that's not where this book goes. Ducky and Sunny go to the movies, just them, and as he's dropping her off, Sunny goes for it and kisses him. And Ducky feels... nothing. Ducky spends the rest of the book freaking out. He sincerely wishes he could be into Sunny in that way, but he isn't. But he loves her deeply as a friend, and he's panicky at the idea of losing the friendship. Dawn is understanding when he explains this to her and tells him he understands "more than you know" (the ambiguously gay Dawn?). The message seems to get to Sunny, and while she seemed genuinely hurt that he didn't respond to her, she finally lightly assures him that it was just "end of summer mush" and they sweetly recommit to the friendship. A meanwhile plot resolved the Maggie's-drunk-mom storyline by (as with Alex) sending her away to get help. Ducky rescues Maggie from her house and lets her stay with him until she can get ahold of her dad, and the family stages an intervention. With everyone's plotlines resolved, they have a party.And I let out a sigh of relief. I think that, given that they are not going to make Ducky openly gay--either for censorship reasons or for not-opening-that-can-of-worms-at-this-point reasons--this was really the best way to handle it. It's a story about a situation that young lady readers may certainly relate to, or need to be prepared to relate to--the "how to let down the friend who's attracted to me but I'm not attracted to them"--and the plotline is given to a character who totally makes sense to handle it. And in the end, it doesn't matter, for the story, why Ducky isn't attracted to Sunny. He doesn't need an explanation. That's how it goes sometimes.But, like, yes, he's gay. I mean, we all know that.Author Gratefully Acknowledges: Nola Thacker. What, they couldn't get Lerangis in for this one? Thacker's not terrible, but her Ducky voice is just a little... off. Not quite the right kind of humor. Not quite the right references. Not that funny real-teen-ish goofiness with a sardonic edge that Lerangis gets so right. Timing: End of summer, August 15 to September 5. Dawn arrives back from her summer in Stoneybrook at some point. At some point I've gotten confused about how to file these amongst the mainline series, since the release dates are a year ahead of where I'm putting those books now (i.e. these ones were release simultaneous with Friends Forever books, but I'm placing this just after The Fire at Mary Anne's House.) But when one book ends in July and another picks up in August, I naturally put them back to back. Oh well, I stand by my placement. Dawn's departure and return is regular as clockwork each summer and she never references anything that happens there, so there's nothing specific to hang this on as far as those adventures go.Revised Timeline: Per my calculations, we're starting the third academic year after college graduation for Dawn, or age 24 or so, which is about age 27 or so for Ducky. I'm going to grant you that this plotline feels way more high-schooly, collegey max, especially if you assume that Ducky is closeted (or that he's openly bi but not actually, or that he's openly gay but let Sunny on by telling her at some point that he'd make an exception for her--all common bullshit that could and does go on in college but generally people are over it by 27.) That being said, the awkwardness of trying to make friendships into partnerships, or trying to prevent friendships from going into that territory, persists as long as you are in the dating pool.

This is the last book in the California Diaries series. I have read 1-15. Out of all of the characters I like Ducky best. I really wish there was more book because there are still things I wonder about like will Alex ever get better with Ducky and Jay be friends again, What happens to Maggie's mother after she gets out of rehab? All of these questions I know don't have answers and they never will. I suggest you read these book because they are really good, and a fast read about 3 a night. But be prepared for some unanswered questions.

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