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Literature / Here's to You, Rachel Robinson

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You choose your friends - but you're stuck with your family.

Here's to You, Rachel Robinson (1993) is a Young Adult novel by Judy Blume. It is a sequel to Just as Long as We're Together, here written from Rachel's perspective.

On the outside, Rachel is a straight-A student any teacher and parent would love to have, but unbeknowst to the others, she grinds her teeth during her sleep and dreads dinnertime now that her troublemaking brother Charles has been expelled from Boarding School; her older sister Jessica has issues with acne and job hunting, and in addition to this, she has a collection of clubs and other obligations.

In addition to this, she has to manage her friendships with Stephanie and Alison, who are both less stressed than she is, and who try to make her lighten up.

Here's to You, Rachel Robinson contains examples of:

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Charles is this to Jess, making fun of her acne, and is the inversion to Rachel, making fun of her perfectionism.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Rachel asks Charles after the big family blowup, "What do you want from us?" He's unable to answer.
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Rachel a prodigy.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Between Rachel and Jeremy "Dragon" at the book's climax.
  • Character Development:
    • Rachel before showed No Sympathy about Steph hiding that her parents were getting a trial separation, calling her out of touch with reality. Here, she comforts Steph when the latter is upset about her mother dating a younger man that does Stairmaster.
    • Jeremy keeps giving and taking back his bracelet from Dana, depending on their couple status. When he finally admits that he likes Rachel, the bracelet is nowhere in sight.
  • Cool Big Sis: Jess is this to Rachel, to make up for Charles being a bully. She says they are the Only Sane Woman duo in the family for treating Charles like a parasitic leech, and tries to be the better person.
  • The Dog Bites Back: During the family counseling session, Jess finally rattles Charles by saying that he is the problem with the family by taking up all the attention from their parents. She compares him to poison. Charles tries to lie that he doesn't care about what she said, but Rachel can tell he is affected by what Jess said.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Steph and Rachel apologized to each other last book for hurting each other. The thing is that Rachel was more at fault and insulted Steph about her being out of touch with reality and called Allison a baby for trying to break up the fight. Even though they've all reconciled, Steph and Allison are noticeably distant from Rachel though Steph still confides in her about how she hates Rowena's flings. They start planning her class president campaign without telling her and then switch gears when she says she's not interested in running.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Fittingly, it's the guys that show this:
    • Jeremy cheats on Dana with Marcella again and breaks up with Dana for good over it. Later, he reveals that the whole time he was pining for Rachel while dating both of those girls but didn't know how to express it.
    • Implied by Charles when he tells Alison that he may be dating Dana, but perhaps Los Angeles is in his future. Rachel is not amused by that.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Zigzagged with Charles. Jess outright says at a family session with Dr. Ember that he is the problem in their family and says he's poisoning them with the stress he brings. Rachel notes that Charles is so rattled that his denial about not caring is Blatant Lies. While Charles is still annoying to Rachel, he signs a truce agreement with the family about not causing trouble for six weeks.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: At one point, Charles calls the family out for having incredibly high expectations of both themselves and each other and being so focused on being "perfect" that they pretend any problems they have aren't happening. He's actually completely right on both counts. Of course, as Rachel then is quick to point out, it's not like Charles making everyone miserable with these statements is actually helping, and the family doesn't know what Charles wants from them since he gets all the attention and energy.
  • Jerkass Realization: Maybe. Charles spends a long time trolling the family and driving them to their breaking points. Rachel then asks him what he wants from them, and he has no answer. A few days later, at at therapy, Jess gets revenge on him for calling her a potatohead. She tells Dr. Ember that Charles is the only problem in their family because he's a toxic human being and exhausting to live with, even temporarily. Charles doesn't react well to hearing that Jess does hate him that much, and he's hurt them all that badly. He then signs a truce that Dr. Ember sets up, without complaint.
  • Misery Builds Character: Jess is furious when she finds out her mother didn't tell her about Accutane, believing Jess learning to live with her acne would make her a stronger person. Her mother denies it but it's left ambiguous whether or not Jess was right.
  • Morality Pet: Dana for Charles, though ironically Dana becomes quite bitchy towards Rachel once she becomes her brother's girlfriend.
  • Never My Fault: When Rachel recalls the big fight that she had with Stephanie and Alison in the previous book, she doesn't remember her Kick the Dog moment towards Stephanie and calling Alison an "immature, insensitive baby".
  • No Ending: Rachel goes off to summer camp as Alison and Steph plan for Alison's student president campaign, and Charles is still being a butt-head towards his sisters. Though Rachel decides to take the bus and use pressure beads to avoid getting carsick, and she refuses to let Charles bully her anymore.
  • No Sympathy: Charles has none for his mother when she loses a court case and causes a huge family blowup.
  • Private Tutor: Paul, on whom Rachel has a crush.
  • Shout-Out: The title of the book is a play on a lyric from the Simon & Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson".
    "Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson."
  • The Shrink: The family acquires two during the book. First there's Dr. Sparks who evaluates Charles, and then there's a family therapist named Dr. Ember when Charles causes a big blowup at a family dinner after his mother loses a case. Dr. Ember has better success in getting Charles to sign a truce agreement that lasts for six weeks.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Averted. Though this book is ostensibly a look inside Rachel's head and her perspective on things that happened in Just As Long As We're Together as well as the present storyline, Rachel really comes across like a condescending jerk, particularly to her "friends". She constantly belittles Stephanie and Alison, scornfully commenting on how gullible the former is and how "dense" the latter is, refuses to participate in their conversations but then complains when they talk to each other instead of her, conveniently forgets the hurtful remarks she made to both Stephanie and Alison during their big fight in the first book and just generally talks down to her peers (except Jeremy) consistently.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • Rachel has a crush on Paul, Charles's tutor. He remains Oblivious to Love and doesn't reciprocate.
    • Rachel's cousin has an affair with an older professor, before getting together with Paul.
  • There Are No Therapists: Subverted. There are; The Robinsons take Charles to Dr. Sparks, a well-known psychologist of the time period, to get treatment for him acting out. Charles is not interested, so the therapy doesn't help. It takes Charles causing a blow-up, with his father losing his temper at him and Rachel saying he causes trouble for no reason later that night, for the family to try a new therapist, a family counselor. At first, Charles tries to bait Rachel when Dr. Ember asks her a few questions, but Jess shuts him up. She bluntly tells Dr. Ember that Charles is the problem with the family and being a living toxic human being, actually causing him to freeze up and have no response. Dr. Ember then succeeds in getting Charles to sign a truce so that neither of his siblings will hate him for the rest of their lives. Sometimes even a famous psychologist can do nothing unless a patient is willing to put in the work.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Dana from the previous book when she starts dating Charles, towards Rachel. Rachel is cordial if neutral about Charles being "a surprising person" and Dana calls her a bitch.
  • Troll: Charles pretty much does this constantly with his family.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Rachel's brother Charles has exhibited a lot of this his whole life, according to Rachel.