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Isabel and Nicki: My Journal Recap + Review (With Spoilers)

I finished reading Isabel and Nicki's journals! Here's the recap and review.


Since both journals have the same overarching storyline, I will recap them in the same post!



The story starts on the last night of Hanukkah, December 11, 1999. Isabel and Nicki are nine years old when they get their very own journals as gifts for the last night. They start by talking about their friends. Nicki is rather quiet and doesn't have friends other than Isabel, but Isabel has many friends, who she likes to dance to the Spice Girls with. Their mom Robin works at a technology company and loves books, while their dad Dave owns a coffee shop called Coffeegarden and used to play guitar in a grunge band, and they just got 2 pets- a cat named Buffy and a dog named Blossom.


The main plot begins when Nicki worries about Y2K coming and causing a huge disaster, while Isabel is careless to the situation, instead trying to focus on the city's New Year's Eve Millennium celebration. To keep Nicki's mind off of any potential disasters, the twins come up with a Y2K Countdown List of ten things to do before the new year comes.

  1. Conquer a Fear

  2. Perform an Act of Kindness

  3. Get Organized

  4. Do Something People Don't Think I Can Do

  5. Make A New Friend

  6. Dance Like It's 1999

  7. Try Something New

  8. Love Your Look

  9. Write A Letter to Your Future Self

  10. Make A Memory to Last Forever

The next day, Isabel's friends come over, and Isabel wants to play Spice Girls. Isabel asks Nicki to play Sporty Spice, and Nicki is annoyed and leaves. After Nicki leaves, Isabel's friends admit to her that her dance choreography isn't good enough, and one friend, Quinn, tells Isabel she doesn't want to play Spice Girls anymore since she likes NSYNC more. Meanwhile, Nicki escapes to the park, where she meets a female skateboarder named Ari and becomes friends with her, her older brother Adam, and his friends. Nicki tries a ollie in front of them, falls over, but is still encouraged by her new friends, and Ari offers to teach Nicki how to make zines. Nicki happily crosses out "Conquer a Fear" and "Make A New Friend", but Isabel is upset that Nicki started the list without her.


The next day, Isabel sees her friends again, only to see Cammy, an advanced dancer, at dance practice. She shows Isabel's friends an advanced routine and dares Isabel's friend Tori to go through her closet and make an ugly outfit. After, Nicki tells Isabel that she wants to skate in front of people at the Millennium Celebration, and Isabel doesn't believe she will do it.


While Nicki makes her first zine with Ari, Isabel is kicked out of her dance group with her friends. She is told that Cammy said she isn't a good dancer. Isabel gets upset, but copes by redecorating her room in all pink, which gets Nicki mad. While Nicki fixes her room a bit, Isabel walks Blossom and meets a girl named Kat, who's grandma owns a shop called V's Vintage. It starts to rain, so Isabel and Kat go inside, and Isabel has fun at the vintage store. Isabel crosses off "Make a New Friend" and "Try Something New" off her list.


Nicki still won't talk to Isabel after the bedroom argument, so she goes to the skate park to spy on her, only to meet a girl named Olivia who asks her if she wants to play tennis with her. Olivia teaches Isabel how to play tennis, and while Isabel isn't good at first, Olivia's encouragement inspires Isabel to keep going. Isabel has fun and crosses off "Do Something People Don't Think I Can Do". Afterward, Nicki's dad hears her playing the band No Doubt in her headphones, and starts to sing along, and the two bond more over their shared love of music, while Isabel deals with a rollercoaster of a day, having Pizza Hut with Kat, who's brother works there, but then running into her old friends and being made fun of by Cammy.


On December 20, Isabel's teacher asks for his students to get into groups, and Isabel's old friends get into a group of 3 while Isabel is put with a random partner. Isabel gets upset and freaks out in the hallway, but Nicki notices, hugs her sister, and calms her down, even helping her relax when she comes home and going out to skate to give Isabel some alone time. But while Nicki skates, she sprains and twists her ankle after trying to land her ollie, landing her in crutches for a week. Nicki feels like a failure since she was preparing to skate at the millennium celebration and show that girls can be skaters too, but Isabel comforts her like Nicki did for her earlier. Kat gives Isabel magazines to help Nicki get her mind off of it, and Nicki is inspired to dye her hair with temporary streaks of purple after being inspired by the collages. After, Nicki helps Isabel organize and clean her room after admitting their room needs an update.


On the last day of school before winter break, Nicki meets Jessica, a fifth grader who uses a wheelchair, in the school elevator. Jessica tells Nicki she does tricks in her wheelchair, and proceeds to show her a wheelie. Nicki invites her to the skate spot, and is happy she made another new friend. Meanwhile, Isabel builds her and Nicki's new beds at Kat's house, and on Christmas Eve, Nicki and Isabel go caroling with Kat, have hot chocolate at Coffeegarden, and bake cookies while their parents prepare their room to be revealed on Christmas. Nicki is thrilled with the new room, and the next day, the twins explore Seattle with their parents. Nicki is thrilled to find zines at the bookstore, Isabel conquers a fear by going to the top of the Space Needle, and Nicki tries something new, tries sushi for the first time, and enjoys it.


When Nicki is free from using crutches, she goes to the skate spot and meets her friends. Nicki expresses her disappointment she can't skate at the Millennium Celebration, but her friends tell her that injuries are a part of skateboarding, which cheers her up. After skateboarding, Nicki and her friends hang out, and Nicki shows her friends her Girl Power zine. Isabel is there too and finally confronts Cammy, standing up for herself.


Isabel and Nicki go to the skate park the next day, and while Isabel plays tennis with Olivia, Nicki is saddened to find out that the mayor cancelled the Millennium Celebration because of fears of Y2K. Nicki tells Isabel the news, and then they go home. After worrying a bit, Nicki and Isabel come up with the idea to throw a New Year's party at Coffeegarden. Nicki makes flyers to invite people, and the night before the party, Isabel and Nicki have a dance party by themselves to check off Dance Like It's 1999 on their list.


At the party, Isabel's old friends show up, felling bad they let Cammy kick her out of their group. Everyone dances together, Dad sings the song lyrics Nicki wrote and... Y2K didn't happen and the world didn't end. Happy New Year.


MY REVIEW

The recap took a heavier word count than usual because of the intertwined nature of the journals, but writing the recap finally allowed me to experience the story in it's full glory. When I was reading Nicki's journal, it felt like something was missing. When I was reading Isabel's journal, it felt like something was missing. When I finally pieced the story together after 2 long hours of blogging, I took a sigh of relief. "I finally figured it out!", I thought.


It's hard for me to judge the journals individually. They were written well and fleshed out each character, but because a lot of each character's motivations and situations depend on the other character who's perspective isn't fleshed out in their sister's story, the whole thing cannot be judged individually.


This is a problem with doing the journal format for this kind of doll concept. While the story is really cute together, separately it lacks some sort of depth. Isabel trying tennis could not have happened without Nicki meeting her friends at the skate park. Nicki's room makeover surprise could not have happened without Isabel vowing to make amends with her sister.


It worked with Kavi, but unless you are willing to read both journals side-to-side and then read this blog post afterward to clarify the timeline, I'd suggest you wait until Meet Isabel and Nicki come out in August to experience this story.


The story's great, though, and so is each character.



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kanani-stan
kanani-stan
Mar 10, 2023

Could you please tell me the ISBN numbers for the journals if it's not too much trouble? I can't find them anywhere and don't have them myself because they're only available with the dolls!

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Anyone else find it a little strange to call these dolls "90s" dolls if their story starts in Dec 1999? That only gives them one month in the 90s.

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Wow. My childhood.

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I wonder if AG told Jen and Julia to write their journals like that so people would have to buy both dolls to get the whole story until the book comes out... 🤔

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Replying to

Also, is "Meet Isabel and Nicki" the only book we'll get for them apart from the journals?

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I'm puzzled by why they live in Seattle. Seattle has a very small Jewish population. Why not Chicago with a population and the flagship store?

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Freyja
Freyja
Feb 27, 2023
Replying to

It's not a YouTube video, you can name them here. Nobody will think they're sponsoring you😉. Starbucks, sure but I have no idea where are you going with that tech company. There's a ton of big tech companies from Seattle, but I don't think that most of them are very well-known to a casual person that's not in the IT business. Dell is popular but would you really wrote about them that they "REALLY took off..."? If you were thinking about Microsoft - it's not their birthplace. They were created in Albuquerque, moved to Bellevue and then to Redmond. I'm pretty sure that's the company you had in mind but your post has generated a lot of confusion in my…


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