When reading this chapter, I was thinking a lot about penultimate episodes of television shows. These usually go two ways: they are quieter, setting up the action for the final, shocking reveal of the season or they themselves shock the viewer, leaving the final episode for conclusions, reflections, and new directions. I’m not saying that the next chapter is quiet by any means (it is, instead, my favorite of the series), but I do think that this one does more in pushing the plot along. Something big happens with each journal entry: Gladdie dies, Jessica and Marcus make out in the bathroom at her wake, Gladdie’s (not so) secret fortune is revealed, allowing Jessica to go to Columbia, Percy and Bridget’s relationship is revealed, as our Marcus’s feelings for Jessica, the voice behind the Pineville Low is outed, and little Marin is born. Yeesh! Think about watching all of that action in one episode of television.
To me, the most important thing that happens in this chapter is Bridget’s conversation with Jessica, when she tells her that she’s too focused on her world view, and she often misses events or motivations that may fall outside of it. Consider the wake: Jessica only thinks that her dad and MO are mourning properly because they are mourning they way she would. Her mom probably thinks that she is doing her dad a favor, paying the respects he should be paying. Bethany probably is sad that Gladdie will never meet her baby. But Jessica can only process these events through her own emotions. Even more telling is her post-make-out conversation with Marcus — because she decided he was the Game Master, she can’t understand what his motives are outside of that. It’s important that Jessica realizes this about herself, so she can start opening herself about to the changes ahead.
What I would text Emily about in this chapter if we weren’t writing this blog:
Dads and daughters! I love their conversation in the car
When did you first suspect Percy and Bridget in your first read through? I wondered if it would happen at Anti-Homecoming and thought it was when they go to Jess’s room post-break-up with Len.
I LOVE Jess’s freak out and Marcus’s smooth exit from the bathroom
If you liked that, try this:
If you were moved by Jess’s exploration of death and loss and are interested in more books about teenagers and how death affects relationships, how relationships affect death, I would recommend Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, which is fantastic and funny and sharp. There is much, much more happening in the novel, but I think that the titular character’s death really colors all of it. It is separated into three small books, which is cute. And it takes place at a boarding school! My fave.