Hello, and welcome back to the series where a teenage girl spends her time getting emotionally devastated by a young adult novel and decides to give other people the same opportunity.
But first, comedy: enter Helen. We love Helen. Helen is Gansey, minus the testosterone and a lot of the rich white guilt. Also minus the great friends and the magical quest, but she does have the decidedly nonmagical quest of figuring out when her mother’s birthday is and buying her a gift, which is also an important journey because moms deserve the world. And that’s how we meet the Gansey siblings.
Gansey siblings were a rare and complicated species, and they didn’t have to pretend to be something they weren’t around each other.
But Gansey wants to hang up the phone, because he’s driving into Adam’s neighborhood to pick him up for the reading. Adam doesn’t live in a trailer park, per se, because all of the homes are double-wides. But it’s still dusty, and colorless, and as he drives into it Gansey is struck by how much money has influenced everything about him, even his perception of the world. He thought it had always been beautiful. He didn’t realize you had to pay for it.
There is no spring here, Gansey realized, and the thought was unexpectedly grim.
Adam’s mother tells Gansey Adam’s out back, and then closes the door in his face. He found Adam underneath an old car, pretending to work so he didn’t have to be inside. Gansey then says “hey, tiger,” and at first I was like, um, what? And then I was like, aww. It’s sweet but not something I can ever picture Gansey saying out loud.
Adam doesn’t come out from under the car, and we all know what that means. It was bad, this time, and so Gansey makes a little bit of small talk before saying that he has to come out of the car eventually, and the waiting is only going to make it worse. He’s wrong, though, and he finds this out when Adam emerges and the bruises are on his face.
I want to preface this by saying that I’m having a really hard time summarizing this, because Adam’s situation is incredibly hard and the argument he’s having with Gansey is nuanced and complicated. They’re both immature and far too insecure about their own issues to understand where the other is coming from. So here I am, trying my best:
Gansey wants Adam to come live at Monmouth. Adam knows that he can’t. If he accepts Gansey’s help, then any freedom he gets will be a gift, and not something he earns. Any way I spin it would come with me taking a side, and I don’t want to do that. So, to put it as objectively as possible: Gansey doesn’t want Adam to go through anything alone. Adam’s been going through his abuse alone for years, and he doesn’t know how to do it any other way.
Success meant nothing to Adam if he hadn’t done it for himself.
The fight escalates and we think it’s going to end with Gansey driving away, trying not to watch Adam disappear in his rearview mirror. Instead, Adam leans in the window and both of them acknowledge the other’s argument.
Adam looked at Gansey. There wss something fierce and chilling in his eyes, an unnamable something that Gansey was always afraid would take over completely. This, he knew, was a compromise, a risky gift that he could choose to reject.
After a moment’s hesitation, Gansey bumped knuckles with him over the gearshift. Adam rolled down the window and gripped the roof as if he needed to hold on.
The triumph of temporary truce is ruined when, on the way out, Robert Parrish drives by. I’m going to let Stiefvater take this description, because I don’t want to have to rewrite it.
Robert Parrish was a big thing, colorless as August, grown from the dust that surrounded the trailers. His eyes were dark and small and Gansey could see nothing of Adam in them.
Robert Parrish spat out of the window. He didn’t pull over for them to pass. Adam’s face was turned out to the cornfield, but Gansey didn’t look away.
“You don’t have to come,” Gansey said, because he had to say it.
Adam’s voice came from far away. “I’m coming.”
And they drive away from Adam’s house, to hear their future.
Thoughts and Feelings:
I want to start with the nice things about this chapter. Like the fact that we have more nicknames to add to the list, thanks to Helen. With Gansey as Hollywood, Adam as Trailer Park Boy, and Ronan as “the mean one” or Captain Frigid, why would we even call them by their real names? Personally I think Blue has more of a knack for the whole nicknaming thing, but I do want to thank Helen for trying.
Other than that, I don’t know what to say. This chapter is devastating. It’s written with this beautiful attention to language interspersed with dialogue that can completely gut you, and if I’m being honest my thoughts and feelings can just be summed up into anger and helplessness. I assume that’s how Stiefvater wanted me to feel, and she’s done a great job. Kudos, but also, screw you.
Best character moment:
Adam closed his eyes for a minute. Gansey could see his irises moving underneath the thin skin of his eyelids, a dreamer awake.
And then, in one easy moment, he’d slid into the passenger’s seat.
Best turn of phrase:
red and swelling as a galaxy
Action: A lot of milling around a backyard and a healthy dose of emotional pain, wrapped up in a beautifully written package. 7/10
Magic: There was absolutely no magic at all. Not even the bad kind. 0/10
Comic relief: Helen was there for a little bit, and there was a dog that loved Adam almost as much as I do, which wasn’t comedy but it was certainly a relief from the heartache. 5/10