I think this is the toughest chapter to read in this whole book. And it’s not because it’s full of big words or it’s really boring, because we’ve already read those chapters. This one deals with Adam and his father and I want to put a little disclaimer up here saying that this summary, while it will search for the little moments of friendship between the characters that aren’t human garbage dumps, it will not be fun or lighthearted. So with that out of the way, here is Chapter Thirty-Six.
Before they go stop Barrington Whelk, Adam Parrish needs to go home. He has to ask Ronan to drive him, which he hates, because Ronan doesn’t let him talk circles around his situation like Gansey might. Ronan makes damn sure Adam knows that he doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him and he needs to leave.
The two of them try to banter about the Latin homework (get it? Their teacher just tried to kill their best friend, it’s funny) but it doesn’t really work. Adam’s father is silhouetted against the window, and they know that as much as Adam can’t go home, he won’t go anywhere else, either. We’re reminded, too, that Adam’s in a particularly emotional state when he talks about what would have happened if Whelk had shot Gansey.
It was hard to remember what life at Aglionby had been like before Gansey. The distant memories seemed difficult, lonely, more populated with late nights where Adam sat on the steps of the double-wide, blinking tears out of his eyes and wondering why he bothered.
But Gansey isn’t dead, and Adam’s life won’t return to that bleak place. Except for the fact that he is, of course, going home to his father. And it turns out that Robert Parrish found one of Adam’s pay stubs, and subsequently accused him of lying about how much money he made. Instead of listening to Adam, he hit him.
But Ronan never fully pulled out of the driveway, and while Adam is trying to think of a way to diffuse the situation Ronan comes in to punch Robert Parrish in the face. The fight is quick and dirty, but seen through Adam’s perspective it’s all spinning sky and dizzy fragments. Eventually the cops arrive start to put Ronan into cuffs so they can take him back to the station. Adam can’t let Ronan be taken back to the station, and he can’t go back to the trailer.
Even with his eyes closed, he felt like he was falling, like the horizon pitched, like his head tilted. Adam had the sick feeling that his father had managed to knock something crucial askew.
And then he said what he couldn’t say before. He asked, “Can I… can I press charges?”
And that’s the end of the chapter.
Thoughts and Feelings:
Every time one of these chapters comes up I’m struck by the fact that the language used to describe Adam’s pain and abuse is so beautiful. I never thought I could look at a written description of someone’s head hitting concrete and marvel at the power of simile. Pain is one of those things that’s impossible to describe unless you experience it. When you’re telling someone else about pain you can quantify it on a scale of one to ten, or relate it to some well-known injury like stabbing or throbbing, but more often than not we throw around words like “unbearable” or “unimaginable.”
If we wrote about pain the way we wrote about love, I wouldn’t be so floored at the language in this chapter. There would be fifty million ways to describe a toothache and fifty million more to describe a cavity. Love is an abstract concept we’ve beaten bloody with dialogues and declarations. But here, Steifvater treats pain the same way she treats love. She describes them with the same care and attention to detail.
And I love this chapter. I hate what it does to Adam, but then again I’m so proud of where he ends up, and I’m so enamored with the language that takes him there.
Also, shoutout Ronan. He just needs a little love and I thought I’d put it down at the end here so nobody forgets how amazing and important he is ❤
Best Character Moment:
Adam couldn’t move in with Gansey. He had done so much to make sure that when he moved out, it would be on his own terms. Not Robert Parrish’s. Not Richard Gansey’s.
On Adam Parrish’s terms, or not at all.
Best Turn of Phrase:
When the side of Adam’s head hit the railing, it was a catastrophe of light. He was aware in a single, exploded moment of how many colors combined to make white.
Action: Adam moving out is the best action any of us could have hoped for. 10/10
Magic: There was no magic in this chapter, so I’m forced to give it a low rating even though it didn’t need magic because this storyline has nothing to do with the magical plot elements. At least, not yet. 2/10
Comic Relief: All of the humor was the weirdly unsatisfying morbid humor that Ronan projects at all times and makes me kinda sad. 5/10