WARNING: this chapter will break your heart six ways and then spit on the pieces. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
We took a brief break from our Gangsey last chapter to hear about Whelk’s culinary woes, but now we’re back. But we don’t want to be back, because by “back” I mean Gansey is waiting for Adam outside the hospital and they’re about to have the granddaddy of all fights. Or, I guess it’s just a version of the same fight they’ve been having since they met, but still. It’s a particularly bad version.
The first thing Gansey says after hello is that the receptionist said Adam didn’t have insurance and Gansey covered it. 38 chapters ago I would have said “aw, what a good friend” but now I know that’s the worst thing Gansey could have told Adam. It needed to be said, though, and I’m glad Gansey is the way he is and paid for it no question. It’s just the world’s shittiest situation.
But Adam doesn’t get angry. All he says to Gansey is “you win,” because Adam thinks that the whole situation makes Gansey happy. Gansey’s response (telling Adam not to be shitty) is warranted, but Adam isn’t in the most rational place so he keeps telling Gansey to just say I told you so and get it over with. I love Adam, but sometimes he is so obtuse that I just want to take him aside for a chat about how he should maybe cut his friends some slack, but unfortunately I do not have that power.
He wouldn’t lie; he wanted Adam out of that house. But there had never been a part of him that wanted him hurt to accomplish that. There had never been a part of him that wanted Adam to have to run instead of march triumphantly out.
Then Gansey uses the word repugnant in his argument and Adam calls him out for trying to make him feel stupid with his big fancy words. Gansey’s response is horrible and I won’t repeat it, but as soon as he says it he knows he’s gone too far. Adam knows it, too, which is why he gets out of the car and starts to walk down the highway alone, towards God knows where.
Gansey has a moment of the most aggressive self-loathing I’ve ever seen written on the page, and once he’s done he starts the car. It’s time for that moment in Legally Blonde where Elle leaves the restaurant and her gross boyfriend (I can’t remember his name—Wormer, or something?) drives next to her and begs her to get back in the car. But this time, it’s Gansey and Adam and the Camaro and I want nothing more than for everything to work out.
And it does work out. Kind of.
Gansey thought of one hundred things he could say to Adam about how it would be all right…but Gansey’s words had somehow become unwitting weapons, and he didn’t trust himself not to accidentally discharge them again.
So they drove in silence to get Adam’s things and when they left the trailer park for the last time, his mother watching from behind the kitchen window, Adam didn’t look back.
Emphasis on the kind of.
Thoughts and Feelings:
I mean. Come on. This chapter was six emotionally devastating pages and I really don’t think I ever want to read them again, but I have to go back and find my good character moment and my turn of phrase, but I don’t want to.
I can’t even pull what I did last time and say “this is so well written” because while it is, it’s just Gansey hating everything about himself, which is isn’t a novel idea. Every young adult character hates themselves, and most are very dramatic about it. What makes this particularly hard to read is that we’ve seen from Blue’s perspective and from Adam’s, and we know that some of the things Gansey is thinking are accurate. Everything that he thinks about himself, Blue and Adam have thought at some point in the previous 366 pages.
But, the last time we saw Adam, he was talking to Ronan about how devastated he would have been if Whelk had pulled the trigger. We’re literally watching Blue fall in love with Gansey bit by bit as he reveals himself to her. And that’s why it sucks to hear Gansey feel so hopelessly alone. The end.
Best Character Moment:
In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.
They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed to be able to walk away from them.
Best Turn of Phrase:
But then he stopped. He dropped his head into his hands. His thumbs worked through the hair above his ears, over and over, the knuckles white. When he sucked in his breath, it was the ragged sound that came from trying not to cry.
Action: There’s a lot of emotional action, if that counts. 6/10
Magic: Absolutely no magic! None!!! 2/10
Comic Relief: This was the least funny chapter I’ve ever read. 0/10
P.S. I just want to pop in to say that the ratings are bad because the criteria I’m grading on were not made for chapters like this. It is a good chapter! It is absolutely vital to the trajectory of the book and the arc of its characters. It’s just, I don’t know, neither magical nor funny.