Warning: this chapter is very small and very soft and very emotionally devastating. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We start off with Blue going back to her house to do her homework under the beech tree. I’m not sure if this is because I just read a chapter about Neeve driving Whelk to the woods to get straight up murdered, but I’m feeling a sense of urgency that Blue is just not in tune with. The ley line is waking up, girl! What possible reason could you give for doing your homework right now?
Of course, she doesn’t actually get any homework done, because she’s thinking about her boys and their many problems. And then, guess who shows up? One of her boys and all of his problems.
In a very sweet and underrated moment, Adam comes to Blue for whatever comfort she’s able to give.
Blue thought about saying, I’m so sorry about your dad, but instead she just stretched out a hand towards him. Adam gave an unsteady sigh of the sort that she could see from two meters away. Wordlessly, he sat beside her and then laid his head on her lap, his face in his arms.
Blue is a little startled at first, but she eventually leans into the moment and starts to pet his hair. Both of them are content but nervous and a little bit sad, which is a complicated basket of emotions they don’t quite know how to deal with. Blue mentions that Adam’s hair is the color of dirt (weird descriptor, but okay), and then they have a nice moment where Adam tries to be self-pitying but Blue reminds him that they’re both from rural Virginia and neither of them have very much money, so he should stop acting like she doesn’t know what’s it’s like to feel poor around rich people.
Adam kind of ruins the moment by telling Blue that he really wants to kiss her. I’m going to give him a pass on this one, because he doesn’t know about Blue’s whole kissing thing, but it’s hard to read anyways. It’s also the moment that their relationship stars to be doomed, which is sad but also inevitable. We know starting during the prologue that Blue is going to kiss Gansey to death, and that means she can’t be in love with Adam, you know?
“I don’t want to hurt you,” she said.
He pulled himself free of her, sitting just a few centimeters away. His expression was bleak, nothing like when he’s wanted to kiss her before. “I’m already all hurt up.”
Blue didn’t think this was really about kissing her, and that made her cheeks burn. It wasn’t supposed to be a kiss at all, but if it had, it definitely shouldn’t be like this. She said, “there’s still worse than what you’ve got.”
Adam then says he can’t remember what Maura told him to do at the reading, but Blue remembers and so do we: make a third choice. And, also, he should bring a notebook so he can compare what happens with what the psychic said would happen. Just to know what kind of Yelp review to leave (but, for the women of Fox Way, Blue reminds him that no Yelp review is necessary. They’re very good at their job and they know it).
The advice she gives him on what to do is very sweet (“keep being brave”), but it leads directly into a dream sequence where it’s finally revealed what Adam’s scary tree vision was. Basically, Gansey’s on the ground covered in blood and it’s Adam’s fault. The repercussions are that Ronan tells him it’s his fault, and Blue is horrified that he could do something like that. I was reading this part I was kinda like, yeah, and? At least Blue kissing Gansey had some narrative setup and complicated emotional weight. As scary tree visions go, this was pretty basic.
As much as I’m underwhelmed by the mechanics of getting him to this point, the dream and the fact that Adam is sleeping in Noah’s room and not his own leads him to the decision that he’s the one who has to wake up the ley line.
He was full of so many wants, too many to prioritize, and so they all felt desperate. To not have to work so many hours, to get into a good college, to look right in a tie, to not still be hungry after eating the thin sandwich he’d brought to work, to drive the shiny Audi that Gansey has stopped to look at with him once after school, to go home, to have hit his father himself, to own an apartment with granite worktops and a television bigger than Gansey’s desk, to belong somewhere, to go home, to go home, to go home.
The only notes I have for this section are “I’m just” and “oof,” so I think you all know how it goes. Adam is hurt and scared and he needs that favor, but he also needs his friends to be safe. Instead of explaining this to them, he sneaks out.
He also brings the gun he took from his father’s house, and the reasoning for him having it is a little shaky? He’s like, “my dad can’t have it anymore” to which I’m like, maybe you should talk to the police about that? If you tell them he’s been threatening you with a gun shouldn’t they take said gun away when the man is arrested? But I’m not totally sure, everything I know about policework comes from Law & Order SVU.
All that’s to say that Adam puts the gun and anything else he might need in a duffle bag, has a scary run-in with an especially ghosty Noah, makes sure Gansey is asleep, and then bounces. See you next time for the probably ancient and definitely dangerous ritual!
Thoughts and Feelings:
So here’s the thing. This chapter gave me whiplash. I’m not saying it should’ve been two chapters (because that’s more work for me), but I am saying that the break in the middle that takes us from a nice Blue and Adam beech tree moment to an emo Adam not ~betraying~ his friends per se, but definitely leaving them out of an important and life changing decision that is going to emotionally damage everyone involved. Basically, it gave me a variety pack of feelings that did not fit together.
The first part was a very complicated romantic moment that’s definitely the beginning of the end for Blue and Adam. I can kind of understand why Blue was able to tell Gansey about the murderkiss situation—kissing isn’t even on the table with Gansey, yet, so the words “true love” just don’t carry the same weight—but I feel like, at this point in the relationship, it’s something that she should bring up.
Except for the fact that Adam, at this very moment, is “all hurt up.” Blue gives him good advice and tries her best to help him, but Adam really needs to deal with his own shit right now. And this is where the end of the chapter comes in: Adam’s healing process involves maybe betraying his friends by performing a dangerous ritual. Whatever happens, I think we all get the feeling Adam will be permanently changed, and then the sweet boy from Blue’s side of the tracks could be almost gone.
Writing these summaries forces me to really concentrate on what the characters are thinking and doing and what it means for the overall narrative, so I have more understanding for Adam now than I did the first time I read this part of the book. With that said, however, I still think it’s a dumb decision. I totally understand why he thought it was the only one he could make. It doesn’t mean it’s not dumb.
Best Character Moment:
“Your hair is the color of dirt,” she said.
“It knows where it came from.”
“That’s funny,” Blue noted, “because then mine should be that color, too.”
Best Turn of Phrase:
Noah stood directly in front of him, hollow eyes on level with Adam’s eyes, smashed cheek on level with Adam’s ruined ear, breathless mouth inches from Adam’s sucked-in breath.
Without Blue there to make him stronger, without Gansey there to make him human, without Ronan there to make him belong, Noah was a frightening thing.
Action: Two vibes, one life-altering decision, a lot of fraught conversations. Steifvater is out here making moves. 9/10
Magic: I guess Blue telling Adam her mom is a bang-up psychic is like a magical five-star review, but other than that I got nothing. 5/10
Comic Relief: No jokes to report. Just angst. But we are at the point in the novel where that’s what I’d expect, so, I’ll give this chapter a pass. 5/10