Tessa’s identity shift over the course of the novel reflects a common theme for college freshman who leave home for the first time. Eager to experience the new world of college and independence, many students, like Tessa, are apt to try new things and make decisions that are out of character. Tessa begins college confident in her choice of major and academic abilities. She meticulously planned for her future alongside her mother, so the only thing she worries about is making friends. Perhaps her need for friendship and acceptance drives her out-of-character decisions to attend parties, drink, and spend time with Steph’s friends, whom she knows don’t share her values.
Despite warnings from Noah, her mother, and her conscience, Tessa continues making uncharacteristic choices that lead to extensive changes in her life and identity. For example, she cheats on Noah several times, and she does not change her behavior even when Noah gives her a second chance. When she moves in with Hardin, she ignores the voice in her head warning her that she’s too young to move in with someone, had always planned to be married before living with a man, and has only known Hardin for a few months.
By Anna Todd