60 pages • 2 hours readEmma Straub
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Chapter Summaries & Analyses
Astrid Strick’s life changes when her acquaintance Barbara Baker is struck by a speeding school bus and killed. Though Astrid knew Barbara for 40 years, she never liked her. Still, Barbara’s death is a shock. The day Barbara is killed, Astrid is prepping for the arrival of her granddaughter Cecelia. At around 11:00am, Astrid is in her car in the town center. She spots Barbara standing on the sidewalk outside her car, then stepping into the street. Astrid watches Barbara get hit by the bus. Astrid joins the other passers-by around Barbara’s dead body. Her hairdresser Birdie escorts her away. Astrid is thankful to hear that there were no children on the school bus. In the hairdresser’s, Astrid is in shock. Birdie takes her into the wax room to help her relax. They kiss. Astrid decides that at age 68 and as a widow, she must live her life to the fullest.
Cecelia is 13 years old and is on leave from school, a subtle type of unofficial expulsion. It was her idea to move in with her grandmother, though she had been joking. Even so, her parents decided it was a good idea and are accompanying her to the Amtrak.
By Emma Straub