62 pages • 2 hours readSarah Dessen
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“I was never one for spontaneity, and the farther I got from my mom’s house, the more I started to consider the reality of a full summer of Heidi. Would there be group manicures for me, her, and the baby? [...] But I kept thinking of Hollis in front of the Taj Mahal, and how I’d found myself so bored all alone at home. Plus, I’d hardly seen my dad since he got married, and this—eight full weeks when he wasn’t teaching, and I wasn’t in school—seemed like my last chance to catch up with him before college, and real life, began.”
Auden’s spontaneous decision to visit her father is uncharacteristic, but it is the inciting incident to her journey. Her reflection shows her uneasiness but growing willingness to try new experiences and take chances. This section establishes themes of Auden’s character growth and taking advantage of chances that arise, including her later activities on her quest with Eli. Her “real life” begins not at college but with her adventures in the beach town with characters like her father, Heidi, Maggie, and Eli.
“I heard someone saying, ‘Shh, shh,’ before quickly being drowned out again. There was something so familiar about this, it was like a tug on my subconscious. When my parents had first started to fight at night, this had been part of what I’d repeated—shh, shh, everything’s all right—to myself again and again, as I tried to ignore them and fall asleep.”
Auden hears this comforting dialogue of “shh, shh” from Heidi as she rocks Thisbe in the pink nursery. The words are familiar, relating to Auden’s past conflicts regarding her parents’ divorce and the beginning of her insomnia, which are key aspects of her character. Auden repeats this line “shh, shh, everything’s all right” multiple times to comfort herself. This use of repetition and flashback establishes an integral part of Auden’s character from past to present, as well as links her to Heidi and her new half sister.
“[T]he events of the night came rushing back to me: my dad’s sharp tone, Jake’s easy smile, our fumbled, hurried connection behind the dunes, and how it suddenly all felt so weird and wrong, not like me at all. Maybe my mom could play the aloof, selfish bitch. But that was what I’d been doing: playing. Until the game was up. I was a smart girl. Why had I done something so stupid?”
Auden’s inner life and voice are shown as a strong example of dynamic
By Sarah Dessen