Theodore Finch, or Finch, doesn’t remember how he got there. He is at school, standing on a ledge six stories high. Violet Something, the girl who dates Ryan Cross and is friends with Amanda Monk, is on the ledge nearby, shaking. Finch moves toward her, talking quietly, giving her instructions for how to safely get down. Meanwhile, he yells so the crowd can hear him, “Don’t save me! You’ll kill yourself!”
With Violet now safe, Finch imagines stepping off, and sailing past Amanda who watches from below. He hears one of his classmates, Gabe Romero, or Roamer, yell up at him, “Get it over with, freak,” and sees Mr. Embry, his counselor, looking up.
Violet helps Finch over the wall. He asks her if she thinks a perfect day is possible. She doesn’t know, she’s never had one. She thanks “Theodore Finch,” and kisses him on the cheek. She warns Finch she will kill him if he tells anyone what really happened, then hurries away.
Charlie Donahue, Finch’s best friend, has come through the tower door. He’s concerned, but Finch tells Charlie that everyone has to die someday.
Finch, who is on probation this year “due to a small matter involving a desk and a chalkboard,” meets with Mr. Embry, or Embryo as Finch calls him, in the counseling office. They discuss what happened and where Finch has been for the last five weeks. Finch does not admit that Kate, his older sister, has been covering for him while he’s been in “a long, dark sleep.” Embryo tells Finch his door is always open to talk. Finch thanks him, relieved that Embryo never mentioned Violet.
Violet Markey has her twelfth meeting with Mrs. Marion Kresney, the school counselor. Violet’s nightmares had started a month after her sister Eleanor’s car accident, so Mrs. Kresney always begins by asking about sleep. They discuss college applications and writing, and the website that Eleanor and Violet had started. Violet doesn’t want to talk about it. For her, words died at the moment of the accident.
Mrs. Kresney probes Violet about resuming regular activities. Violet’s three magic words are, “I’m not ready.” When Mrs. Kresney tells her that she must remember that she’s a survivor, Violet abruptly walks out.
On the way to class, people tell Violet how brave she was to save Theodore Finch from killing himself. Finch is a Bartlett High School legend, hated by some, worshipped by others. He does the opposite of what Anna Faris said one must do to survive high school, “lay low.”
In Russian Literature, Mrs. Mahone describes a class writing assignment. But Violet has “Extenuating Circumstances” and isn’t paying attention. She has a headache, most likely from wearing Eleanor’s glasses. Emily Ward passes Violet a note from Ryan Cross, Violet’s on and off boyfriend. He asks if Violet saved Finch from killing himself. She replies, “I just happened to be there.”
After class, Ryan waits in the hall to talk to Violet. Theodore Finch nods at Violet as he passes.
As Finch walks to U.S. Geography, he overhears people talking. Violet Markey saved Theodore Finch from jumping off the bell tower. Apparently, the news has swept through the school.
Violet, late for class, fumbles and drops her arm full of books. Finch, to draw attention away from her, knocks one of his own books on the floor, then topples his chair over. As he rights himself, he smiles at Violet. She smiles back.
After Mr. Black explains the “Wander Indiana” project, Finch announces that he chooses Violet for his partner. When Violet uses her three magic words to try to get out of the project, Mr. Black tells her “it’s time to get back on the camel.” It is then that Finch remembers the accident.
After class, Gabe Romero, or Roamer, blocks Finch in the hallway, waiting to pick a fight. Amanda, Joe Wyatt, and Ryan are there. Finch, who feels a familiar anger from a past encounter with Roamer, counts to sixty, determined not to get detention.
After school, Finch can’t explain to his best friends, Charlie and Brenda Shank-Kravitz, where he has been or that he was Asleep. He appreciates that they don’t require an explanation. In the distance, he sees Violet, who had smiled at Theodore Freak, Resident Aberration.
Once home, Finch writes about suicide by jumping. Search results for Violet Markey lead Finch to EleanorandViolet.com, and a news article describing the car accident that killed Eleanor, her sister. Finch creates a Facebook account and sends Violet a friend request.
After dinner with his mom and eight-year old sister, Decca, Finch finds that Violet has accepted his friend request. As they message back and forth, Finch imagines her smiling. He makes up a tune and lyrics on his guitar. Today it is good to be Awake.
For Finch, life is already full of too many rules. He lists three guidelines for the class wandering project to send to Violet: no phones, alternate choosing where to go, leave something at each site.
Violet goes to Amanda Monk’s house, surprised to find a party in full swing. She passes Joe Wyatt, Roamer, and Troy Satterfield on her way to finding Amanda and Suze Haines in the basement. They ask about the incident on the ledge. She tells them she was glad she was there. Roamer asks her why she was on the ledge. Violet says that she saw Finch and followed him.
Feeling sick, Violet leaves the party. She texts an apology to Amanda and runs into Ryan Cross. He picks her up, twirls her, and tries to kiss her, but she turns away. She remembers their first kiss. She tells him she’s sick and has to go home.
In her bedroom, Violet marks her calendar with a black X to cross off the day. Violet loves her room because it is here that she can be whatever she wants to be. Lately, she’s been doing a lot of reading, mostly the Brontë sisters.
Violet discovers a video Finch has posted on her Facebook wall, clearly addressed to her. In it, he sings a song about a boy jumping from a roof. At the end of the song, he looks into the camera at Violet: “Violet Markey, if you’re watching this, you must still be alive. Please confirm.” Yesterday, Violet thinks, must be a bad dream. She private messages Finch, demanding he remove the video. Violet makes Finch promise that if he comes over tonight he will “drop it once and for all?” Finch agrees, but before Violet can take it back, Finch has logged off.
As Finch drives the Little Bastard, his mom’s car, to Violet’s house, he recalls the poetry of Cesare Pavese. He speeds up, his car lands half-way in a ditch, and he’s still alive.
Finch finds Violet sitting on her front step. She says she’s fine and doesn’t need to talk. They take a walk, and Finch brings up the incident on the ledge. Violet insists she’s not suicidal. That day on the ledge would have been her sisters nineteenth birthday. Violet confesses that nothing much matters anymore. “It’s all just time filler until we die.” Finch points out that Violet didn’t jump. Something must matter.
Violet asks Finch why people call him Theodore Freak. He hesitates to answer as he decides which version of the truth to tell.
Back at Violet’s house, she tells Finch she wants to go to sleep. He thinks to himself, “I wouldn’t ever sleep if I didn’t have to.” Then Violet reveals that she picked the lock that day at the tower. Finch whistles, telling her “There’s more to you than meets the eye.”
On his nightly run, Finch takes a different route home, over the A Street Bridge. He sees the hole in the guardrail and the cross beside it. He climbs down the embankment where he finds remnants of Eleanor’s car. He takes the license plate with him. “This time, I will stay awake,” he thinks. He runs home.
Violet has received a notice from the web hosting company that her domain name, EleanorandViolet.com, is about to expire. She sorts through the folders of notes and ideas she and Eleanor had been working on and briefly considers turning the site into one for writers. But then she deletes the notes and the hosting company email and empties the trash on her computer. The email is gone forever, just like Eleanor.
Sunday evening Finch, his older sister Kate, and his younger sister Decca attend the Weekly Obligatory Family Dinner at the home their father, Ted, a former professional hockey player, shares with his second wife Rosemarie, and her son Josh Raymond. Thanks to Kate, Finch’s dad thinks that Finch has been at a six-week study-away program and has no idea about his troubles at school.
During dinner, Finch goads his dad, with whom he has a troubled relationship, by telling him that he doesn’t eat red meat. “80’s Finch” explains it in terms of different ways to die: you can either jump off a roof or poison yourself with meat.
Back home, Kate bemoans how stupid it all is: Sunday dinners, pretending like everything’s fine with their screwed up lives. Finch asks her what she knows about Eleanor Markey.
In his bedroom, Finch stubs out the cigarette he’s grabbed, breaks the others in half, and throws them away. On his computer, he writes about suicide by poison, and then finds sleeping pills in his medicine cabinet and lines them up on his desk.
On Violet’s Facebook page, someone has posted about how she was a hero for saving him. Finch sends a private message to Violet, quoting Virginia Woolf. While waiting for a reply, he adds notes to the wall of his room, where he tracks his thoughts. Eventually, Violet responds, and they exchange Woolf quotes. Then Violet sends Finch her rules for the class project: no driving, no travel in bad weather. They agree to write about their wandering.
Finch flushes the sleeping pills down the toilet and finally falls asleep, into a nightmare on the ledge.
Violet arrives at her first period class. The Bartlett Dirt, “the school gossip rag,” has run an article about the bell tower incident, leaving names out, but posting pictures of both Violet and Finch. Excusing herself from class with cramps, she heads up the stairwell to the bell tower where she again picks the lock and sits on the stairs. By the light of her cell phone, she reads two chapters of Wuthering Heights. Violet resonates with Emily Brontë, who is “angry at the world.”
Finch meets Charlie and Bren at Goodwill during third period. Finch tells them he’s going for a sexier style, deciding that “80’s Finch has to go.” When Bren asks if this new look is about Violet Markey, Finch denies it. He settles on a worn-out leather jacket for a new “Badass Finch” look.
By the time Finch enters U.S. Geography after lunch, he’s sure that the world of the Badass British Finch persona he’s taken on exists somewhere. In class, he sees Ryan Cross with Violet and tries to catch her eye.
After class, Finch tells Violet, “It’s time to start wandering.” He suggests Hoosier Hill, the tallest point in Indiana, as their first destination. Violet insists she doesn’t have a fear of heights. Amanda, standing close by, asks Fitch if it wasn’t Violet who saved him from jumping. Roamer suggests Fitch “go back up there and try again.” Fitch, though, brushes aside their comments. He tells Violet there’s no time like the present, but Violet won’t skip class. They’ll meet in the parking lot after school. He quotes from Virginia Woolf and imagines that Violet almost smiles.
After school, Violet follows Finch on her bike, which she’s named Leroy. He drives slowly to his house.
Upstairs in Finch’s room, Violet asks him about the wall that is covered with words on Post-it notes. Finch tells her it is his songs, ideas, and visions. She thinks about how she used to love words. Finch writes the phrase, “get back on the camel” on a note and slaps it on the wall.
Once on their bikes, Finch expresses his surprise that Violet climbed up on the bell tower ledge but won’t ride in a car. She hasn’t ridden in a car since her sister’s accident. This admission upsets Violet, and she wants to go home. But Finch promises he won’t bring it up again.
As they ride to Hoosier Hill, they talk about where they would go if they could go anywhere.
At the top of Hoosier Hill, they find the elevation marker poking out from a mound of stones. Finch takes Violet’s hand to pull her up.
Finch and Violet talk about where they are, and how they feel. Finch smiles at Violet, and she notices his eyes, “bright-sky blue.” When Violet tells him this is the ugliest place she’s ever seen, he smiles, and suggests it must be beautiful to some people. She asks him if the stories she’s heard about him are true. “Probably,” he answers.
After they jump from the highest point, holding hands, they leave their tokens behind, British coins, a red guitar pick, and a Bartlett High keychain. Finch tells Violet, “’Whether you want to or not, now we’ll always be a part of here.’” Violet takes pictures with her phone and writes a few things in their project notebook. Meanwhile, Finch marks destinations for future wanderings on the map.
When they return home, Finch tells Violet why he wanted to do the project with her. “Because you smiled at me,” he says.
Back home, Violet scrolls through Finch’s Facebook page where she sees a message referencing Narnia. She searches Narnia quotes. Then, she marks the day off on her calendar.
At dinner with Decca and his mom, Finch wants to be the first to share what he’s learned today. He tells them that he learned there is good in the world, that “not everyone is disappointing, including me,” and that with the right person next to you, 1,257 feet high can feel higher than the bell tower. Finch’s mom responds awkwardly to his insights, and Finch realizes that she’s clueless about what to do with her children. Finch has had a happy day yet he feels badly for his mom whose heart has been broken by his dad. He offers to do the dishes.
Finch foregoes his evening run due to the pouring rain and takes a bath instead. He closes his eyes and pretends he’s in a lake. The water is peaceful, and he is at rest. He wonders if he could sleep there. His mind drifts to Virginia Woolf and the note she wrote to her husband before walking into the river.
After several minutes, Finch’s lungs burn. He opens his eyes and he emerges from the water, gasping for breath.
Violet wakes up to her phone buzzing as the news reported in the Bartlett Dirt spreads that Theodore Fitch is number one on the list of Bartlett High School students most likely to commit suicide. She turns off her phone.
In U.S. Geography, she talks with Ryan, Amanda, and Roamer about their wandering projects. She tells them “it’s okay” doing the project with Finch. Ryan passes a note to Violet, asking her out Saturday night. She’s undecided.
Finch arrives late for class and places a rock on Violet’s notebook. It says “Your turn” on it. After class, Ryan jealously confronts Violet about the rock, wondering why Finch is giving her things. She reassures him that it is only a project.
At dinner that night, Violet discovers that her parents know about the incident at the bell tower. A local reporter had called, interested in interviewing Violet.
After falling asleep, Violet wakes up, disoriented. She tries to shake off her usual nightmare where someone tries to strangle her. She opens her laptop, writes a couple of words, and then erases them.
Violet logs onto Facebook and messages back and forth with Finch. He suggests they meet at the Quarry, a local bar. Violet says she can’t, so Finch suggests meeting at her house. Again Violet says that she can’t, but Finch doesn’t respond.
Finch is at Violet’s house, throwing rocks at her window. She doesn’t respond. He climbs in Little Bastard and heads home.
Finch spends the rest of the night making a list of ten ideas for “How to Stay Awake,” which for him translates to “staying here for the long haul.” Entry #4 reads “Surround myself with water.” For the last entry, he writes, “Violet.”
The next morning, Violet finds Finch lying on her front lawn. They ride their bikes to school, Finch wondering where they will go tomorrow, when they wander. Violet hesitates to commit, thinking about Ryan and the drive-in date.
When they arrive at school, Violet receives a text from Suze: “Theodore Freak?!! WTF?!” Violet tells Finch she has plans the next day.
On Saturday, Violet hangs up on Jerri Sparks, the reporter, when Sparks suggests that Violet couldn’t save her sister, but she saved Theodore Finch.
Ryan arrives and they head to the drive-in. Amanda and Roamer are already there, and soon are making out in the front seat. As Violet watches the movie, she realizes that wandering with Finch “would be more fun than this.” She wonders what he is doing. Then, avoiding Ryan’s wandering hands, Violet uses curfew as an excuse and she walks home. Ryan accompanies her. As they say goodnight, she turns her head. His kiss lands on her cheek.
Finch arrives early at Violet’s house. Violet’s surprised to find that her parents have invited him for breakfast. Finch wants to know about the Violet “before.” Finch and her parents share a laugh, at her expense, after they tell him the Boy Parade story.
Once outside, Violet hops on her bike and tells Finch to follow her. But Finch doesn’t have his bike. After much back and forth discussion, Violet, or Ultraviolet as Finch calls her, climbs into Finch’s car.
Finch gently prods and Violet finally tells him about the accident. Eleanor, she confides, was her best friend, someone she could be herself with and who loved the best and worst of her. Finch wonders what that would be like. Violet apologizes for Roamer and the others’ behavior.
Finch and Violet arrive at Bookmobile Park. Finch meets Faye Carnes, the “mastermind” of the park. She gives him a tour and tells him the story of how the park came to be. Eventually, Violet finds them, ready to purchase some books. Mrs. Carnes goes to fetch change, while Violet and Finch explore each trailer together.
On their way back to the car, Finch suddenly takes off running, past Violet. Violet runs past him, and they race to the car. Violet wins. Finch tells her to write about their wandering before they forget.
Finch crosses the center divider and heads in the opposite direction on the interstate. On a quiet country road, they search for street signs. He turns at “Church” and announces they have arrived. In front of them is a big factory building. They read the words, written as though on a chalkboard, “Before I die …” that appear in column after column all along the wall.
Finch writes “Before I die” followed by a blank line many times in the spaces he finds on the wall. This, he attests, will be “a good way to figure out just why we’re here.”
Finch and Violet fill in the blanks and read each other’s work. Finch erases his last entry, “And meet Boy Parade,” and replaces it with, “And kiss Violet Markey.” Violet admits to herself that she hopes he does. He doesn’t though, telling her “Not here. Not now.” He tells her, “That doesn’t mean I like you.”
They stop at the Quarry, the bar in downtown Bartlett where Finch has played guitar. Everyone there seems to know him. He pulls Violet out onto the dance floor. She shouts over the music, “I don’t like you either.”
On the way home, Finch asks Violet what her epitaph would say. She’s not sure, but Finch doesn’t hesitate. His is “Theodore Finch, in search of the Great Manifesto,” which he tells her means “to count for something … in short, to remain a memory.”
Violet asks Finch where he was on Friday. Finch tells her he gets headaches sometimes, “no big deal.” He doesn’t give her the details, that it is kind of a big deal. He doesn’t just feel his headaches, he sees them: words, colors, and sounds. But Finch tells Violet that he thinks he’s okay.
Once home, Finch checks the voicemail on the house line. He and Kate check it regularly, and erase messages they don’t want their mom to hear. Finch deletes the message of concern Embryo has left.
In his room, Finch considers the mechanics of hanging from his ceiling, even moving his chair and standing on it. The ceiling is too low.
At one point, several years back, Finch had talked about the warnings that the Sleep was coming with Gabe Romero, who was his friend back then. Gabe told his parents, who told Finch’s teacher, who told the principal, who told his parents. The next day he was labeled Theodore Freak.
Finch begins rearranging his furniture to make a smaller space in his room. Smaller spaces feel safer, when the Asleep is coming.
Finch meets with Embryo and denies that he has tried to hurt himself. Embryo has read the Bartlett Dirt and is concerned. He is one of the few people “who pays attention.” Finch, to convince him that he has a lot to live for, tells Embryo about Violet, but calls her, Lizzy. “Just be careful,” Embryo says. The implication that Finch’s happiness will come to an end, that Violet Markey might break his heart, angers Finch. Embryo encourages Finch to think about his future. The future Finch is thinking about is seeing Violet later that day.
During the school day, Finch runs back and forth to meet Violet outside of each of her classes. Principal Wertz sees him and tells him to get to class. Finch speeds up the stairs and runs into Roamer who falls into Amanda. Finch sprints away and catches up to Violet who tells him that he’s driving her crazy. Pressed up against her locker with Finch leaning in closely, Violet closes her eyes. Mr. Kappel, the baseball coach, sees them and gives detention to both of them.
Violet won’t look at Finch in detention. She tells Mr. Stohler that Finch is the reason she’s there.
At 2 a.m., Violet awakens to rocks against her window. Finch stands in the front yard in his pajamas and hoodie. Violet joins him outside and they drive downtown to Bookmarks, where his mother works. Finch unlocks the door. He is looking for a book that he couldn’t find at Bookmobile Park: Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. They find the book and read, then act, then sing, dance, or “flip flap” their way through the verses.
Next, Finch drives Violet to Purina Tower. They climb the 25,000 steps, sit on a blanket, and take in the view. Violet searches for something poetic to say about the beauty in front of them and settles for “It’s lovely.” They sit and talk about writing, about life.
Finch gets up and stands at the guardrail. He yells into the air all of the things he hates, all of the things he wants to change. Then, he looks at Violet and says, “Your turn.” She joins him at the rail, holding onto his shirt, perhaps to keep him from falling over the edge. She can only think of all the things she wants to shout. So they start singing Dr. Seuss again.
Once home, Violet wants Finch to kiss her. But he doesn’t.
Kate, Decca, and Finch are at their dad’s house. Dad is in the basement, in one of his moods. Finch goes to check on him. “Your family is here,” Badass Finch tells him. His dad lunges for Finch and slams him into the wall. Finch’s skull is tough, thanks to his dad. He goes up to dinner, and he and his father don’t talk for the rest of the evening.
Finch escapes into the garage back home and climbs into Little Bastard. He contemplates suicide by exhaust, then opens the garage door and drives. He drives for two and a half hours, to a place called Mudlavia, searching for the water that can relieve the darkness of his mind. He finds the stream he’s looking for, wades in, and drinks the cold water. He lies down in the water, and it covers him.
Back home again, Finch and Kate talk briefly. She wonders if he was with Violet. “Just be careful,” she tells him.
Finch finds Decca in her room and joins her in her project of cutting the mean and bad parts out of books. When he asks her why they are doing it, she tells him that the bad shouldn’t be mixed in with the good. “They like to trick you.”
Finch takes a pile of the books into his own room. He reads some of the cut-up passages, “happy, sweet, funny and warm.” Some of the best words and lines he adds to his wall. He crawls under his comforter, wondering what life would be like if it was only the happy parts.
Sunday night in her bedroom, Violet adds the Bookmarks and Purina Tower visits to the wandering notebook. Finch had said that “lovely” was a word that should be used more often, which gives Violet an idea. She clears her bulletin board, finds some Post-its, writes “lovely” on one, and sticks it to the board. Over the next half hour, she adds more words and phrases, including “Lit. Love. Life.” There’s even a section for “New Nameless Web Magazine.” She takes a picture to send to Finch. But when she goes to bed, Finch has yet to respond.
Finch thinks about the prior night, and how it seems like a puzzle to him, with some pieces missing, others scattered about. His heart is racing and he’s having trouble concentrating.
For a change of scenery, Finch begins to clean and organize his room. He takes all the notes off his walls, and decides the walls are too dark. He buys primer and blue paint at the hardware store.
Many paint coats later, the paint still bleeds through red in some spots. At midnight, paint wet, he goes to sleep.
Two days later, after more painting, the walls are finally blue. He leaves the ceiling white.
He logs onto his computer and sends a note to Violet: “You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”
A week has passed, and Finch hasn’t shown up for school. Rumors spread. Troy Satterfield asks Violet where her boyfriend is and suggests that perhaps she should be on suicide watch.
Violet expresses her concern to Charlie and Brenda. It’s what he does, Charlie tells her.
The next day, Violet sees Finch in the hallway. His clothes make her think Homeless Finch, Slacker Finch. He’s talking with another girl, and Violet doesn’t think he’s noticed her.
In third period, the fire alarm goes off and everyone floods outside. Finch approaches from behind and tells Violet to meet him in the parking lot. She finds herself running, racing after him, “terrified but free.” Finch tells her that the first one to make a noise has to streak, as in naked, back to the school.
They run to the edge of the river, where a hooded crane splashes in the water. Finch tells her the crane is wandering. He steps on a twig, and Violet reminds him of his rule. Finch strips naked, and dives into the river. He tells Ultraviolet Remarkey-able she should come in, the “water’s great.”
Violet sits on the bank. She asks Finch where he was, and he tells her he was doing some remodeling. He gets out of the water, shakes himself dry, and dresses.
Ryan, Roamer, and Joe Wyatt appear on the embankment. The boys hurl insults, and Roamer jumps on Finch. Soon Finch has Roamer in a hold, his head under the water. Violet yells for Finch to let go, and he does. Face bloodied, Finch stomps up the hill, not looking back.
Instead of going home, Violet heads to Finch’s house. His bedroom door is locked and she tries to pick it, then gives up. Maybe he’s out running, Kate tells Violet. “You never can tell what that boy’s going to do.”
From his window, Finch watches Violet ride away on her bike. He signs onto Facebook and reads every message he and Violet have written. He tries reading The Wave, then another book. “I will stay awake. I will not sleep,” he tells himself.
Finch considers letting his mom know how he’s feeling but is sure she’ll just tell him to take some Advil. He’d likely hear about how he’s too sensitive, with an example about the cardinal who flew into the glass doors when Finch was little. Finch had wanted them to let the bird in. The cardinal eventually hit the window one too many times and died.
Finch couldn’t stand to hear about the cardinal again. The cardinal would have died eventually anyhow, so maybe he did himself a favor that day. Marriages die, love dies, people fade away, at least if you’re a Finch.
Finch tells Kate that everything’s super as he heads out on his run. When he returns, the ceiling in his room is too white, so he paints it blue.
When Violet returns home, her parents, having heard about her leaving school from Principal Wertz, express their disappointment in her. Violet tells them she’s quit all her activities, she’s not good at anything, and the one thing she is good at, writing, she can’t do anymore. Her parents are convinced she’s “acting out.” Violet sends herself to her room.
Violet’s mom comes to her room. What happened, she asks, to EleanorandViolet.com? She asks Violet about the New Nameless Web Magazine note she sees on the wall. Violet tells her she has nothing more than a germ of idea, nothing concrete. Quoting Pearl S. Buck, Violet’s mom suggests that maybe a germ is enough.
Violet and her mom brainstorm magazine ideas and talk about Finch, who, Violet confesses, is the only friend she has. Violet jots down names of those who might help with the writing for Germ.
Violet sends a Facebook message to Finch to tell him their wandering may have ended.
In bed with the lights out, Violet realizes that she hasn’t marked the X on her calendar. This is the first day she has forgotten. She hesitates with the marker, then rips the calendar down and throws it into her closet. She goes down the hall into Eleanor’s room, and sets her glasses, which she’s been wearing, on the dresser.
Violet comes down for breakfast to find Finch at the table with her parents. He is explaining to her parents about yesterday. He and her parents have settled on some ground rules for continuing the wandering project. One of those rules includes Finch giving them the phone numbers of his mom and his dad. Finch, however, lies when he tells them his father left when Finch was ten.
Violet’s mom asks Finch about his college plans. Violet listens intently because she wonders what he wants to do with his life. Finch finishes the Vedic hymn Violet’s dad is quoting, with the line, “Or go to the waters if it suits thee there.” He confesses that he has a thing for water.
Outside after breakfast, Violet confronts Finch about lying to her parents. He tells her that sometimes things feel true even if they’re not.
The next stop on Finch and Violet’s tour is John Ivers’ backyard, in the Indiana countryside. John has built two one-seater rollercoasters, the Blue Flash and the Blue Too. John built them to give him the “thrill of impending, weightless doom” all the time, a feeling that Finch has when he looks at Violet, a feeling that he would like to have more often.
Finch rides the Blue Flash repeatedly, then Violet rides. Thrilled, they each ride several times.
Finch and Violet leave their items behind, and head home. Finch tells Ultraviolet Remarkey-able that he likes everything about her. Then he takes the next exit, pulls Violet out of the car, and kisses her. He lays her down on the back seat and starts to unbuckle his belt, but she pulls away. He tells her, “Someday, Ultraviolet.”
Back home, Finch can’t stop writing. But then he experiences “this strange fold in time,” and he finds himself running, all the way to the next town. As he walks back, he contemplates the “elegance and euphoria” of the Julijonas Urbonas’ Euthanasia Coaster, then realizes that the phrase is how he feels about Violet. In that moment, Finch wants to be “the boy she sees.” He changes his epitaph to say “The Boy Violet Markey Loves.”
Finch and Charlie talk out on the baseball field. Charlie observes that Finch is no longer Badass Finch, but Dirtbag Finch. He asks about Violet. Finch tells him he’s having a good time.
Roamer is at bat and hits the ball directly at Finch and Charlie. Charlie makes an easy catch. Mr. Kappel, the baseball coach, has been trying to recruit him.
Gabe Romero corners Finch in the locker room, but Finch decides he’s not worth it, and Violet wouldn’t approve. Roamer punches Finch. Mr. Kappel appears, and tells Finch he can go. Finch overhears Mr. Kappel reaming Roamer. He feels a certain satisfaction.
At his locker, Finch finds the rock that says “Your turn” sitting on top of his books. All Finch can think about is Violet, the lock picker.
Violet meets with Mrs. Kresney. This time she tells Mrs. Kresney that she hasn’t had any bad dreams lately, and it’s the truth.
After Russian Literature, where Violet does not need to use her Extenuating Circumstances excuse for a five-page paper Mrs. Mahone assigns, Ryan tells Violet he has asked Suze out. Then he tells her about Finch and Roamer’s encounter in the locker room and points out that Finch didn’t defend himself.
At lunch, Violet walks by the table where she usually sits with Roamer, Amanda, and others, and asks if she can join Brenda Shank-Kravitz’s group. She listens to their conversation. Brenda tells Violet that Gabe Romero is poison, and the two tap their drinks together in agreement.
The wandering continues, but it’s really Violet’s excuse to make out with Finch. She asks Finch about what happened with Roamer, but Finch tells her he’s not worth talking about. Violet and Finch kiss until her lips are numb. They stop just before Someday.
On Sunday, a package appears on Violet’s doorstep addressed to Ultraviolet t. Inside is a pair of goggles. Violet tells her mom that Finch is just a friend. Her mom, without realizing it, quotes Eleanor, “Maybe in time. There’s always time.”
Violet messages Finch, thanking him for the goggles, wondering what they are for. Finch tells her they’ll use them soon, on the first warm day.
A two day-blizzard causes the cancellation of school. At Violet’s house, she and Finch build a huge snowman they name Mr. Black, then they sit by the fire with Violet’s parents. Finch pretends he is part of their family. Finch takes Violet out for Valentine’s Day to Happy Family, his favorite restaurant.
The first warm day arrives, and Finch and Violet go to the Blue Hole, a three-acre lake. Finch leads her to the shore, and he recounts the stories told about the lake. It is bottomless and the force in the middle will suck you down into another world. How lucky, Finch says, to have a bottomless blue hole in their own backyard.
Finch and Violet remove their clothes. Violet challenges Finch to see if the rumor about the bottomless lake is true. He asks what she is most afraid of. “Dying. Losing my parents. Staying here for the rest of my life. Never figuring out what I’m supposed to do. Being ordinary. Losing everyone I love.” Then Violet asks him the same question and he won’t answer aloud. Instead, he says, “I’m not.” They jump into the lake.
Finch stays under a long time. Violet is amazed at how long he can hold his breath. He tells her that he practices. They hold hands, whisper Marco … Polo. Then, because Violet asks, Finch talks about his parents’ divorce. Then he tells her that he’s going to search for the bottom, and dives under.
Finch pushes himself deep, and then goes deeper, where the water is heavier. He wants to go even deeper but thinks of Violet. He’s under so long that Violet, terrified that he has drowned, calls him an asshole when he emerges. She’s angry and scared. Finch tells her to let it all out, the “years of shit you’ve been smiling away and keeping down.” She tells him about the angry person inside of her. He pulls her to him, and she melts into him. Then, suddenly, Finch pulls away and tells Violet that she deserves better.
Finch tells Violet the real story about the scar on his stomach, about his dad’s black moods. Then he tells her, “Ultraviolet Remarkey-able, I think I love you.” They kiss in the sunshine, on the banks of Blue Hole.
Back at Finch’s house, Violet showers first. She waits in Finch’s blue room for him to shower. He comes out and asks her what she was doing on the ledge that day. She tells him, “the same thing you were.” She wanted to imagine what it would be like to jump off. Then she had seen Finch.
Finch spins Violet around the room and kisses her. They draw closer, both towels dropping.
Violet, Finch thinks, is more than the molecules that people are made of, and he panics at the thought that what makes Violet Violet might malfunction. In the background, music plays, “You make me love you …,” as they lie down together.
After, still in bed, Violet says she needs to get home. Finch detours to the Purina Tower and they climb to the top, where Finch recounts the story of Sir Patrick Moore, the famous British astronomer, and the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect. This phenomenon happens when the two planets cross. If you jump at that exact moment, you will float. Finch confesses that, as it turns out, it was an April Fool’s joke, but he told Violet the story because it is the way he feels right now. “Like Pluto and Jupiter are aligned with the earth and I’m floating.” Violet tells him that that is nicest thing anybody has ever said. They lie tangled under a blanket and fall asleep.
The next morning, Violet realizes that her parents have no idea where she is. They speed back to her house. Although Finch tries to smooth things over, Violet’s dad insists that he leave.
Violet faces her parents. They tell her that Finch is a troubled boy and she shouldn’t be spending time with him. The previous night they had called his parents, searching for her, and discovered that Finch had lied about his father. Finch, they now know, was the one in the bell tower.
Violet tells her parents that they don’t trust her, that maybe they should lock her up so they don’t have to worry about her. Her parents forbid her from seeing Finch, and say they’ll talk to her teacher about having her write a report for the project rather than continuing the wandering she and Finch have been doing. Extenuating Circumstances, Violet mutters.
From her window, Violet waits for Finch to appear. If he does, she’ll climb down and they’ll drive away. But he doesn’t come.
Finch’s dad is waiting when he gets home. He throws Finch across the kitchen. Finch tells his dad that he can beat him all he wants, but Finch doesn’t feel it anymore. Finch then grabs his dad’s upraised arm and says, “Just so you know, you will never do that again.”
No one follows him up the stairs to his room, even though Finch has left his door open. He messages Violet, telling her how sorry he is, checking in to make sure she’s okay. He tells her that she has showed him that there is such a thing as a perfect day.
The next day, Finch rings the bell at Violet’s house, wanting to explain things to her parents but again they tell him to go away.
At home, Finch discovers that EleanorandViolet.com is gone. He messages Violet. She tells him to give her parents time. He types, “That’s the only thing I don’t have.” But then he erases the message.
Finch moves into his closet. He calls it Finch Survival Boot Camp. He’s attended this camp before. He contemplates what it would take to drown in quicksand, then considers that if he can follow the Eight Steps to Surviving Quicksand, “he’ll get through this.” He thinks about his situation as it relates to each of the steps.
Back at school, Violet expects everyone to know she’s no longer a virgin. Brenda, though, is the only one who puts two and two together. Brenda reassures Violet that Finch will not tell anyone.
Violet asks Brenda if she wants to write for Germ. Brenda agrees.
Violet sees Finch during the week, meeting him under the stairwells where they kiss. At night, they message back and forth. Finch is anxious for Violet’s parents to forgive him. She insists they just need time.
On Saturday, Violet crawls up the fire escape at Finch’s house, having told her parents she was going to Amanda’s. They spend the day in his room, eventually talking about all the places in the world they want to Do It. They call it Wander-mania.
Then, just for a brief second, a feeling comes over Violet that she has had before, as if Finch has “stepped behind a curtain.” The feeling passes. She stays longer.
Violet and her parents travel to NYU. Violet worries that Finch hasn’t responded to her latest messages. She feels the weight of her parents’ expectations and grief over not being able to share the college-visit experience with Eleanor. That night, Violet writes a message to Finch, quoting Virginia Woolf.
Finch and Decca help their mom in the garden, then head to their dad’s on the last weekend of Spring break. Decca doesn’t want to go, but Finch tells her it means a lot to their dad, “even though he doesn’t show it.”
Finch texts Violet, telling her he can’t get away yet, he’s “currently in hell.” At his dad’s house, Finch spends some one-on-one time with Josh Raymond. Finch’s dad, in one of his better moods, as if he’s forgotten what’s happened, suggests that Finch invite Violet over. Finch tells him she’s busy on Sundays.
Finch walks home, climbs into Little Bastard, and drives, aimlessly. On his way back to town, he gets out of the car and starts running. “It will be alright, it will be okay,” he reassures himself. He pounds on the door of a farmhouse, next to a nursery. Apologetically, he tells the woman who answers the door, Margaret Ann that he wants to pick a few flowers for his girlfriend. It’s an emergency, Finch explains. Winter is here and he doesn’t know where he’ll be by spring. Henry, Margaret Ann’s husband, drives Finch back to his car.
Finch drives to Violet’s house, where she comes outside. He gives her the flowers. For Violet, winter is over. She tells Finch, “You brought me spring.”
Back at school, Finch struggles to concentrate in class as his downward spiral continues. At lunch, Charlie sees through Finch’s fake smiles and wonders what’s the matter with him.
In U.S. Geography, Finch still cannot focus and thinks about how he feels. He sits at his desk and writes, hiding his paper from Violet. The list covers details of his life, the good and the not-so-good, but writing it makes him feel heavier.
Finch escorts Violet to her class, gives her a kiss, and a fake smile. He doesn’t want her to see him this way.
Finch is late for his appointment with Embryo, who wants to know what is wrong. Finch lies, telling Embryo it is troubles with his dad, then realizes he is caught in the lie he has told Embryo about his dad being dead. In his head, or so he thinks, Finch recites the suicide note of Vladimir Mayakovski. He realizes he’s recited the poem out loud when he sees that Embryo is clearly alarmed. Embryo asks Finch what he knows about bipolar disorder, manic depression. Another label, thinks Finch, to explain why I am this way. Embryo tells Finch he is not alone.
The following day, Roamer calls Finch “Freak” as he walks by. Finch grabs Roamer by the neck. It takes four people to pull Finch off of Roamer, at which time Finch tells Roamer, “You will never call me that again.”
Finch calls Violet during third period. He’s been expelled and wants her to go with him to the Nest Houses, south of Evansville. She tells him they can go Saturday, at which Finch says he’d rather go by himself anyway. He hangs up on Violet and she wonders what is going on with him.
Finch can’t find the Nest Houses, so he returns home. He finds himself disappearing as he stares at himself in the mirror. He goes into his closet, quietly, so as not to wake up the darkness.
In the morning, he listens to a voicemail left by Mr. Embry on the house line, expressing his concern for Finch. Finch deletes the message. He goes back to his closet. He fears Violet will find out the truth about the thoughts that run through his mind, “I am broken. I am a fraud. I am impossible to love.” And the label: bipolar.
Finch is invisible at dinner that night. He takes sleeping pills from his mom’s cabinet and brings them to his room. He takes several of the pills. He wonders if he’ll experience the acclamation Cesare Pavese felt. He doesn’t.
Finch begins having second thoughts and drags himself to the bathroom, where he tries to throw up. He can’t. He runs to the hospital, telling the first person he sees what he has done, then he passes out. When he awakens, he fills out paperwork, laughing, realizing he’s alive, as he writes Josh Raymond, age 17 on the form.
Finch attends a Life is Life meeting in an Ohio town. He has avoided Violet for days. Demetrius, the counselor, introduces himself. Finch wishes he hadn’t come. Demetrius asks the participants to fill in the blank, “ is life.” Finch says, “The Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect is life.”
Another participant comes through the door. She avoids eye contact with Finch. She introduces herself as Rachel and says she is bulimic and has attempted suicide twice. “Secrecy is life,” she says, looking directly at Finch. Rachel is actually Amanda Monk.
For Finch, the stories of those at the meeting are heartbreaking. Everyone here has tried to commit suicide. When the meeting is over, he finds Amanda in the parking lot, and promises he won’t tell anyone. She confesses she still thinks about suicide, and that is why she goes to the meetings. Now, she assures Finch, he knows that he’s not the only freak.
When she hasn’t heard from Finch in several days, Violet borrows her mom’s car. At Finch’s house, Violet introduces herself to his mother. Violet realizes that Finch’s mother doesn’t know he has been expelled. In the kitchen, Finch’s mom, sister Kate, and Violet chat as if everything is fine.
Violet finds Finch upstairs in his room. He tells her that he’s still not feeling quite well, then invites her into his closet, where he “thinks better.” He shows her his positive wall and negative wall, and they write words and phrases on Post it notes. Eventually, they have sex, talk more, and add more notes to the wall. Finch confesses that he experiences dark moods that he can’t shake. He tells her the story of the cardinal in the backyard, and his first black mood when the cardinal died. He tells her he hasn’t talked to his parents about these moods, but he has been talking to a counselor at school. Finch asks Violet to keep his secret, just as he has kept hers.
Finch quotes Cesare Pavese. Finch is “in pieces.”
At school, Amanda tells Violet that she saw Finch at the Life Is Life meeting. He had told Amanda about swallowing the pills.
After school, Violet rides Leroy to Finch’s house, but he isn’t there. Back home, she messages him and he responds immediately, telling her tomorrow is his birthday. She wants to ask him about what Amanda told her but doesn’t. He asks her to come over tomorrow at 6 p.m. for his birthday.
In Finch’s room, he tells Violet to close her eyes as he leads her to the closet. He sits her down, and she opens her eyes. The closet is like the Emerald City, walls and ceilings painted with planets and stars, Jupiter and Pluto in perfect alignment. They share food from Happy Family and pass a bottle of vodka back and forth. Violet gives Finch a first-edition copy of The Waves, her birthday gift to him, and inscribed a note inside.
They lie in the closet and Finch tells Violet about Sir Patrick Moore’s concept of the black hole. A black hole swallows up everything around it; within it, there’s a point of no return, which Violet suggests sounds like a blue hole. Finch says that “being sucked into the black hole would pretty much be the coolest way to die.”
Violet starts to cry at this and tells Finch that she spoke to Amanda and she knows about the pills. He tells her he doesn’t need help, that she couldn’t save Eleanor, and she can’t save him. Finch’s mood turns dark, and Violet begs him not to “be like this.” Violet slams the door as she leaves.
At home, Violet confesses to her parents that Finch is the one who saved her on the ledge, and he’s on the ledge now. She tells them everything, and her mom leaves a message for Finch’s mom.
For the next several days, Violet tries to reach Finch, and her parents try to reach his. Finch doesn’t show up at school because he’s been expelled, and Charlie and Brenda haven’t heard from him either. Violet messages him, asking him to let her know he’s okay.
At some point, still not having heard from Finch, Violet goes to his house. No one is in his room, which is bare. She searches for clues as to his whereabouts. Decca tells her that sometimes he goes away, but he’ll be back. Violet wonders, why no one thinks to ask why he does what he does? Why does no one seem to care? She leaves yet another voicemail message for Finch.
Finch poses a question to himself from Robert Lowell’s “Epilogue.” “Yet why not say what happened?” Finch cannot say; he can’t distinguish real from unreal feelings. He thinks about the cardinal’s death, and how he felt responsible. He recounts Cesare Pavese’s words before he died, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Finch remembers the moments, with Violet.
Violet receives a text from Finch. He tells her “they were all perfect days.” She tries to reach him but can’t. When he finally responds, he tells her not to worry. “Not missing at all. Found.” She asks, “Where are you?” but there is no response.
Mrs. Finch tells Violet’s mother that he has been in touch with her, is okay, and will just be gone for a while. At school, it seems as though everyone but Violet has forgotten about Finch. She participates in an orchestra concert, and holds the first meeting for Germ, with twenty-two attendees. She tries to leave Finch a voicemail, but his box is full. Now she is getting angry.
Two days later, she receives a text from him, then a series of texts, which he sends over the course of the next few days. The last one reads: “A lake. A prayer. It’s so lovely to be lovely in Private.” Then, silence.
Violet visits the A Street Bridge site with her parents and finds a small garden planted there. Eleanor died a year ago, but Violet and her parents have survived.
Back home, Violet sits down to contemplate Germ, and why she wants to start a magazine. She thinks of Finch, and Amanda, and the X’s on her calendar and she tries to put all those days behind her. She writes, “Germ Magazine. You start here,” and posts it on her wall.
Violet, not having seen Finch since March, tries to move on. She buys a map since Finch has theirs, and borrows her mom’s car and drives, thinking about what Finch would say about her being behind the wheel.
Ryan asks Violet out, and she accepts. She lets him kiss her. Violet spends time with Amanda, and they go to the Quarry and dance, joined by Brenda, Lara, and others. Later that week, Brenda and Violet go to the movies and then work on Germ; they are becoming good friends.
Kate appears at Violet’s front door. She wonders if Violet has heard from Finch. He had been checking in every Saturday, but they hadn’t hear from him this week as usual. She shows Violet the email she received from Finch, sent at 9:43 a.m. Violet reads the email and tells Kate that she and Finch aren’t in touch anymore.
In her room, Violet logs onto Facebook and finds a message from Finch, sent at 9:47 a.m. The message is an excerpt from The Waves, ending with the words, “‘Come,’ I say, ‘come.’” Violet types “Stay,” I say, “stay,” and waits for a reply that doesn’t come.
Violet calls Brenda and finds out that she, too, had received an email from Finch that morning. So had Charlie. Something is wrong. Violet drives to Finch’s house. She tells Kate that Finch has written to her, and to Brenda and Charlie. To explain what it all means, Violet tells Kate about the book, by Virginia Woolf, which she and Finch had been quoting back and forth. Kate tells Violet that Finch had received early acceptance to NYU, perhaps he’s in New York? After inquiring about the phone messages her mom had left, Violet discovers that Finch had erased them.
Violet goes to Finch’s room. She searches through his things, looking for clues, anything he might have left behind to hint at where he has gone. She puts clues together with the words he’s posted on his wall and tells his mother that she thinks he’s gone back to one of the places where they wandered. A place with water. Finch’s mom asks if Violet can go there, and if she can “bring him home.”
Violet calls her parents, and calmly drives. She knows where she is going and what she will find.
Violet sees Little Bastard and pulls up behind it. She walks to the water, which she just now notices is as blue as Finch’s eyes. She sees his clothes, lying there neatly folded. His phone is in a pocket, dead; their map, in his jacket.
Violet dives into the water, swimming back and forth across the hole. She knows he’s gone. Back on the bank, she dials 9-1-1 thinking, “He’s not nowhere. He’s not dead. He just found that other world.”
Violet waits, and the sheriff and emergency services arrive. Divers search, and raise a body that is “swollen, and bloated, and blue.” It’s not him, Violet tells them. But she calls Mrs. Finch to tell her that she has found Finch. “I’m so sorry,” Violet keeps repeating.
The sheriff gently takes her phone. Violet lies on the ground and says to the sky, “May your eye go to the Sun, To the wind your soul … You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”
Violet dresses in Finch’s black T-shirt. In the mirror she sees a face that looks different now. She takes a selfie, and thinks, no one would know that this is me After instead of Before.
At the funeral, Violet stands with her parents, and with Brenda and Charlie. Brenda, Violet can tell, is angry. After all, here are all the people who called Finch “freak,” who never gave him the time of day, who gossiped about him, who mocked him. Now they mourn him?
The preacher preaches, never uttering the word “suicide.” In her head, Violet talks to Finch, telling him that he was the one who had showed her how to make the most of life. “But then you leave,” she tells him.
After the service, Finch’s mom and dad encircle Violet in a hug. Violet’s dad intervenes, coldly telling them that he needs to take Violet home. That night at the dinner table, it is clear that Violet’s parents are angry, at Finch’s parents, at Finch.
In her room, Violet retrieves her calendar from the corner of her closet. She opens it to all of the blank days that she didn’t mark with an X. The days she spent with Finch.
At school, someone has blown up a picture of Finch. Students post notes around it. Violet wants to tear them all up. She feels empty. She feels nothing.
Amanda approaches Violet at lunch one day to express how sorry she is about Finch. She says how sorry she is that she called him a freak, and that she’s broken up with Roamer.
Violet has a session with Mr. Embry, who admits that Finch needed help and that he, Mr. Embry, feels responsible, though he knows he’s not. Both he and Violet admit they could have done more. He tells Violet that she is a survivor and that the worst is behind her. That night, she reads the book he gives her, SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide, and realizes that she is, as the book says, a person “forever changed.”
A few days later, Violet asks Amanda what it’s like to consider suicide. Amanda tells her, “all you feel is dark inside, and that darkness just kind of takes over.” Finch, Amanda says, was working on getting better, because of Violet.
In U.S. Geography, Mr. Black tells Violet she has extenuating circumstances regarding assignments. No, she tells him, she can do it.
Violet reads through all her Facebook messages to and from Finch. She then writes in their notebook, ending with “You saved my life. Why couldn’t I save yours?”
Violet takes out their map. Five more places are marked that Violet must find and visit to finish their wanderings.
Violet travels to a four-way intersection, near Milltown and pulls over. Trees stand on each corner. Hundreds of shoes are draped from the trees’ branches, the shoe trees. Violet has brought two pairs, one hers, the other Eleanor’s. She writes Ultraviolet Remarkey-able and the date on one set and hangs both pairs. High up in the tree, she sees shoes with fluorescent laces and the initials TF written on both sides. Something surfaces in Violet’s memory bank. She searches through her texts from Finch. “I am on the highest branch.” He was here. Violet reads the text stream. Now she knows where to go next.
Violet arrives at the World’s Biggest Ball of Paint. Mike Carmichael, who started the project, unlocks the door to the barn. Inside is a large ball, the size of a small planet, painted yellow. Mike remembers Finch, and shows Violet the can of paint he used, labeled “Violet.” Violet paints blue over the yellow. As she’s leaving, Mike asks her to sign his book. She finds Finch’s entry, the beginning of a quote from Dr. Seuss. She adds her name and entry to the book and finishes the quote.
At home, Violet tells her parents that they need to talk about Eleanor. And so she does, and they do. And they all cry, and hug, and tell each other, “It’s okay. We’re okay. We’re all okay.”
Violet’s next visit is to the Pendleton Pike Drive-In. Around the side of the screen, she finds Finch’s words: “I was here. TF.” She adds her own: “I was here too. VM.”
Violet drives to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery. She passes through the shrine’s grottos. She takes a dull, plain rock from the palm of Jesus, and replaces it with her offering. When she emerges, she tells the friar that the black-light room was especially beautiful. People, he tells her, travel from far and wide to see the Ultraviolet Apocalypse. She looks at the rock she’s taken from the shrine. “Your turn” it says.
Violet returns home. She looks at the map. Finch has added one more place, without telling her. His final text to her is her clue: A lake. A prayer. It’s so lovely to be lovely in Private.
Violet travels to Farmsburg, not sure what she’s looking for. The lake Violet is looking for is off Private Road. Violet reaches the end of the road, and the lake. A sign reads, Taylor Prayer Chapel. Inside, a note about the history of the chapel says that it is a “sanctuary for weary travelers,” and it was “built in memoriam to those who have lost their lives in auto accidents,” as a place of healing.
At the altar, Violet finds an envelope sticking out of the Bible, marked Ultraviolet Remarkey-able. Crying, she memorizes the note inside, written on staff paper. One page is covered in musical notes.
At home, Violet plays the musical notes on her flute. The tune, she thinks, is a part of her now. She and Finch didn’t take videos, collect souvenirs, or pull together their project for others to understand. But that is okay, Violet realizes. “It’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”
Violet is at the Blue Hole. She dives in, swimming with her eyes open, recalling the words of the poet Cesare Pavese who overdosed on sleeping pills. She thinks about the words of Natalia Ginzburg, written about Pavese after his death, which could have been a fitting epitaph for Finch.
But Violet has written her own epitaph for Finch: “Theodore Finch—I was alive. I burned brightly. And then I died, but not really. Because someone like me cannot, will not, die like everyone else. I linger like the legends of the Blue Hole. I will always be here, in the offerings and people I left behind.”
Treading water under the wide, blue sky, she thinks about how everything reminds her of him, and of her own epitaph, yet unwritten. She thinks of all the places she has yet to wander. “No longer rooted, but gold, flowing. I feel a thousand capacities spring up in me.”