I chose to have you because I wanted something to love and something that would love me unconditionally in return.

Noah entitles Chapter 5 “The Second Girl,” and opens it with this quote from his mother. As the second daughter in her family, she has no status, and no sense of belonging. She also lacks basic material possessions and ample food. Patricia is, however, able to provide these basics for her son and goes a step further when she provides him with books. As she reads with Trevor and teaches him English, the two savor the moment together, and Trevor treasures this time as much as he values the books themselves. When Patricia chose to have Trevor, she created a life in which they both belonged.

Honey, I know what you’re going through,” she said. “At one point, I had to disown my family to go off and live my own life, too. I understand why you need to do the same.

Trevor is the first member of the family that his mother creates, and in Chapter 18 he is upset with her for becoming pregnant with Isaac. Unlike his birth, this pregnancy does not represent a new beginning for Patricia. Instead, it tethers her to her abusive husband, Abel. Patricia knows the situation is untenable, and she gives Trevor her blessing to leave, but she remains for the sake of the rest of the family she created. This blessing is something she never received from her own family. While they accepted that she left, they never encouraged her to do so, which was why Patricia had to “disown” them in order to move forward. Like Trevor, she will eventually return home to visit, but she knows that she cannot live there.