Chapters 116–136


Chapter 116: Proof of Life

Carla has found a SCID specialist who will look at Maddy’s case and run tests on fresh blood samples. In the middle of the night, unwilling to wait for Carla to come back, Maddy searches her mother’s downstairs office. Maddy is looking for medical records documenting her SCID diagnosis and her treatment over the years. She finds old records of visits with three immunologists, all of whom saw no evidence of SCID. Maddy finds little else related to her condition. When Maddy’s mother walks in, Maddy confronts her about the absence of records of Maddy’s SCID treatment. Her mother becomes confused and fearful. Maddy realizes that she is not sick and never has been.

Chapter 117: Outside

Maddy runs out the front door and feels a strange mix of happiness and despair. Her mother follows her outside and tries to persuade her to come back in. Maddy’s mother blurts out, “I lost your dad and I lost your brother. I couldn’t lose you, too.” Maddy grows angry: “I’ve never been sick. You’re the one.”

Chapter 118: Fairy Tales

There once was a girl whose whole life was a lie.

Chapter 119: The Void

A universe that can suddenly appear can suddenly disappear.

Chapter 120: Beginnings and Ends

Maddy’s mother is in a state of confusion and disorientation, but Maddy ignores her. Four days later, Maddy sees Dr. Chase, the SCID specialist. He confirms that she does not have SCID. He agrees with Dr. Francis’s diagnosis of viral myocarditis, which would explain the heart pain Maddy felt at the hotel right after checking in. Dr. Chase warns that because Maddy has had very little exposure to germs, she should proceed slowly as she starts to see the world.

Chapter 121: After the Death Of

Maddy struggles to understand how her mother could have done what she did. Dr. Chase thinks that Maddy’s mother needs therapy. Maddy considers leaving home, but Carla talks her into staying, telling Maddy she is a better person than that. 

Chapter 122: One Week A.D. 

Maddy has the first of her weekly follow-up visits with Dr. Chase. She installs a lock on her bedroom door.

Chapter 123: Two Weeks A.D.

Maddy drafts emails to Olly, a new one each day. She wants to apologize, she misses him and wants to know how he is doing, and she wants to explain what has happened with her and her mother.

Chapter 124: Three Weeks A.D.

Maddy continues to draft emails to Olly. She keeps her door locked to keep her mother out. Dr. Chase continues to urge caution.

Chapter 125: Four Weeks A.D.

Maddy paints her room in bright colors. She still will not let her mother in.

Chapter 126: Five Weeks A.D.

Maddy fills the sunroom with real plants and opens the windows. She lets five goldfish, all named Olly, loose in the fountain.

Chapter 127: Six Weeks A.D.

Dr. Chase will not let Maddy enroll in high school but reluctantly agrees to let tutors start visiting in person.

Chapter 128: Madeline’s Mom

A psychiatrist’s transcript of a session with Maddy’s mother records the mother’s memories of the night her husband and son died. “It’s clear we have some work to do,” the psychiatrist notes.

Chapter 129: Flowers for Algernon

After a visit from Mr. Waterman, the architecture teacher, Carla tells Maddy what Maddy already knows: Carla will be leaving again. Maddy cries and admits that she is still angry at her mother. “She took my whole life away from me,” Maddy says. “Not your whole life,” Carla answers. “You still have a lot left.” 

Chapter 130: The Gift

When Maddy’s mother brings a present to make Maddy feel better, Maddy responds angrily. Her mother says, “I still love you, Madeline. And you still love me. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don’t waste it. Forgive me.”

Chapter 131: The End Is the Beginning Is the End

Maddy unwraps the present: a phone. The weather app predicts sunny skies all week. Maddy goes next door and climbs the ladder onto the roof. Sitting by Olly’s orrery, she thinks how soothing it is to see the world at once and to know how it all fits together. Looking back over her life, she wonders at all the events that have brought her to the present moment. If any of them had been different, she would be different now. She wonders which moment she would change, if she could change just one.

Chapter 132: Future Perfect #2

Maddy emails Olly: “By the time you read this you will have forgiven me.”

Chapter 133: Takeoff

Maddy books a flight to New York, to visit Olly.

Chapter 134: Forgiveness 

Maddy is on the way to New York. She thinks about how her mother lost two of the three people she loved. “Love makes you crazy,” Maddy thinks. She reflects on the fact that even after she refused to promise her mother that she was coming back, her mother still let her go. That has to count for something, Maddy thinks.

Chapter 135: Life Is ShortTM 

The lesson of The Little Price is that love is worth everything.

Chapter 136: This Life 

Maddy has texted Olly to meet her in a used bookshop and to look for a present in aisle S-U. She arrives a little early to place the present on a shelf. She watches Olly arrive and find the book, her copy of The Little Prince. Inside, the finder’s reward is listed as “Me (Madeline).” When Maddy comes out of hiding, Olly smiles. “Found your book,” he says.

Analysis: Chapters 116–136

Through her search for evidence to explain why her mother has held her hostage in her home, Maddy finds a degree of emotional freedom. If she is not sick, she will have to admit to herself that her mother, although motivated by her belief that she was doing the right thing, has victimized Maddy. Maddy’s mother unravels when confronted about her deception, clearly showing that she has cultivated the lie for so long that even she is unsure of what is real and what is fabricated. Maddy, realizing that she has been lied to and encased in a bubble for no good reason, loses her ability to be compassionate towards her mother.

When Maddy realizes that the person in the family who is ill is not herself, but her mother, she begins to break free of the physical and emotional isolation that has trapped her. By adding color, plants, and fish to her surrounding environment, she lends real elements to her life and erases the imaginary details from the sterile white existence that held her for so long. The literal fresh air that comes into Maddy’s life through the windows she opens symbolizes a fresh start for Maddy without the glass that has separated her from real life. She will be free to pursue a future of experience and adventure.

The competition for Maddy’s love between Carla and Maddy’s mother tests Maddy’s loyalties and allegiances. Maddy gravitates to the respectful love that Carla offers in contrast to the manipulative love she receives from her mother. As Maddy transfers her attention from her mother to Carla, Carla feels guilty, perhaps because of her own difficulty connecting with her teenage daughter. She encourages Maddy to reconcile. Maddy returns to the image of being an astronaut hovering above her life; she dissects every momentous event so far to try and make sense of her existence. As she views her formative years as Olly or any other observer looking down on the situation would, Maddy sees these events more clearly.

Maddy chooses to reclaim the love that she has lost by bravely venturing out to another unknown. She now understands through experience that love will not actually kill you, but it can make people act irrationally. Maddy’s mother demonstrates courage in loving her enough to let her go, while Maddy grants her forgiveness as a result of that gesture. The culmination of all of Maddy’s endeavors comes when she recognizes that life is a series of moments, free of predetermination. All of her moments, including the life encased in her sterile existence, have brought her to where she is right now. Maddy begins the next stage of her life using her favorite book to illustrate that anything is possible. The book, by Maddy’s assertion, has a different meaning every time she reads it. She now evaluates her life from a different perspective, one which reveals that her adventures can be boundless.