Chapters 24–26

Summary: Chapter 24

Diana calls with the news that Katherine’s grandfather has died. Katherine wants to go home to be with her grandmother, but Diana says that her grandmother would prefer to have time to collect herself. Katherine then goes down to the lake to think about her grandfather. Theo comes to check on her and sits with her while she cries. He then takes her hand, walks her back to her house to get some sleep, and kisses her on the forehead. Katherine then kisses Theo on the mouth, and he kisses her back but stops himself because he doesn’t want to use her grandfather’s death as an excuse to kiss. 

The next morning, Jamie throws up when Katherine tells her about their grandfather’s death. Katherine also shares this news with Michael in a letter. A few nights later, while keeping Katherine company, Theo brings up their kiss. He says he wants to see Katherine after camp, but only when she’s in a better emotional place. Katherine receives a few letters from Michael but doesn’t respond. She composes a letter to him, trying to explain her confused feelings because of Theo, but she decides not to send the letter after all.

Summary: Chapter 25

When Katherine is called to the camp office, she feels scared about receiving more bad news, so Theo walks her over, holding her hand. At the office, Katherine is surprised to see Michael. He explains that he got worried because he hadn’t heard from her, so he flew home a few days early. Katherine then introduces Michael to Theo, and Foxy gives her the night off.

Katherine and Michael go out to dinner and then back to Michael’s motel room. There they start to have sex, but Katherine realizes that she doesn’t want to. Instead of pretending that everything is fine, she tells Michael that they need to talk. At first Michael assumes that Katherine is just upset about her grandfather. Then he guesses there might be another guy vying for her affection. Angry and unwilling to talk to Katherine, Michael gets dressed and hides in the bathroom. Katherine asks for time to sort out her feelings, but Michael says her won’t share her, so they acknowledge that their relationship is over. Katherine tries to return the necklace Michael gave her, but he won’t accept it. They don’t talk until they get back to camp, where Michael claims that he slept with a lot of girls while in North Carolina. He then drives off very fast.

Summary: Chapter 26

Back in New Jersey before leaving for college, Katherine and Michael run into each other in a store. They talk about Artie, who has returned home, and the ski instructor job that Michael has gotten in Colorado. Katherine wants to tell Michael that she will always be glad she loved him and that she doesn’t regret anything. Instead, they just bid each other a casual goodbye. At home, Jamie is visiting with David, the boy she likes from school, and Diana is taking care of the plant that Katherine and Jamie gave her for her birthday. The story ends with Diana telling Katherine that Theo has called.

Analysis: Chapters 24–26

Katherine’s grandfather’s death adds a new layer to Katherine’s concept of forever. Katherine’s grandfather has been in her life forever and his marriage to her grandmother has been as close to forever as humans can hope for. As she grapples with the grief of losing a person she loves for the first time, she experiences the painful realization that nothing is forever. But at the same time, she experiences the powerful emotions and happy memories of having loved a person for her entire life, and she is grateful for the good he brought to her. With a new understanding of forever, Katherine makes the first move to end her relationship with Michael by kissing Theo. Katherine’s confrontation with impermanence in the form of her grandfather’s death drives her to Theo, who understands more about sex and death than Katherine does. Katherine chooses what’s powerful in the present moment instead of chasing the illusion of forever.

These final chapters explore Katherine’s realization that she’s made promises to Michael she can’t keep, a sign of her new level of self-awareness. For the first time, instead of trying to control her feelings with her mind, Katherine understands that her emotions are sometimes a mystery she will need to solve. Though she loved Michael fully, Katherine couldn’t know who she would be and what she would want in the future. She has learned not to make promises about how she will feel in the future, but instead focus on being honest about her wants and needs in the present moment. Katherine’s reward for this hard-won knowledge about herself is that she keeps her heart open to new possibilities. The novel ends with the promise of a new romance blossoming between Katherine and Theo, suggesting that while one significant relationship didn’t last forever as planned, all is well, and Katherine’s romantic life is just beginning.