Summary: Chapter Twenty-Five

Bronwyn calls Eli Kleinfelter and tells him she believes that Nate is innocent. She begs Eli to take Nate’s case, evoking Nate’s troubled family history to help convince Eli that Nate needs someone to intervene. After Eli agrees to speak with Nate’s parents, Bronwyn tries to find Nate’s mother to let her know. Addy suggests that she and Ashton spend the evening with Bronwyn and Maeve. When Bronwyn and Maeve return home, they find a horde of news vans and reporters. When Bronwyn’s mother asks her about Nate, Bronwyn admits to being in a relationship with him. Her mother tries to stay calm, even though her daughter ignored instructions to not get involved with another murder suspect. Nate’s mother calls and asks to speak with Bronwyn.

Later that Saturday, while Cooper is feeling good about his performance in a game, a reporter surprises Cooper with the news of Nate’s arrest. Cooper doesn’t believe that Nate murdered Simon. Cooper tries to engage his father in conversation, but his father only says he hopes Cooper’s “choice” was worth the media attention. Back at the house, Cooper’s grandmother Nonny suggests that Cooper invite Kris over for dinner, but before Cooper can respond offer, he gets a call from Bronwyn. She asks Cooper for an update on tracing information about the car crash outside the school, reminding him of his offer to ask his friend Luis to help trace them. Relieved at no longer being the number one suspect in Simon’s murder, Cooper is now less eager to pursue that issue, but he tells Bronwyn that he will check with Luis.

Summary: Chapter Twenty-Six

Bronwyn and her mother meet Nate’s mother at Eli’s office. Nate’s mother explains what prompted Nate’s arrest. An anonymous tip led police to Nate’s locker, where they found the stash of EpiPens that had gone missing from the nurse’s office the day of Simon’s death as well as Simon’s own EpiPen and water bottle. A subsequent search of Nate’s bedroom turned up a laptop with all the Tumblr posts on it. Eli is relieved to learn that Nate’s fingerprints were not found on any of these items. Eli finally agrees to take on Nate’s case. However, when Bronwyn tries to offer further insight, Eli stops her, since he risks disbarment if he speaks with anyone else involved in Nate’s case.

Addy is surprised when TJ interrupts her family dinner on Monday evening. He has brought Addy a textbook and offers to study with her. Addy’s mother is furious when Addy turns TJ away. Addy should feel lucky that any boy is interested in her, Addy’s mother says. Bronwyn invites Addy over to her home, and she finds that Cooper is as well when she arrives. Bronwyn asks Addy and Cooper to continue looking into Simon’s murder since she needs their help to exonerate Nate. The three, aided by Maeve, begin combing through the recent Tumblr posts from the writer claiming to be Simon’s murderer. When Cooper notes a line about Detective Wheeler eating a plate of doughnuts, Addy recognizes it as the lie she told Jake.

Summary: Chapter Twenty-Seven

The next evening, Bronwyn sends the Tumblr post about the doughnuts to Nate’s mother, but she reminds Bronwyn not to involve herself. Bronwyn, Maeve, and Addy collect what they know about Jake and his friendship with Simon. Cooper joins them and provides the name of the owner of the car, which Luis had been able to track down. Addy speculates that Jake might have been jealous of her friendship with Cooper, but she can’t explain why Jake would have implicated Nate and Bronwyn. Bronwyn drives to the car owner’s house. The owner, Sam Barron, admits that Simon paid him a thousand dollars to stage the car crash.

Analysis: Twenty-Five–Twenty-Seven

Nate’s arrest raises several questions, but it also illustrates the book’s ongoing theme of injustice in the legal system. Nate has been interviewed several times and searched twice. Both times, police left with no evidence. Despite those unsuccessful searches, officers immediately react when evidence mysteriously appears and fail to question the evidence’s authenticity. Nate is also the only member of the Bayview Four who does not have legal representation but does have a criminal record. These details highlight law enforcement’s tendency to go after vulnerable members of society. The investigators fail to acknowledge the glaring inconsistencies in the discovery of the EpiPens and laptop, and they instead accept the easy theory that “the criminal” has finally been caught. The officers’ desire to punish Nate to the full extent of the law also illustrates the injustice that exists for people without the means to properly and fairly navigate the criminal justice system. 

The events of these chapters highlight the role of misdirection in the narrative. Throughout the story, the Bayview Four (and the reader) have believed that only one person was responsible for Simon’s death. The details of the car accident, however, reveal that more than one person was involved. The red car involved in the crash symbolizes a red herring, a clue that is intended as a distraction from the truth. Investigation of this seemingly unimportant detail leads to the shocking revelation that Simon orchestrated the crash and was perhaps involved in other events that occurred on the day of his death. Addy’s innocuous lie to Jake about the doughnuts also serves as a red herring. She initially invented this detail to avoid giving Jake any real information about the investigation. When the lie surfaces in the Tumblr post, Jake’s involvement is revealed, and he becomes a central antagonist alongside Simon. Though Bronwyn, Cooper, and Addy are unclear about Jake’s potential motivations for wanting to frame them, Addy is most familiar with the dark side that exists beneath Jake’s surface.