Chapters Five & Six

Summary: Chapter Five

On Friday night, while Bronwyn and her younger sister, Maeve, are watching Netflix, Maeve asks about Yale University, excited that Bronwyn might be going there. After a battle with leukemia two years ago, Maeve can no longer push herself the way Bronwyn can, so Bronwyn wants to succeed for both of them. Nate surprises the sisters by showing up at their front door. Bronwyn is uncomfortable, but Maeve welcomes in Nate. Noticing the family’s piano, Nate asks Bronwyn to play something. Lost in the music, Bronwyn forgets about Nate until she finishes and Nate tells her it’s the best thing he’s ever heard. 

That evening, Officer Budapest questions Addy. Addy initially denies visiting the nurse’s office but then remembers that she needed Tylenol. Addy’s older sister, Ashton, questions the officer’s motives. Officer Budapest explains that the nurse kept several EpiPens in her office, but none could be found when the incident occurred. Before he leaves, Officer Budapest urges Addy to call him if she remembers anything new. Jake is on his way to pick Addy up, so she finishes getting ready. When Ashton asks how things are between Addy and Jake, Addy wishes she could tell her sister about a secret she’s been keeping. Upon Jake’s arrival, Addy is shocked to find Jake’s friend TJ in the back seat of Jake’s car. After Addy changes into a formfitting sweater at Jake’s suggestion, TJ quietly assures Addy that no one knows Addy slept with him shortly after she and Jake got together for the first time. Addy hopes that TJ is right.

Summary: Chapter Six

During a Saturday afternoon game, Cooper strikes out several batters. Cooper’s father, Kevin, insisted that Cooper pitch, even though Simon’s memorial service at school is later that same day. After the game, a major-league scout introduces himself to Cooper and his father, and comments about Cooper’s remarkably improved fastball speed. Later, at Simon’s service, Cooper is surprised to see Leah Jackson since Simon was the reason Leah attempted suicide last year. Leah shows Cooper another anonymous Tumblr post by Simon’s supposed murderer. The writer takes credit for removing all the EpiPens from the nurse’s office and seems to have been in the detention room, too. Cooper barely hears Principal Gupta’s speech about Simon as he remembers the scout’s comment about his fastball. 

Early the next afternoon, Nate’s meets with his probation officer, Officer Lopez. Nate likes her but is annoyed when she presses him about his schoolwork. Officer Lopez understands why Nate has been distracted, but she reminds him that he needs maintain the requirements of his probation. Nate wishes he had something positive to report, but he doesn’t want to tell her about his visit with Bronwyn. (Nate was thinking about taking drugs that night, but he drove to Bronwyn’s house instead.) Officer Lopez drives Nate to Simon’s funeral service at the church. Nate believes that Officer Lopez has led him into a trap when he sees the number of police officers attending. When Nate makes eye contact with Simon’s mother, she sobs audibly. After the service, one of the cops approaches Nate and Officer Lopez.

Analysis: Chapters Five & Six

The prevalence of stereotypes resurfaces when Bronwyn secretly worries that she has been forced into success as “the brain” because of her sister’s long illness. Though she and Nate are very different, the shared experience of Simon’s death allows them to establish common ground and share their innermost thoughts and secrets. In doing so, they tear down what they thought they knew about one another and begin to see past the stereotypes. Nate appears to not need anyone, and his life is shaped by his absent parents. However, Nate’s tender care of his bearded dragon Stan reveals a vulnerability not typical of his criminal stereotype. He also allows Officer Lopez to function as a maternal stand-in. She understands that the way to get closer to Nate is by being friendly to Stan. Officer Lopez recognizes moments in which Nate’s criminal facade disappears, and she is the only adult to warn Nate that his stereotype will be used against him to implicate him in Simon’s murder. 

These chapters also explore the dangers that the characters face if the truth about them is exposed. Bronwyn is an overachiever and cannot fathom the idea of failing. If her secret is revealed, she is afraid she will lose her opportunity to attend Yale. The text message Cooper receives suggests that his secret is related to his love life, but his conversation with the baseball scout hints that he might be hiding something else. The scout’s comment about how quickly Cooper’s fastball improved implies that Cooper used steroids to get ahead. Cooper’s secret is unclear, but he is afraid that if the truth about him comes out, he will lose the opportunity to play professional or college baseball. Addy has been conditioned to believe she is not worthy of Jake, but her life, popularity, and mother’s approval are built around her relationship with him. She is ashamed of her secret, and its exposure could change everything about her life. Each character is hiding a truth that threatens to destroy their dreams and achievements.