Summary: Chapter Twenty-Two
Cooper is summoned to the police station on Sunday evening. Cooper’s lawyer, Mary, is waiting there with Detective Chang, who confronts Cooper with Simon’s now-decrypted post: a rumor that a left-handed pitcher, “CC,” was cheating on his girlfriend with a guy. The police believe that someone tried to erase this post after Simon’s murder. They inform Cooper that they have a warrant to search his home. Cooper wishes he had taken the chance to tell his family about Kris sooner. Mary warns the police to not publicly disclose Cooper’s sexual orientation, but Cooper thinks it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows his secret. As his father takes Cooper home, he demands to know what new evidence the police have. Cooper asks his mother and Lucas to join them. Cooper tells his family that Simon did discover a secret about Cooper, but it had nothing to do with steroids. Cooper tells his family he is gay.
Summary: Chapter Twenty-Three
The next morning, Cooper tells Addy about Simon’s encrypted post and tells her he is gay. He is worried that this new information makes him a stronger suspect in Simon’s murder. Addy tells Cooper that Bronwyn is also under increasing scrutiny, because of Simon’s post about Maeve. Cooper agrees with Addy that the Bayview Four should meet to talk.
At lunch, when several students bully Cooper for being gay, Nate tries to shut them down. Bronwyn finally stands and pulls Nate in for a passionate kiss, giving the cafeteria something else to talk about. When Cooper’s friend Luis joins the Bayview Four’s table. Addy is glad to see that, unlike herself, Cooper has a true friend to support him through difficult times like this.
Summary: Chapter Twenty-Four
Nate picks up Bronwyn after midnight on Thursday. At a construction site for an unfinished house, they kiss for a few minutes before Addy and Cooper show up. Bronwyn lists the information she and Maeve collected about Simon. Addy adds that Simon felt spurned by Keely last year when she started dating Cooper, and Nate admits to being with Keely before she and Cooper started dating. Cooper doesn’t believe that Keely was involved in Simon’s murder, but they all agree that she’s a common thread. The group discusses other students who may have had a motive to murder Simon, including Leah Jackson and Janae. Cooper offers to ask Luis, who has connections to some mechanics around town, to track down information about the car crash outside the school. Nate is surprised by the affection he now has for the other members in this group, and by his belief in their innocence.
The next evening, Bronwyn’s family watches a second episode of the Mikhail Powers special. The program host expresses outrage toward the police for violating Cooper’s rights, and frustration that the investigation hasn’t focused more attention on Mr. Avery. Leah Jackson is interviewed, as are several other students who were hurt by Simon’s app. The program also features the information that Maeve sent in about Simon’s incendiary posts after the school shooting. Public scrutiny begins to shift away from the Bayview Four after the program airs, and their lives start showing signs of returning to normal. Nate and Bronwyn talk on the phone, imagining what their relationship might be like after the investigation is over. The next morning, however, Maeve wakes Bronwyn up to tell her that Nate has been arrested for Simon’s murder.
Analysis: Chapters Twenty-Two–Twenty-Four
These chapters illustrate that a person’s true character is often revealed in times of adversity. Cooper has spent his entire life trying to please his father and live up to his expectations. This deception resulted in Cooper creating an outward façade that doesn’t align with who he really is. Once his secret is exposed, Cooper is forced to face his father and his possible rejection. Cooper’s father is caught off guard and does not know how to make sense of what Cooper has revealed. Nonny, on the other hand, has been listening and paying attention to Cooper. She realizes that he has been wrestling with his secret for his whole life. Cooper’s sexual orientation does not fit into the narrative his father has constructed for him. Cooper does find genuine acceptance with Luis, who is angry at the way Cooper is treated. Luis is loyal, and his friendship with Cooper never waivers. Nate and Addy are both quick to accept Cooper’s sexuality. This acceptance illustrates their growth and ability to look past their classmates’ assigned stereotypes. Cooper’s revelation allows him to see both his father’s and his friends’ true characters.
The harm of media bias is turned on its head in Chapter Twenty-Four as the media recasts the heroes and villains of the saga. Mikhail Powers is the first adult to use his media platform to expose how the Bayview Four have been bullied by the police into revealing their secrets. His reporting gives the students control over the narratives being told about them and depicts the police as the antagonists of the story. Maeve also plays a heroic role in this transformation. Her release of the 4chan posts to the media, as well as her encouragement of Leah to tell the media the truth about Simon, make her an important catalyst for the media’s reversal. Simon’s disturbing views on the lack of imagination of school shooters shine a light on his dark nature and harmful behaviors, and he is revealed as a villain rather than a victim in the media’s eyes. In contrast to the hateful and homophobic environment of the school, the media has become a safe space for the Bayview Four to exist in their truest forms.