Bridget writes to Lena, telling her she feels “strange.” She writes again to say she’s frightened.
On the plane home from Greece, Lena worries over Bridget’s letters. She knows that Bridget still suffers over her mother’s death and that she gets scared sometimes when she feels alone and powerless. She wakes up Effie and tells her she’s going to go to Los Angeles, instead of home, to get Bridget.
Tibby gets a phone call from a sobbing Mrs. Graffman, and she knows Bailey is dead. She goes to the funeral with Bailey’s mismatched group of friends: Angela, Brian, Duncan, Margaret, Carmen. Late that night, unable to sleep, she takes Mimi out of the freezer and rides her bike to the cemetery. She tucks Mimi into a small hole she digs near Bailey’s grave. For a moment, Tibby feels like dying too, but then she gets up, vowing to live well for Bailey’s sake.
Lena makes her way to Bridget’s camp. She finds Bridget in bed. Outside, she gives Bridget the Pants and asks Bridget to tell her what happened. Bridget tells Lena she helped already just by coming.
Death touches all the friends in some way, either this summer or at some point in their past. Dealing with death forces them to gain new perspectives and learn how to cope with grief. Bridget has dealt with death for many years, since her mother died, and she continues to struggle with her feelings of loss. Without a mother to support her, Bridget often feels lost, and she leans on her friends to be a steady source of comfort and strength for her. Lena learns about Kostos’s sad family history, with his whole family dying in a car accident, and her knowledge changes her perspective on both Kostos and herself. Kostos, even though he’s experienced great sadness, is still willing to open up his heart, whereas Lena is not. This realization helps Lena to take more risks in her life. Carmen doesn’t face a physical death this summer, but she confronts the death of her fantasy relationship with her father, which was rooted in their avoidance of conflict. Only by opening up to each other can they revive their relationship and grow closer. Tibby must deal with two deaths this summer: Mimi’s and Bailey’s. Always strong and feisty, Tibby is laid low by her encounters with death, unsure about how to deal with them. At first, she opts to simply deny reality. Through her sadness, though, she eventually finds a new will to make her own life count.
Unlike Bridget, whose brazenness leads to heartbreak with Eric, Lena finds happiness when she makes a bold move for Kostos. Until now, Lena has lived passively, hoping someone would come along and pull her out of her quiet, private realm. She has hoped Kostos would look at her, but she didn’t take any action to make it happen. She has wanted him to know she likes him, but she never actually told him, nor did she give him any clues. Lena is terrified of taking risks that leave her vulnerable to rejection, but Kostos is so important to her that she finds the courage to bear her heart to him. The novelty of this experience leaves her flustered and nervous, but she ultimately finds happiness. Bridget, accustomed to such boldness and unfamiliar with rejection, pursues Eric without thinking twice. Her experience is not new—but the devastation that comes to her is.