Summary: Chapter 3

Since Aza lives on the same river as the Picketts, Aza and Daisy take a canoe to the Pickett’s property to find the camera. Aza reflects on her childhood while they paddle down the river. She thinks about how her dad used to take pictures of the sky through tree branches and about the birthday party she had where her mom buried treasure on an island in the river. She remembers that Davis went to the party and he freaked out that he lost his Iron Man action figure before Aza’s mom found it. Aza and Daisy climb a floodwall to get to the Pickett’s property and they find the camera. Aza accesses the photos, including one of Russell walking in the woods the night he disappeared. Lyle, the Pickett’s security guard, catches them after Aza downloads the photos. Daisy breaks a hole in the canoe, so it looks like they are stranded. She tells Lyle that Aza knows Davis, so he offers to help them get home.

Summary: Chapter 4

Lyle drives Aza and Daisy to the Pickett house and threatens to have them booked for trespassing if Davis does not know them. They see Davis by the pool and he immediately greets Aza by name. He asks Lyle to bring them Dr Pepper because he remembers that it is Aza’s favorite drink. Aza asks Davis to tell her what he is thinking. He says that he has been thinking about her, but he is sad to see her now because it means she is after the reward money just like everyone else. 

Daisy tells Davis that they lied about crashing the canoe and says they purposely wrecked it because Aza has a crush on him and wanted to see him. They talk for a while before Malik, the zoologist who studies tuatara (lizard-like reptiles known for their long lifespan), shows them Russell’s pet tuatara, Tua. Daisy tells them she needs to get home and Aza follows Davis into the house while he gets his keys. In Davis’s room, she picks up his Iron Man figurine and Davis tells her to be careful as that is the only possession he loves. He drives the girls home. Daisy presses him for information about his dad, but he emphatically expresses that he does not know where his father is and does not want him to come back. Before Davis and Aza part, he comments on the wound on Aza’s finger and she replies that pain in life is irrelevant.

Analysis: Chapters 3–4

The characterization of Daisy centers on the idea of identity and individuality. Her dyed pink hair asserts her need to stand out while she wears a uniform to work. To Daisy, being forced to wear a uniform is akin to the deprivation of individuality. Her uniform signals that she is one and the same with her coworkers, and this goes against her values. As Daisy searches Aza’s mom’s closet for different clothes, she tries on the identities of a mother and of a math teacher, but neither suit her. Choosing to stick with the uniform reveals that Daisy prefers uniformed sameness to Aza’s mom’s identities. Daisy’s struggle to separate herself from the pack will carry her throughout the rest of the novel.

These chapters continue to explore the relationship between Aza’s life and literary works of fiction. Specifically, these chapters play with the tropes of a mystery novel. When not consumed by her thoughts and fears, Aza is able to uncover important pieces of the novel’s central mystery. Aza is the one who finds the last known picture of Russell Pickett. The canoe ride to the Pickett’s estate reveals that Russell Pickett was a private person. His wealthy, private status further plays with these tropes: he’s a wealthy enigma percolating in the background of a potboiler noir mystery. However, Aza’s infatuation with these tropes runs the risk of keeping her from seeing reality for what it truly is. Again, Aza fancies herself as a fictional being, and this persona may very well be a part of a mystery novel.

Chapter 4 examines the theme of privilege and wealth through the introduction of Davis. Davis’s uniform indicates that he attends a private school, and this fact serves to illustrate the privilege that is attached to his missing father’s wealth. Davis is not wrong to assume that anyone who comes to his home without warning must be after the reward money, but his assumption also suggests that he feels trapped by his wealth. Despite feeling trapped, Davis can’t help but demonstrate his privilege when he insists that the reward money of $100,000 isn’t that much. Davis’s wealth will continue to define his character as he comes closer into Aza’s orbit.