Summary: Chapter 12

Aza arrives at school on Thursday to find that Daisy bought a car and a book on colleges. Aza looks through the college book and dreams about going away to college. Davis texts Aza that they will not be able to see the meteor shower because of the weather but Aza assures him that she is more interested in seeing him than a meteor shower. Daisy works on homework at Aza’s house and Aza advises her to not spend all the money at once. Daisy gets angry because she feels like Aza is judging her and they fight, but they both apologize. 

Davis drives over to pick up Aza and her mom insists that he come inside to meet her. Aza’s mom makes Davis cry by insinuating that he always gets what he wants. Aza comforts him and they go to his house. Outside, Davis describes what the meteor shower would look like if they could see it. They talk about Davis’s poetry and Aza kisses him. As they kiss, thoughts about bacteria shared by kissing consume Aza, so she goes to the bathroom to wash out her mouth and research bacteria. She learns that bacteria passed while kissing can permanently alter your microbiome. Aza briefly explains her panic to Davis, and they watch a movie. When Aza returns home, she tries to calm her anxiety. Her mom can tell she is anxious and sings her to sleep.

Summary: Chapter 13

Davis texts Aza the next morning to assure her that he likes her body since he thinks her anxiety from the night before is because she either hates or fears her body. Aza has an appointment with Dr. Singh and they discuss that Aza thinks she is fiction. Aza wants to know if anything will make her happy if having a boyfriend does not make her happy. Dr. Singh tells her that any change, even good change like a boyfriend, is stressful and she should give herself grace and understanding. She also assures Aza that she is real and that her own doubts about reality help to prove that. At home, Aza’s mom apologizes again about making Davis cry. Aza tells her she’s thinking about going away to college. Aza excuses herself and texts Davis. They text each other descriptions of what they like about the other’s body and make plans to watch a movie together again. 

Summary: Chapter 14

Aza goes to Davis’s house to watch a movie and is given a tour of the tuatara enclosure by Malik while Davis deals with trouble Noah got into at school. Malik tells her about tuatara and that he believes they hold the secret to longer lives for humans. Davis catches up to her and explains that Noah is being suspended. They go to the theater room to watch a movie. While watching the movie, Aza kisses Davis but panics again. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom and rinses out her mouth with water before swishing and swallowing hand sanitizer. She sees Noah on the way out and they talk. Noah still wants more information on his father. Aza tells Davis that Noah needs to see a psychologist. Davis tells Aza that Noah needs a father. 

Analysis: Chapters 12–14

The money Davis gives Aza and Daisy affects the girls differently, and the economic disparities in the relationship come to the fore. Aza’s world suddenly expands. Before she received the money, she and her mom would have had trouble affording the application fees for college, but now Aza has the financial means to even consider that she’ll be able to go to college out of state. Daisy’s life opens in a much different way in that she uses the money to level the economic playing field between Aza and herself. However, Aza views Daisy’s spending as reckless and in doing so fails to recognize the privilege which owning a car and laptop has afforded her; Daisy never had the same advantages as Aza did. Daisy is both aware of this disparity and aware of the fact that Aza cannot recognize her own privilege. This economic shift will further drive a wedge into Daisy and Aza’s relationship.

Aza’s anxiety challenges her relationship with Davis and unsettles Aza’s sense of bodily identity. Aza’s fear of bacteria is much stronger than her ability to enjoy an intimate moment with Davis. Her fear goes so far as to prevent her enjoyment of what would be her first kiss. Presumably, Aza does not simply fear intimacy—she is afraid of changing herself. Aza’s spiral in this episode stems from the idea that an intimate exchange like this would change her entire microbial makeup. In a desperate cry for help, Aza drinks hand sanitizer in an effort to cleanse her body of Davis’s bacteria, symbolizing her fear of and unwillingness to allow someone else to change her body.