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Day: April 6, 2013

50 Shades Freed recap chapter 12, or “How’s your Aspen?”

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My tweep Purva alerted me to this really dumb slide show. Let’s all suffer together, shall we? I think the most frustrating one was the cupcake one. Since when do cupcakes need a fucking backstory to enjoy them? Also, who the fuck wants to eat a pile of fondant as big as those decorations were? And they’re sex themed cupcakes. The only way that’s okay is if there is some kind of gooey, salty filling in them. That’s the only way I’m on board.

Tweep Anna sent me this link to David Bunce’s review of 50 Shades of Grey. It’s definitely worth a read.

Okay. Let’s get this over with.

LOL, remember when recaps used to start with, “On to the recap!”? All enthusiastic and shit because my soul wasn’t irreparably withered? Just for reference, when I started reading these books I was a church-goer. Now I’m an atheist. I’m not saying they’ve destroyed my faith in God all on their own, I’m just suggesting they may have been a contributing factor.

When we last left them, Chedward had just told Ana that he was born in Detroit, and it is apparently a mind-blower:

“I though you were born here in Seattle,” I murmur. My mind races. What does this have to do with Jack?

I don’t know, maybe your crackerjack narrative will tell us at some point. You know, after you murmur and muse about it for seven or eight chapters, and then the big reveal ends up being something incredibly stupid. But yeah, no reveal in this chapter.

Since it’s been two weeks, I’m going to remind you guys that at this point, he’s done orgasm denial that caused her to safe word and she broke down crying. He’s yet to ask her if she’s okay or if she needs anything, and we’re now talking about his traumatic childhood and the conversation is all about him.

This is the face I’m making right now.

Christian explains that he and Elliot were both adopted in Detroit, but Grace wanted to leave, to be on the west coast and away from “the urban sprawl.” Which is pretty rich, considering Seattle’s geographical size is about half a square mile less than Detroit’s. Ana asks Christian how he knew Jack Hyde was from Detroit:

“I ran a background check when you went to work for him.”

You know, like any non-psycho boyfriend does.

Of course he did. “Do you have a manila file on him, too?” I smirk.

Christian’s mouth twists as he hides his amusement. “I think it’s pale blue.”

I’m glad they can joke about Christian’s repeated and obsessive invasions of privacy against people in his life and people who are only marginally connect to people in his life.

Ana asks what’s in Jack Hyde’s file, and Christian is all, “‘You really want to know?'” like it’s going to shock Ana so badly he needs to protect her fragile female brain from the terrible reality of who Jack Hyde is. When Ana asks how bad it is, Christian immediately reminds her of his horrible childhood:

“I’ve known worse,” he whispers.

No! Is he referring to himself?

HE FUCKING SAID “I” IN THE SENTENCE, ANA. WHO THE FUCK ELSE DOES HE REFER TO AS “I”? DOES HE HAVE A FRIEND NAMED “IGOR” WHO GOES ONLY BY INITIALS?

I didn’t mean for TLJ to become a thing, but it seems like this is the recap where he becomes a thing.

Rather than just telling Ana what’s in the fucking file,
“What’s in the fiiiiile?”

they talk some more about his horrible childhood and how he’s like, clearly 100% over it:

Christian stiffens. “I wasn’t talking about me. I don’t want your pity, Anastasia. That part of my life is done. Gone.”

“Except for when I need to manipulate you into doing something or staying with me when I’ve treated you like shit,” he definitely did not say next. “So let’s never talk about it, because if you think I’ve gotten over it, I won’t be able to use it as a weapon against you anymore.”

Even Ana knows that’s bullshit, and she calls him on it:

“That part of your life is not done, Christian – how can you say that? You live every day with your past. You told me yourself – fifty shades, remember?” My voice is barely audible.

But before you’re like, “Right on, Ana, call him on his bullshit so he has a microscopic chance of healing or whatever, as if I even gave a shit what happens to this guy,” she continues:

“I know it’s why you feel the need to control me. Keep my safe.”

“And yet you choose to defy me,” he murmurs, baffled, his hand stilling in my hair.

Whatever, “Jareth.”

I frown. Holy cow! Do I do that deliberately? My subconscious removes her half-moon glasses and chews the end, pursing her lips and nodding. I ignore her. This is confusing – I’m his wife, not his submissive, not some company he’s acquired. I’m not the crack whore who was his mother… Fuck. The thought is sickening. Dr. Flynn’s words come back to me:

“Just keep doing what you’re doing. Christian is head over heels… It’s a delight to see.”

That’s it. I’m just doing what I’ve always done. Isn’t that what Christian found attractive in the first place?

Oh, this man is so confusing.

So was literally ALL OF THAT. What thought is sickening? The thought of his mother? Of being his sub? Of him acquiring companies? And no, dummy, your personality isn’t what Christian found attractive. The fact that you looked like his mother is what made you attractive to him. You already know that. He could have never been attracted to your personality, because in the first book you never said more than a few words at a time to him, because you were terrified of him. He found you attractive because he thought you were going to be a fuck doll he could manipulate and abuse until he got tired of you and threw you away.

Ana tells Christian that she’s just doing what Dr. Flynn told her to do, and she defies his orders to get him “‘away from your past,'” which would make sense if she didn’t bring up his fucking past every time they had the slightest argument. We’re in Ana’s head, so we know how often she’s thinking of him as being some grubby, abused toddler. Christian is not impressed that his psychiatrist suggested something that he feels might actually help him, and Ana says:

“Christian, I know you loved your mom, and you couldn’t save her. It wasn’t your job to do that. But I’m not her.”

He freezes again. “Don’t,” he whispers.

“No, listen. Please.” I raise my head to stare into wide eyes that are paralyzed with fear. He’s holding his breath. Oh, Christian…  My heart constricts. “I’m not her. I’m much stronger than she was. I have you, and you’re so much stronger now, and I know you love me. I love you, too,” I whisper.

Okay. First of all, Christian’s mother was a single mom, a drug addict, a prostitute working in unsafe conditions and under the control of her abusive pimp. She was trying to raise her son in abject poverty in Detroit in the 1980’s (not one of the city’s finest decades). She was not weak, Ana, you ignorant, privileged asshole. Strength has nothing to do with that situation.

I fucking hate, hate, hate this book.

Second, you tell Christian it wasn’t his job to save his mom, and you’re not her, but then you tell him you’re strong because of him. Which completely contradicts the point you were trying to make about not needing to be saved in place of his mother.

I fucking hate, hate, hate this book.

And let’s keep in mind, the experienced, careful Dom STILL HAS NOT INQUIRED ONCE AS TO HIS SUB’S MENTAL STATE AFTER SHE SAFE WORDED AND STARTED SOBBING.

 You know what’s coming.

His brow creases as if my words were not what he expected. “Do you still love me?” he asks.

“Of course I do. Christian, I will always love you. No matter what you do to me.” Is this the reassurance he wants?

She will always love him, no matter what he does to her. So… he doesn’t really need to change. He can keep abusing and isolating her, forcing her to make “choices” that are already pre-decided, and run her off from her dreams and aspirations until she’s exactly the person he wants her to be. That must be a load off his mind.

Christian tells Ana that when she asked him earlier in the day if he hated her, he didn’t understand why, and Ana asks if he still thinks she hates him. He says:

“No.” He shakes his head. “Not now.” He looks relieved. “But I need to know… why did you safe-word, Ana?”

What the hell kind of question is this? Wait, let me clarify: what the hell kind of question is this for Christian Grey to ask? Because a good Dom is going to ask, “What was it about the situation that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and is there anything I can do next time to avoid making you feel that way?” That’s not how Christian is asking it. He’s asking why she safe worded because he sees it as an act of betrayal against him. The implication here is that she used the safe word because she hates him or wants to punish him.

What was Ana’s reason (Trigger warning):

What can I tell him? That he frightened me. That I didn’t know if he’d stop. That I’d begged him – and he didn’t stop. That I didn’t want things to escalate… like – like that one time in here. I shudder as I recall him whipping me with his belt.

If the control issues in their relationship were confined purely to their sex play, if they had a healthy BDSM relationship in which one partner didn’t expect their D/s roles to continue outside the bedroom when the other partner didn’t have that same expectation, this would be a fine and a sensible answer. In this context? It’s Ana admitting that she’s afraid of her husband and the fact that he uses BDSM as a way to abuse her.

I swallow. “Because… because you were so angry and distant and… cold. I didn’t know how far you’d go.”

She doesn’t trust him enough to submit to him. End of story. They should not be engaging in D/s play at all. Lack of trust is what makes their sexual relationship abusive, because Christian has been aware of her lack of trust and has done nothing to build her faith in him. He prefers her frightened, so he can manipulate her.

Ana asks Christian if he was eventually going to let her come, and he says no. Which is totally shitty, because he never said, “Hey, are you cool with some orgasm denial?” before they started. In fact, he made it seem like they were going into the Red Room for mutual satisfaction. He can’t get Ana’s consent if he doesn’t ask for it, so once again, we read a rape scene dressed up like sexy sexin’ times. He also tells her that he’s glad she safe worded:

“Yes. I don’t want to hurt you. I got carried away.” he reaches down and kisses me. “Lost in the moment.” He kisses me again. “Happens a lot with you.”

Oh? And for some bizarre reason the thought pleases me… I grin. Why does that make me happy? He grins, too.

“I don’t know why you’re grinning, Mrs. Grey.”

“Me neither.”

Me neither.

“It means I can trust you… to stop me. I never want to hurt you,” he murmurs.

I love how he always says this RIGHT AFTER HE HAS DONE SOMETHING TO HURT HER. And by love, I mean I want to set myself on fire.

There’s nothing wrong with a Dom expressing gratitude for the trust he has in his sub’s ability to stop him from crossing the line unintentionally. But I think we’re all aware that Christian is making Ana solely responsible for controlling him when they’re together. If she forgets to safe word because she gets into a bad place mentally, well, open season I guess, because we already know from the belt incident that Christian feels the onus is on Ana to keep the scene from going too far. Which is really funny in a “this writing is so fucking pathetic” way, because Christian goes on and on about how much he needs to control Ana in every aspect of her life, but he can’t exert any control over his own actions in his role as Dom. It’s another case of the author telling us what kind of a person the character is, while showing us tons of evidence to the contrary.

This is the heart of our dilemna – his need for control and his need for me. I refuse to believe these are mutually exclusive.

This is the heart of every abusive relationship. One partner’s need to exert control over the other partner, through any means necessary, and the abused partner’s utter refusal to accept the reality of his/her/zir situation.

“I need you, too,” I whisper, hugging him tighter. “I’ll try, Christian. I’ll try to be more considerate.”

Moving on, because I’m not going to be able to handle the rest of the fucking scene in which Ana earnestly apologizes to Christian for not being a good enough abused wife for him, Ana wakes up, still in the playroom, and Christian is, predictably, having another manipulative, thrashy nightmare.

This is what Christian Grey looks like when he’s sleeping.

She wakes Christian from his dream, and they immediately start fucking:

“Ah!” I cry out, not from any pain, but from surprise at his alacrity.

Alacrity means being ready to do something in an cheerful way. Like, “The alacrity Jenny showed sprinting toward the liquor store was truly impressive.” It’s not the right word to use when someone has just woken up from a violent, screaming nightmare and starts desperation fucking the nearest available hole. They fuck, he comes, she doesn’t, and finally, FINALLY, he asks her if she’s okay:

“You okay?” I breathe, caressing his lovely face.

Oh, shit, no, HE STILL DIDN’T ASK HER IF SHE’S OKAY, SHE ASKED HIM. Because he is the most important.

Now, a lot of people have been like, “Oh, he fucks her again and leaves her hanging,” but he really doesn’t. When he realizes she didn’t come, he immediately heads south and gets her off orally, and then, with practically no refractory period required, fucks her again, and this time they both come. So, he does take care of the orgasm thing. And that’s where she could have used the word “alacrity.”

They get up and head back to the bedroom, and I’m not sure why we need a scene of them discussing this, especially since the scene takes up approximately a page of text. Other than to show them going from the playroom to the bedroom, which could easily have been done in a single sentence in the next section, which begins:

My eyes spring open. Something is wrong. Christian is not in bed, though it’s still dark. Glancing at the radio alarm, I see it’s three twenty in the morning. Where’s Christian? Then I hear the piano.

You know why she had the feeling something was wrong? Because there wasn’t an “Edward plays Bella’s lullaby” scene in this book yet. It’s weird that Ana is waking up all the freaking time to find Chedward not in bed with her (this is because Edward Cullen, a vampire, never slept, and in Breaking Dawn Bella wakes up to find him not in bed with her, so it has to be a theme E.L. beats to death in her fanfic) and yet she always finds it so alarming and crazy. “He’s not in bed with me? This has only happened a hundred and fifty other times! SOMETHING IS WRONG OMG HYDE MURDERED HIM.”

Also, why is it important for us to know that the alarm clock has a radio in it?

Quickly slipping out of bed, I grab my robe and run down the hallway to the great room. The tune he’s playing is so sad – a mournful lament that I’ve heard him play before. I pause in the doorway and watch him in a pool of light while the achingly sorrowful music fills the room. He finishes, then starts the piece again. Why such a plaintive tune? I wrap my arms around myself and listen spellbound as he plays. But my heart aches. Christian, why so sad? Is it because of me? Did I do this?

Yes, Ana. Your abuse is all your fault and you should feel bad about making him do that to you. OMG THIS BOOK IS SO FEMINIST BECAUSE IT MAKES ME PLAY WITH MYSELF.

When he finishes, only to start a third time, I can bear it no longer.

That is a really long time to stand and creepily watch someone play piano. After Ana goes over and sits by him, he tells her the piece he’s playing is Chopin’s “Prelude No. 4 in E minor (Suffocation),” so that means Ana stood there for like, almost six minutes listening to him before she said anything. Go stand and silently watch someone do something for six minutes. It’s a long time.

Also, it’s pretty funny that we’re supposed to be all, “Oh, he’s so talented, playing the piano in the night like some tortured genius,” because that’s actually not a very complicated song to play. A friend who teaches piano told me she uses that piece to strengthen an intermediate student’s left hand timing. And I was all, “That’s what she said,” and then she hit me. But whatever. Christian’s playing a pretty simple tune and we’re all supposed to be impressed at his skill.

 Reaching over, I take his hand. “You’re really shaken by all this, aren’t you?”

He snorts. “A deranged asshole gets into my apartment to kidnap my wife. She won’t do as she’s told. She drives me crazy. She safe-words on me.” He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them again, they are stark and raw. “Yeah, I’m pretty shaken up.”

More proof that Christian Grey should never, ever Dom. Ever. EVER. He takes the use of a safe word as a personal insult, a thing that shakes him up. Remember, Ana was sobbing, she didn’t want him to touch her, she felt violated, but he’s shaken up by it?

I squeeze his hand. “I’m sorry.”

She’s sorry. For safe wording, for not mindlessly obeying him. She’s apologizing, again, for him abusing her.

“I dreamed you were dead,” he whispers.

Ana comforts him over his awesome dream, his pajama bottoms hang THAT WAY, and they go back to bed.
Ana wakes up with Christian laying all over her, like usual:

Hard to believe that the man lying beside me, looking so serene and young in his sleep, was so tortured last night… and so tortured me last night.

So, file “tortured” away with “beat” and “hit” from the first book.

But am I strong enough for both of us? Strong enough to do what I’m told and give him some peace of mind? I sigh. He’s not asking that much of me.

Just that you relinquish all personal autonomy and live in his glass castle, never leaving or having any contact with the outside world but always ready to sexually service him and listen to him cry about his childhood. That’s not too much to ask at all, is it?

I flit through our conversation of last night. Did we decide anything other than to both try harder? The bottom line is that I love this man, and I need to chart a course for both of us. One that lets me keep my integrity and independence but still be more for him. I am his more, and he is mine. I resolve to make a special effort this weekend not to give him cause for concern.

That’s right, Ana. You need to shoulder the burden of fixing your relationship, and be a better person for Christian so he doesn’t have to do anything. Because he didn’t decide to try harder the night before. He just let you apologize over and over for making him abuse you.

This book is fucking sick. I remember when I was first reading them, and everyone was like, “You’re going to change your tune when you get to book three, because he’s sooooo different and gets sooooo much better.” No, he doesn’t. He doesn’t change at all. If anything, he gets slightly worse, but only because with a ring on her finger, he’s emboldened to let his diseased personality run wild. The only person who changes is Ana, because she makes a concerted effort to put up with his abuse.

Christian wakes up and they have their intensely belabored dialogue, as is standard for their mornings:

“Good morning, Mr. Grey.” I smile.

“Good morning, Mrs. Grey. Did you sleep well?”

Every time they wake up, they remind me of the fish from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

“Oh look, Chedward’s being eaten.”

Ana asks Christian what he would like to do today, and he tells her he wants to take her to Aspen. Then they talk about how they’re going to get there and blah blah blah, we can skip to the next scene. Taylor drives them to the airport, where Christian’s corporate jet is waiting.

He looks dreamy, all tousled hair, white T-shirt, and black jeans. Not CEO-like at all today.

There’s that damn description again. He either looks exactly like a CEO, or not at all like a CEO. At this point, I’m begging for just one variation on the theme, like, “He looks nothing at all like a rodeo clown,” or “he looked every bit the guy who obsessively brushes his teeth.”

He takes my hand as Taylor glides to a stop at the foot of the jet steps.

“I have a surprise for you,” he murmurs and kisses my knuckles.

I grin at him. “Good surprise?”

“I hope so.” He smiles warmly.

Hmm… what can it be?

Considering you ran into a bit of pronoun confusion and this tender exchange has taken place with Taylor, not Christian, I hope the surprise is that Taylor is going to murder your husband and steer that jet to Europe.

But you know what? Taylor doesn’t deserve to put up with your bullshit, Ana. He can stay with Mrs. Jones.

They get into the plane:

Christian and Stephan shake hands. “Good morning, sir.” Stephan smiles.

 This is going to make the scene somewhat bearable guys, just roll with it.

“Thanks for doing this on such short notice.” Christian grins back at him. “Our gests here?”

“Yes, sir.”

This week, Seattle’s hottest club is GEH Jet. They have everything: a sadistic billionaire, a timid brunette, her nosy best friend –

I turn and gasp. Kate, Elliot, Mia, and Ethan are all smiling and sitting in the cream-colored leather seats. Wow! I spin around to Christian.

Uh… if they’re RIGHT THERE, why did Christian have to ask if they were there? Just for the drama?

Ana is speechless to find her friends there. Okay, not strictly her friends. Her friend, her friend’s brother, and Christian’s brother and sister. But still, more people than she’s usually allowed to associate with:

“You said you didn’t see enough of your friends.” He shrugs and gives me a lopsided, apologetic smile.

If he was really apologetic, Jose would be there, right?

This is exactly how I felt when I typed that sick burn on a totally fictional character. My life has meaning.

Ana is totally grateful, and of course it’s time for her to show her gratitude by being objectified, so Christian puts her over his shoulder and marches her past the friends she’s there to spend time with in order to go straight to the bedroom. There is a description of Elliot “whooping like a demented gibbon,” and all I can think of is the comment someone left on another recap that read “I come loudly, whooping like a demented gibbon,” and I cannot stop laughing.
Alone in the private part of the cabin, Christian says:

“That was fun, Mrs. Grey.” And his grin widens. Oh boy. He looks so young.

 He is 27. In what universe, even to a twenty-two year old, is twenty-seven not young? As Kody Thomas points out in her analysis of the plagiarism in the series, both Edward and Christian are depicted as seeming older than their years. But that’s because Edward is a vampire. It makes no sense for Christian to be thought of as old. At all. Except for the part where he was plagiarized off a vampire.

They have a moment in the bedroom of the jet, and Christian reveals the reason for the trip:

“[…] I thought it would be easier to avoid the press in Aspen than at home.”

The paparazzi! He’s right. If we’d stayed in Escala, we’d have been imprisoned. A shiver runs down my spine as I recollect the snapping cameras and dazzling flashes of the few photographers Taylor sped through this morning.

Leaving aside the part where I imagine Taylor actually speeding through hapless photographers, their bodies exploding like water balloons filled with blood and bone chunks, and the part where we’ve already discussed that Americans don’t give a shit about the day-to-day lives of industry tycoons who aren’t fictional,  WTF? You’re going to Aspen to get away from paparazzi? Great plan, because as everyone knows, NOBODY FAMOUS EVER GOES TO ASPEN, RIGHT?

Christian and Ana rejoin their friends, because it’s time for takeoff. Now, I know I just told you that, but I’m also going to let Stephan tell you that, so you can imagine Bill Hader is on the plane with them:

“Please be seated, ladies and gentlemen, as we’ll shortly begin taxiing for takeoff.” Stephan’s voice echoes calmly and authoritatively around the cabin. The brunette woman – um… Natalie? – who was on the flight for our wedding night appears from the galley and gathers up the discarded coffee cups. Natalia… Her name’s Natalia.

“Good morning Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey,” she says with a purr. Why does she make me uncomfortable?

Because she’s female?

Maybe it’s that she’s a brunette. By his own admission, Christian doesn’t usually employ brunettes because he finds them attractive.

So, because Christian can’t trust himself to behave ethically around an employee he finds attractive, he actively discriminates against certain types of women? HE’S SO DREAMY I NEED TO TOUCH MY NO NO.

But Ana is distracted from further misogynistic musing on the subject of bitches who want to steal her man, because she’s going to think about Christian instead:

He seems relaxed and happy, even though we’re with company. Idly, I wonder why he can’t always be like this – not controlling at all.

No, not controlling at all, even though you’re on a last-minute surprise trip out of state that he planned so he could micromanage your socialization. Not controlling at all.

Remember how in the first two books, and to a lesser extent, in this very book, everybody described Ana as “bright” or “intelligent” within two paragraphs of meeting her? Keep that in mind during this next exchange:

“Hope you packed your hiking boots,” he says, his voice warm.

“We’re not going skiing?”

“That would be a challenge, in August,” he says, amused.

 At tonight’s performance, the role of Jenny Trout will be played by Dule Hill.

I hate so, so much being TOLD by an author than a character is a certain way, when the character’s actions are SHOWN in a completely contradictory way. Ana is super duper smart… and she thinks they’re going to go skiing in AUGUST. But don’t worry, reader, she’s bright, and you know that because the author said she was. As it is written, so mote it be.

Natalia runs through the plane’s safety procedures in a clear, ringing voice. She’s dressed in a neat navy short-sleeved shirt and matching pencil skirt. Her makeup is immaculate – she really is quite pretty. My subconscious raises a plucked-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life eyebrow at me.

Ana starts to think something complimentary about another female, and her subconscious puts the lid on that right quick. Plus, I love that we just got this detailed description of the flight attendent, but I still have no fucking clue what Elliot looks like. I mean, from any of the information in any of the books, not just in the scene. There are minor characters I could draw a police sketch of, but secondary characters who are just faceless blanks shambling around in the story.

As they taxi out, Kate asks Christian questions about Jack Hyde. Because, you know, the guy she’s been with for exactly as long as Ana has been with Christian (longer, because she and Elliot didn’t break up due to him going sickhouse on her with a fucking belt) is at risk of being murdered by Jack, as well. But Ana doesn’t see it this way. She sees Kate’s questions as an intrusion, so when Kate asks why Christian fired Jack, this happens:

“He made a pass at me,” I mutter. I try to kick Kate’s ankle beneath the table and miss.

She tries to physically assault her best friend because Christian wants to be in complete control of the information flow regarding Jack Hyde.

I also want to point out that Christian beefed up security for Mia and Elliot, but Kate never mentioned anything about getting security for herself. If Jack is so deranged that he wants to hurt the Greys at any cost, wouldn’t he go after Elliot’s girlfriend? But Christian doesn’t care, because let’s be honest, if Kate dies, he gets Ana all to himself.

They keep talking about Jack Hyde, and there’s no new information revealed, really. It’s all about how Kate is so exasperating and terrible, asking all these questions. Even when Elliot gets in on it, it’s unacceptable:

“What do you know about him?” Elliot asks, oblivious to the fact that we are hurtling down the runway in a small jet about to launch itself into the sky, and equally oblivious to Christian’s growing exasperation with Kate.

Elliot, who has to have extra security because of Jack’s secret and horrible internet search history, isn’t entitled to information about what makes Jack a threat to his safety. Christian explains Hyde’s background:

“We know a little about him,” Christian continues. “His dad died in a brawl in a bar. His mother drank herself into oblivion. He was in and out of foster homes as a kid… in and out of trouble, too. Mainly boosting cars. Spent time in juvie. His mom got back on track through some outreach program, and Hyde turned himself around. Won a scholarship to Princeton.”

Yeah, I’m not buying that someone who had a record and spent time in juvie would be admitted to Princeton. It seems like that would be one of the things they’d use to weed out applicants.

I’m getting a little pissed off at the stigma against single mothers and low-income families in this series. Christian and Jack were both kids from impoverished backgrounds who became successful, but they’re both emotionally fragile, apparently because of their upbringing. Their childhoods were marked by violence – Jack’s father died in a bar fight, Christian was abused by his mother’s pimp – and addiction – alcohol; crack – and they were both “saved” by money. Christian was adopted by wealthy parents, Jack got into a prestigious school. And yet both of them are still so scarred by their upbringings that they fall apart at the slightest stress. Christian snaps and whips Ana with a belt, Jack loses his job and decides to start sabotaging helicopters and stuff. Because growing up without two parents in a heteronormative nuclear family environment leaves you irreparably damaged, and every person who comes from a background of poverty or fatherlessness is in the same situation.

Think about it – Ana’s parents are divorced, but she’s “normal” because of the presence of Ray or Charlie or whoever in her life (I honestly can’t remember which dad is in which book) and his masculine influence. Everything useful that Ana has ever learned, she learned from Rarlie. What has she learned from her mother? A legacy of bad decisions about men. Because of this masculine influence from her stepfather, Ana is a whole person. Christian and Jack are incomplete, because their mothers weren’t “strong” in the way Ana is.

OH. MY. GOD.

This is exactly how I looked when I realized I had uncovered yet another problematic aspect of this book.

I thought I was done finding things there were wrong with this crappy series. But there. Right there. No fucking wonder Ana’s subconscious is always reading Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. THIS IS SUPER JUDGEY ANTI-POVERTY PORN. Poor urchins are saved spiritually and physically by huge doses of vitamin $.
Jesus.

“Princeton?” Kate’s curiosity is piqued.

“”Yep. He’s a bright boy.” Christian shrugs.

1. Kate’s curiosity was already piqued, it’s why she’s been asking questions the whole time.
2. Further down the page, we learn that Jack Hyde is thirty-two. So Christian is only calling him “boy” because Edward was a vampire.

Much as I’d like to know what’s going on, I don’t want to encourage Kate’s questions. I know they’re irritating Christian, and I’m sure she’s on his shit list since Cocktailgate.

If a friend told me I was on her husband’s “shitlist” because she chose to go out for drinks with me when he’d asked her not to, I would never speak to that person ever again. I am not submissive to other people’s men, thanks a bunch and go fuck yourself.

Ana asks Christian if he thinks Jack is working with Elena “the bitch troll.” I will never tire of that delightful phrase, let me tell you. Christian says:

“You  do like to demonize her, don’t you?” Christian rolls his eyes and shakes his head in disgust.

Yeah. People tend to demonize adults who prey on emotionally damaged teenagers in the hopes of grooming them into the perfect sex slave. Something about that doesn’t sit right with most people, for some reason.

There is some back and forth between Christian and Elliot, and Elliot and Kate are suddenly not getting along great – because obviously, Elliot needs to rein her in and make her stop annoying the billionaire important man with questions about the guy who might end up killing her – and Ana thinks about how since she’s Christian’s first real girlfriend, Mrs. Robinson and the fifteen subs don’t matter.

“Okay, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be cruising at an altitude of approximately thirty-two thousand feet, and our estimated flight time is one hour and fifty-six minutes,” Stephan announces. “You are now free to move around the cabin.”

In my head canon, this is where the lights go out and the human suitcases roll down the aisle.

Now, it’s a pretty well-established rule of novel construction that your chapters should end with some kind of hook, something that will make the reader want to continue reading even though they’ve reached a convenient break. This can be the revelation of important information, a sudden exclamation, or a resolution of a minor problem that creates new questions the reader will be anticipating as they move into the next section of your story. Here’s how chapter twelve ends:

Natalia appears abruptly from the galley.

“May I offer anyone coffee?” she asks.

OMG I HAVE TO KEEP READING DO THEY HAVE THE COFFEE OR WHAT DO THEY PUT CREAM IN IT WHAT ABOUT SWEETENER OH GOD I MUST KNOW RIGHT NOW.

Masterful. Positively masterful.

The Boss!

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If you’re reading The Boss, chapter ten has been posted! It’s here.

If you’re following the read-a-long for The Boss, the post for chapters 9 and 10 are up! That’s here.
And if you’re waiting patiently for a 50 Shades Darker recap, I’ll be working on that all day today and hopefully it will be out this evening. Because everyone knows all the hip kids are staying in and dicking around on the internet on a Saturday night.
Trout out.