How is it possible to have more Handbook For Mortal news when the book isn’t even like…a thing? Well, I don’t know, but this is where we are.
Jeremy West brought it to the attention of Twitter that Lani is using “#1 New York Times Bestseller” stickers on copies of Handbook For Mortals:
If you notice, the logos of both publications are reproduced exactly. I’ve reached out to the New York Times for comment, but they’re presumably out of the office on a nation-wide hunt for the three remaining Trump voters they haven’t profiled yet.
Sarem also told author Claribel Ortega that the film version of Handbook For Mortals will be out this year. If you’re familiar at all with big budget, effects-heavy fantasy movies you will know that is not enough time to accomplish a good one, even if the movie released on December 31 because the project is still “in development” according to IMDB.
Now, let’s go to the recap. Oh, and again, warning for just an unsettling amount of racism. Just, a staggering amount of it.
More weeks flew by. My life had become pretty comfortable and happy.
I actually just checked to make sure I was starting on the right chapter because so many of them begin with weeks going by and how great things are going.
I should have known that things had been almost “too normal” for too long. Something was bound to break. I just didn’t expect what was coming, that’s for sure.
Wow, I bet whatever’s coming is so super exciting and has to do a lot with the exciting mahjicks of colored sparks coming out of her hands just like Sarem ripped off from The Magicians.
The show is in a rehearsal, and Mac and Zack are up on the catwalks for yet another part of the show where Zendaya–no. I’m sorry. I cannot bring Zendaya into this. Where Zerbert descends from the ceiling.
We were standing very close together and pretty much alone in that part of the theater–or at least that’s what we thought.
The POV and tense skews throughout this chapter are plentiful, my friends. Strap in.
Speaking of strapping in, Zumba is trying to adjust her safety harness so it’s extra super safe, which requires her to move into all sorts of sexy positions in front of Mac:
Twisting back and forth, I was eentually bent all the way over trying to make sure the harness felt right regardless of what position I was in.
“You know how hot you look in that harness?” Mac asked.
Tee hee, she bent over and he looked at her butt. Every time there’s any mild sexual banter, I remember that line from the Vulture article about dubious thrills from light petting and making small talk with Carrot Top or something like that.
I wrote a romance novel in middle school about a passionate romance going on between the leads in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and I wish I still had it so I could compare it to Handbook For Mortals. I honestly believe they were written at the same skill level. I mean, this exchange right here could have absolutely been something I wrote when I was twelve and thought it was the height of erotically charged banter.
She doesn’t take the fucking compliment, so Mac says:
“No, seriously!” Mac retorted and as he grabbed part of my harness and pulled me closer to him.
And as he grabbed part of your harness and pulled me closer to him…what? How does that non-sentence end? How did “three editors” miss this?
Due to the humidity and temperature in the theater we both instantly felt sweaty as his skin touched mine.
On the first page of the chapter, Zex Zuthor thinks about how the inside of the theater is humid because of all the water and how it reminds her of home. I want to hear from some tech people on this because if it’s really so humid that their skin instantly sweats when it touches, that can’t be good for like…a lot of the equipment.
Also…why is their skin touching? Presumably, Mac is in his “show blacks” and is therefore clothed. This makes it sound like he pulled her up against his bare chest. And what is Leanne wearing? Vegas showgirl costumes expose a lot of skin, but we don’t know what Xenomorph is even wearing. Which, by the way, shocks the hell out of me. I can’t imagine Sarem missing the opportunity to describe how great her avatar looks in her amazing and intricate costume that isn’t as slutty as the other performers’ but is just the right amount of sexy to make all the men instantly want her.
“You’d look amazing in anything,” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “And even better in nothing,” he added as he rubbed his hand over the small of my back.
Better in nothing means naked. Get it? This is sexy and not cliche at all.
Mac helps Zaw III up onto the floating bed thing she’s going to ride down.
He pulled me in for a kiss. I kissed him back quickly before grabbing the bar hanging by my head and pulling myself on top of the set peice where I was supposed to start.
So, I need you all to keep in mind that it’s now been months, even being generous and assuming “a few” and “several” and “more” means three weeks and not longer, since she’s been in town dating Jackson and Mac. That she and Mac are “keeping it quiet” at work, except for when they’re up there grinding on the catwalk. Just keep that in mind for like, the rest of this section and all of the next.
At that exact moment I noticed Charles standing farther down the catwalk.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “This had better not be the normalcy-shattering moment that was foreshadowed by the first paragraph, well, I hate to tell you. This is it. This is the huge conflict. Chavid Spopperfield has noticed her snogging the crew.
I pretended not to notice him, thinking that maybe even if he had seen us together maybe he hadn’t really seen what happened–or maybe he’d pretended I didn’t see him. That was a lot of pretending, even for a magic show.
This might be the one thing I like in this whole book because it’s genuinely funny.
Then it gets ruined with a block paragraph that’s nearly a page long, detailing why Charles is up on the catwalk and not rehearsing the show. Zeb stands in for Charles at rehearsals so that Charles can watch the show and see what’s going on. Okay, got it. That’s where it should end, but no, we have to also know that Charles has never missed a show, that Zeb is a “Magi” and so is Rene, so Rene fills in for Zeb when he’s being Charles’s stand-in and how that whole thing works out. Stuff we will never, ever need to know, weren’t curious about, and which drags the story straight down to the bottom of a well.
Hey, didn’t she say “Magi” was an insult in the magic community in an earlier chapter? Like, there was a stigma to it, that it was demeaning? Why yes, yes she did, and here she is using it to describe other people.
How unlike her to be so hypocritical.
We get one of those triple goddess star map ornaments and head straight into italics town, where the fun begins. Charles has come to find Mac, and that’s why he’s up on the catwalks. Mac knows Charles has seen him kissing Zupa Loscana, so there’s another long, block paragraph about how unintimidated Mac is by Charles Spellman, internationally famous magician and oh, yeah, his boss.
Mac didn’t get worked up because someone was famous or powerful. It doesn’t hurt that Mac is a perfectionist when it comes to his job and he is also a hard worker, always on time and never calls out. He is also really good at his job and knows how to fix anything, make anything, and solve any problem, faster and quicker than anyone else.
So we went from third person omniscient past tense to third person omniscient present tense…
Charles also knew how valuable and rare a guy like Mac was and how much of a big deal he was to the show.
And right back into third person omniscient.
Mac knew that Charles was well aware of this and knew he didn’t have much to fear when it came to work or the one person in the theater who was really considered Mac’s boss, Charles.
That comma should be a colon, but it wouldn’t save this sentence or this section or this book from being so clunky.
“Mind following me to my office? I would like to speak to you about something in private. It won’t take but a few minutes of your time,” Charles asked politely.
It won’t take but a few minutes of your time in the middle of a rehearsal while you’ve got a performer literally dangling in the air. You can step away for a minute, right?
But Mac goes with Charles.
Charles slipped his key out of his pocket and waved it in front of the door. It was a magnetic lock–like on a hotel door–and you could hear the grinding of the door unlocking.
Could I? I don’t remember hearing it. Hey, wait, how do you know what I was hearing?
I believe I may be in the minority here but a generalized “you” in a first person POV scene doesn’t strike me as a POV skew when I read it. I just assume that it’s the narrator speaking informally in their own head or they’re a self-aware narrator addressing the audience directly. But in third person omniscient, that generalized “you” seems to more definitively switch the sentence into the second person, and second person omniscient past tense, even for a moment, is super jarring. Also, this is the third time POV and tense have jumped the tracks in this section alone.
And I’m not sure why we need to know about the locks on the door, but I’ve given up on ever receiving any actually important details from this book.
Charles tells Mac he wants to have a “man to man talk” and I’m going to omit a lot of the scene because so much of it is filler. For example, explaining where Charles sits when they have a normal meeting and how those meetings usually go. This leads to Mac believing he’s going to have to fire someone like he had to in the past.
The guy wasn’t a bad lighting guy and actually did an alright job, but Charles just hadn’t liked him.
The guy hadn’t been and had actually done an alright job. What should have been past perfect tense is for some reason past tense right up until the last few words of the sentence.
Mac technically gets the say in that matter of any crew, but he wasn’t too attached to the lighting guy at the time so it wasn’t a big deal.
And now we’ve once again gone from past tense to present tense to past tense.
He hoped this time it wasn’t someone that he really like and was attached to, like Riley, who happened to be out sick today which is why Mac was even in the grid with Zade.
This is what I mean about details we don’t need. We didn’t need to know and weren’t interested in Zeb standing in for Charles and Renee standing in for Zeb. We didn’t need to know and weren’t interested in the lock on the door or what a normal business meeting with Charles is like. We don’t need to know that Riley is out sick. At least, not here, when the time to explain what Mac was doing on the catwalk instead of Riley has passed. That’s an explanation we needed while he was on the catwalk, but the author was so set on getting to the kissing, she skipped it.
“May I be Frank with you, Mac?”
Mac, who loved being the smart-ass and typically would try to make light of things if he could, jovially responded with a laugh. “Sure. You are the boss. You can be Bob or Bill, too, if you want.”
Charles looked puzzled before responding with a deadpan, “Oh. Humor.”
First of all, the “may I be frank?” joke has been used in so many movies and television shows over the years, it doesn’t feel original here. It also strikes me as odd that, because of the aforementioned over-use of the pun, Charles doesn’t understand that it was a joke.
But most perplexing about this paragraph is the description of Mac as a smart ass who makes a habit of joking around. We have seen absolutely no evidence of him joking around and taking things lightly at work. In fact, it was his seriousness and lack of humor that made him clash with Zade in the first place. We’ve even seen other people comment on how serious and not-fun he is at work.
Charles has noticed the relationship Mac has with Zithromax even before the kiss he witnessed, and that’s why he wants to talk. Mac tells him that he and Zoloft are just friends.
Charles smiled, finding it funny that Mac had tried to say they were just friends.
But I thought they were keeping it super secret at work? And now this guy who is barely even there unless he’s on stage, does nothing with his employees socially, and uses a stand-in at rehearsals knows what’s going on? How discreet are they actually being?
Charles asks Mac what his intentions toward Zart are, and Mac subtly points out that it’s not really any of Charles’s business because Charles is himself dating a performer. Charles says:
“Yes, of course. It’s what happens in this business. Well–you both are very important to me. Professionally. I know my show would struggle without you. And she–well, you see how special and important she has become to us. She brings something extremely unique. Wouldn’t want anything to cause issues.”
My favorite thing about all of this is how important and extremely unique Zorro is, when all we’ve seen her do is shoot sparks out of her hands (which, by the way, again, is ripped off from The Magicians, which I just started watching and in the first episode there’s a fight scene where a guy uses magic to pin a girl to a wall and she fights back by shooting multi-colored light and sparks from her hands just like what happens earlier in this book) and do a high dive illusion. We’ve had absolutely no evidence of how important and unique she is, just assurances from other characters that she is. But Mac backs it up by thinking about how every single performer is expendable except for Zed.
Mac paused, trying to gather his thoughts. It certainly seemed reasonable for Charles to be concerned. Mac had seen the show lose someone here or there when a romance had soured.
Uh…yeah. Like…his. He had a romance sour, resulting in the performer leaving. But it’s not mentioned at all in this scene. Why wouldn’t that be on Mac’s mind? Why wouldn’t Charles point it out?
Then Mac says:
“Well, I have grown to care for her. We are friends. We haven’t labeled it, beyond that, though.”
Again, we’re at almost 60% in the book and nearly every section or chapter starts with a few weeks going by. And they have yet to define their relationship. So, we’ve got two guys pursuing Lanzi and giving her all this room to make up her mind between them for months because she’s so unique and special and this magical prize.
“Do you love her?” Charles’s eyes narrowed as he looked directly at Mac.
Let me pause here and address something that has been chaffing my magnificent ass for a while. Everyone is always looking directly at someone or looking someone straight in the eye when the reader would already kind of assume that’s happening. Mac and Charles are the only people in the room and they’re having a pages-long, serious conversation. Neither of them have ever been described as seeming uncomfortable looking people in the eyes or having difficulty talking to people while looking at them. I would give it a pass (and recognize the importance of the gesture) if they’d been described that way, but it seems like every character at one point or another is said to “look directly at” another character in situations where you’d assume they already were.
Mac sighed, feeling very put on the spot with such a loaded question. He and Zade hadn’t even said what they were doing was dating–much less something way beyond that involving something as strong as love.
It. Has. Been. Months. Of. Dating. And. They. Don’t. Know. If. They’re. Dating. If you are going on dates all the time with a person, for months, you’re dating. Maybe not exclusively, since Jackson Rathbone is around as an option. But going on dates over and over again with the same person for literally months is dating.
“Well, I…I think she’s amazing. I…” Mac stumbled over his words, unsure what to say. As he sat in the office, he had to admit to himself that he also didn’t know the full extent of what was going on with Zade and Jackson, which was something else they didn’t talk about. It was dawning on him that for two pretty open and honest people–who were especially open and honest with each other–they sure had a decent amount of things they just didn’t talk about.
The last time we saw them, she had never talked to him about anything to do with her past. The only time we’ve actually seen this intense, open honesty, they were talking about Red Vines and Aimee Mann.
He thought about all the reasons that he shouldn’t be in love with Zade. Then he thought about what else he knew. He had learned that the funny thing about love is that love doesn’t care if you’ve labeled it or not–and it also doesn’t care if there might be another person vying for the person you love. Jealousy might, but not love.
That’s pretty much all romantic jealousy is about. It’s not a might, here, pal.
You can love someone who doesn’t even know you really exist.
No, that’s infatuation.
Love really knows no boundaries and sometimes it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. You can wish it away all you want but just like Cupid’s arrow, once you’ve been hit, you’ve been hit.
I’m starting to get the feeling that Sarem really doesn’t think anyone reading this book has ever heard of love before, and she’s the one who has to break this news.
Mac realized that was not the response to give Charles. He decided to give him the most open and honest answer he could: “Well, it has possibility.”
Is the “it” here Zud? Because “Do you love her,” and “Well, it has possibility” makes her the “it.” If the answer had been, “It’s a possibility,” he would be saying that the whole concept of him loving her would be possible. Otherwise, he’s saying “it” (Zanzi) is possibly lovable.
Charles tells Mac that he won’t bother him about the relationship thing anymore, and they shake hands on it. Then there’s a long paragraph about how Charles never lived a normal life and how he’d grown up touring with a circus before becoming famous because again, this is all detail we were aching for in this particular scene. Charles asks Mac not to tell Lubyanka about the conversation, and because Mac is always so open and honest with her, he’s like, yeah, sure, it’s totally appropriate to not tell her that her boss is poking around in her personal life. Before he leaves the office, Mac thinks about how Charles might be faking his awkwardness just because he wants to be weird for attention, and Mac isn’t going to think of Charles as eccentric because that’s some bourgeoisie nonsense.
After another triple goddess symbol to indicate a section and POV change, we get this:
It was a long time before I knew about the conversation that took place that day, but I could feel the weird nervous energy that Mac was projecting the next time I saw him. He seemed “off” for the rest of the night, and I couldn’t place my finger on why.
The next day, Mac and I found ourselves walking through a park, talking about nothing in particular.
Look. If Zipper doesn’t know about the conversation, she doesn’t know about the conversation. This whole thing about opening a chapter or paragraph with something that’s going to happen in the future is an unnecessary device that separates the reader from any sense of urgency when the reveals happen. There’s no reason that she can recognize Mac’s nervous energy while they’re talking about nothing.
Because any truly fucking terrible book wouldn’t be complete without it:
I was still trying to figure out what was going on in Mac’s head when a bicyclist clipped me, causing me to drop my purse.
You must, must, must get hit by or almost hit by a bicycle to truly clinch that bestseller status these days.
It wasn’t a big deal, but something felt weird about the collision. The cyclist was on a thin, fast racing bike with drop-down handlebars and was wearing bright yellow and pink cycle spandex. All of that meant, to me, that he was an avid biker who knew what he was doing–not a clumsy teenager who had simply misjudged the crowds on the park paths.
A biker rides a motorcycle. He was an avid cyclist. If you want to avoid word rep (and honestly, why start now?), “biker” isn’t a substitute that works here. But I’m not sure why it feels “weird” due to the information given. When I read, “something felt weird,” I assumed it had to do with something supernatural.
Because I’m a chump. Nothing actually supernatural is going to happen in this book about mahajahick.
I wasn’t too worried about the contents of my purse, except that I usually carry a deck of my tarot cards in my purse among other “normal” things like my wallet and chapstick. The velvet bag that held them must not have been closed all the way because when my purse flew all the contents of my bag spilled out and the cards went everywhere.
Mac yells at the guy and starts picking up the tarot cards and looking at them.
My pulse was racing and all I could think was that the biker.
Zarpo thinks about how the “biker” needs better manners and that he could have really hurt a little kid or an old person and how he’d been rude by not stopping and saying sorry.
Before I even thought about what I was doing, I balled my fists quickly and squeezed.
The biker flipped upside down as if he’d hit a massive pothole that came out of nowhere, or at least to anyone else it probably looked like that. He landed pretty hard on his back, and made a few loud sounds of shrieking pain as the bike crashed into a bench, sending a few pieces going in different places.
I was fairly certain he wasn’t permanently injured, but he also wasn’t going to be riding anymore today; that was for sure. Mac’s back was to the biker, so he didn’t even see what happened, and was too pre-occupied with examining the cards to even notice what I’d done. I hoped what I’d done to the biker might teach him a karma-related lesson.
He landed flat on his back on pavement and is shrieking in pain, but as long as Zadist is “fairly” certain he’s not permanently injured, that makes it all right. I mean, the fact that she’s the heroine makes it all right. We have to like her no matter what, because she’s special and majhik and unique and beautiful in an alternative, multi-hued way and not like other girls, so it’s obviously okay that, because someone knocked her purse out of her hands and spilled it, she physically harms that person. Oh, and as long as the love interest didn’t see her do it, so her secret is safe. That’s really the most important part. Overlook the fact that she’s only “fairly” certain she didn’t paralyze him or something. It’s okay that she did that because he spilled her purse and could have hypothetically hurt someone. He needed to learn a “karma-related” lesson, and Zim is apparently an authorized agent of karma, even though karma itself doesn’t work like that.
And she’s still calling him a fucking biker! It’s not like she’s avoiding word rep by not over-using cyclist! She just picked a different, wrong word to use over and over and over again!
Even though there’s a dude screaming in pain and broken bike parts flying everywhere, Mac is more concerned with the tarot cards:
“What are these?” Mac inquired as he helped me pick up some more of my cards. When I looked up at him, he had a look of disdain on his face; he was holding up a few of them in his hands, the Devil card sitting out and most prominent.
Because of course, it was.
Mac looked deeply perturbed. “You don’t really believe in that stuff, do you?”
I could hear the disapproval in his voice. I thought for a moment about what I should say back. I studied his face, and then realized that if I lied to him it would just become more complicated later. This was very much a part of my life and who I was–and it would always be that way. If Mac was going to also be a part of my life then he was going to have to accept this as well. Sooner or later we were going to have to have this conversation. I would not have picked that day for it, but I might as well get it out of the way and see how it takes it.
Past tense to present tense, and as a bonus, Lava is now referring to Mac as “it.” Turnabout is fair play, I guess?
“Yeah. I do. I mean, my mom does readings for a living. I kind of grew up around it; my family are Gypsies and practice it. It’s fun. It’s not a big deal.” I downplayed it, thinking that if he accepted it at all he could slowly work up to getting used to it. I didn’t have to shove it down his throat all at once.
Okay, let’s talk about how fucking disgusting it is to write a character who is Romani and have them present that as something they should be ashamed of, hide, or ease people into knowing when the author herself is not of that same ethnicity. Like, let’s just really stress this. This is an author who blithely uses the g-word, both in her book and in her descriptions of herself and defends her right to use it despite the fact that she is not Romani. Then she writes a character who is Romani but makes that character nervous and reluctant to reveal her heritage, which is presented in the most watered-down and stereotypical way possible. Then she has the gall to claim on social media that Romani readers appreciate the representation this book gives them. If this were a book written by a Romani author about a character trying to hide their heritage or being ashamed of it due to outside social pressures and prejudices, it wouldn’t be this outrageously offensive. Instead, the character’s heritage is played up for magic powers and tarot cards and now is being depicted as something that should be hidden so a guy will love her. Again, this could be an effective plot of a book written by a Romani author. Written by someone who isn’t Romani, it’s just racist as all fucking get out.
At first he said nothing. Then he looked somewhat confused again, and asked, “I thought you were Jewish.”
I smiled softly, trying to ease Mac into the conversation. I almost found this a funny question for him to ask and smirked a little before clarifying. “I am. We, my family and I, are. One is not exclusive of the other.”
Wait. Wait. Zeppelin grew up in a small, close-minded Southern town in a state that has, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, thirty-eight hate groups in current operation, including skinheads, neo-nazis, white nationalists, neo-confederates and ten distinct chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, among other notably antisemitic groups and she and her mother were persecuted for reading tarot cards?
Not. Buying. It.
We haven’t heard about Zark being Jewish until right now (again, 60% into the book) and by all accounts, it should have been a major part of her backstory and reason for wanting to escape her birthplace. It would have strengthened her leaving so much, and explain more of the resentment toward her mom for keeping her there. Instead, it just gets dropped in like, “Oh yeah, I’m Jewish and used to live in Tennessee and nothing ever really happened with that, it was really all about how mahjickkal I am because I can read tarot cards that you can buy at fucking Barnes & Noble because tarot cards aren’t actually that special and mysterious.”
“That stuff is hogwash,” he growled. “You’re too smart to believe in stuff like that. You shouldn’t believe something just because your parents do–or your family does.”
Um…that’s kind of what being raised in a religion is. If there’s no problem with her being Jewish, then why is there a problem with her believing something else her family does?
I also want to know where the fuck this family is. For the entire book so far, the picture we’ve been given is of Zorb being raised by a single mother in an isolated situation. It’s always been made to sound like they had nothing but each other. In fact, at the beginning of the book, it sounds like that’s the reason her mom wanted her to stay.
I didn’t like his reaction, but it wasn’t like it was the first time I’d heard words like his–or far worse–once someone found out that my mom does readings. I’d been called things I won’t repeat here but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
Yeah, I bet you got called the g-word, which you throw around freely. What did they call you when they found out you were Jewish? I mean, since that was absolutely not a factor in the abuse you received in any way.
“I don’t just believe in it because of my mom and my family. I believe it because…well…because I believe it.” I decided to try to appeal to his sense of curiosity. “Have you ever taken the time to learn anything about the tarot?”
She’s not at all concerned with the fact that he’s insulting her heritage. She’s concerned about him insulting tarot cards. This character is a member of two historically persecuted ethnic groups who have faced rampant discrimination and centuries of genocide, but it’s the tarot cards that the author is choosing to focus on.
What really confuses me here is that Lani Sarem is Jewish. I’m not going to try to tell anyone how they should be Jewish or how to feel about their experiences as a Jewish person, but I’m not sure where the disconnect comes in that it’s okay to stereotype an entire culture that has been subject to some of the very same atrocities as your own, especially when people doing that has historically harmed you, as well. It comes off as though oppression of Romani people is more exotic and mystical and romantic or something and therefore is more interesting and totally available for Sarem to play with as she pleases.
“No. You know I base what I know off of logic. What’s logical about telling someone’s future based off of a fancy deck of playing cards? All that voodoo stuff is bullshit.”
Mac turned away from me for a moment. I knew him well enough to know that sometimes he had a gut reaction that didn’t always stick once he had calmed down. I had learned that sometimes I just had to let him breathe for a moment and process.
You need to learn that if someone flies into a rage because they’ve discovered that you belong to a marginalized group (and here I’m talking about Romani people, since I’m not going to completely disconnect fortune telling from Romani heritage for reasons that are easily google-able if anyone wants to educate themselves further on the subject), that person is not safe. Whether or not all of Zerd’s majikhal heritage is stereotypical bullshit, it is her heritage, and the love interest is “growling” at her about how unacceptable he finds it. This isn’t the behavior of a hero. It’s the behavior of a bigot.
“Is it okay that I feel that way? Or did I just insult your way of life–and your mother?” he asked.
NO! No, it is not okay for you to feel that Zut’s Romani heritage is bullshit! Even if it’s badly represented in this story, it’s not okay.
“No. You didn’t insult anything. I’m used to that reaction.” I shrugged as I answered him and followed it with another sigh.
LANI SAREM IS NOT ROMANI. SHE DOES NOT GET TO WRITE A ROMANI CHARACTER SHRUGGING OFF PREJUDICE LIKE IT’S NO BIG DEAL. SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO DOWNPLAY THIS AGGRESSIVE ACT OF BIGOTRY THROUGH HER AVATAR AS “IT’S OKAY BECAUSE EVERYONE DOES IT.”
Authors need to stop writing marginalized characters giving white/cis/straight/male characters a pass on being racist/transphobic/homophobic/misogynistic. What that tells readers is that reasonable, likable marginalized people will let you fuck up as badly as you want and still welcome you with open arms. That it’s their duty to be understanding of your inability to respect them as a person and to apologetically ease you into accepting that they are, in fact, human. We see this all the time with concentration camp romances, with slavery romances, interracial and LGBTQA+ romances written by white people and straight cis people. It’s this fantasy of being forgiven or something and it’s such bullshit.
As much as I wanted him to be different from all the rest who had learned about my tarot cards–which were a small part of a much bigger portion of my life–the disappointment of him not understanding was starting to get to me.
At least here she acknowledges that it’s not just about the god damn cards.
Mac gives her an “I’m sorry, but” kind of non-apology in which he reiterates that he feels strongly about how all of this is stupid but he didn’t mean to hurt her feelings.
At least he doesn’t think I’m the devil now, I guess. I wasn’t sure I could cound that as a win. I hung my head. I could feel the beginning of tears springing to my eyes.
Mac cupped my chin with his hand. “Chin up, princess, or the crown slips,” he said.
I really want the bicycle guy to come back and stab Mac to death in the goriest and most violent fashion possible. I mean, just keep stabbing until all that’s left is ground meat. Long after he’s already dead. I mean, I want the jurors at the trial to throw up right there in their chairs. I want the press to omit details on the attack because they’re too gruesome. I want the judge in the case to resign. I want nothing but bad, horrible, terrible, painful things for Mac. Because here he is, telling her he’s sorry that his tirade hurt her feelings, but he’s not sorry about still feeling all the feelings he expressed in that tirade, and then when she’s visibly upset he throws out a trite saying from a mug someone gives as a fortieth birthday gift to an office coworker they don’t know well but who prides herself on being sassy and independent. And he tells her this not to make her feel better, but because he wants her to pretend to feel better so that he doesn’t feel bad anymore.
But of course, she laughs and thinks that at least he’s “appeased” and how she hopes someday he’ll come around. Then there’s kissing.
We move on to a few days later, and Lubzi is on a date with Jackson.
Of course he chose the latest action superhero flick starring Ryan Reynolds.
Just say Deadpool. It’s so weird that she’ll write out the lyrics to whole songs and invent scenes for actual, real-life people to participate in, but she won’t use the title of a movie and just hints around at it.
Ryan Reynolds is just really good at being clever and funny in almost any role and he made the film exciting and fun.
“Please, Mr. Reynolds, be in my movie.”
“Thanks for humoring me and not making me take you to a chick flick. I mean…it’s not that there is anything wrong with them, I’ve just really been wanting to see that movie since I saw the first preview months ago.”
Why would she make you go to a chick flick, Jackson Rathbone? She’s Not Like Other Girls™.
He makes a joke about doing a love spell on her and asks her if she wants to visit an instrument shop, but along the way, they walk past a tarot card reading place and he tells her they should go inside and get a reading. He assures her that he thinks stuff like that is fun and asks her if she believes in it.
I let out a deep breath. “I actually believe in it more than most people. My mom reads cards for a living.” I paused. “I’m just used to everyone saying it’s stupid.” I looked away, thinking about how seldom my beliefs and lifestyle had been met with real acceptance–and how much it continued to hurt for people to be cruel just because they didn’t understand. Even more so, it hurt how little anyone tried to understand or learn more about it before passing judgment.
I can’t believe we’re still going on with how oppressed she is for owning tarot cards, while she belongs to two actually marginalized groups. Owning tarot cards is not an oppression. There’s plenty of material in Lugnut’s backstory to draw on that would make far more sense than, “I better hide the fact that I use tarot cards or no one will accept me!”
Jackson gently lifted my chin with his hand, bringing his eyes to meet mine. “I’m not everyone,” he said quietly.
I smiled a little. “you’re right,” I said. “You’re so different from anyone I’ve ever met.” His reaction was so different than Mac’s–or that of any guy I had ever known.
A part of me wants to be like, “Then pick Jackson. Stop going out with Mac.” Another part of me is wondering, from what we know about Jackson, if he’s talked to Mac and heard about the tarot card incident and now he’s using it to gain the advantage.
With that he kissed me passionately while bending me back like they do in the movies until my knee popped, which anyone who’s ever seen any romantic movie would know, is a very good thing.
Until her knee popped? Is he a chiropractor? And I love being told that I have to find something romantic because it’s romantic in other media. I mean, what’s the use of actually writing something so it seems passionate if you can just be like, “if you thought it was romantic in movies, you have to think it’s romantic here.”
God, this book is so fucking terrible.