I’m going to be straight up with you all: we NEVER find out what things hot pink and Harry Styles have in common.
Now, it’s been a while since we had one of these recaps and you might think, wow, it seems like this story is moving really slowly. I promise, it’s not. I’m moving really slowly. But we just got to Grace’s bedroom. Macy tells Flint (remember, the only Black character so far, named after either a predominately Black Michigan city or a kind of chert) that Grace’s bed is on the right.
It takes only a couple of seconds for me to figure out that no matter what she said about being okay with me having my own room, she had planned on me rooming with her all along.
For starters, all her possessions are arranged neatly on one rainbow-colored side of the room. And for another, the spare bed is already made up in—of course—hot-pink sheets and a hot-pink comforter with huge white hibiscus flowers all over it.
This is the moment where the heroine should probably be like, yuck, pink, I’m not like other girls, but instead, because she’s Grace and not a two-dimensional run-of-the-mill Bella Swann knock-off, she–
Ah, JFC. I just realized that Bella Swann’s name is literally “beautiful swan.” Son of a…
Anyway, Grace doesn’t suck, so even though she doesn’t care for all the pink, she’s touched that her cousin went the extra mile, even choosing hibiscus flowers to remind Grace of surfing.
That shade of pink reminds me of surfer Barbie more than it reminds me of home, but no way am I going to say that to her. Not when it’s obvious she’s gone out of her way to make me feel comfortable.
That’s right. Grace is capable of thinking of people other than herself. She is by far the best heroine we’ve ever had in a Jealous Haters Book Club.
Flint calls the decor cheerful and:
The look he gives me is totally tongue-in-cheek, but that only makes me like him more. The fact that he realizes how absurd Macy’s decorating choices are but is way too nice to say anything that might hurt her feelings totally works for me. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ve made another friend.
She’s even evaluating people on how they treat other people and not just her! It’s astounding. Because, you know how I like Twilight? One of the things I didn’t like was that Bella was super cool with just letting the Cullens shit all over everybody non-Cullen because they were nice to her. But here, Grace is going, okay, this guy is nice to my cousin. Maybe we can be friends.
So…how is it that she’s gonna end up with douchey vampire man?
Flint leaves and Grace calls Macy out on having a crush on him. Macy panics and is like, no, I totally don’t, but Grace just points out that the dude was standing in their room and Macy didn’t even bother talking to him.
“I don’t like him like him. I don’t!” she insists with a laugh when I give her a look. “I mean, yeah, he’s gorgeous and nice and supersmart, but I’ve got a boyfriend who I really care about. It’s just, Flint is so…Flint. You know? And he was in our room, next to your bed.” She sighs. “The mind boggles.”
Grace thinks she understands; Macy is naturally drawn to Flint because he’s a popular guy and popular guys tend to drag people into their orbits. And Macy agrees, with the caveat that Flint isn’t all that popular; Jaxon and his friends are the most popular kids there.
“Jaxon?” I ask, trying to sound casual even as my whole body goes on high alert. I don’t know how I know she’s talking about him, but I do.
I just now, JUST now, understood that “Jaxon” is “Jackson” but spelled differently. What was the point? What on earth was the point?
Macy explains that Jaxon is beyond explanation but obviously she thinks he’s super hot, even though he ignored them and almost hit them with a door just moments before.
“Don’t take it personally, though. That’s just the way Jaxon is. He’s…angsty.”
Oh, he has angst? Sorry, I didn’t realize there was angst involved. That’s a totally different ball game. He can just carry on treating people however he likes.
Plus, Macy delivered that line and like…I think Grace is the one who gets to be angsty, okay? She’s orphaned and in the middle of Snowhere, Alaska. What’s wrong with Jaxon besides his stupid name and his bad attitude?
Grace isn’t buying what Macy’s selling, anyway. She thinks he’s a lot more than “angsty” but also doesn’t know how to “feel” about their exchange. So, she doesn’t talk about it. She thanks Macy for setting up the room for her, and doesn’t let Macy duck her gratitude. Again, Grace behaves true to her name and says that yeah, it was a lot of work and she appreciates it.
They banter about being each other’s favorite/only cousins and Macy shows Grace the costumes from Heathers on Broadway:
Lined up inside the closet are several black skirts and pants, along with white and black blouses, a bunch of black or purple polo shirts, two black blazers, and two red and black plaid scarves.
That hurt my eyes to read and I can’t even describe why.
Macy has also made sure that Grace has new shoes, boots, coats, and all the school supplies she’ll need.
“There are socks and thermal underwear and some fleece shirts and pants in your dresser drawers. I figure moving here is hard enough. I didn’t want you to have to worry about anything extra.”
And just like that, she manages to knock down the first line of my defenses. Tears bloom in my eyes, and I look away, blinking quickly in an effort to hide what a disaster I am.
Macy hugs her and says:
“It sucks, Grace. The whole thing just totally sucks, and I wish I could make it better. I wish I could just wave a wand and put everything back the way it used to be.”
YES. YES, NORMALIZE SAYING THAT DEATH AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND IT CAN SUCK. WE ARE ALLOWED TO THINK IT SUCKS! I LOVE YOU MACY!
Grace thinks about how she wishes she could change it, too.
I wish that the last words my parents and I spoke weren’t hurled at each other in a fight that seems so stupid now.
Oof, that hits close to home for me, having been in a similar situation with a family member. I mean, we weren’t fighting about something I feel was silly to fight over. It was absolutely serious. But then that person died and it was the last conversation we ever had. I hope this thread of characterization plays out throughout Grace’s journey.
Then we find out that the way her parents died was by crashing off a cliff and into the ocean, which I know happens and is terrible, but which seems a little over-the-top when we’re trying to accept this heroine as a realistic character in a story where it’s fully normal that her uncle runs a school for vampires.
Like, we all get that this is a school for vampires, right?
But Grace also thinks about the fact that she misses her dad’s voice and her mom’s smell, which is great sensory detail. Having read another of Wolff’s books, I would recommend you pick up one of her books to get a feel for how to incorporate sensory details subtly, without bogging down the narrative. Her pace is fantastic.
I let Macy hug me as long as I can stand it—which is only about five seconds or so—and then I pull away. I’ve never particularly liked being touched, and it’s only gotten worse since my parents died.
PTSD! Whether the author states it or not (and I hope, hope, hope she does), this is PTSD. The romance of Wolff’s that I read had a hero who’d been kidnapped and tortured. I wonder if PTSD is a running theme in her books?
Grace thanks Macy without telling us in her head that she’s just saying it to be nice. Again, a nice change from the majority of popular YA/NA books.
“Of course. And I want you to know, if you ever need to talk or whatever, I’m here. I know it’s not the same, because my mom left; she didn’t die.” She swallows hard, takes a deep breath before continuing. “But I know what it’s like to feel alone. And I’m a good listener.”
Supportive roommate! Who isn’t immediately selfish, confrontational, or a huge slut that the heroine is so much purer than! What is this? Surely not a popular YA novel!
But also…speaking of that…
Where the fuck was all the buzz for this book? I follow a whole bouquet of various book bloggers and booktubers and maybe I just wasn’t paying attention when this came out but I saw very, very little discussion of it or any hype that wasn’t from people employed by the publisher or from paid “fan sites” where Entangled books are frequently featured in those paid pieces. But a lot of people have read it. There are tons of reviews on GoodReads and Amazon. Where were people talking about this book, when Booktok wasn’t even really a thing yet when it came out? I’m mystified.
Anyway, Grace realizes it’s the first time Macy has specifically used the word “die” and Grace realizes that she needed to hear someone say it. But then she remembers that Jaxon (I’m sorry, I can’t get past the spelling of that fucking outer space name) also used the word “die” and, where literally anything concerning Jaxon so far in this story seems to do, the “wow, what a refreshingly different take on common tropes!” disappears and just becomes common tropes:
He might have been a jackass all the way around, but he called my parents’ death what it was. And didn’t treat me like I was going to shatter under the weight of one harsh word.
Ah, yes. Don’t we all appreciate total strangers being viciously rude and intimidating to us despite being fully aware that we’re grieving? And it’s so hot and sexy when a dude is brave and noble enough to bully a girl who’s already in pain.
Maybe that’s why I’m still thinking about him when I should be writing him off for the jerk he is.
No, honey. It’s not your fault. It’s the trope’s fault.
Now, you might be wondering, “What do hot pink and Harry Styles have in common? Well…this is as good an answer as you’re going to get.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m out of the shower and dressed in my favorite pair of pajamas—a Harry Styles T-shirt from his first solo tour and a pair of blue fleece pants with white and yellow daisies all over them—only to find Macy dancing around the room to “Watermelon Sugar.”
Real “hello, fellow kids” vibe here. I’m getting a sense that someone just googled “what kind of music do teens like?”
But anyway, Harry Styles fandom is something both Macy and Grace have in common, so I bet I know what their favorite book is.
Macy makes sure that Grace drinks a lot of water and takes some Advil. She brings her chicken soup but Grace is way too exhausted to eat.
The last thing I think about before drifting off to sleep is that—despite everything—tonight is the first time I’ve taken a shower without struggling not to cry since my parents died.
Now, in the past, I’ve mentioned that I’m not a huge fan of books where characters going to sleep to end a chapter/waking up to start the next chapter bugs me when it happens over and over, but so far this is the first time Grace has gone to bed so it’s okay. Also, it makes sense here because a) she just had a harrowing journey and b) this is exactly the type of grief thought you have right before you fall asleep (in my experience). It feels real, not just like the author couldn’t think up a transition. Now, if all the other chapters end this way, obviously I’ll be a little suspicious. But so far, nothing in Wolff’s writing suggests she would do that to us.
I really think Tracy Wolff is going to go down in Jealous Haters history as the best author we’ve read.